Naming the struggles: transition to life with a new baby

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(“Maternity” (1935) by José de Almada Negreiros via P. Ribeiro Simões, Flickr CC)

“You name our suffering, and that makes us want to come close to You.”

(Rev. Glenn Hoburg, Grace Presbyterian Church)

The second I heard those words, I put down my pen and slammed my journal shut.

Did I hear that right? I thought. How did he know? How was it possible that those words, preached in a church about the New Testament book of Romans, could have anything to do with my parenting a three-year old and a 10-month old baby?

Although uttered in the form of a prayer, referring to God’s relationship with His children, that sentence immediately reminded me of my three-year old daughter, E., life with a new baby (yes, still, 10 months later), and my ability to accept – and confront – all of E.’s feelings.

Let me explain. Continue reading

Easter 2017: a lesson in less is more

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(Photo courtesy of Yann Coeuru, Flickr Creative Commons)

Happy Easter, friends! And, happy spring!

It truly is a glorious time of the year here on the East Coast of the US. Azaleas and cherry trees in full bloom, sunshine, birds singing, new life.  And, Easter, a very special holiday tradition from my childhood, one that I’ve always wanted to share with my own children.

I love traditions, both the high holy religious ones and the everyday ones that give rhythm to our days. And, as the parent of young children I sometimes find myself worrying “we have to create our own family traditions now while they’re young!! What are we going to do for (fill in the blank with a holiday) to make it special?”

(Since Halloween wasn’t really celebrated in my or D.’s families growing up, we’ve chosen to skip that holiday for now. And, we only this past year, E. being three years old, decided to do the whole presents under the tree for Christmas.)

My holding back, so to speak, on the whole holiday celebrations thing stems from my journey into RIE parenting, Magda Gerber’s approach to childcare. One of my favorite quotations of hers is “do less, enjoy more.” That sentiment, together with her reminder to parents that “earlier is not better,” has helped me worry so much less about when my children will accomplish X or do Y or learn Z.

Her words have also reassured me that everything in its due time, including family and religious traditions.

And, so, Easter 2017. My attempt at simplicity and less. Continue reading

It all begins and ends with me: the heart of parenting

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(Photo courtesy of Barbara W, Flickr Creative Commons)

Last Thursday I had to excuse myself from E.’s bedroom. “Necesito un descanso,” I told her. I need a break.

What I didn’t tell her was why.

But, I could feel the anger swirling in my stomach. My muscles were tight. I needed to step away. I needed to take a few deep breaths. I needed a time out.

“Was that okay?” I asked myself. 

Processing the situation later, I realized, “yes, of course! It’s always okay, when you sense you’re about to lose your temper, to take a break.” 

I also realized that there was more going on.  

Because in parenting there’s always more. So much more. Continue reading

Community and support: Online parenting forums

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(Photo courtesy of Sean McGrath, Flickr Creative Commons)

Two facts I know to be true about parenting:

It’s hard.

It’s not meant to be done alone.

That’s why community is vital in our growth as parents.

Community can come from our extended family helping us as we transition to life with a new baby. Or, from being part of a church, or synagogue, or mosque, or a tight-knit neighborhood.

Community support can also be virtual, on-line.

And, while I know that many parents are skeptical of taking advice from strangers in a parenting Facebook group, and while I recognize that some on-line forums have a reputation of drama, chaos, and lack of focus, I’d like to share with you all a curated (very curated because I have indeed had to remove myself from some “high drama” groups!) list of Facebook groups and pages that I recommend you check out.

They are divided into two major categories, Facebook groups and pages. Within”groups,” there are three sections: respectful parenting, educational philosophies, and multilingual parenting.

The titles with * are my top favorites, ones I recommend with zero reservations, ones that I personally turn to and participate in for constructive advice on parenting with respect.)

Be encouraged, friends. Continue reading

Home Tour, Montessori style

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Several months ago I wrote a post about how we invited Montessori into our home.

While I may have only scratched the surface of what Montessori means, I have come to understand that it is more than just a type of school or style of education; it’s a framework that guides my parenting, a new lens through which I see my daughter. Montessori is a way of life. And, that includes how I have prepared my home for my daughter.

Today I’d like to invite you into our two-bedroom city apartment. Not to show you the massive Rita Hayworth portrait above my credenza, or the random CraigsList finds I’ve scored over the years, or my 1940s record player. (I do love my vintage record player, though!) Rather, to show you how we’ve made room for children.

Before becoming a mom, I always swore that I would never, ever turn my house upside down to accommodate my kids. Call me selfish, call me vain. But, I guess at the heart of it, I didn’t want to make my child/-ren the center of the home. I feared having garish plastic toys screeching out the ABCs on repeat on my living room floor.

However, I’ve come to understand that accommodating a child in your home is not the same as making her the center of the universe. In Montessori there is a lot of talk about the “prepared environment:” “…Maria Montessori’s concept that the environment can be designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child.”

Today, I’d like to share with you how, through the basic principles of Montessori, D. and I have, little by little, made room for our daughter.

Those principles of the prepared environment are:

-Is each room safe for the child?

-Is each room accessible and welcoming to the child?

-Is each room clean, orderly, and peaceful?

-Is each room aesthetically appealing, beautiful?

-Does each room facilitate the child’s independence and learning?

E. is an equal member of our family, so it seems only right that she has a part in each room of our apartment, an indicator to her that she is welcome everywhere (minus my shoe collection…ha!) and a reminder to D. and I that we live with a little person with different needs than our own.

So, bienvenidos a nuestra casa.

Continue reading

It’s coming! #España2015

bullfightingIt’s official!

We bought our plane tickets to Spain this fall! Yes, our first trip as a family of three to the land of jamón serrano, tortilla de patatas, and no humidity!

Thirty whole days. That’s right: one entire month. I can hardly contain myself.

I’ve already given the trip its own hashtag (so, be sure to follow me on twitter @espanolita and Instagram @espanolitablog).

#España2015 Continue reading

Thoughts from my blogging hiatus


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(“The Sewing Lesson” by Jessie Wilcox Smith, Flickr Creative Commons)

¡Hola, amig@s!

It’s good to be back from blog vacation. Two weeks of rest was just what I needed, and in case you’re wondering why I stepped away from blogging, you can read about it here. These past few weeks have been full of reading, cooking, exploring our city, visits with friends, and hours spent hanging with little Miss E. at the park.

Today’s post, rather than being a summary of what I did during my “time-off,” is inspired by an unfortunate comment I received from someone who questioned why I’m “wasting my talent and skills” (from my time as a teacher) to be a stay-at-home-mom. After the initial shock of the comment wore off, I continued thinking about the underlying question: why quit my job to stay at home?

While I am not going to address the “should a mother stay at home?” argument (this is a blog on bilingual parenting, after all), I do want to share with you why I have made the very personal decision to take a hiatus from teaching to stay at home with our daughter, what it has meant for our family, and what it has meant for E.’s – and my – language development in this early stage of parenting in more than one language.

Continue reading