Thursday, December 15, 2011

Language Development

I think I’ve mentioned this before or at least told a fun story or two in the past. The language development has fascinated me. Not only because the kids are constantly absorbing information like a sponge but also because we are doing two languages at the same time.

I read that after the age of six, our minds start closing language doors. By then the mind is set onto which language it is learning and focuses on that. Before that everything is just sounds that the brain filters a meaning for and can associate many different meanings too.

It is not only easier to learn a second language in the years 1-6 but also props these doors open for further ease of cognitive development/language learning in the future.

I have been fascinated over the past 3.5 years how Stella has developed. Obviously German is her first language but it has only been a rare occasion where she hasn’t understood me. And that is usually when I have been pushing the complexity limit, seeing how far I can push the limits of understanding.

She has constantly amazed me though on her level of understanding, comprehending statements I didn’t expect her to.

And as any child does as they learn a language they mix things up every once and a while. I wanted to share two of our favorite circumstances. One a simple word mix up but the other a testament of understanding and comprehension between two languages.

1. Egg dirt – Stella saw a present wrapped in the form of a triangle. She said,”Wow, sieht aus wie Ei dreck, uh?” what she meant to say was „Dreieck“ a triangle. Loosely translated she said instead egg dirt. It doesn’t seem so funny now that I explain it but it was at that moment.

2. Her new favorite book is “The little engine that could” (thanks Malek family). The last page of the book has a picture of the scene, the broken down engine, the mean engines going to the round house and the Little Blue Engine coming into the picture. When we reach this page I would ask which train is which. The first couple of times she pointed to the Freight train and said this is the “angst” train. I didn’t catch it at first but after questioning her a couple times she said, “yeah daddy, the afraid train”. I guess I was speaking so fast that she understood “a freight” as “afraid” understood it in German “Angst” and was still able to clarify to me what she meant. Wow!

Stella comprehends practically all English that is thrown at her. She has favorite words that she will mix in to a German sentence. She also can say small English sentences when prodded. I think soon she will be able to switch between the two without a problem.

AND now we get to get Emmett in on the fun.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Grinch

Over the past few years you might say I may have lost my spirit of Christmas.

The over commercialization and materialization of such a spiritual occasion became really over bearing for me.

We have been in transition; from couple to family, from one continent to another, from house to house to house.

The season would hit me and I wasn’t ready. My feeling of Christmas fading as I moved further away from childhood and what those traditions meant to me.

  • The decorating of Gram’s tree.
  • The pageant at All Saints, singing in the choir.
  • Midnight mass and opening that one present before we went to bed.
  • Having a quiet Christmas morning with coffee and presents and then going over to the Belanger’s for the big family get together.

Yes, I’m mixing the childhood and young adult Christmas together but they blend and those are my memories.

It just isn’t the same anymore.

It is not supposed to be. We are ever evolving creatures. My role has changed. I want to create an atmosphere that my kids will look back on with fondness. For the last three years though it wasn’t happening. But that is changing. At 3.5, Stella is much more aware of her surroundings and retaining a lot more information than she did in the past.

And I have to say, this year has been much more fun. Stella helped decorate the tree. We told her the stories of various ornaments from our past. She stands and looks at the tree, occasionally rearranging ornaments to fit her mood. Emmett has gotten in on the action too with his little corner of the tree where he puts on and mostly removes little straw ornaments.

Stella is learning about Christmas in preschool and comes back with lots of stories. She knows about the trip to Bethlehem. Btw; did you know that Jesus has a sister? Stella informed us of this as she was playing with Oma’s nativity set and lining up all the appropriate characters.

In Germany, Nicolas comes and puts something in your shoes on the 6th of December. She was so excited. She properly polished her boots and set them by the door. And with wild excitement she ran down to look the next morning marveling at the little packages in everyone’s shoes.

Now she asks when Santa is coming.

So we come full circle. Now we start our family traditions. Mother and Father are setting the stage and I can’t look more forward to it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Tygielski family.

A presumed stomach bug turned into an inflamed appendix that had to be removed. While in the hospital both kids came down with severe colds and had to stay home from day care. They in turn gave my wife a double whammy cold.

We were miserable.

The parents had no energy, patience or tolerance.

The kids were ornery, whiney and impatient.

Not a good combination.

To put it lightly…this nuclear family hit real low point.

The parents were on edge. Their actions weren’t nearly the storybook childrearing plans we had dreamed of. The children reacted in kind putting us in this downward spiral where I can see why many have asked…”Can we send them back?”

Perspective – We realized this was a lose/lose situation. We weren’t setting the example we wanted for our children. Our approach obviously wasn’t working. We talked through it. We needed to change our perspective and approach.

The next day things went smoother. Was this because of our Attitude to the situation, our conviction to set a better example? Was it because we were feeling better and had more patience? Was it because the kids were feeling better?

It was probably a combination of all of the above. The emotion, testing the limits, setting discipline etc ist still a roller coaster but the culmination of our efforts hit a high today where mini dragon girl transformed into our little princes for a whole day.

No incidents, no tantrums, no time outs.

Instead, sharing, caring and helpfulness.

A moment when we are proud to say we are her parents.

We’ll keep working and doing our best and hope that we can minimize how often mini dragon girl and whiney siren show up.

Now that I am on the mend, I hope to feed some new stories and pictures into the blog over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Little Tumblers

Emmett has now joined the tumbler ranks. Today was his first day and it was totally what he needed. Wide open spaces to crawl, climb and walk.

He had fun head-butting the big balls and chasing them. Then using the Balls to stand up.

He’d make a B-line straight for a ball half way across the hall.

He had no fear climbing the inclined bench or the mats.

Stella has ecstatic that she could go to Sport with her brother. She played with him, her other friends or just aimlessly running around.

And thankfully she wanted to stay for her group. Lately she has protested wanting to go to sport. First it was because she didn’t like one of the games. Then it was because Daddy isn’t allowed to go in. I think part is that she has to follow rules instead of doing her own thing.

But once there she is full on involved in and willing not wanting to stay.

Once her group started I took Maja and Emmett home and then came back. While this was a matter of only 10 minutes of being away it still held a surreal feeling for me.

This was the first time that we have left our daughter anywhere not by a relative. And while this is the ultimate goal that they can grow up and handle themselves it was still a weird feeling.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meet Jack

Meet Jack, the first Tygielski Family Jack-O-Lantern!

Mountain Climber

roasting pumpkin seeds

You have to use hot-mits when taking things out of the oven.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy One, my Son!

There was more interest on climbing on the box than what was in it.

A Zebra!

Sis helps open the box

Cake picked out, baked and decorated by big sister