Christmas wreath

Easy project from materials easily available.

I am not a freak when it comes to seasonal decorations. I like few simple things that convey the mood and let my creative spirit out. The tree is usually the key piece anyways so the rest has to be toned down.

This year I decided to make a wreath to hang on the door. I love using nature so I used pinecones and vines. I did not even have to go to the woods to get the stuff since the pinecones I found at the College in Geneseo and vines are from my backyard.

I had some spray paint in red and white leftover from other projects. Perfect Christmas colors, I thought, not to mention Polish flag!

I spray painted few pinecones red and some white and let it dry well. I weaved the vines into a circle and glued the pinecones arranged by my son using a hot glue gun. I tied a red ribbon to finnish off the look. What do you think?



How to raise multilingual children?

Our kids are 3 and 7 years old. They both speak fluently two languages, now they’re learning a third one. This post explain our approach.

It is fairly easy. Kids are like sponges, soaking up everything without any effort or even concieus idea that they are in fact learning.

There are different scenarios:

  1. The family is moving abroad for a job.

  2. Parents are different nationalities and decide to teach their children their native languages.

  3. Parents know a foreign language very well, so they speak it to their children at home.

  4. Children are sent to school that the curriculum is in a foreign language, parents not necesarily have to speak it.

I personally know many families for every scenario. My cousin Patrycja, who lives in Poland talks to her son only in Spanish that she know very, very well. Our good friends, who lived in Toronto tough their kids Polish and French which are their mother tongues. The kids learned English outside, at school. In our case it was a job transfer to the USA where our children were born later.

We were sure that we wanted to teach our kids Polish, we just did not know how. We realized pretty quickly that it was not natural for us to speak to our daughter in English (despite knowing it very well) and it did not make any sense to introduce it at home since the whole world around us spoke it.

Nadia at a very young age realized that something weird was going on. Many times she had a surprised face, asking why everyone else is speaking different then my parents and I can not understand any of it:-) It changed very quickly, playing with American children every day, she reached their language level in few months. The situation was finally clear – Polish at home, English with everyone else. Sometimes she tried to mix, but we repeatedly and consequently asked her not to.

When she went to school, we started to introduce at home writing, reading and Polish grammar.

At this point she can write, read, speak, understand both languages and she just turned 7 last month.

In the meantime, our son Alexander was born. With his language education, we applied the same approach, except it was much easier because his main teacher was… Nadia. Now, he is 3,5 years old and does pretty good in both languages.

Here in San Miguel de Allende our kids learn a third language: Spanish. We enrolled them in Spanish only curriculum school so it is complete immersion. It has been 4 weeks and they can have a simple conversation, buy groceries at a local store and order their own food at a restaurant. Pretty good as for one month of school…!!!! 🙂

Nadia often finds similarities to the languages that she already knows. That only proves that it is easier to learn another language while you already know some.

We also decided to learn Spanish and we use Rosetta Stone program along with real life practice. I have to say it is pretty good and gives me the flexibility to learn at my own schedule. Most days we learn in the morning and in the afternoon we go out and try what we learned with the Mexicans who are very, very patient. 🙂

What is your experience? Please share…..

How to make lemonade in Mexico

Alex, our youngest scamp presents an instructional video for all his fellow misfits in the World. In this short video, he’ll explain, how to prepare a ‘delicioso’ lemonade.

After a few sets with his older sister, Alex finally got promoted from an assistant to an anchor. On his mother’s birthday, he not only helped with the breakfast to bed in the morning, but also offered to prepare fresh lemonade. Taking advantage of his generosity, we turned that rather uncommon event into an instructional video for all the scamps in the World!

School Quest

Finally, a post by Agnieszka, describing our experiences in finding the perfect Mexican school for our kids. In this article she Agnieszka shares her views on the Mexican education system and explains why a bilingual school is really not an option if you’re serious about learning a new language.

Let me just say that there are a lot of options as far as schooling in San Miguel de Allende.

It was shocking and also overwhelming in the beginning. There are public schools and private, just like anywhere else in the world. Public schools do not cost a penny, have lots of space, large palygrounds but they tend to be overcowded. 50 kids in one class is not uncommon.

The curriculum is in Spanish which we wanted, but the ratio of kids to teachers is waaaaay too high.

Private schools can be devided into Christian and nonreligious, crurriculum in Spanish, English or both. Most of the schools have very educated staff. There are schools that are run by Americans for all the gringo kids that live in town. We even found a school that not only tought English/Spanish and all the regular subjects but also sustainable/ecofriendly living. The couch in the office in that school was made of cardboard. How cool is that!

We were sure that we wanted Spanish because all we want our kids to learn is the language. The rest we can take care of 🙂

The fact of „only Spanish school” became a little difficult to understand for some. People started refering us to schools that were mostly bilingual thinking that it will be better for our kids. I know from experience that complete emersion is the best. We already did it once with English so we know it works!

Anyway, after quite a few visits to different schools we found one that seems to be perfect….so far.

There is only preeschool and primary school kids in the building. The classes are so small that Nadia has 8 kids in her class and Alex has 9. The principal speaks good English so if there is a need the kids can always comunicate with her. Their classrooms are very close to one another. That was very important to me since it is the first school for Alex! As far as costs go most of them are not expensive, especially coming from North America or Europe. Our school costs about 860 pesos a month which is about $62 per child. We also had to pay one time coop fee of 1500 pesos ($107) and pay for books and supplies (roughly about $200). That is a pretty good deal for 5 hours of education 5 days a week. Did I mention that they also teach the kids martial arts there?!?!?

Another great thing about Mexican schools is that 99% of the kids wear uniforms. It is different in every school but they are all very cute. So far I have not found one that I did not like:-) My children were very excited to wear one and I have to admit that they look adorable. They are very affordable because we paid $60 for both.

So here we are in SMA walking to school every day at 7:30 am. Yes, we walk just like most people here, holding hands for 25 minutes one way observing town coming to life. I drop them off, Robert picks them up.

It is bonding time with our children, without any distractions besides cars passing by and belive it or not they never complain about the walk:-)