Scrambling for summer activities that may actually stimulate some brain activity? Check out Little Chickies / Los Pollitos for your kids --both the book AND the app!Ahhh, summer… For three months, there’s no rushing the kids out the door to school. Packing lunches? NOPE. That 3-D model of Jupiter your son forgot to tell you about until the night before it was due? A distant memory.

However, summer can bring its challenges—like too much free time. And loss of brain function. We parents need to keep them thinking and reading, a least a little bit, between pool visits and marathon bike rides during the months of June, July, and August. And if you’re anything like me, children’s literature can be overwhelming. Trips to the library mean roaming row after row of books, hoping something catches your eye (or more importantly your child’s eye) that will spark some cognitive stimulation.

That’s why I’m telling you about Canticos Little Chickies / Los Pollitos by Susan Jaramillo—a book chock full of good stuff to work your kids’ little brains. Read one way, the story of three baby chicks hatching and bonding with their mommy is in English. Flip the book over and the same story is read in Spanish! That’s right—two versions. One book. The fact that they could flip the book over and read the exact same story in another language was fascinating to my kids. But wait, there’s more. The book is interactive, with lip-the-flaps and a turning wheel to show the mommy chicken’s moving feet as she runs off to find food. Maybe you have calm kids who are naturally captivated by any story. My 3-year-old is not one of those kids. He will only engage in a book if he can interact with it, so lifting the flaps and making mommy chicken go was a big deal for him.

IMG_2660

Based on “Little Chickies Squeal/Los Pollitos Dicen”, one of the most popular nursery rhymes in the Spanish speaking world, this is a story of a mother caring for and bonding with her babies—a concept children can relate to cross-culturally. And it is this book’s universal simplicity that helped my kids to learn new Spanish words. The titles (again, flipping the book front to back) of Little Chickies and Los Pollitos helped them learn that pollitos means chickens. On subsequent pages, “hambre”, “frio”, “maize” and “comida” were more words they learned as they matched them up to their English translations.

IMG_2659

We read the story a few times in both English and Spanish, lifting the flaps and turning Mommy Chicken’s legs. And then I introduced my children to the app “Little Chickies (Los Pollitos) by Canticos – Sing, Play & Learn with Latino Nursery Rhymes” by Encantos Media Studios, Inc. This app is fantastic. My kids are 7, 5 and 3, obviously at a range of cognitive ability levels. Each child enjoyed the variety of activities this app offered. From creating music via different musical instruments on the screen, to then listening to the “Little Chickies” song in eight different languages, to decorating eggs with colors, faces, and patterns, this app provided endless engagement for my kids to explore their creativity and tap into several forms of intelligence.

IMG_2653

If you are scrambling for summer activities like I am, check out Little Chickies / Los Pollitos and the app that goes with it. You won’t be disappointed. The links for purchasing the book as well as the app for I-Phone/I-Pad or Android are listed below.

Purchase Little Chickies / Los Pollitos from Little Pickle Press or from Amazon

Download “Little Chickies (Los Pollitos) by Canticos – Sing, Play & Learn with Latino Nursery Rhymes” app for I-Phone / I-Pad and Android.

Subscribe to Little Chickies /Los Pollitos Youtube channel.

 

**Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of Little Chickies / Los Pollitos and compensation for this review. All opinions stated are my own.**

The #1 piece of advice I'd give to any new mom is to find a tribe, a support group, a circle of friends.This is a story of a confused new mom who was in trouble. She was blindsided by the quiet and suffocating loneliness of motherhood’s first year. She was shocked at how, despite thinking she was so busy, in actuality, the days were endless. By 10 a.m. most days she felt despair creeping up around her shoulders, as she wondered how she and her baby were going to pass the remaining hours until bedtime.

This is the story of a new mother who would feel relief in needing groceries, as that mundane errand gave her and baby something do, gave her an opportunity to make a dent in the day and remove at least an hour out of the time she was responsible for entertaining her son.

This is the story of a mother who felt immense guilt, to the point of making her physically ill, as she faced the reality that she didn’t love being a stay-at-home mother, as she had expected.

After 24 hours of grueling labor, walking the hospital corridors, getting in and out of a warm tub, and hearing her husband say, You can do this over and over, her first-born baby was extracted from her body with the help of multiple medical professionals. 90 minutes of pushing helped—but to be honest, they had to pull him out just as much as she pushed. From the get-go, neither of them really knew what the hell they were doing as mother and son.

Their awkward and painful journey continued, as breastfeeding was damn near impossible. He fought and she fought for eight excruciating weeks, but just like the day he was born, they finally figured it out. That’s how it always was that first year—one floundering mother and one angry baby, dancing the tango, trying to find a rhythm, trying to meet each other’s needs, but always falling short.

He wouldn’t nurse. He had constant stomach issues. She felt alone. She was miserable. They often looked at each other, wondering what the hell they both had gotten into.

Of all of the choice that mother made, in her endless attempts to be a good mother and find her way through the fog of the newborn days, the single most important decision—the one that saved her, and her son, from darkness, was her commitment to finding friendship. She knew she was lonely, with her husband at work all day and out of town at time for weeks on end. She knew she needed friends, but she was unprepared for the work involved in finding them.

She had always made friends easily, so what was different this time? Friendships in her old life were made quickly at work and in school. But what happens when there is no building full of colleagues to enter anymore? What happens when a mother’s entire life exists at home?

She knew she was slipping into a dark place, and just in time, she reached her hand up and grabbed a lifeline. The best thing that young mother ever did the first year of her son’s life, her first year of motherhood, was to seek out friendships. She joined a local playgroup for SAHMs and signed up for her first event: a playdate at a coffee shop with a playground.

I tell this story, my story, because I see young moms, and I know the isolation they feel. I see them at the park, searching the playground with hungry eyes, desperately needing someone to talk to, someone to confide in, someone to say, I know how hard this is.

I’ll be honest. The first event I attended with this playgroup sucked. I was awkward and nervous. But I went back. And the second time another approached me, introduced herself to me, and we made small talk. By the 3rd and 4th events, I was chatting casually with other moms. Within a month I was hosting playdates in my home. I had made friends. There were events on my calendar. I finally had the need for a calendar again.

My poor guinea pig baby who taught me how to be a mom is now seven years old. I’ve outgrown the SAHM playgroup, as I am now busy with first grade room mother activities and baseball practices and getting #2 ready for kindergarten.

I look back on those early days, and I am beyond grateful for those mothers. Those women saved me. They became my friends—the moms who carried me from baby days to kindergarten. They were the people who told me about a consignment sale where I could score an entire toddler wardrobe. They were the moms who gave me suggestions for dealing with my son’s terrifying allergies. They let me talk about potty-training—and how I was barely surviving it. We had breast-feeders and bottle-feeders, moms with one child and moms with six, cloth diapered babies and Huggies babies. We had moms with newborns and moms with 4-year-olds and moms with both. Many of us had relocated (myself included) so we needed pediatrician recommendations. We needed to know where to take our kids on hot days, rainy days, cold days. We needed to put something on our calendars. And we did it together.

Mommy groups are not for the babies. Or the toddlers. They are for us. My #1 piece of advice to a new mother, especially a SAHM, is to find a tribe. I’ll be grateful for the rest of my life that I found mine.

This is what transgender looks like to me. This person was kind and joyful and not a predator. And the bathroom he used had no bearing on the kind of person he was.

This is not a post about bathrooms. Or about laws being passed to regulate who uses which one.

This is a post humanity. Every human being walking down the street, visiting your local restaurants, working alongside you at your place of employment, passing you in a car, is just that—a human being. And it appears that basic civil rights are still not granted to all human beings in our society, for a reason that is quite obvious. It’s because like people of color, people with disabilities, gay people, and anyone remotely different from what many consider “the norm”, people who are transgender are the newest crop of humanity deemed undeserving of basic human rights.

The sad truth is, small-minded people are scared. It’s because of memes like this, which perpetuate the idiotic, uneducated, bigoted perception that people who are transgender are inherently child predators. And this assumption is absurd and unfounded and born out of fear and lack of education about that which is different.

Would I let my kids be alone with the person pictured in this internet meme? No. This person is a stranger to us. But I don’t automatically assume this person is a child predator. Or a rapist. I do think that maybe (s)he grew tired of the world judging him/her and refusing to allow him/her a safe place to be, so (s)he said fuck it and started dressing like this. Or maybe (s)he never tried at all to conform, knowing (s)he’d never be welcomed. Can you blame him/her? With the state of this nation in 20-freaking-16? But to automatically assume (s)he’s going to harm my family? Because (s)he dresses like this? That’s what makes this person a sexual offender?

Is this what a predator looks like?

I don’t know this person, or the state of his/her mental health. But just for comparison’s sake, this is what a predator looks like. (You’ll have to click the link because I’m sure as hell not putting his picture in this post.) Remember this guy? Doesn’t he look like your grandfather? He sure didn’t show up in any cruel memes prior to his big scandal. He wasn’t transgender. Or gay. Just a regular old pedophile. Who happened to be married. And a father.

Assuming transgender = sexual predator makes you sound like an idiot. Like truly, an uneducated person without a fully developed brain. A person transitioning is just a person trying to be his or herself in your fucked up world.

I’ve never known someone who looks like the person in that cruel internet meme. But I will tell you that this is what transgender looks like to me.

This is what transgender looks like to me. This person was not a predator. This person was kind and loving and the bathroom he used had no bearing on the kind of person he was.

 

This is my uncle, not long before he died. We always joked that he kind of looked like Frank Perdue. He was an adorable little guy, incredibly loving and friendly and hilarious. And safe. NOT A PREDATOR. But he was transgender, born a woman. He transitioned over time, but fully began living his life as a man long before I was born, so I never knew him otherwise. And I didn’t need to know. It didn’t matter. His contribution to the world had nothing do with what part of his body he peed out of. And therefore had nothing to do with which bathroom he used. (Obviously the men’s—you may have been in there with him once or twice. Gasp! Looks like you made it out fine and weren’t attacked.)

My uncle wasn’t a threat. He was taunted and abused and called horrible names like butch and dyke as he transitioned to living his life as a man. The world tried to make him ugly. Because the world is ugly. But it failed. All of the bigoted, provincially-minded people who didn’t understand him, and failed to see what really mattered—that he was a kind human being—failed. He was never ugly. And he certainly was never a predator.

I understand the need to protect our children. My children’s safety is my most important job too—which is why I teach my kids about true predators, and how to protect themselves. And I also teach them about people who unfairly judge the man in the picture above.

I do not teach them to instantly fear a man who might look or act differently from their daddy.

And I’m thankful that my uncle taught me what transgender, and also humanity, truly looks like.