Home Alone

This morning was Liam’s first day back at school.  I took him to school, and Dan took B, but we were able to ride most of the way together.  Liam and I said goodbye to Dan and B on the train, rode the last bit of the way on the bus, and arrived at school on this rainy morning.  I took him into his class, set up his things, met his new teacher, and said an uneventful goodbye.  I got a text from Dan a few minutes later, saying that B’s school drop off had gone equally well.

And then Dan went to work, and I went home.  I rode home alone on the U-Bahn, which was weird.  I came home to an empty house, which was weird.  It was just me and Bailey in the apartment, and it was so quiet that I put on the tv for some “company”.  (I made the mistake of putting on “The West Wing”.  Aaron Sorkin captivated me right out of most of my morning productivity.)

The house was so quiet, and I had some time to myself.  But, though I often imagine that what I really want in life is some peaceful time to myself, as soon as I had it, all I could do was think about was how long it would be until the kids would come home.

It’s not a bad thing that the kids are in school.  I’m glad they’re learning and playing and being exposed to different situations and different people.  And I know that over the next few months I’ll have the chance to get a lot done, take some time for myself, have coffee with friends, and even take a shower with relative freedom (which I did today, and it was really nice).  I know I’ll remember how to make the most of this time and how best to enjoy it.

But, right now, I mostly just miss them.  I really love having my kids around.  They are my most favorite people.  I WANT them to go to school and learn new stuff and have great experiences.  But, when they’re not here, I just wish they were.

Week one down, week one still to go

Week one of B’s new school — completed.  As I type this, he’s 10 minutes away from the end of the last day of the first week at his new school.  So far, things have gone great.  He’s enjoying his classes, he loves his new teacher, he’s been enthusiastic about eating in the cafeteria and riding the bus home (both new experiences), and he’s had positive interactions with the kids in his class.  He may be in the process of coming down with a cold (or something) but that’s pretty much to be expected the first week at a new school.  Things are going great for him.

And I’m thrilled, too.  I’m also loving his experience at the school so far.  His teacher seems very positive and supportive; he’s already taking gym, art, music and German; he comes home every day excited to tell me about what he’s done; he gets up in the morning enthusiastic to go back (not that I expect that to be true EVERY day, but it seems to be a very positive sign that it’s true already this first week); and he’s impatient to get his library card next week so he can start bringing books home.

Plus, the whole family has done an excellent job this week of adapting to this major change to our schedule — the boys are getting up happily in the morning, early but not TOO early; Liam has adjusted relatively well to having only a brief nap each afternoon; and the boys are going to bed relatively quickly and easily at a slightly earlier hour in the evening.  Dan and I even managed to get everyone fed at a reasonable hour AND do baths every night but one this week.  That’s pretty awesome.

But, of course, next week, everything is going to change again.  Next Monday, Liam goes back to school, and we get to start over again with a whole new “first week”.  That means twice as many drop offs and pick ups, twice as many schedules to manage, and it will mean getting up another half an hour earlier every day (for all of us) which will hopefully mean getting to bed another half an hour earlier every day.  I’m a little intimidated by the change in the schedule (I’ve already gotten used to this one!) and by just how much there will be to manage starting on Monday.  But that pretty much just seems to be life with kids!

That’s ok, though — we’ll get it done.  This time last week, I was dreading the thought of B starting school, and it’s been even better than I’d hoped.  Next week will mean a lot of new stuff around here again, but I’m hopeful that it’ll be another week of positive changes.

Class flags

So far, I am loving B’s new school.  He’s only 2 days into the year so far (well, he’s almost done with his third day at this point) but he’s already had gym class, music class, German class and art class, in addition to story time and math instruction (plus chocolate cake at lunch time — twice).  He gets to go outside for recess twice a day, plus they begin and end their day with “structured free play”, which means that they get to choose which of several stations around the classroom (art, Legos, doll house, a shop, reading) they’d like to play with, and then they get to play quietly and cooperatively with their classmates.  His teacher seems very kind and patient, too.


I think it’s kind of the Shangri-La of first grade.

Yesterday, for art class, each child painted the flag from their home country.  B came home and reported that he was jealous of the Japanese kids in his class (there are 2) because their flag “is just a big red dot!”  He also acknowledged that the Russian and Austrian kids had it pretty easy, too.  According to B, only one kid had it “worse” than he did.  He insisted they were from a South American country whose name he couldn’t remember.  We tried to figure it out, but we were stuck.  He explained that their flag was just like his, only it had a yellow moon instead of the white stars (which is why it was harder — because he got to leave the stars blank, while the moon had to be colored in).  We finally figured out that he was talking about Malaysia … he was certain it was South American because “the flag looked so much like mine that it must be SOME kind of America!”  We had fun at dinner last night piecing together the home countries of the kids in his class based on his descriptions of their flags. Once again, he appears the only American in his class, and I just can’t help but think what an amazing experience this will be for him — his classroom is like a tiny little United Nations, all by itself!

School is great!

I never realized how stressful a school bus was.

Outside of an early school bus trauma (when I was little, my parents got me all prepared for my first day of kindergarten, but apparently didn’t tell me that the school bus would bring me back home again, and I was pretty traumatized by the whole experience — I wonder where I thought I was going?), I always felt pretty ambivalent about the school bus.  I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t my most favorite place to be, either.

Yesterday, waiting for B’s bus to drop him off, I was absolutely stressed out.  Until last week, our plan had been for me to pick B up every day at school — a plan I wasn’t 100% thrilled with, since it meant a second hour and a half round trip each day, both with Liam, and requiring Liam to either give up his daily nap or nap in the stroller.  But, the school buses are expensive, and the stop nearest our house is one of the last on the route, which would have effectively extended B’s day by about an hour.  So, I was going to pick him up each day … until we discovered last week that Dan’s work reimburses most of the cost AND that there is another stop, only 5 minutes further away from home, which would get B home half an hour earlier.  When B weighed in that he’d like to take the bus, we figured we’d give it a try.

In the mornings, Dan will take him in (since it’s only a little out of his way), so yesterday afternoon was our first bus experience.  Liam and I went over to the spot to wait.  The “stop” is at a square in Vienna, but around the square, which is a city block on each side, I didn’t know where to be.  Two sides were pretty much out, because of the traffic patterns, but that left two other adjacent sides for me to keep watch over.  The minutes ticked by and I was constantly vigilant, watching up and down both streets.  As the moment approached, my mind was full of questions and concerns — would they see me (they wouldn’t drop him off if I didn’t meet them)?  Would I get to them in time before they pulled away (and then took him back to the school)?  Had he, in fact, gotten on the right bus?  Was I in the right place?  How had his bus ride been?  Was it safe, comfortable, scary???  And, of course, I was also anxiously awaiting the details of his whole first day — how was the teacher?  How were the other kids?  Had he made any new friends?  How was lunch?  Was he able to figure out the cafeteria?  Was he happy???

photoAI was pretty tense.  But then, the big gray bus (no yellow here) came around the corner and stopped about halfway down the block from where I was.  I hurried over and collected my boy.  All was well.

And after a big hug, I got a full report:

  • School was great!
  • The bus was great!
  • He had two recesses, and he saw his best buddy (who is in a different grade) both times!
  • They had gym class …
  • … and music class …
  • … and lunch was SO GOOD!  And, it’s not even Friday, but they had chocolate cake for dessert!
  • He couldn’t find his gym clothes, but it was ok (no idea — they were “hidden” on his coat hook)
  • And the teacher read some stories about monsters, but they were too scary, so B asked for a different story … so she read a story with no monsters instead!

It was a good day.  All was well, and everyone got home safely.  I’m very, very happy, and so is my little guy.


B’s first day of first grade

He was so excited last night that I was worried he wouldn’t be able sleep.  But he was so worn out from the thrill of his orientation yesterday that it wasn’t an issue — he was out almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.  First thing this morning, he was up with a big smile, and the first thing he said was, “Today is the big day!”  Which was shortly followed by, “It’s going to be awesome today!”

Today is B’s first day of first grade.

He did so great getting ready this morning.  We had breakfast, watched a little tv, and got dressed for school.  Inside, I was freaking out, but I did my best to stay calm — I didn’t want to mess up his cheerful enthusiasm.  He was so excited and so proud!  And I was so excited and proud for him.

photoBut then, I tried to get a good “first day of school” picture.  He was too excited to stand still, and then Liam saw the Scultüte we were about to give to B sitting on the bench, which led to more excitement on B’s part and tears from Liam (despite reassurances that Liam’s Schultüte will be ready for him on his first day, which is next week).  Dan was consoling Liam and B was bouncing around with his Schultüte and it was getting later by the minute and I just wanted one non-blurry, no tears picture where he was actually smiling before they had to leave for school … and I got a little grouchy trying to get it.  (Which I instantly regretted, because REALLY?!?  Much as the pictures are cute, the first day of school is NOT about getting a great picture.  Great job, me.  Sigh.)  And I felt pretty much like a crappy mom at that point.

photo2But he was still in good spirits, and after lots of hugs and kisses, he and Dan were out the door and on their way.  And I channeled all of my certainty that I am an awful mom who just ruined my boy’s first day into a big ball of heartache and spent the next half an hour sobbing while Liam played on the iPad and looked at me warily out of the corner of his eye.

I wasn’t just crying just for screwing up this morning by being worried about the wrong part of the first day, but for every misstep and fumbled opportunity I’ve had in the past 6 years, 1 month and 7 days.  I was crying for every time that I’ve snapped at B because we were late, or been impatient with a question, or been short-tempered because there was something I was trying to get done.  There have been so many times that I’ve lost sight of the big picture and gotten frustrated or overwhelmed by unimportant details.  And I was crying, photo3truly, because those are all moments that I can’t get back.  In fact, I can’t get any of them back — the good moments or the bad ones.  Seeing my little guy head off to school this morning was an awesome reminder of how precious ALL of those moments are.  I was overwhelmed by how quickly the time passes, and by how many things that don’t matter end up getting in the way of what really, truly does.

My half hour of regret and self-pity finished, as these things so often do, with desperate prayer (and with writing, because that’s how I exorcise these things).  Please, God, help me to be a better mother.  And, God, please just take care of my baby.  I don’t actually care about anything else.

And then Liam and I had a lovely morning together.  We played and went to the park, we had lunch and he took a nap.  And the whole day, B has been on my mind.  I do wish I’d kept my perspective this morning and had a more positive attitude, but … I didn’t.  And while he’ll never have another first day of first grade, there will be many other firsts, and many other chances for me to keep my focus on the truly important things.

B’s still at school, so I don’t yet know how his day has gone, but I can almost guarantee that it WAS awesome today.  I know he was awesome.  And my day will be super awesome when I get to give him a great big hug.

Orientation day

IMG_0086.JPGB starts school tomorrow.  Real school, first grade.  But we really have no idea what we’re doing.  We applied last spring, got an enrollment packet from the school, filled out a dozen forms, and bought all the supplies on our list, but still, we weren’t really ready.  We’d never even been to the school.  It has a great reputation and a (relatively) convenient location, so it was our first choice, but we’d never been to see it.

But today was orientation day, so we were going to fix all of that!

We got a babysitter for Liam for the morning so Dan & I could both go, and so we would IMG_0092-0.JPGboth actually be able to pay attention.  The three of us headed over this morning (and encountered B’s best friend before we even got inside) for the new student orientation.  It was a bit strange to me that orientation is just the day before the first day of school, but apparently, with so many students coming from other places in the world, many of whom are new to Vienna, there’s more benefit to waiting until the last minute, so that as many people as possible can be present.

The school looked great — big and clean and inviting.  Most importantly, B approved.  We met the principal, and got IMG_0112-0.JPGB’s school ID picture taken.  We signed him up for lunch, registered with the PTA, filled out more forms, and bought B’s new gym outfit.  Then we got to meet his new teacher and see the classroom where B will be spending his time this year!  His teacher seems very nice, and the classroom looks great.  There will be 22 kids in his class, and, aside from B, there are 5 other kids in his class who are also new to the school.  (I was worried he’d be the only new one.)  From the sounds of things, there will be a good mix of playing and learning throughout the day.  We got to ask all of our questions, and I was very excited to discover that the teacher is very enthusiastic about having me volunteer in tIMG_0117-0.JPGhe classroom — and I’ll be able to chaperone field trips, too!  (I expected to be able to do that with the preschool, but couldn’t, so I’m hoping B doesn’t mind if I do it a lot now.)  I love the idea of being involved with him in the classroom.

We finished our orientation with a tour of the school.  B liked the playgrounds the best, but I think that the library was my favorite.  In all, we know a little more about what to expect, and a lot more about where he needs to be, so I think it was a very successful orientation.  And tomorrow will be the FIRST DAY.  (I’m pretty much freaking out about that, but I’m really trying not to let it show.)

Storm in the mountains

After our fantastic experience with Sommerrodelbahn, we did the only thing we really could have the next day — we went back!  This time, we did 5 whole round trips, and we were becoming pretty well expert at the whole process.  Liam still wanted to ride with me, and B wanted to ride with Dan, so that’s how we did it again the second day.  We all got braver and went even faster — I only used the brakes when Liam told me to, and Dan actually let B drive for several of their trips down.  It was just as much fun the second time.

1366This time, though, I opted not to bring my phone (I spent much of the first day worried that it would skip out of my pocket on either the way up on the lift, or on the way down in the sled), so instead I’ll share a few pictures of the big thunderstorms that came through later that afternoon . . . and a picture of B playing with a cat, because it’s cute.  (I’m really grateful that we didn’t get caught up on the chairlift in that weather!)

It was quite an experience to watch the storm roll in to the northwestern edge of the valley, and then move across towards us at the southeastern end.  At first we could see the rain falling as it approached, but as the storm moved closer, we gradually lost sight of more and more of the distant mountains, then the valley, and then everything that wasn’t right in front of us.  Behind the storm, the air got cold, so unlike our first few days in Sankt Koloman, where we were trying to keep cool in the evenings by staying out on the balcony, this night I had to come inside after just a little while, because I couldn’t keep warm.






The first time I heard about “summer sledding” (Sommerrodelbahn) was before I came to Austria.  Back when we were preparing to move here (and I knew nothing about Austria other than apple strudel and ‘The Sound of Music’), we watched a Rick Steves show about Vienna and the surrounding areas, and he mentioned it.  I really knew nothing about it, and I came away with the impression of it being something done on luge tracks or something, but during the summer months.

Then we moved here, and I remember reading something about it again.  Whatever it was that I read about it gave me a slightly better idea of what it was about (and I remember reading that it was “fun for the whole family!” or something like that), but it still sounded very fast and a little scary, and I came away with the idea that it was something we might be able to do with the kids one day, if we stayed here long enough for them to be a bit bigger.

Then, last spring, during a visit with our pediatrician, we were chatting about our respective plans for the summer, and I mentioned that we were going back (again) to one of our favorite places near Salzburg.  “You’ve done Sommerrodelbahn, right?”, she asked.  I was surprised, because I had a definite impression of it being for bigger kids, but my pediatrician obviously knows how old my kids are, and she told me that she’s taken her 4 year old twins summer sledding before, too.  She assured me that it was age-appropriate, and that we would all love it.  Based on that recommendation, I decided we should give it a try.

I knew that the area in the mountains near Salzburg was well known for good summer sledding locations, and I looked up 2 places near where we were staying.  I still really had no idea what to expect, but when I looked it up, it seemed a little expensive for what I expected it to be.  Still, I thought we’d give it a try.


Ski lifts in the summer are weird

We drove over to the other side of the valley, very nearly to the German border (as in, it was a few hundred yards away down that same road) to the place we had chosen.  We waited in line and bought our tickets.  I had no idea whether we were going to like it, and since it was a little expensive, we just bought a single trip up and down for each of us.  I still really didn’t know what was going on, what to expect or what to do next.  But, it looked like everyone else was waiting in line for the ski lift, so that was what we did, too.  (You’d be amazed at how many of your actions are determined by what other people are doing when you live in a foreign country.)  I’ve never ridden on an open-style chair lift with my kids, so that was intimidating enough (we’ve done lots of cable car/gondola style lifts, and once a drag lift when we were skiing, but never a chair lift).  I spent the first trip up with my arms wrapped around Benjamin, fearful that he’d slip out, or that he’d do something crazy, not understanding the potential danger.  (Neither of those things happened.  We had a lovely — if a little sunny — ride up and got an amazing view of the valley.  I’m guessing that a sunny ski lift is a bonus in January.  In July, it’s just 20 minutes of sitting in the sun without any shade, which I had never thought about.)  On the way up, we got a few quick glimpses of people “sledding” down, and I began to see why I hadn’t really understood the concept before.  Sommerrodelbahn translates as ‘summer toboggan run’, and the little sleds do look a lot like large, plastic toboggans, so I see where the “sledding” part comes in.  But the “sleds” run on a metal track (so there’s no need to steer), which is, I think, where the “luge” concept kind of comes in.  I was thoroughly intrigued, and a little freaked out — they looked like they got going pretty fast!



We got to the top and were treated to an amazing view.  We followed some signs which led us (oddly) into and through a restaurant, down some stairs, and out the bottom of the restaurant, where we waited in another line, and where we could watch as other people climbed aboard their sleds.  The sleds came down the line, and an operator collected the sled and helped to park it while the rider (or riders — it was very common for small children to sit on their parent’s lap, which was what we intended to do) climbed in.  The rider got seatbelted in, waited for the green light to signal that there was enough free space between them and the rider ahead, and off they went!


I was grateful that we’d gotten to see a few people go through the process before it was our turn.  We decided that Dan would go down first, because there was no question that he’d be going faster than I would be.  B chose who he wanted to ride with (Dan, and I figured the boys would both prefer to ride with him, because he’d probably go faster), so he & Dan were up first.  They climbed in, got seatbelted (there was even a special double seatbelt for kids riding in laps!) and headed off down the hill.  Liam and I followed right behind.

I was nervous, and overly cautious.  The only control we had was a lever that we pushed forward to go faster and pulled on to slow down.  At periodic intervals along the track, there were signs that signaled that it was time to apply the brakes, and I dutifully followed the directions (although I didn’t get going fast enough to really need them on that first run).  Though it looked like a cross between a sled and a luge, the sensation was most similar to being on a very small, individually controlled roller coaster.  We snaked down the hill, through the woods and then out into the clearings again, under the ski lift, down some steep drops and through a tunnel.

It was fantastic.



Benjamin and Dan greeted us excitedly at the bottom of the hill.  Benjamin’s exclamation of, “Holy schnitzel, that was fun!” was maybe the most perfect description possible for the experience.  Without question, we waited in line for another round of 1330tickets — and this time, we bought 3 round trips.  Again, B & I rode up together (I felt safer having Dan ride with Liam, who is wigglier) but, I was pleasantly surprised (actually, I was thrilled) that when it was Liam’s turn to pick a riding partner for the next trip down, he elected to stay with me.  We went down for the second time, and it was even better — in part because I was less fearful, and actually let it go a bit on the straight sections.  (We did end up stuck behind a REALLY cautious woman and her daughter on one trip down, which was both a little frustrating and a little dangerous — she didn’t just slow down, but came to frequent complete stops on the track, leading to a bit of a pileup behind her.)  The sleds are limited to a certain speed, so you can’t get going too fast, but they go fast enough to get a bit of a thrill.

1342(After our second trip, we decided to actually stop in the restaurant at the top to get some lunch.  I knew we were close to the German border, so I looked it up while we were waiting for our food . . . and discovered that we were, quite literally, ON the border.  I actually don’t know which country we had lunch in.  That is a pretty strange sensation, as is the fact that crossing international borders has become completely routine.  When we first moved here, I was attached to my passport like it was some kind of life preserver.  I didn’t leave the house without it . . . no kidding.  I remember that when mine expired, after we’d been here about a year, I had some massive anxiety about being without it for a few days while it was being replaced.  Now, though I do travel with it — because you never know – I don’t worry about it all that much, and I’ve made several international border crossings without it.  Including, it seems, a few times on foot.)



We made our last few trips down (each time, I rode up with B, and down with Liam), and each time, we went a little faster.  We got pretty brave about it.  This definitely goes on the list of great experiences we’ve had while living in Austria, and I would say that it’s something not to be missed if you ever get the chance to do it.  No exaggeration, it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.

Leaving Heiligenblut

Back to our adventures from our summer vacation

We had spent 4 lovely days in Heiligenblut.  We had ridden on cable cars, seen Austria’s tallest mountain, visited a shrinking glacier, had several snowball fights, driven through the high Alps and generally fallen in love with the beautiful town.  We were sad to be leaving, but excited to go to one of our favorite vacation spots in Austria — a tranquil mountainside farm, just outside of Salzburg.  Besides, to get there, we’d have to drive on the High Alpine Road one more time.


We finished packing, said goodbye to an overcast Heiligenblut, and headed up the mountain once more.  But, what started as a cloudy morning in the valley became an intensely foggy one up in the higher elevations.  Like, “I really hope there’s a road out there somewhere” foggy.  So, we weren’t treated to any of the spectacular views we’d enjoyed earlier in the week, but we did discover our favorite playground ever (well, my favorite, at least) when we were almost down the other side.




It had swings, climbing ropes and other normal stuff, but it also had stuff to dig and “pan for gold” (something that the area is known for) and, in one corner of the playground, a little spring-fed mountain stream trickled in.  The playground had all of these great basins, drains, chutes and canals to contain, redirect and channel the water.  The boys and I spent a few hours sending the water through a house, under a bridge and through a water wheel.  It was a ton of fun, and the whole setup encouraged the boys to plan and strategize, and then to be patient as the water filled up the basins enough to follow whatever route they had chosen.  I absolutely loved it.  (And, like everything in that area, the view was amazing.)




After finally getting under way again, and stopping for lunch at the only food truck I’ve ever seen in Austria (Der Burger Baron), we made our way though the mountains towards Salzburg.  The mountains, though still large and imposing, looked different from those we’d grown accustomed to in our few days along the High Alpine Road – as B said, “If there’s no snow, it’s not a mountain.”  (Even though it was early July!  Our perspective had definitely been altered.)


We finally made our way to Sankt Koloman, our destination.  We had made it back to one of our favorite spots in all of Austria, and we were truly happy to be there again.  (I even got to see a fireworks display down in the valley that night, like a slightly delayed July 4th celebration!)


Back to school anxiety . . . for me

I spent part of Saturday looking through the elementary school curriculum for B’s new school (which is helpfully supplied online).  I had finished reading through the list of things which we need to bring to school and filling out the pile of forms required before school starts (emergency contacts, health history, school lunch forms, payment information, authorization for the administration of Potassium Iodide — gotta love life in Austria), and I thought I would take a quick look at what they’re actually going to be working on and trying to achieve this year.

First, let me say that I think teachers are AWESOME.  And I mean that literally — I am in awe of them.  Looking at this 134 page book on the elementary school curriculum, and realising that each teacher is basically trying to teach 1/7 of that book (the book covered pre-school, kindergarten and grades 1-5) to 30 whole kids every year was overwhelming.  *I* was overwhelmed, reading it, and I only have ONE kid to worry about.  I have no idea how they manage to teach all of that, plus have snack time, recess, lunch time, field trips, play time and so on . . . plus they deal with sick kids, field questions from parents and do 100 other things that I haven’t even thought of.  I don’t know how they do it.  (And this is at a well-funded private school with small class sizes.)

As parents do, I read the long list of tasks and goals for the year with Benjamin in mind (and, to a lesser extent, Liam — he’s not attending this school this year, but I’m keeping an eye on what they would be expecting of him at this school if he were going there).  I started with the language section, which includes reading, writing, speaking, information collection and use of technology.  These include some of the areas where I’m the most concerned about B keeping up with his class.  I don’t really have an idea of exactly what’s expected for entrants into first grade at this school, but compared to my friends’ kids of the same age in the US, he’s behind.  He’s not reading yet, his writing has only extended to single, capital letters (plus his name).  Most importantly, he doesn’t like working on reading or writing at this point.  I imagine that reading will sort itself out in the near future (I think that once he’s able to read, he’ll discover the joy of reading, and he’ll be off to the races), but I worry about it being a bit of an uphill battle, especially if he’s behind the curve.  (I don’t actually know that he is, though.  His school seems confident about his placement.)  So, I worry.

And then I took a look at the math curriculum.  In math, I’m not worried about him being behind.  I’ve always felt like this was a strong skill for him, but I didn’t have much idea of what’s typical for a kid his age.  But, he won’t be behind (he’s taught himself most of the skills through 2nd grade in the curriculum already).  (And, looking at the kindergarten chart, it looks like Liam’s ahead in math, too.)  And, that’s great.  But though I would have thought that I would be able to feel great about that, I’m surprised to find that I’m nearly as anxious about the areas he’s way ahead on as I am about the stuff he might be “behind” on.  Because, though I’m very impressed that he can add double digit numbers, and that’ he’s starting to do multiplication, now I worry about the challenge of keeping an exceptionally bright math brain (there, I said it) engaged and interested when he’s so far ahead.

I know I’m getting ahead of myself.  School hasn’t even started yet.  And, I expect to find that the teachers (who, as I’ve previously stated, are akin to super heroes in my eyes) have lots of experience and good strategies, for helping him with the stuff he needs to work on, and keeping him happy about the stuff he’s great at.  But, staring into the face of our first year of “real” school, this mom is feeling just a little intimidated by the magnitude of the tasks ahead.