Feb 082017
 

Whether you are celebrating Valentine’s Day or just looking for an excuse to snuggle one with your little ones, you will enjoy these wonderful picture books about love! These are some of our favorite stories to read together. They not only give everyone the warm fuzzies, they all have important lessons for kids about the depths of love and its ceaseless ability to grow and include others.

Picture Books About Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Related Post: Teaching Kids to Choose Love

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Plenty of Love to Go Around 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.

Picture Books About Love

I’m so happy to feature this brand new picture book from Emma Chichester Clark, who is also the author of one of our favorite books about sibling love, No More Kissing. Her new book, Plenty of Love To Go Around, is based on her real life dog, Plum, and the affection she has for her main character is obvious. Children will easily identify with Plum as she deals with jealousy over a new cat next door. Plum is used to be the only special animal in her family’s life, and she’s not sure she likes all the attention Binky the cat is getting. On top of that, Binky actually wants to be friends with her! I love the gentle message of this book, but especially how Plum’s owner reacts with such understanding when Plum acts out. Great lesson for kids about the limitless quality of love.

Hug Machine is a book I have recommended to so many of my friends, because my preschooler and I just love it! It is a sweet, sometimes silly book about the power of hugs and the lengths that one determined boy will go to in order to make sure that no one misses out on a good hug.

Related Post: Creative Ways to Show Kids Love

And how could I not mention Snuggle Puppy, the book that’s meant to be sung to your own little snuggle puppy? It is one of my favorite picture books about love. I have such fond memories of singing this one to each of my kids when they were small. My oldest even used it to practice his letters when he first started to read! A true classic.

When I was still a very new mother, just adjusting to the incredible emotions that my tiny newborn evoked in me, a friend gave us the beautiful book I Love You As Much…. It perfectly captures the infinite love a parent feels for her child by drawing on the boundless quality one feels in nature: “Said the mother bear to her child, ‘I love you as much as the forest has trees.'” The gorgeous paintings and gentle rhymes and rhythms of the text make this a perfect book to read together at bedtime.

A great book to share with elementary aged children is The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. It is a wonderful introduction to the couple whose case made interracial marriage legal throughout the US. It is a lovely treatment of a difficult subject, underscoring at every turn the power of love and its ability to change hearts. A great way to teach children that love does conquer all, with some help from courage and determination.

Jan 092017
 

Thank you to Kid World Citizen for compiling these Martin Luther King lessons, activities, and videos!

On Monday, many of us will have kids out of school, some of us will not have to work, and the news will be peppered with stories about good deeds and service projects. The government finally approved the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Day in the 1980’s, and in 1994 President Clinton expanded “the mission of the holiday as a day of community service, interracial cooperation and youth anti-violence initiatives.” Martin Luther King Day is more than just an extra holiday: it is a reminder of the Civil Rights Movement, of the struggles for equality, and of an incredible leader in US history. Through these Martin Luther King lessons and activities, I hope your children are inspired and encouraged to imagine what they can do to make the world a better place- and take action to work towards their goals.

Martin Luther King Lessons, Activities, Videos Alldonemonkey.com

Martin Luther King Lessons, Activities, Videos

MLK books- Kid World Citizen

Fantastic list of books to learn about Martin Luther King Jr.

Another book about Martin Luther King Jr for kids

One additional book in Spanish about Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King Lesson- Kid World Citizen

Martin Luther King packet

5 ways to Celebrate MLK DAY with Kids- Kid World Citizen

5 Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Day with Kids

MLK writing activity MommyMaestra- Kid World Citizen

A cute bilingual writing activity about Martin Luther King’s dream

Community service kids- Kid World Citizen

Ideas for service projects with kids

35 Ideas for community service projects for kids

Videos about Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Video- Kid World Citizen

This BrainPop video (as usual) is a fantastic way for kids to learn about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. I love their clear, age-appropriate explanations of nonfiction topics for kids.

Here is the actual speech by Martin Luther King for older kids to hear from the leader himself, the “I Have a Dream” speech given during the March on Washington.

Finally, Kid President does a great job explaining the impact of Marin Luther King Jr, his legacy, and how kids can change the world!

I hope that you enjoyed these resources to teach kids about the great Martin Luther King! Remind your kids that his legacy lives on through our actions, kindness, empathy and service.

About the Author

BeckyBecky of Kid World Citizen is an ESL and Spanish teacher, raising 5 bilingual and multicultural kids, sharing ideas to teach kids about world cultures and our planet through travel, food, music, celebrations, service, maps, art, and projects. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Martin Luther King Day for Kids on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our third annual blog hop on Martin Luther King Day for Kids! Find great ideas for commemorating MLK Day with kids and don’t miss our series from last year and 2015! For even more, be sure to follow our Black History Pinterest board!

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Black History on Pinterest.

Participating Blogs

Mommy Maestra on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Free Printable
Colours of Us
Crafty Moms Share: Reflections and a Simple Craft
The Jenny Evolution: Must-Read Children´s Books on Slavery for All Ages
Creative World of Varya
All Done Monkey: Lessons, Activities, Videos
Kitchen Floor Crafts: Shades of People Handprint Wreath
La Clase de Sra. DuFault: Spanish Printable

Jan 022017
 
 January 2, 2017  Education, New Year's 1 Response »

Teaching Kids the Meaning of New Years | Alldonemonkey.om

Thank you to Bicultural Mama for this great piece on teaching kids the meaning of New Years! 

For many families, New Years is all about parties, staying up until midnight, and watching the ball drop in Times Square. While these are all important aspects, they do not entirely encompass it. Like with most holidays, there are often historical, scientific, and spiritual characteristics that go beyond the commercialism that we most often see.

Kids may not really understand the meaning behind New Years, but it’s easy to teach them about it. Here are some tips to give them perspective about New Years beyond the confetti, fireworks, and midnight celebrations.

Teaching Kids the Meaning of New Years

The Time Aspect

Help kids understand the physical and utilitarian aspects of a new year by showing them a calendar. Explain the 12 months of the year (Gregorian calendar). Start in January and flipping through until the end of the year. Point out holidays and birthdays along the way so kids can relate to the order of how time takes place.

The Reflective Aspect

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on the past year. Start a tradition of having your child write a journal entry that highlights the highs and lows from the last 12 months. If your child is too young to write, another option is to have a “verbal journal” by discussing the year with him or her.

The Scientific Aspect

A year is not a man-made idea; science lies behind its formation. Explain how the rotation of the Earth around the sun takes 365 days, or a full year. If your child has a solar system model in his or her room, that’s an easy way to show how the orbiting works. Or check out books from the library about the Earth and the solar system.

The Goals Aspect

New Year’s resolutions are popular and for good reason – it’s a figurative stake in the ground of time to set and start goals. Kids can write down their resolutions or simply verbalize them if they are unable to write yet. Even better, set estimated dates of when the child wants each goal to be accomplished.

The Multicultural Aspect

Help kids to understand that the concept of a new year may differ in other cultures. Some cultures do not use the Gregorian calendar. For example, the Chinese use a lunar calendar with 12-year cycles where each cycle is symbolized by an animal. The first day of the Chinese New Year typically falls between mid-January to mid-February. Let kids know that there is no one right or wrong calendar. There are just different ones, and different is okay.

Try implementing these tips to teach kids the meaning of New Years, then have fun celebrating it in all the traditional ways they love. Happy New Year!

About the Author: Maria Adcockbicultural-mama-square-no-tag

Maria Adcock is the founder of BiculturalMama.com, a site covering culture, parenting, food, and travel. She is a first-generation Chinese-American and corporate marketing professional turned freelance writer who lives in New York with her husband and two young children.

 

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Dec 232016
 
 December 23, 2016  Christmas, Geography, raising world citizens, recipes Comments Off on Kid-Friendly Holiday Drink: Haitian Pineapple Nog

This month we’ve been learning about Haiti, and in particular Christmas treats from this beautiful but beleaguered country. We really loved the sweet potato pudding, so we were looking forward to trying pineapple nog, a wonderful kid-friendly holiday drink. The flavors are quite different than eggnog, but it has a similarly creamy consistency. It is traditionally served at Christmas time, but these tropical flavors would also be well suited for summertime.

Kid-Friendly Holiday Drink: Pineapple Nog | Alldonemonkey.com

Christmas in Haiti

But first we took a step back to learn about Haiti and how they celebrate Christmas there. For our character-building classes at home we’ve been focusing on courage, so we talked about how the people of Haiti have incredible courage. First, because they successfully waged one of the first revolutions in the Western Hemisphere, which was also the largest successful slave rebellion in modern times. Haitians today also demonstrate incredible courage in the face of widespread poverty and repeated natural disasters. (For information on charities that operate in Haiti, see the end of this post). For those that want to delve deeper, you can read about how in many ways Haiti’s current suffering stems from its incredible victory more than two centuries ago and the fear it invoked in Western powers.

But back to Christmas! Here is a wonderful first hand account of how Nwèl (Christmas) is joyfully celebrated in Haiti despite the lack of material wealth. One beloved tradition mentioned there are the Christmas fanals, paper lanterns made in the shape of houses, churches, or animals and lit with candles or Christmas lights. Celebrating with family and friends is at the heart of the festivities, and most families attend midnight mass together on Christmas Eve.

Afterwards it is back home for all night dinner parties called reveyonsChildren often play woslèwhich is similar to jacks. Before going to sleep, they make sure to leave out their shoes, filled with straw, which Tonton Nwèl (Santa Claus) will fill with presents.

Kid-Friendly Holiday Drink: Haitian Pineapple Nog

Adapted from Taste the Islands

While the cocktail kremas is very popular at Christmastime, a kid-friendly holiday drink is pineapple nog. It is light and creamy, with a blend of tropical flavors that all ages will enjoy. Plus, it literally takes 2 minutes to make! It honestly took me longer to write the recipe here than it did to actually make it.

The original recipe does not call for any sweetener, but for my crowd I knew I needed to sweeten it up a bit. (It is actually really refreshing just as it is, so try it before you add any sugar!) To keep it relatively healthy, I used a banana for much of the sweetener, which was great because it’s in keeping with the tropical flavors.

I also wanted to make it dairy free for my son, so instead of the traditional mix of coconut milk and regular milk, I used all coconut milk. If you prefer you can make the traditional version.

Kid-Friendly Holiday Drink: Pineapple Nog | Alldonemonkey.com

Ingredients

1 can of coconut milk

20 oz can of crushed pineapple

1 ripe banana

2 T sugar (optional)

sprinkle of nutmeg

Put all ingredients in blender and mix thoroughly. Delicious as is but even better chilled!

Makes 3 large servings or 4-5 small servings

What is your favorite kid=friendly holiday drink?

Kid-Friendly Holiday Drink: Pineapple Nog | Alldonemonkey.com

He is a little suspicious of those brown flecks. It’s just nutmeg!

Organizations to Support in Haiti

There are many charities operating in Haiti. Here are two of my favorites:

Lidè: An educational initiative in rural Haiti that uses the arts and literacy to empower at-risk adolescent girls and help them transition into school or vocational training.  Established by Author Holiday Reinhorn, Actor Rainn Wilson and Executive Director Dr. Kathryn Adams in response to the devastating earthquake of 2010, the Lidè program seeks to uplift women and girls who have been denied equal access to education.

New Horizon School, Mona FoundationRecognized as one of the best in Haiti, New Horizon School is educating the next generation of graduates trained as agents of change in the sustainable development of Haiti through its focus on academic excellence, personal transformation through building moral capabilities and commitment to community service.

Christmas in Different Lands 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual Christmas in Different Lands series! This year each participating blogger will focus on a different country, sharing a traditional dish and more about Christmas in that country. For even more glimpses of global Christmas celebrations, see our series from previous years (2013, 2014, and 2015), plus follow our Christmas board on Pinterest!

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Christmas Around the World on Pinterest.

December 2
Multicultural Baby on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Japan – Strawberry Christmas Cake

December 5
Crafty Moms Share: Nigeria – Jollof Rice

December 7
English Wife Indian Life: India – Christmas Plum Cake

December 8
Living Ideas: Indonesia – Tumpeng nasi kuning

December 9
Creative World of Varya: Lebanon

December 12
Hanna Cheda on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Poland – How to Make Polish Gingerbread Cookies

December 13
the piri-piri lexicon: Portugal – Sonhos

December 14
Raising a Trilingual Child: Italy – Diverse Traditions

December 15
Let the Journey Begin: Latvia – Pīrāgi
Spanglish Monkey: Spain – Polvorones

December 16
Pack-n-Go Girls: Austria – Vanillekipferl

December 19
Mom Hats and More: USA – Apple Streudel

December 20
Multicultural Baby: Paraguay – Sopa Paraguaya

December 21
La Clase de Sra. DuFault: Chile – Pan de Pascua

December 22
Uno Zwei Tutu on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Colombia – Hojuelas
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Roast Pork

December 23
All Done Monkey: Haiti

Celebrate Christmas Around the World Printable Pack from Multicultural Kid Blogs

Don’t miss our other posts about Christmas in different lands, plus our printable pack Celebrate Christmas Around the World, on sale now!

Dec 012016
 

The holidays are fast approaching, and this year I decided to try a new treat: a Christmas pudding from Haiti. It is heaven, a sweet combination of flavors we typically associate with the Caribbean, like coconut and banana, with those we associate with the winter holidays, like cinnamon and sweet potatoes.

Haiti Christmas Treat: Sweet Potato Pudding | Alldonemonkey.com

Pain patate is a traditional treat in Haiti, served throughout the year but particularly at Christmas. It is sometimes translated as sweet potato cake or bread, but in other places as sweet potato pudding, which is more how ours turned out.

The recipe is very easy, but it does require quite a lot of cooking time, since the sweet potato are not cooked ahead of time but instead grated and cooked in the batter itself. If you decide to use orange yams like I did instead of the white sweet potatoes traditionally use, be warned that your pudding will take much longer to set, as the white sweet potatoes are much drier and so hold up better in the batter.

Either way, though, the results are delicious!

Haiti Christmas Treat: Sweet Potato Pudding | Alldonemonkey.com

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Pudding (Haiti)

Based on this recipe from Manmie et Tatie

Ingredients

2.5 cups of sweet potatoes (I used one large sweet potato)
½ cup raisins
1 cup evaporated milk
1 ¼ cup coconut milk
1 cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup butter
½ tsp of salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ripe banana
1 lime (zest only)
1 T ground ginger
2 T vanilla

Haiti Christmas Treat: Sweet Potato Pudding | Alldonemonkey.com

To Make:

    1. Soak the raisins in boiling water. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Grate them with a box grater or (much faster!) cut into pieces and grind in a food processor.
    2. Put the grated sweet potatoes in a pan, along with the evaporated milk, coconut milk, brown sugar, butter, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
    3. Cook on medium heat for 45-50 minutes, stirring frequently. As it cooks, mash the banana and add to the pan, along with the raisins, lime zest, and ginger. Continue to stir frequently.
    4. Add the vanilla then stir and cover. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the batter begins to thicken.
    5. Pour into a greased 8 x 11 baking pan and cook at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 ½ hours. The dish is done once the pudding has set and turned a golden color.
    6. For a more cake like consistency, refrigerate for 24 hours.

Holiday Treat & Cookie Swap Around the World

You’ve heard of the holiday cookie swap – here is a virtual swap, hosted by Crafty Moms Share, with recipes from around the world! Visit the linky below to find new multicultural recipes to try this holiday season, and link up your own!

Link up your own holiday recipes!


Nov 302016
 
 November 30, 2016  Christmas, recipes 3 Responses »

Looking for a fun, healthier treat to enjoy with your kids as you gear up for the holidays? Try these crunchy chocolate peanut butter balls for an energy boost that everyone will enjoy!

Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls | Alldonemonkey.com

Before you start cooking, use this coupon to get your ingredients! And don’t miss your chance to enter the Sing Sweepstakes: see below for details!

This is a time of year I savor spending with my family. There are so many special traditions we’ve built up over the years. One of my favorites is making gingerbread houses with my kids. I love to vary the ingredients each year, such as by making a healthier version of this holiday classic. One year we even did a pizza bread house!

I always buy some special ingredients for decorations, like candy or dried fruit. This year we used one of our new favorite cereals, which we picked up at Target (Save when you use this coupon)!

Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls | Alldonemonkey.com

Choices, choices…

Honey Bunch of Oats® (Honey Roasted and Strawberry) were the perfect addition: the flakes make great leaves for leaves and tiles for roofs, while the granola clusters can…oh, let’s be real! We may never know because they always get eaten before they can be used!

Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls | Alldonemonkey.com

In his mind, a gingerbread house is anything you can put sprinkles on!

I love how creative the boys are with this project, which always goes differently than I imagine it will! This year my oldest built a skyscraper, while my youngest built a factory (which looked suspiciously like a big mound of ingredients, since he didn’t have the patience to fool with any actual engineering).

Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls | Alldonemonkey.com

The trees, unfortunately, were eaten before I could snap a picture!

To fuel my little architects, I made these absolutely scrumptious crunchy chocolate peanut butter balls. I’ve made peanut butter balls for years, but this year I wanted to do something a little different and, well, fancier. I also know that my kids get bored with eating the same old snacks all the time, and these crunchy, chocolate peanut butter balls were just the ticket to shake things up a bit.

Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients

One cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)

1.5 T unsweetened cocoa powder

Honey to taste

1 cup crushed Honey Bunches of Oats ® cereal (we used Honey Roasted): Use this coupon to save!

To Make:

  1. Mix peanut butter, cocoa powder, and honey. If you would rather skip the chocolate (really??), add coconut flour to help absorb the liquid and give it a milder flavor. If, on the other hand, you want more chocolate, you can also add mini chocolate chips once the first three ingredients are blended together.
  2. Form the mixture into balls (any size will do, but larger balls will hold up better in the next step).
  3. Roll the balls in the crushed cereal. Enjoy as is or stick in the refrigerator for a (slightly) neater treat!

Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls | Alldonemonkey.com

These are a great, healthier treat for kids and moms! They are a balanced, bite-sized source of energy, plus they make a great midnight snack, moms! (Although be careful, because they are so crunchy you might wake up the kids!)

Sing Sweepstakes

This year we are also planning to go see the Sing© movie, opening soon! It looks so cute and funny! But the fun starts now, even before the movie is out, since you can get coupons for participating Post Cereal Brands, play Fun-Trivia to find the SING© character you are most like, and enter the Sing Sweepstakes for a chance to win a $100,000 grand prize plus the chance to instantly win lots of prizes including movie tickets, speakers and more! What would you do with $100,000??

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Promotion starts 11/1/16 at 12:00 PM (noon) ET and ends 3/31/2017 at 11:59:59 PM ET. Open only to legal residents of the 50 US/DC, 18 years of age or older. See Official Rules for instructions on how to enter, how to obtain codes without purchase, prize details, restrictions, odds of winning, etc. Void where prohibited by law. Sponsor:  Post Consumer Brands, LLC.

Nov 222016
 
 November 22, 2016  Christmas, crafts, household 2 Responses »

‘Tis the season, and families everywhere are gearing up to buy, create, and lovingly wrap presents for their loved ones. While you’re at it, why not have some fun with all that extra wrapping paper? It is so great for crafts! We had fun with some of our own upcycled crafts recently, so I’ve gathered together some creative ideas for you. Share your ideas in the comments!

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary packages of wrapping paper from Tuttle Publishing for review purposes; however, all my opinions are my own.

Do you have a stash of wrapping paper sitting around at the end of the holidays, odd scraps that you’re not sure would actually fit a present but you can’t bring yourself to get rid of? Or perhaps you’ve found some really beautiful wrapping paper that is like artwork all by itself? Here are some fun and creative ways to use it!

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

I was so pleased to receive several packages of gorgeous wrapping paper from Tuttle Publishing (shown above are the Blue and White set, Indonesian Batik, Japanese Kimono, and Chinese Silk). With gifts, so much is in the presentation! These premium wrapping papers are so beautiful and artistic that I knew our loved ones would feel very special receiving presents wrapped with them.

I also realized that we could also use it to make wonderful crafts! Here are some of our favorite creative uses for wrapping paper.

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper

Book Covers

When I was a kid, at the start of every school year we would pull out the paper grocery bags to make covers for our new textbooks. (Here is a tutorial that is exactly how we did it when I was a kid). It kept the books in better shape, plus it personalized them a bit. I hadn’t done it for years, so I thought it would be fun to do again. Since we had such beautiful material to work with, I made a cover for my prayer book using a sheet from the Chinese Silk set. Isn’t it beautiful?

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

Line Your Drawers

Add a little beauty to your everyday by lining your drawers with some beautiful wrapping paper! Featured here is a sheet from the Blue & White set. The photo really doesn’t do justice to the pretty dark blue color I used.

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

Paper Chains

Decorate your house or trim your tree with some festive paper chains! These are also great to use in a simple advent calendar. This gorgeous wrapping paper will definitely be a step up from the construction paper we usually use!

Gift Tags

One thrifty way to use wrapping paper is to make simple gift tags for the presents you are wrapping. Simply take some of the excess paper, fold it over and trim to make a small rectangle. (If your wrapping paper has a nice design, you could also follow the shape of the images on the paper). Write your note inside and tape it to the gift, and that’s it! Simple, but it does look cute because of course it matches!

Here are some other fun wrapping paper ideas for you:

From Teach Me Mommy: Stick Puzzles

From Jeddah Mom: Paper Collage Using Flower Punch

From Sugar Aunts: Scissor Skills Crash Course

From One Creative Mommy: Christmas Crackers Stocking Stuffers

From Red Ted Art: Thank You Cards

From Red Ted Art: Christmas Cards

You can find even more ideas in the packages of wrapping paper from Tuttle Publishing!

Nov 112016
 
 November 11, 2016  Christmas Comments Off on 6 Tips to Keep the Holidays Special

Does the Christmas season feel like a marathon for you, as you attempt to fit in all the shopping and special moments for your family before you collapse on Christmas Day? Here are 6 tips to keep the holidays special for your family, so that you are creating cherished memories together instead of rushing to finish an overwhelming to-do list.

6 Tips to Keep the Holidays Special | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Ornaments of Love 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.

6 Tips to Keep the Holidays Special

1. Make a plan. Don’t want to be rushing around at the last minute? Take some time (ideally before the holiday rush) to outline what you’d like to get done and when. Even if you haven’t had a chance to do this ahead of time, it is worth a breather to write down exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish. Break it down into small pieces so that as Christmas nears you don’t feel overwhelmed. Keep in mind that this does not have to be an elaborate plan! It can be a simple list that helps you keep your focus on the items you don’t want to forget.

2. Simplify. Have  20 items on your list? See if you can get it down to 15. Have 10? Try to get it down to 8. Be realistic about what you can accomplish given your other commitments and the age of your children. Don’t keep something on your list just because you’ve always done it or because that’s what everyone else in your mom’s group is doing (!) Focus on what’s right for you and your family, even if that seems like a simple, non-Pinterest worthy list. Remember that people only post those holiday photos that show the best of what they’ve done, not the dirty dishes or the tantrums, so don’t envy anyone else’s Christmas but focus on your own.

3. Throw out the old. Sit down with your family and share your list. Have each person (yourself included) choose one or two items that are most important to them. You may be surprised! Maybe you didn’t realize how much your daughter cares about decorating the tree together, or that your son really loves Christmas carols. Once you know what is really important to everyone, make those items the focus, so that you can really keep the holidays special for everyone. Let the other items on the list be extras that you get to if you are able (or eliminate altogether!)

4. Try something new. Once you’ve simplified your list, pick something new to try as a family, like going to see a show or taking in the Christmas lights downtown. It’s easy to get into a rut and follow the same routine each year, so everyone will have fun trying out something new together.

5. Don’t reinvent the wheel. At the end of the holidays, hold on to your list, along with any notes you may have made along the way, so that next year you already have a good focus. I actually have checklists on my computer for holidays and birthdays, so that I don’t forget anything that’s really important to me and it’s easy to update each year. Why throw out a good plan after all that work?

6. Focus on what’s really important. Don’t be a slave to your plan, but let it be a guide. Plans are helpful to remind us about what we’d like to accomplish, but remember that what’s most important isn’t checking items off a list, it’s spending time with those we love. So if your child is asking you to play with them, maybe those Christmas cards can wait. Perhaps building an elaborate gingerbread house that you can display isn’t so important if it’s becoming a source of tension between you and your child, who just wants to have fun with a messy creation. Remember that you are making memories, so what kind of memories do you want those to be?

This year I was so pleased to have been contacted by author Sharlin Craig about reviewing her book Ornaments of Love. It is a lovely story about a family discovering what is really important during the holidays. 10 year old Ayana looks forward to her family’s Christmas traditions every year – decorating the tree, enjoying hot chocolate together in front of the fire – but this year it seems like her parents are just too busy. Her mother is always baking or shopping while her father struggles to finish his work at the office in time for Christmas Eve. It isn’t until a mishap threatens to ruin their Christmas that they come together to celebrate what is truly important.

This is a story that every family can relate to! The parents aren’t cruel or neglectful, they are just busy, like so many of us. The irony, of course, is that they are busy with things that are seemingly important to their family – like sending gifts to loved ones or baking for a holiday party – yet actually keep them from enjoying the simple moments. There are plenty of tender moments that help you realize just how close the family is yet how often they can lose sight of the importance of spending quality time. Author Sharlin Craig is a wife and mother herself, so she understands the struggle to maintain balance. This book is her gift to other families as they seek to keep the holidays special for themselves and their loved ones. I love the gentle illustrations, which match the tone of the story beautifully. (The illustrators for the picture book and coloring book are from Nigeria and The Czech Republic, now living in Germany).

Now you can also get the Ornaments of Love Coloring Book: Slowing Down with Family at Christmas Time! It includes the “Ornaments of Love” picture book in black and white, along with 21 original full-page coloring illustrations tying in with the story that range from easy to difficult. What a great way to de-stress and have some holiday fun together than to sit down with this beautiful coloring book! There are even additional coloring pages available on her website to print.

How do you keep the holidays special for your family?

Ornaments of Love Book Blog Tour

Thursday, Oct. 27th: This Mom’s Delight (Review)
Tuesday, Nov. 1st: K&A’s Childrens’ Book Reviews (Review & Giveaway)
Thursday, Nov. 3rd: Amanda’s Books and More (Review & Giveaway)
Friday, Nov. 4th: Mamitales (Review & Giveaway)
Saturday, Nov. 5th: Christy’s Cozy Corners (Review, Guest Post-
‘My Favorite Ornament Memories’ & Giveaway)
Sunday, November 6th: Unleashing Readers (Guest Post-‘Integrating Ornaments of Love into the Classroom Setting’ & Giveaway)
Monday, November 7th: The Write Chris (Author Interview & Giveaway)
Wednesday, November 9th: This Mom’s Delight
(Guest Post-‘Affirm Your Child’s Worth by Spending Time with Them’
& Giveaway)
Friday, November 11th: All Done Monkey (Post-‘6 Ways to Make the
Holidays Special’, Review & Giveaway)
Monday, November 14th: Connie M. Huddleston
(Monday Morning Indie: Review & Interview)

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb 012016
 
 February 1, 2016  Black History Month, Education, raising world citizens Comments Off on George Washington Carver: Facts, Activities, and Resources

Facts, activities, and resources to learn about George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver is known to many of us as the “Peanut Scientist.”  But in researching this article, I discovered that he was so much more!  He was a real people’s scientist, always focusing on what would be practically useful to the common man and making sure to share this knowledge with him.  His life story – begun as a slave, kidnapped and orphaned as a baby  – will fascinate and inspire our young scientists and world changers.

So hop over to Multicultural Kid Blogs to read more about this incredible scientist and find activities and resources for further exploration:

George Washington Carver: Facts, Activities, and Resources

Dec 152015
 

Las Posadas: Creamy Avocado Salsa Recipe | Alldonemonkey.com

With the arrival of our newest bundle of joy last month, we are keeping things simple in our house, especially when it comes to cooking.  At the same time, however, we don’t want to sacrifice taste or comfort, which is why I love this creamy avocado salsa recipe.  So easy, but a real treat for all of us!

This recipe is special because it also celebrates Las Posadas, the wonderful Christmas tradition from Latin America that recreates Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter before the birth of Baby Jesus.  This festive time is one of joyous gatherings of family and friends, filled with laughter, song, and – of course – great food!

This tradition is especially poignant for our family this year, as it celebrates community and family, two things that are of particular importance when a child is born.  We live far away from our families: mine is scattered throughout the US, while my husband’s is in Costa Rica, distances that seemed even greater as our due date drew near.  And while our families did their best to support us (last minute plane trips, Skype, packages of presents), we knew we would be leaning heavily on friends when our little girl arrived.

And so it was.  Friends and neighbors babysat as we went to the birth center: one dear friend responded to a desperate text at 5 am, while another cheerfully spent all day with our boys.  In the days that followed, women from my moms’ group – some of whom I had never even met before – dropped off hot meals, while other friends offered to take our older children out for play dates.  Blogger friends sent guest posts and gave my articles extra love.  My personal inbox and Facebook page were flooded with well wishes and offers of help.

In short, our family – including our new little one – was surrounded with love and support, at a time when we sorely needed it.  And that is what Las Posadas represents to me: a celebration of community, as people come together to provide shelter and support to those in need.

HERDEZ® is encouraging this wonderful tradition by sharing favorite recipes and traditions, plus a contest! (See details below).  Here is an easy holiday recipe made with HERDEZ® Salsa Verde, perfect for Las Posadas or other holiday celebration.  Even for busy families like ours, it is easy to put together!

Las Posadas: Creamy Avocado Salsa Recipe | Alldonemonkey.com

Avocado Salsa Recipe

2 ripe avocados

1 & 1/4 to 1 & 1/2 cup, HERDEZ® Salsa Verde

Dash of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients well in a blender.  Adjust proportions as needed.  Enjoy as a dip or as a topping for tacos.  I’ve even seen it used as a sauce for pasta!

Las Posadas: Creamy Avocado Salsa Recipe | Alldonemonkey.com

How are you celebrating with your loved ones this holiday season?

Las Posadas Instagram Contest

As this holiday brings family and friends coming together enjoying food and celebrations, HERDEZ® brand is holding a photo contest on Instagram. The Share in the Magic of #MisPosadas contest lasts from December 7th – January 6th.

Each week, a fill in the blank question relevant to the holiday will be posted for fans to answer with a photo. Three top winners will be selected as well as honorable mentions. Prizes are as follows:

– Grand Prize: Dinner prepared by a personal chef for up to 4 people in your very own home!
– 2nd Place: $250 Gift Basket
– 3rd Place: $200 Gift Basket
– Honorable Mention: Custom T-shirts

To enter, submit a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #MisPosadas to answer the weekly fill in the blank question.  Visit  HERDEZ® on Instagram to play along!

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