Category: We Love…

global gifts for the holidays

Gifts are a great way to teach kids to think with a global perspective. Two gifts really stand out to me as great globally oriented gifts –one that we gave and one that we received.

We recently went to the 2nd birthday party for a friend’s son. On the Evite invitation they asked that instead of gifts guests consider making a donation to an organization called Heifer. When I went onto the organization’s site I saw the great selection of gifts that could be purchased for this organization which aims to relieve hunger and poverty around the world. We chose a portion of a water-buffalo. While my daughter Zoe at 14 months is a little young to understand what she gave to her friend for his birthday over time she will start to understand. The birthday boy received a card with a picture of an animal that described our contribution. The organization describes this and other gifts as the “must-have gift of the year: self-reliance.” How great is that gift?

This gift inspired me: for Zoe’s next birthday and as she gets older and more aware I am going to request that some of her gifts be donations to help Ijot, a children’s library in rural India that I’ve been involved with for years. At some point I plan to bring her to the library to meet the children who use it. Children, libraries, and animals are all things that small children can relate to and for this reason they are great donation gifts for children.

On a lighter note, we have received some great board books about different cuisines by Amy Wilson Sanger. We have one about Indian snack food and one about sushi. These are two of our favorite cuisines and we always take the books with us to the restaurant. Zoe loves to look at the pictures and hear the rhymes about the food that she is going to eat.

recommendations: bilingual dolls

I just came across Language Littles dolls today. What a great idea for raising your little citizens! The dolls say 25 to 30 kid friendly phrases in ten languages. You can buy your little one a Spanish, French, Italian, Russian or even a Greek speaker. If you want to introduce your kid to Spanish, Lizzie can help you out. When you press her right hand she says a series of greetings. Her left hand holds the words for numbers and animals and her knee says “Te Amo.” What a great way to introduce new languages to your little citizens!

kittens go political

Zoe loves cats. Her first word was “cat.” She loves to chase her cats and squeals with delight when she catches one (they don’t like this at all). She calls most animals “cat.” When my mom saw a “kittens for Obama” pin in a store she had to get it for us. We wear it proudly on our stroller. I love it for the Obama part. Zoe loves it for the picture of the kitten which she points to each time she gets into the stroller and says “Cat! Meow!”

Apparently my 13-month-old isn’t the only baby in lower Manhattan with a political view. Two blond boys have a sticker on their double stroller that reads “I’m an Obama kid.” A two-year-old whose mom runs a monogram business has “Go Obama” stitched in oversized letters onto the back of his Bugaboo. Other babies wear clothes that show their political preferences. My friend’s son is often seen wearing an Obama t-shirt. The other day I saw a little girl eating lunch at Whole Foods wearing a pink bib with a picture of Obama’s face. While I haven’t seen any babies for McCain around these parts there are a large selection of McCain baby shirts for sale online.

I liked these shirts and started to shop for one for Zoe. But then I stopped to think about how parents project political views onto their children. Is this appropriate? I asked some friends for their view on the subject. One friend told me that she doesn’t like when people project their political views on their baby because a) the baby didn’t choose this view, and b) it commercializes an innocent baby. I understand her opinion, but as another friend put it, as parents, we are constantly teaching our child about our family culture, which defines us as a family, and our political beliefs (along with religious beliefs, heritage, history, interests, sporting affiliations, etc.) are a part of what make up our culture. It is our job to teach all of this to our children. She also told me that she wanted her son to be a participant in this historic election which is also the first election of his lifetime, and to have something to prove that he was “there.”

I felt that both of my friends had very valid points. In the end I did buy Zoe a political shirt. It says “My Mama’s for Obama.” I hope it comes in time for Zoe to wear it on election day.

barefoot books

Last week a wonderful thing happened—our local representative from Barefoot Books (www.barefoot-books.com ) visited our son’s preschool. The entire lobby was canvassed with the most beautiful, diverse and intriguing books, music CDs, artwork and toys. It was all I could do to control my retail impulses. But that’s the great thing about buying books—no guilt!

With Halloween coming up quickly and the Holidays right around the corner, it’s fun for me to get in the gift-giving mood now. Like everyone else, our family has been impacted by the economy, so it feels smart to zero in on presents that help us celebrate our loved ones without going broke. Plus, there is something magical about buying and giving books to children. When I find a great story, I feel just as great about sharing it. Books are cost-effective, provide endless entertainment, and often generate opportunities for children and parents to discuss new topics that were inspired by the stories in greater depth.

I was doubly excited about Barefoot Books when I saw an entire table of titles with an international theme. Some were fables and legends lifted directly from other cultures, like Russia, Japan, India, France, Senegal and Polynesia. Others were focused more on teaching American children about foreign geographies, histories, cultures and languages. Some of my favorites combined multiple short stories into single volumes, such as “Grandmothers’ Stories: Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures,” which included a read-along CD narrated by Olympia Dukakis. Another colorful book, called “Elephant Dance,” is a perfect fit for our family, because it is about a little boy “interviewing” his grandfather who comes from India.

There are so many ways to introduce little ones to other cultures: food, movies, music, museums, and of course travel. From my perspective, all of those efforts are worthwhile and complemented perfectly by a bookshelf full of fun and interesting stories. I hope we’re fostering a curiosity about the world in our son as well as a love for reading. I also hope that both become lifelong passions that inspire him to run barefoot whenever he can.

tea set

We loved this post from Jen L over at Go Get Your Jacket:

Remember Garanimals? They were sets of clothes that were matched by a color or an animal so that you always knew what shirt went with which pants. If the tigers or whatever on the tags matched, then the clothes did, too.

A lot of people made fun of Garanimals. They became a punchline, usually invoked when a grown man looked like he’d been dressed by two different people, both of whom were blind. In the dark.

Not me. If they’d been offered when I was a kid, I think I would have snapped them up. As it is, when I discovered a more upscale version for my own child, I was deee-lighted.

I had just ordered a whole bunch of fall clothes (some from my friend Eliza’s company The Pink Giraffe), when I received the fall catalogue from Tea Collection. Now I’m itching to pull out my credit card for a five-piece ensemble called the Cooper set for William. It consists of a tiger long-sleeved t-shirt, a monkey long-sleeved t-shirt (bonus for the monkey), a striped hoody, a pair of cargo pants and a pair of ticking stripe pants. Five pieces for $105, which ends up being $21 per piece, which, you know if you’ve bought nice children’s clothes recently, is not a bad deal.

And here’s the best part: they all go together! You can wear the monkey shirt with the ticking stripe pants OR the cargo pants, or even put the hoodie on, too. Woot! Let me just give a big shout out to pre-matching clothes. I have rudimentary accessorizing skills at best. I sometimes put outfits together and then stare dubiously at them: “Does that look good together? Is that the same shade of green? Will the preschoolers laugh my child off the playground if I dress him in these two pieces at the same time?” Usually I do okay, but the doubt is always there, lingering at the back of my mind.

So this more sophisiticated modern-day version of Garanimals is just my speed. It doesn’t hurt that the clothes are absolutely adorable. Adorable clothes for little boys that won’t make me doubt my own sartorial prowess (or lack thereof). Here’s my MasterCard.

Note: Garanimals has? have? actually staged a comeback, but they’re no Tea Collection.

choosing a birth announcement

I found selecting a birth announcement overwhelming. It was my opportunity to show off my son to friends and family and I wanted to make sure it was just right – the perfect picture, the ideal card. The selection and styles of birth announcements is vast. I knew I wanted to include a picture, wanted the style to be more elegant than babyish, and that I prefered a more simplistic style. The Longevity Birth Announcement designed by Tea, available through Tinyprints.com fit my criteria just perfectly. I have received several calls from friends and family about how amazing the birth announcement is.