Happy New Year!

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It’s been a while since I last posted, and with the beginning of a new year I always feel like taking some time to set personal goals. Notice how I said goals, not new year’s resolutions? Sometimes you gotta just put things out into the universe in order to manifest them into reality. Here goes!

I love my girls so much, and a major goal this year is to make a better effort at remaining ‘present’ when I am with them. I can’t freeze time and keep them 7 and 9 years old forever, so the next best thing is to shut off laptops and silence the phones when we are together. The more time they spend at school the more precious our time together is!

So, how will we do it? I’m excited that we are at a lovely age where we can play fun board games and do more complex arts & crafts projects (resulting in less screen time!). Thanks to a friend of mine, Homa Tavangar, I now have a very clever kit which has become an instant favorite with my girls.

 

This Global Kids kit is wonderful, we are fascinated by all of the cards! By the way, this is not a paid ad or sponsorship! I honestly love the kit and seeing my kids so engrossed in each activity is all the compensation I need. The box contains over 50 games, craft ideas, and recipes from around the world, each one engaging and interesting in different ways. Every card transports you to another part of the world and presents a wonderful opportunity to learn through play.

 

homemade passport

So far we have made our own homemade passports and learned about how and why some Argentinians celebrate Christmas with an outdoor picnic.

One of my favorite cards is from the “helping out” category and is called Attitude of Gratitude and explains different ways of using body language to express gratitude. It also teaches how to say thank you in different languages – it was so much fun for us to try and figure out the pronunciations together! Obrigado!

I am lucky enough to have met Homa when she worked with the Nina’s World team helping to ensure that our show remained faithful to the goal of highlighting diversity and inclusivity in every episode. Her books, including Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World, cemented her position as an expert in preparing young people to be true world citizens who feel at home anywhere and everywhere.

As I continue to limit screen time for my kids I’ll be sure to keep the Global Kids box of cards within arms reach! Another kit that I have recently discovered is the Highlights Top Secret Adventures.

img_5575This one is a little pricey, as it entails a monthly subscription, but I love supporting Highlights Magazine (sending a subscription to someone makes a great birthday/holiday gift idea by the way) and my kids actually love solving the mystery every month! They enjoy searching for the clues (learning history and geography along the way) and collecting those key chains! The books are a fantastic addition to our bookshelves and I’m sure will come in handy for school work in the future.

Back to my 2020 goals: I’m going to put more time into this blog. I really love to share and connect with people and this is such a great way to explore new ideas. I’m going to continue to spread the message about the importance of literacy and fostering a love of reading in our children. Early last year I had an accident and created very few Story Time With Michele videos. That will change this year and I’m so excited to grow the YouTube channel!

For my family as a whole, I want to make sure we are eating as healthfully as we can. And, lastly, I want to cement our newly created tradition of family movie night. Snuggling up on the couch with the ones you love is the best feeling in the world and I want to carry that in my heart all year long!

Well, there it is! I’ve put out into the cyber-verse my 2020 goals! Have you set any goals for yourself? I’d love to hear back and connect with you. Let me know down in the comments section.

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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We survived!

 

Alcalá de Guadaíra

Alcalá de Guadaíra

Thank you everyone for your advice and encouragement prior to our big trip to Spain.  The long flight with the two little ones wasn’t so bad, but maybe I was just psychologically prepared for no sleep at all!  The couple of hours I actually got were a luxury 😉 The 7 hour layover in Madrid was dreadfully long but thankfully we found a rather nice children’s area with toys for kids of all ages and even a quiet room for naps.  We packed snacks, we had toys and crayons and books, but at the end of the day what did my toddler do? Play on the iPad.

Bianca's Baptism day

Bianca’s Baptism day

Alcalá is a special place.  It’s a place where you walk through town everyday, you bump into friends on the street, and your kids play outside every single day.  Maybe I’m just feeling a little nostalgic but they really do “work to live” rather than “live to work” like so many of us do here.

While there we baptised Bianca and we’re so lucky we could! Such a special day we will always treasure.

We also got to have fun at the Feria which is a sort of carnival that happens every year. It’s really hard to explain, and the pictures don’t do it justice but just trust me when I say it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen!  I’ll puts some pics at the end of the post.

Bianca's Godparents

Bianca’s Godparents

I think the big lesson from the trip for me was to accept that our routines were gonna change.  I focused on trying to keep some of the basic structure of our daily routine but realized quickly there was no way that it was going to be the exactly same.  Bedtime? That was the tough one! The sun didn’t set until about 9pm and we never even sat down for dinner before then.  All in all it worked out, and as family, we really enjoyed ourselves. When we departed all we could talk about was when can we come back? next summer? can more of my cousins make it with their kids too? I have so many wonderful memories of the time I spent in Spain throughout my own childhood and nothing would make me happier than for my girls to have a similar experience.

That was until the flight home.

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Traveling with Tots

I’ve been feeling a bit rundown this week 😦 being away from my babies last week wasn’t as restful as I had imagined it would be. I was in Sproutland working. I really thought that staying at a hotel would mean hours of peace and quiet and sleep! Alas, my girls were all I could think about and I woke up 3-4 times every night. Then, I got hit with some sort of upper respiratory infection this week (I think Gia brought it home from school and passed it off to me. Of course she’s fine – Strong as an ox that one is!) And now that I’m feeling better I get to open the flood gates of stress – here comes that overwhelming feeling of angst as I prepare us to travel to Spain next week.

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