Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Baby Signing

One thing that really seemed to help K make the connection between words and their meanings was sign language. Apo and I used the same sign in our different languages so that K was able to quickly associate the object, sign, English word and Slovak word as the same thing. She used her first sign (food) at 14 months, after several months of us signing to her and talking to her and all of us being frustrated because she didn’t understand ANYTHING. I could repeat to her 500 times “ball, this is a ball, let’s play with the ball” with no response from her, but within two days of introducing the sign “ball”, she understood the sign and the word, together AND separately. The same thing happened with all the signs we used (only 10 – 15 total), once she learned the first one and got the concept. It was like she needed the sign to anchor the word and object together in her mind. After that she was able to learn a word just from hearing it. Apo had the same experience with her comprehension of Slovak. I’m not sure if the signing was really the sole catalyst or if she was just due for a language burst at that particular age anyway, but the difference was pretty striking.

She was also visibly impressed with herself when she learned to sign. You could see the satisfaction on her face, and the power: I make this motion, and I get a snack! Score! I think it was the very next day after she first signed “food” that she used it as a bedtime delaying tactic. Apo took her upstairs to bed and she kept signing “food”, really, I’m hungry, I can’t go to sleep yet. I had thought only bigger kids did that! And especially when she learned “milk”, she woke up signing, she went to sleep signing, she signed IN her sleep. That first week we happened to look in the back seat and realized she was silently signing “food” in her rear-facing carseat.* So we gave her a snack.

We only took signing as far as the 10 to 15 signs that I bothered to learn, and the few she made up herself, but I think that she would enjoy signing even still, if I actually knew sign language to be teaching her. It kind of takes away from the spontaneity of the moment when you see an airplane, run to the computer, look at your online ASL dictionary for an appropriate sign (some are too complicated or too similar to each other, etc.), learn it, run back and say, “Look, an airplane [sign]!” Meanwhile the airplane is probably over the English Channel by now. She still signs sometimes, especially if she says something we don’t understand. I’ve noticed she has her own “signs” for animals that she consistently uses in the same way, e.g. snake, monkey, bird. Recently she has come up with signs for panties and swinging (or playground in general). Signing is also useful for discreet communication or across a room. I liked having a sign for breastfeeding that was more subtle than some of the code words I’ve heard.**

I also think signing can be an excellent tool for multilingual families if everyone agrees on one sign to use. Baby K quickly learned that “milk” and “mliečko” are both accompanied by the same sign and mean that she gets milk. It took her longer to make the connection between words that we didn’t have signs for. Our experience was definitely that it stimulates speech, not holding it back as you might think. At least for our child, the research didn’t lie!

* You have to wonder how long she’d been at that.

** I think “na na” or “num num” or whatever baby words people use are kind of transparent. :) Of course when the child gets to the point of reaching down your shirt and attempting to help herself all subtlety is gone…

Monday, June 28, 2010


K has been experimenting some more with her name (she goes by Katka in CZ/SK and from both parents, Katie in English-only places like preschool). For a while she was insisting her name was Katie and NOT Katka, presumably due to school influence. Now she's swinging back the other direction. She'll often go back and forth in one conversation:

"I Katie, no Katka. I Katka. I Katka, no Katie. I Katie."

I usually tell her she is both Katka and Katie, which she then repeats periodically:

"I Katie a Katka. Katie a Katka."

She's still processing it all I think, and figuring out where she fits.


Apo: "Kedy?" [when?]
K: "No, I Katka!"

Took a minute to realize she thought he'd said "Katie". Hahaha.


K: "I want go domov."
Grandmama: "You want what?"
K: "I want go...home."

Translating when someone doesn't understand! An excellent beginning. I did still have to explain that home = hotel in this case.


K, watching Slovaks play in the World Cup: "Pome pome! Go go go!" [Poďme = Let's go]


K: "I want chocolate!"
Apo: "Čokoládku nemáme." [We don't have any chocolate.]
Mama (to Apo): "Máme ale C-O-O-K-I-E-S." [We do have C-O-O-K-I-E-S, though.]
K, instantly: "Cookies for me??"

I should note that I am almost certain this was a fluke. We hardly ever spell in front of her though, so she couldn't have recognized it from the many other times she's heard "cookies" spelled out. My first thought, though? We're doomed. 2.5 and already spelling as a method of obfuscation is on its way out. I have to wonder if we will survive this child's adolescence. :-D


K is getting close to counting to 10 in English. She likes to count the numbers from the first half or the second half independently, or in randomish order, and she ALWAYS skips 5, so I haven't heard her say all 10 from start to finish in the correct order. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 is about as good as it gets. Oddly, 5 is the first number she picked up on in Slovak. She never uses it when counting in English, though. She can kind of count from 1 to 5 in Slovak but is still working on the names of all the numbers.


Also, after today's match I am officially bored of the World Cup. We made a good showing, but now I've lost interest. Football was so two hours ago...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I No English Good, or First Language Attrition

This article, Code Mixing and Code Switching in Bilingual Children and Families gives a nice, clear rundown of the difference between code mixing and code switching. Useful, since I always get them mixed up. Basically: code switching is deliberately choosing to use a feature of one language while speaking the other, typically by bilinguals who master both languages well. This is definitely a staple in the Havo household. Code mixing, by contrast, is substituting features from your native language when you don’t master the second well enough. This is how K speaks at the moment, pulling in words and grammar from English since she doesn’t master Slovak well enough to express herself yet. She’ll get over it with time and exposure. Her parents may code mix from time to time as well, which usually results in merciless teasing (because we should KNOW better!).

One interesting point the author makes is that children who mix languages together may be perfectly aware of what they're doing. It is easy to assume that since a child uses words from both languages indiscriminately, the child isn't really aware that they are actually separate languages. However, children may choose to mix just as deliberately as adults do, and for similar reasons. Something to keep in mind.

What especially interested me, though, was that neither code mixing nor code switching as defined there managed to account for my most common problem: substituting features from my SECOND language into my NATIVE one. Of course my second language has certain limits and I sometimes use an Englishism until someone lets me know it’s wrong (ex: “Slyšela jsem od něho” instead of “ozval se mi”). In casual situations (i.e. in groups where everybody also speaks English AND I don’t care about impressing anybody) where I don’t know a word and can’t be bothered to come up with an on-the-fly workaround, I will deliberately borrow from English. That’s still code-mixing.

However, what really perplexed me was when I would use a Czech word (or literally translated expression, or word order) without realizing it. Especially with Czech words that sound like (even unrelated) English words. For example, I’ve said things like “Put it on the stůl” or “I can’t see from behind the sloup” (stůl means table but sounds like stool, sloup means column but sounds like slope). Presumably my English brain saw those as viable options because they sound like English words, but I’ve also used Czech words with a totally anglicized pronunciation that I would NEVER pronounce like that when in my right mind. I remember a Czech-speaking American friend told me about accidentally mixing when I was still in language school, like “Are you checking on me?” to mean “Are you waiting for me?” (čekat means wait). I thought that was just weird at the time…but then the next year I did the exact same thing! Part of the language acquisition process, I suppose. I don’t do this as much now, thankfully. I do still have a tendency to use the most ridiculous word order in English sometimes, or say things like “I don’t have to eat broccoli” (brokolici nemusím) instead of “I don’t like broccoli”. I’ve even mixed up “lend” and “borrow”, how embarrassing!

Another problem that goes hand in hand is forgetting words in my native language, which is still pretty common. Everybody forgets words sometimes, I just forget them significantly more often. This is kind of embarrassing when talking to family, like the chronic problem I had remembering the word “stroller” since we always used “kočárek” with my husband, so when talking about the baby pushy thing with my mom, there was always this slight pause as I frantically tried to remember: “I was walking along pushing the…stroller…” I have a similar problem in trying to translate quickly, which I think is because I crossed the self-translating bridge a while ago, so I don’t necessarily associate the Czech and English words for one thing with each other, at least not right away. So “stroller” becomes “baby pushy thing” (or with this particular word “baby carriage”, since that’s a literal translation of kočárek), or “kitten” becomes “baby cat, small and furry”. I would make such an impressive interpreter…

At first I thought all of this meant I was slowly losing it: becoming bilingual makes you crazy! Then I decided to hope and pray it was just a phase that passes once you master both languages. Then I decided it probably IS, and that probably other people experience it, too. So when it wasn’t included in the Bilingual For Fun article above, I started googling and it turns out, yes, this is a known phenomenon with a name and everything!

Take a look at this article, Learning and Forgetting Languages:
“However, they argue that it is crucial in the early stages of learning a new language when students have to actively ignore familiar native language words to progress. This becomes less necessary as fluency increases.”

"First-language attrition provides a striking example of how it can be adaptive to (at least temporarily) forget things one has learned."

This article suggests that it is, in fact, a phase we go through in learning our second language. I wasn’t losing it – I was being adaptive! Also, our children growing up bilingual shouldn’t go through it. Nice to know.

More googling of “first language attrition” turned up this article.

I identify very strongly with this. I don’t even have the excuse of language isolation as the author of this piece does, since I have never immersed myself in Czech completely: I have always had a small group of people I regularly spoke English with. True, the last year or two that I was in Prague the “small group of people” contracted to include mostly just my husband and the internet, but still, I never gave up English entirely. And yet I do all the things she talks about! Comforting to know it’s not just me – and that it’s not irreversible.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Vacation

After finishing with our wedding commitments, we drove to Williamsburg where my mother, brother and nephew had driven to meet us. We went to the Jamestown Settlement museum, which we would have enjoyed more if we hadn’t been delicate English flowers wilting in the heat of the New World. By which I mean it was really hot. “I’m used to English weather,” I thought. “Of course I can’t be expected to cope with this heat.” After a minute I realized the settlers must have felt the same way, getting off the boat from England into this oppressive humidity! I’d have been dead within the year, too.

The museum was great, though, especially the outdoor part. The next day we visited Colonial Williamsburg, though we only managed to see a small part of what was available. Heat, and lack of time. We really need to go back for several days next time, once K is old enough to appreciate the concept of something that happened before she was born. That child has no appreciation of history (but she really liked the three-cornered “pirate” hats).

After that my brother went home and we drove with my mother and nephew north to D.C. We were limited in what we could do with two kids in tow in hot weather, so we kept it casual and didn’t stretch ourselves too far. K still did a LOT of walking, though. She spent the whole time walking or riding on our shoulders.

While taking a break at Starbucks one afternoon, K had a conversation with a lady at the next table. They had a real conversation covering a range of topics (their names, what they were doing, sunglasses, pirates, umbrellas, forget what else?) in which at no point did I need to step in and clarify what K was saying – the stranger understood it all. K’s speech really is getting a lot more intelligible lately, and her sentences are shaping up with some more structure to them. I was impressed with the content, too: questions, answers, real exchange of thoughts. Fortunately the lady was patient with an extremely friendly little girl in a coffeeshop.

We would have loved to go to all the Smithsonian museums, but with time short and a two-year-old’s interest difficult to catch, we opted for the Natural History Museum. She LOVED the dinosaur hall. One small dinosaur she instantly picked out as “K dinosaur”. It said it was a 1/6 scale representation of a...triceratops, I think? She loved that it was small like her. The Tyrannosaurus Rex was the “Apo dinosaur”. Her other favorite section was the insects, where she got to touch a stick insect and hold a cockroach in her hand (!). I wasn’t going to do it, but she wanted to! Our other close insect encounter was the day before, when K got stung by a bee on her finger. She talked about both events for days. (We also dressed her in a dress with little bumblebees on it the next day. Was that mean? We were going for "funny". And in the store when she liked the umbrella with the bees, too...well...she needed an umbrella, anyway!)

The Slovak and I thought the forensic history section was fascinating, but K was oddly uninterested. She had had a long and eventful day by then, so we whipped through the animal and undersea sections and went on our way.

In the evening we went to meet one of the Slovak’s childhood friends, who lives 6 blocks behind the Capitol. We had a lovely visit with him and his wife, who is from Colombia. They are raising their 1.5 year old daughter with Spanish, Slovak and English. When they walked us to the metro stop, we drew a few curious glances with our mix of English, Spanish, Slovak and Czech depending on which adult was addressing which other adult or child… I thought it was great. I also thought it was great how much Spanish I still understand, when it’s addressed at a toddler.

I loved the tourism, monuments, battlefields, even more the time spent with friends, but the most important thing we did with our week was allow grandmother and granddaughter to spend time together. I'm pretty sure we could have stayed in the hotel room the entire week and it would have been a success!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Wedding

We’re back from our trip, by the way. We went to a wedding the first weekend and then my mother (and brother for one day) came up to meet us and spend a couple days in Williamsburg and D.C. The lure of the granddaughter was too strong to resist.

K spent the weekend connecting with her country roots: barefoot and grubby the whole time. We tried to keep her shoes on at first, but they never lasted more than a minute or two. Plus you kind of have to be barefoot to run through the sprinkler like she was doing. Eventually I decided she was experiencing an American childhood in the South and let her be. Instead I concentrated on sipping lemonade with the Slovak, sitting in the rockers on the porch and staring down the long, unpaved road to the house. Seriously! He is fascinated with the American South and was in his element.

Actually, to tell you the truth the scene on the porch with the lemonade lasted about five minutes. The groom is another Slovak, a friend of ours, and my Slovak was the best man, so they were running around organizing and I was running after K and going to the store for bobby pins and other necessities no one had gotten yet.

We spent a good bit of time talking to the groom’s parents, who had traveled from Slovakia to be at the wedding. I was impressed with their English (being the generation of my own in-laws) and how well they used it in a high-stress environment such as a son’s wedding, with plans and flowers and future in-laws and such. There was at least one moment where one of the other guests was not as impressed as me, and made a bit of a (hopefully unheard by others) snippy comment. If I had had time to process at the time, I might have made a few pointed comments about communicating in second languages and how well would YOU do in the same position, etc. I know exactly how difficult it is to function at a high level in a second language, so let’s have some patience and understanding, please!

It seemed like the groom’s parents really appreciated having us there. They do speak English, but it must have been a relief to have someone other than each other (and their slightly preoccupied son) to talk with in their native language. We really liked them, too. Also, we had a somewhat parallel situation as we are a Slovak husband, Czech-speaking (though foreign) wife, and the groom’s parents are also Slovak husband, Czech wife. I noticed she spoke Slovak with them but Czech with me, so I asked her what she does usually (since people often slowly adopt the language of the other country if they live there long-term). She said she made an effort to speak Slovak even at home when her son was younger but now speaks Slovak with Slovaks and Czech at home. Her husband jumped in and said, “When she loves me, she speaks Slovak to me. When she’s mad at me, she speaks Czech.” Sounds about right to me, hahaha!

I should pause at this point and give a piece of advice to those who occasionally take advantage of being bilingual in a non-bilingual crowd. If you make an inappropriate wedding night joke about the groom to your husband because no one in the room will understand you but him, make sure his parents aren’t sitting three chairs away. Oh dear heavens, I just blushed again writing this. Fortunately they only laughed...

The wedding itself was lovely. For the first kiss, the groom picked his bride up and twirled her around before setting her back down to kiss. There was a minor hiccup in the form of a brief storm at the reception, but after it cleared up things were back on track.

We seized the opportunity to briefly kidnap the bride before the dancing in the evening. At traditional Slovak weddings, the friends kidnap the bride and take her to a bar where they rack up a large bill which the groom has to pay as a ransom when he finds them. We didn’t do an extensive kidnapping, just staying on the grounds (we hid out in one of the guest rooms). And it was really less of a kidnapping and more of a, “Hey, there’s this kidnapping tradition, do you want to be kidnapped?” But it was still kind of fun. She said that he had warned her several times that someone might try to kidnap her. She said it was pretty much, "Will you marry me, oh and you should know you may or may not be kidnapped by my friends on our wedding day." She still said yes, though!

One of my favorite moments of the wedding was during the dancing, when among all the English music this lovely Czech song came on. As the bride and groom danced to it, I saw him translating the lyrics into English in her ear. I thought that was a very sweet image of a cross-cultural marriage at its beginning.

I had more to say about the wedding than I thought, so I’ll split off the rest of the week into a separate post. Stay tuned for Virginia 2010: The Sequel! Coming soon. If I don’t forget.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

OPOL Little Secret

This post is part of the Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism, this month hosted by Bringing Up Baby Bilingual!


I’m going to tell you something today.

Lean in a little bit. Someone might overhear.

I helped my daughter learn Slovak.

I know! Right?? Don't tell anybody or the OPOL police might come get me for not being consistent.

But the thing is, she wasn't speaking any Slovak before, and now she is cheering on the Slovak team in the World Cup, in Slovak, repeating after Apo. Though she did give up towards the end of their last game and took a nap. As who could blame her.

The problem became clear sometime last year, as she was learning to talk. Most of her words were English, with just a few in Slovak, if you counted generously (classing "Apo" as Slovak even though I use it in English, too, etc.). That is to be expected, with an English-speaking primary caregiver living in an English-speaking country.

What worried me was that she wouldn't even try to repeat a word in Slovak, but she parroted everything I said (in English). On paying closer attention, I realized that she repeated words all the time - but only when I said them. Not relatives, not friends, not Apo - just me.

The Slovak would try to get her to say a word: lopta, lopta, lopta, toto je lopta. No response. Or an increasingly loud answer from K the tourist of BALL, BALL, BALL, IT'S A BALL. She wouldn't even try to pronounce a word when he said it.

But then one day, I thought, hm... "K, say lopta." "OTA!"

Good enough. It's not like she was pronouncing English that well at that point, either.

For some reason, she was willing to try speaking Slovak if I was the one demonstrating. After a while building up her vocabulary, she was confident enough in both languages to repeat after anybody and I didn't have to serve as intermediary anymore.

I also started to take out our Slovak books and read them to her, just when we were alone. Our secret. Alone in the house, under a blanket, Apo at work so he wouldn't laugh at us. Maybe a few sessions of "Čo je to? Lopta. Ruka. Noha. Kde máš nosček?" as a prep course for when Apo or Babka ask the same questions. And you know what? It worked.

I also started to sing the Slovak children's songs we know. Everyone in earshot knew about that one. And when K sang "prší prší prší prší" to her grandmother on Skype or requested "Kolo kolo mlýnske"? Totally worth it.

When people ask how we do our languages, I still give the old answer: "I only speak English to her, he only speaks Slovak to her." But now I have a slight smile on my face as I say it, because as it turns out, it's not quite that simple.

As it turns out, being flexible is just as important as being consistent.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tourism in my own country

Posting may be light for the next week or so, as we're on our second day in Virginia. We came for a wedding and are seizing the opportunity to explore a part of the country that I, at least, haven't been to before.* My mother is even driving up to see us** in a few days.

I'm excited about this trip, among other things, because it's our first time doing what we've talked about for years: visiting different parts of the country as a family, letting our kid(s) get familiar with her (their) native country. We do plenty of traveling in Europe, since it's fairly easy to travel that close to home. It's harder to get very far in America, since everything is so spread out and you want to spend as much time as possible with family instead of sightseeing. In a couple of years maybe we can visit the grand canyon!***

* Oddly, the Slovak has traveled more widely in the USA than I have (I may have him beat globally, though). He is going to be my tour guide in DC.

** A polite euphemism for "just K, actually".

*** Another place the Slovak has been that I haven't.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Meltdowns, tantrums and screaming

For a bilingual parenting blog, this one has so far been heavy on the bilingual, light on the parenting. Today I'm contemplating a classic parenting challenge: screaming and tantrums.

Let me start by saying that this post isn't motivated by anything K has done recently. *grin* In fact, my daughter never screams. My daughter is sweet and well-behaved and wouldn't dream of running off or screaming in the store. On occasion, though, a stranger has taken the form of my sweet girl, a stranger who misbehaves, screams and generally carries on with unsociable behavior, and even worse, tries to act like I'm her mother! I am usually busy acting like I don't know her at times like that... (I couldn't get through this paragraph with a straight face, could you? "My daughter never screams", indeed...)

At the risk of puncturing the image anyone may have of K as the ideal child, sitting calmly all day reading a book (in between fixing me cups of tea), a certain amount of hooliganish behavior does occur. She has actually been very reasonable lately, but in months past we have not been precisely strangers to the middle-of-the-store meltdown. I have a variety of methods for dealing with it.

My favorite is, as alluded to above, pretending not to know her. Commenting aloud to my husband that somebody's kid is really misbehaving today, what sort of parents are those? This has mostly entertainment value - not to be taken lightly in the stress of public misbehavior! Hand-in-hand with this goes ignoring. I find ignoring her is effective when she ignores my attempts to calm her down or ask what the problem is. She gets more upset at not being noticed, but then when I engage her again, she responds. Promises of disciplinary measures are pretty lost on this age group, especially when overcome by stress, anger, lack of nap and whatever other factors led to the meltdown in the first place. I don't even bother with those. Distraction can work, if she's not too far gone. Looking her in the eye and repeating her name until she registers what I'm saying is also oddly effective. I do NOT give her what she is screaming for. I don't want to encourage her to think she can get what she wants by screaming.

Nothing groundbreaking there. I post this today in order to pose a single question related to a popular piece of advice:

Who came up with the advice to "just leave the store immediately and go home" or "end the outing immediately" when your child has a tantrum? What sort of privileged life do you lead where that is even possible???

One essential problem? Leaving the store is typically what the child wants in the first place. How is that a win? That's just giving in.

Another essential problem? Clearly whoever came up with that gem doesn't have a 45 minute trip home by public transportation. Your child has a meltdown in downtown Prague (just to pick a city at random...) and you have no choice but to deal with it there and then. "Ending the outing" isn't exactly a solution, unless you fancy spending up to an hour with a screaming child, weathering the disapproving looks of strangers.

Even in UK, where I do have access to a car, I also don't understand what you are supposed to do when you need to finish the shopping, misbehaving child or not. K and I go window shopping just for fun, true, so on those days we can just head for the car and home, but most of the time we are in the store because we need groceries, without which we won't have anything for dinner that night. "End the outing immediately" means no food to eat. Or no clothes to wear, or whatever it was I needed at the store. Presumably I am supposed to leave the child at home next time, so I can complete my shopping in peace? With a relative maybe. Seriously? Lu. Xu. Ry. I giggle at the thought.

Basically the people for whom this advice is useful: 1) have cars at their disposal whenever they wish, 2) have the luxury of completing the shopping trip another time, and probably 3) have someone to leave the child with next time. Otherwise, the next shopping trip would probably end up the same as the last, and nobody would be able to cook, ever again.

I am left with the same giggly, rolly-eyes feeling as when I read in a book on personal economy that you should price-compare and do your shopping at five or six different grocery stores, and that this could be accomplished in an afternoon. I lived in Prague at the time, where that would take days, factoring in having to make trips home in between each store because you carry everything in your hands or on your back. And I didn't even have a child back then. That was not the only piece of advice in that book that totally fell flat once you leave the United States, either.

What do you do when your child (or lookalike claiming to be your child) loses it in public? And what common pieces of wisdom are totally inappropriate for your circumstances or cultural environment?

Friday, June 4, 2010

No modré! Blue!

Yesterday in the car, K said to me, "I want pays!" After making her repeating herself once or twice when I responded with my elegant, exellent-parenting-strategy, "Eh?", I asked, "Oh, you mean prejsť*? You want to go on a walk?" And she replied, "Yes, I want walk!" She's also very into "dobre" (good/ok) recently, though often it takes the form of an irritated "No dobre!"

Earlier this week she fell in love with the word deti (kids), which she pronounces sort of like čiči. "I want play čiči!" ("Eh? Oh, deti! You want to play with kids?") It's ok, K - your American side of the family can't pronounce that sound either. And it's in your last name. Twice. Ahem. You'll get the hang of it, though I doubt they will.

Sometimes if she prefers one word over another, she will insist the other word is wrong: it's not modré, it's blue! (modré = blue) It's not dobre, it's ok! I wonder if each word has a precise shade of meaning in her mind, so that they really AREN'T synonyms for her, or if she is just showing a bit of linguistic rebellion.

She is starting to be able to switch languages deliberately, though: if Apo doesn't respond to her repeated claims of "mine, mine! not yours, mine!", then she'll switch to "moje!" Or if she answers Apo in English and he tells her to say it his way, she can come up with the Slovak word she needs. In contrast, up until the last two weeks a request like that resulted in her repeating the English word louder and with more irritation in her voice. My daughter is a tourist, oh heaven help me...

* I apologize for any butchering of Slovak spelling from here on out. My fingers, they are used to Czech spelling rules. And my tongue, it cannot pronounce ľ. *grin*

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's carnival time!

The Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism is up, this month hosted by Mummy Do That! I am thrilled to be among the bloggers participating this month. You can find my submission here, posted last week.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Picnics in the Park

We went on a picnic today with a group of Czech families from a town near us. They have a group that meets once a week about 20 minutes away. Not as conveniently located as our local Slovak group, but once a week is great! I wrote them last week asking if the old webpage I found was still accurate and got put on their mailing list just in time to hear about the bank holiday picnic. Excellent timing.

K had a blast on the playground, during the long walk around the lake and then sitting down for the picnic. She made friends with a couple of girls very close to her age. The Slovak and I managed to talk to almost everybody and they were all pretty friendly. I think that almost everyone there was from a mixed marriage, mostly Czech/British obviously but also some Nigerian, Slovak and of course one American. *grin* Apparently someone in the group is teaching a Czech language class for the (British) husbands, which I think is a fantastic idea. I admire a willingness to learn.

Depressingly, their regular weekly meetings are on Wednesday mornings, when K has preschool, but I'm actually considering switching her school days so we could fit this in. I'd love to go to a regular Czech activity for a few months before we move. I guess I'll see what their schedule is like for the next several months...


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