7.29.2014

au revoir


Well, folks, I truly had grand intentions to have all my posts scheduled before our European vacation. 
Needless to say, that didn't happen.
Probably for the best. An internet break is good for the soul.

Anyway, I hope to be replicating the photograph above's "café au lait + pastries at a sidewalk café" situation many times in the next 10 days. Which means I probably won't be spending much time here on this space. 

So until my return, 

ta ta for now and au revoir

(follow our European adventures on Instagram!)

7.23.2014

3 target language games




Whether you are raising your child bilingual, tutoring students in a second language, or teaching a foreign language in a school setting, one of the most effective ways to keep your students in the target language is to make it fun.

Music, videos, and books in the target language are great ways to use authentic resources while keeping language learning fun. But sometimes, kids just need a good old fashioned game to distract them from the fact that they're acquiring vocabulary and using new grammatical structures.

In some situations, you just want to inspire your students to engage in target language conversation while lowering their affective filters.

These games are easy to adapt to whatever type of vocabulary or structure you're targeting. They don't require a ton of preparation, and can be done with just a few, or many students. Happy playing!

great minds think alike
(found at The Creative Language Class)


Working in groups of three or four, each person takes a turn selecting a question in the target language. If your students are novices, include pictures with the questions, or make the structure of the question repetitive. Use lots of cognates. This students (secretly) writes their answer on a white board, note card, or piece of paper. Everyone else in the group writes on their white board or note card what they think that student wrote. Whoever matches their answer with that student gets a point!

memory

This is a twist on that classic childhood favorite. Create your "cards" as slides on PowerPoint, then print them out as multiple slides to a page. Either print them on card stock, or cut them out and glue them to sturdier paper. Each new vocabulary word should match a picture. Avoid translating the word into the students' first language as the matching card.

2 truths and a lie

This is a wonderful game for novices working on structures such as "I am," "I like," and "I have." Each student writes three things about themselves in the target language - 2 are facts, and 1 is a lie. The rest of the group must guess which item is a lie.

7.21.2014

a little bit loco


We all like to appear as though we've got our lives together. (Thanks, Instagram).

But by this point in my life, I'm fully convinced that none of us really knows what we're doing. We're all just on this weird journey together, and we're all a little bit crazy. Some of us are just better than others at hiding the crazy.

I am all for sharing my positive moments and highlight reels on social media. It's fun to look back at all the good memories. 

But every once and awhile it's nice to see that others are human, they're not as pulled together as they might look, and they have some straight up weird behaviors.

Let me just pull back the curtain for a moment and give you a peek into my crazy. Maybe it will make you feel a little better about your life.

1. I put WAY too much creamer in my coffee. It's like our whole culture is making this gigantic shift where we're all like, "Whole foods, natural is better, less ingredients, NATURE!" And I'm totally on board with it. I even try to make my own bread sometimes. But my one weakness when it comes to chemicals and processed food, the last frontier, is flavored coffee creamer. I. Just. Love it.


2. I just don't care about cars. At all. Like what even is a "hip" car? Are we still using cars to show status? I don't get it.

3. I only dust when company is coming over. Sorry, Mom.

4. I have to trick myself into eating vegetables. They just taste like nature, ok?
green smoothies are my main strategy for sneaking in some veggies
5. I need to go into the library with a game plan. I need a list, and I sometimes worry that I'm reading too much non-fiction, and not enough fiction. Why? Who can say?

6. Monthly budgets are my Everest. I have tried for 4 years to "balance my checkbook" and record every purchase. I'm convinced it can't be done. And why should I? We don't really even spend money besides groceries and toiletries, for which we use the cash system.

7. Ice cream every night in summer.

8. I don't really believe in germs that much. I mean, I know they exist, it's just that I don't care.

9. There is never not dog hair in my home or on my outfit.

Well, now that it sounds like my life is a mess, I hope you feel a bit better about yours ;)

7.17.2014

recluse status


I used to get in trouble for reading.

I have 5 sisters, and I'm an introvert, so that was bound to happen. "They" hadn't yet invented iPhones when I was growing up, so books became my escape. When we were supposed to be having family time, my nose was buried in a book, probably in my room. And, I mean, I can't blame 12-year-old me for opting to stay in the car and read instead of going into Menards. Especially because once I remember I was running my hand along a shelf at Menards when I was little, and my hand smelled funny the rest of the day. So that kind of turned me off to the whole "tools + boring house stuff" kind of stores. And also, I think I would still rather stay in the car and read than go into Menards or Home Depot or JoAnne Fabrics. 

But I digress. 

As an introvert, I feel like I start each day with a stack of dollar bills. Each email that necessitates a response, each phone call, each social interaction, playing with my baby, chatting with my husband, and basically any time I'm around other people, I give away one of those dollar bills. I often end the day with no dollar bills left.

But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy spending the dollar bills. 
I just don't have any left. 
And the only way to rebuild my supply of dollar bills is to be alone. 

My husband, an extrovert, cannot understand this impulse. He cannot understand why I get upset when I have to go to an unplanned social event, because I need to mentally prepare myself for small talk. The poor guy receives the brunt of my ape-like communication skills at the end of a long day, when I literally feel like I cannot carry on a real-life conversation with real words. And though he may not understand what it's like to experience these things, he respects it, and is amazing at giving me alone time whenever he can.

So when I came across this quote, I nodded my head vigorously, because I was too "talked out" to make an exclamation of agreement:


Oh boy. If I could sit in a hammock in the sunshine with no obligations and no one talking to me, that would be the epitome of extravagance. 
#treatyoself

In all seriousness, though, when I feel like there are too many demands on my time, and I have had too many social interactions without time to myself to pray, read the Bible, read for fun, or just sit and think, I start to become rude, anxious, and scatterbrained. 

I admire Daniel, of Lion's Den fame, for his unwavering commitment to escape from the hustle and bustle of his important job in order to be with his God three times each day. 

So maybe I need to become more of a recluse:

rec·luse

  [n. rek-loos, ri-kloosadj. ri-kloosrek-loos]  Show IPA
noun
1.
a person who lives in seclusion or apart from society, often for religious meditation.



I always feel so refreshed when I take the time to separate myself from society, whether it's for my faith and prayer life or my sanity. It simply needs to be a priority rather than an afterthought.

Getting up a half hour earlier than the rest of the household is one way for me to incorporate prayer, devotion, and introvert coffee time into my day. 

Do you have any tried and true methods to sneak in some alone time?

7.15.2014

storing baby clothes

Am I the only one who found baby clothes super confusing at first?

For example, why are some brands 0-3 or 3-6 months, and others just state 3 months?

And does that mean they should wear it up to 3 months? Or that they should start wearing it at 3 months?

Why do some brands barely fit at the beginning of their intended time frame, while others drown the child far past their expiration month?

I couldn't figure out what the baby was supposed to sleep in. A onesie? Full length pajamas? Just a diaper under a swaddle?

Partially due to this confusion, I really struggled with my clothing storage systems this past year. Other challenges included living in a small apartment with limited storage space, moving to a new apartment, receiving tons of hand-me-downs from family and friends (thanks!), and not wanting to get rid of anything just in case.

Our first apartment was a one bedroom. That meant no nursery, no closet for baby clothes, and nowhere to store baby clothes that no longer fit. Basically, it forced us to get rid of a lot of our own clothes in order to make room for a few drawers of baby clothes.

We were so thankful to move into a two bedroom (although we could have made the one-bedroom work), but I have been exceptionally poor at managing the additional room and closet. I kept everything. I let chaos reign. We let our things expand to fit the extra space. Rookie mistake.

Not to mention we have not allowed ourselves to spend any additional money outside of essentials this past year, in order to pay for our upcoming trip to London! That meant no purchasing organizational buckets, cubes, baskets, or shelves.

This was the unfortunate and embarrassing result:


Thankfully we have finally paid for the trip, and I felt we could spend some extra cash on a shoe shelf and storage bins. With a bit of inspiration from A Bowl Full of Lemons, and armed with coupons on my Target Cartwheel app, we made the obligatory Target run to get our lives Pippa's closet in order.

I ruthlessly culled the masses and masses of clothes we had acquired as gifts and hand-me-downs. I kept only my favorites, threw away the onesies destroyed by spit-up and other various baby messes, and made a donation pile for the still functional clothes we simply have no space for.

Here is the finished result:


Thanks to the generosity of others, and not counting medical bills and formula, we have scarcely spent a dime on this baby - yet somehow you would think we had 10 kids running around from the amount of baby things we have!

And so we continue our purging and simplifying blitzkrieg through the apartment. Next stop, the kitchen!

Any good advice on storing baby/kid clothes in a small space?

7.06.2014

ch-ch-changes!



Houston, we have a walker!

I feel like every day, every week, is an explosion of new milestones and changes for Philippa Florence. Each day is a new surprise and a new delight. The girl lives for making people laugh. You can practically see her mind cycling through the different tricks she's learned to get a rise out of people. Now that she has added walking (and a few words!) to her repertoire, she seems like a little girl rather than a baby.

As with everything, there seems to be two extremes in our culture when it comes to baby's milestones. On one end of the spectrum, you have those who want their baby to reach every achievement as quickly as possible, proving that their child is the smartest, and they are the best parents.

One the other side, you have parents who all but weep at every landmark development, wondering where babyhood has gone?

I think many parents are somewhere in the middle, and feel both the speed up and slow down instincts at some point or another. I am striving for the happy center which is thankful for a healthy child who can walk, talk, eat independently, and follow directions. I want to fully enjoy each stage while we live it, not longing for a past time nor striving for a new breakthrough.

Some of the best parenting advice I got was that everything is a phase. This, too, shall pass.

I try to remember that with both the good and the bad. It will be gone soon. Savor, enjoy, capture the moment, remember.

As Dean Martin sang, memories are made of this.

6.30.2014

how do you see yourself?


When I made up my mind to become a Spanish teacher, I knew it was not the sort of job to make a person rich.

Not only was I ok with that, but I embraced the challenge of living below my already modest means. It felt somehow biblical to be lower middle class?

Which is so mind-blowingly ridiculous.
I live in one of the richest countries in the world. 
I probably spend more on food in one month than some people do in a year.
I have an iPhone, for goodness sake.
No, there is nothing inherently biblical about being less rich than the guy next to me.

As a result, when I begin my new job, I discovered that I have some very limiting beliefs about myself and how much money is realistic, acceptable, or possible for me to make.
I don't see myself as poor - I know better than that now.
I don't see myself as rich, either, though.
When I think about myself in relationship to money, and am truly honest with myself, I see someone who will always make enough, but never have an abundance to share.

Honestly, money is a weird issue for me.
Probably for a lot of people.
Is it ok to want to earn more?

Anyway, that's my very straightforward and vulnerable confession.
That's my limiting belief about myself. 

Everyone has one. Moses didn't see himself as a good speaker, though God sent him to deliver a nation. Paul always viewed himself as the least of the apostles, despite the great missionary work he did.

And mine is that I wonder if it's ok for me to set goals to make more money than I ever dreamed I could or would make. That's how I limit myself, often subconsciously.
(I have many more, of course. I would love to write a book, but see myself as someone who isn't creative enough, so I haven't tried.)

Our thoughts are powerful. When we focus on what is good, righteous, positive, and helpful to others, what we can accomplish is limitless. When we dwell on the negative, doubts, fears, and selfishness, we make the decision to be unfaithful with the blessings God has given us.

Daily reminders to beat negative self-talk:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 
(2 Timothy 1:7)

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’(Matthew 25:21)

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (2 Corinthians 9:6,10-11)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

What's your limiting belief? Does it limit you professionally, personally, or financially? How do you overcome it?