Days of December

 

The Advent Calendar opened on 29 November when we we lit the first candle on our Advent wreath. The kids were worried that the Angels would bring the calendar only on 1 Dec but they didn’t. On 29 November the Calendar arrived nicely put in the shape of a square, just as the girls had asked for.

I know this post is about December but this year the beginning of Advent is a bit early. The calendar hid some fluffy marshmellows and some sticks so we fried our marshmallows placed above the first advent candle.

The second advent presents were headbands on 30 November. E. took hers to school. Little L was a bit disappointed that they didn’t open them together.

It was funny to see that another cat (the kids call him Mitsy) took over our cat’s outside winter home that we’d built at the weekend.

On 1 December we got a note from school which said the school was closing down the next day due to the pandemic. Quite a few teachers had got infected and substitution became chaotic.

We were quite relieved to hear the news as every day it was rather nonsense to send E. to school while we had been home for more than 2 weeks (home office).

We sat down to play Daddy’s new board game that he got for his birthday: Cottage garden.

2 December

The Angels hid little stamps in the calendar. Suprisingly they did not appreciate them so much. (I guess they have a lot of stamps and ink pads). Still, they said thank you for them.

The morning was about digital education, cooking and playing. Daddy read a lot of stories to Little L in Hungarian snuggling on the sofa upstairs. In the meanwhile we were doing school work downstairs with E.

After lunch we looked through E.’s English workbooks (English, Maths, Reading and Writing). Although E. wasn’t very impressed, Little L came to me to check the activities. I was pretty surprised she could do some tasks from the workbooks designed for 7-8-9 year olds. In the meanwhile E was playing with her Lego (partly in English partly in Hungarian)

In the afternoon we could try a new game that we borrowed from our board game fan neighbours: 80 days around the world.


E. could practise her counting skills. Little L helped me move the counter on the board. When she had enough of it, she went to play with Teach your monster to read on my phone.

The girls found the Christmas books and E. read some storied to Little L. but they refused to tell me which ones.

3 December

The girls found big 3-D stickers in the Advent Calendar.

We made afternoon snack time a family happening. We all sit down to eat fruit and biscuits and chat about anything that the kids come up with.

4 December

Digital education is on hold. We gave E. a little free time. There was only little homework she would be able to do at the weekend at some point.

Again we played 80 Days Around the world until E’s classmate called her on Teams.

I’ve started to worry that we’re spending very little time in English. I hope the Angels will bring us some English speaking games.

5 December

Little L. looked out of the window in the morning and said: Can we go to the river bank? The weather is so sunny and nice. So after lunch we went to the river bank as she’d wished. We took beautiful pictures, the girls were throwing sticks and stones into the river. Even a dog joined them to play sticks.

There was an English speaking Grandpa with two of his grandkids and I encouraged the kids to go and play with them but they are not famous for their social courage.

Much to my surprise we also met some of E.’s schoolmates. We agreed to meet them again.

And the Advent Calender brought us some mini Santa puzzles that the girls had to colour. One is more beautiful than the other.

In the evening we cleaned our boots so Santa could put his presents in them by the following morning. It’s lucky that Santa was coming this weekend as the boots were so muddy due to the river bank adventure that I don’t really know how else I could have motivated the girls to clean them.

They also prepared carrots for the reindeer, biscuits and milk for Santa on the windowsill together with some drawings.

They were extra excited at bedtime. Little L put out her excited photo on the weather/date and emotion board. The magic of believing and hoping filled their hearts and our whole evening.

6 December

The morning started early so we could check Santa’s presents in the boots before going to the stables. The girls were over the moon to see the nice treats and little presents. There were no golden birch (a bunch of golden twigs, which is given to naughty children), thank Goodness.

After breakfast we were off to the stables to ride a horse. There was a little disagreement who could ride Sári, the brown pony, both girls’ favourite. To ease the tension, we promised E. she could ride the pony the next week at an extra session we would include in our weekly schedule.

After lunch we headed to the river bank to meet E.’s classmates again. We had a lovely time, the kids had lots of fun searching for sticks, rolling logs and building forts out of drifwood and sticks.

In the afternoon we played a board game that the Angels hid in the Advent Calendar. It’s called DON’T EAT SANTA!. On the link you can read about it.

We finished the day with another board game we’d already played earlier this week: 80 days around the world. E. managed to see through the main idea of the game and developed her own strategy and finally won. I am not really motivated to play board games any more. I’m always losing whatever we play with.

With Little L. and I played with her new sticker book That’s not my… She really enjoyed the time spent together. She was kissing and hugging me. We finished the whole book.

7 December

Online education was on hold today as both the class teacher and the German teacher were on holiday.

The Advent Calender surprised the girls with 2 candy canes. I made them pumpkin biscuits for breakfast that they could decorate as snowmen.

We were supposed to go horsriding but due to the rain we postponed it to Wednesday. The girls were a little disappointed so they spent the whole afternoon drawing ponies and magic unicorns.

We gave another try to play 80 days around the world, although I was rather unwilling. I had all the reasons … E. won AGAIN.

8 December

The girls got some hair bands, but they complained about that they were too tight so they transformed them into hairbobbles. The rest of the day somehow disappeared without knowing what we did. Probably nothing special. It was a school day so E. had to study and hand in some Maths and German tasks.

9 December

As we couldn’t go to the stables to ride the horses on Monday due to bad weather we had this extra session today in the late afternoon. E. could ride her favourite horse, the brown pony, Little L. was riding on a big grey Arab horse. L. was a little scared on the big horse but E. was delighted on Sári.

10 December

E had an online German lesson in Teams, while I was having a lesson in Zoom with one of my students. The girls got pink and purple hair bobbles from the Angels but they couldn’t agree who had which colour combination so I put them away. At bed time we read When Santa came to stay, which is a hit with the kids. We could talk about a lot of funny happenings on the basis of the illustrations. Great book, I highly recommend it.

11 December

E. got homework from school that made both girls really excited. They had to build a minuscule city out of lego or other building blocks. They had to arrange the builings on a dark surface then snowed it over with flour. After removing the buildings, they could discover the plan of the town from birdsview. Although we were in Hungarian it was great fun.

In the evening the Advent Calendar surprised the girls with glow sticks so we arranged a light bath in the dark. I lit some tea lights and added some thyme oil in the ceramic aroma burner. The kids put the glow sticks in the bath and had lots of fun…. until they started to quarrel about who had which colour of glowstick. Aaaargh…

12 December

Bird feeder – we gave a present to the birds of our garden. I wished the girls to feel how nice it is to GIVE a present to someone else instead of RECEIVING one, and the Angels somehow listened to me and brought a lot of of tools and ingredients to make the birds happy.

Earlier we had prepared bird feeders so it wasn’t unfamiliar for the girls.

Apart from the seeds we added nuts and figs to the mixture this year. Also the kids prepared apple slices as some birds really like fruits. Check out the details on the link. (added later on)

13 December

Candle painting, sorting old artwork, Live advent calendar

14 December

Birdwatching

A few months after the periodic table and chemistry craze E. is into birds and nature. I’m really glad that this new topic gives us the opportunity to spend great amount of time outside in nature.

Everything started with this Usborne book of Nature Trail.

Nature trail

This is an old edition and I bought it second-hand so I’m not sure if this one is still available but I’m positive you can find many beautiful nature books published by Usborne if your kids are little biologists.

Another trigger could have been E.’s Helen Doron course (More jump with Joey) as there was an episode with all kinds of birds and E. was fascinated by them.

One day (when our native nanny came to her) she came home from kindergarten and asked for Daddy’s binoculars, her journal, nature book and markers. We packed them all in her backpack and we dashed to the park to watch the birds.

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Naively I thought she wanted to watch then draw the birds.

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Look, Mommy! It’s a blackbird. It’s a male, because it’s all black.

Instead she took note of what kind of birds they saw with N, our nanny, and the bird’s flight patterns!

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Thanks for the pic, N. 🙂

 

The next time we went birdwatching (again with our nanny) I asked her to draw the birds instead. And so she did.

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Ok.Ok. N. helped E. a bit with the drawing 😉

While N and E were watching birds, we went to the playground with Little L to make some sand ice-cream. Yummy!

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Every morning when E. wakes up, or to be more precise we wake her up with youtube videos of bird calls. Who wouldn’t want to wake up with birds singing.
You can check out her favourite on the link above.

I used to make basic bird flashcards that I needed to freshen up with some new ones, of course, with E.’s favourite ones like crossbill, eagle owl and nuthatch, to mention few examples.

And it’s not finished yet, well, it’s just the beginning. I’m certain there’s more to come.

 

Walking in the park in Enlgish – birds, trees and flowers

Every morning we go out for a walk. E. is the most attentive at this time of the day. At the beginning I was rather tense talking in English while we were walking and meeting other people, but by now I’ve got used to it.

On our way I name whatever we see. I try to pay attention to which direction she looks and what she sees. As I’m behind her, it’s not easy. So what I say is:

“Look, there’s a pigeon. She’s eating.” or “The pigeons have flown away.”
“The pigeons have flown away.”

“Can you see that big tree? The leaves are all green.”

Pansies in the flowerbed
“Let’s smell the flowers. Atishoo. Atishooooo.” (Here she smiles or even laughs at this.)
“Look, this flower is purple, and this one is white. And your favourite colour is here. It’s yellow.”
“What is buzzing? It’s a bee, flying from one flower to the other.”
We were blowing dandelions: “Look, mommy’s blowing the dandelion.” (minimum 10 times 🙂 )
“I’ll taste this blowball.”

If we see a dog: “Look, what’s coming? A doggy. (She screams or says da-da)

If we go on a bumpy road I make it even bumpier and shake the pushchair a little: “Bumpy, bumpy, bumpy” (She enjoys it as well and grabs the sides of the pushchair hard)

 

Two pigeons

Today we have counted three pigeons and two doves: “One pigeon, two pigeons, three pigeons.””Are those pigeons? Nooooo. They’re doves. One dove, two doves”

These are some of the example, but as usual I’m talking to her continuously about what we see around us. She likes touching (and picking) leaves from the bushes. She is pointing at things so I name them (flowers, animals, people etc.)

Of course, I don’t know a lot of flowers and tree types, but I’m working on collecting some of the most common ones, which can be found in our area. I don’t like the long lists of vocabulary which include ALL the plant names. We need a small part of them only. The other thing is that I, myself, really need to learn them.

I don’t believe saying only “flower” or “tree” when we name plants is natural. In Hungarian I name them exactly (the ones I know, as I have deficiency in this field even in my mother tongue).

So here is a small collection of useful vocabulary concerning nature or rather wildlife in Budapest parks:

Birds:

crow
dove

 

blackbird
house sparrow
great tit 😉
swallow
woodpecker
magpie

 

English
Magyar
magpie
szarka
sparrow
veréb
crow
varjú
swallow
fecske
pigeon
galamb
dove
gerle
blackbird
feketerigó
great tit
széncinege
woodpecker
fakopáncs
warbler
énekesmadár

Trees:

acacia
willow
horse-chestnut
poplar
beech tree
oak
sycamore
English
Magyar
chestnut tree
vadgesztenyefa
acacia
akácfa
  beech tree
bükkfa
oak tree
tölgyfa
willow
szomorúfűz
sycamore
platán
pine
fenyő
birch tree
nyírfa
poplar
nyárfa

Flowers:

forget-me-not
daisies
daffodils

 

dandelion or the so-called “blowball” or “clock”
dandelion in full bloom
geranium
flowering almond
golden chain
hyacinth
lavender
grape hyacinth
violet pansy
peony
of course, tulips
lilac
English
Magyar
lilac
orgona
golden chain
aranyeső
dandelion
gyermekláncfű, pitypang
daisy
margaréta
forget-me-not
nefelejcs
pansy
árvácska
begonia
begónia
tulip
tulipán
flowering almond
babarózsa
daffodil
nárcisz
hyacinth
jácint
geranium
muskátli
peony
pünkösdi rózsa
lavender
levendula
grape hyacinth
fürtös gyöngyike