sprigs & sprogs

Third time lucky
February 11, 2014, 23:39
Filed under: Australia, Expat, language, Thoughts

I have been what you can call a traveler, expat, immigrant, outsider (sometimes it feels that way) since I left school and went on my first adventure to the big city London.  Since then I have traveled the world and settled in Portugal. Six years and two kids later, the time has come, to see if “Home” is on the other side of the world, Australia…

It was not an easy decision, after all, it is on the other side of the world, far away from everything I know… Sure I have traveled, around Europe, to the States, South America and Africa. But never to “the other side”.

A great adventure is about to begin…we are excited… I have no rose-tinted glasses on, I know it is not easy to move to a new country and start from scratch, but we have one advantage, we have done it before. And this time it will be in a country were we understand the language.

I am a great believer in; ” When in Rome, do as the Romans…” So I try my best in embracing the culture and customs. But I believe the beauty about have had the opportunity to live in more than one country, is that you always take some new traditions and customs with you when you leave.

I like to think with knowing more cultures and customs, you become a more adaptable and accepting person.

September = Schoolstart
September 22, 2011, 23:36
Filed under: Expat, Kids, language, postaweek2011, school

September is nearly over! And we have had the best two weeks of the summer, blue skies and summer heat. Loving it!

My big boy started school this month, can’t believe I have a child going to “proper” school already. It’s a big deal, but I think more of a big deal for me than for him. He loves it, has already made new friends and he’s excited about having homework!

His school is so nice and his books looks like so much fun, I wish I could join him. Would do wonders for my Portuguese . I have got myself a little Portuguese grammar book, just for me. Decided I wanted to show everybody that you can teach old dogs to sit!

One thing I struggle understanding, is why do the children in Primary go longer days than the children in secondary school ? Is it so it can work as an childcare option at the same time. As the Secondary students would be able to look after themselves? Back in Sweden the children finish around lunch time. But saying that, my son just loves school, and even on the later pick-ups, he asks me if he can not stay just a tiny weeny little bit longer.

I have been so worried about my son’s school start, not for his sake though, as he is a very sociable little guy, but for my sake, am I going to be able to help him, am I going to be able to get a good contact with his teacher… One thing I have learnt this month is, relax, it is never going to be as difficult as you make it out to be. So far so good!

I want to be fluent too…
May 19, 2011, 20:53
Filed under: Expat, Kids, language, postaweek2011, school

This weekend I overheard my two-year old having a proper conversation with an older friend in Portuguese. I was so impressed! I knew that he knows a lot of words and he always respond in the correct way when spoken to in Portuguese. But this was something else…

I am so proud. But now I need my kids to be proud of me too. I understand more and more, reading Portuguese is getting easier by the day, with help of kids books like Ruca and Elle Magazine! My next step would be to read an adult fiction book.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that my eldest son is starting school in September and that I am very nervous about my ability to help him with his school work. This weekend we went for an open day at the school. After about 20 minutes, my son was happily joining the children in all the activities.

While I did not understand everything that was said, especially not the jokes, i felt at ease. So now I do feel a bit more relaxed about this big change in our lives. I can also see the potential in learning along side my son. If only I could sit in on the afternoon lessons…

My big issue is to not dare to speak, beyond the phrases I now feel familiar with. I also get so overwhelmed when there are lots of people talking… I can give you an example; Friday night I went to a school meeting (Yip, Friday night at 9:00pm). All the parents are setting up a little show for the summer party at the nursery. I followed the conversation quite well…but then suddenly everyone started to talk at the same time. That’s when my brain switches off. Then that’s it, I’m lost! Luckily my son’s teacher is great and helps me as much as she can.

I need to speak more…or else I will not get any braver… And that would be a shame as my boys are such masters at Portuguese.

So my next challenge is to read an ADULT FICTION BOOK in Portuguese. Will keep you posted on the progress.

Sand between my toes
March 20, 2011, 20:49
Filed under: Beach, dog, Expat, Fitness, postaweek2011, running, spring, surf

It’s been a fantastic weekend, at last! Sun, sun and then more sun!

Yesterday morning, I got out early to go for a run. And Dora the dog was allowed to tag along.  We got along much better with her extendable lead,  she didn’t trip me up this time. The run felt great and so much easier. Not sure if it is because of the longer run I did or if it is my body pump classes that has improved my endurance? Or maybe it was just the warmth of the morning sun?

Today we spent the day on the beach, what a wonderful past-time. The boys loved it and so did I! I think I even got the beginning of a tan to show for it. But there is at least another two months to go before I go for a swim. The water is FREEZING. Still the sea was packed with surfers fighting for the waves, including my husband. Not unusual to see six people taking off on the same wave. I am surprised there are so few accidents out there.

Amazing to think though; here you are on the beach late March and it’s packed with people… When we left at four, there was a traffic jam to get in to the parking by the beach… The portuguese like to go for their beach strolls after siesta at 3pm.

So here’s for a new week with a Spring theme.

When your kids language skills exceeds yours…
March 7, 2011, 22:57
Filed under: Expat, Kids, language, postaweek2011, school
To raise bi-lingual kids is fantastic, but how many languages are too much? What is the best technique? Should I always speak my mother tongue with them?

And the fear of not being able to keep up with their language skills, and wake up one day and not understanding what they say!!!

My first son was born six years ago, at the time I had good intentions of raising him to be a bi-lingual child, speaking both English and Swedish fluently. I read loads of articles about raising bi-lingual children. Singing and reading for my son in Swedish at every opportunity… But with time it fizzled out, as I felt guilty speaking Swedish to my son, when my husband would not understand. It just felt wrong. So the Swedish my son was and is exposed to is mainly music and story books.  And of course the times when we go to family in Sweden or have visits from Sweden.

When he was two and a half we moved from England to Portugal, and he was now about to be exposed to a third language, which neither my husband nor myself had mastered.

To leave him at nursery the first couple of months were very hard for me, although his teacher spoke English. But he looked so small and vulnerable among all his new Portuguese friends. In the end my husband had to take him to nursery in the morning, as my worry rubbed off on him, and he started to get a bit anxious in the mornings. And with the switch, he started to relax and so did I. He stayed at this nursery for a year, as I wanted him to be around someone who spoke English until he felt comfortable with his new language.

Today he speaks Portuguese fluently, if it wasn’t for his blond hair he could probably be taken for a Portuguese. He has already acted as a translator for us many times. It’s a shame you don’t pick up languages as quickly as an adult. He loves to teach us new words or correct our pronunciation.

Since moving here we have had a second boy, who has not been as exposed to Swedish as my first, as he already had two languages to digest. He is now two and is already speaking some Portuguese and English.

My eldest knows phrases in Swedish, but he is not able to hold a conversation in Swedish. I am teaching my youngest Swedish phrases too.But when I read Swedish stories for him, he just looks at me and grins… Wonder what goes on in his head?

Do you think it’s too late to start a Swedish day, when I only speak Swedish to them?  I would love advice on this, as I would love for them to speak Swedish. But as I am finding Portuguese such a challenge, I worry that it would be too much for them?

Most bi-lingual children I have come across here, understand both languages, but will only speak one of them….Is this the norm?

As my son is heading off to first grade this year, I have started to worry about my own Portuguese skills. There will be home-work!  But also with time he will bring friends home, what if I can’t understand what they are talking about…

These are little fears of mine, and what spurs me on to learn Portuguese, my children’s everyday language.

How hard can it be to wear a seat belt?
January 31, 2011, 22:25
Filed under: Expat, Health, Kids, postaweek2011

Ok, here is something that has bothered me for a long time…why oh why do I see so many children/babies in the lap of an adult in the front seat? Children sitting in their car seat, but not strapped in…?

Make it a habit in your family.

If my children are not strapped in, I will not start the car. First of all because it’s not safe under any circumstances, and secondly even less so in Portugal. Portugal has not got a good reputation for their road safety.

So today on my way to pick up the boys from nursery, I meet a family from our village, in their family car (may I add plenty of space for everybody, which is not always the case here.) And the toddler is in moms lap in the front passenger seat…

Why is that? Surely they know as well as you and I, that if anything would happen, she will not have a chance. Just the thought brings tears to my eyes. Could you ever forgive yourself, for not doing such a simple thing as just wearing a little strap, i.e. seat belt?

Maybe in the dark ages this could have been forgiven, but not today. They are as well-educated as the next person. AND the law is the same as in all EU countries.

Found this useful information on a site about driving in Portugal;

“Essential Information:

– Seatbelts must be worn at all times, by all occupants of the vehicle.

– Children age 12 or under or less than 1.5m are not allowed to travel in a car unless supported in an approved child seat.”

Why is this ignored?

Ok, so not every parent is that carless, but way to many. And some of them, will learn the hard way how to protect their children, for some it may already be too late.

Never underestimate the danger on the road. With putting your children in the right seats and always strapped in, you have done your best to protect them. And after all that’s your job as a parent. Show your children the respect they deserve.






School Fears
January 24, 2011, 14:15
Filed under: Expat, Kids, postaweek2011, school

I have just realized how anxious I am about my son starting proper Portuguese school. No longer just playschool, where all you worry about is that they are happy and are having fun.

Now there will be homework, expectations on excelling, learning to read and write, you name it.  And all this in a foreign language, that is still a challenge for myself.
I do not worry about my sons abilities, as his Portuguese is good and he learns fast.  But I worry about my own involvement and how to help him. What if I don’t notice if he is struggling with something or I can’t help him
with his homework. To be quite honest, I’m terrified.

We all want the best for our children…right this very second I’m not sure if letting our son go to school using a second language that his parents (my husband and I) have not yet mastered is such a good idea?

There is another six months until this big change in our lives is going to take place, will we
be ready?