1 Family Cultivating 2 Religions

A glimpse of our inter-faith family

We recently started talking to our big boy (who’s 2 years and 4 months) about God.  This all started one day when he was reeeeeally testing my patience. Y’all, I’m no saint but I’m a Special Ed teacher, so that tells you God blessed me with an extra dose of patience. (And I’m so grateful for it!) I’m telling you, I totally was losing my mind that day. The kid had me pulling my hair out and groaning. As luck has it, hubby was stuck at work really late, so it was just me with the teething twins and testy toddler at bedtime.

That’s how we fell into our new routine of bedtime prayers, because we needed prayer that day. For a better day the next day. For gentle hands with the babies. For both of us to be better. For him to listen and control himself. For Mommy to be more patient and understanding. Continue reading 1 Family Cultivating 2 Religions

15 Children’s Books that Teach Gratitude

As promised in Teaching Gratitude, here are some recommendations for 15 books that help accomplish just that. I spent some quality time making this list and book descriptions as useful as possible. (I hope you find it SUPER useful!)  In my opinion, recommended target ages are helpful but VERY flexible, and they’ll often differ from source to source. (I cited the range I most agree with.) The books on this list can be used year-round, not solely at Thanksgiving time.

Happy reading and teaching gratitude!

Image result for the giving treeThe Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (Ages 5-8 per Scholastic)

Honestly, this book is great for all ages, as it can lead to some pretty deep reflection and conversations. I’ve also read it with great success to Pre-K students to celebrate Earth Day and discuss gratitude for and stewardship of our planet and environment.

Check out the 1973 animated short film of The Giving Tree with soothing narration from the author himself. There are some controversial interpretations of this book (which for fun, I encourage you to look into), so pre-read it and be prepared to guide the conversation in the direction that you want. Available in multiple languages, called El arbol generso in Spanish.

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The Thankful Book by Todd Parr (Ages 3-6 per B&N)

A little something for everyone, but mommas will love this one: “I am thankful for walks because they are special times for just you and me.” Aw. Let me go for a walk with my kids now and cry.

Continue reading 15 Children’s Books that Teach Gratitude

Teaching Gratitude

November is here. Along with the holiday music and all the planning we busy ourselves with (who is hosting what and when, coordinating adorable outfits, travel plans, conniving to get people the most perfect gifts, food shopping, gift buying…is your head spinning like a dreidel yet?!?), November causes us to pause and reflect on all we are grateful for. As parents and educators, our thoughts also turn to being intentional with how we model and teach gratitude to our children.

Of course, children won’t learn to be grateful from one day, week, or even month of thanksgiving, but we can use this time to reflect on what we are doing right, what we might do better, and put some of our ideas into action.

Continue reading Teaching Gratitude

Rigor in Play, Part 3

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the definition of rigor and it was a bit alarming at first.

In Part 2, we focused on achieving rigor through play by intentionally challenging our little ones, challenging being one of the key terms in our definition of educational rigor.

In Part 3, I want to really drive home a point about rigor:

Rigor may feel uncomfortable at times, but we have to embrace that in order to optimize and allow for learning to occur.

Continue reading Rigor in Play, Part 3

The Little Old Ladies Who Drive Me Nuts!

On any given day when I’m out with my three monstruitos, I’ll get lots of looks and comments from strangers. They might be men or women, young or old, parents or not, even other kids.

There’s the “Oh! Wow! Twins!” as people realize the stroller has another seat below with another baby.

“You have three! And you’re alone!?! You have your hands full!” as they process that my oldest is only a toddler and yes, I’m out alone.

“Wow, you are so lucky/blessed! Boy and girl twins…”

“They are all so good!” Thank God! Sí, son angelitos aunque les digo monstruitos. And, honestly, they’re all their best when we are out.

“You are Super/Wonder Woman/Mom”. ❤️

Of course, I LOVE the positive, confidence-building comments! And I make sure to keep that love rolling to other moms and dads I see, because we’ve got to build each other up. Life, love, parenthood… it’s all hard.

Continue reading The Little Old Ladies Who Drive Me Nuts!

Rigor in Play, Part 2

Rather than argue why rigor and play are not  opposing ideas or camps in early childhood education (see Rigor in Play, Part 1), isn’t the best way to demonstrate the point, simply to show HOW we achieve rigor through play?

To do so, let’s pull out some of the key elements from our educational definition of rigor. Let’s start with challenging.

Ensuring that children’s play is challenging requires a few things from us (maybe even challenging ourselves first). 

Continue reading Rigor in Play, Part 2

Rigor in Play, Part 1

If you are a teacher or follow educational trends, you are quite familiar with the term rigor. You probably have a love/hate relationship with it. Yet many teachers struggle with really defining it or explaining it to parents.

So, let’s search Google for a dictionary definition. Wait, wait, nope, that’s startling. Hell, even depressing.

Webster’s definition includes words like: harsh inflexibility, severity, unyielding or inflexible, strictness, austerity, even cruelty, extremity of cold, rigidity, stiffness, strict precision, and a definition for the medical term rigor mortis. Yikes, people! How does this word belong in education?

Continue reading Rigor in Play, Part 1

Halloween: 5 DIY Family Themed Costume Ideas

Let’s face it. They won’t always let us do this.

As I was crafting our Halloween costumes for this year and envisioning years of such wonder, I realized that someday my three amores will have an opinion about their costumes and it probably won’t be coordinated and so innocent. Still, with the tips of my fingers burned off from hot glue gunning eyes and fuzz, I imagined that as they get older I’ll nag them to select a costume with plenty of time for me to create it for them.

Then to my horror, a little nagging voice admitted that some day they might decide to make or buy it themselves. Scary, right? I told my husband when that day comes, it will be the beginning of the end. He said “of your sanity?”. (Sweet man, you are lying to at least one of us.) I replied, “No! Of their childhood!”

Even if time is short, with some help from Amazon, Primary.com, the Goodwill store, a raid of your own closets, and a bit of easy crafting, you can still look adorable and coordinated while your sweet little ones will still let you! Felt and hot glue will be your best friends!

Continue reading Halloween: 5 DIY Family Themed Costume Ideas