Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Max's Birthday and Other News

9 October 2012

I don't think I've updated since Max started back to school on September 24th.  He seems to be enjoying it and our transportation situation is working out pretty well.  I take him out to meet Lilia (his lift) and her son (who is in Max's class) at about 7:45 each morning.  Then he comes back in the afternoon with them, usually by 4:30.  The school day goes from 8:30-1:30, when the kids eat lunch and then play and do other sorts of unstructured activities until about 4:00.

The day is structured roughly like this:  most of the academic work takes place between 8:30 and 10:45, when they get a break of about half an hour to eat a snack and play.  Max usually brings a little sandwich because he's hungry by then, having eaten breakfast at 7:00.  Then they go back to work until about 12:30, when they take a quick break for a bit of fruit or something, and then they eat lunch at 1:30.  The food is all vegetarian and largely organic and--amazingly--Max loves it!  Lilia says he's eating really well.  He would never eat this stuff for us!  Since he is such a carnivore, though, we do try and cook meat on the weekends for him.

His class only has six students in it, and it's pretty diverse:  two Portuguese kids, two Americans, and two Germans, I think (one from Switzerland and one from Germany).  Unfortunately, with all these different languages being spoken (and so much English), Max isn't learning Portuguese nearly as quickly as we'd like.  We (Frank and I and Bea's mom, Laura) are hoping that maybe we can arrange for him and Bea to have Portuguese while the others are having English, since they really don't need to learn English in school!  He is picking up some, though; I think it's probably a question of just being patient, which is never my strong suit.

Max likes his teacher, Luis (I do too), whose job I would never want to have!  He is really great with the kids, very patient and willing to make allowances for the kids who haven't learned Portuguese yet.  I was at the school yesterday with a cake for Max and before they had the cake they were finishing up something (I don't know what it was because it was in Portuguese), so I was behind the partition listening to them and Luis was very patient, even when the kids got a bit loud.

The only bad thing about this transportation arrangement is that in Portugal, like Spain, a woman on the side of the road is always interpreted to be doing one thing.  No one makes any assumptions in the morning, though, because Max is with me and he's got his backpack on, so it's obvious that we are waiting for a lift for him, but in the afternoon when I am alone it's different, especially because there is no bench or anything to sit on where I have to wait.  The situation was not helped at all one day when I ran smiling up to a little white car that had pulled off, thinking that it was Lilia.  There are too many little white cars in this country!  It wasn't, and the woman in the car gave me an EVIL look.  Then I decided that perhaps I should bring a book with me in the future!  Where I wait is determined by where Lilia can pull over to let him out.  There is a rock, however, so I've determined that the only way to deal with this is to bring a book and sit on my rock and not look up AT ALL until she comes.  She always sends me a text before they leave so I know when to get there.

Max had a fun birthday yesterday, although we were sorry to wake him up early for school.  In his class, they had a ceremony in which they burned a paper heart with a 6 on it and replaced it with a 7.  Max says that when he turns 8 it will be even bigger.  Then they sang a song in Portuguese and Max got to wear a crown of laurel.  I've posted pictures on Facebook, so in the event that you are reading this blog and we are not Facebook friends, let me know!  I was outside the room at this point, so I didn't see it, but I did hear Bea comment:  "I can't believe we are allowed to BURN things!"  I did point out to her later when she said it to me again that it wasn't as if they were burning the place down and Luis was the person in charge of it.  Then I came in with the cake and Max lit the candle.  His class sang to him in Portuguese, German, and English, and then they made me sing in French.  Max thought the alternative version was pretty funny when I sang it to him while we were waiting for Lilia: "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, you look like a monkey and you act like one too!", so he got Luis to sing that to him in Portuguese and then he cackled.  After the cake I left and Max finished off the school day.

After school, Laura picked him up and she brought him and Bea and Vasco over to the marina for cake and presents.  The electricians were working on the boat (more of that in a minute) so it was too chaotic here, so we went over by the pool and celebrated there.  Our temporary neighbors, who also have a sic-year-old boy, also came.  Then later on we went out for dinner and Max ate a huge plate of spaghetti.  After dinner he got to Skype (much too briefly) with his aunt, uncle, and grandparents, and then hit the sack.  All around a good birthday, I think!

In other news, we finally got our fiscal numbers!  Those are the numbers which allow us to pay taxes, but even more importantly, they allow us to do all sorts of things that I am probably unaware of.  However, the necessary things that I am aware of include:  establishing our residency, switching our health insurance, registering the car, and getting a contract for our portable internet hotspot.  It was a pain because as Americans we had to find a Portuguese resident who would serve as our fiscal representative (basically that means she will pay our debts should we skip the country owing someone, which obviously we will not do), so once that was done we went last week and began the process, only to find out that the system was down.  Friday was a national holiday so the office was closed, so we all went back on Monday and took care of it.  Yippee!!

We are also hoping to have a car this week.  Frank found a cute little Fiat convertible without too many miles on it, so once the minor repairs are done on it, we are planning to buy it.  It will make our lives much easier to have a vehicle!

Max is very happy that the cord for the Wii came in--he's been waiting for weeks.  Now if I can just get  it to show up on the TV in color...

The electrician finally came yesterday and fixed all the things on the boat that needed fixing:  the radar, the autopilot, and some of the wiring.  Now all our lights work--we brushed our teeth with the lights on for the first time in three months!

And finally, the other major thing that we want to do is to get a dog.  We've been planning on doing it for a while, but this week I am going to make arrangements to see some.  I'm not sure if we should take Max with us or not, but I'm thinking that we should, so he can have some input.

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