Brothers

I can hardly believe it has been almost a year since we welcomed our second Sprout into our family. From the moment we decided to have a second child the doubts were plenty. Not about the actual WANTING another child, but how it would affect the family dynamics, especially regarding Sprout 1.

Brothers

Would I be able to love another child as much as I already loved Sprout 1? Would they get along? Would he be jealous? Could we dedicate enough time and resources to a second child? What would I do about breastfeeding (I was still breastfeeding Sprout 1 when I found out I was pregnant)? Is this fair to Sprout 1? And on, and on…

Of course, looking back now these questions seem almost silly. It’s amazing how these little ones fill our hearts so completely, yet there’s always room for more. My two sons are so very different, yet quite similar all at once. My sons’ relationship has grown. I think they both benefit from having each other, and they both love each other… most of the time.

Sprout 2 (10 months) is still at that stage of adoring his big brother, even when he gets knocked over! Sprout 1 (almost 4 years) has moments ranging from adoration to frustration and occasional spurts of jealousy when baby is getting “too much” attention (think milestones, like sitting, crawling, eating).

We’re into a good groove at the moment, but it hasn’t always been this way. I was surprised to find after Sprout 2’s birth that Sprout 1 wasn’t upset at the baby, but rather was upset at us. At me in particular, for a while. he was NOT happy with all the time I was spending with his baby brother.

We found ways to help him with his feelings and things got better as they got to know each other and as baby grew and became more responsive (smiles for big brother! giggles! chasing! yay!).

One thing I found helpful was giving him a doll to take care of. He would change diapers, burp, carry and even breastfeed (too cute!). We were also very open and explained why babies needed so much attention and how he was when he was a baby. We never denied him expressing feelings of wanting the baby to go back in mama’s belly, or insisted he loved his brother when he said he didn’t. Soon enough things fell into a new sort of normal.

I also found books to be a big help with the process, both for him and for me. Here are four books which really helped prepare the way and that he occasionally STILL asks to read.

Books for preparing the arrival of a new sibling

There's going to be a baby, by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury

This book is brilliant. It’s a conversation throughout the seasons between mother and son where they both imagine what baby will be once he’s big. Sprout 1 loves the scenarios and really identified with the little boy. I loved that the little boy expressed his negative feelings toward the baby, yet ends with a “Grandpa, we’re going to love our baby, aren’t we?”;  brought tears to my hormonal eyes.

What's inside your tummy mummy?, by Abby Cocovini

What’s inside your tummy mummy?, by Abby Cocovini

This book was recommended by a friend and it’s perfect for little ones to get a month by month picture of what is going on inside Mom’s belly. It consists of month by month 2-page spreads with tidbits about the growing baby along with real sized pictures of baby inside the “mummy’s tummy”. Sprout 1 loved to have me hold it up to my belly. It’s great for preschoolers who want to know the why’s and how’s, without too much information. It ends with a push and some information about newborns (referencing both breastfeeding and bottle feeding).

My New Baby, Illustrated by Rachel Fuller

My New Baby, Illustrated by Rachel Fuller

This picture book depicts many scenarios of what happens when baby is here. Lots of discreet breastfeeding images and side by sides of what baby does and what big sister or brother can do. Also pictures of going for walks with baby in a carrier. It gives kids an idea of how they can be included in activities with baby (helping with the bath, etc) and how activities like story-time and singing can include baby as well. A great little book for toddlers and preschoolers.

What baby needs, by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly, Illustrated by Renée Andriani

What baby needs, by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly, Illustrated by Renée Andriani

This book is certainly geared towards attachment parenting families. It has images of baby sleeping in a co-sleeper attached to the parent’s bed, being carried in a sling, breastfeeding, etc. It has little tidbits for the older sibling, and includes more than one older sibling, so good for families with more kids. Sprout 1 loved seeing familiar scenes and could relate to the parts addressing the older sibling’s feelings like wishing the baby would go away.

Raising Happy Brothers and Sisters: Helping Our Children Enjoy Life Together, from Birth Onwards , by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

Raising Happy Brothers and Sisters: Helping Our Children Enjoy Life Together, from Birth Onwards , by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

Finally, a book for the parents. I must admit I’m still reading through this as it covers before birth to adolescence, so I dip in as I feel the need. I researched many books on sibling relationships and from the reviews, this one seemed to be what I was looking for. It addresses the many stages of sibling relationships and family dynamics. The book is peppered with anecdotes from real parents, children and health visitors. It’s easy to read in short spurts (is it too much information if I tell you this book sits in our bathroom?) and is packed with sound advice and reminders of simple things we sometimes forget or overlook.

Do you have more than one child? Are you thinking about it? How have you handled it and do you have any tips or stories you’d like to share?

Online reads

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I hope you had a nice weekend, even with the cold, the fog and the snow if you’re reading from Brussels!

Here are some things I’ve been reading on the inter-webs. Feel free to add any other links you’ve enjoyed in the comments.

Activities for Kids and Parents in Brussels, over @cheeseweb – http://cheeseweb.eu/2013/02/activities-kids-parents-brussels-belgium/

Ages and Stages: Overstimultaion in babies – http://simplekids.net/ages-and-stages-overstimulation-babies/

A birth-story at St. Elisabeth in Brussels – This one is in French, but you can always use Google translate if you can’t read French. This is actually a very interesting project. Lots of birth stories from mums demanding a more humane birthing experience – http://moncorpsmonbebemonaccouchement.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/120-sylvia-bruxelles-2012/

You are your child’s strongest advocate – whatever their age @childhood 101 – http://childhood101.com/2013/02/you-are-your-childs-strongest-advocate-whatever-their-age/

Baby Signing – an Interview and a Giveaway!!!

20130109-232132.jpgToday I have a very special treat to kick off the New Year! Diana Siepmann of Our Mamas Rock has kindly agreed to an interview about signing with your hearing child and is offering one of our lucky readers a free spot on her upcoming e-course Understand Your Baby’s Thoughts – 5 Simple Signs that open the Door to Your Baby’s Mind, starting 28 January.</strong> We signed with Sprout 1 and it really is mind blowing how you can communicate with these little people so early! I will be doing so with Sprout 2 (now 7mo) and will be joining Diana’s class. Maybe I’ll “meet” you there? Read through to find out more about signing and you can find the details for the giveaway at the end.

 

Hello Diana, welcome to our corner of the Internet! I’m very excited about your e-course and this giveaway.

OMR logoDiana Siepmann

The first question has to be the inevitable WHY sign with a hearing baby?
Signing is the shortest way to clearly understanding your baby’s wants needs and interests and therefore to more confident, relaxed and fun parenting. It’s easy, doesn’t take much time and it’s lots of fun too. So let me return the question: Why would you NOT sign with your baby :)?

When did you start using sign language with your own children?
I started using sign language with my son when he was 8 months old. I would have started a little earlier, had I known about its magic before. I exposed my daughter to a few signs from when she was 4 months old but only really started when she was 6 months.

Many parents/grandparents are worried signing with a hearing baby may delay spoken language development, is there any truth to this?
30 years of research into signing with hearing children show that the opposite is true. Signing supports speech development and also enhances children’s literacy skills.

Just like crawling can be viewed as practice for walking, signing can be seen as practicing for speaking. I am an advocate of using sign language to support and complement spoken language and therefore teach to always say the words as you sign them.

My own experience with my son confirms the research results: Tristan had 32 signs and 6 spoken words at the age of 12 months. I stopped counting before he turned 18 months as his sign vocabulary had exceeded 100 and his spoken vocabulary followed suit with about 70 words (a mix of German and Dutch). The average vocabulary of a two year old is 50 words. From the age of two years, Tristan spoke his two primary languages in full sentences, and he soon developed quite an impressive English vocabulary as well (he sang the alphabet song in English when he was 2.5 years old).

In my free eBook Precious Gift – 12 Good Reasons to Sign with My Baby (available on www.ourmamasrock.com) you will find more detailed information on how exposure to sign language from an early age offers many advantages in terms of wealth of vocabulary and literacy skills.

Tristan-book-read-again for mum-n-more

Was there an aha moment when you discovered this really works?
Yes there was, it was the morning that my son started signing for his milk without crying at the age of 9 months. After waking up he would play in our bed for a while and then start crying for his milk. I consistently used this as an opportunity to use the sign for milk. One morning, that seemed no different from any other morning, he started crying and then stopped. He looked at his hands and I could almost see him think “hang on a minute, there was this thing that mummy keeps doing when she says ‘milk’, let’s see “’ and he vehemently started signing milk with both his hands (I use a one handed sign for ‘milk’). I melted away when I saw that and so did his daddy who had been very skeptical up until that very moment. The proud smile on my son’s face when I came back with his milk made this experience even more profound. Not only had he asked for his milk using a sign, he seemed to have realized that there is a way to effectively communicate what he wants.

I understand you’re signing with your new baby daughter as well. Do you notice her starting to sign earlier? Does her bigger brother sign with her as well?
I started signing with my daughter when she was about 4 months old and she started to sign actively at 8,5 months which is a little earlier than her brother. Her first sign came as a complete surprise to me. She chose the sign for “dog” which she had not seen much at all and certainly not very regularly. She is crazy about my parents’ dog and that was her motivation.

She is now 10 months and has a sign vocabulary of 15 words which is absolutely wonderful (watch her telling me about rain, light and bed time ); her 2 favourite signs are “dog” and “drink”. I can see her studying my hands very closely now when I use signs. Tristan will occasionally sign with her and he joins in when I sing and sign with Briana. Tristan and I also still sign ‘I love you’ when I drop him off at school, it’s our secret language there.

Briana signing drink

What drove you to start your own business around signing with hearing babies?
I am a marketing communications specialist by education and had worked in several marketing communications positions in various companies for over 10 years when my son was born in 2008. In my new role as a mum I felt the strong desire to find a more meaningful path professionally. Something that would allow me to make a difference while still having the time and flexibility to be the mum I wanted to be.

At the same time, I was so enchanted with how signing impacted communication and emotional bonding with my son, not to mention the fact that it helped reduce frustration for both of us in so many instances, that I decided to share this magical experience with other families. I started teaching live baby signing courses in Brussels (www.bizzybee.eu) in 2009. Requests from mums who were not able to make it to live classes and the birth of my daughter have triggered the idea for Our Mamas Rock online courses.

Has there been a most memorable moment since you started this teaching journey?
The morning that my son started to sign for his milk remains one of the most precious moments not only because it was the first time he was able to clearly communicated what he wanted but also because it confirmed that signing really does work.

Many lovely signing stories followed; some of the most memorable ones together with other mums’ stories can be found in my free eBook ‘Precious Gift – 12 Good Reasons to Sign with My Baby’ (available on www.ourmamasrock.com)

One of the most recent heart warming moments was how Tristan (aged 3,5 at the time) welcomed his baby sister into the world.

I had prepared Tristan, as well as I could for her arrival and he seemed very excited about her ‘coming out’ soon. Of course you never know how an older sibling will react until the moment of that first encounter arrives. We were quite sure that he would give her a warm welcome and I was curious to see what he would say or do.

When Tristan walked into the room, seeing his little sister in his dad’s arms, he decided to greet her with signing ‘brother’; sending shivers of joy down my spine. I asked him if he remembered the sign for sister which he didn’t but he wanted me to show him. Then he also signed ‘sister’ to Briana. What a sensitive little boy I thought.

I had explained to him that it will take a while until Briana will be able to speak. He had not used his signs much since he turned two because he mastered his two spoken languages well enough by then. Realising that his sister will not be able to speak, he’s been practicing his signs again in preparation for the big day.

You have taken your courses from the in-person format to an on-line format. How do the courses work?
My online formula allows mamas to follow the courses from the comfort of their home at a time that suits them while still making it very easy to connect with like-minded mums in Our Mamas Rock – Café (a private Facebook forum). I also encourage mums to find signing buddies in the Café and to connect with them via Skype to make it even more of a group experience.

The course material is delivered via my website; one module per week. Every module contains audio and/or video material as well as a list of activities and assignments. My first course is an introduction to signing and allows participants to get to know me as a teacher. In this course I focus on the key success factors of signing with your baby and therefore it is very much directed at the mums. Most of the material can be followed without baby present. I also include some fun sing and sign along activities which are of course for mum and baby. The course also includes a course workbook with a summary of the course content and a poster which helps with remembering to sign.

The courses are offered as group courses with a starting and an end date as I strongly believe that being part of a group is part of the success. Having said that, for mums who have not been able to complete the course work with the end of the course or who would simply like to keep access to the course videos, I offer Our Mamas Rock – Membership. As a member you keep access to the course material.

Can anybody sign up, anywhere in the world?
Yes, there are no geographical constraints. I do teach in English but signs can be used in combination with any spoken language.

When is a good age to start signing with a baby?
A good age to start is about 6 or 7 months. This is not only the time when babies learn to sit unsupported which helps tremendously with signing it is also the time when children will generally start using gestures naturally such as waving hello and good bye, clapping or raising their arms for wanting to be picked up. If a child is older when you start signing that’s absolutely fine too, even toddlers will still benefit hugely from signing and they will learn it much faster. Remember that the average active vocabulary of a two year old is 50 words; the passive vocabulary is multiple times that. So starting to sign can still make sense when your child already speaks a little as it will help turn the passive vocabulary into active vocabulary.

Are you still offering in-person classes?
Yes, I am still offering in-person classes too; these keep running under the umbrella brand Bizzy Bee. I am currently not teaching personally but have a Bizzy Bee Signing teacher who offers courses in Waterloo, Belgium. I will also start teaching again when my daughter is a little older and she can join me, just like my son used to do.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I am a happy member of a blended family: I am German, married to a Vlaming, we have a 4 year old son and a 10 month old daughter who adore their 25 year old brother and a 22 year old sister.

As I mentioned earlier, I have decided to quit corporate life to be able to look after my children myself while at the same time serving other families around the world. I love what I do and the heartwarming feedback I’m getting from mums who participate in my courses keep fueling my passion.

During my quest for a more meaningful professional path, I also trained as a Montessori teacher for children from birth to three years and qualified as a children’s yoga teacher.

I am a curious optimist, always hungry to learn and open to guidance from the universe.

Diana is offering a free spot on her upcoming e-course ‘Understand Your Baby’s Thoughts – 5 Simple Signs that open the Door to Your Baby’s Mind’, starting 28 January. In order to win, simply follow the rafflecopter link below. Giveaway is open worldwide until 22 January. Your child must be over 6 months on 28 January in order to enter. Winners will be announced 23 January.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you just can’t wait until the end of this giveaway to secure a spot on this course, Diana will be offering a special price to BxlSprout readers who sign up before 16 January. All you have to do is enter code Bxlsprout here (case sensitive) to get access to the ecourse for the discounted price of €29 instead of the regular price of €37.

Disclaimer: I have been offered a free spot on the course after inviting Diana for an interview. Regardless, I would be signing with my baby just as I had with my first and promoting her e-course all the same.

A new school year

Wow, a whole month has gone by since “la rentrée”. I can hardly believe it!
Things have been going quite well this year to everyone’s relief around here. If you’ve been following along, you may recall my struggle to find an adequate school we could afford, and, later on, having issues with the school Sprout 1 actually ended up attending. Well, we’ve finally found our school, and what a difference!

He’s attending a public school with a child-centred pedagogy and an active learning approach. It’s wonderful (albeit suffering from what most public schools suffer – older buildings and such) and Sprout 1 has been going in (and coming out) with a smile from day one. Only exception was a day when I was running a bit late (2min maybe) and he thought I was leaving him for the afternoon and without a lunch. Poor thing – cue mama guilt!

It’s been wonderful to be able to walk to school (he goes on his balance bike) instead of having to drive. And the peace of mind knowing he’s in respecting hands.

So what went wrong last year? Hard to pinpoint the main reason really. The teacher was definitely part of the problem, as she seemed to have absolutely no love for what she was doing. But I think it was more than that. He was too young in my opinion. 32 months is too soon to start nursery school, or preschool, or whatever you want to call it, especially in the format his former teacher was doing it, i.e. sit down, be quiet and do as told. It made me very sad, especially since we had so “carefully” picked his school (from the available to us possibilities) which was supposed to be project based, very environmentally focused, etc. I cannot stress how much more important it is to meet the teachers than the school director (Duh!!!). We came to learn the hard way that no matter how committed a school director is to this or that, ultimately it’s up to the teachers. Sure, they were working on projects… but it was really sad to see how little work the children themselves actually did on those projects. Sprout 1 would come home with something “he” made in school and proceed to inform us madame did this and that and all he did was add some dots or glue some stickers. Ugh. I even once saw her holding the kids hands, one by one, sticking an inked stamp in their little fists and pressing it to the paper. Never a good sign. I feel this has actually put him off to doing many art projects since. Sigh… When he would cry, the staff would just say stop crying and you are not beautiful when you cry, stop making a fuss. Broke my heart. Funny thing is, most parents thought this was ok and that it was actually a very good school with a caring teacher. Cultural difference maybe? Just goes to show not everyone is looking for the same things in a school.

Well, I’m glad to report this school is totally different. I am so happy about it, but most importantly, Sprout 1 is happy and looks forward to go to school each day. He gets to be a 3,5 old little boy, not just someone who has to be formatted into an obedient child whose creativity and personality is not respected.

Another issue other than age and bad luck with teachers that I’m sure played a big part was the language factor. Sprout 1 spoke English and Portuguese, but didn’t speak any French. It must be quite scary to be in a strange, uncaring place and not be able to communicate! Oh, my heart hurts just thinking about what he was put through… Poor thing. I did try really hard to get him acquainted with French, taking him to Les Maisons Vertes (which were great, by the way) story times in French, etc., but the big issue with being an English speaker in Brussels is that everyone is so keen to switch over to English once they realise it’s your mother tongue. It’s really very kind of people, but not so useful when you actually want to practice one of the country’s languages!!! I’m wondering what we can do about that for Sprout 2, although I’m sure his brother and friends will be some help in that department!

And on another note, see that backpack in the picture? It’s still the one I made him last year. I gave him the choice to get a new one and even let him pick from these really cool ones, but despite all it’s faults, he wanted the mama made one. Makes this mama’s heart sing. He did choose this lunchbox though, even though he isn’t staying for lunch yet.

How has the new school year started for you? Anyone else think 2,5 is too young to start preschool? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

What we’ve been up to

I keep writing posts in my head, but somehow they never make it onto the computer!
Well it’s been nearly a month since I last posted, so instead of making excuses, I’m just going to give you a little glimpse of some of the things we’ve been up to based on the pics I find on my camera.

First, someone turned 3 (I know I wasn’t going to post anymore face pictures if him, but couldn’t resist the birthday pic. Plus, didn’t get many photos that day because I was busy having fun)! And ended up having quite a big, mostly unplanned, birthday party. Sprout was a happy camper, and I think everyone who came was as well. There was no theme, no planned activities and, um, thanks to my forgetfulness, no party favors either since I forgot to hand out the homemade play dough “build a monster” I had prepared. I’m slowly still giving them out as thank yous as I run into people. And speaking of forgetfulness, I may or may not have locked us out of the house the evening before his b-day (leaving the key IN the lock from the inside, making it impossible to open with R’s key) which may or may not have resulted in us forking over €200 (!!!!) for a locksmith to open it in under 5 min (minus 2 hrs waiting time, of course)…

We had chocolate cake made by moi (nothing fancy, but oh so yummy – see pic above). I used this recipe for the cake, and this one for the icing (adding tons more cocoa powder to it to make it less sweet and more, um, chocolatey). Birthday boy approved and it quickly disappeared.

There was also a cardboard rocket-ship, partially finished, that I insanely made after seeing some biggish boxes heading for the recycling bin at the craft shop. You can’t waste cardboard, right? And since he’s been on an astronaut kick for ages (partially due to this book he loves) I decided to make it into a rocket-ship late in the evening. I totally expected it to fall apart with so many kids jumping in and out of it, but it’s still in our living room. maybe we’ll paint it and add the bottom “fins” or whatever they’re called. or maybe not. I already let him have a go at it with markers, pastels, etc. Let me know if you’d like me to share how I put it together. I don’t have pictures, but it’s fairly straightforward.

He also received many gifts, which we’re thankful for, but I have to figure out how/where to store so many toys. I usually rotate them, but don’t know where to store the out of rotation ones in our small apartment! Any ideas? We didn’t help by giving him a quite large wooden spaceship with many little bits… but we couldn’t resist buying it for him. You see, after Christmas we came across it at a shop and he wanted to buy it (it’s very, very rare for him to ask us to buy something). I explained it was a very big purchase, usually for a special occasion like Christmas or a birthday. So he hung on to that and would occasionally mention his “birthday spaceship”. He showed so much patience and self-control, we decided to get it for him. He plays with it every. single. day. Plus, it’s really well made – will last a looong time.

We’ve been having really grey, rainy, soggy, icky weather for about a month now, which means we’ve also been doing lots of indoor art projects and such. Speaking of which, I’ll soon have to write a post about the toddler (preschooler?) art group I’ve been hosting for over a year now.

In this photo we were doing contact paper (sticky paper) collages with feathers and tissue paper.

And we finally got around to planting some seeds! I hope to have a post on that as well *sigh*.

That’s some of the things we’ve been doing. What have you been up to this Spring?

The 100 languages of children

Today I’m sharing a poem I’ve come across recently (Sorry, can’t credit where. I tried looking but can’t find the original post.) and that’s been playing through my mind as we’re currently having issues with preschool. It’s been tough on Sprout, and on us as well. I honestly don’t know what the best course of action for this year is. Pulling him out of school brings along issues of its own, plus we otherwise have a hard time exposing him to French language sufficiently given we’re in a very International, predominantly English speaking milieu. It’s such a pity the schools I absolutely loved (namely Montessori and Roots and Wings) are either obscenely expensive or only English language.

The Hundred Languages of Children

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.

A hundred.

Always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.

The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

-Loris Malaguzzi
Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

A multilingual Sprout

This post is part of the Bilingual for Fun Carnival, hosted by Bilingual For Fun.

Shortly after Sprout started walking about a month ago, he also started to actually say some words. He has been saying “mama” for quite a while, although I’m not exactly sure he’s referring to me or just asking for comfort… He clearly says “papá” in Portuguese. Other words he says are “bye-bye” (said “baba” and referring to going out, not to people leaving) “ball” (“ba”) and “dá” (as in “gimme”, although he sometimes uses a similar sound to point “there”). He has said “tiger” (“tiga”) once referring to his favourite stuffed animal, and I’m glad I had a witness because otherwise I would’ve thought I dreamt it! Clearly he’s staring to speak English. Which is normal because he spends most of the day with me. However he does understand both fairly equal. In funny way sometimes! Like when daddy asks him to get his “sapatos” (shoes) to go out, he always gets daddy’s, but when I say get your shoes, he’ll bring his!

I’ve been asked many times what we are doing regarding languages. Both me and R are Portuguese, although I was born and lived in the US until I was 12 and am bilingual. It’s only natural we speak Portuguese to each other, although I must admit I mix in quite a lot of English, especially since Alex was born. Our arrangement consists basically of one parent, one language. I only speak English to Alex (although I have a hard time doing so around Portuguese speakers because I feel I’m being rude!) and Rod only speaks Portuguese. We both speak Portuguese to each other. Outside the home, he has contact mostly with English (both by native and non-native speakers) and French. I never worried much about him picking up all these languages. That’s one of the good thing about living in Brussels – it’s so multicultural. A real melting pot where it is quite common (especially among expats) to see couples with different cultures and languages with their children who speak various languages from an early age. Being bilingual myself, I know firsthand how it is to grow up with more than one language. I’m fluent in both, although at varying levels. For instance, I feel my English never really “grew up” once I moved to Portugal. On the other hand, I feel I can only express certain ideas adequately in English. I never considered writing this blog in Portuguese (although I did consider doing both). I think in both languages and I can switch easily between them. However, I also know my Portuguese wouldn’t be nearly as good had I not lived and studied in Portugal.

I’m really curious to see Sprouts language develop. Will he have my American accent? Will he have a French accent? I also wonder where he’ll grow up. We plan on staying here for the forseeable future, but not sure if that will be for life.
Considering the amount of parenting books I’ve read (I really should post about them!) it’s amazing I haven’t read anything about multilingualism. I’m thinking about getting this book. I’ve heard very good things about it. I’ve also looked for information on http://www.multilingualchildren.org/ and I’ve also been reading the blogging Carnivals on bilingualism. There seems to be more information out for bilingual children than for children with 3 or more languages, but I’ll keep looking! Please drop a comment if you have any good resources.

One year old!!!

Happy birthday little guy!!!! You have so changed my life this year…

I went from workaholic to stay at home mom in a blink. I discovered how unconditional and limitless love can really be. How much of myself I can really give. But best of all, I discovered YOU, this wonderful little person revealing himself day by day. How wonderful life is, how proud I am to be your mama. Happy birthday sprout! I love you!

Baby-led weaning…

or as we like to call it, baby led whining!!!! Ha, just kidding!

Well, anyway that’s what we’ve been doing. For those not familiar with blw, basically it’s following baby’s cues and rhythm for introducing solids and eventually weaning off breast (or bottle). It also means bypassing purées and mashes etc. (which we didn’t do entirely because the original plan  was for Sprout to go to daycare and since he wasn’t up for taking a bottle, we wanted him to get SOME food into him so he wouldn’t starve – didn’t work because he lost weight despite eating lunch….). So sprout joins us for meals (usually lunch and afternoon snack – dinner for him) and gets some of what we’re having, or something else if it’s not appropriate, and feeds himself. It’s really cool! And no, he has not choked. The cool thing with babies is that their tongue thrust reflex (what makes us gag) is closer to the front of the mouth than adults’ so they won’t usually choke on food as long as they’re sitting in an upright position and food isn’t put into their mouth. It’s interesting to see that anything he can’t handle will just fall back out of his mouth. It was a bit hard to watch without interfering at first, but he truth be told he rarely gags anymore. This ability in babies usually disappears if they are spoon fed, which is why some older babies have a much harder time handling solids.

I must admit though, he’s never been too keen on food. Likes to taste it but has hardly enough to call a proper meal, although he has been getting better. His favourites at the moment seem to be greek yoghurt, avocado and bread. And more bread. And then yoghurt… you get the drift! He’ll generally try anything though (which wasn’t the case with mash) except for sweet potato for some reason… I thought that was supposed to be a baby favourite… go figure!

He’s very proficient with a loaded spoon already… never misses his mouth, and is quite good at gumming his food, even the meat. It’s too bad I can’t seem to put video up on this blog because the pics alone do not do justice. I sometimes don’t really realise how much he’s eaten until it’s diaper changing time! I’ll spare you the details… let’s just say I’ve become an expert poop detective (oh! he DID have banana…wow… 😉 ).

If you’re interested here are a few links:

We have this book by Gill Rapely – a must read!! http://www.baby-led.com/

They have a great forum: http://www.babyledweaning.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby-led_weaning

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/startingsolids/babyledweaning/

http://community.babycentre.co.uk/a/search/groups?conds=baby+led+weaning&_requestid=3043247

It does create a mess, but there are a few things you can do to minimise it:

Other useful items (not for the mess):

8 and 9 months

Hello again… I thought I would have more blogging time, but I was wrong!!! I’ve been sooo busy and was away on holiday in Portugal for 3 weeks over Christmas.

8 months

9 months

Alex is now 9 months old and he’s wearing us out ;). All he wants to do is practice walking now and he always wants to hitch a ride with us. It’s so good to be at home full-time with him. I’m so certain this was the right decision. He’s such a happy boy! I’ve been busy out and about, with him and I’ve gotten around to sewing again! I’ll try to do another post later on with my projects.

Sprout is still happily being breastfed and BLWed. He cracks up laughing with peekaboo and hide and go seek. And he still HATES naps (there’s just too much going on to waste time sleeping).

Traveling with him (airplane and train) was fairly easy and he made friends wherever he went. He would just chat with everyone around him… too cute. It was great going to Portugal for the holidays. So many people I hadn’t seen in ages. he finally met my dad, his cousins and the extened family. My sister flew over with the kids for  few days between Christmas and New Year and it was great. Everyone was so generous with gifts to the little guy, I was touched. It was also nice to see him playing with (read: alongside) Claudia’s (not so) little girl. We had a wonderful time!