Tag Archives: adventure

About last Saturday, ear piercing and Xmas concert

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I forgot my key this morning. As usually we went out of the house together and Joop dropped Sky and I off nearby the school, on the way to his work. After making sure Sky was in her classroom I went home by train, and just in front of the gate of our house I realized I did not have my key with me.

So here I am, sipping a cup of ‘cafe con leche‘ at a cafe at the commercial centre, about 20 minutes walking from our home. Waiting for Joop to ride home during his lunch break to lend me his key. Writing a blog post to kill the time, about our weekend. Because last Saturday was one exciting day for Sky.

She had her ears pierced!!!

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She was never as sure as now. In the Netherlands she was one of the last girls in the class without earrings. One by one her girlfriends got theirs, but Sky wasn’t really eager to get one. Interested in, yes, but it’s not before we’re in Spain that she mentioned her will to get pierced. We waited till the approaching Christmas holiday. Because she won’t be allowed to swim for 3-4 weeks. Next week she will have to miss one swimming lesson at school, then followed by 2 weeks holiday. So in the new year everything will be just healed and well.

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Actually it goes really well already. She has got almost no pain. We could clean the ears, drip a bit of alcohol and turn the earrings around without any significant problems. And her excitement…it’s so amazing to see. How happy and proud she is. Beaming and glowing like a grown-up girl. And she is! Those small shiny things in her ears make her suddenly looks more mature…. Oh my mother’s heart…. ❤️

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Where in the Netherlands it’s usually the jewellery stores that do ears piercing, in Spain you will have to go to a Farmacia (a pharmacy/drugstore). We went to a big Farmacia nearby our house on Friday, but were asked to come back on Saturday morning, because the lady specialized in piercing children’s ears will be available by then. So we did, and we were very satisfied with the unbelievably proffesional and super friendly service.

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Sky was asked to choose which earrings she liked most; pink flowers it is. The lady drew two black dots on her earlobes and before we knew it she already punched one ear. One minute later the other one. So quick, and almost painless (according to Sky)! Mission completed and another milestone achieved!

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But the Saturday was not over yet. While Sky was still hyper-enthousiast about her new look, at 4 she had to be at school, wearing her full uniforms. For the grand rehearsal of the yearly Christmas concert! At 6 we, the parents and other guests, were welcomed at the school’s Auditorium. After some instrumental performances by senior students and music teachers, all the first grade students (well, not all, about two third of all students because participation is not obligatory), wearing Santa hats (so cute!) came onto the stage and performed the Christmas songs. 2 English songs, 2 in Spanish and 2 in Catalan. It was so entertaining. We had such a fun and memorable night.

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Watching her singing those songs, in 3 languages she barely knew 4 months ago… I was so moved. This whole adventure, we can’t be sure of anything. But one thing I’m sure of: it will bring many more beautiful moments like this in our path. 🙂

Festa Major; big party it is!

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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):

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The castell (human tower):

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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):

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Children are mostly entertained during the whole ‘party’:

Foam party:

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Water slide:

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Bubbles:

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A magician show:

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Zumba dancing (this is mostly for ladies):

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

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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! 🙂

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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! 🙂

how our first work/study week went

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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!) 😀

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!

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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. 😀 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.  🙂

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first weeks in Spain – our new house

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A friend of mine said: “All the ‘last-times’ in the Netherlands will soon be replaced with many ‘first-times’ in Spain.”
And how!
We are now 2 weeks and 2 days here in our new home in Spain.
Hectic weeks full of formality and official things, but also filled with lots of fun and adventures…and so many ‘first-times’!!

In short: We like it here. 🙂
Sant Cugat is a beautiful city. We have (rent) a nice ground-floor appartment in a green and peaceful area. Our house has two terraces and a backyard which is in total 6 times bigger than our last home. Barcelona and the beach is only 20 minutes away and the green area “Collserola” between Barcelona and our city is only 10 minutes by car. There are plenty bike routes around the city, however till now I have only tried to bike once, because last week was really, and I mean really hot (even the locals chose to stay inside!). Biking is a challenge though, now we’re used to the flat landscape in the Netherlands. This country is hilly!

Now we have a yard, someone has to mow the lawn (but he does it with pleasure!):

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And just like many other apartment complex in Spain, there is a swimming pool behind our building. Sky would ask to go to swim every single day!

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And we take a walk around the block every day after dinner. Sky would walk or step on her scooter or bike:

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Many more stories to tell and photo’s to share…I hope I will find the time to update this blog regularly. Especially now the 115 moving-boxes are quite sorted out and many of them have found their places in and around our new house. 🙂

last day in NL

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After months of sorting, packing, disassembling furnitures, labeling, more and much more sorting and packing (how much stuff can we have!! And that’s after we cut our belonging by the half, can you imagine!) …finally the movers came yesterday to empty our house. 115 boxes, 5 bikes (yes we’re Dutch, so one bike per person, plus a mountain bike and a cargo bike :)), and some furnitures went into a truck and will travel 1400 km in 6 days (it’s a combi truck, which means they will pick up other stuff also and combine them with ours. All to reduce the cost).

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So here we are today. Our last day in the Netherlands. In an almost completely empty house. We borrow 3 inflatable mattresses and some plates, glasses and cutleries from a neighbour and we’re like going camping in a house. Tomorrow we’ll fly to Spain and will spend some days in an empty house again, waiting for the truck to deliver our 115 boxes. In our new house. Nuestra nueva casa. The start of a new adventure. It feels weird, but good. 🙂

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And on this very last day, we went to the funfair in the city (it’s the biggest in the country). Exactly 5 years ago we visited this city for the first time to find a rent house and we walked through the very same funfair. Destiny.

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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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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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