Mere is off to school amidst play dates galore!

I've been slow to blog this week as all of my computer time has been consumed by a photo book project.  But, now I am back and Mere is off to school! I think I mentioned last week that Mere finally got into a boarding school very close to us, Ballentine Memorial School.  Everyone is thrilled. I know it will be a huge change for Mere and she will really have to commit to her studies, but overall it is a good opportunity for her and I am so glad we can help support her.    

I had no idea all that went into getting someone ready for boarding school. I am SOOOO thankful to my housekeeper, Fanny and my friend, Torika for their guidance.  There is absolutely no way I could have done this without them.   We picked up a list of supplies a mile long (three pages typed).  I looked at the list, noting things like a mosquito net, black sandals, specific uniforms you can only get at certain places, sulus, hymnals, sheets, masi, dishes, weeding knife, toilet paper etc...etc...etc.    I had no idea how to collect all of these things.   Torika took Mere to the doctor to get her health approved and then we all went out on the town to shop!  We were in downtown Suva for 6 hours straight - shopping for supplies non-stop.   We went to places I didn't even know existed.   We still didn't complete the list in it's entirety....but we did enough to get her started.   I made the mistake of taking them to a salad place for lunch and they both thought I was crazy, I'm pretty sure.   Real fuel needed in the future!  

Anyway, it was a LONG day, but we got Mere set to go!  That night she labeled EVERYTHING and went to bed nervous, but excited.  On Wednesday after work I rushed to pick up Mere and drop her off at school.   We met the assistant  principal and the very first thing she said to us was, "Does she have a chest with a lock?"  What?! NO!  She didn't have a chest with a lock.  That was not on the three mile long list!  I replied that she didn't have one and did she need one?  She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Yes, she definitely needs a lock for her things."  Great.   All of those new things....just sitting around ready to get stolen.   We walked/drove to her dorm where a few girls were waiting.  They were all looking at us bewildered, probably wondering what the hell I am doing with Mere.    Her dorm is VERY basic.   There are twenty bunk beds in the room and no space to put anything else.   We just loaded her stuff into the middle of the room and I stood there awkwardly.   Finally Mere told me, "The girls said they can help me."b (In other words, you can leave now.)  I gave her a quick hug, told the girls to take care of each other, and left the room with the girls all calling out, "Bye Mam!" in giggles.    My stomach dropped as soon as I got into the car.   Oh my.   What have I done?  I started to worry that maybe I am not doing the best for Mere.  What if I just dropped her off to the wolves?   I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to drop off the girls at university!  

Needless to say, the next morning I went to search for a trunk/chest with a lock for her items.   I tried a few places and then at the last minute wandered into a hardware store with a few minutes to spare before my boot camp class.   I asked around and they said that while they did not have one in stock, they could call the warehouse for me.   I sat down while they called.   I sat and sat and sat.....30 minutes later, it was still not sorted.   (This sort of thing is SO typical here in Fiji).  I informed the man that I had to go as I was already late, but he kept telling me to hold on just one more minute.   In the end, I paid (too much) and had to pick up the chest at a warehouse that afternoon.  I ran out of the door 20 minutes late to boot camp.  That afternoon I went to the warehouse to pick up the chest.  I don't know why I underestimated how long this would take.   Everything takes a long time here.   I just assumed that I had paid for the chest so I would just be able to load it in and be off.  No.  I sat for about 15 minutes while they found the chest.  Then I had to sign some paperwork saying I already paid.  Then I waited for an invoice.  The printer stopped working.  I was getting frustrated and they finally just let me go without the paperwork so I wouldn't be extremely late picking up the kids from school.  That night, Fannie, the kids and I delivered the chest to Mere in the dorm and met all of her roommates.   She seemed so happy!  The girls were so nice this time!  They loved Andie and Zoe and just generally appeared to be the sweetest girls.   Phew! I felt so much better!

Every term the girls get a weekend out.  It just happened to turn out that this last weekend was Mere's weekend out, so after getting a phone call to pick her up early due to weather (one hour before the deemed pick up time) I was able to get Mere and check in with her regarding school.  Good news.  She LOVES it!   She said that everyone calls each other sister and they are so nice and there are so many sports and she loves her classes, etc.   We loaded her up with some essential snacks (apparently they don't get a lot of food) and dropped her off yesterday morning, feeling MUCH better about all of it.   Now we just wish her well and hope that she finds her place there.  Yay. 

She is so excited in her Friday bula wear!  She looks so professional!

Here she is getting fitted for the 5 sulu jabas that she needs.  (Still not made yet even though they were promised days ago). 

We have a plethora of avocados!  We cannot keep up with our tree!
Andie and Zoe both had sleepovers and a birthday party this weekend.   It was perfect for it as it never stopped raining.  Andie is still missing Lainie in a terrible way, so I've been trying to help her connect with others.  Hoping she soon finds her place....  

Zoe reads to Clarissa before bed.  
Fana and Zoe pampering themselves before bed.  Those cucumbers were eaten shortly after!   (Andie somehow missed the picture). 

Beautiful princesses at birthday party!

Andie begging for a longer playdate after icecream.

Sunday night dinner with our incredible scenery out back.

Yesterday, I felt an earthquake!!!  It is so unsettling to feel an earthquake!   I was in my classroom with another teacher and the whole room shook.  I am on the third floor and it honestly felt like the building was coming down.   The bookshelves shook and everything!  It was frightening!  No tsunami warnings of aftershocks so that's good I guess! 

Tomorrow is the year 3 camp!  I get to go, not as a parent, but because I am the school counselor.  Andie is over the moon excited.  We will be at Namosi eco retreat for 3 days!   I really need to start packing now instead of writing this blog.  Wish us luck because the weather forecast doesn't look good!  Pictures to follow soon!