International day 2015

I have said before, International day is my favourite school event. Always a great chance to get photos and see what a wonderful community we have here at TISA. This year there are 52 different nationalities from all continents, except Antartica. TISA Times, the school magazine, has this pie-chart showing where all the pupils come from.

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The day starts with a whole school assembly, there are about 700 pupils aged between 3-18. Last year the assembly was in the old gym, which was crowded, hot and it was very hard to see the stage. This year we were in the new gym, TISA5, which was a huge improvement. Plenty of space for everyone.

The assembly started with the Azerbaijani national anthem followed by the parade of flags. Students were picked from both Middle and Primary sections (where there are enough numbers) and every nation at the school has a flag. Then onto the performances, all the primary classes performed, fortunately the upper classes were grouped together otherwise it would have over run by even longer!

There was a second assembly in the afternoon, this is usually held outside on the field but Friday as the day the weather turned from summer to autumn, so it was back to TISA5. The Caspian Choir sang at this and there were performances from the Middle and High School students.

There was also the celebration of food for lunch, which is Katrine’s favourite part of the day. I didn’t go this year to take photos but I had good feedback from Katrine and Gregor. Katrine couldn’t pick a favourite food – though she said the Chinese table was extra yummy, Gregor’s favourite was the scones from the British table!

The students also take part in workshops though out the day, Katrine went to:

  • India – henna designs on her hand
  • South Africa – drumming
  • Scotland – highland dancing
  • Turkey – marble painting
  • Holland – learnt about rivers and dams.

Gregor went to:

  • Chilli – Zumba
  • New Zealand – played a traditional game
  • Trinidad and Tobago – Limbo Dance
  • Lebanon – wrote their names in Arabic and a dance.

Katrine’s birthday party

Katrine has had 2 birthday parties this year – one in the UK with family and then another one this weekend with her friends here in Baku.

She chose to have an Alice in Wonderland themed party and we ordered a few bits and bobs in advance from the UK, party supplies are possible to find here but it can be a hunt and you are not necessarily going to find exactly what you want. When Amazon is so easy.

Katrine made her own dress, she has written a bit about it on her blog, we didn’t have a pattern so had to create that first, which we did using baking parchment. Really pleased with how it turned out and it is nice to have made it herself.

We also made a toadstool cake, using a hemispherical cake mould from lakeland and a cleaned beans tin.

IMG_0949 IMG_0950We can’t find fondant icing and aren’t sufficiently good at baking to make our own so we tried marshmallow icing instead. Surprisingly easy and fun to work with.

  • 100g marshmallows
  • 200g icing (confectioners) sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp water
  • Microwave the marshmallows for 30secs
  • Add the water & stir with a greased spoon
  • Microwave for a further 30secs at a time until melted and smooth.
  • Gradually add the icing sugar until all mixed in.
  • Kneed on a greased surface for 5 minutes until smooth and pliable.

We used 3 packets of Haribo Charmallos (as they are easy to find everywhere here) and used all of the pink about about half of the white. The pink was for the top of the toadstool and the white for the base and to make white spots. Very pleased with the results.

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We also made a batch of jam-tarts, you can’t be the Queen of Hearts with out jam tarts can you!

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Hopefully a fun time was had by all.

I’m back!

Wow, that was a very long blog break.

My last post was right back at the beginning of April, that seems a lot longer ago that just 41/2 months, a lot has happened.

Katrine fell off a trampoline at the end of March and hurt her right ankle. Being kind parents, and a Sunday on a holiday weekend, we waited until the next day to pop her along to international SOS (iSOS) clinic in Baku. Given she couldn’t move her foot and was in a lot of pain they called the radiographer in on her day off to X-ray it.  No broken bones, so just home continue with RICE and she should start to walk on it within a few days.

Week later, she still couldn’t put it down so back to see the Doctor. Suspects it might be soft tissue damage but as it is causing her a lot of pain we were sent to have an MRI to check it out. We got the appointment for the next day so toddled off to the hospital, we had a guarantee of payment from iSOS, I took Turan my diver in with me to translate, which makes it a lot easier to find out way around. So an hour of lying still (very hard work for a Katrine) with me perched on the steps and the MRI was done. The result – slight swelling of the ligaments but nothing major.

So the next step is some physio. The physio was very gentle but even this caused a huge amount of pain. We came home at lunch time but Katrine was in far too much pain to make it into school. We were supposed to do some daily exercise but it just wasn’t possible, so back to the doctors.

This is now getting slightly puzzling, no breaks on the X-ray, nothing showing up on the MRI it had now been 3 weeks but still very high levels of pain and no movement of the foot at all, certainly not weight bearing. So we get referred to an orthopaedic specialist, who after examining Katrine and the X-rays and MRIs, decides that is a Salter-Harris Fracture Type I, which is a complete fracture at the growth plate, as the growth plate shows up lighter on X-rays anyway it can be very hard to see. He recommended immobilising the ankle using a medical boot.

Good news, so we go back to the iSOS clinic for them to fit the boot. Cue screaming in pain as this is obviously agony for Katrine – apologies to anyone in the waiting room that day. After making sure that she had the full dosage of paracetamol and ibuprofen and some hot chocolate and cartoon network, they tried again. Nope, same result. Which only left the option of a hard cast. Surprisingly this did not give Katrine a lot of pain, no idea why the boot was painful and the cast not but hey ho, pain doesn’t always make sense.

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Here she is, in her Guide uniform. She even went to Guides straight from getting her leg plastered up.

Unfortunately, having her leg in plaster did not stop her ankle from hurting, which didn’t leave the doctors with many more options available in country and we were told that we would need to be medically repatriated, fancy way of saying being sent home.

We then fly back to London so see an ankle paediatric specialist, who first thing orders a new set of MRI images. He did not this it was a Salter-Harris fracture but that she has probably over stretched the nerve and referred us to 2 new specialist – a pain consultant and a specialist pain physio. He also took the hard cast off and put a medical boot on, this time no screaming in pain! We now had a diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

And so started a very long slog of seeing the physio twice a week and the pain consultant once, she was on a cocktail of medicines to try and alleviate the pain – never successfully, this was the hardest part for me, seeing Katrine always in pain.

The exercises with the physio were to desensitise Katrine’s foot and leg (at this point the pain had spread upward so it reached the knee – something I learnt, pain spreads if it is persists!) and for Katrine to reconnect with her foot. She was saying that she only had 1 leg, that the other was an alien or robotic leg that had just been attached to her knee. This is quite common for people with chronic pain. We did a lot of mirror therapy, where she could see her left foot and its reflexion, which looked like her right foot, moving in a normal way. We also had to talk about her foot and other people’s feet, counting her toes. And we also worked on breathing and relaxation techniques as pain and stress are very closely interlinked.

After what seemed like forever but was only 2 months, Katrine moved her foot. At first it was just her big toe and then the next week she could flex her ankle a little. And then the breakthrough, she put her foot on the floor.

From then on her recovery speeded up dramatically, first one step, then 2 and in three days she was walking. So then it was re-buidling the strength and regaining her sense of balance and control. And since she has recovered so well we have been able to return to Baku.

The medical staff we have dealt with have been amazing, both here in Azerbaijan and in the UK. International SOS supported us thought our time in the UK, following up the appointments with phone calls and being available for me to call if I had any problems or concerns.

Snow day in Baku

Going back a few weeks now – I did say I have been bad about updating my blog – we had snow, which obviously caused chaos on the roads and so the school shut.”Whoop, whoop” went all the children and I won’t repeat what all the mum’s said!

There was still snow the next day (Saturday) so there was no rugby or football and that was it by Sunday it had all gone. Snow over for another year.

TISA Winter Fair and gingerbread house

This weekend was the school’s winter fair. There were vendors in the old gym, games in the primary corridor and international food court, Santa’s secret shop (where the kids can shop in secret from their parents), books sale and of course Santa’s grotto.

My two decided to pass on seeing Father Christmas (first year that has happened!) but did enjoy the games and going into the shop by themselves – all items are 5azn which they pay on entry so can just browse and pick what they like. The gifts are very nicely presented in red bags all sealed so I’m not allowed to peek.

The old gym looked really nice with all the different stalls in it.

There was even a Guide table, selling all the items the girls have made over the last few weeks and some that were very kindly donated by parents. (Forgot to take a picture when Katrine was manning the stall though.)

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Gregor and I didn’t stay for long but Katrine stayed for lunch – and had Indonesian food, which she said was extremely nice.

One thing we did pick up from the winter fair was a gingerbread house kit. Lots of fun was had the next day putting it together.

Our first go of disc golf

Yesterday we stumbled on a disc golf course that has been set up behind the tennis courts in Stonepay. We started chatting to the guy who had set it up and he sold us 4 of his old discs so that we could have a go.

And as today is a public holiday – Flag Day – and the sun was shinning it was the perfect time to give it a try.

The game is pretty much as it is named, you play golf but with flying discs (a bit heavier and smaller than frisbees) there are marked tees to start in and you have to throw the disc to hit the baskets. It took us about half an hour to go all the way round with quite a few trees hit and discs flying widely off-course – but that all adds to the fun.

(p.s. the boys were wearing their bikes helmets from cycling to the course not as protection from flying discs!)

Halloween fun

A few days ago I posted some of our halloween preparations so I really need to put the photos up of the day itself.

It took about 2 hours to walk all around Stonepay, next time I will wear more sensible footwear – I got blisters! Fortunately security closed the roads as there were hundreds of children wandering around. Richard was left at home to hand out the sweets – we had over 4kgs and gave out nearly all of it. A lot of houses ran out as there were so many Trick or Treaters.

This was our first experience of a Stonepay Halloween and it didn’t disappoint, it was a shame that Katrine had a sore arm, you could tell it was hurting but she was not going to let that get in the way of collecting sweets! I didn’t see much of Gregor, as soon as he was able to, he disappeared off with a couple of other boys, every so often one the way round we would bump into them and compare our loot.

Brilliant night and one of the highlights of living here.

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