Gratitude for Generations

Bonjour, les amis! I've been at a foreign language teaching conference in Texas (ACTFL), where I was thrilled to learn about the current state of French education in the U.S. I also appreciated the opportunity to glean ideas for classroom and home teaching--I'll share the best of what I learned next week.

Yet he held his hold by Mike Haywood

Yet he held his hold by Mike Haywood

In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving! I cherish this holiday. It is personally relevant because my great, great grandma (who lived in Massachusetts until her death at 104) shared that our family geneology descends from John Tilley Howland--the fellow who fell off The Mayflower during a mid-voyage storm but was rescued by rope. How's that for a tenuous family thread?! He went on to be the second-longest living survivor of The Mayflower, and the home where he and his wife Elizabeth lived is the only original pilgrim home remaining in Plymouth today.

Howland House, Plymouth, via

Howland House, Plymouth, via

With this providential history in mind, this year I'm particularly grateful for growth--for this child growing inside me and for the ways I'm being stretched as a parent, for gender as I smile as the differences between my son and daughter as well as between my husband and I, and for God's overwhelming goodness. The poem God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins is one that I memorized while studying in England in college, and its words come back to me whenever I reflect on God's character:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.


And for all this, nature is never spent;

    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1918.

The Angel Standing in the Sun by William Turner, 1846.

The Angel Standing in the Sun by William Turner, 1846.

With Thanksgiving today and the arrival of Advent on Sunday, I pray you will sense and see God's brilliant touch in the world around you. Bon weekend!

Our First Autumn Homeschooling: Rhythms & Realities

Winter doesn't officially arrive here in Oregon until next month, but strangely, we've already had our first light snowfall and an ice storm, so it feels as though autumn is already past. In addition, my daughter has started learning a Christmas song on violin, so I've been reflecting on how our first autumn of homeschooling went now that we're transitioning into winter.

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Beginning French Lesson 4: Numbers & Calendars

This beginning French lesson, the fourth in a series of seven, helps students review basic numbers and gain familiarity with vocabulary for the days and months. Allons-y! Let's go! (Here are links to previous lessons onetwo, and three.)

Lesson 4 Goals:

  • Review French names of numbers 1-21; gain familiarity with numbers through 79
  • Learn a song featuring the days of the week in French; gain familiarity with the 12 months
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Beginning French Lesson Plan 3: Alphabet, Spelling, & Numbers

Here is the third lesson for a beginning French class based on a once-per-week 50-minute course for upper elementary students. If you'd like to see earlier lessons, I posted lesson one and two within the past few weeks.

Lesson 3 Goals:

  • Review French greetings and introductions
  • Review and practice French alphabet sounds and corresponding letters
  • Learn to count from 1-21 in French
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Our French Language Journey: A Podcast at Bilingual Kids Rock

Bonjour encore, mes amis! Just two weeks ago I shared with you my podcast with Marianna Du Bosq at Bilingual Avenue. (If you missed it, you can find it here on iTunes.) I enjoyed speaking with Marianna about what the journey has been like as I raise my children in non-native French, and I'm glad to hear that the podcast has been popular. 

Likewise, I was just as thrilled to record a podcast with Olena Centeno at Bilingual Kids Rock--and it's just been released this past week! My talk with Olena focuses more on the details and background of how I came to speak French with my children, how my family (and strangers) react to my French, and my journey as a language learner, parent, and teacher. I'm thrilled to link to my podcast with Olena for the first time here:

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Returning to the Heart of Discipline

This month is bringing the harder days of parenting--days when the children wake too early, when fatigue coils around us a bit more tightly each hour, when tantrums have the power to bring a wave of anger or a rim of tears to my eyes. But the struggles are teaching me to reflect on my responses, particularly those that proved unhelpful. On occasion, when I put my children to bed, I have to apologize for my meanness and for reacting too harshly. I pray aloud that we can be more patient with one another.

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Raising a Toddler Boy: On Patience, Expectations, and Joy

My son is two-and-a-half. At this age he is a challenge and a joy. (I expect he always will be, only in different ways). When I'm seated, he delights in hugging my neck from behind, nearly choking me. He insists on pouring his own rice milk, opening the garage himself, and starting each day with a formidable pile of books to be read to him. He plunges underwater fearlessly during swim lessons but refuses to kick or follow instructions.

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Beginning French Lesson Plan 2: Greetings, Geography, & Alphabet

Last month I began teaching a beginning French class to a small group of upper elementary students. If you'd like to follow along on their language journey (or borrow lesson ideas!), here's the basic outline of what we did during our second and third classes. Keep in mind that this is only a once-per-week, 50 minute class, so we spend about twenty minutes or so reviewing and practicing what we've previously learned. (You can find lesson 1 here.)

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