Donnerstag, 16. Dezember 2010

Asking and Telling

I have given my fingerprints and my academic history. I have listed every person with whom I have ever lived and in which cities we resided. I have described myself, given photos of myself, filled out questionnaires about the mental faculties and medical histrories of myself and my family. I have had two physicals, a TB test and discussed what an inability to reproduce means to me. So why is it, then, that our social workers blush, clear their throats and ask our pardon when they ask the question "So how would you describe your sex life?"
Our lives our open books and rightly so. We are adopting a child and the people responsible for attesting to our soundness want to know everything about us. Issues in our bed may well become issues in our home, so questions about our sex-life makes sense. When I apply for Swiss citizenship, bureaucrats will not only question myself and my husband, but also my references, friends and co-workers about my sex-life. This too makes sense. The natuaralizers need to know if my relationship is on the up-and-up and that I did not simply marry for the red passport.
I have never and cannot anticipate ever being in a situation in which my employer asks after my sexuality or sex life. When working with Planned Parenthood, the most intimate question was "do you feel safe in your home?". When working on a project for a domestic violence shelter for same sex couples, I was not asked about my sex-life or sexuality. So why do the government and the military feel that they have the right to make their employees sex-life their business. Why are they illegally ferreting out details in order to remove their soldiers from their posts?
Our California social worker has worked for the city for 30 years. In her daily attempts to help children live happier lives, I am sure that she has seen things that I would never let myself imagine. In removing children from homes and placing them in others, she has seen much that would typically be kept "behind closed doors". Nevertheless, she sat at our dining table and blushed from embarrassment, when asking about our sex life.
She needn't be ashamed. She is our social worker. I do, however, say shame on any government or military official, who would believe that the sex-lives of their employees is any business of theirs. Shame on asking, shame on telling, shame on the discrimination and bigotry that would stop Americans from serving their country.

Mittwoch, 24. November 2010

over the hill and through the warnings.

It was winter. I was leaving work at the diner and was meant to head to Boston. My boss, a sweet, kind, caring fellow, asked that I please not risk the drive. This was good advice and I am glad that I followed it. As I slowly crawled home in my Saturn, the radio news told me that there was a huge pile-up on the highway. I headed through the east side of Providence and thanked my lucky stars that I would soon be warm and cozy at home.

I turned left onto the hill that lead to my house. A man clearing his driveway shouted and waved his hands. "Don't drive down there! It's never plowed!" This was true. The city nearly never plowed my neighborhood. "I'll be fine!" I smiled "I just live right there in the second road!" I confidently, though slowly and carefully, progressed further toward the downward slope. Just then, another man clearing another drive on the other side of the street shouted and waved "hey!" I lowered my window and affirmed that I understood his concerns about driving down the hill, and assured him that I wasn't headed down there. I rolled my window up, grateful for my caring neighbors, crested the hill and put on my turn signal for the turn into my road. As I turned the wheel nothing happened. I tapped the brakes and nothing happened - - I was headed down the hill.
I went limp, because I heard that that is what one is meant to do. It was taking forever, however and I couldn't maintain my limpness. Then I saw that at the bottom of the hill, there was a pile up. A car had hit a lamppost and dislodged another car that had hit the same post. A school bus had hit that car and the drivers were out of the cars and safe, but I saw that the bus was still full of it's little tiny passengers. Ack!
I tried swinging my wheel back and forth, hoping to hit a tree on the way. I pounded the brakes, ready to turn into the skid. No response. My plan to stay limp was failing, but luckily, my car just softly, smoothly and slowly inserted itself under the school bus. The children in the bus cheered.

I called my pal and neighbor on my cell phone. Her boyfriend answered. "Is Dacia there?" I panted. "Look in your back window." There, scooting, falling and finally sliding and paddling herself down the hill on her bum, was my buddy. "I'm coming!" she shouted.

I've told this story many times and it's probably fairly common. Today, though, as snow falls in other parts of this country and another, possibly on my loved ones who are far away, I am thinking of that day. I'm not thinking of the crash or the shattered car. I'm thinking of the snow shovellers and the woman on her bum. I'm thinking about the straining to go limp.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all of my loved ones and all of my support. I hope that when they speak, that I listen fully. I hope that when they need me, I can scoot on my snowy bum and be with them.

Samstag, 13. November 2010

like running at a wall....repeatedly.

In excited anticipation of the Harry Potter film, I am listening to the audio book of the 7th and final Harry Potter. When hearing the phrase "the dementor's kiss" I am reminded of a jolly young boy raising my chin and sucking at the air around my mouth like a little hoover, pretending to suck my soul like the prison-gaurds in the Rowling books.  I then walked into the DMV where the occupants resembled dementor's victims far better than I could play-act for  that enthusiastic little pal of mine.
There is no joy in that building, mostly just a lot of frustration and confusion. I wasn't even sure exactly what it was that I needed. I was told to get a DMV driving record, but do not have a California drivers license. I was then told that I could simply get a form stating that I have never had a CA drivers license and that that would be sufficient. I was so pleased to hear that there was something I could get, something over which I had control, that I sat happily. I waited more than 3 hours, knitting, listening to Harry Potter and the recorded voice telling which number was being served where.
It seems as if every step forward in the adoption process is met with a gigantic shove back. After completing all of our home-study information for our adoption agency in Oregon, we found an agency in California to do our physical home-study and home inspection. They were able to use about half of the forms we had sent to our agency but had a stack of more for us (which took forever to arrive). There were probing, prodding intrusive questionnaires, which we filled out to the best of our ability. There were forms in which we had to check boxes, explaining that we understood that children should not be abused, burned, neglected and more. There were forms stating that we understand that all of our firearms should be locked up and forms with which we agreed to make any children in our cars buckle their safety belts. These all made me feel quite sad and gloomy, but I was buoyed when I thought about the people working hard to ensure that children were going to safe and loving homes. Our forms are the same as those required for people being licensed as foster parents and are far less sweet and cuddly than are those that deal expressly with the adoptive parents at our open adoption agency.
We went for our second physical in 3 months. Ivo's TB test required a chest x-ray. We sent off form after form. We waited on things to be sent back from other people so that we could send them on ourselves. We got fingerprinted and waited for those results. We asked questions of the people at the agencies and waited again for their answers and finally, when there was nothing else, we waited at the DMV.
After my success, Ivo's failure to be able to even enter the DMV yesterday was a bit of a sting. (We were so hopeful to get all of our paperwork out by Friday that we forgot that it was Veteran's day.) Today, however, we got in. I met Ivo waiting outside the building and took his place so that he could go to a nearby coffee shop to work,  and resumed my knitting. All sorts of systems were down at the dept. today and the anger and frustration felt by the people being turned away, license-less was poisonous. There was much cursing and anger and sadness, but I thought that I was safe; we didn't need a license after all.
Though none of it makes much sense, Ivo is not allowed to have the DMV print-out that I have. Indeed, the woman at the entrance (the one who took my form and circled some something on it) said that I should never have been allowed to have mine in the first place. (I'm a bit ashamed at how pathetic I must have sounded as I whimpered "please - don't write on that any more.") Ivo was given a form that supposedly could yield some results in a few months or so. Our pleading questions for absolutely anything else that could be done must have sounded pretty lame. She couldn't have known that this sounded to us like preventing us from being parents.
Every chance to gain patience seems weaker with every barrier, but we seem to be taking the role of "morale-booster" in turn. This morning was my turn. I reminded Ivo that there was a way and that we need only find it. ("We know the destination, but not the path." has been an oft repeated refrain in the past year.) We took deep breaths and concentrated on the destination, thought on our tools and resources and gathered strength and patience.
This afternoon, however, I feel a bit gloomy again. I bought fire-extinguishers and a fire-blanket in anticipation of the home inspection (whenever that may be) and began to worry that maybe I'd jinxed everything. If only this process were so within my control that I could jinx it.
We're playing a dangerous game with time and I just can't see it working. I still see the destination but I'm sad when I think that we will not be able to have an open adoption in the States. Our agency typically places babies with couples between 9 and 11 months on average after they've entered the pool, but that is not guaranteed, of course. We will only be here another 10 months and have no idea when we will officially be in the waiting pool. I'm committed to staying behind in the States if need be, a month or two, if we don't have everything officially finalized but.........
...and here is when I give it all up. I don't give up, mind, I simply give all of the worry up. I look at the work and the worry and the things that we can do and the things that we can't, I collect our loving intentions and desires and will and put it all in a special place. I write it in a journal that I hope our future child will someday read, I send it out into the ether. I put it all together and call it love. I put it aside and hope that it remains and then surrounds our future child; a little cushion of love that will let our child know that he or she was wanted and is worth more than stupid forms and frustrations and obstacles. Most parents feel that they would walk through fire for their child. Before we have met, I will stand on line for mine.

Samstag, 11. September 2010

Moving House: a recipe

Take two travelers, remove gall bladder. Add a sprinkle of apprehension and leave to rest 2 weeks.
Next, deconstruct bookshelf and slowly remove personal items. (Note: If removed too quickly, one of the pair will become dispondent. If this happens, warm gently and leave to rest.)
Temper expectations and continue packing.
Stuff with greens and add liquid throughout.
Reserve some books and clothes and stuff a storage space with the rest.
Mix well with friends and cool to room temperature.
Serve on a bed of someone else.

Donnerstag, 2. September 2010

Old Folks

When my brother first visited Switzerland, my (at the time) boyfriend's grandmother wanted to meet him. "To meet the one of the other twins is fascinating." She said in English. She came to tea and while she was there, someone was pasting loyalty stamps from a store into a booklet. The stamps are to be collected and then turned in for free things. "I hate that. I never do that. It reminds me of the ration stamps." Everyone looked at her askance, knowing full well that her family made it through the war fairly comfortably, but she continued "You all would have gotten loads of dairy products, all these tall men." She came from a family of three girls, and we were meant to infer that they received less dairy products. It was all very interesting to hear a different grandparent from a foreign continent describe the hardships during world war II.
My grandparents are folks who save things and hate waste and we were always told that that was a hold over from the depression. I've also had depression-era cake which, I believe, is made without milk or eggs. Nevertheless I never heard in America, as I hear here, "We wouldn't see an egg for weeks on end." The narrative that I pretty much heard was "we went without, including stockings" and the ingenious tricks that folks thought up to deal with deficits.
The scarcity of eggs is one thing I hear more here, the other is bananas, which seems a strange thing to me. For some reason, hearing people from Eastern Germany talking about seeing their first lime or kiwi or coca cola in the 80s strikes a cord within me. I think perhaps that the banana scarcity seems especially strange to me because I don't care for bananas and can easily imagine a banana-less happy life. As someone who tries to buy local produce, bananas are off the shopping list all together.
This summer when I went on vacation with my in-laws, we stayed at a hotel in Süd Tirol, where my mother in law had summered in her childhood. When we arrived, the family who owned the hotel still remembered her almost immediately. The young daughter, who is 9 years my mother-in-law's junior, now runs the hotel and reminisced about bananas. Apparently, they'd had no bananas in the 50s while Süd Tirol was being handed back and forth between Italy and Austria. When my mother-in-law's parents booked their room from Zürich, the swiss hotel owner begged them to bring bananas. They smuggled in a crate of them and were searched at the border but somehow managed to sneak them in. This story touched me very deeply when I heard it, despite my dislike of the fruit.
This Sunday, while sitting in the sun and knitting, I was approached by an old woman who lives just down the street. She was intrigued by my "italian knitting style" (go figure). We sat and chatted and she managed to tell me incredible snippets about her life. Growing up poor in Appenzell, being in a yoddeling club and needing to knit the whole way there and back , in order to finish products to sell, her husband on the border in the war, her 5 sons and 1 daughter - "You must've gotten loads of dairy products", I interjected. "Indeed! We bartered with the neighbors and made out quite well." For some reason I was so pleased to be able to pull out this knowledge and insert it in our conversation. We carried on for about an hour just sitting and chatting on the bench, until she needed to head of to drop something at her garden. I remained on the bench and knitted, shaking my head in wonder at the different elderly folk in different countries and the wealth of information they have.
A quarter of an hour I rose from the bench and prepared myself for a little stroll in the cemetery before heading home. While still on the path that divides the school yard from the cemetery wall, the elderly woman returned, on her way home as well.
"Just see this path here used to be part of the cemetery as well" she blurted out.
"Did it?" I asked
"Yes, but streams of water used to come down here from the big hill over there and would wash the earth away from the bones, which displeased the teachers and children, so they pushed the barrier back there. Well, have a nice day."
What couldn't I learn from that woman?

Montag, 9. August 2010

coming soon to a different city

Things that I am looking forward to in California:
-People not mishearing/misremembering my name as "Jenny"
-lemon trees
-people not speaking to me in Dutch when I explain "my surname is dutch"
-Stitch n' Bitches aplenty
-More yoga studios than I can shake a stick at.
-not being the only "beginner" in my marriage at many things.
-Sunday food shopping.
Things that I am not looking forward to:
-feeling foreign in the US
-those times when I forget that my experience (with this move) is very different from my husbands.
-learning to be patient (possibly made easier by the yoga mentioned above)
-the most difficult thing: missing my cat
While having a big think and a long walk and talk, Ivo and I realized that the experience of moving our poor peculiar cat to the States for one year may well traumatize her beyond healing. (We may have been selfish when we thought that she should come with us because we're so important to her.) We still do not have an apartment and may need to take some friends up on their generous offer to stay a week while apartment hunting. The 12 hour flight + moving to friends house + moving to our apartment + not being allowed out-of-doors + 12 hour flight back (possibly with a small child) + needing to trust a neighbor straight away to care for our cat while we go to an adoption seminar + needing trusted neighbor to care for cat while we are away for work/family/adoption what-not = a very stressed kitty.
I will miss seeing her curled up in our sink asleep. I will miss her enjoying it when I turn on the tap when she is curled up in the sink. I will miss her stealing of small stuffed toys and kneading my knees and laying on my belly to aid my Qi and her messing with my knitting and her rubbing against my just showered ankles.
I hope that we are doing the right thing and hate not being sure, but I know that I trust that she will have a satisfying home life at Tobi and Pi's

Sonntag, 13. Juni 2010

risky transition with no risk of spoilers.

We're treading water in the unknown. Every little teeny plan feels like a victory because there are big massive things that we cannot know until we know them. It appears that the process of adoption is akin to surveying a land of bridges and being told to ignore them. The wonderful, beautiful, terrifying things that are possibly in the future can not even be contemplated, without the hubris of assuming that we will be permitted to encounter them.
It's just the normal day-to-day unknown, but there is a whole lot unknown all at once. There is this place in my agenda where plans just stop, nothing is written and nothing is known. Before that, we have adoption forms to fill out that lead to an unknown, my certification course, the outcome of which is unknown and my fluency exams which are two days of scary testing that lead to yet another unknown.
One fun unknown is the world cup. It's lovely to have one unknown that doesn't mean life-altering scariness. Plus there is an end date, so we know when the result comes out.
I hesitate to blog about adoption, for fear that it will lead to blogging about little else. That may become inevitable at some point, but I think that I want to postpone that. It's a big topic at the moment and it's nice to think and talk about the good parts while we're ensconced in paperwork and the minutia and bureaucracy.
Even writing this has been a helpful reminder that not knowing what's to come is horribly banal. Even when we have our kid and wonder what that kid will look like, our lack of genetic influence won't make that wondering any different from an average parent. The possible heartbreaks awaiting us during this process may be different from the heartbreaks of natural parents, but we'll all have heartbreaks, in one form or another.

Donnerstag, 6. Mai 2010

proud to be a.....

Yesterday morning, I had an irrational response to Ivo's saying that "Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park" was covered by Tom Fuller and was originally a German song. He searched the Internet and found that the song was Fullers and, like a gentleman, said that he was wrong. But it was too late. I was worked-up. Worked-up like I was when Steff tried to convince me that the tune of Yankee Doodle was not an American song, but a "Universales Lied" (Universal Song). They were singing football songs to the Yankee Doodle melody at the time. They'd just finished a song to the tune of a Bon Jovi song and another to the tune of a White Stripes song. I may have frothed at the mouth.
Living abroad has exposed me to how dearly I hold my American Myths. When a small German man told me that Germans had invented the automobile and the airplane. "But, but, but....Kittyhawk!" As a result, I seem to be super sensitive to the claims laid to things that I consider American. I'm not talking blind belief, (I knew a certain young girl who believed that Washington invented colors and the alphabet.) but happy belief of certain "truths" that I hold to be "self evident"; not just to me, but to the world.
When I first moved here, people would say "You don't act like an American!" The fact that I smoked, didn't drive a car, never ate at McDonalds and was interested in learning a foreign language, confused them. This didn't really upset me at the time. I'd roll my eyes and get over their stereotypes and misconceptions. I find, however, that I am especially sensitive now that I am considering raising a child abroad. I have, perhaps irrationally, not considered my decision to live abroad as an out-right rejection of my homeland. Now, though, I am struggling with how to teach my child the myths of the country what made me. That child will have intelligent American relatives to help, but I am currently newly aware of what my decision means and the work ahead of me, if I want my child to know the good bits that their mommy loves about America.

Montag, 19. April 2010

this too shall pass

As a teenager, even though one understands that other people have felt "like this" one imagines that noone has "ever felt quite like this". Like the Madonna lyrics "Romeo and Juliette, they never felt this way I bet", there is a loneliness and pride to the teenager's thinking that they have invented love/melancholy/happiness/friendship that had yet never been discovered.
I am holding on to this knowledge today and reminding myself that I am not even the only one feeling the way that I am feeling. Not only have these feelings been felt before, there may be someone experiencing them at this very moment. As I washed the breakfast dishes and thought "but doesn't the universe understand how ready we are and how great we'll be as parents?" one can be guaranteed that another person out there was having the same thought possibly while washing lunch or dinner dishes of their own.
So ready are we for the adoption process, that my husband can utter the mantra almost automatically. When discovering this morning that the agency with which we really wanted to work was not Hague accredited, his response was "that is not our agency". We have named hypothetical women who do not want their child to be raised in Switzerland/ do not agree with our idea of "optimal contact to birth-parents"/ do not approve of our religious beliefs as "not our birth mother" and their future children as "not our baby". We've thought so long and hard about the method and means that we want in order to build our family and are now whittling down the paths that are "not our path"s.
Oh it hurts. Every stumble brings the question "doesn't the universe know how ready we are?" Nevertheless, even in my sadness, I know that I will be looking back some day with an understanding that this was all necessary to find our child and build our family. Even now I know that there are other deserving parents who are sad that they have to wait but will eventually be blessed with a family of their own. We are not alone. In communion with them, I wash my dishes and wait.

Mittwoch, 3. März 2010

take part in the BART or get to know CHARLIE

Moving to any new city comes with a various assortment of tasks of acclimation. One task in particular is unique to each city: getting to know your public transport. When, where and in what form do you pay? Where are the zones and in which one do I live/learn/work/shop? How late do the various modes of transportation run?
I will be moving in autumn and become acquainted with the BART. Luckily, I can use the Internet and local friends for help. More advantageous is the fact that the information will all be in English. I have been controlled by Parisian Metro controllers, I've nearly been brought to tears by Zürich tram controllers (my month pass had expired the day before!) and made the mistake of not having change ready only once while riding RIPTA. Now on to the Bay Area.
Accomplishing being transported publicly is not the largest milestone, but it's one of the first. When I was in Paris last April I was made accutely aware of just how integrated I truly am in Zürich. Not only do I know when tram service stop and night bus service begins, I also have preferred "short-cuts" on foot and bike paths (I'm a nervous city cyclist). Beside knowing the VBZ and SBB. I know jokes about their advertising. I know to ask "Ist da noch frei?" on the train and to merely nod my head on the tram, when taking a seat next to someone. I know that if I want to help a person with their pram I need to be fast and throw elbows to beat the other people who are sure to volunteer. I have learned the perfect way to scold youngsters who are letting their Handy's music play too loudly ("must we all suffer from that sound or could you do it alone?").
That's right: I'm integrated! I've got Zürich down pat. It takes me 5 minutes to leave a shop for all the "thank you...have a nice day....same to, thank too....thank you....goodbye"s. I don't get freaked out by the way swiss folk stare. I know by heart the tri-lingual announcement on trains and know how to decode announcements on trams. I feel quite local - that is, until I walk into a drugstore and ask if they have dandruff shampoo made with tar and pine. I will always have been raised in America.
California here I come, right back where I started from. Open up your golden gates......

Donnerstag, 18. Februar 2010

Can't get there from here

When folks visit me in Switzerland, they will say something about the States, but refer to it as "here". I do it when I'm in the States too. I'll say "Here we have..." or something similar. I was just in Berlin with my brother. He doesn't live there. I don't live there. During our week there, when referring to our perspective homes neither of us said "here". It doesn't sound like a big thing, but it struck me as odd.

Sonntag, 17. Januar 2010

too early?

I mean no disrespect to anyone by what I am about to write and wish that anyone who becomes offended recognizes this as my typical stream-of-consciousness gibbering (which I have been afflicted with since leaving Rhode Island, it seems).
When talking with Ivo last night about Haiti, I said that I was surprised by how many people were talking about Haiti. I don't mean to be-little the country in any way, but it has been suffering for a very long time, and this suffering is often unnoticed.
I thought back guiltily to a current events project in the 7th grade. That would have been 1991, just after the coup and capture of Aristide. Haiti was in the news and was the topic of my current events presentation that week. (Our history teacher made us read a newspaper article and write a summary and opinion on it, weekly.) I stretched my little 12 year old mind as far as it would go and then wrote that I thought that America should not come to Haiti's aid because there were Americans who needed aid every day and we should think of ourselves first. I'm inclined to feel guilty about having had this opinion, but my current knowledge of developmental psychology and an oft remembered story of one of my sister's high school classes remind me that this 12 year old paper was what it was. (The story that my sister told me was one of a civics class, or something, in which a fellow student proposed ending poverty by giving everyone a large sum of money. Shame, that in the past few years I have thought "This politician is no smarter about economics than that classmate of my sister's".)
Years and years later, when a New York times front page showed a Haitian woman making a cake from dirt and a bit of flour and water to feed her family, I was working at a diner on a college campus, where many of our patrons read the Times. There was much talk about Haiti and it was so sad and difficult to read in a place that served food. By the afternoon I hadn't eaten much and had heard the same conversation over and over again. A former waitress came in for a late lunch and I took the opportunity to sit and have a chat. She was listening in to a nearby table's conversation.
"My parents go to Haiti every few years to volunteer for an aid organization." she said
"That's wonderful!" I said.
"Well, yeah, but how they started this tradition is a bit ridiculous" she admitted.
It's like this: When her parents were preparing to marry, her father was in charge of booking the honeymoon. It was going to be a big surprise. She set out the things that she would need for a hot or cold place and he secreted them into a bag and they were off. They flew to their honeymoon destination, where her mother discovered, they would be staying in Haiti for two weeks. "Haiti?" She asked, shocked. "Yes." Her father beamed with pride. "You've always said that you wanted to go to Haiti!" "To TAhiti! Not to Haiti!!"
But they stayed and found that there was actually some good works that they could do and they return often as 2nd, 3rd, etc honeymoons.

This story pops in my head every now and again as a buoy against some of the more upsetting (and down-right hateful) things that I have heard on the subject of Haiti after the earthquake. It may be inappropriate or it may be helpful but hopefully it won't stop any important dialogue about this unique and suffering country.

Dienstag, 5. Januar 2010

...if you just smile

Olivia Judson has a theory that language may affect mood. She wrote about it on her blog at the NY Times. Many of us know that smiling can affect mood, so she wants to know if languages in which the mouth is positioned in a smile or frown more often would affect mood. The same way that saying "Cheese" makes you smile and the french "fleur" makes you pout. The theory has not been tested, but I would be interested to know.

When Ivo and I were first dating I was surprised to notice that when he spoke Swiss German, his voice was deeper than when speaking English. My first theory was that he'd been nervous when first speaking English as a student and had thus learned it in a nervous or higher register. My theory was disproved, however, when I discovered that I too spoke Swiss German with a bit of a deeper voice as well. So now I don't know what the cause is, unless it's the languages themselves.

Perhaps not even just the language but the social circle. At a book club last month we discussed the fact that there was a slur in our book that the Chinese characters used for white people. It referred to their noses. This got a started about the term "Honky" which is also used by the Palawa in Tasmania, to refer to white people, who stereotypically speak through their nose. I find this all fascinating as a woman who spends her time mumbling. I'd like to think that I speak like those people from whom I've learned my language, but I don't.
I race through sentences in all of the languages that I have learned and tend to mumble or speak softly at times. Speaking softly was born of an idea that "a mistake made quietly is not a mistake". Ivo once remarked that most people were unaware of how good my language was coming along, because they'd never heard me speak it at an audible level. Oh, if only it were in my languages learned in later life that I did this, but no! Even in my mother-tongue I tend to default to: a mistake made quietly is not a mistake.

I am now speaking in English to my niece A.J. as much as possible. This may not seem tricky and, truly, it is almost automatic for me to speak with a child or an animal in my mother-tongue. It only becomes difficult when I am switching back and forth and back and forth between saying silly things to A.J. and speaking to people around me in another language. She has, of course, been hearing Bern-Swiss-German for almost a year now and science may have you believe that she even cries at a certain pitch so as to parrot the rhythm of her mother's tongue. Nevertheless, I am convinced that she is coming along in her English amazingly well. I have no real evidence for this, but I've chosen to take a few of her cues as clues. For example, from the age of one week, whenever I speak to her in English, she always makes an "ooo" face. I'm not saying that mine is a language with an inordinate amount of "ooo" sounds, but the fact her face arranges itself in this way when I am speaking to her in English suggests a certain cause and effect. Also, she typically reacts to my English with one of those baby smiles with the squinty eyes and turns of the head.
Ivo can be our control group for my theory. When he speaks to A.J. she typically sticks out her tongue. It's not an insult or anything. It appears as though Uncle Ivo's speech seems to make A.J. want to explore that particular control of that particular body part.
Of course, A.J. is only 5 weeks old and it is entirely possible that whenever her eyes are open and she is interacting she is simply hungry and thus moving her mouths in nursing ways. The grin may also not be from my language but my mouth that can't help but smile stupidly at her while speaking to her in my language. I, however choose to believe that she will love English and will smile because of it.