Nov 202014

Practificing Mindfulness for Kids: Spot Sitting {A Year in the Secret Garden} |

I am so thrilled to be taking part in the book tour for the magical new book A Year in the Secret Garden by Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters.  The Secret Garden on which it is based is a classic of children’s literature, whose appeal spans the generations.  My grandfather related to me how he would read it to his mother in the evenings as she washed the dishes, and I like to continue that parent-child bond now by sharing this favorite book with my sons, aided by this wonderful new guide.

So much of the wonder of The Secret Garden is that the reader watches along with Mary and Colin as the garden gradually comes back to life.  It is a lesson in patience and in learning to appreciate subtle changes.  The authors of A Year in the Secret Garden mimic this progression by structuring their book around the months of the year.  For each month, there are special activities, recipes, crafts, and characters related to the book for the reader to explore.  As the garden grows, so does the reader’s understanding of the world of The Secret Garden.

As part of the blog tour for this wonderful book, I am focusing on the month of May.  I was instantly drawn to the activity spot sitting, which is a wonderful way for children (and adults!) to practice mindfulness.  It relates to the outdoor sensory activity I did with Monkey and his friends last spring, so I drew on that for this exercise.

Monkey and I sat in our backyard one day, and I explained the concept of spot sitting: sitting still in a quiet spot and really paying attention to what is happening around you.  What do you see?  What do you hear?  What do you feel?  Allow your thoughts to follow your senses and enjoy delving deeper into the natural world.

Practicing Mindfulness for Kids: Spot Sitting {A Year in the Secret Garden} |

Practificing Mindfulness for Kids: Spot Sitting {A Year in the Secret Garden} |

For my active little Monkey, this was a real change of pace!  It’s fine if your child can’t sit still for very long – this will come with practice.  Right now it’s more about planting the seed and teaching them that there are different ways of being in the world – sometimes we’re running and jumping and playing, and sometimes we’re still and observing.  Both are great!

I highly recommend A Year in the Secret Garden for adults and children to explore together.  It is a wonderful tool to learn about literature, history, culture, but also to build the bond between parent and child, just as my grandfather did so many years ago, to the gentle sound of his mother’s washing.

A Year in the Secret Garden - Blog Tour Button


About the Book

A Year in the Secret Garden - cover

Title: A Year in the Life of the Secret Garden | Author: Valarie Budayr | Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters | Publication Date: November, 2014 | Publisher: Audrey Press | Pages: 144 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 99

Book Description: Award-winning authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters have co-created A Year in the Secret Garden to introduce the beloved children’s classic, The Secret Garden to a new generation of families. This guide uses over two hundred full color illustrations and photos to bring the magical story to life, with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book.Over 140 pages, with 200 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. A Year In the Secret Garden is our opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room.

Amazon * Audrey Press * Goodreads


About the Author: Valarie Budayr

Valarie BudayrValarie Budayr loves reading and bringing books alive. Her popular website,, inspires children and adults alike to experience their books through play, discovery, and adventure.

She is founder of Audrey Press, an independent publishing house, as well as an Amazon and iTunes best-selling author. She has written The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Valarie is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and encouraging families and schools to pull books off the shelves and stories off the pages.


Book Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Pinterest | Google+ | Goodreads


About the Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters

Marilyn Scott-WatersMarilyn Scott-Waters loves making things out of paper. Her popular website,, receives 2,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than six million of her easy-to-make paper toys. Her goal is to help parents and children spend time together making things.

She is the creator of a paper toy craft book series The Toymakers Christmas: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling), and The Toymakers Workshop: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling). She is also the co-creator with J. H. Everett of the middle grade nonfiction series, Haunted Histories, (Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). Ms. Scott-Waters illustrated The Search For Vile Things (Scholastic), and created paper engineering for Pop & Sniff Fruit (Piggy Toes Press).

Website | Facebook | Google+


A Year in the Secret Garden Blog Tour Schedule (2014)


November 1

Mother Daughter Book Reviews (Launch)

Coffee Books & Art (Guest Post)

WS Momma Readers Nook (Book Review)

November 2

Cherry Mischievous (Excerpt)

Hope to Read (Excerpt)

November 3

Eloquent Articulation (Book Review)

Enter Here Canada (Excerpt)


November 4

BeachBoundBooks (Excerpt)

Books, Babies and Bows (Book Review)

November 5

Monique’s Musings (Book Review)

November 6

SOS-Supply (Book Review)


November 7

Randomly Reading (Book Review)

November 8

Adalinc to Life (Book Review)


November 9

100 Pages a Day (Book Review)

November 10

Edventures With Kids (Book Review)


November 11

Icefairy’s Treasure Chest (Book Review)

November 12

Girl of 1000 Wonders (Book Review)


November 13

Seraphina Reads (Guest Post)

November 14

Juggling Act Mama (Book Review)


November 15

Pragmatic Mom (Author/Illustrator Interview)

Purple Monster Coupons (Excerpt)

November 16

Stacking Books (Book Review)


November 17

Oh My Bookness (Book Review)

November 18

Crystal’s Tiny Treasures (Book Review)


November 19

The Blended Blog (Book Review)

November 20

All Done Monkey (Book Review)

November 21

Geo Librarian (Book Review)

Grandbooking (Author/Illustrator Interview)


November 22

My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews (Book Review)

November 23

Christy’s Cozy Corners (Book Review)

My Life, Loves and Passions (Book Review)

November 24

Bookaholic Chick (Excerpt)

Hide-N-(Sensory)-Seeking (Book Review)


November 25

Ninja Librarian (Guest Post)

November 26

Jane Ritz (Book Review)

Rockin’ Book Reviews (Book Review)

November 27

I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (Book Review)


November 28

Deal Sharing Aunt (Book Review)

November 29

Mommynificent (Book Review)

November 30

This Kid Reviews Books (Book Review)

Java John Z’s (Author/Illustrator Interview)


* $100 Blog Tour Giveaway *

Amazon 100 gift card

Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: December 7, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
MDBR Book Promotion Services a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nov 192014

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express |

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for American Express. I received thank you items for my participation.

Family travel is not for the faint of heart.  Among the more difficult phases of a family trip is flying itself.  Children naturally rebel against so unnatural an act as sitting in a confined space for long stretches of time – especially when parents restrain them from exploring all of the wonderful new places on the airplane and in the airport that are begging to be discovered!

That is why I was so excited to learn about the brand-new Centurion Lounge from American Express in San Francisco’s International Airport.  This 8,200 foot lounge is located in Terminal 3 of SFO and is truly an oasis for family travel.

I had the pleasure of previewing it recently with the Monkeys, and we had a blast!

As a parent, it was so relaxing to be in a safe, clean, beautiful space where I could let my children play without worrying about what exactly they might find in their explorations!  Also, anyone who has traveled with young children will appreciate how heavenly it is to have a space large enough for the kids to stretch their legs – but one that ultimately has boundaries so they don’t run off from you!

A Family Travel Oasis

s1. Engaging, colorful play space

In addition to the general spaces – filled with soft, inviting couches – where kids can play, The Centurion Lounge also has a Family Room dedicated just to them!

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express |

The Family Room is equipped with fun toys for a range of ages and soft kid-sized cushioned chairs, plus a large screen TV and a collection of children’s books.  It’s also sound-proof – brilliant!

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express |

2. Wonderful food!

A big perk for families with little mouths to feed is the buffet at The Centurion Lounge, filled with delicious, healthy foods.  But don’t worry, there are also lots of treats for the kids and grownups!

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express |

Photo courtesy of American Express

The offerings are inspired by the cuisine of the Napa Valley and curated by renowned chef Christopher Kostow.

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express |

Little Monkey clutching the balloon animal he received at the reception; photo courtesy of American Express

3. Luxury service

For weary travelers, it is a real treat to receive such incredible service.  When you enter, you are greeted by American Express Member Service professionals, happy to answer any questions and help you get settled in.  And throughout your stay there is always someone discreetly available to bring you a drink or help you with your things.  For parents accustomed to doing all the fetching, it is heavenly to have someone taking care of you for a change.

4. Spaces to rest and relax

Families on the move will appreciate having comfortable spaces to recharge.  There are plenty of couches in spacious open areas, as well as cozy nooks to snuggle with your babes or catch some zzz’s.

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express |

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express |

5. Tech space

Of course, one characteristic of travel is being less connected to your networks.  The Centurion Lounge’s high speed wi-fi , as well as the outlets near every seat, make recharging your gear and getting in touch with your loved ones (or your office, or your travel information…) easy to do.

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express |

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express |

6. Spaces to refresh

Finally, one of my favorite features of The Centurion Lounge is the shower!  Now isn’t that a great idea??  It is tucked discreetly into a quiet corner of the lounge, back around a corner, so you don’t feel like you are freshening up in front of everyone!  The ability to clean up is a great feature for any traveler but especially for those traveling with children, who seem to attract dirt and mess.  For once, it would be nice to arrive at our final destination not feeling like we were wearing an inch of grime for every leg of our trip!

If you are looking for a place to unwind and relax with your kids during your next trip, be sure to visit The Centurion Lounge for American Express members!  The new lounge is the first on the West Coast and the fourth in a network that is expanding to major airports across the US.  Entrance to The Centurion Lounge is complimentary for consumer, Business and Corporate Platinum Card and Centurion® members, and their immediate family or up to two travel companions.  All other American Express Credit and Charge Card members can purchase a one-day pass for $50.

For more information, visit The Centurion Lounge website or follow American Express on Facebook or Twitter.



Nov 172014

Children's Books About the Cherokee |

As part of Native American Heritage Month, I have been exploring our Cherokee heritage with the boys.  Earlier we made a fun craft based on a Cherokee rattle, plus we’ve been reading children’s books about the Cherokee.  Here are some that we have found:

Picture Books about the Cherokee

First Strawberries
The First Strawberries is a beautiful Cherokee legend, here retold by Joseph Bruchac.  It tells of the first man and woman made by the Creator, and of the quarrel that threatened to ruin their happy life together.  The sun, however, worked to ease the tensions by making strawberries grow at the woman’s feet, reminding her of the sweetness of her life with her husband.  The lesson of compassion and the importance of kindness over anger will resonate with readers old and young alike.

Grandmother Spider Brings the Sun

In Grandmother Spider Brings the Sun renowned storyteller Geri Keams brings to life the Cherokee tale of how the sun came to light all of the world.  Though several other animals living in the dark side of the world attempted to bring back a piece of the sun, it was Grandmother Spider who finally succeeded, bringing it back in a clay pot.

Historical Fiction about the Cherokee

Soft Rain

Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears begins when nine year old Soft Rain learns that her family must leave their home and travel to a new land, known to her as “the land of darkness.”  Soft Rain’s story tackles a painful period in US history and the devastating effect of the Trail of Tears on the lives of those that were uprooted.

Cherokee Sister

Cherokee Sister by Debbie Dadey is another piece of historical fiction, which focuses on the daughter of a poor white farming family in Georgia who is mistakenly moved along with the Cherokee in the Trail of Tears.  To be honest, I find the premise of the book far-fetched – she just happens to have tan skin because she loves to run around in the sun despite her mother’s warning and just happens to be visiting her Cherokee friend on that fateful day and just happens to have tried on her friend’s beautiful buckskin dress just before they are all rounded up by the soldiers!  Having said that, this book gets high marks for showing the capacity for friendship between whites and Cherokees, even in the midst of the greatest tragedy inflicted by the one upon the other.

The Education of Little Tree

The classic book The Education of Little Tree is the story of a Cherokee young boy raised by his grandparents in the mountains of Tennessee during the Great Depression.  I love that this is historical fiction not about the Trail of Tears.  Don’t get me wrong – it is critical that children understand the horrific Trail of Tears.  But it is also critical for them to know that the Cherokee existed and do exist beyond that tragedy.  In this acclaimed work, Little Tree learns the Cherokee Way from his grandfather, who manages to avoid being caught up in the white society that surrounds them.  Yet when Little Tree is taken away to attend white schools he must endure the humiliations heaped upon Cherokee students to force them to assimilate.

Non-Fiction Books about the Cherokee


The Cherokee (American Indian Art and Culture) was the book I drew upon to make our rattle craft.  I love that this book includes a strong focus on contemporary culture, missing from many works.  In addition, it has several crafts and hands-on activities for children, unlike other similar overview books.


If You Lived with the Cherokees

If You Lived With The Cherokees is an engaging book that encourages young readers to imagine themselves living in a Cherokee village long ago.  It asks basic questions that help children really picture what that life would be like – What would you eat?  How would you get your name? – and even tackles bigger questions like, Did the Cherokee scalp their enemies?  Great book to capture the imagination of children.

The Cherokee

The Cherokee (First Reports: Native Americans)is a good introduction to Cherokee culture and history.  It is full of information, but on a level appropriate for young children.  The large, full-color photos and illustrations throughout the book will help engage young readers.

Be sure to stop by the Native American Heritage Month Blog Hop from Multicultural Kid Blogs and find even more ideas on our Native/Indigenous Cultures Pinterest Board!


Nov 162014

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #21 |

Welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can’t wait to see what you share this time!
Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son’s Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.
This month our co-hosts are:
Compras y Hogar


Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place for you to share your creative kids culture posts. It’s very easy, and simple to participate!
Just follow these simple guidelines:

  • Follow us via email, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. Please let us know you’re following us, and we will be sure to follow you back.
  • Link up any creative kids culture posts, such as language, culture, books, travel, food, crafts, playdates, activities, heritage, and holidays, etc. Please, link directly to your specific post, and no giveaways, shops, stores, etc.
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
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  • Please grab the button code above and put it on your blog or the post you’re linking up. You can also add a text link back to this hop on your blog post. Note: By sharing your link up on this blog hop you are giving us permission to feature your blog post with pictures, and to pin your link up in our Creative Kids Culture Feature board on Pinterest.
  • Don’t be a stranger, and share some comment love! Visit the other links, and comment. Everyone loves comments!
  • The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop will go live on the 3rd Sunday of the month. It will run for three weeks. The following blog hop we will feature a previous link up post, and if you’re featured, don’t forget to grab the button below:
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
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Here’s my favorite from last time:

Handmade Mancala Gift Set| Mommy Maleta

I love this easy to make Mancala gift set from Mommy Maleta – inspired by the Kenyan game!

Thank you for linking-up, and we can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!

Nov 142014

An Easy Way to Go Organic {Farm Fresh to You} |

Thank you to Farm Fresh to You for sponsoring this post!  All opinions are my own.

We all know the benefits of eating organic foods, especially for vulnerable groups like children.  There are also many benefits to eating locally grown foods.  And while more supermarkets are offering these options, often they are not as fresh and the offering not as varied as what we might like.

And if you have small children, the idea of spending time thoughtfully selecting your produce at the store will likely seem a bit far-fetched!

Enter Farm Fresh to You, an easy way to go organic!  This wonderful service brings local organic produce right to your doorstep.  You set up your deliveries on their easy to use website, picking and choosing exactly what you want in your box.

An Easy Way to Go Organic {Farm Fresh to You} |

It is so easy – and fun! – to use.  I love that it is so easy to customize your service and modify it as your needs change.  You choose not only the frequency of your delivery, but also the type of box.  For example, we chose a small box of fruits and vegetables.  I love the option of a “snack” box filled with ready to eat produce, designed for offices!  (Wouldn’t you love to work somewhere that had organic fruit delivered for you to munch on??)  If you are the more adventurous type, you can choose the traditional CSA box, with the best seasonal local produce – including some you probably wouldn’t find in your grocery store!

I have seen other services that say you can customize your box, but really just within limits.  (You can remove the carrots, but not the kohlrabi!)  But Farm Fresh for You really lets you pick and choose exactly which items you want to include – and you can change your mind up to just a few days before your next delivery!

An Easy Way to Go Organic {Farm Fresh to You} |

Monkey had a blast helping me customize our order.  I think it was like a computer game for him, except with organic fruits and veggies – score!  It was a fun way to get him involved in the process, which of course meant he was much more likely to actually try the food when they actually arrived!  Thanks to Farm Fresh for You, my picky eater tried pomegranate for the first time – and loved it!

I must say the quality of the food we received was exceptional.  The taste of the apples, for example, was out of this world!  This is even compared to the organic apples we purchase from our local grocery store.  Much of the fruit we ate right away, while the kale I used to make muffins and the pumpkin was made into pie!

Does organic produce delivered to your doorstep sound like something your family would enjoy?  Now is a great time to try it out!  My readers can use the code LEAN4714 to get $10 off your first box!

An Easy Way to Go Organic {Farm Fresh to You} |

To sign up, simply visit Farm Fresh to You or call 800.796.6009.

What is your favorite way to enjoy organic produce?

Nov 132014

Gifts for Little Scientists |

Monkey has so much fun with science play that I wanted to create this list of gifts for little scientists, to share some of the science books and kits we have that are great for kids!

For more ideas for science fun, be sure to follow my Science Experiments for Kids board on Pinterest!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  I appreciate your support!

Great Books for Little Scientists

I cannot say enough good things about this book!  This is one of Monkey’s absolute favorite books.  I keep recommending it to friends and giving it as gifts.  It answers burning questions like, Why do I have to eat vegetables?  Why do my feet get wrinkled in water?  Why do doughnuts have holes?  National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why is a fun book for any child (or adult!), even those that may not think they like science.  Companion books are National Geographic Kids First Big Book of Space
and National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals.

We also enjoy DK Eyewitness books like this one on Volcanoes & Earthquakes.  The pictures are amazing and the content first-rate.  These are designed for older kids, but younger ones will still find plenty to enjoy, so it’s a great gift for them to grow into.

Magic School Bus And of course, you can’t go wrong with the Magic School Bus!  These books are so fun and engaging, plus they are packed with great information – I learn a lot reading these books!  Monkey’s current favorite is The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body.  These books are so wonderful, it would be well worth buying a box set.  And now that his reading is advancing, I’m excited to jump into the Magic School Bus Chapter Books!

Great Kits and Toys for Little Scientists

Science Kits for Kids: Little Blast Review and Giveaway |

I adore  Little Blast, monthly themed science kits for kids (suggested ages 3-7).  I recently had the chance to review the Pulley Blast.  Monkey loved it!  The activities are do-able without being boring, and the science behind them is presented in a fun, engaging way.  You can sign up for the monthly subscription, just purchase a single kit (Blast), or even just buy digital downloads of the printed material.

We bought a Smart Lab You Explore It: Human Body Model for Monkey for his last birthday, and it has provided hours and hours of concentrated play time for him.  He loves taking it apart then putting it back together again.  He also likes to have me read him the information cards over meals, or we’ll take them on road trips.  I will warn you, though – if you are squeamish it may take some getting used to, finding these squishy body parts around the house!

I looked into a number of science kits before purchasing this one for Monkey.  As one reviewers phrased it, many kits are more about glitter and flashy colors than actual science experiments; or they require that you have a lot of additional materials at home.  The Magic School Bus, however, is different.  The price is very reasonable, yet the science is sound, it is packed with different activities, and you are not required to have any materials other than ones you typically already have on hand at home, such as tape and vinegar.  We have had hours of fun with The Magic School Bus: A Journey into the Human Body and can’t wait to try other Magic School Bus kits!

One product that I want to try with Monkey is Elenco Electronic Snap Circuits, Jr. Kit.  This award-winning educational toy receives great reviews and looks like a wonderful hands-on way to learn about electricity!

Gift Guides for Kids

I’m excited to be a part of the Gift Guides for Kids from Kid Blogger Network, this year coordinated by Erica of What Do We Do All Day! I am especially looking forward to Science Toys for Preschoolers from Itsy Bitsy Fun, Best Gifts for Kids Who Love Science from Gift of Curiosity, Sensory Science Gifts from Little Bins for Little Hands, LEGO Gifts Kids Will Love from Pleasantest Thing, Gifts for Your Little Engineers from Left Brain Craft Brain, and Gifts for Builders from Fireflies and Mudpies.

Find all the gift guides on the main page and even more ideas on our group Pinterest board!

Follow Erica • What Do We Do All Day?’s board Gift Guides for Kids on Pinterest.

Nov 102014

Green Gifts for Crunchy Mamas |

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  Thank you for your support!

The holiday season is a great time to splurge on those that you love and to show them that you know what is important to them.  So if you have a “crunchy mama” in your life – that is, someone who appreciates sustainable gift giving and wants to indulge the planet at the same time as she indulges herself – then this is the gift guide for you!

These days there are thankfully many options for environmentally friendly gifts – here are some of my favorites!

Green Gifts for Crunchy Mamas

You don’t have to sacrifice quality to be environmentally friendly!  Here are some of my favorite gifts for the special “green” mama in your life:

Organic clothing and goods

I love Tender Sapling for so many reasons – especially their focus on encouraging kids about virtues, world citizenship, and environmental sustainability.  They have wonderful organic products for all members of the family.  Treat your mama friends with a beautiful T-shirt (including maternity!), or a sampling of their cards, made from recycled paper.

One company that I have just discovered is Indigenous, dedicated to organic, fair trade fashion.  Who wouldn’t want to wear this beautiful Women’s Luxury Organic Tank or elegant Women’s Turtleneck Top?  And be sure to check out their collection of “Treasures that Make a Difference” – now on sale!

All natural pregnancy care products

All natural care products designed especially for pregnancy are a perfect way to indulge expecting moms.  Products like Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter
soothe stretching skin, and this gift set from Earth Mama Angel Baby even includes wellness tea!

For the kitchen

In the kitchen I’m especially conscious of the products I use, as I know they will can a direct impact on the health of my family.  That’s why I love to find all natural products like these beautiful Bambu Kids In The Kitchen Utensil.  And what better way to start your little one off on his eating journey than with this Bambu Baby Feeding Starter Set?

And if don’t want to feed your family junk – but want to make food they will actually eat – then you must check out the Weelicious cookbooks!  I adore all of her recipes, which are both practical but also stretch your ideas about what your kids will try.  She has two cookbooks – one with a range of family recipes, and her new one that focuses on kid lunches!  Both highly recommended.

On the go

Busy moms are always on the go, so don’t forget to give them some reusable food storage items they take with them!  I always forget to drink enough water, so I would love a reusable water bottle like this U Konserve Glass Bottle with Silicone Sleeve. U Konserve also has great lunch bags, like this Insulated Lunch Sack or this kids’ version, Kids Konserve Sky Insulated Lunch Sack.  And check out the kids’ lunch boxes from PlanetBox.  My sons would love this Shuttle Lunchbox with blue aliens!

Organic and fair trade tea

As seen in last year’s gift guide, I love tea!  Fair trade teas like Punjana Fair Trade Tea are not only good for communities but ultimately for the environment.  Numi Organic Tea is one of my favorite brands, especially since they have fair trade tea, like this Numi Organic Tea Fair Trade Breakfast Blend. Or you could indulge with this Numi Organic Tea Organic World of Tea Collection, which lets you “travel the world with each sip.”  Sign me up!

Fair Trade and organic chocolate

Ah chocolate – the ultimate indulgence!  Give her a treat she can feel good about eating, like this organic, direct trade Taza Chocolate Oaxacan Sampler.  Protect animals with a gift like the Endangered Species Wolf, Natural Dark Squares with Cranberries & Almonds.  Another organic chocolate company is Alter Eco.  I am very intrigued by their Dark Quinoa Organic Chocolate!  Seems like a fun, healthy spin on a puffed rice chocolate bar.  But my real weakness is hot chocolate – what better way to treat yourself than with Dagoba Organic Xocolatl Drinking Chocolate or Green & Black’s Organic Hot Chocolate Mix?

Homemade gifts

Of course, gifts made from the heart are the best kind of sustainable giving!  Check out these great ideas for gifts you and your kids can make!

For ideas, be sure to check out these post on sustainable gift giving from Multicultural Kid Blogs!  And don’t miss these gifts and stocking stuffers to pamper busy moms!

Festive Family Holiday hop

I’ve partnered with 30+ fabulous bloggers to bring you a special holiday series packed with crafts, activities, and festive family traditions. We’ve put together a phenomenal giveaway to help knock out your holiday shopping. From 11/3–11/17, you will have the opportunity to win 1 of 4 prize bundles for men, women, kids, and babies! The 4 prize bundles, valued at over $1,800, include gift certificates, toys, jewelry, and more!

For more details on these amazing two week holiday series, be sure to visit the main page on Bare Feet on the Dashboard, the creator and host.

Today’s posts are about Gifts for the Season:

 Festive Family Holiday Gift Guide Favorites ~ Gifts for Everyone on Your List

DIY Toddler Play Activity Gift Box from Adventures of Adam

Ten Things from Germany as Christmas Presents from La Cite’ des Vents

Ten Things from France as Christmas Presents from La Cite’ des Vents

Easy Gifts Kids Can Make from Hand Made Kids Art

Stocking Stuffer Ideas from Crystal’s Tiny Treasures

100 Non-Toy Gifts from Lemon Lime Adventures

Green Gifts for Crunchy Mamas from All Done Monkey

Gift Guide for Montessori Homeschoolers from Living Montessori Now

Gift Guide – Birth to 18 Months from ALLterNATIVElearning

The Ultimate Yoga for Kids Gift Guide from Kids Yoga Stories

Gift Guide from Peace But Not Quiet

Gift Guide for Promoting Healthy Development from The Inspired Treehouse

Tips for Sustainable Gift Giving from Multicultural Kid Blogs

ALEX Toys Holiday Gift Guide from Still Playing School

Best Gifts for a One-Year-Old from Adventure in a Box

Gifts that Help Kids with Independence from Sugar Aunts

Grandparent Gifts Kids Can Make from The Chaos and the Clutter

25 Heartwarming Christmas Books from Fireflies and Mudpies

Heirloom Advent Calendars from Are We There Yet?

And now for the giveaway!

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Nov 072014

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} -

One of my favorite crafts that I have done with Monkey was the bell craft we did several years ago for the Bahá’í holy day Birth of Bahá’u’lláh.  It was partially based on the Bahá’í children’s song celebrating this holiday, which mentions ringing bells and playing trumpets to mark the joyous occasion.

So this year I decided we should do a trumpet craft!

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} -

You’ll Need:

Cardboard tube (we used a paper towel roll)

Poster board

Paints, stickers, etc


The boys are always using empty cardboard rolls as horns, so it seemed natural to start with that as the foundation.

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} -

Little Monkey was hesitant at first but soon had a lot of fun using finger paints to decorate his.

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} -

I cut a cone our of poster board and let him decorate that as well.

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} -

After the paint had dried, I closed the cone with tape and attached it to the cardboard roll.  The main problem I had was getting some good photos of the finished product, as they had trouble holding still – it’s a fun toy to move with!

Trumpet Craft {Birth of Baha'u'llah} -

Happy Birth of Bahá’u’lláh to those celebrating next week!

Nov 052014

Fantastic Thanksgiving and Fall Pinterest Boards from All Things KidsBoards Button

Getting excited about Thanksgiving??  I know we are!  Today you can find me over at All Things Kids, showcasing some amazing Pinterest boards for family fun this Thanksgiving and fall!  Click the link below to see this great collection!


Fantastic Thanksgiving and Fall Pinterest Boards from All Things Kids

Nov 032014

Cherokee Rattle Craft {Native American Heritage Month Blog Hop and Giveaway} |

This post is part of the Native American Heritage Month Blog Hop & Giveaway (see details below!)

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  We appreciate your support!

Growing up in North Carolina, it was common to meet people – black and white – who had Cherokee ancestry.  Most, like me, were far removed from that distant Cherokee relative (in my case, a great-great-great-grandmother) and retained nothing of the cultural and very little of the physical heritage.

So when Native American Heritage Month approached this year, I decided it was a good opportunity to explore our Cherokee roots with my sons.

I found a fun rattle craft in The Cherokee (American Indian Art and Culture) by Rennay Craats. Unlike many of the other non-fiction books I found on the Cherokee, this book includes a focus on present-day culture and includes a few activities and crafts.

As we learned in the book, music and chanting are central to Cherokee ceremonies.  My Monkeys love music and dancing, and while most is not of the “sacred” type, I knew this would be a craft they would really appreciate.

Cherokee Rattle Craft {Native American Heritage Month Blog Hop and Giveaway} |

The book calls for using string and pencils, but I wanted to use up some of the supplies I had left over from their volcano birthday party, plus I thought the plastic spoons would really make some noisy fun.  Adding the “handle” was Monkey’s idea.  In the original craft, kids decorate the pencils, but when I suggested to my kids that they decorate the spoons, Monkey was not enthusiastic.  He spied some empty toilet rolls in my craft closet (always good to have a few on hand!) and really just wanted to paint one of those.

So we made them into handles for the rattle!  If you are doing this with a group of children and want to save a little time, you can always skip this step and just tie the ribbons into a knot.  The kids can hold onto the ends as they shake their rattles.

 Make Your Own Cherokee Rattle

You will need:

Ribbon or string

Plastic spoons (5-6 per rattle)

Toilet paper roll

Paint, stickers


Cherokee Rattle Craft {Native American Heritage Month Blog Hop and Giveaway} |

To make:

Have your child decorate the toilet paper roll with paint and/or stickers, in a design of their choosing.

Cherokee Rattle Craft {Native American Heritage Month Blog Hop and Giveaway} |

Once the paint has dried, make a small hole in the side of the roll.  Cut 5-6 lengths of ribbon or string.  Make them slightly different lengths, so the spoons will really rattle against one another.

Poke the ribbons through the hole and tie them in a knot, so that the end of the knot rests against the inside of the roll.

Tie one spoon around the opposite end of each ribbon.  I found it easier to secure these also with a bit of tape, as otherwise they may slip off with some enthusiastic shakes.

Cherokee Rattle Craft {Native American Heritage Month Blog Hop and Giveaway} |

Have fun making music with your rattle!


 photo 2014NAHMbutton-001_zpsc85ee76c.jpgMulticultural Kid Blogs is proud to host the first annual Native American Heritage Month Blog Hop & Giveaway! Link up your posts on Native American cultures below, and be sure to enter to win one of our great prize packages!

For more great posts about Native cultures, be sure to follow our Native/Indigenous Cultures board on Pinterest!


November 3:

Daria’s Music on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Crafty Moms Share

All Done Monkey

November 6:

Marie’s Pastiche on Multicultural Kid Blogs

November 7:

Toddling in the Fast Lane

November 10:

The Good Long Road

The Mommy Factor

Global Advocate, Jr.

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

November 13:

Crystal’s Tiny Treasures

Our Giveaway

1st Prize Package
US shipping only

From Wisdom Tales:

Children of the TipiChildren of the Tipi: Life in the Buffalo Days, edited by Michael O. Fitzgerald

The Otter, the Spotted Frog and the Great FloodThe Otter, the Spotted Frog & the Great Flood: A Creek Indian Story, retold by Gerald Hausman

Native AmericansNative Americans, by James Lagomarsino, donated by Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

2nd Prize Package

From Lee & Low Books:

Giving ThanksGiving Thanks: A Native American Morning Message, by Chief Jake Swamp

Buffalo SongBuffalo Song by Joseph Bruchac

Jim Thorpe's Bright PathJim Thorpe’s Bright Path, by Joseph Bruchac

3rd Prize

Himdag postcard setPostcard set from Paper Papel Papier: pack of 12 craft postcards decorated with the word himdag (value $18). Himdag is from the O’odham ñiok language of the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona and northwest Mexico. To embrace Himdag is to walk in balance, alone, with others, with nature, and with the Creator.

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Native American Cultures Linkup

Now it’s your turn to share!