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Showing posts from 2014

Book Review: Crazy Horse's Vision {Native American Heritage Month Blog Hop}

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month 
Native American Heritage Month is coming up soon (in November). It offers a great opportunity to teach children about Native American history and culture. With my sons, Wild Thing and Caterpillar, I've found that children's books, cultural events and unique outings allow my children to actively engage as they begin learning about Native American history and culture. 
Recently, we've been reading Crazy Horse's Vision written by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by S.D. Nelson. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful illustrations, which look painted. I worried, though, that with 2-3 short paragraphs per page, my boys might not sit and listen as I read the entire book to them. But, they both listened intently.

Crazy Horse's Vision tells the story of Crazy Horse before he was Crazy Horse, when he was a baby and a young boy called Curly, and then as he grew up to be a man, who would, ultimately, lead his people. This time period i…

P is for Plátano: Discovering New Foods

Hispanic Heritage Month: Exploring Different Cultures Through Food
Food, books, music and language are the primary ways we enjoy learning about the world as a family. In April, we traveled to the Dominican Republic, where my husband's mother was from, for a family wedding. 
My boys can be picky eaters, so one of the things I worried about the most was that they would turn their nose up at local food and not respect that their relatives were cooking food for them and learn about another culture through food.
Much to my surprise, they both gobbled Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice), fish straight from the ocean and cooked up beachside and served with fried dough, Dominican salami and eggs for breakfast, and plátanos (plantains) -- both served up as tostones (crispy fried plantains) and fried sweet plantains. Of course, they also ate chicken nuggets and pizza while we were there! 

I have to credit Jessica at Conveying Awareness with Jessica David for inspiring me to focus on plátanos/pla…

Kid Yoga - Mommy & Son Yoga Time with Kids Yoga Stories

Hello, Bali: A Kids Yoga Island Adventure Book 
When Wild Thing (almost 5) brought home his school work at the end of preschool last year, many of the pieces surprised me. In his PreK journal, he wrote often about doing yoga with me. I had no idea how much he enjoyed our Mommy and Me yoga. It made me realize that the older he got (and further away we went from Mommy and Me Baby-Style Yoga), the less and less often we did yoga together. Yet, it was something he truly enjoyed. I realized that I needed to make yoga time together something we did more often. 
Hello, Bali: A Kids Yoga Island Adventure Book from Kids Yoga Storieswas the perfect way for us to engage in yoga together again. Wild Thing loves learning about new cultures, and he loves yoga, so this book is perfect for him. Some of the poses were easier for him and some we will need to practice and practice to get right, but that's what makes it fun.

He's always enjoyed yoga as something he gets to do with mommy, but this bo…

Back to School Tips: Less Stress, More Fun -- Family Traditions and Routines that Work!

Including Ways to Make "Back to School" Special for Younger Siblings NOT Starting School

When a new school year rolls around, I use it as a time to take stock and consider what we need as a family to make us stronger and to reduce stress and disjointed-ness during the busy-ness that often accompanies a school year. I decided to share some family traditions and new routines that have worked my family (or for families I know). Perhaps you'll decide one will work for you or the list will help you assess what your family needs this Fall!

1. Join the Gym (or start another workout routine or exercise experience)

Last year, when Wild Thing (my oldest son) started preschool (his first schooling experience), we used that opportunity to begin a new routine with Caterpillar (his younger brother) as well. I joined the gym with a Kid's Club and introduced the Kid's Club to Caterpillar as his school. (We call it the gym school). Caterpillar has always been a very clingy "mam…

Duncan Tonatiuh Brings History to Life: Diego Rivera in the Spotlight

Read Around the World Summer Reading Series 

We first discovered this book over two years ago when looking for books about Mexico and Mexican history to read for Cinco De Mayo, and we loved it! Duncan Tonatiuh is one of my favorite authors and illustrators. This book, in particular, inspired Wild Thing to explore painting -- something he was previously reluctant to do. It also inspired some cubist play dough activities. We previously shared 4 ways to Move, Draw, Eat and Learn with this fabulous book

I've also added this Tonatiuh book to my "must-read" list: Pancho Rabbit and the Coyota: A Migrant's Tale, which is a modern-day fable that touches on a very important (and timely) topic: immigration. It was brought to my attention recently by Latinas for Latino Lit as they shared a selection of 6 Children's Book About the Immigration Experience.

We're really enjoying all of the books we're discovered through the Multicultural Kid Blogs' Read Around the Wor…

Arctic Animals Come to Life with Polly and the North Star

{Read Around the World Summer Reading Series}

This beautiful picture book is a favorite of my boys (3 and 4 1/2 years-old). With beautiful, dreamy artwork and a lovely story of one girl's big imagination and even bigger love for her father, it is a wonderful way to begin to explore the Arctic with your children. They will enjoy meeting polar bears, caribou, snowy oils and grey wolves with Polly and will share her joy when her father returns back home safely after working to help these amazing creatures. I think your children or students will love this book as much as my boys do. I recommend it for ages 2-6. 

To explore these animals even more, check out Mother Nature Network or this Arctic Animals Photo Gallery from National Geographic

Plus, check out more books from this amazing series -- a great place to start is the Read Around the World Summer Reading Series Pinboard. Not on Pinterest? You can find a complete list on the fabulous Multicultural Kid Blogs site as well. 

The Perfect Rainy Day Activity -- So Simple, So Awesome and Free! #BanBusy #SlowParenting

Observation in Action: Watch, Listen, Look and Learn
It doesn't rain often where we live (Southern California), but the last time we had a really substantial rain, I did something different. 
I sat in the doorway of our open back door (screen closed) with Caterpillar (2 1/2) sitting on my lap. We simply watched the rain and listened. We noticed its ebb and flow - stop and go - heavier and lighter. We noticed how different everything looks when it is wet. 
We were snuggled up under a blanket. It was actually pure bliss. I was glad I stopped to take the time to cuddle with him and focus on some astute observation with him. The experience was peaceful, beautiful, and important. 
Caterpillar and I had been at odds lately -- pushing and pulling -- as he tested his boundaries. He is 2 and was making sure we all knew it. We were going through some growing pains, and most of the time, I just didn't want to deal with him. 
Having this positive, sweet time together was actually really good f…

5 Non-Parenting Books for Mindful Parenting

12 Days of Gratitude: Someone who has changed my life, even though I don't know them. 
Authors often reach through the pages of their books and move us, make us think, inspire us, and more. So, when I considered this gratitude prompt -- someone who has changed my life, even though I don't know them -- I suspected my choice would be an author. 
Years ago, a good friend was graduating from college and Thich Nhat Hanh (whom I had not heard of at the time) was speaking at her graduation. His presence and his words impressed me. His aura was one of peace, mindfulness and wisdom. That friend could tell, and she gave me a copy of one of his books: Being Peace. It would be the first of many that I would read -- all of which would have an impact. I am grateful for his words and am highlighting three of his books today as I share 5 non-parenting books that have helped me be a more mindful parent. 

Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh

When I first read Being Peace (which I revisit often), I was st…

Happy Very Hungry Caterpillar Day: Celebrating 45 Years with Caterpillar and Butterfly Crafts from The Kid's Co-Op

March 20th is Very Hungry Caterpillar Day with celebrations and programs being held around the world to honor the 45th Anniversary of the book. 

We love The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so of course we're joining the fun. Plus, my youngest son's blog nickname is Caterpillar, after the book. Just as Wild Thing is my 4 year-old's nickname inspired by Where the Wild Things Are. 

Today, we'll be doing another Very Hungry Caterpillar Food Drive. We did our first one for Eric Carle's birthday last June and called it a Very Hungry Caterpillar Virtual Food Drive and loved hearing that the virtual part worked, as others were inspired by our online shares and also did VHC-inspired food drives.

P.S. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Virtual Food Drive post 
also features 40+ Activities Inspired by the Book, so you'll definitely want to check it out.
For our VHC-inspired food drive this time, Wild Thing will be helping me write the grocery list for food items to donate as we read the boo…

The Ultimate Free Valentine's Gift for Him...(or Her): A Simple Act of Kindness for that Special Someone

14 Days of Loving-Kindness: Day 13 - Your Spouse/Partner/Rock/Everything

Finding the perfect Valentine's Day gift for that special someone can be challenging or, as is the case with my husband and I, can feel a little irrelevant. We're not really "presents" people. 
Still, it is nice this time of year to take a moment to acknowledge that special someone. In the midst of the 14 Days of Loving-Kindness Challenge, I somehow stumbled upon an awesome, kick-ass (free) gift for my husband -- if I can truly pull it off.
What is it? Two words: forgiveness and release (for those of you with dirty minds, I'm not thinking of that kind of release). 
Truth: Even the best couples can hold on to old hurts, can let resentments -- even nonsensical and silly resentments -- take hold, can find themselves taking their partner for granted. 
At the end of a long day at home with the kids, who is the person that receives a snappy response to a simple question? 
     Our spouse. 
In the midst …