Simple Advent and A Few Favorite Gifts for Children

Happy Advent and Joyeux Noël! We're excited for this lovely month, in spite of some family health concerns and the turmult in Paris. My dad, a self-taught pianist, once pointed out to me that Christmas carols have a lot of minor chords. This seems fitting to me—not only because of the longing that many people have for a Redeemer, but also because peace on Earth is such a profound need.

In the darkness of winter, light is so meaningful. Earlier this week I told my children about la Fête des Lumières that will take place in Lyon, France, now and this coming weekend (always around le 8 décembre).

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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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Flying Air France with Young Children

This year I was excited to discover that Air France had the most economical pricing for our family to fly to Paris. When I've flown with Air France in the past, they've had excellent service and very decent meals, unlike other airlines I've flown that seem to cut costs wherever possible.

On this trip, our fourth child is just four months old, so I was curious how the bassinet option would work out for us. With Air France, you can pay upfront to reserve a seat behind a bassinet (currently an additional $29/person), or you can wait until 50 hours before the flight, when anyone flying with an infant will automatically be assigned to a bassinet seat for free (if there are any remaining and assuming you have purchased the infant ticket as required. Currently an infant ticket is typically around $100 for an international flight).

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The Birth of Our Fourth Child: What I Never Thought Would Happen to Us

Nearly a week after our fourth baby's due date, I was concerned--mainly because my midwife had expressed concern. According to her, this baby hadn't dropped down at all; instead, he or she was just "floating around" high above my pelvis and showed no signs of being ready to come. I did what I could to help my body prepare for labor: taking long walks, swimming laps at my gym's pool (oh, the temporary joy of weightlessness!), and visiting my chiropractor to make any necessary adjustments.

The day our baby actually arrived, I underwent a non-stress test to ensure baby was staying healthy, then I did what many American families do before a birth: I stocked up on pantry staples at Costco (ha!). Finally, I made dinner for our au pair's parents, who were visiting from France. I was feeling a little tired and emotional, which was odd. By the time dinner was over, however, I was feeling something more physical than emotional--a little cramping, a bit jittery. I knew labor was close.

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We're Americans Who Speak French to Our Kids: Our Interview with High Five Family (in France)

it's fairly unusual to find other parents who are raising their children in their non-native language, so I've recently been delighted to get to know Laure, the blogger at High Five Family. Laure is a French maman raising her children in English (her non-native language) while living in France. Laure just posted an interview with me about how my husband and I are raising our children bilingual--what the challenges have been, where my children's current language levels are, and what advice I'd give to parents hoping to expose their children to another language.

You can test your French comprehension and read the French version of our interview on the blog High Five Family: Ils sont américains et parlent français à la maison

For an English version of my responses, read on:

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Decision Point: Can This French Program Be Saved?

After a beautiful Northwest summer, my social-studies teaching husband returned from his first day back to work with news: the French teacher at his high school had suddenly retired, just days before students were set to arrive. I was wide-eyed at this revelation. I had wondered if I would ever teach French at our local school, and I've kept my teaching license valid, but homeschooling our children has been my top priority over the past few years--particularly so that I can raise them in French. We wondered what the school administrators would choose to do.

Forty-eight hours later, my husband told me his principal would like us to decide immediately if I would step into the French position. I was overwhelmed with the suddenness of the request, particularly since no one from the school had contacted me directly, but I agreed to meet with the principal the following day to find out the details. I was told the position would entail teaching four levels of French, six classes per day, full-time, starting in two work days.

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Inspiration for Bilingual Parenting: Adam Beck's Thoughtful Guidebook

Early in my quest to raise a bilingual child, I frequently read non-fiction books on bilingualism to help me grasp the requirements ahead. Eight years later, however, I'm now a homeschooling parent of three children, and my reading on the topic has slowed quite a bit. Since late last fall, however, I've been slowly savoring each little chapter of Adam Beck's indie-published book, Maximize your Child's Bilingual Ability. His book is neither a daunting tome of scientific research nor a fluffy anecdotal jaunt through his own parenting experience, but instead, it's the ideal guidebook for parents who are sure of their commitment to bilingual parenting but in need of ideas and ongoing inspiration. That covers every bilingual parent, including me!

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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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