Raising a Bilingual Bambino

chalkboard-stick-figures

If you know me, you know: I’m from Trinidad and Tobago. I live in Madrid and I’m married to a Spaniard. I have a 11 month old son, Liam, who I am borderline obsessed with!

One of the things people usually say to me, is how lucky my son is, that he will be bilingual. They also say that it will be so easy for him and that it should be even easier because I’m a teacher! Then they start in with the advice [read: orders] on how to make sure he’s bilingual. At this point, I usually get slightly annoyed, especially when the advice is coming from people who only speak one language. I mean, I only have a Master’s degree in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. I only speak 2 and a half language- but what do I know?

Aside from the fact that I have a real problem with people telling me what to do- I have probably an even bigger issue with people telling me what to do when it comes to raising my child. I am not a know-it-all and I am VERY comfortable asking for help and or advice when I feel it’s necessary.

I/we have decided to raise our children without too many set rules. Before you gasp and clutch your pearls- NO, we’re not going to have a bunch of wild, wayward children running around the city. Our children will have chores, be taught manners and general right from wrong. What I mean is that, we I completely willing to adjust our ideas, as we go along, depending on out children and their needs.

Each child is different. Think of your own siblings (if you have any). I’m pretty sure you sometimes question how you are even related- I know I do! (Hi brother!) Seriously though, what may work for one of your children may not work for another (child of yours).

That is pretty much the stance I have taken when it comes to raising a bilingual child. It seems to me that Liam, though he is only 11 months old, is pretty headstrong- as much as a baby can be anyway. He likes what he likes; how he likes it (just like his mamá!) I think most children go through that little defiant stage where you tell them “No!” and they look you in the eye and do EXACTLY what you, in all you parental glory and power,  have just forbidden! “Oh, I’ll show you, Mummy! Mira lo que hago!” So I know, that demanding that he speaks to me only in English is not going work. That and the fact that I would never insist.

Now, there are quite a few methods that can be used when trying to raise a bilingual child. This article from the Huffington Post sums it all up quite nicely. In our case, I generally speak to Liam in English, especially now as he’s understanding a bit more of what we want to say to him. I do sometimes speak to him in Spanish but it usually depends on who I’m with. So if I’m with a Spanish friend that doesn’t speak English, I may say something to him in Spanish, especially if I’m in the middle of a conversation. Even though Spanish isn’t my first language, I speak more Spanish than English on a daily basis and sometimes it’s actually hard to switch- or to remember to. My husband speaks to Liam mainly in Spanish but he also speaks to him in English from time to time.

Some may argue that it is confusing for the child but I honestly don’t see how it’s any more confusing than me speaking to him in English but everybody else in Spanish. Won’t he wonder why I don’t just speak to him in Spanish like almost everyone else around him? He may or may not and that’s the thing, I think he’s too young for me to decide on a strict approach.

I think it’s important that he is surrounded by as much English as possible and since his family here speaks almost only Spanish and society on a whole speaks mainly Spanish, he needs to have his “immersion” some how.

Our (tentative) plan is as follows:

  1. Bilingual or International school where English is the main language of instruction. I feel like just having me speak to him in English is definitely going to help him but he needs another setting where he has to communicate in English and where it will be natural. If everyone around him is speaking in English at school and he already speaks with me in English, it lessens the chances that he may feel shy or embarrassed to speak in English. It may sound silly about him not being embarrassed but I have had students who are bilingual answer things incorrectly or pronounce words wrong, on purpose, so as to not stand out in front of their classmates. I don’t think this will be the case with my son, but you never know. I want to make it as easy as possible and as comfortable as possible for him to speak English. Check out this school in Dallas, Texas.

2. TV- English ONLY! I am not a huge fan of children watching television. I feel like               they should busy themselves with reading or playing outside and using their                       imaginations. However, as children get older, there are several interesting and                   educational programs that they can watch. We agree that if we let Liam watch any             TV, it should be in English. I’m sure there will be a Spanish cartoon he really likes, and       I’m fine with him watching that but the goal is 95% of any TV programs he watches,           should be in English.

3. Play groups and extracurricular activities. I am not fan of going to group                         meetings with a bunch of ladies who sit around and complain about motherhood. It           bores me halfway to death and I’m just not into it. But I think it’s extremely                           important that bilingual children are exposed to other bilingual children so that they         can interact in settings that are natural for them (games, sports, etc.)

4. Never force it. I think there will be days when my son is a bit tired or frustrated with       having to switch between languages. I think Spanish may be easier for him because he     lives in Spain and the majority of people he will interact with here speak Spanish. I’m       never going to punish or scold my child for not speaking to me in English. I will                   probably respond to him in English most times but I’m hoping that by being as                     “normal” as possible when it comes to speaking to him in English, it will just come             naturally.

Recently we were at a bar in the neighbourhood and overheard a father insisting that his daughter speak to him in English. He was scolding her because she wouldn’t repeat something (poorly phrased and pronounced, mind you!) My husband rolled his eyes and mumbled “Que pesado!” (How annoying!) I laughed and agreed. A while later, Liam woke up from his nap and I said “Hi! How was your nap? Want a beer?” (I talk to him like we’re long time friends and as though he actually understands half of the silly things I sometimes say to him) I should maybe mention now that I don’t give him beer (well not often anyway! 🙂 ) Liam was stuck on “Hi!” and kept waving at me! The Scolding Dad overheard me and decided to come over with his daughter (so she could get some practice, I guess). He went on to mention that they came over because his daughter’s English teacher is also black and they thought maybe we were related. (I kid you not!) But that’s a whole other blog post! All in all, the little girl was sweet (annoying dad and all) and her English was quite good for her only being 4 years old.

I share all of of that to say, I think it’s important to encourage but not insist. Speaking in English or any other language should not be a chore or an obligation for a child. It should come as naturally as possible, if the child is a bilingual or be treated as something enjoyable and interesting, if the child is just learning the language in school.

Is my son going to be bilingual? Of course he is! I honestly would like to add French in there too, so that he speaks 3 languages. But we’re going to go about achieving this in the way that’s best for him.

Are you raising a bilingual child? Is the second language your native language? What method are you using? I’d love to hear from you!

Puedes usar Google Translate para leer este articulo. La traducción tendrá fallos.

 

 

 

 

Oh Baby!

There’s no secret to how this story ends because I’ve mentioned my son a few times in previous posts and there’s even a picture of him in my first post.

I’ve shared about my miscarriages and the constant anxiety during my pregnancy- the fact that I was unable to truly relax and enjoy what (they say) is supposed to be one of the happiest and most exciting times in a woman’s life. Don’t get me wrong I was happy but I just couldn’t surrender to fully enjoying the experience.

They talk to you about having a birth plan. I was hesitant to make one because to me, making one meant I was sure I was going to have this baby and I wasn’t; or at least I couldn’t be too sure. I didn’t want to leave any room for extra worry or disappointment.

One of the things I was sure about was that I didn’t want anybody but the necessary medical staff and maybe Guille in the delivery room. YES! I was skeptical about Guille being there too!

Now, I can deal with pain. I believe most things are mind over matter. Plus it seemed obvious that the pain of childbirth does not last forever, or women would just have one child. Let me also put as a disclaimer that I had an epidural and therefore cannot speak on the pain of actually delivering a baby because I have not experienced that.

I’ll need to somehow summarise the experience because though it wasn’t long, there is so much I can say- and maybe you’re not interested in it all! 🙂

This is an account of  my experience, through the private healthcare system in Madrid. I cannot say what is standard  or speak for any other country or even Madrid since procedure and protocol vary from hospital to hospital.

Somewhere around 36 weeks

I had technically 4 weeks to go but the baby could decide to make an appearance at any time. I was still nervous but I was happy because it now felt like a real possibility that I could have this baby, that even though he came early, he had high chances of survival. SO I resigned myself to being happy- though VERY READY for this baby to be out!

Coming down to the end of your pregnancy, you have an appointment where you have final blood work done to ensure that things are ok, there are no infections and so that the anesthesiologist knows what to do for your epidural and in case of emergency caesarean section.

My results were fine. I had a monitoring session to check the baby’s heart rate and if there were any contractions and was scheduled to have another monitoring session 2 weeks later.

Friday 19th. August, 2016

By this point, my due date is 11 days away and I am FED UP of being pregnant. To top it off, I had developed Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) and everything hurt: rolling over in bed, standing up, sitting down, walking- even my yoga classes were no longer enjoyable. ( I did yoga from 14 weeks pregnant until I was 37 weeks).

My monitoring session went fine. So I went up to the gynecologist’s office and they examined me, checked my cervix and told me that I had at least 2 more weeks to go because I had no contractions and I wasn’t at all dilated.

Talk about disappointing news. I had to deal with the damn pelvic pain and on top of that I had to wait even longer to meet my baby!

I should mention now that I had been trying everything that didn’t seem unhealthy or too time consuming to induce labour. So to be told that I had AT LEAST 2 weeks left- well I wasn’t happy, at all about that!

IMG-20160802-WA0017.jpg
I read somewhere that pineapple helped to induce labour.

I left the hospital and I was upset. I had plans to have lunch with my friends and I cancelled.  I called Guille crying, telling him I was so tired and fed up and that I couldn’t wait 2 weeks. That it was way too long and I was too uncomfortable. I was also annoyed because the doctor’s only advice for SPD was to take paracetamol! (I wasn’t happy with that because I was totally against taking anything that wasn’t 100% necessary for the baby’s health and safety.)

I went home and cried some more. Guille gets home early on Fridays so he decided to take me to lunch at one of my favourite Chinese restaurants. I ordered a few of the things I really like on the menu and once they brought it out I was completely nauseous and had no appetite. I picked at the food a bit and ate what I could- which wasn’t much.

We picked his brother up from his dad’s house and went home. They were working on installing some speakers on the terrace. Guille’s friend came over and he decided to barbecue in hopes of cheering me up. I was in such a bad mood and in so much pain, that I gave in and took a paracetamol and fell asleep around 830pm.

Aside from the SPD, the other really bothersome issue I had towards the end of my pregnancy was mild insomnia. It would take me forever to fall asleep, then I  would sleep maybe 4 or 5 hours a night, but wake up every two hours or so. I guess it was my body’s way of preparing for the sleep- or lack thereof- when you have a newborn baby.

Saturday 20th. August, 2016

I was really surprised, That I’d managed to sleep over 4 hours when Guille woke me up around 1am to tell me I should probably eat something since I hadn’t really eaten at lunch. I told him I wasn’t hungry but I’d come out to chat with them for a bit. I lay in bed for a while because I just felt exhausted and then eventually rolled over to put my slippers on and go outside. I got up to make my way outside, took about 2 steps and felt this gushing sensation!

I figured, maybe this was the incontinence they talked about that some women had in pregnancy. I was briefly irritated,thinking, well, this is all I need now; another issue! Then there was another gush! I called out to Guille. I told him, I don’t know if I’ve developed incontinence like Gigi (one of our dogs) or if my water just broke. We kind of laughed about it and I went to the bathroom, while he went outside.

I mentioned earlier that I didn’t have an extensive birthing plan, but that I was sure that I didn’t want people in the delivery room. I had made it clear to Guille that he was to inform NO ONE when I went into labour- so of course, his brother and his friend would be there when my water broke.

Once the gushing continued off and on, I realised that my water did in fact break. So I started to time the contractions using the Pregnancy + app I had on my phone. My contractions were fairly irregular and not painful, so I didn’t go to the hospital since we were advised in the prenatal classes to not go until the contractions were 5 minutes apart for at least 2 hours.

I still had no appetite but figured, I might as well eat something, so I had a barbecue rib (yes! I did!). Guille’s friend left and he and his brother fell asleep in the living room. At about 3am, my contractions were still irregular, so I decided to have a shower. I hate showering anywhere other than my bathroom, and who knew how long I’d be at the hospital once I got there, so I had a nice long shower, with my favourite shower gel.

I danced around because I was so excited to get the baby out! Then I settled into bed and continued binge watching The Fosters.

Somewhere around 6am, I fell asleep and around 730, Guille came to bed. He decided to go walk the dogs a little bit later, I got dressed and we took his brother home, then headed to the hospital. We got there around 9am and they hooked me up to a monitor, examined me and my doctor told us that I was barely 1cm dilated and that we were going to be there for a long time.

The hospital’s policy was that I had to be admitted, since my water broke, although I wasn’t technically in labour. They had me fill out some forms and then took me up to my room. I managed to get the suite because all the other rooms were occupied! (Score!) Guille went to get the bag, I’d packed maybe a  month before and we settled in for what they said was going to be a long day and possibly night.

 

The Third Time Really MIGHT be the Charm!

In the last post, we left off with Guille and I heading to the hospital on the evening of January 11th. 2016. If you remember, we went to one hospital but they didn’t have emergency gynecological services and recommended we go to Hospital Nuevo Belén. These two hospitals are about 5 minutes away from each other but it felt like the longest drive of my life.

When we got there, after what seemed like the longest wait ever, they finally called me in. Dr. Cruz attended to me. He asked some routine questions, which I answered and I told him about my two previous miscarriages. He decided to do an ultrasound. I didn’t want to look at the screen because I expected to see a bit of the same- empty sac, irregular shape, blah blah blah. Wait a few days, rest, blah blah blah.

Instead, he calmly said:

”Pero tú no estas sangrando!” (But you’re not bleeding!)

I said ”Yes, I am or at least I was!”.

He told me again that I wasn’t and said, ”No! Allí está tu bebé! Y mira, esta luz chiquitita que esta como parpadeando- es su corazón!” (No! There’s your baby! And look, that little blinking light, is his heart!)

I must have blinked like someone sprayed somethig in my eyes! I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t stop smiling! For the first time in 3 pregnancies, there was a baby AND a heartbeat! Dr. Cruz was funny and kind. He explained that it is normal to have a bit of spotting in the fifth week. He then congraulated us telling us that we’d just have to wait and see but he was sure that there was a 50% chance that the baby was going to be a boy or a girl. I thanked the doctor and we left happier than ever.

Four days later we went to my regular gynecologist and for the first time we heard the baby’s heart. I made my doctor play it over ad over. I asked him so many questions! Was the heart rate normal? Was it strong? Did everything look ok? He answered my questions as best as he could and laughed a little.

He scheduled me to come in every 2 weeks- since my pregnancy was considered ‘high risk’ due to the miscarriages that I had suffered not too long ago. I had to continue with progesterone tablets and he added low dose Aspirin to the mix- to prevent blood clots.

 

20160115_083740
Ultrasound- the day we first heard his heartbeat! 🙂

The 2 week wait always seemed like an eternity. Since it was still early and I couldn’t feel the baby move yet, I was always anxious and impatient just waiting for the appointment dates to roll around. After the 12 week scans and tests, my doctor then told me that I was no longer high risk and he would now only need to see me once a month.

While that was exciting news, it also made me nervous. I would now have to wait longer. There would be no extra monitoring or tests. Each time I went to the doctr, everything was fine. The baby, who we had by then found out was going to be a boy- MUCH to my delight- was healthy and progressing well. He was even measuring bigger than most babies measured.

I still couldn’t get all the way excited. Every day I was nervous about something. I didn’t go on the Internet to read much about pregnancy and babies because I know I’d just convince myself that something was wrong or diagnose my baby with some disorder or deformity.

Hearing his heartbeat and feeling his kicks assured me that he was still alive but those appointments were now few and far between. I was so paranoid that I decided that maybe I should buy a home heart monitor. I looked at applications that I could possibly download so I could hear his heart everyday. Everything was either too expensive or had bad reviews.

I checked to see if I was spotting SEVERAL times a day and the if the baby moved a bit more or less than usual, I was convinced I needed to run to the hospital. Guille was good about calming me down and trying to reassure me that everything was and would be fine.

You see, the truth is, no matter what the doctors said, how much physical and medical proof I had that the baby was fine. At the back of my head and in the pit of my stomach was that sadness over the two previous miscarriages.

I have a healthy, happy and handsome almost 6 month old baby. In many ways, I had what many would call, a great pregnancy- no morning sickness or any of the other common complaints (except the last month and a half or so), I didn’t gain a lot of weight either. At the same time, I didn’t enjoy being pregnant, like some women do because I was worried the entire time- worried and scared.

I didn’t share that was pregnant on social media until I was pretty far along. I didn’t want to publicise my pregnancy and then have to explain or answer any questions if something bad happened.

The main reason I eventually shared was to help myself get over some of the anxiety; to attempt to positively reassure myself that things were going well and they would continue that way. It didn’t take away the fear or anxiety though.

In many ways, I feel like suffering two miscarriages robbed me of enjoying what is supposed to be a very beautiful time- or at least I allowed it to rob me of the experience.

In my next post, I’ll share my labour and delivery story.

Please know that if you have experienced a miscarriage or had a still birth, you are not alone. It’s normal to be sad, depressed and angry. Seek professional help or at least talk to someone. I joined an online support group called Daily Strength. It didn’t take away the pain but it did help to know that I wasn’t alone.

IS The Third Time The Charm?

In my last post I shared the story of my miscarriages. Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is a lot more common than we may realise or want to admit. As common as it may be, it’s still not at all a pleasant experience.

For me, it was obvious that I had no problem getting pregnant. After all, I had gotten pregnant twice in the space of about two and a half months. Other friends had been trying for almost a year with no success (an equally frustrating experience).

In Spain, the protocol is that only after 3 consecutive miscarriages will they run tests because again, miscarriage, although sad, is very common. Some weeks after the second miscarriage I went to our family doctor. I don’t remember why I went. Maybe to get a letter or something- I don’t know. What I do remember, is that she said that if we would be trying again, we should wait about 3 months.

Well… I just lost it. ”3 months for what? To go through this shit again?” I asked her. I told her I was never going to have a baby and that she might as well schedule me to tie my tubes. I would prefer to go through that than to get excited all over again and then have it go sour in a matter of weeks.

To cut it short, she scheduled me for testing. The public system here, though really good, can be a bit slow. So we scheduled with my private doctor and he ordered some tests to determine whether or not Guille or I had some genetic issue or something that was preventing the pregnancies to progress successfully.

By the time we sucked it up and made the appointment, had the tests done and got the results. I was pregnant yet again. The results showed that we were both healthy and confirmed that the miscarriages were just ”bad luck”- that somewhere along the way, something went wrong and the pregnancy wasn’t viable.

I suppose that was good news but it still stung that I’d just had bad luck.

On Christmas Day, I put the positive pregnancy test under our little tree for Guille. I spent all of Christmas break lying down with my hips elevated and my feet up. I decided on my own that i was going to take progesterone pills. I went to the doctor a few days after my birthday and he confirmed that I was pregnant and said things looked good, though it was too early to be sure. I told him I was taking progesterone (though he didn’t prescribe it), so he told me to continue.

January 11th. 2016. I’m 5 weeks along and back at work after Christmas holidays. I go to the bathroom between classes and again… I’m spotting. I call my friend Lucía who’s the only person at work who knows I’m pregnant and she comes to where I am and I just cry and cry and tell her I absolutely cannot go through another miscarriage; that I am pretty sure the sadness of it will sink me into a deep depression or kill me. She offers to take me to the doctor or whatever I need and tells me repeatedly not to worry.

I pull mysef together, call my doctor and finish teaching my class. It’s a Monday so I will have to wait until Wednesday to see my doctor because Tuesday is his day off and I work in a different city and it will take me over an hour to get to his office. So I hope for the best and see if I can wait until Wednesday.

BY the end of the day I’m barely spotting but I’ve cried at least 2 or 3 more times and the principal (along with half the staff) now knows I’m pregnant. I get home and decide that I have to go to the hospital because I won’t get through the night without worrying myself sick.

We head to Nuestra Señora de América hospital but they don’t have gynecologial  emergency services and they tell us we can go to Hospital Nuevo Belén.

That night was the beginning of 38 weeks and 4 days of nervousness and worry.

 

Mind Your Business & Miscarriages

A very common question that people like to ask, especially once you are a newly wed or have been in a relationship for some time, is when you are going to start having children. I too, have asked friends this and while they’ve always smiled and or given an answer, what they should have done was told me to mind my business!

IF, when, where, how and with who people choose to have children with is a very personal matter. You never know why someone who YOU think should have children doesn’t and by asking you just may be bringing up something painful for them. So mind your business, will you!

Before I had my very precious almost always smiling little boy, I also had two miscarriages. One at 5 weeks and another about 2 months later, at 8 weeks. The first pregnancy wasn’t planned but we had just done our pareja de hecho, I was late but not too concerned (cuz I was wearing a white dress) and I was sure I wanted to have a baby eventually with Guille anyway. (Guille would be HuzBun dearest from a previous post).

So I took a test, it was positive and we were shocked but happy. Didn´t waste too much time in telling our immediate family and one or two close friends. A few days later, I start spotting but friends who have had children tell me it’s normal and the Internet indicates more or less the same. So I carry on with life.

The spotting gets heavier and the colour changes so I decide I need to go to the hospital. They examine me and tell me I need to rest due to amenaza de aborto which translates to risk of miscarriage-I’m worried and scared and pray like crazy but about a week later, my gynecologist says something to me about the embryo and the sac being irregular. I can’t tell you what he said because I was crying so hard. He said it’s normal and it happens. I respond that I don’t care and I don’t get why it has to happen to me.

usound
Sac with no baby

The miscarriage drags on and the remnants of what would have been a baby leave my body in the form of an extremely heavy and painful period.

The next few days I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions but was mainly just angry. Angry at God, at my body, at my husband (then partner)and very angry with people who said to me ”Well at least it was early. You weren’t that far along!”. I suppose the purpose of those (stupid) commments was to comfort me but all it did was piss me off more.

After being angry I was jealous. Jealous of everyone with a baby and every smiling, glowing pregnant woman I saw. One day I went to the park and sat for about an hour just looking at mothers with their children and babies and baby bumps and that’s when I decided that surely these women have nothing over me. They were no better than me and if they could have a baby, so could I! So while Guille was hesitant, I wanted a baby! And I usually get what I want.

A little over a month later, I was pregnant again! I got prescribed low dose aspirin and progesterone shots. Once the injections were finished, we switched to progesterone pills. I felt fine. There was no spotting and every week I rejoiced!

I passed the 5 week mark and was optimistic! 6 weeks! 7! Going great! and then the spotting started again. I didn’t wait to hear from a doctor, I just knew it was going to happen again. Later that evening, we went to the doctor and the same story about an irregular sac. I decided they didn’t know what they were talking about so we went to another doctor and they said almost the same thing but that I should rest. SO I confined myself to bed, put a pillow under my hips and had my feet elevated. The spotting stopped, friends came to visit and we decided to go on a mini road trip to the beach. The doctor said I could, but that if the spotting came back I knew what that meant. So I stayed on the beach while my friends went to the aquarium, still hopeful and smiling.

beach

A few days pass and I go back to the emergency room, they examine me and tell me to rest and come back in about a week to see if anything changes. I go back a few days later and things have changed but they are worse and they tell me they can schedule me for a D & C the next morning or insert pills in me to bring on contractions and help my body pass the remnants of the pregnancy out.

I chose to have the pills because going home and waiting hours knowing what would happen the next morning was too much for me. I didn’t speak to the doctor because I was angry with her and when she put the pills in me and it hurt I didn’t cry or react because I was pissed at my body and thought I would ‘ignore’ it in that way.

misagain
Sad after Miscarriage # 2

Fifteen minutes later I started having the worst cramps I’ve had in my life. I could barely walk. I got home and intense cramping, felt a constant need to go to the toilet and vomitting. Add heaving bleeding to the list and you have the process of miscarriage # 2.

A year later I would experience these symptoms again but with a completely different outcome.

I suppose that each miscarriage is different and that varies even more with each woman. For me they both started with spotting. I didn’t have pain until the process started- by the process I mean my body actually passing  out the remnants. I use the word remnants, not to be cold but because in both cases there was no embryo or a barely developed one. According to my doctor the foetus is what comes after the embryo develops. I don’t know how accurate that is but I’m no doctor.

I had one naturally occurring miscarriage and the other was induced. With both, the cramps were almost similar to labour pains with a lot of bleeding. At some point you pass a HUGE clot and then the pain becomes a bit more bearable- more like regular period pains. The pain eventually subsides but the bleeding lasts about 2-3 weeks.

The emotional side effects lasts probably forever. Even though, I now have a healthy, happy beautiful 5 month old, I still get upset about having lost 2 pregnancies. I still wonder what life would have been like if I had a baby before. Would those babies have been boys or girls? Would they look like Liam? Would they be happy and smiley like he is? SO many questions!

So, the next time you think about asking or commenting about a woman not having children, stop yourself. She’ll talk to you about it or bring it up if she wants to.

In my next post, I’ll be discussing how these 2 miscarriages affected my pregnancy and how you can heal emotionally after losing a pregnancy or baby.

As always, your comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated!