The Sint

This year the sint will have quite a boring birthday. There will be no parties and no gatherings. Still we seem to have gotten lucky and we received a letter from the Sint.

Dear Alan, Alex and Dario,

This year I am forced to celebrate my birthday a bit differently. Normally I go to hotel Barbacan in the south to celebrate my birthday with all the Dutch kids, but this year my plans for Sinterklaas have changed quite a bit.

This year I will stay at home, but I sent out my helpers to bring presents to all the kids that have been good. I have included a letter for you guys. I hope that Alex can help you if something needs to be translated to Spanish. All the kids that have behaved well last year will receive a gift, and in your case you have all been pretty good.

Alan, I want to congratulate you with your birthday tomorrow. I have been told that you started playing the piano this year, and that you are really trying hard to do a good job. This is really great! I love piano music and I am happy you started to learn how to play the piano. Your teacher told me you also started reading, and you are doing very well. Very good Alan! I would like you to think about this. When you get bigger people will start to expect more from you. Keep trying to do your best, and try to avoid fighting with your brother all the time.

Alex, this year you broke both your arms! That must have been a terrible experience. I’m happy your arms are slowly getting better but I would advice you to tke things a bit slower and be a bit more careful. I hear you are doing very well at school. This is super important for your future, and I hope you continue to do your best. Please try to not get angry when your parents tell you it is time to stop playing with your tablet.

Dario, you did very well this year. I am very happy with your school results. I have also seen a couple of your drawings. They looked very good and I thing you should keep drawing. Please try to be a bit more organised at home. Cleaning up your stuff after playing will keep your new house nice and clean.

I have one more piece of advice for all three of you. You keep getting bigger and are growing up really fast. One thing important about growing up is realizing that your actions have consequences. Whatever you do can effect your family, your friends or your surroundings. You should try and be aware of the effects you have, and you should all try to behave in a way that makes the effects positive for yourself and for others. Fighting and getting angry will never get you good results. Try and think about this, because this is what is important in growing up. In the end helping others will make things easier for yourself.

I can see that you are all doing very well. This makes me very happy. Next year I really hope to see you personally, and I hope this year you are happy with your presents.

Lots of love,
Sint

Future musician

This year Alan started taking piano lessons, just like his big brother. Normally he goed to the classes with his mother but today was the first time I accompanied him. The class was filled with 6 kids each with one parent. Alan was quite happy to be in the class, but it was clear that this was not the case for the majority of the class. Four kids were quite unhappy, and some did not want to touch the keyboard. One even looked to be asleep. Only Alan and one other kid were learning. Now if we can try and get Alex to practice at home for a few minutes a day I’m sure we’ll have another musician at home soon.

Bionic arm

Alex is a very unlucky person. At least it seems that way at times. A couple of months ago he broke his arm while playing, and luckily his broken arm healed very well. A few weeks ago it was the turn of his other arm. Once again a broken arm, this time the left one, and once again a visit to the hospital, a cast, and lots on inconvenience.
Meanwhile that have already removed his cast, but because the bone was not set very well he now has a strong plastic cast around his arm. Just make provide a bit of extra security for the time being. This way his bones can mend a bit better.

English classes

Alex has some extra English classes twice a week. I bring him to the classes in the afternoon, and enjoy a one hour run (around 7.5 km) and then I pick him up again and we walk home. Today Alex exited the class with a very strange story. During his class the kids needed to think about some fictional person and apperently some girl thought of the fictional name ‘Alex Berg’. Very very strange because his sirname does not exist in Spain, and is even hard to pronounce. This can’t be a coincidence. Probably his name was mentioned at the beginning of the class and somehow kept lingering in the girls mind, and then the ‘random’ name was easily selected.

Recognizable game

As a test/hobby project I have been building a game similar to minesweeper, but with a completely different theme. Instead of looking for mines you will need to look for mushrooms. The game logic was easy because it is shared lots of times online. The entire app structure was for me, and was basically what I wanted to learn/achieve. What I was missing was the assets. Images and sounds to make it all look perfect. For this I used fiverr and I hired an indonesian guy to make around 20 images for me. Great to have such a huge international marketplace. What I am still missing it some soundeffects. I will probably try and convince the kids to help me with this, because Alex has already showed me he does this very well, like the shooting effect in our stopmotion.

One year more

Uf, today it is my birthday! I’m getting old. 45 years already. An old fart.

This birthday is in the middle of lots of chaos. A pandemic with viri everywhere. Kids that have been grounded for months. Tickets to the main land that gets cancelled all the time. A strange year! My with for this birthday was simple. A nice family photo that represents the times in which we are living right now. Nice for later.

As an additional cherry on the cake we also received some other good news. Alex finished his school year very well, and today we received this notes. All his notes were 9s or 10s. We are very happy with that. Alan also has some good results. The can add and substract all by himself!

Schoolwork at home

It could have been so easy. It should have been easy, but it is not. I’m talking about the schoolwork our kids get to avoid getting far behind. It looked so logical. Use the internet and just do lots of things from home. It should work, but it has mostly been very frustrating. It is unbelievable that almost everything that could go wrong really does go wrong.

Our kids school uses an app to communicate with the parents. We managed to log in on the app, and then the problems started. The entire interface was customized. No menu, no normal buttons. It took me a couple of days to (by change) figure out how to change the active chapter of a digital book.

Then we have the errors. Of course you can have a typo somewhere, but tasks that need to be returned with incorrect answers required are truly demotivating. Some questions require a true or false, and only allow you to continue if you give the wrong answer.

English. The professor is not a native, but reading simple tests displays a lot of errors that can easily be picked up. It’s not tomato or tomato, but “Tomatoe”. Unbelievable. Out of every three pages with questions one page has one or more errors.

To finish it all off we get PDF’s with additional exercises. For some reason these have huge URLs in them that you need to copy. Manually.

http://xx!$^&*()yy_+`-={zz}|[]:OHNEE-TREKT-HAAR-UIT-HOOFD;JohnnyBoy@www.leiden365.nl/blog/?p=8767&whatallemaalnogmeer&EenHelERieDelTexts/Lekker/Lange/URL

It is clear that the current situation is new for everyone. The idea is to keep the kids occupied so they will not lose to many of the knowledge they have. Next period they will probably try to make it all up. For the parents it is a bit more frustrating. Work during the day and in the evenings solve problems so we can do the schoolwork together.

Good cop, bad guy


The cops are dispatched to retrieve a case full of gold, but some bad guy also wants a piece of the action. A shootout is the result, and the bad guy bites the dust. After the cops depart the scene a stray dog checks out the aftermath.

A combination of playmobil toys, the Stop Motion app, some ketchup and lots of patience we made our very first very short film. Enjoy!

Sport – Body Project

What to do when you are locked in your home for a couple of weeks. In the beginning I did very little and this was quickly noted in my weight. I have gained a couple of kilos while doing nothing at home. All the stress caused by two bored kids didn’t help at all in bringing down my weight. Luckily I found a great solution. We have been training for 20 to 40 minutes every day with YouTube and team body project.

Simple exercises and a very motivational trainer who really gives you the idea that every movement you make it a big win. Really great and even the kids like to join in which makes it even better. After the short workout we get short time of quiet and relaxation at home while the kids recover the energy they burned.