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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Poor

For the littles (or maybe I should say little because G has yet to appreciate the finer points of read-alouds), my very favorite book is this one.  It's not new, and I don't think it has won any awards, but I love it fiercely.  And so do the rest of my children.


It's true, I adore the words, but I find that the personality of the book shines through in the illustrations.  I love that they realistically portray the messy, raucous life of a large family.

And I'd really like to live in the Peters' house.

 Really.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Poor Revived

I love posting about books--hey, we own scads and read even more.  My intention is to make this a weekly thing, but we'll see.

Here's what the big kids have been reading lately.  I have been collecting this formerly-out-of-print series for the past few years.  Whenever I see a volume or two at an antique shop, I pick one or two to buy.  I read a few in elementary school, but I have mostly been a sucker for the covers.  Aren't they great?  Kitschy and colorful.

At any rate, this family of sleuths has provided no end of entertainment for my big kids.  I love that there's a pre-pubescent arch-nemesis (Joey Brill) whose worst crimes include knocking over and breaking plates, and "driving" the Hollisters' car.




I said formerly-out-of-print because up until two years ago they were. Thanks to Amazon's CreateSpace Independent publishing platform, the family of the author is reissuing all 33 of the Happy Hollisters books.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Z or G?

Two different pictures, taken eight and a half years apart.  






Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On the Importance of Godparents

Before a few Sundays ago, I hadn't given much thought to just how important and influential godparents (or, Nounò and Nounà in Greek) are supposed to be in the Orthodox Church.  It was, after all, Godparent Sunday at our parish.

M's godfather and family have been attending a different parish lately, and we see them less frequently than we'd all like.  So when M's Nounò arrived halfway through Orthros, it shouldn't have surprised me to see M run full tilt from the chanters' stand to the narthex to give him a huge bear hug.  But I was surprised, until I remembered that M gives his Nounò a bear hug every time he sees him.  That's when it began to dawn on me what a special place a godparent should occupy in the life of his or her godchild.


The Children's Ministry had set up a craft for godparents and godchildren to do together after Liturgy.  T's godfather asked T if he'd like to go do the craft together, and T proudly went with him.  Nevermind that T's Nounò was the only godparent at the table and T was too young to even help with the craft.  I don't know who looked like he was enjoying himself more: T or his Nounò.  And the sweet message that T's Nounò wrote on the back of the icon they made together will forever remind me of the joy that such a simple activity brought to both of them.  Since T talks about his godfather all of the time, the icon can also serve as a concrete example of time they have spent together.



Sadly we live across the country from Z's godparents.  Still, we find little ways to stay in touch.  Z's godmother has responded kindly to every letter that Z has sent her.  Z treasures these little notes and saves them in a special, secret place.  And I try to respond to all of Z's questions about what her godmother is like--it helps to see pictures of the cakes she's decorated(she's pretty talented!) and her children on Instagram.

All of this is in the front of my brain these days, as we prepare for little G's baptism.  I'm so excited to be expanding our Orthodox family once again, and once again, I love and admire the godparents we have chosen.  We are terribly blessed to be surrounded by heroes in the faith for our growing family--people we see regularly who possess so many spiritual gifts: faith, generosity, humility, patience...  I could go on and on.

What a blessing we have so many nurturers for our precious little souls!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Month 2: Learning Curve


If the first month of G's life was filled with "settling in," the second has been a learning curve.  My learning curve.  I had so much wonderful help in December and the beginning of January that I liken the time to a honeymoon.  Now that we're back into the rhythm of our days I'm relearning how to exit the house with an infant and toddler: what to pack in the diaper bag and just how early we have to start getting ready to be on time.  Whew!

B is working harder than ever to crank out his dissertation.  And chant at our parish.  And teach Greek lessons.  And be a good father.  Whew! for him, too.

Z has slipped into the helpful older sister role without much fanfare, but, oh my, is she ever a help!  She managed to get a very stubborn T safely from the car to the grocery store this afternoon, something that I couldn't have accomplished without tantrums.

M is enjoying more freedom than ever before.  In addition to a little girl who lives across the street, he has found playmates in our neighbors-across-the-hall.  There are two boys living there, and they have Nerf battles outside on the weekends.

T is going through a trifecta of transition.  He has given up naps and his pacifier, and is working on the whole potty-training ordeal.  (I use the word "ordeal" because today was a particularly trying one.)  Nana and Papa, T got the full dose of the hammerhead gene, and LOUDLY protests if anyone tries to help him do just about anything.  Sadly whatever he wants to do most by himself, like drive the car, is either beyond his ability or against the law.

Lastly, there's G.  G, with the super sensitive Mama-dar, looks like he's going to be as active as his big brother M.

In crafting news, I am jeeeeest about finished with B's vest.  There's some fabulous new yarn on my shelves motivating me.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tips for Raising a Bilingual Family

Obviously I'm not an expert, and I'm not even bilingual myself.  Yes, I'll admit that I understand more Greek than I let on, but my husband, B, is the driving force behind the languages in our home.  Here are some of the easiest things to do to raise a bilingual family, things I've observed in our eight and a half years of raising our children to speak two languages.


1) Commit to it.  Really.
When B is determined to do something, he does it.  I love that about him.  He decided, probably long before our children were even thought of, that he wanted to raise a bilingual family.  He settled upon Modern Greek because it was the language he knew best. B also knew that the grammar and syntax of Greek would prepare our kids' little brains to learn other languages, like Latin, Russian, or German, in the future.

2)  Begin at birth.
B remembers feeling quite silly speaking Greek to Z in the hospital just after she was born.  After all, he's not Greek.  He had no idea what to say to her, and his Greek was decent, but not spectacular, when she was born.  Still, he persevered, and her Greek is fluent now.  So is his, for that matter.

3) Read together.  Books in the second language are a luxury and not a necessity.
One of the best bits of advice B received from a veteran bilingual parent was to translate simple English books into Greek as he read them.  No access to books in Tagalog?  In Swahili?  No problem!  Take something like a Spot book (in English) and read it aloud in Tagalog, or Swahili, or whatever you please.  The child won't know the difference.  At first, B wrote the Greek underneath the English words, but now he can translate on the fly.  Of course, that can get annoying with more complicated books.  Our kids have a group of books that are "daddy only," and a group that are "mommy only."

4) Insist that the child address you in the chosen language.
At some point, every child will try to get away with answering questions in their dominant language.  When our kids speak to B in English he pretends like he can't understand.  If the child persists, like T is right now, B asks the question again and then provides the vocabulary for the child to answer in Greek.  This is definitely making for some comedy as we guide T toward fluency.  He either mixes the languages, addresses B in English with a Greek accent, or uses a wacky Greek accent to speak Greek.  To us it's hilarious.

5) Find a community.
We found that having other people, especially children, to speak to in Greek cemented the knowledge in our children's heads.  We visited Greece when Z was three, and I could see her reaction as the lightbulb went off in her head: "Oh!  I can converse with this little random child at the playground!"  Since then, we have enrolled our children in Greek school, and we have "Greek only" playmates.  Now that the playmates are school-aged, we hear a lot more Greek and English mixed.


B's number one tip?  

Just start talking.