Tag Archives: family

Emigration Milestone

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Last week I felt that we have reached an important milestone regarding our emigration from the Netherlands to Spain, 14 months ago. I said “we”, but it’s actually Sky’s milestone. For the first time since our move she wanted to; and was able to; talk about our time in the Netherlands. Without crying or feeling homesick. Just talking. With the same emotion like when we talk about the dinosaurs. We were talking about her previous classmates and her friends, in which grade they are now. About how we used to walk to school (“that I still remember very well”, she said) and also to the grocery store (“I’m not sure I remember that”), and how the surroundings of our previous house have changed rapidly from what we heard from friends living nearby.

It sounds simple. But I believe it’s a huge milestone for her, and for us. I sensed how she feels more and more ‘home’ here in Spain. And by being able to talk about her previous life without feeling homesick, means she already feels comfortable with her new life, her new environment.

And she likes her school a lot. She missed school so much during the long summer holiday. Yesterday she told us: “I have so many friends here, sometimes I don’t know who I should play with!” Such a luxury! And an awesome news to hear for us, her parents! πŸ™‚

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A little celebration last weekend because she turns 7,5 years old!

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Our summer holiday

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This summer has been fabulous. We spent almost 3 weeks travelling around the AragΓ³n region of Huesca province of Spain and a bit of the Basque Country of French. It was such a beautiful region. Rich of mountains, forests, nature, animal, but also culture and things-to-do. In August it’s literally a cool place to go since the temperature is a few grades lower than the rest of Spain (which is…hot).

Here’s a summary of our day-to-day holiday pictures (the same like I posted as ‘photo of the day’ in my Instagram: m_stella_n):

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El Salinar (salt mining) in Peralta de la Sal.

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Castle of Monzon, Huesca.

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Barranco (nature preserve) in Gabasa, Huesca, Aragon.

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Alquezar, one of the most beautiful village in Spain. We did the hike along the river Vero…amazing!

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Arrived in Tarnos, France. Sky took Lot for a stroll in the garden of our holiday house. Lot has been fantastic during the whole holiday!

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The beach of Tarnos, France.

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Visited a cute village La Bastide-Clairence and an amazing prehistoric cave Grottes d’Oxocelhaya et d’Isturits.

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Beautiful nature reserve park du Marais d’Orx. Spotting some beavers and turtles!

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Biarritz, France.

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Stand up peddle at Hossegor Lake, French.

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Bayonne, French.

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The backyard of our 3rd holiday house in LatrΓ©, Aragon, Spain.

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A ‘poza’ in the midst of beautiful greens, Huesca, Spain.

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Jaca, Aragon, Huesca.

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An ‘animated forest’, Parque Lacuniacha, Huesca.

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“Senda de Izarbe”, a walking trail with painted rocks on the route.

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Castillo de Loarre, one of the oldest in Spain and one of the best preserved Romanesque castle and abbey in Europe.

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“Fiesta de San Lorenzo” in Huesca.

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 40Β°C last week and the average is between 32-35Β°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! β™₯

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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!

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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MontjuΓ―c, Barcelona

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CosmoCaixa, Barcelona

Santa EulΓ lia 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 machΓ© 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 PlaΓ§a 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 EulΓ lia“, 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 EulΓ lia 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. πŸ™‚

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?” πŸ™‚

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