Archive for the ‘languages’ Category

Yi, Er, San…

October 15, 2013

At breakfast this morning (breakfast is often when the best conversations in our house take place), Fainjin said, “We did Chinese maths yesterday.”

“Chinese maths?  What does that mean?” I asked.

“We did maths in Chinese,” he said nonchalantly around a mouthful of toast.

I didn’t really believe him (you’d think I’d know better by now).  I asked him a few questions, and it turned out his class had had a relief teacher yesterday.

“Well, can you write down some Chinese maths for me then?” I asked.

So he did.  He wrote a sum, and some numbers.

1+2=3 10 4


This afternoon he brought home a worksheet he had done, too, with all the numbers on it and some more sums.

He really enjoyed this, and was so proud of himself!

He really enjoyed this, and was so proud of himself!

Colour me impressed!

It was also quite handy later on – to bribe him to dry the dinner dishes for me, I promised that he could watch a youtube tutorial on the numbers in Chinese.  It worked a treat.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Crochet lessons

January 9, 2012

I had been thinking of teaching Pearl, and possibly Fainjin, to crochet these school holidays.  They both seemed interested, and I thought it might be a fun thing to do one wet afternoon.

I hadn’t quite got around to it, but Pearl beat me to it.  She has obviously reached her limit when it comes to doing “nothing much” – or nothing much that requires actual thinking.  She had been reading a lot, and playing with her siblings, but in the last few days she has dusted off the Latin books and busied herself with translating some texts, and started asking me to teach her to crochet.

I started her off yesterday evening with a simple chain, using my largest hook and some bulky wool, and she chain-stitched away, unpicking it and starting over several times until it was even and a good tension.  She was very pleased to realise she could crochet and watch tv at the same time!

Soon enough I was able to show her a single-crochet stitch (or maybe double crochet, I use so many American patterns I forget which name is American and which the rest of the world uses!).  Today she practised more chains, over and over, then did several rows of single crochet.  Her little ball of wool is starting to get quite fuzzy from being re-crocheted all the time.  I’ll have to find her some more out of my stash.

At the rate she’s going, she may well have made herself a blanket by the time school goes back!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2011

I hope Santa visited but you didn’t peek, you remembered to leave out a snack, the Christmas Crocodile didn’t steal it, and you’ve celebrated with family and friends no matter how far or near they might be.

Merry Christmas!

Hyvää Joulua!

Joyeux Noël!

Frohe Weinachten!

Gleðileg jól!

¡Feliz Navidad!

Gaudete! Dies natalis est.

God jul!

Nollaig Shona Duit!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

The wrong words

September 27, 2011

When I was little, I was fascinated by the idea of different languages.  One of my kindergarten (pre-school) teachers knew some Maori, and I have a very clear memory of sitting next to her in the sunshine, on a big blue gym mat, demanding to know the Maori word for everything I could think of.  She was very patient with me!

One of Pearl’s birthday presents, intended for the whole family, was a book of the “first 1,000 words” in Japanese – a picture book, with labels in both kana and the Roman alphabet.  We thought it would be a fun thing for all of us to share.

Tonight, Babess chose it as her “story” before bed.  “Great!” I said, “We can learn some Japanese words together!  Let’s pick a page.”

“Yeah!” she enthused, clapping her hands.  “I want the horsey one.”

“Ok… here’s the farm page.  Nojo.  And horse is uma.”

She frowned.  “Let’s play I-spy, Mummy.  I find things.”  We have some other books where you have to find things in the pictures.

“Yes, let’s do that.  Here’s the first one to find – a haystack!  See the little picture here?  Can you find the big one?  In Japanese it’s called, um, hoshikusa no yama.”

She shoved the book away and said, “No! You not doing that! You keep saying the wrong words!”  She was very very cross.  This was apparently not what she had expected at all.  She stormed off into her room and returned with Slinky Malinki’s Christmas Crackers.  “You read dis one.  And you no say da wrong words!”

So fierce.  Perhaps we’ll leave the Japanese for a little while…

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

E Ihowa Atua…

September 5, 2011

In the lead-up to a certain sporting event, there has been something of an effort to get New Zealanders to learn the words of the Maori verse of one of our national anthems (did you know we have two?!).  Just the other night, on the TV news, they were asking people in the street whether they knew the words and asking them to sing.

Babess loves to sing.  She was utterly enchanted by all this singing on TV, and merrily sang along.  I was pretty impressed that she seemed to have the tune more or less sorted out… at least the first two lines of the tune, over and over.  She doesn’t know the Maori words (or the English ones either), but she listened to what people were singing – which was only mostly the right words – and sang Maori-ish-sounding syllables.

Eh ee-wa-wa oh, oh, ah,

ee, ee, oh-oh, wa-wa, oh

ki-ka wa-wi, oh ah wa

oo-ah oh-ah ee ah ahh.

… Or something like that.  It was very cute, and not much worse than some attempts I have heard in a crowd “singing”.  She kept singing it to herself for ages, and I even heard her humming it to herself tonight after going to bed.

My little patriot!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Anteeksi, puhutteko englantia?*

June 5, 2011

Lilac in front of Finnish house

Every time I come to Finland, and this is my fifth time I think (I’ve lost count!), I find I understand more Finnish and speak a little more.  I understand and can read a lot more than I can speak, and I’m still a babe in the woods if let out alone.  My great triumph this trip has been pronouncing the title of this post and having someone reply, without even flinching, “Yes, of course.”  Whew!

We have been here a week.  When we arrived, we were worn out from the whirlwinds of Washington and particularly London.  We were thankful to arrive in the arms of family and take a day off.  The first day we hid in the house, slept in, and just “blobbed”, reading and sitting and doing not much at all.

The following day we were back on form, shopping and visiting two museums.  The first, Vapriikki, is Tampere’s main museum and is a great experience.  There are several exhibitions on at once, and we didn’t see all of them.  Pearl particularly liked the Natural History section, where we saw an elk (hirvi), a wolverine (ahma), and several other local animals, as well as learning about the local flora.  Spring is in full swing (and into early summer) so lots of things are flowering and it’s nice to be able to identify them now.

Next stop was, obviously, MoominValley, under the library.  Pearl was utterly enchanted by the dioramas, and barely interested in the original pen-and-ink illustrations on the walls.  We were there for a good long time, and spent nearly as much time in the Moomin shop next door.

Lily of the valley

We have also been walking in beautiful Finnish forests, enjoying the sunshine and bright green trees and lush undergrowth.  I adore the lily-of-the-valley growing and flowering profusely around my ankles; Pearl is intrigued by the abundance of strawberries everywhere, even under the slide in the playground we visited today.

Strawberries *everywhere*!

We’ve been treated to pulla, makaronilaatikko, moomin biscuits (cookies), and juice from home-grown berries.  Pearl tried a korvapuusti in a cafe and decided mine are pretty authentic.  I had a rahkapiirakka in another cafe and decided my Finnish “sister”‘s are much much better.

We only have two more days here.  We are enjoying our trip very much, but are also starting to feel the pull of home.  Pearl said today, “I don’t know if I’m happy or sad” to be heading home soon.  I told her it’s ok to be both.

Pearl's borrowed ice skates. She wants to keep them. If only we had ice at home!

*Excuse me, do you speak English?

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

February? Already?

February 1, 2011

School starts tomorrow.  I am almost as disappointed as Pearl is, we have had a great 3 weeks together with our walking and sewing and cafe lunches.  We jogged in the mornings… well, some mornings, anyway.  And we did go for a long walk at least once a week.  She did actually tidy her bedroom, and we did some maths every day (sometimes under protest: “Mum, I can’t believe you actually like maths.  You are so weird!”)  We didn’t get much Latin done, but there’s plenty of time for that.

What else was on our list?  Movies – we saw Tangled, and both enjoyed it.  She has just won tickets to Secretariat, we know nothing about it except that it’s about a race-horse, that’s enough for her and she is happy.  She’s quite good at winning movie tickets – last year it was The Princess and The Frog.  We went to the planetarium, but only once, and she had a ball at “craft camp”, making several gifts for family birthdays coming up.

The house is reasonably clean, and we spent a few afternoons lazing around eating ice-cream and reading the books we brought home from the library in huge quantities.

I think we can call January a success.  Let’s see how tomorrow morning goes…

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Boundless energy

January 11, 2011

Pearl and I ran again this morning, both of us complaining mildly but still doing it.  Well, we walked quite a bit too.

Then we came home, cleaned up the kitchen, did some maths worksheets, revised some Latin, packed drinks and muesli bars, and headed out again.  “Can I take my scooter?” she asked, and looked happily surprised when I said yes.

We walked and scooted down to the beach, scanned the horizon for whales and other interesting things (just a few fishing boats), then carried on around the coast.  After about 45 minutes, we stopped at some handy park benches and ate the muesli bars.  I never noticed just how long Pearl can make a muesli bar last.

We carried on again, and eventually came to a cafe at just the right time for lunch.  Unfortunately, so did everyone else, and there were no seats to be had.  So we carried on again.  We made it to another cafe for a late lunch, footsore and weary.  By now we were in another village altogether, having walked about two hours, but within two bus rides home.  We gathered up a chocolate muffin for afternoon tea, and resolved to spend the afternoon reading our books and doing little else at home.  Before finding the bus stop, we wandered into a children’s bookshop to have a look around.

One of Pearl’s school friends just happened to be there too, and her Mum offered us a ride home.  We gratefully accepted, and before we knew it, Pearl was invited to spend the rest of the afternoon with them.  Forgetting her resolution to relax and unwind, she eagerly accepted, and headed off for a few hours bouncing on their trampoline and running around their yard.

I don’t know how she does it.  I’m especially astonished that she didn’t just fall asleep tonight – we had to tell her to settle down well after 10pm!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Holiday planning

January 6, 2011

From Monday, Pearl and I will have three weeks of “big girl time”, after The Dad returns to work and the little ones to daycare, and before school starts for the year.  It’s our habit to make a list of things we want to do and see during the holidays, so that we don’t forget anything.  Also, there are brainless days where we can’t remember what we wanted to do, so it helps to have things written down.

Our lists are a little different.  Mine has lots of cleaning on it – not so much a “want to” as a “must do” list.  I tried to put “tidy bedroom” on her list, but I suspect it will drop off the bottom somehow.  Hers has movies and playdates on it.  We both want to go to the library and to see the planetarium’s new show (voiced by David Tennant!).  I have a list of quilts that “need” to be made; she wants to go to craft camp again (that could fit in quite nicely).  I think we should try to go for a long-ish walk about once a week; she wants to work on some maths worksheets and do more Latin.

I’m hoping we can make the three weeks a good balance of activity and sloth, brain-time and down-time, creative pursuits and enough cleaning that I can go back to work in February with a sense of accomplishment.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2010
Santa's feast

A feast for Father Christmas

Pearl told me a little while ago that she doesn’t believe Father Christmas is real.  Tonight, though, she’s hedging her bets.


Dear Santa...

Dear Santa...

Merry Christmas!

Hyvää Joulua!

Joyeux Noël!

Frohe Weinachten!

Gleðileg jól!

¡Feliz Navidad!

(add another language in the comments…)

© UpsideBackwards 2010.

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