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Showing posts from 2021

Why Kids Should Do Chores and How to Get Kids to Do their Chores

"Clean up, clean up, everybody every where. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share." We sing this in English in our house, because to the best of my knowledge there isn't a Spanish equivalent. Probably because from the time they learn to walk, it is expected that Latino children learn to help around the house and they don't need a little jingle to coerce them to pick up after themselves. That's probably why children in Central and South American tend to be more willing to help with chores around the house than their American and European counterparts.   We are in the interesting position because my husband is from Guatemala, so we are trying to raise our children more aligned to the Central-American tradition. We have two biological little ones, ages two and four, and we foster our niece, age 10. It might come as no surprise that the two little ones, who embrace their Guatemalan-American identity completely, enjoy helping out with the chores. Whereas with th

What no blog/website tells you to pack for the hospital

 Before giving birth to my daughter, I scoured the web for Hospital Bag Packing lists. There were innumerable articles and blogs that were somewhat helpful, but nothing really prepared me for the before, during, and after of being induced at 42 weeks, laboring for 12 hours, needed two epidurals because the first one didn't work, and then eventually having a c-section. As soon as I got home from the hospital with my daughter, I jotted down this list, because I wanted to make note of what was actually helpful to have at the hospital with me, what I wish I had brought, and what I would have done differently. Things I wished I'd brought with me to the hospital: More snacks for husband and me (while I could eat them--once the epidural goes in you can only consume ice chips) Extra small baby outfits (newborn was too big!) At least 2 birthing gowns for me. I had bought one to labor and deliver it, but after spending 25 hours in it, I was ready for a change of clothes.  Extra long cell

The Family that Exercises Together Stays Together

When everything shut down due to mandatory social distancing back in March of 2020, I had to find something to do with my active family. We were used to leaving the house every day for one activity or another, but when the libraries, parks, and extracurriculars all closed down for an indeterminate amount of time, we took to the trail. Walking, running and hiking became the one ways our family was able to get out of the house safely. At that time, my kids were nine, two, and nine-months-old. I bought a double stroller so we could all spend time outside exercising together, and we started to frequent the rail trail in our town every afternoon. The double stroller was perfect because the 9-month-old couldn't walk/run yet, and the two-year-old could move as much as she wanted, and then when she got tired she could hop in and be pushed. My oldest proved to be quite the athlete, and often outran me! Being able to be on the trail allowed us a healthy outlet for our cooped up and stressed-

Why Kids Need Pets

My chickens were my first babies. W e have had chickens since before any of my children were born. I'd always dreamed of farm fresh eggs from backyard hens, and when my husband surprised me one day with a small coop and four chickens, I was elated.  Our family began soon after, and when my daughter was just one week old, we had her out in the yard meeting the chickens. Then when she was old enough to be mobile, she learned how to walk by chasing them around the yard. Those chickens were her first friends, and important members of our family. I know the usual household pets are dogs, cats, maybe a hampster, but the chickens have taught my children so much. They've learned responsibility and care of others, as it is their job to feed, water, and collect the eggs each day. They've also learned appreciation for the life cycle and for other beings.  I love chickens so much because they give the gift of an egg each day! Cats and dogs only gift you with poop you have to pick up! N

Is 5 Little Monkeys Racist?

I’ve seen a lot of Tik Toks debunking children’s nursery rhymes lately. I have two toddlers, so now whenever I hear one of those rhymes, I think about their unsavory origins. But my son loves, loves Five Little Monkeys. He’s just learning to talk, and can almost say it by himself. I’ve thought about telling him to stop singing it since I learned in the original lyrics it’s not monkeys jumping on the bed, but he just gets so much joy from singing it as he jumps up and falls down, I thought... no harm, no foul, right? As long as he thinks the song is about monkeys, it’s ok.  Until my niece came over one day, and the three toddlers were playing on an old mattress we have on the living room floor for them to jump around on. My son asked me to sing 5 Little Monkeys. At first it was cute, because they literally were jumping on the bed, but then I took a good look at the three of them.  My kids are half-Guatemalan but very fair, like I am. Whereas my niece is half-black, and her skin happens

The Story of Our Rainbow Babies

  My pregnancy with my daughter was a miracle.  In 2015, a month after my husband and I began trying, I got pregnant. We were overjoyed and immediately began picturing our new life with a child. Since it was my first pregnancy, I had no idea the risks or complications that were possible, and at that time I didn’t know that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, nor did I ever imagine I would soon be a statistic. But when I started bleeding at 6-weeks pregnant, I knew immediately something was gravely wrong. It took the doctors over two weeks to determine that I had an ectopic pregnancy, and by that time the pregnancy had progressed so far, the course of action had to be surgery. The day before my 29th birthday became the worst day of my life, when I lost both my baby and my left fallopian tube.  As soon as I had recovered from the surgery and with the doctor’s approval, we began trying to get pregnant again, but to no avail. Getting pregnant became my daily hope and prayer, but days tu

A Homage to Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Neither cinnamon nor cumin, peppermint nor paprika, were scents often smelt in my kitchen growing up. My mom was never a culinary caper — she worked full-time for most of my childhood — but mostly it was because cooking was something she never really learned how to do. “ I just don ’ t know how to season, ” she says. Mom was the product of a single-parent household, back when the Beaver family was still a model home, but microwave dinners were first en vogue. Her widowed mother worked full-time, so ensuring there was food to eat was more important to her than the preparation, and extravagant cooking for just the two of them was unrealistic. Grandma was the product of the depression, where children were taught to eat what they were served and commodities like eggs and butter and milk were treated like delicacies. It is not surprising that when my mother became the head of the household, homemade cooking was not a priority. It is our family joke that when my sister was a baby, she though

Our Family Motto

Our family motto is Growing is hard, and that’s okay. I’ve had it plastered to our fridge since we got married and bought a house in the same weekend in October 2014, and I’ve used it in my ESL classroom since 2011, when I first read Carol Dwek and learned about the idea of a growth mindset. I’m an ESL teacher and I used to start every school year with an inspiration speech to my students. I’d tell them to expect my class to be hard, because it would be a waste of time if it were easy. And that’s how I came up with growing is hard and that’s okay.   Right around that time, a friend of mine posted a photo on Instagram of new life emerging in northern Chile months after a 24-hour flash floor buried seemingly everything in mud. It’s one lone flower poking up between dry, cracked earth and when I saw it, I knew it was the perfect depiction of my motto.    My life motto became our family motto when we started our family in 2014. It is elementary in its simplicity, but that simple phrase re

What I Learned as a Parent during the Pandemic

  Before the mandatory social distance quarantine, our lives were the sum of our activities. Soccer practice and games, mommy and me playgroups, storytime at the public library, trips or the grocery story or the mall, manicures and pedicures and dinner reservations with friends. I had taken a year-long unpaid maternity leave from work to be home with my newborn son and toddler daughter, and we literally went out every single morning for an adventure, so that my daughter would fall asleep on the way home and that would commence nap time.  Once the pandemic hit and all that was immediately stripped away, it felt like my life had lost its meaning. All the days were the same and blended together, passing in a blur of endless zoom classes for my third-grader, cooking breakfast/lunch/dinner for my family of five, and so much cleaning up the messes everyone was making stuck at home! But what I learned from the pandemic was how to slow down and enjoy these moments as a mom. Since we couldn’t g

Why is Reading Important?

Reading is opportunity. Not only does it subtly build vocabulary, reinforce grammatical structures, and stimulate the mind, it also ignites the imagination. From the pages of a book you can travel to places you've never been or be a spectator or participant in events you wouldn't otherwise experience, and building this background knowledge is advantageous for both children and adults. There’s a popular infographic that powerfully demonstrates how the benefits of reading each day increase exponentially. A student who reads 20 minutes per day is exposed to 1.8 million words per year, whereas a student who reads five minutes per day is exposed to 282,000 words per year, and a student who reads one minute per day will be exposed to 8,000 words per year. Take note that it uses the word “student” and not child. Adults are students, too, because we should never stop learning! The importance of reading is apparent. Read more, read better. Reading for pleasure is mentally stimulating an

Storytime Bilingüe featuring "Gus hace un regalo"

Mother's Day is an opportunity to show appreciation for all Mom does for each of us each and every day. We spent Mother's Day this year taking a walk outside, swimming, eating take-out for breakfast and dinner, and getting to spend one of those rare days together when everyone gets along!  It's also quite common for little ones to handmake their moms a card to commemorate Mother's Day, and Maya and Mateo did not disappoint. A huge thanks to the Holliston Public Library for providing the art supplies necessary for them to make cards for my mom and me. Nothing can melt a mother's heart faster than a handmade card with a sentimental note inside.  This sweet story, Gus hace un regalo , chronicles the day of Gus, a young preschoolers, intent on creating something special for his mom for Mother's Day. Of course she likes anything he makes, but the simple sentence structure is perfect for emerging readers, and the storyline was perfect for today. Mothers, join your lit

What Moms Really Want for Mother's Day

What do moms really want for Mother’s Day? A break. While flowers, candy, candles, hand lotion or other tangible gifts might be nice, mom would prefer the type of gift you can't buy--appreciation. We want our children and partners to take a minute and show their gratitude for all the big and little things we do for them.  The “memories” feature on Facebook recently reminded me that last year all I asked for on Mother’s Day was to not have to cook or prepare any food for anyone. While feeding and serving my family is my daily joy, the best Mother’s Day gift is to be relieved of that duty. In most families, moms run the household, so for this Mother's Day, I strongly encourage you to invite her to sit back and relax while YOU do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, diaper changes, etc., whatever is necessary to give Mom a much needed day off. (Whatever you do, DON'T make her breakfast in bed and then expect her to clean up the mess left behind in the kitchen!) Moms probably also w