Author Archives: littlevantuil

About littlevantuil

A bilingual blog (Indonesian and Dutch) till Feb 2018, English afterwards. Stories of our little family.

lost first baby tooth, yayyy!!!

Standard

Yesterday was a special day. Not just because we had another “Paella Popular” (a part of the Festa Major, see my previous post. The Paella was cooked in a huge pan and we ate this yumminess together with around 200 other people). But mostly because the long awaited day has come for Sky: She lost her first baby tooth!!!
I said ‘long awaited’, because in her previous class in the Netherlands, all children have lost one or more teeth (and many started very early), only Sky didn’t. But actually, here in Spain, some children in her current class haven’t lost their teeth also. Genetic factor plays a role, maybe?

So the tooth has wiggled for about 4 days. During the lunch yesterday Sky said: “And now I will bite in this cucumber, maybe the tooth will then break.” She took a deep bite, and Joop saw (and heard) it all happening! First she ate the piece of cucumber she had in her mouth, then she spitted the tooth out.

We let her gargle with lots of water to rinse her gums, then I washed the tooth and we put it in her tooth box. She doesn’t believe in the tooth fairy anyway, she’s not going to put the tooth under her pillow, so we just gave her a coin for her piggy bank, haha!

Nice detail: I searched in this blog (lucky to have all memories written down here!) for her ‘first tooth’. It appears to be on October 11th, and the second one on October 31st. So exactly 6 years ago! And by the way that second tooth has started to wiggle too this morning. These are the first and the last pictures of her lovely little tooth:

blog3
blog4

Advertisements

Festa Major; big party it is!

Standard

It won’t be a surprise if I say we love to see and experience other cultures. We’re so lucky we now live in a beautiful country with a rich history and an unbelievable grandness of culture. In these 2 months of time, we have witnessed so many things and those are just a small part of what this country has.

blog16The “Festa Major“, for example. It’s Catalan for “fiesta mayor/big party”. Celebrated once a year, but it seems like we could find one every weekend, haha…partly because every area in every city in Catalonia seems to have one and because it is summertime. There are festa major’s in the winter though, but mostly are held in the summer. We have been to two of them, one from our own city-part where we live and the other is from the neighbourhood next to ours.

Festa Major usually lasts for 3 or 4 days (up to one week, in Barcelona for example). And it’s full of music, dance, children’s amusement, food (eat together!), sport (bike together or color-run), sometimes a funny competition (who eats the most puddings) but can also be a “serious” one (who cooks the most delicious paella), and sometimes you can also witness Spanish magnificent heritage like the castell (human tower) or the gegantes (parade of giant costume figures). Here below some video’s and photo’s of our “Festa Major” experience:

It’s always started, and accompanied, by music. The opening of the Festa Major (it’s also like an announcement for the whole neighbourhood):

blog10

The castell (human tower):

blog15

The gegantes (it’s not a very big one, nevertheless a wonderful experience to see especially because it’s our first one! The two biggest gegantes and their ‘child – girl’ usually stand at the Monastery Museum of Sant Cugat. It’s great to recognize them on the street):

blog14

blog13

Children are mostly entertained during the whole ‘party’:

Foam party:

blog9

Water slide:

blog11

Bubbles:

blog12

A magician show:

blog2

Zumba dancing (this is mostly for ladies):

blog1

Remote-Controlled toy car race (and this one is mostly for big boys!):

blog3

blog4

blog5

Eating super yummy paella with 180 other neighbours. The paella is cooked for hours in a giant paella-pan. A specialist paella catering made it (they are known for their world record in making the biggest and the smallest paella in the world!). They started early in the morning and finished at around 2 pm. Before that we had to buy tickets for a package of paella, salad, water and wine (per table), for a very small amount of money. It was finger-licking delicious…and so cozy!! A lady of the committee came specially to greet us, knowing we are not Spanish and very new in the neighbourhood. She welcomed us and said that everyone is part of the big family…so sweet! πŸ™‚

blog7

blog6

blog8

This is just a small impression of the Festa Major happening. We can’t be in all places for all days, but I hope you get the idea. About how fun this festival is. About how people are coming together to celebrate, to eat and drink, to meet other neighbours, to entertain the kids, or just out of curiousity but were surprised by the hospitality… like us! πŸ™‚

learning language is fun(ny)

Standard

blog1Yesterday was the last day of my Basic Catalans Course. 10 x 2 hours in 2,5 weeks. Learned basic conversations like how to introduce yourself, to ask and order something, to go to the doctor, and basic things likeΒ the numbers, colors, weather, food and drink… It was fun! The group was very diverse, but mostly come from South-America so already speak Spanish but want to learn Catalan. Only 3 people were still learning Spanish as well, and I was the most beginner one, haha… The whole course was done in Catalan (and some Spanish words if really needed), so I would not say I understood everything. But the teacher was just awesome. She made me feel comfortable and so I have taken the most advantages of the course. Too bad I can’t join the next level course because the timetable collides with my Spanish course, which has started last week. Two times a week, each 2 hours in the morning. Joop is also planning to follow a Spanish course, but the only institute which offers night classes has at the moment no night group for his level (A2), so he has to wait for a while. Oh, and yesterday we had a little “festa” (Catalans for fiesta/party) to end the course. Everyone has to bring l’entrepa (like tapas, small food) and we enjoyed them together. Yummm!!

Talking about language, we notice we make a progress. Sometimes we’re able to participate in an easy conversation. But it goes up and down…another time we’re just completely lost in translation, haha…. And we make mistakes, oh for sure, we make lotssss of them. But no learning without making mistakes, right? And some of those are really funny. Here are some I still remember:

  • One day we went to a cafe and I tried to order some drinks. I knew the word for ‘drinks’ is ‘bebidas‘, but somehow out of my mouth came the wordΒ ‘huevos‘, which is ‘eggs’. Can you imagine the looks of the waitress when I ordered some ‘huevos’? πŸ˜€
    Vector cartoon non alcoholic drinks
  • Joop and Sky were at the supermarket. They asked some people whether they have ‘pre-baked bread’ (bread that you still have to put for a short time in the oven). Using two keywords: ‘bread’ and ‘oven’. Well, yes, they have. And they shown Joop a shelf full of…bread flour!! πŸ˜€
    blog5
  • blog6One of my Catalan classmates asked me if I am “casada” (= married). What I heard is “cansada” (= tired). No, of course I’m not tired, what makes you think of that! πŸ˜€
  • We had an issue with electricity shut-down when it rains. So after calling the landlord, he made an appointment with the building maintenance and the guy came to check everything. He asked me if I have “papel de cocina” (literally: paper of the kitchen). I do, so I went to the kitchen to get the parchment paper. He laughed when he saw that, showed his dirty hands and said: ‘No, not that. I need something to clean my hands’. Aha! ‘Paper of the kitchen’ simply means kitchen rolls/paper towels. Sounds logical afterwards! πŸ˜€
    blog3
  • blog2This one happened quite a while ago, when Joop was alone in Spain before we came together. He had finished his dinner and the waitress came to ask what he wanted for desserts. Out of all options that she mentioned, Joop could only catch the words ‘kiwi‘ and ‘balls‘. So he thought that might be ‘kiwi ice cream’ and he ordered ‘two small balls of it’. And there came his desserts: two real kiwi’s served with a small knife and a spoon. πŸ˜€

And how about Sky? Well, I think she is absorbing, a LOT. From 8.30 to 16.30, 5 days a week, she’s surrounded by either English, Spanish or Catalans (plus half an hour Chinese). And she is okay with it. With the fact that she doesn’t need to understand it all. Maybe we have given her a good example. She sees how we try to speak those new languages, with ups and downs, with funny mistakes and frowned eyebrows. And that’s all right. Of course she is also progressing, but firstly it’s important that she feels comfortable. Everyday she says she has a good day, with many stories to tell. I notice that when I pick her up, she sometimes still answers me with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (instead of ‘ja’ or ‘nee’). So fun to hear! πŸ™‚

This sentence I will always remember. She made it just after we moved here. It contains such a brilliant language twist I couldn’t even make myself:
“Die jas draag ik elke dag”
English translation: “That coat, I wear everyday”.
“Die jas” sounds like “dias”, which means “days” (in Dutch: “dag”).

blog7

 

 

how our first work/study week went

Standard

blog1

So we survived another week…a very important week it was!

Joop has (officially) worked for 2 weeks at his new office, Sky has finished her very first week at her new Spanish/Catalans international school, and I have completed 2 (out of 10) days of basic Catalans course. Oh woww…sounds impressive right?!

The week went well. Of course, all of us have some ups and downs moments, but so far so good. Joop has tried his best only to speak Spanish at work, and he feels he is progressing. More vocabulary learnt and if the context is right he can quite follow the big line of the conversation (I’m trying to be very careful here…because just don’t think we can have a great conversation. Only the basic things so far!) πŸ˜€

And miraculously I could also quite follow my Catalans lessons, with my very little knowledge of Spanish! The teacher is just great, she speaks very slowly and tries her best to help all of us (no Spanish nationality in the class, almost all come from Latin America). Concerning the Catalans language, I will only follow the 10-days basic course. Simply because my Spanish course will also start next week (2 days a week), and it collides with the next level of Catalans course. Pity!

blog3

And how about Sky… Well, she is fine!!! She liked her first week at school, much to our delight!! If you remember my post a few weeks ago about how much my worry is…none of them turns real, because she comes home everyday full of stories to tell and she really seems to enjoy it all. I asked her if she could understand when the teachers speak in English (one third of the time). She could a bit, and mostly it’s enough. The lessons spoken in Spanish (sport and math) and Catalans (music) luckily contain many universal words. But, she also recognized that she could hardly speak back, even worse if she wanted to explain things. It’s frustrating. We all know that feeling!

The funny thing is about the lunch and the afternoon snack. We know Sky loves food. And it’s also the first thing we discuss everytime I pick her up at school. I can access the monthly menu at the school internal website so I know what she got or will get, but she just loves to explain what she has eaten, and that she always finishes them all… Well that’s at least one less issue for us. πŸ˜€ She also doesn’t have issues having lunch an hour later than what we do at home. Again, my worry just disappears in the air….

So once again, so far so good. We are getting into our daily rhythm and doing things we are planning to do. Everyone is healthy and happy… and this adventure has started to get its shape.Β  πŸ™‚

blog2

first day of school in Spain

Standard

For many Spanish parents it’s a big relieve to walk their children to school again this morning, after 11 weeks (!!!) of summer holiday (compared to 6 weeks in the Netherlands). But for me, it feels so unreal how fast the past weeks gone by. We now live 6 weeks here in Spain, have been busy with so many things and have passed through many milestones in such a short period of time… but today marks a very important milestone in our life: The first day Sky goes to school in our new homeland. First time wearing a school uniform! She is really looking forward into it:

blog1

This month the children are allowed to wear their sport uniforms because the weather is just still too warm for the “official” uniform, which is made of thick material. The ‘problem’ with uniforms is, that you have to put names on all of them, from the backpack to the swimming suit. That’s the advice I got from another mom and also from school. So we ordered a name-sticker which you can iron on the clothes (or sew on the bags). Like this:

blog2

The school starts at 08.50 and will end at 16.35, all the same from Monday till Friday. Again, very different compared to her school in the Netherlands (08.30 – 15.00, and on Wednesday till 12.30). The long hours are compensated by having 2 hours long afternoon break (in NL 1 hour), including having lunch together at the big dining room. Sky is so curious what kind of meal she would get today! Actually I can check the monthly menu on the internal school website, but we have made an agreement that I will only check it when she has gone to school, haha…. (pstt, I have just take a look and all the menu seems delicious!! I think she will like most of them). This is the school dining room:

blog4

Last week we had a parent’s meeting at school, where presentations were given both in general (we had a special English version in a different room) and in the children’s own classroom by the teachers themselves. Children were not allowed to join this meeting, so we had to arrange a sitter for Sky. The first time in her life she stayed at home with a sitter! (talking about milestones….) We’re lucky to find a Dutch sitter, an 18 years old girl who has lived here for about 5 years. Sky was all happy and enthousiast about her! This is a picture during the presentation in the class (which was all in Spanish, with occasionally some English summaries afterwards). As long as I know there are 3 non-Spanish children in the class, out of 23.

blog5

And the last Friday before the school starts was an Open Day. Parents and children are allowed to come in the class and met the teachers. We got explanations and guided tour around the school. Such a good idea, especially for new students and parents like us. At least now Sky knows where the nearest toilet is and where she should go to fill in her water bottle. We also got to see the classes, the library, the dining room, the gym, the playground, the computer room and the music room:

blog3

I have to admit I’m quite nervous today. I try to keep myself busy (like by writing this blog), but still I kept looking at the clock and thinking ‘What is she doing right now? Is she happy, not getting a headache from all the foreign languages spoken and the new children around her?” Oh my, I can’t wait to hear all her stories when I pick her up (or not, maybe she doesn’t feel like sharing them today. All okay). Tomorrow is a Catalonian Public Holiday (Diada Nacional de Catalunya), so happy with that. Then we have one day to take a rest from this impressive ‘first day’.

blog6

 

worry

Standard

blog5

Mothers are made to worry, especially when it comes to their little ones.

I’m worry if Sky would be okay with our big move. If she would like our new house here in Spain, with us busy settling things down and learning the language and everything new around us…

I’m worry, because she will soon enter a new school and learn 3 new languages at once. Three!!! Which means she will be in a new environment, with all new teachers and kids who all speak languages she does not understand yet. We try our best to teach her some English the past half year, but that’s so far from enough. At least, that’s my worry…

And she is such an observant girl. Not shy, like some people might think at first sight. She would not jump into anything before she’s comfortable enough with it. She needs to watch and understand the situation first, and it might take some times. Maybe she would not easily make friends in her new class… At least, that’s my worry…

I was reading her new school schedule and oh what a long day they will make at school. Much longer than the school days in the Netherlands, almost 2 hours longer! Wouldn’t she be too tired? And their lunch start at 13.20!! Oh my, that’s so late! At her previous school the kids would have lunch at 12 (and at home also)! And she’s such an eater, will get cranky when her tummy rumbles. Poor little girl… At least, that’s my worry…

blog2

But then,

She has never complained ever since we’re here. She always has a big smile on her face, and keep telling me what a beautiful house (with a big garden!) and a pretty green surrounding we now have in Spain. She is so sweet and helpful (what have I done to deserve this kid!)

We take her everywhere, from arranging some legal things (city hall, police office, parking office, other offices…) till shopping for the necessary home appliances (internet/tv/phone office, car dealers, electronics, diy-stores, garden and plants, water filter, outdoor furnitures, more diy stuff…) and she enjoys it all. Everything. Each of them is an adventure, and every single one is just as exciting. Whether it’s about finding a delicious dessert in the supermarket or to get our health insurance done at the bank. Whether it’s about wandering around the weekly city market or to register ourself in the city hall.

blog8
blog1And then,

We got our first playdate. With two other mothers with their daughters (in total 5 girls together with Sky, all about the same age and all will go to the same school). We met at the park, and the girls immediately played together like they have known each other for years. The moms had a blast too. But for me it’s so special to see how Sky seemed to be at her ease. How much fun she had although she might not understand all words said (almost all in English). How children can easily play together without having to worry.

blog6

And moms like me…well, we are made to worry. It’s in our nature, I guess. But with all things happening these weeks, to watch and see how Sky smoothly and joyfully enjoying her days…it relieves my worries a bit. The big move still has to happen, when she really goes to school, in 10 days. But I believe we have set a solid base to hop on. Let’s continue from that. πŸ™‚

blog7

one happy cat

Standard

blog4

Lot, our cat, has never placed her feet on the grass before…till this week!
Her first owner lived in an appartment, and when she came to stay with us exactly one year ago (she was one year old at that time, now just turns two), we decided to also keep her inside. Our garden was very small and the streets around the house were too busy. Plus some bad experiences with our previous cat, who -once allowed to go outside- would fight with all neighbour’s cats, killed the birds, went into neighbour’s house and pooped in their garden…
But then we moved here in Spain. In a new house with perfect backyard (with real grass!) and extra terraces. We think: “why not?” Let’s give it a try!
So there she was, for the very first time in her life, sniffing the real fresh air and feeling the morning dew under her feet. Covered in spider web and running after butterflies. Trying to catch every insects between the grass. She danced and made air-salto’s…so happy…and when tired settled down under the palm trees.

blog3

But, she’s only allowed to go outside under our supervision, and may not climb on/over the fence (yet). We know her well. She’s a very playful, curious and enthousiast young cat, who loves adventures and new things. And we have been living in this new house for too short of a time to be sure that she knows how to come back after a walk. Another thing: in these 3 weeks we only saw once a cat wandered on the street. Maybe we haven’t seen them yet, but for sure we won’t take the risk to be complained by our new neighbours about our cat’s behaviour!

We noticed that through the branches of this olive tree, she can easily reach the fence and jump to the other side. So it becomes a restricted area, at least for now:

blog2

Sky “called” her to ask whether everything is okay there under the palm trees:

blog1
Our terrace, she always walks along with us if we sit there:

blog5

One thing less nice is, just like any other cats will do I suppose, once she tastes the outdoor life like now, she will meow everytime she thinks it’s time to play outside. And that means a lot of meowing during the day. Luckily she is a lady with quite a soft voice. Our previous cat was a big male who would growl like a bear, haha…