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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


This is why I’ve been on a hiatus. Sofía wants to walk with her walker EVERYWHERE! Since we have had some terribly cold weather and have been locked up in the house, we have been taking advantage of nice weather days! One of the great things about D.C. is that it may be cold, but it is almost always sunny! Sofía has been cruising around both with her walker and holding onto the walls. She loves to cruise outside and look for her neighborhood friends to play with. They are all older than she is and they dote on her like she is the La Reina Sofía of España! Today, we took a little trip to visit Papi at work. Papi stepped out of the office for only a minute and what do you know???? Sofía took three steps!!! Some of his colleagues witnessed it with me though and I don’t think this makes him feel any better! I will try to get it on video the next time, but it took me by surprise! We will keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ratoncita de Biblioteca II

This is just a follow up to the post below. My husband put Sofía in our bed yesterday morning so that she could read her books. Evidently she asked to read the books and I thought she looked hilarious – snuggled in the pillows and so small in such a big bed!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ratoncita de Biblioteca

Ever since Sofía developed the dexterity in her little hands to flip pages, she has loved libros or books. She always grabs el libro and puts it in her hands correctly (not upside down or backwards) and turns the pages as if she were a librarian reading to an audience. Now that she can sign “libro” she asks for them constantly. We used to randomly read to her throughout the day but always before she goes to bed as part of our nighttime routine. Lately, she asks for her libros as soon as we pick her up from sleeping, whether it is in the morning or a nap. So now it has become a routine to also read to her in the morning as well. We usually read to her and she makes comments on the pictures. At first her comments were just sounds, then pointing, words and pointing, and now she signs whatever she can identify on the page. Today for example, on the beach page, she signed “fish” and “boat”. Hopefully, Sofía will continue to be a Ratoncita de Biblioteca as she grows older.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

La Rusa

The other day we took Sofía to our sports club to go swimming. Coincidently, there was another little baby swimming. We learned from the father that the boy was 10 months old and had been walking since he was 9 months old. Later, I ran into the mother in the locker room and she heard me talking to Sofía en Español. She explained that she was Russian and tries to speak to her son in Ruso but “THEY” say that it will confuse him and that Ruso is a hard language for a baby to learn. I of course tried to tell her that he will not be confused and that Ruso isn’t any harder to learn than any other language..bla bla bla… It is really hard to make these kinds of comments in a passing conversation and not sound prepotent. I didn’t want to give her my resume and explain that I’ve been working in this area for over 17 years, but otherwise how does she know I’m credible? Sometimes I feel like I should hand out my business card with CAL’s (The Center for Applied Linguistics) website on it. Here is an online digest from CAL that addresses some of these issues: Raising Bilingual Children: Common Parental Concerns and Current Research.  I’m trying to come up with something concrete and yet nonchalant to say to her in case we run into her again. She seemed interested, but you know, too much info is a turn off sometimes (unless you are a geek like me!)

Monday, March 22, 2010


At music class, Sofía made friends with one of the little boys. He walks and she is intrigued by this. We set up a play date in addition to the class. Sofía had a blast and I enjoyed his mother’s company as well. The family is from Holland. The parents only speak to Marnix in Dutch and expect he will pick up his English from all the other exposure. We don’t have a very large Dutch community where we live, but I imagine that we do have a good representation since there are many multinational companies here. I love it because, by nature I assume, Marnix’s mother also speaks to Sofía in Dutch. Now, I don’t expect Sofía to really learn any Dutch, but I do want her to have the exposure to the other sounds that we don’t have en Español or English. Marnix is going to be a big brother soon, (like today or tomorrow) so we probably won’t be seeing them for a while, but when we do, I know Sofía is going to be THRILLED. She calls him “gato”. She calls all boys and girls she sees “gato”. Anyway, when it was time for us to go, she threw a fit and started crying! Nice, eh? Marnix had this fancy tricycle that he was “riding” when we arrived. Here is a stock foto of it. It looks really cool and has the capability to grow with the toddler. You can find it from little tikes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Own Piece of Latin America

Yesterday, we were driving back from the grocery store and I spotted an elderly woman walking with some difficulty through our neighborhood. I thought it was odd because we live near a bike trail so there are always many people around exercising, but not dressed in their Sunday bests. We drove by the woman and I noticed she was Latina and so I rolled down the window and asked her en Español if she need a ride. She accepted and got in the car and I drove her about a quarter of a mile to a bus stop. She told me that she worked nearby and has a leg that has been bothering her. She got out of the car and we never exchanged any other words, not our names, not anything except her thanking me over and over.  I can’t tell you how often I experienced this while living in Latin America---observing, riding and offering a ride. I’ve never experienced it here though. I wonder if she would have gotten in the car if I hadn’t spoken to her en Español. I wonder if I would have offered a ride if she wasn’t a Latina. Today we were coincidentally returning home at the same time as yesterday, so I decided to look for my passenger, my pasajera, and we found her! She didn’t recognize me at first. She got in and this time, I introduced Sofía and me. I knew she hadn’t even noticed Sofía yesterday because she today she was surprised by her presence. Although she didn’t give me her name (very common not to do), she took a few minutes to appreciate the little one in the back.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The CVS Lynching!

The other day in the store, the cashier asked me if Sofía was my daughter! I wanted to reach over (insert the Lioness ROAR here) and grab the little weasel by the pescuezo and say, “Can’t you see that she has my hair and my nose? My smile, my cheeks, my olive green skin tone?” What is it with people that think a mother wants to hear OVER AND OVER how her child (whom she carried for 279+ treacherous days) doesn’t look anything like her? I admit that Sofía DOES have her Papi’s eyes and they are big and bright and brown.  Don’t get me wrong, I think my husband is the most handsome man in the world, so I could have 90 more children that look like him and be happy, but really---asking me if she is my DAUGHTER?  Can't you see the resemblence?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

¡Sofía Aprende a Caminar!

Sofía has a carrito and she cruises EVERYWHERE with it.  (She made up her own sign for her carrito!) She doesn't always walk...she RUNS!  Take a look!

Monday, March 15, 2010

¡ Nuestro Aniversario!

Today is our wedding aniversario! I loved our wedding! (I should say we loved our wedding!) Well, the first reason I loved our wedding is because I married the Man of My Dreams and I couldn’t ask for anything more of him, not one thing; he is perfecto! The other not-nearly-as-important reason why I loved out wedding is that we had a destination wedding. I insisted that we have a destination wedding because I just thought it would be so much more fun for everyone to go somewhere. We decided on Perú which is from where my husband is. We had a blast! What we really had was a culinary weekend celebration! If you don’t know anything about the food in Perú, you are missing out on one of the finest cuisines in the world! We combined various traditions from different cultures in our celebrations and had so much fun! We had 20 people (only 10 of them being from my side!) come from the USA and the other 40 was the part of my husband’s family that still live in Perú. So it was a small wedding filled with the most important people to us. (It was also nice because much of my husband’s family traveled to Perú for the first time in many years since they emigrated from there and brought their offspring, also for the first time.) The day before the wedding, the people who came from afar went on a tour of the city and then we went to Peruvian Tea time. The rehearsal dinner was typical Peruvian food. After the wedding ceremony in the church, we had a Champaign brindis (a toast) with appetizers and the food at the reception was an array of sea food al la Peruana. The next day, our close family went to a Hacienda where we saw a fantastic horse show and partook in a Pachamanca which is a ceremonious event to cook a typical Peruvian dish in hot stones in the ground. It was a LOT of eating in three little days. There are so many other details that I won’t bore you with—a live trio, an orchestra with dancing and balloons, the choir at the church with moonlighters from the Peruvian National Symphony----- We have a beautiful DVD of the wedding complete with traditional and meaningful songs that my husband picked out to accompany it. I love to watch it and decided that every year on our aniversario, that we would watch it and reminisce with Sofía and hopefully her siblings. I’m not sure how much she got out of it last year, but she has many more years ahead of her to catch every detail! My husband took the day off so that we could be together today to celebrate as a family. I would love to hear how other people celebrate their aniversarios or why their weddings were special to them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


In looking for new activities for Sofía, I decided to see how she would like coloring. We ended up buying these new crayolas at Target that are made for 18+ months. They are like weebles (if any of you remember them). The crayola is in the middle of this rounded triangular person-like apparatus making it is easy for the child to grasp the crayola. Bottom line is that Sofía wasn’t into coloring, but was into the crayola/weeble. We’ll try again soon!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cultural Identity

In no other country of the world do we find a mix of different ethnicities, religions, and cultures as in the United States. En Español, I would say this is a sancocho. The best contextual translation I can give is a melting pot.
I recently read a brief article where a mother was contemplating how she hoped her daughter would identify herself as being Latina, but probably would not due to the fact that, other than language, there was little Latina influence. That is the glory of being raised in the USA. You identify yourself as all of the influences, all of the little parts that you grew up with and inherited along the way that make you YOU. I think people like us identify themselves as one thing in one situation and another in a different situation because we have such a plethora of intricacies in our make-up. Cultural identity in the USA is like taking a play dough ball made from all the left over scraps. You couldn’t possibly separate those colors, but you can definitely see them as they form just one ball. All these little pieces-parts enable us to understand our neighbors just a little better because somewhere we have similar parts or experiences at one time or another. Understanding who you are and where you came from and how it relates to the world around you, are key components to…well, just about everything! It makes you appreciate your diverse make-up and value diversity in others.

I don’t worry that Sofía won’t identify herself as Latina or Gringa because it would be impossible for her to deny either. Considering that Language is Culture and can’t be separated, I’m also SURE that Sofía will be just like me and just like her papi; we couldn’t be who we are and not speak both el Español and English. No, no, I don’t worry at all that Sofía won’t identify herself as Latina or Gringa. (Heck, I think I have enough other things to worry about! ;) )

Take Superdog in the picture below. Mugi certainly understands HER cultural identity--a dog and a super hero all wrapped up in one!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Update II on Sofía’s Signing

In the past two weeks Sofía’s signing has boomed. She is picking up new signs rapidly-even initiating them even if I haven’t used them with her yet. (She watches Baby Signing Times about once a week.) She also has started putting two of her words together, like singing MORE + BOOK to let me know that she wants to read another book. Another funny thing that she has been doing is making up her own signs. I have been able to figure some of them out, but for others I feel bad because I don’t know what she is trying to say. The other day in music class, she did something really funny and linguistically awesome! At the end of class, the teacher signs an entire song with the kids. Sofía sits right in front of the teacher and “signs” the song. She doesn’t know the signs and can’t keep up, so she does her own linguistic approximation of the song. She does a hodge podge of signs. It is so funny. After class, someone asked me if we sign at home because it looked like Sofía knew what she was doing! In addition to the words: finished, more, eat, milk, agua, hat, shoes, banana and grapes, Sofía now signs the following: cheese, waffle, car, pajamas, carrot, bath, wash hands, egg, popo, book, ball, fish, and peas. The best part of all is that she gets so happy when we understand her!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sofía Jugando Con Nacho

Need a good laugh? Check out this video of Sofía playing with Nacho!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Las Rimas de Mi Abuela

Although my familia lives a good distance from us, we are very fortunate that at least almost all of my husband’s immediate familia lives relatively close to us. This means that La Abuela comes to hang out with Sofía twice a week. Not only does La Abuela provide Sofía with an entirely different linguistic experience, she plays games, peek-a-boo, and sings songs. As I mentioned somewhere in an earlier post, I do not know nursery rhymes in any language, so I became intrigued with the rimas that La Abuela sings to Sofía. These are the same children’s rimas that la abuela of La Abuela used to sing which means that each generation of my husband’s family has grown up with these rimas. So I decided to video-tape La Abuela singing her rimas. In addition to sentimental value for us, the rimas may be helpful to people who want to learn some authentic children’s rimas en español.  If you want to see more of the rimas, visit my YouTube Channel.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Un Parque de Recreo

We found this fantastic park to take Sofía. At first, when my husband said it was a playground, I thought it would have some swings and some slides. The park was fantastic and spanned over two acres. There is even a carousel! What I really, really liked about it was that it was packed with people speaking all different languages! We will definitely return during the week and safety shouldn’t be a problem because it is across the street from the CIA!

Friday, March 5, 2010

La Clase de Música

Sofía and I signed up for a music class called Tiny Tunes. After reading about similar classes available for us, I chose this one because there were only about five babies signed up for the class and I wanted something small and personal. As it turns out, I chose the absolute correct class. The class is focused on providing us with activities to foster adult-child interaction. There is lots of music with instruments, play time, story time and fine and gross motor skill development. The best part is that the curriculum incorporates the usage of sign language and el Español. The teacher is from Panamá (an extra plus because my objective wasn’t to look for something with any en Español.) and the other babies and parents are awesome! Sofía LOVES her class. She plays with the other babies and hangs out with the parents of these babies. She ADORES her teacher and leaves me to sit by her. The other day, she let the teacher pick her up! It has been a great experience and we plan to continue these types of classes to give Sofía the interaction with other people and babies her age that she needs. We highly recommend it!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


On March 7, 2010, Silvia from Mama Latina Tips will be raffling off two music CDs from 1-2-3 Spanish Together™. She will be giving one away to someone in the USA as well as one to someone internationally. ¡Qué chevere! If you want to enter the sorteo and know more details about it, visit Mama Latina Tips HERE. Hurry, the sorteo will end soon!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

El Menú del Día

I’m running out of ideas of what to give 13-month-old Sofía for our mid-day meal, our almuerzo. We have a variety of things she will eat for breakfast, but el almuerzo, our biggest meal of the day, is the stumper. The problem is basically her main part of the meal, her protein. She eats chicken mostly and every now and then beef or steak. Mac and Cheese is also a big hit, but no meatballs or any kind of ground anything. On side dishes we are ok. Her favorites are peas, grapes, cheese, and sweet potato. I have been going to the store and looking to see what kinds of frozen things she might eat and if it works, we will replicate it at home. We found these spinach and broccoli patties that she loves. Although our meal time is very a lo Latino, we do eat a variety of fare. Suggestions anyone??

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm 13 months today!

¡No lo puedo creer!

Sofía’s Baby Signs

In a previous post, I wrote about how awesome Baby Signing Times is, and the signs that Sofía has learned already. Here is a video of Sofía signing a few things at breakfast. If anyone else has videos of baby signing, I would love to see it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Why Can't Sofía Sleep Like This?

Every day at Sofía’s nap time, our dos gatos, Nacho and Fulanito, curl up wherever we are and take their siesta. If we are a little late in getting to the designated area, they will beat us there. How punctual of them. I wish Sofía did the same. Sofía sleeps well at night. This came about at around 10 months. But during her siestas, she continued to insist on sleeping on my lap. This was all fine and dandy until she became too big to get comfortable and much to my chagrin, slowly by slowly, I was forced to try to get her to sleep in her crib during her siestas. It is killing me. ¡Me parte el alma! I am on my seventh day of trying to get her to sleep in the crib. The first four days were difficult, but she did cry progressively less and less each day. Friday, she actually slept for 40 minutes after only crying for 25 minutes. Today, not so good. She probably won’t take a siesta at all this afternoon. ¡Ay, Dios mío!

Dunstan Baby Language

When Sofía was about two months old, I finally got around to watching a video, Dunstan Baby Language, that a friend had given me. By then I was familiar with all the sorts of sounds and cries that Sofía made and I could subconsciously recognize when she wanted to eat and sleep. But I was blown away by this video. To put it in a nutshell, the creator, Priscilla Dunstan, has some kind of photographic memory for sound. She used this ability to research and classify baby cries all around the world. What she found was incredible. She discovered that ALL infants make the same kinds of cries when they are hungry, tired, need to be changed, burped, etc…the video teaches you what these sounds are and what they mean so that you can attend to your infant accordingly. At first when I read the leaflet, I thought, this must be a crackpot, but if Amy sent it to me, then it must have some validity. I watched the DVD and was immediately amazed! The sounds that Dunstan described and addressed were the exact same sounds that Sofía made all day long! I was ecstatic! It was so cool!!! I insisted that my husband watch the DVD also and he too was impressed. We were able to distinguish all the sounds from the DVD that Sofía made. This would definitely make a unique gift for someone with a newborn!  Here is a short excerpt from the DVD.