Back-to-school jitters

imageAre you preparing for the first day of school this week or next? Both of my girls are truly excited to get back to school, see their friends, and dive into new adventures. But, it wasn’t always this easy, I do remember that very first day of preschool. There was a bit of anxiety and insecurity mixed with a twinge of fear of the unknown that kept my littlest one glued to my hip on those first days. If you can relate to this experience then I would love to recommend a book to you.  Bonus: it’s bilingual!

imageLion Heart Goes to School / Corazón de león va a la escuela is a lovely children’s book by Caro Mejía. I heard about the book through a friend of mine and instantly fell in love with the concept. I brought it home to read with my girls, and from the moment we opened the book we could see how unique it really is. For starters, its interactive and customizable. You take photos of yourself and your child making different facial expressions and then glue them where indicated on each page. The story is about a child going to school for the first time.  It walks us through her morning routine and, just before leaving for school, the caregiver reminds her that she has a brave heart and gives her a small wooden-shaped heart to keep in her pocket. This token comes in handy later on at school when she’s feeling lonely, sad or nervous and needs to feel brave again. My favorite part is that a wooden heart comes with the book so your child not only gets to star in the story, but gets her own heart as well!

Lucky for me, my friend was able to introduce me to the author. It turns out we have quite a few things in common! She is from Mexico City (like my husband), has 2 young children (like me) and is raising them to be bicultural and bilingual (like me). I was not surprised to learn that this project was, and continues to be, a labor of love for Caro. She came up with the idea when her first son was nervous about his first day of school. She found a small stone heart in a drawer and gave it to him to keep in his pocket. She told him it was infused with bravery and any time he needed a reinforcement of courage he could hold on to it. When he later recounted how great his day at school had been, thanks to his heart token, she knew she was onto something.  Caro said she thinks it’s very important for children to see themselves reflected in the narrative of the story. And, what better way to accomplish this than to create a book where your child’s face is actually on each page? Throughout the story there are blank spaces for you to fill in your child’s name as well (although I do wish the spaces were truly blank to make it easier to fill in).  Her hope is that each family will take the the time to customize the book together and also infuse their own family values into the wooden heart whether it be with bravery, compassion, empathy, or courage, for example.  At it’s core, this book is about helping families navigate the transition to daycare or school so that the result is a positive experience.

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Bianca thoughtfully decorating her heart!

Personally, I have a traumatic memory of getting dropped off for my first day at a new school, in a new country, and feeling horrified! 30 years later and I can remember that day vividly. I would never wish my kids to have a similar experience, and that’s why I think this book is such a wonderful tool! And, if you have a tough time finding kids books in Spanish like I do, then you will love that this one was actually written in Spanish first. If you do pick up a copy of the book I thought you would like to know that Caro plans to donate 50% of all the profits to help children in need. (Also, I am in no way affiliated with sales of the book!)

Good luck with your back-to-school transition! Please let me know in the comments how it goes!

Good Night Show Update!

First off, THANK YOU to all the loyal Good Night Show fans whose love for the show has led you to follow and support me!

I couldn’t be more proud of those 10 years I got to bring Nina to life, and am honored to have been invited into your homes night after night! It is truly a privilege. Being a mom of 2 littles, I know how special and intimate that nighttime snuggle is. The fact that millions of you included Star and Me (and our pals Hush and Lucy!) into that safe space is more than I could have ever hoped for.

Some of you have children who no longer watch, but many have had new babies along the way and still tune in. You have noticed that the show is no longer airing on TV in its traditional format, because, as with everything (including our children!), the network is growing and evolving. Fortunately, this is NOT a good-bye!

Sprout is in the process of moving full Good Night Show episodes to their On Demand menu. This is seriously a dream come true for me, and hopefully for you as well! Now you can determine when exactly you want to snuggle up on the couch and watch your favorite segments of GNS before it’s time to wrap up your bedtime routine.

Keep in mind that Nina’s World will remain right where it’s at – and, in case you hadn’t heard, we have been green-lit for a second season and are working hard on bringing new episodes to life!

I remain humbled by your love and support!

xo

Michele

 

 

 

 

Feeling thankful.

We made our annual trek to New York for Thanksgiving week and I’d love to share a little piece of that experience with you. 2016 marks the 5th year I’ve been invited by Sprout to participate in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Thanks to this opportunity I get to spend a few days in one of the greatest cities in the world with my family, the greatest people in my world! This gloriously crazy week leaves me depleted of energy, yet some how filled up with gratitude for all of my blessings.

Our itinerary for the week was action-packed. It began with a visit to Sprout’s network headquarters at Rockefeller Center and a quick hello to Kaitlyn and Chica, from the Sunny Side Up Show. I also had a fitting for the wardrobe I would wear in the parade as well as an evening rehearsal right on 34th Street in front of Macy’s.

This rehearsal is really a special experience since they shut down the entire street so that we, along with all of the other performers, can practice in front of the cameras and lights.

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The tooth fairy cometh…

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Mind the gap!

It’s happening and I just can’t believe it! I really should know better; after all, growing up is what they’re supposed to do. Right? Ugh, this whole ‘rite of passage’ business is stirring up some crazy emotions in me. My little Gia is not so little any more: she lost her first tooth!

It’s not like I didn’t have plenty of time to prepare for this.  Actually, I think I had too much time because that tooth started wiggling ever so slightly a full 2 months ago!  I had seen those sweet little boxes for storing the tooth safely under the pillow but just never got around to buying one. That darn tooth seemed like it was never coming out, so I just kept putting it off! Needless to say, I was caught off-guard when the day came and had to scramble.  Luckily, I found a very old (1924) silver dollar coin from good old Grandpa and a handful of chocolate coins.

Gia very proudly wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy and sealed it in an envelope with her precious, tiny tooth.  It was not easy to fall asleep that night by any means – much like Christmas Eve! The surprise and sheer elation the next morning was seriously out-of-this-world! Her favorite part was getting chocolate coins. This just goes to show that it doesn’t have to be about the money.  I’ve heard of friends who have left $10, even $20 for a tooth.  I don’t know if my girl would have been half as excited for the cash as she was for the treat.  I say, as parents, lets take the pressure off of ourselves and just keep it simple.

And now, a week later, the second tooth is just about ready to come out as well.  With each wiggle of that tooth, I can see my baby girl transform ever so slightly into a big girl. She is realizing how amazing it is to grow up, to have one more thing in common with the other big kids at school and one less thing in common with her little sister. I might be a little crazy, but I believe she is even walking a little taller and exuding just a bit more confidence.

It’s a magical sight to behold.

I’d love to hear about your child’s first tooth fairy experience as well – be sure to share in the comments section below!

“Mommy, I want the green soup for dinner!”

 

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Split-pea soup: it’s what’s for dinner!

Just because its nearly 100 degrees in Miami, it doesn’t mean my littlest one doesn’t feel like eating her favorite soup! (So I learned this weekend!)  This is pretty much the tastiest, easiest and healthiest soup you can make.  Both of my girls absolutely love it. So, when they actually ask for Split Pea Soup instead of pizza or pasta, I do all I can to get it ready as quickly as I can!

When they were babies, and just beginning to eat solids, I would puree the soup before serving so that they would have no problems with the bits of ham.  I firmly believe that giving them interesting, complex “grown-up” foods at a young age has helped expand their palate and interest in foods and, come dinner time, I am very grateful!

This soup is hearty and one bowl will fill you up! You could always split the recipe in half, but I like to make a large batch since I know we’ll eat it one night, have leftovers maybe the next night, and the rest will be stored in tupperwares for the freezer! One small side note: I make a baked ham 2-3 times a year and I always freeze my left overs.  I use the freezer-safe zip-close baggies and portion out amounts that will work for batches of soup like this one.

Split Pea Soup

1/2 small onion (or 2 leeks, white/light green part, rinsed well), chopped

3-4 carrots, diced (a handful of baby carrots will work just fine also!)

2 ribs of celery, diced

3/4-1 cup smoked/cooked ham (I prefer using leftovers from a baked ham, use the bone too, but store-bought is fine too)

2 (14-16oz) bags dried split peas

4 quarts chicken stock (2 big boxes of the low fat/no sodium/no msg store-bought stuff works, but homemade is better!)

3 sprigs fresh thyme (or about 1tbsp of dried)

1 bay leaf

Salt & Pepper, to taste

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Summer of fun!

We are in the thick of summer over here and I’m already scrambling for things to do with the girls! We were lucky enough to go on a big trip for 3 weeks, but that was over by mid-June. Summer hadn’t even officially begun! I’m kinda feeling like we peaked early 😉

Last summer my little one was still pretty little, taking 2 naps a day, so my days were structured mostly around her schedule. This is the first summer where I have 2 (very) active kiddos on my hands and I’m trying my best to find enough activities for us to do! I’d love to go to the pool everyday, but it’s just so hot in the middle of the day right that we are limited to early mornings or just before dinnertime. Both of my girls really love to do art projects, so most of my ideas revolve around our craft table.

I thought I would share some of things we’ve done so far and I would love (actually, I need) to hear from you what your favorite summer activities are!! For starters, I did have the girls in a summer camp for 1 week in June and 1 week in July.  These were great opportunities for them to see old friends and make some new ones. But, I want to take advantage of this time with my little girls, summer camps are expensive, and I’m not working as much as I was earlier this year so I’ve got the time.

  • I discovered a FREE weekly art class at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden! The girls love this Wednesday morning class from 10a-1p where they make art with traditional  and recycled materials. Today I found them in different areas of the garden using nature as inspiration. And, best of all, at the end of the summer their art will be displayed in a student art show!

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  • Home made slime! We first made this a few years ago for their Frozen themed birthday party so I still had the Borax tucked away in the laundry room. You dissolve 1/2 tsp of Borax w 1/2 cup of hot water, dilute 1c clear glue with 1c hot water , then mix these two together. At this point you can add food coloring or glitter. We opted for glitter, obviously! This slimy substance keeps well in a zip-lock-type baggie in the fridge. This page is very helpful: http://www.twosisterscrafting.com/frozen-annas-diy-glitter-slime/

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“Tie”-dyed Eggs

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I’m not sure if you saw this video circulating Facebook a couple of weeks ago, but when I did I knew I had to try it. I don’t normally take the leap from ‘like’ to ‘do’ when I see these videos (the majority of which are cooking videos that in 30 seconds and with just a few ingredients, result in an ooey-gooey, calorie-laden, fully-baked dessert) but this video was different.  I actually had all the materials close at hand and it looked simple enough to do with my girls. (*Links to videos below)

About a month ago I did a closet clean-out and came across some really old ties.  Honestly, I can’t believe my husband has hung onto these for over 25 years! I do understand some things have sentimental value, but these ties?? They were just ugly and hadn’t seen the light of day for decades!  So, why not recycle them and create something beautiful? No old ties in your closet? No problem! Really any piece of 100% silk fabric will work, so an old scarf would work too. Also, I’m sure you could find some really inexpensive ties or scarves at a thrift store.  Just be sure to read the labels because only silk fabric will work.

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You’ll need white eggs, squares of 100% silk fabric, string or twine or twisty-ties, white cotton fabric from old t-shirts or muslin, vinegar, water, and a stainless steel or enamel coated pot.

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