Sunday, September 23, 2007

Family times

This weekend Omar's sister came to visit. We had a great time spending time together, and Elena enjoyed playing with her cousin Alberto. Omar got to practice playing football with Alberto just incase this little one happens to be a boy.

Picture taken by Diana's boyfriend. Thank you Russell!!

Elena and Alberto

Omar and Alberto

Elena and Tia Diana

Fetal movements

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My absolute favorite thing about pregnancy is feeling my baby move inside me. I love how little limbs travel across my belly and often a little knee, elbow, or fist pokes out.I then push on it while the baby quickly changes position. This incredible feeling is what I'll miss the most about being pregnant. I learned from my first pregnancy that after delivery, the memory of this wonderful and miracleous feeling starts to fade, so I decided to record at least what baby movement looks like from the outside.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Where's the baby?

So this is what Elena does when I ask, "Donde está el bebé?"

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ahhh---finally cooler weather

It cooled down significantly today and it felt so refreshing. The high was 81 degrees! It was pleasant so we all went for an evening stroll with gentle breezes and without returning home sweaty. Afterward we continued to enjoy the weather by just sitting outside which has been hard to do here for at least the last 3 months. Meanwhile Elena enjoyed herself by chasing bubbles in the yard. Here's a video. Warning: it's a long one.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Gift of Two Languages

As I've gotten older I have come to realize how my bilingualism defines me. It has always been a part of my life, but I didn't always know how it made me who I am. Becoming bilingual was not a choice for me because I didn't have the option to chose to know two languages. My parents migrated from Honduras to the United States not knowing any English. Therefore, my native language was Spanish. I learned English in school as many of my peers at the time did also because I also grew up in a US/Mexican border town where over 90% of the population is Hispanic. Spanish was all around me growing up.

As I went to college, got jobs, moved states, traveled...I came to realize that I was bilingual and that it meant something. I suddenly found myself finding a job without difficulty and getting a job in a position I wanted. I came to know people and become friends with ones I would not have, had I not spoken Spanish. We traveled, and everywhere we went we encountered Spanish speakers who I communicated with and often helped for one reason or another or who were able to help me because I knew their language. Of course all this was enlightening to me but it didn't necessarily change anything for me. I was bilingual and that had some advantages.

Well, I became pregnant and found myself contemplating what language to speak to unborn Elena. At the time I was teaching in a dual language class and liked the fact that as I read Spanish books to my students, my unborn baby was already learning the sounds to this other language. But surely that couldn't just be it. Here I was teaching Spanish in a class with 50% English speakers who's parents worked hard to get them there just so that their child could have the opportunity to learn another language. There is even a waiting list! How could I possibly not teach Spanish to my own child and not give her these opportunities and experiences that I've had just by knowing another language? So I said to myself, "How hard could it be?" and became determined to use Spanish with Elena.

Elena was born, and I was presented with my first challenge. Growing up I didn't have any challenges from knowing two languages, but suddenly I became faced with one. I was much more comfortable using English with Elena. I liked to say, "my sweet baby girl" not "mi dulce bebé." English just came much more naturally. So I would go back and forth between the languages and as months passed I realized this wouldn't allow Elena to know English and Spanish well. With my education/language acquisition background I knew in my mind that she would have a mixed vocabulary and eventually not learn Spanish well. I found myself at a crossroads. How do I avoid the language I am much more comfortable with? Again, I was determined to try to give her the same opportunities and experiences I had, so I vowed to use only Spanish with Elena as recommended. So time passed and I succeeded in this. Surprisingly, now I find it uncomfortable to use English with Elena. It's just not OUR language. We connect with Spanish and she connects with Daddy in English.

But, as with anything the challenges continue and the older Elena gets the more challenging this task becomes for me. You see, I don't ever switch to English with Elena regardless of where we are. You can imagine how difficult this must be when everyone around me speaks English. I often wonder if I'm singling us out by using Spanish with Elena at the park, at the pool, on our play dates. Am I creating a barrier that is going to keep her from making friends? Do strangers avoid interacting with us because they think we won't be able to communicate? I do remind myself this isn't true however. It only takes a few seconds to realize that I do in fact know English, and I have a lot more friends than I ever have since having Elena. She, at not quite two years old, has many friends too. And because we live in the US and English is the predominant language, I know that within the next two years Elena will communicate with both languages, and she will learn to use them both in the appropriate places just as I have. I know that she will use mostly English, and that is fine with me. But I also know that when she needs to use Spanish she will be able to and she will be able to have the opportunities of being bilingual even if she doesn't see they're there until she's older. As I continually struggle to find a balance between cultures and knowing two languages, I have come to realize that as with anything you need support. I found a wonderful website for bilingual parents. You can find information on how to give your child the gift of two languages and the best ways to raise a bilingual child. And if you are not a bilingual parent and would like your child to learn another language but think it's impossible you may be in luck. There are many schools all over the country with dual/immersion language programs that teach children a non-English language (most commonly Spanish) starting in Kindergarten not high school. And if your skeptical, I just can't say enough about how rewarding it was to have an English speaking child come into kindergarten not knowing any Spanish and not having any Spanish background and then seeing them two years later in 2nd grade speaking full Spanish sentences like they were native speakers of Spanish.

Elena's revelation

I had been going back and forth about whether or not to tell Elena about the baby on the way because I felt I would confuse her, so I decided to wait. She has a pretty laid back personality and after seeing her interaction with the few babies I've taken care of at home I haven't really been concerned about how she would handle having a new baby in the house.

But since it's my usual nature to worry about something anyway, I began to wonder if it was not such a good idea to just show up with a baby and expect her to take it well. I also began reading that every sibling-to-be at any age should be told about a baby's arrival before hand. I even read that children sense changes and even mama's changing body. Yeah right, I thought. Regardless, I decided to give it a try this week.

I began to tell Elena that mama had a baby in her belly. Every time I said this she walked over to her room and brought her baby doll. I continued anyway. Yesterday however, we were both lying on the bed when I began to feel the baby move. I said, "Elena, feel the baby, it's moving." She had her hand on my belly a few moments at a time and then moved on to her next activity, but I felt as she at least knew we weren't talking about her dolls.

So finally, here's the revelation (sorry, for the ramble, but I had to give background). This morning while I was still in my pajamas which included a non maternity shirt that cuts off above my belly button and very obviously shows by growing belly, Elena from her high chair all on her own says, pointing to my belly, "Mama, bibi" I am in disbelief and Omar even more. I ask him if he saw and heard and realized that she knew. He asks, "Do you really know, Elena?" And I walk over and Elena touches my belly and says, "bibi" OH, it was music to my ears!! I almost teared up...yes I know it's the hormones but still, my little baby sees I didn't get fatter but that just maybe there is a baby in there that she will soon be meeting. Lets just hope she doesn't expect a doll to come out. Ha!!