Friday Favorites

Friday, November 10, 2017

Hello there. I hope you had a good week. I spent Monday and Tuesday morning with my dad, who was attending a workshop in Las Vegas. It was so good to connect one-on-one and talk non stop!
This weekend, we don't have plans other than Leo's usual hockey games. It should be pretty calm and I'm looking forward to that. What are you up to?
Here are a few interesting links if you'd like to click.

Tuesday was a good, good day!

This government is pro-life you say? I think not.

One of the most disregarded gun control loopholes.

Since the elections this magazine has been so culturally and politically relevant.

The problem with statistics used in the fight against trafficking.

This month is Native American Heritage Month. Here are excellent resources for kids.

This is where I studied and where Joe and I met.

My favorite photos of Paris. I want to buy all her pictures!

(Photo by Daria Nepriakhina)

How to be an effective white ally

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

I recently read Tim Wise’s excellent book, White Like Me. The book talks about Wise’s own path toward his understanding of race as white person and his subsequent work toward racial justice.

One of the chapters particularly caught my attention: one that delves into becoming a true white ally. It’s one thing to read about racial injustice, post articles on Twitter or Facebook or even have strong opinions about race in the US. It’s another thing to be willing to do the work of being an outspoken and active ally. Wise has some suggestions on the best way to do that:

- Be willing to listenBelieve people of color or minorities when they tell you their stories. Respect their perspective. Give them credit. One example he gives is to respect the way people want to be called: black, African American, Indian American, Native American, gays, queer? Whatever it is. If someone tells you what they want to be called, do it, respect it.
Call out racism (or any sort of negative -ism) when you see or hear it. Do not let family or friends make jokes that make you uncomfortable. Respond in love (attacks against someone has never made them change their minds!) but respond. As Martin Luther King, Jr said “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” Take this at heart, and by doing so be a role model to your other friends, family members, and especially your children if they’re around you while you call someone out.
Find white role models. This is so important. You do not have to do this alone! Be part of a group if you can. Find someone who inspires you and follow their leads. 
Speaking of leaders, do your part under the leadership of people of color or minorities. Don’t create a movement when one already exists -follow their leads, their needs, their actions.
It’s scary to be a real ally. Do it anyway! The work will challenge you and the
system that is so good to white people, myself included of course. The bottom line is that justice comes with a cost and white people must engage in uncomfortable truths and envision a revision of the socio-economic and power privileges we're accustomed to. And that's ok -necessary even.
Finally, do not expect a pat on the back for your work from people of colors or minorities. Don’t do anti-racism work for people of color -they can do that for themselves. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.

     The task is daunting but white people have power from the simple and "lucky" fact to be born white. White people need to use this privilege to exercise leadership in dismantling oppressive systems. 
      If you are interested in joining a movement to end racism, you can check out your local chapter of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) here. There is work to be done. Let's do this!

      (Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter)

Friday (cough Saturday cough) Favorites

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Wow what a week. Halloween was a blast -Jude (SWAT police officer) was sick last year but this year he knocked on all the doors and loved interacting with people while Leo (wait for it... hockey player) enjoyed spending time with his cousins. This weekend I'm home alone with the kids because Joe is in Seattle with friends. And I've decided not to drink at all until Thanksgiving. Bad timing! What are you up to?
Here are a few links I've found interesting if you'd like to click.

Did you have a good Monday? I sure did.

So much actually happened this week. So here are 3 main ideas that matter.

I don't usually care about the Live Disney event but this cast makes me want to watch it now.

Let's all agree to boycott this one, yes?

Uma is angry. And I should follow her lead  more often.

Get in mah belly.

All of these are true.

2 widely different wilderness-themed books I've enjoyed.

(Photo by Javier Molina)

Me, too

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My mom. She was 15 when she was raped – by her mom’s boyfriend, as is often the case. This single act destroyed the rest of her life. She was so naive and beautiful at that age, though I know that looks and age have nothing to do with why women are raped. Rape is a matter of power, of strength.

Sometimes it’s a matter of persuasion, of insidious guilt. That’s what happened with Weinstein, according to the tape the New Yorker made public. That’s what happened to me when I was 16, with an ex-boyfriend. He was my first sexual partner and though our first time was consensual, our last time certainly was not. We had broken up during the summer and then saw each other again at school. He was older than me and had his own apartment. We met in the street, chatted, and we went to his place, as friends. After a while he wanted sex. I said no and he said “why did you come here then? You knew what you were getting into.” I didn’t know what to say. He started kissing me and lowering me on the bed. I think I said no one more time. He was 5 years older. I didn’t know to forcefully say no and leave. After all, I had come to his apartment, so maybe this was what I wanted. He made me doubt myself. And to him, sex was consensual. For so many years I thought so, too. I knew I didn’t want it, but I didn’t fight it either. To this day, I don’t consider what happened rape, but that last time with him was not the definition of consensual. I felt used and that’s not a good feeling.

I am guessing this is what a lot of women felt with Weinstein. They felt guilty because they didn’t say no enough times, because they didn’t run out of the room or that sweet talking and veiled threats made them “acquiesce” or at least remain silent. And then there is the added pressure of who Weinstein is, or what people would say if they went public or made him an enemy. People would say “you went to his hotel room. What did you expect?”

Is it too much to expect respect? Should women expect to be talked into sex, like it’s ok and understood that men can’t help themselves, and even actually expect sex if they’re alone with a woman? We need to change this culture of rape, of thinking that girls should always be on the lookout, that it’s on us to protect ourselves and prevent rape.

Rape is about power, about gender norms. Until we change this, sexual assaults against women will happen.

(In this post I chose to focus on women here as it relates to my mom's and my own experience, as women. Boys and men are also victims of sexual abuse, as recent allegations against Kevin Spacey show. And in this case, let's be clear that sexual abuse was again borne of power and predatory intents, not sexual orientation.)

PS: the origin of #metoo

Friday Favorites

Friday, October 27, 2017

Hi there. How have you been? Things have been routine here. Hockey, school, work, tv, books, wine... This weekend we're celebrating Joe's dear uncle's life. I hope this will be a time to heal and reminisce. What are your plans?
Here are a few interesting links if you'd like to click.

Segregation in schools - before and now.

The Rohingya crisis is getting worse.

I knew France had issues with Islamophobia but this article rocked me a bit.

A few weeks ago the far Christian right published an anti-LGBT statement. This Denver statement is a loving and inclusive one.

Ok, those were heavy reads! On to lighter ones.

How to start when the voices in your head drag you down.

Money lessons for kids.

I have the most beautiful baby niece.

This beauty is officially on my wish list.

(Photo by Nick Casale)

37: A new direction

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

As you know if you've been reading this blog for a few months (and if you don't, you can catch up here) I have high hopes for this new year of my life -for 37. I decided that instead of resolutions, I'd make lasting positive changes in my life, and I started working with a life coach, Kate. Readers, if you need a life coach, Kate is amazing. I love working with her -her energy, sense of humor, and gentleness make her a superb partner on this walk to change. She also has a podcast, Here to thrive, which I adore -and the reason why I contacted her in the first place. I feel so fancy saying I have a "life coach" but I can already tell this was the right choice for me at this moment in my life. Working with her is energizing and gives me hope.

This week Kate and I had our second session. We talked about values. We started with a bunch of "value cards", which I had to place in 3 piles -yes, maybe, no- in answer to the prompt: "when you're 80 and look back on your life, what will make you say: this made our life good?" It was quite an easy and fun exercise. Once I had 3 piles, we focused on the YES pile and gathered cards which could fit together. I ended up with 8 piles, which became my 8 values -the values I need to make sure I nurture and focus on to have a good life.

These values are: family, community, integrity / authenticity, learning for growth, joy, abundance, contentment, and health. I also put "faith" under it all, as a foundation.

I played around with those main categories, mainly through drawing, which I must admit I completely suck at, my level being akin to that of a 2nd grader. But through these images, I figured that my 2 main words right now are




Abundance and joy. I'm going to focus on that right now.

And that makes me happy.

What about you? Do you have words that guide your life or your year?

Friday Favorites

Friday, October 6, 2017

Hey guys! After a work trip and a few days taking care of a sick Jude, I'm hoping this weekend is uneventful. We're, as usual, going to Leo's hockey game tomorrow morning, and that's about it. Do you have plans this weekend?

Here are a few things I've enjoyed (or screamed at!):

Of course they would.

What happened in Las Vegas is heartbreaking. Take a look at this analysis of another white terrorist.

If you have children, how to talk to them about tragedies (this is for Charlottesville, but can apply to any tragedy)

This home library (a whole room!) is now part of my vision board. The books! The ladder! The blue chairs!

How to better invest as a woman.

I should probably buy that sweater for its name, right? Also it's a French store, so yup, defintiely!

I want to gift this book to everyone of my friends. Review coming soon!

I love listening to their podcasts (Pod Save the World is my favorite!)

(Photo by Neven Krcmarek)

The Rohingya refugee crisis

Friday, September 22, 2017

The world has been in turmoil lately. Hurricanes and earthquakes have destroyed cities and lands on our continent. Hunger is threatening populations in East Asia. Civil war is still raging in Syria. Today instead of my usual Friday Favorites, I want to focus on a crisis which, until recently, was getting little attention in the US media: the Rohingya refugee crisis. 

The Rohingya, considered one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, are a Muslim group living in the Rakhine state of Myanmar -on the Western coast of the country, just south of Bangladesh.

(Map from the BBC Website)

Myanmar is a majority Buddhist country and the existence of a Muslim minority within its borders has been considered an issue for decades. After gaining independence from Britain in 1948, the government fell to a military coup in 1962. The political system became oppressive and repressive, in particular to its non-Buddhist populations. In 1982 the Rohingya were denied citizenship. As a result, they were denied basic rights, such as healthcare, education, and voting privileges. They became a stateless group within the borders of Myanmar. Over the years, many Rohingya have fled the country as a result of violence, more recently in the fall of 2016, resettling in Bangladesh, Malaysia, or Saudi Arabia. 

On August 25, 2017 of this year, a Rohingya armed group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), considered a terrorist group by the Myanmar government, attacked police posts in Rakhine State, killing 12 police officers. The response from the Myanmar army was, and continues to be, repressive and bloody, so much so that some UN officials have called it a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. More than 400,000 have fled to neighboring Bangladesh as a result of their villages being burnt to the ground and their family members, including children, slaughtered by the military. Time magazine has published heart wrenching photos of the refugees arriving in Bangladesh, some carrying their old parents in baskets, some carrying their infants to shore -reminiscent of the arrivals of the many refugees arriving in the coasts of Southern Europe. 

Around the world, leaders were expecting Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmar State Counselor, position akin to that of Prime Minister, to publicly oppose the atrocities committed against the Rohingya. Suu Kyi is considered the Nelson Mandela of Myanmar because she was held on house arrest by the military junta for more than 20 years before being freed in 2010, and received a Nobel Peace prize for her efforts to bring democracy to the country. During her political campaign and after winning the 2015 general elections, she never spoke about this crisis for fear of being ostracized by her own party or even rejected by the military, who still rule the country. Finally, this week, on September 19, she spoke mildly about the crisis, condemning the violence on all sides (which reminded me sadly of Trump's comments on Charlottesville).

This week, the United Nations General Assembly is meeting and the Rohingya refugee crisis is one of the main topics to be discussed. France’s president Emmanuel Macron called the attacks on the Muslim minority a genocide. The US Vice President Mike Pence addressed the issue at the UN and described the attacks a "great tragedy." There finally seems to be more and more attention to the issue in media outlet and in NGOs appeals.

So that can YOU do?
1) Read about the situation and talk to your friends and family members about it. Post about it on social media. 
2) You can call your elected official, either your Congress representative or Senator, and tell them they should take a stand against the mass murders happening. Your voice does make a difference.
3) You can donate to organizations that are on the ground and/or advocate against crimes against humanity 

To read more (on tops of the links included in this post!):
- A good background on the Rohingya's status in Myanmar
- An in depth Analysis of what the world knew of the situation and why governments don't act to stop atrocities like these from happening.

Podcasts about this crisis:
- Global Dispatches has an interview with the Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch - Asia.
- Pod Save the World also published a great discussion on the topic..

Friday Favorites

Friday, September 15, 2017

This weekend, we're going to relax. Joe is going to watch a football game in LA and hopefully we're going to spend time with family. I'll also probably keep on watching my newest guilty pleasure: Outlander.
What are you to this weekend?

Here are some links I've found interesting:

Long but vital read about white supremacy in the White House. 

This humanitarian international crisis is getting attention - finally!

Communities of colors are some of the most impacted by climate change. Here is how you can help those affected by Harvey.

If you're freaked out about the Equifax breach, read this -and then maybe become more freaked out?

Win-win for this Frenchie living in So Cal!

I"m reading this book and it's really great. I'll review it when I'm done.

How cute and romantic is this bracelet?

My sister wears this shirt and it's soft and looks so comfy.

(Pic of Scotland by Sorin Tudorut. Because Outlander!)

Jude is 3!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Jude turned 3 at the end of August! Reader, you don’t know my family yet, so let me describe this little nugget of sunshine for you.

The first thing to say about him is that he’s joyful. He’s always trying to make us smile and loves to laugh at everything.

He has a gigantic imagination and is never bored. His brain loves made up stories for us to play or for his toys to interact with each other.

He loves to dance. He loves doing what we call the “butt dance” and as a matter of fact he’s pretty much the best twerker in the house.

He speaks so well and so much. His vocabulary surprises us sometimes! I’m sure he picked up most of it from school, and I love conversing with him. He also loves books and prefers to read all by himself these days.

He loves his friends -and we have a bunch his age around- and his family. He’s a bit of a mama’s boy.

After months of refusing to hug or kiss us, he’s finally getting super cuddly. He hugs me when I pick him up from daycare (he just entered their pre-school class- what!) and he always sits right next to me when we watch tv. And yeah, ahem he watches a LOT of tv and phone apps.

And since we’re talking about bad habits, he still sucks on his pacifier. Like all day if we let him. We just got rid of the bottle at night (it’s so cringe-inducing to admit!) and we’ll start on the paci soon. Ish.

That’s it. That’s our brilliant boy in a few words. Here are a few pictures that summarize who he is really well.

(All of these were taken by his teachers at school!)

A letter to my boys on their mamie's life

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

My darling sons.

On the night of July 7, my mom, your "mamie" died. You didn't really know her (a few visits, some Skype calls) so I will tell you about her now. She is your French grandma and I want you to cherish and honor her memory.

She was born in December 1955 in Normandy. Her mom's name (my own mamie) is Odette and her dad, who died a few months after I was born, was Albert. She had 3 brothers and 2 sisters -but 2 of them, her full siblings, were her closest confidants, Pierre and Margot, whom you met 2 years ago.

She was beautiful, boys. She was so beautiful. Her smile was radiant. She had a splendid sense of humor. She also had an amazing sense of fashion. She dressed really well. She never finished high school yet she had a great intellect. She was smart. She was a strong feminist and raised me to be one as well. She believed in the teachings of Buddha -she even saw the Dalai Lama speak a few times! She wanted justice, solidarity, and integrity for the world. She had an irrational fear of prison and scarcity (that fear was not so irrational as she grew up rather poor).

When she was 15 years old something really bad happened to her and in her mind she remained a teenager. She had issues with food, drugs, and alcohol. She suffered from depression and anxiety. I am telling you that not to make you focus on these dark facets and moments of her life but to give you a full picture of who she was and why she was... well, the way she was. The truth is that it was not always easy to live with or around her. But I also want you to know how good-hearted, passionate, and loving she was.

She loved you so much. Apart from Vlad and me, you two were her world, her sun, and her stars. She wanted to know everything about you, every mundane detail of your daily life. It was terribly hard for her to live far away from you and not see you often -maybe once a year, on average.

So for now remember this, my boys: she was love and light. She loved social justice. She loved you. She lives in you.

(I wrote this entry in the journal I keep for the boys a few weeks after I came back from France. This is such an incomplete description of who she was, but this will do for now).

Friday Favorites

Friday, August 25, 2017

Happy Friday! This weekend we're going to Léo's ice hockey game, then we'll celebrate Jude's 3rd birthday with a low key party on Sunday. I hope you have a restful weekend!

Well, that's an interesting list.

What it means to grow up in the shadows of confederate monuments.

Happy birthday to this genius -and belated one to this mega talented woman.

Waiting doesn't make things easier.

A bit of organizing advice.

Great points on spiritual autonomy- especially as Léo has been really curious about God lately.

I'm inspired to write one of these letters.

I cannot wait for this event!

(Photo by Braden Barwich)

This is 37

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hello readers. Did you notice my new blog template? Isn’t it beautiful? I had wanted to change the old one and then a technical glitch forced me to switch for good and I couldn’t be happier about the results. This change also corresponds to a new stage in my life: I just celebrated my birthday! As you may recall, I was not super happy to be 36. Well the year turned out to be quite traumatic indeed with the elections, a bout of depression, and the unexpected and absolutely heartbreaking news that my mom had passed in July. In other words, 36 could go suck on a toenail and 37 couldn’t come fast enough. On top of that, I have held from a long time the (weird- don’t judge!) feeling that I have a great year every 7 years and 37 is IT. So bring it, 37 - I have high expectations for you!

As if it were the new year (which it is in a way: MY new year!), I am making resolutions -my spring goals, by the way, were all failures, so off with their heads and on to new ones. I haven’t quite defined my vision for 37 yet, but you can be sure I’ll write about it when I do.

I am so thrilled about this new year and hope you will follow along! Onward, friends.

(Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov)

Friday Favorites

Friday, June 30, 2017

Hey there. Last week I had a huge migraine that completely wiped me out but I feel way better now, thankfully. This weekend, we're going to a little girl's birthday party, then to a story time in the park (topic is Liberty for All). On Monday, we're going out of town for the night and we'll return for our neighborhood's 4th of July celebrations and I'll remain on vacation for the whole week. I'm looking forward to 1-on-1 time with Leo! What are you plans for the weekend? I hope you have a relaxing and fun one.

Here are a few links I liked:

"White America would rather be broke than be woke."

Yet more evidence that the state of foreign affairs in this country is in shambles.

I want a church like this one. Le sigh.

She was and remains a hero to many French people -especially French women.

Yay Germany!

An online movie club that focuses on social justice? Sign me up!

This game might be fun for long (and short!) drives.

This recipe looks yummy and easy. Perfect for Tuesday!

What makes me happy these days

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

So much has been making me sad and furious in the news lately. Here are a few things that keep me feeling hopeful and joyful:

- Friends. Ah I don't know what I'd do without my friends, near and far. From my next door neighbors who love my boys and care for us to friends who live far but are a daily reminder of the goodness of true friendship to those I've never met in real life (I have an insanely amazing Facebook group of moms), I am so grateful for the girls who make me laugh, think, and feel part of a caring community. My friends are life giving.

- Lipstick. Because nothing makes me feel more put together than lipstick, even when it's 8 in the morning and I feel like death. Let's hear it for lipstick!

- The end of the school year. Leo and Jude are still in school all day so no daydreaming about all the summer activities we're going to do together, but can I just say this: no more homework. That's it. That makes me happy!

- Adulting. Joe and I sat down and pretty much mapped out our debt, meals, and chores. I know, this is so boring, but so necessary at this point in our lives. I love that it puts order and sense into our lives.

- The Library. I’ve borrowed so many books. I went there two days ago to get one book and ended up with four. I’m excited about all of them!

- Bleach. What? I know, but hear me out. I have boys. They love to play outside and come inside to touch everything. They pee in, but a lot of time, around the loo. Bleach has been good to this household!

- Sunshine. It’s rained quite a bit this winter and spring (again, to the rest of the country: yeah yeah I know, we Californians are major babies when it comes to the weather) and it’s super hot right now. I love summer and sunshine. 

- Twitter. My new shiny object! I get a lot of the news from there and just love scrolling down the page.

What about you? What's been making you smile and making you laugh, breathe better, and be grateful lately? 

Friday Favorites

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hi there. This weekend, we're celebrating our niece's first birthday and hanging by the pool. We're celebrating Joe's and my dads tomorrow. I hope you have a weekend to remember. Here are a few links I've found interesting.

Happy birthday DT!

This denial of justice keeps on being heartbreaking and infuriating. I feel a soapbox post coming soon!

Legislative (Congress) elections are happening in France.

Just say no - focus!

Oh, I can relate! (Also, yes, this is the 3rd WaPo link this week!)

Most books I read are about WWII or race in the US. This one (YA, which I don't usually pick up) was so worth it.

That would be so great in my flat. And speaking of wishlist, I'm drooling over this bag.

Book Review: Beartown

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Beartown, Fredrick Backman
Translated from Swedish

Ah, what a good read this was. I first got interested in that book because it’s about ice hockey! Leo has been an avid fan of ice hockey since December and the whole family (except Jude!) has taken that passion seriously. We’ve watched every Ducks game on TV, we went to 4 live games, we enrolled him in lessons, and we play roller hockey with him every evening in the garage or outside. This is some serious affair! So when this book that deals with a youth hockey team that has to grapple with, as the description says, “a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil” (child protection issue!) was published, I had to check it out.

The book starts out slowly. 150 pages in, the “violent act” in question had not yet happened. The author takes his time to describe the town and its main players (no pun intended. Ok, maybe). The rhythm is slow, like the town. Each character is established and set in relationship to others. We almost get lulled by the routine… this is sleepy Beartown. Not much happens, though the town is excited about the upcoming ice hockey junior tournament semi-final. 

When the incident happens, the rhythm wildly accelerates. And it doesn’t stop. I actually had to close the book and pause when it happened because it was so sudden -even though I had been expecting it. The ramifications of the incident on the lives of the characters we’ve come to know are numerous and deep. Readers are caught in the lives of all individuals and the events unfolding -I can’t say much more without spoiling the plot.

This book was gripping, realistic, and touching. I loved Kira, Maya's (the young girl) mom. Some other characters were also captivating, such as Amat, the son of an Afghan refugee, and Benji, who’s hiding his own secret.

The only annoying tidbit in the story were incursions from the omniscient narrator, giving us a worrying preview of what was to come. For instance, after Kira tells her daughter you can only survive the town, not live in it, the author writes: “Neither of them has any idea just how true that is.” But those mystery-type sentences were few and far between and didn’t disrupt the narration. They just made me roll my eyes at times.

Overall, I think my own interests in ice hockey and child protection made this book much more compelling. I don’t know whether someone without any interest in either topic would find this as enjoyable -but I think the writing is solid and the storyline convincing. I’d recommend it without a doubt.

Friday Favorites

Friday, June 9, 2017

Happy weekend! We're celebrating dear friends' baby girl-to-be, having dinner with our sister, watching Leo ice skate, and hanging out by the pool. What are you up to this weekend?

Here are some links I enjoyed:

Didn't watch the "Comey show?" Catch up here!

Which terrorist attacks get covered. In the same vein, hate crimes in the US are barely talked about.

I am raising feminists (I know, shocker!)

I finished this book in 2 days!

I've been watching this documentary on Netflix and have been absolutely hooked!

A friend recommended this planner.

I'm in love with this dog!

The Soapbox: Don't volunteer in orphanages!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

This post opens a series I’m calling “the Soapbox.” As you can imagine, it’ll be my space to vent, rant and be grumpy!

You may have noticed that a couple of links in my Friday Favorites encourage people who are not aid workers to stay home instead of going on what is commonly called a voluntourism trip. Voluntourism is mixing volunteering with international tourism (in a developing country). For instance, you go and help build a home in Kenya or you teach a class in Peru for one week or two. Voluntourism is frown upon by aid workers, for good reasons. Unless you have real skills to offer that others in the village you’re traveling to don’t have or don’t have enough of (you’re a nurse, a doctor, an engineer), you will not actually help anyone. You will feel good but you won’t really help “the locals.” And the absolute worst you can do is volunteer in an orphanage.

If you’re thinking about going to an orphanage during your vacation or on your church’s next mission trip, I have two words for you. Stop. Rethink. I’m not the only one who says that. Others have done it before (here or here). I’m just going to give you my very passionate yet respectful opinion.

Now I understand that aid workers are cynical people who scuff a lot at people’s good intentions. And I know people who want to volunteer abroad have a lot of good intentions, especially when it comes to children. They might have heard about the toll orphanages take on children -the more they stay in orphanages, the more attachment issues they experience. They want to reverse that by giving children love during a week or two. I get it. BUT, and this is the most important thing: volunteering in orphanages will damage children even more. Children in orphanages do develop attachment issues. Some will cling to anyone who shows a bit of love. So, say you come to an orphanage to cuddle and play with children. These children will love you back. But then you leave -your head full of wonderful memories, your camera filled with beautiful smiles. But these children? They’re left alone, abandoned. Again. And that happens anytime an outsider comes to an orphanage. Attachment / hope, heartbreak, attachment / hope, heartbreak. Repeat. The children will be even more hurt and will have much deeper trust issues. In short, you have done immense harm to the children you wanted to help.

Another reason why volunteering in orphanages is harmful is that it worsens the orphan problem. About 80% of children in orphanages have a living parent. They are “orphans” by definition (UNICEF defines an “orphan” as a child who has lost one or both parents) but, with adequate resources, they could live with their relatives, or in their birth / local community. But parents see well-funded orphanages and think their children will have a better life in these establishments. Orphanages are still popular recipients of donations from people like you and me -either individually or through places of worship. The problem is that in some countries, orphanages and, at higher level, the whole adoption system, become corrupt. Orphanages might receive money but not spend it on the well-being of the children in their institutions. They may take bribes when wealthy parents want to adopt so as not to go through the formal system (which is usually lengthy) or even offer parents money to place their children in their orphanages to increase the number of children available for adoption. As a result, some countries have decided to stop international adoptions, putting the lives of actual orphans who legally can and need to be adopted at risk because their only future now is to remain in the orphanage until they’re adults.

Next steps:

If you want to volunteer in an orphanage, please reconsider or make sure that you will not be in contact with children. For instance, offer to help with administrative tasks (writing grants or reports, filing).

If you want to donate to an orphanage, please do your research. Make sure that the institution is well run and that it offers opportunities to give back to the local community to reduce the number of orphans -in other words, you want to donate to an organization that doesn’t seek to raise the number or orphans but takes steps to intentionally reduce it.

Consider donating to organizations that work in communities to improve maternal health care, offer economic empowerment opportunities, encourage young girls to stay in school, and work on strengthening families by developing positive parenting behaviors.

These two non-profits are but a sample of organizations that seek to solve the orphan issue:
Better Care Network (this paper in particular is worth reading) and Heartline Haiti.

Friday (now Sunday!) Favorites

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hi there! This weekend I voted for the new French president (yay!) and we took it easy since it was raining. Joe and I went on a date night and I spent Sunday afternoon watching the Ducks lose to the Oilers (ouch) with my OC BFF. What did you do?

Here are a few links I've enjoyed:

A list of the pre-existing conditions not covered under the healthcare plan the House shamelessly passed.

This is the kind of crap the new French president's opponent was spewing. So glad she lost.

I need this advice more than I care to admit.

I have started this book and am really liking it.

This podcast episode was chilling.

And while we're talking media, this is what Joe and I have been loving lately.

I'm not judgy (ahem) but I may need this.

A bit late but definitely has truth to it.

Spring Goals

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I'm a little late posting about quarterly goals but hey, I need to be accountable, so here are my goals for the spring:

- Lose 1 pound per week. I have an important party to attend in June and I'd like to feel good and confident by then. Concretely: lose 15 pounds by June 10.
- Limit wine. That one is hard. I love wine. Buttery Chardonnay is my BFF. But I really need to decrease my wine intake. My goal is to drink twice a week only.

- Respect the budget Joe and I  have set. I have terrible discipline with... well, pretty much anything, but I want to spend less, which means sticking to a budget without extra spending. The week days are easy but weekends tend to be difficult, so that's where I need to focus on.
- Set up a debt payment system. I'm thinking about the avalanche or snow ball systems.

- One date night per month. Because we need to stop putting ourselves last!
- Tone! This is a big one. I'm super dry and sharp with my boys and I can see how that affects them. I must do better and stop yelling or using a tone that is not appropriate. This is seriously my toughest goal.

That's about it for spring. I'll let you know what I've accomplished mid-June.

What about you? Are there any goals you'd like to achieve these days?

Friday (Saturday... again!) Favorites

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Hello! What have you been up to? Life has been quite busy here! A few things that happened:
- Léo lost his first 2 teeth in one single morning and that same afternoon broke two bones in his left wrist!
- I voted in the French presidential elections. The far right (racist) party has made it to the second turn and I am quite frightened for my country. Obviously I'm voting Macron in a week.
- I traveled to Honduras for work for a few days. it's always good to connect with the team face-to-face.

This weekend, we don't have anything planned. I foresee us going to the pool, watching ice hockey, and doing some chores. What about you? I wish you a relaxing and vibrant weekend!

Here are a few links I've enjoyed:

The case for more black teachers.

This is such an infuriating part of peace missions.

A beautiful (and law-changing) marriage in pictures.

Self care for parents is a must.

This is the reality of marriage.

This podcast episode is worth a listen. So tender and heartbreaking.

I loved this book and didn't know about its main topic.

This made me laugh so hard.

Friday (Saturday!) Favorites

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hi there. I'm a day late! This weekend is big in our house as we're celebrating Léo's 6th birthday with friends tomorrow and with family on Sunday (his actual birthday). I wish you a happy weekend. Here are a few links I've liked:

The race was about race.

After reading about the Pepsi ad scandal, I did a little Googling. Here is a good summary of cultural appropriation.

Like a lot of us, this attack revolted me. But the US counter attack didn't sit well with me either.

This is a problem that needs to be fixed.

I'm starting this book. I hope to create such a group (secular, maybe, since I don't have a church?)

I love this color and this dress looks so comfy.

Friday Favorites

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hi there! My dad and step-mom were visiting last week and we had a blast. This weekend, Joe is golfing with friends and I'm... going to try to pack the weekend with activities for the boys! I hope you have a fun one.
Here are a few links I've enjoyed lately:

Wow, this is convicting.

I'm voting soon in the French elections! If you're interested, here is a brief guide to the main candidates.

Everything I want to say to people who want to volunteer abroad.

Describing your family in three words. More difficult than I thought!

I've loved watching Peppa with Jude. Now I understand why I enjoy it so much!

I did this exercise and found it really helpful.

I'm loving this book -and am sure it would be even better on Audible.

I may need this mug.

(Photo from our whale watching trip about 10 days ago)

Friday Favorites

Friday, March 17, 2017

What are you up to this weekend, readers? This week I've fought a cold. But my dad and step-mom arrived yesterday and that made my week brighter. They'll be staying for 9 short days and I'm so excited to host them! Have a fun weekend. Here are a few links I liked.

This new government budget will fix America. For sure.

The Syria war started 6 years ago. Not a lot of people care it seems.

This celebrity home is gorgeous and so well decorated. I want the bench as my reading nook!

Letter from a working mom to her husband. I could have written some of these paragraphs myself.

Hospitality when you're an introvert.

I'm starting this book soon.

This may be good for Leo's window.

This made me laugh!

Friday Favorites

Friday, March 10, 2017

I've watched a lot of Peppa Pig this week as Jude was sick... again! This weekend, we're going to take it easy and enjoy being healthy. On Sunday Léo has an ice skating lesson and then we'll see a real ice hockey game. He's super excited! Have a great weekend everyone. Here are a few things I've enjoyed this week.

Dire consequences of the government's new immigration policies.

Human trafficking affects men and children, too.

A good way to try to change some of my knee-jerk parenting patterns.

I've just finished this book and loved it!

Have you watched this yet? I did -about 10 times. It's hilarious and cringe-worthy all at once.

I need this tool -my walls are pretty bare and I need art / pictures hung stat.

Speaking of -how darling is this print? Might buy it for the boys' room.

The art of 30-minute meals.

(Pictured above: the boys wearing red on Wednesday to celebrate International Women's Day)

Friday Favorites

Friday, March 3, 2017

This weekend we're going to take advantage of the sun and spend plenty of time outdoors. Léo is starting ice skating lessons (leading to ice hockey lessons) and he couldn't be more excited.
I hope you have a lovely weekend. Here are a few links I've enjoyed this week:

Not caring about politics is only an option if you're privileged.

State of the State Department these days. Pretty bleak!

I'm doing this lovely project for Lent -though I have zero art skills.

I'd love to put these or these in the boys' bedroom.

Always looking for ways to beautify our rental.

My favorite part of the Oscars (Moonlight is an excellent movie. Run to it!)

Pictured above: my current list of books from the library (and this one waiting for pick up). Which one should I start first?

Friday Favorites

Friday, February 24, 2017

I have been at a work conference this week -it ends tomorrow night. It's great to spend time with my teammates. I do have the best team in the world -no kidding. I hope your weekend is joyful and productive!

Ways to help refugees in the US.

Speaking of, maybe I should ask my son's school to print these.

Good tips to talk to your children about money.

I've just started reading this and am so encouraged when listening to this.

I want to do the same in my house!

I might try to make some of these recipes soon.

Always missing my Paris!

Confession... I love the suburbs!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Joe and I have lived together in Bordeaux, Los Angeles, Orange County, Seattle, San Diego, and now we’re back in Orange County. I never thought this would be where we’d settle. I had imagined London, Paris, or Bangkok -somewhere urban, filled with culture, diversity, and museums, all within walking distance of the metro. I still daydream a bit about these places but it seems that we’re here to stay. We live 20 minutes away from every core member of Joe’s family and spending time with them is our great joy -the kids and ours! I never thought I would say it but I love where we live- LOVE IT.

It’s absolutely white, posh Suburbia -it seriously looks like the set of Desperate Housewives, complete with cast and probably plot! I have to say I did cringe when we moved here. Moi, an elitist French woman, moving to the suburbs? Non merci. I fought the idea quite a bit. Intellectually I had a very hard time considering this move a good idea. I looked into diversity (terrible!), schools (excellent!), walk score (dismal!), houses (lovely!). In the end, we decided that if we were to live in Orange County it would make sense to be as close as possible to Joe’s family in an environment that was nurturing for the boys. So we moved to this slice of suburban paradise, and boy am I glad we did.

For one, the boys love living here. There are so many children their age in the neighborhood. Our oldest Léo can walk to our next-door neighbor or a couple of doors down, knock, and instantly have friends to play with. It’s perfect. We can walk to daycare and school. There are green areas to play everywhere -it’s just perfect for them.

I, on the other hand, thought that I would not mix well with the people here -especially with women who probably don’t work and vote Republican. And it’s true that the majority of the moms I know fall into both categories. But I have completely enjoyed them and learnt to tone down my dumb assumptions (how judgmental can one be? Very, apparently). On the contrary, I appreciate our shared parenthood experience and share in the humor and pain of raising little ones, exchange recipes, joke about needing wine at 2pm. Our conversations are simple, yet so friendly and joyful. I also found like-minded friends- staunch liberals who, when I waver about my commitment to this place, remind me that change happens locally, slowly, and that we must do what we can where we are - one conversation, one march, one town hall meeting or one library event at a time. What is not to love in that?

Friday Favorites

Friday, February 17, 2017

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)

The Things They Do...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

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:

Friday Favorites

Friday, February 3, 2017

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)