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Showing posts from July, 2020

My Children, Oh the Places You’ll Go

Recently, Maya has been asking me to tell her a story to help her fall asleep. We have a very specific nap/bedtime routine which includes potty, milk, a mini sleep sheep sound machine, reading three books, and for the past two years, I’ve played her Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong UNITED , a nine-minute-long praise song which was the anthem of my pregnancy and delivery with her, and has the miraculous quality to put her to sleep just about every time. Sometimes she asks me to recite to her The Night Before Christmas instead, but just a few days ago she asked me to tell her a story. I think this is due to her spending more time with my mom, who she affectionately refers to as Mémé . Mémé loves to tell stories, especially ones with Princess Maya as the main character, and Maya adores it.  Instead, what I do enjoy doing is memorizing things. I’ve memorized poems (like The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost), chapters of books in the Bible (like Romans 12 ), essays (like Everybody’

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “Que llega el lobo!”

When we first started our weekly bilingual story times, I was worried we might run out of Spanish books to read. As a bilingual family we had some books in Spanish on our bookshelf, but definitely far more books in English. Books in Spanish are just not as easy to find, and since so many of our friends are English-dominant speakers, the majority of the books the kids receive as gifts are in English. When I'm reading to Maya and Mateo on the floor, or on the couch, or in bed before night time, sometimes I simultaneously translate they books they choose from English to Spanish, but while that suffices for some Spanish-language input when we are reading one-to-one, it doesn't work quite as well for me to translate off-the-cuff when we're trying to record a bilingual story time. And I know one day when they start to read themselves, they'll realize what I'm doing and the jinx will be up! So we are so lucky to have a book fairy in our life! My friend and fellow emergent

Does your personality change a little when you speak another language?

A friend of mine recently posed the question on social media:  Does everyone change their personality a little when they speak another language? My response is a resounding "yes." There's a saying, "You are who you hang out with," and while that is not referring to language or cultural delineation whatsoever, I find when we spend time with English speakers, we act more American, and when we spend time with Spanish speakers, we act more Guatemalan. Although it may not be a dramatic difference, our personalities do change a little depending on what language we are speaking. Languages have their own personalities that reflect the cultures of those who speak them.  According to research, y our personality can change depending on the language you speak, probably because o ur perceptions of the culture associated with a given language can impact our behavior.   A study in 2006 asked bilingual Mexican Americans to take a personality test in both English and Spanish,

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “El pequeño Hoo va a la playa/Little Hoo Goes to the Beach”

This week, we bring you Storytime Bilingüe from a beautiful day at the beach. Last week the weather wasn't quite cooperating, and so we wanted another story time by the seashore with the sun shining in the background. Because we recorded it right by the water, the sound of the wind in the background is really strong, but I think that just adds to the ambiance!  Here we present  El pequeño Hoo va a la playa/Little Hoo Goes to the Beach , a bilingual English-Spanish story of a timid little owl getting ready to go to the beach. He's nervous about everything he might encounter there--big waves, sea kelp, crabs, and even sharks, but then he sees going to the beach is far more fun than scary.  My favorite part about this story time is that we got to read it at Latimer Point, the special little beach community where my mother lives. The cottage we have there has been in our family for three generations now, and I love to share this part of their heritage with Maya, Mateo, and Sofia. M

Baby Talk... the universal undecipherable language

At just over 13 months old, Mateo has a handful of words. It's been exciting and emotional to hear his baby babble begin to sound like real words. He calls me "Mama" and calls Francisco "Dada" (even though I've tried my best to get him to say "Papa" instead.) He refers to food as "nom nom," just like Maya did when she was his age... and still does. He tries to say "agua" and "gracias," but hasn't quite mastered either of those yet, along with a few other multi-syllable words.  It is well-documented that when parents use infant-directed speech, otherwise known as baby talk, it facilitates learning.  And being home with Maya, Sofia, and me all day definitely gives Teo a good amount of language input. I learned when Maya was born the importance of talking directly to your baby. Reading books, singing songs, and narrating your day exposes them to a variety of vocabulary words and the phonemes and morphemes of your nat

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “How Will We Get to the Beach?/Como iremos a la playa?”

During the summer, we like to spend each Saturday at my mom's little cottage by the beach, in an idyllic seaside community called Latimer Point. My great-grandparents bought the summer cottage for my grandmother on her 23 birthday, who then spent almost every summer there for the rest of her life. My mom grew up spending her summers there, I grew up spending my summers there, and so it brings me so much joy to see my children spend summer days there too, playing in the field, swinging at the playground, taking walks in the wagon, and enjoying themselves at the beach.  Because I read at least one book to Maya before every bedtime and nap time, I decided we needed a small collection of bilingual books about the beach for when she and Mateo take their afternoon naps on our Summer Saturdays at Latimer Point. In this week's Storytime Bilingue, we feature our first bilingual beach book, How Will We Get to the Beach?/Como iremos a la playa?  written by Brigitte Luciani.  This is an En

The Mrs. America within each of us

How is it possible that I just watched the entire FX on Hulu original series Mrs. America thinking it was a historical fiction piece??? Thinking the Equal Rights Amendment had already been won during the battle of the women’s rights movement during the 1970’s and 1980’s? It wasn’t until the closing credits that I learned the ERA wasn’t ratified in Nevada until 2017, Illinois until 2018, and Virginia until 2020, which finally marked the 38 states necessary for national ratification a long, long time after the deadline of 1982. When I started the show a week ago, I thought it was a historical reenactment of how women earned their rights in this country. Imagine my surprise to find out… we still don’t have a constitutional amendment for equal rights??? Ironically, I watched the series on my phone over the past week as I did dishes, cooked dinner, and cleaned our home after the kids had gone to bed, dutifully upholding my roles and responsibilities as a stay-at-home mom. Somehow, I never

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “La cerdita sonadora”

These beautiful summer days we’ve been having are perfect for day dreaming, and the story for this week’s storytime bilingüe just happens to be about a little pig day dreamer!  Last week, we received a surprise package in the mail. It was a new Spanish storybook, with a note that was signed anonymously. I figured it must be a gift from one of our fans of our storytime bilingüe, and I was right! The next day, my friend Ashley called and said the book was from her.  We were very excited for a new book for our storytime, and decided to use it right away. The story, La cerdita soñadora , is set on a little farm where the animals live like an extended family. The main character, a little piggy, dreams of a life of adventure beyond the fence of the farm, and as a twist of fate, she gets exactly what her heart desires. I loved the message of the story (dream big!), and I especially love when children’s books rhyme. Rhyming books help build reading fluency with their meter and rhythm, and buil

Red, White, Blue, and Bicultural

How does a bicultural family celebrate the Fourth of July? As a Guatemalan-American family living here in the United States, my husband and I work really hard to keep the Guatemalan heritage and customs alive for our children. We’re dedicated to raising them bilingually, visiting Guatemala as often as possible, we make sure they eat and love traditional Guatemalan cuisine ( tortillas , tamales , chile rellenos ), and expose them to the Guatemalan culture as much as possible (we dress them in traje tipico , tell them stories of La Llorona , teach them to dance La Marimba , stay up until midnight on Noche Buena , and I wore both of them in their Guatemalan papoose since the day they were born.) But being a bicultural family means not just dedicating our lives to enrichment in only one of their heritages, but both. And there’s nothing more American than the Fourth of July. So yesterday, we spent the day at my mom’s beach house, speaking in English and wearing red, white, and blue.  But w

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “Donde Viven Los Monstruos”

Mami is back reading again this week! After a brief hiatus and some guest readers (Tia Margaret read The Birthday Box  for her birthday and Papi read Quiero a mi Papa torque... for Father's Day) we're back in our living room on the couch to read another children's classic in Spanish.  Although the Holliston Public Library is closed to the public, it has reopened for curbside pickup, and a few weeks ago they so kindly and generously curated a small collection of bilingual and Spanish picture books for Maya and Mateo. One of these books, was Donde Viven Los Mostruos , the Spanish translation of the Caldecott Medal award winner, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak.  This story is so beautiful because it is a simple, imaginative, tale that is easily relatable and an enjoyable read. We love the story so much, it was actually the theme of our grand Barrios Baby Shower and Birthday party we threw for Maya and Mateo last year. (See the pictures below.)  For a festive mann