Thursday, May 31, 2012

Botswana Craft Take Two

The crafts of Botswana are very beautiful and because we found the style of design throughout the work to be really lovely, we decided that we wanted to do another craft. We saw some gorgeous baskets here that we contemplated trying to recreate, but decided that it was maybe a bit too ambitious. We looked at a lot of different arts and crafts of Botswana, from woven tapestries to clay pots but one art form that really stood out to us was Lekgapo. 

Lekgapo is an art form practiced by the indigenous women of Botswana. They use mud mixed with cow dung and decorate the outside of their homes with it. These designs are so nice that my littles and I decided to try to recreate this concept. We opted to leave out the poo, and actually, we also opted to leave out the mud. We had some air dry clay left over from this Peruvian project that we did, so we used that. 

Aiden flattening his clay.
Eliana flattening her clay slab. She decided to add water to hers thinking it might make it softer. What it actually did was make it slipperier, and had I not put the camera aside just after taking this picture, I might have captured a shot of the clay launching out of her hands and across the table, like a slippery piece of soap.
Using a craft stick to draw the designs.

Painting the design black, to get a sharper contrast.

Aiden's finished Americanized Lekgapo. 

Eliana's finished Americanized Lekgapo. 

My finished Americanized Lekgapo. 
I really like the finished look of these and I am thinking of mounting them to a board and display them together somewhere in our home. 

With our final craft complete, it is time to start planning our end of the tour dinner. I'll be sharing that with you next week. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stamping Botswana

It's the time of the month where we stamp our passports with our potato stamps, and scratch our scratch map to show where we've been. 

If you recall, last month I used an apple instead of a potato to make the stamp, and it worked, but it was a little too soft, so this month, I went back to the trusty old potato. Instead of carving an image that is somehow relevant to the country, I carved the country itself. So, with the abbreviation, BW and the date 2012, I made the shape of Botswana. Then I handed the stamp over and my littles stamped their passports. 

After stamping the passports, we grabbed a toothpick to scratch Botswana off of our scratch map. Since the kids both really enjoy doing this, we split it in half so that they can both do a little bit of it. This is really hard when we are doing a smaller country, but this time was not too bad. 

When I stepped back and looked at the whole map, I was surprised to see how many we have scratched off already. It doesn't feel like we've done that many, of course we have MANY MANY more to go, but still, it was kind of fun to see all of the countries that we have studied all in one place like this. 

Aiden keeps asking why we haven't scratched the USA yet. I don't really have an answer for him, because even though we live in the USA, we haven't done any kind of lesson on it, so it feels like we shouldn't scratch it. At the same time, I don't know that we will do a lesson about it because, we already have a pretty good idea of what the children are doing, what kind of wildlife is here, and what kind of music we listen to. So who knows, maybe one day soon you'll see that we have scratched the USA, or maybe it will be the last one we scratch. Sort of symbolic, like we've toured the world and ended up at home. 

We are winding down our Botswana tour, but still have one more thing planned before our end of the tour dinner. Check back Thursday to see what we're creating! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Books From Botswana

OK, Maybe from Botswana is a stretch. I promised you in my last post that I would be telling you about the books that we gathered at the library last week. That is exactly what I am here to do today. 

The first one is another book that is part of the Cultures Of The World series. I don't know that there is a lot more to say since I have raved about this series already here, but these books are great because they cover so many topics. They cover religion, politics, geography, politics, wildlife, festivals, food, language, lifestyle, and more. I like these books a lot because we are able to read the parts that are relevant to our lessons here such as wildlife and geography and skip stuff that is a bit too much for the littles yet, like politics. They even include a couple of recipes in each one. 

As I have said more than once, it is not always easy to find books that are fictional, or at least more story based than a non-fiction fact finding book. We did find a cute folk tale, retold by Verna Aardema called The Lonely Lioness and the Ostrich Chicks. This story is not specific to Botswana. It is an African folk tale, of a lioness who sees a mother ostrich with her chicks and decides that she needs to have the ostrich chicks to keep her company, this tale follows the mother ostrich who will stop at nothing to get her chicks back and the lioness who is determined to keep them for herself. 

The last book that we borrowed from the library is a chapter book geared toward young readers (around 7 or 8 I would guess).  Even though Aiden is reading now, I read it to my littles and they liked it a lot! It is about a girl named Precious Ramotswe, she lives in Botswana and embarks on her very first detective case. It is called The Great Cake Mystery and is written by the author of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith. This story is told in a way that brings the reader into the book with questions and statements directed at the reader such as, "Do you like questions? Many people who ask lots of questions become detectives." It educates by detailing the wildlife and landscape. Alexander McCall Smith talks about The Kalahari Desert and the river "...which flowed the wrong way. It did not flow into the ocean, as rivers usually do, but back into the heart of Africa. When it reached the sands of the Kalahari, it drained away, just like water disappears down the drain of the bath." My kids really liked the story and following the mystery. I absolutely loved the way the story included them and educated them all while they enjoyed a fun mystery. 

Have you read any good books with your littles lately? How about any of the Alexander McCall Smith books (it seems I may be the last to know about this wonderful series)?

Monday, May 21, 2012

From Botswana To A Celebration At Home

As a rule, I almost always want to be visiting some foreign land, or least a foreign city. I feel that there are so many places to see, and that I must see them all. Today, though, I don't want to be anywhere but right here at home, and I will tell you why. A few days ago we visited our local public library and I was planning to share with you our review of the books that we read, and I promise I will do that, but not today. Today I am celebrating that my baby is five years old. Today, I am here. Today I am home. Today I am right where I want to be, with the people that I love the most. 

Happy FIVE my sweet little El. 
After today, I will be back to spinning the globe and learning about Botswana. Please check back Thursday for a full review of the books that we borrowed from our library. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wildlife Safari in Botswana

Researching wildlife in Botswana turned up some amazing photos. Many of the impressive shots that we saw were of the sun setting/ rising on the horizon with the silhouettes of the wildlife (like this and this). These photos were so beautiful that we decided to try to recreate them for our Botswana craft project. 

Originally I had thought that I would cut the silhouettes of the animals and let the kids work on the sunsets and horizon, then glue them on, but then I thought it would be more fun for them if they got to cut them on their own. My kids love to cut and both of them are the "I can do it" kind of kid, and since they are (almost) five and seven, I knew that their silhouettes wouldn't be perfect, but still, they'd look good and the kids would have fun and enjoy the learning through art. 

Take this next part of advice very seriously (you and your kids will thank me). If you think that you might tackle this project and your kids are the same age as mine, cut the silhouettes before hand, unless you like to make your kids cry. 

I found some silhouettes online through various clip art sites. Then we copied those onto black construction paper. I gave the kids some scissors so that they could cut their silhouettes. When Eliana finished hers, she looked at me and asked me to do it instead. She wasn't loving her black blob that was supposed to look like an elephant. When Aiden finished his he had tears in his eyes and said, it needs to be redone. So collectively, we decided that I would cut them for them and they would rip paper for their sunsets and they would make their own trees.

Aiden working on his tree.
Eliana drawing her tree in preparation for cutting. 
When all of the pieces of paper were glued down, the silhouettes and the trees too, we looked at them and talked about how beautiful they were. We then continued to talk about other kinds of wildlife in Botswana, including zebras and monkeys. 

Eliana's finished picture. Elephants with three trees. 
Aiden's finished picture. Yes, that mama is nursing her cub.  
My finished Giraffes. 
When we were all done, I asked the kids what they thought of this project and they said they loved it. Aiden even said, "It was super fun!" Apparently he forgot that it made him cry.

If you want to see more wildlife in Botswana, check out this site

Monday, May 14, 2012

A New Country and A Photo Adventure

As I promised last week. We have moved on to another country. I put our globe on the table and showed the kids where we were turning our focus this month, we had some discussion about the location; that it is in Africa and that unlike Morocco and Egypt which we have learned about in the past, our new country is waaayyyy down near the bottom of the globe. Then to see if they were paying attention, I spun the globe and asked them to find it. They both found it very quickly. I was so proud. Have you guessed yet, what our new country is?  

Did you guess Botswana? If you did then you win the prize! Ok, there's not really a prize, but you can go ahead and pat yourself on the back for figuring it out. 

If you've been reading my blog for a while now, then you know that the first thing that we do at the start of each new adventure is recreate the national flag. 

The next thing I'm going to share with you is the great big adventure that I get to have every time I take pictures of kids for this blog. It always starts out with me saying something like, "Hey let me just take your picture real quick." Which is followed by at least one fake smile and/or one fidgeter for the "real quick" photo. So, then I have to take another photo. 

Sometimes we take 20 photos just to get one good one. I think it goes without saying that I need a new camera and I can assure you that it is on the list, but even a new camera can't make my kids smile more genuinely or stop acting as if their feet were spring loaded. So, I decided that it would be fun to share some of the "not good for the blog" photos, along with what I might have been saying to them at the moment (or what I might have wanted to be saying). 

"We need to take one more." 
"Oh. That was almost right, but could you just stop wiggling please?" 
"Eliana, please stop giving me the stare down of death." 
"Really kids, this is NOT the worst kind of torture any human has ever had to endure. I promise." 
"Great photo, but did someone lick my lens? It's a bit blurry."
In an effort to not let the moment get too brutal with the same pose over and over while trying to get just one good one, I decided to move them to the table for the photo. 

"Ummm. You guys ARE happy aren't you???"  
New plan: If they don't want to smile. I don't want to make them do it. "Ok guys, hide behind the flag." 
"Wait, Eliana, are you smiling?"
"You are smiling!"
"Oh, you are SO busted! And wait a minute, Aiden, your eyes look a little happy for someone who doesn't want to smile." 
 And the winner is.......
I'm pretty sure the discussion is something like, "Why are you smiling? We aren't supposed to smile."

So, there it is, the national flag of Botswana, along with kids who I am pretty sure are having fun, even if they don't want me to take photos. 

How about you guys, do you have to take a kazillion photos just to get one good one of your littles? Do also have a new camera on your wish list? 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tipping The Hat

Last week one of my readers nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award. 

I wasn't really sure what that meant, but after a bit of reading, I found out that basically the nomination is the award. Bloggers nominate other bloggers, post about it, thus sharing some love with the blogs that they like to read. In turn, those bloggers, thank the person who nominated them and nominate their own favorite blogs/ bloggers. I have never heard of this before, but I suppose it's somewhat like a chain letter, you get this, then you do that. You are not obligated to do it, but it's kind of a nice gesture. So, I decided that I would participate. 

So here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award. (Include a link to their blog)
2. Next, select 15 blogs that you follow (and think are worth sharing).
3. Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. (Make sure you tell them so that they can share it with their readers.)
4. You are also supposed to tell the person who nominated you 7 random things about yourself (I don't know if you are supposed to post it on your blog, or send them a message) but I think that's kind of weird, so I'm skipping that :) (But I will share that my favorite color changes almost weekly and this week it's green :)) 

I was nominated by someone who found my blog through Pinterest. Many thanks to Lindsey, who's blog is called Love & Stories, for sharing the love with a fellow "new blogger" (she and I have both been blogging for less than a year). I am super eager to start following her blog. 

I'm supposed to choose 15 blogs to nominate, but there aren't that many that I read (that haven't already been nominated once or even twice for this award). So here goes. 

1. Love Is Written Here. This has become one of my favorite blogs. This mama writes about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to parenting two young girls, and juggling all that comes with children and life. 

2. Beck Meets Bastet. This is a brand spanking new blog. Becky was Aiden's teacher last year and just started blogging, her posts are always inspiring and I realize why we loved her so much last year (and still do).

3. Kid World Citizen Always interesting. A mom of four from around the world, blogs about teaching kids about the world. I love this blog.

4. Hardy Girls Healthy Women This blog belongs to an organization that focuses on the health and well being of girls and women. I also guest blogged for them recently, so that's fun. 

5. Remains of Day Andrea is a mom of three boys, with a full time job, who is going to school and creating cool art and experiences along the way.  

6. Lunches Fit For A Kid This is a blog about what's for lunch, for this mom's kids that is. She photographs her children's lunches and includes details about what's inside. She also shares recipes. She makes fun bunny breads, rainbow breads, and lots of other cool stuff. 

7. Experienced Bad Mom- This blog is filled with sarcasm and funny stories. Katy is funny and  her kids seem to be surviving (I don't know what this bad mom stuff is all about ;)) .... even if they can't spell broccoli correctly. 

So, I know I totally can't follow the rules. 15 blogs!!!! I'm new(ish) to all of this and I am lucky if I get to read all of these everyday (or as often as they post). 

Go ahead, check these blogs out, make sure to tell them that Mamacita sent you! 

**We are heading to a new country next week, I hope you're ready!**

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

Since Saturday was Cinco de Mayo, we decided to celebrate with a small taco bar. I made battered fish for fish tacos and tempeh (prepared this way, but without the pickled radish slaw) for me. The meal had your typical spread of taco fillings, salsa, avocados, lettuce, and cheese. I also made a black bean salad. Aiden thought that we should have non-alcoholic Margaritas like we did when we celebrated Mexico.

Before we started to eat I thought it would be good for us to discuss why people celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Aiden said, "I already know." So, after I asked him to share with us what he knew, he said, "It's to celebrate when the Mexican's beat the French during the French invasion." He's pretty smart. 

The spread. 
My dinner (before I went back for more.... that tempeh was delicious!!!) 
After dinner, I thought it would be fun for us to decorate cookies to look like sombreros, something I saw on Pinterest (but originated here).

We started with sugar cookies and spread a little frosting around the edges. Then, we rolled the frosted edges in rainbow colored candy sprinkles. After that, we put a dab of frosting in the middle, put some sprinkles on it then, stuck a gum drop on top. 

So that is how we celebrated Cinco de Mayo at our house. Did you do anything special to celebrate? 

If you want to read more than a seven year old's explanation about Cinco de Mayo you can check out the Wikipedia page here

UPDATE: Last week I shared Katie's travels to Scotland and I forgot to add a picture (a nice one of a house by the lake). I've added it in now, if you'd like to see it, here it is

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Traveling Friends- Scotland

This month for our Traveling Friends feature, I am super excited to be sharing the travels of my sister in law, Katie (along with my brother and her family). I emailed the questions to Katie and she sent this back:

Hi MSTG readers!

Last fall, Jared (Raina's brother) and I got to go to Inverness, Scotland along with my parents (from Vancouver, Canada) who had just come to visit us in Amsterdam. We'd arranged to meet up with my Auntie Nan and cousin Marja (also from Vancouver) who were in Scotland to visit with family.  Auntie Nan was born in Troon, a small town on the west coast of Scotland, with family in Pitlochry as well. Some of the photos I'm sharing are mine, some are Marja's or my mum's. We had a great time and I highly recommend visiting Scotland!

MSTG: What kind of animals did you see? 

KATIE: We saw the usual, seagulls, crows and squirrels and lots of sheep and highland cows (they're the hairy ones). We also saw a European Robin (which is different looking than the ones I was familiar with from North America). I also caught a very rare photos of- not only one, but two- Loch Ness Monsters. Unfortunately, the rest of my family didn't get any photos as they were facing the wrong way. 

Marja and cows.

MSTG: Did you seen any good live music?

KATIE: Yes! In fact, we saw live music a number of times. One day, there was a Pipe & Drum band marching down the streets of Inverness for a swearing in of new Councillors ceremony. Another time, we went and saw live music at Gellions Pub, the band was really fun, a bagpipe, a fiddle, a bodhrán drum, and a guitar. We also went to a special performance, part of a Highland music festival, a CD release party for Bruce MacGregor (fiddle) and Christine Hanson (cello). The venue was at a small church along the shores of the Loch Ness. A group of us bought tickets which included a meal, a taste of whisky and a bus trip to a live performance of traditional and classical music. It was definitely a highlight of the trip! (video was shot by my dad.) 

MSTG: What was your favorite meal that you ate in Scotland?

KATIE: I'm not sure I had one favourite meal... but we did eat a lot of meat & potatoes & gravy and fish & chips, which I do LOVE. My cousin Marja ate, "haggis, neeps &tatties", as often as she could.  She even had haggis for breakfast once! As part of Auntie Nan & Marja's family visit to Troon, they helped their (Great) Aunt Betty make tablet- a traditional Scottish treat! 

MSTG: What do the houses look like?

KATIE: Where we were, many of the houses were stone, row houses with lots of chimney tops. Some of the more traditional farmhouses we saw on our drives were white-washed plaster with slate roofs. We also visited the ruins of the Urquhart Castle.
"Though extensively ruined, it was in its day one of the largest strongholds of medieval Scotland, and remains an impressive structure, splendidly situated on a headland overlooking Loch Ness. It is also near this castle that the majority of Nessie (Loch Ness Monster) sightings occur." [read more on wikipedia: ]

MSTG: What type of transportation did you use primarily during your visit?

KATIE: We had a rental car- which my dad drove. The steering wheel is on the "other/ wrong" side of the car, so when we picked up the car, "we" practiced in the parking lot before venturing out! There was lots of walking too and Auntie Nan and Marja took a bus to Troon, Pitlochry & Edinburgh before flying back home. 

MSTG: What were the children doing?

KATIE: We visited Scotland in the fall and didn't see too many kids. I guess (hope) they were in school, as they were definitely not at the whisky distilleries we were visiting! And when we did see children in town, I imagine they were out helping their parents with weekend errands. 
WOW! Thank you so much Katie (and your parents, Auntie Nan and Marja)! This looks like  a fantastic trip! I would also need to practice driving in the parking lot for a while before heading out on the road, I bet there were a few laughs (there would be if I was driving) And what luck to have the opportunity to see not one, but two Loch Ness Monsters! ;) 

If you've missed other posts from our traveling friends, be sure to check them out. We have featured Egypt, Peru, and Cuba so far! 

If you would like to share one of your journeys with us, please contact me at mamacitasglobe[at]yahoo[dot]com.

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