Pre-K Stepping Up

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at the end of this past june, nelson and i attended our little jonathan’s pre-k stepping up ceremony. he sang the cutest little songs and recited the sweetest little sayings. our hearts swelled with so much love and pride and suddenly a whole school year’s worth of struggles proved to be worth it. somehow we got through the first year of school.

What Mama Reads, What Baby Reads

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i am so honored to have the opportunity to give you a glimpse of what we read on danielle’s blog, miss verse. reading to our boys is so very important to us and i already see how important it is for my boys to have us read to them. we truly hope that love for books stays in them, till they’re reading bedtime stories to their children.

so head on over to my what mama reads, what baby reads post to catch up on what is currently in our reading books rotation!

Jonathan’s First Day Of School

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after denial, worry and then some more denial, jonathan’s first day of school arrived. i was suddenly freaking out. we’d had no orientation, i had no idea what jonathan’s school day would be like, where bathrooms were or even what class he was in! i tried my best to compose myself, but it definitely made this mama a nervous wreck inside.

nelson took the day off, my brother had arrived early in the morning and then my dad came just as we were getting ready to walk out. although it was warm and the midday sun was beaming down on us, jonathan insisted on wearing his sweater. zippered all the way up…the entire time! and despite having left 40 minutes early to take that leisurely walk and shoot plenty of pictures (in the way too harsh sunlight) jonathan kept rushing us by saying “let’s go, i’m late to school!”

once that was done, nelson tried to investigate and get some information out of these people. apparently the parents were supposed to come up with the kids on the first day! while i knew class was only going to be an hour-long today, i had no idea we’d be expected to come up. thank goodness that nelson, my dad and brother were there to take brandon, cause he would have wrecked havoc in that class. brandon had woken up way too early for his mama and papa’s liking, so we were contending with his sleepy, cranky, whiny self.

once the goodbye kisses were handed out, my boy and i held hands as we walked in together behind his teacher towards his classroom. we got the lowdown on the class schedule, bathroom rules, toured his super cute classroom and private playground. i’m all at ease now about this school business. but if jonathan doesn’t stop telling me that he’s going to go to school “but not with mami” i’m gonna pull him out of school faster than you can say “pre-k!”

oh, and while nelson came to pick us up from school on his own, my brother thought it would be a good idea to head down the block, too. with a half-naked baby….

and so begins a new era in this life as a mom. it feels as though i just birthed this little amazing baby into the world. back when “school” was this mystical, far-away and distant era no new mother should ever have to worry about. the protective fire in me tells me it’s wrong to send your child out into the world when you are not there to guide, care for and shelter them like you have for the past 4 years. it’s all so conflicting for me and i’m not yet sure what it all means. but i do know, he’s not mine. that right now, i’m not capable of being his all. and i probably won’t ever be again. maybe these are the baby steps to help me let him go completely one day. and i absolutely hate it.

but i also know, he’ll make me proud to be the one who had the honor of loving him so.

crazy, awesome custom fresh prince shirt by the talented passive juice motel. brooklyn, you won’t be disappointed. 

Ya-Ya!

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the past few posts/weeks have all been about little man jonathan. i assure you, brandon has not been getting the short end of the stick in anything, but my blog posts and instagram images have rarely starred him as of late. but don’t you worry, little brandon will be the star for a few weeks this coming in november. birthdays are special and magical, and i treat them as such.

one thing that can’t wait, not even until his 21st month grow post is my baby boys growing vocabulary. as you recall, i may have had some worries about his speech….or lack thereof really. but like i mentioned in his last grow post, things have been looking up. not only is my little man saying new words, he’s saying the words he used to used to previously say in english, in spanish as well! yup! every time a new word is uttered in english (both from brandon and jonathan) i feel a little bit defeated, but every time they learn that word in spanish or learn a new word in spanish my heart soars once again and faith in my “method” is restored once again.

yes, i want my children to be proficient in english. i want them to master it and use it to their advantage, but i also know that once they grow and find reasons to use it less and less (as they will, this is the united states after all) that i want to have laid as strong as a foundation as possible so that they can have spanish in their arsenal of weapons for this thing called life. and they’ll need it. this is the united states after all.

so here goes a little list of my littlest guys greatest accomplishment so far. brandon now knows that when someone is holding open a door for us, we say thank you. if i ask him to repeat it in spanish, for our spanish speaking neighbors he’ll say ya-ya (gracias) without hesitation. ya-ya. just like jonathan used to say. sets my heart a flutter every time. when we’re at home and pass him a toy, or place him in his highchair to eat, or give him his straw cup, he says ya-ya now instead of tent-you. this is my favorite part. he’s grasping the difference between the languages. he defaults to english outside our apartment’s front door. he defaults to spanish inside our home!

bass-you (bless you) is also getting the ol’ spanish kick when he sometimes says salu (salud) instead. other words that may or may not fit the bilingual bill that i’m still super proud of will make it to this post. his dash train is no longer a “toot toot” just like thomas and diesel, dash is da-ah. our friend super mario is da-u-wo. he’ll point to a dog and exclaim dah but he’ll pant right away when i say perrito. when i hand him juice he claps and says gu-go (jugo). banana (and manaza and uvas) are na-na-na and we say banana more often than gunieo when we speak in spanish, so i’m gonna add that to the spanish column as well. when i count 1 he continues too, tre (tres) another thing jonathan used to do as well; mix both languages up when counting. and when we continue 4,5,6,7 he continues eigh, nigh, te-eh. when he picks up a phone (or a remote control) to his ear he starts off ah-lo (when answering a phone we say halo [silent h] in stead of hola…….hmmmm….. weird….) and in the past week he started calling jonathan na-ño. disregard what i said earlier, this is my favorit-ist! (in ecuador, we loving call our brother or sister ñaño or ñaña more often than hermano or hermana)

there’s plenty of words missing and he understand way more than he talks, too. like seeing his bottle of che-che (leche – his first word after dada) and kissing us when we ask him to give besos. we all kiss each other goodnight before bed and we all get kisses from him before his nap – also when we wake up…….and a thousand times more in between….

so, yeah he still calls me dah-deeeee and on a good day, nah-ni, but i’m sure my heart will explode when he finally says mami and there will be new inspiration for another blog post on his vocabulary then.

The Lottery

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new york city’s universal preschool program is lottery based. you apply and wait for months to hear wether or not your child has “won.” i had been researching dual immersion programs for the past couple of years as well as the public school admissions process. with my list of schools in order of preference ready, i made sure to apply on the very first day preschool applications were being accepted. i knew i wouldn’t find out the results until june and hoped that i wouldn’t have to search for an alternate preschool program. but the day admission results came and it somehow managed to still take me by complete surprise.

i received an email telling me i could log on to check his status. nervous excitement ran through me. i wanted my husband to hear the news at the same exact time as i read them, so i called nelson at work and i read aloud the results once i clicked on the link. jonathan got in. to our preferred school. in our preferred pm program. we also received the same results in the actual mail. this was for real.

i called my parents and brother immediately after to give them the good news. everyone was ecstatic. we have been preparing for this. we’ve had discussions of schools and teachers and following instructions. he’s been enrolled in soccer classes since earlier this year, just to start getting him acquainted with a class environment. yet it still hit me. the what ifs.

soccer class is 45 minutes a week. and we get to sit in the sidelines. always with him.

what if he isn’t okay with me leaving him?
what if he doesn’t make friends easily?
what if his anger gets the better of him?
what if he’s not liked by his teachers?
what if him being so territorial gets him in trouble, time and time again?

this is my baby. i am sending him into some strangers care for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, when he’s always been with me, all this time. i’m going to miss him so much. and how did even we get here already, anyways? i was just nursing him and carrying him not too long ago. this really does all happen way too fast.

years ago when preschool was in the distant future, i had trouble thinking of when this day would arrive. the talk of preschool drove me to tears….the few times i ever even allowed talk of it. i hadn’t even let him sleep at my own mother’s house till just a few weeks ago. giving up the control over these 15 hours a week is going to be a big deal.

i know i have to learn to let go of my desperate need to be in control. i know the educational professionals will be able to handle him, teach him and that they’ll keep me in the loop of his life in school. and i know he’ll adapt. schools aren’t the enemy. and if i find that they are, there is always the possibility of trying homeschooling. (yup, i’ve done research on that as well.)

but now i’ve got to prepare myself for this. denial isn’t working anymore. these are the last few months of me having him all to myself. the little bit of baby he still has left in him will soon be completely gone. he’ll grow and mature and gain knowledge and make me proud. and i’ve got to make his transition as smooth as possible if we really want to give public education a real shot at working for our sons. but the end of these days will ache.

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i dreamt of long days and longer years with babies and cuddles and the feeling of being needed. that dream came true. except the years were way too short. i’m still working on being able to roll with the punches. this seems as good of a practice lesson as any. i must also learn to make new dreams, too. dreams for an excellent student who excels and accomplishes. and a new dream that he might sometimes remember back to when i was his all.

Espanglish

though i’ve been living in the good ‘ol US of A for pretty much my whole life, i am very proud of the fact that i was born outside of it. despite having lived here since i was 6 months old, my birthplace made my life a whole lot different. i’ve experienced first hand the blessing it is to be bilingual.

that blessing gave me the will to want to teach my children my 1st language. i wanted them to have that skill. i wanted them to have that piece of our heritage. i wanted them to feel confident about their identity. i wanted them to easily communicate with their all their family members. but it’s easy to forget some words…..phrasing…..so i felt i had to tackle that with teaching pure spanish at first.

it seemed an easy road to start on. when i only used 2-3 words at a time with my infant, it was easy to transition to saying those words in spanish only instead of in english. when things started getting a little more complicated with a toddler (i.e teaching him animals and realizing i had no idea how to say ferret in spanish) it was no problem downloading Word Reference on my phone to quickly [teach me] translate that. and even now that things are “hard,” there is no judgment coming from my preschooler when i phrase a sentence incorrectly, or if i cheat and use a word in english until i can figure out how to teach it correctly later.

luckily for me i was also pointed in the direction of Spanglish Baby which gave me more insight into this fascinating world of bilingualism. how it affects others, the different reasons others teach bilingualism, the different approaches to teaching it. it was good to know i wasn’t alone. i still chose to stick to my own way, because i knew it would be the only way i would stick to it.

now that brandon is choosing his words carefully, though, i’ve noticed that they’re all in english. jonathan only needs to see an episode of Daniel Tiger or hang out with his cousins for a couple of hours, to learn new words and phrases in english. he understands them, translates them and then starts using them all around the house. while i want him to learn english as well, it means the little guy is hearing me and his brother and his father end up talking in english. it doesn’t help the cause.

i think it’s time to get back to my sources to help me get my spanish groove back. it’s easy to end up speaking in english at the park, or at soccer class, or anytime they are around other children. it’s easy to speak to my husband in english right in front of our boys, because that’s they way we’ve always communicated with each other. it’s easy to forget to turn the tv back to SAP mode before turning on the children’s programming. just like it’s harder to find classic book translated well in spanish. and it’s hard to find educational apps in spanish. but spanish comes so easily to jonathan now and i want it to come that easily to brandon, too. so enough excuses. spanish immersion play groups are still a bit too pricey for us, but we can definitely get a spanish immersion household back again, with no money, just a little more hard work.

video of jonathan at 17 months old using the First Words Spanish app