First day of school and pre-school today. After a bit of a mad dash this morning (we have to leave the house half an hour earlier than back in the UK, which doesn’t sound much, but believe me, it is crazy), we drive to school. It’s fantastic how the roads around the schools are so adapted to children walking and cycling. Speed limit signs everywhere, the road markings change colour… and everybody drives really slowly, no mad parking up the kerb, children come first! We get to the school office and wait for E’s new teacher, Ms Mastropietro. She is lovely, of course, and takes us to meet some of the other “students”, introducing E to Alexandra, who immediately tells E that there are 3 weird people in the class, and it’s best to just ignore them. What an excellent start! The 2 girls just start chattering away, so I know E will be fine. And then it’s off to pre-school next door with F, where her teacher welcomes us in, and F makes friends with a girl called Ava. She barely looks at me when I say good bye, so I dash off to sort out payments and the like. OMG – the fees for next year are astronomical… I ring S, feeling very depressed again, then go home, get on the internet and try and find a cheaper option. There is none, really. So I guess we have to bite the bullet and spend this one year until she starts school with our belts tightened. And I’ll try and use my 9 hours a week of child-free time to earn more than I did in my 20 hours back home… any good ideas how I might accomplish that? Consolation is, it’ll be 12 hours from September, and 15 from September 2011 (I’m not joking, my British friends, not only do they start school later here, they also don’t let the little ones stay more than 3 hours in the first year). But enough now, this is the way it’s done here, and we are going to be living in one of the best places in the world. And it is a lovely, lovely pre-school (http://www.emeducation.com), and I actually love spending more time with my girls. S comes home so much earlier now (even if he has a “late” meeting), and then he usually cooks – so I can’t really moan about life!

When I pick F up, she is so happy and skips all the way back to the car. I am looking forward to walking or cycling to school, which should be possible from our new house. And they do the same walking bug initiative here, where those children who walk or cycle get stickers, and rewards. I feel like I’m on familiar territory here! I find a note in F’s bag from teacher Vicki, telling me how much fun they had today and how happy she is to have F in her group.
At quarter past 2 we leave to get E from school. We spot her with two other girls, and they immediately run off to one of the school’s playgrounds, F legging it after them. The school has a huge field, and 2 big playgrounds with swings, slides and all. It seems that lots of the kids spent half an hour or longer here after school.

E and one of her new friends:

E’s classroom and teacher:

and here’s a link to the school:

http://www.loyolaschool.org/home

E shows me all the welcome cards and paintings she’s received from her new classmates – I’m so jealous! What a nice thing to do for the new girl in class. She is full of talk about all her new friends, and looks really happy. Of course, the fact that she is way ahead in terms of their studies gives her a special confidence. The homework she’s been given to complete today is really easy, and she sits down to do it straight away, unheard of! Oh, and the very best thing is – they’re only 18 children in her class! How brilliant is that?!

So it seems everyone is more or less settled here, except me of course. As E put it, “Now we all have friends, only you Mummy, you have nobody!” Thanks, yes, I’m aware of that. I could really do with a friend or two… I need a big hug! And I want my mum! But hang on, she’ll be here in ten days! Yay!

I’m loving today: American handwriting, it is just sooo beautiful.

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