MarocMama

eat well, travel often, dream big!

Back to School for Global Kids

Has summer flown by for you? It sure has for me! Between traveling, spending time with family and taking part in lots of events time has run it’s course. In a little over a week we’ll be back on an airplane home to Morocco. Because we’ve been so busy I haven’t had much time to go shopping and stock up on the things we’d like to take back. One big priority was to get the boys some new clothes for school, especially long sleeve and warmer clothing. The selection of these types of things in Morocco is limited, and while they don’t need too many warm things in Morocco, they sure need it when we travel out of Morocco in wintertime.

Thanks to my friends at Tea Collection my boys were each able to pick out five new things for their wardrobes. I love their themed clothing. Previously Tea featured Moroccan inspired items, their selections for fall are German themed. I let the boys decide what they wanted (with a little guidance). Another great thing about Tea is that almost all of their clothes are coordinated so I knew whatever they chose would have multiple functions and coordinate with each other.

Tea Collection Back to School

 

K is all about what feels good. He wants things that are comfortable and soft. So that’s exactly what he picked, a bright green sweatshirt, blue with green striped sweatpants, this hoodie, a fun animal print shirt, and a pair of khaki/yellow pants.

Little Boys Tea Collection

 

Comfy Clothes from Tea for Boys

 

These pieces will be great for our winter months that aren’t really cold but without any central heating, there’s a chill. For M, I let him have complete free reign over what he chose. He’s starting to be at the age where he fixes his hair, wants to wear cologne, and suddenly matching is a big deal. He also was much more interested in showing off his new threads!

Older Boys Gorilla Shirt Tea Collection

 

Boys Tea Collection Dress Shirt

 

Boys Germany Collection for Tea Company

Tea Collection offers newborn through size 12 in boys and girls, as well as offering a few pieces each season for moms. I am in love with their unique and really trendy clothes for boys. I am so tired of seeing the same things over and over and there being so few options for boys that it’s really refreshing to see a brand focusing on boys as much as girls. Also what isn’t to love about a brand that encourages global citizens through destination inspired items?

How are you getting ready for back to school?

Read this post I contributed to on school supplies used by students around the world on Chicago Now.

Wondering what education is like in Marrakesh, Morocco? Watch my interview with My International Adventure

 

 

 Disclaimer: We were provided with these items from Tea Collection. All opinions are my own! 

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Do you remember what the first book you read in translation was? I’ve always been drawn to books that were originally published in other languages, or that have loose use of multiple languages in the text. As a part of Multicultural Kid Blogs Read Around the World Summer Reading Series bloggers from around the world are sharing their book reviews of multicultural (and sometimes multilingual too) books for kids of all ages. Mondays are for ages 5 and under, Wednesdays for children 6-10, and Fridays for tweens and older. You can also see all of the recommendations on our Summer Reading Pinterest Board.

So, since it’s Friday you’ve guessed correctly that this book review is for tweens or older children.

The book that I’ve chosen is Secret Son by Laila Lalami. Lalami is a Moroccan author however this book was written in English from the beginning instead of Moroccan Arabic (Darija) or French. It is almost impossible to find any literature written in darija. The language is not the same as classical Arabic but is not typically seen as a written language – it’s a street language. There’s no uniform spelling of any words, and when it’s typed most people write in Roman letters, not Arabic script. You’ll typically find Moroccan authors who write literature writing in French. In an excerpt from an interview with Lalami she says;

 I grew up speaking both Moroccan Arabic and French, but my earliest exposure to books came through French because I received, to my long-lasting despair, a semicolonial education. Nearly all children’s literature that I was exposed to as a child was in French, so when I started writing fiction, it was in that language. While I could read and write Arabic competently enough, I found it very hard to write fictional narrative in Arabic….However, once I left Morocco to study abroad, I started to question the bilingualism with which I had grown up. In my country, French and Arabic did not always have a harmonious relationship; rather, they were often in competition in the public sphere I started to feel really uncomfortable with the idea of writing fiction using the colonial tongue…

A Conversation with the Author – Laila Lalami

I can’t tell you how often I’ve wished I could find an actual story book that is written in Darija as I feel like it would help me learn the language so much better. But it’s simply not to be found.

I chose this book because I love Laila’s storytelling style. I also love that she shares the struggles of real Moroccans without exploiting them. As I read this book  I shook my head in agreement time and time again. I recommend this book is appropriate for older teens who can understand complex situations. It’s also a great read for adults who want to understand what drives people to desperation. This book will challenge the party-line many Americans toe that extremists “hate our freedoms.” Instead you’ll journey into a much more complex world of expectations, reality, and the power of dreams both good – and bad.

Read Around the World: Morocco Secret Son

 

One more anecdote. My husband never read a book for pleasure, and never (yes in in his entire life!) completed an entire novel. This was the first book that he read front to back for enjoyment or school. First novel…in his third language (English). As a self-professed bibliophile that reads at least 50 books a year it took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea of having never read a book. Thanks Laila for making him a reader! I love that!

Other Works by Laila Lalami

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French for Kids: The Zazoo Books

The Zazoo French English Childrens Book

 

In Morocco there is a bilingual education system, and in some schools it is tri- or quad- lingual (amazing isn’t it?) I’ve previously written about my children’s school and as they’ve progressed through this year I’ve learned a lot about multilingual education. My kids speak Arabic with my in-laws, on the street, and in regular communication at school. They spend half of each day learning in Arabic and the other half in French. What I’ve found is that while they are learning to spell and form sentences in French, they are not as conversationally fluent as they are in Arabic. I believe this is because they don’t use much French outside of class. As we prepare for next year I’ve got two goals; encourage and foster more English reading and writing at home and encourage them to use French more. Neither MarocBaba nor I are fluent in French so this makes having natural conversation difficult. So I am going to rely more on books and other resources to encourage them to speak.  I was recently introduced to the Zazoo books by fellow Multicultural Kids Blogger Judith who authored the series.

The books are targeted at kids age 2-7 though I think for any child who is beginning to read in French they will be a good fit. I sat down with my boys and we read the book together. First, they loved the character line-up.

the_zazoo Characters

 

Our favorite character(s) is Krok and Minikrok. K laughed when his turn came up in the book. I was interested in how the book was laid out. Many bilingual books feature the native language and target language in literal translation next to each other. This does not. The story lines are mixed in French and English. I feel like this approach gives them enough context in the preceding and following English to pick up any parts of the French sentences they didn’t know. I also liked that there was a vocabulary page in the beginning. I recommend reading through these words first before the story.

We read through the book and I was impressed that my boys could directly translate the French into English and Arabic. Go boys! While my youngest son liked me reading the book to him, I struggled to get him to read alone. This is purely personality and one of our biggest learning hurdles with him. I found him much more interested in doing the games and activities. Even though I thought this would be too young for M (who is 10) he did like reading it. When we did the vocabulary he went through and identified the masculine and feminine words and took it further assigning the un- or une- beginnings. I can see there are plenty of extensions that can be made on this book for older kids who have a bit more knowledge and patience under their belts.

The little bilingues website has plenty of resources as well; 

– Digital publications that are available for download for free: two activity books (theme: clothes) and a French-English bilingual eBook (theme: the beach);
– Print books: the first book is about clothing vocabulary. The themes of the upcoming books are: the beach, Paris and bedtime;
– Activity booklets focusing on the themes of the print books and eBooks: these activities will be downloadable for free for all buyers of the related print book or eBook;
– On the site and the blog, parents and teachers will also find advice on bilingualism and language learning as well as articles on cultural differences between English- and French-speaking worlds. And they will have the possibility to share their questions and tips with the little bilingues community on social networks.

You can try one of the books; The Zazoo Adventures at the Beach on the webpage.

 

I also found this great list of other online stories for children that are in other languages on Maria’s blog Trilingual Mama.  Are you raising bilingual kids? What are some of your favorite resources? 

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TV and the Expat Experience

TV and the expat experience

One day, last fall when I was in the US I was driving down a back country road listening to NPR (my favorite radio station). A story came on about immigrants and TV. I don’t remember the exact details but remember nodding in agreement when they discussed how TV is what gives immigrants a connection to home. When MarocBaba moved to the US I balked at purchasing an Arabic language TV package, way too much money and for what? He needed to learn English! My expat self sees just how ridiculous I was being. I remember the day we had our TV installed and magically English channels were available via satellite. I would turn it on just to have background noise that was familiar, that I didn’t have to work to understand.

But, there were no TV series and many of the movies I’d seen before. I wanted more! 

Then I also discovered there were websites I couldn’t access from Morocco. In travel groups I am a part of I also learned that depending on where you’re accessing online booking sites from, the price is changed.  I needed to renew my subscription to Microsoft Office and I could only get the Arabic language store to load. Let’s not forget to mention my kids were devastated they could no longer watch Netflix. I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out what to do.

I don’t remember how I stumbled across it but I discovered TunnelBear and things got so much better. Seriously it’s been one of my favorite online discoveries since moving overseas. It’s a VPN which means when it is activated, it pings a proxy server in the country you indicate. So when I want to catch the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy that ABC streams following an airing, all I have to do is log in to TunnelBear, indicate the US, and go to the webpage. If I tried to do this without TunnelBear, I’d be blocked.

I’m not technical you’re saying, there’s no way I’ll figure this out. You can! It’s really easy;

First, visit TunnelBear and sign up.

Then download the app for desktop of your mobile device (yes you can use this on iPads, tablets, and phones!) If you need help installing there are many videos available from the bear-y nice folks at TunnelBear to help you.

To load the program open it, select the country you’d like to browse from, turn the dial to on…

TunnelBear Connect

 

Start browsing!

There is a small monthly fee to use the service, however I’ve found that the fee is worth it for us! Whether you’re living abroad, traveling, or just want to watch video or access webpages in other countries this could be the solution you’ve been looking for!

Mama Bear TunnelBear

MamaBear Approved!

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of TunnelBear. I began using TunnelBear many months ago and was presented with the opportunity to share recently. This is an app I use on a daily basis and only endorse things I have used and feel are valuable to my readers. 

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Holiday Photo Gifts for Grandma

Today I hit a milestone on my iPhone, 1000 images. That’s a lot of pictures! I’ve been relying on my phone to snap day to day images, instead of carrying around my large DSLR. I’m able to take pictures more often and much more naturally than with the large camera. I can easily import pictures to Facebook, Instagram, email them to family members, or add them to blog posts – basically anything.  The one issue I do have is that there are limited editing options on my phone.  I have to pull the pictures onto my laptop and then adjust to do any more advanced editing.

Enter Krome.

It’s an app that helps take pictures, retouch them as needed, and then have them printed. There’s two options, either do a quick auto retouch or have Krome’s team retouch (yes, by a human) it.  Within 24-48 hours your image is ready.

Is it hard to use? 

This is an example of the screen shown after you select the image you want worked on.

retouch screen
Simple enough? You allow Krome access to your images, select the image you want, and then describe the changes you would like to see to the image. I’ve taken series of pictures of the same or similar thing and then have a hard time deciding which is the best to use. Krome lets you upload a series of photos and the editor (remember the real human behind the scenes) can select the best one to retouch based on your wants. Your completed pictures are stored and backed up on your account.

girl-in-a-window

Now the part that’s going to make my life a lot easier.

You can print from Krome. If you’ve ever purchased professional photographs you know how expensive they can be.  For good reason, professional photographers but a lot of time and energy into their craft. You can get a professional quality, retouched 8×10 from Krome for under $7! There are a lot of other products like iPhone covers, canvas prints, and photo books made from your edited images too.

Earlier this week I was talking to MarocBaba about sending some gifts home to my family. We were struggling to figure out what would be meaningful and not cost a fortune to send.  This is my solution!

 What do grandparents love more than pictures of their grandkids?

Grandkids for a week!

No just kidding they’re not getting that. Pictures of course!

I see a lot of potential for this app.  If you’re an iPhoneographer or just love to take and print high quality pictures from your snapshots this is a must-have app for your phone. You can find Krome in the iTunes store and also on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

If you decide to give it a try I discovered that you get a $10 credit when you download the app!  Cross a gift off your list and get to creating!

Speaking of pictures, what’s the one thing that you struggle with when taking pictures?

For me, it’s having enough natural light to make the picture really shine. Nighttime pictures are a nightmare!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I am being paid for this post.  However, all opinions and experiences are my own. My mom will be getting a picture of the kids in the mail soon – you can ask her! 

 

 

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New Cookbook: Mediterranean Paleo Cooking

 

Tajin

I feel like a broken record saying this, but you really meet the most amazing people when you’re in the blogging world. In the last few months I met Caitlin of Grassfed Girl online through, of all things, our connection as wives of North African men. Caitlin’s husband, Nabil is from Algeria. So, when she told me they were writing a cookbook based on Mediterranean/North African food I was immediately interested. Then I found out the cookbook is all paleo recipes, which is super helpful to us as this means they’re also gluten-free! 

But Caitlin and Nabil aren’t just people off the street, she’s a nutritionist and he’s a chef so this book is the compilation of science, experience, and decades of North African food traditions. Those familiar with Mediterranean and North African cuisine will find many familiar recipes in this book, and many others that the authors have adapted and made paleo-friendly.

What’s Paleo?

It’s also known as the caveman diet, but it’s more than just a “diet,” it’s a lifestyle.  Let me preface this by saying, I do not eat paleo all the time. Some of the things we eat certainly are paleo but not everything. From the book, the definition of the paleo diet is,

based on the idea that human health steadily declined after introduction of Neolithic agricultural products such as grains and legumes about 10,000 years ago. Paleo is a theory that people genetically evolved to have a diet including wild or grass fed animals and their fats, fowl/eggs, fish/shellfish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. These staple foods were the same ones that human hunter-gather ancestors thrived upon. When a person’s diet is made up of these Paleolithic foods they get a proper balance of vitamins, minerals, phyto-chemicals and antioxidants that help keep inflammation down and reduce the risk of chronic disease that has plagued modern people, especially in the last 100 years.

Do I have to eat Paleo to enjoy this book?

No! So many people today have different dietary needs, whether it’s gluten-free, diabetic diet, or a variety of other needs. Even if you don’t have any dietary restrictions, I’m sure you’ll love this cookbook.

Book Banner Mediterranean Paleo

 

What’s in the Book?

  • A highly detailed introductory section that provides background and information on how to stock a Mediterranean Paleo Kitchen
  • Breakfast Recipes like Crepes with Pomegranate Sauce and Apricot Scones
  • Salads that include classic Mediterranean/North African staples like a Mediterranean Seafood Salad
  • Soups to warm you up such as harira and cumin cauliflower soup.
  • Appetizers to munch. Try the Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Hummus!
  • Poultry that includes recipes for stuffed chicken thighs and a lemon ginger tajine.
  • Red Meat recipes such as beef stuffed artichoke.
  • Offal (Organ meats) like the North African specialty kbida (grilled liver).
  • Vegetable Side Dishes – green beans with lamb bacon anyone?
  • Seafood to make you smile – try the pistachio crusted sole.
  • Sauces, Broths, and Butters – love the dairy free cream sauce!
  • Desserts like chocolate pistachio squares.

There’s over 125 recipes in this full-color book.  It’s loaded with beautiful pictures and detailed instructions for every recipe. There are also chef’s tips on numerous recipes offering ideas and suggestions to take the recipe one step further.

You all know I don’t share recipes, cookbooks, or suggestions for things I don’t believe in or don’t use.  This book is really exceptional and I’m so glad Caitlin and Nabil wrote it!

Resources Pages Mediterranean Pale

a peek at the pages of the ebook

 

 

Do keep in mind this is an ebook. After purchase you will receive a link to download your copy to your computer or ereader.

It’s available for $22.97 — seriously under $0.25 a recipe!

Not to mention all of the bonus information Caitlin and Nabil provide. If you’ve contemplated a paleo lifestyle, this is a great resource to help you get started.  Oh, I should also mention, this book is all halal. There’s no pork, no alcohol. Keeping with the traditions of halal, the paleo lifestyle places a high emphasis on eating meat from animals that are grass fed, organic, and humanely raised.

Get Your Copy Now!

 

Want to learn more? Listen to Caitlin and Nabil’s interview on the Jimmy Moore show, Livin’ La Vida Low Carb.

Visit Grassfed Girl to get more great recipes and insight from Caitlin.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the ecookbook from Caitlin to review. My opinions are all my own. If you choose to purchase a book, I will receive a small commission, this does not cost anything to you, but is a way for authors to thank those who share their work.
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It’s that time of year when round-up posts are aplenty.  Not being one to want to be left out, I’m offering you my favorite cookbooks from 2012.  I have a bit of a cookbook problem, just ask my husband.  Whenever a box turns up that looks like it might contain a book I hear, “another book?!?!” I don’t just look at cookbooks for the recipes, of course I do cook from them.  But. I also read them.  I see what other people are making, how they’re combining ingredients, what their techniques are.  I love the stories that are told along with recipes.  Yes, I read cookbooks. If you’re looking for a gift to give a special foodie in your life or maybe you’re just looking for a little something for yourself, these five books have a little something for everyone.

Herbivoracious

I had the good fortune to meet Michael Natkin at Eat, Write, Retreat early in 2012.  What a delightful person he is! Immediately I was drawn to this book because of the beautiful colors and photographs.  I have made several recipes from the book and have never been disappointed. What impresses me the most about this book is that, while it’s vegetarian it doesn’t feel lacking.  The recipes are diverse, flavorful and unique.

Coming Home to Sicily

Coming Home to Sicily

How many Italian cookbooks can possibly be created?  I was skeptical at the thought of picking up “just one more” but am very happy I did.  This cookbook is Sicilian 100%.  The recipes are not what you would find in a traditional Italian food cookbook. Most of the recipes are simple, heavy on the vegetables and easy to make. Part of my family is Sicilian and many recipes reminded me of childhood favorites.  The book is broken into seasons and while you may have to adjust a little as not everyone will be in the same climate regions, it’s not much of a stretch.  Italian food lovers will want to add this book to their collection.  If you love Mediterranean food, this is the cookbook for you.

 Jerusalem

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I’m including this cookbook.  In fact, it’s probably my single favorite cookbook this past year.  It’s a compelling read and it supports my theory of food diplomacy!  The book is authored by two men, one Jewish and one Muslim who both grew up in Jerusalem within miles of each other.  The recipes in the book represent the city and the food they grew up with.  They do a fantastic job of weaving stories into the food.  Having cooking at least half this book, there isn’t a recipe we haven’t liked.  It’s a great cookbook and a great coffee table book!

 Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Do you love baking?  Do you consider most baking books repetitive?  If so then you’ll love this book.  I am not much of a baker and have had to adapt most all of our baked goods to gluten-free.  But, when I got this cookbook I was intrigued.  The recipes are process oriented, which one can expect with a baking book.  The end results are really great Why I like this book is that it pushes you out of your comfort zone.

Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain

Jamie Oliver's Great Britain

I really wasn’t sure what I was going to think of this book.  British food doesn’t have a great reputation, especially not here in the US.  But I know and love Jamie Oliver’s work and was hopeful.  This book is worth it.  It’s a great mix of different dishes, with cute illustrations, great pictures and good writing.  The recipes aren’t overly complicated and really represent all of Great Britain.  I highly recommend this book.

I hope you enjoyed seeing what a few of my favorite books from this past year were.  If you click on the images, you will go to Amazon where you can pick up a copy of these to make a part of your family.  I’d love to know – what was your favorite cookbook this year? 

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Party Planning with My XYBoard {Giveaway}

I’m busy today preparing for my online fall Twitter party. You’re coming right? Tonight at 9pm EST using #FallPartyFood. I think I like virtual parties as much as the real thing – and there’s no cleanup involved!  This week was super busy and stressful for me with work commitments, party planning and family life and I’ve been stretching to find time to sneak in gathering everything I want to share. But I’ve been able to use my Xyboard with 4G from Verizon to keep things moving along. No matter where I am, waiting in the car to get the kids, at the doctor’s office or at the coffee shop everything I need is there with internet to boot.

Some of my favorite apps to help me keep things together;

Evernote – This is like a virtual clipboard/notebook/journal.  I can drop in ideas, build notebooks, add images and everything is in one place and accessible no matter which device I’m on.

Spotify – Listen to radio stations based on your favorite artists or songs, build playlists and listen to new releases. I love that I can create my own albums to fill with party tunes!

Pinterest- New and improved android app, the perfect source for visual inspiration.

CamScanner- A great app for keeping track of receipts and anything else written on paper. Just scan and save.

DropBox – I’ve got Dropbox on my desktop computer and on my tablet so no matter where I am I can grab my documents.

It’s possible for me get all this done thanks to Verizon’s great data network.  Now I have an awesome giveaway for one lucky reader. You can have your own jetpack, Verizon’s mobile hotspot.  Set this up in your home so that multiple users can log in.  Going on a car trip or flight? Bring the jetpack with for downtime in the car or airport. Not only that but it has WORLDWIDE capability, in more than 205 countries. You can connect 10 devices onto this single hotspot and only pay $20 a month for service!

 

Oh yea and on top of that you’ll also receive a $150 Verizon Gift Card!

 So that’s a Verizon Jetpack Hotspot + a $150 Verizon Gift Card – pretty awesome right?

There’s several ways to enter and the giveaway will end October 5th at midnight.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post however I am a member of the Midwest Savvy Gourmet program and received a XYBoard and data package to facilitate my posts.

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