Friday, September 26, 2008

Let There Be Rock

"Let there be light / and there was light / Let there be sound / and there was sound / Let there be drums / and there was drums / Let there be guitar / and there was guitar / Let there be rock"

Let there be a video game that Daddy can safely play with his baby Button. And there was Rock Band.

Diana loves the pretty colors and enjoys Daddy's version of rocking out to the music. She has been known to drift to sleep even to Metallica's "Enter Sandman". Like a good geek baby, she protests loudly during long load times.

At five minutes to midnight last night, Dusty dragged himself out of bed, carried a crying Diana out to the living room, fired up the XBox, and played three songs to lull her back to sleep. Now that's a dedicated geek daddy.

"Let There Be Rock" by AC/DC

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Paa, Tuhod, Balikat, Ulo*

"Feet/Toes, Knees, Shoulders, Head"

Diana and I have a morning ritual after her breakfast in which I name her body parts in both English and Tagalog [the predominant Pilipino dialect], from head to toe. There are times when I think the English language should be taken out to a cornfield and shot, like in the case of comb, bomb, tomb: the only thing that changed was the first letter, so why are there three different pronunciations?! But sometimes, English gets it right.

In Tagalog, nose is ilong (ee-LONG), eyes are mata [mah-TAH], mouth is bibig [bee-BIG], ears are tenga [teh-NGAH], and so on. Maybe it's just because my brain is slowly leaking out of my tenga these days, but it seems to me the one-syllable feature of English body parts makes it easier to digest and retain.

Even before I found out I was pregnant, I intended to speak to my children exclusively in Tagalog. Diana is the product of two distinct cultures, so I want to make sure she has an understanding of both languages. As with most things I had intended to do with my children, the daily reality is a little different from what I had imagined. Some days I struggle to remember even simple phrases like "Let's change out of our pajamas." Part of the issue is that there is no Tagalog equivalent for "pajamas", but most of the issue is that I don't have enough opportunities to practice my native tongue. In the Philippines, English is a required second language taught in school, and pretty much all business is conducted in English, so most Pilipinos speak Tagalog [or one of the other 70 Pilipino dialects] and English equally well. Even my parents find it easier to talk to me in Taglish, since it sometimes takes me 44 years to come up with the right Tagalog phrases. I fear Tagalog is going the way of Esperanto, and I'm helping to kill it.

Now that Diana is becoming more responsive and talkative, cooing and vocalizing, I'm also trying to decide whether or not it's worth it to teach her baby sign. On the one hand [Literally, because it's sign language! Thank you! I'll be here all week.], it's a language that she and I can learn together, and its proponents say that baby sign is a great way for both babies and parents to reduce frustration over understanding baby's needs. On the other hand, it's yet another language to learn and Diana will only have me to model the language for her. At least with Tagalog, I have my parents, plus story books and music CDs, to help me expose her to other instances of the language. One of her favorite lullabies is "Puno sa Gubat" ["Trees in the Forest"] by Joey Ayala.

I know this issue will heat up anew when Diana starts school in a few years. Because Canada is AWESOME, all three elementary schools in our neighborhood have language immersion programs. Our next-door neighbors had the choice to enroll their kindergartener in French, Ukrainian, or Chinese immersion. I'm sure it won't be long before I hear him call his little brother a stupidhead en fran├žais. If we move back to the U.S. before Diana starts school, we will most likely not have such a wide variety of choices. I definitely want to make sure she speaks at least one language other than English; the world is getting smaller every day and I think it could only help her to be able to communicate with as many people in the world as possible. So I hope my humble efforts to teach her a little bit of Tagalog will at least make her generally more receptive to learning other languages.

There is no one right answer, but I'm curious what other people's experiences have been with teaching their kids a language other than English, whether that's baby sign or Tagalog or Chinese or something else. What has worked for you?

*It's basically sung to the tune of "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" but with the order of body parts reversed.

Monday, September 8, 2008


"The monsters seem to fade so fast / Upon the waking of another dream / . . . / And you're okay because you're tucked away"

It's been three days since our car was vandalized. The police report was filed and the driver's side window has been replaced. It sucked that Dusty spent part of his afternoon off filing the report at the police station and cleaning up broken glass from the car, but nobody was hurt. Dusty was inside the movie theater when the break-in happened and Diana and I were at home. The thieves only took the iPod radio converter and Diana's diaper bag. Nothing of serious monetary value was stolen, but I feel really violated. In taking the diaper bag, they stole from a baby. My baby. Surely there's a special layer of Hell reserved for that. If only I weren't so fastidious about keeping that backpack clean and well-stocked; those jackholes could've at least opened up the bag expecting some good shit, only to find a ripe, fermenting diaper.

I know that logically, the things in that diaper bag were just things, but they're not. The embroidered sun hat that Diana wore to Folkfest is not just a thing. There are three faint yellow dots on the top of that hat, three dots that earned Dusty a stern talking-to for dripping veggie curry on his child's head. And now it's gone. As are the cute pink fleecy sweater and sweatpants I found on sale. And the ear plugs in the front pocket, in case we take her to the movies or a concert. A Mommy-and-Daddy pouch [a batik purse from my cousin] that contained dental floss, lip balm, lotion, hand sanitizer, and an emergency $20. The hooded teddy bear blanket from Charles and Bianca. One of the blankets that Corey's mom made when Liz was pregnant with Claire. The more items I realize were in that diaper bag that I now have to replace, the more upset I become. That diaper bag was packed with love.

Right after the incident happened, Karincita and Tricky swung by our place with a six-pack of Negra Modelo and a backpack filled with some baby care essentials like wipes, washcloths, aloe vera gel, and hand-me-downs from the boys. They added a new layer of love to Diana's replacement diaper bag. At least I can say that for every punk who would smash a window in the middle of a Friday afternoon just to steal a backpack, there are two ridiculously awesome people who would take time out of their afternoon off to make their friends feel like the world is not such a terrible place after all.

"Safe" by Travis