Friday, August 13, 2021

PODCAST Creation...French Please!

Introducing...French Please, the Podcast

Find my favorite episode here: Lost Found and How do I Say That Again?

Is French in your dream curriculum this year? As homeschoolers? As a couple? We made something for you! How better to share this language I love than through the spoken word? 

French yarn-bombers don't mess around

You know a Children's Program: French with Kids was created, as well as two for couples, Advanced and Beginners, all of them with the intention of starting real conversations, face to face, in French between real human beings, but you may not have heard that there is now a podcast, featuring short, sweet episodes of French language, culture and lessons. 

The first seven episodes are a five-step plan for integrating another language into your home, with a few useful French phrases (request and response) of the day. The next are specific to places and tasks in your home; French exchanges here and there, at this time and that, we start with just outside the bathroom door. When we have toured the home, and covered your daily rhythm, we shall venture out into the great world with travel French: including all you would like to do once you arrive. Thierry and I move next to working French, what you will need in a Parisian, Casablanca or Brussels office. Then we explore French around the world, from the isles of Tahiti to the shores of Quebec.

My dream is to make language learning more engaging than it has ever been, to bring it off the screen, out of the book and into your life.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Artwork of Children, Today and Tomorrow

Every parent knows the sweet feeling the comes over you when your child offers you a drawing, from the simplest of purple stick-figures to the most elaborate painting or piece of sculpture made of wire, papier-maché and those funky styrofoam puffy guys. The final result has nothing to do with your feelings of pure love, joy and pride in this kid's creativity. You are part of them, they are part of you, and object in question was produced by them, thus it somehow becomes an extension of this lovely spirit.

There is a new tug to the soul that can come when it is time to sort out, to choose, to not keep every single bit of this flow of creative genius. It can be so hard to say good-bye to anything their little hand holding a green crayon or bit of charcoal put down on paper, simply because they made it, and you want to savor every minute of childhood. Even as you look at yesterday's sketches or scribblings, you know they have grown up just a little since last night or last year. We suppose we can hold onto something as fleeting as time and specifically, the time when this child was young. That entire sketchbook filled with blue circles that eventually turned into sunshines or faces or the later one full of the botanical drawings of an eleven-year-old or the manga craze of a twelve-year-old? Must be kept.

I refuse to qualify artwork as anything other than precious, although in the interest of fashioning a good space in which they can feel free to continue to create, some must be archived, some shared with grandparents, aunts, great-uncles, and some sacrificed. I have kept perhaps excessive amounts of kid art over the years, but the alternative is unthinkable. Would you like to know something, friends who are parents of the very young? In most cases, the art peters out and turns itself into sports, music, friends or other pursuits. I am glad I kept a little more than perhaps I should have. 

Practically speaking, I made an "end of studies" scrapbook for each child as they graduated from high school. At least they have something by which to remember this time and they know that it did not all get recycled! They are dear to me and so are the beautiful works of art they have made, on paper and of their lives.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Nature? Nurture? Both? When the Child Returns to the Great Outdoors



It has been a consistent joy to see my adult children wander back outside after the need to be indoors has taken over most of their waking time because of school, work or "activities" (I swear that one is going to be considered a 4-letter word by parents across the world very, very soon). 

There comes a point at which a child is no longer interested in a nature hike with the old folks. Sorry, parents of younger children, I did not mean to give you apoplexy by sharing that. In fact, if your sweet kids are under the age of thirteen, please carry on as though that sentence never happened. Ignorance is bliss sometimes. Between small screens and long papers to be written, a mama might wonder if a child will ever again realize there is an entire world under the sky out there. 

Each of the older three have gone back outside on their own, for their own reasons and engaging in their favorite activities. One has become an avid fisherman, constructing and reconstructing a few small boats for that purpose, and spending days and evenings out on the water. The video-game playing came to a halt on its own, giving way to exploring local lakes and spots on the Mississippi. The word "bait" became a household one for the first time ever, and there has been much debate on the pros and cons of inflatable vs. wooden or aluminum construction and, naturally, on where the boat(s) should live in the winter.

Another of our offspring never stopped sailing, pretty incredible considering that four years of it was in Iowa City, necessitating a car ride to a lake 20 minutes away from campus. In Chicago, when she looked out at that beautiful, blue, enormity of Lake Michigan, boatless and stranded on shore, she found a way to meet people who had a boat but not the sailing skills she possessed. She became a skipper for someone with a beautiful little boat and is as happy as can be, sailing twice a week. Her most recent vacation was a hiking one in the Northwest, splendid.

This one? Above with her sandals on the edge of the frog lab? Amazing! She is making the environment part of her life's work. It is her major in college and she has spent the entire hot, muggy summer working outside for Americorps. 

She has become acquainted with each of the turtles, owls, frogs and snakes on a personal level and learned worlds of information by this micro-study. She can weed-wack an entire trail with a scythe and lead a group of homeschooled kids, cub scouts or girl scouts out into a creek exploration in the pouring rain or the blazing heat and not blink an eye. She regularly comes home covered in sweat and mud and she loves what she is doing. She gave us a tour of her nature-center-home for the summer. Her less hardy, less courageous mom waited until the temps were out of the 90's to visit, and loved every minute of it. Merci, ma cherie!