A Pair of Bregéons!

I awoke this morning to find this photo as part of an email message sent me by my buddy Bernard in Nantes. Let me just tell you, it’s laugh out loud funny if you’re me.

If you don’t know, the duo action figure here is Monsieur Bregéon, head of Ella’s age group at the school, Le Loquidy, she attended in Nantes last year. I developed quite a fascination with him. Some might even say (some probably did) I had a bit of a crush on him.

Okay, to the funny part. Monsieur Bregéon is a stylish dresser. And his style always seemed to include a dark blue pair of very nice jeans. Seeing his jeans, I was inspired to buy a pair like them, which I took to calling my “Bregéons.” It’s a name that kind of stuck, both in my family and with certain members of the Bertail and Boudeau families (the adults).

Now Bernard is a graphic designer AND the father of Théo who attends Le Loquidy. I’m imagining he was sitting at some parent meeting recently, listening to Monsieur Bregéon talk about the school year. Perhaps a bit bored, Bernard (who is very funny) starts to envision two Monsieur Bregéons, a pair in fact. Just like my French jeans, a pair of Bregéons!

Get it!! A pair Bregéons! In my email inbox! This morning!

Project Monday at PSCS

I came back from France with a new idea on how to structure Mondays in the fall at PSCS. The idea is to have small groups meet to study one subject all day long (almost) with a facilitator who is excited by the subject. It’s a great concept, one that allows students to really dig deep into something in which they have an interest. The long period of time helps them know they won’t have to put this interest away and move on to something else.

Here is a picture of Ella from this morning. She signed up to study “Anatomical Drawing.” With her is the facilitator, Bev, one of the moms in the school. Bev is an incredibly gifted artist who has been kind enough to donate her time at various points at PSCS. There are just three other students participating in this project, meaning each student can get some focused one-on-one time with Bev. Pretty sweet.

I mentioned that the students get “almost” the whole day. That’s right, I stop the groups at 2:30 and have them join me in our community room for a whole group activity lead by me. Today I asked each group to imagine that they were a pizza. The idea was to help the groups learn what the others were doing, but guide it through the same perspective. In this case, it was the metaphor of being a pizza.

Just what kind of school is this??


So when I was a little kid living in Nebraska in the 60’s and early 70’s, about once a year my family would travel to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin to visit my paternal grandparents. I have many memories of these trips, including my grandmother’s homemade rolls, evenings playing cards, and looking at slideshows put together by my grandfather. One of the most vivid of these memories, however, has to do with my dad having a Leinenkugel’s. What’s a Leinenkugel’s? A beer, of course, and one made in Chippewa Falls.

Learn more here and here.

Melinda, Ella and I went over to my parent’s place on Friday night, having received a call from my mom that they could use some help getting some boxes out of their storage spot. Just two and a half weeks removed from his pacemaker implant, my dad is not supposed to be lifting and moving boxes. We were pleased to help out, especially when my dad offered me a Leinenkugel’s. Apparently one does not have to go all the way to Chippewa Falls these days. He bought a 6 pack at Fred Meyer.

You astute photo-lookers will notice what’s on the TV in the background. That’s right, horse racing. My dad has a cable channel that lets him watch horse races from all over the country, including those from Emerald Downs.

I hear those wheels in your head turning, thinking something like, “He’s got Leinenkugel’s and horse racing? Why would he ever need to leave home??”

Stacey & Duncan

It’s 10:30pm as I write, later than I typically post. That’s because Melinda & I just returned from having had dinner with our friends Stacey & Duncan, pictured with us here (in fact, this picture was taken less than an hour ago, if that interests you). Duncan is the Vice President of the PSCS Board of Trustees. He was instrumental in making the sabbatical happen, given his role as a member of the sabbatical planning team. He was also profoundly important in a behind-the-scene capacity during our absence, taking care of some very important business for the school. Like most board members, his contributions often go unnoticed.

Back in April, Duncan & Stacey were married and Melinda & I were sorry to miss the ceremony. It was very sweet of Stacey to mention tonight that they credit PSCS for them having met. The daughter of a good friend of Stacey’s attends PSCS. That, combined with Duncan’s role on the board and his involvement as a volunteer teacher at times, is what contributed to it happening. But I have a hunch they would have met anyway. They have that lovely kind of feel best summarized by the expression, “They’re meant for each other.”

So tonight’s dinner was to show our appreciation for Duncan’s efforts on behalf of PSCS and our family, as well as to have a little celebration of his and Stacey’s wedding. We went to a little Italian restaurant called Cantinetta in the Wallingford neighborhood.

Lynn Shelton

This has to be the oldest photo I’ve used on this blog. It’s from 1994 and the cute little, runny-nosed girl on the left is a 1 year-old Chloe. Playing with her is our friend Lynn Shelton, for whom today’s post is named. Since 1994 Lynn has become quite famous, it seems. She’s a filmmaker whose latest film, Your Sister’s Sister was just picked up for distribution and will be released in the US next year. Woo-hoo!

Learn more by reading this story on the Hollywood Reporter website.

Given Lynn’s growing fame, I’m proud to say that back in 2003 she interviewed me on film and used part of it for a documentary she made on education. In fact, part of the documentary was about PSCS! You can view that short film on YouTube.

Back in 1994 Lynn and her husband, former MTV VJ Kevin Seal, were living in New York. They came back to town on family business and stopped off to spend some time with us (you may recall that Kevin is 50% responsible for Melinda and me meeting). Lynn had this tiny camera with her and took a bunch of adorable B&W pictures of Chloe that she later made into a book for her. So, so creative and so, so cute.

Nick Lowe

I’m sitting back late this afternoon listening to the brand new record by one of my favorite performers, Nick Lowe. I came home from school to find it had arrived in my Amazon order (along with some “bars” – more on those in a second).

I’ve been listening to Nick Lowe since the 1970’s, after I learned he was the producer of all the early Elvis Costello records. Being such a big fan of Elvis, I decided I should listen to Nick Lowe. No disappointment there.

This record is called “The Old Magic” and is perfect if you like to listen to an eminently cool 62 year-old sing modern pop ballads that recall aspects of the music of the 50s and 60s. It’s splendid, just like all of his recent releases.

Now about those bars (which, perhaps, deserve a blog post all their own). I have a great likeness for health food bars and I find the best prices at Amazon. In France, I missed having the variety we find in the states. So my order from Amazon today included the new Nick Lowe record and these three things:

So there you go!

Busy Day!

This photo is from exactly one year ago today. I’m using it because it’s been such a busy day that I haven’t had time to get a new photo. As we drove home tonight, I said to Melinda that we left for school over 13 hours earlier. We had the typical school day, 9-3:30, followed by a staff meeting, 3:45-5:45, and then a parent orientation meeting, 6-8:30. By the time we were in the car on the way home it was 9:30.

Now let me just say, it was a great day. First, I love school days because I get to work with kids in an environment that allows me to be myself. Second, I work with fantastic people which makes having staff meetings fun. And third, I thoroughly enjoy being “on” with the parents, especially when it comes to explaining PSCS in the deepest ways, which I got to do tonight.

In other words, a busy AND great day.

Still, it’s quite strange to consider what we were doing a year ago today. I remember it well. It was a beautiful day in Nantes, both from a weather standpoint and due to the fact that we were granted permission to stay in France.

Smart Girls at the Party

Part One: There is a pretty slick digital TV program called “Smart Girls at the Party” that I encourage you to take a look at. It’s the brainchild of three women, one being the very funny Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live fame. The concept is to encourage teenage girls not to deny their intelligence, something many girls do in order to be popular.

Part Two: This photo of Ella was taken by a PSCS staff member Scobie Puchtler during last week’s student & staff retreat. Finding it tonight, it made me think of the smart girls website. Take a look at that picture. Right there, there you go. A smart girl.

Part Three: Every Tuesday and Thursday after school, Ella, Melinda and I are going for a short run. Me, with two smart girls. Not a bad party.

Scarf Drawer

So I mentioned recently that Ella’s room has been re-done. New paint colors, new furniture, new bed covers, etc. It’s all very exciting and Ella is very pleased.

One new piece of furniture Ella has is a chest of drawers (what I grew up calling a “dresser” — is there any difference?). After she had finished moving her clothes from her old “dresser” to the new one, she called me in and pointed out her “scarf drawer.” I was taken by this as a concept and snapped this picture.

A big part of why I was taken by the existence of a scarf drawer as a concept is because I’m convinced such a thing would not exist in Ella’s newly designed room had we not lived in France for a year. As much as the teen years change people, including the moving of most of the stuffed animals from the bed to the basement, I think the presence of something like a scarf drawer is less about getting older and more about getting something else.

A broadened definition of culture, perhaps?


I didn’t drive a car for almost 13 months, the longest stretch (by far) in which I haven’t driven since I became a permitted driver when I was 15 years-old back in 1978. While in France I made a point of not driving, really wanting to experience a year of relying on public transportation for our day-to-day getting around. This was a great experience.

I’ve been curious to see what it would be like returning to a more driving-focused mentality in Seattle. First, we were fortunate in that Melinda’s parents, Dwight & Michele, agreed to sell to us their Subaru at a great price, meaning we not only got a super deal on a car but had a dependable one waiting for us upon our return. Getting behind the wheel the first time I wondered if it would all come back naturally.

Let me just say that driving a car is like riding a bike.

In some ways this has been very pleasing. In other ways, it’s kind of disappointing, and in an odd sort of way. It’s like if I had a hard time resuming driving it would have made the year in France more significant because it would have had an impact on something so base as driving.

Funny, I know.