Sunday, March 25, 2012

Daybook: The "It's so nice to be able to open the window" edition

Outside my window... Oh yes, sunshine.  And 70 degrees.  Spring has come to France...and I am so, so excited to see it.
The tree we've been watching from our window is in bloom!

::Listening to... The general hubub of people noise down in the street below our house.  We don't get a lot of vehicle traffic down here - our street is a market plaza and mostly closed to vehicles, but there are heaps of shops and cafes.  Now that the weather has gotten so nice, there's a lot of people out there.  Great place for people watching.

::Giving thanks for... Sunshine.  Fellowship.  The fact that we can go online and listen to English sermons from our choice of supporting churches back in the States. (This week was C4TB - thanks y'all for the encouragement.) And the fact that a lady I met in the elevator this week told me that my French really wasn't bad for an American.  That's progress, folks.
::Pondering... The last couple of weeks have been up and down - more down than up to be honest.  The 'wow, we're living in Europe' honeymoon has ended and we are now fully aware just how big of a task we are facing in the months ahead - becoming proficient in a none-too-simple foreign language while juggling all the regular demands of a family with 3 young children.  It was at once such moment in the past couple of weeks that these words of Scripture jumped off the page at me (sorry I don't have the reference handy): You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because He trusts in you...  It is easy to let my mind wander and fix itself on the obstacles, the difficulties, the things I don't like about our life right now.   But He has promised perfect peace to those who fix their minds on Him.  He is the one who can carry our burdens and infuse us with new grace and new strength for each moment.

::Living the Educational Life... Other than having to take a couple days off because various family members have been sick, school with Michelle is plugging along well.  We have one more week in this 4 week term, and then I'll get a more detailed update together for you.  Our biggest news on that front is that we decided to switch to a new math curriculum - Math U See.  While she's been doing fine for the most part in math, I wasn't crazy about the way the concepts were presented in the curriculum we were using and found that I was having to tweak and supplement with games and other hands-on activities more than I really wanted.  It was working for now, but I wasn't seeing it working for us in the long term. Because Math U See follows a very different scope-and-sequence I figured it was better to switch her over sooner rather than later so we wouldn't have to do too much backtracking.  Our box of goodies came in the mail Friday and Michelle was so excited that we broke down and did the first lesson on Saturday!  Good stuff, I tell ya.

::Preparing in the Kitchen... Honestly...nothing but the basics these days.  I cooked with eggplant (widely available here) for the first time, if that is exciting in the least to anyone.  We were asked the last time we Skyped with family if we were cooking a lot of French food, but really we aren't eating all that differently than we normally do anywhere else.  Unless you count eating bread for every meal...
A ginormous (kilo-size) loaf of bread...for those who just can't get enough bread, I guess.

::Following These Links...  Ooh, I've read some good ones lately: Praying for your kids more, the elusive balance between grace and discipline, and this kick-off to the latest series from the folks at SCM on the growth that is taking place even when you can't see it...

::Turning Pages... I've been reading the book Leadership Education by Oliver and Rachel DeMille over the past couple of weeks.   While I definetely agree with some of the points they bring up, I'm finding myself disagreeing with a lot as well.  (In other words, I'm not going to abandon our Charlotte Mason philosophy anytime soon.)  That said, I do appreciate their perspective that less is more in the early years.  They make the point that our modern education system kind of has everything all backwards in that we push young children too hard, too soon (academically speaking), and then expect far too little out of our teenagers who are more developmentally ready to take on more serious academic study.  While I can't say I agree with the way they say this should be carried out, it reaffirmed to me that the gentle, slow-but-steady progress approach to academics we are taking at the moment is the right way to go.

::Finding Rhythm... Quoted from my last Daybook post: The first week of this new schedule has been...well...different. I had kind of hoped that only having class 3 times a week this month would mean I had more time, but it sure didn't feel like it. Maybe this coming week? Or maybe I just need to accept the fact that spare time is just gonna be a rare commodity this year. Ha, ha, ha. Um, now 3 weeks into this new schedule...still haven't found that extra time and still haven't found much of a rhythm.  One of our missionary colleagues here recently posted on her blog about some of their reflections on the past year and likened the first 6 months they were living here in France to living in a blender.   We're definetely still in the blender! 

::Finding joy in... The arrival of spring - new growth, new splashes of color as flowers open.  I think I've had enough of winter to last me for the next 4 or so years, but I will miss the transitions of spring and fall once we return to the land of eternal summer.
::Kiddos this week... Miss Elizabeth turned 2!  I still can't hardly believe it.  She is our precious, way-over-the-top-cute little firecracker.

::Praying... For wisdom in evaluating my priorities and using my time well, and senstivity to the Lord's guidance as I go through each day. And that we will be able to make some French friends, so we will have more opportunities to practice speaking French outside of our class times.

::Planning the week ahead... My school...Michelle's school...studying...feeding and clothing my family...oh, and going to the immigration office in a neighboring city to have our visas validated.  We sure know how to have fun around here, don't we?!  I don't know that it will happen this week, but now that the weather has improved we would like to start exploring what the city has to offer.

::Capturing a moment... Reading is serious business around here...

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