5 on a Friday: There goes another month!

April 30, 2021

HAPPY FRIDAY. And happy end-of-the-month!

1- GRIT. I started. It’s already fascinating. I need to redo my 2021 reading list! As I mentioned, I’d like to replace the Amazon links with Bookshop. In addition, I just need to edit a bit! I’ve strayed to the point where there are some titles I may want to remove for now. ALSO, as usual I’m very excited for the annual reveal of Modern Mrs. Darcy‘s picks!

I know many of you mentioned the audiobook but I really love to highlight & make little notes in non-fiction. This is why I usually get novels from the library but purchase non-fiction or personal development outright. I’m sure the audiobook read in her voice is fantastic, though!

2- Simple Families on Summer. I’ve enjoyed Denaye’s work for quite some time and enjoyed this ep as we are all starting to think about summer. We will be sending all 3 kids to camp, primarily a day camp based at their school but also a couple of weeks of specialty camp (art + horse camps for Annabel, soccer for C). This is not COVID-risk-free but given that we are currently doing school and they seem to have distancing and masking indoors down quite well, I think camp should be a similar level of safety.

I greatly look forward to availability of a pediatric vaccine though I know the 12-15 age group will probably come before my kids’ ages. Here’s the ep — she has an ’embed’ link button on her blog so I figured I would share this way too! It’s probably my favorite parenting podcast (tied with The Mom Hour!).

3- $$$ again. I’ve already dipped into my May allowance (whoops) because I decided I needed a new bathing suit (my last purchased in 2018, I believe). I ended up picking out these shorts and this top from Athleta (can throw a long sleeved rash guard over when needed for modesty and/or sun protection purposes).

I like shorts. They are easy. They put less pressure on perfect hair removal (lol, but seriously). My butt is never on full display. I may be #teamshorts for life when it comes to bathing suits.

not a pic of me!

4- EARLY BEDTIME. I think I went to sleep before 9 pm yesterday (played around with some journaling and reading more of Greenwood — and then passed out). Josh has taken over bedtime entirely on Thursday nights and I love it. I think my next step is finding some sort of social outlet for some Thursday nights as well (though one that still allows me to go to sleep early, haha). Josh has his guitar Weds nights and really enjoys it so I am motivated to find my guitar equivalent.

5- DUOLINGO REVISITED. Emma is a blog reader and Associate Professor of Arabic, and she wrote in a while back to comment on my recommendation of DuoLingo. While she was kind enough not to blame me for my ignorance surrounding language, she has some thoughts on how the platform can be problematic in some ways. You can read her post on the subject here. While I personally am continuing to use the app, I feel more motivated to practice my (minimal, currently) skills by conversing with Spanish speakers in real life as well (and I have plenty to chose from in my locale!).

PS: May newsletter will be out on Monday. The newsletter is a year old! Thank you to all who subscribe!! If you don’t but you’d like to, you can do so below. It goes out once a month so not too terribly inbox intrusive.


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  • Reply Erin R April 30, 2021 at 9:59 am

    I’ve had those athleta swimshorts for 3-4 years and love them. I’ll never go back to bikini bottoms, it’s just so much easier.

  • Reply Robin April 30, 2021 at 10:04 am

    Your public library very likely offers cardholders access to either Rosetta Stone or Mango Languages. Not to suggest that Duolingo is insufficient, but I highly recommend trying what your library has to offer because the curriculum for grammar and vocabulary in those apps is often really well designed for everyday conversation and listening.

    • Reply Diane C. April 30, 2021 at 10:31 am

      To piggy back off what Robin said, our library has conversation clubs in English, Spanish and French- if there is something similar in your area, it might be a good option to combine a social activity with language learning!
      Other thoughts: my physician brother is taking a Mandarin for Medical Professionals class, I think through a university. Similarly our local community college also offers language classes for community members. I took an art class through the community college this year and while it’s not as flexible as learning from an app or just doing self study, I found having the direct feedback really helpful.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 30, 2021 at 10:34 am

      Great idea!! Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Emma April 30, 2021 at 1:11 pm

      Rosetta Stone and Mango Languages (and most language learning apps and to be fair language classes) uphold the same problematic language ideologies as Duolingo, but it’s also very likely your library has actual books, movies, and more in Spanish, with subtitles or bilingual editions.

  • Reply Grateful Kae April 30, 2021 at 10:41 am

    I don’t know…as someone who majored in Spanish Language and Linguistics in college and took a LOT of Spanish classes, is married to a Mexican (we speak Spanish in the home at least 50%), and has traveled to many different Spanish speaking countries, I really don’t have a problem with DuoLingo. I don’t think it’s really intended to be an all encompassing language program. It is a free app. It’s literally impossible to adequately represent every single language, dialect, cultural representation, regional slang, etc. in an APP. Or, in any language class/program, for that matter.

    Language is, by nature, extremely diverse and always evolving. If you decide to learn a language, you just have to keep that in mind, that’s all. It would be overwhelming if a language app attempted to provide every single word option that different regions/countries use for any given word. What they say in Spain is often not the same as in Mexico. What they say in Mexico City might not even be the same as in northern Mexico, or in the Yucatan peninsula. It goes on and on and on. The dialects and regionalisms are literally endless- not to even mention language differences in social classes, etc.

    To me, Duo Lingo is just trying to give a broader, general overview of some of the larger/more widely, commonly spoken variations. Because like I said, it would be CRAZY and so confusing to attempt to introduce all of the various nuances to a beginner. That stuff just comes with time, and immersing yourself in the language (and then eventually the specific region/dialect you are most exposed to/interested in). “My” Spanish is probably odd/ “incorrect” to someone who lives in Barcelona, since I use Mexican phrases/slang- since that’s what we speak. Just ask a Mexican what it means to “coger el tren”. 😉 Would be VERY different than what that same phrase would mean in Spain (as I was taught in university Spanish classes…). hahahahha. (i’ll let you look it up.) But I wouldn’t expect DuoLingo to teach all of that- like I said, it would get too confusing! I just picked all the rest of that stuff up later, as I lived in Mexico, talking with people, etc. I don’t really think people are expecting to become perfectly fluent in a language using DuoLingo, anyway. I think it’s more for some general exposure to a different language, some introductory knowledge/basics and entertainment. I don’t have any issue with it and wouldn’t overthink it.

    • Reply Emma April 30, 2021 at 1:38 pm

      The idea that variation will confuse people is a pretty common argument against teaching it. But, there is plenty that is confusing to beginning language learners (grammatical gender, verb conjugations, unfamiliar sounds) that we don’t question teaching, and also expect to develop with time, so this is really an ideological question rather than a pedagogical one. Teaching variation also doesn’t require presenting every possible regional or social variant at once (who even knows all of these!), it’s more about making it clear how our language choices and judgements relate to the larger social context, so we can listen to more people, make socially informed choices about our own language, and avoid using language as a proxy for social injustices like racism and classism. I don’t think anyone needs to stop using Duolingo or other language learning apps, but there is a lot that could be improved in this area.

      • Reply Grateful Kae April 30, 2021 at 2:26 pm

        Definitely agree that it’s great to be spreading awareness of the many linguistic differences out there (and the deeper, surrounding related issues)! It’s so fascinating, isn’t it?! Language is so cool. 🙂

    • Reply Lori C April 30, 2021 at 2:02 pm

      I am laughing over here… I majored in Spanish, lived in Spain for a year, and in the US one time was saying something about coger un autobus and the guy’s jaw dropped. I then learned what it meant in Mexico. hahahahahahaha. Other things too like jugo vs zumo, “almuerzo” which is rarely used where I lived in Spain, and more. I agree 110% with what you said, there is no way to teach a language perfectly via an app, you just have to experience it.

    • Reply Omdg May 1, 2021 at 4:12 pm

      I personally found that article exhausting to read. I am not trying to understand every nuance of Italian culture and I am more than cognizant that there are many different Italian accents regional peculiarities. My husband constantly makes fun of the fact that duo lingo only understands me when I speak with an exaggerated southern Italian accent. His family doesn’t actually even speak Italian — they speak Veronese, which only 200,000 people in the world speak. Oh snap, pretentious article. That’s right. You don’t know everything either. 🙄

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns April 30, 2021 at 11:28 am

    I didn’t even know that swim shorts like that existed. I am so on board with that, but coupled with a tankini top. I was never a big bikini person pre-kids as my stomach has always been my trouble spot, even when I was at my lowest weight when marathon training… And now post kids I can’t ever see myself in a bikini top, especially with all the crouching and bending over you do with little kids. Eeks. But those shorts look so awesome and practical! I haven’t bought a swimsuit since our honeymoon back in 2017 so am due for a new one!

    I hadn’t heard of that parenting podcast – I will have to check it out. I found out about a new podcast by an IG account I follow. It’s call “Good Inside” with Dr. Becky. I listened to the first episode which was about getting your kids to listen/follow directions and I thought it was sooo good and really made me think. The next episode is about tantrums which is still relevant to us as our 3yo is having BIG FEELINGS lately!

    • Reply Jordan April 30, 2021 at 4:04 pm

      I recently discovered the Dr. Becky instagram and love it! I love the idea of “sturdy” leadership as a parent. Excited to check out the podcast.

  • Reply A. April 30, 2021 at 11:46 am

    Amazon links: yes,thank you for expressing your precautions. Amazon literally kills independent bookstores. Not to mention also all the other things Amazon kills with their tax avoidance, their unethical, unenvironmental practices, and their lack of consideration for their employees.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 30, 2021 at 11:50 am

      I am going to change all of the links – a May project on my list!

  • Reply Gillian April 30, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    I love Denaye. I have been listening to her podcast for about 3 years and took her Master Class (now called Simple Families Foundations I think). I was actually on an episode back in December 2019! Such a thoughtful, nonjudgemental discussion of parenting.

    That said my kids will be attending camp this summer. My older two will be back at their much beloved sleepaway camps. I am hoping hard that the approval to vaccinate the 12-15 bunch comes soon. I’d love to send my 13 yo to camp fully vaccinated.

  • Reply Amanda April 30, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    Regarding Thursday nights – I just completed a 6 week pottery throwing class that was on Thursday nights from 6-8:30 PM. Went straight from work and by the time I got home baby was in bed and I would go to sleep. It was only 6 people with plenty of space to social distance (and mask). I am in no way artistic and my pieces weren’t awesome but it was so fun to do something so different! And great to have a place to be out of the house for a few weeks. I don’t think I’ll pursue it hard core but will very likely do some more classes in the future.

  • Reply Emma April 30, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    Thank for sharing my post! Grit is actually one of the rare books I couldn’t even finish as I found it so oblivious to structural/selection issues (who is most likely to be rewarded for grit? how relevant are people pursuing specific elite pursuits to the rest of us?), and as someone who would score high on “grit”, I’m not sure it’s always a good thing. So, not to be a perpetual contrarian, but maybe google some of the critiques of this book along with reading it 🙂.

  • Reply Anonymous April 30, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    Three words: laser hair removal. Literally life-changing. (Posting anonymously today because modesty! and TMI!) I was team swim skirt for the last few years but its hard to find ones that I like. Never did try the shorts, though I might. But this year! Whole new ballgame due to laser hair removal. Just throwing it out there =)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 30, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      haha very good point!

  • Reply Lori C April 30, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    I have those shorts and LOVE them. They are especially good on non-water sport events in hot weather (l used them on some hikes with the kids last summer). They stay cool and I love the fact that if they get wet they quickly dry. Love love love them.

  • Reply Canuck May 1, 2021 at 7:34 am

    Thank you for sharing that article from Emma – lots to think about and very interesting.
    Acknowledging that this both have similar problems too – I found the Pimsleur audio recordings (from the library) to be way more helpful for speaking than Duolingo – I just listened on my commute. Also the Doc Molly medical Spanish podcasts for medical stuff! [Of course think healthcare providers should have a high level of proficiency before using Spanish in medical care but it might be fun to learn some]

  • Reply Simone May 6, 2021 at 9:18 am

    I really enjoyed ‘Grit’ – it’s a pretty full-on read, but very interesting. I like her ideas about cultivating a life’s purpose/mission statement/life philosophy/top-level goal/ultimate concern (she describes it in many different ways). I’d never really considered this before, but I think it is really useful.

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