Tag Archives: family

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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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

Santa Eulàlia Festival

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And just like that, when we were in Barcelona last weekend (without planning, just to spend a nice weekend day), we stumbled upon the “gigantes/gegants” (giants figures of several meters tall, with a painted paper maché head and arms, the rest of the body being covered in cloth and other clothing). Not only 3 or 4, like we have ever seen before….but about 50 of them!!! They were stalled in Plaça Reial, adjacent to La Rambla, at the heart of Barcelona.

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I asked a lady whether it was a festival day, and yes. Apparently every year around the 12th of February it’s the “Festes de Santa Eulàlia“, a festival to commemorate one of Barcelona’s patron saint, of which her name is also used for the Barcelona Cathedral.

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Animal and other creative figures

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The classical gigantes, usually a couple

At one point the gigantes started to walk towards La Rambla, and they danced and swirled to the music. Usually each regions or even neighbourhood in the city have their own gigantes and musicians walking behind them. Each with their own theme. And even animals (like the dragons, lions, and a mule which is typically used at Santa Eulàlia Festival). Some figures came closer to the public or shook children’s hands, there’re even figures who sprayed water to the public!

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There were ‘castelleres’ (human towers) too!

It was so fun. Sky didn’t want to leave at all and insisted that we stayed until the last gigantes passed by. 🙂

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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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. 🙂

books without words

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Some of you might know that we are big fans of the library. Any kinds of library; big or small, with or without building… like this one, where we found a bilingual Pocahontas comic (English and Catalan). So cool!

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In the Netherlands we would visit the library at least once a week, often more. Somewhere last February we were featured in the library’s newsletter because Sky has borrowed (and read!) 1000 books, in her almost 6 years of age.

You would understand that now we moved to Spain, we are eager to continue this “hobby”. Last month we went to the Central Library (there are 3 in our city) and applied for a library card for Sky.

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She digged in the books immediately, and found some nice ones. But…our Spanish and Catalan are still so minimum, even the easiest children books cause us trouble to read. Not that we don’t try to, that’s for sure a fun way to learn new languages. But to have to look at the dictionary or do Google-translate on almost every sentence is a bit depressing. Bilingual books are a bliss. We borrowed some, and also English children books and fun dictionaries. And then, I noticed the section “comics”. Browsing through the colorful pictures, I got an idea. Let’s start from the very beginning again. From the love of books. Without languages, without words, without pressure. Try to make it super fun again. And it works, Sky grabs these books often and has pleasure “reading” them. I found a great serie of “el Petit Pelut” (originally Petit Poilu in French or Stoppeltje in Belgium), and then we found more fun books, without words.

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Trying to make library visit fun also includes joining the activities they organize. We attended a children theatre performance, by coincidence it’s in English! And will of course try to attend more in the future.

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The libraries in our city are not as big and sophisticated like we used to have in the Netherlands. But it’s also because we live in a smaller city. I think the libraries in Barcelona and other big cities would be wonderful too. Would love to visit them in the near future. One difference I noticed immediately is the children section. Our libraries have spaces dedicated for children books, of course. But while in the Netherlands it’s more or less allowed to “make noise” in the children section (well, children are children…), here it’s all quiet. We were really asked to lower our voice down. But once again, it’s maybe because the building is not that big. Noises will be heard across the whole library and would possibly disturb visitors in other sections too.

Above photo’s are from the Central Library, and below is a photo of the nearest library to our home, it’s quite pretty actually. Only the opening hours are a bit tricky. They only open for 3 mornings in a week, each for 3 hours. And 5 times a week at night.

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Well, we might not visit the libraries as much as we used to do, but it won’t slow us down in reading books. We access the Dutch children books through the library app (because Sky will still be a Dutch library member till she is 18, which also means she is allowed to use the app everywhere around the world). Sometimes we borrow books from our Dutch friends. And when our Spanish and Catalan are improved, we hope to be able to start reading local books too. Step by step. Poco a poco. A poc a poc. 🙂