Friday, May 15, 2009

work and school

Wow. I feel like I've been run over by a truck. So this is what most women in America deal with in a typical week. Hats off to you, working mothers. I am checking in after a week of work with a deadline. Don't get me wrong, staying home with children, cleaning and caring for a home and husband, is all a whole ton of work. I've been doing it for twelve years now. I have felt exhausted, mentally drained, unappreciated both by the world and by my employers. I have also loved every single minute, no matter how awful, knowing how utterly privileged I was to do the work I had chosen to do, and spend every day with my adored children, even if I was not being paid a dime.

This week found us homeschooling at an intense pace. The children announced their intention of being on summer break by the end of May, I countered with the list of what needs to happen before then, and my date of June 15th. We went back and forth on the topic for a few days; "Our friends are all done before then," "Your friends don't get every Wednesday off or only have class in the morning." We came to the compromise that if they satisfactorily meet my requirements, they can call it a year by May 29th. That means more work for them, and more for me; organize, delegate, correct,redirect.

Of course, as most always happens, this has also been the week of the most concentrated professional effort in the last 12 years. I've usually had some writing going on, a French class or two, or some volunteer project, but my husband and I decided that this was the weekend to launch our first website. This coincides with a homeschool conference at which I am presenting two workshops. It has been exhilarating, having a goal and finding the hours in the day to pursue it. Working at the library or a cafe all by my lonesome for a couple of hours here and there has felt liberating. It has been exciting, the new ideas that have been generated, the spark created between my husband and I as we create together, this time something other than a baby. Evenings together, talking, planning and dreaming have been romantic. And it has been bone-weary, worn-out tiring, though in a good way.

The website? French with Kids, an organic, family-friendly approach to foreign languages that helps a parent tailor a language program for your home environment. It's a very simple idea that I've been wanting to present to families for a long time as an alternative to the text book style of learning. How many times a day do you or your children need to say; "I am American, are you German?" or "the student's desk is in front of the teacher's desk,"? But how many times do we need to say; "Can you play nicely please?" or "Set the table." It is not a method that advocates a passive approach in front of a computer screen or the tv. It is a living, breathing, practice-every-day-together type of learning. Request from parent elicits an action or a response from child. Learn one or so a day and make it part of your life and the language will become a part of you as well. Like Suzuki or Waldorf, less is more, learning an expression well and using it often is prized above large quantities of vocabulary you may not use every day. There are many songs involved as well. I will keep you updated on the opening of the site. Right now I need a nap.

P.S. How fun that today's history quote has to do with Van Gogh, who, though not French, lived the influential years of his artistic life in France, painting in the golden Provincial glow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Duck Creek in Winter

This is right before they fell in the creek, again. Our creek down the street is a source of endless discovery and fun. These are giant sheets of ice that start to form and fall out of the creek; yes, out, during moments of thawing. The kids think they make great slides. I bit all of my nails off watching them!