Dec 152015

Las Posadas: Creamy Avocado Salsa Recipe |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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?


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.
Feb 192015

Sweet Potato Pie: Soul Food and Food for the Soul |

Happy Black History Month!  To celebrate we are not only participating in a BIG giveaway with Multicultural Kid Blogs (see details below!) but also giving away a copy of Last Stop on Market Street, a wonderful picture book from Matt de la Peña.  Find out how to enter at the end of the post!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Last Stop on Market Street; however, all opinions are my own.  This post also contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.

This year for Black History Month I decided to try out a dessert I have been curious about but never tried making: sweet potato pie!  How did it turn out?  Spoiler alert: It was wonderful!  Very easy to make and a big hit with everyone that tried it.

Sweet Potato Pie: Soul Food and Food for the Soul |

Sweet Potato Pie Does Not Equal Pumpkin Pie

It turns out that sweet potato pie is so simple to make and really delicious!  If you’re thinking but I don’t like pumpkin pie – not to worry!  Pumpkin pie is not my favorite either, but this sweet potato pie is so much more flavorful.  Several people who tried my pie remarked that they were surprised how much they liked it.  They didn’t expect to since they don’t like pumpkin pie and were really just being polite.  Luckily for them they actually loved it!  I’ve noticed a similar difference when I substitute sweet potatoes in my pumpkin bread recipe.  Good before but really wow! with the substitution.

So what makes the difference?  First, sweet potatoes have a deeper, richer taste and a thicker texture.  I think many people are turned off from pumpkin pie because of its sometimes simpering, mushy texture, which cooked sweet potatoes do not have.

Sweet Potato Pie: Soul Food and Food for the Soul |

But I think the biggest difference is that the recipe calls for roasting the sweet potatoes and pureeing them yourself.  Now, if you’re anything like me, at Thanksgiving battling a pumpkin into submission – dealing with peeling that tough skin and navigating the awkward bumps that look cute on a jack o’ lantern but not on my cutting board – is quickly skipped in favor of opening up a can of ready made puree.  How would pumpkin pie taste if I went to the trouble of really starting from scratch?  We may never know.  (Or at least will have to wait until the kids are older and I am really bored one day).

Sweet potato pie, on the other hand, is easy to make from scratch.  So head over to The Wichita Eagle to see the full recipe and try it yourself! You can also read a wonderful story about the importance of sweet potato pie in African-American traditions and why it is often called pumpkin pie’s “Southern cousin.”

I recommend doing as the recipe says and roasting the sweet potato instead of steaming it, as this makes it much sweeter.  And be aware that depending on how sweet your sweet potatoes are, you probably will not need the full cup of sugar it calls for.

Sweet Potato Pie: Soul Food and Food for the Soul |

While your pies are in the oven, enjoy reading these two children’s books about soul food and food for the soul:

Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip is a twist on a Russian folktale, as Grandma Lena and her family try to harvest the enormous turnip that she has grown in her garden.  The story itself is fun – with repetition that kids will love – and it is also a fun way to learn about some traditional African-American dishes, as well as the hospitality that goes along with them.  Bonus points to Grandma Lena for getting my Monkey interested in eating turnips!

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña is a wonderful new offering from Penguin Books: a picture book about a boy and his grandmother, as she gently teaches him to always look for the beauty in the world.  As CJ and his Nana ride the bus together after church one day, CJ feels sorry for himself.  Why can’t he ride off in a car like other kids, or go home to play, instead of riding on the bus to a rough part of town with his grandmother?  But Nana helps CJ learn to appreciate the good in his situation and in those around him.  After all, the bus breathes fire, and the driver always has a trick for him.  And who wants an iPod when you can listen to a fellow passenger play the guitar live?

When they finally arrive at the last stop on Market Street, CJ discovers a perfect rainbow arcing over the dirty street and realizes how glad he is that they come to their soup kitchen every Sunday, to see the familiar faces and find the beauty where he had never even thought to look.

Win a copy of Last Stop on Market Street

To win a copy of this wonderful book, just comment on this blog post, telling us what dishes conjure up “home” for you!  In one week (end of day Feb. 26, 2015, at midnight Pacific time), I’ll draw one random winner from the comments.  US shipping only.


Black History Month 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Black History Month series on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Be sure to visit the main page for the full schedule and to link up your own posts about sharing Black History Month with kids! And of course, don’t forget to enter our amazing giveaway:

Black History Month GIVEAWAY

Grand Prize Package

Divah Taylor - World of EPI

A Divah Taylor doll from World of EPI, the company whose mission is to express joy by providing children access to dolls that encourage dreams, promote intelligence, challenge perceptions, and open their hearts to all types of beauty. US Shipping only

Global Wonders - African-American

Global Wonders: African-American DVD for kids: Join twins Trey and Alisha as their playroom is transformed into a world of dreams and discoveries highlighting the fascinating and influential culture of the African-American family. US & Canada only

ABC Me Flashcards

One set of ABC Me Flashcards, teaching African-American history from Africa to Zora Neal Hurston! Illustrated in vibrant colors with easy to understand wording on the back. US Shipping only

I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer

From Penguin Books, I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer US Shipping only.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

Also from Penguin Books, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña US Shipping only.

1st Prize Package

Black History Month Spanish Edition - Open Wide the World

Learn about Black History Month in Spanish with this fun educational pack from Open Wide the World. Students will meet 10 African Americans of historic significance in this packet, at an introductory level.

Tru-Colour Bandages

A three pack of bandages (one of each shade) from Tru-Colour Bandages, the company on a mission to bring bandage equality to the industry by providing bandages in your skin color. US & Canada only


Shekere – a beautiful and unique African gourd instrument –

Shekere Tutorial

plus a craft tutorial on how to make your own from Daria and Crafty Moms Share US Shipping only

endeavor's long journey

From East West Discovery Press, Endeavor’s Long Journey by By John D. Olivas US Shipping only.

Black Girls Can

Black Girls Can: An Empowering Story of Yesterdays and Todays, from Rachel Garlinghouse of White Sugar Brown Sugar US Shipping only

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Feb 042015

Chinese Zodiac Game for Chinese New Year |

A few years ago when Monkey was part of a preschool co-op, I created a simple activity to teach the kids about Chinese New Year.  Most of the games I had seen were for school age kids, but there were few for preschoolers.  The game below is simple enough to do with young kids (even toddlers), yet with a few variations it can still be played with school age kids.  It is also an active game for kids (like mine) that learn better when moving.

The kids in the preschool group had a great time, and when I dusted it off recently to play with my now school age Monkey, I was pleased to see that he still enjoyed it, as did his toddler brother.

Chinese Zodiac Game for Chinese New Year |

All you need is a printer or – if, like me, your printer seems to be perpetually out of ink – the ability to sketch some animals.

1) Print off or draw the animals of the Chinese zodiac, one per page.  (You can use the printables in Daria’s Chinese Gong tutorial or Kid World Citizen’s zodiac poster tutorial or browse the wonderful collection assembled by Marie’s Pastiche).

2) Explain briefly about the Chinese zodiac: the idea that in the Chinese calendar, each year is represented by a different animal, and the people born during that year are thought to share some of the characteristics of that animal.  For older kids, you can go into a more detailed explanation and have fun seeing what animal sign they were born under and what it represents!

3) Lay the animal pages in a circle on the ground and ask each child to stand on one, facing the middle.

Chinese Zodiac Game for Chinese New Year |

4) In the simplest version for young kids, go around the circle and have each child make the sound of the animal whose picture they are standing on.  After everyone has had a turn, have them shift to the right one spot and repeat.  Repeat several more times until each child has had a chance to do several animal sounds.

For very young kids, this is plenty!  For older kids, you can try these variations:

1) Play “musical animals” by having the kids walk in a circle to music (if you can, use some Chinese kids’ songs, like those from A Little Mandarin).  Periodically stop the music, and each child has to make the sound of the animal they are standing on.

2) Lay the animal pages in a line along the floor, and each child has to hop from one to the other, making the appropriate animal noises as they go.

3) Tape an animal page to the back of each child, taking care that they can’t see which is on their back.  Then have the other children help them guess which animal they have, either through animal sounds or descriptions or answering yes/no questions.

For more zodiac fun, check out this bilingual zodiac activity from ET Speaks from Home and learn all about the Chinese zodiac from Marie’s Pastiche!

Chinese New Year | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Chinese New Year series and giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Enter our giveaway to win one of these great prize packages, and don’t forget to link up your own posts about Chinese New Year on our main page!

Giveaway begins Jan. 21 and goes through midnight ET on March 5, 2015. Enter below for a chance to win! Remember you can make a comment on the blog post of a different co-host each day for an additional entry.

First Prize Package

All About China

From Tuttle Publishing, All About China: Take the whole family on a whirlwind tour of Chinese history and culture with this delightfully illustrated book that is packed with stories, activities and games. Travel from the stone age through the dynasties to the present day with songs and crafts for kids that will teach them about Chinese language and the Chinese way of life.

Long-Long's New Year

Also from Tuttle Publishing, Long-Long’s New Year, a beautifully illustrated picture book about a little Chinese boy named Long-Long, who accompanies his grandfather into the city to sell cabbages in order to buy food and decorations for the New Year. Selling cabbages is harder than Long-Long expects, and he encounters many adventures before he finds a way to help his grandfather, and earn New Year’s treats for his mother and little cousin.

A Little Mandarin

From A Little Mandarin, a CD featuring a collection of Chinese children’s classics – songs loved by families in China for generations – given new life with a contemporary sound and voice. The 15 tracks fuse rock, pop, dance, ska, and hip hop influences with playful lyrics to make it a unique and fun learning companion for all ages. Featured on Putumayo Kids Presents World Sing-Along.

Second Prize Package

US shipping only

Celebrating the Chinese New Year

From Tuttle Publishing, Celebrating the Chinese New Year, in which Little Mei’s grandfather tells her the stories of Nian and the monster Xi for Chinese New Year.

The Sheep Beauty

Also from Tuttle Publishing, The Sheep Beauty, which brings to life the kindness and generosity of those born under the sign of the sheep in the Chinese zodiac.

Chinese Zodiac Animals

Also from Tuttle Publishing, Chinese Zodiac Animals, a fun and informative way to learn about the ancient Chinese Zodiac, explaining the traits of each animal sign and what luck the future might hold for the person born under that sign.

Monkey Drum

From Tiny Tapping Toes, a monkey drum, plus a free pdf of a craft version. World Music children’s performer DARIA has spent the last two decades performing in the USA and around the world, creating music to inspire all the world’s children and allowing children to become a part of the celebration and the fun of exploring world cultures.

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Jan 082015

Martin Luther King Jr and Super Heart: Learning about Love and Courage |

This post is part of the Martin Luther King Day for Kids series from Multicultural Kid Blogs (see details below). 

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

With Martin Luther King Day approaching, I thought it was a good idea to introduce Monkey to the legacy of Dr. King and the lessons we can draw from his life.  While we often talk about love and unity and how to celebrate diversity, because of Monkey’s age we had not really touched on racism and its painful history (and ongoing legacy) in our country.

So I wasn’t quite sure how he would react to learning about segregation and the long, terrible struggle against it.

Turns out he responded as a five year old will: he created a superhero.

We started off by reading the wonderful picture book Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr and segregation, emphasizing Dr. King’s use of big words rather than fists to solve problems and fight injustice.

Martin's Big Words

As we went, we wrote down some of Dr. King’s big words, like peace, hope, and together.

We also talked about segregation, and I tried to make it comprehensible to him by talking about what it would be like if we went to a restaurant and they wouldn’t let Daddy in because his skin was dark?  Or what if we went to the park and they wouldn’t let us play because we spoke Spanish?  After a while, the examples got a little silly: What if we couldn’t go to the movies because we had three heads?  What if aliens took over the earth and put “ALIENS ONLY” signs in all the stores?

We talked about how Dr. King had love towards everyone despite all of the terrible things that people did.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Again, I tried to put this in a context he could relate to.  If someone is being mean to him at the park, how should he respond?  Should he be mean back or try to be friends instead?  We even tried to brainstorm the kinds of things he could say.

Martin Luther King Jr and Super Heart: Learning About Love and Courage |

We also talked about how Dr. King had courage to do the right thing, even if it was scary.  Sometimes it can be hard to stand up to someone who is being mean or doing something wrong, but we have to have courage.

It was around this time that Monkey began doodling, and his doodles soon took the form of a superhero: Super Heart.  Super Heart is small but powerful, and he eats bad words like war, separate, and hate.  He even eats “Whites Only” signs.  He uses words and love to solve problems.

When I shared this photo on Instagram, my friend Aimee of Raising World Citizens said she wished Super Heart were real.  Monkey immediately responded that Super Heart is real – and there is one in every home!  She checked – and it was true!  There was a Super Heart in her home as well.

If you look, I guarantee you will find a Super Heart in your home, too.  In fact, all you have to do is look closely, and you can find a Super Heart inside everyone who has the courage to choose love.

Love is the key to the solution of the problems of the world. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Martin Luther King Day for Kids on Multicultural Kid BlogsThis post is part of the series Martin Luther King Day for Kids from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Come learn with us this month as we share resources to teach kids about Civil Rights and community service! You can link up your own posts on our main page or find even more resources on our Black History and Teaching Global Citizenship Pinterest boards.

Dec 302014

Kid-Friendly New Year's Traditions from Around the World |

Looking for some creative ways to celebrate New Year’s with your kids?  Here are some fun kid-friendly New Year’s traditions from around the world!

New Year's Eve Family Game - All Done Monkey

In my family we stayed up late playing board games, one of the reasons I came up with a special New Year’s board game last year for Monkey.

We also loved to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  So why not make your own glitzy New Year’s ball in this tutorial from Makeovers and Motherhood?

Global Table Adventure - New Year's Food Traditions

Global Table Adventure

Of course, munching on great food as we waited for midnight was also important!  As you think of foods to serve for your New Year’s Eve celebrations, or your first dinner of the New Year, consider these wonderful New Year’s food traditions (with recipes!) from around the world, showcased by Global Table Adventure.  She even has wonderful drink ideas for you – scroll to the bottom for non-alcoholic ones to try with your kiddos.  MarocMama has a huge collection of New Year’s Eve party foods – that are actually healthy!

New Year's Braised Lentils - Washington Dead Chef

Washington, Dead Chef

Many traditions revolve around prosperity and good luck, such as the traditional New Year’s meal from the US South, shared by Frances of Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes.  I never knew that collard greens represented dollar bills!  Giuliana of Washington, Dead Chef teaches us a wonderful lentil soup recipe from Italy.  Did you know the tradition of lentils for New Year’s actually goes back to ancient Rome?  Give it a try if your finances need a boost!  In Germany many people give gifts of small marzipan pigs for good luck – make your own in this tutorial from Red Ted Art!

Stacy of Kids Stuff World has taken the “food for good luck” tradition a step further in this super fun game where what you eat on New Year’s really does set the tone for the year!

Mexican New Year - Kid World Citizen

Kid World Citizen

I was in high school when I was first introduced to the Latin American tradition of eating 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve, one for each stroke of midnight.  This fun tradition would also be easy to adapt to an earlier children’s celebration.  Spanish Playground has a wonderful printable activity and coloring page to get you started!

The grapes tradition is also popular in Brazil.  Thereza of Howling Kids Yoga says that, “In Brazil you should wear white or at least light colors (black is a big no-no), if possible brand new clothes. Superstitions have us eat grapes and 8 pomegranate seeds. To invite money some eat rice with lentils, which I love. Some people like to jump 3 waves at midnight for good luck. Tons of fireworks and partying all over!!!

You can read about Becky of Kid World Citizen’s first encounter with the 12 grapes tradition in Mexico – plus other fun New Year’s Eve traditions there.  Watch for the red underwear!  Turns out the red underwear tradition is also popular in Italy, as red is considered good luck.

Fireworks are a common tradition in many parts of the world.  Annabelle in Germany (the piri-piri lexicon) says, “Germans are crazy about fireworks. Everyone goes out in the street and lights some up. I have never seen so many in my life.”  Amanda in the Netherlands (Expat Life with a Double Buggy) says, “We eat oliebollen with the kids and at midnight watch the fireworks which light up the Dutch skies rather spectacularly.”  Ute of expatsincebirth says of the Netherlands, “It’s amazing how long they celebrate. They start in the afternoon (children’s “fireworks”) and end only around 3pm. The noise is incredible. I once celebrated New Years in Naples and I may compare these two ways to celebrate New Years. The amount NL’s spend for the fireworks is incredible.”  She adds that there are plenty of fireworks in Germany and Switzerland too, “there are very strict rules about how long you’re allowed to be “crazy” (i.e. make noise…), whereas here [in the Netherlands] there don’t seem to be such kind of restrictions.”

Bleigiessen - Red Ted Art

Ute also remembers a German tradition from her childhood: “When we were children, with my cousins we used to burn lead as an oracle for the next year.”  This tradition, she explains, is called Bleigießen: here is an explanation in German, or you can watch a video of this tradition – can you tell which shape is a guitar and which a frog?  Read more about this tradition – and how it can help family appreciate the small moments – from Red Ted Art.

Olga of The European Mama remembers ice skating with her parents in Berlin, and her German in-laws also have the tradition of eating Berliner (round daughnuts). 

Olga also shares some fun Polish traditions: “1) you burn your worries (you write them down on a strip of paper and then you burn them- not for children alone but can be done when adults are around). 2) you don’t sweep the house so as not to sweep out the good luck- that is easy to follow, no? 3) the housewife tries to have a full pantry so that it will bring luck and prosperity for the New Year. A good idea for this would be making preserves, maybe.”

Grandfather Frost - Russian Step by Step for Children

Russian Step by Step for Children

In Russia, children receive presents on New Year’s from Grandfather Frost, as described by Russian Step by Step.  Natalie of Planet Smarty Pants explains that this focus on New Year’s is a result of the Soviet government’s deliberate effort to move celebrations from Christmas to a secular celebration on New Year’s.  In her home country of Belarus, these days celebrations are split among December 24 (Catholic), New Year’s (secular), and January 7 (Orthodox).  You can read more about Grandfather Frost in a wonderful post from Crafty Moms Share about gift-bringers from around the world.

Anna of Russian Step by Step for Children explains that, “Following the Russian tradition where Grandfather Frost gives presents after the child recites a poem or sings a song we try to learn with my daughter a poem and a song in Russian that is winter related and perform it on New Year’s eve before getting the presents from under the tree.”  You can read more about Russian winter holidays from Anna.  They really know how to celebrate New Year’s!

New Year's Resolution Collages - Paris Busy Bee

Paris Busy Bee (Trilingual Mama)

Making resolutions is a popular tradition.  You can also use these New Year’s resolution from the American Academy of Pediatrics – in Spanish!  Spanish Playground has great ideas for how to use them with kids.  Maria (now of  Trilingual Mama) has a great way to do New Year’s resolutions with kids – make collages to represent their goals!  Similar to resolutions are the year long monthly activity plans made by Lana’s family in the Netherlands (Smart Tinker).  If your kids are feeling blue about taking down the Christmas tree, you could take Temecula Qponer’s idea to turn it into a resolution tree!

Wishing Wall - Buggy and Buddy

I love this idea Year Full of Blessings jar that Mommy Maestra shared.  What a wonderful tradition!  Mama Smiles has a lovely tradition of having her children look back over the past year and look ahead to the next.  A simple but meaningful activity from Buggy and Buddy is to create a wishing wall with wishes for the new year.  I also adore this yearly time capsule idea from BPhotoArt.  Royal Little Lambs has beautiful downloadable cards you can use to reflect on special memories with your kids.

Varya of Creative World of Varya shares that in China “our friends invite us over on 31st or 1st every year. They all get together with family and some friends, have homemade potluck dinner and then sing karaoke at home and play a game where everyone has to do a small performance. This has become a tradition!”

Kay of A Crafty Arab (from Libya but now living in the US) writes, “Every January 1st, we take a walk to our local no leash dog park that is down the hill from our house. We each take a funny hat to wear and head for the same bench we sit at every year. We wait for someone to ask to take our photo and then ask if it’s okay for their dog to be in our photo. No one has ever said no. I love looking at these annual photos of my girls over the years, each time with a different silly hat…and a different ‘family’ dog!”

Nadia of Teach Me Mommy (South Africa) says, “When we were younger we always set alarms, all the alarms in the house (phones, watches, radios etc.) for 12am, and then see which one goes off first, and let it go off for a whole minute, or until all caught up.”

Amanda of MarocMama writes, “In Morocco families might get together and have a cake or something to celebrate but it’s not really a big deal nor are there any special fun things that go along with it. We never really are able to do anything as it’s our youngest son’s birthday that day lol!”

Sankranti - Artsy Craftsy Mom

Artsy Craftsy Mom


Of course, the New Year isn’t celebrating on January 1 in all parts of the world.  The Lunar New Year – celebrated in many parts of East Asia – falls in February this year, and the Hindu harvest festival Sankrati is coming up in a few weeks.  Shruti of Artsy Craftsy Mom (India) writes, “New Year for us actually falls on Ugadi which is in March. So the English New Year has no traditions as such.. We just chill with friends & family & throw confetti at each other lol.”

You can find more fun New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world from Crafty Moms Share and this wonderful collection from Red Ted Art.  You can find global traditions plus more fun ideas from A Mother Far from Home.  There are also lots of fun New Year’s activities for kids gathered by Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail.  And if, like us, you really love games then you need to check out these international games and food ideas from One Time Through!

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 |

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 |

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

Our Prizes

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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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Nov 102014
 November 10, 2014  Christmas, natural parenting 2 Responses »

Green Gifts for Crunchy Mamas |

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

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

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

Green Gifts for Crunchy Mamas

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

Organic clothing and goods

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

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

All natural pregnancy care products

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

For the kitchen

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

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

On the go

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

Organic and fair trade tea

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

Fair Trade and organic chocolate

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

Homemade gifts

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

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

Festive Family Holiday hop

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

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

Today’s posts are about Gifts for the Season:

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

DIY Toddler Play Activity Gift Box from Adventures of Adam

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

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

Easy Gifts Kids Can Make from Hand Made Kids Art

Stocking Stuffer Ideas from Crystal’s Tiny Treasures

100 Non-Toy Gifts from Lemon Lime Adventures

Green Gifts for Crunchy Mamas from All Done Monkey

Gift Guide for Montessori Homeschoolers from Living Montessori Now

Gift Guide – Birth to 18 Months from ALLterNATIVElearning

The Ultimate Yoga for Kids Gift Guide from Kids Yoga Stories

Gift Guide from Peace But Not Quiet

Gift Guide for Promoting Healthy Development from The Inspired Treehouse

Tips for Sustainable Gift Giving from Multicultural Kid Blogs

ALEX Toys Holiday Gift Guide from Still Playing School

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

Gifts that Help Kids with Independence from Sugar Aunts

Grandparent Gifts Kids Can Make from The Chaos and the Clutter

25 Heartwarming Christmas Books from Fireflies and Mudpies

Heirloom Advent Calendars from Are We There Yet?

And now for the giveaway!

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