learning Spanish and some updates

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Screenshot_20180614-224852We are learning Spanish…oh yes we do. But oh our old grey cells inside our much-too-full head…they have difficulties absorbing all those new words and grammars and structures. I really notice the differences compared to 16 years ago, when I was still young (ehm…) and started to learn Dutch. But I keep comforting myself by remembering my early Dutch-experience. That once you are inside the country and surrounded by the target language, it will all become much easier (if you keep talking, at least). Language immersion, practice and repeat; that should be it.

Sometimes Sky will join us when we are practicing with our Duolingo app. Or she would pick some words from the book “Spanish for children” and start to question us. But for her right now is English the main focus. She gets support from her school, which we are so thankful of (once a week an English lesson special for her) and we repeat the lessons everyday. Not always easy, but we try to keep it fun.

Next to books and app I also follow a short Spanish (beginners) online course from the library, and I try to listen as much as possible to a Spanish radio:

One proud moment for me was in February, when we were at the Girona airport waiting for our flight back to the Netherlands. I had been using Duolingo for about 55 days at that time. And I was able to ask the waitress automatically: “Tienes una cuchara?” (= do you have a spoon). Wow, that felt good! And now everytime I feel like I’m slowing down and not learning anything, I recall that memory and think about how nice would it be if I can actually having a conversation in Spanish!

Talking about language immersion. At the moment I publish this post Joop has almost finished his 2 weeks Spanish stay. He needs to stay there for a while to find a house (and yessss we found one! Our Spanish home!) and to arrange his NIE-number (also in the pocket!). In 2 weeks time he only wants to speak Spanish with his colleagues and people he met, and he feels like he has made quite some progress. From “do not understand at all” to “get the approximate context”. Well, every big journey starts from the smallest steps… 🙂

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‘last-time’ blues

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I think I start to get some ‘last-time’ blues. Now the moving date is getting closer (somewhere in August), I start to think about every last-time I still want to do in the Netherlands. Everytime I visit a place I don’t often visit or do things I don’t often do, my mind jumps into conclusion: “This could be the last-time I visit this place, or do this thing”. And maybe not only for me, but mainly for my daughter. I keep thinking: “Has she seen enough from this land? Enough to give her memories of her birthland?”

Ridiculous of course. We make memories all the time and we will keep making it, wherever we will live. But still…that feeling… It’s not necessarily a negative feeling, nor a positive one. But it does give some boost into action. For example, I have lived almost 16 years in the Netherlands and I have never visited the Keukenhof; “the most beautiful spring garden in the world” as their website promised… until this spring! Well I have to, and so I showed it to my daughter too. First foto above is from Keukenhof (and despite all the tourists, it was super pretty!). And next to that we have visited a windmill, watched a flower parade, visited a castle and some musea, experienced the yearly military parade on the liberation day, and for the last-time (there we go again) visited the safari park we have been members for 3 years.

So we start to end some journeys here in this country. But where a door closes, another one will open. And we will keep writing the memories in our life book, closing a chapter and ready for a new one. 🙂

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how she deals with the big news

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I got questions how Sky reacted when we first told her that we’re going to move to Spain.
Well, she cried. Long and harrowing.
And we hugged her, without words. We have kept the news for about one month for ourselves before telling her. To make sure about the situation first, to think of the best way to tell her and to prepare our words. But not many words were required. When she regained herself she had a very interesting reaction: she didn’t want to talk about it until she’s ready for it. Then she would come to us and we could talk.

And she did. Days went by and we were getting nervous. What to do? What could we do?
But we respected her will. And after some days (maybe a week or two), she started the conversation. And asking questions. From serious stuff like ‘how’s life there’ and ‘what will her school look like’ to funny things like ‘do they have lice-mothers?’

She had probably settled the idea in her mind and got ready to change thoughts with us, which we think is a very mature way of dealing with such a big news. In the weeks after that she still has some difficult moments sometime. Her teacher promised her not to talk or ask questions whatsoever in the class if she’s not yet comfortable with it.

But she moved forward. Slowly but sure we can talk about it. She gets used to it. We have discussion and share our fantasies, search for information we want to know, learn the (fun)facts and the languages. Not easy for her, she still gets teary eyes whenever we’re digging into it, given how delicate her soul is. Not easy, but it gets a bit easier. And we’re so relieved to see it happening. What a process… so thankful to experience this as a family!

And the crown of it all: She is now preparing a presentation (in Dutch we call it a “spreekbeurt”) to be shown and told in front of her class, about Spain! Oh we’re so proud she wants to do it, such a brave girl!

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our trip – the first impressions

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We spent 8 days in Barcelona and Girona. First time in Spain for Sky. Not the first time for us definitely, but this one felt so different. We looked differently at places and things. blog 1dNot as just a tourist, but with the awareness of “we will be living here soon”. So we paid more attention, tried to listen to conversations, absorbed the daily life… That awareness has come to Sky too. When we could not get any closer to Sagrada Familia (just use the metro in Barcelona, it’s ridiculous to try to park your car anywhere…) she said: “It’s okay, we’ve caught a glimpse of it. Next time we live here we can visit it anytime we want.” That’s right dear, we will explore this city for sure. 🙂

This trip is such a great coincidence. We booked it in November, when we didn’t have any slight idea yet that we will not be visitors, but citizens-to-be. We grabbed the chance blog 1fand made use of it, and we were able to make an appointment with an international school we think will be nice for Sky. So we visited the school and had a guided tour around its facilities. I think it’s an important step for her, to see and feel her future school in real life, not just from the website. It seems like she approves it and she has more confidence in this whole “moving” thing afterwards.

So we spent one day around the school area and its neighbourhood, and visited some villages between the route of Joop’s future office and this school, just to get an impression of where to live (and where not!). Because the next important step, after getting our NIE-numbers (to be able to live in Spain for more than 3 months) is of course: find a house!

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The rest of the trip was filled with real ‘holiday stuff’: wandering around La Ramblas, playing at Parc de la Ciutadella and Parc de Diagonal Mar, admiring Gaudi’s and other artists’ works in the city. After 4 days we moved the base to Vidreres, about half an hour under Girona. We did a children-quest in Girona (that was really fun!), explored the coast line: Lloret de Mar, a small beach in-between (probably Platja de Canyelles) and even visited Tossa de Mar twice…such a beautiful place! And food…lots of delicious food! We often eat “menu del dia” as lunch and I will cook for dinner (as usually we rented houses from AirBnB, allowing us to cook our meal). One reason is to reduce the expenses, other is having a child makes it difficult to have dinner at 9 p.m.

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And now one funny thing I learned during this trip:
If you want to have “normal” eggs (I mean like the one you need to make an omelet for breakfast), don’t buy one with “cocidos” on it, because it means “cooked”!! It was a funny surprise though when I broke one and nothing came out of it…haha…

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Spain, our next home :)

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I write this post in English. Not in line with our blog title “bilingual…” but if you read this post you’ll understand why. And maybe I will continue this, to write only in English. First it saves me a lot of time, second I need to practice my English again, third it will probably reach more public, and last but not least it’s like setting up a mental boundary for the coming period in our family.

Because this summer, in August, will be HUGE for our family. We’re going to have one very important milestone. Maybe as important as the birth of our daughter, haha…
We’re going to MOVE…to Barcelona! To EMIGRATE…to Spain!!!

blog1This will be my second emigration (my 3rd country, and my 8th city), but 15 years ago I did it all alone. Now I have a family and a cat, and lots of stuff (way too much!) and we will do this together.

My husband Joop gets a beautiful opportunity to work in his company’s branch in Barcelona, and we decided to grab this golden chance with both hands. It will be a family adventure. Will not be easy peasy for sure, but we will come, see, and overwin. 🙂 Spain is a beautiful country, with great food and a better climate than the Netherlands (ha!). I believe they have friendly people and a relaxed atmosphere too, and I love the language ever since I was young (not that I’m that old…).

Sky has the perfect age to start the Primary school there (the Spanish ‘Primaria’ starts at the age of 6). She has a great advantage of being a year ahead of her peers so she can focus on learning the language in the first years. The intention is to have an international school as her new school, so English, Spanish, and Catalan are the languages she will learn. And so do we!

blog4These months will be hectic and exciting at the same time. Luckily we don’t own a house anymore, so we can just notify the landlord of our current house, pack up our stuff and move. Rest still the administrative matters, in both countries: unsubscribe/subscribe, permits, insurances, regulations, legal stuff… We’re busy organizing everything, finding out information, and doing what needs to be done, step by step. We will try to share things regularly through this blog.

But we are parents in the first place. It’s not easy for Sky, and we’re doing our best to be next to her, to support her through the process. To wipe her tears and to listen to her doubts. To tell her what we already know and to sit down together to search the answers of her many questions (“Do they also have lice-mothers there?”). But also to share the excitement and fantasize the great things which will surely come to our path. It will be…awesome!!! 🙂

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reading like a champ

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Belajar membaca, sebuah proses yang ajaib. Magical. Waktu Sky masuk kelas 3 akhir bulan Agustus tahun lalu, dia baru mulai bisa membaca kata-kata sederhana seperti ‘kipblog8(ayam) dan ‘pan‘ (panci). Itupun dengan susah payah. Sudah hebat untuk anak sekecil itu! Sekarang, 5 bulan kemudian, dia membaca segala yang bisa dibaca. Bis lewat, selebaran iklan, emailku (ups, mulai sekarang laptop harus dikunci kalau aku tinggalkan, hehe), tube pasta gigi (katanya: “nama odol ‘zendium’ itu lebih bagus ya daripada ‘sensodyne'”), nama toko (“kenapa sih toko itu dinamai ‘stom‘ (bodoh)?” sambil menunjuk ke sebuah ‘stomerij‘ (alias dry clean. Penggalan ‘stom‘ itu asalnya dari ‘stoom‘, yang artinya ‘uap panas’).

Persis 2 bulan lalu kami mencapai sebuah milestone istimewa: Kami sudah meminjam 1000 buku dari perpustakaan, dalam waktu 4 tahun! Dari Ibu perpus Sky mendapat hadiah kecil kenang-kenangan, dan beritanya muncul di laman Facebook perpus. 1000 buku sudah kami bacakan untuknya, dan sekarang dia sudah bisa membaca sendiri. Senang sekali mengikuti perjalanannya belajar membaca, dan melihatnya menikmati dunia perbukuan seperti ini. Semoga bisa menjadi bekal berharga sepanjang hidupnya.

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Dan hari ini kami menerima portfolio (raport) mid-semester sekolahnya. Di sini disebut portfolio, karena yang berisi penilaian hanya selembar, sementara sisanya adalah hasil karya lainnya, seperti gambar, prakarya, foto, tulisan, cerita, dll. Di semua kategori penilaian (membaca, mengeja, berhitung dan kosakata) Sky mendapat score ‘A’. Level membacanya saat ini ada di level M5 (pertengahan kelas 5), yang berarti dia lebih cepat 2 tahun dari level yang diharapkan. Sebagai orang tua, yang tersisa hanya rasa syukur dan bangga… 

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blog2Het is zo’n wonderlijk iets; leren lezen. Toen ze in groep 3 begon, eind augustus vorig jaar, kon ze nog maar net met moeite woordjes als ‘kip’ en ‘pan’ lezen. Dat was ook al heel wat voor zo’n klein meisje! En nu, 5 maanden later, leest ze alles…maar dan ook alles wat te lezen valt. Een voorbijrijdende bus, reclamefolder, mijn e-mails (oeps, voortaan de laptop vergrendelen als ik niet erachter zit!), tandpasta tubes (“ik vind het woord ‘zendium’ mooier dan ‘sensodyne'”, zei ze), winkelnamen (“wat is er stoms aan die winkel?” Het was een stomerij…).

Precies 2 maanden geleden hebben we een bijzondere mijlpaal bereikt: We hebben het 1000e boek geleend bij de bieb, in 4 jaar tijd! Van een aardige bieb-medewerkster hadden we een kleine attentie gekregen en Sky stond op hun Facebook pagina. 1000 boeken hebben we voor haar gelezen, en nu leest ze al heel veel boeken zelf. Wat een plezier heeft ze daarin, en wat is het leuk om het te zien en deze ontwikkeling mee te maken.

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En vandaag hebben we haar school portfolio meegekregen, met daarin haar mooie werkjes en de toets resultaten. Voor lezen, spelling, rekenen en woordenschat heeft ze een ‘A’. Haar leesniveau staat op M5 (mid groep 5), dat betekent 2 jaar voorsprong, wat het lezen betreft. Wat kun je als ouders nog meer doen dan dankbaar en trots zijn… 

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her first piano exam and a concert!

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blog4Les piano pertama Sky adalah bulan Mei tahun lalu, dan di penghujung tahun dia menyelesaikan modul pertama yang namanya ‘les anak-anak’ (sekarang dia mengikuti modul les biasa/normal). Untuk menutup ‘les anak-anak’ itu dia berhak mengikuti ujian dan mendapat penilaian. Kalau les biasa aku selalu menemaninya di dalam ruang les, tapi saat ujian kemarin aku harus menunggu di gang. Tapi anaknya ternyata percaya diri. Waktu dijemput gurunya dia langsung masuk ke ruang ujian sendiri, mengapit map lagu pianonya di bawah lengan, hehe… Ada satu penguji asing, dan bersama guru pianonya mereka memberi penilaian, semacam raport. Untung aku boleh masuk ke ruangan untuk ikut mendengarkan. Nilai tertinggi, 9, tercantum di ketiga komponen penilaian: musikalitas, teknik/skill, dan daya usaha/effort. Plus kata-kata pujian dari kedua penguji. Anaknya senang dan bangga luar biasa…dan orang tuanya juga!!!

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Beberapa hari sesudah ujian, dia berpartisipasi dalam sebuah konser piano, untuk pertama kalinya bermain di depan publik. Bersama dengan 6 murid lain, mereka memberi konser di sebuah panti jompo. Ide yang sangat bagus, siang itu semua terlihat menikmati; baik dari kontak sosial dan perhatian yang diberikan, maupun dari variasi lagu-lagu yang dimainkan. Hari yang tidak akan terlupakan dan semoga bisa segera diulang lagi!

Video konsernya ada di bagian paling bawah ya.

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Haar eerste pianoles was in mei vorig jaar. Ze heeft inmiddels de zogenaamde ‘kindercursus’ afgerond (en gaat nu verder met de ‘normale les’) en mocht de cursus afsluiten door een tentamen te volgen en een rapport te krijgen. Tijdens de gewone les mag ik altijd aanwezig zijn, echter bij het tentamen niet, ik moest in de gang blijven wachten. Maar Sky vond het helemaal niet erg. Ze ging vol zelfvertrouwen zelf naar binnen toen de juf haar ophaalde, haar pianomap onder haar arm geklemd. Er was nog een andere pianoleraar bij en na afloop kreeg Sky een rapport (waar ik gelukkig weer bij mocht zijn). Een rapport waar op alle drie de onderdelen (muzikaliteit, vaardigheid en inzet) een 9 was gescoord, het hoogste cijfer. En een heleboel lovende woorden van beide examinatoren. Een super blij en trots kind…en ouders!!!

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Een paar dagen na het tentamen heeft ze haar eerste piano concert gegeven. Samen met 6 andere leerlingen, gaven ze een optreden in een verzorgingshuis. Een prachtig idee, een middag waar iedereen zichtbaar genoot; van de aandacht en van het gevarieerde programma. Om nooit te vergeten en zeker voor herhaling vatbaar!

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