Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's in a name?

The birthday of our new arrival is quickly approaching and friends and relatives are beginning to ask if we've picked out a name.  A simple "no" is not acceptable--the minimum response is a short-list of possibilities.

Our dilemma is the following:  we want a name that is easily pronounceable in both English and Spanish (this may sound silly, but my in laws still spell "Jennifer" with a Y!), not too common (I don't wish being identified in school as "Jennifer #3" on anyone), and does not end in an "o" (pet peeve as our last name ends with an o).

You'd think we were trying for the impossible!

And even when we figure this out (as with our little Victor), we have the problem of the middle and last names.  

In Spain, there are no middle names.  You will find nombres compuestos such as "Maria Teresa" or "Jose Luis", but then this is their name, and seldom do they go by Maria or Jose.  

However, in most of the world, there are traditional reasons for giving a child a middle name, and they are not just used to emphasize that you are in trouble or to fill out paperwork.  You can find a good, detailed explanation here.

The other issue is the last name.  I took Oscar's last name when we were married, but that is not traditional practice in Spain.  In Spain, you have 2 last names:  your first last name is your father's, and your second last name is your mother's.  The interesting thing is that you typically go by your first name and your father's last name, effectively "dropping" your second last name (except when filling out documentation).  This was fun for me when I lived there as people were constantly thinking my middle name was my last name, and dropping my real last name.

With Victor, our decision has been to give him his father's last name as we do here in the States, and hope we can fill out his Spanish documentation with my maiden name.  

So where are we now?

I'm happy to report that after going back to the drawing board several times over the past few months, I think we have a good candidate for the little guy....  

But, sorry folks, I'm not going to jynx myself by posting it until we're sure!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No me llames LENTEJAS!

One of the first "real" solid foods that Victor ate (after the rice cereal, veggie and fruit purees, etc) were lentils.  It was inevitable--my husband LOVES lentils (one of the comfort foods of Spain), and my son cries when he sees someone eating something he is not.  

Seriously, lentils are a fantastic food for babies:
  • super easy and fairly quick to make
  • you can make a huge batch and it freezes well
  • very inexpensive
  • rich in fiber, iron, protein
  • lend themselves to adding other veggies (carrots, garlic, leeks, etc) as well as yogurt
  • no need to puree as the lentils cook down to be very soft
  • pretty portable (OK, I'll admit that maybe this is an anomaly as my son likes cold lentils)
I've been pretty surprised as to the amount of questions I have received about making and feeding our babies and toddlers lentils.  Since I have received a number of requests for a recipe, I thought I would share our "base" recipe here:

1 package dried lentils
1 onion or leek (optional)
several cloves of garlic
3 or 4 chopped carrots
1 cube of chicken broth
any other veggies you want to add
any meat you want to add (we sometimes add chorizo, ham, bacon, or even chopped hot dogs)

In a big pot, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil.  Add chicken brothe and lentils.
At the same time, sautee your onion/leek and garlic.  Add meat (chopped) into pan until lightly cooked.  Add to lentil pot.
Let mixture simmer for a couple of hours (or if you have a pressure cooker like we do, 15 min) until lentils are soft.
Let cool a bit and puree (optional) to desired texture.

Que aproveche!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What to do about BOOKS?

We've hit a milestone!  Victor loves to be read to.  I have been waiting anxiously for this day, and it's finally arrived!  He will now hand me a book, sit with a smile on his face while I read it, (sometimes) clap at the end, and hand it back to me for another read.  Very cute.  Or, at least until I've read the same book 8 times, but that's another post.

There is something strange going on, though.  Naturally, we have books in both English and Spanish in our house.  Victor will sit patiently while I read an English book in English, or a Spanish book in Spanish.  He also loves hearing my husband read a Spanish book in Spanish.  However, if my husband (who has a great command of the English language) tries to read him an English book--either in English as written or translated into Spanish--game over!  Victor moves on and starts playing with another toy.  What's the deal?

I've tried to experiment and translate some of the more simple English books ("see the puppy run and jump") into Spanish and the same thing happens.  Does he know???

Which brought us to our most recent dilemma--since "in the house" is Spanish time, should we even be reading English books to Victor here?

For now, I will continue to read the books as written, and I've asked hubby to read books in Spanish unless they are dependent on being read in English (rhyming, alphabet books, etc). Once Victor gets old enough to ask/answer questions about the book, we'll do that in Spanish. 

A ver que pasa!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Learning Spanish through music

I first started learning Spanish through music. A girlfriend of mine loved Salsa dancing, but could not find anyone to go to the bars with her. She finally convinced me to come along and the combination of the music, dancing, and cute guys with accents got me hooked!

It wasn't too long before I was curious as to what exactly I was dancing to. I remember that I asked a friend of mine to translate Victor Manuelle's "Que Habria Sido de Mi", one of my favorite songs. There I was, with a huge grin on my gringa face, while Sr. Manuelle sings of how his heart was broken and smashed on the floor. It was then that I knew I either had to give up salsa dancing or learn a little Spanish.

Music and song is such a powerful thing that I couldn't wait to introduce it to my children. Little Victor is finally at the point where he will pay attention and sometimes imitate hand motions when you say a rhyme or sing a song. But I was completely lost when it came to Spanish kiddie songs.

With the help of my husband, we've been searching YouTube for some of his childhood memories. We've found "Enrique y Ana", a duo from the 70s (much like my "Donny and Marie"), "Los Payasos de la Tele", and my favorite: Rosa Leon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I think I'm in LOVE!

I was fiddling around with YouTube a few months ago and happened upon a cute little cartoon called Pocoyo ("little me"). Sooooo adorable!!!

Pocoyo can be found on YouTube in many different languages including Spanish, English, French, and Italian. My big disappointment is that it seems impossible to purchase the Spanish version on DVD.

If you love it as I do, check out or for more information