ZooLights in Oregon: Why it's Better than Ever (plus a giveaway!)

Last week was our final week with a French friend--she had been living with us for three months, and without a visa to stay longer, her time in the U.S. was legally drawing to an end. As you can imagine, we had several activities that we wanted to squeeze in with her before she left. ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo was one of them. (I'm happy to give you a chance to win tickets too. Just keep reading!) Here's why I think ZooLights is better this year than ever before:

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Casual Conversation on A Meaningful Day

Hello and bonjour! My goodness, it has been a long time since you last heard from me, and for that I am sorry. I've had to make blogging less of a priority the past few months, while being more intentional about other activities (which I will share in a moment). In the meantime, today is presidential Election Day here in the USA. While seeing democracy in action is an awesome freedom, this particular Election Day feels a bit like watching lemmings plunge off a cliff: we knew it would come to this, but was this really how it needed to go down? In any case, we Oregonians vote by mail, so my husband (a history teacher) and I turned in our ballots last week and I expect we'll be praying and waiting patiently for today's outcomes. How do you feel about this election? Maybe you'd rather not talk about it. Ha!

These three H's have been my focus lately (oh, and my husband, who's always part of my focus--love you, honey!):

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French Summer Day Camps in Oregon: Our Experience

Oh là là--can you believe la rentrée (back to school) has arrived? My husband returns to teaching high school this week, and my children and I will officially continue our homeschooling journey. We would have loved to return to France to continue the incredible experience we had there last summer and fall, but since we needed to stay in Oregon this summer, my older two children were thrilled to attend a week of French day camp. Here in Portland, Oregon, there are two French schools offering French immersion summer day camps, and both programs are fantastique. Here's what we loved about them:

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Bastille Day 2016 in Oregon - Vive la France!

The biggest French national holiday is arguably Bastille Day, though the French don't call it that. En français, It's simply le 14 juillet. And for fourteen years now, the Alliance Française of Portland has organized a Bastille Day festival the weekend before July 14th. This year's fête was held outside the Portland Art Museum, with the usual mélange of colorful vendors' booths, live accordion music, a wine garden, and mouthwatering treats for gourmands of all ages.

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Transforming Children's Lives: My Family's Simple Story of Compassion

When I was fourteen, my dad decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International, an organization that aims to release children from poverty and to enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults. Actually, my dad chose to sponsor three children so that my two sisters and I could each be paired with a child, writing letters to update and encourage each other every few months. My child--a girl from the Philippines--I and corresponded through my college years and into my early married years until she grew up. Now I sponsor another Filipina girl, Angielyn, and it's been a delight to watch her grow through annual photos and bi-monthly letters.

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Trying out Math by Hand, the Waldorf-Inspired Math Kits

This past spring I shared about a typical day in our French homeschooling life and a reader (merci, Shannon!) told me about Math By Hand, a Waldorf-inspired curriculum created by Marin Lipowitz here in the USA. I was intrigued by the idea of math learning kits that revolve around crafts and activities--aren't you? My children and I tried out the initial kit for first grade and here's what we found:

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