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December 12, 2012


Adorable. Insanely adorable. (Caroline, that is.)

But any rice recipe that doesn't start with "let the rice cooker do its thing" is never getting made in my house. Alas. I bet it's yummy, though, for people who aren't absolutely reliant on the "let the rice cooker do its thing" method of cooking rice.

Stupid question, but we're talking dried lentils, right? Because otherwise you'd measure it in terms of cans?

I feel like you've covered this already, and certainly no offense meant, but why not send Caroline and Edward to different kindergartens if Caroline would like to be immersed (as it were) and Edward would, well, not?

Not to pretend to know Julia's whys and wherefores but ... Separate schools means she'd be driving **three** different routes, which ... is a lot.

I do like Edward's idea of English kindergarten that he is not going to LOL.

Wait - you don't want to drive 3 kids to 3 schools? Do you not yet have shape shifting down? Good luck with that very tricky decision...sometimes having great choices makes it harder to choose.

My daughter goes to French school and overall she loves it. It makes us sound a wee bit pretentious when we're out in public chattering in French but c'est la vie. Any immersion is such a good idea!

We are doing Spanish immersion preschool next fall (by necessity--we'll be living in a Spanish speaking city with preschools that teach in English.) The question in my mind is, assuming all goes well, what comes next? How long do you immerse the kids for? How do you ensure the education is up to snuff, beyond language learning? We know we'll be moving back to the US eventually. How do youmaintain the early language gains?

Er, that should read with NO English-speaking preschools.

oh my goodness, your stories (and your children) never cease to make me smile!

No one should eat anything out of a can unless they are living in a bomb shelter except lychees and tiny Mandarin orange segments.

Lentils are super easy and now many stores sell them pre-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch.

What does the speech pathologist say about Edward learning a second language right now?

We do Japanese immersion (5th year now). It is tough to help with homework! I would have liked Spanish for usefulness, Mandarin for job opportunities, or French since I speak it. But, Japanese was easiest to get into and is free public school magnet program. I'm glad we're doing it since all the parents are very involved and specifically chose this school. Any second language is great for brain development.

Vote for Chinese immersion schools, if there is one! The idea is let C learn the hardest language the earliest. If she is interested in Chinese, you should totally hire a Chinese student nanny and ask her speak to her exclusively in Chinese: one stone kill two birds. I met a white girl at the chinese school that my daughter goes to, I was shocked and ashamed to know the girl speaking better chinese than my half chinese daughter! The secret is that this little girl has a Chinese undergraduate as her nanny - I speak Chinese exclusively to my daughter at home too - looks like a nanny could be more powerful than a mother in teaching a language. Who knew?

That rice sounds totally awesome and as soon as I can source good bacon again (I miss our Amsterdam butcher *sniff sniff* cannot wait until the move to Germany is completed, I'm SURE we can find ourselves a good local butcher again).

Does the district have any immersion programs, and if so, would they bus? I can't even remember -- can Patrick get a bus if you chose it or did they get rid of that option?

Cute about the "Meemah" - that's what a lot of us southern kids call our grandmas, you know. ;-) Did I tell you about the period when Max was around 3-ish and started calling all of us "Daddeem" and "Momeem" and "Elleem"? It was so cute, but alas, all faded in the background now.


But Trickpa would drive him batty wouldn't it?? :)

I know you're here in MN, but I don't exactly know where. If you're open to Montessori schools, my daughter goes to Ramalynn Montessori in Bloomington and we all love it. One of the many perks is daily Spanish lessons, but it is not an immersion school. They offered Chinese as an after school option last year, but I think it was dropped due to lack of participation. If you are located near the metro, I highly, highly recommend this school.

To the person talking about only cooking rice in the rice cooker, I don't see why you couldn't cook the wild rice in the cooker while you cook the lentil mixture on the range. The two aren't combined until the cooking is done.
Trader Joe's sells these Red Split Lentils that are wonderful. I usually fry some bacon, saute onions in the bacon fat, toss lentils in the hot oil for a moment, then add in chicken stock, red wine, a splash of balsamic vinegar and enough water to make an adequate amount of liquid-(usually a 2 to 1 ratio.) Let the mixture simmer 12 minutes or til liquid is mostly gone, then drizzle some maple syrup over the top, add in the bacon (ahem...you were meant to have drained and crumbled the bacon after cooking it) and stir it all together. Easy, quick, and the whole house loves it.

Not to be a spoilsport, but...there are downsides to language immersion schools. If ever you switch back to American school, she will have to relearn a lot of things: penmanship, spelling, math, and history, at the least. If she goes to a school whose culture you do not share, you will be at a great disadvantage in determining whether the environment is healthy.

I went to a French primary school, and while the academics outshone every other school in the county, it was not a healthy place. Neither of my parents are French, or speak French, and that put me at a disadvantage. I also took it on faith that children who were bad, and spoke English at school got hit with rulers, and canes, and never breathed a word of it to my parents, lest they punish me extra for having been disobedient. It was none of our culture, and so we weren't equipped to know what was good or bad in the context. It took a girl dying of suffocation and hypothermia in a snowbank for parents to realize that things were wrong with the way the school was run.

My accent is impeccable, my grammar is excellent, my vocabulary is almost non-existent, thanks to having had almost no call to use French in decades. I was 16 before you could no longer see the scar on the back of my hand from a teacher accidentally(?) hitting me with the metal edge of a ruler instead of the flat. I still flinch when anything comes near my neck, after those few times I was strangled by other kids on the playground, but my left block and right jab are pretty good still.

I love my language skills, but I don't know if it was worth it.

Rachel's story is obviously pretty horrific, but I wanted to pipe up that French immersion is VERY common here in Canada where it's the second official language, and I don't know anyone who had an experience anything remotely like hers. Terrible things happened, yes, but it's not rampant in second-language schools.

I'm also not sure why penmanship, spelling, math, and history would have to be relearned: spelling of English vs. French words is obviously different, but other than a bit of vocabulary augmentation required to learn some English terms in math and history, they are still the same subjects, and penmanship... well I suppose I could see that if Carolyn did go to a school with a language that uses a different writing system instead of the latin alphabet English uses, but it seems to me she's already writing her ABC's and isn't likely to just stop. I say that if you think she'd thrive there, why not at least try it? You can always switch if it seems like it's hindering more than helping her and/or Edward.

Rachel, all the immersion programs I've heard of are in public or local private schools. They're not in special French schools. So you learn typical "American" things in addition to speaking and writing in French/Spanish or whatever.

Argh, the website ate my comment! To recap: My daughter's in a Mandarin immersion charter program and loves it; they learn all the regular subjects too; penmanship is more about fine muscle control than the specific syllabary; if your family's financial situation can tolerate it, you might want to look into private immersion schools for the first couple years, as they almost always have space available; then, Caroline could transfer to a charter in 2nd grade, since a few kids always seem to drop out each year and thus there are more spaces available in the higher grades.

Good luck!

I just came back to read this for a second time today because it made me laugh so hard the first time. I just adore your children! Thanks for sharing them with all of us!

Yay recipes!

I think Rickpat (Trickpah?) would be an awesome name... but agree with Caroline that it would be pretty impossible to improve upon Patrick just as he is. How I love these stories!

I read this and was reminded of a story my mom related recently regarding her mother: apparently, my grandmother skipped first grade, not because she was terribly clever (though she was), but because she didn't want to go. They would drop her off at school, and she would beat them back home. She'd just leave and walk herself home, so they eventually stopped trying and tried again the next year, at which point, she condescended to bless the other second graders with her presence and actually stay the entire day at school. Just thought you might want to make sure Eddybear doesn't have an extra set of your car keys hidden somewhere, lest you find yourself stranded at French immersion school after dropping off his sister...

Made the Wild Rice, Lentils and Bacon tonight. They were a huge hit. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Made the lentils dish this evening...as I put the bay leaf in I was reminded that in my childhood there was a great deal of talk about the dangers of choking on a bay leaf. It struck me as such a quaint childhood concern....
While I said I made the lentil dish, that is not entirealy accurate because at the last minute I exchanged lentils for quinoa because I only had steamed lentils, not dry ones. But, I am thinking that maybe steamed lentils is the way to go, because that way the carrots won't be as boiled (that is a flavor I don't care for). Going to try again soon. Thanks for sharing.

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