Looking Back on the 2014 Popular Posts on Heritage, Culture, and Language

As the new year comes to an end I'm looking at my popular posts, including one that is very dear, and near to my heart.  However, this parenting post will be revealed on January 2nd.  So stay tuned! In the meantime, read the popular post on heritage, culture and language.

This post Growing Up Black During the Segregated Era Interview With My Son’s Grandparents is a very special post. Mainly because one of the reasons that I started writing this blog was, and is for my son. When I embarked on interviewing my in-laws, it was important to me that he hear from his own grandparents the struggles they had living and growing up in the segregated era. 

Living in a small town that doesn't offer multicultural events  has me conjuring up ideas in which I can expose my son to diversity, and culture.

These cultural play dates, and parties have played an important role in exposing him, and his friends to different cultures, such as: Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, and Three Kings Day from 2013. 
This year the Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta, and Winter Kwanzaa Celebration have been just as popular! 

This past summer we also had the opportunity to review the MKB World Soccer Cup 2014 Activity Packet, and we learned about the participating countries.

As a contributor to +Multicultural Kid Blogs my all-time favorite post is the Back to School for Multicultural and Biracial Kids post. A simple guide with tips for parents, and teachers on transitioning multicultural and/or biracial kids back to school. 

Language Learning 
In my never-ending quest to raise a bilingual, and biliterate child I have ventured in making free printables of materials that I've used for him: Foot Book Spanish Activity {El Libro del Pie}, Museum Scavenger Hunt Printable in Spanish, and Demolition Children's Book with Free Printable Spanish Activity.

I'm looking forward to 2015!  May you have a wonderful, and prosperous 2015! 

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #22

Welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can't wait to see what you share this time!

As the creator of the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop, and I'm thrilled to be co-hosting this month with Multicultural Kid Blogs, and the wonderful bloggers from:  Crystal's Tiny Treasures All Done MonkeyCrafty Moms Share For the Love of SpanishEva Varga, and Tara Kamiya

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place for you to share your creative kids culture posts. It's very easy, and simple to participate! Just follow these simple guidelines:
  • Follow us via email, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. Please let us know you're following us, and we will be sure to follow you back.
  • Link up any creative kids culture posts, such as language, culture, books, travel, food, crafts, playdates, activities, heritage, and holidays, etc. Please, link directly to your specific post, and no giveaways, shops, stores, etc.
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
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  • Please grab the button code above and put it on your blog or the post you’re linking up. You can also add a text link back to this hop on your blog post. Note: By sharing your link up on this blog hop you are giving us permission to feature your blog post with pictures, and to pin your link up in our Creative Kids Culture Feature board on Pinterest.
  • Don't be a stranger, and share some comment love! Visit the other links, and comment. Everyone loves comments!
  • The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop will go live on the 3rd Sunday of the month. It will run for three weeks. The following blog hop we will feature a previous link up post, and if you're featured, don't forget to grab the button below:
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Here's my favorite from last time:  In my never-ending search for Spanish children's book I was excited to come across Entre Compras y el Hogar's review on "Te lo Regalo."  This is a sweet story about sharing, and generosity. 

te lo regalo Libro: Te lo Regalo!

Thank you for linking-up, and we can't wait to see what you've been up to!   

Random Christmas Act of Kindness: Gifts for the Elderly

Christmas time is indeed the season for giving! It brings great joy to me to pass along to our son the gift of giving, and for him to think of others during this joyous season.   It's not all about him, Santa, or the gifts that he'll be getting but about making others happy through random acts of kindness. 
This year we made gifts bags for the elderly in a convalescent center close to our home.  I called the coordinator in charge of donations, and made an appointment to see her. We were blessed to have the opportunity to personally gift two amazing elderly ladies who love to write, and color.  Little one personally handed them the gift bag, and saw first-hand how amazingly grateful they were.   The rest of the gifts the coordinator was going to give them out on Christmas day during their annual Christmas party. 

You may be wondering what did we gift? 

Little one and I  had been talking about giving away "donating" some of his stuffed animals. I know it was hard for him to let go, but I wanted him to know that he'd be making someone else very happy.  He went through his gently used stuffed animals and picked out the ones we were to gift.  I washed them, and put them in gift bags with some tissue paper.

He also helped me fill 25 goody bags that included pens, pencils, erasers, note pads, and home-made book markers (from upcycled Christmas cards from years past).  The supplies I had purchased them during the after-school clearance sales, the pens were from past workshops, and conferences that I had been to.   

We filled 15 mini-stockings, and mittens that I found on clearance last year; and filled them with sample shampoos, and conditioners. Mostly these were samples that I got for free in the mail, and the others were from past stays in hotels that I've been collecting from our travels.   Little one also made our traditional big lollipop Christmas card.  We've been making them for years now, and you can see the instructions here

As we were heading out, my child tells me, "Mamá, I'm happy that my stuffed animals have new friends, and that the ladies really liked them." 

Making gifts doesn't have to break the bank. With a little bit of planning, and help from your children you can certainly make meaningful, and special gifts.  

Do you nee more inspiration? Not sure where to start?  My dear friend Leanna from All Done Monkey has suggestions, and ideas on committing random acts of kindness for you and your children.

The day that the Three Wise Men were met with Santa Claus Spanish Children's Book

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of our Christmas holiday countdown. The tree is up with the decorations, our ottoman in the living room is filled with Christmas books, Santa Claus figurines adorn our home, and the Nativity is set-up in a special place by the Christmas tree with Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, and the Three Wise Men Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. 
This post contains affiliate links if you click on the link, and if you make a purchase I will receive a small monetary compensation. Thank you! 
Letters for both Santa, and the Three Kings (the magi) have been written and mailed off. As a multicultural familia we have been celebrating both traditions Santa, and the birth of baby Jesus on Christmas day with the subsequent visit of the magi. 

So what would happen if one day the Three Kings actually ran into Santa Claus? I was delighted when I found this book El dia que los Reyes Magos se toparon con Santa Claus / The day that the Three Wise Men were met with Santa Claus (Leer Es Vivir) (Spanish Edition)

This is an adorable story of a little girl who writes to both Santa Claus and the Three Wise Men asking for the same exact things on both letters. Well Santa Claus happens to be at the house on December 24th Christmas eve to deliver his gifts.  

The Three Wise Men  were following  the star on a cloudy night, and ended up at the same address where Santa was! They walked right into the house while Santa was there!  They were instantly baffled, and startled! 

My child started laughing!  It was so funny because they were all surprised! Wondering who's who, and what were they all doing in the house? With all the confusion, and noise the little boy wakes up to find them all in the living room with the gifts.  After a moment of silence Santa says, "Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas!" The Wise  Men realized that it was Christmas, and not January 6th. In the end, the kids keep one gift each and at their mother's request all the other gifts were given to needy children. 

My son really enjoyed this children's book. It brings together two traditions that we as a multicultural familia celebrate.  We were able to see the differences with Santa, his reindeer, and elves; and the Three Kings with their camels, and the king's helpers.   

The publisher's of the book also has some extension ideas to this book, but they are in Spanish. We've been having lots of fun gearing up for El Día de Reyes that we also made gingerbread wise men! 

Dora the Explorer: Dora Celebrates Three Kings Day!

We've been watching YouTube videos (like the one below), and Dora Celebrates Three Kings Day DVD. Soon we'll be decorating the shoe box that will have grass in it for the camels.


Would you like to know how we've been celebrating, or how-to-host a Three Kings cultural play date, or how this day is celebrated around the world? Just click on the picture below:

¡Feliz Día de Reyes! 

A photo posted by Frances (@dtwtmse_frances) on

A photo posted by Frances (@dtwtmse_frances) on

Parrandas (Puerto Rican version of the U.S.Caroling)

In the middle of the night many Puerto Ricans during the holiday season gather together with musical instruments and sneak up at the doorway of unsuspecting homes to give them a "parranda!"  
♫♫♫♫ ¡Asalto! ¡Te traigo esta trulla pa' que te levantes! ¡Te traigo esta trulla pa' que te levantes! ¡Esta trulla esta caliente, esta trulla esta que arde! ♫♫♫♫

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Please see disclosure page**
Photo courtesy of my sister Gladys E. Cancel :)
This is a long-standing tradition in Puerto Rico.  The parranderos sing aguinaldos Navideños (Puerto Rican Christmas songs) in true camaraderie, and fellowship to celebrate the holidays. The guest (receiving la parranda)  in return will feed them offering sweet treats, and an "asopao" (hearty soup), and then they are on their way to the next house.  This goes on until wee hours of the night, sometimes within an hour or two before day break visiting different homes.  

In Puerto Rico there are also the "fiestas solemnes" (religious festivals):
  • Misas de Aguinaldos
  • Nochebuena 12/24
  • Misa de Gallo 12/24
  • Día de Navidad 12/25
  • Despedida de Año 12/31
  • Año Nuevo 1/1
  • Día de Reyes 1/6
  • Las Octavas y Octavitas (8 days following 1/6) 
We've been to Puerto Rico during the holiday season, but little one was just a toddler. So no, parrandas then.  Now that he's older I would love to take him and my husband to Puerto Rico so they can live this experience. It's really like no other.  

"Alegre Vengo..." is another song that you sing during las parrandas.

For a more mellow song, and mood we often listen to this beautiful song "Niño Jesús" by Tony Croatto. This one is a classic! :)

I was looking for books about Puerto Rican cultural traditions specifically about parrandas.  I came across Mimi's Parranda/La Parranda de Mimi (Spanish Edition). Unfortunately, they didn't have it in our local library so I ordered it, and I'm hoping to receive it soon.  I will update this blog post as soon as I review the book. 

However, I recently had the opportunity to review Celebrate Christmas Around the World by Multicultural Kids Blog. I was thrilled to see a whole section on Christmas in Puerto Rico! You can read about the parrandas, and how Christmas is celebrated on this beautiful island; and five other countries! You can order your copy here

Before I end my post I want to share a very meaningful picture that my sister took of our now 94 yr. old Abuelita. This picture was taken two years ago, and she's singing a trulla.  She too, has been enjoying this tradition for many, many years. She may not go out in the middle of the night to parrandear, but she enjoys it at home with our Mamá and the rest of our extended familia.

A special thank you to my sister and cuñado (brother-in-law) for the pictures and for not missing one parranda in Puerto Rico! ¡Wepa!!! 

Photo courtesy of my sister Gladys E. Cancel :)
This post is part of the Christmas in Different Lands hosted by Multicultural Kids Blog. Follow the series, and read about Christmas in Canada, Spain, China, and more shared by our wonderful multicultural mom bloggers across the globe. 

Three Kings Day and Epiphany Around the World

During this holiday season Christians across the world celebrate Christmas, and the Epiphany. The Epiphany or Twelfth Day is the celebration of the three wise men who followed the star to Bethlehem looking for baby Jesus. They followed the star to bring Jesus gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense 12 days after he was born. 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Please see disclosure page**

To my surprise, Day of the Magi or El Día de Reyes is not solely a Latin American tradition it is also celebrated in many European countries as well. 

I've compiled a wonderful selection of multicultural children's book, and I reached out to a wonderful group of mommas from the +Multicultural Kid Blogs, and asked how they celebrated this season. 

Multicultural children's books about Christmas and The Magi (Three Kings Day and Epiphany) Around the World 
Photo Credit Via Creative Commons 
 Three Kings Day and Epiphany Traditions Around the World 
From the mouths of our multicultural mommas across the globe: 

+Ute Limacher-Riebold from Expat Since Birth shares different versions of this popular legend La Befana who is a kindly old witch bearing gifts by climbing down the chimney in Italy on January 5th. She shares with us  the different legends surrounding this popular character in Italy. 

I love how she celebrates with her multicultural family!  She expresses the following:  "I celebrated it in Italy, now in NL a bit less... In our family we have a very "personal" way to celebrate all this: the "Heilinge Drei Könige" (Dia de Reyes) and Befana together but also Sinterklaas/Sankt Nikolaus. We came up with a funny explanation: that Sankt Nikolaus is like the brother of La Befana, or that they inspire one another... I think it would be very interesting to know how multicultural families justify the celebration of multiple festivities. It can be quite challenging and I know families where parents don't agree with part of the traditional celebrations of their partners culture(s)..." You can read her post here

In France it's a tradition to eat La Galette des Rois! Do I have a treat for you! Three wonderful bloggers share how they celebrate this tradition, and two of them share recipes! 

+Annabelle Humanes from The Piri-Piri Lexicon shares a yummy recipe of La galette des Rois: a French Three Kings Day cake.

+Maria Babin from Trilingual Mama shares an Almond cream pastry recipe.  

From Stroud Is All Over the Place shares a beautiful tradition on children singing and knocking on doors honoring Three Kings Day in Germany.   Three Kings Cake is also served that night to celebrate the occasion.

+Sasha Martin  from Global Table Adventures shares a delicious recipe:  A Cake for 3 Kings (Dreikönigskuchen).


Puerto Rico
Celebrating El Día de Reyes in Puerto Rico is huge! They have their own Museo de Reyes! A museum dedicated to the magi.  Decorating shoe boxes, and placing them by the bed with some grass in it, and water is also part of the tradition. I myself, continue to nourish this family tradition even if we're living in the U.S.A. We've also had cultural playdates, and playgroups where the kids decorate their boxes

+Olga Mecking  from the European Mama shares her traditions: "We write the initials of the three kings on the door (K(acper)+M(elchior)+B(altazar) with chalk and then the year (for example now it'd be K+M+B, 2014). I think it is also the time the Christmas Tree is dismantled. They are the names of the Three Kings I've learned at church."

Per Ute from Expat Since Birth the inscriptions above the door is a tradition that can also be seen in in Germany, Switzerland,  Italy, and in the Netherlands as well.

+Monica Olivera from Mommy Maestra has a wealth of information on celebrating El Día de Reyes! A Mini-Concert, Spanish language books on Los Reyes Magos, and if you're looking to do some activities she has a free printable here, and lesson plans and more activities here

If you're looking for more book suggestions  +Carrie P. from Crafty Moms Share offers a ton of suggestions on Multicultural Christmas books that you can't miss!

Follow Frances @ DTWTMSE's board Three Kings Day {Día de Reyes} on Pinterest.