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The cheapest and easiest way to raise your kids with a second language is to speak it yourself. But if you’re like me, or 80% of Americans, then you grew up only speaking English. So how do you learn? Little by little. It’s often overlooked that you can learn a level 1 language, like Spanish (the easiest for native English speakers) to a proficient level in a year — no matter what your natural skill level — if you do a little bit every single day. It’s so easy! It’s so simple! And yet… I know for me, I am…

Hello booking websites, we're small, but please don't list us under the section called "Other" where you mention whether you accept pets.

Last spring, I booked a hotel in San Sebastian, from my iPhone, just a half mile from the hotel. I wanted to hold the room so we could bike over. It took us less than 20 minutes to get there but when we arrived we were turned away. “I’m sorry we don’t accept children,” the hotel employee checking us in said. I didn’t like it, but I was resigned. “Okay, so we’ll just get a refund and be on our way,” I said. “Um, let me call my manager.” He calls his manager, tells him that yeah, we showed up…

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We already know that teaching a child a second language has lots of long-term benefits (there are short-term benefits too, like an increased ability to multitask — but studies have also shown that bilinguals stave off the effects of dementia for four years). I am working on raising my kids as bilingual and when we started I picked languages like one would pick hypothetical extra curricular activities… what was going to be the most useful, where is the language trending, how can I best prepare my kids for the future? I started this process about three years ago and at…

timisoara-3

We came to Romania so I could write. The book I’ve been working on, the massive project spanning three years, three continents and three languages is finally wrapping up, and I had a deadline for myself to get the first draft done. So because we were in Europe, and because we don’t have a home, anywhere, we looked at the map and I said, “ooh Romania” and then we were here. It’s perfect for writing, it’s quiet, easy, cheap and the internet is super fast. I sat down with my notes, years of notes, and my research, just volumes of…

bordeauxcamping-2

As we’ve been biking through Spain and now France, I’ve been thinking more about parenting — and how it varies so much from culture to culture. My official point of view is this: mostly everything will be fine. I think some cultures create more independent kids, other ones create ones that do better academically. Some create risk takers, other create well-balanced rule followers. There’s so many factors involved I think every attempt to unravel it tends to do little more than expose the researchers or writer’s own biases. There’s no right answer, and there’s very few wrong ones too. So…

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If you want to buy two €1000 bikes in Spain with a €800 kiddie trailer, for your family-of-four biking adventure, you don’t need my help. I recommend walking into any of the small biking shops in Spain and handing over your credit card, they’ll take care of you (I used the Croozer bike trailer and it’s really worth the €450 but alas…) I think this advice will be roughly applicable to most of Europe, but I really know the Spanish system because I did so much research here and on-the-ground looking. New or used? Used: There are lots of great…

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We have no idea how this is going to work. Thankfully we’re doing a test run this week up the coast of Spain, in Costa Brava. I emailed the Girona tourism board about our trip and they offered us bikes to use for the week, which is perfect, because we can test the baby trailer with two kids (one child 4, the other 15 months) and see what else we’ll need before we buy our bikes. I’ve read that the trailer is actually safer than the rear mounted seat because if you get hit by a car, the trailer disengages…

"Be careful, you could die!"

What’s up with the parent-shaming in the US? I stayed with my friend for a week in Houston and she’s doing a fantastic job raising her son and daughter in a blended family with her new husband. I suspect she’s a little ambivalent about her new life in the ‘burbs in so much as she’s traveled the world, lived a dozen crazy lives before the one she’s living now, and is not only super intelligent but I’d say, a little rebellious too. It’s conflicting right? I think all parents wrestle with this kind of thing, and for this post, I…

peaceoutbucerias

  We’ve closed up the house in Bucerias, tucked Stella’s brand new passport in with our own, and drove off across Mexico. There was camping in the scrub outside Ameca where we listened to the dozens of roosters and roof dogs compete with each other over who could be more annoying. There was the unexpected night spent in Zacatecas, which is one of the more charming Mexican cities we’ve seen, definitely worth a repeat visit. An uneventful stay in Monterrey where the hotel was unmarked and Drew unaware, stood outside the hotel and asked a police officer where it was…

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  Oh yes, this family of four, finally has… four passports. Our littlest traveler, Ms. Stella-bo-bella finally got her US passport after a healthy 4 or was it 5 months of almost completely half-assed attempts by her parents, until they finally drove their butts down to Mexico City where they processed, approved and shipped her passport in just TWO WEEKS. In other words, we, The Gilberts, are so bad at paperwork. But we are good at last-minute scrambling, so HURRAY! We will be leaving Mexico (sadly, I guess, after all this build up if feels more exciting) by April 15th.…