Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How *Do* Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm?

This post originally appeared on The Chicago Moms 

Whenever I travel, I always enjoy observing and learning from other moms around the world.
In Mali, I learned how to wear my baby in a wrap, in Italy, I learned how to feed a baby three healthy square meals and a snack per day. In the UK, I learned the proper way to bathe a newborn (my son, age 10, was born in London!). So I read Mei-Ling Hopgood’s latest book, How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm And Other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in between) with much delight.
Ms. Hopgood, a mom from suburban Michigan who now lives in Buenos Aires, set out on a journey to learn how different cultures from around the world parent their children, traveling to such far off places as Lebanon and Polynesia. She interviewed moms, dads, anthropologists, educators and child-care experts and even tested out some of her newly discovered parenting techniques on her own two-year-old daughter.  She manages to answer some questions that have crossed my mind: How do the Chinese potty train their babies so darn early? and How do French parents manage to get their kids to eat their fine (but not so kid-friendly) cuisine with gusto?
I was particularly struck by the chapter on Argentina, where babies and kids stay up and out much later than their little U.S. counterparts.  Research presented in this fun read show that the sleeping spaces and patterns around the world don’t all match our North American standard of getting the kids tucked in bed at an early hour, without a peep, at all costs. It made me see my two-year-old daughter – who happens to be a complete nightowl in a new light: maybe it’s not so bad afterall, that she stay up and sleep in a bit later than the norm. She would certainly have the time of her life in Argentina, where she could hang out at a restaurant with me until the wee hours of the night!
“I learned so much by looking at parenthood from different perspectives,” shares Ms. Hopgood. “It has been reassuring to realize that there are many ways in the world to be a good parent.”
post signatureBe sure to check out How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm for some guaranteed good laughs, a few ah-ha moments, and a new appreciation for everything that moms and dads everywhere do to raise happy and healthy children.

Monday, March 26, 2012

#makesmesmilemondays A Happy Birthday Party

On Saturday night, 10 tweens descended upon our home to celebrate my son's 11th birthday.

We kept it simple: Red and Blue balloons and yellow streamers. Pizza and banana splits. They took over our neighborhood with a few rounds of their favorite game (Zombie Tag). One kid ate too fast and threw up (...) and there was one (thankfully, non-lethal) Nerf injury. 

I have known these boys since my son started kindergarten at his CPS magnet school. They have had their differences, and they have had their ups and downs. But it is a gift to me seeing these boys grow together in friendship. And then, to see my son just beaming with joy at celebrating with his pals - isn't that what birthday parties are all about?! 

Happy birthday to my faster-than-lightening growing little (big) guy. 

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

BuildON - an alternative to KONY 2012

I'll let others critique KONY 2012 (though I certainly wish that be wearing a cute bracelet and sharing a video on facebook I really could help take down a warlord...). Instead, I want to take a moment to share my experience with a charitible organization that has had a big impact on my life. 

In 2008, I started a new teaching job at a Chicago public high school. Looking to be more active with my students outside of academics, I volunteered to be a BuildOn teacher leader. Once a week, I met with another teacher, a BuildOn leader, and amazing group of active, friendly high school students, to focus on solutions to community and world issues, and to work actively towards positive change by volunteering in our community.

BuildOn is a movement that strives to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education. It is rated 4 stars on Charity Navigator (check out Invisible Children, the charity behind KONY 2012 Charity Navigator stats here). Our student group has cleaned up local parks, assisted with children’s programming at local park districts, volunteered with the elderly, and raised awareness on local and world issues impacting our school community (One such successful campaign focused on dating violence through violence prevention training sessions and peer-to-peer education). Just recently this year, we organized a Hunger Banquet, powerfully raising awareness on the inequities in world food distribution.

My own two children, ages 2 and 10, have often tagged along on our projects, and are growing up with the innate knowledge that in order to receive, we must give back. My dream is to someday raise enough money to travel with my children to one of BuildON's partner countries, where we would work with a community to build a school

Setting off with a group of Chicago Public Schools students on a the field trip of a lifetime – to Mali, West Africa – where we worked to build the first ever school in a small village, was by far the culmination of my positive involvement in BuildON. The future students in Founukouni filled my days with laughter and made digging into the hard ground all the more meaningful. Sharing my same goal were 17 Chicago public school students – all of us brought together by BuildON’s vision for a world where education is a priority. 

A school room I visited in Mali. These children were SO enthusiastic about school! I think this really inspired our group of CPS high school students to have a whole new appreciation of education!
I am proud to continue to volunteer for this amazing organization, and I really wish I had more time to dedicate to my involvement.  It gives me the chance to share my belief – that we can change the world through education, volunteerism, and community building. 

One of my favorite pictures of me; it captures one of those happy life moments as I officially break ground for the schoolhouse. I think the men standing behind me were shocked (scared!) to see a (clumsy) woman wielding a pickaxe.
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pinterest as a Travel Planner

I was hesitant to enter the wide world of Pinterest... the last thing I need is another social media outlet. However, I am exploring it day by and day and please say a little prayer that I won't become addicted to it like so many people I know! 

Today I used Pinterest to create a travel vision board. Check it out to see some of the places that I'll hopefully visit - some of them for the second or even third time and some for the first - in the next few years.

Find my travel vision board here. What's your travel vision?

Travel. Travel. Travel

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Detox Day 5

I am chugging right along here, following my plans and feeling great. It's cold outside, but I enjoyed a lovely walk in the sunshine. I'll look forward to weighing myself on Thursday, after one week, to see if this lighter feeling is just a mirage or the real deal.

As a reminder, Karyn of Karyn's At Home (the plan I've been following for the past five days) will discuss her philosophy on health and share experiences from her personal journey as one of the nation's leading raw foodists on a livestream tonight! Live Stream available at HERE
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Detox Day 1

I have not weighed myself in months. So it was with just a teensy weensy (ok, major) bit of hesitation that I stepped on the scale this morning. 149.5 pounds!!! This is the heaviest I've been in a long while. This winter really did a number on me.

I'm not "fat" by any means, or even overweight, but at 5'7'' I am on the upper end of "normal" with regards to BMI (Calculate your own BMI here). I think these extra pounds are a big part of my increased sluggishness.

I am also (not) proud to present my BEFORE picture (taken, with much hesitation, at 6am this morning). (I don't know why I look so short in this picture - must be the angle  - I'm 5'7''!). That said, I really am proud to be wearing my buildON tee (buildON is a great organization that I volunteer with on a weekly basis).

So...last night I picked up my lovely bag of goodies from Karyn's Raw. I've got 5 days worth of fruit and veggie rich meals in my fridge, thanks to the Karyn's at Home program.

I like to start my morning with something warm - usually a homemade chai tea - and something sweet (this past week I indulged in very buttery homemade cinnamon buns...). Today, I started my early morning with a warm glass of water with a squeeze of lemon. For breakfast, I had a one of Karyn's Green Dream Smoothies (coconut water and meat, spirulina, kamut, and green meal. Though I realize it's only day 1, I feel satiated and I have more energy than I normally do at this time of the day (the late a.m.). 

 Read more about my spring detox here. I'll be posting daily, so be sure to check in tomorrow!

Weight: 149.5 pounds 
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