Monday was our first day of school, first day back to a more normal routine. To me, a new school year always feels so much more “new”, and “fresh start-y” than an actual new calendar year, with all sorts of new resolutions. Of course, this is our first proper school year here in Austin, and I’m actually relieved to not be completely new to the system. Or at least, I don’t feel quite so alone in grappling with all those PTA groups, school supply lists, lunch order systems etc.

E is now a freshman in High School, and F has started her last year at Elementary School. Such milestones…. I can so clearly remember each girl’s first day at school here in the US, while memories of E’s time in the UK are becoming ever more evasive. They’ve both grown up so much, and sometimes it’s really hard to reconcile that lanky, sarcastic and witty teenager, who is now an inch taller than me, with the chatty, high-energy little girl who jumped right into 2nd grade in California and made a ton of friends within her first few months. E was so nervous about starting high school here, and particularly after the wonderful summer we’ve just had (wonderful, primarily, because we were in Europe and not here). But she came home from her first day and seemed surprised that it wasn’t as bad as expected. I think she’ll have a great time at McCallum.

For me, it was a little bid weird sending them both off after 11 weeks of summer hols. But at least I didn’t have to return to an empty house, as we have a brand new family member:

Meet Bowie, our almost 6 month old Irish Setter. We’d been talking about getting a dog for ages, in fact, ever since moving to the US. With us renting instead of owning a house in California, and a lot of travel and the kids being younger, there never seemed to be the right time. I’m not sure there’s ever a “right time”, but since Austin is such a dog-friendly place and we now have a bit more space, we went for it. I grew up with Setters, so to find one here in Texas (or indeed the US!) was an absolute stroke of luck. Bowie’s been a lot of fun so far, and certainly keeps me from falling to pieces.

Coming back to Austin was hard. Our summer was so completely fabulous (and missing out on the 4 continuous weeks of pretty much 40° Celsius here in Texas was absolute genius). But I haven’t quite found my Austin groove yet. Over the years, I’ve developed a variety of “how to survive coming back to reality” skills for California, knew how I’d feel and what things I needed to do to get settled back into life on the West Coast. But here, things are different. I guess it’ll take a while, and in the meantime, teaching our new furry friend to shake hands and roll over will keep my mind off missing my friends and family in Europe, at least some of the time.

Here’s to new beginnings!

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