May is mental health awareness month and it makes me think about what we teach kids about sharing their feelings. As a boy mom I am very aware of the double standard that boys live with. Studies show that when a girl cries, parents automatically hug them and help them talk about their feelings and allow them to express their feelings. On the contrary. boys are not hugged and are told to shake it off or take it like a man. Uhhhhh you are telling a 5 years old to “take it like a man.” I cringe every time I hear adults say that to boys.
There is a new generation of parents that are teaching their children that boys have feelings too, their feelings matter, and their feelings are valid. It’s doesn’t mean they are “acting like girls.” It means they are human beings that have feelings and that it’s okay to express themselves. As my son is growing up, he is learning about all the feelings he has. He is starting to reach a point where he knows what to do if he is sad or mad. He’s learning strategies such as playing with his legos, listening to podcasts, and drawing in moments of anger, sadness, and frustration. He also asks for hugs when he is angry or feeling really sad. Sometimes he can tell me what he is feeling, while other times, he can’t. I never push him, but I give him the space to share without feeling ashamed, embarrassed, or like he will disappoint me. Teaching boys to share feelings isn’t easy when the message they receive from the world is about being tough, to fight, and never share their feelings.
I found some helpful books that I love to read with kids. These books teach children to freely express themselves. What I love about them is that they have boy protagonists that aren’t being smart asses or a bully. It shows boys being expressive, showing compassion and love for themselves and others. Feelings charts are helpful in helping kids share what they are feeling in that moment.
In this book the author uses the mountain as a metaphor to describe the different feelings kids can have. It’s a beautifully illustrated book! It’s a good book to use to start talking about how to unpack feelings kids have at different times.
This book teaches kids the importance of empathy and compassion for others. The illustrations show a little boy doing kind things for others and how this fulfills him.
Sometimes kids don’t know why they are grumpy. What better way to talk about feelings than through animals. Kids love animals as fictional characters. Grumpy Monkey doesn’t know why he is mad. His friends try to help and cheer him up as he constantly says “I am not grumpy!”for example when all the animals offer to help ??? Read to find out how it all ends!
In this whimsical story, the author gives the reader the impression that knights and dragons are fighting and that is the plot of the story. The story takes a twist when Boy enters the fight and we learn something unique about him. This is a must read! Read to find out how this boy unites the town, knights, and dragons together.
This beautifully illustrated book describes to children why they matter. It teaches them that no matter their differences, everyone can find common ground. It’s a great book to teach children to be friendly and inclusive about physical and learning differences.
These are my top children’s books about sharing our feelings and learning from one another. Remember that being open about our feelings is an example that we model as parents. Our children are not born with empathy and sharing how they feel when times get tough. The more we normalize it, the easier it will be for our children.
I enjoy traveling and I am grateful for the opportunities and means to do so. I am bicoastal and call California and New York my home. I am very much a California girl with New York engrained in my identity. That being said, I’ve traveled back and forth between states for over 20+ years. Now that I have a family, we plan trips often.
Traveling with children is always an adventure with children. My experience is the more I travel with my son the easier it is for me. He is a traveler and is pretty restricted with screen time, but on a flight all rules are out the window. At some point, he does sleep, so that breaks up the screen time. Some of my favorite things to take on a flight is a backpack with his favorite toys, a book, notebook and drawing paper. This helps us get through the flight. I also pack some fave snacks such as sandwiches and crackers.
While packing, my son and I pick outfits to wear while on vacation. It makes changing easier. I roll his clothes together and all he has to do is take it out of the suitcase. I use packing cubes like these from amazon.
It makes packing easier. I don’t go crazy with toiletries. I buy travel size ones for the family and I leave them at the hotel at the end of our stay. I also don’t travel lightly. I gave that up years ago.
Here is an itinerary for visiting NYC with children:
We took a red eye to NYC. I know it was a stretch. Overall we did pretty well and slept for some of the flight. Once we dropped off our luggage at our hotel https://www.cambrianycchelsea.com/ and made our way to have our first meal in the city. We had a great brunch at Citizens of Chelsea. It’s a delicious cafe with avocado toast and delicious hot chocolate. It’s a farm to table restaurant.
We were really tired from the flight and took the early afternoon to nap. Luckily, we were allowed to check into our hotel room early. After our long and needed nap, we were ready for dinner and stroll in the city. We ate at https://thesmithrestaurant.com/. It was very good dinner with appetizers and yummy burgers. They have a kid’s menu which I appreciate. My son ordered salmon. He claims he is a pescatarian. After dinner, we were ready for a nice walk. We walked around and ended up at The Harry Potter store. we made it to the harry potter store and dinner. that was a great first day. The store is like being at Hogwarts. We decided to do a weekly subway pass, it has unlimited uses and it really pays off. It’s about $40 a person, kids don’t need one, they go under the turnstiles…lol
We packed our days with some walking and balanced it out with some rest time. We started off with taking family photos in the West Village with https://www.liliaviles.com/ Lili Aviles Photography. She is wonderful with kids and took our last photos in Central Park. She is very good about making families feel comfortable and just having some organic interactions. It was pretty chilly, we weren’t expecting that so that was a little hard. We took off our coats for some of the poses but the chill and wind made it hard at times. I can’t wait to see them!
Later in the day we had lunch at los Tacos #1 in Times Square.
We love broadway shows and try to catch one yearly. After our tacos we went to see The Cursed Child. Our family is a little Harry Potter crazed. It was wonderful. The effects and costumes and just incredible. It get s a little scary so we did share some spoilers with our son so he wouldn’t be in shock. It was spectacular and I Highly recommend it. Lion king is also a great one for kids.
After the show we were to. dinner at Wagamama, an Asian fusion cuisine at Union Square and then we went to the playground.
We were ready to set out and explore the city. we started off at the Smithsonian American Indian Museum. They have exhibits about Native New York and Native art from North, South and Central America. My son is learning about American Indians so to see the artifacts was very fascinating to him. They have a gift shop with a lot of great books and art.
Battery Park has a large playground with tall slides and jungle gyms. It’s called Battery Playscape. It represents playing in nature. What I love about city parks is that the structures are made out of wood and steel it’s not plastic. Kids need to know how to climb and recover when they get hurt. My son loved running around, climbing and sliding. It was rainy and cold ,but when you are having fun. It doesn’t matter.
There is also a beautiful/colorful seaglass carousel that costs $6 to ride. It’s worth the ride! It’s beautiful to see the seaglass move up and down in unison. We built up an appetite and made our way to Stone Street. The oldest street in New York. It still has cobblestones. We ate at Stone Street Tavern.
After that we went on the Staten Island Ferry (it’s free) and you can see the Statue of LIberty from there. The ferry can also take you to Domino Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We didn’t make it there but I highly recommend it. It’s the old Domino facotry turned into a playground. This is the amazing thing about New York! So much rich history and the city does a great job of using natural resources and nature for children to play on.
We finished our day by dining at Tao restaurant. The food was delicious and their desserts are to die for!
We love visiting museums. Today it was the MOMA- Van Gogh Exhibit/Pinocchio Exhibit
I love that museums are for everyone and that we can teach our son to appreciate museums at a young age.
I met a friend for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Spanish Harlem Ollin restaurant on 2nd and 5th ave. I highly recommend it. Their pastel de 3 leches is like no other!
I then made my way to Central Park where my son played and ran around.
We started to lose steam by this time. So we woke up a little later and made our way to Brooklyn on the 4 train to Crown Heights and Prospect Heights. We stopped at small shops in the neighborhood and bought some unique home items and Brooklyn memorabilia. Our next stop was LuAnn’s, andAsian vegan restaurant. They have the best pumpkin soup and sweet and sour sesame soy plate!
We made our way to our favorite playground and library. We love Underhill Playground because it’s a toy sharing space and it’s gated. Next, we went to Blue Marble Ice Cream shop and had a scoop of ice cream on our way to the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. If you haven’t gone there, it’s a must. It’s a large library and they have an extensive children’s book collection
For dinner we had dinner at Zaytoon’s. They have the best lentil soup! I highly recommend them. we enjoyed dinner with friends and ended our night at a Brooklyn Nets vs. HoustonRockets game at the Barclay Center.
We slept in today! We had a late breakfast and made our way to The Museum of Natural History- Dinosaur exhibit
This i s a huge museum. We try not to see museums in one day. They are too big, so we always focus on an exhibit. The entire museum is incredible. They do a great job of having interactive stations for kids and photo opportunities.
We had lunch close by at Tenzan, a Japanese restaurant on the Upper West Side.
We had desserts at Levain cookies. These cookies are so moist and feel like a muffin in cookie form!
Another day of sleeping in:). We visited the Highline in Chelsea. The High Line is an original 1800’s railroad track that was closed down and then created into a park and restored with the train track in place. It was a chilly but sunny day, but worth the walk. There is a lot to do around there and they have bumper tires/cars by the Standard Hotel.
We headed to Peppe Rosso in Soho for lunch. There are high end shops on Prince Street and chain shops on Broadway Ave. it’s a fun area to shop.
Our last day in NYC we packed and the hotel was generous enough to store our luggage.
We returned to Brooklyn and went to brunch at Chavela’s in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
The boys went to see their favorite barber and get a haircut. I spent my afternoon on Vanderbilt Ave in Prospect Heights. I had a 20 minute massage at Honey Nail Salon, a bagel at Old Brooklyn Bagel Shop. and I shopped at some of the small businesses that sell locally made products
Van Leewen Vegan ice cream is spectacular! I highly recommend it.
We returned to Manhattan and ended our stay in NYC with tapas at Boqueria in Chelsea. They have a few around the city. They have jamón Iberico y varios quesos.
It went by so fast and we truly enjoyed and took in every moment. My biggest advice for traveling is don’t get caught up on how perfect your kid has to be, they will have a bad day. Traveling is tiring, just go with the flow. Allow for some rest time and down time.
As an educator, I am always reading, researching and learning. I try to read books that bring value to my teaching craft and to my parenting style. This brings me to my latest reflection. How many of you are sitting on a couch trying to relax and just when you think you have a moments of silent. BOOM! something happens. If I had a dollar for everytime my son is slamming into me when I am trying to have a moment of relaxation, I could retire already…ha!
Kids love to play! They love to explore and get dirty. They love to pretend and rumble and tumble. My son loves to wrestle and ram into things. He pretends to have horns and bumps me with his head. He laughs so hard and as much as I want him to stop, I start laughing with him and he bumps me even more. Parents, our kids need to play! Whether they are 2 years old or 12 years old, kids need play! It looks differently for each child.
Did you know play is not only helps create a fantasy world, but also helps with emotional regulation?
Here are a few different types of play:
Fantasy Play- exactly what it sounds like, kids are creating their own world, it might include talking animals or house play such as mommy and daddy. Did you know this type of play helps with higher thinking order in children? My son loves creating scenes in his head that are related to legos or Harry Potter. He loves putting on his Slytherin robe and running around the house casting spells on everyone.
Constructive Play- Children use materials to create something and it’s organized, systems are in place. During this type of play helps kids learn to problem solve, connecting with other kids, and having a deeper understanding of things. My son loves getting boxes and creating cars and televisions. He enjoys using the glue gun and making armor for his battles.
Games with rules play- Playing games with rules helps children learn about order, structure, turn taking, and learning to lose. That is definitely a hard one, but an important one. We play daily board and card games. My son loves chess because he beats me every time. He is learning patience, turn taking, and negotiating when he plays with me.
Rough and Tumble Play- This is the hardest play to understand. Even I have a hard time with it. Every time I see my son playing super heroes or cops and robbers, I cringe! I have gone as far as stopping him knowing that he is enjoying using his body in different ways. When kids play “roughly” they develop their social and physical skills. They also learn social cues such as when someone gets hurt, they will have empathy and adjust their play. My son wrestles daily and I am learning to enjoy it.
So the next time you see your child in play, don’t stop them, don’t ask them what they are doing, just watch them. You will learn so much!
What do our kids need? What comes to mind when I ask that question? Some might say toys, while others might say clothes, or the latest gadget. In the end our children need love and family. The rest is just the icing on the cake. Don’t we gift our children daily with a roof over their head, food on the table, back to school clothing and supplies. The list goes on and on. Christmas is whatever you family wants it to be. I love hearing about family’s Christmas traditions. As we start to make new traditions in our new home in a new state, I think about the special memories we are making together. The fun experiences of doing family activities or giving him opportunities to explore skills he’s never explored before.
So what do we want to give our kids for Christmas? We want them to rip open that present and smile with that gleam in their eyes. Whatever it is you choose to give them, consider one of these gifts to add to your bundle of gifts.
Who doesn’t love comfy pajamas? Support a BIPOC small business and order pajamas for the entire family. These comfy PJ’s come in beautiful neutral colors. https://goumikids.com/
Capture your family moments by using “an old fashioned” instant camera and create a monthly album together. Capturing moments is important for a our little ones. It helps them recall events, it helps them write stories, and most importantly keep traditions alive. https://kidamento.com/en-us/collections/all-products
This game is for the entire family! Go on a scavenger hunt together using the find and seek game. Find and Seek
Kids love bubbles, this a great gift for elementary kids. It comes with a set of wands in different sizes.bubble wands
If you have a backyard, consider an outdoor projector as a gift. You can have movie nights with the family and make it a new tradition outdoor projector
Kiwi Co is still my favorite gift! You can buy a monthly, tri-monthly, or yearly subscription. This is definitely a family fun activity. The activities are geared towards their age range and it goes all the way up to 12 years old. Kiwico
I think kids should have tons of books to read. Children love story books! It’s ok if your child reads the same book over and over. The point is to teach children a love for reading. https://mijabooks.com/ Mija Books is located in Lakewood, Ca. but the owner also has an online store. There are a diverse selection of books for children of all ages. So fill up your child’s home library now.
Looking to maintain Spanish in your home? Check out Spanish Word Game. Make learning Spanish fun through this interactive game for kids learning Spanish.
Lil Libros carries some wonderful board books for younger childrenLil Libros these are great introduction books and they have books for K-2 children as well.
It’s that time of year! The decorations come out in full force, radio stations play Christmas music until the new year. It can be so exciting for our little ones. Ever since our son was born, we’ve made it special for him in so many ways. I remember feeling so over whelmed the first few months of his life that Christmas came so fast! I didn’t have decorations up or gifts for our son. Luckily, my husband took care of all of it. We got our tree and one evening my husband arrived with a bag full of gifts for our 4 month old baby! It was the most adorable thing ever. I remember he bought him books. That is where our son’s love for books began!
Through the years, we’ve carried on our traditions of giving books, visiting Santa at Macy’s Herald Square, going to Rockefeller Center and seeing the tree and light show, viewing all the windows on 5th ave, going to the ice skating rink at Central Park. The list goes on and on! So many fun things to do during the holidays when you live in New York City.
We now have a new life on the west coast, where the weather is warm during the holidays. We are now creating some new traditions. We decided to start with a wooden advent calendar. Our son loves his grandmother’s wooden calendar so we decided to invest in one of our own.
We decided to mix up the advent calendar with family activities and special sweet treats. We wrote down activities such as a bike ride, playing in the park, visiting Barnes and Noble. Family time is so important and sometimes we get very busy that we forget to step out of our daily routines and do something fun. So we changed it up and wrote on tiny scrolls, curled it up and put an idea in each drawer. He gets to open his first drawer in 24 hrs. What a treat!
A few weeks ago we decided to take a mini trip locally. For years I have lived bicoastal between New York and California. As I spend more time on the west coast, I am rediscovering some fun areas. We decided to have a mini vacation by the beach. That is what California is known for, it’s beautiful blue beaches and a lot of sun. Maybe too much lately….ha!
We stayed at Kimpton Shorebreak at Huntington Beach. I learned about it while searching online for kid friendly hotels. Let me tell you this exceeded our expectations. This hotel is not only family friendly, it is also dog friendly! It is a resort style hotel just an hour away from L.A. Upon our arrival, we are greeted with valet parking (although I chose to park myself) and smiling guest service employees. We were given a free bottle of white wine and shown around the premises. We were allowed to checked in a few hours earlier at no extra charge!
Our room was clean, well air conditioned, and we had a partial view of the ocean on the balcony. It was truly incredible! Their bed is comfortable and spacious for a couple or a family of three. Our favorite part is that each room has a record player! How awesome is that! We had a Beetles record that we loved! If wanted more choices we can go down to the lobby and browse the plethora of record choices in their collection.
They have a lot to offer visitors. If you want to spend the day at the beach, they offer scooters, bikes, surf boards, and beach toys for the kids. When lounging at the hotel, they offer refreshments, ping-pong and a life sized chess game. At night, get ready for fire pits and s’mores activities. It’s really a place for all young and old. There is enough quiet areas, if you want to curl up and read a book by the fire or join in the activities. They also offer a gym and a rock climbing wall. Their restaurant has a wonderful open breeze feeling and you can order some delicious choices such as their signature burgers.
Upon waking up in the morning, grab your yoga mat and enjoy some yoga at 9am in the outside garden area! They offer coffee and tea as well.
We had an amazing time and did not want our trip to end. If you are interested in staying close to the beach, you should check them out.
Kids are back in school! So, what now? Take advantage of Back To School Night and ask your child’s teacher how you can continue to support your child at home. Here are some questions you can ask your child’s teacher:
How can I support my child’s social/emotional well being?
Can you recommend some books that help my child talk about their emotions.
Do you have a feelings chart you use in school? I’d like to use it at home as well.
Can you share your daily schedule with me?
How can I support my child in math, reading, and writing?
What strategies do you use in reading that I can use at home?
In math, what counting strategies can I apply while helping my child with homework?
Share a success story about my child.
These questions open up the conversation to learning more about your child as a student. It helps you, as the parent, learn what happens throughout the day. Ask your child’s teacher for resources. If you are not sure how to explain math to your child, ask the teacher to share some sample strategies used in the classroom. If your child struggles in reading, ask the teacher what are some strategies you can use at home to help your child. Covid has affected our little ones in different ways. It’s important that we take time to support them not only academically, but also emotionally. Teachers have so much insight into our children’s world. Asking these questions help parents have a bigger picture about your child as a learner.
Don’t forget to ask your child’s teacher how they are doing as well. Teachers do so much behind the scenes work. A little cafecito or special drawing from your child is always welcome too.
Happy Summer Families! It’s been a while. We are well into our summer camps and family activities. As summer is coming to an end, we are getting ready for our back to school over haul. We need supplies, clothes, backpacks and lunch bags. Here are my top choices.
Backpack- I chose Hershel this year. My family and I love the cushy straps and durable feel of the backpacks. They are easy to zip and they have various kid sizes. The problem I have with major stores is a one size fits all backpack. A Kindergarten students needs a smaller size than a 2nd grader and 5th grader needs a larger size than a 2nd grade. Hershel offers various sizes. I love the choices. Some of their backpacks are on sale with free shipping so take advantage.
Planet Box is an eco-friendly lunch box supplier. They have a 30% discount sale so take advantage. I love the compartments for each sized lunch box. They also have different choices for kids of various ages. So choose what is best for your child. Some boxes also come with containers and you can purchase a lunch bag with it. It has a lot of pockets including for an icepack and water bottle pocket!
Raise your hand if you child is growing so fast you can barely keep up!! I like to shop at various places for kid’s clothes. Target’s Cat and Jack brand is great for basics!! They have tag less clothes which kids love! Keep your receipts because if your child grows out of them within a year you can return them for a full cash return.
For some long term staples such as jeans, sweaters, special event school outfits consider Janie and Jack. I just bought some long term staples for my son. They have a major sale going on, up to 60% off.
All the stores are competing so check prices at Target, Walmart, and Amazon. I personally love Amazon because I can order in bulk and it can be delivered to my son’s school. 🙂 Whatever makes it easy for this career mom!
We recently visited the California Science Museum in Los Angeles. I have to admit that I haven’t visited this place in years, so it was like going for the first time. I was very impressed with the space and exhibits. We didn’t do the special exhibits because we wanted to learn our way around the museum.
It turned out to be a fun experience as my son and husband went on a virtual ride and followed a photo time line of the Space Shuttle Endeavour making its way through Los Angeles. We also visited several of the permanent exhibits such as the Ecosystem exhibit and the Air and Space exhibit. We sat and listened to a presentation given by a scuba diver in one of the fish/shark tanks. My son was able to ask questions and interact with the presenter.
Our favorite part is definitely seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavour up close. It’s fascinating how much work went into making this shuttle and viewing different parts of the shuttle up close.
If you haven’t visited The California Science Center, I highly recommend you take your children. It provides a great learning experience as many of the exhibits have hands on learning activities. Please be aware there are strict COVID protocols in place. Adults have to show vaccination cards at the entrance and wear masks at all times unless we are eating.
As we get ready for the that special time of the year, I wanted to share some fun kid items I found. If you are looking for last minute gifts, consider one of these for your child.
I love giving books to kids, let’s face it, our kids don’t need another toy. I feel like books are priceless and all kids should have their own library. If you are in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, consider visiting Mija Books at Lakewood Mall. Recently, I visited Mija Books and for the first time in my life, I see books that represent my culture! The store is beautifully organized by age. There is even a Spanish section. I am so impressed with the plethora of diverse books being offered. There are also stickers, coloring books, crayons and affirmation cards. I just love it! Books vary in prices and begin at $7 for soft cover books. If you are not in the LA/OC area, you can also order on line at https://mijabooks.com I highly recommend their store.
4. Another favorite making it on my list this year is KiwiCo. I really love their age breakdown and their STEAM choices. https://www.kiwico.com They offer monthly, 3-month, and yearly subscriptions. I highly recommend this for children of all ages. They offer educational, but hands-on learning activities. Their directions are easy to understand and it’s an activity you can do with your child or let them challenge themselves and complete the task on their own.