Tag Archives: life

learning Spanish and some updates


Screenshot_20180614-224852We are learning Spanish…oh yes we do. But oh our old grey cells inside our much-too-full head…they have difficulties absorbing all those new words and grammars and structures. I really notice the differences compared to 16 years ago, when I was still young (ehm…) and started to learn Dutch. But I keep comforting myself by remembering my early Dutch-experience. That once you are inside the country and surrounded by the target language, it will all become much easier (if you keep talking, at least). Language immersion, practice and repeat; that should be it.

Sometimes Sky will join us when we are practicing with our Duolingo app. Or she would pick some words from the book “Spanish for children” and start to question us. But for her right now is English the main focus. She gets support from her school, which we are so thankful of (once a week an English lesson special for her) and we repeat the lessons everyday. Not always easy, but we try to keep it fun.

Next to books and app I also follow a short Spanish (beginners) online course from the library, and I try to listen as much as possible to a Spanish radio:

One proud moment for me was in February, when we were at the Girona airport waiting for our flight back to the Netherlands. I had been using Duolingo for about 55 days at that time. And I was able to ask the waitress automatically: “Tienes una cuchara?” (= do you have a spoon). Wow, that felt good! And now everytime I feel like I’m slowing down and not learning anything, I recall that memory and think about how nice would it be if I can actually having a conversation in Spanish!

Talking about language immersion. At the moment I publish this post Joop has almost finished his 2 weeks Spanish stay. He needs to stay there for a while to find a house (and yessss we found one! Our Spanish home!) and to arrange his NIE-number (also in the pocket!). In 2 weeks time he only wants to speak Spanish with his colleagues and people he met, and he feels like he has made quite some progress. From “do not understand at all” to “get the approximate context”. Well, every big journey starts from the smallest steps… 🙂


‘last-time’ blues


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I think I start to get some ‘last-time’ blues. Now the moving date is getting closer (somewhere in August), I start to think about every last-time I still want to do in the Netherlands. Everytime I visit a place I don’t often visit or do things I don’t often do, my mind jumps into conclusion: “This could be the last-time I visit this place, or do this thing”. And maybe not only for me, but mainly for my daughter. I keep thinking: “Has she seen enough from this land? Enough to give her memories of her birthland?”

Ridiculous of course. We make memories all the time and we will keep making it, wherever we will live. But still…that feeling… It’s not necessarily a negative feeling, nor a positive one. But it does give some boost into action. For example, I have lived almost 16 years in the Netherlands and I have never visited the Keukenhof; “the most beautiful spring garden in the world” as their website promised… until this spring! Well I have to, and so I showed it to my daughter too. First foto above is from Keukenhof (and despite all the tourists, it was super pretty!). And next to that we have visited a windmill, watched a flower parade, visited a castle and some musea, experienced the yearly military parade on the liberation day, and for the last-time (there we go again) visited the safari park we have been members for 3 years.

So we start to end some journeys here in this country. But where a door closes, another one will open. And we will keep writing the memories in our life book, closing a chapter and ready for a new one. 🙂

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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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our trip – the first impressions


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We spent 8 days in Barcelona and Girona. First time in Spain for Sky. Not the first time for us definitely, but this one felt so different. We looked differently at places and things. blog 1dNot as just a tourist, but with the awareness of “we will be living here soon”. So we paid more attention, tried to listen to conversations, absorbed the daily life… That awareness has come to Sky too. When we could not get any closer to Sagrada Familia (just use the metro in Barcelona, it’s ridiculous to try to park your car anywhere…) she said: “It’s okay, we’ve caught a glimpse of it. Next time we live here we can visit it anytime we want.” That’s right dear, we will explore this city for sure. 🙂

This trip is such a great coincidence. We booked it in November, when we didn’t have any slight idea yet that we will not be visitors, but citizens-to-be. We grabbed the chance blog 1fand made use of it, and we were able to make an appointment with an international school we think will be nice for Sky. So we visited the school and had a guided tour around its facilities. I think it’s an important step for her, to see and feel her future school in real life, not just from the website. It seems like she approves it and she has more confidence in this whole “moving” thing afterwards.

So we spent one day around the school area and its neighbourhood, and visited some villages between the route of Joop’s future office and this school, just to get an impression of where to live (and where not!). Because the next important step, after getting our NIE-numbers (to be able to live in Spain for more than 3 months) is of course: find a house!

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The rest of the trip was filled with real ‘holiday stuff’: wandering around La Ramblas, playing at Parc de la Ciutadella and Parc de Diagonal Mar, admiring Gaudi’s and other artists’ works in the city. After 4 days we moved the base to Vidreres, about half an hour under Girona. We did a children-quest in Girona (that was really fun!), explored the coast line: Lloret de Mar, a small beach in-between (probably Platja de Canyelles) and even visited Tossa de Mar twice…such a beautiful place! And food…lots of delicious food! We often eat “menu del dia” as lunch and I will cook for dinner (as usually we rented houses from AirBnB, allowing us to cook our meal). One reason is to reduce the expenses, other is having a child makes it difficult to have dinner at 9 p.m.

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And now one funny thing I learned during this trip:
If you want to have “normal” eggs (I mean like the one you need to make an omelet for breakfast), don’t buy one with “cocidos” on it, because it means “cooked”!! It was a funny surprise though when I broke one and nothing came out of it…haha…

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Spain, our next home :)



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!!! 🙂


half year summary


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Susah ya, kalau sudah lama banget nggak menulis, untuk memulai lagi. Lebih dari setengah tahun! Sejak libur musim panas…dan sekarang tengah-tengah musim dingin, haha! Bukannya aku nggak aktif sama sekali lho. Proyek ‘satu-foto-tiap-hari’ tetap jalan terus (365-project), tahun ini sudah masuk tahun ke-5, berarti sudah hampir 1500 foto! Bisa diikuti di Facebook (cuma untuk teman dan kenalan saja ya) dan di Instagram.

Setengah tahun…banyak banget yang terjadi. Mulai dari mana ya ceritanya…Aku tulis yang penting-penting saja deh secara singkat (foto-fotonya lihat di bawah ya, di bagian bahasa Belanda-nya). Setelah ini lanjut nge-blog normal, melanjutkan cerita sehari-hari, moga-moga!

  • Satu setengah bulan sebelum libur panjang musim panas, kami menghabiskan weekend panjang di Westkapelle, provinsi Zeeland (yang paling banyak pantai dan lautnya di Belanda). Beruntung cuaca cerah dan kami menikmati sekali hari-hari di sana!
  • Pas summer kami berlibur 3 minggu ke Jerman dan Denmark…asyik banget! Menginap di 4 lokasi, rumah yang kami sewa lewat AirBnB. Keempatnya bagus dan memuaskan, dikelilingi kebun yang luas dan punya binatang peliharaan (untuk Sky tentunya seru banget). Banyak tempat-tempat menarik yang kami kunjungi, di antaranya tempat penampungan anjing laut (Friedrichskoog), kota Copenhagen, Bremen, Legoland di Billund, desa Viking, festival sand art, dan tentu saja beragam pantai yang semuanya bagus!
  • Akhir bulan Agustus, Lot (atau Lotje) mulai tinggal bersama kami. Kucing kecil lucu (dan rada nakal), umurnya 1 tahun lebih sedikit. Sky suka banget, dan sebaliknya juga begitu!
  • Kunjungan ke museum tentu tidak terlewatkan (karena museum di sini seru, hampir semua punya program dan quest khusus untuk anak-anak). Dua museum pertama bahkan dobel, karena selain bersama kami, Sky juga berkunjung dengan sekolahnya: Natuurmuseum Brabant, Noordbrabants Museum Den Bosch, Stedelijk Museum Breda, dan Nemo Amsterdam. Dengan kelasnya Sky juga sempat mengunjungi Museum dokter: de Dorpsdokter.
  • Making memories, membuat banyak kenangan manis juga di berbagai kebun binatang, taman rekreasi dan taman alami, hutan dan tempat bermain: Apenheul, Beekse Bergen dan Speelland, Ouwehand Zoo, speelbos Breda en Gilze, Loonse en Drunense duinen, dan beberapa hutan di seputar kota kami Tilburg.
  • Menjelang libur musim gugur Sky menang lomba mewarnai dari sekolahnya (cuma 3 pemenang lho satu sekolah) dan hadiahnya 2 tiket menonton konser musik. Konser khusus anak dan remaja dari band ‘Hippe Gasten’, yang merupakan bagian dari Festival musim gugur. Konser pertamanya nih, dan dia bangga sekali karena dia mendapatkan tiketnya dengan kerja kerasnya sendiri!
  • Bersama dengan club tempatnya les menari, Sky ambil bagian dalam pentas pertunjukan “Sinterklaas dan Kerst”. Seru banget, dan dia terlihat sangat menikmati. Lebih dari pentas sebelumnya, karena dia sekarang sudah tahu kira-kiranya bagaimana. Pentas 3 kali, ganti baju 2 kali, pause di antara pentas, makan dan minum yang cukup, dll dll… senang banget melihatnya!
  • Sinterklaas tentunya datang juga. 3 minggu lamanya fokus kami hanya pada Sinterklaas. Lebih dari tahun-tahun sebelumnya Sky mengikuti ‘Jurnal Sinterklaas’ di TV dengan seksama. Malam 5 Desember, yang namanya ‘pakjesavond’ (hari ultah Sinterklaas, jadi malam itu dia spesial bagi-bagi hadiah), pintu digedor dan selembar kertas masuk ke kotak surat yang isinya kami harus ke loteng karena kadonya menunggu di sana (karena Piet kan pintar memanjat atap. Kalau masih punya cerobong asap biasa dia masuk dari situ). Tapi…saking exciting dan serunya kami lupa mengawasi Lot. Dia menyelinap kabur keluar! Lot itu kucing dalam rumah yang belum pernah menginjakkan kaki di luar rumah (memang kami maunya begitu, di rumah pemilik sebelumnya juga sama. Selain itu bahaya juga kalau dia menyeberang jalan karena banyak mobil yang lalu-lalang). Wahhh…spannend, tegang juga… Sampai akhirnya seperempat jam kemudian Joop berhasil membujuknya keluar dari bawah semak-semak di kebun tetangga.
  • Dan…sempat turun salju yang agak banyak! Belanda gitu lho, namanya winter tapi jarang ada salju. Paling cuma 2-3 hari dalam setahun. Kebetulan kali ini kami sedang di rumah Oma, bersama keponakan Daniëlle (yang kami jemput dulu), untuk membantu Oma menghias pohon Natalnya. Di foto terlihat kami sedang menjalan-jalankan Goya, anak anjing Oma yang baru.
  • Pada perayaan Natal di sekolah (di kelas masing-masing. Jadi anak-anak siangnya libur dan sore kembali lagi ke sekolah sampai malam, merayakan dan makan malam bersama di kelas) Sky memerankan malaikat yang mengabarkan berita kelahiran Yesus kepada para gembala. Dia senang sekali dengan perannya itu, dan juga menikmati perayaan bersama teman-teman sekelasnya. Sesudahnya libur Natal dan tahun baru 2 minggu, yang kami isi dengan berbagai kunjungan ke tempat-tempat menarik, bermain, crafting, dan segala macam kegiatan asyik lainnya.

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Wat is het toch lastig, als je al zo lang niets gepost hebt, om weer te gaan schrijven. Meer dan een half jaar! Sinds de zomervakantie…en het is nu winter, haha! Niet dat ik helemaal niets deel hoor. Mijn 365-project (1 foto per dag) gaat gewoon door, dit jaar het 5e jaar alweer (dat betekent bijna 1500 foto’s!). Op Facebook (alleen voor vrienden) en Instagram kun je elke dag een foto van mijn dagelijkse leven zien.

Maar die half jaar tijd…er is natuurlijk ontzettend veel gebeurd, waar zou ik moeten beginnen met vertellen? Ik zal het belangrijkste op een rij zetten…en daarna door met gewoon bloggen, hopelijk!

  • Anderhalf maand voor de zomervakantie zijn wij een lang weekend naar Westkapelle, Zeeland geweest. Heerlijke dagen gehad met veel zonneschijn!

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  • De 3 weken vakantie in de zomer naar Duitsland en Denemarken was heerlijk. We hebben op 4 plekken mooie vakantiehuizen (via AirBnB) en veel leuke uitstapjes gemaakt, waaronder naar de zeehondenopvang (Friedrichskoog), Kopenhagen, Bremen, Legoland in Billund, Vikingendorp, zandsculptuur festival, en uiteraard verschillende prachtige stranden bezocht.

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  • Eind Augustus kwam Lot bij ons wonen. Een lieve (en ondeugende) poes, net 1 jaar oud. Sky is dol op haar en andersom!

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  • We zijn bij verschillende leuke musea geweest (bij de eerste twee musea zelfs dubbel, wij alleen en Sky nog eens met haar klas): Natuurmuseum Brabant, Noordbrabants Museum Den Bosch, Stedelijk Museum Breda, en Nemo Amsterdam. En Sky heeft met haar klas ook nog Museum de Dorpsdokter bezocht.

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  • Ook veel herinneringen gemaakt bij verschillende dierentuinen, (natuur)parken en speelbossen: Apenheul, Beekse Bergen en Speelland, Ouwehand dierenpark, speelbos Breda en Gilze, Loonse en Drunense duinen, en allerlei bossen rondom Tilburg.

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  • Tijdens de herfstvakantie heeft Sky via haar school een kleurwedstrijd gewonnen en mocht daarmee, samen met mij, naar het concert van de Hippe Gasten (onderdeel van het Spruit festival). Haar eerste muziekconcert, en wat was zij trots dat ze het zelf verdiende!

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  • Sky heeft samen met haar dansles een Sint- en Kerst dansvoorstelling gedaan. Super leuk, en wat heeft ze er van genoten! Meer dan de vorige keer, want ze weet nu al ongeveer hoe het gaat, met snel omkleden, pauze tussen de optredens, zelf zorgen dat ze goed moet eten enz… We hebben genoten!
  • Sinterklaas was uiteraard ook 3 weken lang een belangrijk item. Meer dan ooit volgde ze het sinterklaasjournaal met volle aandacht. Er werd op de deur gebonsd tijdens pakjesavond en er viel een briefje met een opschrift dat wij naar de zolder moesten. Maar door alle heisa en opwinding vergaten we om op Lot te letten. Ze glipte naar buiten! (Het is een binnenpoes die nog nooit een stap buiten heeft gezet). Nog meer spanning dus… Totdat Joop een kwartier later gelukt was om Lot onder de struiken bij de buren vandaan te lokken.

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  • En we hebben een paar dagen sneeuw! Toevallig waren we bij Oma, samen met nichtje Daniëlle haar kerstboom versieren. Op de foto zie je ook Goya, Oma’s nieuwe maltezer puppy.

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  • Bij de kerstviering op school mocht Sky de engel spelen die de boodschap van Jezus’ geboorte aan de herders aankondigen. Ze vond het heel leuk, en heeft ook genoten van het samen eten en vieren op school. Daarna hebben we 2 weken vakantie gevuld met allerlei uitstapjes, spelletjes en veel teken-kleur-knutsel momenten.

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kids philosophy and climbing


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Sky: “Kenapa kita nggak pernah bertanya-tanya apakah kita sebetulnya betul-betul hidup?”

blog 5cAnak ini…dengannya kita bisa berdiskusi dan berfilosofi. “Dalam” kalau orang bilang, atau “jeru” dalam bahasa Jawa. Seru sih, tapi kadang bikin pusing juga, hehe…

Tentang bagaimana makhluk luar angkasa melihat ke kita (mungkin mereka menganggap hidup kita ini bukan hidup), tentang meninggal dunia (kapan kira-kira kamu bakal meninggal, mam?), tentang jatuh cinta, tentang berbagi makanan dengan mereka yang tidak punya makanan (kalau aku seorang koki, aku pasti akan membagi-bagi makanan buat orang-orang), tentang kapan seorang anak mulai boleh punya telepon sendiri, tentang kenapa anak sering tidak mendengar suara orang tuanya kalau sedang sibuk mengerjakan sesuatu (sungguh lho mam, bukannya aku nggak mau berbuat, tapi aku benar-benar nggak mendengar suaramu, sungguh!)
Ah, serunya. 🙂

Di foto terlihat bagaimana akhir-akhir ini dia suka sekali memanjat-manjat dan bergelantungan. Makin canggih saja, dan makin bikin deg-degan. 😉


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Sky: “Waarom vragen we ons nooit af of wij eigenlijk echt leven?”

Dit kind…met haar kun je zó leuk gaan filosoferen. Diep, soms heel diep. Leuk, maar ik krijg er soms wel hoofdpijn van…hehe…

Over hoe ruimtewezens naar ons kijken (misschien vinden zij ons leven geen leven), over doodgaan (wanneer ga jij dood, denk jij, mama?), over verliefdheid, over eten delen met mensen die geen eten hebben (als ik een kok zou zijn, zou ik eten aan de zwervers geven), over wanneer een kind een mobiele telefoon zou mogen krijgen, over waarom een kind vaak zijn ouders’ stem niet hoort als hij met iets bezig is (echt waar hoor mam, het is niet dat ik het niet wil doen, maar ik hoor jou gewoon niet, echt niet!)
Heerlijk! 🙂

Op de foto’s is te zien hoe zij de laatste tijd veel klim- en bewegingskunstjes onder de knie heeft gekregen. 😉

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