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Transferring Site!

Dear readers,

I am currently in the process of transferring this site to a new host, so I apologize for any blips or glitches along the way.  We should be up and running, better than ever, very soon!
Thank you for your patience!

Leanna & her Monkeys

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Kids on the Go: Apple Hill (Guest Post on Glittering Muffins)

Kids on the Go - Apple Hill, CA - Alldonemonkey.comWe are so pleased to be doing a guest post on Glittering Muffins about one of our favorite spots to take Monkey – Apple Hill in Northern California.

Apple Hill is a collection of apple orchards located in the foothills of the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains.  It is the place to be in the fall, when the leaves change colors and apples are ready to be made into pies, cider, and other delicious treats.

This post is part of the Glittering Muffins’ Kids on the Go series, in which bloggers around the world share information about their favorite kid-friendly spots, from zoos to museums to parks, located in all parts of the globe!  We are proud to be a part of this series, just one of the amazing features on this wonderfully creative blog.  So hop on over Glittering Muffins to learn more!

Kids on the Go: Apple Hill (Guest Post on Glittering Muffins)

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World Citizen Wednesdays #3: Keeping Holidays Stress-Free

World Citizen Wednesdays - Alldonemonkey.comWelcome to World Citizen Wednesdays, a new feature on All Done Monkey!

Each week we pose a question to members of the fabulous Multicultural Kid Blogs group and share their answers here.

You can find out more about these wonderful bloggers by visiting our Facebook page, subscribing to our Facebook feed, following us on Twitter, or following our group Pinterest board! On Twitter, you can also find us by using the hashtag #multiculturalkids

This week we share the answers to our question:

How do you keep holidays and family get-togethers from being stressful?

Tallulah of Bilingual Babes: Regular fresh air!

Alyson of World Travel Family: We are expats in Australia so all our family is a very long way away. We do Christmases differently too, my husband is a chef, he works Christmas day. Our family tradition is to stay at his 5 star resort hotel for a few days over the holiday. We take a little tree and all the presents with us. He has time to open gifts with us in the morning and takes a few hours off in the afternoon to play in the pool. I don’t have to cook or clean for a few days, it’s non-stress, but I miss wintry Christmases in the UK. The whole holiday is very different in Australia, for everyone, not just chef’s widows.

Becky of Kid World Citizen: Simple traditions like sledding with hot chocolate, riding around to look at Christmas lights/decorations, decorating cookies, huge puzzles, watching certain Christmas movies every year= pure fun, no stress!

Jody of Mud Hut Mama: I’m not very good at keeping holidays stress free, especially Christmas. Although I’m not religious, Christmas has always been a special holiday for my family and I have wonderful childhood memories of Christmas (especially Christmas Eve). It’s important for me to be with extended family at Christmas and that usually means we have to travel. I want to start special traditions with my daughters but I’m battling with that since the traditions have to be portable and adaptable to whatever part of the family we are visiting. Since my oldest was born we’ve had one Christmas in Zambia, one in the U.S., last year here in Malawi, and this year we are heading to Botswana. I’m trying to put less pressure on myself to recreate what I grew up with but I do miss the States the most during the Christmas season.

Melissa of Where going havo?: Last year we had a newborn and stayed home for the best Christmas ever. With no one but ourselves to please we could cut down on all the extras and just focus on a select few activities with our older child. In our case this meant gingerbread, sausage balls, and pomanders (for gifts), each of which we did two or three different times. Add in some candlelight and music once in a while and we had the least stressful holiday season on record.  This year my in-laws are coming to us for Christmas and we are going to my family right after Christmas, but we will still try to keep the calm, simple atmosphere without too many distractions.

Amanda of Maroc Mama: This obviously isn’t the best solution for everyone but having families who celebrate two different sets of holidays and live an ocean apart keeps familial stress down. For the holidays we do celebrate we try and set our own parameters and let family know when we’ll be there, or what we’ll be doing instead of having them tell us when they expect us. When there are a lot of people around and space is at a premium we’ve opted to stay in a hotel to keep our stress level down, give us some space and have some control over our time, diets and kids!

Like Jody, I have found that I tend to have high expectations when we get together with family, especially since we see our extended families so infrequently.  With young children, it’s just not possible to have as much time for long chats with everyone as I would like, so I try to adjust my expectations and just enjoy being together, in whatever form that takes, and appreciate that I am creating holiday memories for my child as well.

Thanks to all the bloggers who shared their answers here! We will continue to share answers to this question next week.  You can also read answers to earlier questions in our previous installments of World Citizen Wednesday!

To find out more about these amazing bloggers, check out the Multicultural Kid Blogs Facebook page!

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21 Days of Gratitude: What I Am Grateful For

Inspired by Family Magazine

This post was written as part of the 21 Days of Gratitude challenge on Inspired by Family Magazine.

More than 40 bloggers have joined forces to share the ways that we are grateful and to inspire others to do the same, because we believe that gratitude can be contagious.  Each day a different blogger will walk along side of you in this challenge and share their experience. 

Want to join in?  Go to 21 Days of Gratitude for more details!

What I Am Grateful For

Fireplace - What I Am Grateful For - Alldonemonkey.com

I am grateful for a safe, warm place to sleep at night.  I am grateful to be able to sit in front of a fireplace on a cold, rainy evening with people I love.

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Random Acts of Kindness: Bilingual Babes

PhotobucketThis is the third installment in our new series on Random Acts of Kindness. Each week a different blogger will share about a day that they and their little ones dedicated to committing random acts of kindness.

Readers will have a chance to share their own experiences with committing random acts of kindness on our Facebook page, to be a part of our final series post on December 19.

This week’s post comes to us from Bilingual Babes, who shares about her Random Acts of Kindness Day in the UK with her two young children. Visit the main Random Acts of Kindness Challenge page for a full schedule of the posts in this series.

Random Acts of Kindness: Bilingual Babes

I proudly informed my kids that today was a ‘Random Acts of Kindness Day’ and so therefore we were going to be doing kind things for other people. Pan-Pan was very surprised. ‘But we’re always kind!’ he said. How lovely that he thinks we don’t need a special day for it!

Papa thought he was being very witty: ‘Random Act of Kindness Day? Ask someone to give up their seat for you on the bus!’ In the end, we didn’t go with that suggestion! Here are our random acts of kindness, which actually ended up being spread out over a few days:

1. We stuck some coins to a parking meter.

Bilingual Babes - Random Acts of Kindness on Alldonemonkey.com - Pic 1

Sticking change & a note to a parking meter

One of my own pet hates is not having any change when I need to park, so we hoped this would help someone out of a fix.

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The note reads: ‘Help yourself to change (a random act of kindness)’

A couple of days later we went back to see how it was going, and found that, wonderfully, no-one had nabbed the lot, but a few people had indeed used the coins they needed 🙂

Bilingual Babes - Random Acts of Kindness on Alldonemonkey.com - Pic 3

The parking meter with some of the coins taken

2. Pan-Pan gave a little girl her 10p back.

This was actually a completely spontaneous and unprompted by me in any way act of kindness! A little girl dropped 10p at the ice rink and couldn’t find it. After a lot of hunting her dad eventually decided they simply couldn’t hang around any longer and off they went, but the little girl was clearly disappointed.

Pan-Pan was very moved by witnessing all this and kept on looking. After a while he spotted the 10p, which had become lodged underneath one of the metal legs of the bench. He tried to hook it out with the blade of his ice skate, but it was too thick. Finally Papa hooked it out with his key.

Bilingual Babes - Random Acts of Kindness on Alldonemonkey.com - Pic 4
At the ice rink

By then the family were long gone so I said Pan-Pan could keep the 10p, although he looked hopefully around for them in the ice rink car park before we drove off. A few roads away, we pulled over to buy some groceries and Pan-Pan suddenly screeched, ‘It’s them, it’s them!’ And indeed it was! I opened the car door, called out so they turned around and Pan-Pan delightedly thrust the precious 10p at them. They was very surprised and very grateful, while I was quietly very proud of my generous little boy!

3. We gave away our shopping trolly with the £1 still in it.

Bilingual Babes - Random Acts of Kindness on Alldonemonkey.com - Pic 5

Schmoo lurking near the trolley stand, waiting for a victim to be randomly kind to.

After shopping at Sainsburys, Schmoo offered our trolly to a lady who needed one. She tried to give us the £1 for it, but we explained it was a ‘random act of kindness’. Once again, our ‘mark’ was very surprised and very grateful!

4. We let a very busy-looking lady jump the queue at the Post Office.

I realise that letting someone queue-jump is one of the simplest kindnesses you can do when you’re not in a hurry and there’s someone behind you who clearly is! I’m going to try and be more aware when out and about so I can do this more often.

5. Schmoo and Pan-Pan each made a picture for their Grandma far away in Ghana.

Bilingual Babes - Random Acts of Kindness on Alldonemonkey.com - Pic 6

Bilingual Babes - Random Acts of Kindness on Alldonemonkey.com - Pic 7

Bilingual Babes

Bilingual BabesTallulah is bringing up her children, Schmoo (age 8) and Pan-Pan (age 5), to speak 3 languages: English, French (non-native) and a little bit of Twi. Her blog is “the story of our multilingual misadventures, involving 2 children, 3 languages, and a great many chocolate bribes in my attempts to bring language and positive identity to our kids.”

You can read more about their adventures and Tallulah’s research on multicultural products at Bilingual Babes. You can also visit Bilingual Babes on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Watch for a post next week from Little Red Farm! You can see a full schedule of the posts in this series by visiting the main Random Acts of Kindness Challenge page.

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Fall Traditions: Multicultural Kids Blogging Carnival

Vibrant Wanderings - Fall Traditions on Alldonemonkey.comWelcome to our very first Multicultural Kids Blogging Carnival!   I am so honored to be working with the wonderful bloggers that form the Multicultural Kid Blogs group.  Today marks the beginning of a new collaboration: a monthly blogging carnival, where we share posts that we have each written on a topic of common interest.

This month we wanted to celebrate the season by sharing fall traditions important to our family and/or community.  Since we are spread out around the world, the posts below give us a window into how families all over the globe welcome fall!

You can find out more about these fabulous bloggers by visiting our Facebook page, subscribing to our Facebook feed, following us on Twitter (#multiculturalkids), or following our group Pinterest board.

Celebrating Autumn

For many bloggers, the change of seasons itself was a cause for celebration.

Busy as a Bee - Fall Traditions on Alldonemonkey.com

Maria of Busy as a Bee in Paris takes us on a nature walk and vegetation harvest in France with her and her girls…Busy as a Bee - Fall Traditions on Alldonemonkey.com

…then shows us how to make the treasures they gathered into beautiful crafts for the home.

Vibrant Wanderings - Fall Traditions on Alldonemonkey.com

Melissa of Vibrant Wanderings, recently returned to the US after years in Guam, glories in the season through her family’s new fall traditions.

Holidays and Festivals

For many of us, autumn marks the arrival of special holidays and festivals.

Little Artists - Fall Traditions on Alldonemonkey.com

Varya at Little Artists gives us a glimpse of what it is like to be in China during the Mid-Autumn Festival, as well as sharing some of the legends on which it is based.

Bilingual Babes - Fall Traditions on Alldonemonkey.com

Tallulah of Bilingual Babes shares her family’s Halloween traditions, including pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and “jacket potatoes”!

Babel Kid - Fall Traditions on Alldonemonkey.com

Souad of Babel Kid gives us her take on the English tradition of bonfire night.

Gato and Canard - Fall Traditions on Alldonemonkey.com

Annabelle at Gato and Canard gives us a new expat’s view of the traditional German lantern parade on St. Martin’s Day.

Melissa of Where Going Havo? shares about how a similar lantern parade tradition looks in a Czech preschool.

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah - Alldonemonkey.com

My little Monkey and I celebrated the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh recently with a bell craft and song.

Further Reading

For more on how fall is celebrated in other communities, Jennifer at The Good Long Road has put together a wonderful collection of fall/harvest holidays around the world.Good Long Road - Fall Traditions on Alldonemonkey.com

What are your favorite fall traditions?

You can find out more about these fabulous bloggers by visiting our Facebook page, subscribing to our Facebook feed, following us on Twitter (#multiculturalkids), or following our group Pinterest board!

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World Citizen Wednesdays #2

World Citizen Wednesdays - Alldonemonkey.comWelcome to World Citizen Wednesdays, a new feature on All Done Monkey!

Each week we pose a question to members of the fabulous Multicultural Kid Blogs group and share their answers here.

You can find out more about these wonderful bloggers by visiting our Facebook page, subscribing to our Facebook feed, following us on Twitter, or following our group Pinterest board!  On Twitter, you can also find us by using the hashtag #multiculturalkids

This week we continue to share the answers to our question:

If you could take a fun trip with your kids anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

In case you missed it, you can read answers to this question from other bloggers in our first installment of World Citizen Wednesday!

Amy of Delightful Children’s Books: I would love to return to Botswana, Africa, where I studied in college. The people who I met in Botswana were very friendly and spent each evening outside with their families cooking, telling stories, singing and dancing. It was also amazing to see elephants, giraffes and other animals up close.

Jody of Mud Hut Mama: I’m going to have to wait a while for my dream vacation as you have to be at least 15 to go Gorilla trekking but the whole family will go as soon as my youngest is old enough. I’ve always wanted to see these amazing primates in their own environment (Uganda, DRC or Rwanda) and while there are a lot of organizations dedicated to protecting Mountain Gorillas, I fear that it will not be possible to see them outside of zoos in the future. In the meantime my girls’ favorite place is Mvuu Spot (Hippo Spot) right here in the wildlife reserve we live in. They love to play in the sand while watching the hippos and crocodiles in the river.

Joanna of Mamá de nuevo a los 40: My little girl wants to go to Paris and look Eiffel Tower, but I prefer travel inside Venezuela first, Jejeje Here we have. Desert, snow, Amazon fores, amazing beach and ancient mountains (the oldest in earth) I would like both kiddos love our country. And because my husband came from Peru, I would like to know all about Incas! We went to Lima last vacations for a month and they love it. We like to trip again for 2013 Christmas and enjoy it another way.

Aisha of Hartlyn Kids: I would love to take my little one to Trinidad and Tobago. It is where her father grew up and when I went to visit with him it truly helped me to understand him more, his values and his desires. I would love for my daughter to have that connection with her father and his culture. Plus – the food and culture are amazing and it is a beautiful culture with great beaches. Great learning experience and great vacation as well.

Yumei of Mum & Babies: I would love to take my little one back to Xiamen, China, to spend sometimes with my families there! It’s located in the southern part of China, a beautiful island city where i grew up.She is going to love the food there (stir fly rice noodles and sea food). The beautiful piano museum on the Gurang island which is just 10 minutes away by ferry from the main city. She will enjoy walking on the island without worrying about cars or bikes passing through because you won’t find any there! She is going to speak and hear People speak Chinese everywhere and make some new friends!

Frances of Discovering the World through My Son’s Eyes: That would be Puerto Rico! Little one has been there a few times before. We’re planning on returning when he turns 5 next year. 🙂 This time, I want him to see Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center most important archaeological site in the Caribbean. Where our ancestors the Taíno Indians lived, played and had their ceremonies. They even have replicas of the “bohios” (houses they lived in); and visit The Cemi Museum where they have lots of archaeological pieces dating back to the Taínos era, and indigenous petroglyph (rock engraving). It’s going to be a life-learning experience for him. We have already started reading books about our Taíno ancestors this will further his understanding of where he comes from. 🙂

My answer?  I would love to take my Monkeys to Bolivia, where I did volunteer work many years ago.  It is a beautiful country with such a rich history, and I still have many dear friends there.  I was there before I was married (before I had even met my charming husband!), so it would be such a gift to be able to introduce everyone to my family.  We are also planning on taking the kids to Israel to visit the Bahá’í holy places there; however, we want to wait until they are old enough to appreciate the spiritual significance of such a trip.

Thanks to all the bloggers who shared their answers here!  You can read more responses to this question on last week’s World Citizen Wednesdays #1.  Watch for a new topic next week!

To find out more about these amazing bloggers, check out the Multicultural Kid Blogs Facebook page!

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Involving Young Children in Service

Involving Kids in Service - Alldonemonkey.comWelcome to the November 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Service Projects

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about what service means in their families.

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Every parent hopes to raise children who will be compassionate and contribute to the world around them.  For me, this is a significant part of raising my children to be global citizens and a core element of my spiritual foundation as a Baha’i, so I am always thinking of how to foster a passion for service in my son.

But how to do this?  My son is not quite three years old, so the types of service projects we can do are limited, and he is not yet old enough to have detailed discussions about why service is so important.

Yet this is the perfect age to begin teaching compassion and to ensure that service is a natural part of life for him.  This is the time when children can start to learn to say “please” and “thank you” and to do smallInvolving Kids in Service - Alldonemonkey.com tasks around the house, for example.

And larger service projects are not out of the question for young children.  My little Monkey and I recently dedicated a day to performing Random Acts of Kindness.  As I planned our day, I was careful to choose activities that were fun and easy for him to understand, such as making cards and baking cookies for others.

Reflecting on this experience, I have come up with several points to keep in mind when encouraging young children to do service.  I would love to hear your ideas as well!

Involving Little Ones in Service

1. Be a model

It is one thing to talk the good talk, but children are very attuned to our actions.  If we model compassion and helping others, this behavior will have a powerful effect on our children and set the tone for family life.

Children should come to see service as just a natural part of the life of the household, rather than as something special we do at particular times of year.  And experience is a great teacher for us as well.  The more we are involved in serving others, the more experience will we have to draw on when teaching our children.

Involving Kids in Service - Alldonemonkey.com

2. Be age appropriate in your activities

Take care to choose activities that will hold your child’s interest, keeping it on a level they can relate to.  Some volunteer projects, though wonderful, may be a little too abstract for these concrete thinkers.  Try to choose projects that will have very real, tangible results that your child can easily understand, such as donating clothes or toys, or sharing a meal with someone in need.

It is also helpful to tie activities to something important to them.  So if they love to read, donate books.  If they love animals, volunteer at an animal shelter.  For our Random Acts of Kindness Day, I chose delivering treats to places that are important to my Monkey, such as the library, his doctor’s office, and the fire station.

3. Be age appropriate in your explanations

For very young children, it is important not to overwhelm them with concepts that are too mature or scary for them.  We don’t want to frighten them about the reality of disease and poverty in the world, for example, but we can talk about people being sick or kids who don’t have a lot of toys or who may need something to eat.

This is a fine balance, because while we want them to understand the importance of the service we are doing, we also want it to be based in joy rather than fear.  Each child is different, so work to find the balance that is right for yours.  Here is an example about how one mother explained hunger to her preschooler.Involving Kids in Service - Alldonemonkey.com

4. Keep it fun

Especially at this age, it is important to emphasize the joy of service.  Kids should learn to see helping others as not just another obligation but rather as something that makes them happy.  It is important to choose activities that they will enjoy and to keep the mood light.

5. Don’t force it

If they really don’t want to participate in something, this is not an age to obligate them.  Again, try to encourage their natural sense of compassion through emphasizing the joy of service, rather than making it into a duty.

6. Don’t forget the small things

Little ones are just learning how to do so many things, and service is just one of them.  Don’t feel like you have to conquer the world; be content with the small things, knowing that you are doing the important work of planting seeds that will blossom in the future.

You don’t have to tackle ambitious service projects.  You can encourage small acts, such as saying please and thank you, giving a card to a grandparent, sharing toys with friends, or helping carrying one’s plate to the sink.  As any parent of a toddler will tell you, having a child who willingly does any of these things is a huge step!Involving Kids in Service - Alldonemonkey.com

How do you teach compassion to your child?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 13 with all the carnival links.)

  • Acts of Service: The Great Neighborhood Clean Up — Sarah at Firmly Planted shares how her daughter’s irritation with litter led to weekly cleanups.
  • Running for Charity — Find out how Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her love of running and a great new app to help feed the hungry.
  • 50 Family Friendly Community Service Project Ideas — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares a list of 50 family-friendly community service project ideas that are easy to incorporate to your daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal rhythmn.
  • Volunteering with a Child — Volunteer work does not need to be put on hold while we raise our children. Jenn of Monkey Butt Junction discusses some creative options for volunteering with a child at Natural Parents Network.
  • Family Service Project: Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina — Erika at Cinco de Mommy volunteers with her children at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, where 29% of the recipients are children.
  • Family Service Learning: Advent Calendar — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers her family’s approach to some holiday-related community service by sharing their community focused Advent Calendar. She includes so tips and suggestions for making your own in time for this year’s holidays.
  • How to make street crossing flags as a family service project — Lauren at Hobo Mama offers a tutorial for an easy and relatively kid-friendly project that will engage young pedestrians.
  • Pieces of the Puzzle — Because of an experience Laura from Pug in the Kitchen had as a child, she’s excited to show her children how they can reach out to others and be a blessing.
  • Appalachian Bear Rescue — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how saving pennies, acorns and hickory nuts go a long way in helping rescue orphaned and injured black bears.
  • Volunteering to Burnout and Back — Jorje of Momma Jorje has volunteered to the point of burnout and back again… but how to involve little ones in giving back?
  • How to Help Your Kids Develop Compassion through Service Projects — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares service projects her family has done along with links to lots of resources for service projects you can do with your children.
  • Involving Young Children in Service — Leanna at All Done Monkey, the mother of a toddler, reflects on how to make service a joyful experience for young children.
  • A Letter to My Mama — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has dedicated her life to service, just like her own mama. Today Dionna is thanking her mother for so richly blessing her.
  • 5 Ways to Serve Others When You Have Small Children — It can be tough to volunteer with young children. Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots shares how her family looks for opportunities to serve in every day life.
  • When Giving It Away Is Too Hard for Mommy — Jade at Looking Through Jade Glass But Dimly lets her children choose the charity for the family but struggles when her children’s generosity extends to giving away treasured keepsakes.
  • Community Service Through Everyday Compassion — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children calls us to Community Service Through Everyday Compassion; sometimes it is the small things we can do everyday that make the greater impacts.
  • School Bags and Glad RagsAlt Family are trying to spread a little love this Christmas time by involving the kids in a bit of charity giving.
  • Children in (Volunteering) Service — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reminisces on her own experiences of volunteering as a child, reflects on what she thinks volunteering teaches children and how she hopes voluntary service will impact on her own children.

<!– END BOTTOM STRAIGHT LIST CODE –!>

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Random Acts of Kindness: Mud Hut Mama

PhotobucketThis is the second installment in our new series on Random Acts of Kindness.  Each week a different blogger will share about a day that they and their little ones dedicated to committing random acts of kindness.

Readers will have a chance to share their own experiences with committing random acts of kindness on our Facebook page, to be a part of our final series post on December 19.

This week’s post comes to us from Mud Hut Mama, who shares about her Random Acts of Kindness Day in Malawi, where she lives on a wildlife preserve with her husband and two daughters. Visit the main Random Acts of Kindness Challenge page for a full schedule of the posts in this series.

Random Acts of Kindness: Mud Hut Mama

When Leanna sent out the invitation to join her Random Acts of Kindness month I loved the idea of it and I wanted to participate but even as I accepted the invitation I realized that it would be a little tricky for us. In the States a random act of kindness is generally accepted with surprise and gratitude but, in the context of Malawi, it becomes a lot more complicated – at least for me as an expat navigating a foreign culture.

In this part of the world there is a lot of jealousy and you have to be very careful about what you do for one person if you are not doing it for everyone. If people start to think one person is being favored and they become envious of that person it is very likely that someone will do something to put them back in their place, and this can take the form of witchcraft, which is very real to many Malawians. In addition to that, the history of blanket aid in this part of the world has often led to an expectation of handouts from foreigners and there is sometimes a sense of entitlement to those handouts, so I worried that bigger gestures such as passing out large amounts of food to the needy in Blantyre (our closest city) might turn into a bun fight.

This is not to say that there are not random acts of kindness that take place every single day in Malawi because there are and I could fill post after post with descriptions of the compassion and kindness that I have seen in this part of the world. The challenge is that this project is to take one day and do a number of random acts of kindness which in many ways makes those acts less random than if you do what is more common here and offer help when you see that it is needed or when it is asked for.

That is more my style but I liked the idea of focusing an entire day on kindness so I decided to use it as a learning experience for my littles and to keep it simple, keep it local, and keep it culturally sensitive. I wanted most of our acts of kindness to be things that the girls could replicate on a regular basis so that when they see us doing for others we can remind them of what they did and hopefully encourage them to do additional acts of kindness. This was somewhat complicated by the fact that we live in the middle of a wildlife reserve and don’t come into to contact with many people on a daily basis, but we found out that there are always opportunities to spread a little kindness.

My daughters are ages two and three so we chose a Friday for our day of kindness. This gave us the entire week to prepare. Many of the crafts and cards were made in advance with just a final touch added on Friday. This provided a lot of time to talk about what we were doing and why. By Friday the littles were excited to spend a day doing things to make people (and their environment) happy.

Here is what we ended up doing:

Kindness for our family

I started the day by making a homemade coffee cake for my family. They love the very rare occasion that we have cake for breakfast. As we were enjoying the coffee cake I told the girls that my act of kindness to them was that it was going to be a day of no time outs and that I promised not to raise my voice for the entire day. I was pretty proud of myself for keeping that promise and have vowed to repeat it more often.

We finished the card we were working on for the girls’ Great Aunt who is currently going through chemotherapy for breast cancer. This is a special aunt that they have nicknamed “the other one MomMom.”

Random Acts of Kindness 1- Mud Hut Mama - Alldonemonkey.com

We made long distance hugs to send off to the littles’ grandparents – one set is on its way to Botswana and the other to the United States. We found this craft at Tons of Fun and added our own cards that read: These long distance hugs are made with our very own handprints, we measured our arm spans with the string so when you wrap our arms around you, you will know exactly how big our hugs really are. We can’t wait to squeeze you tight in person but we hope these hugs will tide you over until we see you next.

Random Acts of Kindness 2- Mud Hut Mama - Alldonemonkey.com

For Dada the littles practiced singing the song he likes to sing to them, an old Jam song that he inserts the girls’ names into. When he came home for lunch we pulled out our microphones (errr one microphone and one whisk) and used the table as a stage to perform for him. It made him very happy!

Random Acts of Kindness 3- Mud Hut Mama - Alldonemonkey.com

Kindness for others

When our housekeeper, Saliyapa, arrived for work she was greeted with a thank you card and a piece of coffee cake. She was able to enjoy her cake while the littles and I washed the dishes to show that we appreciate what she does for us.

Random Acts of Kindness 4 - Mud Hut Mama - Alldonemonkey.com

I regularly go through the girls’ toys and books and donate anything they have outgrown or are not using to a local orphanage but I have always done this when they are sleeping and have then distracted them when they realize something is missing. On this day I told them that it would make another child happy if they gave them one of their toys or books. I asked them to each pick out just one toy or book that they would like to give to another child. I was expecting tears and refusals since I had recently cleared out our shelves and there wasn’t much left that doesn’t get used regularly. I was shocked that instead of crying they ran to their shelves and decided on their notebooks. They love to “write” in their notebook and thought another child would like them as well. I told them that was a good idea but that since they had already used a lot of the pages in the notebooks maybe another child would prefer something else. They then decided on their books and surprised me again by choosing seven books to donate instead of just one each as I had suggested. Two of the books were all time favorites. I was so touched that they wanted to do this and Boo even asked if she could help me wrap them up so that the children could open them like presents.

We decided to go play with our friends who live just outside the reserve and we made a special American treat to share, Chocolate Chip Cookies. That brought an awful lot of smiles.

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We talked about one of the staff members here who the girls know is extremely ill and who has a daughter about their same age. I told the littles that she is spending a lot of time on transport going back and forth to the hospital with her father and that she is probably very worried about him. I asked what they thought we could do to make her feel a little happier and we decided that we should get her a coloring book and crayons the next time we were in town so that she has something to do while she is waiting in the hospital for her father or traveling. This is what the girls picked out for her:

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We made these cute and easy friendship bracelets that we found at DIY Life. The girls each ended up with four bracelets. They exchanged with each other and gave the rest to some friends they have in town.

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Kindness for the earth and wildlife

Dada brought the girls down to the waterhole to give it a good clean before filling it up again so that our four legged friends could have a nice clean drink of water during this hot time of year.

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He then had to go out to collect elephant dung (they are DNA fingerprinting our elephant population) and he took the girls with him. As is our usual habit, they stopped to pick up any trash they saw and talked about why keeping the reserve free of litter would make the animals happy.

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We collected some sterculia seeds and planted them. We talked about how important indigenous trees are and why planting them and protecting them would make the earth happy. There was a bit of an ulterior motive here as the girls have just started learning to identify trees and Boo has said that what she really wants for Christmas is a sterculia tree. If we have any luck with our seeds her wish might just come true, otherwise I’ll have to put a bow on one of the sterculias near our home.

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Although I was hesitant to join in at the start, I am so glad that we participated and that Leanna forced me to really consider ways that my daughters, even at their young ages, can spread kindness and happiness. It has had a wonderful effect as they are now asking me on a daily basis if certain things make people happy. The other day when Boo finished her dinner without it being a fight she looked up at me and asked, “did that make you happy?” and Kooks helped Saliyapa with the sweeping and asked if “that made her happy?” Thank you Leanna for spreading so much kindness!

Mud Hut Mama

Jody is a stay-at-home mom, raising two girls in a wildlife reserve in Malawi. Pre-motherhood she worked with international and environmental education. Jody is homeschooling her daughters and enjoys sharing her love of other cultures, nature, and conservation with them.

She writes about their adventures at Mud Hut Mama.  You can also visit Mud Hut Mama on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Watch for a post next week from Bilingual Babes!  You can see a full schedule of the posts in this series by visiting the main Random Acts of Kindness Challenge page.

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Multicultural Corner: Guest Post on Hartlyn Kids

I am so excited to be featured on Hartlyn Kid’s Multicultural Corner today!  Hartlyn Kids is an independent children’s book publishing company that specializes in multicultural kids’ books.  As part of that mission, they have a regular “Multicultural Corner” feature, where they introduce readers to bloggers with a passion for culture, diversity, and travel.  We are so honored to be included in that list!

You can read our interview with Aisha by visiting the link below, and also be sure to check out the other featured bloggers as well as the wonderful products offered by this great company!

Multicultural Corner: Interview on Hartlyn Kids