Tag Archives: little citizens

January 28, 2009

sweet lullabies

The other day I realized Radiohead is great for babies. I think it’s the combination of Thom Yorke’s distorted lyrics, dreamy melodies, and the white noise that accompanies the music often. Kai fell asleep instantly to “Hail to the Thief

J got his hands on these two great finds that will also help your baby fall asleep:

1) Lullabies for a Small World (compilation by Ellipses Arts):

Great for the baby and you. My favorite track is number 3- Flor E Estrela – Teresa Ines. This song is so magical and puts the whole family in a deep slumber.

2) While roaming around at the Ecology Center in Berkeley, he stumbled upon this children’s book: Talking Walls Written by Margy Burns Knight and Illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien.

It’s the perfect multi-cultural book that illustrates how walls around the world may unite or divide communities around the world. I guarantee that you’ll learn some history as well.

introducing a world of winter sports

My husband and I love to ski and ever since our 16-month-old daughter Zoe was born we have been anxious to get her on skis. We first brought her to Jackson Hole, WY when she was 3 months old but of course she spent most of her time indoors on that trip. This year, at 15 months we brought her back to Jackson Hole and she actually did get an introduction to snow and winter sports.
The first time that we took her out in the snow we just let her walk around and get a feel for it. She didn’t like the fact that it was slippery and difficult to walk. I guess when you’ve only learned to walk a few months ago it’s probably pretty annoying when something like snow interferes with this new freedom. She also got cold very quickly because she refused to keep her mittens on. A passer-by suggested duct tape and that worked wonders!
After this initial time out in the snow we decided it was time for her to try skiing. We bought little skis that are made specifically for the under-two set and strap on to regular snow boots. When we first put them on her she was not happy at all, but once we got her sliding down the mountain (well it was technically just a pile of snow in the driveway) she was having the time of her life. Afterwards we built a snowman which she was intrigued by and pulled her around on a makeshift sled which she loved.
Zoe’s least favorite snow activity was definitely the horse-drawn sled through the Elk Reserve. We thought she would love this because she loves animals. As it turned out the snow was coming down in her face and she was cold and so she hardly even noticed the horses or the elk even when we pointed them out. I don’t think anyone on the sled was too happy with us! Maybe we’ll try it again someday but not until she’s at least 6 or 7!

my daughter is the mona lisa

This is #9 of an on going dialog of our travel, which includes 5 countries and a 4 year old. Please check the prior archives for the previous sagas.

On a cold Sunday winter day last January, 2008, my husband Mike and 4 year old daughter Olivia walked with me along Rue de Marignan between the Champs-Elyees the fashionable Avenue Montaigne on our way back to our hotel. We had walked along this sidewalk many times but this time I happened to look up and notice a marble plaque on the building situated next to our hotel. In gold stamped writing, the plaques said:

MARY CASSAT

American Impressionist Painter

Friend & Colleague of Edgar Degas

Lived in this Apartment from 1887

Until her death in 1926

THE AMERICAN CLUB OF PARIS

We felt obligated to take a few pictures of Olivia and I with respect to Mary Cassat who painted so many pictures of Mommies and Babies. There we stood in the drizzling rain of Paris snapping pictures and hoping to get a good one. A French couple strolled up and stood behind Mike watching with interest. After a few more shots we finished and they asked why we were taking a photo there. This was a perfect exit time for Mike to duck into the hotel with Olivia following after him hop-scotching on the sidewalk while counting her hops une, duex, trois…ocho, nueve, DIES! So I stood in the rain telling them that my daughter loves the mommy/baby paintings of Mary Cassat and that we were excited to find this hidden treat on our walk home. I went on to tell them that we were also in search of the Mona Lisa and that we would be going to the Louvre in the following week. They told me their favorite museum (Musee de l’Orangerie) to visit and then they both got the look of “aha!” on their faces at the same time. “Zee Louvre ez FREE t’day. All zee museums are free on zee first Sunday of zee month. You must go RIGHT NOW! Eet will close in a few hours.” I merci beaucoup-ed them and went to quickly gather my family to hustle over to the museum.

When we arrived at Musee du Louvre, there was the very long line, which one would expect to see on a Free Musee day. Depressed, we got into line and began the long wait. Olivia was in her usual seat on Mike’s shoulders…luckily. A man tending the front of the line saw her, left his post to collect us and point us through the special children’s entrance. Two lucky breaks in one day! Free Musee and head of the line. This must be our lucky day.

Once inside we found the map (see previous blog post) and headed for the Mona Lisa. There is a lot to see on the way to the Mona Lisa, let me tell you. Side tracked over and over. Wrong turn again and again. Stopping for explanation of painting of the dark bloody dying man….and then…we saw it. A room directly off of the corridor we were in. The room seemed to have glow emanating out of it. Was that angels we heard? Laaaaaa! It must be her. Could it be we at last found The Mona Lisa?

We entered the room and the painting was hanging on the backside of a small divisional wall. We went around the corner and to our amazement there it was……a huge crowd in front of the Mona Lisa

The museum was obviously expecting this as they had velvet-roped off a perimeter to keep adults behind. Then we noticed the most wonderful velvet rope. There was an inner velvet rope to allow children an unobstructed close-up view of the art piece. We asked the rope wrangler if Olivia could go in and she was allowed but not with an adult. Off she went, alone, to stand right in front of the Mona Lisa. I was feeling a bit disappointed in not being able to talk to her and give her information about the artist and the painting as we often do. I wondered if she would even look at it more than a brief second. I wondered if she would be too scared to be one of two children in the special area with a horde of a crowd standing behind her seemingly looking right at her. Neurotic Mom.

When she was done looking, she returned to us and Mike immediately suggested we take a picture with the Mona Lisa behind us. I swooped her up in my arms and we took our photo. Only when we returned home and uploaded the pictures did I notice that Olivia was posed EXACTLY in the same pose as the Mona Lisa. The ½ smile, the slight turn of the head, and the arm placement were identical. I guess she did just fine on her own with such an important piece of art.

So in the end, if you were traveling to Paris with a child, I would HIGHLY recommend the following:

Hôtel Marignan Champs-Elysées: http://www.hotelmarignan.fr/

Looking up while walking down the rue in the rain.

Le Louvre on the 1st Sunday of the Month: children’s entrance, children’s velvet rope.

And lastly, allowing your child to experience art without supervision!

 

 

January 17, 2009

bilingual baby

The Banker (my husband) and I are of hispanic decent. Not only were we blessed with our baby, Baby Blue, but also blessed that he is of hispanic decent as well (blue eyes and all). We had always said we would teach our child Spanish. We would NOT take a page from my parents book which was to NOT teach me Spanish, but rather use Spanish as a “secret” language in order to have conversations about Santa and surprise birthday parties. {rolling eyes} The Banker though, having been born close to Mexico grew up only speaking Spanish. It wasn’t until Kindergarten that he actively used English as his language.

So what we have decided to do is I will speak only English to Baby Blue and the Banker will speak only Spanish. Hopefully creating a Bilingual Baby!

Our routine at night has been Bath, Jammies, Story, Bed. So what we have included now is Spanish Board books. They have a wonderful selection of Bilingual traditional stories in all sorts of languages. As a former teacher I know language development starts early and the more reading the better. So I was pleasantly surprised to find such selections as these in Spanish: Blue Hat, Green Had, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Quiet/Loud.

Even for those who don’t speak Spanish, you can purchase a book such as this that has both English and Spanish. Though if they are only in Spanish attempt it anyway! Some stories such as Good Night Moon (Buenas Noches Luna) are an easy Spanish read. Maybe you’ll learn a little yourself!

Some great resources to find out about Spanish Stories are:
Spanish Material

Spanish Story Ideas
Bilingual Story List
Read That Again List (Spanish)

choose barefoot cay if visiting roatan

Barefoot Cay is an exquisite piece of paradise in the otherwise rough-around-the-edges island of Roatan, Honduras. For Thanksgiving our extended family of seven (including our two-year old, Grace) traveled there and had almost the whole cay (tiny island) to ourselves. We took over three of the four bungalows and enjoyed getting to know the handful of other guests who were staying in the fourth bungalow, in several yachts at the marina and in the new lofts the resort has built on the mainland.

Some of the best amenities of this beautiful little cay include the palapa on a dock out over the water, the clear blue water, delicious, well-prepared food in an intimate dining area, and the well-appointed bungalows completely furnished down to the food processor and blender! We felt very comfortable at Barefoot Cay with our 2-year old, Grace. The staff went out of their way to fix special meals for her, entertain her, and suggest outings for the whole family she would also enjoy.

We were also overwhelmed by the wonderful staff at Barefoot Cay. Mel and Fernand at the front desk were there for every little need we had, from taxi service to laundry to ideas for where to go out to dinner. Owners Milesse and John made us feel like personal guests in their home, not as paying guests of a resort. Staff in the dining room, dive shop, housekeeping, and spa were all so friendly but always professional. We have stayed elsewhere in the Caribbean with very little contact with resort staff, but everyone at Barefoot Cay was always happy to see us and so warm.

One highlight for our party was the dive shop. None of us were divers before but three of us did the Discover scuba class and were amazed by the personalized, professional service of the instructors at the dive shop. Most of the time we had a one-on-one ratio instructor to student, and at one point we even had two instructors to one student. They made us feel so safe and comfortable with the new sport. We were lucky to have grandparents along to watch Grace while we were out diving.

Another daily highlight were meals. We ate about half of our dinners in the resort dining room and they all were deliciously prepared, including the special meals for Grace. The rest of the time we cooked for ourselves in our bungalows after stocking up at a nearby grocery store.

The only downsides of Barefoot Cay are not actually the fault of Barefoot Cay. They are the same downsides we posted previously about all of Roatan. Here they are: 1) garbage floating in the water 2) sand flies and mosquitoes and 3) the ugly shipping dock next door. The reality is, Barefoot Cay is in a developing nation. Garbage-polluted water is a problem in every developing nation. It wasn’t always an issue at the cay but seemed to be worse after heavy rains. We’ve heard it’s not a problem at all in the dry season (first part of the year). As for the bugs, Barefoot Cay staff work tirelessly to keep the bugs down, spraying day and night with non-toxic sprays and handing out complimentary bug repellent to guests. Still I think they’d have to drop a pesticide bomb on Roatan to get rid of them all. The one or two times we forgot bug spray resulted in literally hundreds of sand fly bites on all of us, which are still itching a week later. Finally, there is a ship yard next door but it really isn’t that bad. It never bothered us but you may want to look the other way if it bothers you.

All in all, we LOVED Barefoot Cay and highly recommend it to families traveling to Roatan. Milesse, John and their staff have obviously worked incredibly hard to create a beautiful spot in a harsh environment. It’s a wonderful destination for the whole family if you’re looking for a Caribbean destination off the beaten path, but still comfortable and affordable.

a pious effort to locate the Mona Lisa

This is #8 of an on going dialog of our travel which includes 5 countries and a 4 year old. Please check the prior archives for the previous sagas

When Olivia was 3 we had stayed in the penthouse of a hotel in Mexico. We climbed into bed, all three of us, and she looked out the window to see Jesus. Not figuratively or a revelation … but a steel one. Not just any Jesus but a giant Jesus with his arms outreached, face looking to the sky and robes flowing on the hill across from the hotel. So giant was this Jesus that he had a blinking red beacon on his head so aircraft would avoid crashing into The Jesus. Olivia opened her eyes wide and said, “Hey Daddy! Who is that boy?” My husband said, “It’s a man and his name is Hey-soos.” (phonetic for Jesus said in Spanish) Days later we were returning home on the airplane and the flight attendant announces on the p.a., “Will Jesus Morales please ring your call button?” My daughter was sitting in the row across the aisle and one row forward from me. She swivels in her seat and looking over her shoulder gives me a thumbs up with a smile and a nod while saying “Heeeey-sooooos.” And thus was the introduction to Jesus for the pagan daughter of two fallen Catholics.

A year later, my husband, my now 4.5-year-old daughter and I were in Saudi Arabia. Naturally, I was emailing home to the States the amazing adventures we were having while my daughter Olivia was first standing on the chair next to me marching in place, then laying across the table behind the laptop, then spinning in circles next to me on the floor while humming Dance of The Sugarplum Fairies, culminating with rock-climbing up the back of my chair and slithering onto my back. While she was there and I was pretending she was not, she looked over my shoulder and saw one of the AOL Latest News pictures. She states matter-of-factly (remember she is 4), “Oh, huh. The Mona Lisa.” For the first time in 15 minutes she found a way to actually get my attention. Freak-of-knowledge usually is the winning hand for her. I stopped emailing (her mission accomplished) and craned my neck to look the monkey on my back in the eye and say, “WHAT? How do you know about the Mona Lisa???” “Little Einsteins”, she replies … again as if to say duhhh. We were soon to leave the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and travel to Paris, France. I said, “Olivia! Did you know the Mona Lisa is in the Louvre? We can go see it in Paris if you want?” She thought that was a more than fabulous idea and that was going to be our plan.

We arrived at the Louvre the first week of January, last year. We quickly looked for a map and found exactly where the Mona Lisa was kept. Getting to it was a tad more difficult. Sidetracked with the humongous art in the amazing Napoleon room, Olivia and I wandered off from Mike and found another room. We walked right into a face-to-face meeting of a huge, dark, scary painting of a dying man. Olivia says, “oh yuck Mom, that is really not a pretty paining! Who is that man?” I replied, “Oh that is Jesus Christ” to which she nodded her head yes while mulling over the notion and said, “ah, right. I’ve heard you say that before.” While I was trying my hardest to quickly determine if I should laugh or not, my husband Mike walks up to us, oblivious to what we were talking about, and calmly looks at the painting and says “Oh look Olivia, Hey-soos!” Olivia then has a manifestation of divine truth and replies “ohhhhhh Hey-SOOS. Why didn’t you say so Mom? I know who that is, we saw him in Mexico with a red light on his head.”

 

 

 

January 16, 2009

a collard greens new year

Happy New Year! We celebrated the New Year with a long-standing Southern tradition of a New Year’s Day meal complete with collard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. This meal is supposed to ensure a prosperous year. The peas are eaten for luck and the greens symbolize money and prosperity. Usually some type of pork is included in the meal along with corn bread.

This year, we were visiting friends in another state on New Year’s Day so the kids actually tasted the collard greens and corn bread (usually they don’t dig in). Being in a different environment without their standard backup of mac and cheese increased the likelihood of them trying new food. I can’t say they loved it but there was no audible gagging. My six year old is a pretty adventurous eater anyway so she declared the collard greens to be “pretty good”. My four year old took a small bite and decided to survive on popcorn later that evening.

I am not a fan of cooking black eyed peas or collard greens however I think it is nice for the kids to experience the tradition of bringing in the year by sharing a meal with family and friends. They may not grow to love traditional Southern food but hopefully they will continue to gather with loved ones to usher in the New Year.