Babies raised in bilingual homes learn new words differently | ScienceBlog.com

Infants who are raised in bilingual homes learned two similar-sounding words in a laboratory task at a later age than babies who are raised in homes where only one language is spoken. This difference, which is thought to be advantageous for bilingual infants, appears to be due to the fact that bilingual babies need to devote their attention to the general associations between words and objects (often a word in each language) for a longer period, rather than focusing on detailed sound information. This finding suggests an important difference in the mechanics of how monolingual and bilingual babies learn language.

via Babies raised in bilingual homes learn new words differently | ScienceBlog.com.

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Park Pettini, Our Local Streets and Mayor Renzi

The park that we so love and have used many times for our outdoor events has been being slowly brought down to it’s bare minimum.  As you can see here by these past posts:

Raccolta firme per l’Area Pettini Burresi

Mamme per Firenze

Our very own Events Administrator, Jill Romanelli has been trying hard to save the parks in our city. She even wrote to the Major in the Florentine:

Matteo Renzi answers a reader’s query about improving Florence’s parks

We need to get on board and fight for our children’s playground not the touristic parks like the rose garden, iris garden, Boboli etc Parks that children have play grounds with apparatuses so they can learn and develop their skills.  When he mentions 

park or garden no more than 10 minutes away 

I hope he is not counting the dog parks, most of them are not fit for children running around or rolling in the grass. 

I am not happy with his response to her question or even other serious questions in the past.  I had mentioned  the light issues and street issues in a past letter as well:

Write the Mayor  dated June 7th 2012 

My main question was this and I wrote on behalf of the Network:

Consider just one example where lights are needed: Where via Giovanni Della Casa merges onto via Pisana and then onto via Aleardi, there is one light on the connection of viale Ludovico Ariosto. Cars and motorcycles race down those streets to the light on that corner, yet many children have to cross via Pisana and Aleardi in those areas (in front of the Esselunga, to piazza Pier Vettori, Monte Oliveto) to go to and from the schools at Gramsci, Petrarca and other schools. Moreover, the pedestrian call button at that light has been nonfunctioning for almost a year. There is no light on via Felice Cavallotti, where just crossing from one side to the other is a big problem during rush-hour traffic. Parents complain that the area is very dangerous for their children. I myself have almost been hit by cars passing the lone motorist who obeys the rules and has yielded to the pedestrian in the cross walk. What can be done about these dangerous areas, especially for our children going and coming from school?

Since his response of great concern, nothing has changed in the area I mentioned where a few schools are located and many children go to these schools.  The cars still have access to zoom down the street to come to a stop suddenly if the light so happens to change by the 20 minute timer it has on it.  The button still does not work.  

Here is project David that received 25 million for the streets.  Anyone else see any wonderful changes because of this project?

Progetto David, dalle multe 25 milioni per la sicurezza stradale

Truthfully I feel that our concerns for safety of the children and the welfare of families is completely ignored but there is a money hungry desire to bring tourist into the city. 

What are your concerns and how do you feel?

CDC Features – Child Passenger Safety

car seatThis site is very helpful when you want to learn about car seat safety and the correct way of placing the car seat for the different ages.  The rules are the same here in Italy.  It is a law and children are required to be in a car seat. 

Reduce Their Risk

In 2009, 1,314 children ages 14 years and younger died in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 179,000 were injured. But parents and caregivers can make a lifesaving difference. Whenever you’re on the road, make sure your child passengers are buckled into appropriate safety seats. The safest place for children of any age to ride is properly restrained in the back seat. Data show that: In 2010, restraint use saved the lives of 303 children ages 4 and younger. Child safety seats reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers ages one to four. For children ages 4 to 7, booster seats reduce injury risk by 59% compared to safety belts alone.All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an air bag.

via CDC Features – Child Passenger Safety.

Research articles from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Kids – National Wildlife Federation

Kids - National Wildlife Federation

National Wildlife Federation publishes magazines for children. Ranger Rick, Ranger Rick Jr, and Animal Baby Explorers.  These are the magazines I get my children and I have gotten them since they were babies.  It helps them practice their English and the subscription fee goes to the environment.  I love it and they do as well.  They can use your international credit card and ship overseas.

Lot of fun things on the computer as well. http://www.nwf.org/Home/Kids/Ranger-Rick.aspx

Kids - National Wildlife Federation

                       Kids – National Wildlife Federation.

All I can say is I love it!

Natural Italy Tours presents Mamma’s cooking, a show that teaches you the simple facts of basic Italian cooking. Mamma’s cooking is a family oriented show and hopes to share new recipes that will be enjoyed by the entire family. Make sure to check out our site and blog at www.naturalitaly.it for tours and useful information about visiting Italy. This week we will be learning how to make tomato base for tomato based sauces and dishes. Next week: Tiramisù-

Your 2-year-old timeline: Playing for keeps | BabyCenter

Your 2-year-old now

(from Baby Center my favorite place for finding developmental everythings for your child website)

Your child is more in control of her movements. Now she can play with small objects easily and stack (not just knock over) towers of blocks. She can also concentrate for slightly longer periods of time, as much as 20 minutes if she’s deeply engaged. Sometimes she’ll become so absorbed in playing that she’ll resent your interruption. You can make transitions easier by warning her in advance, as in, “You can play with the blocks for five more minutes, but then it’s dinnertime.” If you have a flexible schedule, you may want to give her a few warnings before you insist that she finish up her play.

via Your 2-year-old timeline: Playing for keeps | BabyCenter.

Photography Tips for You and Your Family – Part 2

Hello again.

I’m Simone Ballerini a professional photographer based in Florence. You can find my work at www.simoneballerini.com
I specialize in maternity, family and kids photography and this is part two of the shooting we discussed last week.

Done with the outdoor session we decided to move indoors for the last quiet portraits of the couple and some picture of the soon to be mom by herself.

When shooting indoors we are presented with a lot of challenges both of technical and aesthetic nature.

We need light, of course (remember photography means writing with light) and we need to find a nice, meaningful spot to place our subject in.

The main source of light in a house or a general building is coming from the sun pouring through the windows.

Even if it is cloudy outside or there’s a storm coming you still have a lot of light coming through shining on your rooms and reveling forms and details.

This could be beautiful, rich, free light absolutely gorgeous for portraits or many types of photography.

With window light you can run into two options: the first one is when you have a window on a wall facing north or south (or east in the afternoon). This way you have no direct sun coming through and all the light outside is filtered by the frame of the window resulting in a directional soft light very gentle with the shape of a human body or details for a still life or food photo.

1 In these pictures I posed the couple at the end of a long studio room. We had  the entire wall at camera right completely covered by windows so plenty of late afternoon warm light is coming in from that direction.

This kind of set up reveals a lot of details and enhances the forms of the bump, faces and clothes because the light coming in from the side is lightning the left side of the subjects leaving the right side in shade.

Sunset and late afternoon is the perfect time for taking pictures with a warm intimate feeling with the light coming from the sun becoming warmer just before fading to the blue and black of the night.

The second scenario you can find yourself in when dealing with window light is direct sun coming through.

2In this pictures I had the setting sun directly in the frame of a small window in the living room, the perfect call for a backlit portrait with mood and some attitude.

I asked the couple to sit on the floor and just talk. Soon they started to connect more and reach for each other forgetting about the camera and me, reveling a soft and natural moment of their relationship.

Direct sun produces very strong and unflattering shadows making it hard to handle if you don’t know how to make it works.

As with the sun on an outdoor portrait you have to pose your subject correctly deciding whether to put the sun behind, on a side on even in front of her.

I almost didn’t see the cat laying on the window staring at the couple inside. It was an happy accident that gives the picture something more.

On the aesthetic side you can either photograph your subject in a friendly and pleasing environment or decide to avoid all the distractions and go for a plain solid color background using a wall, the sky or a canvas.

3If you decide to put your sitter in an environment you need to be carful to chose the right one for the message you’re try to communicate. Sometimes removing pieces of furniture or simply moving your angle of view is enough to hide something unwanted and have a clearer shot.

In these pictures I had a window on the right and decided to add meaning with props and composition.

For the first one I placed a tiny pair of pink shoes on the bump of the future mom deciding to include in the frame part of the couch and the pictures on the wall to lock down the photo in a specific environment, in this case the living room.

In the second photo instead I removed as many element as possible to emphasize the pose of legs and feet, cutting out the upper part of the body to let the bump emerge from the black of the floor.

Having some energy left we let go of all the romance and posing for a fun final portrait. With the help of the last light from the sun and a pencil we wrote the word beer and baby on the bellies of the couple and shot a couple of frames.

4Sometimes all the thinking and planning in the world can’t make for the spontaneity and the fun of a true moment captured in between your direction or the moment you’re waiting for.

There’s so much in photography of the unexpected, happy accidents and moments of truth, we just need to be ready and curious about life in all its manifestations.

Related Articles:

Photography Tips for You and Your Family – Part 1 – Firenzemoms4moms.wordpress.com

United: Guest Blogger Cara Snyder

United

by Cara Snyder    caraacakes.blogspot.it

I had a moment today.  I was sitting at the kitchen table with my beautiful, too smart for her own good, little girl this morning, eating strawberries and toast for breakfast.  I clicked on cnn.com to do a quick check of the news (something I’ve found myself doing infinitely more since my family and I moved to Firenze 6 months ago), and I saw that one of the victims of the Boston tragedy was an 8 year old boy.  I couldn’t help the tears from escaping as I thought of that poor child’s family, of the numerous families that are crushed by these events, of the millions of Americans worldwide that are being shocked to the core at yet one more horrific even in which innocent people are harmed.

My sweet daughter asked me why I was crying.  I’ll be honest, I don’t make it a practice of being upset in front of my child.  I try to make things sunshine and roses as much as possible.  But when she asked me this, I didn’t pause.  I said “some people did a very bad thing and they hurt a lot of people.”  Do you know what my 3 year old’s reply was?  “They shouldn’t have done that Mommy.  No one should hurt anyone.”  From the mouths of babes.

I studied Political Science in college.  I have a best friend who is a high ranking military man.  I like to think that I have a decent grasp on war, terrorism, and the effects that it has on society. What never occurred to me was how it would feel for people within my home country to attack one another, or for our country to be attacked from within.

I’m of the 9-11 generation.  I went to college in a big city where our bridges were cut off, our subways shut down for our own safety.  We huddled in our homes and cried together for our fellow countrymen.  Wars were fought.  No one won.

We can’t get back the people that we lost.  Not the children that were needlessly murdered earlier in the year, not those lost during the marathon, and during the countless other “events” that have happened over the last few months.  Maybe because I am not currently living in my home country I should feel less upset.  Perhaps my world should feel a bit less rocked- but it’s not.  I’m an American.  I love my country, my home.  I don’t have one state that I feel tied to.  I feel tied to many.

We are moving home in a few months, and there is a part of me, as a mother, as a wife with husband that travels all over the world regularly, that feels like I should be afraid, but all I can think of is this: we shall overcome.  We’re Americans dammit.  And one of the quintessential things that Americans do, come hell or high water, is we band the hell together and fight.  We fight for our independence, we fight for the right to run marathons, send our innocent children to school, to go to work without harm, but most of all, at the end of the day- we fight for each other.  United we stand.  So don’t let the evil take over.  Send your kids to school, run your marathons, practice your politics and religions how you choose, because that’s your right!  The day that we all stop living in the world, and start cowering afraid is the day that “they” win.

If we can learn anything from the Italians, it’s to keep on keepin’ on.  Italians don’t quit on themselves.  They don’t quit on their country.  They’ve been bombed, sieged, overtaken, broken down, you name it, it’s happened to these poor people.  But they cherish their culture, and they keep moving forward.  Isn’t that all any of us can do?  Move forward, stay brave, and be strong?

Yes, I know I’m just a young woman who blogs about food and her family, but writing about my family and what we’re having for dinner tonight just didn’t feel right to me today.

Parental ethnotheories and how parents in America differ from parents everywhere else.

No Big Deal, but This Researcher’s Theory Explains Everything About How Americans Parent By Nicholas Day

New parenthood is a desperate search for certainty: When you start knowing nothing, you are desperate to know something. And when you finally figure that something out—how to get this creature to eat or sleep—that becomes the answer. Any parent this side of sanity clings to that certainty for dear life.

via Parental ethnotheories and how parents in America differ from parents everywhere else..

I was jumped / mugged and robbed earlier today

Purse Theives
Purse Theives
photographed by Simone Ballerini www.simoneballerini.com

I was jumped / mugged and robbed earlier today (in broad daylight while walking with my 4 year old). Anyhow, wasn’t able to beat the assailant with my umbrella and the iron man mask, hard enough (and believe me, I tried) so he got away my purse with EVERYTHING in it.

And for all to be warned. He, alone, jumped out of his car, got to me on the sidewalk jumping me from behind, and then took off in his car again. We did get some of the plate number, but the Italian police don’t seem to actively search for it even though we know spot on where it is!!! OUTRAGE!

What has really perplexed the police is that he did it with a child present (which classifies him as the lowest of scum). The horrid truth is that there is no way possible to prevent such an occurrence. It all happened so fast, and he did, so far get away with it.

My advice is to always carry the bare minimum in a bag (document-wise, objects etc), keep house keys in the pocket (easier done in jacket weather) and keep phones in pocket too, for as much as is possible. And lastly, only chose routes that have shops or heavy foot / car traffic.

The road I was on was next to a park with residential buildings on the other side (where I was walking). As it was rainy the park was void of people and the road was quiet. And no one was walking around.

Soon I will post steps to take when items are stolen:  Aside from blocking cards which is what the police advised even with the 113 call, it is hard to have a straight head and know in which order what should be done.

by Anonymous living in Italy

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Watch your wallets and phones (firenzemoms4moms.wordpress.com)

Top 5 food stops in Florence

Top 5 food stops in Florence

How does a foodie view a trip to a new city? He or she will create an itinerary where before or after the museum, around the corner from his or her hotel, near every single mandatory stop there will be a chance to run off and take a bite of the city! So here are 5 food stops you can’t miss in Florence! You will need at least one day to get to them all! The order has been split up from morning (snack- lunch-snack-dinner-after dinner) to late at night.

via Top 5 food stops in Florence – Tuscan Recipes Food and Tradition – Tuscanycious.