Friday, May 10, 2013

Language Update: May 2013

Yesterday, we were riding in the car with Dimaya in the backseat happily singing "Los Niños Cuando Bailan." Her dad and I know the entire CD by heart along with her. I believe it's safe to assume that her sister will know it too!  This non-native language adventure in Spanish since Dimaya was born has been an interesting journey. For a while, I was beginning to wonder if we would be able to keep up with both English and Spanish. I've always done well understanding spoken and written Spanish, but I don't immerse myself in the culture as much as I did when I was an undergrad with my four good friends who were from different Spanish-speaking countries (Ecuador, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, and Mexico). Needless to say, I learned many variations in vocabulary from them! 

Dimaya's progress in Spanish is great! I'm very proud of the extent of her Spanish vocabulary (animals, colors, numbers, etc) and her understanding of spoken Spanish. It's crazy because she pretty much always understands what I'm saying to her no matter which language it is.

Phoebe is just over a year old now and is finally walking! She still only has two teeth, but we are hoping to see more sometime soon! Because I have been working since she was about 4 months old, I feel like her exposure to Spanish has been severely limited. I'm hoping to take time this summer to work with her since I won't begin teaching again until July.

New Developments:
Last week the girls got a visit from their beloved Titi Kate and we were having a great time. I began a conversation in Spanish with Dimaya and she answered everything in English. This has become the case for most days. Every now and then I can get her to speak Spanish or she will randomly ask for things or mention things in Spanish. The only consistency I get from her is when it comes to Phoebe! Dimaya will tell her "don't touch," "stop," "come here" very often. It's really cute actually, and she gets results.

Action Plan:
We've really been using mostly the OPOL method which doesn't work well for our family. I admit that any speaking of languages outside of English are usually my thing, but Steve is very supportive and tries to help me reinforce those languages. I have quite the husband! He's not into languages like his crazy wife, but he also isn't opposed to learning or participating in languages. I love him for this!  

I'm considering some other methods such as minority language at home (ml@h) or maybe even Spanish in the mornings or evenings instead. 

I sounds crazy! I've been working on French recently for myself. I haven't exposed the girls to the language much, but they understand a few basic phrases. Dimaya prefers to watch Little Pim in French often times, or prefers watching Le Petit Nicolas on YouTube to Pocoyo during her allotted tv time. French is important to me because I fell in love with the language in 3rd grade! I would love to share this beautiful language with my family! We'll see how the adventure goes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Self-reflection: On Being a Role Model

Self-reflection seems to be one of the most important things a person can do to help themselves and others. When you are able to focus on just you for a moment, it seems like everything else falls quickly into place. Maybe it's because you are happier and can see things a little more clearly. Or...maybe it's because you never have time to focus on yourself.  I have tools in place that allow me to take a moment each day to do just that...FOCUS. Although, when I don't employ them, I tend to sound like a broken record to my husband and myself. 

I like to think that being a role model is easy and--to some extent--it is.The crazy thing it that I've had to define it in a way that fits me and my family situation. I'm writing this post because this topic has come up in conversations with friends, family, and neighbors recently. I love how many parents look to their own parents as role models, and even how some encourage their children to look to celebrities, scientists, and political figures like President Obama. 

My husband and I come from very different backgrounds, but share many of the same struggles and dreams. His parenting, discipline, and loving styles vary from my own in many ways. I see him as being a loose cannon sometimes and just hope to see the girls come back in one piece =) On the other hand, I see myself as more of an apron wearing drill sergeant with a cookie in hand. (I'm so glad that he doesn't see me that way)!  I believe firmly in "well-behaved" children in the know-your- manners-address-people-properly-pick-up-after-yourself kind of way. I never bark orders at my girls, but they do know when mama means business. At the end of the day, these are the things that help to keep us connected.

I have often times had to self-reflect on what it means to be a good role model. Most people loosely translate it as: looking good on paper, publicly, or in the community. Almost like a switch that you turn on and off when no one is looking. But as we know that it doesn't begin or end there. As a parent, the switch is always on because your children watch you all the time.  It's like surveillance! This made me self-reflect on the things I feel make great role models. This is what it means to me:

A good role model understands that there will be times that you aren't "good."  Every now and then we do questionable things, but that is all part of being a human being. The best part is that we can apologize and learn from our mistakes. Even if it means apologizing to our kids. We may not be children, but we still have tons to learn.

A good role model doesn't mind admitting when they don't know something. I can't tell you how many times I've admitted to not having all of the answers to things Dimaya will ask. Considering she's asked the same 10 questions a trillions times, you'd think I would know by now =)

A good role model stands up for something they believe in.  Everyone may not believe in the same things, but when you find what strikes a chord in your heart...believe in it with every bit of yourself. Try taking a stand on something.  I believe passionately in standing up against racism. I vowed to interrupt it when I see or hear it. I want to encourage my children to stand up and fight for something as well.

A good role model is a game changer!  There is nothing about me that is just like the next person. That goes for everyone! Being orthodox or traditional is fine, if you feel it works for you. But think about it...we look up to people who change the game!  Most of them have overcome adversity in their lives or have a unique story that inspires us. I prefer an unorthodox kind of thinking that fuels my very life and people don't like it...then don't. I don't know how may parents feel they should take all of the parenting advice from their own parents or other parents. Pick and choose! Your kid is unique and it's okay to change the game!

I just wanted to share a little with you, but please feel free to tell me your thoughts on this post. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Parenting Issues

This is something I've been thinking about lately so I figured I would just blog about it. I've been working on being "present" in different circles of moms since Dimaya was younger. It's interesting that some people feel like all moms with kids around the same age will always hit it off. For some reason I don't feel like that pertains to me. I like to talk about my beautiful girls, but I like to talk about other things as well. I have lots of interests and I am more than just a wife and mother. Sometimes even I forget this! Even in "moms groups" I would like to talk about some of these other things. I want to get to know the person, not just the mom. I wonder if I would even hangout with some of the moms I've met without their children? 

I've also found that I am very much bothered by parents that allow their older children to do whatever on the playground because they don't feel like they have to watch them as carefully. News flash! Some of you may be raising bullies just in case you are unaware! I don't appreciate parents sitting by allowing their kids to run over or push down younger children like it's okay. If you say or do nothing, then that let's me know that it is okay to you. I know that if Dimaya did that I would have to let her know that we treat everyone with respect and at least address the issue. Or even remove her from the situation if it's a big issue where I know she was in the wrong. Don't just say things like "Boys will be boys," or "It didn't seem like an issue." I don't like to be rude to adults or children, but please believe I will call you out because you may need to know.  Just saying...

Be an always involved parent...know what your kids are up to!

On a positive note, I love parenting! My daughters have taught me so much about myself and patience is on the top of the curriculum. Despite what I saw in various situations growing up, the best thing about being human is that we can decide how we want our lives to be. I don't see my children as possessions, obligations, or the sort. They are small humans that deserve to be nurtured and respected just as adults. They just can't communicate their feelings sometimes, just like many of us fail to be understood by our partners regularly. 

Remember that when you're upset! My philosophy (with toddlers and preschoolers at least) is that if there's a big blowup, it's normally default on ME. Think about it.  Are they hungry? Tired? Overstimulated? On sugar? On caffeine? In Wal-Mart past their bedtime? The list goes on. I know that if I were any of these...I wouldn't be cooperative either.

My husband is the best because he is so patient and sees the big picture in most situations, whereas, I tend to forget and end up sweating the small stuff. Dimaya and Phoebe are so very lucky to have him as a father. Like I said we don't own our kids...we're simply lucky to have them be a part of our lives!  

Learning in Context

Last night (and many nights prior to), I have been reading Los Huevos Verdes con Jamon with Dimaya before bedtime. It seems to be her favorite book now! I love how she wants to read it to me. This consists of flipping through the pages and telling me in a mix of Spanish and English what is happening on each page. The most recognizable words and phrases are huevos y jamon, ¡dejame ya! (lol), Juan Ramon, muchos gracias, alli and alla, un tren, el coche, la cabra, el raton, el arbol, and un zorro. I'm excited that she loves reading in general, but I really love that she is trying to read and explain the Spanish books in Spanish. 

She is really moving along in the linguistic world and I often times find myself struggling to stay ahead of her. When my husband works with her on new concepts in English such as introducing new numbers, colors and shapes, I try to work with her on those same concepts in Spanish. I'm currently trying to incorporate visual, auditory, and physical learning styles into our language learning. 

For example, Dimaya wanted to build a tower of multi-colored blocks so we worked on colors. I would ask her in Spanish to give me a [color] block and she would give it to me. Then I would have her ask me for a [color] block by its Spanish name. Later we sang a color song we learned from a toddler CD. I've also written the Spanish color name in its color with the English name beside it on construction paper. We made up silly stories to go along with the words.

Crazily, this type of "learning in context" really helps me to build and remember the vocabulary. It's amazing how rapidly she is learning! I had to add about 10 new verbs and plenty new vocabulary today to keep up with our everyday conversations! I must say it is an awesome adventure!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

French Please!

Dimaya has recently taken an interest in French!  I'm not exactly sure how it came about, but I'm thinking it has something to do with her browsing youtube cartoons that pop up when she is looking for cartoons in Spanish. She comes to me and says, "Maaammaa...Freeeeennncchhh please!" She can count to ten in french and knows some of the colors, but always leaves out trois and neuf.  I'm not sure why lol! When she was learning her numbers in Spanish she always left out tres and cinco, but that worked itself out just like I believe the French will. I really want her to learn any language(s) that she wants and I will help facilitate her learning as best I can. 

I will admit that my French skills are garbage compared to my Spanish. I believe it's just lack of use though. It's all the verb tenses that I have to remember...which isn't as tough to me as Spanish. The preterite and conditional tenses always throw me off in Spanish. I planned on slowly reviving my French during this Language Challenge 180, however I find that I am always speaking Spanish because I have my two lovely niñas with me all day everyday this summer. It means I would really have to make a huge effort since my youngest is only 2 months and she needs me quite a bit. I don't have any real French resources for her to gain fluency, but maybe on day we'll live somewhere much more diverse. 

I am fond of the shows I allow Dimaya to watch during her allotted youtube time. Her all time favorites in Spanish are Pocoyo and Doki Descubre. She likes Dora, but Dora doesn't do enough immersion for me.  She also enjoys watching Pocoyo in French. We found some of the older cartoons like Mickey Mouse in both languages as well.  I've been listening to the news in Spanish on a great website called News in Slow Spanish. At least I can turn it on and just listen. I think my next step trying out audiobooks in Spanish ;)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Welcome Phoebe Siobhan Hintz!

I am so proud to say that I am the mother of not one, but two absolutely gorgeous girls! After a 30 hour labor, my husband and I welcomed Phoebe. 8lbs 4oz and 20.75 inches long! She is perfection with her chunky thighs and I wouldn't have it any other way! She will be 2 months old tomorrow and she's smiling up a storm. Mainly at her sister and father. I think she's tired of seeing me since I'm with her 24/7 lol! Dimaya is such a great big sister! She is currently in her "Polly Parrot" stage so she's repeating everything we say...or the last sentence at least. She calls Phoebe "Phoebster, cutie pie, fat-fat, and honeybun." It's so adorable I can't stand it! The summer has been great so far and unfortunately it has to end in about 2 more months for me and back to teaching. 

P.S-I've already started Spanish with her ;-)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Public Reservations....

So after some serious thought, I realized that I feel like a deer caught in headlights when I someone speaks to me in Spanish. It's so crazy! Even though I understand what they are saying, it's like my mind is slow and isn't quite computing as quickly as I think it should. Then I get caught up in thinking about things like What if I'm not conjugating correctly? Should I use informal or formal? Is this the correct grammar or word to use? It's really rather insane to have all of those thoughts running through my mind in a split second! I know that my grasp of Spanish is at an intermediate/advanced level, but I always feel like I don't know ENOUGH Spanish just yet. Practice makes Improvement and I know I have to get over my nervousness, but it's like a brick wall sometimes. Especially in public places with my daughter! I know that this probably happens to a lot of people who speak other languages, and I just need some suggestions as to how to overcome this feeling? Will it get better over time? or Should I just throw myself into speaking Spanish randomly in public with Dimaya?