How Did I Arrive at This Vine

How did I get here, pedaling a mama-bike with a towering morning glory plant in my front seat? I’ve just come from my parent-teacher conference marking summer break. I’ve got the morning glory which is a tell-tale sign in Japan that I’ve got a first-grader.

This feels like my own parenting rite, me with this blue plastic planter which vine up and cling against a trellis. The frame is maybe two feet above my head as I steer. I am chauffeuring it back home, dropping it off so I can step out again. I’ll need that front seat for my son.

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Green leaves, purplish-red blossoms. A water bottle that fits in a special space at the base, reminding me of a class hamster or gerbil. Each child will water their morning glory or asa gao. They will chart it with hand-drawn diagrams, and a running narrative of keeping this vining, flowering plant alive.

“Two times a day”, she says. “Ichi nichi ni kai”, twice a day.” (Nevermind that we will leave for America this Friday. Maybe we can hand it to her Grandparents here for their balcony).

We are at friends’ home, preschool friends of my girl’s. I am able to keep up my relationships with the moms and she is able to keep being friends. The two moms came over this past week and we decided then on our first ever shukudai party/homework party. There are all sorts of summer homework assigned to first graders in the Japanese school system. They are concerned that with my girl gone in America for a month, this homework will prove too difficult, and any books too heavy for taking with. They say leave her with them, go do the teacher conference. Go get that asa gao plant.

How did I get to pedal with a towering plant, that bloom opening in the morning? They feed our children food while I am gone. They eat cold Chinese noodles with a sweet sauce, cut mini-tomatoes, matchstick cukes, and ribbons of sweet crepe-style egg. I supply snacks of chocolate cookies and rum raisin cookies that must be for adults.

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They read over my girl’s sentences, check over her addition and subtraction, curling their red pencil in a flower across the paper which in Japan means “alright, great”.

They read her journal entry, hear her question about a certain spelling of a certain word and think on it before answering. They think about how we can continue homework and reading on our airplanes.

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How did I get here, with two moms next to me, feeding my kids, checking her work in Japanese? How did I score a team that says, “Yes, let’s make dinner, too. We’ll feed our children together again and let them continue playing.” I chop cabbage, green pepper, and spring onions in her processor. I crack two eggs with my right hand, baby on left hip. I mix special flour for okonomiyaki, a kind of savory pancake, mixing these elements with her pink-handled whisk. The point is not its pinkness, but rather the fact that I am in another woman’s kitchen, in a country not of my own, speaking with sprinkles of Japanese which mixes with flecks of English. I am known somehow. My children and I are fed. I use her range and wipe down her white coriander counters. I set the table for all of our kids.

This is what I’ve wanted. This is the hankering I’ve desired—to be able to spontaneously decide with another that yes, we should do dinner, all of a sudden bringing ingredients together. To watch the blade sputter while our kids play in fits of laughter.

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This village is my morning glory. My bottle of water. That is to say, I am refreshed. I am empowered.

How did I get to be in another woman’s kitchen, watching her baby nurse, chopping cabbage, with her for a shared dinner? How did I get to take home that plant, to sit in a conference over my child in her class, with a teacher who says he has express confidence in her thinking and responsible manner? To raise up kids in this community, with tendrils that vine because of its trellis, its sun, and that water. Because of hot meals, new foods, new jokes, new thankfulness for translation apps.

It hasn’t always felt like a village. Read I Felt Like an Outsider.

We break with kids running in the street, our mothering hushes, “shizukani shitei kudasai, please be quiet.” It is summer, but this is having manners here. Neighbors need quiet on the back of our laughter; our kids must take their sweaty summer bodies and bathe. “Jaa, ikimashou”.

We fed them two meals, two snacks. We bounced babies together and handed out chopsticks, forks, plates, compliments. I pat my girl’s leg behind me and thump my boy’s shoulder. I am proud. Proud of us, proud of them. Proud of each and every leaf we’ve grown, each flower, each stem and all of those cells that even make up this particular shade of reddish-purple.

 

 

 

 

 

Onigiri with Cupped Hands

Ever had a rice ball? That is what onigiri commonly translates to, a rice ball. Ball o-rice. Except that it’s not so much a ball as a rounded triangle of rice and flavoring that often comes from fish and/or sea vegetables. They can actually come in varied shapes and sizes. Also, you should know that onigiri are life savers.

They are any busy person and any parent’s best friend. Imagine not having to choose between health, taste, and convenience. This stuffed, sprinkled, and filled rice ball is sold on-the-go from any convenient store or supermarket and made in every kitchen across Japan.

Any sports event, picnic, party, or any day may feature an onigiri. They may also be called “musubi” and there is no shortage of ideas or ways to may it your own. Think a piece of fried chicken inhabiting the center of the rice pillow or salted salmon, tuna fish thick with tangy mayonnaise, or an all-veggie experience. Onigiri are your friend.

My eleven-month-daughter already has a penchant for the all-in-one snack/meal. Just Sunday she gobbled up most of a salmon and toasted sesame seed nigiri and would have eaten every morsel, no mess, but her older sister implored me like a baby bird, “More. Another bite” until they were both wordlessly opening their mouths on the train.

Crisis averted. No tears. Happy tummies.
Japan is genius in the omusubi/onigiri department. It is as the collective, nourishing battle cry is, “No one must go hungry or wait until home until they eat something of substance”.

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What’s more, they are cheap. We’re talking around 150 yen, roughly $1.50 for a small meal. I can read your mind—rice? What, do you hold it with bare hands? Sticky, no? Quite right. That would be a bit grizzly and quite unrefined. No. Crispy nori/laver seaweed covers the outside surface, making a handy place to hold it, and also providing a crisp, snappy bite along with every soft bite of rice. Most bought onigiri now feature plastic wrapping between the rice ball and seaweed so that, by following the labeled 1-2-3 directions to pull wrapping in specific places, the plastic pulls away to provide the freshest pari-pari (sound of seaweed crunching) nori-covered onigiri imagined.

Onigiri is absolutely a Japanese experience—packing for school trips, impromptu picnics, sports’ day—These hand-packed rice balls became a staple during war. Samurai soldiers had a way of transporting handy meals featuring sushi rice (vinegar to preserve) and salted fish, pickled plums, etc. The food could last and provide them with nourishment. Onigiri comes from the word “握にぎる/onigiru”, to grasp, since they are formed by hand, similar to nigiri sushi.

What became necessity then has lasted for the same convenience and tastiness.

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Young children can make onigiri, no problem. Simply lay a sheet of Saran-Wrap over a small bowl and plop them a small spoonful or oshamoji (rice paddle) full of freshly-made, warm rice on top of the plastic wrap. Use toppings such as furikake (flavored dry fish flakes, veg, seaweed), fish, or pickled plum inside of the rice ball or sprinkled on top.

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With their little hands, they can take Saran Wrap in hands and fold up corners, shaping a kind of rice snowball, but keeping hands clean thanks to the plastic. I learned this trick from my friend a mentor, a woman who’d been raising kids and teaching kindergarten in Tokyo for decades. If not shaping rice in Saran Wrap, wet your hands for the duration of hand-shaping, as rice is sticky!

They are made for feisty kids and also, more demure adults. Again, classic.

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Onigiri may be made mini, large, sphere-shaped, or in a neat triangle. Have fun! Experiment with toppings and treasure inside for the ultimate in healthful snack or meal. The purple above is my daughter’s favorite, a divine food called yukari, a red shiso leaf with ume/plum. It is sweet and comes alive with a gentle, herbacious zest.

The green ribbons above are zuccini, parboiled. Easy, right? Onigiri can be used with most any veg, seasoning, or spread. I am easily inspired by color and I want my children to get that, too, to want to layer on the produce and flavor.

I have in my possession, the cutest little recipe book, just packed with onigiri inspiration. Many of the tricks contain techniques within Japanese cuisine, so it is much more than salting some rice or plopping a sardine on the front.

Here it is, Onigiri Recipe 101, by Reiko Yamada.

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Tonight, with all of the bells and whistles going off with our hectic Wednesday, just me and three kids post school, dance class and park, I called Onigiri Party and we rocked it. I ony needed to make rice beforehand (rice makers kick it) and have toppings and bits of filling on-hand.

Follow the guides on your rice cooker using short-grain Japanese rice or make it on the stove. If using the latter, here is your reminder primer for how to get the best rice for your on-the-go-delicacy. (Also keep in mind that the freshest, still-steaming rice will be the most flavorful. Leftover rice is better for making fried rice).

Serious Eats advises this basic rice recipe for onigiri:

Rinse 1 ½ cups of sushi rice in water, drain, bring the rice to a simmer in a saucepan with 2 cups of water, cover and lower the heat to medium-low for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the saucepan covered for another 10 minutes.

Mix in your seasoning, grate in carrot, a wild handful of toasted sesame seeds, broiled fish, chicken, heck–a Scotch Egg. Do your thing. My cute handbook, Onigiri Recipe 201 even supplies a Jambalaya Onigiri recipe. Maybe I’ll work up my bravery to somehow incorporate a matzah ball. Or not. Maybe just smoked salmon and a smidgen of cream cheese or my fabulous basil-infused mustard from friends in Luxembourg. Get foodie and fresh on this ball o-rice.

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Wrap with freshly opened nori/laver seaweed, or don’t. I was out of nori tonight, but we improvised with some of that salty, thin Korean nori. Eating it out of the wrapper, sans nori is always an option.

Now take your onigiri batch to a park, bring it for a fast refuel after the baseball game, or in between waves at the shore. Get the biggest bank for your buck, er 100 yen.

Before eating, give thanks with a hearty “itadaki-masu!”

 

 

Pop

It starts with an apple:

It starts with fruit, the beginning of joy, and “nice to meet you” and running after your knee-length child with beams and peels of laughter. My eldest has outgrown her school. I am sentimental at the core. My husband and I are treated to meals at these families’ dinner tables with paper-thin thin cuts of meat in March, hot pots in winter.

The one preschool dad who remembers me, what was it, four years ago, introducing myself in friendly, but shaky language. I was the foreigner, the dislocated, the one sometimes annoyed with picky teachers’ requests that hats be sewn with labels differently than I’d sewn it, tightly, a caterpillar of straight stitches, the night prior/before.

I undid the, snapped the, splayed thread and began again.

We leave marks, though, we people.

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The scar on my forehead is nearly gone. That was five-year-old me, a child’s mistake in jumping ’round a glass table. Stitches whipped to sew up my head from showing bone.

It starts with an apple, a cut. Later, over salty crackers and a drink, parents told me of our girls’ reach, linguistically; several kids no longer used “ringo”,  but requested “apple, please”.

We watch her now take over a room. Her smile, her vocabulary is without bound.

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Miracles:

Tonight, we barely made it in from dark wet rain, cold, too, when I’d already received two emails from a school mom. In Egnlish.  Teachers took courses, parents wanting to befriend me, well they studied and wrote me.

Yakko suggests that we write journal emails sharing our life at the elementary school. She wants my words and I will do it in Japanese. I will fill a page because of love, because of “ringo” and “apple”. I will take people up on their kindness, their hands extended like we are our young children looking around, saying, “this is how you make friends”–you jump on a couch a little, you pass out a snack everyone enjoys. You look at the bugs up close, the flowers on their backs, and you study passing clouds.

I think I could tolerate rain even when it is cold, wet and dark. I could tolerate it with friends.

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Nothing is hidden:

Today, the parents said, “You can’t lie”–translated a couple rounds, they meant my face shows everything, even passing thoughts. Nothing is hidden. Nothing can be covered up. Not even that scar which is fading in any light.

Today I will study light. I will hands that offer and eyes that are bright. Joy that is real is rooted deep in earth. We will go to the park lit with 1,000 blossoming trees and I will bring something sweet.

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Our girl will play and play and scratch up more pants at the knee. She’ll show us how her language has grown up and we parents will find ways to stay in touch, to stay playing ourselves. To study clouds and pass out treats and marshmallow candy. To dole out juice and pour out ourselves.

After Devastation, Life: Miki Sawada Mothers 2,000.

Women's History Month Series on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Can you imagine life in Post-war Japan? This land my house sits on, the land I daily tread upon was ravaged. Fire bombs through Tokyo. B-25 atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Twice. Sirens and defeat that made the water into poison. Loss of life and catastrophic devastation, with 70,000 instantly dead and then 70,000 more from a radiation-related disease. Just a blitz with nowhere to go and those are just the numbers from Hiroshima.

You could have come out seemingly okay (apart from trauma), perhaps orphaned, but then die from leukemia, Tuberculosis, perhaps multiple forms of cancer, you get the picture. Okay. So Japan, crushed, Japan changed, toppled over and sprawled, surrenders. They begin the process of healing. They begin to rebuild. US troops are part of this rebuilding, repairing, even giving new things like powdered milk and formula to babies and kids. Calcium rebuilds.

Babies are born, babies out of wedlock between Japanese women and American soldiers. Babies due to the rape of women during the Allied Military Occupation. It is believed that perhaps 10,000 Japanese women were raped, especially in Okinawa. What a sad, sad thing.

In the Japanese culture that can tend to respond from a place of shame or embarrassment, pregnant women and mothers were turned out. Babies were left on streets and in trains.

These biracial children and their mothers experienced abandonment and mistreatment. There was one woman, however, who made a stand. This woman would make it her life’s work to take in, accept, and raise up these persecuted children. It all stemmed from her experience in seeing one such infant dead on a train. She decided it would have to be her; she would become responsible for protecting such children.

Miki Sawada was probably an unlikely candidate for such a benevolent, life-saving role. In fact, she was scoffed at. Sawada was the daughter of Baron Hisaya Iwasaki and grad-daughter of the Mitsubishi conglomerate founder, Yataro Iwasaki. Sawada was also the wife of a diplomat, Renzo Sawada, who represented Japan at the United Nations.

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Coming from such an illustrious background, surely she did not have to do anything more than host benefits or give financially. However, as one of the rare Christians in Japan, she responded to a very present need and began taking in children. Of course, the Japanese government did not care to support her as her growing orphanage shed light on mixed-race relationships or the rape of Japanese women. The act between Japan women and the nation that utterly defeated them, producing a child would not do, no matter how it happened. No, Ms. Sawada would see little to no support from the Japanese government. No one would discuss prejudice towards these biracial babies. It must have been more tempting to sweep such “problems” under the rug, but Miki Sawada heard and recognized the call on her life to take care of these children.
She sold personal belongings left and right, articles of clothing, anything to feed and clothe her kids. Remember, she was the daughter of a Baron and heiress to the Mitsubishi fortune. She could have fit comfortably inside the cushion of wealth and society. Instead, she invested her whole self into life for others.

Sawada had, for some time, been taking in those abandoned and shunned for being of mixed-race. She utterly ran out of all of her money.  The orphanage was named The Elizabeth Saunders Home, named after the English woman who served as a governess forforty yearss in Japan and who had left a sum of money to the Anglican Church. Thanks to this gift, the home officially opened in 1948, in Kanagawa prefecture.

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Sawada is known as the Mother to over 2,000 children. Over two thousand children who grew up in the school, and five hundred were adopted overseas. She later created a school and farm for the children’s success and independence.

Sawada traveled back and forth between the US and Japan, raising support for her orphanage and later, school, also. She also built relationships in Monaco. Within her time abroad, seeking help for the orphanage, she also lived in France, becoming a friend to crooner and beauty, Josephine Baker. Ms. Baker adopted two children from Sawada’s orphanage. Sawada received the Elizabeth Blackwell Award in 1960 for dedicating her life to humanity in 1960.

Miki Sawada moved in such circles, friends with novelist Pearl S. Buck, who parented some of Sawada’s children. Wherever she went, she spoke up for the children, gathering resources and adoptees.

It seems clear that she affected change, that she fought for a loving, just world for these children. Imagine how many families those 2,000 children now represent.

It began at a bleak time, this idea of being a light and an advocate for children.

I am blown away.

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On a personal note, I am even more in awe than I have written. I am American, married to my Japanese husband and his Japanese family. I am raising biracial children here. It was not so long ago that they would have been persecuted.

The pilots who dropped both A-bombs actually trained and flew at the tiny private airport just ten minutes from what would later be my South Florida home.

Also, it is not lost on my that I am a Jew, making my life in a nation that was allied with Nazi Germany. My Japanese father-in-law was born in 1948, the year of Israel’s declaration and establishment as a Jewish state, a haven for Jews everywhere, certainly poignant following the Holocaust.

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I love stories of heroism– when people step out of their self to lead others. I love looking to women of courage and showing my children. I don’t want to be a timid woman, afraid of shadows. I want to stand as a lion. May we raise up leaders who will carry these lights and impact history.

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A happy and meaningful Women’s History Month to you!

*For more: Helpful site: Japan’s Christian Heritage

* Children from this special home are reconnecting and learning of their time there.

-*Here

 
Join us for our annual Women’s History Month series, celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of women around the world. Follow along all month plus link up your own posts below! Don’t miss our series from 2016 and 2015, and find even more posts on our Women’s History board on Pinterest:

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Women’s History on Pinterest.

March 1 modernmami on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 3 Reasons Why We Celebrate Women’s History Month March 2 The Jenny Evolution: More Children’s Books About Amazing Women March 3 Colours of Us: 32 Multicultural Picture Books About Strong Female Role Models March 6 modernmami: 103 Children’s Books for Women’s History Month March 7 A Crafty Arab: The Arab Woman Who Carved Exquisite Beauty into Science March 8 Hispanic Mama: 5 Children’s Books About Latina Women March 9 MommyMaestra: Free Download – Women’s History Month Trading Cards March 10 MommyMaestra on MommyMaestra on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Celebrating Women’s History Month March 13 Crafty Moms Share: First Ladies and Eleanor Roosevelt March 14 Mama Smiles: Write Down Your Family’s Women’s History March 15 Bookworms and Owls: Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Associate Justice of the Supreme Court March 16 Creative World of Varya: 6 Quotes About Women from Various Religious Writings March 17 Knocked Up Abroad: 7 Ways Swedish Women Can Revolutionize Your Life Today March 20 La Cité des Vents on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Women in History or Women’s Stories? March 21 Pura Vida Moms March 22 Melibelle in Tokyo March 23 All Done Monkey March 24 playexplorelearn March 27 Family in Finland March 28 the piri-piri lexicon March 30 Let the Journey BeginDon’t miss our Women’s History Month Activity Printables, on sale now! Women's History Month Activity Printables

From Shushan, With Love

What can be said? I’ve pinched trays upon trays of cookies to be those triangular Hamantashen. I’ve filled beans in kid-made maracas. We have dressed as Vashti, Esther, and Mordi. This house takes Purim seriously.

With Purim quickly approaching again on March 8, I’m wondering what we have missed. I guess if Purim came with a checkoff sheet, I’d have a nice group of checks. See this whole piece I wrote on Multicultural Kid Blogs.

In fact, tour this year’s MKB Purim Blog Hop! Only good things!

What about this year, though? What more can be said?

My kids, ages 6, three, and baby, know the deal. They could make clay cookies, design the fiercest dress for Esther and cardboard castle scenes, but what about creating a script? What about letting them act out what they know as opposed to making some cute thing for Pinterest? Do they have what they need to play and piece together the story in their own way? I say, for all of us, YES! (Or if you see gaps, let’s fill them in so they can get back to playing and acting it out). 

There is power and value in a retell or summary. We as people invariably color a story or situation with our own humor or angle, our own compassion, and zeal. We are made to ask insightful questions enjoy interaction. We are made to bring life to a page! Plus, I love any opportunity to authentically assess my children’s understanding and take on all parts of our heritage and faith. The teacher in me knows that my authentic observation will lead me to ask them good questions and facilitate even stronger play. 

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I am all over taking out the globe and looking with them at what happened during the reign of 5th-century Persian king Xerxes I  who reigned 486–465 BCE, and I totally only know this from Wikipedia because I have the historical memory of a horse. And that really doesn’t matter with play! Our kids’ dramatic play should not look or sound like Jeopardy!

And that’s what I realize—the story of Esther, the Megillat Ester מגילת אסתר, is to be read yearly for a purpose. Like all of the Jewish festivals and directives in Torah, these things are to be taught to our children, retold throughout all generations, l’dor v’dor.

Like poetry, the Book of Esther is to be read aloud. 

It is in the retelling, that our children get a chance to use their language and make the stories and histories relevant today. It is in the retelling, that they get to tap into their knowledge and make connections using language. They get to engage in higher-order thinking (going way beyond mere coloring sheets) to create, synthesize, and build upon their framework with creative application! Bloom’s Taxonomy is for our every day with kids and certainly for this season of Purim.

But first, become familiar!

Immerse or re-immerse yourselves in the characters, plot, and setting. Invariably, new things jump out and news ideas will form. 

Watch an animated video telling, ala Hanna Barbara!

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In the past, I have suggested this movie, too, a non-animated One Night With the King

And the text: The Book of Esther to be read on Purim and before, as preparation. This is useful for comparing and contrasting with the movie renditions. What was changed? How do you feel about the way each character was represented?

Now further-engage!

Think of all the growth a child undergoes in a year. What they understand and gleam–this year will be vastly different than past Purim. Now for your family’s acting & retelling:

For the enactments, read aloud portions or paraphrase yourself while children act and interject. 

Invite them to create puppets to act and roleplay the Purim story.

You could use these awesome printable puppets by Moms and Crafters or invite them to make a basic or a more detailed Esther. I am picturing bits of beads and shiny scraps. Maybe two Hadassah/Esthers, or a two-sided puppet, one from before she goes to the palace and one that reflects the dazzling, Jewish queen and royalty of Shushan/Susa.

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My daughter sat down with a pencil, copy paper, and her imagination. She chose to write in Japanese as opposed to English, but you will see the characters, what they are wearing, down to what colors each part of their costume will be. This is how she chooses to create her puppets–with an organized shopping list to ensure we find the right colors and details to make her ideas come to life.

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Or use what you have! Anyway, see what grabs and entices the kids. This is for them!

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(It is easy to be dismayed and feel a righteous anger towards Haman, but how are we to feel about the king? You may engage in some good discussions with your kids about this and every character’s role in the story).

Add music, maps, globes! Enhance your learning and make a show!

One music sample here

a video for more understanding of Sephardic Jews in modern-day Iran

Poetry & music of Modern Mizrahi Jews (those from Arabic countries)

All understanding, comprehension and critical thinking will emerge throughout play. Enjoy! Eat, drink, apply the goodness of Purim as you tell and retell. Give to the poor, share the joy and courage of Esther and her prayer. Drown out the name of Haman.

Play, play, play. Experience the power and fun of retelling. Take a look, also, at the gorgeous linked activities below!

Purim for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of our annual Purim for Kids blog hop. Visit the posts below for great ideas about sharing this holiday with the kids in your life! Don’t miss our blog hop from last year, and you can find even more ideas on our Purim board on Pinterest:

 

Participating Blogs

ZinnHouse.com on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Interfaith Purim Plus: A Wide Approach to Spring Holidays
Moms & Crafters: Free Color-in Purim Puppets
Kelly’s Classroom: Better-than-Best Purim
Melibelle in Tokyo
All Done Monkey: Free Purim Printables

A Wealth of Diverse Voices Needed, Especially When it Comes to Money

How did the hashtag “adulting” become so popular? The term “adulting” hit the internet hard this year and it hasn’t slowed. Honestly, it shows me that I need to be teaching and modeling these #adulting things now, even to my six and almost-four-year-old!

Forbes published findings that people in their 20s and 30s are having trouble “adulting,” or achieving financial independence. Conducted by Bank of America and USA Today, the report says less than half of the 22-26-year-olds surveyed pay their own rent (47%), health insurance (41%), or contribute to a retirement account (27%).

I know this is a kids’ post, a review of a diverse book served up for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, but the book I received, Ayo’s Money Jar, specifically deals with money management and helping our children to be wise when it comes to money, even when it starts as a single coin.

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If adults in their twenties and thirties need help “adulting”, then certainly they could use more tools to empower their children and the way the family views and handles money. This is a book that can help a family get on track and inspire kids to do big things in every step of the way they experience and handle money. How awesome for kids to have such a character being money-wise with his family.

Ayo’s Money Jar was written by Charlene Fadirepo, a banker, and financial educator. She is also the mother of her own beautiful Ayo. Ms. Fadirepo also created a financial education social enterprise company, SmartChoiceNation, dedicated to empowering America’s youth as a response to financial illiteracy problems indicative of this era in our country.

She says this of her company, “SmartChoiceNation is a —especially women to make smarter financial and life skills choices. Our goal is to build a nation of students and parents well equipped to make smart money and life choices. We create products to teach critical financial, economic, and business literacy skills with an entrepreneurial foundation to parents and their children”.

Readers will enjoy the vibrant details from the work of illustrator, Aniekan Udofia, a Nigerian a muralist/visual artist and painter. Truly, the color is what readers will latch onto as they stay with Ayo in his day. Illustrator, Udofia, brings the clanging quarters to life as they begin to add up in the glass money jar. Ayo is helpful and responsible in his home and we see a father giving him thumbs up. We see the joyful eyes of the man Ayo shares his wealth with, presumably homeless. It appears that this specific act of giving came from Ayo himself, though giving is modeled in the home. The catchy “Give, Grow, Get” repeats throughout the book.

What a healthy thing to show children, though, that it is not only about amassing. The chart of the three G’s is placed to look like a peace sign and certainly managing resources like Ms.Fadirepo lays-out, creates a healthy flow.

What is interesting to me is that the author created this book out of seeing a lack of books presenting diverse main characters within any financially-minded set of themes. To me that means any children of color or unique culture may not see any characters wisely handling money or even bringing money to the table, so to speak.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that.

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I wonder how her own Ayo views this book. My children enjoyed it, both with their different set of skills. There seems to be something each age/skill set can grasp onto. I do appreciate the color coding of these three G-words.

For us, a family living and mangaing our yen in Japan, this was a great book for sharing more on the US dollar and coins. It could be a whole lesson on money in various parts of the world. In fact, my husband had some Korean Won from his recent work trip. As we speak they are comparing coins from Singapore, South Africa, and America. These 3-G concepts are universal. It would be neat to have a pen pal and hear how he/she earns, give, and spends his/her money.

More Extension Ideas: 

I suggest using your own glass jar and real quarters for the real clangety-clang and hands-on money and math benefits. Readers could identify and pull-out quarters from a pile of varied coins and plop them in the jar along with Ayo. They could count, putting in and taking out. At the end of the reading, kids could adopt the glass jar for their own growing, as well.

Read or re-read the gorgeous classic, A Chair for My Mother. In it, the main characters, also diverse, save and save in their own glass jar.

Families can up their giving and brainstorm healthy ways for their money to flourish in the hands of people and organizations with real needs. Often times, kids are much more generous that we even realize. (Personally, I want our own kids to see us model each stage of the 3 Gs. I want to show them that we have the faith to know our own needs will be supplied, even and especially when we are generous with others).

In a class or family setting, the teacher or parent could record money earned, for what jobs or activities, and then record everyone’s tales of how they shared, helping others, and how their money was spent. It would be awfully cute and rewarding to see what toys, supplies, or accessories children were choosing. Additionally, it would be neat to record who was choosing to save their money a little longer, holding off on spending in lieu of more growing.

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What kind of jar will you and your child start plunking coins into?

Kudos to the author and illustrator for teaming up. Kudos to Ms. Fadirepo for building a legacy that will be marked by wisdom and generosity. May her work on this book and within SmartChoiceNation avail much.

Get your copy of the book here with follow-up activities. connect with the author:

Learn about resources to teach kids about money via Charlene’s blog.

The book’s official website 

Connect with the author on Facebook and Twitter                                                 

Truly, children must see parents work so hard, saving and spending. But sadly, I have to think, many children must also be aware of the poor choices their parents must make in the financial department. How exciting that even at a young age, children from every can be in control of their energy and resources, choosing how they add up, trade, and give away their money. Imagine the #adulting hashtags they will be able to type.

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Here is the one we’re using: #ReadYourWorld

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators. 

Gifts & Loot Links:

Teachers!  Free Multicultural Books for you found here.

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators! 

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents

Take advantage! Until next year’s diverse reviews!

We’ll see how much money , giving, and saving we’ve accrued!

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Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawDelores Connors, Maria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Thank you!

The Dang Teeth

I know I keep writing about teeth! How weird, as if I have a thing for teeth, some latent dentistry dream or I don’t know, teeth are weird. I picture those terrifying (sorry, we’re not supposed to say that about someone’s else’s food) guinea pigs on the fire spit, roasting on a rotisserie in Peru and all that is left of their pet-ness is those dang horrible buck teeth!

Well, I love my daughter, and she has lovely lovely teeth, but it’s just strange the way they keep coming up (dental pun). She has lost a total of three teeth and we have no teeth here in a case or bag or whatever to speak of. The first was accidentally eaten. The second was accidentally thrown away. The third got accidentally cleaned up by the cleaning woman who comes every Thursday. I have put more hours and mental energy into finding these teeth than I would a lost puppy. (Okay, obviously not true).

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But a few days ago, wrecked from the accidental throwing away from being bandaged up with wads of toilet paper like a tooth mummy, I went a bit nuts. My son had just chucked his sister’s newly lost tooth across the room in a moment of anger. I hunted that dang tooth down, finally spotting it in the fruit bowl next to bananas.

The girl with the gaping hole was still so jarred through the tooth-somewhere-in- bags-of-garbage incident that she wrote ALL OVER a double seal, non-generic fancy plastic bag that it was hers and that she would be so mad if anything happened to it. Well, she showed her grandma here, her Obaachan, and bless that sweet, beautiful woman, Baba held it in her hands, turning it over and marveling at that cute, tiny white thing. She really took her time, over and over, just stupified over the size and perfection of it, maybe. It is a bone. A tooth is the same calcium structure of a bone and we put it under a pillow and request something for it. A bone on the outside, inside of our body.

Well, that wonderful Baba of ours set it back down on the table and then…it was gone. Poof. Back on my hands and knees, mumbling and dismayed, back crawling under the lunch table for a white crumb that is really bone and should be washed and placed under the cool underside of her pillow like yesterday.

I pictured it caught up in Baba’s mustardy cowl-neck. I obsesseved over it. I pictured it stuck at the top of her sock for however long it could hold out on her walk and train ride home from our house. And then we all realized that probably, absolutely our cleaning woman must have swept it off of the dining room table and into a dust bin.

Sigh. It is fine. It is a dumb little bone, but it was my girl’s and I totally know the size and the shape.

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The tooth fairy should resist, really, not leave a cent or a yen or any sweet, what with n’ery any teeth for her to see. Not from any of them. That woman (T.T.F.) is either a sucker or very bright; she stocked that underside of the pillow with three kinds of candy and a verbal note (nor written) that these candies were given to quicken the process of losing teeth—by rotting them out. 

The next tooth that comes out I may just lock in my own safe. (After I buy one). It’s easier that way.

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If not totally obvious, I think this growing up and out is just making an impression.

Here was another piece in Brain, Child–and o course, it’s about teeth. (It’s getting creepy, I know).

Doesn’t help that we are in love with Junie B. Jones’ voice and we are SAVORING this one book in the series where Junie loses her top tooth & is afraid she’ll look like toothless Uncle Lou.

Anyway, all of this is just preparing me for the day I need to take my girl out for a bra and face toner. No tooth fairy for the preteen negotiations, though there should be. High five.