4 French-Related Reads from Summer 2018

It’s September 11th here in Lyon and I find myself reflecting on Franco-American relations, books, and the state of the world. When I’m teaching on September 11th, I often share a condolence letter I received from a French acquaintance just after the attacks of September 11, 2001. My French friend was so kind to offer support; his thoughtful letter still reminds me how individual actions of encouragement can cause ripple effects wider than we realize.

What we read and write can shape others in significant ways.

Four years ago on this blog I recommended a fairly obscure book on childhood anthropology because it was a thought-provoking reminder that there are many ways to parent well. My book recommendation, The Anthropology of Childhood, was spotted by journalist Michael Erard, who read the book and in turn wrote a very impactful piece about it in The New York Times. I wouldn’t have known the impact that my book suggestion had on him were it not for a fellow blogger who shared his article with me, not knowing that I had recommended the book in the first place. The world is a more beautiful place when we can learn from each other’s reading!

Likewise, had it not been for blogger Gabrielle Blair’s mention of reading Global Mom in late 2013, I would not have sought out Melissa Dalton Bradford’s book and gotten to interview her here on the blog a few months later. I’m grateful for authors like her who write honestly from their experience, especially when their words spring from a place of grief and growth and healing.

Summer reading, though, on the whole, leans towards the light and leisurely; in July and August I hope you had a chance to read a novel or two that you loved. Here are three French-related non-fiction reads that I enjoyed this summer:

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La Rentrée à Lyon: Returning to Lyon as an Expat Family

We arrived in Lyon two weeks ago, mid-August. The city seemed both paradoxically full of tourists and empty of Lyonnais citizens, as is normal here in August. Since we are living in Vieux Lyon, tourists are ever present in this Renaissance neighborhood and UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it has been a relief to see the crowds dwindle and the restaurants re-open as locals return from summer vacations.

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Beginning February: L'Amour and Crêpes

Février est arrivée--Now that it's February, I'm glad to guide my children through some simple activities connected to love and light. One of the clearest descriptions of love, the apostle Paul's summary in 1 Corinthians 13, lends itself to a simple bilingual project:

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Responding to the November 13th Paris Attacks: What Syria's Got to Do with It

Oh it was a heartbreaking weekend, wasn’t it?! The news of the Paris attacks was just shocking and sickening; to learn of Parisians being targeted with such intentional cruelty brings us all to a standstill. During my time in Paris this last July, my husband, children and I stayed just blocks from the Bataclan—it’s in an area of Paris that has been gaining popularity with its up and coming restaurants, not far from the iconic Place de la République. On Friday night, Facebook’s safety check system was quick to show that my friends in and around Paris were safe, but the unraveling news stories still cut to my heart as it became apparent that young people were targeted and that French culture itself was attacked.

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On Returning to Oregon

We're back in Oregon! I'm a bit embarrassed to tell you that we've returned because I wasn't able to blog consistently from Lyon like I had hoped, but now that we are home I can still share posts about France in retrospect. How are you? Have you settled into a school routine? Can you believe it's already October and we're entering the last quarter of the year?!

Winding down and preparing to leave Lyon was emotionally difficult because our rented apartment felt like home from the start, particularly because we loved getting to know our new neighbors and we jumped right into school and meal routines.

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Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping in Lyon & Paris, France

Bonjour again from Lyon! This is my family's first extended stay in France, so it's also the first time I've had the role of preparing meals for my children here. Living here has improved my meal planning skills and expanded our palates, I'm glad to say! I've consistently tried to plan French meals so my children can enjoy one of the best aspects of living in France--the food and the culture surrounding it. Here's what I'm doing differently here:


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Life in Lyon: Settling in as a Family

Bonjour, mes amis, from Lyon! it's been seven years since I was last in this city. It's wonderful to be back and to see Lyon looking vibrant with its squares and monuments restored. Because it's August, many residents are on vacation and tourists have taken their place, but still, the city just shines with its lovely architecture and views. Maybe it also shimmers because of the heat--It was 35-39 degrees Celcius all last week (95-102 degrees F) until a weekend thunderstorm rolled in and brought relief.

My husband ran the 100m dash this last week in the World Masters track meet--I'm so proud of him, and impressed that he ran it in 11.74 seconds despite the scorching heat! He'll long jump this week as well. The Masters' meets are open to non-professional adult athletes age 35 or older with an official mark to submit. Participants compete against others in a five-year age range. A few days ago, for example, I watched a a group of 85-90 year old women from around the world run the 100m, and they looked amazingly fit. It's so inspiring!


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Arriving in Paris (and What Not To Do on Arrival)

 Bonjour les amis! We're in Paris! This is my first trip back to France in eight years, and It's great to be able to share this city with my husband and children. (He and I were last in France when I was two months pregnant with our first child.) I hope to write more frequently about our experiences here, so Intentional Mama will be more of a travel blog for a while, d'accord? Here's how we're adjusting, and what we've learned the hard way:

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