New Project for Learning about The World!

Let's Explore the World

Time has gotten away from me. I have no other excuse for not keeping up with the blog.  Summers are busy days for playing with my boys. Sometimes, instead of me wearing them out, they wear me out so much, that their nap time becomes mine as well. I can’t complain about that. I do love my naps and that I am able to spend my days at home with them. I know I am lucky. Things do tend to get in the way of my working on my various projects, though.  I will attempt to do better.

I think I have found the perfect way to do so. One of my fellow Multicultural Kid Blogs Contributors from Kid World Citizen has created the coolest Diversity Calendar out there (in my opinion) and I can’t wait to start celebrating some holidays that are new to me, but important around the world.  Here is the description from their website.

Diversity Calendar

Our Diversity Calendar is a month-by-month, thorough collection of holidays around the world! For the past three years, we have interviewed religious leaders from all major religions, and heavily researched our calendar to assure that the most important holidays have been included (and are happy to include any additional festivals or holidays our readers add in the comments!). This fabulous diversity calendar includes 285 special days including:

•multicultural and ethnic festivals

•religious holy days from all major religions

•environmental days to celebrate and honor our planet

•United Nations International Days such as “Global Youth Service Day“

•fun holidays that celebrate friendship, empathy, and kindness.

Even though it is probably intended more for teachers and homeschoolers, I know that my boys and I can come up with some fun things to do with it. From World Friendship Day to International Talk Like A Pirate Day and so many animal appreciation days, I think this will be a fun project!  I’m excited to show them how beautiful the world is in all of it’s celebrations.  Want to do it with me? I’d love to find ideas on how to celebrate some of these with you!

If you would like to purchase your own calendar you can do so HERE.

Let’s Celebrate Each Other!  

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Excited to Add New Things to Our Celebrations!

 

 

Favorite Times

Favorite Times-2

Hello!

Life gets crazy sometimes and there is really nothing we can do about it but try to keep up.  The saving grace for me is the time I get to spend with my littles.  There is just no other feeling like that love you feel when it is just you and your kids, cuddling, chatting and giggling. 

One of my favorite times is night time or as we call it “nite-nite time”. I get to cuddle with my little ones individually, read stories, sing songs and TICKLE! I love their giggles and just having that special bonding time with each of them. It fills my heart.

I have sang the same Spanish songs to both boys since they were born.  My mother gave me a CD from Grupo Truhui when my first was born and it was like magic.  It truly did help him calm down and fall asleep. Not only that, but it worked with my second, too! Because of that, I learned some of the songs and created a mashup version that I now sing to them every night. 

The other night, my oldest was playing with the camera on my phone while we were getting ready for bed and decided to make a video of our songs. I wanted to share it with you because it means so much to me and I will cherish this video and our memories always. Sorry for the bad lighting (night time) no makeup look, goofy faces and the not-so-perfect singing from me (I do not claim to be a good singer).  But M IS in my opinion, so concentrate on him.  He just makes me smile!  I hope to one day make a singing video with my little one as well.  When I do, maybe I will share it, too!

Thank you for reading and may all your nights be filled with song!


“Tomás and the Library Lady” the Play

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We love going to the theater.  We sound so fancy! We’re not really, but we do love to go to family plays.  I’ve talked about ZACH Theater before as we have gone to many shows there.  Our most recent adventure was to see a play called Tomás and the Library Lady . We as a family LOVED it! It was the perfect play to see at the perfect time.  Let me explain.

The play is based on a children’s picture book by the same name and is actually a true story. The main character, Tomás, is the son of migrant workers that travel from Texas to Iowa to find work in the corn fields. Tomás finds a library in town and befriends the librarian who shows him the magical world of books. At the end you find out that Tomás grew up to be a real life famous writer himself (Tomás Rivera) which is fantastic!

Why I loved the play:

  • It is English AND in Spanish. The library lady teaches Tomás words in english while he teaches her words in Spanish. It is a really wonderful bond they  develop. It helps the boys see how awesome it is to speak English and Spanish. Tomás is proud to speak both. This helps the boys be proud, too.
  • Tomás learns to read in english so he can escape into the many amazing books the library lady introduces him to. M is at that same point right now. We are trying to help want to learn to read and write by showing him how great books are. We have been reading to them all of their lives, of course, and love their books. Just now we are focusing more on word recognition and spelling. It was very inspirational for M to see Tomás struggle with words, yet not give up trying to read them.
  • They sing! This is always a bonus in my book. We love musicals in this family. Anytime we can go to a play where songs are in both languages we are there! And they were pretty good, too!
  • It was a simple yet lovely production. ZACH Theater is extremely good at making shows seem so effortless.  I’m sure a lot of production goes on behind the scenes, but you wouldn’t know it. There are no big sets, bright lights and fancy costumes. The emphasis is always on the story not the props. This is a great way to get kids to focus on the characters and their words. This play had a trunk, three suitcases and books. That’s it. There were only three people in it. And only one character had a a quick costume change off stage. The other two would just put on a hat/remove it or make a scarf a mustache to switch characters. How cool is that?

All of those points are great on their own, but there is one more thing that just touched my heart fully. It was that it was very similar to my story. Sure the details were different, but the bond was true. When we moved to the states and we started school I was an extremely shy 2nd grader and did not want to go anywhere with the other kids. I didn’t want to sit by myself at lunch or recess so I clung to my teacher, Ms. Jacinto. She could see that I was quickly withdrawing, so she went beyond her scope as teacher to become my friend. She let me have lunch with her and then walked me to the library to meet the librarian, Mrs. Davila. They must have known exactly what I needed because from then on, I would go to the library and help after having lunch with Ms. Jacinto. I would put books away and clean up. In return, Mrs. Davila introduced me to books that I had never heard of and helped me with the words. As an added bonus, I became a pro at the Dewey Decimal System. (Who remembers that?)  Most importantly, I learned to love books because of both of them. I hope that we can do that for the boys as well.

The attention and care they gave me for that brief time in my life when they didn’t have to will always hold a place in my heart. I even got teary eyed at the end of the play because it took me back to that lovely little library at Nye Elementary that saved my spirit. I did eventually join the masses and made friends my age, but I don’t think I would’ve found the confidence to be me without both of them.

Anyways, back to the play. GO SEE IT! It is awesome. If you are in Austin it plays at ZACH until February 14th. If not, find a show near you and get the book. The boys left inspired to read and they are speaking in Spanish even more!  Thank you, Tomás and the Library Lady  and ZACH Theater for being the perfect play at the perfect time!

Tomas Cast

The boys with the cast

You Mean We Have to Change Our Whole Schedule?

You Mean We Have to Change Our Whole Schedule?

I have been thinking a lot about how our schedules will change when M starts kindergarten. I can’t believe this is actually happening so soon!  Sure, it’s only January and it will happen in September, but I am sure this year will fly by just like the last one did. Right now, our schedule is pretty great. We worked very hard to have a set schedule and daily routines to help our kids feel secure and focused on the day to day activities.  Here is what our weeks are like:

Monday & Wednesday:  Spanish

Tuesday & Thursday: Preschool (or what they like to call English school.)

Friday: Piano

Saturday: Gymnastic

Sunday: Rest

All of these activities happen before nap time.  We carefully planned them that way. Other than preschool, the classes are an hour or less that way they do not get overworked. They still get plenty of time to play AND take a nice 2 hour nap. What in the world am I going to do when M HAS to be in school from 7:45am – 2:45pm Monday through Friday?   I know it will be a very hard adjustment for him as well as for T. T still very much needs his naps.  I mean we turn into Grumpy McGrumperson if we don’t.  It’s not a pretty sight.  Even if he is not the one that will be  in school, we will have to push his nap quite a bit.  M, I think will adjust a bit easier because he will be with friends and will probably not notice what time it is.

This will work itself out, but what about my perfectly crafted schedule?  When will they go to their Spanish class?  I wrote before about how it is a lifesaver for me because it is a structured class with a real teacher (not just mama trying to trying to get them to love my language). They respect the teacher and are excited every week to go to class.  They sing songs and tell me all about their class, plus they can’t wait to teach papa what they learn as well. And what about piano?  Oh my goodness! What’s a mama to do!

I may be worrying for nothing, but this will be a new journey for me and I don’t think I am prepared. Should I get rid of naps for both? Should I schedule classes right after school? Should I bring them home, have them nap for an hour or so and then schedule a class before dinner?  All advice would be appreciated.

If you have older children, will you be willing to share what your days look like?  How old were your kids when they stopped napping? Did they still nap when they started kinder?  I’d love to know your thoughts.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

Breathe

Breathe

Our father came before us to make sure it was safe. Our mother took care of us on her own for a while to make sure we were healthy, happy and ready for our journey. We traveled by car through the night. We slept in a motel until we could go to our new home. We knew no one, barely spoke the language and were behind in school.

Then the wind shifted. Our home was big, new and amazing. There were classes in our schools specifically for us to help us learn the language and catch up academically. Our family was back together and we could breathe as a whole again. The whole world was new to us, we were scared but excited. We knew we would be ok. People welcomed us with opened arms. There was a sense of community and belonging in a way.

This was decades ago. What if we had attempted this journey today? What would it be like? It would be harder to cross the border by car. We would probably have to take a bus. There would be no new house as it is almost impossible to qualify for one these days. We would have to rent and probably not in the neighborhood of my parents choosing. The schools would not have the funds to have special classes for us to learn the language, at least not all of them would. We may be forced to remain behind in our learning. It would be very hard to excel the way we did. People may not be so welcoming because of the darkness in the world. Would we ever feel like we belong?

We came from Mexico, so not that far away. We didn’t have to escape any evils or leave everything we loved to save our lives. Yet, it wasn’t too long ago that people were trying to keep families just like mine out of this country.  Why? The reasons varied depending on who you asked but drugs, crime and the taking of jobs (no one else wants) seemed to top the list. Because six little girls looking for a home would fit into all of those categories, I’m sure. Now the wind has shifted again in a direction that is only proven to be worse. The same people that feared my people (and probably still do, but have a new focus for now) are casting their negativity on another group of people looking for a home: refugees.

Families just like mine but that have gone through unimaginable and life altering losses and devastation are not being welcomed with open arms. The fear of what is happening over there somehow sneaking in over here in disguise is a real fear, of course. Yet, do the people trying to stop the refugees realize that THAT is a fear created by the enemy and not the victims? These families are looking for safety, that’s all. Safety until the wars end, safety until their families are back together. Safety until they can breathe as a whole again. Look at any (reliable) media coverage and see the fear and sadness in so many little children and tell me they don’t deserve to know they too will be ok. That they are welcome. That they will breathe again. We can do better.

Want to see the sadness in their eyes? Click Here 

As I watch these events unfold, I realize how lucky we really are. For all of the wonderful things that I have been able to see, do and witness I give thanks. To having loving families (the one I was born into, the one I married into and the one my love and I created) I give thanks. To my little loves for making me a better me and happier than I thought possible, I give thanks.To all of the people that have helped my family succeed throughout the years even at our lowest points, I give thanks. To all those that fight to protect us, I give thanks. To having the opportunity to share my life in my own words, I give thanks. To all of you, I give thanks.

Be truly thankful for all you have!

 

Donating Halloween Candy for Veteran’s Day!

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I may a little late to do things, but this year I was not going to let the chance to donate the kids halloween candy pass us up yet again. They got a ton a candy, way too much for two little boys. Really, way to tempting to stay in the house with that chocolate junky that takes over my body every time she smells that delicious scent.  MMMMMM….wait, were was I?
I researched different ways to contribute and found this great list that I will keep for future reference. Check it out: Sweet Ways to Donate Your Halloween Haul to Those in Need
The one we chose is Operation Gratitude. The only way my boys were going to let go of so much deliciousness was knowing that it was going to some of the people they admire: Soldiers! Once I told them that we would be sending the rest of the candy to soldiers that don’t have access to any where the are at, they were all for it.  They were able to keep 5 pieces each and we packed up the rest. We had 4 pounds of candy!  Crazy! But I could see why they were such a hit…

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Then it was time to get crafty, of course.  We each made a little thank you card for the troops to add a little extra cheer.  T’s is quite artsy, I say.  He chose the colors himself it turned out really beautiful. I wish I had a better picture of it. M’s melts my heart.  He drew a soldier with a feather on his cap.  The little guy in there is himself.  He said he was there to cheer him up and that is why they are smiling. The whole picture tells a story. I love it.  I’m very proud of my little guys.

boys cards

While reading about Operation Gratitude, we found that you can send all sorts of things year round!  Save the information somewhere where you can easily access it and send a little love to those so many take for granted anytime you feel like giving. Click Here to save it.
With that, I end this post and say, Happy Veteran’s Day and Thank You to all of the men and women who have served, are serving and will serve for keeping us safe year round! 

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Tears and More Tears

Tears and More Tears

Ever since I can remember, my eyes have teared up for pretty much every expression and emotion possible.  They tear up when I laugh too much, when I get a little too excited, when I get mad, when I talk about something sad, when I cough, when I sneeze, when I yawn and, of course when I cry. If someone cries in front of me, chances are, I will cry with them or at least tear up. Have you ever tried to tell a super funny story and have the eyes of the person you are talking slowly start getting bigger and bigger until they look a little scared because your eyes are starting to fill up? Kind of kills the mood.

This especially complicated things in business since the last thing I wanted to be seen as was the stereotypical girl being too sensitive in the workforce. Being a mom, this little uncontrollable response is really hard for me to deal with when disciplining my children. It’s hard to be a rock and/or scold them without having them see the tears forming in my eyes. 

It never occurred to me how this would affect my parenting skills until now that these little sweet boys of mine are rebelling and acting all kinds of wild. I don’t want them to see me as weak, so I try to hold the tears back until I can leave the room. I think I am getting better at that. I guess it’s all about learning control. I will teach this to the boys as the days go on.  This is one thing we will have to learn together…hopefully.

I did forget to mention, however that along with the tears comes the red face. I have never and will never be able to hide the fact that I cried or even just get over it so no one could tell I had been crying. Unfortunately, both boys also inherited this lovely trait from me. Maybe they will outgrow that, but I still haven’t. The red face lasts for a long time and the red eyes linger for hours. It’s exhausting. That is why I try to stay positive as much as I can. Being sad just wears me out. I just hope that if people see my boys sad little faces sometimes they don’t think they are sad all of the time. I don’t really think they will, though, these are two happy and silly little ones.

Going back to the tears, here is a quick little story. The other day, I was cuddling with M and singing the songs we sing at nap time. I yawned in the middle of it, so naturally, I teared up.  He looked up at me a few seconds later and his eyes teared up, too. I asked him what was wrong and he told me I looked sad. I quickly smiled and explained to him that I was not even a little bit sad and that I just yawned. He smiled back and all was good again. Even if my boys did get the teary eyes from me, one thing they show me is that they have good hearts and a whole lot of empathy. If just seeing tears in my eyes made M’s eyes tear up, I think he is learning how to empathize with others. I love seeing my little ones grow.

What traits did your little ones get from you? What have you learned from seeing them in your little ones?

Goodnight Around the World!

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One of the most beautiful moments of being a parent is being able to tuck your little ones in for the night.  Most parents I know have a set night time routine that helps get their babies to relax and to understand that the time for games is over for the day. Night time is also the best time for some one on one cuddles.  I don’t know what I will do when they outgrow them.

Our night time routine is pretty much set in stone.  My husband and I run around with them after bath time to let them get that last bit of energy out. Then when it is time to start winding down, we sing a song and say a poem.  The song I chose was one of my favorite songs from when I was growing up. It is a song by Topoyiyo called “A La Camita”.  This song has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  We watched the show of this little silly mouse when I was little. When I was in high school it was the last song the played at night clubs across the border as a way to let people know it was closing time.  I thought it was such a cute idea that we even chose it as the last song of our wedding reception. And now I am passing it on to my little ones.

After that, each child goes into his own room and my husband and I tag team. He goes into my oldest’s room first and I go in with my little one. We each read them stories and sing songs. I sing to them in Spanish while my husband sings in English. The songs I sing are a montage of songs from a cd that that mom gave us from a group called Grupo Tihui from the album Arrullos Tradicionales De México. It was a gift and I could not find a link to it, sorry.  I highly recommend it, however, if you can find it. It has magical powers.  I would play it for both boys when they were infants and it would instantly calm them down.

After we are done, we trade and do it all over again with the other child.  Well, my oldest and I do shadow puppets for a bit then have a question and answer session where he asks me anything he can think of and I try to answer it to the best of my ability.  (Thank goodness for google!) Last come our goodnight kisses for both and everyone goes to bed happy.

I thought it would be fun to see how the parents around the world on  say goodnight, so I reached out to my friends at Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Here is what they shared.  One thing is universal, songs and lullabies are one of the most beautiful way to cuddle with your little one and teach them a little music while you are at it. Hope you enjoy!

Galina Nikitina (Trilingual Children) shared her routine with us:

We read books and then kids go tho their beds, I tell them a story. They tell me who will be the story characters and I have to come up with the rest. If the kids are still up after the story, I sing to them.

Our family says “Good night!” in three languages: “Buona Notte!” in Italian, “Spokojnoj Nochi!” ( Спокойной Ночи!) in Russian and “Good Night! in English.

She also has a post about Russian lullabies (written in Russian) that you can find HERE.

Lana Jelenjev (Smart Tinker) from the Philippines shared a lullaby called Sa Ugoy ng Duyan

Audrey Kratovil (Españolita…¡Sobre La Marcha!even included a video from YouTube for us to take part in the lovely song Cinco Lobitos

From Morocco, Amanda Ponzio Mouttaki (Marrakech Food Tours) wrote:

We always read a book and say a prayer of protection, tuck them in and then recite a duaa from the Quran to protect the kids and keep bad dreams away. They actually recite it we just help them. (wink)

Rita Rosenback (Multilingual Parenting) added:

The last thing I have said every night to my girls is “Good night, sleep well, sweet dreams” (in Swedish: God natt, sov gott, fina drömmar). My girls are now 22 and 29 and we still do it.”

She even mentioned it on her post HERE. 

A lovely night time routine was shared by Marianna Hennig Du Bosq (Bilingual Avenue):

Both my husband and I put our little one to bed every night (she’s two). We take turns wishing her good night and sweet dreams in English and Spanish and she responds “I love you” to Daddy and “Te quiero mucho” to me. She puts her hands together (like in a prayer) … that’s our sign for “Bendicion” or bless me in Spanish and then I respond by saying “Dios te bendiga.” The last thing I say is what my mother always said to me “Que sueñes con los angelitos,” meaning “May you dream with the little angels.” I am from Venezuela and my husband is American, we live in Germany.

Maria Babin (Trilingual Mama) shared this sweet routine:

Sometimes a bath, then jammies on, brush teeth, a few books and sometimes family prayer. Into the turbulette (a kind of sleeping bag for babies), doudou (stuffed animal), two cars (for my 2 year old Rémy) and a kiss! Good night or buenas noches!

Olga Sokolik (Milk, Crafts and Honesty) shared this Polish night time saying “Dobranoc, pchly na noc, karaluchy do poduchy a szczypawki do zabawki” (Goodnight, fleas for the night, cockcroaches to the pillow and earwigs to the toys)

Haboona Abdullah Hussein (The Ramblings of a Saudi Wife) included that in Arabic people say in the evening “mesa el khair” (evening of good) and the reply is “mesa el noor” (evening of light).

Anna Watt (Russian Step by Step) shared this fun nighttime routine:

(In Russia, you say) Спокойной ночи (spokOJnoj nochi) which literally translates as have a calm night. Some kids love watching a kid tv show that runs right before the bedtime and has the same name. We live in the US now and will do shower/books/lie down in bed together/kisses and hugs and then goodnight in both English and Russian.

Charu Chhitwal (Ketchup Moms) let us into this traditional routine:

In India of most us say Good night to kids after maybe reading their favorite book to them. But when my twins were 8 months old, I had started singing the Gayatri mantra for them. It is a chant that is considered very powerful, protecting and Peaceful. (Find link HERE) Although I had stopped, will start now.  Good night in literal Hindi translation means- Shub Ratri.

Eolia Scarlett Disler (La Cité des Vents) shared this sweet good night:

Personaly, I do this routine: we read them a book/story, pray together, kiss them good night and some evenings I sing a song or two. In French: “Bonne nuit! A demain matin. Dormez-bien mes chéris.” (Good night, see you tomorrow. Sleep well my darlings.)

Tamania Jaffri Naqi (UrduMom.com) added:

In urdu we say ‘shab-be-khair’ that means good/peaceful night. The lullabies sung at night are called ‘looris’.

These are some great examples of how similar we all are no matter where we are from. Our babies are our lives, our hearts and souls. We will sing, read, and be silly for them for as long as they let us. Be free, and be happy and be as childlike as you can be. Enjoy every moment you can with those sweet little ones. My hope is that they will remember the silly times. Hopefully we will have the ability to carry it on for generations to come. I would love to hear your routines.

How do you say goodnight?

Check out these goodnights from around the world (as shared by our Multicultural Kids Blog Family)

Thank you Multicultural Kids Blog families for letting me see into your traditions. I love learning from you all. 

Language is a Bond

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Did you hear the news?  The US has more Spanish speakers than Spain.  This shouldn’t really come as a surprise due to the size and population differences between the two.  What is amazing to see (for me at least) is how many Spanish speakers there actually are in the United States. A recent study conducted by Instituto Cervantes* found that there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US plus 11.6 million others who are bilingual.  How awesome is that? 
For me this means that I am not alone in wanting to teach my kids to speak, understand and love Spanish. There is an awesome community right outside my door. Thanks to someone special, we were able to put both boys in Spanish summer camp this year. M went last year on his own because T was too little. We thought T was ready this year. That is still up for debate. M loves school, comes home excited about the new words he learned that day, knows a lot of new songs and has made new friends. T cries every time we drop him off and on and off throughout the day. He hasn’t even bonded with his teacher or his classmates. I’m hoping this changes as they have 4 weeks to go. I really don’t like having him be so sad and would pull him if we didn’t think it may just be the terrible twos taking effect for not getting his way. What would you do? 
Once he gets past the tears, however, he does throw out some Spanish words without being asked. He also gets excited when we read books in Spanish at home and when we sing our songs. That makes me happy. We will keep trying with the summer program this coming week and revaluate at the end of it.  
But I digress. As far as Spanish always being a part of their lives, the new study gives me great hope.  Also, with all of the attention being brought to our language and culture in the news today, it makes me proud to see how we have come together as a community no matter what part of the world we are come from. Spanish is our bond, family is our heart and pride is our power. All of these are great lessons for my boys in the long run. Let’s keep our love for languages alive! 

What languages do you speak with your kids?

I’d love to learn more about your love for languages!
Also, if you haven’t done so, please send a family pic. You do not have to include faces if you don’t want to…shadows, backs to the camera, hands held together, etc) for a fabulous future post. Thanks and have an amazing weekend. 
*The Guardian