Monday, March 31, 2014

Citrus Lane Box: February 2014

Citrus Lane is a monthly subscription box for babies and young children. Every month the company sends three child-related products, plus one gift for mom or for the family. The cost depends on how many boxes you purchase at once, and what kind of discount codes you use. For example, the cost is normally $29 for one month, $24 for a month with 3 month plan, $21 a month with 6 month plan. You can currently use the code TAKE20OFF for a $20 discount on your first box. Hint: never  pay $29 for one box - you can always find a discount code. If you can manage 50% off every box, it is very much worth it. From what I can tell the quality of the products is consistently high.

You can sign up here: Citrus Lane

Here is a look at C's first box, from February 2014, to give you an idea of what comes inside. The boxes can vary depending on the age and gender of your child.

In this box we received:

Book: Starlight Sailor by James Mayhew and Jackie Morris ($15)

Plate: Ooogaa Silicone Bowl ($9)
Toy: 10 Boone Bath Tub Appliques ($11)
Mom: Juice Beauty Green Apple Age Defy Hand Cream ($12)

I looked up the approximate prices of the products on Amazon. So, after the 50% off discount, I paid $14.50 for $47 worth of products. That seems worth it to me. The book is beautifully illustrated, the bowl is microwave and dishwasher safe and the lotion smells like a fresh, green apple.

The foam bath tub appliques turned out to be our favorite part of this box. I like the design of the sea animals and the colors are chic. They stick to the tiles when wet and I rearrange them every time I take a shower. They even stick to C when she gets a bath. I have fun sticking them on her belly or her head.

The box is also great as a toy on its own, and to use again to wrap and mail gifts to the other kids in our life!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Pink Broom/A Vassoura Rosada

Every time C sees me sweep the deck, she grabs the other broom and tries to sweep too. Of course, a tiny person wielding an adult size broom is a chaotic scene and I worry she's going to hit herself in the head with the long handle. So I bought her a child size broom. Buying her such a domestic product doesn't bother me. I think it's a good way for her to learn chores - and I will be just encouraging of this if I have a son later on. But it did bother me that the only broom I could find was pink.

Why did it have to be pink?

I remember when I was a very little girl people would often ask me what my favorite color was. This seems to be a common question to ask young children, doesn't it? When I would tell people my favorite color was blue, people would often say - but that's a boy's color! From a very early age I was taught that some colors were for girls - pink, purple - and other colors were for boys - blue, red. And from a very early age I knew that, inherently, this was wrong. I never liked pink and I was a girl, so how could pink be a girl's color?

I was feeling a little bad about buying my daughter a domestic toy that was colored pink as if to say that only little girls would want to play at domestic chores....and then I saw this:

The tag shows a little boy playing with a broom! And not a blue broom, to mark that it was a boy's broom. He's playing with the pink broom. This instantly made me feel better and I thoroughly enjoyed watching C sweep the deck and her (pink) car. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Can you tell which is candy?

Uau! This photo really scared me. Just the other day C spit out a rock. I never saw her put it in her mouth, but I'm happy it came out. Little ones are so quick to put just about anything in their mouths - especially if they think it's candy. So be careful about your medications!

Also, I read this NYT article yesterday about the dangers of the liquid nicotine used for e-cigarettes: Selling Poison by the Barrel. I had no idea how toxic liquid nicotine is. They dye it bright colors and give it flavors like cherry and bubblegum - think how enticing that must be for a child. Just one tablespoon could kill an adult. Fun fact: nicotine is one of the potent naturally occuring toxins in the world. So, don't smoke or vape at all. But if you do, keep these products away from small children who might think it's candy.

Feed Me Words

An intervention program in Providence, R.I., uses a digital word counter to track language use in families, in an effort to close the “word gap” between children from low-income and affluent families. NYT Photo

Here is a really interesting piece in the New York Times: Trying to Close a Language Gap, Word by Word.  It covers a program in Providence, RI which aims to close the vocabulary gap between the children of the poor and wealthy. They use a device to count the number of words a parent speaks to their child, then they analyze the data with the parents and go over ways to increase positive language use: narrating activities, singing, games and even just finding opportunities for ordinary conversation.

The article profiles a Guatemalan family in Providence, noting that it doesn't matter if the language in the home is English or not. The goal of the program isn't to analyze English proficiency, it's to analyze the number of words being spoken in the household, in any language. Which is good - it recognizes that the Spanish spoken the this family's home is of value to the daughter. 

The article reminded me of the This American Life episode about the Harlem's Children Zone. The intro to that episode gives a good summary of the kind of research findings that went into the Providence Talks program. It would be an interesting listen/read for those interested in language aquisition and the lifelong impact it has. Transcript Here:  This American Life: Epidsode 364 

The comments under the NYT article are interesting too. Some people find the program a great way to act on the research about the impact of language-use in the home. Others found it condescending to the poor, as if they don't know how to speak to their own children already. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Music in Black and White

It's a fact that babies like black and white images. While most people are painting their baby's nursery pastel pink or blue, babies are actually much more interested in contrast - black and white, or primary colors. You might notice that may companies now make baby toys with black and white checks or stripes.

 In the beginning, infants can see mere inches away from their own face and their vision is blurry. Images of high contrast give babies something to focus on. Perhaps that is why C was so enraptured with Beyonce's Single Ladies video as an infant? C has very good taste in music and she still loves music videos in black and white. Below are a few of her international favorites:

English: Beyoncé - Single Ladies (I mean, yes it's sexy, but it's a lot more baby-friendly than Drunk in Love)

French: Banda Magda - Amour, t'est là?


Portuguese: Sara Tavares - Balancê

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Word Count: 16 months

C is at 16 months now and her language abilities are exploding! Every day I catch her saying a new word - of course, that word is usually in English.

English Words of the Week:
More! (while making the sign for more, decidedly NOT saying "Mais!")
Apple (for newly discovered pineapple)
Happy (thank you Pharrell!)
Hameer (for our horse, Sameer)

Portuguese Words:
Agua is still going strong over Water. We recently went to Cascades Park, where they have a beautiful waterfall fountain and she pointed directly to it and said "Agua." To all my delight.

Aqui, she now runs around the house going "aqui! aqui!". I don't really know if she knows what it means, but I do say it a lot when we read books asking where different objects are.

Amor, while I do call her "Amor" sometimes, I think this is more because she REALLY loves the song "Amourt'es là?" by Banda Magda. So, I think she is running around saying "Amor" because she wants to hear that song, or it is playing through her head.

Mamãe and Papai, I don't know how this got started. I was happy that she called me Mamá, with the correct accent. But now she is calling us Mamãe and Papai and it is the sweetest thing ever.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Coca Cola: America Is Beautiful Ad 2014


There are some parents who purposefully do not teach their children their heritage langauge because they fear it will prevent them from being accepted as fully American. If you look at the ugly comments and tweets surrounding Coca-Cola's "American is Beautiful" Super Bowl ad, you'll see that these fears are in reaction to a very ugly, xenophobic side of America.

But let's not focus on the ugly. I hate being in the position of defending a big corporation like Coca-Cola, but I have to say the ad and song really are beautiful. There are seven young girls singing "America the Beautiful" in seven different languages: English, Spanish, Tagalog, Hindi, Hebrew, Keres, French. *Keres is a Native American language - which makes all the "Speak American" rants even more ridiculous. All the girls singing are American and speak English. And they are adorable.

Along with the multilingual song there is a montage of a multiracial, multicultural America. This is what I want my daughter to be a part of. This is why I want my daughter to speak Portuguese. She will be raised a proud American, no doubt. But she will also be raised to understand there are other, amazing cultures out there that are worth knowing about.

English is not under threat. Even if some adult immigrants never do learn to speak English, their children certainly will. It would be wonderful if those children also retained their heritage langauge. Having a new generation of bilnguals could only enrich our country. I wish more Americans could see it that way too.

Related Posts:

Posts on Language
Collection of English Only Fails

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bom Carnaval!

C at 15 months playing with beads and a boeuf gras, Mardi Gras 2014

As we used to live in New Orleans, Mardi Gras has become a part of our emotional calendar. As we don't live in New Orleans anymore, not being there at Carnaval time is about as sad as being away from your family at Christmas. It just hurts.

We spent two Carnaval seasons in Luanda, which has nothing on New Orleans, but at least we got the day off work and a parade. But spending this time of year in Tallahassee is kind of the worst. No one in Tallahassee even knows it's a day unlike any other Tuesday. It makes me think of that inane Christmas song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" I walk around all day thinking to myself, "Do they even know it's Mardi Gras? Poor souls, they don't even know!"

Thank God for Publix! They have been making King Cakes the last few years, which makes me feel a little better about my homestate's cultural awareness. I brought one into my office on Lundi Gras and had to beg my co-workers to eat some - most of my female colleagues are on "diets". That's ok, I would say. Just start your diet on Wednesday, when Lent begins. I had to eat three pieces of it myself.

We did dress C in her crawfish onesie and let her play with some beads and one of the many boeufs gras I caught at the Rex parade a few years ago. Our church has a Mardi Gras dinner every year, so we took her there. But of course, it just isn't the same. One year soon we will take her somewhere with a real celebration like New Orleans or Rio or Venice. Most likely, just to Mobile.

Being in New Orleans changed us, and even though C hadn't been born yet, or even conceived of when we were living there, our time there will have an impact on her life. What I loved most about living there was how the city ran on an ancient calendar where Janaury 6th meant the beginning of this special season, and it swept you up along with it. Even being away from the city, we feel ourselves apart of these traditions, and C will learn them too.

The Luso-phone world has an ancient Carnaval tradition as well, and if she is to speak Portuguese, this is something she needs to know about. I don't want her to be simply bilingual, I want her to be bicultural as well. To understand that there are worlds outside of Tallahassee, and that to make Tallahassee a better place, you need to bring those worlds into our orbit - or hook our orbit to theirs.

C at 3 months, playing with the same boeuf gras, Mardi Gras 2013

Related Posts:

New Orleans Posts
Mardi Gras Posts
Carnaval em Luanda

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Word Count: 15 months

C recently had her 15 month check-up with the pediatrician. He asked my husband to give an estimate of how many words she knows. He sent me a text message asking me to write out my list, while he wrote out his in the time it took them to weigh and measure her.

Here's my list, in the order that she first began to speak them:


dada (which seems to be for both of us, even as she uses mama and papa to distinguish us)
uh-oh (for when she drops something, is about to drop something, or when she sees me drop something)
Vovó (my mother)
Nana (my husband's mother)
bappy (for bottle)


mama (for when she wants to nurse)

So, you can see how the Portuguese is going. I guess it is to be expected when I am the only one speaking to her in Portuguese. I'm a little sad about this - and then I feel silly, because I should be excited for every new thing she is learning!

Those lists are just the words that she speaks, and speaks without prompting. The two Portugeuse words she says are because I am usually the one to take her outside in the morning - and from December through February I have been shivering and saying "Epa! Está a fazer FRIO!" Now she will say "frio" if she touches ice or when someone changes her diaper. And she says "agua" because I am usually the one to give a bath, and I say "agua" as I drip it down her back. It's always warm water, (by the way).

But no matter how many times I show her a duck and say "pato" she still says "duk". 

I guess I could count mamá, papá and vovó as Portuguese words. She really gets the accent right. So much that I know when she is saying "mamá" for me, versus "mama" because she wants to nurse. And when she really wants to be cute she will say "papa, papai, papi" while trying to wake up my husband.

Words that she understands, but does not yet say:


She understands everything. If we talk about brushing teeth, she touches her teeth. If we talk about food she starts to squeak for food. We really have to watch ourselves now.


tchau - she will wave, and maybe say something similar to tchau, but prefers "bye"
beijo - she will give a kiss on command, if she feels like it
abraço - she is much more generous with the hugs
mais - she signs for more, but does not yet say "more" in English or Portuguese
fofa - she knows that's something we say just to her

It's a work in progress! Every day she says something new - really, this list is already outdated. I think I'll update the word count once a month or so.