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?

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!

10 months… um, a bit late

Oh my, time does fly!!! And I can’t believe I haven’t even posted sprouts 10th monthiversary!!!

It’s getting harder and harder to take the monthly picture as you can see here:

Alex is so adorable at the moment. He’s becoming quite the social creature and loves to show off all his new talents :). He’s been cruising and walking holding on to one hand, but he’s very cautious letting go. He has already taken a couple of steps here and there and once he even took 5 all by himself (he usually does this when he wants to reach something he’s not allowed to… say, the camera 😉 ). I actually prefer it this way. At least it seems although he is VERY active, he won’t be completely reckless. He’s also started crawling properly recently and almost abandoned the combat style… unless of course he needs speed (to reach something he’s not supposed to).
Only problem we’re having at the moment is with his sleep. He still won’t nap in his bed for longer than 20 minutes even though he’s clearly sleepy. He’s to heavy for me to let him sleep in the sling, so I’ve been letting him finish his naps on my lap in his room. Not very practical, but I’m at a loss on what to do. I can’t get much done like that but I don’t want to let him cry it out so… Hopefully I’ll have a solution soon.

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!