I decided we had to find a new preschool.
(I know, I know. But now that the house drama is mostly over I need SOMETHING to obsess over!)
Jack's preschool, for various very good reasons, has staggered start times. So if we were to attend next year, I would drive 15 minutes to the school, drop Jack off, wait twenty minutes in the parking lot, take Molly in, then drive 15 minutes home. Then do it all over again when it was time to pick them up.
At first I thought that was manageable. Then I remembered I was having a third baby. So, um, no.
After extensive research (aka Googling) on preschools in our new neighborhood and not really liking any of my options (or perhaps none of them can quite live up to The Perfect Preschool in our old neighborhood, SNIFF) I think I've hit upon a Half Decent Solution. Today I dropped off an application for the Pre-K program at the church near my house. We can manage the three days a week out-of-parish rate. But they don't have a program for three-year-olds, and since Molly has been announcing, "When I THWEE I go to PWEESKOOL" for, like, months, I HAVE to find her a spot. Today I called the Lutheran preschool a few minutes away and they have openings for two days a week.
Soooo ideally Jack would go Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and Molly would go Tuesdays and Thursdays. The times don't match up exactly, but because both schools are SO close to my house, it doesn't matter so much. I will not have to sit in a parking lot for twenty minutes twice a day.
Also! Bonus points for being cheaper than sending them both to the old preschool.
But NOW I am back in the Catholic School vs. Public School vs. WHICH Catholic School quandary. My options are (as far as I can tell):
1. The public elementary school, which is a few minutes' drive away. This school is not rated very highly online, but since I find those rating systems a bit questionable, I basically know nothing about it. The husband of a friend of a friend works there and I totally intend to grill him at some point. Otherwise I need to take a little tour or whatever it is for prospective kindergarten parents and just see what it's like. Pros: Free! Nearby! Cons: Perhaps not the GREATEST school?
2. Our parish school, a 15-20 minute drive on the freeway. Pros: We know everyone, we love our parish, I love the IDEA of Catholic school even though I still feel like I don't really know much about it. Cons: Not free. An annoying commute, especially when there is...
...3. The parish school that we WALKED to today. Pros: Nearby! Catholic! Highly spoken of by a friend who taught there for 8 years. Cons: Not free. Would have to switch parishes. Stomachache-inducing.
Now I wouldn't necessarily have to be freaking out (okay, not freaking out, perhaps Thinking Intensely) this early on, except for the fact that I would be applying/registering for kindergarten in FEBRUARY of next year. And if we wanted to send Jack to the parish school down the street, we would have to switch parishes (because we can barely afford the parishioner rate let alone the OUT of parish rate) by the fall. THE FALL.
Phillip is not so hot on switching, for all the obvious reasons. And it IS "family". We've been going there since we were DATING. We got married there, had our babies baptized there, made so many wonderful friends, got involved in so many wonderful things. People KNOW us and Phillip and I are very much about being known in a churchy community. We met in one and it was so very important to us to find another one when we graduated. Switching would be a Huge Deal.
But I feel... well, at this point our church friends have become regular life friends we would still see, no matter where we went to church. I am no longer a young adult with no clear identity striving to find a place in a big church. It's fairly clear what I am now: A Parent, and now I've got tons of Church Experience under my belt. I would know how to get involved again. And we're at the perfect stage of life if we're going to attend a new church. The kids would just be starting out in the school, we're having another baby, if we're going to go, it seems like as good a time as any. And I would prefer our kids to go to school where we live, rather than an entirely different neighborhood. (Seattle is SUPER neighborhoody. You should visit. I'll drive you around.)
Also, everyone we've talked to who has attended Mass at Neighborhood Church has said they loved it, so I'm hopeful we would love it too.
Then again, Catholic school is not free. And I'm not totally sold on it. My best reason for Catholic school right now is: It Sounds Nice. Which may sound stupid to you, but to me it makes total sense. I like the smallness, the uniforms, the prayer, the participation in Mass, the observance of religious holidays, the melding of school friends and church community. Notice I say nothing about academics, and that is because I honestly have no idea if it's better in a Catholic elementary school. I'm tempted to say it is, but I really don't know. I'm also the product of two public school teachers and the public school system, and for most of my schooling there was only ONE SCHOOL. You don't get options when you live on a military base. (Well, I did know a handful of people who went to Italian high schools, but they were loony.) I am PRO PUBLIC SCHOOL! I'm just also Catholic and Pro Catholic and Catholic school, again, Just Sounds Nice.
I've spent my entire life immersed in Teacher Talk, and it's clear that wherever you go, wherever you are, there are good teachers and bad, good administrators and bad, kids who want to learn and kids who don't, and parent involvement is big fat gigantic factor. So I'm of the admittedly not terribly informed opinion that public school would be just fine, but Catholic school Would Be Nice. Phillip is of the opinion that public school would be just fine, Catholic school would probably be better, but thousands of dollars better? Because, well, we DO like to go on vacation. And buy groceries.
I'm hoping this Pre-K program gives me a better idea of what we should do. I did try to get them into the preschool at our parish, but it was full. So, as I was telling Annie, perhaps it is A Sign. I am a super huge fan of Signs.
Blah blah blah, obvs I need to head directly for the tub of frosting in the refrigerator.