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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

El Mercado

Our trip to the grocery store, el mercado, ended up being the best activity ever for Sofía. We all went together and my husband was in charge of doing the actual shopping while I took Sofía. We grabbed a “shopper in training” mini cart and I let her go! She was soooo thrilled! She pushed her cart around and grabbed packages off the shelf and put them in and out of her cart. She also stopped to wave to people and then moseyed on her way. When we got in the car 35 minutes later, she was exhausted! I tried to film a little of her in the Frutas y Verduras.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

¡Viva Vienna!

We took Sofía to visit her first feria. It was a whim decision, so we packed Sofía up, forgot her hat and off we rushed to see what the feria, ¡Viva Vienna!, would be like. There was lots of junk food, games to play (and many featuring shooting guns which we didn’t like at all) and we ran into some of our best friends. Sofía was very into people watching and wanted to walk by herself instead of holding our hands-imagine that! We only stayed at the feria for a little bit because it was some 89° cool and really more than Sofía could take. All in all, I think Sofía enjoyed her first feria visit.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

La Tía

My husband is one of three boys and I have a brother and a sister. So that makes my sister Sofía’s only tía not by marriage. My sister’s children, my sobrinos, are 20 and 16.5 years old, so it has been a while since there was a baby in the family, and Sofía is her only niece. Tía obviously LOVES Sofía and it is exciting because of course you want to see someone else dote over your child as much as you do. When Tía comes to visit, she talks to Sofía en Español and she brings Sofía gifts like some cool stylish clothes, barrettes, and bracelets. The last time Tía visited, it was October and we went to a Pumpkin Farm and pet goats and cows and Tía went down a slide on a burlap bag like we used to do when we were kids. This time, we went to Georgetown and walked around a bit and ate at Pizzeria Paradiso, supposedly the best pie in the city. Sofía wasn’t so impressed. (Pictures will be posted as soon as they arrive to me!)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bizarre Toddler Behavior

Evidently it is very common for toddlers to display bizarre behaviors. Some babies, especially boys, bang their heads, others rock, and mine touches her pestañas, her eyelashes. Sofía is OBSESSED with her pestañas. She now wants to touch our pestañas also. I thought maybe it was a soothing thing, but no, not necessarily. Although mostly she does it when she is relaxing, I have also found her touching them at any random point in the day…during lunch or while playing. It is particularly tricky when she tries touching her pestañas and her fingers are filled with barbeque sauce. We almost wouldn’t care so much expect that every-once-in-a-while, she pokes her eye. We thought that would stop her, but it really hasn’t and when we tried to stop her, it only gave her more incentive to do it, so we’ve stopped insisting. This bizarre toddler behavior has seemed to die down a little, but is still existent. Oh well, Sofía does have very nice long pestañas that she inherited from her Papi, so feel them if she must!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

¡A Ride En El Tren!

Sunday, after working on el patio as much as posible, we decided to dar una vuelta. (Litteraly this means to take a little stroll, but it can also be used as, to go and do something non-specific.) We took Sofía to the mall where they have a children’s indoor play area. We went there for the first time just a few weeks ago and discovered that they have a tren that gives rides. Sofía was enthralled with the tren. So now that my husband was with us, it would be easier to take her for a ride on the tren….plus, there was someone to video-tape the experience! She ended up liking to WATCH the tren much more than ride in it, but we figure that will change with age!

Monday, May 24, 2010

La Papa

Today, like a buena Peruana, Sofía ate una papa, a potato, and repeated “papa” after me. She likes them and lucky for her since la papa is originally from Perú. From my agronomist suegro, Father-in-Law, I learned that originally la papa was a poisonous plant, but that Los Inca created a hybrid so that one could be edible. I haven’t validated the story, because Peruvians are serious about their papas and it sounded good to me!
En Español, there are three variations of what seems like the same word, papa. (I will show accent stress through BOLD.) You have the following: la papa = potato, el papá = dad , and el Papa = the Pope. Who would have known that those little pesky things like accents and articles could change word meanings in so many ways!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Slip Sliding Away...El Patio III

So we made a LOT of progress on el patio. The mini-bulldozer came in and dug up the ground, transported the 16 toneladas of stone and sand and then the hard work began: leveling out the stone, placing the sand and laying the pavers.
It was literally back-breaking work! Much to our chagrin, each of the pavers weighs close to 30 pounds! El patio itself is finished, but to keep water from draining into the foundation of the house, it was built on a slight slope. So as it turns out, my husband NOW has to build a retaining wall to keep el patio from sliding into the backyard with hard rains! This project is a LOT of work, but so worth it because Sofía LOVES el patio!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Top 10 Things That URK Me!

Frequently, there is something that transpires throughout the day and I begin spinning my wheels thinking about what a great blog that it would make. Lately I’ve noticed there are many of them, so instead writing about each event, I decided it would be better to share them as a collection of things that urk me, a list I suppose. The details of the occurrence are not important, but just the fact that it happened. You can IMAGINE the details, as I suppose they are similar to events in your own life, at one point or another. When I read them in a list, I know they urk me, but they also make laugh because they are so common-sense ridiculous!

          By the way, Urk, is also the name of a town in the Netherlands!
En Español, I would use the phrase, “Me saca la piedra.” to express that I’m urked or annoyed.

Here we go in no particular order…..

Top 10 Things that Urk Me. / Las 10 Cosas Que Me Saquen la Piedra.

1 You telling me what my daughter does or doesn’t do…like telling me that she doesn’t take a nap in the morning.

2. Correcting my parenting style with something that is just plain stupid and doesn’t make sense.

3. Yelling, not disciplining, yelling at your kids in front of others…can you imagine what goes on behind closed doors?

4. Putting Sofia’s zapatos on the table—Just because they are tiny doesn’t mean they are clean!

5. Insistently giving my daughter things for her to play with that are a choking hazard.

6. Thinking that yogurt doesn’t spoil

7. Touching my food with your dirty hands…that is why we have utensils and hand soap.

8. Not being able to control your dog.

9. When you don’t discipline your kids

10. When you ask me my professional analysis and then decide to not believe me based on nothing.

Do you have a list like this?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

El Patio II

Step II of el patio has begun! We had 16 toneladas of stone and sand delivered. It sounds like a lot more than it looks! Sofía liked digging in the rocks but was really not interested in the sand. Next up is the digging of the hole and laying the rock and sand. Fun times!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The Z, in the majority of the Spanish-Speaking world, is pronounced identical to the S as in Sam. It is often a dead give-away in distinguishing between native and non-native Español speakers. There is a very large section of Spain that pronounces the Z like a TH, but that is an entirely different discussion. I assume that if you don’t know what zapatos means, you can take a guess because you probably have seen something from Zappos.com. My students used to use that association in order to remember the word for shoe. Clever, just didn’t expect it to come from nine year old boys. We bought Sofía new zapatos. Who are these thieves that got together to form the King Z Monopoly to screw parents of toddlers into paying $40 for a pair of zapatos that will only fit for three months at best? I read all over the internet that beginning walkers need to have soft flexible zapatos and that going shoeless as much as possible is really the best in the beginning. Once the baby can walk well and run and jump, then the soles can become more stiff, or less flexible. (Sorry, I don’t even have a link as to where I got that info.) So our Target zapatos worked marvelous at first, but Sofía really needs a zapato with a thicker sole. We walk outside on the pavement a lot and her other zapatos are getting worn out. I couldn’t find thicker yet flexible soles at Target. Believe me, I checked. So we went to Stride Rite. I had a déjà vu moment and felt like I was in the Montgomery Ward Zapato section trying on my Hush Puppies again. We originally were only looking for some sandalias with covered toes and places to let air pass through, but we ended up buying los tenis and sandalias. Sofía did NOT like to have anyone else touch her feet. She cried when the person tried to measure her and put her foot in the zapatos. She wouldn’t even say hello to the person later either! When she was trying out the new zapatos, she threw her soft pretzel on the floor, signed, “I’m finished!” and took off out the door! I’m sure when she’s 15 that won’t be happening and I’m going to wish she would be finished with zapato shopping, so I’m just going to appreciate it now while I can.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Play Set

In an earlier post, I mentioned how both neighbors on either side of me moved and the one with young children gave us several things, including the bike seat. We also gladly received a Fisher Price plastic picnic table and a Step2 Climber-House Play Set from them. I washed the playset up and we brought it down in our basement. It is perfecto for Sofía to play on when it rains outside and we are trapped inside. It is awesome! It has a slide and a little house. She loves going in and out of the house, climbing under the barriers and going down the slide. Her gatos also REALLY enjoy the playset! It has some fun and cool places where gatos can hide and frolic! Rainy day play dates at our house won’t be so dreary now!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fiesta de Cumpleaños

I LOVE cumpleaños. I loved celebrating my daughter’s first cumpleaños more than I ever loved celebrating my own!
Before we celebrated Sofía’s first cumpleaños, I really had no experience attending baby parties. We decorated to our liking and served pasabocas or hors d'oeuvres and I made a huge red velvet cake. We hired a babysitter to hang out with the kids as they played downstairs and we set up some games.We gave out party favors to both children and adults. We tried to give something nice and homemade without going overboard or breaking the bank. My husband and I made pizzelles and included a small can of Sofía wine for the adult bag.
For the children we gave either play dough and a bag of goldfish or to the under 2 year olds, a pink rubber duckie and a bag of goldfish to eat. Since Sofía was born on groundhog’s day, we also gave all the children a groundhog cupcake. (Those were fun to research and make and will be a yearly event!).

Sofía has now attended two of her friends’ first cumpleaños parties. They were fantastic in terms of decorations and details put into the event. One really went ALL-OUT making sure everything coordinated with the cupcake theme. Things that I can think of that I noticed at the house were: a handmade painted wooden cumpleaños cupcake hanging on the front door, cumpleaños cupcake tablecloths, cumpleaños cupcake wall hangings, and a cupcake tree. They gave out favors to adults and children alike, keeping with the cupcake theme. They went ALL-OUT! In the adult bag, there was a cumpleaños cupcake magnet with Rylan’s picture in it, a hershey’s bar wrapped with cumpleaños cupcake them and Rylan’s picture, cupcake stationary, cupcake chocolates and a few other things I can’t remember. The children’s favors were equally as extravagant. All was wrapped in a sand bucket with each child’s name printed on it. Sofía received a pair of socks, a package of hair barrettes, 2 packages of cookies, a sippy cup and again a few other items that I can’t remember. I THOUGHT I took a picture of these things to post, but evidently I did not. Bummer. Yesterday, at another party, the favors were also intricate. Everything was housed in a basket-like container with about 6 different rubber duckies or penguins, a chocolate duck, a little stuffed hippo, and a beach ball. I did take a picture of this.

I wonder what other people give in their party favor bags? Now I am thinking about what I can do for next year. I have about eight months, so there is time. But I am thinking about what I can hand-make for the kids. I like to be practical AND economical (we only have one income, remember!) My friend Amy sews a bunch of fun stuff, so I’m thinking what I can sew while I have the time and can get deals on fabric. My husband would say that I’m trying to compete. I’m not, am I? I just want to be prepared and save a dime!  We have another cumpleaños in a month as another of  Sofía's friends turns one!

Friday, May 14, 2010

El Patio

My husband decided to build el patio we need in the back yard; home project of sorts. I asked for a small, pequeño, petite, patio. It seems that the end result will be much different than that of course!! The area is HUGE! We are building it in phases. First, my husband removed the sod and turned up some of the ground. He WAS digging the entire thing himself, but it ended up being rock-hard and so we have to call in the big guns-a Bobcat! Here are our first fotos of many more to come!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Las Flores

Sofía is into smelling las flores. She surprised me one day when I was picking out flores at the store and she walked over to them, signed “flower” and bent over to smell them. Since then, she has been fascinated with the entire process. We have flores on our kitchen table, sometimes real, sometimes artificial, and she always wants to smell them. So I decided to roll with the flores theme. We walked outside this morning and ventured into our neighbors’ yards to smell the flores. This afternoon we went to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. Although there is a fee to enter the gardens, there was plenty for us to do just in the visitor center without having to spend any money for a short visit. We can save the gardens for a day when we can spend more time and really get our money’s worth. (Should I sidebar that I think paying to see flores is a crime?)
In the visitor center, we met a group of retirees in their knitting club, we saw some type of lizard from Africa, a dancing turtle, and a stuffed animal tree, which by far, was the BEST attraction! This tree housed stuffed birds, bees, grasshoppers, ducks, squirrels, and geese that made fun sounds when you pushed on their bellies. Sofía SQUEALED with delight! I should have videotaped it! Outside in the foyer, we smelled all the flores! Oh how I wish I could retain names of flores to teach her, but, well, Sofía, you are on your own on that lesson!
We hear that our friend Leigh has a bunch of fresh cut flores from her new garden.  Maybe we will hike over there to smell them after Sofía's afternoon nap!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

El Zo

Yesterday, Sofía had her music class which is now interfering with her new morning nap schedule. So needless to say, she didn’t sleep but actually behaved in the class—I thought we were going to have to leave early because she would be cranky. When we got home, she ate a surprisingly big lunch and then I put her to take her afternoon nap. She only slept for 40 minutes. So I decided that it was now or never and I packed her up and we went to the Zo. I figured that she would sleep either on the way there or the way back and could eat her snack while we tooled around the Zo. The National Zo in DC is free and we even found parking on the street, so it really was a free event for us.

We saw una chita, un elefante, una gorila, un orangután, and some very mean patos mallard. I find it very hard to take fotos of Sofía in some places because there are so many people around. I wanted to get one of her looking at the elefante or even making the elefante sign or even of her signing “shoe” to me because her shoe had fallen off. Now what a GREAT foto this would have made….picture me holding Sofía with one hand on my hip, bending down to the ground low enough to stretch my arm THROUGH the fence to reach her shoe. Or how about me , in that same position, contorting my body in a C so that I could grab the shoe with my FINGERNAIL. Now that would have been a Kodak moment. So on the way out, I remembered that I didn’t even take a foto of the elefante, so here is one, although not the close up view that we had. No Sofía, just elefante.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Burke Lake

On Friday, we made an impromptu drive to Burke Lake when Sofía woke up early from her nap. I wanted to take her outside to get some fresh air but to also do something different even though she was not feeling well. We had some leftover bread that I wanted her to feed the ducks. I had never been there before and we only explored the part by the lake. The geese are fearless. As soon as we approached the lake, they came over to investigate the stroller. I put Sofía on the ground to have a better view, and as soon as I did, geese came storming over to investigate her! I had to swoop Sofía up so that she wouldn’t be knocked over. They must have smelled her snack or heard a familiar wrapper sound, because they came in hoards to check out the stroller. I hadn’t even unwrapped anything or taken anything out of the bag! Sofía was intrigued by them…they are bigger than her which I didn’t expect…I was expecting mallards. She had to eat snack on my lap. Since she is only 15 months, every 5 crackers drops on the ground, and so she had an attentive audience. At one point, when the goose ate all the crackers off the ground, it nibbled on Sofía’s shoe! This impromptu trip was quite a workout for me!

Friday, May 7, 2010

El Alfabeto

One of the things I loved the most about my job was the inter-exchange of ideas. Whenever I would visit other educator’s classrooms, for whatever reasons, I was always able to come away with some new idea to implement in my own practices. I love to steal—giving credit where credit is due of course. Now as a new parent, I do the same. I like to know what others are doing because sometimes I just plain run out of ideas or I think that I may get caught up with a certain baby developmental milestone and may forget about some other. So last week when we were at Marnix’s house playing, I learned something new! Marnix learned some of his alfabeto! Isn’t that fantastic!!??!! He doesn’t know all of them all the time, but he can often identify some of them sometimes. So I decided that I had better start doing the same with Sofía. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, but that is why we have friends!! Marnix has the alfabeto in magnetic letras on the nevera, or refrigerator, and Sofía was thrilled by this new discovery. Sorry to say that our nevera is stainless steel and not magnetic. But those creative juices started flowing and I overcame that obstacle, for an activity at least. I used the foam letras that usually are part of her bathtub toys. We dunked the letras in water and they stayed on the nevera. I can’t keep them on there always, but it is a good activity at least. For now, I have to remember to talk about the letras on her playmat everday to start expanding her neural connections!! Marnix also is on the self-potty training route…a task I’m not ready to tackle just quite yet! Gracias to Marnix’s mom!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Agua en un Día Caliente

Since Sofía has a fiebre, I feel like I am limited with our outdoor activities since it is really hot outside. It’s been in the 80s and I didn’t want to exasperate her high temp. Then I had another “ta da” moment. We have a cousin (who is also a nurse) and she had her fevered child outside playing with agua. Now why, oh why, didn’t I think of that before? Thanks Michelle! (We will tell you more about Sofía’s cousin Trillizos in a future post, but for now you can read about them here!) Sofía loves to play with agua and really, as Michelle said, it is entertaining and keeps her cool at the same time! Although you can't see the happiness from the the foto, Sofía really was thrilled and covered in agua!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


So here I was reading the Tylenol recall, thinking, well, good thing I don’t have to worry about it. And wouldn’t you know that I jinxed myself!! Sofía came down with a 103° fever on Sunday. You would never know that she had a fever though because she doesn’t complain and plays común y corriente, normal. The fever gradually came down with the help of generic Tylenol, but she had to miss her music class and a play-date with her favorite friend Marnix. I also have to keep her away from the her neighborhood friends too, which is hard to do because she sees them outside and immediately wants to nosy about to see what is going on. Today, her fever is just about gone, but she had her 15 month well-check-up at the Pediatra’s office and got two shots, which I’m sure will make that pesky fever linger for a bit longer. Oh well, Es la vida, no?  What a way to celebrate El Cinco de Mayo!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl recall

If you haven’t heard, Tylenol issued a voluntary recall for three of its products: Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl. It is not a dangerous or medical emergency if you have already taken the medications, but they advise to discontinue use. Here is the link At the end of the page, there is another link where you can request a refund or coupon.