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Showing posts from May, 2021

The Story of Our Rainbow Babies

  My pregnancy with my daughter was a miracle.  In 2015, a month after my husband and I began trying, I got pregnant. We were overjoyed and immediately began picturing our new life with a child. Since it was my first pregnancy, I had no idea the risks or complications that were possible, and at that time I didn’t know that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, nor did I ever imagine I would soon be a statistic. But when I started bleeding at 6-weeks pregnant, I knew immediately something was gravely wrong. It took the doctors over two weeks to determine that I had an ectopic pregnancy, and by that time the pregnancy had progressed so far, the course of action had to be surgery. The day before my 29th birthday became the worst day of my life, when I lost both my baby and my left fallopian tube.  As soon as I had recovered from the surgery and with the doctor’s approval, we began trying to get pregnant again, but to no avail. Getting pregnant became my daily hope and prayer, but days tu

A Homage to Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Neither cinnamon nor cumin, peppermint nor paprika, were scents often smelt in my kitchen growing up. My mom was never a culinary caper — she worked full-time for most of my childhood — but mostly it was because cooking was something she never really learned how to do. “ I just don ’ t know how to season, ” she says. Mom was the product of a single-parent household, back when the Beaver family was still a model home, but microwave dinners were first en vogue. Her widowed mother worked full-time, so ensuring there was food to eat was more important to her than the preparation, and extravagant cooking for just the two of them was unrealistic. Grandma was the product of the depression, where children were taught to eat what they were served and commodities like eggs and butter and milk were treated like delicacies. It is not surprising that when my mother became the head of the household, homemade cooking was not a priority. It is our family joke that when my sister was a baby, she though

Our Family Motto

Our family motto is Growing is hard, and that’s okay. I’ve had it plastered to our fridge since we got married and bought a house in the same weekend in October 2014, and I’ve used it in my ESL classroom since 2011, when I first read Carol Dwek and learned about the idea of a growth mindset. I’m an ESL teacher and I used to start every school year with an inspiration speech to my students. I’d tell them to expect my class to be hard, because it would be a waste of time if it were easy. And that’s how I came up with growing is hard and that’s okay.   Right around that time, a friend of mine posted a photo on Instagram of new life emerging in northern Chile months after a 24-hour flash floor buried seemingly everything in mud. It’s one lone flower poking up between dry, cracked earth and when I saw it, I knew it was the perfect depiction of my motto.    My life motto became our family motto when we started our family in 2014. It is elementary in its simplicity, but that simple phrase re

What I Learned as a Parent during the Pandemic

  Before the mandatory social distance quarantine, our lives were the sum of our activities. Soccer practice and games, mommy and me playgroups, storytime at the public library, trips or the grocery story or the mall, manicures and pedicures and dinner reservations with friends. I had taken a year-long unpaid maternity leave from work to be home with my newborn son and toddler daughter, and we literally went out every single morning for an adventure, so that my daughter would fall asleep on the way home and that would commence nap time.  Once the pandemic hit and all that was immediately stripped away, it felt like my life had lost its meaning. All the days were the same and blended together, passing in a blur of endless zoom classes for my third-grader, cooking breakfast/lunch/dinner for my family of five, and so much cleaning up the messes everyone was making stuck at home! But what I learned from the pandemic was how to slow down and enjoy these moments as a mom. Since we couldn’t g

Why is Reading Important?

Reading is opportunity. Not only does it subtly build vocabulary, reinforce grammatical structures, and stimulate the mind, it also ignites the imagination. From the pages of a book you can travel to places you've never been or be a spectator or participant in events you wouldn't otherwise experience, and building this background knowledge is advantageous for both children and adults. There’s a popular infographic that powerfully demonstrates how the benefits of reading each day increase exponentially. A student who reads 20 minutes per day is exposed to 1.8 million words per year, whereas a student who reads five minutes per day is exposed to 282,000 words per year, and a student who reads one minute per day will be exposed to 8,000 words per year. Take note that it uses the word “student” and not child. Adults are students, too, because we should never stop learning! The importance of reading is apparent. Read more, read better. Reading for pleasure is mentally stimulating an

Storytime Bilingüe featuring "Gus hace un regalo"

Mother's Day is an opportunity to show appreciation for all Mom does for each of us each and every day. We spent Mother's Day this year taking a walk outside, swimming, eating take-out for breakfast and dinner, and getting to spend one of those rare days together when everyone gets along!  It's also quite common for little ones to handmake their moms a card to commemorate Mother's Day, and Maya and Mateo did not disappoint. A huge thanks to the Holliston Public Library for providing the art supplies necessary for them to make cards for my mom and me. Nothing can melt a mother's heart faster than a handmade card with a sentimental note inside.  This sweet story, Gus hace un regalo , chronicles the day of Gus, a young preschoolers, intent on creating something special for his mom for Mother's Day. Of course she likes anything he makes, but the simple sentence structure is perfect for emerging readers, and the storyline was perfect for today. Mothers, join your lit

What Moms Really Want for Mother's Day

What do moms really want for Mother’s Day? A break. While flowers, candy, candles, hand lotion or other tangible gifts might be nice, mom would prefer the type of gift you can't buy--appreciation. We want our children and partners to take a minute and show their gratitude for all the big and little things we do for them.  The “memories” feature on Facebook recently reminded me that last year all I asked for on Mother’s Day was to not have to cook or prepare any food for anyone. While feeding and serving my family is my daily joy, the best Mother’s Day gift is to be relieved of that duty. In most families, moms run the household, so for this Mother's Day, I strongly encourage you to invite her to sit back and relax while YOU do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, diaper changes, etc., whatever is necessary to give Mom a much needed day off. (Whatever you do, DON'T make her breakfast in bed and then expect her to clean up the mess left behind in the kitchen!) Moms probably also w

Storytime Bilingüe featuring "Pine & Boof The Lucky Leaf"

There's nothing like the great outdoors on a windy spring day, and so on the nicest day of spring break we ventured to the Delcarte Reservoir in Franklin to meander their story walk. Each season, the Franklin Public Library adorns the trail with pages from a nature-themed book. Last fall, we read  Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn , and had an adventurous time, tromping through the woods and reading each page. So we were excited to return to read the Spring 2021 story, Pine & Boof The Lucky Leaf . This time, we had a special guest reader, 9-year-old emerging bilingual, Cesar! He came to the US from Guatemala three years ago, and has worked so hard to learn English. Now in third grade, he shows off his English skills and reads aloud each page. We recorded just using my iPhone, so the sound quality isn't the best. There's rustling leaves, wind, and train noises in the background, but Cesar perseveres and shares with us this delightful story. Cousins are often referred to as on

The Real Story of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, directly translated to English as “The Fifth of May,” is not Mexican Independence Day, which is a common and understandable misconception here in the US, since we refer to our own independence day as the 4th of July. Instead, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory in the face of great odds over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The holiday is actually barely celebrated beyond one small town in Mexico, but the story is unexpectedly intertwined with US history in quite an interesting way.  Mexico declared independence from the Spanish colonial government in 1810 and Cinco de Mayo has its roots in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the Mexican Civil War of 1858, and the Reform Wars of 1860. To finance these expensive conflicts, Mexico had borrowed heavily from England, Spain, and France, and in 1861 newly elected liberal President Benito Juárez decided to suspend all foreign debt payments for two years in an attemp