Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ken gets married!

One of my oldest and bestest friends got married this month to a great girl. It was Nesta's second wedding but first time wearing a suit. Sorta- I guess baby's suits don't come with a jacket.
I thought Ken and Mary Wilson's wedding deserved a blog post:)

Beautiful day!

Today felt like summer. I've lived in Chicago for about eighteen years and the weather is unpredictable as everyone knows. I never cared if winter took longer than usual or if fall didn't make an appearance. Yes, I whined about it being too cold or too hot. I am a Chicagoan after all. However, now that we have a beautiful and energetic son, the season preferred around this household is Summer. If Spring wants to make a permanent appearance we'll take that too!! Only problem with Spring is wet play grounds and muddy backyards.
I like to take long walk when the sun decides to grace us with its presence. I'm lucky that Nesta likes the long walks too. Although he's an energetic toddler, he doesn't mind sitting in the stroller for a half hour or more. Sometimes he pushes the stroller too. We walk down to Letizia's often and share a muffin. He LOVES muffins- but who doesn't?
Today we went to Letizia's then to the park on California which was packed. He danced, he played and then ha enough. There were too many kids there, he couldn't even get onto the slide We had a pic-nic in Humboldt Park- he thought it was really funny to just sit on the grass. It didn't last long :) He saw a boy kicking a ball and soon he wanted to do the same. Nesta kept talking to the boy, except no one knows what Nesta was saying. The boy tried to share, and we appreciated the effort. Nesta noticed that the boy really didn't want to share with him, and he was okay with it and walked away. He may have been too tired for an argument. 
                                                         Dancing at the park.
Nesta at Letizia's on this sunny day.

We just found out we have to move at the end of May. We had signed a new lease to stay here until 2014, but our landlord failed to tell us that he did not sign the lease because he's selling the building. Apparently the potential buyers want to live in our apartment if they get approved. I'm upset about it. We live across the street from the park, and a block away from the library. It has been so fun to go to the park whenever we get a chance and on rainy or cold days to go to the library. I hope we can find a place we like near a park. I was getting used to Humboldt Park. sigh.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

There's more to it than you think.

A lot of people think it is easy for a bilingual parent to raise a bilingual child. I mean, it's just natural and all that stuff right? Well, yes and no. I thought it would be super easy, but as my child grows I begin to worry more about it. Right now we live in a Spanish-speaking community but (as much as I love you HP) I don't think we'll live here when he starts going to school. Also, it seems that he knows more Spanish than English. I say it seems because of his understanding of commands and questions, he doesn't speak much yet. He says "gracias" "no," and "ven." He knows animals sounds if asked in Spanish, and he sometimes sings a song called "Metete Tete" by Cri-Cri. It's funny because I can just hear him sing "tetete." So I don't know what part of the song he's singing. This has lead us to believe that he knows more Spanish. However, he's so young that anything goes really. 
As the nerd I am, I started reading a couple of books:
The Bilingual Edge by Kendall King, Ph.D. and Alison Mckey, Ph.D.
7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner, M.D., with Susan L. Hayes
In both of these books I read about a language growth spurt. Mainly, a bilingual child will not have an even growth spurt. Nesta will either show an advancement in his language development in English or in Spanish. Right now he's showing one in Spanish. This is how hopefully he will be until he gets to the point of acquiring academic English and Spanish. The authors recommend that bilingual children learn how to read in both languages at the same time. They also point out that bilingual children become better readers than monolingual children. In all the studies they did bilingual children seem to have better understanding of what they are reading. However, bilingual children may have a difficult time expressing themselves right away in writing. Their writing may be very basic without being able to explain the motives of a character, or what happened in the climax of a story. Yet, they will be able to explain it in great detail while speaking. I found that bit weird, but true. I can explain my self while talking, better than writing. I think it is because writing is such a difficult process. An idea starts in your brain, and then you have to go from your brain, to the muscles of your arm/hand and into the paper. If you are a bilingual child and the story started in your head in Polish, but the teacher is asking you to write in English then this adds to that process. Alas, things get lost in translation. They do say that if both languages are constantly supported then at some point children will be able to express themselves in writing in both languages with no problem. Key word-support. Just as a child may need tutoring in writing in English, he/she may need help in that other language. 
Something else that these authors talked about was the need for a bilingual pre-school. Many children grow up speaking Greek, Spanish, Creole, Mandarin, etc and then they go to an English-only pre-school. They go home speaking English, and that's that. I've talked to a few people who remember speaking another language when they were kids and now they don't remember that language. That conversations with each of those adults scared me. 
It scared me because, although I know a bilingual pre-school is necessary finding a good pre-school in general is hard enough. Now, I have to find an awesome bilingual pre-school. Ay! 
Something to always keep in mind if you are raising your child bilingual is this: English is everywhere, it's on the street, at the grocery store, at the coffee shop, at the movie theatre, at the playground, at the indoor play-space, at your friend's house, on tv and in the radio. Do not think that your kid will not understand English because he or she is only around you and you only speak X language. I seldom allow Nesta to watch TV or DVDs, but when I do I let him watch "Pocoyo" because this show is also in Spanish. I'm sure he'll get plenty of TV in English when he's allowed to watch more of it, but trust me in this- I will try my hardest to make some of that TV watching in Spanish. Thank you Plaza Sesamo :)

A little update- I looked up bilingual pre-schools in Chicago and to my surprise there weren't many. The one that I liked the most according to reviews is way up on Wilson and Kedzie. Yay to morning traffic!  If you live in Chicago and know of some awesome bilingual Spanish-English pre-schools I would love the info. Thank you.