Little Pim Supports Universal Pre-K

iStock_000021678395LargeAll children deserve a smart start in life. National and local momentum has built behind universal pre-K, an international movement to make quality preschool education accessible to all children in the United States.

Several states including Georgia, Oklahoma and Florida already offer pre-K to all children, and 40 states, overall, offer at least some publicly funded pre-K programming. Here in New York City, where Little Pim is based, a recent state budget agreement has enabled the mayor, Bill de Blasio, to begin working to add 53,000 new full-day pre-K seats to the city’s public school system.  President Obama and Washington lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are pushing for Congress to approve federal support and we can hope to see more states follow suit in the upcoming years.

Progress is underway, but the United States must continue to expand access to ensure its children remain competitive in the global marketplace. Many other industrialized countries, including France, Sweden, Canada, India and Australia have long offered government-funded public preschool programs – and it’s easy to see why.

Research indicates that high-quality early childhood education offers enduring benefits – benefits similar to those brought by early bilingualism. It has been found to improve children’s long-term cognitive abilities, boosting language, literacy and mathematics skills, and to positively affect behavioral traits including sociability, motivation and self-esteem.

What’s more, studies show, the benefits of pre-K for kids continue into adulthood, leading to greater college success, higher incomes and lower rates of incarceration. These benefits are most pronounced for disadvantaged kids but there are undeniable benefits to early education for children from all socio-economic backgrounds.

The growing support for expanding access to pre-K is exciting – and the result of parents and lawmakers taking action to level the playing field for kids and provide each and every one of them with the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond.  We applaud their efforts and are in lock step with this important movement.

At Little Pim, the idea of democratizing education has always been one of our most important guiding principles. We believe strongly that all young children should have the opportunity to learn a second language when they can learn it best – in that critical window, from birth to age 6. These children will be better positioned to achieve success in an increasingly global world. In the wake of the Universal PreK movement, we would love to see a greater national focus on early world language education for all children.

15 Essential Tips for Your Next Family Road Trip

Little Pim Founder and CEO Julia Pimsleur reports on her family’s recent road trip. She returned to us with lots of stories and some great tips for busy moms.

road trip familyWhen we decided to go on a two-week road trip this summer through Oregon, Nevada and California many of our fellow urban parents with kids exclaimed “we have always wanted to do that!” But they still packed their brood off to Maine, grandma’s or sprung for that extra week of summer camp. To our surprise, we are among the first in our circle of friends to actually take a bona fide road trip. Our findings seemed blog-worthy and a great way to honor this amazing country and Independence month to boot! Both my husband and I have fond memories of summer car trips we took with our parents, and while this very American tradition may be going the way of the dial phone, if records can make a come back, why not road trips? We decided to find out whether 11 days of two adults, two boys (6 and 9), 1250 miles and imposing on far flung family and friends in three different states would make for a great time or a failed attempt at old fashioned fun, like trying to bring back square dancing. Happily, it was a huge success!

nature walk road trip
Looks like we didn’t get unanimous buy-in on this nature walk…

The trip included breath-taking views as we wound along Highway 101 on the Oregon coast, which really can’t be captured with any camera or smartphone. We only drove a few hours a day (maximum 4, and never more than 2 at a time) and had a great time in the car comparing hamburgers at our various stops, counting red cars, and playing French music. We did have rain the first couple days and we did have moments of total meltdown (the main one on a nature walk that did not get sufficient up front buy-in). In less than two weeks we saw three states, visited cousins in two states, ate in countless charming roadside restaurants, explored great zoos and aquariums, tasted local peaches and watermelon, heard our kids exclaim in delight over bugs they had never seen, took walks on bridges made by famous architects, and created opportunities for our third grader to show off his Native American history knowledge. As a side benefit, now we can all name which states are part of the Lewis and Clark trail! Can you?

Here is my list of Do’s and Don’ts for when you plan your own road trip. There is something deeply satisfying about moving your family unit through America and reconnecting with how vast and grand this country is. It is also a way of slowing down time and enjoying time together far from tech and TV. These tips are most pertinent if you have kids in the 5-11 age range – we figure we are in that short window when they will actually WANT to do this kind of trip with us. I also think setting yourself up for success means having at least one real driver in the family who thinks it will be fun to take on the lion’s share of driving.

DO:

  1. Set up hotels and an intinerary a few weeks in advance. Book at least half your hotels up front so you have some anchors. Ask friends you haven’t spoken to in years where to go in their areas, you’ll find people are excited to help!
  2. When planning the trip look for friends and family who have kids roughly your kids ages. And an extra bedroom. Lacking either will be sub optimal.
  3. Stay at the nicest hotels you can and alternate with camping or cabins if you want t go more natural. (Shout out to my husband for agreeing to stay at “Marriott Town Suites” with eat-in kitchens and outdoor pools in lieu of the camping he requested.)
  4. Let each child have his or her own iPod. Major sanity preserver and they can still hear you and look out the window.
  5. Make a “Summer Road Trip” song playlist in advance with music everyone in the family likes (this takes some advance research). Let your kids make their own playlists too; they will love that.
  6. Spend two nights in one place when you start feeling like if you have to rummage through your bag one more time to find your toiletries you might scream.
  7. Map out the trip but don’t overplan. One of our favorite places was in a town we had no intention of going to (Redding) that was recommended by our hotel receptionist.
  8. Have strict rules about “tech time” on smartphones or tablets (ours got 30 min a day in the car and listening to music on iPods did not count).
  9. Start traditions! Every few days at a dinner we went around the table and each said 3 things we are grateful for. It’s a great way to get kids to reflect on the generosity of friends hosting us. And sometimes they even thanked us for planning this trip!
  10. Use the road trip to learn new facts about America. We became Lewis and Clark Expedition experts.
  11. Have a designated bag you bring with you to restaurants with entertainment for the kids. They color in those placemats way too fast and service is not always speedy. Inside the bag – coloring pad, markers, lego guys, Lewis and Clark kids book, stuff like that. Keep it in the back seat for easy grab and go.

DON’T:

  1. Be too attached to the plan. But do have one.
  2. Let your kids ask servers for things directly. Trust me on this one.
  3. Settle for bad coffee.
  4. Tell your kids more than once a day “look out the window, this is so beautiful!” You didn’t care about that when you were a kid, and chances are, they don’t either!

Here are some of my favorite shots from the trip:

Ancient Greece Meets Modern Pimsleur

Ljulia pimsleur greekittle Pim founder and CEO Julia Pimsleur writes home from Greece.

As my plane landed in Athens for the Global Leadership conference hosted by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, I was thinking my father must have looked out this same kind of window 50 years ago. That is when my parents came to Athens to put to the test my father’s home grown method for teaching adults with no prior foreign language experience to speak a new language. Today this would be called seeking “proof of concept” in the start-up world. Back then I am sure my father thought of it simply as seeking an answer that would make or break his future. He had a vision of creating a National Bank of Languages where anyone could learn a language in a short time for purposes of travel for business, government service abroad or for personal pleasure. In the wake of Sputnik, the United States was taking another look at why Americans were behind in the world in a number of areas, including foreign language acquisition, and they thought my dad, known as Dr. Pimsleur, was the right guy for the job.

Armed with a modest grant from the U.S. Government Department of Health, Education and Welfare, my parents left for Greece to prove that with the right method, anyone could learn to speak a foreign language, even a difficult one like Greek. Though this was a clearly entrepreneurial endeavor, Dr. Pimsleur surely thought of himself more as an academic on a mission. His challenge in Greece was simple and yet incredibly hard: get people to speak conversational simple Greek in a few weeks. In those pre- app, pre-software pre-online learning days, this had never been done. If you wanted to learn a language you had to take a course either at a private institution or university and slog through hours of grammar lessons, repetition and often not getting around to conversation for months.

My father wanted to offer an alternative way of learning that would change the field forever. To prove his method worked, my father (with a lot of help form my mother) recruited 27 Americans and Brits who lived in Greece and wanted to learn Greek. They put an ad in the local English language newspaper offering a free experimental program in  Greek.  A mix of people turned up – students,  military wives,  an English teacher and some ex pats who claimed they had tried all means but could not master the language.They ran the program for three  months and out of the original number only 2 dropped out.

dr. pimsleur greek
Dr. Pimsleur himself.

In order to write the program, my dad, with help from the students in the program, tried to target the most useful utterances that one needed to know arriving in a foreign country. The idea was that you should be able to start conversing from the very first lesson. These interactive dialogues were recorded on a reel to reel tape recorder, with my father relying on his “native speaker”, a Greek teacher, who provided him with the Greek language. My dad was the “Teacher on the Tape” (which later became the Pimsleur Method’s first tag line!). The participants repeated these words and phrases into a Wollensak tape recorder in 20-30 minute sessions every day. My mother’s job was to run the lab in a small un-air conditioned room in a downtown Athens, listen to the recordings and mark the places where students were unable to respond correctly.  This was done on lined yellow legal pads which quickly piled up in stacks around their apartment. At night they went over the responses of the lesson of the day to see what parts of the program had to be tweaked-a tedious and work intense endeavor. The next day my dad rewrote what was necessary to insure that students could respond correctly to 80% of every lesson, and those lessons were re-recorded.

That became the basis of the “gradual interval recall method” otherwise known as the secret sauce of the Pimsleur method. They also conferred with the students who helped them understand their language needs.  My parents used their own experiences as visitors to a foreign country to help decide what was the most useful and practical vocabulary to include in the programs. And then their adults started doing something amazing that kids do so naturally but adults often find nearly paralyzing in a new language: they spoke! They got comfortable and conversational even faster even than my father hoped. My mom remembers that when whey packed up shop, the students gave them a big party, wishing them luck and encouraging them to quickly go do the same for other languages!

So they went back to Ohio and founded their own company with my father as president and my mother as vice-president and started selling the program. My mother designed the first packages with a blue Greek motif and kept the stock in the basement next to the washer and dryer, wrapping up orders while drying diapers belonging to my older brother. The business was up and running, albeit to a very small market. Eventually my father invested his own money to create similar programs in French, Spanish and German.  He was even asked to go to Ghana to teach the Peace Corps volunteers Twi, an African language. The Head of the Peace Corps, a friend of my parents, had been one of the first people to try out the Greek program. Five years later, when he saw that the recruits to Ghana, even though had gone through a program to learn Twi in the US, couldn’t get along in even the simplest conversation, he thought of Dr Pimsleur. He still remembered “Catalavenate Hellenika” and some of the Greek he had learned from those very first tapes. He was convinced this was the most effective way to train his volunteers, so off our family went to Ghana to help get a language lab up and running for peace corps volunteers (by then I was on the scene).

My father didn’t live to see his method become the multinational business success it is today, marketed by Simon & Schuster Publishing. The Pimsleur Method is distributed digitally all over the world and exists in over 50 languages including Haitian Creole, Mandarin, Cantonese and Albanian. I can only imagine my father would be delighted that half a century after he first landed in Athens with his Wollensak tape recorder that he would find his daughter attending a gathering of 1,000 leading entrepreneurs in the place where he first scratched his own entrepreneurial itch and set out to prove something he believed in so passionately could be done, and done well.

Greece is known for being where Western Civilization started, but to me it is first and foremost where our family business started. I couldn’t help but feel my father was hovering as I moved through the conference representing my own entrepreneurial dream come true, Little Pim, which enables young children to learn their first second or third language. On my first day at the conference an entrepreneur pointed at my name tag with a huge smile and asked, “Are you Pimsleur like the Pimsleur language courses?! I love those! I have used them in three languages, they really work.” I’d like to think that my father heard him, too. Efharisto, dad. Milao ligo Hellenika*. I learned that from the Pimsleur Greek program.

 

* means “Thank You” and “I speak a little Greek”

7 Great New Baby & Toddler Inventions

abc expo swag

A Julia’s Corner Feature.

Last week the Little Pim team attended ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas, which proved to be a smorgasboard of baby carriers, organic cotton clothes, mom-invented products, and toys and gifts of all stripes. I admit some of the products made me feel lucky that I had my babies (now 6 and 9 years old) before the explosion of baby products in the last few years. Now, there are so many brands to choose from that shopping for baby gear practically requires an excel spreadsheet and a GPS. It also seems that cloth diapers are de rigueur! (Big sigh of relief that those days are behind me.)

Here are a few of the things that caught my eye in the two football fields full of baby products at ABC Expo (click on any of the images to enlarge):

tooth album abc expo1. Baby Tooth Album

Lala and her husband invented, and got a patent on, this little roulette-inspired book for kids to keep their baby teeth. And who knows, the tooth collections may come in handy for macabre Halloween costumes in a few years’ time!

Lala is raising her kids bilingual in Armenian, her first language. You can find the Baby Tooth Album at Hallmark and on their web site at babytoothalbum.com.

 

2. Baby Elephant Earselephant ears abc expo

We thought Little Pim’s friend Lola the Elephant might be behind these Baby Elephant Ears. As it happens, this is not Lola’s creation, though we might see if they need a spokes-elephant. This cute pillow supports baby’s head while she naps. I definitely could have used one on my 5-hour flight home!

 

3. Chic Cups and Cutlery

Zoli Baby, created by a mom from San Francisco, has a line of beautifully designed cups, plates, bowls, and containers for the fashionable mama and her brood. I like this pink stackable canister.

4. Snowtime – Anytime!

snowtime abc expoKids want to have a snowball fight but you live in Florida? No problem! Mother-daughter inventor team Juanita and Dianne spent two years working with manufacturers to perfect the synthetic (not cold) snowball. Your kids can go nuts and not break any teeth. I didn’t get this for my boys, because they really don’t need more encouragement to throw things at each other, but it kind of makes me want to have a snowball fight party…in June!

 

diaper bags abc expo5. Diaper Bag Meets African Chic

Ousimine is from Nigeria and couldn’t find a diaper bag made of any fabric that came close to the vibrant patterns of Nigerian textiles. So she created House of Botori, a line of colorful bags and accessories for the multi-culti mommy. Her 4-year-old son speaks Yoruba in addition to English!

 

6. Pacifier on Demand

pacifier abc expoWhen I entered into the pacifier zone, I didn’t realize I was opening up a Pandora’s box. Out came the designer pacifiers, the sterilizers, the clippy things, the stuffed animal meets pacifier, and the carrying cases. I think today’s pacifier has more bling than the iPad. PullyPalz is a mom-run company that has upped the ante once again on the pacifier gear, combining a stuffed animal with a stroller clip to keep pacifier within reach of baby. With a PullyPal a baby as young as 6 months old can reach up and pull down the pacifier from an elastic cord. Talk about instant gratification!

 

cough spot abc expo7. CoughSpot

Invented by a mom who wanted to make it easier for her young children to remember to cough in their arm instead of on each other, this is a clever arm band kids wear when they have a cold. Or they can sport a temporary tattoo! Here is Denise at the show in her adorable scrubs. Look for CoughSpot in your closest drug store this winter. I personally am hoping that her next invention will be something to help my kids remember to use a tissue not their shirts!

There were thousands of products on display, so if you want more, check out what some of our mommy blogger friends had to say. It was great to see many of the retailers who carry us at the show, and meet new store owners and entrepreneurs. There are so many women who took the leap into business for the same reason I did: they wanted to give their kids an experience they couldn’t find on the shelves and decided to just will it into being. If you are one of those moms incubating an idea right now, I salute you! And maybe I’ll see you next year at ABC Kids Expo? Bring flats.

Julia

Some more photos from the expo

Brazilian Fun and My Boys’ Lemonade Stand MBA

young entrepreneurs and their business in action

The boys and their local business Emmett (8 yrs old): Mom, I want to go to Brazil for the World Cup next year.

Me: Well, that’s not going to happen. But here’s an idea… why don’t we save up for a bigger screen TV so we can watch it here and invite all your friends over?

Emmett: Great idea!

Me: Let’s also give part of the money to charity. We can send it to kids in Brazil via Save the Children.

Emmett: Awesome! When do we start?

Thus began my kids’ first lesson in entrepreneurship. Emmett and his little brother Adrian (5 1/2) ran their first lemonade stand outside our apartment for two weekends. And it also became a valuable lesson in geography, focusing on Brazil (the largest country in South American and the only one there that speaks Portuguese), and on charity, researching and donating to Save the Children.

We set a goal of earning $100 — they squeezed over 50 lemons and it took three lemonade stand outings to get there. We sold chocolate chip cookies, too, because when Emmett did the math, he realized he’d have to sell 100 cups of lemonade (or limonada as it’s called in Portuguese) at $1 to hit $100, but if only 40 of the customers bought cookies at the same time, we’d get to our goal twice as fast.

5 Business Take-Aways from the Lemonade Stand

  1. Starting with Why. Engage potential customers with your mission statement. People were more likely to buy when told that part of the proceeds were going to help kids in Brazil via Save the Children. Emmett and Adrian compared notes on their favorite Brazilian soccer players with their customers.
  2. The Human Factor. To run a business, you need to beef up your management skills. On the second day of the lemonade stand, Emmett’s little brother Adrian got upset because he was fired from his “loudspeaker” position (Emmett said Adrian’s constant “Lemonade! lemonade! lemonade!” was irritating). Adrian pouted and refused to participate for the rest of the day, so Emmett was down half his operation.
  3. Opportunity Cost. Save money if you can, but not at any cost. The boys created an estimated budget (cookie dough was estimated at a whopping $10!). But the day before the first lemonade stand, Emmett chose not to buy cups for $3 at Lot Less because he wanted to keep looking for cheaper. He was pleased with his thrifty decision until he was running out of time. In order to open on schedule, he had to buy cups from Gristedes for $5.
  4. Re-Branding. Know how to reel in your customers. After three days of gathering customer feedback, Emmett added farm-to-table flare to his “Lemonade” sign, changing it to “Fresh Squeezed Lemonade and Homemade Cookies.” His successful rebrand doubled the number of people who stopped by.
  5. Delivering Happiness. When you say, “Thank you for coming over” to your customers before they even buy anything, they are apt to buy more. And sometimes they give you $5 for a $1 cup of lemonade and say “keep the change!” Now THAT is sweet.

I don’t know if my boys will become entrepreneurs like their mom, but learning how to start a project, see it through, tweak it along the way for success, and the power of please and thank you (por favor and obrigado) are great lessons for kids at any age and for any career. Plus, the chance to explore other cultures and customs is always welcome in our home. And an added bonus: soon I’ll be able to watch the new season of GIRLS on a bigger screen TV.

JP

Where’s the thanks? Teach your kids about gratitude this Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just around the corner and thousands of families still without power and heat in hurricane Sandy’s wake, it seems like the right time to focus on gratitude at home. Have you ever noticed that kids are not inherently grateful? We have to teach them to say thank you, not to grimace when they get a gift that isn’t exactly what they wanted, and to appreciate the things they do have, all the while trying to curb what can seem like an endless chorus of “I want.”

tumblr m5abo4NU5k1rrycbpo1 1280

Many children who lost power in their homes became more aware of how fortunate they are to have creature comforts when those disappeared for a week – they learned that lights, hot baths, TV and phones are actually luxuries!  We’ve seen a lot of children getting involved in the relief effort too, whether donating clothes or toys at their preschool or going out to help with their parents. But as the hurricane and its aftermath is something we hope not to recreate to teach this lesson, how can we help our toddlers and kids be more thankful each day?

If you are like me, you want your kids to appreciate all the good things in their lives, and to feel a true sense of empathy for kids who don’t have as much as they do. This empathy is what will later drive them to volunteer, donate, identify with those in other countries and cultures, and inspire them to leave the world a better place than they found it.

In my own hectic life as a New York working mother, I have tried to integrate a new simple practice into our family’s routine to encourage thankful thinking. About once every two or three days, we go around the table (or the car, or wherever we might be) and each of us says three things for which we are feeling grateful.

It takes about 5 minutes, but done repeatedly it really does seem to increase gratitude and even joy, and it’s something that even preschoolers can participate in. Here are some real life examples of the kinds of things my kids have said since we started this a few weeks ago:

Adrian (four years old)

–       I am grateful that daddy took me out to play soccer this morning

–       I am grateful that Emmett is the best big brother

–       I am grateful that mommy made my favorite macaroni and cheese

Emmett (eight years old)

–       I am grateful that we are going to see a movie today

–       I am grateful that Adrian got better (he had been sick until the day before)

–       I am grateful that we won our soccer game today

They love the opportunity to have everyone listen quietly to what they have to say, and as they can see it’s important to my husband and me, they take it seriously and put a lot of thought into it. My husband and I love hearing them focus on what is good in their lives, since we feel we spend a lot of time hearing about what they want/need/wish they had, especially with all those Toys R Us circulars arriving in the newspaper!

Sometimes my husband or I will try to remind the kids that they enjoy a lot of privileges that other kids might not:

–       I am grateful that when Adrian had 102 fever on Friday, we were able to take him to the doctor right away to find out what was wrong. In some countries, people have to go miles to find a doctor and we have one just 10 blocks away.

In my experience, kids have a hard time grasping how fortunate they are and it may be something they’ll only realize in retrospect. In the meantime though, we can help them heighten their sense of thankfulness and create a little more peace and harmony in our homes at the same time. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. What are you doing to teach your kids about gratitude this season?

P.S. Many thanks to Sarah Napthali whose book “Becoming Mindful Parents: Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children” inspired this practice.

Teach your child French – soccer, summer and sun!

“His name is Mouadh and he is from Tunisia but he lives in Rennes!” our seven year old Emmett reported breathlessly, fresh from a game of soccer on the beach with his new friend.

While on vacation in France this summer, I was reminded why it’s so important to us to take our kids abroad. Though international trips admittedly present greater challenges than vacationing in the U.S. – like the expense, jet lag, and unfamiliar foods – the chance for our kids to see how other people live, encounter other cultures, tastes and languages makes it high on our list of priorities. We feel traveling abroad gives them a sense of being world citizens that will broaden their opportunities and help them excel as human beings. I lived in France for seven years as an adult, and my husband lived in Israel for three years. We both feel those were some of our best life experiences, and want our kids to have a taste for seeing the world too.

Soccer on the beach

 

Emmett speaks decent French and fluent soccer, the international language of boys. During our two weeks in France (and with a little prompting from us) he kicked soccer balls with a pair of Austrian boys at the Eiffel Tower, taught American football to Barnabé, a French kid who lives near Chartres, and held a regular soccer match on the beach with Mouadh, a Tunisian boy living in France. Emmett and Mouadh communicated in a mix of French and English; Mouadh spoke the best English of anyone in his family and loved learning English. We were very touched when he, his mother and two sisters came to the beach specially to find us to say goodbye. They were leaving for Rennes, heading back in time for Ramadan. That’s how Emmett learned what Ramadan is and we had a great conversation about Islam and Muslim practices.

kids park resized 600

As I write this at 2:30AM (up with jet lag!) and know our whole family will be tired for the next few days, it helps to remember Mouadh, the Austrian boys and Barnabé – and the reasons we choose going abroad over going local.

 

Halle Berry’s Bilingual Tot

I was recently forwarded a “thank you” note from Halle Berry for a Jewels & Pinstripes Birthday Bag her daughter Nahla received that contained a Little Pim Deluxe French Gift Set!

Halle Berry and her partner Gabriel Aubry are raising their daughter bilingual in both French and English.

Babycenter.com recently reported on how little Nahla’s language learning is going.

“While out for dinner last night at Malibu’s Nobu restaurant with her mom and dad, 18-month-old Nahla was overheard speaking en français. A worker at the restaurant says, ‘The little girl was pointing at the colourful drinks in the cooler and speaking French, like ‘Papa!’ and ‘Regard!'”

Trés bien,Nahla!


The Little Prince: Growing Roots

Chapter 18 of The Little Prince is as rich with meaning as chapters one and three. My blog series featuring the iconic French children’s book has allowed me to explore the text with new eyes.

The passage below describes a melancholy exchange between the Little Prince and a flower. The Little Prince, always full of questions, wants to know where all the people are. The flower’s answer is simple: “The wind blows them away. They have no roots…”.

In 2007 the U.S. census reported that the average American will move 11.7 times in their lifetime. To most a passport full of colorful stamps is a most coveted possession. My children have both visited France with me and I look forward to more trips in the future.

Would the flower in The Little Prince look down on us? I think not. The roots that come to mind when the flower speaks are those of personal conviction. One’s truth. What are your values? What do you stand for? What truths do you hold dear? Those are our roots.

Thomas Kempis, a medival monk, once said, “Wherever you go, you will always bear yourself about with you, and so you will always find yourself.” Travel the world, learn languages, eat exotic foods but remember to do deeply rooted in who you are.

Le Petit Prince: Chapter 18 (en Français)

Le petit prince traversa le désert et ne rencontra qu’une fleur. Une fleur à trois pétales, une fleur de rien du tout…

“Bonjour,” dit le petit prince.

“Bonjour” dit la fleur.

“Où sont les hommes ?” demanda poliment le petit prince.

La fleur, un jour, avait vu passer une caravane:

“Les hommes ? Il en existe, je crois, six ou sept. Je les ai aperçus il y a des années. Mais on ne sait jamais où les trouver. Le vent les promène. Ils manquent de racines, ça les gêne beaucoup.”

“Adieu, fit le petit prince.”

“Adieu, dit la fleur.”

The Little Prince: Chapter 18 (in English)

The little prince crossed the desert and met with only one flower. It was a flower with three petals, a flower of no account at all.

“Good morning,” said the little prince.

“Good morning,” said the flower.

“Where are the men?” the little prince asked, politely.

The flower had once seen a caravan passing.

“Men?” she echoed. “I think there are six or seven of them in existence. I saw them, several years ago. But one never knows where to find them. The wind blows them away. They have no roots, and that makes their life very difficult.”

“Goodbye,” said the little prince.

“Goodbye,” said the flower.

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Today commemorates the unexpected 1862 victory of the Mexican army over the French army in the battle over the city of Puebla. I’ve compiled some Spanish vocabulary words that follow the theme of today’s festivities.

La batalla – battle
La revolucion – revolution
La bandera – flag
El heroe – hero
La independencia – independence
La victoria – victory

Get the kids together and practice your espanol today! If you’re heading out to a party, I’ve included a guacamole recipe below that will entice even your pickiest eaters.

Yummy Guacamole

Ingredients

2 large ripe avocados
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

Cooking Instructions

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit, and peel them. If they are ripe, the peel should come off easily. Dice the avocado flesh, and dump into a bowl.

Add all the remaining ingredients, and toss to combine without mashing. The ingredients should remain separate, and the salsa chunky.
Serve with tortilla chips for dipping, or as an accompaniment to tacos or burritos.

Servings: Makes about 2 cups (500 mL).

recipe from Kaboose.com

Mother’s day through the generations

On Mother’s Day, I like to tell my sons about my mom, her mom, and her mom’s mom. It’s not just because I come from a long line of great moms, but having two boys, I feel an extra need to educate them about strong, loving, working women.

In my family “working woman” has sometimes meant working as a full-time mom (like Nana, my mother’s mother) or working as a career librarian like my father’s mother.  My mom ran her own business from our home, and now I run my own business from an office in Union Square. I want my sons to understand that women can be both professionals, and great mothers.  I grew up at a time when this concept was still relatively new, and while more and more women do work outside the home, the perception (and perhaps more importantly the self-perception) of working women seems to be a “work-in-progress”.

My boys know their amazing grandmothers well – their “grandma” works for the State of California and sends thoughtful care packages at every major and minor holiday, and my mother (Nana to them) is in her 70s, dances the tango, and is a cultural beacon – taking them to museums, piano lessons, and sharing her love of classical music.

Julia Pimsleur and Beverly

 

So I tell them stories about my grandmothers, both long gone – Edna, who raised my mother in suburban Columbus, Ohio, while her husband managed his chain of drug stores, and Meira, my father’s mother, who was the Head Librarian at Columbia Law School for 50 years.  I still remember going to her Upper West Side apartment as a kid, and helping her file all those 3×5 index cards.

Beverly Pimsleur and Edna

 

Meira Pimsleur Columbia School

 

Emmett and Adrian’s little brown eyes widen with curiosity when I tell them these stories. They ask, “Did she know me?” and “Did grandma’s library have The Cat in the Hat?”  While they may not get the full picture until they are older, I’m sure these stories help them understand that a woman can be a loving mother, and also have a thriving life outside the home.

Women friends of mine who don’t yet have children often want to know how I balance running my own company, and having two little boys.  I like to tell them that the key is to forget the idea of “supermom” – she doesn’t exist. Instead, I just try to balance out my busy work schedule with the field trips and class plays, and don’t dwell too much on what I’m not doing.  Instead I try to stretch and do more of what I can do. And I have an amazing husband, who is a very “hands-on” dad.

As moms, we are all doing a balancing act worthy of Cirque du Soleil. So this Mother’s Day, whether you are working at home or working in an office, let your family spoil you.  You deserve it.

A visual tour of Toy Fair 2012

We had a great time at Toy Fair this year, where Little Pim was exhibiting with hundreds of other toy companies.  So what’s new this year? Take a tour through Toy Fair 2012, with our photo and video tour of the exhibition floor!

If you follow my blog, you’ll know I was at CES last month checking out cool new tech toys.  I’ve been noticing a more toys that integrate your iPad or iPod touch into physical play.

Here’s one that’s a bit like space invaders, if you remember that.

These are the Heart to Heart dolls. Kind of like the American Girl Dolls, except they’re from all over the world and age a little younger. We love the idea of introducing kids to different cultures and countries, what a cool new line!

 

Lego has just launched a new line of “girl-friendly” pink and white legos. They are doing a big marketing push to get more girls to play with legos, which seems to involve just making everything pink! Above is a gal made of legos, and her little dog too…

Walking my ladybug! These balloons have little legs and were a big hit this year.  Also available in giraffe, elephant and puppy.

 

 

 

Little Pim-ers at our booth!

 

Dolls after my own heart! They’re made by Corrolle, a French company that has made its way to the US.

 

My boys have spent hours making marble mazes but I was never able to crack the code (my towers would fall over as soon as I dropped the marble!).  This new version from Mind Ware is so much easier to use that even I can use it, without asking any help from my four year old tower builder!

No Toy Fair would be complete without a huge lego creation for photo ops.  Here’s the Hulk snaring another victim.