Educating Girls

This post originally appeared on World Moms Blog February 8, 2015 as part of a three-part series supporting #aPathAppears and @SavetheChildren

malalaI have long been an advocate of girls education. It is something I want every girl, wherever she is in the world, to have access to. I deeply believe educating girls is a key piece to improving our world.

So when my daughter was born eight years ago, I committed myself to ensuring that she would always have access to and the support she needs attaining the best education my husband and I can give her.

But along with the paramount importance her education is to me, so too is her understanding of how valuable having an education is and how lucky she is to have safe schools and many choices available to her.

But how do you impart this on an eight-year-old? More

Being a World Mom

I started blogging 15 months ago as a means to hone my writing skills, find my voice and to process life’s small moments…you know, pretty much for all the same reasons most people start blogging. We’re all a work in process.

Shortly after I started, a fellow blogger, by the name of Jennifer Burden, reached out to me about a new blog she had just begun, World Moms Blog.

In her own words, the blog is about this:

As busy mothers we often find ourselves without the time to  jet-set around the planet.  So, we invite you to come travel the world with us, through our global writers.  We will read about how women across the planet are mothering, how their lives are similar or different from ours, what’s on their minds and expand our horizons into corners of daily life around the world.

Her mission immediately resonated with me. I started following the blog and soon became a contributor. Within weeks of signing on as a writer, I More

Ode to Holiday Cards

Every year, by November’s end, I fancy this will be the year I rebel and won’t send holiday cards. They’re too stressful. Finding the right photo, picking out a card style, maybe writing up a short synopsis of the past year. Who has time? But who am I kidding?

My favorite season on the postal calendar has just begun.

It started shortly after Thanksgiving and runs right through Epiphany and until I get our own cards in the mail, it makes me just a wee neurotic.

I hold silent my grudge against early arrivals, the ones stamped, addressed, mailed AND delivered even More

Dear Santa…I need another week!

Though my DH would beg to differ, I’m really not that organized. Sure, I have some great ideas way in advance–and sometimes I am even savvy enough to share them with people who might actually put them into action–and I have great visions about how things should look in my life: where they should be stored, how they should be hung, when they should be sent; it’s just the execution of all these swimmingly great ideas is slow to happen.

Take thank you notes for example. When someone gives me a gift or does something really nice for me, almost immediately, I compose a heartfelt thank you note…in my head. Somehow, the mere act of thinking about what I want to say to them creates an artificial grace period that considerably postpones my actual writing and mailing of said note.

I think you’re starting to get the picture.

This past summer, my mom gave us the extremely generous Christmas gift of a week together (DH, the kids, me, my mom and her husband) in Mexico. Since my kids aren’t really in school yet (preschool and playschool don’t count), we immediately began making plans to maximize her offer by traveling outside of the peak holiday periods.

It is with both joy and dread that I inform you, we leave this Saturday.

And regardless of the fact that–since having our first child 4-and-a-half years ago–we have made a “year in review” wall calendar every Christmas, I still wait until AFTER Thanksgiving to begin reviewing and editing the 4,000+ pictures from the past year. And regardless of the fact that–since getting engaged seven years ago–we have composed and compiled holiday cards every year, I still wait until AFTER Thanksgiving to start “thinking” about them. And regardless of the fact that I have two small children and 12 other family members to buy gifts for, I still wait until AFTER Thanksgiving to start buying them (though in some cases, at least I thought about their gifts way in advance).

I’ve known about our trip for the better part of 4 months but 18 days just isn’t enough time to get everything done! At this point, even if Santa’s elves figured out a way to give me another week to get it all done, I don’t think it would help me much but it’s sure nice thinking about it. Maybe I’ll just get everyone a pinata…

 

Continuing the Barefoot Journey

 

 

 

 

 

These are the first two Barefoot books I bought. One is a book with beautiful watercolor illustrations depicting a group of Masai children wandering through the Serengeti counting animals in English and Swahili. The other, is a magnificently illustrated book depicting a journey over the Silk Road from Xi’an to Kashgar. I gave these to our daughter when she turned two. A year later, shortly after my second child was born, I decided I not only needed more Barefoot books in our lives but I also needed to introduce more people to them, so I signed on as a Barefoot Ambassador.

The world of multi-level marketing is interesting and layered. It seems primarily populated by mom’s sequencing in or out of the work force or trying to supplement their household incomes. Big MLM companies include: Amway, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay and Avon. Smaller ones include Barefoot Books, Stella & Dot and Arbonne International. Starting out is very much like launching your own micro-business except the products are already established and there’s no overhead. Essentially, you get out of it what you put into it. Some people are wildly successful, highly motivated, and tirelessly active, others start out like a comet only to extinguish like a meteor a few months in.

For me, my kids’ library now is heavily weighted with Barefoot titles. I’ve organized school fund-raisers, hosted home book parties, had tables at holiday fairs and have made a commitment that nearly every children’s gift we’ve given in the past 3 years either has been a Barefoot book or a Barefoot product. Why am I telling you about all of this? Because I truly believe in Barefoot. The books are beautiful, the topics interesting and diverse and it’s something I can be involved in that I feel benefits my family in every way; whether I sell the books, purchase them for personal use or give them to others. I firmly believe that if we all broaden childrens’ horizons just a tiny bit more, we’ll help make the cultural gap even smaller.

So, if you don’t know Barefoot Books, I personally invite you to join me on the journey. As an added incentive, I’ll give you 15% off your first purchase (good until the end of 2010). Just enter this code: SCSHFT in the special offer box at check out. Or, if you’re already a Barefoot customer, share the code with as many family and friends as you’d like.

What are you waiting for? Kick of your shoes and go Barefoot!

Traveling the world, Barefoot

A Barefoot World

Four and a half years ago, I became a mom and started amassing children’s books. A year later, my library was still shockingly short on titles that involved international subjects, foreign lands or multi-ethnic themes. Having a bi-racial family and trying to raise global citizens meant exposing them to a broader range of topics than I was finding on display tables at big-box book shops. The variety was better at independent retailers but I still hadn’t come upon any particular publisher that resonated with me. Not until I found Barefoot Books that is.

Perhaps I’m a little pickier than average parents because writing is a personal passion; in college, I double-minored in English (Poetry and Film Studies) and I hold a Master’s Degree in Journalism. This isn’t to claim that I am a great writer by any means, just that I’ve been exposed to some really great writing. And while Robert McCloskey remains my favorite children’s author (perhaps it’s his subject matter), followed closely by E.B. White and Roald Dahl, as far as publisher’s go, Barefoot’s got my vote. And though they may not have any Caldecott Medals to their name (to win this award, both illustrator and author must be US citizens; a claim Barefoot can seldom make), their books are culturally interesting, age appropriate, thought provoking and visually stimulating.

I’m hooked and shortly, I’ll tell you why…

Kids in the Kitchen

My paternal grandmother was from Central Italy, a small village outside of Campobasso. Back in 1965, my parents stopped in her home town while on their honeymoon. They described a village surrounded by rolling green hills dotted by flocks of white sheep and filled with the wonderful tastes and smells of Italy. When I was about 7, my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s and she didn’t cook as much but until then, she was a GREAT cook. Though she’s been gone for 25 years now, I still have clear memories of her cooking. Fabulous foods whose names rolled out of your mouth as easily as the delicacies rolled into it. Things like braciole, cosciotto d’agnello con aglio [leg of lamb with garlic], stromboli, and at Christmas, pizzelle (which we continued to make just like this for many years). So it was with my Nonnie in mind that my 4 year old and I set out on adventure to make a gigantic pot of Jeanna Paula Anzluena’s Pasta Sauce with Meatballs.

For me, this was an act of homage to my grandmother but for my daughter, there were really just two main attractions : 1. the opportunity to pulverize a variety of herbs and vegetables using my food chopper and 2. mixing and rolling food with her bare hands. As I mentioned previously, I’m not a mom who regularly treads into the land of craft projects but cooking with my kids is a whole different journey. The kitchen is our canvas and food the medium. They smell the spices in our spice drawer, they mix, measure, pour, fill and taste; and they definitely get messy. Since my kids are young, we haven’t crossed into the vast terrain of reading recipes and using sharp cutlery yet but the road ahead is long.

In the end, I am pleased to say that we turned 2 lbs of ground meat into these:

my child got to play with food–mix, mash and roll–without being reprimanded and we now have enough sauce and meatballs to fuel us right into pizzelle season. Mangiamo!

For more great ideas about fun things to do with kids in the kitchen, check this out

One too many

Tonight, for nearly the 7th straight night this month, I pushed my kids over the edge. OK, so not both kids, just my preschooler, who is a creature of routine, structure and rules. In fact, I often think she might thrive better in a Communist regime (did I mention she’s half Chinese?). From the moment she was born, we have been on the go. When she was two months old, we moved from Washington, DC back to Boston and spent the summer on the road visiting friends and family around the North East. By the time we arrived at our destination, she was five months old and had slept in no fewer than nine places. Which probably explains why she now lives for predictable schedules and routine.

When school started up again in mid-September, I thought it was the best thing that could happen to her. What I failed to realize was how much the excitement and variety each day brought with it would take a toll on her young psyche. Limiting each day to just school and one other activity would be a stroke of sheer genius for me but it appears I’m a bit short on the genius gene these days. So it’s no wonder that today–like multiple others in its wake–I loaded one too many events on her. On  top of a morning at her nature preschool, I also scheduled a playdate with her best buddy followed by free swim at the Y, dinner at a local fast food joint and a trip to the fabric store. Needless to say, by the end of it, I was left with an overtired, dysfunctional four year old who couldn’t even pull it together long enough to brush her teeth. Thank goodness I get another fresh start tomorrow. Now about those circus tickets I’ve been meaning to buy…

A thousand blogs of light

And this tiny star is mine. This is a blog about the evolving identities of life: childhood, young adult, wife, mother. At least these are the major transitions I’ve made so far. The jump from being a child under someone else’s roof to striking out on my own was a pretty straight forward one (though admittedly, even those lines were blurred [more on this later]) . Other transitions were much more subtle, like the time in my late-twenties, when I suddenly realized I was no longer as much of a low maintenance, backpack traveler as I used to be and found myself needing wheely luggage on all future trips. Or when I spent the first half of my career doing one thing, jerked to a halt when I became a parent, and then realize I was actually better at doing something entirely different all along. And that’s where this blog finds me, on the precipice of one identity, morphing into another; transitioning from stay-at-home–mom focusing primarily on kids to a work-at-home-mom writing about my kids and the crazy things raising them makes me do. They are my inspiration and this is a story about finding my voice again after the crazy stage of early-parenthood.

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