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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On Returning to France: How "Paris to the Moon" Allays My Fears

In preparation for our trip to France (we leave next week!), I’ve been re-reading Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik’s essays on five years of living in France with his wife and young son. It’s a perfect read now, because in the weeks before I leave for France I always develop a small undercurrent of fear—fear that perhaps France won’t be the same.

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Learning to Celebrate Easter

In high school French class I was taught that Easter is a plural noun in French (les Pâques) to help distinguish it from Passover (la paques)--the Jewish commemoration of the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt. My French class was the first place I heard about the connection between Passover and Easter. Now, as an adult, I understand more clearly that the Last Supper was when Christ was partaking of the Passover feast with his disciples. 

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French by Heart: Rebecca Ramsey's Memoir

In July 1999, an American mama named Rebecca Ramsey moved to France with her husband, baby, seven-year-old boy, nine-year-old daughter, and their aging cat. Her family stayed in the Auvergne for four years, and I'm grateful that she later crafted her family's experiences into a humorous and endearing memoir entitled French By Heart (published in 2007). After all, there are plenty of memoirs about expat life in France, but few of them reflect the experience of an American family with young children truly attempting to assimilate into French life over the course of several years.

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From Exchange Student to Mama in France: Looking Back and Ahead

Ten years have passed since I was an exchange student in France; seven years since my husband and I last traveled there. Now I'm planning our first visit to France as a family--an extended trip this summer through autumn. We'll start in Paris as tourists, stay with friends in the countryside, and finish in Lyon as inhabitants while my daughter begins school alongside other young francophones.

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A Favorite Cultural Film Documentary Series: Families of the World

Media is a fantastic way to supplement language learning--my children and I love the French children's books we borrow from Les Petits Livres, and I often stream French children's music from Spotify radio, but I rarely turn to movies or film clips because they're such a passive way of learning. However, there are a few educational films that I've appreciated for what they've taught my children about the world's languages and cultures. Here's the first of the film resources that I'd like to share with you:

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An Encouraging Podcast and Sweet Reading

Bonjour les amis! It's been quiet on the blog this week, but today I'm glad to share with you two linguistic resources that may delight you:

First is a children's picture book called Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World. Published in 2011, each page features several terms of endearment that parents use with their children in their own language. From mon petit chou (my little cabbage) in French to docinho de coco (little coconut candy) in Portuguese, it features sweet nicknames along with their translations and pronunciation in each of fourteen languages--German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, etc. We discovered this book at the library, and my daughter has loved choosing the nickname that she would prefer from each language.

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5 Truths I Learned About French Parenting from Bringing Up Bebe

Though I lived in France for a year and a half in my twenties, it wasn't until I read Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up Bébé in 2012 that I started to gain a full picture of French parenting. Here are five general truths about French parenting that I learned from reading Bringing Up Bébé:

1. French women don't breastfeed their babies all that long, even by American standards. A few months seems to be typical, partially because the vast majority of French women return to work after several months of maternity leave. I expect I'll be nursing our seven-month-old infant when we stay in France next summer, so I'm curious if my French friends will see this as an unusually long time to breastfeed a child.

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