Tuesday, May 29, 2007

our newest stage

I know I've complained about the dogs before, especially our recent bouts with jealousy and the baby. I have to admit, though, this little laugh makes all that annoying stuff totally worth it.

If you make it all the way to the end, you'll also get to hear Murray's patented snort. He makes that noise all. night. long.

Seriously, though, doesn't that laugh make you want to cry? The sweetness melts me. I'll do whatever it takes to get that laugh.

By the way, this video is taken in a hotel in Rochester, NY, because we've been traveling AGAIN. I am in dire need of a couple of weeks at home, and hopefully I'll be able to get those over the next month or so.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

talk about being disconnected...

Life with a baby is tiring, I've discovered. Most days I feel fantastic, head over heels in love, wondering how life could get any better. The next day, I might be exhausted and overwhelmed, dreaming about one complete night of sleep, trying to figure out how I am going to stay awake until 9pm. I guess this is typical, but it makes for a lackluster blog, I'm sorry to say. I started and stopped about 4 posts about how little sleep I was getting, but they all seemed so boring, and I was so freaking tired, that I never finished any of them, and now it all seems to complicated that I feel exhausted just trying to think about writing it all out.

Suffice to say, Gabe used to sleep, then all of a sudden he didn't. It got to the point that he woke up every half-hour to forty-five minutes for two days straight, and I almost lost my mind. I talked to a friend of mine, who in grand fashion scared the ever-loving daylights out of me by saying that I'd officially screwed Gabe up forever and he'd never sleep again, so I instituted Baby Boot Camp. Baby Boot Camp is just a fancy way to say that I finally put together a schedule for Gabriel. He'd been going to bed and waking up at any old time, and I guess that wasn't working for him.

Now we get up at a reasonable time, take 3 naps a day (at least), and try to go to bed at a reasonable time. This way, he is in a better mood, and he sleeps for longer stretches at nighttime. He also eats more in the daytime, which he hadn't been doing, a fact that I'm sure was contributing to the lack of nighttime sleep. We also instituted a blankie/lovey (a fuzzy brown blanket with a bear head and feet) and convinced Gabe that he really did want a pacifier. All those things helped.

We're back in California, though, first for a wedding, then for a week of travel with the inlaws in Lake Tahoe, and now for a few day of visiting my parents, and his schedule is all screwed up again. So what am I doing? I'm up at 2:30, of course, writing this blog post, instead of sleeping. It's what all the cool kids are doing, didn't you know?

In all seriousness, though, life is good. Gabriel is wonderful and sweet and adorable and all cooey and smiley and delectable. He has extended his skills to being able to put all his toes in his mouth, and he spends a good chunk of the day loudly slurping on his big toe. It is one of the cutest things I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Josh graduates from business school on Saturday, and I can hardly believe that we've made it through his two years of school. Two years without working, two years of me supporting him, two years of not knowing what our future would be. I am so proud of him.

I'm also trying to figure out my own future, and that has been weighing on me these days. I have moments of crushing insecurity about what I should be doing, both with my career and with Gabriel. Why didn't anyone tell me what a whirlwind motherhood was? Or maybe you did and I just didn't listen. Someone slipped it in when they told me to try to sleep before he arrived, right? I'm working on a blog post to parcel through all my thoughts and get yours. We are flying back on Thursday, and I'll try to put that together soon.

In the meanwhile, I hope that you are all doing well, and that everyone's mother's days were wonderful and sweet. Gabriel came through in grand style, and got me a lovely card that made me cry. A necklace too, but best of all, he's been giving me great gummy smiles and slobbery kisses and those are worth more than everything else combined.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

rrrrrrr... a parent bloggers review

Parent Bloggers Review

I grew up speaking Spanish. In fact, Spanish was my first language because my parents didn’t speak much English when I came along. I learned the little bits of English that they knew from them, and then learned more in school and of course, from television. I went through different stages during my childhood of refusing to speak Spanish or being embarrassed to speak Spanish in front of friends. When I was 10, though, we took a trip for 3 months to Argentina to visit all of our family and friends, and since then, I’ve been enraptured with the language. All of a sudden, I realized what being bilingual meant. Since then, I’ve worked to keep up the language, including studying there in high school, college and law school, each for a semester. I’ve tried to get back to Argentina whenever possible, and Josh even took an immersion trip to Costa Rica 2 years ago in the hopes that he’d be able to speak Spanish fluently in the future.

It appears that Gabriel is also working on being bilingual. At least, he’s been gargling and gurgling so much, that my mother in law asked me the other day if he was practicing rolling his r’s. I doubt that, but I certainly have been working to make sure that he will also grow up bilingual. And trust me, this is harder than it sounds. I have to remind myself constantly to speak to him in Spanish, even when Josh is around. I have also been buying books and music CD’s in Spanish so that when we read and sing together, he will constantly be exposed to the language.

When the Parent Bloggers asked me to review the Boca Beth language program, I was excited. Gabriel is still too young at 4 and a half months to give me much of an indication as to whether he likes the products, but I tried them out myself to see what I thought. The Boca Beth set that we received included a DVD called “I like animals”, music CD, coloring activity book, Boca puppet and maraca. All of these products come in a set that retails for $29.99.

The first thing we tried out was the musical CD, along with the props. I tried mimicking the songs from the CD with the Boca puppet. Gabriel was a fan, and I agreed that Boca was pretty cute, with bright colors and ease of maneuverability. The maraca was also a hit with Gabe, although his rhythm was a bit off. The CD had 15 songs that included phrases in both English and Spanish, often directly translated one after the other. The same song might include one sentence in English, followed by the same sentence in Spanish, or vice versa. The songs were catchy and not too long, and I was able to get through a few of them before Gabriel lost interest (not bad for a 4 month old, I’d say). I didn’t love the CD, though, mainly because I would have preferred a full song in each language, or at least a full section of each song in the different languages. Since almost every sentence was in a different language, I thought it could be a little confusing for a non-native speaker. I worry that it might not be totally clear whether each sentence is a repetition of the previous sentence in the other language, or whether it is just a continuation of the song. I did think the songs were fun for kids, though, and as long as you were clear on how the songs were structured, you’d definitely learn Spanish from the CD.

The DVD won me over, though. Gabe doesn’t watch TV yet, but when he does, I’m sure he’ll love the DVD. I believe that the best way to learn another language is by seeing language in context, live and in action, and that is what the DVD does. The DVD is interesting enough to keep a child’s attention, and included quite a bit of vocabulary and language. The DVD’s description boasted 200 vocabulary words and 85 phrases. Not too shabby for one DVD, that’s for sure. Animals are featured throughout, with their names in both Spanish and English, along with descriptive sentences in each language. I also loved the fact that Gabriel will hear grammar and other words besides just the names of the animals. I may even try to imitate that structure when I teach him other words in Spanish and English in the future.

The coloring book was cute, but definitely too old for a baby. I did show it to my 7 year old nephew and almost 4 year old niece, and they both seemed interested in learning the different Spanish words featured in the book. I was pleased to see that the products will apparently appeal to a broad range of ages. Once Gabriel is old enough to understand a little more, I suspect we’ll be using the whole set of products for quite some time.

My overall feeling about the products is that they will definitely come in handy if you’d like to introduce a foreign language to your child. Obviously, they can’t do it all by themselves, but the DVD and CD could certainly spark an interest in Spanish in your child. All the products appear to be entertaining for children, and I’d definitely recommend it to friends.

If you’re interested in checking out one of the Boca Beth sets, leave a comment on Parent Bloggers for a chance to win a free copy!