Category: School (page 1 of 2)

Schooling this past year

While homeschooling in the U.S., I’d often have people comment how how they don’t know how I do it.  In reality, I couldn’t imagine how they did it every day.

Getting up every morning, going through the same routine everyday to get their kids to school by 8am or 9am and then trying to get homework done, extracurricular activities accomplished, family dinner, kids in bed and still have time to spend their spouse.

And I do hate the morning routine of getting the girls to school here in Spain. And, their school doesn’t even start until 9:30am!  A lot has to do with us never establishing a solid routine – in the states I would have created a laminated checklist and bought a timer clock.

Here, I have been repeating the same directions every morning for the last 8 months.

I’m tired of it.  It often ends in yelling.

I get frustrated.  Why, is it not clear that breakfast is not the time to play hide & seek?

It breaks my heart when they beg me to stay home for the day.  It breaks my heart when they ask “can’t I just do my schoolwork with you?” I hate having to decide if they are too sick to go to school for the day.

I hate that my now five-year old groans when I tell her it’s a school day.  School days at our homeschooling center was something that was never groaned at.  In fact, if one of us was too sick, they groaned that they had to miss.

Sending the girls to public school here in Spain was certainly the right thing to do.  They could have never learned the language as quickly from taking classes in the US or even attending a Spanish Immersion program.

October has come SO far in understanding and speaking the language.

Scarlett has made a best friend that she adores.

Lavender understands and responds in Spanish but rarely lets on that she can speak any.

They all have the experience of going almost anywhere in town and knowing other adults and/or children.  The small town has been a very nice change of pace for them.

I would have been even more isolated than I already am if I had tried homeschooling them here as well.

And there are not the educational opportunities here for us to access as in the Seattle area.

For one, we have no car and two, they would all be in Spanish.  No science center workshops or zoo naturalist programs for us.  No large craft store for us to get supplies to make projects.  No wonderful library to check out boat loads of physical books from.  (Digital loans from the King County Library have been great!)

Scarlett went to an overnight camp in November and a burros ride (last week) with her class though!  They participated in a carnival parade through town.  All things we would not have done homeschooling.

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I’ll admit, I expect them to be behind their peers in the States in regards to their  English writing and mathematics.  Lavender can count better in Spanish than English and I haven’t even tried to teach her to read in English yet!  October seems to have lost the mental math gains she had from her Singapore Math curriculum and now only uses math equations.

I hope they will be ahead in their ability to try new experiences, having faith in their ability to face unknown and their overall belief in themselves.  I mean, if you can walk into a place where you don’t know the language, the routines or anyone else …. you can do anything!

But I really enjoyed homeschooling the girls.  It wasn’t easy but I preferred it to any job I had ever had.  I miss it.

I really miss learning with my kids on a daily basis.  I miss teaching them.   I miss the connection we established.  I miss having fun ways to interact with them – read alouds, craft projects, schooling projects, documentaries, science centers, museums, etc.

I still have the same “business” to attend to with them.  Dressing, feeding, washing, cleaning, etc. but now I have less time to accomplish these in.  It leaves little room for more fun activities like playing a game, going for a longer walk or long read-alouds.

But most of all, I miss the rhythm we had established.  I am less connected to my kids now.  And I don’t like it.

Right now, for me, I feel like I have too few positive, fun interactions with my kids.

I know that a big part of this is me and the rhythm I’ve established.  I got used to having a quiet home and retreating into my own little computer generated world.  Breaking free into a noisy, messy household is difficult.  Life here has been difficult for me.

When I am able to get ahead of feeding and cleaning and we can spend most of the lunch siesta reading together or creating together…I feel great.  I rented a car one weekend and we went on an amazing hike together!

I’ve become unaccustomed to the whining and bickering of the kids.  Maybe they just got older and into a new phase of sibling rivalry.  Maybe, they are no longer in the rhythm of spending the entire day interacting together.

Regardless, the arguing and bickering is driving me completely bonkers!

And maybe, they got accustomed to needing to be loud to be heard in their classrooms.  Maybe, they got accustomed to the norm of questioning the directions of their teachers or the negotiating every request with them.

Maybe, they got accustomed to having more children than adults to be influenced by (the numbers are pretty close in a homeschooling center!)

One of the biggest reasons to my ever wanting to homeschool was that I wanted more time for our family to spend together; for us not to be splinted out by age into our own little worlds.  For us to build strong relationships within our family unit.

Coming here and not having them attend the public school would have been a mistake.  But I miss homeschooling.

I’m not sure what the fall will hold for us when we return.  There is a strong possibility (and a strong hope) that October will get into the public Spanish Immersion school back in the states. There is also the possibility that some the girls will be homeschooled and others not.

And while I am concerned that my feeling of disconnectedness will continue, I have faith that by being active, being involved and being connected  that my concerns will not be realized.

We will resume going to science centers, museums, libraries and parks regardless of the kids schooling.   And with the girls getting older, we will have even more opportunities to participate in activities as a family.

I’m looking forward to it!






Carnival in the Streets

Carnival turned out to be a big deal.  Students and teachers were dressed in costumes they had been working on in school for weeks.  Each grade cycle (a two-year span) was a different ancient civilization. The parade though the village was much bigger than I had envisioned.  I pictured something similar to my grade-school experience of the Halloween costume parade that snaked through the school and while a big deal, not all that exciting.   But this school parade had a crowd of parents and people following them through the village snapping pictures and cheering.  The student body, teachers and the crowd of parents ended the parade at the school and each cycle presented a song to the crowd.

Our day, however, began with Scarlett vomiting and October complaining her socks were wet because she had stepped in it.  *Sigh*  And of course, I had volunteered to help in her classroom that afternoon.  She rested an hour, felt as good as new and began counting down the minutes until her sisters returned home for lunch.  The carnival celebration was in the afternoon.  After experiencing the carnival, I would have been really sad for her to have missed it although I’m not sure the girls would have been as sad.  The major feedback I heard about being in the parade was that “It was really squishy!”

Lavender was Greek.  Scarlett was an Aztec.  October was an Egyptian.??????????????????????????????? IMG_3132 IMG_3130 IMG_3111 IMG_3121 IMG_3122 IMG_4538 IMG_4530 IMG_4567 IMG_4580

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October is preparing in school for a Carnival.  We had a small list of items to purchase and the name of the store in Buitrago to purchase them at.  She really had no idea what kind of Carnival they were preparing for.  I blew off until I got an ad in the mail that had halloween-type costumes in it and they were labeled “Carnaval”.  Made me think, maybe this Carnival is bigger than a random school project.  Turns out it’s a Mardi Gras type festival in the days leading up to lent.  Parades, people dressed up, drinking, celebrating all night.  There are many cities in Spain that have large celebrations and a Mardi Gras type celebration didn’t even come to mind when October mentioned a Carnival.  I was thinking games and face painting.  She is making Egyptian Head-dresses.  Madrid does have a celebration, but from what I’ve read it’s not as extravagant as others in Southern Spain.  I guess we’ll have to go to Madrid to find out if carnival is more a Paczki eating day or a flash your boobs kind of day.

Ad with Carnaval costumes.

Ad with Carnaval costumes.

We celebrated Three Kings Day back on January 5th here in Buitrago.  It was an interesting festival to experience.  It was also a difficult night all around. Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) is representing the three wise men bringing gifts to Baby Jesus.  Children in Spain expect a visit from Reyes Magos on the night of January 5th where they bring the children presents and leave them in their shoes.  It is also traditional to eat a Roscon which is a doughnut shaped bread/pastry with jelly-gummy candies with a plastic toy buried inside.  They were sold at all the grocery stores.  We did not end up having one.  So onto the festival….

We gathered in Buitrago preparing for a parade.  The girls were excited.  I saw other kids with bags; which tipped me off that this may be a “candy-excessive” parade.  While they were waiting in their place on the street, I stopped into the bank ATM to get rent money out.  And the ATM ate my card.  AHH!!!  Jeff had stayed at home to get some stuff done, the girls were out on the street by themselves, the crowds were accumulating, an old man who knew me as the “American with three girls” was trying to help me by calling the bank (which was closed for the holiday) and I was freaking out that now I could not get access to my money.  I call Jeff, he comes to stand with the girls and by the time I rejoin them there is a Smurf (??) themed parade and teenagers from Jeff’s school are not tossing but whipping hard candies at him and his family.  There were approximately four floats in the parade (it’s a small town) with the last one having the Three Kings.  After the parade went by, it made it loop and headed back into the main plaza of town which was set up with three King’s chairs and a red carpet to receive the kings.  We gathered along side the red carpet while hoards of children gathered near the beginning of the red carpet.  They clearly were in the know.  The parade stopped and those on floats paraded up the red carpet to the thrones of the Three Kings.  This procession included angels, soldiers, Smurfs, SpongeBob and the Three Kings along with their court.  The court included a teenager painted with brown skin to match the King he was with.  Strange and also, not acceptable in the U.S.  The children that were lined up at the end of the red carpet were waiting to sit on the Three Kings laps.  Afterwards, the kids got hot chocolate and churros.  We ran home for a bit – the line was long!  Basically, the line was all the children in the village.  We went back just as the line was dying down.  As was my camera – so no photo’s of my own children sitting on the laps of the Three Kings.

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I was in the mood for staying out among the crowd and excitement and to enjoy the night.  The girls and I went for a walk further down into town towards the castle walls.  Unfortunately, Lavender and October were fooling around running on the sidewalk and it ended badly.  Lavender got her foot wrapped up in yellow caution tape, fell off the curb onto her back, the metal barricade the caution tape was tied to then fell off the curb and onto Lavender’s body and forehead.  A stranger jumped out of their car to grab up Lavender before I got a chance to get there.  I thought for sure Lavender was going to open her mouth to scream and it’d be void of teeth.  Luckily it was not.  But it wasn’t great either – her lip was bleeding, her forehead and nose were already bruising.  I scooped Lavender up, still sobbing uncontrollably.  And had she not been concerned where her candy bag from the Three Kings had gone I’m pretty sure the strangers in the car would have called a for ambulance (although it was literally a block away).  I went home after this.  I was spent.


Her forehead and bridge of the was quite bruised.

The Name Change

Shortly after we arrived and the girls began school, Scarlett was very excited to learn her name in Spanish is Scarletta.  And since then she has been signing her name as such and asking her classmates and her family to call her Scarletta.  I guess I can be glad it’s not a completely different name. Although it’s  pretty much the same I seem to butcher the correct “espanol” pronunciation…every….time.  I simply say “Vi-O-let-A”  but according to the small people inhabiting my home it should be: “BEE-O-let-AH”.  Maybe I’ll get it right for the plane ride home.

School papers from Halloween

School papers from Halloween

Scarlett at Camp

Scarlett had a great time at first grade camp!  She went zip-lining, rock-climbing, held a falcon, made toothpaste, had a disco party and made a coco powder drink.  She explained that the toothpaste had lots of sugar in it.  I’m not sure if this was a translation issue or an understanding issue.  Her favorite part was the zip line and she quite triumphantly exclaimed how the child that is a class behavioral problem DID NOT go because HE was afraid.  Her least favorite part was when the kids were calling dibbs on the top-bunks.  She didn’t think this was fair since she had no idea what they were saying and therefore was left with a bottom bunk.  A bit odd though was that the bunk rooms (eight kids in a room) were coed.  She said she stayed plenty warm as they were inside doing many of the workshops. I debated whether to send her with her fleece and rain jacket (which wouldn’t be as warm) or send her with her winter jacket which is not waterproof.  I notice though she is without a hat or gloves in all of the pictures and yet she is snuggled up with her teacher in fourth picture below wearing her teacher’s gloves because she was cold.

But she had a blast and she was exhausted when she came home!

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First Grade Camp

Scarlett is off on her first overnight camp experience!  I couldn’t believe how emotional I felt about it as I dropped her off this morning.  It’s only for a night.  Scarlett has been nervous about it but I also knew she was excited as she’s been asking when it is for at least a month.  I was nervous dropping her off that she would cling to me and I’d have to pry her away.  But much to my surprise she was excited and happy and not the least bit clingy.  It was so nice.  It put me at ease.  It was also nice that many, many other parents were hanging around to see their children off and take pictures.  I even had a brief, broken conversation with another mom on how she was weepy her child was going away on their first overnight.  That put me even more at ease.

The school is taking all the first & second graders to the camp.  It looks to be the equivalent of our grade school camps just much younger.  There will be candle making, cheese making, hiking, star gazing, a zip-line, a climbing wall, recycling workshop and a falcon exhibit.  I am eager to hear how it all goes.  We packed her bag together yesterday, labelled all her clothes and hopefully it all comes back.  This morning, I was told by Scarlett that needed to make a list of all the things she might do and she will check all the boxes of everything she did do when she returns.  Cute.

About a month ago, the school held a parent meeting to show off pictures of the camp, explain the activities, answer questions, alleviate fears and go over the packing list.  I attended.  However, as to be expected the entire meeting was in Spanish.  The woman next to me tried to translate here and there.  I was glad once I figured out that this same information would be sent in a letter later that week.  Geez, probably should have just waited for the letter than attending the meeting.  I can then at least translate and have a better understanding.  The biggest difference between this field-trip here in Spain and one in the U.S. is that there are no parent volunteers or chaperons.  No parents were even asked to volunteer (ok, at least as I far as I understood).  I didn’t see a single non-school employee get on the buses with the kids.

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How could I have forgotten to post about Halloween?  There was no trick-or-treating but we did carve pumpkins and the kids dressed up for school.  We actually left for Toledo on Halloween day and there were a few dressed up kids in the streets there (to which the girls were quite annoyed that I didn’t know about this) but for the most part no one handed over eight pounds of candy to my children.



























While I was missing the pumpkin carving parties back home, it was like my kids had never carved a pumpkin before.  The insides were pretty dry but the girls were hesitant to jump in and get their hands dirty.  At first.  Carving pumpkins with butter knives is fairly difficult but October & Scarlett did a pretty good job.  I would have given up long before they did.  But since Jeff, nearly removed a finger with our sharp kitchen knives a few weeks ago I decided finished up their design’s for them.

The school hosted a horror house in the morning and the kids arrived in costume in the afternoon. I kept trying to imagine a horror house happening at an American school — during the school day — but I simply couldn’t.  Their teachers brought them to the horror house and the older the kids got, the darker the horror house became.  Eventually it devolved into a nearly pitch-black room with kids huddled together in the center screaming.  The oldest kids were 6th graders.  For the 3 year olds through third graders I played a witch in jail that kids were suppose to steal a set of keys from.  I was the tour guide for the 4th – 6th graders.  It was a lot of fun to go volunteer at the school and “talk” with some of the teachers.


This is the black tunnel that the kids were suppose to crawl through. Some of the little ones did it. But not many others. The witch’s jail is in the background.



Before they turned the lights off


This is Lavender’s classroom in the horror house.


October was actually scared. She was especially scared when someone came and grabbed her and picked her up. Her mom!

The girls dressed in their costumes and on the way back to school.  Scarlett wasn’t feeling well.  She actually did take an hour nap during lunch/siesta time.  We made the angel costumes out of bed sheets.


I thought it odd that the parents were not invited to stay and watch the classroom Halloween presentations.  There was definitely some things lost in translation as Scarlett continually invited me to come and see her song and I feel like even the English language specialist invited me.  I hung around the outside gates to the school and there were certainly more parents mingling than usual but they never went in.  In fact, they stood on tippie toes to get a peek!  I finally just asked the English specialist and she confirmed that no, parents weren’t invited but since I had volunteered all morning at the horror house (which must have been 80 degrees by the end) I could come in.  Great, for me!  Not so great for the parents that watched me go and stand with Scarlett and take pictures.  I’m told there is a Christmas event that the parents are invited to.

As Halloween is an American tradition, the kids of the school were learning about Halloween in relation to learning the English language.  All the songs were in the English and the 5th grade group tried their best to recreate the Thriller dance.


Lavender is near the center with her cowboy hat on.


Scarlett being a monster in her song.


The 5th graders dancing the Thriller dance.




Permission Slips

I got this from Scarlett’s teacher last week:

IMG_1268I figure out the first part is a field trip to the nearby town to go to the fire station and that I need to pay $2 euro’s and bring back the permission slip.  The other part talks about an overnight field trip, at least that’s what Scarlett tells me!

I’ve gotten three more notes from the teachers.  All about the upcoming Halloween party and preparations.  When I get these notes part of me just wants to laugh at our complete lack of understanding, another part of me wants to cry at our complete lack of understanding but mostly I just shrug and put it on the fridge for another day.


“Pisses Day by Day”

Lavender only began speaking the English language at most 2 years ago.  And truthfully she is still quite hard to understand so I´m not sure it really phases her much that she is attending school where no one (ok, very few) people speak English.  She was SO excited to be heading off for school!  No tears or sadness, just smiles and waves.  Yesterday, she ran into a boy in her class on the way to school and he wanted to hold her hand.  It was cute and they proceeded off to school hand and hand with me trailing far behind with the other two.  When they got to the gate the boy´s mom suggested that Lavender might want to say good-bye to me.  Otherwise, she´d have just gone right in without looking back.  She came back that day with a braclet and pronounced that it was from her boyfriend.

October was pretty hesitant at first.  And I don´t blame her.  She was being encircled by students speaking to her in Spanish wanting to know where she was from, what was her name, how old she was.  I watched her through the school yard gate and at one point she just covered her ears with her hands and closed her eyes.  Yeah, my heart was breaking.  But the bell rang and off she went into the classroom and out she came at lunch pick-up smiling and saying how everyone wanted to know about her and HOW big the group of kids circling around her was.  In the days since she has commented how “all day, everyday school” isn´t so bad.  So that´s positive.

Scarlett had tears and was shy.  And even now she cries and tries to hold onto me so I don´t leave.  But when pick-up comes she tells me with a smiling face how her day went and what she enjoyed.  The first day she told me all about how she had her own desk and how she was friends with everyone in her class, except the one boy who has “some problems following directions and getting along.”  Ah – yes, there is always at least one.

I had a meeting with Lavender´s teacher to go over the rules and recommendations for the class.  I also had October¨s teacher give me a list of things she needs and October has come home and told us what everyone else has.  Which does include a spinning top, the toy she purchased on her own from the China shop, and is very popular among the kids.  I haven´t heard much from Scarlett`s teacher about what she may need.  But Scarlett did tell me this morning she needs a towel, soap, and spray in a bag for gym class.  When gym class is, I have no idea.  All of these documents are given to me in Spanish.  I try to translate with my little english/spanish dictionary but some of it makes no sense.  Now that I know some shopkeepers that speak English, I take my list there to get the supplies.  The paperwork I received from Lavender´s teacher was the most descriptive and they even had a copy in English!  As always there are some parts that get lost in translation or maybe not as much lost in translation but rather the choice of words is hilarious.  Here is one of bullet points for Lavender´s paperwork:

“Nobody is taking care of the others when the teacher is changing a child.  So, if a child pisses day by day, we will call the parents so that they come to school for changing him/her.”

I about died laughing.  Luckily, I was not in the classroom as I read this.  But October really wanted to know why I was laughing so hard.  I tried to explain; but I think it was lost in translation.

Being that we´ve not been in public school I really have no idea how common these things are to have or what kids are expected to bring or not bring and will be provided for them.  As I said before, the purchasing of the books and their cost was a BIG surprise.  It would have been nearly $600 U.S. for all three kids plus the additional material fee´s paid to the classroom.  The school does have a textbook assistance program and we were lucky enough to have the school decide to provide all the books for our kids.   Lavender needed a smock to wear with her name on it and a ribbon for hanging it; which I finally got yesterday but you remember how each success creates two other problems?  Point proven.  She also has to have $35 euros and two passport pictures.  October needs a tracksuit, trainers, soap and a towel for gym.  I´m not sure I can visit 1983 to get her a tracksuit.  Shorts and a t-shirt will have to suffice.  A “flute” and $7 euros for music class.  The flute is a recorder.  Four notebooks, three pens (black, blue, red), pencils (which by the way have no erasers here), a see-through folder type thing, ruler, eraser and $8 euro for classroom supplies.  Like I said, I have no list for Scarlett but have heard there is a classroom supply fee.

Yes, getting a smock should be easy.  I was told the store to purchase it at.  Which after three attempts the store was open.  I don´t think I mentioned that most stores here open from 10am – 2pm, close and then reopen from 5:30 or 6pm to 8-10pm.  As is standard and expected by now, no one there spoke English.  I think I did a fairly good job of asking for what I needed and the shopkeep was very friendly.  I browsed as well.  And then it was time to pay.  And I wanted to use my credit card.  Which is not the norm here in this little town but I also can´t just keep paying cash either.  The shopkeeper had an issue with the machine.  She told me about it in Spanish.  I smiled and shrugged.  Offered to pay in cash.  She shoke her head and told me about the problem with the “paper”.  I assumed she was telling me the transaction when through but she was out of paper to print a receipt for me.  Okay, fine.  But then she tries the machine again and again.  I pull out my dictionary to try to ask “Paid?”  No go.  I eventually figure out that I do indeed need to pay in cash, so I do so and she gives me the little paper that my dictionary translates into “locked.”  Now, I assume my account has been locked.  Maybe I forgot to tell the credit card company that I moved to Spain.  oops.  I go about my day, figuring I will call the credt card company with Jeff´s new cell phone later.  Meanwhile, the shopkeeper has decided maybe the transaction DID go through and has called Jeff´s school (since it´s a small town and everyone now knows the American is working at the school).  To which she speaks with the front office, who then tells Hema (my spelling not hers) who then tells Maria Hose who is working with Jeff that there was a problem with a purchase I had made in town.  I don´t find out about all this until I meet Jeff after school.  And then I try to call the credit card company but of course I can´t.  I either don´t know how to call internationally or there is a problem with the “collect call” number on the back of the card.  And I can´t look it up on the internet….because I HAVE NO INTERNET!!!

All and all the kids seem to be doing fine in school.  Scarlett is learning her letters — while at home when we do our American homework she is learning to read, subtract and add.  I have no idea what Lavender does during the day.  She did have music yesterday which she thought was great.  And she´s rode some bicycles down a hill and had a fire drill.  October just tells me they had gym…again!  Then they went for a walk outside to look at trees and then they just sit in the class.  I asked her if they did math.  She said she wasn´t sure.  Hhmm….numbers are numbers?!?  The school did start pulling Scarlett & October out for personalized Spanish lessons.  I guess that would be considered special services in the U.S.

First Day of School !?!?!


The girls started their first day of school today at Colegio Penalta.  Morning drop-off did not go well.  It was a minor disaster.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words; however this picture is not one of those. Here is a list of all that happened before we even left the dormitory (where we are currently staying) to walk to school.  1. Scarlett’s new glasses broke.  And not by anything she or her sisters did.  They just broke.  I’ll have to try super glue.  I sent her in her old glasses.  2. Lavender had a “juicy” burp into her hands in the dormitory hallway.  3. The cafeteria where I planned to buy them breakfast pastries was closed.   So, I stood Lavender in a corner near a garbage can, had the other two sit nearby and went back up to our room to get a towel for Lavender and the fruit from last night’s dinner for breakfast.  Here was a my first dilemma: Do I take all the kids to school and make Lavender walk them to school while possibly getting sick?  Do I keep them all at home because I can’t have Lavender walk with them?  I decide maybe it really was just a nervous stomach or juicy burp.  I *hope* this is the case.  I felt like I needed the other two to at least attend today.  I mean, I showed up at school yesterday speaking no Spanish to sign up three kids who also spoke no Spanish and wanted them to start the next day.  Filing out the paperwork was a challenge in itself.  The director spoke *some* English and would try to tell me what each line was asking.  When I couldn’t understand I would just write down what I thought it might reasonably be asking.  So I’d write their birthday, the gentleman would shake his head, cross it out and we’d try again.  All the while, October sat arms folded and scowling about going to school, Scarlett was touching everything in the office and Lavender was crawling on the floor.  I have no address yet.  And I have no phone yet.  The guy must have thought I was nuts.  He asked if we had a family book.  I had no idea what he was describing.  I pulled out passport size photos of each kid but he shook his head and said “oh well.”  Hhmm.

Anyway, I digress.  We head off for school with the kids having a banana and apple for breakfast.  They are going to hungry!  We make it.  I snap this picture.  And then like that the picture changes.  I walk everyone into the school yard.  Kids are mingling, parents are mingling from a distance.  I try to tell October where she has to go; except I was telling her wrong and from our brief tour yesterday she knew which building she was in and I was confusing October & Scarlett’s buildings.  I pull out the paperwork I need to turn in and the Spanish sentence I’ve written down asking if we could borrow books vs. buy them.  (We are suppose to buy the kids textbooks but converted to dollars it’s like $600!!  Even Lavender has $150 worth of books!  The gentleman/director?? yesterday told me the school could help with the cost but I had said I didn’t think it was needed…as I wrongly assumed each kid would be $30-$50!).  At that moment, Lavender started vomiting in the school yard.  I scooped her up and stuck her next to a bush to continue throwing up in.  I pull out the towel I brought from the dorm and wrap it around her.  Now, I have Lavender wrapped in blanket standing next to a bush with the other two pleading with me to walk them to their class.  Which are in two completely opposite directions and NOT what is typical of parents to do.  Scarlett’s building is all the way across the school yard as well.  At this point, we are drawing lots of attention.  The parents are staring at us, the other kids are circling around saying the only English word they know “Hello!”  Scarlett is trying her best to crawl back into my body or at least up into my shirt.  I introduce her in Spanish to some girls.  I try to ask which building they are going into but they only laugh at me.  Neither of us can understand.  The 9 year old boy we have met and played with the last two days shows up and smiles and welcomes October.  I gently nudge her over into her school line with JoeAngel (seriously, I can’t pronounce his name but I know this is what it translates into English). She is then surrounded by a bunch of kids who are very interested in the new student, the new American non-Spanish speaking student.  At this point turn my attention to Scarlett; completely forgetting to wish October good luck or give her a hug.  Now I try to coerce Scarlett into walking across the school yard herself and standing in line for her building.  We have attracted too much attention for me to just leave Lavender wrapped in a towel by a bush.  I pick up Lavender like a baby (I figure it’s the best possible position should she vomit).  This just looks even more strange and attracts further attention.  Plus, all the other adults are standing on the other side of the fence and I am smack dab in the middle of the school yard.  I walk Scarlett over.  The kids continue to say “Hello!” and just stare at her.  One girl does say “Hello, Scarlett!”.  As soon as we see her teacher come out to collect the kids, I kiss her and shove her to the front of the line and leave.  All the while hoping Lavender doesn’t throw up again.  I run into the English speaking director/secretary/admin (seriously, I think I threw everyone for a loop that no one actually introduced themselves) and he tells me I have Lavender in the wrong spot.  Ah, yes! Got that.  I say she is not feeling well and I am taking her home.  He assumes she is afraid (which in reality she is the child most excited and keeps telling me she’s feeling fine and wants to go to school).  I tell him she is throwing up and we are heading home.  I’m not sure he understood the term “throwing up” but we leave nonetheless.

Lavender and I walked back to the dorms.  I have no way to contact Jeff and I have to go back to pick up the other two at 1pm for siesta/lunch and then take them back at 3pm (It would cost $362 US for them to stay at school the two hour break and be fed lunch and supervised).

As we walked away from school, I realized I had basically given my kids no breakfast and hastily left them at school where they know no one, don’t speak the language and the school has no contact information for me.  Now, that first school picture is way LESS than a thousand words!


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