Wordless Wednesday: The Birth of a Family

In honor of Multicultural Kid Blogger’s Virtual Baby Shower, the bloggers of MKB wanted to celebrate by showcasing the birth of our family. From marriage to adoption, the birth of one’s family is displayed in various ways. But one thing is certain, what makes us all complete is the unity and love that exists within family.

From our MKB family to yours…

multicultural kid bloggersVarya from Creative World of Varya displays how families are born and grow…

Our family was born in 2008 when we got married and had our first child. 6 years later, we are expecting baby # 3 and growing along with our children both emotionally and spiritually.

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Eolia of La Cité des Vents shows how families evolve…

We were already a family since the moment I gave birth to Gabriel, but with the arrival of Sophie, the dynamic changed… for the better! My son started to love his sister when we told him he was going to be a big brother, and it grew stronger when he met her three hours after she was born.

IMG_2076Olga of European Mama speaks of the beauty of family and her wonderful son…

Birth of a Family is a beautiful, wonderful topic and definitely one that I’d like to contribute to. Almost exactly a year ago, our son was born and he made our little family complete- so it’s birth of a family as it is supposed to be.

MeetingTonitoBecky of Kid World Citizen is a happy, beautiful example of the varying ways a family is birthed. From the womb or through adoption, the birth of her family evolves….

The day we met Tonito.

Rey's BirthKristen of Toddling in the Fast Lane describes the home water birth of her child…

Since I just gave birth that’s what I think of.  I was so glad to have my family around me as we welcomed a new member and a new phase in our lives.

RSV-prevention-dsm2012-1Vanessa of De Su Mama: Building a Multiracial Legacy says…

I always knew I would have two kids, and when my son was born looking so much like my husband, I felt completed. Like my family has just been born.

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Insights from an Adoptive Mom {Multicultural Kid Blogs Virtual Baby Shower}

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This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Virtual Baby Shower.  For more information and to link up your own baby posts, see the end of this page.

On February 13, 2009, I held my daughter for the first time. She was born 2 days late, after an uneventful (but ridiculously long) labor and nine months of throwing up 15-20 times a day. She was a petite 7 lbs, healthy and beautiful — with her dad’s blue eyes and my long lashes.

On March 4, 2013, I held my son for the first time. At exactly nine months old, he came to us after spending the past 7 months alternating between a Congolese orphanage and hospital, where he was repeatedly treated for chronic malaria. He was just under 12 pounds — with the dimples, brown eyes and chocolate-colored skin of another. He was beautiful.

Insights from an Adoptive Mom: Africa to America {Multicultural Kid Blogs Virtual Baby Shower}The adoption journey was the hardest thing ever. I’m pretty sure any adoptive parent would tell you the same thing. I spent 7 months of my life as a Crazed Person — a Crazed Person pretending to get up to pee at 2 am only to sneak off and check my phone for e-mails from the Congolese embassy (it was 10 am Congo time, okay?), asking random strangers with baby boys how much they weighed and — if said stranger reported a weight similar to the latest update of my son’s stats — could I HOLD THEIR BABY (it’s true). It was the longest 7 months of my life while I was in it and now I think of it as this gigantic blur. I’m not even sure what happened during that 7 months. My 3-year-old pretty much got herself from age 3 to 4 on her own. I just remember doing a lot of paperwork, crying a lot, feeling sick with worry and reading The Connected Child.

I’m not sure why anyone who knew me during that time is still friends with me. But believe it or not — they are. I had the most amazing group of friends who walked with me during my life as a Crazy Person (Truth: I’m still crazy because now I’m PARENTING that kiddo I fought so hard to bring home). These friends prayed with and for me, cried with me, threw showers for our son, held fundraisers to help us with adoption costs, came to the airport at 3 in the morning to meet him, and then brought us meals for a month. For real.

Now that I’ve been an adoptive parent for 13 months, I am Wise and All-Knowing (insert sarcastic snort here). I’ve had plenty of failures, challenges mixed in with huge blessings and awesomeness, so I’m going to share with you, adoptive families and friends of adoptive families, what I’ve learned. So that you can be Wiser and More All-Knowing than I have been.

For the adoptive families:

  • The wait is SO HARD. But you knew that already. Having a child in someone else’s care while you have no due date just plain stinks. It’s okay to be angry and mad and sad and frustrated. I really have no advice for how to get through this part because I was terrible at it. All I can tell you is that I GET IT. Solidarity.
  • I’m telling you this because I love you: the hard doesn’t end when your child gets home. You are parenting a child from a hard place — whether that child is 9 months old or 9 years old. Your precious little one may struggle with attachment and put up walls to protect himself from being abandoned again. Your child from another country may be completely FREAKED OUT by all these white people speaking a strange language in a strange house and may try to run away. Your malnourished baby may have serious food issues and scream and cry whenever you feed him, throwing up from stuffing himself too full but still clutching to the remaining piece of bread on his plate and sobbing hysterically. Seek out resources for your child in the form of attachment therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, English tutors, or WHATEVER else your child needs. They will help your child AND they will help equip you to parent your child.
  • You may struggle with attachment with your child and with Post Adoption Depression (it’s a real thing, friend). You may feel guilt and shame that you aren’t happier after the child you’ve been longing for for months or years is home with you. You may struggle to feel connected to a child who is resisting your love and attention. You may feel isolated and alone because you don’t have other friends who have adopted and they just don’t get it. Seek out those adoptive parents who get it. They may not live in your community, but there are plenty of Facebook, Yahoo and Google groups along with conferences and camps for adoptive families. It is so wonderfully refreshing and encouraging to meet other parents who can not only advise but also commiserate. Take time for yourself to do things you like to do. See a therapist if you need to work through your own grief and attachment challenges.
  • Part of becoming an adoptive parent means that you will grieve with and for your child’s losses. Our little boy came to us young and is ridiculously happy 99.99999% of the time. But every now and then there will be an event that triggers him — most recently a blood draw — and I will see in his eyes grief and pain and hollowness that is beyond his years and beyond anything I can describe. These moments pierce me through, and all I can do is hold him close and tell him how much I love him until the sadness subsides.
  • Be open in talking about adoption around and with all your kiddos. Read books that encourage dialogue about birth families and adoption. Honor your child’s birth mother and father on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
  •  Incorporate your child’s culture by celebrating holidays from his birth country, learning to cook a few native dishes and providing him with some keepsakes from home. Always speak of his birth country with respect.

For friends of adoptive families:

  • During your friend’s wait, please ask her about her child. Ask her to see the latest picture and give you the latest update. She’s an expectant mommy without the bulging belly to give her away — so she doesn’t get to talk about her “pregnancy” very much. Treat her like you would any other expectant mommy! Pray for her little one’s health, throw her a shower and bring her meals when her child comes home.
  • Remember that your friend is parenting a traumatized child. This is life-changing for her. She may take the first few months to “cocoon” in her house with her family as they work to attach to their new child. Her schedule may change. A LOT. She may suddenly parent differently in a way that seems indulgent to you but is actually necessary to help her child heal. Show her love and understanding, even if you don’t always get why she’s doing what she’s doing. Give her an extra measure of patience. And grace. Lots of grace.
  • Remember that your friend’s child is grieving the loss of his first family and perhaps his first country. Refrain from saying anything such as, “You’re so lucky to have a family!” or “You’re so lucky to be in America!” Try to use empowering statements such as, “Your parents are so lucky to have you!”
  • Help with respite, if you’re willing and able. It took almost seven months before I could take our son to the grocery store because viewing that much food in one place when he had once starved was simply too much to handle. I was so grateful to the friends who came and stayed with the kids during nap times so I could run to the grocery store.
  • If we have become an interracial family, we would love it if you could build diversity awareness in your own home. If you provide your children with multiracial dolls, books, toys and artwork, it helps our adopted kids feel more comfortable in your home and less like a novelty, while also instilling compassion and insight in your own children. Win-win.

To both adoptive parents and the friends who know them: though there are challenges and changes in your life, you will be so enriched and expanded through this process. Three years ago, I’m not sure that I could have told you much about the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, I could prattle of the history, whip you up my favorite Congolese dishes and tell you all about which humanitarian organizations are doing fantastic and reputable work.

All because of a little boy that I’m blessed to call my son.

Africa to AmericaCarly Seifert is a piano teacher and mother of two kiddos (ages 5 and 1). She blogs at Africa to America, where she writes about adoption, multiculturalism, serving with her kids and anything else that strikes her fancy. Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.

Multicultural Kid Blogs - Virtual Baby ShowerAt Multicultural Kid Blogs, we consider ourselves a (very large) extended family, and so today we are taking time to celebrate those members that are about to or have recently welcomed new little ones into their lives.  We are so happy for them!

Our Guests of Honor: We are thrilled to share in the joy of the following members as they welcome new little ones into their families: Melissa of Vibrant Wanderings, Annabelle of the piri-piri lexicon, Varya of Creative World of Varya, Carly of Africa to America, Jonathan of dad’s the way I like it, Kristen of Toddling in the Fast Lane, Juliette of The Art of Home Education, JJ of Simply Multicultural, and Kali of For the Love of Spanish.

The co-hosts of this blog hop, listed below, have each written posts related to baby showers or more generally about becoming parents, plus we’d love for you to link up yours below.

Also be sure to visit our Facebook page to leave your advice and well wishes for our guests of honor!

Co-hosts

the piri-piri lexicon
Vibrant Wanderings
Creative World of Varya
La Cité des Vents
Spanish Playground
Dad’s the way I like it
Tiny Tapping Toes
All Done Monkey

 


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Multicultural Meal Plan: Greek Easter Menu {Marie’s Pastiche}

In 2012, our family virtually explored Greece for a year, learning about the culture in many ways, and especially through festivals and celebrations. Pascha, or Easter, is the most widely observed and most important religious holiday in Greece. With this Easter menu, we enjoyed the tastes and culture of Greece.

Greek Easter Dinner Menu: Multicultural Meal Plan {Marie's Pastiche}

The Easter season in Greece starts months earlier with Carnival celebrations, followed by 40 days of lent, culminating at the end of Holy Week with Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday marks the resurrection of Jesus, a chance for rebirth and a welcoming of warmer days. Breaking the 40 day fast of Lent starts at midnight on Easter Saturday, during a candlelit service. Families gather back home with lit candles to bless their homes, and then break the fast with magiritsa, Easter lamb soup, made of the offal (small intestine, heart, liver, kidneys)  removed from the lamb to be roasted for Easter Sunday.This midnight feast, enjoyed upon returning from church, includes Easter soup, cheese and tsoureki (a sweet bread). These are the foods that have been abstained from, and heartily enjoyed. You can find a recipe for magiritsa here.

Easter Sunday Dinner Menu

Greek Easter Dinner

Traditional roast of lamb. The main dish for Easter Sunday in Greece is lamb, most traditionally whole lamb roasted on a spit. To enjoy Easter lamb at home, roast a leg of lamb in traditional Greek manner with olive oil, lemon, garlic and oregano.

Roasted potatoes and sauteed asparagus. Great accompaniments to roast lamb are Greek roasted potatoes, baked with stock and lemon juice, and sauteed asparagus with lemon and garlic.

Tzatziki, warm pita, and Greek olives. Either as appetizers, or sides these are classic and popular in our household. Be sure to use Greek yogurt to make the tzatziki – it makes all the difference.

tsoureki

Tsoureki. Traditionally part of breaking the fast, Easter bread, a soft sweet bread, is an essential part of Pascha. This brioche is braided, either into a log or ring, with cooked red eggs tucked in. It is flavored with orange, aniseed or mahlepi (ground cherry pits).

easter dessert

Melopita For dessert, we enjoyed a Greek honey & ricotta cheese pie, a traditional Easter dessert from Sifnos. We also had sliced blood oranges drizzled with honey as a light and refreshing dessert.

Red Easter Eggs

greek easter egg game

Red dyed Easter eggs are an essential part of the Greek celebration of Easter. They are died a deep red to symbolize life and represent the blood of Christ. Traditionally dyed on Holy Thursday, these eggs are tucked into tsoureki, given as gifts, and used to play the traditional Easter game of Tsougrisma. To play this game, everyone has one red (hard boiled) egg. Find an opponent, and lightly tap the end of your egg against the end of your opponent’s egg. Continue with all gathered until one person’s egg is left without cracking – it is said this person will have good luck for a year. If you want to dye your eggs red, follow the instructions found here.

I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy a special Greek Easter celebration.

Multicultural Meal Plan Mondays on Multicultural Kid Blogs

You can also read other multicultural meal plans in this series.

You can also follow our Multicultural Cooking and Easter Around the World boards on Pinterest.

Multicultural Kid Blogger

Marie-Claude is the parent of two incredible girls. Over the years, they have immersed themselves virtually in various cultures. This year they have been exploring the cultures of West Africa, which is being chronicled on her blog at mariespastiche.blogspot.com.

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Easter Around the World

Easter Button
Easter (and the preceding “Holy Week”) is a Christian holiday remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus, with traditions dating back to pagan springtime festivals. Since it is celebrated in so many countries, we thought it would be interesting to look at Easter around the world. We asked our member bloggers- multicultural families who live in all corner of the world- to share how they will celebrate Easter this year. What an incredible response we got!

European Traditions:

The Egg TreeNatalie from Planet Smarty describes how her family makes a Northern European Easter tree every year.

Becky from Kid World Citizen shared a video she took in Andalucía, Spain during the Holy Week processions. Though the video is in Spanish, anyone can enjoy the impressive statues, costumes, and scenes.

Stephanie from InCulture Parent has a sweet Easter recipe for Italian cookies, and a Polish Easter craft called Palma Wycinanka (cut paper palm). She also shares the interesting Czech Easter tradition of “whipping” girls and women with a special braided pussy willow in an attempt to keep them healthy and fertile!

Anna from The Multicultural Kitchen shows us how her family celebrates their Spanish and Russian roots during Easter, with vytynanky, Juan Miro inspired eggs, and Spanish almond cake (yum!). She also writes about how Holy Week in Spain is celebrated.

Olena from Bilingual Kids Rock shared a nice description of Ukranian Holy Week, starting at Willow Sunday, and ending on Easter with pysanky eggs, special paska bread, baskets and egg battles.

Ukrainskie pisankiCarrie at Crafty Moms wrote a very detailed and well-researched post on Easter traditions in Ukraine and Russia, with some excellent books that illustrate these two cultures. Both practice beautiful egg-decorating technique called pysanky in Ukraine and pisanki in Russia.

Easter in France Portugal Spain

Carrie also wrote a great piece on Easter in France, Spain, and Portugal, who share similar traditions.

Mary from Busy as a Bee in Paris shows us how her family celebrates Easter traditions in France. Phoebe shares a French recipe for brioche (a sweet bread) made specially for Easter and found mainly in the south of France.

Latin American Traditions:

Frances of Discovering the World through my Son’s Eyes created a twist on traditional cascarones for her Easter playdate. See pictures here of their fun day at the park celebrating Easter and spring!

I love Mari’s post on Mexican Cascarones (eggs filled with confetti) on Inspired by Family! She also has a delicious recipe for capirotada- Mexican Bread Pudding- traditionally enjoyed on Easter.

Jennifer of Spanish Playground created a fun, interactive Spanish game with plastic Easter eggs to get our kids speaking Spanish during the Easter egg hunt.

Antigua Guatemala Holy Week Alfombras- Kid World Citizen

Carrie at Crafty Moms shared another insightful post on the Easter traditions (specifically Holy Week) in Guatemala. Guatemala is famous for its “sawdust carpets:” amazing decorative designs made of sawdust, flowers, fruit, and more in the streets; they take hours to make.

Check out this incredible photo essay of pictures from these “alfombras” from Antigua, Guatemala posted by Becky of Kid World Citizen (as seen in photo at left).

Asia Easter Traditions:

Amanda (also known as Miss Panda Chinese!) shares some Mandarin language lessons to use during Easter.

United States/Canada Traditions:

41114easter-bunny-pancakewValerie from Glitter Muffins made these adorable bunny rabbit and Easter egg pancakes (English version). She also posted them in French!

Mari from Inspired by Family shared some cute Easter-inspired egg recipes, and a fluffy, feathered bunny and chick craft.

Lessons, Egg-Dyeing, Books, and more!

Easter Around the World Book Collage

Carrie at Crafty Moms shared a great Easter book list with multicultural characters.

Kim at Educator’s Spin On It shared a nice list of baby time Easter activities, and her co-creator Amanda shared a list of toddler Easter activities.

Frances from Discovering the World through my Son’s Eyes had an Easter playdate of crafts and egg-dyeing for her son, that would be perfect for preschoolers and kinders.

For kids a little bit older, Jody at Mud Hut Mama has a lovely Easter lesson plan for preschoolers, including math, science, and play. My favorite part has to be the creative way she decorated her eggs (see below)!Easter Eggs Gecko Eggs Mud Hut Mama

For kids in elementary school interested in reflecting on the meaning behind Easter, Mari from Inspired by Family has a great family Easter project.

Speaking of decorating eggs, Mary Anne from Mama Smiles has several posts: simple eggs, eggs decorated with melted crayon shavings.  She also shares a fun shaker egg craft.

Giselle of Kids Yoga Stories has some great yoga poses related to springtime and Easter.

Christi from Learning to be the Light discusses how her family celebrated the Hindu festival of Holi, on Easter Sunday.

Thanks for sharing everyone- I love seeing the different cultural aspects of Easter. Does your family have a special tradition? How do you celebrate Easter where you live? Share in the comments!

You can also follow our and Easter Around the World board on Pinterest!

Becky Morales

Becky Morales shares activities to teach kids global and cultural awareness at KidWorldCitizen.org. She also recently co-authored a book for parents and teachers called the Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners, with hundreds of activities and resources to expand young minds and go global. She is the mother of 4 active, multicultural, and bilingual kids who keep her busy and laughing.

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Big, Little World: Connecting and Connected – Earth Day Blog Hop

earthdayEarth Day always reminds me of just how big and small the world is. As I explore the globe and maps with my little ones and talk about caring for our environment, the world can seem so big. However, as I help my little ones understand that throwing trash on the ground here could mean that same trash ends up in an ocean on the other side of the world, all of the sudden we realize that the world is also small because we are all so interconnected. Helping my sons understand that caring for the Earth is a way to care for other people — even people far away — raises their awareness and interest in being global citizens and excites them even more about taking care of the planet. I love Theresa of Howling Healing Art‘s insight on connecting to others through Earth Day: 

I have always tried to teach my kids that helping the Earth could start in our own house and backyard, but is not limited to it. And so we travel to see other places, visit family in other countries and learn that all beings in the planet are interconnected; what we do here affects people on the other side of the world. If all children learn to believe this while growing up, Earth will have a brighter future.

Becky of Kid World Citizen has great ideas too:

We talk a lot about concrete ideas that WE can do as a family that will positively affect the world. We talk about: what comes in our house (especially where food comes from, buying in season, buying less, buying used, avoiding extra packaging), how we use energy (turning off lights, packing lunches in reusable baggies), what leaves our house as trash (or compost or recycling!). Our decisions and actions affect people – and wildlife – around the world. 

Jennifer is a mom of two, as well as an independent filmmaker who has taught filmmaking to youth, most notably with her Spotlight On Hope Film Camp, a free film camp for Pediatric Cancer patients. She writes about her experiences with Wild Thing and Caterpillar at The Good Long Road with an emphasis on mindfulness, imagination, and creative activities related to her toddler and preschooler’s favorite children’s books. You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Google+.

Multicultural Kid Blogs is excited to host this Earth Day Blog Hop, which runs throughout the month of April. Please link up activities that help children learn to care for the planet, and share your thoughts about why caring for the planet helps children learn to care for one another — as global citizens.

Remember, you can share in the comments or by linking up below!  You can also join the discussion in our Google + Community!

For some Earth Day inspiration including ideas for crafts and activities using recycled materials and much more, check out our Earth Day is Every Day Pinboard. Two other Pinterest favorites are Mommy Maestra’s Bilingual Earth Day Pinboard and Kids Yoga Stories’ Pinboard, Books: Earth Day.

You can also enjoy Daria Music’s Earth Day Music Craft e-Book for free in April, and there is a Very Special Earth Day Contest for kids of all abilities over at Wonder Baby sponsored by Daria Music. 


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Visions of Spring Around the World

We asked our MKB members from around the world what spring looks like where they live. From China to Costa Rica, these pictures were taken this week, showing us the different sides of spring.

Spring with cities Collage

Top row: Chicago, USA – Aimee of Raising World Citizens; Derby, UK – Rita of Multilingual Parenting; Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica – Leanna of All Done Monkey
Second row: Les Cabannes, France – Becky of La Famille Brown; Washington, USA – Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese; London, UK – Judith of Little Billingues
Third row: Milan, Italy – Galina of Trilingual Children; Borough of Carrickfergus, Ireland – Crystal of Crystals Tiny Treasures; Boston, USA – Giselle of Kids Yoga Stories;                                                                              Fourth row: Earltown, Canada – Marie of Marie’s Pastiche; Florida, USA – Amanda of The Educator’s Spin On It; Zhuhai, China – Varya of Creative World of Varya;                                                                                 Fifth row: Seattle, USA – Thereza of Howling Yoga Books; Bangor, Wales – Jonathan of Dads The Way I Like It; Keukenhof, Netherlands – Olga of The European Mama
What does spring look like in your part of the world?  We’d love to see your photos!  Share them on our Facebook page.
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Football’s World Cup – more than just a game

It may be over two months until the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but another World Cup is underway. The Streetchild World Cup has kicked off in Rio within the last week and will feature nine teams in the girls’ tournament and fifteen teams in the boys’ tournament. The competition has been set up with the aim of trying to ensure better treatment for street children around the world.

Football’s potential to raise awareness of wider global issues was a theme that Sheila Sjolseth focused on in her World Cup for Kids post Making meaningful connections with kids through sport. It is always heartening to hear of football teams and fans who have tried to help use their sport as a force for good. In Wales, where I live, a group of the national team’s supporters set up a charity called Gôl that has helped to raise funds to support underprivileged kids in several countries that the Welsh national team has visited. In 2009, a group of supporters drove from Wales to Azerbaijan to drop off donations to 20 different orphanages along the way.

Jonathan with former Wales international player John Hartson, in Aberystwyth (Wales), autumn 2010

Jonathan with former Wales international player John Hartson, in Aberystwyth (Wales), Autumn 2010

Last year, I also remember reading about how fans of German club Union Berlin raised 18,000 euros to help build a football pitch in a stony rural area of South Africa to which one of their fans had moved. One of the most uplifting elements of the story was reading that fans had donated time as well as money, and several had traveled out to South Africa to help with the work rather than going on a more conventional holiday.

As a student in Leeds, I got involved in several voluntary community projects that had links with the university where I was studying. In my first year, I helped with after school football practice at a school that was a short walk from the university campus. As a result of doing this, I was put in touch with an exciting project that was run at the city’s major team Leeds United.

World cup HJK Helsinki v Bangor, Finland, summer 2011

HJK Helsinki v Bangor, Finland, Summer 2011

For two years, I’d go down to the Elland Road stadium once or twice a week to act as a volunteer mentor at the Study Support Centre. Local school pupils would go there after school during the week and on Saturday mornings as part of a programme that aimed to boost literacy, numeracy and computer skills. The football club was a big draw for the kids and it was clear to me that they benefited from the facilities and support from those who ran the Study Support Centre.

During my time as a volunteer mentor, I learned that the contracts of the players at the club required them to spend a certain amount of time per month supporting community activities such as the Study Support Centre. To me, this seemed like a great way for a team to give something back to its local area and engage with its supporters.

World cup Bordeaux v PSG, France, November 2011

Bordeaux v PSG, France, November 2011

With working full time and being the parent of a son who is rapidly approaching his first birthday, I certainly don’t have as much time to devote to activities such as a voluntary work projects compared to when I was a student. However, one thing that I plan to do soon is to go through my clothes drawers and look out some old football kits that I have lying around. After doing a quick internet search, I recently discovered several charities that deliver old football kits to children in different countries around the world.

In the UK, groups such as Kits4Causes, Football4Africa and KitAid all collect football kits and equipment that they then redistribute to different organisations around the world who really need this sort of material. Netherlands-based Kits for the World does likewise. At at a time when so many footballers and supporters are about to converge on Brazil to celebrate football’s greatest tournament, it seems like an appropriate time to do a small gesture to help people around the world to enjoy football wherever they may be.

jonathan-ervineJonathan is the blogger behind Dad’s the Way I Like It.  He created his blog to reflect on his experiences as a dad and how dads are represented in society.  He lives in North West Wales with his wife, son and three chickens. Jonathan and his wife are raising their bilingually using both Welsh and English.  You can also find him on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

 

 

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Celebrating Passover

Passover Celebrations by Planet Smarty Pants for Multicultural Kid Blogs

Disclosure. Creative Commons Seder Plate” by Karen is licensed under CC BY 2.0. I am an Amazon associate and this post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, please click here and thank you for supporting my blog!

 

Passover of My Childhood.

I was raised in an atheist family in the former Soviet Union. My grandparents on both sides were “true believers” in Communist Party and chose to raise their children completely non-religious. In fact, my paternal grandfather’s name was Moses, but he wouldn’t tell me what the name meant. I grew up thinking that it’s just a funny “old name” that is not in use any longer. Nevertheless, every spring my father’s Mom would get everyone together for a Passover dinner. Before that dinner, my Dad and I would drive to a tiny rundown building in Minsk with a strange name “synagogue”. There would be a line of people all coming there with the same purpose – to get matzah bread for Passover celebrations. It didn’t matter that my grandmother’s dinner featured regular bread and freely mixed milk and meat – it was still a holiday that was not celebrated by anyone else I knew and made me wonder about why we are special. It also made me wonder why the adults are saying, Next year in Jerusalem when I knew fully well that nobody was going anywhere any time soon.

Connecting to Our Roots

I came to US as an adult, and now we celebrate both Passover and Easter in our non-religious house as a way to connect to our roots and celebrate our heritage. I want my daughter to know that she has a Jewish part in her, just as she has an Orthodox Christian Russian part of my maternal grandmother and German heritage from her father who was raised Lutheran. My seven year old is really looking forward to Passover. When she is older, she will be free to choose whether she wants to become a Christian, a Jew, choose any of other religions of the world or stay an agnostic like us. In any case, I am hoping that she will still celebrate Passover as a holiday that connects her to her Jewish roots like it connected me in my childhood.

What Is Passover?

The Story of Passover

The Story of Passover is one of the best known stories from The Old Testament that came into even non-religious Western living rooms with the famous The Ten Commandments movie and with Disney’s The Prince of Egypt. The Story of Passover by David Adler gives a great overview of the story for younger children. You can also read a very short “executive summary” of the story on Passover for Kids.

How Is Passover Celebrated?

The most important part of Passover celebration is the feast on the first day of Passover called Seder. Seder means order, and the proper Seder includes 15 steps, where each step is steeped in tradition that was passed over for many generations. You can read more about 15 steps of proper Seder on Jewish Kids site.

A Seder Plate

A Seder PlateI have to say that since we are not a religious family, we don’t follow Haggadah (a special Passover book), we don’t do all these steps, and we don’t even have a proper Seder plate like the one pictured above. I guess on my next visit to Israel I might get one for us, but we are using a plain plate for now. There are several traditional foods on this plate reminding us of different parts of Passover story. Two bitter foods (horseradish and bitter herbs) is a reminder of bitter slavery in Egypt. Haroseth is a mixture of apples, chopped nuts and wine that has a texture of mortar that was used by slaves while building houses and palaces for the Egyptians. Parsley reminds us of rebirth and a roasted egg is a reference to other Jewish festivals and, yet again, to rebirth and new life. Finally, a lamb shank bone (or a beet root for vegetarian families) represents a lamb blood that was smeared on doorposts of the Israelites, so the Angel of Death would pass over their houses during the tenth plague.

Things We Love About Passover

For me Passover is a chance to get friends together for a special dinner that is not the same as usual weekend dinners in our house. It’s also a great chance to introduce our international smattering of friends to this part of my heritage.

My daughter really likes making and eating haroset. Her other favorite part of Passover celebrations is looking for Afikoman. Afikoman is a piece of flat matzah bread that is hidden early during Seder celebrations. Children are supposed to look for it later and get chocolate or small prizes for finding it. She is slightly concerned about Elijah’s visit – she keeps asking if Elijah is going to be visible if he comes or is he going to be a ghost, but she is really looking forward to Passover celebrations this year.

Natalie Photo

Natalie was born in Belarus and lives  in California with her German husband and one daughter. Natalie blogs at Planet Smarty Pants about playful literature-based activities and nurturing engaged thinkers through science, engineering, and math. She works full time for a big tech company in Silicon Valley. Follow Natalie at her blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.

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Global Gardening Connections

I garden with my children:

  • to teach them how food grows
  • to provide our house with healthy, local produce
  • to springboard discussions on good nutrition
  • to make connections with community members and
  • to teach them about the world

A garden truly is bursting with teaching potential, it is up to us as parents and teachers to harvest it.

At the Educators’ Spin On it this month, we are hosting a special Kids in the Garden; Learning and Growing celebration.  Top writers and garden enthusiasts are sharing their tips and activities for gardening with kids.  In addition to getting started topics, we also have articles on bringing math, science, reading, and global learning to the garden.

German Potato Salad Kids in the Garden

My goal this year as a parent is to include more global learning into our everyday activities.  This year with the garden we have:

1. Researched the history of heirloom vegetables and tried to plant a variety of species from different countries. The golden sweet snowpea for example was collected from a market in India.   We would find India on the map and discuss how seeds have been passed down from generation to generation and have floated by ship or traveled by plane to arrive here in the U.S.A. where we live.

2. Visited our local community garden.  This is an amazing place to see a community work together for a common goal.  Many cultural connection exist here too as every family has a unique heritage with different cultural dishes they prepare for their families. Their gardens tend to reflect these difference (and similarities) and it is fun to talk to other gardeners about what they will be making with their harvest.

3. Planted THEMED gardens.  Many of you have seen the “pizza garden,” or a “butterfly garden.”  We planted a “German Potato Salad garden with chives, onions, dill, radishes, and potatoes.  The kids and I made a garden marker with a map of Germany and a flag.  Every morning, while watering, my 4 year old talks about his German Potato Salad.  Because of this minor addition to our garden bed, he is now interested in learning more about Germany, can identify the flag, and find the country on the map of the world.  Not bad for a 4 year old.

I strong encourage you to use your garden to it’s fullest potential.

The Educators' Spin On It Kids in the Garden

 

Come read all the great articles we have shared on global gardening.
Join us on March 31st to #plantaseed with your child!
Share your pictures on any social media using the hashtag #plantaseed.

 

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Eight Things Every Multicultural Family Needs

Multicultural House Pinnable

When Annabelle of The Piri Piri Lexicon posted her “What makes your home multicultural” series, I thought about all the things that make families like mine unique. What objects do we have at home? How do we showcase our identities and traditions? And I came to the conclusion that what we have at home does make us special but it is more about how use the things we have, and that you would find many of the items listened in this post in any “regular” home.

What are the things every multicultural family needs? Here’s a little list. Obviously, you don’t need all the things! This is less about needs, but more about the many great ways to make your home more multicultural.

1)      Read Books

There is no such thing as too many books, and you can pick books about other countries, written in many languages. In fact, books are great because they help children discover new worlds- and new words, too, but you can also use them as a way to talk about culture in your family.

2)      Play With ToysMinority Toys

I think there are two types of toys that could be great for multicultural families- in fact they are great for all families. The other types are open-end toys – for example LEGO, KAPLA, wooden blocks, and natural objects such as sticks or stones.  Other toys that are great for all kinds of families are minority toys: black dolls, dolls for boys, for example.

3)       Use art supplies

Art supplies can be great for all families (especially, if unlike me, you’re crafty). Specifically, they can be used to explore art in different cultures. For example, I had an idea where I wanted to have my children’s names translated into Chinese characters and do a writing exercise with them so that they could learn that there is more than just one alphabet- and I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Miss Panda Chinese for helping me with idea!

4)      Play musical instruments and listen to musicInstruments

I used to sing in a choir and still play the guitar sometimes. Needless to say, music is a huge part of my life, and I want my children to experience the beauty of music as well. We have my guitar and a keyboard which I really want to learn to play, but instruments from other cultures are great thing, too! We also have two rattles from South America. Other great instruments are drums and castanets, but please check Daria Music for more great multicultural instruments! On top of that, we listen to great music from all over the world.

5)      Buy globes, maps and atlases

Globe

This is of course the most obvious thing that shows that you are interested in multicultural matters. Many families hang maps on the walls- we used to have one as well. Some have a globe as well- we do. There are many great atlases out there for children.

6)      Showcase memories

Let’s remember that the word “souvenir” comes from French and means “remembrance” or “memory” and I think that keeping that in  mind, there are two types of souvenirs. The typical souvenir is one you bring back from travels. Ashley Steel and Bill Richards, authors of “Family on the Loose” even suggest having a special closet for them! I would also call family photos and objects souvenirs due to the memories that they symbolize and the ties they make to family traditions.

7)      Use the power of technology

Technology

Not everyone would agree with me, of course, but I believe that technology is a great opportunity, not only for play but also for learning and for staying in touch with extended family. We use Youtube a lot for songs and films in the minority language, I have my DSRL camera which I absolutely love, and I use it to take pictures. If used correctly, technology and media are great for bonding, quality time, and provide opportunities to learn about the world and cultures.

8)      Cook

Many families, even though they’re not multicultural, have a wok, can use chopsticks to eat and or cook dishes from a variety of cultures. A kitchen could also have spices and ingredients from all over the world- just like mine does, and luckily nowadays they are mostly easily available.

As you see, I think that what makes our families truly multicultural is ourselves. What I listed, these are tools that we can use to combine our many cultures and languages. However, another thing that becomes visible is that it doesn’t take much to add some multicultural flavour into your home!

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