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The endless challenges of raising multilingual kids…

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

This is another example of my many moments of introspective thoughts… This is one of those days when I try to understand [and accept!] the decisions we’ve made for our lifestyle, the way we’re raising our children, the kind of education parameters we [husband and I] need to make available to them… As part of the educational tools my children need to be exposed to, are, for sure, the language/communication/social expression tools.

I’ve already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 full weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South American countries, a few European reps, and the well-known US-American crowd.

All fun and games, until it came to reinforce the endless/continuous need for them [my kids] to keep speaking Portuguese at home. Since I spend several hours at work, I’m not with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They speak to the nanny in Spanish, to other American kids in English. The TV is mostly in English, with a few Spanish options. I’m their only link to Portuguese, right now - and I feel it’s my duty to stress the rule of  ‘if mom is home, you should only talk to her in Portuguese, as well as, to each other”.

Guess what’s happening? The rule is definitely off. We [parents] had it all planned out: our kick-off was the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method, where one parent speaks the minority language, which would be, in my case, Portuguese. My husband would have the kids started in Spanish [his father's mother tongue], and gradually move on to English [husband's mother's tongue], as school moved on and our children required a deeper knowledge of English… We knew their/kids’ brains are hard-wired for language acquisition and children up to three years old easily process both languages.

Our 3 children had an early ‘linguistic’ start. They’re now 8; 6 and 3 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate. Soon, our family will be transitioning from our current Spanish-speaking setting, to a Brazilian Portuguese scenario… how would my kids [re]adapt? What would be the social, emotional, psychological impacts this imminent move may bring? Only time will tell us…

José Saramago

José Saramago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, it seems not to be working. Maybe, it’s because we’re tired at the end of the day? Or because the kids see me talking to their dad in English; and to their day-time nanny in Spanish, they believe it’s okay to leave Saramago‘s language aside, and completely pretend they don’t know Portuguese [??].

So here I am, asking for suggestions [??], trying to figure out an easy [and painless] way out… ,

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’ve shared here before.

From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours… Thank you for reading… and for any suggestions that come our way! :o

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16 Comments

Posted by on March 23, 2014 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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A few thoughts on ‘bilingual homeschooling’.

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of… 

There’s also a very interesting/challenging/poking article from CNN, bringing out the discussion on a study about ‘lifelong bilinguals’ {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains} and the development of their brains… also, worth to check it out [I clearly did, it's part of who I'm... that said, I had no other option but to join the discussion forum with my 2 cents growing up as a nomad child, and now a 'trailing spouse' and mother to 3 TCKs].

According to Corey Heller [the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine], “Home languages almost always take a severe blow the moment our children walk through the schoolhouse doors. 

All of a sudden, our children are surrounded by peers, teachers, administrators (even the janitor and bus driver) all day long who speak nothing but the community language.  Our children quickly learn that this “school language” is essential for functioning in society and thus begins the home language–school/community language dichotomy (to the distress of many a dedicated parent). However, not all families experience this abrupt change once their children are school age. What is their secret?” 

Well, the answer presented by the Multilingual Living author is that parents “choose to educate their children at home and avoid the whole transition all together”.

Personally, we’re trying to get the best of the two worlds: our 2 elementary children attend an international school in Bolivia, where most of the classes are in English, with the optional Spanish as a ‘bonus’ class. The playground language is Spanish. Homework is done in English. I try my best to only speak to the children in Portuguese, and my husband does the same, regarding Spanish. I guess, we’re doing the ‘part-time homeschooling’!

Back to the ‘inspirational article’, “For most families, homeschooling is not about recreating the classroom at home. It is about creating something absolutely brand new and unique; about fostering an environment which is conducive to learning, regardless of material, location or method…” I agree with the author, and just wish I/we could replicate that in our own household! :) And why I say that? Because it’s hard, despite the endless efforts from the parents,

bilingual homeschoolers use an array of resources for learning different subjects. What is most important are the results that come from learning a subject, e.g. being able to read and comprehend what is read, compute mathematical equations on varying levels, write a well-researched and well-argued essay, be familiar with world geography and history, and put the scientific method into practice – all of which progresses and matures as our children develop their knowledge and skills…”

And as the author wraps it up, we’re left with a great advice:

How to Homeschool in more than one Language:
“Each family will need to come up with their own bilingual homeschooling plan based on their languages and subjects which they plan to cover.  Family members must also decide who will be teaching which subjects in which language and when. Planning is probably the hardest part so families need to make sure they find as many resources as they can – general books on homeschooling as well as books in the target language which can be used for specific subjects”.

That said, we’ll keep on trying to assist our children with homework, school projects, reading/writing responses, using not only English. Math problems could be described and explained using my Portuguese. The joy of seeing my son resolving a problem/understanding a text excerpt and writing down the answers in English, carries a totally especial feeling for me. It shows the innate capacity to adapt, to adjust, and to develop a very personal way of thinking, of expressing himself

Leaving you all with nice words of support, from Corey Heller: “The decision to homeschool bilingually can be a frightening one but with enough preparation, support and motivation you can make it a successful one for you and your family.”

If you liked this piece, please take a moment and go visit Multilingual Living website. It’s a very good resource for parents of TCKs, homeschooling parents, or any parent concerned about improving their children’s learning skills, without loosing track of reality. From our “tentative trilingual home“, to yours…♥

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More?

Benefits of Multilingualism

 
10 Comments

Posted by on October 4, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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Thoughts on ‘Let Teachers Do Their Jobs.’

"Teacher Appreciation" featured phot...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last morning’s column on the Washington Post [Parenting], by Tracy Grant, was a refreshing example of what we [parents] need [or need not] to do when it comes to working in parallel with our children’s schools. The author encourage us all not only to read her suggestions, but also try to create a “new school year’s resolution.” Letting the teachers teach. Letting them exercise their abilities while showing our children the way to behave in school, as well as in society.

English: Group of children in a primary school...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quoting Tracy Grant: “Let your kids’ teachers do their job. Assume that they are equipped to do what they have been trained and are paid to do. Be involved in your child’s school and education, but try to do it in a way that is supportive of the teachers.”

In short: Meddle less.

And this was only the introduction to her op-piece. ‘Meddle less’. She simply nailed it on the head. No need for screaming, no discussion, no arguments – it’s like telling us, parents, ‘step away, for a little bit’, and let the [ones that have been trained, schooled, experienced] do their jobs.

Obviously, our children’s education should not rely solely on what he/she are receiving during the school hours – it goes way beyond the school walls, and it’s our [parental] responsibility to ensure their success and well-being are the utmost goal. Parents should be unconditionally involved in a child’s education. As Tracy Grant well pointed out, ‘no one will ever be a better advocate for your child than you’. But being supportive to your child does not mean one needs to act/react as if the child didn’t have means to do so. As the child ages, he/she has the critical duty to advocate for him/herself. It’s an integral part of learning how to live the ‘real life’ in the ‘real world’, surrounded by ‘real people’, facing real challenges and difficulties.

Part of the learning process is understanding [from the child' point of view] how to survive in the real world. It’s also crucial for parents and school professionals, to offer opportunities for independent learning. It’s a two-way street: the teaching goes alongside with the learning, and one cannot exist if the other is corrupted.

Finally, using Tracy’s words, an advice for any parent out there [and my favorite part of her article!]: ‘encourage him to be a responsible student. Assume the teacher knows what he is doing. And your student may wind up learning lessons for a lifetime.’

 
15 Comments

Posted by on September 5, 2013 in children, EDUCATION, resources

 

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The emotionally resilient expat [by Linda Janssen].

Oh, well, why not mention here a great book that just came out [July 2013], by the author Linda Janssen?

And the reason for that? Linda interviewed several expats, families, collected their experiences, challenges, suggestions, stories and tales. All together, bound in one book – and I’m happy to say I’m one of the proud contributors to her compendium…

[insert a shameless smile here! :o]

My little 2 cents: lessons learned from our ‘nomadic life’ with the US Foreign Service – as a professional, a around-the-clock mother, a traveler, an FSO spouse… a serial expat… ♥

Happy reading!

Linda A Janssen, The Emotionally Resilient Expat

The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures

Living abroad offers enriching experiences of growth, broadened perspective, enhanced cultural understanding. Yet its transition-rich, change-driven, cross-cultural nature can place considerable demands, leaving us stressed, disconnected, our identity in flux. Building on existing literature and benefitting from recent developments in psychology and brain-body connections, The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures shows the key to successful transitions and beyond lies in emotional resilience to adapt, adjust or simply accept. Linda A. Janssen combines candid personal stories from experienced expats and cross-culturals, with a wealth of practical tools, techniques and best practices from emotional, social and cultural intelligence, positive psychology, mindfulness, stress management, self-care and related areas. FACTORS™ offers a way to live a healthier, more positive, emotionally engaged, culturally connected global life.

Curious to learn more about the book? Follow this link:

www.theemotionallyresilientexpat.com

REVIEWS

“Using personal story and solid theory in her groundbreaking book on emotional resilience, Linda A. Janssen guides those facing the challenges of cross-cultural living to dig under the initial rocky surfaces of overseas life to discover – and use – the rich gold of their own experience. A great resource for expats of all backgrounds.” Ruth E. Van Reken, Author, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds

“Janssen’s work is sure to be a stand out in any expatriate or cross-cultural arena. She eloquently, articulately and incisively delves into areas previously considered taboo in order to highlight how we can all gain mastery over whatever life throws our way. I will definitely be referencing Janssen’s material when working with TCKs, expat parents and international students.” Tina L Quick, Author, The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition,www.internationalfamilytransitions.com

“A practical guide in the art of managing the risks of overseas life in ways that will promote endurance and effectiveness. Full of honest and hope-filled stories from the lived experience and life-long learning of Janssen and her dozens of expatriate contributors. An invaluable companion for expats who want to know that they are not alone.” Duncan P. Westwood, PhD, (C)OACCPP Clinical Director of Expatriate Care & Development, International Health Management

“As with any food rich in nutrition, this book is best sampled regularly and digested slowly.” Drs. Douglas W. Ota, NIP Psychologist, NMI Mediator, Family Therapist, www.dougota.nl

 
 

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Always in good company! 3rdCultureChildren among Multicultural Bloggers!

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Check the directory out at: http://www.multiculturalbloggers.com/

Multicultural Bloggers

 

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School is back: Creating the proper study environment?

English: Don't waste your time and do your hom...

Homework time?! Photo credit: Wikipedia.

This morning’s article on Parenting, from the Washington Post got me thinking…

And I’m thankful that Nicole Anzia [freelance writer; she can be reached at nicole@neatnik.org] took a stab at it: “Finding a space where your child can complete his or her homework without getting totally stressed out, or stressing you out, is difficult. Don’t be discouraged if the first place you choose isn’t perfect; this will be an ongoing and evolving process throughout your child’s life as a student. But having a space set up and creating a homework routine during the first week of school will help smooth the transition from summer’s hot, hazy days to fall’s hurried, homework days.”

Homework

Homework (Photo credit: TJCoffey)

According to Anzia, there are few points that MUST be addressed, and since school days for my 2 elementary kids has just begun, I hope I’m on the right track, and will, for sure, try to follow her ‘advice’: [I've added my personal comments after the 'important-points' suggested by the author]

1. Choose the right location

We’re fortunate enough to have an extra ‘lunch table’, in a separate room, with a framed world map, a large wall clock and a buffet with drawers. The whole area has been defined for ‘homework’ and school assignments: reading response; school poster preparation, coloring, cutting and pasting [I've got a 2nd grader and a KG5].

2. Find and organize supplies

The buffet drawers were turned into ‘storage space’ for their school supplies. Backpacks are kept on the floor, against the wall, and handy, when they’re needed. Plastic containers/organizers are a must-have to keep their pencils, coloring gear, scissors; glue sticks IN PLACE AND EASY TO FIND. :o

Homework

Homework (Photo credit: christinepollock)

3. Create a Go-To spot

Anzia also points out that “Another advantage of a designated homework space is that you can have a set surface where you and your kids can post scheduling reminders and deadlines. You could hang a magnetic board or bulletin board, or use stick-on chalkboard or dry-erase boards that can be easily removed in seconds, without damaging the wall.”

For that, unfortunately, I had to resource to our kitchen area, where we mounted a white board on the wall, with our cell phone numbers [for the sitter, when both mom and dad are at work!]. The board displays each child’s chores, a brief schedule and any necessary reminder…. The kitchen wall is also the place for an oversized interactive calendar [months, days, seasons, weather and special dates]. Our oldest son, now 7,5 is the one in charge of changing the dates/information on the calendar, every morning.

4. Try out and reassess

This is the author’s final suggestion. Try things out, and after the initial month or so, reassess the results. Change. Improve. Get feedback from the kids. See what works and what needs to be fixed.

We’re on week 1, for this school year… let’s wait and see what’s in store for us… we’re all hopeful… maybe ‘homework time’ will be a breeze… who knows? :o

 
 

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Day 360 in Bolivia: Suggestions for entertaining the little ones.

A male Green-and-rufous Kingfisher on Chalalan...

A male Green-and-rufous Kingfisher on Chalalan Lake, Tuichi River. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Miranda Family arrived in La Paz in the beginning of August, 2012.  assignment. Our familial “nucleus” is constituted of 2 adults, 2 kids (7 1/2 and 5 1/2 yrs-old) and a 2 1/2 year-old toddler. Being a parent/caretaker requires lots of diplomacy, negotiationpeacekeeping, policy implementation and strategy skills. That said, managing a household, its respective juvenile population and the consequent budgetary implications, is a… HUGE, EXPERIMENTAL and UNFORESEEN task!

There is a never-ending need to keep kids and parents sane (as much as possible). Family outings require loads of planning and logistics management – even if we’re just talking about a Sunday lunch!

  • Here are some suggestions for entertaining the kids (without pulling our hair off), we’ve learnt along the way:
Take weekend trips with other families with kids -it's a life-saver!

Take weekend trips with other families with kids – it’s a life-saver!

Immerse into the local culture and traditions

Immerse into the local culture and traditions

Go hiking through the Isla del Sol

Go hiking through the Isla del Sol

Host a kids Halloween Blast!

Host a kids’ Halloween Blast!

Join the traditional 'water balloon fights' during Carnaval!

Join the traditional ‘water balloon fights’ during Carnaval!

Go bowling!

Go bowling!

Go Zip-lining at the Yungas!

Go Zip-lining at the Yungas!

Throw impromptu 'theme lunches'

Throw impromptu ‘themed lunches’

Family and friends spend the Sunday together at Oberland.

Go out! Family and friends spend the Sunday together at Oberland.

Go on a boat trip along the waters of Lake Titicaca

Go on a boat trip along the waters of Lake Titicaca

Join a 'greening initiative' for a weekend of activities

Join a ‘greening initiative’ for a weekend of activities

Throw impromptu costume parties!

Come up with impromptu costume parties!

Days spent at close-by parks and playgrounds

Days spent at close-by parks and playgrounds

Family luncheons and walks thru the neighborhood of Calacoto

Get out of your comfort zone! Family luncheons and walks thru the neighborhood of Calacoto

Escape to the neighboring Santiago...

Escape to the neighboring Santiago…

Visit to Museums in Prado, La Paz.

Visit Museums in Prado, La Paz.

Mountain biking trip

Take a mountain biking trip

Family trip to the Isla del Sol, Copacabana.

Unplug! Family trip to the Isla del Sol, Copacabana.

Family day trip to the Cotapata Park

Out again! Family day trip to the Cotapata Park

Weekend with friends at the Yungas Region

Weekend with friends at the Yungas Region

 

Surprise your children. Here are some links on good stuff to do around La Paz:

Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallar...

Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallardo “Nayra Inti” interpretando con sus tarkas una tarkeada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children’s Activities

Bolivia does not boast an extensive selection of activities for children, but what it does offer is stunning national parks and the chance to get close to nature and see scenes that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.

La Paz Zoo
La Paz Zoo has recently relocated from a tiny plot of land in the south of the city to a much bigger area in Mallasa, which can be found just outside of the city. The bigger space has allowed new enclosures to be built as well as a children’s petting area and an information block. Children will not fail to be impressed by the menagerie living in natural surroundings. You will find many animals in a park-like setting, living life as they would in the wild. After a morning’s excitement with the animals, try out the on-site café for some lunch and treat the kids to a souvenir from the gift shop.

Madidi National Park, Bolivia

Madidi National Park, Bolivia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

National Parks
Bolivia is home to some of the most unspoilt national parks in the world. These parks boast a tremendous variety of wildlife, although you have to be lucky to see a lot of animals as most of them hide deep in the densest of forests. Madidi National Park is recorded by National Geographic as being one of the world’s largest biologically diverse reserves. One of Bolivia’s richest forests can be found here as well as over 988 species of animals. It stretches from the Andes to the western Amazon Basin and allows people to watch animals, trek through woodland and explore the many nature trails. The children will love this unique chance to get back to nature.

Toro Park fountain

Toro Park fountain (Photo credit: Rob Michalski)

Toro Toro National Park is located close to Potosi and is ideal for dinosaur lovers. You will find giant dinosaur footprints and fossils as well as the caves of Umajalanta. Carrasco National Park is an enormous rainforest park located in the Andes’ foothills. It is a great park for children as there is so much space to run around in.

Witches’ Market
This market is also known as Mercado de Brujas and is full of magic and mystery. Goods sold here include herbs and remedies as well as other components used in ancient Aymara traditions. It is La Paz’s most colourful site, with many sights to amaze and excite children.

Witches Market

Witches’ Market (Photo credit: callumscott2)

 

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Challenges of raising bi/multilingual kids…

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 full weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South American countries, a few European reps, and the well-known US-American crowd.

All fun and games, until it came to reinforce the endless/continuous need for them [my kids] to keep speaking Portuguese at home. Since I spend several hours at work, I’m not with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They speak to the nanny in Spanish, to other American kids in English. The TV is mostly in English, with a few Spanish options. I’m their only link to Portuguese, right now - and I feel it’s my duty to stress the rule of  ‘if mom is home, you should only talk to her in Portuguese, as well as, to each other”.

Guess what’s happening? The rule is definitely off. We [parents] had it all planned out: our kick-off was the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method, where one parent speaks the minority language, which would be, in my case, Portuguese. My husband would have the kids started in Spanish [his father's mother tongue], and gradually move on to English [husband's mother's tongue], as school moved on and our children required a deeper knowledge of English… We knew their/kids’ brains are hard-wired for language acquisition and children up to three years old easily process both languages.

Our 3 children had an early ‘linguistic’ start. They’re now 7.5; 5.5 and 2.5 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate.

José Saramago

José Saramago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, it seems not to be working. Maybe, it’s because we’re tired at the end of the day? Or because the kids see me talking to their dad in English; and to their day-time nanny in Spanish, they believe it’s okay to leave Saramago‘s language aside, and completely pretend they don’t know Portuguese [??].

So here I am, asking for suggestions [??], trying to figure out an easy [and painless] way out… ,

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’ve shared here earlier.

From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours… Thank you for reading… and for any suggestions that come our way! :o

 
10 Comments

Posted by on July 17, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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{Updated} Raising Resilient Children.

Mother's Day Montesori School (6)diversity & resilience

Here’s a brief update on this blogpost – a book that just came out, from the author Linda Janssen, and from which I’ve learned a lot during this journey of ‘raising expat children’:

The Emotionally Resilient Expat – Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures 

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I feel like I began this year on a very ‘introspective mode‘, rethinking life, our lifestyle, and the way we plan on leading it forward…

This is a third post on my ‘random thoughts‘ about bringing our children out [first one discussed multilingualism and its approach as parents; and the second one dealt with 'how to approach' diversity issues], especially when it comes to the heterogeneous society they [children] are about to face…. any moment from now… [find all interesting links to great discussions at the bottom of this post!]

For a child, especially the young ones, parents are their strongest link to the concepts of ‘reality‘ and ‘normalcy‘.
DSC_6128
 
That said, I recently found from Expat Child, a fantastic site for inspirations for any parent out there, even if they’re not ‘serial expats’ like our family:
[and my deepest appreciation to the site authors for bringing out such an interesting discussion!]
 

Five Quotes On Resilience

Picture of the Galapagos Marine Iguana with a Darwin quote on survival of the species

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. – Charles Darwin

Resilient children tend to have parents who are concerned with their children’s education, who participate in that education, who direct their children everyday task, and who are aware of their children interests and goals. Another important characteristic of resilient children is having at least one significant adult in their lives. – Linda F. Winfield

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. – Mark Twain

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: one is roots, the other is wings. – Hodding Carter

Self-esteem is the real magic wand that can form a child’s future. A child’s self-esteem affects every area of her existence, from friends she chooses, to how well she does academically in school, to what kind of job she gets, to even the person she chooses to marry. – Stephanie Martson

 
I don’t have answers for these questions, and maybe, secretly, would hope to find a few over here… from other expat/parents out there... I’m aware that we [parents] are all seeking answers, suggestions, so, I’ll echo my voice with many more… who knows? Comments/messages are very much appreciated, and more than welcome! “How are we [parents] working on raising more [socially] resilient children?”
Thank you!
 
 

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Farewell to Facebook: A great day of liberation!


Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

After a long debate [with myself, the little voices from my head, and my dear husband], we’ve decided to move on. I’m bringing this relationship with Facebook to a whole new level. A healthier one, I believe, and hopes are up! :o

Here is one of the pieces that came to my hands this week:

A new report released this week from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that Facebook remains the leading social network among American teenagers. It’s also the most reviled. While some teenagers interviewed by Pew claimed they “enjoyed using it,” the majority complained of “an increasing adult presence, high-pressure or otherwise negative social interactions (‘drama’), or feeling overwhelmed by others who share too much.” In other words, Facebook—as any adult with a profile knows—feels a lot like high school.

If Facebook is high school, other social media platforms can function as opportunities to escape from Facebook’s pervasive social structure—the online equivalent to cutting class and hanging out beneath the bleachers.

That definitely got me thinking! :o Not that any impulse or excuses were needed, to remove FB from my ‘real life’, but it worked as a great springboard for discussion/dbate within our family…

After pondering around the pros, cons, the time spent through people’s status updates, the conclusion came quick and simple: I’ll live without the artificial reality – don’t think it’s needed. It’ll be for a greater good.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

To the ones who care for us, for our family, keep following the blog and checking our family updates through here.

Or, even, go old-school and, once in a while, shoot us an email! [I'm sure you have it!]

Thank you, and I’m happy to move on… moving away from any artificial requirements to ‘ update my status’.

What motivated me to make up my mind? Here’s an extract detailing the so-called “Facebook Syndrome”:

Study has found that teenagers who are heavy users of social networking Websites tend to show signs of depression. The research, by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, studied teenagers in Edinburgh and found that those who are addicted to social networking such as Bebo and Facebook, show symptoms of depression, missed sleep, school and meals. In addition, there were cases where boys became more or less housebound simply because they did not want to leave the computer and thus needed mental health treatment.

Consequently, those who had self-harmed were discovered to have spent far more time on social networking Websites and tended to turn to these sites when in times of trouble when compared to their pairs. The study therefore recommends that mental health patients should be asked about their computer use when undergoing mental assessments.

Furthermore, it is important for adults and not just teenagers to be more conscious of the amount of time spent in front of a computer. Perhaps, one of the biggest indications of ‘Facebook’ syndrome occurs when one can no longer live without mobile phones or access to the Internet.

Wrap-up question: Can you do without the computer or Internet for a day without exhibiting any symptoms of withdrawal? :o

 
 
32 Comments

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in resources

 

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Between Us: An Open Letter to the Disney Channel

Originally posted on Life Inspired:

No More Disney Channel copy

Dear Disney Channel Executives,

My daughter Journey has recently become a fan of the Disney Channel.  She just turned 7, she has officially outgrown Nick Jr. and since Nick seems to show SpongeBob all day, she has moved over to the Disney channel.  At first, she was pretty much only watching Phineas and Ferb.  Eventually, she started watching the rest of the line up including Good Luck Charlie, Austin and Ally, Shake It Up and Jessie.

View original 597 more words

 
 

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Embracing Diversity as an Expat: Raising Children in the Foreign Service.

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I feel like I began this year on a very ‘introspective mode‘, rethinking life, our lifestyle, and the way we plan on leading it forward…

This is a second post on my ‘random thoughts‘ about bringing our children out [first one discussed multilingualism and its approach as parents], especially when it comes to the diverse society they [children] are about to face…. any moment from now…

The discussion on social diversity is not only part of our family’s daily life, but it also tailors the way we are raising our children, and the way we would like them to understand and perceive their surroundings.

Being a foreign-born spouse, who has moved out of Brazil over a decade ago, constantly traveling because of work and family life, I had to learn early that, the need to readjust and reinvent oneself is a critical part of the adaptation process in a foreign country. I’m also a parent, and often find myself trying to answer a few questions, to my own children, as well as, to other parents facing similar challenges: “What can I do to help my children around the issue of diversity?” And, in fact, how ready is our society to embrace diversity? 

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Life as an expat has shown me that we (parents) are the only ‘constant‘ on our children’s lives. Childhood friends come and go, depending on their parent’s jobs. Schools change. Countries, cultures, music, social patterns and expected behaviors last as long as one’s post assignment does.
 
For a child, especially the young ones, parents are their strongest link to the concepts of ‘reality‘ and ‘normalcy‘.
Over time, children will learn who they are and what to do through these experiences – absorbing a sense of their routines, traditions, languages, cultures, and national or racial identities – at their own pace, creating their very particular ‘hybrid culture‘, assuming their own identity, as unique social beings.
 
We are diverse, we speak different languages in our household, we come from distinct cultural and/or religious backgrounds… and our children could not be any different from that narrative. Our children are coming up as divergent individuals, in a much richer way than we (parents) were brought up. We are all very unique, and that notion needs to be reflected not only on the job represented by our officers (and their families) overseas, but also, through our own behavior as social creatures.
 
Diversity brings innovation and creativity. It’s important for us, parents, to add to our home environment, so it is reflective of other (cultural, racial, ethnic, family style) groups. It’s critical to express pride in our own heritage. Building positive identities and the respect for differences, would mean inserting these concepts to the routine of children’s everyday lives.

I don’t have answers for these questions, and maybe, secretly, would hope to find a few over here… from other expat/parents out there... I’m aware that we [parents] are all seeking answers, suggestions, so, I’ll echo my voice with many more… who knows? Comments/messages are very much appreciated, and more than welcome!

That said, what is our role as parents? How could we help our children regarding diversity? One of the suggestions is that we need to be constantly involved in their lives. Listening to their stories, learning about their ventures and challenges adjusting to new/unknown realities. We need to devote a great deal of patience for establishing a healthy communication channel within our household, and between all the levels of our (expatriate) community; opportunities will present themselves at the school, at the work level, at social events where children may take part… . It’s necessary to talk to our children about differences, in a very understanding and respectful way. Let us be resourceful and take advantage of the diversity around us.

One of the advantages this life as expatriates offers to families is the possibility to enroll our children in international schools. It’s already been discussed that students who attend schools with a diverse population (student body, faculty, staff) are capable of developing an understanding of the perspectives of other children’s backgrounds, learning to function in a multicultural, multiethnic environment.All of us are born free of biases, (un)fortunately, we tend to learn them as we grow. Is it a totally negative aspect of our lives? Could we turn our ability to make social judgments into a positive impacting tool? Let the discussion begin! :o

 

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“To have a second language is to possess a second soul” (Charlemagne)

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of… Recently, CNN brought out an interesting/challenging/poking discussion on a study about ‘lifelong bilinguals’ {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains} and the development of their brains… also, worth to check it out [I clearly did, it's part of who I'm... that said, I had no other option but to join the discussion forum with my 2 cents growing up as a nomad child, and now a 'trailing spouse' and mother to 3 TCKs].

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’m sharing below.

A very good resource for parents of TCKs, homeschooling parents, or any parent concerned about improving their children’s learning skills, without loosing track of reality.  From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours

Good reading!

Benefits of Multilingualism

By Michał B. Paradowski
Institute of Applied Linguistics,
 University of Warsaw

The advantages that multilinguals exhibit over monolinguals are not restricted to linguistic knowledge only, but extend outside the area of language. The substantial long-lived cognitive, social, personal, academic, and professional benefits of enrichment bilingual contexts have been well documented. Children and older persons learning foreign languages have been demonstrated to:

  • have a keener awareness and sharper perception of language. Foreign language learning “enhances children’s understanding of how language itself works and their ability to manipulate language in the service of thinking and problem solving”; 
  • be more capable of separating meaning from form;
  • learn more rapidly in their native language (L1), regardless of race, gender, or academic level;
  • be more efficient communicators in the L1;
  • be consistently better able to deal with distractions, which may help offset age-related declines in mental dexterity;
  • develop a markedly better language proficiency in, sensitivity to, and understanding of their mother tongue;
  • develop a greater vocabulary size over age, including that in their L1;
  • have a better ear for listening and sharper memories;
  • be better language learners in institutionalized learning contexts because of more developed language-learning capacities owing to the more complex linguistic knowledge and higher language awareness;
  • have increased ability to apply more reading strategies effectively due to their greater experience in language learning and reading in two—or more—different languages;
  • develop not only better verbal, but also spatial abilities;
  • parcel up and categorize meanings in different ways;
  • display generally greater cognitive flexibility, better problem solving and higher-order thinking skills;
  • a person who speaks multiple languages has a stereoscopic vision of the world from two or more perspectives, enabling them to be more flexible in their thinking, learn reading more easily. Multilinguals, therefore, are not restricted to a single world-view, but also have a better understanding that other outlooks are possible. Indeed, this has always been seen as one of the main educational advantages of language teaching”; 
  • multilinguals can expand their personal horizons and—being simultaneously insiders and outsiders—see their own culture from a new perspective not available to monoglots, enabling the comparison, contrast, and understanding of cultural concepts;
  • be better problem-solvers gaining multiple perspectives on issues at hand;
  • have improved critical thinking abilities;
  • better understand and appreciate people of other countries, thereby lessening racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, as the learning of a new language usually brings with it a revelation of a new culture;
  • learn further languages more quickly and efficiently than their hitherto monolingual peers;
  • to say nothing of the social and employment advantages of being bilingual {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains}– offering the student the ability to communicate with people s/he would otherwise not have the chance to interact with, and increasing job opportunities in many careers {The Value In Being Bilingual or Multilingual}.
 
21 Comments

Posted by on January 17, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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It’s [Girls Scout] Cookie time! [Sharing information from The Dinoia Family]

This community we’re part of [Foreign Service] is all about networking and sharing… sharing information, advice, comments, experiences… In sharing, we all become stronger, and able to keep moving forward! :o That said, I’m now sharing some information learned from The Dinoia Family‘s Blog, about this year’s Girls Scout Cookies Initiative, involving a couple of other very active ladies [and their daughters!] from the FS community – definitely, a great one! And I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be sharing their initiative and efforts! :o

Quoted from The Dinoia Family’s blog:

“Yep…it’s cookie time!

Girl Scout cookies are back and we are on those orders!  In fact, this year, we are working together with Jill and Riley to spread the cookie goodness far and wide throughout the Foreign Service.  We have made it terribly easy to enjoy those once-a-year treats that you buy en masse because they are so darn yummy (and ship well!).

To make it easy, I have copied the “how to” from Jill’s blog.  Follow these simple instructions and you, too, could be enjoying those cookies very soon!  And now…Spanish homework is calling again…

Want cookies?  Read the excerpt from Jill’s post below and just follow the instructions!

First and foremost, we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, so our joint efforts are focused on providing Girl Scout Cookies solely to our Foreign Service friends overseas, where we can ship to an APO/FPO/DPO or pouch address.  If you are our family members or personal friends and want to buy from us rather than from the little girlies who are SURE to knock on your door sometime in the next few months, that’s great too.  But we’ll take care of you outside of this joint venture.
Just like the last few years, the cookies are only $4 / box … with all your favorites returning!
  • Thin Mints
  • Samoas
  • Thank You Berry Munch
  • Trefoils
  • Dulce de Leche
  • Tagalongs
  • Do-Si-Dos
  • Savannah Smiles
Here’s how to order:
1) Attempt to narrow down how many boxes you want (versus how many boxes your eyes and stomach want.)
2) Send an email to DSforGS@yahoo.com by Friday, January 18th, with …
* Your Name
* Your Post
* Your Address
* Exactly how many of each kind you’d like
3) When the cookies come in, send us your payment via paypal, and we’ll get them out to you ASAP.  We’ll send you an email invoice letting you know your totals.
It’s THAT simple.
We will be shipping the cookies in the USPS Flat Rate boxes. The current APO/FPO rate is $13.45 for a 12″ x 12″ x 5 1/2″ box … and we can fit 8 boxes of cookies in them.  And as an incentive … you pay the first $10 / box, and we’ll pick up the rest!
A wee bit of additional information  …
** If you are at a post overseas, pass along this information to any of your friends.  We would LOVE to outfit your entire Consulate or Embassy.
** Consider combining orders with your friends to help reduce shipping costs.
** Between the two families, our girls sold over 1100 boxes of cookies to 50+ countries during the last two years to FS personnel.
** We set up the DSforGS@yahoo.com email address so that we could make it easy to get more cookies shipped out to more places.  If you know either of us personally and want our daughters to send out your cookies – no worries.  Just say so in your email.  Otherwise, we have divided up the world behind the scenes so that all you need to do is send in your order, and let us take care of the rest!
Now what are you waiting for?  Happy ordering!”
Please hop back to Jen Dinoia‘s blog for more information! Thank you!♥

 

 

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Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…

“Are you curious?” We are! :o

**UPDATE: Follow-up post discussing thoughts on Diversity & Raising Children as Expats

I often talk about the challenges of parenting, especially considering the difficulties placed by language and culture, one of the many issues associated with moving to a different country, every couple of years. That said, I took a look back at the posts published in 2012, mainly on parenting & language, and found one that generated a very instructive feedback; working as a sort of a ‘discussion forum‘, that I plan on exploring/expanding at length, some time this year… [Another one of my New Year's Resolutions... Like everyone else, I know there'll be a great deal of 'procrastination' before I'll be able to cross tasks off my 2013 to-do list!]

Oh, well, at least, I’m taking the time to revisit thoughts/facts/articles… it’s the first step for the beginning of a good research! :o

The post that got me thinking was one related to a simple question: “What type of multilingual parent are you?”, pointed out by the Mumsnet Bloggers Network for 2012; that had been initiated by a clever quote about the experience of raising bi/multilingual children:

“…raising multilingual children is an adventure you share together – one that is a lot of fun, but for which you will need quite a lot of patience. Sometimes, linguistic development will not progress in the way you hoped. That is fine, and everything will eventually work itself out. Sharing my language with my children has been about sharing my heritage more than anything else. It might be difficult at times, but it is a gift that will last a lifetime“.

Last year’s blogpost provoked a very positive reaction, expressed through the number of visitors, and especially, throughout the comments, coming from parents, consultants, educators, expats like ourselves, or simply, other parents who echo our opinions about how challenging, adventurous and/or never-ending this experience should be.

Learning should never stop, and teaching our kids through example is the best way to keep ourselves current! At least, that’s the hope! :o

Here are some of the comments, and based on their [shared] experiences, it could be YOUR TURN to answer – what type of multilingual parent are you? Or, even better, what type of [multilingual] parent you hope to become?

But first, let me thank all the visitors/readers who shared a comment, or who sent me a message [with your opinion/suggestion] regarding this topic. It makes the blogging experience much richer, more productive, and way more enjoyable! My deepest appreciation to all of you! ♥

VisitorMy husband is a German TCK growing up in Taiwan, and thinks in English most of the time. He is fluent in German and can read fairly well – though he is more comfortable in English. We are living in a Chinese environment and have been since we’ve been married. We had high hopes of me speaking English and him speaking German, but that didn’t work out. I’d say mainly because he didn’t think in German when the oldest was born – he rarely spoke German to anyone. So, remembering to speak it at home was difficult. He did better speaking Chinese to them.  On top of this, his family all speaks English fluently, so there was no pressure on us in that regard as well.
 I do have a question, though that I’m wondering. Will you continue to educate your children in all three languages through middle school and high school or focus more on one language? I’m just really curious about this. You seem to be really doing a great job with them right now so that they master both written and spoken of the three. Great post to ponder on… 

           
Visitor  
In our house we speak English, Spanish and Dutch and the boys seem to know all three languages equally. My five year old is a dynamo with languages. He can switch, translate and think in all three. My two year old understands all three but is not as talkative as my five year old was. We lived in Mozambique with the older one until the age of three and he was able to speak 4 languages when we lived there. It is curious to see how the different children take to the languages differently. I thought for sure my two year old would be the same since we haven’t done anything really different, but I noticed he is taking longer to use his words, although you can see he understands all three. I call Dutch the secret language in my house, because only the boys (not me) speak it. So basically this is how it works: School = English, Language we speak as a family = English, Mommy = Spanglish to the boys (more spanish), Daddy = Dutch to the boys, Empleada/Nanny = always Spanish. The boys will also take Dutch lessons once or twice a week. It is definitely challenging, but so worth it. We don’t really think about it… just the way we live our life.
                        
      
Visitor Enjoyed your post! All the more so since /multilingual-multicultural life – as mentioned by Sakti above – is part and parcel of life in India! I think it is an advantage more than a challenge, an opportunity to broaden horizons!


 
Visitor I am probably not looking at it from a parents’ perspective.  My challenge is to make sure some of our less spoken languages – that includes my mother tongue, that my grandkids can not speak! – do not become extinct!
 

      
VisitorVery interesting. I am from India and we have a different challenge as India has more than 2 dozens of official languages. I studied a different language (Odia) than my mother tongue (Bengali) and now staying in a state, which speak another language (Gujarati). Everybody in India speaks English and Hindi. So my kids (both below 6 years) now have almost learnt to speak and understand all the above languages. Yes it is a challenge.


 

VisitorThanks for the mention of our upcoming session on Emotional Resiliency in Foreign Service Kids that will be held next week (*). Even though you won’t get to see it live, AFSA will upload the video to their website for worldwide viewing. 
I wish I could comment on what kind of bilingual parent I am…. but mine would be more of what I failure I was! When my daughter was 2, we left Portugal, where we had spoken Portuguese in the home when our housekeeper was around. The housekeeper only spoke to my daughter in Portuguese from infancy, so our daughter understood Portuguese as well as English. When we left Portugal, I tried to continue the Portuguese with her, only – at the age of only 2! – she wouldn’t answer me in Portuguese and finally admonished me to “stop speaking like Dolores!” I finally gave up on it.
 

           (*) Please refer to original post for the full text, and more details on the 2012 AFSA initiative.

 
Visitor I’m inspired to speak spanish at home more now. My kids’ dad all speak Spanish and I beg them to speak Spanish to the kids but they haven’t. My mom was raised bilingual, I was until they couldn’t accurately diagnose my infant-aged hearing issues because they couldn’t tell if I didn’t hear them or didn’t understand them so they told my mom to stop speaking Hungarian to me and she did. But she still wishes she’d have kept up with it. Other countries are so great with this and the US doesn’t do enough!
 

           
VisitorThis is so interesting! We also got “moderate parent”. I try to speak spanish to them most of the time but sometimes forget. I also read to them in french and english is the main language in the household. I’m taking them to a spanish speaking playgroup in hopes Evan will be motivated by seeing other little kids speak spanish! Great post!




 

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Updated: Thoughts on ‘what type of multilingual parent are you?’…

“Are you curious?”  We are!

Blog Hop: I’ve talked before about our family’s cultural settings – husband and wife coming from different (but not exclusive) cultures/languages, raising our 3 TCKs, all now 7 years of age, and under; as well as presented thoughts on the Creative Flow of a TCK. This past April, AFSA hosted a panel discussion on emotional resilience in third-culture kids (TCKs) with a particular focus on the Foreign Service experience, during the first week of April. Experts on the issue of TCKs are expected to discuss the issue, taking questions from the audience – too bad we´re a bit far from DC, but we´re looking forward to reading about the discussion. The main question under discussion will be why some kids adapt very well to life in the Foreign Service while others struggle [check the AFSA website for more information].

Phonics & Math: let’s get the family together to help!

From my/our end, we are trying to do our part of the challenging task that is raising worldy third-culture children. And we´re doing it through language. It’s already known that speaking several languages fluently increases job opportunities, makes international travel easier, and enables you to communicate with a lot more people a lot more easily. There are various theories on how to best raise multilingual kids. “One parent, one language” (OPOL for short) is popular, and to some extent that is what we’re doing in our family.

One thing we’ve learned about raising TCKs: reading is a magic tool!

We’ve found out we’re “moderate” multilingual parents… At least, that’s how we tested, according to the Multilingual Living Quiz. Which is the best “group of multilingual parents”? Hard to say, they’re all different, and unique in their own way. There’s no magic formula when it comes to raising children in a multicultural setting. I’m always talking about our multilingual household, the challenges of trying to keep up with Spanish, Portuguese and English, while assisting our 1st grader on his (now!) English homework assignments, as well as with his homeschooling English/Spanish tasks! [Note: our son had started first grade in Brazil, last February, attending a Brazilian Montessori School, and had English classes three times a week. We moved to our current post, La Paz, Bolivia, in August, so, he could begin the American School year, as a first grader...] And our oldest child is just one of the examples: there two more on the line – his younger sisters (now aged 4,5 and almost 2) are a lively part of this multilingual/multicultural environment….

Looking for “help” from flashcards, when it comes to linking the sounds to the words!

Challenging, but exciting. And we’re very satisfied with the outcome: our oldest children are capable of communicating with both sets of grandparents, watching bilingual TV, having play dates both in English and Portuguese, and, offer very positive feedback to their dad when talked to/read to in Spanish. :o Recently, I stumbled upon a great quote, about the experience of raising bi/multilingual children: “raising multilingual children is an adventure you share together – one that is a lot of fun, but for which you will need quite a lot of patience. Sometimes, linguistic development will not progress in the way you hoped. That is fine, and everything will eventually work itself out. Sharing my language with my children has been about sharing my heritage more than anything else. It might be difficult at times, but it is a gift that will last a lifetime“. Couldn’t agree more! :o 

Remembering bed time stories: from mom, in Portuguese… From dad, in English!

Helping our oldest children with their homework in Portuguese, having them practice English phonics with their native-speaker father, seeing the children have routine conversations with their dad in Spanish and English; and reading bed time stories in … who knows what!

We’ve been very fortunate regarding the kids school back in Brazil (they get both Portuguese and English), and we were thankful for the opportunity to use the educational allowance for homeschooling our 1st grader when it came to supplement his English language.

All in all, it’s working, and we’re pleased with the current results. Based on the explanation for each “group of multilingual parenting styles”, the Moderate Parent has found the golden middle way of bilingual parenting. Well-informed about bilingual issues yet know that ultimately they have to make your own rules and decisions that suit your family the best. Have a healthy dose of commitment towards your bilingual endeavour, a reasonable amount of self-confidence in what you are doing, and have no problem in bending the rules when necessary and when it’s in your family’s best interest. the “moderate parents” have chosen a model, are committed to it, and don’t give up easily when troubles arise. Acquainted with worries and problems but can ride through rough times by getting the right support from certain experts, their online group and other bilingual parents.

[Test originally published in Multilingual Living Magazine]

After all that, now it’s your turn to answer: “What type of multilingual parent do you think you are?” Take the quiz and find out! Here are examples of the questions:

“When you are on the playground with your child, you…”

“When your child speaks to you in the “wrong” language, you…”

“When it comes to literature on bilingualism, you…”

“Your reaction to the word “OPOL” is…”

“Your aim is for your child is…”

And there are many more questions/concerns/curiosities… Take your time to check it out!

So, how do you think you did?

Click Here to calculate your score and find out the results! We had a lot of fun (and learned a lot!) doing this little exercise! :o thanks for coming along!

 

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Deciding what to see at Delaware State Parks

So much to see, so many attactions to visit and appreciate… so little time now! We’ve just learned that there’s a “Lifetime Pass”  for Delaware State Parks, and we’re very grateful for the opportunity to enjoy some time with mother nature!

While we’re still deciding what to do during our last week in Delaware, we found this great description of natural attractions, from Delaware State Parks, with the respective links for further information… some would involve a bit of driving (and it could become pretty challenging with 3 kids aged 6 and under!) – but all well worthy! :o

All information displayed below is public and further details may be obtained at the DE State Parks administration office.

Delaware State Parks have exceptional trails, ponds, beaches, forests and fields, but there’s so much more! Delaware State Parks bring you exotic animals at the Brandywine Zoo, resort cottages and a state-of-the-art marina at Indian River, folk art at the Blue Ball Barn, and history in the Mt. Pleasant Meeting House, Indian River Life-Saving Station, Fort Miles Historical Area and many, many more special places.

Auburn Heights Preserve

Auburn Heights Preserve
Delaware State Parks’ newest attraction offers the chance to experience life at the dawn of the automotive age..  Home to the three generations of the Marshall family, the Auburn Heights mansion is fully furnished with exquisite antiques. The Marshall Steam Museum, operated by the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve, features model and scale trains as well as the largest collection of steam automobiles in the world!

 Blue Ball Barn

Blue Ball Barn

This extraordinary barn, built in 1914 by Alfred I. duPont, is named after the Blue Ball Tavern, an inn and meeting house, that was once located near the property. The Blue Ball Barn is the centerpiece of the new Alapocas Run State Park, and an example of the preservation and adaptive reuse of an historic structure.

Brandywine Zoo

Brandywine Zoo

Open since 1905, Delaware’s only zoo is located a few steps from the Brandywine River. The 12-acre zoo features a siberian tiger, river otters, and other animals native to the Americas and the temperate areas of Asia.

The Cottages at Indian River Marina

Cottages

The cottages at Indian River Inlet are located on the north shore of the Indian River Inlet inside Delaware Seashore State Park. The park is one of the Mid-Atlantic region’s most popular recreational destinations, with a wealth of natural settings and six miles of ocean and bay shoreline.

Delaware Folk Art Collection

Folk Art

The works in the collection reflect the local cultures of Delaware. Visitors are able to tour the exhibit and yard art use the interactive touchscreens to learn about the collection, and the artists and their work.

Fort Miles Historical Area

Fort Miles

During World War II, the Delaware River was a chief priority for defense planners because of the access it afforded to the giant trade centers of Wilmington, Philadelphia, and beyond. Fort Miles, located in what is now Cape Henlopen State Park, was a key piece in the nation’s coastal defense at that time.

Indian River Life-Saving Station

IRLSS

A trip back in time with the help of a soft breeze off the inlet and pristine white sand, against the backdrop of a picturesque, historic Life-Saving Station. The Life-Saving Station has been meticulously restored to its 1905 appearance, complete with diamond-shaped trim.

Mount Pleasant Meeting House

Mount Pleasant

A step back to a simpler time at the Mount Pleasant Meeting House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A restored sanctuary with its original decorative amber windows and walnut pews, the meeting house offers a simple, yet tranquil setting.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 11, 2012 in FAMILY, photography, resources, TRAVEL

 

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Sustainable energy in Brazil: Wind Power Park in the Northeast.

Today I decided to have fun writing, revisiting my long-lost past in research and natural sciences, as well as, a result of the ongoing inspiration (or should I call it “daily challenges”? :o) my current Physical Science students offer… The topic I chose to revisit, showcases one of the family’s trips to Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, while husband went to visit the Wind Power Park.

A little bit of background: A few years back, a drought in Brazil that cut water to the country’s hydroelectric plants, prompted severe energy shortages. The crisis underscored Brazil’s pressing need to diversify away from water power.

Brazil’s first wind-energy turbine was installed in Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, in 1992. Later, the government created programs to encourage the use of other renewable sources, such as wind power, biomass, and Small Hydroelectric Power Stations (PCHs). Such stations use hydropower, the flagship of Brazil’s energy matrix, which comprises around three-quarters of Brazil’s installed energy capacity.

High energy production costs, coupled with the advantages of wind power as a renewable, widely available energy source, have led several countries to establish regulatory incentives and direct financial investments to stimulate wind power generation. Brazil held its first wind-only energy auction in 2009, in a move to diversify its energy portfolio.

The Brazilian Wind Energy Association and the government have set a goal of achieving 10 gigawatts of wind energy capacity by 2020. Let’s just hope. Renewable resources: the greener and cleaner, the better!

The visiting team Recife and local experts


O Parque eólico Alegria é um complexo de propriedade da Multiner, localizado no munícipio de Guamaré, no Rio Grande do Norte (RN). O complexo refere-se aos parques Alegria I e Alegria II.

 

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750 days in country: Giving a hand to expats in Brazil (tips from The Expat Blog Project).

Sharing great tips from a friend, Julien, from the Expat Blog Project, who, driven by her passion for discovering new cultures, and herself being an expatriate for several years, launched the Expat Blog project seven years ago. Her goal is to gather all the expatriates’ blogs throughout the world on a unique platform. Expat blog is mostly aimed at sharing experiences of people living abroad. According to Julien, she’s always thought that the real life and experience of expatriates could really help those people wishing to start a new life abroad.

So now, that expat platform is announcing the launch of two functions which would greatly help expats and soon-to-be expatriates. Definitely, a great resource, for any moving/relocating plans…

What’s Expat blog? It’s a web portal launched in 2005 by expatriates, for expatriates. Its ambition is to help people living or willing to live abroad, wherever they are from or would like to go. Expat blog is the most active online community of expatriates, with 420 000 members from 206 countries and 400 big cities.
Who is it for? For all the people living or wishing to live abroad. It is a platform of expression and exchange, an information source about expatriation.
How does it work? The website offers various tools to help expats and potential expatriates:
- discussion forums
- expatriate blogs directory
- guides
- photo albums
- business directory
- classifieds.

New features : Jobs and Housing sections, focus on Brazil!
To meet the demands of expatriates and soon-to-be expatriates in Brazil, Expat blog has launched two new dedicated spaces: a jobs section and a housing section. They are aimed at helping people in their job and accommodation search, two essential steps when expatriating.
The idea is to get access to job offers in Brazil, wherever you are. You can have access to the Brazil job offers, per job category and job contract. You can also create your CV and contact potential employers.

The Brazil Housing section enables you to look for or to offer an accommodation: rental, sale, flat share, flat, house… it’s up to you! You can see pictures of the apartment and get in touch with the person via Expat blog (need to be a member of Expat blog to post an ad).
And here, from a previous post, when we began preparing for our countdown, but still feeling the need to share tips with other expats planning on moving/relocating to Brazil:

source: The Economist Magazine

We’re on countdown mode!

Time has gone pretty fast, but I feel like we still have a lot to do, a lot to see and experience… Lot of planning on my horizon, as well… we’re less than six months before we pack our bags and head out, in preparation for our next assignment. In the meantime, found some time to do some research, ask around and prepare a simplified list of “tips” for expat women living or planning on moving to Brazil.

FIRST: A great blog, listing several expat experiences in Brazil, thank you, TheTaoofMe for working on this fantastic list! :o

* * Resources for the “cosmopolitan woman”  * *

American Society of Sao Paulo
http://www.americansociety.com.br/
The Society exists for the following purposes: To promote and maintain friendly relations between the United States of America and Brazil, to provide for the celebration of days of remembrance such as Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and other holidays traditional to United States citizens, to receive and entertain officials and visitors from the United States, to aid United States citizens and their immediate families who are destitute or have insufficient resources to meet emergencies or other essential needs, to aid and assist newly arrived United States citizens by providing information which helps orient them in their new surroundings, to promote charitable, social, cultural, and athletic activities of interest to the U.S. community in São Paulo.

Associação Beneficente Internacional Women’s Club Porto Alegre
http://br.geocities.com/iwcpoa/
Participation in our Club has given the members the opportunity to meet an international group of people with varied interest, customs, cultures and languages, to learn more about Porto Alegre and the Brazilian way of life. Some have found that special friend to help through the difficult adjustment in a new country.

International Newcomers Club – Rio de Janeiro
http://www.incrio.org.br
The International Club of Rio (InC) is a non-profit organization comprised of individuals from the local and expatriate English-speaking communities.

International Women’s Club of Paraná
http://www.iwcpbrasil.com.br
The aim of the club is to provide opportunities to meet informally, exchange ideas and make new friends as well as helping newly arrived international families settle more easily in their new life. The club is open to expatriate women and their families that are new to Brazil, Brazilian women who have lived abroad for at least three years (within the last 10 years) and (English-speaking) Brazilian women whose husbands are foreigners.

International Women’s Club Porto Alegre http://br.geocities.com/iwcpoa/

Macaé International Women’s Club (MIWC)
http://www.miwc-br.org
A non-profit, volunteer organization offering friendship, guidance and service to women establishing residence in Macaé and surrounding areas. Furthermore the Macaé International Women’s Club provides opportunities for charitable activities and humanitarian assistance to our community.

Newcomers Club – Brazil
http://www.newcomersclub.com/br.html
An English-speaking group that is designed to give you the opportunity to meet and develop friendships with others who live in the same area.

The American Society of Rio de Janeiro (AmSoc Rio)
http://www.americansocietyrio.org/amsoc/default.asp
This organization celebrates American traditions, hosts themed parties, and supports local charitable projects. The group is open to all nationalities and offers opportunities to volunteer, meet new friends, and network through group events, including a Speaker Series. Their Ambassador program links new members with those who have lived there for many years.

Got kids in School?

I grew up here! :o

American School of Brasília http://www.state.gov/m/a/os/1527.htm

American School of Campinas (EAC)
http://www.eac.com.br
pre-K to 12, co-ed
Follow the American curriculum. Recognized by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and have an excellent program of studies. We have in our community children from all over the world.

American School of Recife http://www.ear.com.br/

Note: worked here for over a year. If you’ve got any questions about the school, and believe I could offer any assistance, feel free to drop me a line! :o

American School of Rio de Janeiro http://www.earj.com.br/

Escola das Nacoes Brasília http://www.edn.org.br/

International School of Curitiba http://www.iscbrazil.com/

Pan American School of Bahia http://www.paspanthers.org.br/

St. Paul’s School Sao Paulo http://www.stpauls.br/

The American Elementary and High School Sao Paulo http://www.graded.br/

The American School of Belo Horizonte http://www.eabh.com.br/

Tip Toe Alphaville’s Montessori School &
Discovery Alphaville’s Elementary School Sao Paulo
http://www.tiptoeschool.com.br/

For now, we’ll keep enjoying the journey! :o

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in expat, post a day, resources

 

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Music to Help Children Learn a New Language

…10 minutes at a time

by CONTRIBUTOR on MAY 14, 2012 (from MultiLingual Living)

Music to Help Bilingual Children Learn a New Language: 10 Minutes at a Time

By Franck & Cristina
Photo credit: sanbeiji

Music plays an important role in learning a second language. Similar areas of the brain are activated when listening to or playing music and speaking or processing language. Language and music are both associated with emotions, the combination makes it a powerful way to learn a second language.

Why is music so helpful to learn a second language?

  • Songs are fun
    We know that children, especially small children, really like music. They relate to it as entertainment and find learning vocabulary through songs amusing. Songs associated with hand and arm gestures are even more powerful in engaging children.
  • Songs increase retention
    Most of us are able to remember several children’s songs we learned as kids. Music helps us retain words and expressions much more effectively. The rhythm of the music helps with memorization, as do the repetitive patterns within the song.
  • Songs place vocabulary in context
    A song is also a little story. Children learn new words and expressions in the context of a story within the song. This will more easily captivate the attention of kids learning a new language. Words make sense faster when you learn them in the context of the lyrics in the song than when you learn them by themselves.

Below are 7 tips to help children learn another language with music, 10 minutes at a time:

  • Tip #1: Sing while nursing/giving the bottle
    With both Elena and Pablo, before they turned 1, I used to give the last bottle of the day around 11pm. I made it a habit to sing every time, both to relax them, get them to sleep, and have them hear French songs.
  • Tip #2: Finish the bedtime story with a song
    For about a year, I used to sing the same songs to Pablo in French at bedtime (“Un crocodile”, “Dans la maison un grand cerf”, “Dans la foret lointaine”). He was under two years old and he knew the lyrics by heart.
  • Tip #3: Play tag with a song
    We like “Aline”, a French hit from the 60s that has very clear lyrics. We would play “tag” with it: during the refrain, the kids had to leave “base” and I would chase them in the living room. The kids would ask to play the game almost every evening (and they knew the lyrics really well!).
  • Tip #4: Role play with a song
    There is a great Spanish song Cristina used frequently with the kids: “Hola Don Pepito, hola Don Jose”. It is a short dialogue between 2 characters, with simple lyrics. The music is engaging and made both Elena and Pablo want to sing with Cristina back-and-forth. Cristina and the kids would take turns and role playing one of the 2 characters.
  • Tip #5: Dance and learn
    YouTube has great videos of songs where you can dance. Elena and Pablo learned the alphabet in French with Chantal Goya’s “L’Alphabet en chantant”. It is a fun song where you have to mimic the letters with your hands and arms. They learned the alphabet in French much faster than me trying to teach them.
  • Tip #6: Sing together in the car
    Make a routine out of a specific car ride: going to school, coming back from school, going to the park, getting groceries, etc. You can listen to your favorite songs in the target language during one of the car rides as well. This is why Elena and Pablo know the lyrics of “Les Champs Elysees” from Joe Dassin by heart.
  • Tip #7: Family karaoke
    We learn Chinese as a family. We LOVE “Tian mi mi” of Teresa Teng. We found a YouTube video with “Tian mi mi” lyrics on the bottom of the screen. Everyone in the family can sing the song now. Singing it in our Chinese neighborhood restaurant even got us free desserts.

What other ways do you use music to teach your kids a second language? Please share them with us!

[Test originally published in Multilingual Living Magazine]

 

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On your fingertips: stylish mom in a snap… and on a very low budget!

How to be a full-time mom of little kids, capable of helping them with homework despite the baby’s high pitch   crying, not forgetting to devote some attention to the hubby, and yet trying to look good and stylish according to the Brazilian trends? ? I know, pretty hard, right? We all try to be the “perfect woman-wife-mom”, fully committed with school activities, extra-curricular schedules, reserving some quality time for the growing family, keeping up with friends, being a committed professional…

Sometimes, it’s just too much… And then, you remember: you’re still a girl, and you’d like to (once in a while!) to look good, trendy, fashionable, stylish… not for your friends, your partner, your colleagues at work – but for your OWN SELF.

The question: how? You don’t have a whole lot of time for any pampering, and you’re not willing to spend a lot of money. Hummm… The answer: just give your hands/nails a make-up… a few minutes later and, voilá! The beauty of living in Brazil is that one is over-exposed to whatever is trendy/hot…. Why not try something new? And, I gotta say, I went for the nails thing… why not a different color a week? Why not try something metallic (see the pictures below, thanks to Lu Tranchesi, and I’m in love with it! Easy, quick, simple, and very, very affordable! Why not go for something different, just for the fun of it? And be a “very trendy & cool busy mom”, even if it’s only for a week! :o

How to do it? Simply get your favorite nail polish (or the one you’ve got handy!), borrow some glitter from your kids, and sprinkle a gentle layer of glitter powder over the freshly coated nail… Just like that! Was it easy? Absolutely! Wanna try it? Let me know how it goes! :o

Nail polishes

 

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Day 625 in Brazil: More resources to entertain our children [and avoid going crazy!]

Being a parent/caretaker requires lots of diplomacynegotiationpeacekeepingpolicy implementation and strategy skills. That said, managing a household, its respective juvenile population and the consequent budgetary implications, is a… HUGE, EXPERIMENTAL and UNFORESEEN task! There is a never-ending need to keep kids and parents sane (as much as possible!). Family outings require loads of planning and logistics management – even if we’re just talking about a Sunday lunch! We’re 20 months into our assignment, and  our current post wasn’t a totally new experience for us, since we’ve visited Brazil several times before we moved here. Visiting was fun and care-free. Living and adjusting as a family, a little harder than we’d expected, but still very manageable.

This week we happily discovered a new resource for parents, like us, looking for an alternative for our children [we'd already shared a list of activities/places for children on a previous post]. Here it is: the First Toy Library (“brinquedoteca“) in Recife, Pernambuco.

CASA DA LINDA, BRINQUEDOTECA:

Surprise your children. Here are some links on good stuff to do around Recife:

  • Praia de Boa Viagem (beach) – natural war water pools protected by coral reefs guarantee a delicious time a the beach. The sand and waters are continuously monitored by the state’s environmental agency, CPRH and are pollution-free.
  • Jardim Botânico de Recife (Botanical Gardens) – a natural reservation measuring 25.7 acres, a member of the Brazilian network of Botanical Gardens.
  • Parque Dois Irmãos (park) – one of the most beautiful and picturesque green areas of the city, the 38.7 ha park is a zoo, botanical and environmental education centre and an Atlantic Rainforest reservation. Ecological walking trails are guided by Biologists.
  • Parque da Jaqueira (park) – located by the Capibaribe river, the park covers 7ha and its the city’s largest one. Very green and has got beautiful gardens designed by Burle Marx.
  • Parque 13 de Maio (park) – also designed by Burle Marx, in downtown Recife. Children’s playgrounds, jogging lanes, benches, royal palm trees and sculptures.
  • Museu do Homem do Nordeste (museum) – one of the most historical and anthropological museums in Brazil. Hosts the “Family at the Museum” program.
  • Paço Children’s Project – contemporary arts program in Recife.
  • Escolinha de Arte do Recife (Junior Art School) – dedicated to awakening creativity and love for the arts in children.
  • Mirabilândia – one of the largest amusement parks in NE Brazil, the fairground has more than 20 rides divided into radical, family and children.
  • Game Station – there is an arcade in every major shopping mall, offering electronic games and fun for children and adults.
 
 

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Hot off the press!

Image from AFSA.ORG (Foreign Service Journal)

Just fresh off the press: read it all!

The latest issue of the Foreign Service Journal (FSJ, April 2012) discusses the Family Member Employment, and the search for meaningful work overseas. Reading through the whole edition, you will find great stories about living and working as a Foreign Service spouse.

Several FS spouses shared their experiences and impressions regarding working overseas. It’s an honor to be one of the contributors to this edition.

Congratulations to all who contributed to this month’s issue. Here’s the link to another FS blogger, also sharing her impressions about family member employment.

Thank you for reading! :o

 

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Eating on a budget: economy restaurants for local food lovers in Recife!

Eating on a budget: economy restaurants for local food lovers in Recife!

Hey there! This past weekend we didn’t wanna cook… Kids had a ton of energy, kept running inside the house, so we decided we had to get the whole family out of the apartment… “let’s enjoy the great weather, while appreciating the local food..“. Our surprise: a lot of eateries, restaurants, even the fast-food places did NOT OPEN UNTIL 5PM! We’re shocked (and a bit frustrated, as well!) “Should we go back and try to cook something?”, we discussed, before asking our toddlers from a savior play date with the neighbors (we’re very thankful for that, BTW!)

As a result, we begin our search, trying to find a place that was kid-friendly, open-setting, good & healthy food and… not too expensive… But, the most important thing, was getting the kiddos out of the house… :o

Here is the result: Always wonderful to share:

Economy Restaurants in Recife

You may be on a budget, but eating well is still possible in Recife. This listing of places to eat covers only restaurants. There are many traditional style restaurants, but Brazil also offers self-service restaurants where you pay by weight. Such restaurants are very popular, especially at lunchtime, but be sure to arrive early to get a good choice. Lunch here starts at 12.00 and popular places will have little left after 1.30pm. The price per kilo varies according to the range and quality of the offering, and by the location of the restaurant. Most shopping centers have food courts with a mix of fast food and self-service restaurants. On the whole we would suggest that the food is over-priced and lacks quality compared to other options outside the shopping centers. Stand-alone restaurants in shopping centers are better quality, but also tend to be over priced compared to similar establishments in other street locations.

Chinese food in Recife is cheap, as it is in many countries. You do get what you pay for and, for the most part, are not recommended.  However, Japanese food is very popular and generally of good quality. Many better self-service buffets also include sushi in their offering.

Cafes, bakery’s (padarias), delicatessens and bars often have good food options, from nibbles and snacks to more substantial meals. You can find more details under the heading bars and cafes

Of course, beach and street food are to be found everywhere in all the destinations covered by this site, so to do justice to the subject all listings and tips are under a separate heading Beach and Street Food

La Plage (Crepes) Good crepes in a very well docorated restaurant. Rua Professor Rui Batista, 120, Boa Viagem. (81) 3465 1654. Tues-Sat 6pm-11.30pm; Sun 5pm-11pm; Mon closed. (R$16+) MAP

Anjo Solto (Crepes) A very popular and well established venue popular with the fashionable crowd. Also gay friendly. Usually lively from 10pm until very late. Galeria Joana DÁrcPina.(81) 3325 0862. Daily 6pm until the last client. (R$18+). MAP www.anjosolto.com.br

Pin Up (Burgers), This place offers fantastic burgers for little more than a McDonald´s in the setting of a very American style diner. Avenida Herculano Bandeira, 204, Pina. (81) 3466 0001.  5.30pm-1.30am tue-sat; 5pm-24.00 sun; closed mon.  MAP www.pinupburgueria.com.br

Laça Burguer (Burgers & Sandwiches) Better than McDonald’s for a similar price, but not as good as Pin Up.  Avenida Visconde de Jequintinhonha 138-ABoa Viagem. (81) 3461 2179.  Mon-Thurs 11.30am-2am; Fri-Sat 11.30am-5am; Sun 12.00-2am. MAP

Entre Amigos o Bode (Regional) A large bar/restaurant serving traditional regional food and meat. This place is very popular with locals. Rua Marquês de Valença 30 Boa Viagem(81) 3312.1000. Mon-Fri 11.30am-2am; Sat & Sun 11.30am-4am . Approx. R$25 per person. MAPwww.entreamigosobode.com.br

Parraxaxá (Regional). The name is of indigenous origin and is pronouncedpahashasha. This very popular self-service (pay by the kilo) restaurant serves regional cuisine in a rustic theme restaurant. A very wide selection of savory and sweet dishes. The plates are massive so make sure your eyes are not bigger than your stomach, or it will cost you! Rua Baltazar Pereira 32, Boa Viagem(81) 3463 7874. Mon-Fri 11am-10pm; Sat & Sun6-11pm. Approx R$20 per person. MAP www.parraxaxa.com.br

Ponteio Grill (Regional) One of the most famous Brazilian eating experiences is the churrascaria (pronounced showhaskaria), a grill where you help your self to the salad bar (including a limited sushi menu) then take what meat you want as it is brought to your table on large spits. Its good to go when you are very hungry, as this is a fixed price restaurant for all you want to eat. The price is less earlier in the week and higher on weekends. There are other similar restaurants that cost more, and some a little less. We recommend this as being the best value for money. Avenida Boa Viagem 4824Boa Viagem. (81) 3326 2386. Mon-Thurs 12pm-4pm and 7-12am midnight; Fri-Sun 12pm-12am midnightApprox R$30 per person. MAP

Feijoada do Vovô Hortêncio (Regional) Feijoada is considered a national dish of Brazil and is served only at lunchtimes, usually on weekends. Folklore suggests feijoada was a “luxury” dish of African slaves on Brazilian colonial farms, as it was prepared with relatively cheap ingredients (beans, rice, collard greens, farofa) and leftovers from salted pork and meat production. Some versions, even in good bars and restaurants, can be disgustingly fatty. The feijoada at this restaurant is excellent, and we recommend it to more adventurous eaters. Definitely it is not for vegetarians. Rua Setúbal 1603, Boa Viagem. (81) 3074 4788. Fri-Sun Lunchtimes only .  Approx. R$20 per person. MAP

Chica Pitanga, (Regional/International) A very popular self-service/pay-per-kilo restaurant with a large buffet offering. Get here early, especially at weekends, to avoid waiting for a table.  Rua Petrolina 19, Boa Viagem. (81) 3465 2224. Mon-Fri 11.30am-3.30pm & 6pm-10pm; Sat & Sun 11.30am-10pm. Approx R$20per person. MAP

O Poeta, (Regional/International) A good quality self-service/per kilo restaurant that is very popular with local office workers. Get here early if you want a good selection. Avenida Rio Branco 243Recife Antigo. (81) 3224-3310. Mon-Fri only 11.30-3.30pmApprox R$20per person MAP

Panquecas e Saladas(Regional/International) A good quality self-service/pay-per-kilo restaurant in an old house. A more limited choice than others listed here, but still good and fresh. Take a table upstairs for a cheap and cheerful meal in a nice setting. Good juices too. As with all self-service places, get here early. Rua da Guia 93,Recife Antigo(81) 3224 2259. Mon-Fri only 11.30-3pm. Approx R$10 per person.MAP

O Buraquinho (Regional) A simple restaurant in one of the most interesting and picturesque historic squares of Recife. It serves regional dishes for very good prices. Pátio de São Pedro 28, Recife Downtown(81) 3224 6431. Mon-Sat 11.30am-12.00am midnight. Sun closed . R$20, MAP

Royal (Regional) Established in 1944, this restaurant serves traditional regional dishes and focuses on offering value for money. It is only open for breakfast and lunch weekdays to serve its office worker clients. Rua Mariz e Barros 181Recife Antigo (81) 3224 5854. Mon-Fri only 8am-3pm. R$20, MAP

Tio Pepe (Brazilian) This restaurant was founded in 1964 by José Garrido Cid, an immigrant from Galicia, Spain. Before he died, Pepe passed the baton to one of his Brazilian daughters, Mirtes, who has modernized the business. Generous portions of fish, meat and poultry are freshly cooked, most on a traditional coal grill. Rua Almirante Tamandaré 170, Boa Viagem. (81) 3341 7153. Tues-Sat 11.30am-11.30pm; Sun 11.30am-4.30pm Approx R$30. MAP

La Comedie (French) This little French bistro is one of the hidden gems of Recife. It is tucked away behind the French language school Aliança Francesa, and located in a small building with a covered patio area. It offers a selection of high quality French snacks and dishes. The mini quiches are great, so are the soups. Not to forget: the Brazilian spin on the French classic for dessert, the petit gâteau, is amazing, not chocolate but uva (grape) or goiaba (a sweet guava jam). Rua Amaro Bezerra 466Derby. (81) 3222 0245. Mon-Wed 12pm-10pm; Thurs-Sat 12pm-11pm; Close Sun. R$20.MAP

La Cuisine Bistrô (French) We have included this restaurant in the Economy option, but prices here can go from reasonable to expensive, depending on your choice from an extensive menu. Soups, salads, sandwiches and other light options are possible if you are on a budget. They are very good quality and this is a nice restaurant. When I am looking to go budget here I take The French onion soup and the petit gateau, both classic and 95% of the time very well done, a great buless expensive options.Avenida Boa Viagem 560Pina. (81) 3327 4073. Mon-Thurs 12pm-11pm; Fri 12pm-1am; Sat 1pm-1am; Sun 1pm-11pm.R$25 MAP Review Exclusive Offer

 
23 Comments

Posted by on March 28, 2012 in BRASIL, FOOD, resources

 

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Snapshots of fun science!

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Eighteen months in Brazil: helping other expat women adjust to new lifestyle (sharing tips).

source: The Economist Magazine

We’re on countdown mode!

Time has gone pretty fast, but I feel like we still have a lot to do, a lot to see and experience… Lot of planning on my horizon, as well… we’re less than six months before we pack our bags and head out, in preparation for our next assignment. In the meantime, found some time to do some research, ask around and prepare a simplified list of “tips” for expat women living or planning on moving to Brazil.

FIRST: A great blog, listing several expat experiences in Brazil, thank you, TheTaoofMe for working on this fantastic list! :o

* * Resources for the “cosmopolitan woman”  * *

American Society of Sao Paulo
http://www.americansociety.com.br/
The Society exists for the following purposes: To promote and maintain friendly relations between the United States of America and Brazil, to provide for the celebration of days of remembrance such as Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and other holidays traditional to United States citizens, to receive and entertain officials and visitors from the United States, to aid United States citizens and their immediate families who are destitute or have insufficient resources to meet emergencies or other essential needs, to aid and assist newly arrived United States citizens by providing information which helps orient them in their new surroundings, to promote charitable, social, cultural, and athletic activities of interest to the U.S. community in São Paulo.

Associação Beneficente Internacional Women’s Club Porto Alegre
http://br.geocities.com/iwcpoa/
Participation in our Club has given the members the opportunity to meet an international group of people with varied interest, customs, cultures and languages, to learn more about Porto Alegre and the Brazilian way of life. Some have found that special friend to help through the difficult adjustment in a new country.

International Newcomers Club – Rio de Janeiro
http://www.incrio.org.br
The International Club of Rio (InC) is a non-profit organization comprised of individuals from the local and expatriate English-speaking communities.

International Women’s Club of Paraná
http://www.iwcpbrasil.com.br
The aim of the club is to provide opportunities to meet informally, exchange ideas and make new friends as well as helping newly arrived international families settle more easily in their new life. The club is open to expatriate women and their families that are new to Brazil, Brazilian women who have lived abroad for at least three years (within the last 10 years) and (English-speaking) Brazilian women whose husbands are foreigners.

International Women’s Club Porto Alegre http://br.geocities.com/iwcpoa/

Macaé International Women’s Club (MIWC)
http://www.miwc-br.org
A non-profit, volunteer organization offering friendship, guidance and service to women establishing residence in Macaé and surrounding areas. Furthermore the Macaé International Women’s Club provides opportunities for charitable activities and humanitarian assistance to our community.

Newcomers Club – Brazil
http://www.newcomersclub.com/br.html
An English-speaking group that is designed to give you the opportunity to meet and develop friendships with others who live in the same area.

The American Society of Rio de Janeiro (AmSoc Rio)
http://www.americansocietyrio.org/amsoc/default.asp
This organization celebrates American traditions, hosts themed parties, and supports local charitable projects. The group is open to all nationalities and offers opportunities to volunteer, meet new friends, and network through group events, including a Speaker Series. Their Ambassador program links new members with those who have lived there for many years.

Got kids in School?

I grew up here! :o

American School of Brasília http://www.state.gov/m/a/os/1527.htm

American School of Campinas (EAC)
http://www.eac.com.br
pre-K to 12, co-ed
Follow the American curriculum. Recognized by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and have an excellent program of studies. We have in our community children from all over the world.

American School of Recife http://www.ear.com.br/

Note: worked here for over a year. If you’ve got any questions about the school, and believe I could offer any assistance, feel free to drop me a line! :o

American School of Rio de Janeiro http://www.earj.com.br/

Escola das Nacoes Brasília http://www.edn.org.br/

International School of Curitiba http://www.iscbrazil.com/

Pan American School of Bahia http://www.paspanthers.org.br/

St. Paul’s School Sao Paulo http://www.stpauls.br/

The American Elementary and High School Sao Paulo http://www.graded.br/

The American School of Belo Horizonte http://www.eabh.com.br/

Tip Toe Alphaville’s Montessori School &
Discovery Alphaville’s Elementary School Sao Paulo
http://www.tiptoeschool.com.br/

For now, we’ll keep enjoying the journey! :o

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 23, 2012 in expat, post a day, resources

 

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Why Science is Hard to Learn.

At the same time, it begs the question:

“why is Science hard to teach”?

Got two words for that:

misleading concepts

The other day, when I found myself mentioning to students ‘I’d been teaching for longer than they’d been breathing’, I realized that, despite the long time, the challenges of teaching Science were always there…

I could list here various reasons for those difficulties: perhaps students have persistent preconceptions (especially misconceptions); lack previous life experiences (including those they might have missed in school) that would have provided valuable background information on the topic; maybe even a limited ability in the math skills needed for a particular subject; difficulty understanding abstract ideas; all that together requires a lot of extra strategic teaching skills from the teacher. If the majority of these difficulties are not addressed, in one way or another, students may end up developing even more misconceptions and more gaps in their learning…

So, maybe, teaching Science is harder than learning it? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to this question, and would gladly accept suggestions and/or guidance… Teaching is already hard enough by itself. When we add to the pot a series of misleading concepts, which aren’t all untrue in their nature, but extremely challenging to explain and to be understood, then, the boiling conclusion teachers have to face are serious instructional dilemmas

But, hey! Although hard to admit, some concepts are not as easy to teachers as we may try to sell them to students! [guilty smiles!]

One common fact is that the more abstract a Science topic is, the harder it is to learn for many people, including us, teachers! Telling Science to students is not teaching Science.

These images all show an aspect of science, but a complete view of science is more than any particular instance.

image from University of California Berkley (ucberkley.edu)

We all, students or not, learn by “doing” Science, and abstract topics need to be made concrete. The question is: ‘How?” How to transform concepts such as “the flow of matter and energy in ecosystems“, “matter and its transformations“, “Earth’s shape and gravity“, and understanding changes in motion – into something more concrete? Luckily, for these questions in particular, if you are curious, feel free to visit the “Hard-to-teach Science Concepts“, a great discussion-book for teachers and committed parents. Students are better able to face their misconceptions and preconceptions when they are engaged in instructional activities, placing Science into a context they are capable of understanding…

If learning Science is considered to be difficult, the reverse activity, the act of passing on your life and academic experiences, your knowledge, your discussion points, through teaching sessions, is also challenging! And as Carl Sagan once stated (see box above), offering our students and our children a “shrug” as a possible answer, could just be the path of least resistance, but definitely, may not work in the long run when attempting to raise intellectually motivated students – that being in Science or in any other academic field.

Good luck to us all, Science teachers or not, and I’m wrapping this ‘brainstorming’ post up, with a very optimistic smile… :o

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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in EDUCATION, resources, science

 

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Pumping for the future – thoughts on life and work balance in the Foreign Service

This past weekend I finally got my way around the Foreign Service Journal. As most of us already know, the Journal, including the AFSA News section, is published monthly, with each issue covering foreign affairs from an insider’s perspective. Well, this last edition was entirely focused on Foreign Service Work-Life Balance.

One article in particular, from Elizabeth Power, really caught my attention and triggered me to write down some personal thoughts and comments regarding the issues related to get back to work after having a baby, having to balance the need to keeping a healthy baby home, away from his nursing mother, breast pumping techniques and challenges, work flexibility and the social perception of a breastfeeding mother in the expatriate/foreign service scenario.

Regarding the scope of this particular post, I believe it’s unnecessary to list out the countless benefits of breastfeeding, for both mom and baby, as well as for employees’ improved evaluations of their work-life balance. Many women have made sacrifices to continue breastfeeding after they return to work. We do this despite the inconvenience of hooking ourselves up to a milking machine three times a day, because the health benefits for our babies and ourselves abound.  For the past six years, I’ve been a nursing, breast pumping, bottle-feeding mom. Any technique that would seem possible, realistic, and why not say, loving, I’d adopt!

At first, with some guilt, especially when you’re having your first baby, not so sure about how you’re supposed to manage a new baby, riding the Metro to work, surviving the extended hours away from the baby… With my first child, I knew very little about alternative feeding techniques. Traditional breastfeeding seemed to be my only route, and my obligation as a new mom, especially considering I come from a Latino family, where women are brought up to become loving caretakers… Visits to the lactation consultant helped immensely, but did not diminish my (uncalled for) guilt. My husband and I asked for help. Friends, family. We had both sets of baby’s grandparents living with us for the initial 9 months. I needed to get back to work and perform accordingly, while husband kept his regular working hours. In the best of circumstances, expressing milk at work can bring lactating women a new kind of camaraderie with their colleagues, not to mention management support as they carve out break times, find private accommodations and use sinks to clean equipment. But pumping can also be inconvenient, awkward and downright impossible at worst, depending on the job and the workplace.

Life was challenging, but we managed. The experience made me learn how to use and benefit from an electric breast pump, how to store and transport breast milk. Unfortunately, I’d started to learn a little too late in the process, and by the end of the third month, my firstborn was fully dependent on baby formula. But we learnt, with our actions, our attempts, our mistakes. We learnt.

The lessons learnt proved to be extremely helpful when baby #2 came along. As soon as I found out about the pregnancy, began visiting the La Leche League websites, acquiring information, reviews, opinions from other parents… Before we welcomed our baby girl, I’d already gotten a modern electric breast pump, with replacement parts, storage bags, and a “back up/safety” shipment (thanks to the Pouch!) of the pediatricians’ most-recommended baby formula (one never knows, right?). We, as second-time parents, seemed to be good to go.

And things were way easier that time. Breastfeeding was a breeze, and kept both mom and baby as happy as they could be. The practice made the perfection. When it was time to bring our 28-day old baby girl from South Africa back to Mozambique, her mom comfortably used the electric pump in the car, during the 2-plus car drive, stopping to rest, feed and cross the border. Batteries were key, and they make for an extraordinary accessory for breast-pumping moms! Always have them handy – no electricity? no problem!

Once I had to return full-time to work - an USAID contractor – my boss, who by coincidence happened to be a mother, and somebody who understands the challenges a new mom has, was very sympathetic to the cause, and allowed me to use one of her offices, as well as the office’s kitchenette fridge for storage. Probably, the most difficult part was dealing with the skeptic looks I got from my local co-workers, not used to that practice. That flexibility allowed me to attend meetings with PEPFAR partners, and to travel to the provinces, always carrying my pumping gear, bottles and cooler! The balance between work and life had been achieved!

Now we’re on baby #3. Still nursing and still pumping. I’m not a full-time worker anymore, but expressing milk enables me to get back into the “workforce“, as a part-timer. I spend more time with my baby, and I know we both benefit from that. I also have support: the patience and help from my dear husband, who watches the kids while I “disappear“; I’ve got help from a wonderful nanny, who learnt first-hand how to manipulate the milk and prepare the bottles; and I’ve got help from my 2 toddlers, who have seen their mom pumping-and-feeding in recent years. They understand the importance and are respectful to the process: “Shhhh, be quiet. Mommy needs to feed to the baby…

Once more, we seem to be achieving the balance between work and family life…

Bonus: Tip

Have you ever melted pump or bottle parts when boiling them? (be honest!)

Try this: When boiling items such as pump or bottle parts, put a couple of glass marbles into the pot and stay within earshot. If the water level gets low and the pot is about to boil dry, the marbles will start bouncing and clattering in the pan and alert you in time.

 

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Day 275 in Brazil: What we’ve learnt about entertaining our children, without going crazy…

Day 275 in Brazil: What we’ve learnt about entertaining our children, without going crazy…

The Miranda Family arrived in Recife at the end of July 2010. We had lots to look forward to: a new baby on-the-way, the proximity to the Brazilian grandparents and the opportunity for our children to improve their Portuguese skills, the apartment by the beach and plans to take several short trips while living in Northeastern Brazil.

We’re 9 months into the assignment. This post wasn’t a totally new experience for us since we’ve visited the Country several times before we moved here. Visiting was fun and care-free. Living and adjusting as a family, a little harder than we’d expected, but still very manageable.

Our familial “nucleus” is constituted of 2 adults, 2 toddlers (3 1/2 and 5 1/2 yrs-old) and a 5-month old baby, and being a parent/caretaker requires lots of diplomacy, negotiationpeacekeeping, policy implementation and strategy skills. That said, managing a household, its respective juvenile population and the consequent budgetary implications, is a… HUGE, EXPERIMENTAL and UNFORESEEN task!

There is a never-ending need to keep kids and parents sane (as much as possible). Family outings require loads of planning and logistics management – even if we’re just talking about a Sunday lunch!

  • Here are some suggestions for entertaining the kids (without pulling our hair off), we’ve learnt along the way:

Take advantage of the warm weather and have them learn how to swim at school!

LEGOS, building blocks, puzzles - you name it! Life-savers on a rainy day

Encourage the interaction between siblings - great strategy to avoid "middle child" syndrome

Have friends over for unplanned singing sessions!

Encourage kids to participate in school's cultural events & popular celebrations

Make sure they are exposed to artistic/musical expressions. As much as possible!

Take short trips with kids and have them experience some "cultural blending"

Coordinate for play dates with other children. Include athletic and sports activities. Supervise.

Show your children how to respect, love and appreciate nature

Celebrate every milestone. Show your support. Have fun together!

Be open about trying new activities and experiences. Offer the opportunity to learn new motor skills.

Let your children know it's okay to be silly!

Make a super-extra-conscious effort to be part of the school activities.

And, most important of all: show the children your unconditional, unreserved love. At all times! At the end, our goal is raising happy, self-confident human beings, right? We’re trying to do our part


Surprise your children. Here are some links on good stuff to do around Recife:

  • Praia de Boa Viagem (beach) – natural war water pools protected by coral reefs guarantee a delicious time a the beach. The sand and waters are continuously monitored by the state’s environmental agency, CPRH and are pollution-free.
  • Jardim Botânico de Recife (Botanical Gardens) – a natural reservation measuring 25.7 acres, a member of the Brazilian network of Botanical Gardens.
  • Parque Dois Irmãos (park) – one of the most beautiful and picturesque green areas of the city, the 38.7 ha park is a zoo, botanical and environmental education centre and an
    Atlantic Rainforest reservation. Ecological walking trails are guided by Biologists.
  • Parque da Jaqueira (park) – located by the Capibaribe river, the park covers 7ha and its the city’s largest one. Very green and has got beautiful gardens designed by Burle Marx.
  • Parque 13 de Maio (park) – also designed by Burle Marx, in downtown Recife. Children’s playgrounds, jogging lanes, benches, royal palm trees and sculptures.
  • Museu do Homem do Nordeste (museum) – one of the most historical and anthropological museums in Brazil. Hosts the “Family at the Museum” program.
  • Paço Children’s Project – contemporary arts program in Recife.
  • Escolinha de Arte do Recife (Junior Art School) – dedicated to awakening creativity and love for the arts in children.
  • Mirabilândia – one of the largest amusement parks in NE Brazil, the fairground has more than 20 rides divided into radical, family and children.
  • Game Station – there is an arcade in every major shopping mall, offering electronic games and fun for children and adults.
 
16 Comments

Posted by on April 25, 2011 in FAMILY, resources, TCKs

 

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Hair Salon for kids in Recife

A place where my kids can get a hair cut, play video games, watch kiddy DVDs, color drawings and play with playdough? A crying-free environment, with colorful walls and inviting atmosphere? Where?

Just across the street from our building! Taking the kiddos to get a hair cut (or, to “color” my daughter’s nails!) couldn’t get any easier… It’s not a task anymore, it’s family fun!

Juba Club Salao infantil, Boa Viagem:

Visit the Hair Salon site: Clique aqui para visitar o lindo site deles!

 

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