On motherhood, holding onto yourself, and the beauty of the tribe.

Motherhood is tough. Beautiful, amazing, wondrous, and flat out difficult. When becoming a mother, women go through a change that is really unlike anything else.  A recent New York Times article on The Birth of a Mother put it well: “becoming a mother is an identity shift, and one of the most significant physical and psychological changes a woman will ever experience.”

I think every mother is familiar with the feelings I’ve been struggling with: overextending yourself to try to juggle life, work, parenting, partnering, *and* being true to your pre-mom self. The feelings of love (sweet, all encompassing love), exhaustion, guilt, and I’ll say it, dissatisfaction are in a constant ebb and flow.

Recently I’ve been feeling depleted, overextended, and far less independent than in my previous life.  I love spending time with my daughter more than anything else in the world, I honestly do, but I’ve started to realize that I’m losing myself. I don’t have time. Not any, really — but even if I did have time I started to feel as if I wouldn’t even know what I would do with it. My single friends have drifted away, and my mom friends are up against the exact same challenges that I am.  I realize, though, that in order to be the best mother/teacher/wife/friend/self I can be, I need to try to regain some of myself, even if I have to dig for it.

This is when I turned to my “tribe”. What’s a “tribe” you ask? Well, google will give you tons of results on “mom tribe” — essentially, its a group of females who will get you like no one else in the world. Other women who are in the midst of motherhood themselves, who are experiencing sleepless nights, tantrums, potty training… Moms who are down for play dates or coffee, play dates *and* coffee. My tribe is a group of local moms that I originally connected with online, but have built relationships both in real life as well as in our internet community. These ladies are *awesome*. I seriously don’t know what I would do without them. Their children are playmates to my little lovely, and their support to me, and to each other, is invaluable.

I shared this image in our Facebook group, along with a sentiment reflected in this blog post, and the questions: What do you do for you? What would you do if you actually had time to be you?

The support, shared experience, and advice that I got was amazing. And I want to share it with you.

 

Voices from the field

On how to nurture yourself:

  • A happy mom is a happy child. Find what self-care means to you. -Sarah G.
  • It took me a long time to start to feel like me again… I now make sure to prioritize myself.   -Arin C.
  • Some good eyeliner and cute flats make me feel awesome.  -Samantha O.
  • Take solo walks in the sun… carve out weekly *me* time to help work on fighting the depletion. -Naethra S.
  • I enjoy trying to do things that I really liked before kids. I used to like just hanging on the beach reading a book or running on the beach. -Lauren P.
  • I try go out to eat with a friend or two at least once a month. …once I’m out it is really restorative. -Maria P.
  • I go for long runs to different places. My mind gets to go quiet. I try to take at least one picture I like on the way.-Kelly R.
  • I try to sleep in when I can. That’s what I miss most; going to bed and waking up when my body wants to. -Regan S.
  • believe it or not I will back to grad school. It gave me a new purpose and help to me refocus my career. I loved having that outlet to do something differently academically and professionally. -Mary T.

On what a mother would do were there enough time in the world:

  •  I would get in my car at night and drive with the windows down and music playing until morning. -Keri S.
  • I would read and do yoga every day if I could. -Jennifer P.
  • I’d bike more. -Jennifer E.

And one of my favorite sentiments:

  • May this be the summer of you! -Yael S.

The advice, support, and friendship I’ve gotten from other mothers has really been my motivation to shift my focus, if even just a little to myself. I’ve promised to care for myself a bit more, to treat myself to a new pair of shoes, to pay attention to my body and my mind, and generally put a focus on self-care. I’ve decided to return to school for just one class, and to carve out at least a few days a month for “me time”. Now I’ll wrap up this blog post to do just that.

Please share with us in the comments what you do for you, and follow Peace, Love and Literacy on Instagram to continue this conversation, leading up to Mother’s Day this Sunday!

Fall in Love with Earth (Science)

I am so grateful to have partnered with Eeboo again for the Earth Day Giveaway. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I just can’t get enough of their educational games!  I’ve always felt that there was a special quality to Eeboo’s materials, with illustrations that are just outside of the box, a focus that’s slightly offbeat, and quality that will endure, Eeboo has always caught my eye as an educator.  Now that I’m a mother, I’m thankful for games and toys like Eeboo’s that will encourage an appreciation of that which is unique and different within my daughter.

Eeboo provided us with their What Do You Know Bingo and their Natural Science 100 Piece Puzzle for review (and to giveaway to one lucky winner!!), and we dove right in!

Natural Science 100 Piece Puzzle

Firstly, the puzzle itself is gorgeous. Eeboo never fails to disappoint when it comes to the quality of their illustrations — Melissa Sweet illustrated both the puzzle and the bingo game, and she is a true artist.

The artwork features creatures of all kinds (botanical, animal), as well as non-living things and phenomenon such as fossils, minerals, the weather & astronomy drawn in vibrant, beautiful colors that really come alive. when the puzzle is put together.

A poster is included in the box, which has a full picture of the puzzle, as well as facts about each illustration. Though the facts are quite advanced, it makes it such that this puzzle is definitely a set that can really grow with your child.

The 100-piece puzzle is a bit advanced for our toddler (2.5 years old) but it’s a fun activity for us to do together, and she absolutely has an appreciation for many of the creatures she meets while putting it together (the koala and polar bear are current favorites).

 

What Do You Know Bingo

 

The What Do You Know Bingo is also illustrated by Melissa Sweet and utilizes a lot of the same creatures.  They make a beautiful pair.  One thing that I love about Eeboo’s bingo games, is that each card is themed, which makes it very easy to not only work within a topic (i.e. flowers & bugs, fossils & minerals) which makes teaching vocabulary to children thematic and systematic, and also allows the game to be modified for young children.  For Violet, we love to play a matching game (as we did with Eeboo’s Spanish Bingo), as we haven’t really tackled the idea of “bingo” yet.  We gather up all of the pieces specific to a single board, drop them in the included sack, and choose a piece and find the matching spot on the board. It’s really a fun way to explore Earth Science topics with young children, and learn new vocabulary as we go.

The back side of each bingo piece has a fact about the item on the front, again, making it a game that children can continue to explore in different ways as they grow.

Both of these products from Eeboo are a fantastic way to introduce your young child to natural wonders, and help to foster curiosity, compassion, and action around the earth and its creatures.

If you’d like your very own puzzle & bingo game, enter the giveaway here.

*I was provided with a copy of What Do You Know Bingo and the Natural Science 100 Piece Puzzle in exchange for a review. All opinions in this post are my own.*

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Earth Day Giveaway!

Happy Earth Day!!

I had so much fun with the Bring the World Into Your Home giveaway, that I’m already brainstorming and putting together some really fun (and important) blog series with *giveaways* — I just love discovering new materials, and, of course, giving things away!

Today we’re launching the “We Love the Earth- Earth Day Giveaway”! (Enter at the bottom of this post!)

When on a mission to raise a compassionate child, it’s important to remember to instill a love of the Earth, foster curiosity about the earth’s creatures, and develop an interest in caring for the planet and all of its inhabitants. Whether your family is just beginning an earth friendly journey, or if you’re already at the height of earth consciousness, there’s always room for games, books, activities, art, crafts, and other educational materials that can help expand your child’s knowledge of mother earth and how to care for and protect her.

Our family is on a mission to focus on the earth this spring & summer, we are actively looking for a community garden to join (or start?!?!?), we’re psyched to have recently acquired each item included in this giveaway (list to follow), and I can’t wait to introduce Violet to our world in a way that helps her to develop a consciousness of mother earth, caring for ourselves in earth friendly ways, discovering creatures, big and small, and protecting our world.  I’ve started a pinterest board with tons of earth friendly activities, tips for encouraging children to “go green”, family practices that benefit the earth, and fun crafts to make (plantable paper!!). This earth day we are gearing up for an earth-focused future!

I’m really excited for one family to take home the Earth Day Bundle, so you, too, can start out the season earth-focused!

Here’s what you’ll receive:

Chandra’s Magic Light

Farmer’s Market Create-and-Play Activity Book

 

Printable Earth Day Stickers

“The Earth is What We All Have in Common” 8.5″ x 11″ art print

Don’t Throw That Away: A Lift the Flap Book About Recycling and Reusing

I Can Save the Earth: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

What Do You Know Bingo

Natural Science 100 Piece Puzzle

 *This post contains affiliate links to help keep this blog running.

To learn more about affiliate links, click here.*
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Give Your Child the World

I’ve talked a lot recently about ways to physically bring the world into your home for children using books, toys and other materials, but I’d like to talk for a moment about mindset, empathy, and adopting a global perspective.

In the beginning of the school year I picked up a copy of “Give Your Child the World” by Jamie Martin, and it’s got tons of useful ideas to help your family grow up global, with practical ways to bring the world into your home.

Some of the ways that Martin outlines are rather simple, and I’m sure many of them already have practices in place, such as approaching home decor with a global touch, and introducing international foods. Other ideas are new to me, and rather touching.

  • Invite globally minded friends into your lives — and into your homes.
    • Keep an eye out for ways to welcome friends with a global perspective into your home. Through reaching out to others, we nurture and deepen relationships, and informally introduce our children to another place. (p. 31)
  • Start a ‘positivity bean jar’.
    • Each time you see kindness, sharing, generosity, or compassion modeled in your home, or a skill attempted or conquered, drop in a bean or two. Each bean equals ten cents, and when the jar is full, your family can donate the money towards a charity of the children’s choice. (p. 32)
  • Learn more about ethical spending (p. 32) (keep an eye on the peace, love, and literacy blog for a future post about ethical spending for children *and* mom. 🙂
  • Place a positive thoughts bowl in the center of your table.
    • Create a daily ritual that reminds your family to think of others, both domestically and around the world. Place a bowl or jar in the center of the dining table, and on small pieces of paper, write the names of countries, individuals, issues- whatever tugs at your heart. Fold and place the paper in the bowl. At the beginning or end of the meal, have one family member choose a slip of paper, and send a positive thought into the universe. (p. 33)
  • Open a book and travel the world together. (p. 34)
    • “Well-chosen stories connect us with others, even those on the other side of our globe. Build your kids lives’ on a story-solid foundation and…you’ll give them a reservoir of compassion that spills over into a lifetime of love in action.” – Jamie Martin

Do any of these suggestions seem doable for your family? Leave a comment below with what you might implement first!

Children of the World Memory Game – Giveaway Day 9

I’ve mentioned before that I love the use of games and play for learning. The fun factor makes it engaging, the repetition makes it memorable, and the engagement of children’s bodies and their brains make learning more accessible to children.  The Children of the World Memory Game by Barefoot Books is no exception to this.

The Children of the World Memory Game is a sweet set of 72 cards. There are 36 countries, cultures, and languages represented, and the object of the game is for players to match a girl and a boy from the same country. Each child has a name, and one of the respective cards is marked with the country, while the other includes how to say “hello” (with a phonetic pronunciation) in the dominant language of that country. That’s right! Your child will come out of this having been exposed to 36 languages!

Here’s what’s to love about Children of the World Memory game:

  1. The illustrations. Sophie Fatus is one of my favorite illustrators over at Barefoot. Her illustrations are very distinct and have a really lovely, sweet charm to them. (She’s illustrated a couple of my favorite Barefoot Singalongs, too!) Additionally, Sophie Fatus does a nice job of blending traditional and modern in her representation of children from many countries and cultures.
  2. The adaptability. This game has 72 cards representing children from 36 countries. For very young children, this can be very overwhelming, but for older children this is *awesome*. There’s no reason that you cannot pare the game way down for young children, and play with 4 cards, 6 cards, etc. You can also change the game a little by simply asking children to match the cards, rather then memorize their place. Another great feature of this game is that the matching cards are cards of the same color, making it easy to recognize the girl and boy “match” without having to grasp the concept that the two are dressed similarly, or that the language correlates to the country if they’re not ready for that yet.
  3. The quality. This game is very high quality and is made to last. The cards are glossy, sturdy, and the box holds up well too.
  4. I mentioned it above, but I’ll say it again. What a beautiful way to introduce children to not only the cultural, but also the linguistic diversity of the world. To potentially come away with the ability to greet others in 36 languages is pretty amazing. You’d be surprised when something like this comes in handy! Being able to reach out, across culture and language, and greet someone in their native language will help your children to build bridges and relationships, and open their hearts and minds to the beautiful people of our world.

 

Want one of your own? Enter the giveaway here!

*This post contains affiliate links to help keep this blog running.
To learn more about affiliate links, click here.*

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Speech Bubble Wall Art by The Colorful Berry – Giveaway Day 9

When I found The Colorful Berry on Instagram, I knew that their Speech Bubble art would fit right into our giveaway.

This colorful, fun pop of language is a fun way to display the world’s languages in your home. How fun would one of these speech bubbles be in your child’s play space?

Putting an emphasis on art like this makes language and culture fun, accessible, and memorable to children!

Enter the giveaway here!

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What a World Placemat by Oopsy Daisy, Giveaway Day 8

I *love* working with geography with my young students in my English as a New Langauge classroom, and cannot wait to dive into this kind of content with my daughter. When I found this What a World Placemat by Oopsy Daisy Fine Art for Kids, I was thrilled to have found a (personalized!) way to work world geography into our every day life. Using this placemat daily will give her a chance to study the world, but more importantly, will show her that we love the world, and care about the world.

This beautifully illustrated, adorable map, with it’s continent specific animals, landmarks, landforms, weather, crops, and cultural traditions, can help foster curiosity, inquiry, and overall knowledge about geography, and the people and cultures found around the world.

The map comes personalized, and the winner will be able to choose the name on the bottom, ours says “Violet Cemre’s World”.

We adore ours and I’m sure you will too!

Enter the giveaway here!

*I was provided with a copy of the What a World Placemat in exchange for a review. All opinions in this post are my own.*

#win #giveaway #sponsored

 

Eeboo Children of the World 100 Piece Puzzle – Giveaway Day 7

I love Eeboo. I love Lizzy Rockwell.

When Eeboo offered their new Children of the World Puzzle for our Bring the World Into Your Home giveaway, I was delighted and grateful. The truth is, I go to great lengths to have as wide of a depiction of “culture” as I can, both in my classroom and at home. As important as I think it is to show children that the “Children of the World” are very much like you and I, in order to create a bridge, and avoid creating distance. That being said, I also feel that a depiction of culturally specific things, such as traditional clothing and dress, absolutely has it’s place. This is important in order to paint a complete picture of one’s life, and to honor the practices that are distinct to each cultural group. The inclusion of all types of materials that put forth many different representations of the world’s people is important in order for children to develop a well-rounded view of those that come from another culture. This idea speaks to the need for more than “a single story“.

One thing that I really appreciate is the process and research that the illustrator, Lizzy Rockwell, conducts in her work, in order to ensure authenticity in her illustrations.  When venturing into the world of multicultural literature and resources, it is important that the representations we share with children are not stereotypical, inaccurate, or simply a misrepresentation.  Lizzy Rockwell has done a beautiful job blending tradition & modernity, and striving for accuracy.

As always, the quality of Eeboo’s work is excellent. The puzzle is strong and sturdy, with large, thick pieces that are easy for young children to handle, and that won’t buckle under the surprising pressure of little hands. The colors are vivid, the content engaging, and this is sure to be a puzzle that will bring your little one great joy!

You can find lots of other great content on Eeboo’s shop (I’ve got my eye on the preschool series of games, as well as the Life on Earth series). And all of Lizzy Rockwell‘s work has the same, lovely quality. Violet and I adore the book Plants Feed Me.

Here’s an example of Lizzy’s work on The Eeboo Children of the World Art Cards, that has the same quality as the Children of the World 100 piece puzzle:

Enter the giveaway here!

*I was provided with a copy of the Children of the World 100 Piece Puzzle in exchange for a review. All opinions in this post are my own.*

#win #giveaway #sponsored

Waldorf Rainbow Peg Dolls – Giveaway Day 6

When planning for this giveaway, I wanted to include a set of dolls or toys that were representative of different ethnicities, of #allchildren. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is *so important* for all children, all people, to be represented in, well, everything.  Our world is so big, so vast, so diverse, and I want to make sure that my daughter has access to it all, that she develops an appreciation for and a curiosity about all people, and that cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity are not just normalized in her life, her relationships, and her experiences, but celebrated.

I was thrilled when I found The Modern Tot Shoppe‘s Rainbow Waldorf Peg Dolls.

Not only are they handmade, and I *love* supporting small businesses, but they are adorable, colorful, and beautifully inclusive. I love that they are non-descript, and don’t rely on traditional clothing to tell a cultural story, rather, they are just simple representations of the diversity in our communities.

These sweet dolls are hand painted with water based, nontoxic acrylic paint, and are sealed and treated with homemade organic wood polish made from beeswax, olive oil, and lavender.

They come neatly packaged in an organic cotton muslin drawstring bag, so they’re easy to keep together in a set, and to tote along on all of their adventures.

Violet loves matching the mommy to the baby, we just went to a playdate today with these dolls in tow, and they make a beautiful display on her bookshelf.

One lucky reader will #win a set of these fantastic dolls, as well as the whole #bringtheworldintoyourhome bundle.

Enter the giveaway here!

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Eeboo Spanish and French Bingo – Giveaway day 5

For those of you who are just getting to know us, here’s a little background on our family.

I grew up in a small town in upstate New York, where cultural diversity wasn’t much, but language and culture caught my interest, big time. My mom was born in France, and I always felt “French American”, even though I wasn’t raised bilingually. I’ve studied language for my most of my life, am up to 4 languages in my repertoire, and teach English as a New Language to young language learners from around the world.

I love to travel, met my husband abroad (in Turkey) and we are now raising our family bilingually (English/Turkish).  My husband teaches in an international school here in New York City, and we’ve just enrolled my daughter there, and are thrilled to have her starting her own language study at age 3.

 

Essentially, language and culture work their way into every nook and cranny of our lives.

Naturally, we want to expose my daughter to additional languages early on, and I *really, really, really* believe in the power of play, and it’s positive impact on learning.

When I was looking around for a fun way to introduce children to an additional language, and a product to include in the giveaway, I came across Eeboo’s French and Spanish Bingo games, and here’s why I love them:

  1. I’ve always loved Eeboo’s products. There’s something about them that seems really special and distinct, and after taking a closer look at their catalog, there are about a million items on my wish list!
  2. They are beautiful. Both of the games have a distinctly sophisticated, vintage feel, with illustrations that really bridge a children’s game into something that is visually appealing for adults too.
  3. The cards are themed, so if you’re playing a modified matching game, or playing with just one child, you can focus on a single set of vocabulary words on a single theme (i.e. vehicles, food, clothing, colors, etc.).
  4. As an extension of # 3, the game is easily modified. Currently, Violet and I play a simple matching game. I gather all of the chips on a single theme, put them in the cloth bag, she pulls one out and matches it to the space on the card. The varying complexity of this game makes it one that will grow with your child.
  5. All around, the game really speaks to best practices in language learning and instruction: repetition, engagement, the fun factor, physical response, and thematic learning.
  6. The quality is exceptional, glossy cards and chips, thick cardboard — this game is a keeper, and something your child will enjoy for a long long time.

One lucky winner will #win both the French and Spanish Bingo games, as well as a bundle of other prizes to help your family bring the world into your home. Enter the giveaway here!

*I was provided with a copy of the Spanish and French Bingo games in exchange for a review. All opinions in this post are my own.*

#win #giveaway #sponsored