Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
Still, I can only imagine how vivid a look of abject horror was on our faces when the school's financial officer mentioned matter-of-factly that the $6,000 tuition was payable in two installments, not four, and oh, no credit cards accepted.
(Especially since Jen and I had spent a panicked two days trying to find my credit card, which was ultimately discovered at the "Made in Oregon" store at Portland International Airport, where I had last used it.)
And that news came as I was still reeling from the realization that as a school, the place only operates from September to May, meaning that we're still going to have to find someplace for Katie for the summer. Some quick math also revealed that the monthly cost for the now nine-month term was considerably higher than previously estimated.
We walked out of there white as sheets, and I suspect the staff was taking bets on whether we'd even come back.
But after a brief freak-out session, and careful re-analysis of our financial plan (involving, once again, a generous zero-percent loan from the Bank of Mom), we determined we could still pull it off... although every cent of pay from Jen's new job will go straight into Katie's education, mooting the small financial incentive behind Jen's decision to return to the workplace in the first place.
Is it worth it? Absolutely.
Money matters aside, I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw and heard at the school that day. It was even better than Jen had made it out to be, and certainly met the expectations I had after asking the few parents I knew about MCS. This is a school with a rich teaching philosophy, and more importantly, teachers that so clearly believe in what they do... and absolutely love kids.
I was rather slow to catch onto the fact that we were looking at a private nursery school, not just daycare. But that made me feel even better about the plan. And as the quality of early education goes, this particular school rates pretty high.
We absolutely, positively did not set out to get Katie into someplace so good. It's only dumb luck that another child left the two-year-old program one month into the term, when otherwise people on the waiting list are often simply out of luck. But I'm quite thankful things worked out the way they did.
Even though we're now paying more for Katie's education than for mine.
That's frickin' wild.
Jen's nervous. I am too. They both have spent almost every day of the last two years together, and putting Katie in school and having Jen return to work within the span of two weeks is a huge change for both of them.
But I know Katie's ready. I talk a lot about home schooling, the evils of other children, but I also see how brilliant Katie is, how hungry she is to take in the world, and I know she needs much, much more than a desk and a pile of books can give her.
So tonight, Jen and I felt giddy and dizzy, feeling as if we were in some Bizzaro überdomestic universe. We filled out surveys, emergency contact cards, even a Parent Faculty Association membership form. We wrote her name on her clothes, her lunch bag, her supplies. We plotted out her lunch menu for the week.
I couldn't believe it was me doing these things. I still can't. I'm spazzing so much, I wonder if people ever come fully to terms with parenthood. How many more of these moments will we have over the next twenty years?
I'm a PFA member! We already volunteered to provide the 'daily snack' on Nov. 30! What's going on here?
Katie's going to be Magenta best friend to Blue of "Blue's Clues" for Halloween.
Oh, we had grand plans to put together a homemade costume. A cat, or Hershey's kiss... Todd dreamed up an elaborate construction-paper flower. But, of course, time ran out, and with everything else going on, we just ran out to Long's on Saturday and let Katie pick something out off the rack.
She first latched on to a ladybug bib-and-cap set, but after she spotted Magenta, it was clear she'd picked her persona.
Yeah, she was Po from the "Teletubbies" last year, and I'm wary of the developing trend of commercial TV characters. But at least "Blue's Clues" has some redeeming educational value.
This afternoon brought a rare treat, courtesy dad.
Although he's busy as ever traveling, preparing for Veteran's Day (and a visit by Clinton), and taking the reigns of a national veterans' association he found a way for us to see each other again: a benefit concert for Rep. Neil Abercrombie.
So we headed over to the Hawaiian Convention Center to hear a handful of Hawaiian musicians, eat some horribly overpriced food ($2 for a can of Coke), and catch dad and other rarely-seen family members between songs.
Eathan was there, having landed back in Hawaii a week ago after (temporarily) calling it quits at the University of Washington. Of course dad put him to work, and the two of them spent most of the afternoon running around and whispering into walkie talkies.
We also got to see Gayle, grandma Hatae, uncle Paul, and uncle Leslie, who were all happy to see Katie.
The Peter Moon Band started things off. Comedy troupe Booga Booga followed, "covering" a skit by the great Rap Replinger. Then Palani Vaughan followed. I took a moment to chat with a couple wearing "StopGabbard.Com" T-shirts (they promised me a bumper sticker). Katie danced, followed other kids around, and ate half my turkey plate. A good time was had by all.
Ultimately, we couldn't make it through Palani's set. He's a wonderful, reverent artist, but his music is an acquired taste very subdued and soothing and often incorporating long historical lectures. People were falling asleep left and right, and we didn't want to end up joining them, so we gave everyone a hug and headed home.
It was good to see dad and his kin again. I'll be traveling, dad will be traveling, Gayle will be traveling, and lord knows if we'll see each other again before the year is up.