First day of scuola


Morning arrived and the boys could avoid it no more- the first day of Italian school.

When Max first started school it was in America and he was bursting to go. We then changed schools for him every year (spread over three countries) of his first 4 years of schooling life; every single time he’d put his backpack on, accept kisses and hugs inside the house and then with his head held high, walk to his new school. As you can see he has had a lot of practice at starting new schools but this morning was the first time I had really seen him nervous and that pierced a hole straight through my heart.  Alex wasn’t as cheery as usual but he wasn’t looking too bad either so I thought we were doing OK.

School starts at 8.30am so at 8.15am they put on their grembuili (the lovely blue overcoats Italian kids wear for school) and I nabbed a photo before the fear set in…I thought they looked pretty relaxed?


It is literally a 3 minute walk to the school as it is at the end of our street, however, when the time came I think we were all wishing for a few more minutes of walking! First day back at school is always a little crazy where ever you are. New kids, old friends, parents all trying to make themselves comfortable and ready for the day. We weren’t quite sure how the whole ‘start of the day’ worked and pretty much followed the crowd. Thankfully we knew where Alex’s class was so we started there first. I hadn’t really looked at the kids when we hit the school as I was trying to figure out how I’d work in with the crowd, it wasn’t until the crowd swept Nic and Alex up in the flow that I saw the look of pure terror on Alex’s face. He was out of touch, I did have a fleeting moment of me turning into hysterical mum and doing a few commando moves to get past the crowd but thought better of it. I plucked up all the courage I had and gave him a big smile and wave and let him go.

Max was standing next to me and I held his hand, it was accepted and I think we both just stood there for a few seconds trying to wrap our heads around it all. Nic joined us moments later and we forged through the tight and crowded corridor to deliver Max. Our only bit of information on his teacher was “look for a tall, slim woman with blonde hair”……..yeah, that could of been numerous ladies before us. I guess we were looking a bit lost when this beautiful, tall, slim woman smiled at Max and said “Maximilian??…….Ciao!” She was lovely, kind and very friendly, however, Max and I still held hands in the comfort of the crowded room (so his integrity was still intact). Nic spoke with her in Italian, I followed a few words and then with a squeeze of my hand he stepped forward into the new classroom without looking back.

Nic returned to work and I walked home by myself trying to hold back the lump in my throat that wanted to burst forward and cry for the pressure and stress we had just put our kids under…..that three minute walk felt like an eternity, plus I had to whip out a few buongiornos to the parents I passed by. I couldn’t sit at home and whimper for them so I Skyped my sister for a chat, did the ironing, washing, cleaning (domestic goddess I know!) and then before I knew it, it was time to pick the boys up…..actually that is not quite true, I may have done a ‘walk by’ the school to do a rubbish dump just to ensure they weren’t screaming bloody murder from the roof tops- amazingly the school was silent.


Is that a little head I recognise in the middle of the crowd?


He made it!! Although that is a little grin on Alex’s face now it did not last very long. The stress of the day kind of got to him and he crumpled in my arms. I was proud of him, he didn’t cry but held it together and just hugged me as I whispered into his ear “It’s ok, you made it through your first day, that is all you needed to do” with that he nodded and just hugged, he was going to be fine.

Max on the other hand was the complete opposite! He managed to meander his way through the crowd before I had a chance to catch him.


I was just about to ask him how his day went when Nic and I heard “Ciao Max” and we looked over to a pretty girl from his class waving goodbye. The first thing Nic said was “Oh he’s fine, the sly fox!” and fine he was. He had nothing but positive things to say about his class, teacher and the school.

“It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be” he said, “Everyone wanted to speak English to me” and then “Italian kids are really loud but friendly”.

Max bounced home with a grin on his face and I have to say it pulled his brother out of the dark cloud he was under. By the time we got home stories of the day were flowing and Alex started remembering good things that happened in his day so maybe, just maybe it was the best decision we could of made.

Banana cake calms nerves


I have an ache in the pit of my stomach and a fake smile on my face as I’m telling the boys, ‘every little thing’s gonna be all right’…… the song!

Max and Alex headed up to the local school this morning with all the other non-Italian kids who are starting school (about 8), they needed to sit their Italian exam. The exam (horrid word!) is to see how much they know in Italian. We have known this day was coming for a month now and have of put it in the backs of our mind until yesterday, when we had to start talking about it.

You could see the colour drain out of Alex’s face at the thought of the new school venture and to be honest, I knew exactly how he felt. I feel horrible now but I know within a few months they will be yelling and conversing in Italian just like the other kids in the neighbourhood; this week will be but a blip in their memory. With everything in life that seems a little hard and sickening you just have to take deep breaths and get through it……..but to look into those big blue eyes and see genuine fear of the unknown really does pull at your heart-strings and make you want to vomit.

One of the many delights the boys have is banana cake. I made it for each of their first birthdays and we make it together whenever the bananas look like they have seen better days. Over summer the bananas have been ripening at record speed so I have been throwing them in the freezer with the intention to make smoothies……alas I have no smoothie maker! So I decided with the looming day of the Italian exam approaching the least I could do was make the boys their beloved banana cake as a treat.

I wasn’t sure if our trusty oven was up for the job seeing as I have never baked in something so small before but I thought I could at least try.Image

I also haven’t made a cake entirely by hand in a VERY long time: I’m talking no mechanical devices to cream that butter and sugar! I pulled the butter out in the morning and let it warm up as much as possible and then guesstimated the weight of the sugar, flour and milk (lack of scales and measuring cups). I did forget to buy bi-carb (to help break down the bananas) as it is sold in the cleaning product aisle and it is not an aisle I frequent often, so I was hoping the defrosted banana would suffice.


I beat and whipped the butter and sugar until my arms felt like they were turning into tree trunks (about 3 minutes ha,haa). I seriously forgot how hard it is to ‘cream’ butter and sugar together, I mean we just pop the two into the mixer and usually forget about it until you see the fluffy consistency you’re after. It was good to go back to basics once again.

I have never used frozen bananas before and I was amazed at how runny they were which made me think I probably didn’t really need the bi-carb. I think they also gave the cake a caramelized flavour that I have never gotten before.


Once I folded the flour and milk through at the last-minute I could tell the batter was a little denser than I am used to seeing, however, I am guessing that was due to my lack of bicep power and no fault of the recipe!

I did the old butter and flour method for a non stick surface on the tin and then flattened the mixture out and popped it in the oven. I usually bake it on 180 degrees without a fan for 50 minutes and get excellent results every time. However, I had a feeling this wasn’t going to take quite so long. The banana intoxication started almost straight away (good sign) and the kids were all going crazy over the smell while playing Pokemon. I checked the cake after 20 minutes and it looked done but the top wasn’t quite springing back so I gave it another 8 minutes and I think that was about 4 minutes too long as it was a little too dark brown when I finally pulled it out…


I don’t know why I was disappointed with that. The kids inhaled pieces faster than I could pour some milk to go with!

I have just returned from collecting the boys from their two-hour exam and I am delighted to report they all came out looking relieved and happy it was all over. They were bursting with energy and we couldn’t get a word out of them. We found out the head teacher there today was in fact Alex’s new teacher and I couldn’t be more pleased. She is about two feet smaller than me, has a beautiful smile with a kind face and Alex had colour back in his cheeks- I’m feeling hopeful once again!

We arrived back home, I cut up the remaining banana cake and they finally talked about the exam; it was OK but hard. Max said it was hard to read in Italian and then translate into English, do the maths problem and then write it in Italian….Ummm I didn’t even know they could read Italian!!?