Worries You Have as Parent Raising a Bilingual Child

If you’re a worrier — and I am — worrying comes naturally to you. If you’re a worrier with children, it’s scarily easy to obsess over their development and milestones. Are they eating enough? Too much? Should they be waving at 9 or 10 months or it is okay if they’re really just interested in climbing on everything and sticking dangerous objects in their mouths instead? For me, worrying is who I am. I’ve learned to accept it. 

When you’re a worrier and a parent of a bilingual child, your worries expand. Of course, being bilingual is a blessing, but as a non-bilingual person, I have no experience in what is normal or not. But I do wonder at how common some of my worries are, so I’ve listed them here. 

  • Will my child have a speech delay?
  • Will others be able to understand my (toddler) child?
  • Will I mess them up by speaking both languages when they’re around?
  • Is my accent in Spanish going to “rub off” on them?
  • How can I be sure my child will want to talk in the minority language (in our case, Spanish)?
  • How do I find books and TV shows in the target language? How can I find books/shows that have the dialect with which we identify? (For instance, we speak Castilian Spanish [Spanish from Spain]. There are a lot of Spanish-language resources here, but they often are Latin-American dialects, and they use words we don’t know or are unfamiliar with.)

Do you identify with any of my worries? Do you have any to add to the list?

When You Take the Spaniard Out of Spain…

…What happens? Good question! It’s been over a year now that we’ve been back in the U.S. It feels like a long time ago—and yet not so long after—that we packed our bags, said farewell to Madrid, and hopped on that Iberia flight. In fact, we were back last October to celebrate my brother-in-law’s wedding, held at a lovely vineyard outside of Toro. (If you know Spanish wine, you’ll know Toro.)12072657_1079134052119176_3561953440773035576_n.jpg12079607_1079133222119259_5287088477159378538_n.jpg

It was a whirlwind visit, leaving on a Tuesday and coming home on Monday (or something like that, my memory’s a bit of a blur), but it was wonderful to have our families reunited again. And, of course, there was a bit of wine, a bit of cheese, and lots of wine to wash it all down.


As for life in the U.S.? Mario’s certainly loving his new job as a paralegal; it’s all the lawer-y stuff without the stress of, you know, being an actual lawyer. He gets fun perks like open-bar office Christmas parties, tickets to the Indianapolis Colts preseason games (a suite!), and dinners with clients from time to time in one of Indy’s hip downtown neighborhoods.

Me? I’m back at school, earning my teaching license so I can continue to work with the little ones. Teaching was not always where I thought I would end up, but turns out that 1) I love it, and 2) I’m pretty good at it.

I’m going to try to update you on more things about our lives, because I just miss sharing from time to time, and who knows, maybe someone out there is still reading.

For more frequent updates, check out my Instagram or Twitter, and please email me if you have any visa questions, because I’VE BEEN THERE. I can help. In the meantime, here are some more photos from the past, I dunno, year.

12311217_1104834589549122_2608573002887634341_n.jpgMy birthday in Colorado

11219211_10204866573890883_3551021181150555088_n.jpgTrying to hang with college kids at IU

13239899_751658045441_5869220025959680603_n.jpgMy beloved alma mater

13226834_10205995948684547_3516197461533359556_n.jpgFriends drinking beer13001331_746465805731_3787332545559420883_n.jpg13043658_746465750841_5760597765504128516_n.jpgMario ran his first-half marathon in the U.S. in 1:29

See you soon (I hope)!

Summer Update

I have largely abandoned my blog since moving home from Spain in March, and I don’t really have anything to say about this, except … Oops! I never imagined how fast life could change. We left Spain on March 10, with two overloaded suitcases apiece and crossed our fingers we’d get a nice ticketing agent, which—miracle of miracles—indeed we did! There were no extra fees for out slightly overweight suitcases, and we arrived safely on U.S. soil, full of hopes and expectations and uncertain ideas of how our lives would pan out. Okay, we were really just anxious about the next month or so and if it would take forever to find a job. For the moment, we’d be living with my parents.

It’s interesting to think about the whole “living with your parents” thing, because Spaniards would not blink at an eye at this scenario. It’s only natural, of course, that we would choose to shack up with my mom and dad until we find jobs and, subsequently, a place of our own! Claro! But, upon talking to a former-classmate-turned-restaurant-server at a local watering hole, I found that my fellow Americans (ahem) were far more likely to reassure us that, yeah, it’s odd and it kind of sucks, but we’d find something soon, and we’d be out of there quick! It was almost as if they expected us to feel ashamed of living with my parents, when I felt nothing of the sort, having just lugged my whole life in four suitcases, two backpacks that weighed as though we’d packed them with bricks, and a pair of “personal items” that were frankly too large to be considered personal by anyone’s standards. I brushed off this condescension (unintentional as it might have been) and tried to think positive thoughts.

As our luck and gumption would have it, Mario soon found a job in Indiana’s capital, not far from my hometown. Once we ascertained where we’d be living, I started to look for jobs in the area … And again, I was lucky enough to find a position within a few weeks! I have to admit that it felt, again, like nothing short of a miracle.

By June, we were moved into a new apartment, and it felt as though we’d had a joint midlife crisis, as we purchased new everything: a sofa, a dining room table, a computer, a desk, a bookshelf, a king-size lovely comfortable bed set, and even a new car.

New Car Kaley MarioAnd life the last few weeks (how it it August already?!) has been full of summer fun: outdoor concerts, picnics, beer drinking under the stars, trying new restaurants, and just generally enjoying all the things Indiana summers have to offer, mosquitoes included. Some pictures for the two of you still reading … Oh yeah, and a visit to see our good Spanish-American couple friends in Chicago!

Kaley Mario Sears Tower Willis Tower Chicago Hilary Kaley Union Brewing Company Carmel Kaley Mario Conner Prairie Symphony on the PrairieAs you can see, Mario has adapted quite well to the culture, though we failed at getting him the traditional Old Navy American Flag shirt. The Target knockoff had to do in a pinch.

How are your summers? If you’re in Spain, please refrain from talking about tinto de verano or tapas or anything of the sort, and don’t even think the words jamón or salchichón, okay?

Getting a U.S. Spousal Visa—Or How the Immigration Process Nearly Killed Me

You’re going to want some snacks, because I have no choice but to make this post about eleventy billion words long. Maybe I’ll even break it up into parts … Yes, yes, it will make me seem more important and generate me $0.05 more in ad revenue. (I’m rolling in the dough with all my ~~sponsored posts~~.)

Sometime around Christmas 2013/January 2014, I started to gather up a mountain of documents for the first step in getting Mario a green card. Oh, to be so young and naïve and full of foolhardy hopes and dreams. If only I knew. If only I knew, I would have started before I even met Mario! (Wait. Is that even possible?) I began to mention to Mario that we should probably send our paperwork in soon, that I was reading rumors online about how the process was taking up to nine months. He was less sure, but eventually he acquiesced, and we sent in our packet full of everything we’ve ever done with our lives. I walked twenty minutes to our nearest post office (Madrid, did I tell you I don’t miss not having a car?), I paid the few euros extra to have the mail certified, and I crossed my fingers. Literally.

That’s the story behind the first step. But what about the nitty gritty details? What do you need to do to get your IR-1 Visa?

First of all, you need to be married.

The State Department would like very much to clarify what marriage is. They clearly have not watched The Princess Bride or this would be clearer. Remember: If you’re living it up, Big Love style, only the first spouse qualifies for immigration. Important.

You must fill out Form I-130.

In this form, you are establishing your relationship to “certain alien relatives” that you wish to schlep to the U.S. (but not in your suitcase). Instructions for the form can be found here.

You can also fill out Form G-1145, if you live in the 21st century and would like to be notified electronically (i.e., email) when USCIS accepts your application. Acceptance is not approval!

What does Form I-130 entail?

Short answer: A whole lot of stuff.

Long answer: Ooooh, boy, here we go.

First off, the filing fee for this baby is $420. Get used to it; the payments will start piling up! You pay by check or money order. This may be a bit of an issue if you’re living outside of the U.S. I got the money order before I left after Christmas break.

In addition to filling out the form, which isn’t actually very long, you need to establish that you are, indeed, a United States citizen. You do that by sending them a copy of your birth certificate issued by a civil registrar, vital statistics office, or other civil authority. This may cost money. You also need a copy of your passport.

Next, you need to prove you are related to your spouse (or other relative, but in my case, a spouse). I had to submit the following documentation:

  • A copy of our marriage certificate
  • A passport-style photo of myself and of my spouse taken within 30 days of the petition (so no old photos!). There are actually very specific requirements, which you can check out on this PDF.
  • Completed and signed Form G-325A for both of us, which was “biographic information.”

In addition to those requirements, I was told I “should” submit one or more of the following to help them see our marriage as bona fide:

  • Document showing joint ownership or property (e.g., if we had owned a house)
  • A lease showing that we were renting together
  • Documentation showing that we had shared financial resources (e.g., a bank statement)
  • Birth certificate of children born to us (not our case, again)
  • Affidavits sworn to by third parties with knowledge of our relationship. We had my mom write one and sign it.
  • Any other relevant documentation.

Of course, many of these documents had to be translated, as they were in Spanish, like our marriage certificate. It’s not a problem, though. The U.S. only requires that you include a full English translation that the translator herself has certified as complete and correct. So I did my own translation!

Where do I file?

It depends on where your domicile is. You have to have established that you still are residing in the U.S. Since my parents live in Indiana, I was still receiving credit card statements and bank letters there. That was my “domicile.” So I filed with the Chicago Lockbox. However, you should see if you belong to the Phoenix Lockbox.

Helpful Links

I scoured the Internet for a long time before filing, trying to make sure I had done everything perfectly. The last thing I wanted was to wait five months only to be disappointed! Here are some links I found helpful during the process:


You will learn a lot of new fun terms! It’s just like elementary school, except sadder and more frustrating.

  • USCISUnited States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is a part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. One of its purported goals is to “eliminate immigration case backlogs,” which makes me chuckle. Ironically.
  • IR1/CR1 Visa—”IR” stands for Immediate Relative and entitles the holder to 10 years of permanent residency in the U.S., which may later be renewed. CR1 stands for Conditional Residency and the holder is entitled to conditional permanent residency for two years.
  • Petitioner—The U.S. citizen spouse is the petitioner.
  • Beneficiary—The spouse in the foreign country.

It was a lot of work, but I felt a sense of satisfaction when I sent out the packet. I could not have anticipated how long the next steps would take!

To Be Continued …