a worldly bedtime story

Kai’s favorite book right now is a wonderful story written by Karen Katz, Can You Say Peace? Even at 9 months, the colorful characters in the book resonate with him. Kai’s face lights up when I pull this book off the shelf and he laughs with excitement. Without leaving Kai’s room, we travel to 11 different countries and catch a glimpse of each child’s life with their own families. His favorite children in the book are Sadiki from Ghana who says “goom jigi” and Kenji from Japan who says “heiwa”. We have such a good time reading and learning to say peace in multiple languages. It’s never to early to teach our children to wish for non-violence around the world.

Of course, Katz isn’t able to cover evey single country. Here are some other ways to say peace:

Shalom-Hebrew

Salam-Arabic

Amani-Swahili

Hoa Binh- Vietnamese

Kapayapaan- Tagalog

Pyong’hwa- Korean

Shite- Tibetan

How do you say peace in your language?

destination dinners

Do you love cooking with your little citizen? If the economy has you eating in more, we’ve found these Destination Dinners– the perfect way to bring food from other cultures home. Each Destination Dinner kit includes spices, a shopping list, cooking instructions and fun information about the source of the meal. Bon appetit!

family “blending” abroad

This Saturday my husband and my seven year old son are heading to California for my son’s spring time visit with his father. Although I know these trips are needed for a flourishing relationship, I still can’t help but be teary eyed as the moment of truth approaches.

We have really made a life for ourselves here in Toulouse! Going to the “marche” on the weekends,taking our nightly walks and having our French neighbors over for dinner. I sometimes forget that there are other people waiting and longing for our return to America. It is so easy for me to become caught up in the reality that my oldest son is now a bi-lingual boy of the world! To see him get up every morning with a smile on his face to tackle a new way of learning and communicating is truly inspiring for me. I am in awe of him when we
take our evening walks and he can read the notices in the local bakeries or when he is able to give the hour of day to someone who requests it in French. I start to daydream about what would happen if we want to India, Africa or Asia together. How long would it be before he could master three languages and find “ZEN” at the young age of twelve?

Then I remember that he has a whole other family waiting breathlessly in California. His father, grandmother, uncles and cousins. How would they feel about him traveling the globe with me and only being able to see him on holidays or vacations? What if I wanted to travel to a so called “unsafe” region? Would he “fight” for him to come back to “safe” California? I am starting to realize that when my son and I hold hands on our Sunday walk or have our lunch together on Wednesdays that he is just on loan to me for a short spell. Then I have to give him up. France is AMAZING and it is easy to become smitten with this dreamy life. Being a blended family though has made me up wake up from my dream a little sooner then I would like.

As the tears flow on Saturday,I will be thinking to myself; is it really worth it?

Bises

homeward bound

In times like these, Americans are examining the value of a dollar. Whether by choice or, in increasing cases, out of necessity we are laying aside our wants to meet our needs. For many, the quick weekend getaway isn’t as easy to come by. Enter the staycation. As our economy fails, the concept has become, dare I say, en vogue. All the cool kids are doing it.

That’s just the line I gave my husband to convince him to give it a shot. It worked. One Friday, he took the day off (rare) and we ventured into the city (rarer still) with Annie P.

Atlanta, often coined the capital of the New South, has much to offer the casual tourist. One of its newest attractions is the Georgia Aquarium. Touted the world’s largest, we couldn’t think of a better place to take a kid who just learned to point at everything she sees than to a record sized fish bowl. Ordinarily, my husband and I prefer a more ‘off the beaten path’ itinerary for our adventures. But kids love animals, and who would deny Annie P the pleasure of seeing the biggest fish in the world, a whale shark, because the place might be overrun with tourists? After all, we ourselves would be tourists if even for a day.

The place was packed. No matter. Annie P is small. I just made my way to the front of the displays and we had a blast watching her animated face. She had fun, thus we had fun. After our fill, we headed across the street to Atlanta’s location of a famous Boston-based restaurant my husband and I enjoy. Annie P was a charmer to the wait staff and a pleasant little diner. We had lobster rolls and reminisced about our idyllic trip to Nantucket the September before our daughter joined this great big world. As we talked, I realized I truly felt as if we were on vacation, even if it was simply for the morning. The ingredients that brought our staycation together were simple. We had a destination and we took the time to enjoy it. The best part was, we still made it home for naptime.

art in the streets

Walking the streets of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is the ultimate stimulation of the senses. At any given moment, one can see soaring landscapes, hear the rhythm of a table samba streaming from a café, take in the fragrant smell of tropical flowers and dense foliage, and covering the walls of buildings are beautiful and colorful street paintings.

For a Designer, the patterns, the colors, the styles and characters are the tastiest candy an eye could see. Of course I instantly imagine a color palette, a pattern for a dress, a graphic for a tee!

shown above the Paulista Dress

Shown above the Rio Dress and the Zaba Halter Dress embroidery

Shown above the Oscar Stripe Polo

We were lucky enough to happen upon a piece done by Sao Paulo Artists Os Gemeos (the twins). Now world reknowned, these twin brother artists have come to signify brazilian graffiti art. Their artistic subject matter ranges from political statements to depicting characters from brazilian folk tales and literature.

Their work has become a huge inspiration for color palette and pattern.

Shown above the Cariocas Shirt

In an interview with Art Crimes, the twins were asked if they would ever do a children’s story book? They replied, “maybe…working with kids is very cool and rewarding.” I couldn’t agree more, I sure hope they make one.

medicine mama: homemade cures

Our world is shifting and more modern moms are looking back to homemade remedies. Forget reaching for Tylenol or Vicks which seem to have mysterious side effects. I wondered why I couldn’t take these medicines while pregnant. Maybe the side effects of modern medicine are no longer worth it.

In countries where Western meds are expensive and inaccessible, women always relied on natural cures. Why not give traditional remedies a try?

 

Here are simple cures from your kitchen cabinet or garden that can help everyone in your family no matter what age.

 

– A bit of olive oil will cure baby’s cradle cap. Apply directly on the scalp and let it soak overnight.

 

Turmeric mixed with warm milk can soothe a cough.

 

-Steam kumquats with a bit of rock sugar will relieve congestion and excess mucus in the throat.

 

Ginger tea made simply by boiling water and fresh ginger can rid a cold or tummy ache.

 

-For insect bites or small scrapes, fresh aloe vera comes to the rescue.

 

-Drizzle cornstarch on a skin rash and it will go away.

 

-Place a bundle of fresh lavender on the bedside to relax and sleep tight.

 

-Black sesame seeds are known to help children who may wet the bed. Roast the seeds and sprinkle them over dinner.

For further reading on holistic cures, I recommend reading The Book of Herbal Wisdom.

 


Please share your family remedies with us too!

 

 

decorating

I’ve heard that a child’s IQ is actually increased if they are exposed to as many different things as possible in the world around them. I love for my daughter Zoe to be exposed to different styles from all around the world. This is why I am absolutely in love with Tea clothing for her. It is also why when decorating Zoe’s room I decided to draw in art and other design elements from different parts of the world.

On one wall I hung a beaded folk-art tapestry from Haiti that I bought in New Orleans years ago. It is a picture of an angel and a very sweet image for a baby’s room. On another wall I put two paintings that my parents and I brought back from China when I was thirteen years old. I remember at the time that my mom said they’d be great in a child’s room someday. I had forgotten about them until after Zoe was born when my mom took them out and suggested that they be hung in Zoe’s room. The paintings show people and animals on windy roads in what looks to be a Chinese village –at work, play, home. Zoe and I love to look at them every night before she goes to bed and point out the different animals in the pictures.

On the other side of the room is a small painting from a village in India that have spent a lot of time in. It is a picture of Ganesh the elephant god and is done in the Madhubani style of painting which is common in this village. When Zoe is a little older I plan to show her this painting and others and tell her about the village and eventually I’d like to take her there. My hope is that the different styles, cultures and images in her room will help make Zoe interested in the world around her.