Monday, August 16, 2010

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind - Book/Memoir

I have a strong interest in the culture and lifeways of people living in central and eastern Africa, so I was delighted to read reviews of a book called "The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind", by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. It is about a young man in Malawi (central Africa) who experiments with wind power as a way to bring electricity to his village.

This book is on my list of definite TO READS! I haven't read it yet, so I am excited to have the chance to win a copy here:

Enter by the 18th if you want a chance to win, too.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Win $35 gift certificate to Freckletree

Have you ever visited I was not familiar with this Etsy store until recently, but I think you'll agree that it's got some super cute stuff for babies and kids. And even a few things for mamas!
I'm delighted to spread the word about Freckletree's current promotional contest.
To enter, go over here:
And the super-duper prize that's up for grabs is a $35 gift certificate to the Freckletree shop! Yippee!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Generations of Hope

Have you ever heard of Generations of Hope? This is one of the best experiments in building a community good for children that I have heard about in a long time.

Generations of Hope is a nonprofit adoption agency that builds nurturing small town communities, which include surrogate grandparents! And, yes, I think this is key!

As I wrote in an earlier post, I strongly believe that children need parents, but they also need grandparents, or grandparent-like figures, in their lives.

What's fantastic about this community is that everybody is benefiting. Hard-to-place children who are up for adoption -- many of whom have been cycled through multiple foster families -- are permanently placed with adoptive families. The adoptive parents receive crucial support and also live rent-free. Elderly residents benefit by receiving subsidized rent. The older residents agree to do community service, like tutoring, and they seem to thrive, too. They adore their "adoptive" grandkids. Families are stronger thanks to the close proximity of the grandparent generation.

I grew up with my grandmother living just a few doors away, and I know I was incredibly lucky. Many families do not have this luxury and must go live where their jobs are, not necessarily close by to the grandparents or other extended family members. But Generations of Hope shows that community and family can be built up consciously across the generations, even where there is no biological relatedness.

To read more about these incredible communities, go to:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Generation 2

Taking Care of Ourselves and Our Children: 1

This is my first post in my new theme on Taking Care of Ourselves and Our Children. Also see, where I introduced this theme for the first time.

There are so many things I'd like to blog about: storytelling, the importance of touch, gardening and staying in touch with Mother Nature, ... But for this first post, I'd like to talk a little bit about the importance of making and maintaining connections across the generations. I really believe that older people are good for children, and that children are good for older people. Children need their parents, but they also need grandparents (or grandparent-like figures) in their lives.

My mom volunteers for a wonderful organization called Generation Two (Gen 2) - It's all about creating intergenerational friendships. Once a week, she visits an inner-city school where she plays one-on-one for about half an hour with "her" child. (I think she has a total of 3 children, so she plays at the school for about 1 1/2 hours followed by a discussion with the other volunteers and the volunteer leader.) Every child in first grade is assigned to a volunteer in Gen 2 and gets to have that special playtime with his/her volunteer every week for the whole school year. The key is that the volunteers are older people (i.e., old enough to be grandparents).

Some of the kids have never had much one-on-one time with an adult. Their parents are super busy, often working long hours. Sure, they get playtime, but it's different when it's being guided by an adult whose attention is totally focused on the child. Some of the kids have never done a puzzle before, or held a sustained conversation with an adult, or done the sorts of games or play activities that require the guidance of a patient older person. That's where the Gen 2 volunteers come in. Being older people, they've had a lot of time to develop patience. And they just enjoy the kids. Not only do the kids learn cognitive skills through their playtime, they develop emotional strength. And my mom loves her volunteer work, so it must do something for her, too. And in case you didn't figure it out already, Generation Two is referring to the fact that the kids and adults are separated by about 2 generations in age.

What a great program, and what a simple concept! Do you have a program like this in your community, or in your child's school?

Taking Care of Ourselves and Our Children

So far, this blog has been a lot about things - especially things that can be won on blog contests. That's fun and all, but I thought perhaps it was time to add a little more substance. After all, I've now got 3 followers! Woo hoo! So look for posts discussing some of my thoughts on what we can do to better take care of ourselves and our children. I'm no expert, but I have a few ideas, and I also read others' ideas and can reflect and report on them. I'll also try to link up this blog to other blogs that, in my view, are doing a wonderful job in getting us to think about what's good for us, our families, our children, our communities, and our world.

Have a great day!