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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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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Running on Empty

Last March I completed my first half-marathon. It was simple, thankfully—a fresh morning race alongside the Columbia River with ample wildlife and enough other runners to keep it interesting. The next day I pinpointed a few other upcoming races to keep me motivated to stay fit, but to my great disappointment, I haven’t run since that half-marathon. Not once.

It’s not because I don’t enjoy running. Distance running has always been an enjoyable challenge for me, and even more so now that I can listen to podcasts and audiobooks along the way. Learning AND getting time alone? My INTJ brain type thrives on this!

But . . .

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Flying Solo with Young Children: Single Parent Hacks

One of the most daunting aspects of our family trip to France this past year was knowing that I would be parenting alone for a month and then flying home with my three young children on two flights (totaling 9 hours) until we could rejoin my husband in Oregon. Thankfully, those experiences were mostly smooth, and not worth stressing over far in advance (as we parents are prone to do). Recently, however, one of my close friends told me that she will be flying alone with her three children on more than twenty hours of flights, and she's asked me for advice. Here are the hacks I suggest:

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A French Language Progress Update: 3 Months After Our Extended Stay in France

This past Christmas Eve marked three months since my children and I returned from France, so it's fair to say that the French usage patterns that we still have now are the patterns that will endure for a while. Before we left I was so curious about how an extended stay in France would affect and impact our family's bilingual development! Everyone knows that language immersion will improve one's ability to understand and use a language, but exactly how much language fluency can a child gain in a few months of immersion? Here's what happened for our family:

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Joyeux Noël & A Podcast about Our Family Language Trip

Joyeux Noël, les amis! Yes, Feliz Navidad and Merry Christmas! I have a little gift for you if you listen to podcasts and are interested in traveling as a family to help you or your children improve your bilingual skills! You see, Marianna DuBosq at Bilingual Avenue has just released the 100th episode of the Bilingual Avenue podcast, and in this episode, Polish mama & translator Hanna Cheda and I share about how we took our families overseas for amazing language immersion experiences. I give details about how we saved money for the trip, how my children handled the experience, and how I enrolled my daughter in a French school. Hanna shares about locating affordable family housing and finding free immersion experiences for children. I hope you love what you learn!

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3 Short Bedtime Questions that Help Me Understand My Children

Every parenting book and magazine seems to point out the importance of having a bedtime routine to help children prepare to sleep, but my favorite part of our children's bedtime routine is the part that helps me understand who they are and what they value. You see, I ask the same three simple questions every night, but hearing their unique and changing answers has taught me quite a lot about their interests, perceptions, and personalities. It's also helped me understand some of the tough emotional situations that I couldn't untangle during the day. Here's what I ask (in French, but also included here in English):

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