Advent crafts

… at our Helen Doron school. We were invited to creat some Christmas-related decorations. It came really handy as at home it is really difficult to do any arts or crafts lately, as Baby Sis has been doing  nothing else but destroying whatever she puts her hands on. Of course, for her it’s the exploration phase, for us, an “Oh, noooo!” phase.

It was lovely to get out of the house a little just E. and me. As we arrived at the school the Christmas decorations created the vibe just as the Christmas music and the  big screen showing a fireplace.

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E. was really happy to find some treats she could eat (dairy and milk free gingerbread, popcorn, apples, tangerines and peanuts). She decoratively packed a plate for herself with all the goodies and this was the closest she could get to being creative.

She was lying on the floor eating, and sometimes helping me out.

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We made a pine cone Christmas tree with tiny pom-poms and an elf.

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These were the prototypes

When E. finished eating (well, she was munching something all the time) she started to play with the glue coming out of the hot glue gun.

Our new angel socks were admired by everyone.

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All in all, it was fun to be together without high expectations and had a great time in our Helen Doron school, which is always welcoming and offers fantastic programmes.

First, E. didn’t like the elf so much (she called him poopy and blaaah) but on the way home we chatted with Mr Elf and it turned out he’s got magic power and can grant wishes.

We placed our (khm… MY) beautiful creations next to our advent candles, so our table decoration is full now.

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Days of December 2017

Last year I started a hopefully long tradition: taking note of daily memories of December, the advent period, our Christmas itself, the days between holidays and New Years Eve too. Here is the last year’s post.

Now come all the memories of December 2017 day by day in one long post. (This year we’ll be making a paper-based memory booklet as well.)

1st December

The kids were at their grandparents and the Angels have brought us the advent calendar.

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This year the main theme is decorating a Christmas tree with stickers. It’s great as both girls can do it and enjoy it.

Our advent “wreath” is ready. It’s evident we didn’t have much time for it this year either. Perhaps next year.

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2nd December

In the morning we had a family photo shoot in our home. See the photo collage a little further down.

Our annual Gingerbread Party was in full swing by the afternoon. Friends came over and we made and decorated more than a kilo of gingerbread (this time it was dairy- and egg-free. If you’re interested in the recipe, just drop me a line. It’s really tasty and soft.)

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Gingerbread team
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In the making
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When all our guests were gone E. did the washing of the cookie cutters all by herself.

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Mommy’s little helper
And we had some more fun at the dinner table. E. made sure L. can’t take out her hair clip(s).20171202_210414[1]

3rd December

  • In the morning we went to buy winter boots for E. as this week it’s started to snow.
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  • We lit the first candle on our Advent wreath today.

 

  • E. has been singing 12 Days of Christmas all day in birdy voice. (Check out this short video if you want to hear how a bird sings 12 Days of Christmas)
  • We’ve been playing with the choo-choo train nearly all afternoon.

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  • E. read The Gingerbread Man for L.

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  • I read How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss to E. as a bedtime story.

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4th December

This was a quiet day. E. was in kindergarten and I was running errands. Little L. spent the whole day at her Grandma. We picked E. up from kindergarten together and we immediately changed into English.

At home E. found an old English writing practice book and started to work on it.

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L. was  walking around in her pretty red shoes the heels of which light up.26123635_W_1

Of course, more stickers got on our Christmas tree.

5th December

In the morning Little L. and I went to the Helen Doron English session (Toddler’s Best Start is the name of our new course) which she enjoyed a lot because our new topic was vehicles (trucks, cars, trains, planes) L.’s been crazy about them lately.

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But the highlight of the day was the play performed by E.’s kindergarten teachers – St Nick’s glove. It was a cute and loveable show.

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My Mum was taking care of Little L while we were watching the play in the kindergarten. After having arrived home the kids opened some presents that St. Nicolas had brought to their grandma’s house.

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In the evening the girls cleaned their boots and put them out into the window waiting for St. Nick to fill them with goodies. E. was really excited. She wanted to stay up to have a look at Santa.

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6th December

I didn’t have to say twice to the kids to get out of bed in the morning. Within a blink of an eye they were in the living-room checking their boots.

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They opened their gifts with great excitement. Although we were in Hungarian, they got books, and activities in English, some toys and sweets.

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Our native nanny, N. was here in the morning and they tried to paint a magic booklet L. just got from Santa.

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E. met “the real Santa” (as she put it) in her kindergarten.

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In the afternoon Little L. met St. Nick in our main square. At first she was a little scared but then she got a candy (szaloncukor) and she kept saying she wanted to go back. We were in English but Santa and his helpers, of course, spoke Hungarian, still Little L. talked to me in English.

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We didn’t stay out much as it was very cold and windy. All the way home L. buried her little face in my shoulder. At home we made Santa’s beard out of cotton wool balls.

7th December

We had some healthy snacks, like raw broccoli in the market and dried cranberries at home.

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Our native nanny was here and E. showed her what she got from Santa.

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In the advent calendar we found an instruction to put  some Christmas lights on the windows. (If I can take a photo of it I’ll attach later on)

8th December

I was brave enough to give E. our paper-based Days of December album. She was cutting out some photos and I glued them in, but what she enjoyed the most was putting stickers all over the album.

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9th December

In the morning we went shopping with E. as she’d grown so much that all her leggings are short, her socks are too small.

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Fooling around in the changing room

We were invited to our Helen Doron school to make some advent crafts. I’ve written a separate blog post on it.

10th December

We lit the second candle on our advent wreath.

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The girls improvised dot-market painting. The end result looked like Christmas lights.

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The girls had been eating so much sweets all day that I made them an obstacle race field in our living room where they could burn their energies.

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We’ve started to prepare some Christmas presents and cards with E.

We received our Christmas photos. They turned out pretty well.

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11th December

Our Advent Christmas tree is getting nicer and nicer with all kinds of stickers.

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We finished some greeting cards for Christmas with the girls. (I’ll be writing a separate blog post on the cards and the baubles.)

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12th December

Gingerbread party in the kindergarten. L. is a little snotty so she didn’t come but enjoyed the company of her grandma and grandpa. We could spend the day together with E. in her kindergarten.

 

What she enjoyed the most was she could show me her favourite toys and we could play together both inside and outside, in the playground. After lunch we came home and took a nap. next We prepared some Christmas baubles we’ll give to her teachers.

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13th December

Last Helen Doron lessons of this year for the girls.

Little L. surprised her teacher, Z., with Christmas presents (a Christmassy pen and a Christmas card that we’d made with her hand-and fingerprint) and she said Merry Christmas in the morning.

E. gave her Christmas present to Zs. (her Helen Doron teacher) in the afternoon after her lesson. It was a Christmassy pen, the green-yellow bauble we’d made the day before and her hand Christmas tree card. She wrote Merry Christmas inside.

14th December

Our English-speaking friends visited us. In the morning my friend, B., who speaks only English to the girls, came over and played with E. and L.. She also stayed for lunch too. The kids were excited and a little ill so the whole morning was chaotic and tense. Still, we survived and spent the morning in the company of a loved friend.

After nap time N, our native nanny came to have our last session this year. On Tuesday E. invited her for dinner, so she stayed to dine with us. W. gave N. our little mainly home-made Christmas presents and the girls also got a really pretty Christmas card with N.’s poem written directly to E. and L. How sweet is that?

15th December

I was preparing for Christmas while the girls spent the day at their grandparents. Both of them have a runny nose. I and my hubby is coming down with the same illness. At least we’re done with it until Christmas. (Fingers crossed)

I was lucky enough to buy white and silver lackmarker with which I’ll be able to decorate out Days of December album.

16th December

L. wa s really early bird, got up at 5, I managed to keep her quiet and in bed for an hour, hoping for her falling back to sleep but she didn’t. So we started cooking together. He woke up talking to me English. What a nice start, only if it had been at about 8.

When E. got up we prepared her best friends present. She wanted to save the tatoo for herself, and of course I needed to apply some body art immediately for both of them (Actually this was L.’s first tattoo ever.) What’s more, we found some self-adhesive earrings. The girls got all pretty when they went to the library with their Dad.

In the afternoon we went out to buy infrared heat lamp as we are not getting better.

More fun is to come, stay tuned 🙂

 

Summer camp 2.0

We wouldn’t have missed this year summer camp at our Helen Doron School. Last year it was a wonderful experience for E., this year she’s been waiting for it with great excitement.

Day 1 – Rex Animal Farm

The more tiring programmes were at the beginning of the week as the kids had more energy. After a short getting to know each other and an English session they headed to Rex Animal farm.

The whole group at the gate of the farm (as you can see they all got a HD hat):

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Lots and lots of animals

 

 

Some playground time:

 

The best thing ever happened at the end of the day on the way home:
E.. – Mommy!
M.: – Yes.
E.: – Do you know what happened today?
M.: – What, Sweetie?
E.: – I made a new friend.  Kapcsolódó kép

It took me quite a while to find out her name and who she was, but ever since the first day they were hanging out together.

Day 2 – Tarzan Park

E. had been waiting for this day a lot. She loves this fun park and she had been there before but had never tried the water playground area. Well, we packed her swimming suit and sunscreen in her backpack. But they started the day with the English session

 

Water playground – the weather was kind to them

 

Of course, they had fun on the other playground areas too:

 

E. did sleep well after the fun-packed day.

Day 3 – Crafts and playground (water bombs, slime)

This day was all about slime, fingerpaint, waterbombs, and fun at the playground apart from the usual English lesson in the morning.

Day 4 – Crafts and ice-chalk

Just like the other days the kids enjoyed themselves mostly in the fresh air. Though they prepared a UFO in the morning (or in the afternoon… I don’t remember. I really need to write the posts when they actually happen.)

I’m not sure if it was this day’s craft or one of the previous days’ but here is the result of some finger painting:

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English lesson – preparation for the performance

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And playground time where the ice-painting took place with some home-made ice-chalk.


Conversation between E and Zs (the teacher):

Teacher: – Did you like the ice chalk?
*no answer*
Teacher: – How was it?
*long pause*
E: – COLD.

Picnic in the park:

 

Day 5 – Performance for the parents

Again I’m uncertain whether the kids got their tattoos on the very last day or on another day but here’s E’s Sunny, the Cat. It lasted for almost 3 weeks much to her delight.

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And of course the final performance, where the kids showed to their parents what they’d learnt throughout the week (though I’m positive this performance was just a tiny piece of what they’d learnt). They were singing, dancing, creeping like a snail 🙂 and it was evident that they all enjoyed it very very much.

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I might add a video soon, so come back and check it out.

 

Baby Days for L.

While E. was having fun in her summer camp at our Helen Doron School, Baby L. took part in her very first Baby Days. There are 6 days this year (3 + 2 day within 2 weeks) but we could go to only 5. The days are organised around topics and the teaching materials are made up of HD (Helen Doron) course material and the teacher’s own ideas.

Day 1 – Vehicles
There were a great variety of vehicles during our 45 min lesson:

car, bus, plane, helicopter, police car, sailing boat, paddle boat, bicycle, train, submarine (!) backhoe (wow), ambulance, canoe and some I forgot…

I found it a little too many for such small kids, but they didn’t mind at all, what’s more ever since the lesson L. is pointing at every vehicle and says: “auto” (car) or shows the sign of the train. On the way home she wanted to get on the bus. So I can say she was captivated with vehicles.

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There were plenty of fun activities:
-what’s missing
-match the vehicle to the place it belongs (bus-road, train-tracks, ambulance-hospital, backhoe-building site etc.)
-drive a car yourself
-drive your car on the road (road carpet and many matchboxes)
-what’s in my bag? (pulling out a lot of toy vehicles)
-ship in the water
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-make the frog sit in the vehicle
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-fit in the vehicle in the wooden puzzle
-place your vehicle in the city
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And of course, bubble blowing and dancing couldn’t have been left out.

Day 2 – Fruits, colours (painting)

Again an action packed day with fruits and colours.

Pulling things out of a bag or a hat is always fun for little hands.

Putting the the fruit on the right colours was a challenge for everyone.
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A big tray of fruit to tastes. An array of colours. L. was attracted to the banana slices only. What a pity!
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Painting is a messy business with such tiny kids. But our teacher took the risk and it was real entertainment for the little ones.
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Day 3 – Animals

There was quite a lot of revision at the beginning of the lesson: colours, fruits and vehicles. The best revision game was when different fruits were stuck on the IKEA peg and hammer toy. Kids needed to choose a fruit and hammer it, naturally with the help of an adult. But the main focus for today was animals, mainly forest animals.
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We started with some well-known animal flashcards (dog, frog, kangaroo, cat etc.) then Z., our teacher, introduced the new ones (owl, raccoon, bear, fox, deer) together with some plants (mushroom, flower, tree). The bingo card was acute way to practice them but L. was more interested in the bead manipulatives.

Next, we had a little colour revisions with mushrooms, then we got some really colourful, fluffy and thick pipe cleaners to tickle different body parts.

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Some more matching of rabbits and foxes and the Goodbye song started… too soon.

Day 4 – Family
There was a change in the teacher (our teacher was taking a break) so the lesson was little different but still fun. The focus was on revision rather than the main topic: family members.
The following activities took place:

  • puzzles with colours and fruit/veggies
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  • pulling and identifying soft fruit and veggies from a hat
  • sorting vehicles according to their colours
  • stamping on coloured paper
  • swinging with family members
  • adding the missing family members to the right family
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Of course, there were a lot of singing and dancing as usual. Our little group mates changed a bit but L. didn’t mind it the least bit. It’s true that she was a little more interested in other things, like pillows and cars she’d found than some of the activities.

Day 5 – Feelings (and body parts on the face)
On our last day we had plenty of funny, smiley and sad faces to L.’s great delight. There was very little revision, which we did not mind at all.
We started with the element of surprise 🙂

Our teacher, Sz., pulled out some surprising objects from a bag. A ball that could be extended, a plush hammer that said “bang” when kids hit with it, a cat that said miaow, a singing monkey, a very bouncy ball, 2 surprise eggs and a jack-in the box kinda cow. All the children’s jaws dropped open.

Next, we got some paper plate faces the mouth of which could be turned round showing either a happy or a sad face. Our teacher used glad and unhappy instead of saying happy or sad.

A mirror appeared and the kids could look at themselves, which they really enjoyed. They could place kissy lips or a moustache in front of their mouths. They didn’t really want to, though. Two eyebrows could be drawn on kids’ forehead, whoever wanted. L. got some heat rash on her face so we rather stayed away from the face-paint.

The following game was a puzzle made out of paper plate. Everybody got a different emotion.
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Then came the funniest part. Sticking eyes, nose, lips, moustache, ears, hair, on a head shaped image. We really had fun making funny faces. I made one sleeping face as L. is fascinated by a sleeping face.
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After that a little counting. Counters (beads) needed to be places on the jumping monkeys.

Some revision of family members. Kids placed the missing animal from the given family sheet.

We finished the session with some grapes tasting and black pepper smelling (these two are connected to a HD song that we, of course, sang afterwards). I wasn’t very happy with this activity. The grapes were not cut in half and after sniffing into black pepper L. kept on sneezing. Just for your information, no kids were harmed during our session 😉

We’ve had lots of fun nicely spread throughout 2 weeks. If you have a chance to try baby days at a HD school I encourage you to give it a try.

More Jump for (Jo)E(y)

Unfortunately, our native nanny’s disappeared completely so I decided to look for another. In vain. I haven’t been able to find anyone. This is the reason why I decided to go back to a Helen Doron course. E. needs a regular input and, although it’s not a native input, at the moment this is the best option we have.

In April 2017, she started the More Jump with Joey course, which she enjoys to a great extent.

Here are the details of the course:
(Here I have to emphasise that I’m NOT in any business relations with the school so this blog post is not an ad. This is only my personal experience.)

Timing:

Once a week (though Cds have to be listened to twice a day, which, honestly, we don’t do. We watch the videos once or twice a week)

School:
(Nyugati téri Helen Doron English Language School – the link takes you their facebook page)

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entrance

 

The Shcool looks of high standard. There’s a little playroom right by the entrance where children or siblings can play while waiting for the lesson to start. They can also cool off here after the lesson.

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playroom
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waiting area

There are 2 rooms (a bigger and a smaller) for the lessons. They’re really well-equipped with teaching materials, games and toys that help playful learning. There’s always some kind of refreshment (lemonade, tea etc.) for anybody who visits the school. The walls are nicely decorated with colourful English stuff, like motivational quotes, kids’ drawings, course materials and posters. It’s colourful and engaging (a little TOO engaging for my E. who could study these posters for hours if I let her :D)

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I have to mention here that the school created a nest with all the “chicks” (i.e. children) in it and on the surrounding branches. With this project the school won NatGeo subscription. I can’t wait to read it in the waiting area.

Teacher:

Well, we’ve known Zs. since the start of our Helen Doron Early English adventure. She was the one who we started with and after a little break we start again with. She loves kids, she’s cheerful and dedicated to teaching kids, gives motivating and versatile lessons during which all senses of the kids are involved. Kids have fun in English and strictly in English with her. What else could I ask for? (Perhaps a native nanny, pleeeeease)

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Zs. with Ella Doron

 

We’re very lucky with our HD teachers. Z., Baby Sis’s teacher, is very similar to Zs. (not just their initials 😉 ) Z. teaches with the same techniques, devotion and love for little children just as Zs. The “WOW” factor is always present at their lessons.

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Z & Zs

Group:

The maximum size of the group is 8, but they are just 7. Five girls and two boys. This proportion is absolutely great for E. as she is the phase of not fancying boys. (Oh, my… it’ll change too soon…) All the kids are around her age (5+). The kids in E.’s group have been going to HD lesson for quite a while. Scarcely do they speak Hungarian among themselves.

Teaching material:

First reaction: finally a useful backpack. Seriously, backpacks in the earlier packages were totally useless.

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The teaching material targets children aged 7-9. The More Jump with Joey package contains 4 workbooks (sorry! MAGICAL workbooks). During this very course they are covering 1 workbook within 3 months’ time. Animated videos are available on the DVD. 4 Cds are also included in the package (not seen in the pic above) with the stories and conversations. I wish there would be a Cd with the songs only so we could listen to them in the car.

Above I’ve highlighted the magical workbooks. There’s a special app that can be downloaded via Google Play Store to your android phone or tablet (via iTunes for Apple devices). If you place your device over the workbook pages signed with the magic wand the characters come to life.
Watch a video about this so-called augmented reality that makes real fun for the kids to (re)do the activities.

As for the content, there’s a lot of revision of the earlier materials, which are expanded during the course (songs like Hey diddle, diddle, or vocabulary of food and furniture etc). The stories have a lot of references of traditional English rhymes, songs and stories. Kangi, the kangaroo mother is a trouble-shooter, who comes whenever the kids are in trouble or need a mediator in conflicts. Just like the previous courses, More Jump with Joey includes plenty of other real life skills apart from learning the English language, such as co-operation and team work, expressing and handling feelings, problem solving etc.

The only thing I miss is that I myself cannot be there at the lessons. I play quite a lot with the magic wand and watch the videos with E.  whenever I have the time but the lessons are full of enjoyable games and activities. Fortunately, Baby L. still needs me at her lessons where I can have some fun, too 😀