Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Nativity Time

On Saturday Antonia is going to be an Angel in her school Nativity Play. The school provided the costume and I provided the dance shoes ( a specific type and colour!), white tights and a bit of tinsel for her halo.

I haven't taken any photos yet but when I have I will post them on here.

It is going to be quite a production. The school hires a theatre some distance from the school to put the Nativity on. It means a trip in a taxi for us or 2 buses!! I think the school are also laying on a bus though so we may take that yet, but if we still have to get to school first a taxi will be easier.

With a start of 10 a.m. the other challenge we have is getting Alexander out of bed in time! He will have arrived home with his Dad the previous night on the last flight into Florence, which arrives around 11.30 p.m. if we are lucky. Ah, well, we all have to make sacrifices! I have promised him a lie-in on the Monday. His Dad is only here until Sunday morning so he has to get up to see his Dad!

Antonia finally managed a full week in school last week! Unfortunately we couldn't keep it up this week and she had a stomache upset Monday and Tuesday so I couldn't send her in. She has to go in the rest of the week though if she still wants to be an Angel!!

Sunday, 11 November 2007


I should have taken a photo, but for some reason I didn't! Anyway, yesterday Antonia went to a friend's birthday party all dressed up in a skirt with a net underskirt and bunches in her hair! She had already decided what she wanted to wear that morning!

As it was a 4 year old's party all the parents stayed, also there didn't seem to be a leaving time, so it dispersed naturally. This is very different from the UK where the party starts at a set time and then finishes at a set time! We were at this party for 4 hours! Luckily everyone got on really well and there were very few arguments between the children even when they started to get really tired around 7.30 p.m. - can you imagine a kids party still going at this time in the UK?!

The cake was lovely, it was a big chocolate covered tray cake with rice paper flowers on it and Nutella in the centre. Really yummy!

Everyone went home with bubble stuff and very tired! We arrived home about 8.00 p.m.! Not surprisingly Antonia woke up about 8.30 a.m., which I was relieved about. Hopefully we will see a few friends this afternoon, but it really depends on the cold, miserable weather! Yep, even Italy has bad weather, as people keep telling me!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


Yep, just as I thought things were settling down, this reared its ugly head.

Unfortunately the child committing the acts is to some degree protected as he is an adoptee from the Ukraine with all sorts of problems. One of those being that his idea of social interaction is to bite, hit, punch and generally be a complete nasty so and so to the other children.

Complaints are being made by many parents as every child in this group seems to have suffered at this childs hands at some point since September.

For me though the last straw came yesterday. Last week I found him attacking my daughter in the school toilets. I chased him back to the classroom and an Italian parent helped explain what had happened. Since then there has been a meeting about this child, but with what effect I don't yet know. Yesterday he blocked our way going back into the classroom then, in front of me, punched my daughter in the chest! Again I took him back to the teachers and tried to explain what had happened. I also spoke to a classroom assistant that speaks English as I was leaving.
When I picked Antonia up that evening I was told this child had been "tranquillo" that day. It obviously hadn't been picked up that he had hit Antonia in the morning! Now they know! What will happen I don't know, but I don't see why my child should be victimised during the rehabilitation of another!!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Halloween and other good things.

We have all been really sick these last few weeks with coughs and colds that just seem to go on and on forever! I gave up trying to get Antonia into school every day until I felt we were both over it. Today is the first day I have felt nearly human, which is why I am finally updating this blog!!

School is going well and she seems to be settling in. Every morning we have the ritual of crying but too many people tell me they see her after I have gone and that she is happy and smiling, so I am not concerned about it!

Last week I was told by the teacher that I hadn't brought in all the required supplies. I thought I had, then I found out that all the tissues, kitchen roll and soap that I had been dutifully putting into Antonia's bag everyday was actually supposed to be brought in in bulk for the school's use! The fee's for a private school here are very low, I pay €120 a month and this is their only funding. Consequently the parents are expected to contribute supplies etc. to make up any short fall. I told my husband about this and we were both speculating what parents at my son's school would have to say if they were expected to do the same there! Fee's for a UK Prep school are £2000 a term!! I think I like the Italian way better ;))!

She has also started dance class at school, which she loves. I get a performance after every class at home, which is really cute!

This week is also Halloween. As far as I know there won't be anything done at school - there wouldn't be at a UK Catholic school so I am going to assume it will be the same here. However, the Children's Library at the US Church here in Florence had a Halloween party. Luckily I am aware that in the US dressing up for Halloween doesn't mean you have to look like something out of a horror movie - in the UK everyone tends to do Dracula, Witches, Ghosts, Mummies etc. - so Antonia was able to strut her stuff as Cinderella. Her costume had come over with our possessions from the UK so its timing was great!

Alex, my son, was over for half-term and joined in the spirit. He didn't go to the party but he bought a costume to take back to school for the Halloween party they will be having there.

Half-term doesn't seem to exist here, which surprised me, so he has been here for 10 days while Antonia has been to school, other than when I have been too sick to take her. Next week we get All Saints on the 1st November and the Friday too, which is nice, but other than a couple more days before Christmas that will be it!

Anyway I am hoping that the 3 days she is in next week will be healthier than they have been!

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Sick Again

The first few weeks are always bad where coughs and colds are concerned. Anyway, Antonia missed school again today with a temperature. As she slept for 3 hours in the afternoon, something she never does anymore, I knew I had made the right decision. Friday is a write-off too as my possessions arrive from the UK and I have to be here from 12 noon. Never mind! We have plenty of time.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Week Two - what exciting titles!

I'm really going to have to come up with something else! But anyway, week two was hit and miss. She didn't go in Monday, after the frustrations of the Sunday and getting Alexander off to school we didn't get home until gone 11.00 p.m. so as she had been ill Friday I didn't take her in, which meant I missed my class too. Instead we went out with her dad for lunch. What a disaster! Forgetting that everywhere is closed Monday the best we could find was a place called "Note Bizarre" and please note, it is! We had burgers and hot dogs. It has to be the worst meal I have had since arriving here - and I've had a few rough ones! The meat patties themselves were fine but the presentation and salad were just awful. Antonia's dog was covered in mustard without being asked for - I don't know too many three year olds that are big on mustard, do you? So please avoid!

She went in Tuesday but I started with a migraine that night and could barely move Wednesday so, again, we both missed school! With all this disruption we were back to square one with her being really upset at my going. But she is happy when I return so I am not too concerned at the moment.

This week I am trying some reverse psychology - I told her to cry as much as she wanted but I was going to have to leave anyway! It seemed to work a little - she only started to cry as I was leaving, and it wasn't hysterical more a case of this is what she HAS to do when I leave!

Dancing starts this week, so I think this will see a change anyway as she loves to dance!

Monday, 24 September 2007

First Week

All in all the first week went a lot better than expected. Antonia was very upset, as in hysterical, when we dropped her on Monday and Tuesday last week, but really happy and jolly when we picked her up. From this we knew (having gone through a first day at school thing once already!) that it wasn't that she didn't like school, it was that she didn't like saying goodbye to us. Which is really normal.

So we came up with a tried and tested strategy. Bribery! Yes, in true good parenting style we bribed her. If she didn't cry at drop off for the rest of the week, Wednesday to Friday, on the Saturday she could have any treat she wanted. Anticipating a Barbie fest I was actually quite relieved when she asked for a Cinderella jigsaw!

And, you'll be pleased to know, she got one! When I dropped her Friday morning, dad having done the other two days, she got some paper and pens, sat down and drew. No tears, nothing.

One other thing happened on Friday, which has given me greater confidence in the school. I received a phone call about 12.30 p.m. to say she had been a bit poorly and could I pick her up. I was so pleased they had called me. It can be a bit hit and miss what school's anywhere call parents for, so I was glad this was something they felt needed attention.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

First Day of School, Official

This is Antonia just before we left to go to school. It was pretty chilly first thing this morning so she wore her new anorak!

At school we found her hook with the kitten picture on it and hung up her coat and put on her overall. In Italian they are called "grembiulino" and she has two. I altered hers to fit as she looked like she was wearing a yellow sack! Bizarrely I was the only one who had! It was around her ankles prior to this and is meant for at least a 6 year old. I think we were given what was left. I say "given", this delightful outfit cost me €37 for two! You have to buy schools as well. Anyway she looks cute doesn't she?!

This is one of the many pieces of equipment in her playground. Every other seat is a bicycle which makes it turn around. There are climbing frames, cars, see-saws and other ride-ons. I don't remember my school being this cool! I also noticed planters around the playground with sticks in with each childs coat hook symbol on. It looks like each child has a plant to look after too. I arrived with Antonia at 9.00 a.m. when school is supposed to start but they didn't start kicking us out until after 9.30 a.m. I think this was because it was first day. Antonia was fine up until the point where I left! Other kids were howling at this point so she started filling up too. Luckily her teacher was there and she took over.

I picked her up at 12.30 p.m. as it was only half day and no lunch today. Next week she can leave then too or stay for lunch or stay the full day. I am going to try the full day as I think she can cope (see next picture, ha!) but we shall see. I want to start a language class which doesn't finish until 2.00 p.m. so there is some, well, alot of selfishness in this wish!

Unfortunately on the way home she fell over playing outside the Gelateria and badly bashed her knee and arm. This, combined with school resulted in this....

Three hours later she woke up! She tells me she cried after I had gone, but when I arrived she seemed really happy, although she did fling her arms around me when she saw me! She also says she isn't going tomorrow. Where have I heard that before?!

Finally, here are the contents of her bag. Tooth brush, toothpaste, tissues, toilet roll, drinking cup, plastic apron, liquid soap, overall and a snack! And it all fits in the pink backpack with the cat on.
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Tuesday, 11 September 2007

A New Blog for a New Start!

This is Antonia. She is 3 1/2 years old and all dressed up for her first day of school in Italy!

What I want to achieve throught this blog is information for others doing the same, let friends and family know how she is getting on and have something that she can look back at too!

As it happens we were a little premature, school starts properly on Thursday, but Monday was registering and picking up aprons and forms, plus we all had a chance to have another look around the school before it became filled with children.

We have decided to send Antonia to a private, Catholic school run by Nuns. The school continues through to liceo level so it is quite a big site! Antonia will start initially in the Asilo and continue at this school until she is at least 7 years old. Then we are going to consider transfering her to the International School here in Florence. This is because we are considering sending her to school back in the UK when she is older and need her to be able to read and write in English. Everything changes, when my son was 3 and starting school in the UK I didn't think he would now be at boarding school, so we shall see what comes along!

The main reason for not using the state schools here in Florence is the difficulty of getting into a good school without residency and after the registration date, which is between January and March. This date applies to the private schools too and we found this school after looking at many and also having problems with lack of space at some closer to us. We don't feel we have chosen second best with this school, it is about 20 minutes walk away, with Antonia walking, so a little further than I would have liked. The reason for the spaces is that it is in a very residential area of Florence, out of the centre, where most people tend to use the state schools rather than pay. In the centre places fill up fast in all the schools but there are higher proportions of foreign children at the private schools as we foreigners tend to live and work in the centre.

With the private schools you literally have to ring them and knock on their doors to find out what they are like. I looked at 6 before settling on this one!

If you have questions please ask! I'll post again once school has started on Thursday.