Tag Archives: children

summer holiday ‘casals’ in Spain

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We are now in our 4th week of in total 11 weeks of summer holiday. Eleven?? Yes, 11! While the summer school holiday in the Netherlands is 6 weeks, here in Spain the kids are roaming free in the summer for almost 3 months. I have to admit they have a reason for it, since the summer months are just too warm…we reached 40°C last week and the average is between 32-35°C. So it’s often too hot to do anything, especially in the midday hours (that’s why Spanish people are having ‘siesta‘ between 2 and 4pm, or simply stop working and having an extensive lunch). I think going to school with this temperature would not be such a good idea.

But 11 weeks…first time hearing it I had a shiver and inevitably came into my mind: What should we do in those weeks??
I know the summer break should be used to relax and recharge. I know that we should not entertain our kids too much. I know that being bored every now and then is good for our kids’ creativity. And in-between those long weeks we could also spend 2-3 weeks to have our family holiday. But still…11 weeks seem so endless!

Now, in our 4th week, I must say we are going good. Time flies indeed. And my girl has grown more like a friend rather than a child I should entertain all the time. She could create her own play or project and I feel like walking alongside instead of pulling or pushing her. We go out together and discover new places, but also stay at home having a chat or other cozy moments. That’s so nice! Still some long weeks to go, but I’m sure we will survive, haha!

For those who needs some activities for the kids, one thing I learned this summer in Spain is that there are lots and lots of summer courses organized in the summer months. It’s called “casal“, and you can find them in all sorts, activity types, prices etc. From sport to dance, from art to technics…in Spanish or English or Catalan (or mixed, like most)…only in the morning till lunch or the whole day…the offers are almost infinite. If both parents have to work (or the kids simply want to join the activities), it’s a perfect way to have fun. The signing up often starts months earlier and the popular casals get full very quickly. Almost all casals are held in June, July and the first week of September, but not in August. From what we experienced last year, in August the whole city seems to be asleep…

Since this is the first time for Sky to join a casal, we only chose two. She did an art casal two weeks ago and this week a theatre casal. And she loves them!! She even already said next year she wants to do these two again…at least, but probably more! And we even just prolonged the theatre casal because she’s just so curious what theme they will be doing next week and she asked me if she can come for another week. Of course!
I’m so happy to see that she enjoys the casals so much. At the beginning I was a bit worried about the language, since the official language is Catalans, and that’s her least strong language. But apparently it’s not a problem at all. When it’s needed they will talk in Spanish, and joining casals means her Catalans is improving a lot! A win-win situation to maintain her foreign languages during this long summer holiday.

So here are some photo’s of her casals results. The theme of the art casal is ‘journey to Paris’, so they made a 3D Louvre and Eiffel tower, sculpted a clay Gargoyle, painted themselves as Mona Lisa, drew like a Monet, painted Notre Dame, the Thalys high speed train and the tourists’ boat along the Seine river…

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And at the theatre casal the story goes about the wolf. But instead of being the big scary wolf like in the Red Riding Hood, the 3 little pigs and the seven little goats story, this wolf is lonely and wanted to make friends with all the characters in those stories. I really beam with pride watching the video of their performance. My girl really seems to have fun. She did a great job playing her role, and speaking her dialogue in a language she didn’t know at all one year ago!

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She is one of the 4 (instead of 7) little goats.

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The star of the end dance at the party of the wolf!

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summer camp, end of school year

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blog4While I’m typing this, my daughter is in the summer camp. It’s the end of the school year here in Spain, and the school organizes a 3-days summer camp each year. Hundreds of children from all grades are having one of the most joyful days in their life. Each two grades share the same destination. Sky is in the first grade, and together with the second grade she is now staying in a ‘casa de colonias‘, a hotel-like building with many facilities indoor and outdoor where children or other big groups can enjoy their time together. I have received photo’s from her teacher yesterday and today and while I know that the hotel is in the midst of nature, I’m still impressed about how green and beautiful the surroundings are. I saw photo’s of my daughter and her friends nurturing vegetable gardens, playing games between the bushes, having their snacks under the shadow of the many big trees, a group photo in their dormitory with the many bunk beds… I think she is having a huge fun!

blog3But it was not easy, it is not. Because this is the very first time she is not sleeping with us at night. The first time she spends more than three quarter of a day without us, her parents. And that for 2 nights; 3 days! Of course we have prepared her (and the other way around) as best as we could. We had talks, she had tears and stomach ache. Woke up in the middle of the night. More talks, more tears. It’s all in the package. Sooner or later there will be the first time. And the time has come. She knows it really well, and however she’s quite scared of it, she was also very excited. Not once she said she didn’t want to go to the camp. I think she wanted to try and she knew she would have tons of fun. Only the first step is always a bit scary. For all of us!

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learn and be proud

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School’s field trip to Maritime Museum Barcelona

We were walking to her school one morning when she asked me: “Mama, can I stay in this school for many years? Till what age can I stay at school actually?” I smiled at her and answered: “Till you’re 18 years old. And yes, you can stay as long as you like.”

And I really hope I didn’t make a false promise. She likes her school very much and we; all three of us; like to live here. So hopefully she can indeed stay for many years at her amazing school.

So many things happened in the past few months. Yesterday was the last day of my Spanish course this school year. In September I will start with the next level and I got more than enough exam-points for that. Our Spanish is getting better and better. I wouldn’t say we’re advanced, but we’ve got enough to communicate with people. Sky has just got her periodical eye-control and we bought new glasses for her (her right eye now has lower cylinder and the left one stays the same). And she has finished a set of dental treatments (6 visits were needed in total). And all of those were done fully in Spanish. We’re so proud of ourselves!

But the most amazing thing is of course to see how well Sky is developing in these 10 months we’re living in Spain. I see that she now feels confident to communicate in English and Spanish, and she understands Catalans much better than me. At the Jocs Florals (Sant Jordi) celebration at school 6 weeks ago, she was one of the winners of poetry-drawing competition…in the Spanish category!!! We were called secretly by her teacher a few weeks before to attend the ceremony, so to gave her a surprise that we were there. It was such a grand moment to watch her on the stage…so proud…❤️

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March is her special month

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The previous post is about us, and this one is for Sky. Because March is a special month for her, she turned 7 two weeks ago!!! And there are more awesome memories made as well.

It started late February, when all 4 the classes of her grade performed a small musical-theatre. Her class played a piece from the movie Lion King. We enjoyed all the performances, but the big surprise came at the final stage. When all children came into the stage and received our applause. Then two girls stepped forward…and the third one…was Sky!!! They thanked the audience for coming and hoped that we enjoy the show. Sky was the first one to get the microphone in her hand…she did really well, saying those sentences in English! The second girl in Catalan, and the third one in Spanish. Wowww, can you imagine how surprised and proud we are?! Later that day Sky told us it was quite a surprise for her as well, because the teacher just asked her in the morning to do that. Probably not to make her nervous before the big day, understandable.

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And then there’s the Carnival. While the essence is the same compared to the Netherlands: dress-up, party, having fun…but it feels like the Carnival here is more enjoyable. Could be because it’s our first one, haha! But it seems like the ambience is more friendly and as usual, more relaxed. There’s more culture involved (ball de gitanes the day before and the children dance and parade at the kids carnival), no drunk folks (well I know we live in a small city, it could be a different story in Barcelona), no hard music and screaming and overdosing… it’s just so nice and pleasurable.

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Carnival at her school. She dressed up as Anna…the climbing Princess 🙂

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Ball de Gitanes (Ball of Gypsies), a typical Catalans dance which is always held during or before the Carnival.

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Children Carnival

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Small parade in our neighbourhood

The big moment: her birthday party!!!
It is actually on the 28th of March. But since the class’ agreement is to celebrate once a month, so Sky celebrated her birthday together with a boy who’s also having his birthday in March. So the party is 11 days earlier than her real birthday, as a compromise.
The party was held at a science centre and the kids got two workshops: assembly a drawing robot and make slime (you know; that sticky rubber-y substance which we all prefer not to have at home, let alone to make at home!) 😀 They all enjoyed it, and we the parents also, as we got to know each other better with a cup of coffee in a nearby cafe.

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Blow the candle…7 years old!

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Slime

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Drawing robots

There are also two “first-time” moments this month:

We went to the dentist for the first time in Spain, all three of us. First for regular check-up, but it appears that Sky and Joop need some extra treatments. So in the coming weeks we will be busy with some more dentist visits. When everything is done I will write the story in a blog post.

And the second one was the least fun one: Sky was sick for the first time that we’re living here. Two days before her birthday she came home from school with fever, which continued the next day. Luckily no other symptoms, only high temperature. On her birthday she already felt much better, but we still kept her at home. We went to buy a small cake and celebrated a little at home.

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Some more fun photo’s from this month:

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Egg in vinegar experiment

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(learning to) skate 🙂

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And lotsssss of fun and play! 🙂

 

 

March festivals and visits

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Saving and sharing some photo memories we made the last weeks, especially in March. All about festival, cultures, events and places to visit…such a lovely time!

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Llum Bcn (Barcelona light festival), 15-17th Feb 2019

Ball de Gitanes, Sant Cugat, 2nd March 2019

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Sant Medir, Collserola, 3rd March 2019

Children Carnival, Sant Cugat, 3rd March 2019

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Carnival, Barceloneta, 10th March 2019

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A show “Historia de una semilla”, CaixaForum Barcelona, 24th March 2019

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Montjuïc, Barcelona

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CosmoCaixa, Barcelona

Kids birthday party in Spain

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Yesterday, Sunday, we had a birthday party of one of Sky’s classmates. The Sunday before we also had a similar party, our first children party in Spain. 3 of Sky’s classmates celebrated their birthday together. Now we have experienced two parties, I can write something about it. Can’t avoid to compare it with what we are used to in the Netherlands (and although I have never been in a kids party in Indonesia myself, I will also tell about it a little, based on what my friends shared through social media’s).

Here in Spain, the whole class is invited. Not only the children, but also the parents, brothers and sisters. So if the whole class would come together with the families, there could be about 100 people in the party! Not that it was the case last Sundays. Not all children could come, and there were 40-60 people in each of both parties. That’s still a big number though! In the Netherlands, it’s normal that the birthday child may invite friends as many as her age to-be, or plus 1 or 2, but no more. For sure not the whole class. And the parents would drop the kids off and pick them up again. Usually the party will be held either at home (with some activites), or somewhere else like a playground, animal farm, zoo, museum, or other organized activites. Mostly are held on Wednesday afternoon because the school ends just before lunch, or otherwise after school on other days when the school ends at 3 p.m. This article describes the Dutch kids party really well, if you would like another read on this subject (it’s actually quite the opposite point of view as what I experienced here, because the author is a Mexican lady living in the Netherlands, and I have just moved from the Netherlands to Spain!).

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Since the school ends quite late here in Spain, the birthdays are normally celebrated in the weekends, usually on Sundays. The first birthday we had was held in a learning centre in the middle of our city. As I said, there were 3 children who had their birthday celebrated together because the dates are close to each other. The children were invited for a robot/programming/science workshop, which they were all beyond enthousiastic about. It’s a close workshop, which means the parents can just drop the children off and leave. But it didn’t happen. Noone left after dropping off. Instead we all went to a cafe nearby and got a cup of coffee. And talked, and socialized…until we could pick up the children again. Then we cut the birthday cakes, sang Happy Birthday and the kids opened their presents.

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There was a bit of commotion about the presents beforehands. A parent didn’t want the child to get too many gifts. An option was to donate or collect some money for the party givers. But finally it was “decided” (not sure how and by whom, it just happened) that noone should give money nor gifts, nothing. The parents of the birthday child will buy the gift themselves (only 1, as far as I can see). The idea behind this is that every child will eventually celebrate his or her birthday this year. So at the end it will come to an equality. The important thing is that everyone will have a good time, enjoy the parties and get to know each other better.

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There are some non-Spanish parents in the class and they just can’t understand this system. Well, I’m one of them of course, but I’d rather say I have some pro’s and con’s regarding this idea. It’s such a social and noble system. I observe such parties to be held also in Indonesia. Where the whole class is invited, often the parents too. With the intention to have a good time together. The difference is about the gifts, there a child would receive a huge pile of gifts from everyone, and often the party has a certain theme, where the decorations and the cakes and the treats will all be in style (if you have the money, of course…).

Another pro point: Because the parents stay at the party, it’s really an opportunity to meet and get along. After two parties I start to recognize some faces, and even be able to link them to their children! Not easy for an introvert like me, but I also managed to have a chit-chat, practice my basic Spanish, and even talk about many different things with some of the parents whom I normally wouldn’t be able to talk with.

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Now the con’s: The same social system can also put pressures on one’s shoulder. Although a mother assured me it’s absolutely okay not to follow this system, there will be for sure a pinch of guilty feeling if you decide, for example, not to invite the whole class. Because your daughter has been invited by everyone, and you don’t do the same!

And it’s well known here in Spain, to put families (in this case the class, or the class’ decision) way above your own sentiments. An example: the parents of the second birthday party actually would like to collect some money, but change their mind when the group decided not to do so. But these parents are “alone”, I mean it’s not a joined birthday party, which means they have to spend a lot of money and organize everything for the party themselves. It was a fun party by the way. We all had a train ride around the park and afterwards the children could play in the big playground while the parents gathered around the picnic table, or played with their kids.

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The social issue and follow-the-majority is not something I can judge. It’s highly cultural and country-related, I believe. Maybe I’ve been living too long in the Netherlands to find that having 100 people at a children party is just not so efficient. And that everyone should be free to choose what he wants and who he would like to invite. Some people think it’s so harsh to exclude some kids by not inviting them to your party. Other would say it’s like the life itself, you won’t always be invited to every occasion. That children should deal with disappointment. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. I never saw Sky being disappointed by not being invited. Maybe it’s in her character, but children are flexible and they can handle things and emotion more than what we’re thinking of.

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On the other hand, based on what I experienced so far, the parties here are way more relaxed and easy going. No excessive food nor gifts. No time limit when the party should end (sometimes even no exact time when to start…not always handy, but okay…). No pressure to talk with someone you don’t really match (although they do love to talk here! But it’s so different than when you have to sit in a circle in the livingroom like the usual Dutch birthday party). And the gifts part…I think it’s such a good idea! One ‘big’ gift only, from the parents. Not 25 ‘small’ ones you barely will use. We still keep Sky’s birthday gifts from last year. From the 5 gifts she received from her friends, 1 hasn’t been used at all, 2 are used only a little bit, 1 is given away (with her permission) and the last one is somewhere in her drawer.

So at the end…. I still don’t know. The pro’s and con’s will stay for a while, I suppose. Meanwhile we will observe and experience more. And for Sky’s birthday; we have told her that she may choose. If she chooses to have a Dutch party style by inviting only some kids she really loves to play with, it’s fine. But if she chooses to join the class and invites everyone, it’s also good (but then I would try to find some b-day partners, I think, haha…). We’ll see!!! 😉

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adjust, adapt and be positive

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Sky told me last week: “Mama, I think I like my current school better than my old school in the Netherlands.”

That one sentence really means a lot for me. To know that she is really happy and satisfied with her new environment, after only such a short period of time (4 months at school now) and with new languages she didn’t speak yet when she started… Of course I have noticed that she feels good by observing her behaviour. She hops happily from school everytime I pick her up and she tells me a lot about things she’s been doing at school. But to hear it coming out from her mouth, and to see that smile…it means the whole world!

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When I asked her why she likes her current school more, she replied: “Because this school has many fun activities, like art, sport, computer language, music, singing, swimming, online English learning…”
Well yes, I understand. I would love to redo my school time too!

At this very moment they are preparing a piece of theatre, based on the Lion King story. Each class picks a different movie. I believe they have evaluated the story, the roles and characters, and still learning about the costums (which they have to make themselves), the decor, the music and so on. All is done in 3 different languages, each language covers its own topics. Such a stimulating and fun process of learning!

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But I also believe that not only a good school is important when you’re going on a huge adventure like moving country, but also a positive attitude. We try to support each other as much as we can, and show that however it will not always be easy, there’s always things to be grateful for. Look at the bright side of life and enjoy, and you will make yourself easier in the process of adjusting and adapting.

When a stranger talks to me in Spanish and I don’t understand at all, I can still be grateful for the friendliness people seem to have here towards strangers. When we can only borrow very simple children books from the library with minimal or even no text at all, I’m still grateful they have those books in the library and Sky is now focused on the illustration and it makes her try different types of drawing, which is very fun. And when we are often so frustrated with the “relaxed” way people dealing with rules here, it can also works on my benefit, like yesterday. I borrowed some extra books from the library but apparently I would have in total one book too many. The maximum allowed is 15 and I have got 16. But the friendly librarian gave me a big wink and said: “It doesn’t matter, just one book too many. And besides, your daughter loves the books so much, right?” 🙂

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