Tag Archives: parenting

Homeschooling in France

I apologize for my scarcity. I have several posts I would like to blog, but I’ve struggled with making the time. You see, I may not have a work visa like my husband, but I am still working; I am homeschooling my teenage son. Yes, this is pretty much a full-time job, and we have added to it my little French classes at the marie, and a church retreat last weekend. So my apologies, but I will probably be a little erratic.

Our homeschool nook, which hosts current school curriculum and my son’s crib blanket. Hey, some things you just don’t let go of.

I am not new to homeschooling. Most of my children have been homeschooled some or most of their school careers, although I haven’t done so for four years. I am comfortable, confident, and know from my older kids that our curriculum choices work. I also use an umbrella for administration from junior high and up, so my son is under an umbrella here. We are studying world history, and I have some pretty awesome hands-on field trips planned to places world history actually happened.

Our first will be at the end of this month, to a spot in Spain where the first Greek settlement of Gaul was founded, then built over by a Roman garrison, followed eventually by a medieval Catalan city. You can find a virtual visit here, but the day we go will also have a Roman re-enactor to bring the Roman landing alive. The fact that some great tourist beaches are also near has not gone unnoticed. I love teaching world history!

Ancient Egypt come to life, soon to be recorded in Power Point. By the way, NOT a fan of French glue. The stick glue is American, and not great either. They don’t like you flying with bottles of glue.

There are, of course, special hoops to jump through in a foreign country. I have submitted my letter of intent, as required by law. Today I got a phone call (they were able to scrounge up a sort of English speaker) asking for clarification of Theo’s birthday. I was told to expect a letter from the department of education, as his education would need to be “controlled.” I am confident this is a translation issue, and they mean something more like monitored, because most homeschoolers here I’ve talked to haven’t had too much trouble. I am definitely praying for favor in the eyes of the inspector, though!

Next year, after touring Europe through the eyes of history, we’ll enroll our son in the International School here, but until then, I am grateful for a year of discovery together!


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Comfort Food?

Apparently when one’s “new experience” allotment is full, flooded even, one becomes a less open person. At least, this is my observation of my near-13-year-old son. Back in the States, he had seemed fairly adventurous. He liked trying new recipes, new restaurants, and visiting new places. Somehow, I thought that would translate equally here in France.

Not so much.

Now, a ham sandwich on a baguette looks too foreign, as do all the other sandwiches in the patisserie case. (I admit to being a tad disappointed when my poor ordering skills got me the tuna and egg salad baguette instead of the ham and egg salad I was trying for, although I actually think that may have been confusion on the cashier’s part.) But the croissant still looks like a croissant, and tastes even better. It has become lunch. The burger at the hotel restaurant is too French, with aoli mayo and grilled peppers and onions. At breakfast, the eggs have parsley in them, the chocolate muffin has a molten chocolate center, and the sausages seem undercooked. All very disappointing under the current circumstances, when in another place I am not sure they would have been set aside. And I have no doubt my son is losing weight!

So we decided to give the Tournefeuille McDonalds a try. Now, Theodore is not a fan of McDonald’s even back in Kansas. Oh, he’ll eat there, but he’d rather go lots of other places. But he went to this one prepared to be disappointed.

It’s all gone in a flash, but still no smile. Some attitudes are just choices.

Actually, he conceded that the flavorfully salted steak fries were quite good, and much better than traditional fries at home. He ordered just a plain hamburger, but the nuggets look promising, so next time he will probably get one of each.

I think the French would be highly disappointed if they came to visit the States and ate at a McDonalds. The food tasted fresh and, while not grand cuisine, still better than McDonalds back home. Stoney got a Charolais burger, which came on a ciabatta bun. He also got a side salad, which you can see was fresh greens. Theodore concedes the soda pop here seems better everywhere we go. I suspect the use of real sugar, rather than high fructose corn syrup. My burger was good, with some kind of thousand islandy dressing with a hint of horseradish, and lettuce and tomato. Some mayo-based sauce was given us, probably in lieu of ketchup for the fries.

The best thing in my mind was the automated ordering kiosks, which had an English option, and allowed for ordering meals or individual items. Unfortunately, although our swiped American credit card got us into the kiosk ordering system, it couldn’t take payment off that non-chipped card, so we still had to pay with euros to the non-English speaking cashier. Definitely a good experience for us, though. And I think it let our son relax a little, knowing he CAN eat here if he wants to.


Filed under family, France

Happy Birthmonth!

Or three weeks of birth celebration, as Theo would not be in the US for his thirteenth, so we had a party with family and friends early, before we left. We will probably still have some sort of hurrah for him when he truly does become a teenager, so it sort of prolongs the joyous crossover. Ahem. I love thirteen year olds. Honest. Mostly.

Anyway, our party was in Wichita’s Old Town, starting with pizza. What group of boys doesn’t like pizza? We followed it, down the street, with time at City Arts, constructing an arsenal out of wire frames, foil and Crayola Model Magic.

A constructive birthday

en guarde!

Theo’s older brother surprised him by driving up from Texas and appearing in the midst of the creativity. Awesome birthday surprise!!

How does Quinn look with a handlebar?

You’re never too old to make stuff.

more merrymaking HERE

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My Baby is a Youth

Theo graduated from sixth grade yesterday. He seems so grown up!

From a graduating class of two (in really low lighting), with his teacher. Classes at this school are made of two grades.

His sisters seem kind of proud of him!

It’s a wrap!

Those who know him best, give him books. Note the little slideshow in back showing Theo with his “Littlest Fisher” award from Georgia.

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A Basket-less Easter

Yes, it’s true…this “supermom” broke a tradition of 22 years, and that’s if you don’t count the years of MY life from 1 through college. Our Easter had no. basket. No eggs with little symbols of the Resurrection Story either on or in them. I am thinking this might well mean I am overworked. Of course, a 13 and an 18 year old don’t necessarily need a basket of surprises in the morning, but it definitely leaves one feeling thought-of.

We were not entirely without thought, though. I had on the kitchen table for my daughter a pineapple cupcake mix to do together, and Reester bunnies. And for my son, a terra cotta bowl with the makings of a Resurrection Garden. (And a little Reester bunny. After all, Jesus can hardly be worshiped without chocolate.) The Easter garden turned out to be a good substitute for a basket, and better for time spent together.

the stone is rolled away!


but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.


He is risen!


The deviled eggs were just for fun, a Pinterest find.

It was a good Easter, all things considered. I mean, really, Easter can’t help but be good, no matter what, because it’s the Good News!


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The Fruits of Her Labor

My older daughter put in her last day of summer waitressing last night. She will be sad to say goodbye to her co-workers, even though she is totally pumped about starting her sophomore year of college. I am reflecting, though, on all I have learned from her job. Yes, that’s right: what I learned.

*Wait staff really do live off their tips. I knew tips were important, but I didn’t realize how appallingly little their base pay can be. I have always believed I tipped fairly, but now I try to remember to tip generously. (She tells me her Daddy tips better than I do, but really, he IS her Daddy. He’d tip her for a good hug in the afternoon.)

*Enthusiasm and a good attitude can transform almost any situation or work environment. My daughter is an amazing well of determined goodwill. (It showed in the tips, too!) She was the only white girl (or a good-natured “guerrita” to her coworkers) in an otherwise all Hispanic Mexican food restaurant, but determined to use the minimal English environment to improve her Spanish. (She’s a Spanish major). Their expectation was that she would fail, as they had a pretty stereotypical perspective of non-Hispanics. Like any minority in a majority environment, she had to soar above expectations to break them, and she did so joyfully. She is my hero!

"How can I make your day?"

*Passionately pursue your goals, but rest in the knowledge that God is the one who makes them happen. Her plan was to earn enough to pay for her whole year’s housing at college. Her laptop died, though, and she replaced it herself from her earnings. She also bought a futon, and has paid for her whole first semester’s housing. With her invitation to return to the restaurant for winter break, she will probably pay housing for the school year. She also wanted to pick up a class during the summer, so this hard-working dynamo completed 3 credits of algebra locally while working 60-80 hour + weeks. She worked, but she trusted God to provide the tips and the energy and the understanding in her class. She saw for herself that when she tried to manipulate things in her favor, it soured. When she trusted in God’s provision, her cup overflowed!

*Don’t just love people in spite of their cultural differences, but because of them. And she learned lots of cultural differences between her white-bread American upbringing and the multi-cultural Latin views of her co-workers. She just embraced them, good and bad.

*The American public drinks a LOT of liquor. I did NOT grow up in a teetotaling environment, although my husband did. I have an occasional glass of wine. I knew that much of my countrymen drink more freely. Listening to how much alcohol my daughter serves each night was eye-opening. Seeing my 19-year-old having to make troubling decisions on whether or not to cut off patrons, or call for rides for patrons bothered me. It’s hard to see her agonize over whether she was wrong to let someone leave under their own power. Frankly, it’s amazing to know single individuals are finishing off a jumbo margarita or ordering multiple Long Island teas. And I just didn’t realize it was so widespread.

*My little girl has MONSTER work-skills! She is amazing! She works hard, non-stop, and challenges herself to go further each day. She earned burn-callouses, muscles that can balance 3 plates along a tiny arm, whole new levels of Spanish fluency, mad bartending skills, and the respect of every one of her initially skeptical co-workers. I am drop-dead proud of her and thankful to God for her! I pray she has an amazing sophomore year in college!

A blur of food-serving energy!


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A Peachy-keen Celebration

Yesterday we celebrated my younger daughter’s graduation. It was quite a milestone! In one sense, it was a long-awaited relief, and in another, very sudden and unexpected. Late in the spring semester of her junior year, she decided to graduate even earlier than her already early December date. If she jumped through hoops 1, 2 and 3 by certain dates, and got all her paperwork in order with the state, she would be able to enter college this fall (missing all financial aid deadlines, unfortunately), beginning her very long post-high school education journey. It has been kind of a stressful few months, but we truly have something worth celebrating!

The reception was designed around her university school colors, yellow and black, and her pre-med goals. I picked yellow and gold zinnias from my garden and grouped them with store-bought white spider mums, and wrapped a stethoscope around the vase. I had also taken a painting she had made for her bedroom which she didn’t care for and painted an EKG screen over it. Yellow and black streamers draped around added to the atmosphere.

We offered pigs in a blanket, 7-layer Mexican dip, and peaches and cream cupcakes, which I found here. The recipe lists light or dark brown sugar, but I wish I had used the dark brown; the cupcake was very mild tasting. It was delicious, but a little too subtle. I think I would add a little more powdered sugar to the brown sugar icing, too. Such a delicate cupcake could have handled a sweeter icing. I look forward to trying again with these adaptations! The cupcakes were topped with hearts and stethoscopes in honor of her aspiring future as a cardiologist, and WSU for her school, in a black glitter gel icing.

Congrats on your exciting new adventure, precious daughter!

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My Little Sunshine

Her dear friend leaves for Mexico this weekend, so we celebrated M’s birthday a wee early: 19 years of blessing the whole world with her smile!!

Birthday Oreos

Nineteen years ago I missed my best friend’s wedding, to which I was to bring the cake, to meet one of the most amazing people I have ever known. She took 12 hours to arrive, but with the easiest labor; although she was very decisive about her arrival when the time came! She loves God and deep thinking, jumps into new adventures with both feet and eyes wide open (like theater in public high school when she had only ever been homeschooled, or coxswaining at the university with no athletic experience whatsoever, or waitressing).


I am honored and blessed that God let me be her mom! Happy Birthday!!

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Send in the Clones

(Yes, a new title, which came to me in the dawn of a new day, and I knew it was MINE.)

I have questions, and I’d like some answers…

Like “Why am I itching and spotted? Why does it come and go? Is it something I’m eating? Nothing in particular? Will I find I can never eat food x again? And why is food x now on virtually everything?”

Or “Why is my cat so fat? No matter what diet we put her on?” For that matter, I could ask the same of me. At least I don’t have to lick the small of my back, but unable to reach it, get little mats in its fur. What hair I have, I don’t need to brush, else I become a frizzed-out poodle of a clown-head.

How about “Why do all the cloning scientists keep wasting time with sheep and cows and other livestock? Do they not know that the money is in cloning moms? WHERE IS MY CLONE?!” Seriously, today I had to be at Bible Study, and in a distant town with my daughter to sign papers facilitating her early graduation, and at my elementary son’s field day in a distant town another direction. Really, people? At least I wasn’t teaching art today, although I had hoped to actually create some of my own. I’ve been dying to try capturing in acrylic a daffodil I photographed, having already done a watercolor sketch. I think it would look amazing in acrylic.

I did do my everyweekend creative thing, though. This Saturday, at my son’s DARE celebration at the park, while missing my daughter’s senior picture session, where there was no one to hold her stuff and help her with the photographer. My clone, people? Here is a watercolor pencil of an iris.

Sketchbook iris

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Filed under Art, Creativity, personal

Celebrate with Cupcakes

My younger daughter turned seventeen last month, and she has a thing for cupcakes. She would much rather have a fancy cupcake than a whole fancy cake. She asked for snickerdoodle cupcakes, and I went in search of a recipe I thought I would like, and it was DElish! The only drawback was the uber-fluffy cinnamon frosting–it made decorating a real challenge compared with a buttercream. It was worth it for taste, though. We are revisiting these cupcakes for my husband’s birthday TODAY. My best friend and sweetie is FORTY-SEVEN. Congratulations, Love! I promise not to make your frosting pink.

Katie's 17th cupcakes


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