Starting today, I'm going to make my blog a little less random and more related to observations I make about Claire's language development. Since I am a mother full-time now and no longer in the classroom, I can use this time for informal research. If I do fulfill my goal of helping foreign language and music programs grow like I stated in my May 22nd entry, this will be a valuable study.
Language acquisition in infants, adolescents and adults has interested me for many years. I wrote a research paper as a senior project at the University of Oregon debating the question "Do people who study music acquire language (especially accent & nuances) better than a non-musician?" I didn't find any conclusive evidence or research studies to answer this question yes or no, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how babies learn language.
One thing I remember and have had revalidated by the book "The Scientist in the Crib" is that babies start deciding what language will be primary before the age of one. Before the age of one, baby babble internationally sounds the same. It is when their palates form to imitate the sounds they hear around them that they become physically equipped to speak one language or another. Therefore, I've been experimenting on Claire by speaking French to her about half the time (I was a French teacher before her birth and am still fluent in French), playing French music CD's and DVD's, putting Telemundo on in the background (unfortunately, I don't speak Spanish), and renting foreign films occasionally from Blockbuster. Around one or whenever she does begin to say her first words, it'll be interesting to hear what comes out first!!!
I want to thank John Tenny, professor at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, for his advice about making this blog more relevant to the education world. I must admit that I knew this blog wasn't focused and was definitely what its title suggested. Hopefully, I'll receive more comments on this blog as I use it more and more to record observations and thoughts about my baby's language development and how I can apply this to developing a program that will help young kids learn foreign language and eventually, God willing, bring it into the public elementary schools.
As much as I'll want to be focused in this blog I'll allow myself time to ramble too...
I love mornings! Especially, sunny mornings like today. I have my coffee, the birds are visiting our feeders, mainly House and American Gold finches, the cats are chattering at them like usual. This is a good moment!
We are having a weekend at home for a change. Other than a brief trip to an insurance agent friend who helped us set up life insurance and going to church tomorrow, we're going to be homebodies.
I snuck out this morning before Brian and Claire woke up to plant a couple of pots. I have more to do, but at least I started them before the rain came! I love mornings, daylight without the heat. Once the sun goes down, I'm tired and in a sedentary mode.
Brian and I talked about how he could work towards starting and finishing seminary. I know he feels called to do this, and I believe he'd be a good pastor, part or full-time. With me at home and with us planning to have a couple more kids at least, it'll be good practice to reorganize our finances. If God wants Brian to finish seminary, he will. I think I would be a good pastor's wife. Hey, maybe we'd host missionaries from or to Africa so I can use my French? I've always wanted to go to Africa, who knows where the life of a pastor's wife might lead...
Next year I will probably substitute teach one or two days a week to supplement our income and to give me a day out of the house every once in awhile. My mom lives close and has said she'd be willing to babysit Claire on the days of the week that she's not taking care of my Grandma. It's hard to think about leaving Claire with anyone for more that two or so hours at a time, but maybe I'll feel differently come fall. I like the idea of substituting much better than having my own classes. If I don't like the particular group of students I don't have to return, I don't have to grade or plan. Sometimes I enjoyed all the different components of teaching, but I'm definitely ready to take a break and enjoy having a family!!!
I'm going to attach a statement I wrote for a local school district application. It mentions what I'd like to do eventually in the public schools. Here it is:
As a graduated student of the public education system in Hillsboro and Beaverton Oregon, I was inspired to become a teacher by many of my former teachers. I began to play the violin in second grade at Indian Hills Elementary in Hillsboro and continued my orchestral training from third grade through high school in the Beaverton School District. I also learned French beginning in the 8th grade at Cedar Park. Two of my best teachers were my middle school orchestra teacher, Peggy Swafford, and my high school French teacher, Linda Kreis. As a result, I decided to study both French and Music in college and earned double majors and continue to speak French and play the violin regularly as an adult.
The biggest challenge I see facing the public education system in Oregon is the lack of music and language programs especially for elementary aged children. I would like to help establish a movement to install foreign language learning before adolescence because research has proven this to be a critical time to become proficient in a foreign language. In addition, I believe music classes would aid in acquiring a foreign language. Since both of these areas are passions of mine, I see it as a professional duty to help promote foreign language and music study for our youth who will become our nation’s leaders one day.
Does anyone else out there think that our elementary schools should offer more foreign language and music??? Research says it's the best time to learn both!!! However, most Americans, compared to Europeans, don't seem to feel learning a second language young is a valuable asset. Why is beyond me...
In this blog's new format, I've noticed that I always start my blog with an update about what Claire is doing at this particular moment. Well, today I'll end with what she's up to.
Brian and I sometimes discuss "what ifs." One in particular was "what if we won the lottery (or had too much money to know what to do with)." Just to preface, I'm happy with where we live, having one car, living near enough to family to visit and make local calls, grateful to have health insurance, and live is very good for us. However, it's always fun to dream!!! Once we'd paid off our car and student loans and a little credit card debt that's almost gone, I'd love to buy a little apartment in Lyon, France that we would live at in the summers. I'd splurge for air conditioning, which most French homes don't do, but money's no problem. I love waking up and knowing there are several bakeries within walking distance where one can buy breakfast, healthier "pain entier" I believe or the more decadent "pain au chocolat." I love planning your meals around what you could find fresh at the street markets where the farmers bring their organic (usually) produce and cheeses into the city for good deals (especially at the close of the market and they don't want to take their food home!!!). I love food shopping and eating fresh produce. In America, I question what is "fresh" produce. Nothing seems to taste the same as in France. I've heard we genetically alter our food, is that true? Maybe that's the difference. Maybe it's the air, the soil, the atmosphere in France that makes food tast better. I don't know, but I'd prefer their lifestyle of eating over our anyday if we didn't have to fly 12 hours to get there each time. Realistically though, we'd like to get to France before Claire's two because she'd have a free ride, but I have verified this with the airlines.
The next thing I'd do or maybe during one of our summers in France, is to go to cooking school. Right now I want to raise a family so I'm willing to settle for watching cooking shows and experimenting on my own. But, I'd love to take a class or two from a real cooking school and learn how to chop vegetables correctly, pick out the best food from our stores or markets so I could wow people with my cooking. I'm not a terrible cook, but I'd like to learn more. I like our family get togethers and would like to contribute interesting dishes! I don't want to open my own restaurant.
Claire is working on a little diaper (I hope) while playing under her play gym. She's been there during the 20 minutes I've been writing. It's nice that she doesn't need to be held all the time and can occupy herself sometimes. I'm going to get her now because she's starting to make some noise. She's a great baby, we are very blessed!!!
Again, I have a few moments to write. Although, as I decide to sit and write I think, I could be reading, cleaning our toilets, straightening up the house a little more! Urgh! Our work is never finished, n'est-ce pas...
Tonight my Bible study group is coming chez moi to meet. We're beginning a new book, not in the Bible, however. It's called "Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I'm hoping it'll be enlightening, but sometimes, these books offer quick fixes that might work for the author alone. I'm sure there will be helpful tidbits throughout.
I'd like to read a book a month. This might be hard for me to do, and I can't blame it on the fact that I have a 3-month-old. I was/am not one who reads a lot. My husband on the otherhand, devours books. I can't read quickly and often get distracted by what's going on around me. I'm going to try to read "The DaVinci Code" by Dan Brown.
Yesterday was my first Mother's Day. Before going to bed Brian took a couple pictures of Claire and I. Our digital camera is great. Someday we might get a printer to print out tangible copies of the images, but for now we take them to Costco, not often enough.
Claire is waking up. We're off to see Grandma Kennedy at her workplace. Yesterday we visited her at her house with her three dogs. The golden retriever was very gentle with the baby and the baby didn't get startled. I was very impressed with both of their responses. I feared Claire would cry, and she didn't. One of the dogs barked once when she cried, then was calm.
Ten minutes until departure time so I must go. What will the title of my book be? Will it be a children's book? Maria Shriver and Madonna write them, why can't I?
Claire is sleeping, and I have 20 minutes to write before Brian gets home. I like these quiet times, but I'm mostly thankful Claire fell asleep on her own without my having to nurse her. It makes me feel as though she's becoming a little more independent.
I'm reading, and have about 10 pages left, Dr. Laura's book "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." I enjoy the book and hope that my husband is happy and wants to be home. Most afternoons I listen to Dr. Laura and her callers. Sometimes I can relate to a problem callers have, but mainly I like to listen to how she responds. Opinionated people, no matter what they believe, are entertaining to listen to.
I resigned from my teaching job and am very thankful I did. I don't miss my job much at all!!! I had my baby in February and there are seven other teachers (6 women and one man's wife) that are due this year 2004. I'm looking forward to going to school and seeing their transformations. I also hope to provide them with one meal once their babies are born. I know how thankful I was to not have to cook in the first few weeks after Claire was born!
I love staying at home with my three month old! I'm thankful that my husband goes to work and supports my staying at home. It's hard for me to understand how some women choose to go back to work with a little one so cute being cared for by someone else. Day cares couldn't give my child as much attention as she needs. I like the one to one ratio compared to whatever the ratio would be in a child care facility.
Today Claire was baptized by our pastor Beth. She will be leaving our church soon so we felt blessed to have her perform the baptism. Claire started to cry as the water fell on her face. It reminded me of the moment of her birth, this "rebirth" of sorts paralleled her first breaths. Very cool!
Most of our immediate family was there as was our church congregation. We're fortunate to have a lot of family in town even if they don't all share our faith, or any faith. To quote a family member as she left, it was only a "water splashing day." I don't know what tone was used when saying this, but I don't think it was said to make us feel good. Who knows what this family member thinks, other than their way is the best way. Is their way the best? That would be judging and according to this person, judging is wrong. They can judge us, but how dare we judge them. Double standards stink!
I was baptized the day before I got married. My husband was baptized as an infant. Our children will be baptized as infants with hopes and prayers that they will continue their lives as Christians. A baptism is important, but I believe how we raise them is more important. I want our children to have a choice to figure things out on their own. My parents, my dad in particular, were Nazarenes. Our Methodist church seems a lot less conservative than what my dad grew up hearing. There is less force feeding going on and more opportunities to view the Christian faith from different perspectives. As a newly baptized woman, I'm excited to learn more about Christianity in a church that nurtures and feeds healthy, curious minds.