Thursday, May 29, 2008

cars out, buildings in

Jove has seemingly lost almost all interest in zooming cars, trucks and trains all over the place and his new passion is making buildings.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lessons learned

Jove and I have been planting our garden and I have been enjoying it more this year than ever before. Jove has a plot of his own and he has been planting every seed he can get his hands on, even an avocado pit and garbanzo beans, neither of which are supposed to grow here, but we'll see what happens. Everyday we check on our sprouts, weed and water.

In the past I have planted mainly seedlings and this year we planted seeds, except for tomatoes, arugula and parsley. We have basil, beans, sweet peas, carrots, cilantro and a bunch of flower seedlings coming up and I have been humbled by my little seedlings.
Most of the heirloom pole beans we planted didn't come up, only three out of probably 15 seeds. I figured out that I poked the holes too deep and the seedlings died before they could poke through and get sunlight. As we were preparing the soil to plant some more I found one that was trying to emerge, almost dead, and I saved it (evangelical gardening!!). We have planted more and we hope our Jack and the Beanstalk section of the garden comes through for us.

The carrot seedlings look a lot like grass seedlings which are one of our predominant weeds. I couldn't remember where we had planted the carrots and one day I spent a LONG time weeding Jove's basil section, unknowingly, so that only the grass was left. A couple of days later, when his real carrot seedlings appeared on the other side of the garden I realized my mistake and had a huge chuckle. I am sure the grass appreciated being treated as a wanted plant for a day. Then I thought, "did I pull out all of the basil seedlings thinking they didn't look like the grass?" My gardening guardian angel appears to be working overtime and the basil has survived my crazy weeding.

All of this made me realize that two things are important when you are gardening from seed: follow the instructions on the seed packet (duh!) and use markers when you plant so you will remember where you planted everything. Today we put our markers in. I wrote the name on a small piece of white paper and we covered it with packing tape and attached a popsicle stick. Jove stuck them in and I was impressed with him knowing what everything was.

We have a garden journal for Jove with a map of his garden and we taped in samples of all of his seeds. As stuff grows more and we harvest I hope to include drawings, his commentary and some photos. We have been reading some inspiring books for little gardeners:

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss (illustrated by Crockett Johnson of Harold and the Purple Crayon fame)
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Elhert
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

One of the things that I love about the garden right now is the baby cilantro. Cilantro has these feathery, wide leaves and I wasn't sure how big the plant would get before it would throw out its characteristic leaves and I was thrilled when the second set of leaves came out in true cilantro fashion. We get down close to the plants and I feel like I am in a miniature cilantro forest.

The other thing I love about the garden right now is our small strawberry patch. We have a lot of little green strawberries out there and I will be so excited when they get ripe. Jove wanted to plant blueberries and I promised him one day when we have more land we will.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

do try this at home

Jup and I have been doing a lot of science experiments with Jove lately and we have created an experiment "monster." All Jove wants to do is mix things together to see what happens. I am glad he is so excited about science (truly), but sometimes I have to set limits, like only two experiments today or wait until after dinner. I also have had to do some research just to keep up with him. Almost all of my tried and true kid science activities have been exhausted. We have been checking kits out of the science museum's library and Jup brought home a kid chemistry kit from work.

We had a pleasant surprise a couple of days ago when we mixed together dish and hand soap, some food coloring, and a little water. I know you're thinking, "Ah, soapy, colored water..." But, it was the best bubble liquid ever and we used a straw to blow into the liquid and made a ton of bubbles. And, then we figured out if we stuck the straw into an existing bubble we could make it really big or blow another small bubble within it. It was a lot of fun for me too and Jove was all smiles. We had seen a bubble show at the science museum last month and he said we were just like the bubble man.

I am going to be ready to write a science activities book for kids by the time we are done.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Enjoying my two favorite things

As Mother's Day passed, I felt so content that I got to spend the weekend enjoying the outdoors with my family. Jove, Miranda and I went to the Botanical Garden last Saturday and played in the blooming lilacs, dug for worms in the family garden and hiked through the forest. Watching and hearing Jove be so excited about nature is one of my true joys. Miranda is starting to get her hands and feet wet in the natural world. She likes to be down on the ground, picking plants and getting dirty; and she loves animals.

On Sunday, we all went to a local nature center and preserve to wander around. I am doing better with letting go of my fears and letting Jove climbs on rocks, which there are a ton of out here in the Northeast. It was a beautiful Beech-Maple forest with a lake, a stream, a frog pond and a lot of small spots to stop and enjoy.

Happy Mother's Day to all my mother friends and to the mother in all of us women, whether or not we have kids.

Monday, May 5, 2008

good news

I found out today that my request to have the entire year off next year has been reevaluated and they are going to give me the leave. I am so relieved. I don't have to go back to the classroom until the fall of 2009. My job will be held. Jove will start Kindergarten that same fall. Miranda will be 2 1/2 years old. I am so grateful for this time with the kids.

Dreaming in Spanish

Something very exciting has happened in our house in the last month: Jove is speaking Spanish!! Not just a word or two and not only when requested. He busts out with long, complex sentences, answers in Spanish when you address him in Spanish and asks what a word means if he doesn't know. I am thrilled. It seriously seems like a switch was flicked on and all of the exposure and experiences he has had his whole life have finally created true bilingualism for him.

Jup and I's approach to Jove's bilingualism has shifted and changed since he was born and I had been wondering how it would turn out (not that it is over now!) There different types of bilingualism (passive and active) and we definitely wanted active which means to initiate and contextualize the language and not just understand it when spoken to. I feel like maybe he just had to mature cognitively to sort out all of the language input he has received over the years.

Jove heard mostly Spanish his first year of life, from both of us and his caregiver. When he was going to have to be in an English-speaking daycare, I started to talk to him in English so he would know what was going on. Jupiter continued to use only Spanish with him. When he began talking, it was almost completely in English with only a few Spanish words, but he has always understood all of the Spanish that was spoken to him. Recently, I have been doing a lot of singing and reading in Spanish and using only Spanish in the house for the two days a week his abuela is here and Jup continues to speak only Spanish to him. He still has a much richer vocabulary and less errors in English, but I feel so happy that he is on his way.

This whole process has made me reflect on my own path towards bilingualism and I so wish that I could look back in time at myself speaking Spanish when I was younger. Needless to say, I know a lot more now and I am continuing to learn words almost every day by reading to Jove. There are so many words that aren't really taught in a foreign language class and never come up in everyday conversation, like beaver (castor), bricklayer (albanil), chichon (bump on your head), etc. See what I mean... How do you measure bilingualism anyway?? I can talk to anybody about almost anything in Spanish, but it would be difficult for me to write an insightful research paper in Spanish. Maybe I'm like a socially mature seventh grader in a Spanish-speaking country.

Jove and I are going to keep working on our Spanish over here.