Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Favorites

There is a storm coming this weekend, so like good people living in Southern California, we're probably going to stay indoors a lot. We're also going to a birthday party, I am leading a book club discussion at my local library, and we're spending time with family. I hope you have a relaxing and re-energizing weekend. Here are my weekly favorites:

This blog's title made me laugh (NSFW). But it's also super informative.

Portraits of strength at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu (I volunteered there for a bit in 2008)

5 things to do to raise good kids.

I want these pants!

I finished this book -I recommend it.

My new favorite podcast. I feel smarter in 15 minutes per day.

If I had time, I'd fill this planner up.

6 free personal finance courses -because who doesn't need that?

(Photo of Lake Kivu I took while in Bukavu)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Things They Do...

This month we’re talking about love! I started last week with the things that save my life daily -little things I love that make life so much more enjoyable. Today, on Valentine’s Day, of course I must talk about my family. I met Joe in October 2001. We married in April 2005 right after I moved to the US -in February, happy US anniversary to me! Leo and Jude were born in 2011 and 2014. We are a really lovely family I have to say. Some days I think I am not meant to be a mom: I am too selfish, not patient, not smiling enough. I am not the best wife either: I nag a lot and I am not very attentive. Most days I just want to be in a cave and read. But I am a good enough mom, a good enough wife. And these two boys and one man are my strength. I love spending time with them, growing with them, and witness their lives. Also, they’re fun as heck. Here are some things they do or say that I love:

For at least 10 years Joe didn’t tell me that I pronounced “cantaloupe” wrong. He said, and I repeated, “Kan-tah-loo-peh.” I kid you not. Also I used to say "beach" the same way I said "b*tch." Same with "sheet" and "sh*t." I finally discovered that it wasn’t the proper way to pronounce that. That still makes Joe laugh -a lot.

Speaking of pronunciation, Jude doesn’t know how to say “fork.” He says “f*ck.” At dinner we try to have him say that word a lot, because we’re absolute teenagers. And he says “Shut up!” a lot because he watched too much Home Alone. It’s so shameful when he yells that in the middle of the park or Target.

Jude loves to hit people. He thinks it’s the most hilarious thing ever. But he also knows he shouldn’t hit, so when he does it (his brother most likely), he’ll look at us and very seriously, with his index pointing up, says “No. Hitting. Ok, mom?”

Leo is conjugating verbs in a very rational and fun way. He says “it hurted” or “I hitted the ball.” At least he understands how verbs work!

What makes you love your family these days?

(Photos by Incandescent Photography)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Favorites

This weekend I'm going to an all-day workshop in LA organized by SURJ. Sunday is Super Bowl, so Joe is going to his brother's while I'll spend time with my sister-in-law. I hope you have a fun weekend ahead!

Stay outraged - but keep your sanity!

Meet these four women, refugees from Syria.

How to be a good parent. I particularly follow the wine on the couch guideline.

I'm starting this book today.

And these books are great for children as we celebrate Black History Month.

This rug is on my wish list. So simple but the color is amazing.

You guys! I made this recipe this week and it was delicious.

This article makes me miss Paris!

(Photo by Nick Karvounis)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What is saving my life these days

Today I am linking up with fellow Modern Mrs. Darcy readers to list what is saving my life this season. A lot is making my life feel out of control and dark, so this is a good exercise in remembering to breathe and enjoy the little things.

The sun is back! It’s been raining and grey here for a while but the sun is back and it feels so good. I love walking my dog in the afternoon and feel the sun on my back. I’m like a crocodile: I get my energy from the sun!

Mint tea. It’s fresh and delicious! It’s become my middle of the afternoon routine.

Podcasts. Especially these. I listen to them when I walk from and to school alone or when I do mindless work (filing emails for instance). I love learning new things and feel part of a like-minded tribe.

As an introvert I need some alone time to relax. It’s been difficult lately because Jude tends to go to sleep late (9:45 PM or so). But when he’s asleep early, a good glass of wine (Chardonnay is my favorite) and a book are life savers. I’m reading this right now. Usually Joe watches one of the shows he likes on TV and I relax on the couch with him.

Friends. They’re really making life better right now. Long-time friends and new friends are helping me process, laugh, rant, and dream.

What about you? What’s saving your life right now?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Friday Favorites

Ah, this week has been so hard. The new administration has already signed executive decisions that threaten the well-being of so many on so many topics, from healthcare to refugees (refugees! On Holocaust Remembrance Day!) to women's reproductive rights. I hope this weekend offers comfort, laughter, and gathering around food with good friends.

So what is it like to be a refugee? PBS finds out.

A good commentary on the way White Feminists needs to consider others before themselves.

Speaking of - this made my heart happy.

I just finished this book. While I found it pretty basic, it offered some good pointers to be a more patient parent.

Number 1 on my travel bucket list!

I"m going to make one of these soon.

This made me laugh (and this applies to all short term missions!)

Comfort food, anyone?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

3 Tips to Help Older Children Learn a Second Language

When Joe and I started to talk about having a child, one thing was absolutely clear to me: I wanted to have bi-cultural children -children who would not only speak French but who would also claim French as their dual nationality and culture. Then Léo was born and I spoke… English. 99% of the time I spoke English. Major. Fail! I did enroll him in an amazing French school when he was 3 and during the two years he was there he learnt… well, not much! He could count and speak a few words, probably understand quite a bit but I still spoke English at home, so he never had any incentive to practice. Jude never ever went to French school because we moved right as he was turning 2 -when he could have integrated the French school. So now I have 2 boys (age 2 and 5) who do not speak or understand French. Léo even refuses to speak the few words he knows when I Skype with my family. Both are 100% American. I feel terrible. Shame, shame.

But after listening to a great podcast yesterday (episode 26, "Bringing up a bilingual child"), I feel a bit more encouraged. The host said she wanted her children to speak German but she’s never spoken to her children (who are about the same age as my boys) in that language until now -and they look at her like she’s mad anytime she utters a word in German. I feel her pain! The guest offered these 3 suggestions, which I’m going to try to follow:

-          1- Find what motivates the child to learn another language. It has to be something that is relevant to the child today. For instance, telling Léo that his brain is going to develop in wonderful ways and that he’ll earn more as an adult if he’s bilingual won’t be good reasons to learn French.

-          2- Find one activity that can be done in the minority language. For instance, watching cartoons. Another suggestion was to have a pet that only understands the minority language. We already have a pet -but maybe bringing in a stuffed animal would do the trick?

-          3- Offer various ways to hear the language: books, tv, play groups, and (the best!) immerse the child in the language for a couple of week by going to a place where people only speak that language. So I might bring the kids to Paris in the summer in addition to having my family visit us here.

The podcast really inspired me and made me feel like less of a failure. This year, it is my goal to introduce more French to them. I need to be steady and consistent. I'm encouraged!

If you have raised bilingual children successfully I’d love to hear your tips, especially if you started when they were a bit older.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Favorites: Tribute to the Obamas

Today is a sad day, friends. I do not have the words to express my dismay at and profound sorrow for the end of an era and the beginning of a dreaded new one. So I will leave you with these, hoping you have a restful and healing weekend:

Ellen's tribute to Obama. It made me cry laughing, then made me cry -period.

My President Was Black.

Obama's secret to surviving the White House: Books! Can we love him more? I think not.

To the First Lady. Ah Michelle. We will miss you.

As one working on education for the world's most vulnerable, I'd be remiss not to mention Michelle Obama's excellent initiative: Let Girls Learn.

The Obama Years. A moving video.

122 of the best photos taken by the WH photographer, Pete Souza.

These always make me laugh. The best Joe Biden memes.