August Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism

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.

Worldwide Culture Swap: England! (Group 88)

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...:)

Worldwide Cultural Swap from Oregon, Florida and Ohio.

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.

"Mommy I know Spanish!"

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.

Embracing Your Roots and Culture

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

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!♫♫♫
Little one and Papi

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.

Our Beloved Coquí/Nuestro Querido Coquí

Just a month before the school year ended. My son's school celebrated "Week of the Young Child", and his teachers asked me to read a book to his group (of 3 & 4 yr. olds) at school during their story time session. Of course, I said, "Yes!" They asked me to read something in English/Spanish or typical of our Puerto Rican ethnicity, so I chose to read a book about our beloved coquí from Puerto Rico.
The coquí is a very tiny tree frog only about one inch long with a high pitched voice. It is only found in Puerto Rico* and it is the island's mascot. The coquí's skin is translucent. However, some look green, brown, and yellow. The coquí begins to sing "co-quí, co-quí, co-quí" when the sun goes down and it doesn't stop until sunrise.
The book that I chose to read is Everywhere Coquis!/¡En dondequiera coquies! by Nancy Hooper. It is divided in two parts, one side the story is in English, and when you flip the book to the other side you can read the story in Spanish. It's a beautifully illustrated book with a simple story line perfect for 3 and 4 year olds.

This story is about the coquies that live in the rain forest, and how annoyed the birds are at the chirping noise at night. They are on a quest to find that bird (which in reality is a coquí) to chase them out of the rain forest. The coquies are in fact everywhere on the island, and they can't seem to find them.  This is a beautiful cultural book with vivid illustrations of "life" in Puerto Rico, and how beloved this tiny tree frog is.
For my story time session, I printed some coloring pages of the coquí, and I even downloaded the coquí's song audio to my android! The kids loved this! Since it wasn't just me reading the book, but they listened to an actual coquí sing. During story telling, instead of reading, "coquí, coquí, coquí" I would simply pause to play the coquí song from my phone. The children were thrilled with there "ooohs" and "aaahhs".
I'm hoping that the pre-schoolers learned a little about the coquí from Puerto Rico and know how much we love our beloved coquí. Now I do have to say one little girl told me she knew about the coquí because of Dora The Explorer. {Smile!}
At the end of the day, I was happy sharing a little about where we come from, and more so that my son was very happy and excited that Mommy read a book during story time at his school. He said, "Momma, you're going to be a teacher now!" How sweet!
*Coquíes can also be found in the Island of Hawaii you could read more about this here.
Justo un mes antes de que terminara el año escolar. En la escuela de mi hijo celebraron "La Semana del Niño Joven" y sus maestras me pidieron que leyera un cuento al grupo de niños y niñas (de 3 y 4 añitos)durante su sesión de lectura de cuentos. Por supuesto, que les dije que sí. Me pidieron que leyera algo en Inglés/Español o de algo típico de nuestra etnicidad Boricua (Puertorriqueña), así que decidí leer sobre nuestro querido coquí de Puerto Rico.
El coquí es una pequeña ranita de árbol que vive solamente en Puerto Rico** y es la mascota de la isla. La piel del coquí es translucente. Sin embargo, a veces se ve verde, marrón o amarillo. El coquí comienza a cantar "co-quí, co-quí, co-quí" durante la puesta del sol y no deja de cantar hasta el amanecer.
El libro que escogí para leer es Everywhere Coquis!/¡En dondequiera coquies! por Nancy Hooper. Está dividido en dos partes, en un lado está el cuento en Inglés, y cuando lo virás al revés ves el cuento está en Español. Es un libro bellamente ilustrado con un cuento sencillo y perfecto para los niños/niñas de 3 y 4 años.
En preparación para la sesión de lectura de cuentos, yo imprimí hojas sueltas para colorear del coquí, y hasta bajé en mi android (celular) el audio de la canción del coquí." ¡A los niños/niñas esto les encantó! No solamente estaba leyendo el cuento del libro, sino que ellos podían escuchar a un coquí de verdad. Mientras leía el cuento, en vez de leer, "coquí, coquí, coquí" yo simplemente pausaba para tocar la canción del coquí de mi celular. Los niños/niñas estaban emocionados con sus "ooohs" y "aaahhs".
Espero que los niños/niñas pre-escolares hayan aprendido un poco sobre el coquí, y que ellos vean cuánto amamos a nuestro querido coquí. Ahora bien, una niña se me acercó y me dijo que ella ya sabía sobre el coquí gracias a Dora La Exploradora. {¡Sonríe!}
Al final del día me queda la satisfacción de haber compartido un poco de dónde venimos y más aún cuando mi hijo estaba feliz y emocionado que su Mami había leído un libro en su escuelita, y me dice, "¡Mamá, ahora tu vas a hacer una maestra!" Que dulce mi niño!
*Los coquíes también viven en la Isla de Hawaii, pueden encontrar más información aquí.