May 222017
 
 May 22, 2017  parenting, Spring 4 Responses »

I have received information and materials from ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post. #ForWhatMattersMost #CollectiveBias

Springtime is here, and with that comes the rush to get outdoors and get active after the long, cold days of winter. Yet moms often don’t realize that they can easily overdo it as they strive to take care of everyone else – overlooking the need to take care of themselves as well. Here are my top tips for springtime self-care for moms, so they can enjoy all of the fun family activities that come with the season.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms | Alldonemonkey.com #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms

Pack for Yourself, Too

Headed to the playground or to a baseball game? Pack for yourself just as you do for your kids: water, snacks, sunscreen, hat, and so on. Too often moms are so focused on meeting their children’s needs that they ignore their own. Take a few extra minutes to make sure you have what you need to keep you going through all your spring activities, such as Extra Strength TYLENOL® for any muscular pain, backache, or minor pains from headaches or the common cold.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

Set a Realistic Schedule

What exactly a realistic schedule is will vary from person to person. Some people thrive on going to many scheduled activities during the week, while others need downtime to recharge in between the sports practices and park dates. I personally try to schedule only one “extra” activity a day outside our usual school routine. Know your own needs and make sure not to overextend yourself. It is easy to overdo it in the excitement of getting back outdoors, plus often we feel pressured to sign our children up for every available extracurricular activity. But you owe it to yourself and your kids to set limits and create realistic schedules. Remember that you are helping your family set healthy patterns as they move into adulthood.

Be Strict About Your Sleep

You are probably tired of hearing this, but getting a good night’s sleep is one of the simplest and most effective strategies for self-care for moms – and it is also one of the most ignored. I am guilty of this myself, since it is so tempting to stay up late when the house is finally quiet and I don’t have anyone making demands of me. But I really notice a difference when I commit to getting a full night’s sleep. And I know my kids can tell the difference, too!

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

Don’t Ignore Your Aches and Pains

We kiss all of our children’s boo-boos, carefully tending to each little wound, yet when it comes to ourselves we seldom show the same regard. As spring activities ramp up, it can be easy to overdo it, so don’t ignore those aches and pains. Whether you have a stiff back after gardening or a backache from helping set up at school events, Extra Strength TYLENOL® provides powerful relief so you can get back to what you enjoy.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

We recently picked up some Extra Strength TYLENOL® at Target. You can see above exactly where we found it. So easy, since we are at Target all the time! Please remember, of course, that Extra Strength TYLENOL® is only for adults and children 12 years and older and should be used only as directed.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms | Alldonemonkey.com #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

So this spring get out and enjoy all of your favorite family activities, knowing that you are taking great care of yourself just as you take care of everyone else!

I am not a medical expert, and this post is not medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The third party trademarks used herein are trademarks of their respective owners.

 

 

May 182017
 

Looking for some great summer reading for your middle schooler? Here are two wonderful new works of middle grade Latino fiction that you won’t want to miss! Both are coming of age novels that cast light on the Cuban-American experience today and yesterday as well as touching on universal themes of family, community, and finding your own voice. Don’t miss the giveaway of one of these books below!

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

New Middle Grade Latino Fiction | Alldonemonkey.com

New Middle Grade Latino Fiction

I love coming of age novels because they are all about helping children navigate that difficult terrain between childhood and adulthood, between learning from others and beginning to trust your own instincts. Both of the novels below invite us into the world of a young person discovering their own strength in part through coming to terms with their own fallibility. As they learn to accept their own weaknesses, they lose their fear and begin to blossom into extraordinary young adults.

These books are wonderful to pair together, as they both feature Cuban-American main characters but at different time periods and locations. It would be interesting to read them together and discuss how life for Cuban immigrants was different in New York City in the 1960s versus Miami in the present day, yet how themes of family and culture remained the same.

They also pair well together because each main character discovers their own voice through the arts: one through poetry and the other through literature and painting. Why not read them together alongside some wonderful books of poetry or art projects? Truly wonderful middle grade Latino fiction to share with your young readers!

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora bubbles over with all the energy and curiosity of a 13 year old boy. Arturo Zamora is looking forward to a laid back summer working in the kitchen of his Abuela’s restaurant and spending time with the cute girl who just moved into his apartment complex. Yet when a land developer enters the picture and threatens to change Arturo’s Miami neighborhood forever, he and his family must find a way to save their restaurant and their community. I love how this book is very contemporary with its references and language, without seeming like a grown up trying too hard to be hip. It also a wonderful portrait of a close extended family, with all of its quirky characters, complicated relationships, and unconditional love. Arturo blossoms inside this atmosphere of Sunday dinners and family group texts, especially through the gentle guidance of his grandparents, who show him to always trust his feelings and the power of poetry.

Lucky Broken Girl is a remarkable new book based on the author’s own experiences of being confined to her bed in a body cast after a car accident. Ruth Behar, a Cuban-Jewish girl, is the hopscotch queen of her 1960s New York City neighborhood with dreams of getting her own pair of go-go boots, when a terrible accident changes her life forever. As her outside world constricts, her inner world deepens. At first Ruth sinks into despair, but through writing and painting she learns of the healing power of forgiveness and the ability of art to transform the most dreary surroundings. This beautifully written novel gives a wonderfully nuanced look at relationships and how confusing people’s reactions to tragedy can be, whether it’s a mother forced to deal with her own resentment over caring for her injured daughter 24-7 or a girl whose sorrow over her friend’s injury makes her seem standoffish and uncaring. It also encourages introspection – what would you do if you were forced to lie on your back for nearly a year?- and sheds light on working through depression, anger, and anxiety to discover forgiveness and grace.

Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora Giveaway

And now for a giveaway of one of these amazing new works of middle grade Latino fiction! Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (ARV: $16.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 15, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

May 112017
 

Whenever my four year old wants to do something he knows he is not supposed to, he looks at me very intently and says, “Mommy, don’t see me.” It makes me laugh every time (and I do appreciate the red flag that mischief is afoot!) but on a more serious note, it reminds me that it is a work in progress to teach children to do the right thing even if no one is watching or, more importantly, even if it is difficult or they may not get an obvious reward.

There is no magic formula, but here are some ways I’ve discovered that help raise children who do the right thing.

Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing

Lead by Example

Nothing will make a bigger impact on your kids than how you act, even in situations where it may not seem like a “big deal.” For example, do you hold the door for others? Are you gracious when someone holds the door for you? Do you go back inside the store if you notice the cashier forgot to ring up one of your items? Do you step in when you see someone is being bullied? Kids take notice, and quickly learn to mimic your actions.

Inspire Them with Role Models

Of course, we as parents are far from perfect, which is why it is wonderful to be able to show them some examples of truly extraordinary people who can inspire us. I must confess that I didn’t really know much about Pete Seegar until I read the remarkable new children’s biography Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice, and then I realized how much I had already been influenced by him without even knowing it! For example, I never knew that he was the one who popularized the anthem “We Shall Overcome,” even introducing it to Martin Luther King, Jr.

This beautiful book gives us an intimate look at this pivotal figure, focusing not just on his musical legacy but on his legacy of change and fighting for justice. It is hard to read this book without wanting to get up and do something to make the world a better place – and to sing while you do it! I love the illustrations and how highlights from Seegar’s life are woven together to give the reader a cohesive message of hope and the power of one person to make a difference.

Related Post: Girls Who Changed the World

Teach Them to Look Beyond Themselves

A key element in teaching kids to do the right thing is to help them care about others. Developing empathy is key, because without it, they lack the will to take action to help others. Pass It On is a very sweet book for very young readers about sharing joy with others. It is also about recognizing the wonder of the world around you then passing that excitement on to others. Pass It On is a perfect way to teach children that sharing isn’t just about toys, it’s also about sharing a smile or a laugh with someone else.

Related Post: Children’s Books About Sharing

Teach Them to Think Long Term

A child who only seeks instant gratification will not understand the more satisfying rewards of doing the right thing, since these usually are slower in coming. Sometimes you immediately get a smile or a thank you when you help someone, but oftentimes there is no immediate reward or it may not be obvious. By helping children understand that good things come to those who wait, you will set the stage for them to do what is right, even if there is no immediate benefit to themselves.

Give Them Concrete Tools

Most children are concrete thinkers and understand better through specific examples of what behavior you expect from them. Set them up for success by giving them concrete tools of how to handle situations like bullying. For example, in our character building classes, we read stories, brainstormed how we might react in different scenarios, and did lots of role playing. These activities help build children’s confidence and give them concrete actions they can take when confronted with a difficult situation. Doing it as a group activity also helps build a community of peers that are all striving to help others and do what’s right.

How do you teach your kids to do the right thing?

Apr 132017
 
 April 13, 2017  activities, crafts, Ridvan, STEM 2 Responses »

The Festival of Ridván begins next week, and because it commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s stay in a garden full of roses, I love to do rose crafts and activities with my children to celebrate (like make these rose cookies). Inspired by the roses that were piled in Bahá’u’lláh’s tent each day (so many that His guests could not see each other over them!) I have gathered together a huge list of rose crafts, play and learning activities, and recipes for you. Enjoy!

A huge collection of rose crafts, play and learning activities, and recipes

Rose Crafts

From Living Ideas: DIY Rose Egg Craft

From Crafts by Amanda: Realistic Duct Tape Roses & Cardboard Tube Bouquet of Felt Roses

From Red Ted Art: Paper Towel Roses & Duct Tape Rose Pens

From Messy Little Monster: Celery Roses

From No Biggie: Pipe Cleaner Rose Rings

From Mum in the Madhouse: Simple Paper Roses

From Bellissima Kids: Paper Roses Bouquet

From FabDIY: Coffee Filter Rose

From Self-Reliant Living: Egg Carton Roses

From Mom on Time Out: Hershey’s Kisses Roses

From Kids Activities Blog: Paper Plate Roses

Rose Play & Learning Activities

From Teach Beside Me: LED Roses

From Schooling a Monkey: 3D Rose Model – Biology for Kids

From Mother Natured: Rose Study

From Homegrown Friends: Color Changing Rose Experiment

From Kitchen Counter Chronicle: Make a Book – The Giving Roses

From Nurture Store: Rose Petal Sensory Play Tub

From Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Rose Petal Water Play

From Childhood 101: Rose Playdough

From Crafts on Sea: Rose Scented Playdough

Rose Recipes

From All Done Monkey: Rose Cookies

From Martha Stewart: Ring Around the Rose Petal Fools

From The European Mama: Rose Petal Jam

From Gimme Some Oven: Rose Cake

From Life of a Lost Muse: Rose Apple Pie

From Heather Christo: White Peach and Rose Sorbet

From The Pretty Blog: Homemade Rosewater Marshmallows

From Global Table Adventure: Rosewater Lemonade, Rosewater Tea, Sweet Semolina Cake with Rosewater and Lemon, & Sweet Saffron Custard with Rosewater

From Posh Little Designs: DIY Raspberry Rose Ice Cubes

From A Pumpkin & A Princess: Rose Petal Bath Soak

From Lulus: Coconut Rose Body Scrub

Apr 112017
 
 April 11, 2017  Ridvan Comments Off on Ridvan Flower Board with Activities for Kids

As the Bahá’í festival of Ridván approaches, I’m pleased to share this beautiful Ridvan flower board idea from my friend Chelsea Lee Smith of Enable Me To GrowIt is a great way for families to celebrate this festival with kids! For more ideas, see our Walking Through the Garden of Ridván series.

Ridvan Flower Board with Activities for Children | Alldonemonkey.com

Ridvan Flower Board

Ridván is the “King of Festivals” for Bahá’ís and commemorates the 12 days that Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. camped on the banks of the Tigris River near Baghdad and, while there, proclaimed His mission to a small group of followers. (To read more click here).

I wanted to create some sort of way for our family to get a surprise on each of the 12 days (plus a decoration to have out during the Ridván period). Luckily I happened to find a piece of homemade art at a second-hand shop made out of wood with 12 wooden flowers, so I used it to make this Ridvan flower board.  I took off the random bits that were on it (stickers, pieces of paper, buttons, paper muffin cups etc decorating the flowers) and repainted it, cut up some leaves and painted them too, then added little jewels, some decorative ribbon, and some letters and numbers I bought.

Ridvan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

You can make your flower board out of cardboard, card stock, cloth, etc. You could either add leaves or flowers – if with cloth a little tab of velcro may work well to attach them, and if it’s paper then try using blue tac.

I put a little surprise activity on a post-it note on the back of each of the leaves. The leaves are attached to the frame with sticky tac, so that my son can take them off to read on the appropriate day. (You can use pictures for younger children so they can “read” the notes themselves).

For a group project, you could give each child a flower or leaf to decorate and add to the board. And you could either post up quotations or numbers on top of the flowers/leaves for each day.

Sample Activities for Each Leaf

Bake a cake for the Ridván party

Plant a garden

Do a crown craft

Rdivan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Make a card for a friend

Have fun with sensory play

Enjoy tea and muffins while talking about the story of Ridván

Rdivan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Get ice cream

Tell the story of Ridván using a felt board

Make tents

Rdivan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Make a collage of flowers

Make rose cookies

Learn a new song

Go on a picnic

Ridván Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Because we’ve been in the groove of celebrating Holy Days for the past few years, it is seeming to come so much more naturally now and I don’t feel stressed about getting things together but just going with the flow.  So if you are new to the idea of celebrating but want to do something, don’t worry if it seems difficult at first or like it’s too much to plan.  The smallest and simplest of things mean the most to children… like today I arranged the fruit on the plate in a pretty way for morning snack (ie grapes in the middle of the plate surrounded by cut up pears and apples) and the boys were super impressed.  Just putting in a little effort here and there to make things festive and remembering to talk about the meaning of the day is great.  And with a little practice, it will all come together easily.

Chelsea Lee Smith is a mother of three and is passionate about empowering families with tools for character education so that they can contribute to making the world a better place. She blogs at Enable Me To Grow offering activities, ideas and resources for character building and more.

Apr 052017
 
 April 5, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting, spiritual education Comments Off on Emotional Intelligence: Tips for Parents

Learning to navigate your emotions and those of others is an important set of skills for children to develop. This “emotional intelligence” is just as critical to future success and happiness as learning the multiplication tables and state capitals, perhaps more so. Children who are able to identify their feelings and work with them will be healthier, more balanced individuals who can empathize with others and connect with them in meaningful ways. Here are some tips for how you can help your children develop emotional intelligence.

Tips for parents to teach emotional intelligence

I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Emotional Intelligence: Tips for Parents

1. Name that Emotion

The building block of emotional intelligence is the ability to identify emotions. Teaching this skill can begin very early, as babies learn to read and mimic expressions. I love board books like Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions:

My toddler loves flipping through the pages of this sweet, simple book to see the photos of the baby faces. The book explores six basic emotions by showing one enlarged photo of a baby whose expression reflects that emotion then asking the reader to find that face again on a page of various smaller photos. Books like this are great because they capitalize on babies’ fascination with looking at other babies. My daughter loves to stare at the baby faces and often mimics their expressions, trying out the emotions for herself.

My little girl loves her new book Making Faces from @abramskids! Babies and toddlers love looking at faces, and this sturdy board book makes good use of that to teach little ones about emotions by showing them pictures of other children that are angry, happy, surprised, etc. The mirror at the end is an especially big hit! Great book to keep very young readers entertained and learning. Visit @annofdoodlesandjots for another #picturebookoftheday recommendation! . . . #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram #kidbloggersofig #kidlit #books #booksforchildren #homeschooling #kbnhs #ig_motherhood #childhoodunplugged #motherhoodunplugged #picturebook #boardbook #ece #mytinymoments #ourcandidlife #playmatters #instagood #instakids #learningthroughplay #love #kbnmoms

A post shared by Leanna || Parenting, Education (@alldonemonkey) on

As children get older, the naming process can become more sophisticated, as children learn to identify more nuanced emotions. For example, in the lovely Today I Feel . . .: An Alphabet of Feelings we find I is for Invisible, O is for Original, and R is for Relaxed.

This is a book my preschooler often requests at bedtime. Again, the book makes use of an interest at this age (learning ABCs) to talk about emotions. In Today I Feel…, each letter/emotion pair is accompanied by an illustration, so it is easy to spark a conversation: “Why do you think he feels invisible? What’s your favorite way to relax?”

2. Check Your Judgment at the Door

Sometimes it’s hard to feel empathetic with a little one and their big emotions, if their problems seem, well, small to you. Why is your child throwing a tantrum over which color cup he can use or who gets to push the button on the elevator? Don’t they know there are bigger problems, like paying bills or dealing with global warming??

Yet remember that to them their problems are very real and very big, and only when we treat their feelings respectfully can we help our children grapple with their emotions. When we respond with respect, we open up a safe place where children feel comfortable sharing their feelings with us. One picture book that does a great job of this is Dad and the Dinosaur:

This beautifully illustrated book does not belittle the very real fears that children have about what might lurk in the shadows or under manhole covers. Instead, it introduces coping mechanisms to help calm those fears, like having a comfort toy or confiding in a trusted adult. The boy in the story is able to face his greatest fears because of his toy dinosaur, which is not afraid of anything. When the dinosaur goes missing, however, the boy’s fears become overwhelming. I have to mention that while I love that the father in this book takes his son’s fears seriously and sets out to help him find the dinosaur, I wish that he had also taught the boy that he didn’t need the dinosaur for courage but that he had the courage he needed inside himself all along.

3. Give Them Tools

All too often we find ourselves in the position of reacting to behaviors that are the end results of an emotional process, when the emotions are already too big to be easily dealt with. Try to get ahead of this during calm times, by helping kids gain the tools they’ll need to head off emotional explosions before they reach the boiling point. Teach them strategies like taking a deep breath, talking it out, and running out their energy to help them manage their emotions. One book that does an excellent job of teaching kids how to deal with anger is The tiger in my chest:

I mean, what a great metaphor for feeling angry! First it talks through how it feels to be angry as the tiger in their chest grows bigger and bigger. Then teaches kids that tigers can be tamed and that they can be tiger tamers – brilliant! My kids really love this book, and we’ve started implementing its suggestions for calming down body and mind. This book really breaks everything down into terms that children can easily understand and put into practice right away. I also love the emphasis on learning to accept, forgive, and move on (including forgiving ourselves).

4. Show Them the Bigger Picture

Perspective is everything, and one of the easiest ways to get out of an emotional funk is to do something to help others. Serving others not only will help children get their mind off their own problems, it helps put their troubles into perspective. However, resist the temptation to make too direct a link between others’ problems and their own, or children may become defensive or feel belittled. The point will get across, and, more importantly, their spirits will be uplifted and their horizons expanded, which in the long run will make a bigger difference in changing their perspective.

If you have tweens or teens, I really recommend the wonderfully creative book Hot Air (Kindle edition). (Visit One Voice Press for the paperback version).

Bored and frustrated with living with her alcoholic mother, twelve year old Annie decides to make a grand escape – by building a hot air balloon (the perfect metaphor for anyone who has wanted to escape from their troubles)! This magical adventure takes Annie across the world, making new friends at every stop. As she visits distant lands, she finds her own strength to help others and in the process sees her own life through new eyes. I love how multi-dimensional the main character is – we see her immaturity and naivety as she begins her journey, but we also see her selflessness and courage as she chooses again and again to help those in need. A wonderful book about leaving your comfort zone to serve others and gain a new perspective.

5. Model Emotional Intelligence

Finally, remember that actions speak louder than words, and your children will learn more from watching your behavior than they will from anything you say. Take time to check in with your emotions and use the same tools you recommend for your kids. Taking several deep breaths has helped me on many occasions! And being honest with your kids when you make mistakes and apologizing if you blow your top also go a long way to helping them learn to be gentle with themselves. Kids really respond if they feel you are all in it together!

What are your tips for teaching emotional intelligence?

Mar 282017
 
 March 28, 2017  Book Reviews, History, raising world citizens Comments Off on Larger Than Life: The Fierce and Fabulous Lena Horne

As we teach our children about strong women in history, one who stands out is Lena Horne. Her immense talent was matched only by her determination in the face of the racism of her times. I first learned about her from her appearance on The Cosby Show when I was a child and I was captivated by her graceful presence and that amazing voice. So I’m thrilled to introduce a new children’s biography about her which has already received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly. I’m honored to share below an essay by the author, Carole Boston Weatherford, in which she reflects on why she brought Ms. Horne’s story to life in her new book.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Author Carole Boston Weatherford reflects on the life of Lena Horne and her new biography of this legendary figure

The Legendary Lena Horne: Reflections from Carole Boston Weatherford

Often an historical figure who makes cameo appearance in one book will later warrant a book of her own. Such was the case with entertainer and activist Lena Horne. She appeared as a resident in the picture book Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood. I also devoted a poem to her in the verse novel You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen.

So it was only a matter of time before I got around to writing Ms. Horne’s biography. A collaboration with illustrator Elizabeth Zunon, The Legendary Miss Lena Horne introduces this groundbreaking entertainer and activist to a new generation.

Lena Horne lived her life in the spotlight. At age 16, she made her show business debut as a chorus girl at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club, where African Americans performed for whites-only audiences. In the 1940s. she became the first black actor with a major Hollywood studio contract.

Related Post: Biographies for Kids About Following Your Dreams

Larger Than Life: The Fierce and Fabulous Lena Horne

Refusing roles as domestics, she found herself confined to musical numbers that could be easily cut for screenings at Southern theaters whose audiences might be offended by her black sensuality. She dubbed herself “a butterfly pinned to a column.” She also appeared in all-black movies such as Stormy Weather, which produced her signature song of the same name.

Larger Than Life: The Fierce and Fabulous Lena Horne

Offstage, Ms. Horne rebelled against racism at every turn, lashing out when someone hurled a racial epithet and dropping out of a U.S.O. tour when German prisoners of war were treated better than the black soldiers in the audience. From then on, she paid her own way to perform for black troops. During World War II, she was their favorite pinup. Ironically, during the 1950s Red Scare, Ms. Horne was blacklisted for her ties to fellow entertainer and alleged Communist Paul Robeson.

In the 1960s, she took a hiatus from show business to join the Civil Rights Movement. She marched with protestors and sang at rallies. At the 1963 March on Washington, she took her turn at the podium and uttered one word: “Freedom!”
Even in her later years, she kept recording, starred in a one-woman Broadway show, played Glenda the Good Witch in the movie The Wiz, and serenaded Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street.

Larger Than Life: The Fierce and Fabulous Lena Horne

I grew up watching Ms. Horne’s guest appearances on television variety shows. Back then few blacks were on the small screen and her presence was always an inspiration, always an event. I idolized her then and I still do. For me, Lena Horne will always be larger than life—a fierce and fabulous legend.

Carole B WeatherfordCarole Boston Weatherford is a New York Times bestselling author whose 40+ books include many award winners. She is considered one of the leading poets writing for young people today. I was also proud to discover she is a long-time resident of my home state of North Carolina, where she received her MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and where she currently is a Professor of English at Fayetteville State University. You can read more about her on her website.

Mar 102017
 

I am fascinated by the Hindu celebration Holi, the one you see the amazing photographs of each year, with people showering each other with vibrantly colored powders or colored water. But to be honest, beyond the sense of it as a joyous, lively festival, I really didn’t know much about it. Well, dear reader, for you I have decided to go deeper and find out more: Here is why now I’m convinced everyone should learn about Holi!

5 Reasons Everyone Should Learn About Holi | Alldonemonkey.com

Photo by Raghuvanshidude (Holi) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I received a copy of Let’s Celebrate Holi for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Related Post: India for Kids – Favorite Resources for Elementary Students

Why Everyone Should Learn About Holi

1. It is incredibly fun.

Holi is one of the most fun celebrations I have heard of! The most famous aspect of Holi is how celebrants throw colored powder on each other and spray everyone with colored water, until everyone and everything is covered with beautiful, bright colors. Talk about fun, especially for kids who are always told to be careful not to spill or get their clothes dirty! (Find out how to make your own homemade colored powders).

2. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

No matter what your religion or philosophy, the battle of good and evil is a classic struggle where we all can support the same side! Sharing the story of Holi is a great way to teach children that when it comes down to it, all people believe in the same basic principles.

3. It is celebrated throughout India and around the world.

Holi is not only celebrated in one of the world’s most populous countries, it has also become popular in other countries as well, in part due to immigration but also because it is such a fun festival (see #1!)

4. The food is spectacular.

As with so many holidays, Holi is a time of eating special foods, like the gujia pastry or the refreshing spiced milk drink thandai (you can also make a dairy-free version).

5. Your kids will think you are the coolest parent ever.

Getting messy, throwing water and powder on each other, eating great food, and hearing stories that excite the imagination: no doubt about it, if you help your kids learn about Holi, they will think you are awesome! 

Related Post: Holi Crafts and Activities for Kids

Convinced? Then I have the perfect guide to teach you and your kids all about Holi! You may remember the series I have reviewed previously about Maya and Neel, the brother and sister who introduce children to Indian culture. They taught about Mumbai in Let’s Visit Mumbai! and the holiday Diwali in Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! (see my reviews here and here). In their latest adventure, Let’s Celebrate Holi!, Maya and Neel help children learn about Holi through traditional foods and activities. I love that the book also highlights regional variations in how Holi is celebrated, with colorful illustrations and maps.

I also appreciated reading the story behind Holi, something I had never really understood before. After all, what does throwing powder on each other have to do with the triumph of good over evil? Find out, plus discover what it has to do with the bonfires during Holi!

As with the other volumes in this series, the illustrations are beautiful and engaging, and young readers can easily relate to these siblings as they learn about Holi and Indian culture, as seen through the eyes of children. If you are looking to introduce your child to this festival or want a story to share in your classroom, I highly recommend Let’s Celebrate Holi!!

Mar 032017
 
 March 3, 2017  parenting 4 Responses »

Are you having trouble balancing work and family? Whether your a career woman or a work-at-home mom, balancing family and career is perhaps the single most challenging aspect of modern motherhood. I don’t have all the answers: It is something I struggle with every day. In fact, I am late publishing this article because it is hard to take photos with wiggly little ones, my oldest had science night at his school last night (fun!), and my preschooler got slime all over the living room when I finally was able to get on the computer.

Balancing Work and Family: 4 Things to Do Right Now | Alldonemonkey.com

But luckily I have found some things that have help me in my journey. If you are looking for better balance in your life, here are 4 things you can do right now.

Don’t miss our big giveaway below for a copy of the incredible new book Work PAUSE Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career by Lisen Stromberg!

Related Post: Finding Balance as a Mom

Balancing Work and Family: 4 Things to Do Right Now

1. Know that it’s not your fault.

We’ve all heard about “mommy guilt” – that uncomfortable feeling you get when you are doing something for yourself and not your kids. Despite great strides in recent decades, we live in a culture that still teaches mothers that their needs always come after those of their children, whether you are looking at career or simply having some “me” time. But the problem is deeper than that: there are serious structural problems that make it impossible for women (and men) to prioritize both their families and their careers. From national policies to workplace culture, working parents are often forced to put their careers ahead of their families or risk losing out on critical promotions and opportunities. By putting the onus on mothers themselves (how you should find balance in your life), the focus is taken off the changes that could be made in the public realm. Awareness is the first step.

2. Throw out the old paradigms.

Most women feel like they must choose between family and career: once they have a baby, they have to either stay at home or return to the office. But these days more and more women are choosing to trailblaze their own career paths using non-traditional methods, such as flexible schedules, working remotely from home, working freelance or starting their own companies.

Related Post: Asian-Inspired Self-Care for Moms

3. Think long-term.

As my mother is good about reminding me, there are seasons to life. You will not always have small children at home. Babies grow up and no longer need constant care. Children eventually learn to make their own sandwiches, find their lost toys (hopefully!), and make their own way in the world. Don’t be discouraged if all of your time is absorbed with these tasks right now, because this will change. Make a long-term strategy of where you would like to be in 5 years, 10, or 15.

Balancing Work and Family: 4 Things to Do Right Now | Alldonemonkey.com

4. Read Work, Pause, Thrive.

I highly recommend that every mother read the new book Work PAUSE Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career by Lisen Stromberg. Stromberg is an award-winning journalist and CEO and founder of her own consultancy and – most importantly to me – she is a mom of three who has been there through career changes and family crises.

But her groundbreaking work isn’t just based on her own experiences. She collected data from nearly 1,500 women about their career/family trajectories and conducted 186 interviews. And what she found was startling: in the face of difficult odds, more and more women are throwing out the old paradigms and forging their own paths to integrate career and family in non-traditional ways.

Yet for the most part, the paths were only clear in hindsight. Often the women were making tough choices at pivotal moments, unsure of where they would lead. Through compiling her data, Stromberg is for the first time presenting to women alternate paths they can take, so that their career trajectories will not feel as haphazard as hers often did.

Balancing Work and Family: 4 Things to Do Right Now | Alldonemonkey.com

As a mother of grown children and a woman at the peak of her career, Stromberg has great insight to share with readers, always speaking with her younger self in mind but also her own children as they begin on their careers.

And best of all, you can win a copy of this incredible book! Enter below for a chance to win.

Giveaway

Prizes: One of 15 copies of Work PAUSE Thrive by Lisen Stromberg ($25 ARV)

Dates: February 21, 2017 – March 11, 2017

Entry Options: You may enter the giveaway via the widget with the following options: Tweet a message

Notification: Winners will be randomly selected and notified by March 14, 2017

Terms & Conditions: See the widget for details

Eligibility: Age 18+, US resident only, only one winner per household

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Feb 272017
 
 February 27, 2017  bilingualism Comments Off on Z Is for Zombie: How Bilingual Parenting Is Like Minecraft

I barely played video games growing up and even as an adult never found them very entertaining, at least, not compared to reading a book or, you know, hanging out with real live people or feeling the sunshine on my face. Yet my children love them and so I have come to appreciate video games as fun and often brain-building activities. I have even logged some time playing their favorite, Minecraft, though I have no idea what I am doing! It is quite humbling to have your 4 year old sigh as he explains something to you again. It seemed an apt metaphor for bilingual parenting, which is also incredibly challenging but rewarding. Here are the ways I have discovered that bilingual parenting is like Minecraft.

Z Is for Zombie: How Bilingual Parenting Is Like Minecraft | Alldonemonkey.com

Z Is for Zombie: How Bilingual Parenting Is Like Minecraft

– Often the world you are operating in can seem very surreal.

– You find yourself doing things you never thought you would.

– You can still have lots of fun even if most of the time you don’t know what is going on.

– Some days everyone is building together peacefully (Creative Mode), while other days you’re being attacked constantly by strange creatures (Survival Mode).

– Your children often understand more than you do.

– You don’t really need a lot of gear, but it can help, though the wide range of choices can be confusing.

– You find yourself using vocabulary (like “OPOL” or “creeper”) that your pre-child self wouldn’t recognize.

– Some days you’re just happy if you know what your children are saying.

– You try to act like you’re the one in charge, but eventually you realize that you are part of a world your kids have created and you all have to work together if you want to accomplish anything.

– You are more likely to build something amazing (or survive attacks) if you have others helping you.

– Sometimes everything is going great, but other times you are surrounded by creatures (your children or nay sayers) that explode if you even look at them.

– You are humbled by how much you have left to learn, at the same time as you are proud of what you have managed to accomplish.

– Every day is an adventure that challenges your creativity and endurance, but that in the end is always worth it.

the piri-piri lexicon

This post is part of the month-long series A-Z of Raising Multilingual Parenting, from the piri-piri lexicon. Be sure to stop by and see some of the other articles in this incredible collection about bilingual parenting!

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