Dec 232016
 

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 No Responses »

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

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!

Dec 072015
 
 December 7, 2015  Christmas, crafts Comments Off on DIY Gifts: Christmas Tree Bookmark Craft

Thanks to Colleen of Sugar Aunts for this wonderful tutorial for a bookmark your kids can make.  These are fun to do and make great DIY gifts!

Kids love to create handmade gifts for friends and relatives! This Christmas tree bookmark craft is a fun and easy craft idea that kids can make.  And the best news is, that they can create a bunch of these at once.  Everyone will love to receive these DIY gifts this Christmas!

 

This craft is super easy to make.  You’ll need a sheet of burlap and green paint.  Cut the burlap into strips.  Next, cut the burlap into bookmark sized strips.  Older kids can do this part, or an adult can do the cutting.

To make the Christmas tree shape, fold the burlap strip in half and snip a triangle near the top of the bookmark.  Snip a second and third triangle so you have a string of triangles.  When you flatten out the bookmark, you’ll have a tree shape.  You can snip a small trunk, too.

Have the kids paint the burlap, evenly covering the burlap.  When the paint dries, turn the burlap over and paint the other side.  Allow the paint to dry again. You can make a bunch of these bookmarks by painting a sheet of burlap and then cutting them into strips.  Cut the tree shape out after the burlap has been painted if you are making several bookmarks.

Pair this bookmark with a favorite book for a gift that anyone will love to receive!

Colleen writes at Sugar Aunts about crafts, activities, recipes.  Colleen is an Occupational Therapist and pulls her OT background into each post.  Follow Colleen on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, and Google+.

Dec 032015
 
 December 3, 2015  Christmas, multiculturalism, raising world citizens Comments Off on Christmas Around the World: When to Celebrate

Christmas Around the World: When to Celebrate | Alldonemonkey.com

When is Christmas celebrated where you live?  Do you know why many countries celebrate on December 25 (and why others do not)?  Thanks to Carrie of Crafty Moms Share for teaching us more about this fascinating aspect of Christmas around the world.

Christmas Around the World: When to Celebrate

The Bible does not tell us when Jesus was born. No one actually knows the date of his birth. The first recorded Christmas on December 25th was in 336AD. It was during the time of Roman Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor. A few years later Pope Julius I declared Christmas Day to be December 25. There are many theories as to why this date was chosen. One theory is it is nine months after the date of Annunciation, when it is believed Mary became with child (March 25). Another is that it is around the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice as well as other Roman pagan festivals. The Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, begins on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev (a month that often occurs at the same time as December) and since Jesus was Jewish, perhaps it was to honor his past.

In the early church Christmas was also celebrated on January 6th, also known as Epiphany (the revelation that Jesus is God’s son and the Baptism of Jesus). Then there is the switch of the calendars from the Julian to the Gregorian, though some churches still use the Julian calendar. All of this affects the date of Christmas and various countries celebrate Christmas at different times. There is also the question of what is the Christmas celebration? Is it when Santa Claus or other gift bearer brings gifts to children? Is it when families gather for the celebration or when people go to church? Each of these things also occur at different times in different cultures.

In Venezuela some people begin their celebrations with St. Barbara’s Day on December 4th. On December 16th families bring out their pesebre, elaborate nativity scenes, and the height of the celebrating begins on December 21st and lasts through the 25th. Epiphany or Three Kings Day is also celebrated in Venezuela. The main presents arrive Christmas Eve.

In the Netherlands December 5th is a big date. December 6th is St. Nicholas Day; however, in the Netherlands there are major celebrations on the 5th. The kids leave out their shoes for Sinterklaas to fill with gifts during the night. Then there is a large parade on St. Nicholas Day. Christmas is a much quieter event with church and a family meal.

Mikulas a cert v Praze (1)
Traditional St. Nicholas Celebration in the Czech Republic By Chmee2 (Own work)[GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Many countries celebrate St. Nicholas Day, December 6th. This is often when the kids in those countries receive their gifts. Some of the countries that celebrate it are Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Posadas en Tequixquiac (4)
A Posada By Marrovi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In Mexico the celebrations begin on December 16th. Each night the children perform Posadas (which means inn). The kids parade in the night carrying candles and with someone acting as Mary and Joseph. They go to houses each night where Joseph asks for a room. Eventually at the chosen house they are told there is room and they are allowed in, followed with a party. In some parts of Mexico kids expect Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and in other parts they wait until January 6th for the Three Wisemen.

In the Philippines the celebration begins on December 16th as well. There it starts the nine days of pre-dawn church services which end on Christmas Day. The celebrating lasts until the first Sunday in January (Epiphany).

In Romania the celebrations start on December 20th with St. Ignatius Day. Traditionally this is the day the family kills the pig that will be for the Christmas meal. The real celebrating however begins Christmas Eve with the tradition of decorating the tree.

In Kazakhstan Christmas is not a national holiday, so it is often celebrated the Sunday before Christmas since people are off work that day.

Edinburgh Hogmanay Longship
A Viking longship is burnt during Edinburgh’s annual Hogmanay (New Year) celebrations.By Lee Kindness [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Many countries celebrate December 24, 25th or January 6th or a combination of these days. The next interesting date to note is in Scotland. December 31st or Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) is a bigger celebration than Christmas. The word Hogmanay comes from a type of oat cake which is given to the children on this day.

In Greece gifts are brought to the children on January 1st by Saint Basil. They however have celebrations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

In Spain there are some gifts on Christmas day however the children write letters to the Kings on Boxing Day (December 26) asking for what they want. The Kings come on January 6th, the Epiphany.

The real difference in dates occur with the different calendars. Places that have Orthodox churches tend to celebrate Christmas on January 7th. This is in countries like Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia & Montenegro, Russia, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Macedonia. In Georgia however people get their gifts on December 31st (New Year’s Eve). The gifts are brought to the kids by Tolvis Papa or Grandfather Snow. In Macedonia the celebrations actually start January 5th called Kolede. The kids sing carols throughout the neighborhood and are given nuts, coins and fruit. When the singing is done everyone gathers around large bonfires.

With all the different dates and traditions, it makes the holiday season even more interesting. When do you celebrate Christmas? What is the most important part of the holiday for you?

Resources:

http://www.whychristmas.com/

http://gosouthamerica.about.com/od/venezuela/a/Christmas-In-Venezuela.htm

Crafty Moms ShareCarrie is a former high school math teacher with diversity training and helped advise many diversity clubs at the schools she taught. Now she is a stay-at-home mother of an almost five-year-old and very active with her church. She writes about her life with her daughter and the fun things they do at Crafty Moms Share. You can also find her on Pinterest and Google +.

This post is part of the Christmas in Different Lands series from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Learn more about Christmas traditions and celebrations around the world through the other articles in this series.
Dec 152014
 
 December 15, 2014  Christmas, Random Acts of Kindness, spiritual education Comments Off on Christmas Acts of Kindness: Caroling for the Sick and Elderly, Plus Tips for Caroling with Kids

Christmas Acts of Kindness: Caroling for the Sick and Elderly, Plus Tips for Caroling with Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Growing up in a small rural town in North Carolina, I remember vividly the closeness of the community and how people really did treat everyone like family.  One way they always showed their concern for the sick and the elderly was to bring them a special treat at Christmas: caroling!

You have to remember that this is a place where your nearest neighbor might live half a mile away – if you lived in a busy part of town!  While such spacious living did have its advantages, one downside was that it could be very isolating for “shut-ins,” those that because of illness or age were unable to venture out.

Luckily this was a place where people were not forgotten, especially at Christmastime.  So one chilly Saturday in December, many of the families gather to spread some holiday cheer with some good old-fashioned caroling.  While this is done in many places, here is a peek at how this community organizes it.

Acts of Kindness: Caroling for the Sick and Elderly

Each year they visit a number of homes where the residents are sick or elderly and so could use some good cheer from their neighbors.  Because of the cold (and the condition of those they are visiting), they keep each visit short, singing 3-4 songs as the recipient watches from their front porch.  As there are always children among the carolers, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a perennial favorite, as are “Silent Night” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”

When the songs are over, they call out their well wishes and move on, without expectation of receiving anything in return.

Instead, they organize among themselves a progressive dinner, which they enjoy in between caroling stops.  At the beginning of the night, they gather at the home of our former neighbors – and dear friends – for appetizers.  After a few caroling visits, they continue to another home for the main course, before ending up at a third house at the end of the evening for dessert and a longer visit.  My mother jokes that it is amazing that for people who see each other everyday, they always have lots to talk about!

The children, of course, rush upstairs to the toy room, while the adults enjoy each other’s company until late in the evening.  Though my parents moved away years ago, they still make the trip back for caroling as often as they can, and I remember fondly the year I was able to join them!  It was such a warm, festive atmosphere, despite the cold, and it was especially heart-warming to see what joy it brought to those we sang to.

Tips on Caroling with Kids

Now we live with our little ones on the other side of the country, but I am trying to recreate this joyful experience with my children by caroling at a local retirement center.  I asked a good friend of mine for tips about successful caroling with kids, which I am sharing them with you below.  She is a smart lady, so these are definitely worth noting!

  1. Practice ahead of time:  Ideally you will have time to practice together as a group, but if not, at least make sure everyone has the lyrics to practice at home
  2. Keep it short: Though it is tempting as adults to want to pull out all the stops and sing all of our old favorites, that is an easy way to lose children’s attention – especially if they are songs they are not familiar with (see #3 below).  Keep it short and snappy, so that you end while everyone is still paying attention and enjoying themselves.  For young kids, 3 or perhaps 4 songs are plenty.
  3. Sing songs they know: Make things simple by choosing songs they are already familiar with.  Not only will it be easier to teach them the lyrics, they will have lots of fun singing their holiday favorites.  For us, this would be “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph,” and “Frosty the Snowman.”
  4. Bring props: Keep things fun by giving the kids some instruments to play – jingle bells are perfect!  Not all kids will want to sing in front of strangers, but most will enjoy shaking jingle bells.
  5. Limit the number of houses: Again, keep it short and simple.  If you are caroling in a neighborhood, 3-4 houses is a good number for preschoolers.  You may be able to fit in a few more for older children, but try not to stretch them too much, especially considering the cold weather!
  6. End with some hot chocolate and treats!  Finish things off on a high note by giving them some yummy treats.  This can also be a good motivator when their spirits start to flag, plus it ensures a positive finish no matter what happens during the caroling!

Have you taken your kids caroling?  Share your tips in the comments!

Christmas in Different Lands | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Christmas in Different Lands series from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Be sure to visit the main page and Pinterest board!

Dec 012014
 

Children's Books About the True Holiday Spirit | Alldonemonkey.com

With the holiday season upon us, I wanted to share some of our favorite books!  These are ones that are not only fun for kids to read but that also teach them about the true holiday spirit – giving rather than getting, and love rather than just presents.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

I received complimentary copy of The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.  This post also contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase on Amazon, I receive a small commission.  Thank you!

Children’s Books About the True Holiday Spirit

We just love Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson.  It is an engaging, indirect way to teach kids about the Nativity.  Kids learn about sharing and sacrificing for others, as Mortimer Mouse has to decide whether to give up his warm bed in a family’s Nativity scene to make room for the tiny Baby Jesus doll.  This is a fun book to pair with making a gingerbread house, as this plays a major role in the story’s resolution.


Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell is a beautifully illustrated book that tells the Nativity story from the point of view of the animals in the barn.  Through this gently told story, children will learn the importance of always making room for others.

Okay, I had to include another Karma Wilson book, since she is one of our favorites!  Bear Stays Up for Christmas follows Bear and his friends as they get ready for Christmas.  In the end, Bear learns that giving is the best present.  As with all of the Bear books, a main theme is also the importance of friendship.  Kids will love the appearance at the end of a very special red-suited visitor.


Another engaging story of the holiday spirit is The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan and Mike Berenstein.  Like children everywhere, Brother and Sister Bear are excited about getting presents on Christmas, yet during the Christmas pageant they learn the importance of giving.

The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin

The Driedel That Wouldn’t Spin by Martha Seif Simpson is a lovely book set during Hanukkah, though its message is not specific to the holiday  A shopkeeper during the busy Hanukkah season dreams of profit from selling an elaborate dreidel given to him by a peddler.  Though the peddler warns that “the miracle of Hanukkah cannot be bought” the shopkeeper immediately puts it in his shop window with a hefty price tag.  Child after child demands it from his parent, yet it is always returned because it won’t spin.  It is not until a humble, shy boy enters the shop with his father that the shopkeeper discovers the magic of a toy waiting for a deserving owner.  This charming tale, illustrated with Old World style paintings, is a beautiful way to teach children about the triumph of humility over greed and the importance of appreciating the real spirit of the season. Includes information at the back of the book about the miracle of Hanukkah and how to play the dreidel game.

The Chanukkah Guest by Eric A. Kimmel is another favorite of ours.  It is a silly story about an old woman whose hearing and sight are so poor that she mistakes a wandering bear for the rabbi and so invites him in to enjoy latkes.  Children will laugh as she tries to remove the bear’s fur “coat” and exclaims over his remarkable appetite.  She even sends him off with a special gift – a warm scarf.  When she later discovers the truth about her Chanukah guest, she laughs at her foolishness and proclaims that even a bear deserves a happy Chanukah.


The charming heroine of The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes by Linda Glaser shows the true heart of Hanukkah when she is determined to invite her elderly neighbor to a special family dinner.  Though Mrs. Greenberg is invited every year, she always refuses to come, saying she doesn’t want to be a bother.  Yet this year young Rachel will not be deterred, as she comes up with an ingenious offer that the woman cannot refuse.  A fun story that also teaches the importance of hospitality and thinking of others.

Don’t be put off by the funny title of The Trees of the Dancing Goatsby Patricia Polacco.  This book is truly a gem.  It is a wonderful story for older children about people coming together despite their differences.  Young Trisha is caught up in the excitement of preparing for Hanukkah in the traditional Russian way, yet the holiday fun is dampened when her best friend’s family is struck by scarlet fever.  Trisha’s family then work together to make sure their neighbors get a real Christmas.  Based on her own family’s experiences as Eastern European immigrants living on a farm in Michigan, this book can be an especially good stepping stone for discussions about interfaith celebrations and the true spirit of both Christmas and Hanukkah.

Christmas Activities and Crafts for Kids hosted by All Things Kids Bloggers

I am so excited to be participating in another wonderful monthly event from All Things Kids.  This month our theme is Christmas Activities and Crafts for Kids!  Enjoy the wonderful posts below, and don’t miss out on our big giveaway!

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Stackadoo Printed Christmas Tree Cards

Craftulate: Pipe Cleaner Christmas Trees

Where Imagination Grows: Christmas Tree Suncatchers

House of Burke: Tape Resist Christmas Presents

All Done Monkey: Children’s Books About the True Holiday Spirit

JDaniel4’s Mom: Christmas Memory Countdown

Sugar Aunts: Recycled Ornament Garland Craft

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All Things Kids Christmas Giveaway Prizes

1. That Dog! and I Can Do It books from Tiger Tales

2. Science BLAST from littleBLAST

3. Stackadoos from B Toys

4. The Pandas and Their Chopsticks from Wisdom Tales

5. Handprint Stone Craft Kit from Craft Project Ideas

6. ¡Sabor! Spanish Learning Songs CD from Whistlefritz

7. Kids yoga book (winner’s choice!) from Kids Yoga Stories

8. Celebrate Christmas Around the World! Printable Pack from Multicultural Kid Blogs

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