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Posts tagged ‘family’

How to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day and every day

The History of Thanksgiving

The history of Thanksgiving (although there is debate about some of the details in the story) starts in 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. The festival lasted for three days (just like we do now!). For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Current Thanksgiving Traditions

In many American homes, the Thanksgiving celebration centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. Turkey is  a Thanksgiving tradition and nearly 90 percent of Americans eat the bird—whether roasted, baked,  deep-fried, or grilled  (I can’t wait to taste it grilled!). Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Yummy!

Giving Thanks

The point of Thanksgiving is to remember the things we have to be grateful for. It’s our special time to give thanks… not just for the obvious, like food, but for the thousands of fortunate moments, the multitude of blessings that we receive each year.

That’s not always as easy as it sounds. Usually, we remember the bad things much more easily than the good (why is that?). Here are some ideas how to make it a habit to be thankful every day:

  • Begin by keeping a gratitude journal. Don’t write down negative things; only positive ones.
  • Think of all the good things that happened because something bad happened first. For example, “If that slow driver hadn’t pulled in front of me, I would have gotten a speeding ticket.”
  • Focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t have.
  • Think about people who have made life hard for you. Now think about the things you accomplished because of them. Did you finish something because they said that you couldn’t?
  • Think about the animals that have given you joy.
  • Think about the places that make you smile.
  • Let others know when they’ve done something that you’re thankful for.

So, what are you thankful for? One thing I am thankful for, is your support! Thanks for reading my blog!

photo: iStock

A birth story: My experience

Some of you that know me, know how I excited I was when my two friends asked me if I wanted to be with them during the birth of their first baby girl. When my friend called me and told me that she and her husband, wanted me to “help” them during the delivery, I said yes without thinking about it. Although I have one niece and a nephew,  and I was the first person they saw when they came out of the delivery room, I have never been inside the delivery room. So, I thought “what an honor, and what an experience that must be”.

But I have to be honest, I was a little scared that I couldn’t handle it. But after the experience, I have to say, if you haven’t been present during the delivery of someone you care for, try it! It’s such an amazing experience!

I know this blog post is a little different than my usual tips and advice about music, language and child development. But I really wanted to share this amazing experience with all of you.

Although we (mother-to-be, father-to-be and me) were in the hospital for about 27 long hours, waiting for the baby to be ready to come out, it wasn’t that bad (the new mom also agrees… now). After the first 15 hours, her contractions were getting stronger. When someone is in that much pain, what is one to do? Nothing I could say was going to help her. I really wanted to do something but I felt useless. Here is my friend in pain, i’m supposed to be helping and I can’t do anything. But I was hoping I was giving her some moral support. I tried everything.

And that’s when the most beautiful thing (at that time) happened…epidural! Now, everybody has their own opinions and can make their own decisions about this. However, my friend decided to get the epidural and I have to say, her face completely changed! So, around 6am she finally started to get some rest (thanks to the epidural) and I was still doing ok!

The rest of the day was…well… uneventful. Then, 5pm came and so did the pressure/contractions. Let me tell you, that was painful! But when we were pushing (yes, we were ALL pushing at this point!) she felt better and we were making some progress. By 6pm the beautiful baby girl was born! I can’t even explain the emotion I felt when I saw that baby come out, she was just inside! We were all excited to finally meet her and now… she’s here! It is truly a miracle of life! 

Now, mom, baby (and daddy) are doing wonderful. And this “aunty” is very happy to have been present during this exciting moment.

So, to all the mothers out there, many blessings to you! Carrying the baby for 40 weeks does not look easy. Then comes the pushing, or getting epidural, or surgery. But no matter how you delivered that baby, I can understand now a little better your pain, and how scary and confusing the situation can be.

Thanks to my friends for letting me be part of this magical, and truly amazing experience. And who knows, maybe soon i’ll be writing about my own birth story… 😉

Do you have any birth stories you want to share with us?

photo: iStock

How do I raise a bilingual child?

I know many parents, who are bilingual, that are asking themselves that very same question. Some parents speak a different language than their partner and there are some people who are not bilingual but would like their children to be bilingual. The same question, however, the way each family addresses the bilingual education is very different. So, how do we raise bilingual children? Let’s review a few approaches. 

  • One parent-one language approach. Here each parent speak their native language to the child. That way the child has daily influence of both languages. This really help the child acquire both sets of words at the same time.
  • Time-based approach. Here, both parents have to be bilingual (if possible), and as a family choose when to speak each language. It could be by month (one month one language, then the second language and keep switching), or weekly or even daily (e.g. Spanish in the morning, English at night). This approach reinforces learning both languages with both parents.
  • Home language-community language approach. Here parents speak a different language than the dominant language in the community. For example, Spanish-speaking parents living in the United States. With this approach (very common in the United States, by the way), the child hears the first language (or Native Language) at home and will usually start learning the second language (community language) when he/she goes to school. In this situation the child might have a strong language background to support the second language learning.
  • Mixed language approach. Here both (or one at least) parents are bilingual and the child is exposed to both languages all or most of the time. This approach is slightly different from the one parent-one language approach because the child learns to speak both languages with both parents and does not have to choose a language for a specific parent. 

Things to consider when choosing your approach: When choosing a style of bilingual acquisition, take into consideration that growing up, the child will use more the language that is NEEDED the most. If the home-language is different from the community-language, as they grow, they won’t use the home-language as much, because they realize that they NEED the community-language to “survive”. However, if the home-language is reinforced by all (or most) members of the family as much as they can, the home-language will become “important” as well to “survive” (at least at home!)

Also, consider exposing the child as soon as possible (in the womb, remember?). Early exposure of both languages, will help the child acquire language similar to monolingual children.

I think I will choose the first and second approach for my kids. What do you do? Any other suggestions?

photo: iStock

The battle of the homework!

The new school year is in full motion by now. Students know where to go and they are getting more comfortable with their teachers and peers. And now… the battle of the homework begins! For some students, it is hard to focus and do their homework at home. Parents also struggle because many want to help make this task easier but nothing seems to work.

Here are a few tips to help the homework battle be less… work!

  • Find a place for homework: Having a specific place (and time) for homework, makes it a routine, therefore, there is less struggle. It is simply something we must do. No arguments.
  • Review the instructions: Discuss with your child what the homework is about. This is also a great opportunity to tell your child that if they don’t understand something they should ask their teacher. This will teach them be responsible!
  • Start with the most difficult task: At the beginning of homework time, they might have more energy, so start with what’s more challenging.
  • Take breaks: This is especialy important with younger kids. Have frequent breaks and make sure that you also schedule some time for questions.

See? homework should be something they do everyday, it should be expected and not be a struggle. Homework time could also be a good time to get to know what kind of student your child is and maybe you’ll learn what is his/her learning type!

What other homework strategies have worked for your family?

photo: iStock

Autumn is here!

My favorite season! Leaves are changing colors, some are already falling off the trees, the weather is changing and I am loving it! I happen to live in a place where I can see all of these changes.  Waking up and feel the cool breeze…hmmmm nothing like it! So, this is a great time to go outside and enjoy the outdoors. Children love exploring their surroundings. Why not make it a family event?

Here are some ideas of what to do with your children:

  • collect leaves – I know, i know, it was an obvious one. You can take a paper bag and collect a few (or alot!) of leaves. Then, classify them by color, shape, or any other creative way you can think of! Maybe even do some craft work with them after.

 

  • apple picking – Well, it is the season to do just that! Find out where to go apple picking and of course when you get home, bake some yummy apple pie! Everyone in the house can help with this.

 

  • pumpking picking/carving – Another season goodie! With pumpkins you can carve them in different shapes and use them to decorate the house, or you could also bake some yummy pumpking pie!

 

  • go out, hike, walk, enjoy the cool weather – Sometimes it’s just fun to walk with your family and talk about what you see around you. Who knows? maybe your neighbors will join you and it could be a neighborhood activity!

 

  • Rake the leaves into a huge pile and jump in – Well, maybe some parents  won’t like this idea, but you know what? sometimes we have to have a little fun too! Join your kids and jump in!

If you don’t live in a place where you see the seasons change or the leaves fall off the trees, what other outdoor activities can you do with your children this Fall? 

 

photo: iStock

5 things you should plan for, before a family vacation

There’s nothing more exciting than Family Vacations, especially for children! At least that’s how I felt when I was younger…No, I still feel the same!

The planning, the anticipation, the packing, it’s all part of the fun! However, for some parents this can be an overwhelming situation. Depending on how old your kids are, this could mean, packing diapers, milk, and plenty of entertainment. Then we also have the changes in routine, nap time, meal times and bedtime!

Many parents prefer to have a stay-cation (vacation at home). But family vacations can be a great opportunity for the family to do something different, learn about another city or culture and to bond as a family. Does this mean that you can’t have a family vacation until all of your children are 18 and older? Absolutely…NOT! (plus, they won’t want to go on a family vacation by then!)

To make sure your family vacation is a success you must…

1. Plan ahead– The better prepared you are, the less stress you’ll have. So, give yourself plenty of time to plan, even if it’s a weekend trip! If you are staying at a hotel, make sure you know the amenities and places to eat around it. Plan what you might be doing for each day. That way you’ll know what you’ll need. Also, plan with your spouse how to discipline. I know traveling is supposed to be fun ALL the time, but in case a situation arises, you both have to be on the same page as to how to discipline your child during the vacation.

2. Plan the entertainment – Check for kid-friendly entertainment and places to visit. You don’t want to take them to many places where they are totally bored. Also, make sure you have entertainment for the plane/car/train ride. You can give them a camera, journal, books, cards, magazines, comic books, etc. to have fun while on you way to your destination.

3. Plan meal times – make sure you pack healthy snacks in your bag/purse that can alleviate the hunger until you find a place to eat.

4. Plan for bedtime– If at all possible, keep bedtime as close as to the real bedtime at home.

5. Plan to bring 1 or 2 personal items – With younger kids, make sure they can bring a special item, but not the most important one! You want them to feel secure, but if something happens to that special item, the vacation can be over in a second!

Always remember, the less stressed you are, the more fun you and your family will have. And that’s the point of a vacation, isn’t it?

Have you traveled with children? Are there any suggestions you can add? Help us!

photo: istock

Car games for a road trip

Summer is the best time to go on a road trip!  I am planning my first cross-country road trip and I am very excited! My husband and I have been on a few mini road-trips, usually a 5-hour drive. But even though I get all excited about it, after 2 hours, it can get really BORING! So, I usually start a game.

Car games can really help your child with vocabulary, (even in another language), memory and attention skills. In addition, it keeps them occupied in something else other than asking, Are we there yet?!

Here are some of my favorite car games! (I am not sure if these games have real names, so I am making some of them up!)

  1. Name what you see in alphabetical order– Name what you see with letter A (airplane) and then the next person has to name what you said with A and then something with B. Every person starts at the beginning naming everything starting from A. This helps with vocabulary and memory skills.
  2. I spy (ok , this is its real name!) – “I spy something that begins with (the initial letter)”. Helpful for vocabulary and literacy skills.
  3. 20 questions– One person thinks about an object, a person or an animal. The rest of the group asks up to 20 yes/no questions to try and figure out what it is. Helps build language skills.
  4. License Plates (love this one!)- Point to the cars with license plates that start with each one of the letters of the alphabet, in order. (This can take a long time!). Helps learn the alphabet, literacy skills and attention skills.
  5. Counting objects– Choose and object (except cars!) and see how many you can find for a certain period of time. Helps with math skills!
  6. Alphabet country/city– Name countries and/or cities with the chosen letter. This helps with geography!
  7. Cloud shapes – Look at the clouds and see if they make any shape. Helps with creativity and imagination.
  8. Story-making– One person starts with a sentence (“Once upon a time in Rome…”) and each person keeps adding to the story. See what crazy stuff your kids come up with! This is a great activity to develop language and literacy skills.
  9. Colored cars– Each person picks a color. You get one point every time a car with that color passes by. Helps with vocabulary and attention skills.

 As you read this post, I will be on the road! I am going to have so much fun playing these games! I need to increase my vocabulary!

Have you played any of these games? Do you have more to add to the list?

photo: iStock