Author: Frances

“Operation Christmas Child” Our New Family Tradition 2011

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Last year our li’l family participated in Operation Christmas Child. What is this? It’s the simple power of spreading the word of the Lord, by packing a shoe box for a child who otherwise would not receive a gift during Christmas.
It’s a true blessing to be able to teach our child the gift of giving, compassion and love. I pray too, that we can raise an unselfish, caring, and compassionate child; and this is a great ministry to show him how he can help others.  This has become our new family tradition during Christmas.  
Packing the shoe boxes.
We were blessed to have been able to pack 5 boxes for 5 children 
and 5 lives have changed forever. Thank you Lord!  
Getting ready to drop off the shoe boxes at the church. 
My friend Elizabeth with her 2 young children also joined us! 
Love to see the children walking in to drop-off their shoe boxes. 
Church members of the drop-off location standing by the map of where the shoe boxes will be delivered. 
We’re almost 2 months away from National Collection Week which will be November 12-19, 2012.  I’m so looking forward to it, and I’m happy to say that I will have more friends & their children joining us this year.   

I already have a few boxes packed with items that I have purchased through out the year, and freebie items that I have been able to collect.  So this year, I’m doing something different with little man. I’m  going to take him to the store, and let him “shop” for one boy and one girl.  This is going to be a great lesson, since he will be actually picking out toys, and goodies for someone else, and not for him. 
I will post pictures, and blog about our 2012 OCC Shoe boxes soon! 
For more information on packing shoe boxes go here. 

August Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism

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I was invited by Leanna from  All Done Monkey to participate in the August Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism which was hosted by Best for Future Bringing Up Baby Bilingual . This was  a great opportunity to share my “Mommy I Know Spanish” blog post, and you can also find it at Best for Future Bringing Up Baby Bilingual . Take a look and enjoy other wonderful blog posts on raising bilingual children.

Categories: Bilingualism

Worldwide Culture Swap: England! (Group 88)

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What a nice surprise to get home, and find in our mail box a package all the way from England! I was thrilled with the packaging, and the stamp that read: “Royal Mail!” with the picture of Queen Elizabeth. Ohhhh, I felt so special…:)

As we opened the package both hubby and our son were excited. Of course, my son instantly spotted the apple flavored candy, look at that smile! While my husband looked at the coins and flags.

I wonder who was more excited? My hubby or our 4 yr. old. 🙂

Now let’s go over the contents of our “Royal Mail” hahaha (I had to add last statement!):

~Flags of England and United Kingdom

~England Sticker

~England Bookmark (Homemade)

~Fact Sheet on England and United Kingdom

~A letter with pictures

~English money (coins)

~United Kingdom Jigsaw (Homemade)

~Seven beautiful stamps

~A cute package with colorful yarn and a homemade bookmark tag that looks like a gift! In it was a postcard of the Olympics :)with two sheets: a “Design a Medal” and “The Olympic Logo” so little one can color, and draw. Included also was an interesting fact sheet of where the Olympic medals are guarded and locked during the Olympics.

~Bird’s Instant Custard. In order to make this I will have to look for the equivalent in measurements for the US. 🙂

~An Oxford packet that included a collector’s pin, three beautiful postcards, and one of the University of Oxford, small map, and an Oxford pencil.

~Two homemade DVD’s. We enjoyed watching the DVD of the area where the family that sent us the package lives. We were also pleasantly surprised to see a Burger King in the main shopping area; and listening to the music in the background by the “buskers” (people who play music in the streets). Both DVD’s were fun to watch, and made us want to go to Oxford and visit. 🙂 Check out the video below:

~A St. George (Patron saint of England) packet beautifully wrapped with colorful yarn that included two coloring sheets, and a DIY St. George’s Day Flag collage kit.

 

We had lots of fun going through the contents, and learning about Oxford, England. A special thanks to the wonderful family that sent us this package, and that allowed us to post one of the videos.

Now we’re waiting on two more swap packages from Norway, and Qatar. Until our next swap!

Worldwide Cultural Swap from Oregon, Florida and Ohio.

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Receiving swap packages from around the country and the world is fun!

We participated in two swaps: Group 66 and Group 88.

In Group 66 we had South Africa (received, and will blog about it soon!), Norway (still waiting on the package); and two states: Hawaii, and Florida. We received both swaps from Hawaii (you can read more about it here), and Florida.

In Group 88 we had Qatar (waiting on the package), England (received, and will blog about it soon!), and we received both states: Oregon and Ohio.

Check out the wonderful packages that the families put together from Oregon, Florida and Ohio.

Worldwide Culture Swap from the state of Oregon (Group 88):

As usual our son was thrilled to see a box on our doorsteps. We received:

– A box of dry roasted Oregon hazelnuts. The state nut. 🙂

– A pencil.

– A postcard.

– A coin (a quarter).

– The Oregon official state map.

– A local map/guide of Portland, Oregon.

– A brochure of the Lewis and Clark historical park.

– Interesting fact sheet about Oregon.

– Two sheets of stickers.

– A “Thunder-egg” (geode) rock.

– A bag with raffia, and instructions on how to make a cordage.

– A letter with a picture of the family who sent us the package.

Of course, my 4 yr. old was excited to open the box, and looking through it’s contents. He immediately grabbed the stickers (he loves stickers). He was indeed fascinated with the “Thunder-egg” (geode) rock (he collects pebbles, and rocks at home). The Thunder-egg is also the state rock, and though it doesn’t look like much in the outside, once cracked open you will see an exquisite beauty inside. We haven’t cracked open the rock, yet. I’m going to have Daddy help with a chisel and hammer to crack it open.

Worldwide Culture Swap from the state of Florida (Group 66):

We received our swap package from the great state of Florida! I love looking at my son’s face filled with awe and amazement as he looks through the contents. In this swap package we received: 

~Pictures of the family’s home, and of the family. 

~Postcards of Florida. 

~Brochures of wildlife, and tourist areas of Florida.

~An alligator teeth – the most fascinating object in the package :). 

~”Points” – a replica of a very rare and expensive arrowhead made by the native people in the region. 

~Instant grits (a Southern favorite), which was delicious!   

~Lychee seed – comes from the lychee fruit that is sweet and rich in nutrient. 

~Sand, and a shell key chain.   

~Orange marmalade (quite tasty on toasted bread), and orange bubble gums.  

~A sponge. 

~A alligator iron-on transfer.  

I was very impressed on how well this package had been put together, the wildlife and points (arrowhead) brochure was neatly placed inside a clear bag. There were notes on all of the postcards, and pictures. I really appreciate the time this family has taken to get their swap package together.  My son loves playing with the sand, and then putting it back in the tin can.

Worldwide Culture Swap from the state of Ohio (Group 88):

This was another fun package!

~Ohio State Tourism Guide

~Two postcards

~Four Cleveland Indians baseball cards

~A handwritten note in a beautiful card with a picture of the family making the shapes of O-H-I-O! (Really cool!)

~An Ohio State symbols sheet

~Information on some mammals found in Ohio

~Information on Amish Country with a link

~A book titled “Presidents of the United States” (my favorite) and print outs of the eight presidents that actually came from Ohio. Ohio is also nicknamed “The Mother of Presidents!”

~A bag with sand with lucky stones, beach glass, and snail shells

~Two Ohio State coasters

~Brochures and maps of the area

~Sticker sheet with the name O-H-I-O

Thank you so much to all of the families that took the time to put together these wonderful packages. We have enjoyed them greatly, and we too hope you have enjoyed what we have put together for your family.

Until the next culture swap!

“Mommy I know Spanish!”

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I must admit that listening to my child say, “Mommy I know Spanish” is music to my ears, though far from reality I know he still has a long way to go.   This past week I was on the phone rambling in Spanish with my sister from Puerto Rico, and my son asks, “Mommy is that Abuela or Titi?” (Abuela – Grandma/Titi – Auntie). I responds, “It’s Titi.” He remains quite for a while, and interrupts me.
This is our conversation, while Titi was listening and patiently waiting for him to finish.

Him: “Mommy, Mommy, excuse me!”
Me: “Yes, lindo.”
Him: “Mommy, my friends (he said their names) at school don’t know Spanish.”
Me: “Is that so?”
Him: “Yes, Mommy. I was trying to teach them and they weren’t listening to me.”
Me: “So what were you teaching them?”
Him: “Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho…”
Me: (I laughed) “So you were teaching them the numbers in Spanish?”
Him: “Yes, Mommy. I know Spanish like you, and they don’t!”
Me: “Don’t worry baby, they will soon learn. Now let me finish talking to Titi.”
Him: “OK, Mommy.”

My sister was cracking up at the other end of the line, since she had heard our conversation. Of course, I had a sense of pride and excitement listening to my child talk that way about the “Spanish” language.
It gives me hope that one day, he will be bilingual. I need not to be in despair, and worry so much about him learning Spanish. He’s showing interest, and is receptive to me speaking to him in Spanish. He often asks, “Mommy what does that mean?”, and I find myself translating for him. Then out of the blue, he’s repeating what I am saying.
For instance, there’s this children’s song: “Sana, sana colita de rana.” It’s a children’s song that my Mom would sing to us all the time when we got hurt. She sang the song as she rubbed or “healed” the bruised or hurt part of our body; and of course, we instantly felt better. This is a song that I often sing to my son, and that he sings to me when I complain about my back pain as he gently rubs my back! Sweet isn’t he?

♫♫♫Sana, sana, colita de rana, si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana.♫♫♫
♫♫♫Heal, heal,little tail of the frog, if you don’t heal today, you’ll heal tomorrow.♫♫♫

So, with counting numbers, or singing children’s song in Spanish my son is getting closer to one day being bilingual; and I will be enjoying every step of the way! You can read more about our challenges here.

Image source

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Embracing Your Roots and Culture

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As I look at my son, and see the beauty within him: that he’s a child born out of love, and brought into this world with the richness and greatness of having three cultures: Black, Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian. I reflect upon my own life; my roots and culture. I was born in New York, to a Puerto Rican mom, and an Ecuadorian dad. As far as I can remember I was always proud of roots, my culture; heck I was even more thrilled that I had another culture other than being Puerto Rican. As an adult, I am still proud of my roots, and continue to embrace where I came from. So now that we have a son, I want to instill in him this same pride.

Unfortunately, not everyone embraces their roots and cultures; and most of the time deny it. Puerto Ricans are mixed race of Spaniards, African slaves, and Taíno Indians (native indians). Even my own aunts and uncles (on my Mom’s side) denied that there could be any “black” in them; but science came back to prove them wrong.

My Grandmother participated in The Origins of the Mitochondrial DNA of Puerto Rico Project, sponsored by the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus. They were conducting a series of DNA study and interviews about issues related to heritage and race in Puerto Rico. The professors Dr. Anayra Santory and Dr. Luis A. Avilés, were leading the investigation and visited my Grandmother at home, and requested her authorization to conduct a DNA testing with a strand of her hair to determine her race.

Every member in the family kept saying that my Grandmother was Spaniard, and my Grandmother herself said she was a Taíno Indian. She has a elongated face, light-caramel skin, straight hair, long nose. The test results came back, and the results were in “drum roll please” she was African. Wow, I was happy that I was Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian and now African! My other family members, not so much (I even mailed them a copy of the report! {giggles}); even my Grandmother wasn’t thrilled with the results, oh well! It is what it is, right?

Which brought me to think of phrase that I often heard back in Puerto Rico: “¿y tu abuela aonde ‘ta?” Which means “and where is your grandmother?”

This my beautiful Mother with my beloved Grandmother.

These are the DNA results:

In Puerto Rico, there’s a lot of racism amongst the Puerto Ricans. The dark-skinned Puerto Ricans will ask “¿Y tu agüela, aonde ejtá?” (where is your grandmother?) to the lighter-skinned Puerto Ricans to remind them of their mixed heritage: African. Especially when they deny their roots, and the color of their skin. At the end of the day, there is no denying your Abuela (therefore, your ancestors).

A good friend of mine shared this poem with me (that I had long forgotten). You can find the Spanish version here.

English translation:

Dinga and Mandinga By Fernando Fortunato Vizcarrondo

And your grandma, where is she?

Yesterday you called me Negro, And today I will respond to thee: My mom sits in the living room, And your grandma, where is she?

My hair is kinky, Yours’ is like silk, Your father’s hair is straight, And your grandma, where is she?

Your color came out white, And your cheeks are pink; Your lips are thin, And your grandma, where is she?

You say that my lips are big And they’re always red? But tell me, in the name of the Virgin, And your grandma, where is she?

Since your girl is white, You take her out a lot… And I feel like yelling to you: And your grandma, where is she?

You like Foxtrot, And I like ‘Bruca Manigua’, You display yourself as white And your grandma, where is she?

You are white on the outside and got into High Society Fearing that someone may get to know The mother of your own mami. Here, who does not have Dinga has Mandinga ha ha ha haaa! So again, I ask you, And your grandma, where is she?

Yesterday you called me Negro, Wanting to embarrass me. My grandma steps out to the living room, And yours hidden from everybody. The poor woman is dying Seeing herself so abused. Even your dog barks at her If she ever steps out to the living room. And I know her very well! Her name is Mrs. Tata You hide her in the kitchen, Because Negro is really… she.

The English translation was found here.

We’re not the only race that has a mix of different races, and sadly enough many deny their race, or where they come from; therefore, not embracing their roots and culture. I encourage you to look deeper into your family roots, you’d be surprise where you really come from.

And your grandmother where is she? “¿Y tu agüela, aonde ejtá?”

Would love to hear about your own experiences and thoughts. Please comment and share!

My Challenges Raising A Bilingual Child

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For many years before I got married, and had a child of my own I always stressed to my cousin and sister living in the US the importance of speaking to their children in Spanish! I literally badgered them every time I talked to them, about what an advantage it is to know two languages, that Spanish was part of their identity; and that they will learn English regardless; and speaking to them in Spanish was a priority. Both of them agreed on one thing, that it was hard! (Little did I know!)

Fast forward to 2012, and here I am married to a Black man, living in the US, with a 4 yr. old mixed child; whom I’m literally struggling to teach Spanish to. I remembered when I was pregnant with my baby, and I told my husband numerous times that our child was going to speak two languages, know and learn to love his two cultures.

In the most profound and deepest corner of my heart, I feel that I have failed miserably to teach my son how to speak in Spanish. I am the only one who speaks Spanish at home, and all of my Spanish speaking family members live far away. It’s just my husband, and my in-laws. So I have found myself speaking to our child in English most of the time instead of my native language: Spanish. Now, I understand my cousin and sister, and how challenging it has been to speak in Spanish in a predominant English speaking environment.

So in a conscientious effort to teach my son Spanish, I bought the book: 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner, M.D. with Susan L. Hayes. I must say this book has given me some hope.

I’ve decided to start using the “Language Boundaries” method. The author suggest that I speak to my child in a specific situation, such as: time of day (mealtime, weekends), location, or depending on an activity. I have opted to use this method right before bedtime. It’s the time of the day, that my son is more receptive, and is winding down from the day’s activities. I speak to him in Spanish, and read bedtime stories in Spanish as well. We say our prayers in Spanish, and it brings such joy to my heart to hear my little one saying, “Angel de la guarda, mi dulce compañía…” (Guardian Angel prayer) in Spanish.

Although, our son speaks English. He understands basic words, knows his numbers and colors in Spanish; and before bedtime, he goes to his “Papi” gives him a kiss, and a hug, and says, “Buenas noches Papi.”

I know it’s going to be a long road ahead for us, but my hopes have rekindled in raising a bilingual child, especially when I hear our son say something in Spanish. ♫♫♫ It’s music to my ears!♫♫♫

 

Do you have any suggestions, ideas or challenges that you have raising a bilingual child? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below.

I’m an avid reader and follower of Bicultural Mom, and every Monday she has a series of topics related to multicultural families. This Monday’s Multicultural Blog Hop is about Bilingualism/Bilingual Parenting.

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Our Son Has a Pen Pal!

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I belong to a Mommy Group at CafeMom. A Mommy in the group asked if anyone was interested in having their child be her child’s pen pal. Of course, I jumped on it; and little one now has a pen pal! Though he can’t write yet, neither can his pen pal (he’s a year older), we (Mommies) do the writing for them. They exchange stickers, drawings they make, and letters written by us but with our child’s own thoughts and their own words. They also have pictures of each other, so they can put a face to the name.

I’m very excited about this, because as a child I had pen pals, and loved writing and receiving letters. In this digital age, everything is text message, social media or email; and the art of writing has been lost. Knowing that my son gets very excited when he checks the mailbox and sees his name on an envelope or package gives me a glimpse of hope, that maybe just maybe as he gets older he will continue to write his own letters! He has a new friend, a pen pal AJ so that’s a start!

This is AJ’s letter:

His letter to AJ:

There’s one sentence that filled my heart with joy, when my son was telling me what to write, he said: “AJ, I promise you’re going to be my pen pal, and we’re going to friends.”