No, No, No--Not in August!

"No, no, no--not in August!" This phrase is a French joke between my husband and me. It stems from a conversation we had with a French friend when we were visiting France to attend a wedding several years ago. Our friend stated that French teachers would never return to work in August. They'd choose to go on strike rather than work in August, which is essentially national vacation month in France. (The French receive a minimum of four weeks of paid leave annually, and the majority of the French take a month for vacation in either July or August--usually the latter.)

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When Americans' Ignorance of World Geography is Embarrassing

When my husband and I hosted high school exchange students, they told us about the repeated conversations they had with American students during the first few weeks of school:

American: "So you're an exchange student? That's awesome! Where are you from?" 

Exchange student: "I'm from Bolivia." [or Hungary, etc.]

American: "Really? That's awesome! So . . . where's Bolivia?" 

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How Children Learn to Entertain Themselves Without Screens

We were five days into a week-long family vacation at the Oregon Coast when it dawned on me that our hotel room did not have a TV and we had not missed it. At home we have cable programming, but my husband is the only family member who turns on the television, mainly for a few hours of sports programming each week. He also watches DVDs with our children, but they rarely watch movies during the day. Instead, our children habitually find ways to occupy themselves with creative pursuits. I don't credit myself for their activity choices, but here's what has helped them become skilled at independent play:

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Why Bringing Up Bébé Caught Americans' Attention

Do you remember the buzz surrounding Pamela Druckerman's 2012 book Bringing Up Bébé? The subtitle was One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. The book still ranks among the top twenty parenting sold books on Amazon, currently #2 in the motherhood subcategory. After the book's release, Time magazine included Druckerman on its list of the 100 most influential people of 2012. (Upon hearing this news, her husband dryly quipped, "You're not even the most influential person in our apartment building.")

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Family Vacation: Aquariums, Sand, & Sushi

We're back from the coast, mes amis, but in a week we'll head to Central Oregon for another getaway. Lest you think I'm vaunting our vacation time (the benefit of a teacher's schedule), I admit I'd be content to stay home the rest of the summer. Home provides rhythm and reading and the resources I'd like to use for planning my daughter's homeschool curriculum. But carpe diem--time away from home is beneficial in unexpected ways.

We visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium this past weekend, partly so my son could use his free ticket from our library's summer reading program.

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C'est le Weekend: Links You'll Like

Bonjour les amis! We are solidly into summer and my family is spending this week on the coast of Oregon. I love the Pacific panorama here and the unexpected gifts of the sea. (We spotted a seal pup on the sand today!) Have you had a summer family getaway yet? I hope this weekend gives you an opportunity to put your feet up and soak up the season's gifts. Here the some weekend links that I collected to inspire, enlighten, and entertain you:

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Bastille Festival: Celebrating France in Oregon

Even though I've lived in Aix-en-Provence and Lyon, I've never been in France for la Fête Nationale on July 14th. I'm especially grateful, then, that my hometown of Portland, Oregon, is the site of the largest Bastille Day Festival on the West Coast. Organized by the Alliance Française de Portland, this family-friendly festival draws thousands of visitors over six hours of events. This year marked the tenth annual celebration. Here's what I continue to love about it:

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Unexpected Weaning: Ending My Toddler Son's Breastfeeding

Remember when I went to the Alt Summit Conference last month? I was away from my children for three days and nights, and I knew it might be an opportunity to wean my two-and-a-half-year-old son. I've never intentionally weaned a child before--I'm a strong believer in child-led nursing and my daughter slowly weaned herself at four-and-a-half. But this time was different: I've been breastfeeding children for five years straight, I'm pregnant, and I was ready for a few months' break from breastfeeding before our third child is born. I also knew my son was old enough that he could be weaned without much guilt on my part.

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