Monday, 28 December 2015

New year - new family member

The time has come to break the good news. Our family is growing. At the very moment I'm 9-month pregnant, which means an extra hard year behind us. Still, we are so happy and grateful to welcome the new baby in our family. I'm due on January 8th, 2016.

About the baby (and the pregnancy):

It's a girl and her name's initial is L. She's very active in the tummy; her high time is between 5-6 am, 10-11 am, 5-6 pm and some time after 9 - whenever I lie down in bed she starts partying. How wonderful she's got a routine. I pray to God she'll stick to this when she's born.

L.'s got a lot of hiccups, just like E. in my tummy. But her reaction to them is totally different. While E. bore it without any resistance, L. is really annoyed by her hiccups and starts kicking and moving around until it goes away.

The most important of all is that she is healthy and everything has been going well with my pregnancy. Perhaps as I'm older or just because every pregnancy is different from the other, I don't feel so good in my skin as with E. (I know, I know I shouldn't compare them).
- I had the morning sickness with L. but not with E. I've been more tired with L., though I had lots of time on my hand to relax with E. With an almost 4 year old it's unimaginable.
- Around the 7th month of pregnancy with L. insomnia kicked in for a few weeks. I slept like a log until the last moments with E.
- Braxton hicks started about a month ago, which are rather frightening and I've been living in continuous uncertainty not knowing when the real birth-giving starts.
- I've been ill every other week since I got pregnant. Either E. brings something home from the nursery or I seem to catch illnesses more easily. (I've had 2 stomach bugs, 3 colds, 2 coughs, and 3 or 4 viral infections. I'm ill at the very moment too and I can only hope it'll go away by the time we get to the hospital)
- I've got gestational diabetes. Not so serious (I do not need to count CH), still I have to keep a diet. It's been 3 months now I've got used to it, however at the beginning I though it was the end of the world. I try not to eat anything with white flour or sugar in it.

About E.:

We told E. the big news quite early at the beginning (I think the baby was about 12-14 weeks old). As she is a very clever girl and interested in the human body to a great extent there was no point talking about flowers and bees, or the stork bringing the baby.

We showed her picture books and videos about the pregnancy, how the sperm meets the egg and become one, how they are joining/growing and so on. She seemed to understand the whole process (whenever we asked her about the baby later on, or how it was created she could exactly tell us every detail we'd explained to her.), which surprised us a lot. There were a few weeks when she always wanted to talk about the baby, to watch videos about the growing baby in the womb, to know how big the baby is and how she was developing.  She was quite excited. Then after a while she lost interest in the topic, which was kindled again when my bump was getting bigger.

We selected her old baby clothes together and she was more than happy to give them to her baby sister. The same happened with her toys. She helped me separate the baby toys she's not playing with any more and she called the box L.'s box. Once I told her that we need to put away a few pairs of sock as she'd grown out of them, she highlighted that L. can use them soon. So sweet! What's more, she wanted her sister to sleep in her room. (E. got a new 'big girl' bed and she offered her old one to L.)

Of course, we've been reading some books about new babies born in a family. We tried to focus her attention on how much babies might cry, and not being able to play with a newborn at the beginning. But she enjoyed the idea that she'll never be alone in the future as she'll have a baby sister. She also cherished the fact that she knows everything a baby doesn't and she'll be the one who'll teach her. She doesn't really want to talk to L., she prefers if Daddy reports to L. what "her big sister is doing or saying" ( - Daddy, tell L. what her big sister is playing with." etc.)

About us:

Once I'm scared to death how I will survive with two small kids, with a 4-year-old energy bomb and a newborn who needs all Mommy's attention. At other moments, of course, I feel confident and strong and I feel experienced enough to cope with the situation. But honestly I have no idea what we are facing...

One thing is sure: our language journey must go on. Though it is also rather uncertain how I'll be able to write the blog, prepare activities for E., start everything from the beginning with L., find a native nanny and so on and so forth.

And there's Daddy, who doesn't like talking about his feelings, but I know he's burdened with responsibility, financial issues, paternal fears or how he could be present more in our lives to help and support in as many ways as he can.

For sure, challenging times are coming for all of us; magical, blessed, still difficult and troublesome. But the challenge has been accepted.

28 Dec. 2015, 5.54 am
It might happen that our sweet daughter is born this year. 8 minute contractions have been on for more than 2 hours now.

07. Jan. 2016. - see an update on L's arrival in our family

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Advent Calendar Activities Days 7-13

Here come the activities of the second week of our Advent:

Christmas wreath from pasta - fail :( (Day 7)

  1. What you need:
    * pasta (farfalle)
    * green paint
    * paintbrush
    * glue
    * cardboard ring (cut out of a cereal box)
    * red ribbon/bow
    * glitter sprinkle (I left it out this time as E. loves to spread it all over the flat)

    How to make it:
    Cut out the cardboard ring beforehand for your child. Let the kid paint the pasta green and let them dry. Glue them on the cardboard ring in a circle. Tie a bow (I tied it) and glue it on. You can hang it on a door with some more ribbon.

    In our case E. wasn't in the mood to finish the wreath after having finished with the painting. She started to paint her apron and hair, then it was time to stop.

    here still happily painting the pasta

    We'll get back to this project later on as the outcome is so sweet.

    Though we used a lot of English phrases:
    -This kind of pasta is called farfalle.
    - I have paint all over my hand.
    - Can I get some more paint?
    - I don't want to do it any more.

    ---o---o---o---o--- UPDATE---o---o---o---o--- coming soon---o---o---o---o---

    It should have turned out something like this... but better later than never...
  2. Christmas dominoes + Santa patterning and reindeer puzzles with numbers (Day 8)
The domino was a great hit. We needed to play it 3 times and the next day when E. was with her Grandma, she showed the game to her and played it in Hungarian several times as well.


If she hadn't been interested in the dominoes, I had a plan B this time. Finally, we did the plan B tasks as well since there was a lot of time before dinner.

Source: (Santa and reindeer puzzles)

Christmas tree puzzle (Day 9)
As E. spent the afternoon with her Grandma, I didn't want to put great pressure on either of them so I'd just prepared all the previous tasks and this extra one. E. showed them all to her Grandma and played with them all afternoon... this time in Hungarian.

No photos have been taken but here is the source where you can find the Christmas tree puzzle (Part 1)

Sticker Christmas tree (Day 10)

I printed out a Christmas tree template from the internet and made some dark green and light green cardboard Christmas trees. St. Nicolas has brought E. loads of Chritsmassy and winter stickers (with owls, snowmen, snowflakes, Christmas trees, presents etc.) so I wanted her to use them in this activity.

She needed to decorate the Christmas trees but there was a tiny bit of educational twist. I wrote letters on the trees and she had to cover each with a sticker. She needed to use a sticker which started with the same letter (C - candy cane or Christmas tree, B - bell, S - star, snowflake, snowman, G - gingerbread man, A - angel, P - present etc.) The dark tree had letters corresponding Hungarian words and the light green trees the English ones. (We did this task in two or three rounds)

She enjoyed it soooo much, she was busy with it for 40-45 minutes each time. (Sometimes she asked for a letter so she could cover it with something special (H for holly, for instance).

As I made the same number of trees as we are in the family, Daddy and I helped out a bit. (Not as if she'd needed any, just for fun. It could be a great family activity.)

When she'd finished with all the trees, I stuck them up on a ribbon in a line and displayed it on her door frame. She likes it a lot. Mostly the little green bell at the bottom (you can't see it in the photo.)

Make a Christmas card for a friend (Straw Christmas tree) (Day 11)

Again I prepared everything for her beforehand. A A5 size construction paper (yellow) folded in half. Inside I wrote MERRY CHRISTMAS! (in capitals) and signed some spots with crosses where she could stick her stickers (we are in a sticker craze phase). I'd also cut up some straws (red and green) with different length so she can build a Christmas tree in the front (of course I provided her with some glue too.)

First, she stuck in the Christmas stickers.

Second, she traced the letters in Merry Christmas and signed the card.

Lastly, she built the Christmas tree on the front (She wanted to put a star on the top - "Can I get a star? I want to put it on top" so I gave her a golden felt one - this is what I could find.) She needed help with the straws as they were too thin for her little hands. But the final result was really nice. (Here is a very bad quality shot of the card. I had very little time to take photos as B. came earlier and we really needed to focus on finishing the card. But you can get the idea.)

Christmas ornaments: baubles filled with pompoms  (Day 12)
(present for the nursery teachers)

From last year I had two plastic baubles which can be taken apart. I gave E. some pompoms (red, yellow and green - some of them sparkly) and jingle bells (gold and silver). She needed to decide what colour combination she wished to fill the baubles with. It was also her choice which bauble would go to which nursery teacher. (The light/dark green is for R. and the red and yellow is for M.)

It's a real easy craft (the only thing I did at the end was fixing the bottom of the baubles with transparent cello-tape and tied a ribbon on it.) Even a 2 year old can do it. What's more, you can fill the bauble up with anything: beads, ribbons, nuts, fake snow, coloured rice, tiny Kinder egg objects, torn crepe paper etc. - you name it)

Christmassy pre-writing practice (Day 13)

As I have already mentioned I found a great Christmas pack for preschoolers (it has a version for toddlers too - see the source information bellow), which offers a great number of activities: puzzles, pre-writing activities, find the difference, memory games - just to name a few). So I printed some of the pages and used them separately, like these two types:
*Which one is different?
*Pre-writing sheets in Christmas style.

Source: (part 1)

And also this Santa and stocking matching activity from


I'll be back with some more activities hidden in our advent calendar.
Here's a teaser:

Monday, 21 December 2015

Advent Calendar Activities Days 1-6

This year we have two ways to prepare ourselves and wait for Christmas. I have already written a post about a Book Advent Calendar, and now I'll share with you the activities we'll be doing in the next couple of weeks week by week. Here are the first 6 days:

This Tchibo Advent Calendar that I managed to get a few years ago hides small presents and an activity card every day. Most of the time the cards are written in English so we can spend a little time doing something in the second language on a daily basis apart from the books we read.

Sometimes we have simple instructions in the calendar, like "Clean your boots and put them out in the window for St. Nicolas". Or we decorate our home together and the ornaments are in the calendar. (They often cannot fit in the pocket so I put them near the calendar and E. can find them easily) In these case, there are no crafts.

Here is the list of activities for Days 1-6:

  1. Cardboard candy cane (Day 1)

    sticking the cotton wool

    on our door

    What I prepared beforehand:

    - 3 cardboard cut-outs
    - red paint
    - paintbrushes
    - glue
    - little cotton wool balls

    We painted the candy cane cardboards red and let them dry (on the radiator).

    We glued lines on the candy cane and stuck on the cotton wool to make it stripy. When we finished we displayed them on our door.

  2. Decorating E.'s window with flashing snowflake ornaments (Day 2)

    On one of our Christmas shopping we bought 2 snowflakes that have little batteries and if you turn them on they have flashing led lights (I didn't realise the colours are red and blue - so they are a bit strange, but E. loved them at first sight anyway). You can attach them to the window with suction-cups.

    Every evening E. asks us to turn them on.
  3. Write a letter to Santa + Santa counting cards with festive peg + hair bobbles and clip present (Day 3)

    First, she didn't want to write a letter to Santa (St. Nicolas) so played with the cards. She loved the tiny pegs with Santa, mittens and boots on them. She counted and clipped and counted and clipped. I made the printable myself, and you can download it at the end of the post.

  4. Gingerbread dough making (with a recipe) (Day 4)

    Last year I found a really good gingerbread recipe on It's easy to make, smells wonderful, and stays soft.

    So on the 4 December (before the next day's gingerbread party) we prepared the dough with E. So many people were coming we needed to make two batches. E.'s enthusiasm lasted only for one.

    It was rather messy with lots of ingredients and measuring I couldn't take photos.

    Here is the recipe in English:
    For the dough:
    - 500 g white flour
    - 2 teaspoons of baking soda
    - grated zest of an orange (the colourful part of the peel)
    - grated zest of a lemon
    - 1 egg + 2 egg yolks
    - 2 tablespoons of freshly pressed orange
    - 130 g honey
    - 100 g butter
    - 150 g sugar (powder)
    - 1 tablespoon of gingerbread spice

    For the decoration (optional):
    - 1 or 2 egg's white
    - about 150 g sugar powder


    Put the honey, butter and sugar into a pot and heat it up until they melt. Let them cool (on the balcony or in the window sill, while you are making the rest of the dough)

    Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, baking soda, gingerbread spice, grated lemon and orange zest, then add the whole egg and the two egg yolks. (Put the whites in the fridge, you can use it for the decoration). Mix in 2 tablespoonfuls of freshly pressed orange and finally the cool mixture of honey+butter+sugar. Mix them all together with a hand mixer (dough hooks on). In the very end I knead it a little to make it stick together.

    Wrap the dough in cling film and place it in the fridge for 6-8 hours. (The best is if you can prepare it the day before baking and the dough can rest the whole night in the fridge. If you're pushed for time, it is OK if it rests in the fridge only for a few hours. (I've tried it and it worked the same)

    When you're ready to bake, take the dough out and knead it a bit on a board covered with a thin layer of flour (also add flour to your rolling pin).

    Then roll the dough 3-4 mm thin and use your cookie cutters to cut out the shapes. Put them on baking paper on a tray and bake them for 8-10 minutes in the oven that you've preheated at 180 Celsius degrees.

    Let it cool down and decorate it with the whisked mixture of sugar powder and egg whites (whisk them until they are hard and fill them in a plastic bag. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and push the white stuff out on your gingerbread) or with other decorations (nuts, almonds, sugar sprinkles, hearts or beads etc.) We always use the Dr. Oetker edible decorations.
  5. Clean your boots and put them out in the window for St. Nicolas (Day 5)

    As in Hungary St. Nicolas (Santa) brings presents on the night of 5 December, children need to clean their boots and put them out in the window so St. Nicolas can fill them up with goodies and presents.

    And then in the morning (6 Dec):

  6.  Santa craft from paper plate (Day 6)

    On the 6 December E.'s Godparents and God-sisters came to visit. So we did this advent activity together. They were more than happy to take part.

    (By the way, I saw this Santa paper plate craft activity on Pinterest but after some rethinking I changed it a bit.)

    You need:
    * paper plate
    * red construction paper/foam sheet
    * googly eyes
    * red pompom
    * white cosmetic cotton wool balls
    * scissors
    * glue

    What you need to do:

    I prepared the hats out of the red cardboard in advance and drew a line on the top of the paper plate where the kids could cut along.

    First, stick on the hat, then add the googly eyes, the pompom nose. You can use any kind of glue you have at home. For smaller kids (about age 2 or younger) you can pre-draw the places of the eyes and nose and mouth).

    Next, with a crayon or marker you can draw the mouth.

    To finish with, you can add the cotton balls on the tip of the hat and along the head line. If you have a lot of cotton balls the sticking can go on the beard too.

    There was an extra special activity with Daddy at bath time: tea lights were lit and placed around the bathroom and the tub and they were blowing bubbles while bathing. It was so much fun... unfortunately I couldn't take photos in the dark and I preferred to watch how they enjoyed the bath :)

More activities are to come!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Meltdown - an unpopular post?

I've been re-reading and brushing up some old posts. Our language journey and life in general seems shiny and bright, full of laughter, success, and happiness. E. looks so cheerful and contented in the pictures and this whole bilingual project appears to be easy-peasy and the greatest fun ever.

The truth couldn't be farther away from it.

If I want to paint a realistic picture I really need to write about our melt-downs, tantrums, bad moods, lack of energy and motivation, bad-BAD days, failed projects, no-time-for-English days and I could go on listing the other difficulties.

So here is the dark side in 5 points:

  1. The most difficult and disappointing experience for me is when I prepare some activities for E. for days and she is just not interested or isn't in the mood to take part in it. Sometimes I leave it for a few days and try with the project again and she goes berserk about it. (During the summer time she was extremely into dinosaurs and fossils so I made her a special play-dough with which she could make dinosaur fossils. To cut the long story short, we ended up with a great mess and a crying child)
  2. Another tough situation is when the circumstances ruin an activity or due to circumstances I can't reach the aim I'd proposed to myself. For instance, I haven't managed to find a native nanny since A. (our British nanny for almost 2 years) left us. All my attempts for finding one have been futile. I bumped into unreliable people, arrogant ones, or some who charges for babysitting as much as I prepare someone for a CAE exam.
    Another example: In the summer I wanted to make a really good science experiment "What melt in the Sun?" We had an extremely hot summer this year with 5-6 heat waves, which meant 37-38 Celsius degrees for weeks. I myself almost melted in the Sun. By the time I put together the activity and managed to thrill E. about the experiment the weather turned bad (cloudy windy and a drop in temperature) within minutes. I was on the verge of crying after spending 3 days with the preparation.
  3. Lack of time is a major issue. Since E. is in nursery during the day her Hungarian has started to rocket and her English has fallen much behind. We can't spend so much time in English as we used to. Frankly, it frustrates me. She can't express herself as well and precisely in English, then she gets frustrated. She's mixing the languages more and more and although I know it's just a phase, it really disheartens me. I really try to do my best to connect English usage with fun playtime that she enjoys but most of the time we've been in English lately is when she was home ill.
  4. I'm really concerned about her choice of language as well. She used to play in English and it was her choice. She used to ask me to be in English because it's fun. Nowadays she rather plays in Hungarian, she hardly ever sings in English as her choice and mixes a lot of Hungarian in her English (mainly when it's easier for her to express herself in Hungarian, although when I ask if she could say it in English she can - without any problem)
  5. I'm tired, exhausted... yet more knackered. I lack the energy and motivation to prepare the tasks that E. is always asking for. I feel alone in our language project though Daddy helps as much as he can. I find it extremely laborious to find programmes that are in English, or playmates, nannies, or any other events that involve some English. At the end of the day I often feel I failed and we stepped on  a downhill and there will be no stopping. 

I know this post is really gloomy and negative, though today wasn't too bad. (E. enjoyed one of the Advent Calendar Activity so much that she wanted to be in English all evening. Still, she talked to herself and her toys in Hungarian after the lights went out) 

It was a must to write about our struggles and hardship. I hope I'll sleep a little better tonight after all.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Book Advent Calendar

Like last year we'll have a book advent calendar, however, this year I managed to put together more Christmassy books than last year. And there are some surprises among the 24 books... read on to find out what they are.

I always go to second-hand toy shops which also offer English children books at a very low price. All through the year I've been collecting these books (some of them we had last year too) I wrapped them in red and green paper and stacked them up like a Christmas tree:

 Here is the list of the books:
  1. Dear Santa

  2. A busy Christmas (board book)
  3. Mr Men - 12 Days of Christmas
  4. Mr Christmas
  5. Little Miss Christmas
  6. Here comes and Angel
  7. Dora Starry Christmas
  8. The Manger
  9. The Gingerbread Man (Ladybird)
  10. The Nutcracker (Usborne)
  11. Snappy Little Christmas (pop-up book)
  12. Reindeer- a Christmas Story
  13. Clifford's First Christmas
  14. Maisy makes gingerbread
  15. The very first Christmas (Beginner's Bible)
  16. The night before Christmas
  17. A Christmas Hug (Marks and Spencer)

    I also included books on some of E.'s favourite topics:
  18. The Little Brainwaves investigate... The Human Body
  19. It's so unfair (illustrated by Jonathan Allen - author of I'm not reading, I'm not cute, I'm not scared)
  20. I like it when... (Mary Murphy)

    And 2 books in Hungarian 
  21. Zelk Zoltán: Karácsonyi ének
  22. Télország (Lili és Lala versei)

    And the surprise books ... on a new born baby
  23. The New baby
  24. Za-za's baby brother (by Lucy Cousins)

Yesterday we opened the first one: Busy Christmas - a tiny board book with rhymes about the preparations for Christmas. I needed to read it twice. E. wanted to open the Advent book first, rather than the Activity Calendar. I'll write a post about that one too.

Today we've read the second one from the top of the pile: Little Miss Christmas - it wasn't so very well welcome but E. liked it. The story is about Little Miss Christmas going on holiday before Christmas and leave her brother, Mr Christmas and uncle,Father Christmas finish the wrapping of  all the presents. Of course, they couldn't get ready in time. But Little Miss Christmas saves the day with a brilliant idea.

Would you like to get short reviews of the Advent Books we'll be reading?

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