Category Archives: school

Catching up with October: Part III – Book Characters at School!

We’re already half way into November… Lots have happened: our FS family got our next post assignment – so grateful, the stressful bidding season is over, and we’re happy we’ll be heading out to Brazil!

October catch-up – Celebrating Book Week in School!

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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in ART, BOLIVIA, children, photography, school


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Photo Project ’52 Bolivian Sundays’ [week 37, 'Inside'].

During a family day at their school, following the rules of the game: one would be safe if and when, inside the circle…

This photo shot capture not one little girl heading for ‘base’, but actually three having the same idea, at the very same time… ♥ 



♥ Enjoy as you please, and thanks for stopping by! ♥



Posted by on September 14, 2013 in BOLIVIA, foreign service, photography, school


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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] 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 (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 (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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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 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 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… 

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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Image #18: 20 Days of a Cold Christmas: Christmas Stories at School

Unlike last year, when we spent Christmas surrounded by the tropical Brazilian weather; this year, we may have something ‘closer to a White Christmas’, considering we’re in La Paz, and at least, we may experience some cold weather… The season’s wardrobe isn’t packed with colorful light pieces, ‘havaianas‘, and sneakers, like last December… Bring out the boots and coats! Let’s get some warm wine out and sit down by the fireplace, where the kids will get their nighttime Christmas stories

This year, the lights have been out for a while, tree is up and twinkling, we’ve got a yard instead of an apartment veranda, but it’s a bit too cold to be out at night, which is actually, great! :o

In order to celebrate our “non-tropical season of joy”, we’ve been sharing images that showcase how we’re seeing and enjoying this time of the year. Are we gonna get any snow?! Who knows… maybe! :o

20 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’… in 20 joyful images. Only a couple of days to go!


Posted by on December 23, 2012 in BOLIVIA, children, I SPY, photography, school


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10 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’. Colors from The Bolivian Folkloric Ballet of Potosi.

Image #10: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: The Ballet Folklorico de Potosi, Bolivia.

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Previous image here.


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12 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’… not quite your regular ‘Elf on the shelf’!

Image #9: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Not quite your regular ‘Elf on the shelf’… more like ‘a non-stop climbing pre-toddler’! Climbing on the half-desk… going up the stairs… just got caught, while, quietly, trying to move on… Oh, the perks of being a mother of 3 little ones! Who needs adult supervision, anyway? :o

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Previous image here.


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13 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’…making my wish for 12.12.12: to witness their shared passion!

my two boys

my two boys after the match

Image #8: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: My two boys on a regular Saturday morning…

While many are still sleeping in, my boys head to the soccer field at the kids’ school… The ‘older one’ is the player, but my ‘youngest boy’ has to be there to support his dad… I couldn’t be any happier when looking at their faces… That’s a good wish for this 12.12.12: I’ve got 2 girls and 2 boys, and being able to witness their happiness is priceless… Today, I’m sharing the joy these boys bring to my life, through their shared passion: sports! :o

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Previous image here.


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17 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’… Making fun Science with… Snow!!!

Image #4: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Let it snow in school… if [natural] snow doesn’t fall down from the sky, the solution is… let’s make it! [nothing wrong with having fun with school-made artificial snow!]

Makes Fluffy Artificial Snow in Seconds!

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Are we gonna get any snow?! Who knows… maybe! Previous image here.


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Snapshots of the 2012 International Day at School [or 'when you've got more than one Country in your heart!'].

This past International Day at the kids school made me remember a post I wrote some time back, about raising our children with a sense of different cultures… honoring and loving their unique background…

Picking their ‘home countries’ up for the 2010 World Cup!

When you’ve got more than one place in your heart …you’re expected to love, honor and respect them both [or the 3, 4... of them!]

Living in-between cultures, besides being an exciting experience, could be pretty challenging, as well.

Raising children from hybrid cultures offers countless possibilities to keep traditions alive, maintaing memories and links to the home country always fresh. It takes a great deal of effort. But it’s worth the trouble.

Witnessing your kids cherishing different traditions, honoring and respecting your and your spouse’s home countries, is worth any extra work. It’ll pay forward, we hope! ♥

They are learning to love and respect their mixed culture. They’re beginning to understand historical events, their causes and consequences. They’re learning that any country is not just about land, but also, its people, their beliefs and their sense of social respect. Hybrid cultures are a rich experience. Hopefully, our three TCKs will grow up comprehending that the world they live in is much bigger than geography may present itself. And a country’s boundaries go as far as its people. We bring our culture with ourselves. Our traditions, our honor, our respect to others. Wherever we are. Wherever we move to. It’s good to know that some of us ‘serial expats’ bring more than one country in our hearts!


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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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Snapshots of Picnic at School: Bolivian Style!

Opening the School Year. bit late, but well-worthy the wait! From KG3 to G12. Parents, siblings, food for sale, games, contests, bake sales, you name it… Kids had a lot of fun!


Posted by on September 26, 2012 in BOLIVIA, children, FAMILY, photography, school



This is why we do good things… (for our kids)

School trip to the movies, by my favorite first grader…

I’ve talked before about the challenges and joys of parenthood. I’ve dreamed of a world where moms would be able to wake up on their own, without being suddenly poked by cold little fingers letting her know they’re hungry/scared/thirsty or simply wanting to go outside and play, despite the side table clock showing it’s not even 6 am…

I’ve talked about being a traveler, an expat and an around-the-clock working mom; being a cleaner/chauffeur/house fairyall in one, and trying to perform my best. Let’s not forget the additional task: trying to be the hauling supportive foreign service spouse, cheering for my husbands accomplishments and hiding ‘little household lows’ (like a broken lamp), in order to keep the peace. Yeah, we are also peacekeepers, at any cost. I’ve talked about it all over here, shared and received advice from other readers/parents/expats, and I’m deeply grateful for such an incredible experience.

One thing I’ve never experienced was the opportunity to closely work with my kids school. Always, because I lacked time to volunteer. Had helped before, when we lived in Mozambique and Brazil, but my working schedule really forbid me from being more active. This time, in La Paz, Bolivia, I’m living a different story. I’ve got more time, not working outside the house, so, I can now indulge and offer my kids the support and presence I’ve been ‘semi-denying’ them for the past years (there has to be one advantage of being a ‘non-working mom’, right? :o )

This is the first time my kids are enrolled in a American School, so, I’m volunteering the school PTA, I’m a ‘classroom parent’, helping extra-curricular activities, you name it. Despite being a bit overwhelming, I’m enjoying (I’m also a workaholic, so, I get my ‘highs’ from being overworked!). This past week, I volunteered to be a chaperone for a school field trip. My oldest child is a first grader, and the school took the whole elementary branch to a morning at a local movie theater. What a fantastic experience! Super excited kids telling me stories (some purely made-up, like flying in rocket ships or turning into fairies/wizards during their spare time!)

Today, after school, when checking my son’s backpack, I realized why we, parents, try to do these little good things, being more involved, committed: there were two handmade cards, with his daily homework. One from my son, and the other one, from my ‘chaperoning team’. And those cards made me understand a bit more about the meaning of being a (school) parent – the child’s true appreciation:

This other one, from ‘my team’. Names carefully preserved, for obvious reasons. Keep in mind we went to watch a movie (Madagascar 3), riding the bus… :o

And the second one, from my son. BTW, the “moma”, I believe, refers to me…

I was so touched, so happy, and grateful for learning that, despite all the difficulties one endures as a mom/dad, our kids do appreciate us.

They “aprishyat” all the “staf” we do for them. And above all, they love us. They do love us very “mutch”… :o

Thanks for letting ME be part of YOUR LIFE! ♥


Posted by on September 24, 2012 in children, expat, LOVE, school, volunteer



So… where’s home? [from a TCK's perspective]

Adjusting to School…

School’s begun, kids are adjusting to their ‘newest’ challenges: new friends, without forgetting their ‘previous’ ones, new teachers, with different teaching techniques, strategies, and a brand new schedule… All in all, they seem to be taking it in pretty well (at least for these past 2 weeks!). Let’s see what future will bring to this foreign service family ♥

Adjustments are never easy, nor smooth, but as committed parents, we’re trying our very best to make sure our 3 kids have an enjoyable social/emotional/psychological experience at this new posting/assignment. Not all is under our control, unfortunately, but… it’s all part of life, and life’s challenging on itself – otherwise, what’d be the meaning of pursuing different lifestyles?

That said, during one of my ‘blog hopping’ ventures, found a very interesting video discussing the meaning of ‘home, from a TCK‘s perspective, totally worthy the time, and maybe, a good way to generate some discussion/questioning about the theme. Here it is:

So Where’s Home? A Film About Third Culture Kid Identity from Adrian Bautista on Vimeo.


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Photography: B&W dads for Brazilian Father’s Day


In Brazil, Father’s Day is honored during the second Sunday of August, and it’s common to have the celebrations throughout the whole weekend, offering parents and children an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company at length. In honor of Brazilian Father’s Day, here are a few black and white images of the important fathers in my life: my own dad, who can currently appreciate the physical proximity to his American-Brazilian grandkids, always on the move; my husband, wonderful father of our three children, and my husband’s dad, who’s become a second dad to me, unconditionally accepting me as part of his family, in a quasi-adoptive manner, as the daughter he did not have (and later this year will have two “daughters“, when my soon-to-be sister-in-law enters the family in the Fall!). Here, to all the dads out there, Brazilians or not…

For starters, the husband: the best dad our kids could’ve asked for. A lot of commitment and willingness to learn…


welcoming our second daughter


Following, my husband’s father, my second dad:

He is the one I’m grateful for my husband’s parenting skills…

And here, my dad. The person with whom I share not only a total lack of coordination for sports, but also, an inexplicable passion for Science and numbers. The one who taught me how to count, is now counting my daughter’s little fingers…




Posted by on August 12, 2012 in LOVE, photography, school


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Bidding farewell to their ‘BFFs’! [Até logo, para os melhores amiguinhos!]

Last day of school. Bidding farewell to best friends… Hopefully, one day, they’ll be together again! ♥


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School ‘Babylon Hanging Garden’: hard work pays off!

Great use of a recycled PET bottle!

Wordle: herbs

The Recognition 

EcoClub Pizza! Harvest time is approaching for the Hanging Gardens of the EcoClub. We’ve talked the School Canteen into turning the garden’s produce into Pizza (and Salad!) for lunch on June 11.:o Stay tuned!

That said, I’ve been asked to provide updates on our Hanging Garden Project. We’ve got new ORGANIC VEGGIES, all from ‘freshly donated seeds’… Our middle/high school students have been deeply involved in building a system with planters made from recycled PET bottles, as seen on the right. What originally was a school research project, has become a multidisciplinary task (see left), and a passion for all the gardening lovers! Besides that, we’ve discovered a great source of cost-free clean/distilled water for all the watering needs: the several air conditioning devices, spread throughout the school campus.  


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Participando da Rede do Saber com o Infantil III do Colégio Madre de Deus.

Imagens de uma mamãe super orgulhosa, conversando e demonstrando “experiências científicas” com a turminha do Infantil III, da minha filhota! Vou sentir muita saudade desta escola

Muito grata pela oportunidade, Profa. Suzy!

Na hora de despedir, minha “assistente” resolveu lembrar-se que, apesar de todo do ‘glamour’ da ciência, queria mesmo era colo de mãe… Pode uma dessas??! :o :o

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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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Hanging Garden: Making good use of (free!) 6,000 liters of water/year

Wordle: herbsI’ve been asked to provide updates on our Hanging Garden Project. We’ve got new planters, ‘freshly donated seeds’… and a cost-free watering system. For the ones not (yet!) familiar with the ‘mathematics behind getting cost-free water‘, here’s how it works: Our middle/high school students have been deeply involved in building a system with planters made from recycled PET bottles, as seen on the right.

Besides that, we’ve discovered a great source of clean/distilled water for all the watering needs: the several air conditioning devices, spread throughout the school campus. So, the students began collecting the not-before-managed water… But, how could they find out how much water would be “released” by the AC devices?

The answer to that question morphed into a mini-mathematical project: Math students were asked to develop a strategy to evaluate the volume of water released by the AC equipments, write their assumptions down (hourly rate, number of school days, etc), and today presented their results: on average, an AC device is capable of releasing over 6,000 liters of water during the course of a regular school year.



Way more than enough for keeping the Hanging Garden alive and growing! :o

Having fun with graduated cylinders & Math!

Let’s see… once more, science and math can definitely be fun (and rewarding!) :o

So far, we’ve got seedlings of:
Arugula, rocket (Diplotaxis arucoides) [Rúcula, in Portuguese)
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) [Manjericão]
Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) [Camomila]
Cherry tomato (Lycopersicom esculentum var.) [Tomate-cajá]
Anise (Agstache foeniculum) [Erva-doce] 
French onion 

Bell Pepper


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Snapshots of fun science!

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“Dia de Los Muertos, Halloween Weekend, Snapshots from Scary School and Last Minute Trick-or-Treating”

“Dia de Los Muertos, Halloween Weekend, Snapshots from Scary School and Last Minute Trick-or-Treating”

It’s still Thursday, and we’re already looking forward to the weekend. Our family’s been on a roll since last Friday, with the preparations for Halloween Weekend and all that came with it!

Halloween parties at two different schools, one “scary” birthday party, and a last minute trick-or-treating that caught us by surprise on a Tuesday night (it was Halloween night, so, neighboring kids were just doing their job!) :o

After spending the afternoon at School #1, getting ready for Halloween at School #2

presenting the contestants for best costume!

a happy witch!

The (scary) seniors…

An interesting costume for a teacher/mom…

Coming directly from the Movie to School!


And games for the “cyber-kids”:

Weekend event #3, Saturday: Classmate’s birthday party. The theme? Guess! :o

And wrapping it up, husband and I were caught by surprise on Tuesday evening (the 31st), by some neighboring kids, who asked to “borrow” our toddlers for some “last minute trick-or-treating”! We couldn’t say no to that! :o

gotta give them candy.. whatever you have!

Good bye, Joker!


Posted by on November 3, 2011 in children, Fashion, humor, photography, school


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“Oso pardo, oso pardo, que ves ahi?” or Thoughts on the Creative Flow of a TCK

Although we’re on family vacation (it’s October, right?!) , I’d asked our kids’ teachers to give me some work sheets for their time off, in order to help them not forget about school, during their traveling days…

 It may sound a bit “geeky”, but hey, that’s who we are, and that’s what we believe it is the right thing to do… at least, for now… Our oldest one is 6 years old, and experiencing the challenges of  “cursive letters”. This morning I spend a few good hours with him – it’s been raining, not a lot to do outside, and before we jumped into the movie-marathon mode, we did some ‘homework’ together. And, actually, it turned out to be fun.

After we were done, it came to me the realization of how we’re been raising our kids, immersed into hybrid cultures, always moving, always surrounded by different languages, doing homework in Portuguese, and proudly showing it to grandma, explaining her (in English) the task performed, and thanking grandpa for letting him borrow pencils and eraser, in Spanish… It sure made me stop and think: is that how it’s supposed to be? The children seem to adjust well to changes,  but how far is it possible to go, without stretching it out?

That said, my intrigued soul found some very good reading, from adult TCK authors, and we’re likely to become contributors, sharing experiences and thoughts, along the way…

Here it is -  interesting reading about becoming an adult third cultured, still remaining your own creative person.

“Creative thought, one of the world’s most valuable commodities, is something that has started to become somewhat elusive as our generations have progressed. It’s a principal that is born of original thought, the need to invent, and the want to produce something that others will seek value in. It has led to the development of the wheel, to the creation of the keystone arch, the sundial, the plough, the lens, the camera, the story, the song, the car, the computer, and the hadron collider. It has developed our species, improving our state of living and the reasons for which we live. Creativity, as a force, is what brought us from hunting with sharpened sticks to flying through space.

Yet that word, creativity, one we use so frequently for so many things, holds a weight to Third Culture Kids that’s only outmatched by the word “culture.” Of course, if you were to look a little closer, to really examine the core concepts of both those words and the implications that each of them posses, you would find that not only are they connected, but they are almost inseparable.

Being creatures of culture, TCKs posses that natural ability to rapidly evolve their cultural standpoint based on the community that surrounds them. We have a way about us, one that does not allow for us to be considered the same as those we interact with, but instead allows us to be accepted by them. We can see what others cannot, can move in circles where others would be outcasts. We view culture not as a boundary, but as a gateway into the heart of the world.

As TCKs, we do it subconsciously, unaware that we are behaving this way but aware of our talents and our ability to meld into something new. We missed it as we grew up, took it for granted as children while we hopped from place to place, but since we have matured and grown and become the Adult Third Culture Kids we are now, we have seen how naturally these behaviours are to us by watching how impossible they are for our First Culture Kid friends.

The question that remains, however, is what power does creativity have in the hands of a TCK? Creativity is a mental state that’s not accessible by everyone. It’s a unique problem solving technique for an extremely unique type of problem. Humanity is hard-wired to only understand patterns. For example 1+1=2 because every time you take the number one and add another number one, you always end up with two. Why? Because it always happens, and it happens because that’s just the law of mathematics. Creatives, however, push the bounds of that human limitation. We accept the laws because they are there, but we believe in that off-chance that maybe, just maybe, by some freak possibility or coincidence, the next time I take one apple and add another apple to it, a third apple will spring into existence and I’ll have three apples. We know it’s foolish, we know that based on the laws of mathematics and the physical restrictions of our universe it’s impossible. But we hope for the alternative.

This constant longing for the middle ground between impossible and spectacular is a trait that we incorporate into our regularly occurring existence. There’s no denying the fact that we, as TCKs, do not have a cultural home, possess no country in which we can return to, and have no place on this planet that we truly fit into. We are trapped outside the realm of normal human interaction, completely incapable of returning to a community or culture that is truly our own. So instead, we have turned to creativity.

Through creativity, TCKs have built-up groups of people, from friends to colleagues, that are so strong and so interwoven into our lives that they have become our own little cultural home. We have selected them for their differences, for the ways in which they can help better our lives and the lives of those around them. We have selected them for their value, for their desire to improve upon a situation and the relentless need to always take that next great step. We have created a culture of people who will stop at nothing to change the world.

So when you are next asked what it means to be a TCK, answer in whichever way you believe best resolves an impossible question. But know that if you and I are ever fortunate enough to meet, and you ask that question to me, I will simply smile and say the following:

It means that one day, with the help of everyone else, one plus one will equal three.”


Posted by on October 13, 2011 in EDUCATION, school, TCKs


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“I love you dad!”: Schools in Brazil celebrate Father’s Day

This past weekend, schools in Brazil found their way to honor and celebrate fatherhood, offering activities for the whole family, sports games, craft projects… you name it!

It’s a national celebration, honored by public and private schools throughout the country, famous or unknown school groups; simple or modern academies; sophisticated or just a room in a house where a teacher shares her experiences with the students – in some way, fathers were remembered during the second week of August. It’s a tradition. There are a few exceptions – some schools choose not to do anything, for different reasons, leaving the few parents a bit disappointed and somewhat frustrated, but it’s just a small portion… The majority of the schools open their doors to happy and proud dads, guaranteeing that at least once a year, they will be able to share the joy with their ‘offspring‘, saying: “I’m his/her father. I’m a school dad”…

I’m now sharing a few images from this past weekend’s school activities – the American School of Recife offered a breakfast for the dads (and moms!), followed by an Open House. Our kids’ school had a full Saturday of activities, shown below. It was great to share the experience with other parents, nationals or expats. First-time parents or skilled ones; single dads, grandpas, godparents, older siblings… All in all, a very happy Brazilian Father’s Day


Posted by on August 15, 2011 in children, school


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