First Day of School – Irish Style!

Last week, Isaac and Liesl each had their first day of school.  Liesl’s first day was Thursday.

Liesl's First Day of School
Liesl’s First Day of School

She is attending the same Montessori preschool that Isaac did.  We were so pleased with the experience, and it definitely helped Liesl’s transition because she was already familiar with the school.  The program is 9:30 – 12:30, and she will attend 3 days a week.  There are 10 children and 2 teachers, Mrs. Therese and Mrs. Tricia, in her class.  Liesl already knows several children in the class, including her friend Kelly.

Liesl and Kelly
Liesl and Kelly

Mrs. Therese says Liesl is very chatty and articulate, so I already see ‘talking’ citations in primary school in our future!   Liesl was so excited to finally go to school “like a big girl” and jumped in to everything straight away.

Very happy to be at ‘Big Girl’ school!

Isaac’s first day of Junior Infants was on Friday.  In Ireland, Kindergarten is split into two years, Junior Infants and Senior Infants.  Isaac attends the local National (public) primary school, St. Mochta’s.  We sit in the catchment area for 3 primary schools – 2 affiliated with the Catholic church, and one Community (non-affiliated) school.  We opted for a Catholic school because we had heard great things about the school, we are Catholic, and St. Mochta’s is on Brad’s route to work, making it easier for drop-off and pickup.

Big Day - First day of Junior Infants
Big Day – First day of Junior Infants
Isaac's First Day
Isaac’s First Day

Isaac is in Mrs. Schmidt’s class.  He doesn’t know anyone in his class yet, but his best friend, Seán,  is in another Junior Infant class at the school.  (Seán and Liesl’s friend, Kelly are siblings.  It is so great to have a family with kids the same ages as ours!  Seán and Kelly’s parents have been great helping us navigate the local school system.)

Isaac and Sean
Isaac and Sean in the schoolyard.
Getting lined up and ready to go
Getting lined up and ready to go.  The parents did not go inside for drop-off, but we did pick him up from the classroom afterwards.

The first day was a bit rocky because we just didn’t know what to expect.  Starting school is tough for both parents and kids, and it doesn’t get any easier in a foreign country.  Isaac was very nervous.  It didn’t help that we missed the “Junior Infant Days” in June because we were in the US.  Junior Infant Days are similar to “Meet the Teacher” nights in the US.  The kids come to school in the afternoon, do some activities with their future teachers, see the classrooms, etc.  The school doesn’t host Junior Infant Days in August because that is a month that is typically reserved for vacations.  Across Europe, many families are gone through the entire month, which makes it difficult to host a Meet the Teacher-type event.  No worries though, Isaac was all smiles when we picked him up!

Playing around after school
Playing around after school

There are private, or ‘fee-paying’ schools in Ireland, but none are particularly convenient to where we live or work.  We have decided to try the public system first, and if we need to make changes in the future, we can.  Isaac will wear a uniform every day.  For Junior and Senior Infants, it consists of navy blue sweatpants and sweatshirt with school crest, and a polo shirt for warmer days.  Some of the girls preferred to wear the pinafore dress with shirt, tights, and dress shoes (Sooo cute!) Although he can wear the full uniform, he is not required to wear the full formal uniform until First Class (1st grade).  The Irish definitely take their time getting kids adjusted to school.  Isaac went to school for just 2 hours on Friday, 10-12, and the typical school day is 9:00 – 1:30, MUCH shorter than the US school day!

Since we are completely inexperienced in the Irish school system, we’ll post more details in a few weeks, once we get into the routine a bit more.  There will be plenty more to share about school lunches, Irish language, books, etc.

Until then – Slán!

Texas Tour – Part 1

As promised, below is a post about our last few weeks in the U.S.  Time slipped away very quickly, and before we knew it, we were on our way to Dublin.  On July 27th, the movers came and packed up all of our belongings that we took to Dublin.  Even though we had a small house (900 sf), and were taking next to no furniture (a baby crib, our bed, one dresser), it still took the movers the ENTIRE day to pack our stuff.

The moving truck in our front yard - no we did not fill this truck with our stuff.
Packing supplies in the living room

We also said goodbye to Isaac and Liesl’s teachers at GLCM.  They took such good care of the kids while Brad and I were at school and work.  We were very sad to leave them, and Isaac still talks about his friends and his teachers at his school.

Isaac and Ms. Liz
Isaac and Ms. Barbara
Ms. Vickie and Liesl

The next morning, we went to Central Market for breakfast, and one last playtime on their wonderful playground.  Also – as we quickly realized, once the movers take all of your kitchen stuff, you are basically camping in your own home.

From there, we took a Texas Tour of sorts.  We wanted to see friends and family before we left the States, and we had some time to kill before we flew to Dublin.  (Basically, our household goods needed a several week head-start.)  We went to Houston to see Natalie, Will and Nathaniel, Phyllis and Terry (Rheagan’s aunt and uncle), and Beth and Pete (Brad’s aunt and uncle, and cousins).

We had a great time staying at Natalie and Will’s house.  Between three kids (3 and under), and the two dogs – Otis and Annie, it was never a dull moment.  Liesl was not a fan of the dogs at first, but once she realized that Otis would eat any unwanted food from her meal, she and Otis were fast friends.

Nathaniel, Liesl, Isaac, and Otis (playing dead)
Liesl, taking off with one of Nathaniel's toys

Natalie and Will also arranged for the four of us to have a nice dinner out – sans kids!  We had a great time at a wonderful Italian restaurant, MiBella.  The food was great, and it was nice to have a calm, relaxed dinner.

Natalie and Will
The four of us - a little older and wiser than ten years ago

According to the pictures I took, Will did all of the bathing and reading to the kids!  I’m sure the rest of us were doing something very important…like getting gelato.

Bathtime - with Will supervising

Bedtime reading with Will

We saw my aunt and uncle, Phyllis and Terry, who live in a great condo right off of Hermann Park.  We wanted to go to the Park and the zoo, but the heat was so oppressive.  We stayed inside and watched Thomas the Tank Engine.  Isaac thought he was in heaven, because Phyllis and Terry let him watch Thomas on the big TV, while eating ice cream.  (Liesl was also there, but she decided to take a marathon nap, and slept most of the afternoon.)

Clearly entranced by Thomas the Tank Engine

We also saw Brad’s aunt and uncle, the Czerniakowski’s.  The kids had a great time playing with Kathryn, Kristen, and Kaylee.  Isaac played with Kristen and Kaylee in the play kitchen – a perennial favorite, and Liesl and Kathryn had fun with the Cheerios activity book.  (I think Liesl ate more Cheerios that afternoon than she has in a long time!)

Isaac, Kristen, and Kaylee at the play kitchen
Kathryn and Liesl
Aunt Beth and a squirmy Liesl

The next post coming up is about our latest Dublin adventures. (Probably tomorrow) After that, I’ll post the second part of our Texas Tour, including exotic locales such as Bedford, Frisco, and Amarillo!

The terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day

Usually Sundays are very quiet, low-key days at our house.  This past Sunday, however, was a different story…  Usually we go to church on Sunday evenings, but last Sunday, we decided to “divide and conquer” because Brad had work to do, and I had to finish a paper. Brad decides to work in the early afternoon, and we plan to switch later in the day.

11:15 – Brad leaves to go work on a presentation at his office.  While he is gone, my plan is to take the kids to church, run by the grocery store, clean the kitchen, and put the kids down for a nap.   Although my list is ambitious, it wasn’t too unrealistic…or so I thought.

11:50 – After Isaac threw a fit about not being allowed to take Thomas the Tank Engine to church, the kids and I head to church – where we are stopped by EVERY. red. light. on the way.

12:15 – We arrive at church, late.  There is no place to sit, so we stand at the back.  The kids are reasonably well behaved, so I am thinking all is well.

1:00 – Church is over.  On our way out, Isaac tries to run away in the PARKING LOT.  I am carrying Liesl, but manage to snatch him by his upper arm and drag him, screaming, all the way to the car.  Of course, we parked in the very back because we were late, therefore many nice, church-going people get to watch me drag my screaming toddler across the parking lot.

1:15 – We’re at the grocery store (at this point, really, I should have just gone home, but I thought “Hey, it can’t get any worse!”)  All we had to get were some bagels and milk, so I’m thinking that this is doable.  I found the cart that has the “car” underneath the basket – which Isaac thinks is very cool.  You know, the cart you swore, pre-children, that you would never use.  Yes, that giant plastic cart.  I get that cart, load the kids up, and we head inside.  We get our things, and head towards the checkout.  Before we can get there, a woman with another cart, manages to run into me and my “car-cart”.  How do you miss the person with the giant blue plastic car attached to her shopping cart?!

She pushes my cart into a display of granola.  A slew of granola containers fall to the ground, and several open, and spill granola all over the floor.  The other woman just walked away, leaving me with the granola mess, and a loud toddler saying “Uh-oh.  What happened?  Did you knock it over?  There is a big mess.”  Extremely embarrassing, as there are plenty of people around me.  Thankfully, we manage to check out without further incidents, and I also buy two small pieces of dark chocolate thinking “I deserve this”.

On our way out of the grocery store, Isaac throws yet another fit because he has to get out of his “car”.  Of course, I had a parking space right in front of the store, so plenty of people get to witness the meltdown.  He screams and cries so loudly while I am loading Liesl into the car that several people come over to me and ask if he is ok.  I am mortified.  We finally get into the car and out of the parking lot.  Isaac screams most of the way home.

1:45 – we arrive back at home.  I put Isaac down for a nap, and Liesl is asleep in her car seat.  I now take a mommy time-out, which consists of a reheated leftover cup of coffee from breakfast, and the two pieces of chocolate I bought at the grocery store.

My standards have dropped to a new low.