About La Mother Tongue

La Mother Tongue is my medium to share the joys and challenges of being a new parent as well as to share how we make a conscious effort in our daily life to bring baby up bilingual.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Noche Vieja

¡Feliz Año!
Noche Vieja, el 31 de diciembre, has always been a family affair for me. What we used to do and what we now do with Sofía and what we will do in the coming years will be different. So my husband and I spent a while thinking about how we could start our traditions that would make sense keeping in mind our old traditions and what would be our new traditions.

We, particularly me, do not like to be out on the roads AT ALL on Noche Vieja. My husband’s aunt always has the familia to her house for a huge reunión, but when she moved over an hour away, we decided that we weren’t into making the drive or spending the night. So we decided that we needed to establish something of our own for us, Sofía, her future friends, and anyone else who may want to participate.
We decided on a fiesta. A Noche Vieja Fiesta where we make a bunch of different pizzas and crostadas for desserts. It’s fun, everyone can participate at any age and it’s yummy!! (not to mention easy clean-up).

We can still do our regular Noche Vieja jazz as always, which is uniquely Latino and entertaining. One is to burn an Año Viejo, the second is to walk around the block with a suitcase and the third is to eat grapes at the toll of Midnight. The Año Viejo is a paper doll of some sort that is burnt to symbolize the eviction of all the bad from the previous year. The jaunt around the block is to bring good luck in the form of trips somewhere. I must confess that this year we did NOT do these two things for Noche Vieja. We got rid of our old grill and need to buy a new one, thus, there is no place to actually burn the Año Viejo and I don’t think that my neighbors would understand us burning it in the street like they do in Colombia. The suitcase thing…..I JUST PLAIN FORGOT!!! I was running around doing the other party things that it escaped me to take Sofía for a stroll before bed. She would have LOVED it. We also decided that between pizza eating and crostada crunching, we would play board games while waiting for the ole ball to drop. We don’t usually play games but thought it might be a fun thing to start…and it really was!! My husband and I played an electronic version of the game LIFE (Sofía was faaaaasssst asleep!)

Now that we have actually established what we want to happen in our family Noche Vieja Fiesta, I think it will be easier come next year…..not so much brain power getting used up so less chance of forgetting everything!! We had a blast at our Noche Vieja Fiesta…so if you are in town next year, you are welcome to join us!! Just don’t forget your suitcase!

¡Feliz Año!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

¡Feliz Navidad!

Every year at Navidad or Weihnachten, my grandmother used to ask about our Árbol de Navidad, want to come and see ours as well as invite us to see hers. It wasn’t like we weren’t going to see each other during the month of December, but it was always something that she wanted to make sure she got to do. When I started to live out of town and she couldn’t come and see the Árbol de Navidad, I started taking fotos of the Árbol de Navidad for her. I may not have pictures of everyone at Navidad, but I always, always, always have a picture of my Árbol de Navidad!

So here is our Navdad en fotos y videos!

El arbol gigante y adornado.

Mami y Sofia abren regalos!

La Abuela Maria, Sofia y Mami.

Papi y Sofia hacen los wafles del desayuno!

Nacho snoops around the regalos!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Noche Buena

Our Holiday traditions are a blend of old and new, some from this country some from other countries, some from my familia some from my husband's. When my husband and I first started dating, we found it important to establish our own traditions, not so that we could do our own thing, but so that we could have traditions that we could carry out wherever we lived and with whomever.
We, like much of the world outside of la USA, celebrate Noche Buena, or Chrismtas Eve. We always hold Noche Buena at our house. We bought a dining room set that seats 20 people comfortably with the intentions that we would ALWAYS hold Noche Buena at our casa. The night functions something like this: We eat dinner around 8:30 or 9:00PM. Sofía is asleep. If she wakes up that is fine, but like last year, she slept through the festivities (which we can’t believe). Dinner is long, leisurely, and filled with lots of food and desserts. This year we served prime rib, lamb, esparragos, tomato and fresh mozzarella salad, roasted papasmelón and pan. Dessert was a scrumptious red velvet cake cheesecake with white chocolate frosting from the Cheesecake Factory via Costco. I wish I had fotos of these things! About 11PM, the guests saunter into the family room and hang out on the sofá (digesting).
We served kettle corn that is To Die For, so that they could munch on something while we prepared the hot chocolate, Pannetoni, and cream puffs. (I did say this was a mixture of cultural and familia traditions!) Right before midnight, we served our Sparkling Sofia Wine (fom Francis Coppola Winery) in our fabulous Champaign flutes so that we could all do our Feliz Navidad Brindis. Then we open regalos and then everyone goes home. It is about 1:30AM and we really are exhausted every year. We are full of food and festive jolly from our friends and familia, but we just want to go to la CAMA! We know we will have a full día ahead of us with Sofía and more gatherings of the familia and will need to recharge for more Festividades. We can’t wait until Sofía is just a little bit older so that she can partake in Noche Buena also!  For now, she will be refreshed and opening all her regalos in the morning on Navidad while her parents have a sleep hangover!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa Christmas Party

Last year, my friend Amy told me about a Christmas Party she had attended where Santa Claus made an appearance and gave all the little ones presents.  I was hooked and had been planning this Santa Christmas Party for a YEAR!  One of my husband’s uncles played the role of Papa Noel just as his father had in years past, so it was a nice tribute to his recently deceased father.  Each family snuck gifts to me as they entered the casa and since we have a fireplace upstairs, it was simple for Papa Noel to get into our house unnoticed.  The kids LOVED it and Santa was awesome!  Sofía even squealed (a high-pitch room-stopping squeal) with delight, I kid you not!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Primer Nieve del Año

Sofía and I went outside to play in the nieve which was the first real nieve of the year.
I bundled her up in her “buutas”, snowsuit, and gorra. (The mittons are a ridiculously unsuccessful story.)

She insisted that her beloved Perro also dress for the cold weather.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Galletas de Navidad

Every year we make tons of galletas de Navidad to share, to give away and to eat of course.  This year, Sofía was able to take a more active role in the process.  She really enjoys helping us bake and cook.  In the video she signs “sucio/dirty” a lot.  The sign is made by putting the back of your hand up to your chin and wiggling your fingers.  She also eats a lot of cookie dough!
Disclaimer:  I think I was not able to talk and roll cookie dough at the same time.  When I went back to edit the video, I heard myself say things that just didn’t make sense.  I know that the word to need dough is amasar although it is evident that it didn’t slide off my tongue!  If my husband can make up words, then I can too! (At least mine isn’t on purpose!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pa – Pa - Pátos

In an earlier post, I mentioned that Sofía LOVES her zapatos.  Her favorite ones are the faux black patent Mary Janes and she knows that when she puts on a dress, that these “pa –pa-pátos” as she says, will be sliding on her little pequeños pies.  She also has a favorite pair of slippers, pantuflas.  She doesn’t differentiate between pantuflas and regular zapatos.  When she wants either one of them, she will ask for her “pa –pa-pátos”.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

¡¡¡Feliz Cumpleaños a Mí!!!

In spite of my cumpleaños being in Diciembre, I LOVE it.  Yesterday my very wonderful husband took the day off to spend it with me.  We celebrated by going to the Willard Hotel in Washington DC.  Every year they offer TEA during the holiday season and this year that is how we celebrated my cumpleaños.  Sofía loved to climb the stairs and walk down the stairs and really TEA time is speckled with so many different kinds of customers (very snazzy to tourists) that no one was bothered by a 22-month-old.  The idea was to go and visit the National Christmas Tree and the display of all the states and territory trees, but with a wind chill of 2 degrees we just couldn’t take her out to brave the short walk.  We’ll go next week maybe if it is not sooo cold!  Afterward at home, we had torta and regalos!!!!  Evidently, Sofía has been to enough cumpleaños to have learned something new.  She saw the torta and said, in ENGLISH, “appy bitday”.  We were speechless!!  

Monday, December 13, 2010


As a language teacher, you are very in tune with what words you use to express yourself and how you express yourself.  When you teach young language learners, I think this becomes amplified.  You don’t change your natural speech or language use, you are just more aware.  I guess this is important to point out because I strongly believe that language (both foreign and native) need to be taught using a natural, language-rich environment of normal speech instead of focusing on teaching vocabulary and changing how one speaks--- I guess it is part of me being a Language Nerdo.  My point is that I’m aware of what I say in either language.  So imagine our surprise when Sofía pokes her head out of the playset and says en Inglés, “Peek-a-Boo, I see you!”.  My husband and I looked at each other very confused.  In case you may have forgotten, we only speak en Español (except for a few choice words) to Sofía.  We asked each other if she said what we thought she said.  We both know that that expression, “Peek-a-Boo, I see you” is not one we use.  Just not part of what we say.  Sofía continued to say her Peek-a – Boo phrase more frequently and more clearly, in various correct contexts.  The next day, she wanted me to follow her into the next room and she motioned to me with her hands and said, “Come, ven.”  I immediately got on my cell phone to relate this new thing to my husband.  We couldn’t figure out where in the world she learned the phrase or the use of the word, Come.  So I started thinking of all her language input environments.  I went through my mental checklist of Baby Signing Times DVDs, her canciones and then I stopped.  Although I THINK I figured out from where the Peek-a-Boo phrase MIGHT have come, the reality is that Sofía’s environment of language input is vast and freckled with both Español and Inglés.  While her vocabulary is small and limited I might be able to track the input, but, as it has begun to boom in the past three weeks, there really is no telling exactly from where she learned what.  We think that she learned the Peek-a-Boo phrase from the older neighbor girls who come to play with her once a week.  All we know for sure is that we don’t didn’t say it---until now that is!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

¿Dónde Está Sofía?

Like many toddlers, Sofía likes to play the game where she covers her eyes and you are supposed to ask out loud “Where is Sofía?” or “ ¿Dónde Está Sofía?” I will often ask the people around us if they have seen her and eventually she will “appear”.  Now she has made up new rules to the game.  She tells us whom to ask, “¿Dónde Está Sofía?”  before she covers herself and we HAVE to ask that person or thing.  It ranges from us asking the gatos, her peluches, or lately the cocina and the mesa.  She becomes soooo very excited about this new game that she can barely stay hidden because she is anxious to tell us the next person!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Adornando el Árbol de Navidad

Papi helps Sofía hang the first adorno on our Árbol de Navidad.  We give her adornos every year so that she will have her own when she moves into her own house (when she is like 51 of course).  Some of the adornos are simple, some are from the Hallmark series.  This year we gave her a girafa since she was a girafa for Halloween and the Number 1 from a Hallmark series since she is one year old this Navidad.  She also hung the little bota where she will later be storing her letter to Papa NoelThat evening she learned to say “árbol” and “ángel”…both of which she says “nite-nite” to every night before going to sleep!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Los Alumbrados

One of my favorite things about Diciembre are the alumbrados that are pop of everywhere. Since I’m sure that it is in Sofía’s genes also, we decided to take her to a park that boasts to have elaborate moving alumbrados. It was a hike and of course entrance doesn’t begin until when the sun sets around 5:30pm. We trapsed out to Bull Run Park to see this awesome Navidad light display. I’d been saving the discount coupon for over a month! We packed Sofía a lonchera so that she wouldn’t be famished when we arrived late for dinner.

What a disappointment. It would have been a disappointment had it been free and next door to my house. Disappointment isn’t the proper word…farse is way better. But no more negativity, we made the best of it. After the alumbrados they had a little carnaval. It was a pleasant surprise and even in the 25 degree weather, we had fun. Sofía and Papi played a “pato” game where she could pick up the patos as they floated by and win a prize. And alas, the evening was vindicated when we saw a much loved and coveted, CARRUSEL!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An Árbol-Trimming Party

La Abuela invited all of her nietos over to her house for An Árbol-Trimming Party.  The nietos decorated cookies and took turns hanging ornaments on La Abuela’s árbol de Navidad.  It was nice to do things for Navidad early in the month too!  After eating dinner and placing more ornaments on the árbol, there was a ceremonious lighting of the árbol.  It was a lot of fun and the long afternoon wore poor Sofía OUT!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fotos con Papa Noel

Sofía went early this year to take fotos con Papa Noel!  We learned a lot of really interesting things about Papa Noel on our visit which we will try to share later.  Sofía likes Papa Noel.  He is the only other adult that she went to last year without crying.  This year he gave her a coloring book!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Árbol de Navidad

Our family always buys a real árbol for Navidad. We have a spot in our house with cathedral ceilings and that is where we place our usually 14 foot árbol. This year we decided to find a Granja de Árboles Navideños to cut our own árbol. We found one a bit far away, but had a great time in the process. The process took the entire day by the way. La abuela came with us and ended up purchasing her own árbol also, so we tied dos freshly cut árboles to our nuevo carro and traipsed back to civilization. Result: a beautiful big fat árbol to call our own, topped with our sore muscles and back aches from dragging los dos over the hills and through the woods to our carro. Guess who ended up doing most of the dragging!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Signing Times Vocabulario Navideño

¡Feliz Diciembre!  Here is the Signing Times video clip with vocabulario for the Holiday Season!