2021 – New year, new opportunities

The new year 2021 started quietly. We did not celebrate this new yaer like the previous ones. No party, no fireworks, no get togethers. Still caught in a worldwide pandemic things were really low key. There seems to be a vaccin but that will probably take a while for everyone to get it. Lets hope that next year we can once again celebrate the new year in a more festive manner.

Last year was not very good for Alex. He broke both of arm. First one and a couple of months later the other. He spend almost half a year healing. Alex is a very physical child. Always running and jumping and almost never sitting still. He was already walking on his hands, and one of his favorite youtubers is a guy explaining how to correctly do parcour. It is hard to be so physical and still need to tend two broken arms. For us as parents it is very scary at times. When Alex is standing on his hands, just after removing the cast, is hard to see. Clearly he is confident and that is good, but still it scares me because you never know what might happen.

Alex’ school results continue to be very good. In addition he takes keyboard classes where he is also in the top of his class, and he goes to English classes where he is also in the top. The only thing that is difficult for Alex is concentrating on his homework. Reserving time for his homework and then concentrating and doing a good job is a frequent source of discussion.

Alan is doing very well also. He is just starting reading and writing and has to practice every day. This is still a bit hard, because Alan needs to get used to to doing some work at home, and not only play. Still, he is very young so there is lots of time for him to pick up some good studying habits. Alan also started music classes where he is one of the best students.

As a family we are doing okay, but sometimes things get very hectic. Alex likes to invest loads of energy in his play time. He will run and jump. Over the couch, across the tables, over and under the furniture. Sometimes things break and usually someone end up hurt (normally Alan is the one that will end up crying). It generates difficult situations to deal with. Once one of the kids is crying normally if will also affect the other. If Alex is in pain Alan will also cry and sometimes even more then Alex. The other way around is the same. If Alan is in pain Alex will also cry.

We are still in the process of moving to our new place. I am already living in our new appartment, and Ana and the kids are expected to move this week.

Tanju

Tanju!When the covid pandemic started we searched long and hard for things to do at home. In the end we did a lot of different things and one of these was exercise in the living room with youtube. We had various exercise programs which we tried out, and it was all good fun. Now, with covid still around, but with less restrictions we dont exercise at home anymore. We simply go to the park, or go out to visit the maintain, or the beach, or whatever park we feel like visiting.

We don’t exercise at home anymore with one exception. Tanju! Tanju is a trainer that has somehow captured our attention. He was one of our favorite trainers during the lockdown, and even now we still follow his programs. His first video we came across by coincidence on the first day it was posted on his channel. After a few days it was gone, and we were all very sad. Then later we found he has moved to another channel and we could enjoy his workouts again.

The Tanju workouts are a mix between workout and dance and although Tanju does not talk much he radiates an incredible amount of energy and happyness. He is one of the few persons who made a youtube video and achieved adding value to the world. The workout itself is quite easy to follow but every now and then Tanju picks up the pace and ‘goes wild’. These are moment of pure joy as we try and keep up.

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

Eco-sphere

An eco system is a collection of things that together can form a balance and survive without outside help. This collection of living things will work together to florish. Making a small eco system is easy and very educational. The small contained eco systems are called eco-sphere. You can make one really easily and it should require very little maintenance. I did this the following manner:

  • Get a big glass pot (Eat some bottled vegetables, or simply buy one. I got a really big 5 liter pot for around 5 euros)
  • Get some decoration. I made two eco-spheres. One with seashells (which I first cleaned with fresh water) and one with lots of small pieces of sea glass.
  • Get some fresh water. Either use water from the tab (which require a day or two before adding any life to the eco-sphere) or get some water from river or a pond.
  • Get some small water plants from a local river or pond.
  • Get some living things. I have a couple of small snails (which came with the plants I got from the pond), and I have two shrimp in each eco-sphere. The shrimp are the only animals I bought in the store for 2.50 EUR each.
  • As an extra I went online and bought a moss ball (around 1 EUR) on AliExpress. This is a (small) ball of moss which serves as the perfect decoration, and sometimes the shrimp will be found sitting on the ball, cleaning it a bit.
  • Put your eco-sphere in a nice place where they will have daylight. This is needed for the plants to make oxigen and to grow. Do not place the eco-sphere in a place where it will be hit directly by the sun. This will heat up the water way to much and you will end up with cooked shrimp. It there is to much light entering your eco system you should notice an abundance of green or brown algea. This tells you you will need the eco-sphere to a place where it is a little bit less bright.

    The shrimp can eat the algea that will grow in the eco-sphere. The snail(s) will also eat the algea and everything else they can find. The snails should also keep the glass clear. The poop from the snails and shrimp should function perfectly as food for the plants, and thats it. You just made yourself a really nice eco system!

    Dry?

    You can also try an eco system without so much water. You will then need to add some dirt and some plants. I tried this a couple of times, but after a while the plants just got to big or simply died. Making a water based eco system is much easier.

    Baby shrimp

    Our shrimp has some young. In the mini eco system that we have there where two shrimp living. I think they are happy with their home, especially since I started giving them some extra food every day. They must be happy because they decided to have kids. When I was giving them their food today I noticed a very small animal on the glass. A closer observation made it clear it was a very small shrimp. Great!

    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.