Don Quixote Jumps!

Don Quixote Jumps!

I love music for the way it makes me feel, for the kindred spirit I feel with the artist as I sing-along. I listen to new favorite songs on repeat in my car to the chagrin of passengers and confuse lyrics all the time. Musicians make me weak in the knees, so that I can’t think straight. They have my whole-hearted respect.

What better way to bring languages to the world then, right??!

The Second Time I Ran Away From Home

The Second Time I Ran Away From Home

The first time I ran away from home, I didn’t go far, made it half-way round the block. But the distance didn’t matter to my eight-year old self. The fact that I let myself go, did.

 

The first time I ran away as a mom, I didn’t go far either, made it half way up my own state. But the distance didn’t matter to my 45-year old self. The fact that I let myself go, did.

 

Sometimes in life the right thing is running away. Sometimes when we say we are “just taking a trip” or “getting away for the weekend” we are, in truth, running away. It’s just when we grow up, running away loses the badge of honor it had when we were kids. When we get big, it’s no longer cool to run away. It’s even shunned upon, but that doesn’t mean it’s no longer needed.

The Silver Lining of Being S.A.D. in the South of Chile

The Silver Lining of Being S.A.D. in the South of Chile

I believed the glorious nature of the South could help heal my heart and reconnect all the broken parts. Douglas Tompkins once said, “There is still a need inside of us to see not every square meter of earth has been humanized.” That was always true for me, and Chile offered that promise. I got the feeling that I was in on a secret world. There you were able to glimpse a fleeting moment in time. There you would find a trail between trees on which perhaps no human had ever walked before.  That would be the key to my reconnection.  

Laura Ingalls + Indiana Jones + Clark Griswold = My Selfie Self in Argentina

Laura Ingalls + Indiana Jones + Clark Griswold = My Selfie Self in Argentina

...My daughter did not want to leave Estancia Harberton, Calvin dreams of returning to Estancia Santa Teresita for a month, and Jack might join that crazy adrenaline fueled climbing community one day in El Chalten. The main towns, where we landed, Ushuaia and El Calafate, aren’t my favorites, but they serve a purpose and I am intrigued. I'd love to get to know Ushuaia better – my over-active imagination suspects a darkness lurking in this port town that is drenched in wicked weather for 6 months at a time. Much more going on there than I was privy to, and the mere mention of Malvinas, a.k.a. the Falkan Islands to you Brits, strikes an empassioned chord in the hearts of every local. El Calafate caters to the tourist, but off the beaten track is where it's at. Both are the gateway to my most cherished days...

Feliz Ano! #HappyNewYear

Feliz Ano! #HappyNewYear

...The graciousness and abundance that filled the restaurant and our hearts that night is surely a good omen for 2016...  but it hasn't all been roses and peaches and this is the face I most identify with, hmmm... pretty scary? funny and, ridiculous, like "Am I really doing this?"

We are back-packing, essentially, with three kids and that in itself is an art. We forgot to prep them and some of us are slightly less than organized... it's really hard to find clean underwear these days, for everybody. I'd be lying to omit that I stepped out on the stoop in the sweltering heat with a glass of cold chardonnay to debate verbally if this vacation was really the best idea in the world - and that was at the end of Day 1. One thing for certain, next time I will definitely ensure us an air-conditioned unit as was recommended when traveling south of the border mid-summer. Duh.

Alas, a good sleep and never mind, I've already come full circle! I may never come home! I am loving the intimacy of such travel with my family and yes, I feel totally blessed.

How To Plan a Trip to Argentina for Five in 3 Weeks or Less

How To Plan a Trip to Argentina for Five in 3 Weeks or Less

...I’m a romantic but I’m also a pragmatist. Romantically, I’m up for anything…case in point, 3 kids later! With kids, however, I think most moms feel that they must have solid plans for travel...After B.A., we fly to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world to see Penguins. Even though it will be their summer in Tierra del Fuego, it will be cold since we’re so far south, so we’re only spending a few days before flying to El Calafate. We’re looking forward to giant glaciers and panoramic scenery in Patagonia. This is also our respid, so we’re hunting down a traditional Estancia or nature Cabana...

Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) — More Than Skin and Bones

“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.” ~Dalai Lama

Elliot Smith, one of my favorite songwriters of modern times, died by suicide October 21, 2003. I was devastated. I had been living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico since the end of 2001 after the attacks on 911. Elliot Smith’s music had been a true place of solace for me. Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) was coming soon, and I and my boyfriend, who later became my husband, wanted to make an ofrenda (offering) in honor of Smith and others who had crossed over.

We lived on Calle Recreo (recreation street) and our large bay-like window was perfect for an altar....

Celebrating Your Dead: Reasons to Celebrate the Dark Side With Your Child

Celebrating Your Dead: Reasons to Celebrate the Dark Side With Your Child

I come from a culture of sad mourners. If we had stuck with the pure Irish way, maybe we’d be better off – with whiskey for water and three-day wakes. But my mix of ancestry as a typical American mutt seems to have cut out all of the celebration and left me with a sad funeral coupled with unsatisfied crying. Tears and an occasional song or quote is all that is left to comfort me through the funeral day, the only day when our community mourns together. As an antidote, I give you Dia de Los Muertos!

Why Giving My Toddler One Cheerio at a Time Helps Teach Her a Foreign Language

I am not a sadist mama, but to hell with a BOWL of cheerios—I only give my toddler one cheerio at a time. Why? Because, they always want more. And therein lies my trick; never mind that it happens to mirror theories for learning according to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences.

It’s tactile learning at its best: multi-sensory in every way. She picks it up, looks at it, feels it, puts in on her tongue and it either melts into sogginess or she chomps it to dust. Sometimes, her little pincer fingers demolish it before the hand is ever raised. And I look her in they eye and ask, “Más? Quieres más?” while offering up another little round O.

She might not even exactly understand my words, but she trusts me and understands my body language, so she nods and she reaches out. The more I ask and repeat “más?” the more she finally comes around and repeats the answer with me, “más,” and I give it to her.

Done. She’s learned her first Spanish word of the day.

Using Everyday Activities to Teach a Foreign Language
 
It’s a fun little game we play at the table, in the car, at the playground, or even in the store. My daughter has started to point at other things and say “más” now, and I give them to her. This is a classic example of reward-based learning.
 
There’s basically nothing she can do that’s wrong. She trusts me and I deliver. Even if she repeats me with a different sound, I just look at her and smile and repeat it back correctly. There is no fear or consequences for the mistakes made, just reinforcement of the positive. I add other words: “por favor” or “gracias.”

Their little brains are ripe for the picking! Just ask Noam Chomsky.

The Easiest Way to Learn a New Language

I recall a favorite adage that the easiest way to learn a new language is to fall in love. Constantly, people query me to find out why I know Spanish, “Is your husband Latino?” “Does your husband speak Spanish?” Apparently the chemistry that is exchanged and created in the process of falling in love motivates your brain to work overtime to best understand each other.

People have been known to learn a whole new language after meeting the person of their dreams, or a person of their then-dream.

My toddler is no different. She’s the love of my life, no doubt, but every day we are learning more about one another and I want to know what makes her tick, what she likes. She trusts me for all of her needs and she wants me to be happy, too. We are in love. And that, ultimately, is why it’s so easy to teach her.

~ Amy Conroy

Language Learning: 10 Easy Ways To Teach a Foreign Language to Your Kids

Language Learning: 10 Easy Ways To Teach a Foreign Language to Your Kids

I have a middle schooler who used to be my toddler and my guinea pig for all things parenting. Lucky for him, I was obsessed with bilingualism when he was young and we lived in San Pedro, CA, having just said my goodbyes to adventure travel in Central America. Luckily for me, he was a quick study, which made it all the more rewarding and, unwittingly, spurred me on to learn more.

Here are 10 easy ways that anyone can teach their child a second language: