Viva el blog

by gidget on August 28, 2010

in blogging and writing

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It’s been over a year, but I decided it was time to bring this blog back from the dead! From now on, I will not only post my book reviews (and any book giveaways) here, but I’ll also continue with other occasional posts on Spanish, language-learning, multilingualism, writing, technology (related to language), and eventually home education.

This blog will serve as a record of things I find and use, and I hope it is also of some use to others out there in the blogosphere, too. I’ll be in and out so be sure to subscribe for future updates if any of this interests you.

If you’re new to this blog, I’d recommend checking out my updated About page, which will give a little more background to Gidget Loves Language.

Thanks for reading, and…

¡nos vemos!


I haven’t been blogging much in the Gidget world these last few weeks as my family is on a 3-week long road trip to experience baseball in the Midwest and on the East Coast (see here for details). But I did want to share this little tidbit with you as we approach summer.

Baseball may be America’s pastime, but it’s a pretty big deal in many Spanish-speaking countries, too, especially in Mexico, and Caribbean countries like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, to just name a few.

A couple of years ago I came across this great glossary on with baseball words in Spanish.  It’s not surprising that there are a lot of cognates here considering where the sport originated. When I was teaching it came in handy for the chapter on sports, but it’s also fun to just play around with during a game if you’re a fan of baseball who’s learning Spanish!

Download the vocab sheet here!


I’m technically two days late, but I figured this was an appropriate time to give a little ode to my favorite author, Jane Austen (born December 16, 1775).

I’ve read all of Ms. Austen’s completed novels at least once, and her incomplete works are on my to-read list, too {Thanks, Moondoggie, for buying me her complete works one Christmas}. Off the top of my head, I’d have to say Pride and Prejudice is my favorite, but in order to sound like I’m just picking the most popular, I think I’m going to commit to rereading all of her novels in 2009 in order to make sure that choice still holds true.

I’ve loved every movie/miniseries adaptation that I’ve seen (even though, naturally they don’t do the actual novel justice) and I also have enjoyed some “sequels” or modern-day Austen-like tales like Elizabeth Aston’s series that starts with Mr. Darcy’s Daughters. I don’t know quite what it is about the regency era that I love so much… but here are a few of my favorite (and somewhat generalized) things about Jane Austen’s works.

  • Happy endings~ this is always a big one for me, and I find it especially meaningful when you consider that Jane herself did not have her own happy love-story ending), not to mention there is often a very real tension in her love stories that I love.
  • The heroes~ they’re amazing men–while flawed, they still always have many virtues and I imagine them to be as handsome as the men that play them in the movies. :) They’re passionate, chivalrous, often literary, but still very manly.
  • The heroines~ all of the heroines are strong women, in their own way. They have their (realistic) imperfections to be sure, but they’re not superficial or overly-flawed characters (which is something that bugs me). They love passionately, are dreamers & fighters, they have integrity & good morals, but they know how to have fun.
  • Feminism~ I don’t tend to call myself a feminist by modern-day standards, but I love how Austen criticizes the society she was a part of, while portraying women that also just did what they had to do. They may long for “more,” they may consider whether marriage should be their only means of making something for themselves or their family, or even complain about their situation, but they don’t rebel against the society completely– they still embrace motherhood, marriage, and of course true love.
  • Details~ the stories are intricate, and the cultural details are apparent, really bringing to life an era that would otherwise be dead to my modern mind and understanding.
  • Conflict~ Ms. Austen was an absolute genius when it comes to creating conflict and therefore, viable plots, in her novels, always knowing exactly what horrible things to do to her characters and their love lives (although, thankfully, always rectifying everything, very passionately, in the end).
  • Lanugage~ I get lost in the language, words like felicity, and mischance, and thither… okay, that line’s not mine, I stole it from You’ve Got Mail, but I’ll too admit that there’s a lot of romance in reading a novel from that era and getting caught up in the vocabulary.

Are you a Jane-ite? What’s your favorite novel?

Oh, and here are a few fun sites to check out if you are a fan:


I’ve heard over and over that living in a Spanish-speaking country is one of the best ways to learn the language. Well, that’s all fine and good, except perhaps like some of you, I lack the funds right now to travel however much I would LOVE to go. So, how to immerse yourself in the language? Let’s go on a little trip.

First stop will be music/educational CDs and podcasts. I use these in two ways – active and inactive. Sometimes I sit with my children as we listen and talk about what’s going on and other times I just have it on in the background as we’re doing quiet things such as putting together puzzles or working on a craft. We also listen to them in the car which is great because your kids are pretty much a captive audience.

Some of our favorite CDs & Podcasts:

For the kids:

For the adults:

Our second stop will be DVDs, TV shows and online videos. Some of you probably have quite a few DVDs already and most likely many of them have a Spanish-language track. Then there is the SAP (second audio program) option on your television. Usually you can access this option on your remote. For ours it’s the MTS button. I have found that several children shows on PBS have a Spanish-language track. Another alternative are online videos. I have some listed here:

Using the language interactively will be our final stop. Join a Spanish conversation group in town. A good place to start is There truly isn’t anything that will improve your language skills more than conversing with someone. You could also try to find a Spanish-language playgroup for your child. If there isn’t one, you could start one yourself.

If joining a group isn’t for you, then perhaps setting up an intercambio either in person or online suits you better. For half the time you and your partner could practice English and then Spanish for the other half. There are numerous web sites for this such as,, and more. Skype, which is available free, is the most common tool for these exchanges.
So, even though you may not have the funds to travel abroad, you can still immerse yourself in the language right at home. ¡Suerte!

Karen has lots more tips and resources for learners and teachers of Spanish, on her blog, Teaching and Learning Spanish!

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That’s right, I made it to 50,000 words! Here’s the proof:

My experience was a challenging one to be sure, but I was able to persevere (thanks in part to a 9,000 writing spree while we drove from Colorado to California and the modern convenience of electricity while camping). It was well worth the stress and time spent to be able to achieve an accomplishment like this.

A highlight was having an evening out at Caribou Coffee to write with my writing buddy “A Mom in the ‘Burbs,” which took me back to the days when my husband and I would spend late nights in local coffee shops attempting to study.

Thanks to everyone who wished me well and supported me, especially to my husband and parents who had to deal with me typing at particularly inappropriate times (i.e., when I should have been packing, unpacking or sitting by a campfire).

I’m really looking forward to the editing/rewriting stage as I still feel like the story is incomplete, but I’m thinking I’ll wait until 2009 for that.

Oh, and I only have a working title, which I’m not quite satisfied with, but here’s the tiny synopsis/teaser of the novel I wrote (I really like saying that):

Tara Donovan, 25, moves from L.A. to Denver to start life over as a freelance writer and part-time nanny for her nephews. A feminine, bookish type, she also has a passionate love for baseball, and may end up closer to the Colorado Rockies than even she could imagine.


A Couple Links…

  • Head over to Boca Beth‘s blog for a chance to win her Gigante Bag of goodies! It’s open until Monday, 11/17. These are great resources for teaching your little one Spanish!
  • Teaching and Learning Spanish had a great post letting us know about ShowTime Spanish a podcast you download for free (or listen to via the web)

And now for the update…

As of yesterday I had written 24, 217 words, which is just about 800 words over the targeted word count. I had a bit of a slow week, but thankfully my early word count cushion allowed me to stay in the game and on track. A couple of plot developments have grown out of nothing which has been fun, and so far, I’m still enjoying the process. My local WriMo buddy and I went out to Caribou Coffee to do a little writing the other night, which was great, and made me feel like I was single and in college again, since my husband and i used to go study at coffee shops a lot before we were married. :)


photo by celesteh

I am American and I live in France with my French husband and our three children. We are raising our children bilingually- they speak both French and English as native speakers. How do we do it? And why? Those are good questions.

I speak exclusively English with my children. Not only can I not imagine not speaking English with them, we also follow the one parent, one language theory of raising children in multilingual homes. I speak English to them, my husband speaks French. Our kids speak English to me and to each other, French to their father. Together, my husband and I speak both languages.

We read a lot of books in both languages. Every evening my kids choose their bedtime stories and we read the stories from our language. They also listen to kids CDs in both languages. On the other hand, they watch TV and DVDs almost exclusively in English. We get the BBC by satellite, so they watch English kids’ shows. I hate dubbed movies, so any movies they watch are in the original version, which is mostly English.

They attend lots of extra activities in English as well. Special reading readiness classes run by a local American Montessori teacher, or children’s groups through the local English-language association. I believe that it is important to put a lot of emphasis on the minority language (the non native language of the country in which we live) and this approach is working.

Why do I think it’s important to raise children bilingually? There are the obvious answers of increased job opportunities and awareness of other cultures. I think both these reasons are very valid and important. But beyond these reasons is the simple fact that I can’t imagine speaking to my kids in another language than the one that I was raised in, that I think in, that I dream and feel in. And my husband feels the same. Given that those are two different languages, well, our kids are growing up bilingual!

Merci, et bonne journée!

Kelly is a blogger, mom and graduate student. She lives in France with her three kids, four cats and handsome French frog of a husband. You can find her at Almost Frugal and Almost Frugal Food.


Congratulations to our winner of the First Spanish Words giveaway!


Thanks to everyone who entered!

In other language news, there was a funny translation mishap in Wales, Foreign Language Fun has some Spanish Thanksgiving activities, and Biligual Fun is giving away a CD along with some great tips on teaching your kids Spanish.

NaNoWriMo Update

Well, last weekend I started strongly, very strongly, and then, let’s just say it’s been good that I had such a large cushion because the last few days I’ve slacked a little. I’m still ahead of the game, but I need to press on if I want to stay that way for much longer. I’ve been really enjoying the process though. I experienced one scene where the words just seemed to flow out freely, almost supernaturally, and even just today, a new character and small subplot crept in out of nowhere.

I’m pressing on!


There was a long period in my life where the only thing I wrote was assigned by a teacher. Looking back, the joy and pride I felt when I found the perfect words to explain the workings of the heart should have been some clue that my future was in front of a computer rather than in a doctor’s office. As the Universe would have it, it took me four years of college in a pre-medical program and five years working in the field of behavioral psychology before I would admit to myself that writing was something I wanted to pursue.

Once I figured it out, I couldn’t imagine how I’d missed it for so long. There were so many clues, so many reasons why writing was the perfect profession for me. Here are a few of the things that clued me into (and keep me pursuing) my passion for writing.

  1. Writing gives me an excuse to keep learning. I work as a technical writer, a job where I have to ask a lot of questions and learn a lot of new information so that I can write manuals or documentation, or train others how to complete a task or use a product. I also love to write how-to and informational articles about topics that are new to me. This means I’m always learning something new and learning makes me happy.

  2. Writing opens my eyes to the world around me. Because I write, I’m always looking at the world from the perspective of a writer. This means I see the beauty in things that other people might pass by without a second glance. It means I look for the story behind the obvious façades of people and places. I try to see things from other perspectives. Writing helps me see past the obvious.

  3. When I write, I feel alive. It’s cliché, yes. But writing excites me. When I turn off the TV and turn on my laptop, I get giddy with anticipation. What will flow out of my imagination today? Whose story can I tell? What experience will I share? Sometimes that blank page is intimidating, but most of the time, it’s exactly what I need to energize and inspire me.

  4. My words reach people. One of my favorite things to do is write letters. I don’t do it nearly enough these days, but writing a letter to a friend, someone I haven’t seen in ages, or the editor of the local newspaper is a powerful act. The message can be one of love, sadness, longing or anger, but when I write a letter (or an article, story or essay) I know my words will be taken to heart. I’m careful with my words; I write and rewrite until they say exactly what I mean. And when I let them go, I know that I have expressed myself to the best of my ability.

  5. I’m a better writer than I am a speaker. I’ve never been one for speaking in public. Place me in front of even just one person and I often find myself tongue-tied and useless. But give me a piece of paper and a pencil, and I can create the perfect speech for a wedding. I can write out arguments for or against any issue I feel strongly about. I can tell you exactly how I feel about you and why. With writing, I can reorganize my thoughts and restructure my sentences until I’ve gotten them just right. Conversation is so immediate. Once it’s spoken it’s gone, and there’s no adjusting or rewriting.

These are just a few of the reasons why I find myself writing, both for a living and for fun. Why do you write?

Ami writes about her attempts to stay healthy, live a local and green life and write that Great American Novel (or something like it) at Writing: My Life. You can also find her at Write Out Loud, a blog for writers who want to free the stories inside them.


As the NaNoWriMo Blog mentioned this week, 2008 loves novelists!

And I wanted to post this for any other participants out there: a fellow Denver NaNo shared this cool Word Count Calendar that will make keeping track of progress easier!

Rather than just using Word, I’m trying out a program called Scrivener. It has a 30-day trial, which would work perfect for NaNo! But I’m sure I’ll end up purchasing it because I really like it so far. There’s a great video tutorial on the site.

So, I woke up early this morning… I actually felt like a little kid trying to sleep on Christmas Eve. And Chiquita slept in until almost 9 am (!!), so I was able to crank out a little over 1,000 words. It felt good, but I’m still feeling a little doubtful that I can do this (prayers accepted!). But I’m going for it!

Remember you can click the blue NaNoWriMo button in my sidebar to go to my Auther Profile on the NaNo website. I hope to update my word count there as much as possible.