November’s Giving Campaign: You Shop, We Donate!

 

Happy November, families!

We’re continuing our Fall Giving Campaign with a special initiative this month: You shop, we donate proceeds to assist the poor and homeless in our nation’s capital.

For several years now, the Washington, DC nonprofit SOME (So Others Might Eat) has been close to our hearts. SOME works diligently to feed, clothe, and permanently improve the lives of poor and homeless DC residents, including families and children. SOME’s commitment to treating our city’s most vulnerable residents with compassion, generosity, and dignity truly inspires us.

 
FOR NOVEMBER: You shop, we donate! All this month, we’ll donate a portion of every single purchase you make on our website to SOME. From our best-selling ABCs of Washington, DC board book to nursery art and much more, we have the perfect gifts for the adventure-loving little ones on your shopping list!

Together we can help SOME ensure that all DC families have food, shelter, and the warmth of a caring community this month.

You can also directly support SOME – visit their website to donate to their food and clothing drives, or if you want to burn off that turkey, sign up for their annual Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger!

Happy Shopping and Giving,

The Baby Ventures Family

Bookroo: Fostering Literacy Love in Little Ones

As a children’s board book company, we at Baby Ventures know firsthand of the pure joy (and lifelong benefits) of raising little bookworms. We believe that early learning is the cornerstone of a thriving childhood and that it’s never too early to start reading to young children to expand their worldview. So we were thrilled to discover Bookroo, a fellow mom-inspired company that helps parents build their children’s book collections in an exciting way through monthly book deliveries. Offering both board book and picture book packages, Bookroo helps parents discover new books and authors beyond the classics by carefully selecting “hidden gems” that are not easily found in stores or online.

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with the co-founders of Bookroo—three sisters-in-law brought together by their husbands and love of reading—about the benefits of early learning, how parents can foster a love of reading in their own children and more. Continue reading Bookroo: Fostering Literacy Love in Little Ones

October Kicks Off Baby Ventures’ Giveaways for Giving!

At Baby Ventures, we’re big fans of giving back to those in need in our community (be it our local neighborhood or our global village), and fostering empathy in our little ones to do the same. So with fall officially kicking off the holiday season, we’re launching our Giveaways for Giving: Each month until December, we’re asking you to join us in giving to those in need in the greater DC area, and in turn you’ll receive a giveaway from us!

For October: We’ve teamed up with one of our favorite Washington, DC indie bookstores, Walls of Books, to support their spook-tacular neighborhood initiative: They’re collecting gently used children’s Halloween costumes for DC area kids through this Friday, October 13th.

How You Can Give: Just donate a costume (or a few – ask your friends and neighbors to pitch in!), take a photo of your drop-off and tag us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Our Giveaway to You: Once you tag us, we’ll then contact you directly and ship you your choice of a FREE Baby Ventures’ super-soft, mom-approved toddler tee (3T) or onesie (12mo)*!

Oh and while you’re at Walls of Books…be sure to check out the literary haven that is their children’s books section!

Working together as a community to ensure DC children have costumes – that’s what we call a happy Halloween! Please join us in embracing the spirit of giving this holiday season, and stay tuned for our November and December Giveaways for Giving blogposts, featuring more giving opportunities + goodies!

Happy Giving,

Golzar & Lisa
Co-founders, Baby Ventures

*While supplies last – in the happy instance that we run out of tees/onesies, we’ll gladly offer you another treat!

Guest Interview: Lily Yeh, Founder of Little Loving Hands

At Baby Ventures, we believe in fostering compassion in children early on through board books depicting our diverse world.  So we were delighted to discover Little Loving Hands, a fellow mom-inspired company whose mission is to foster empathy and kindness in little ones with another timeless childhood pastime: crafting.

Founder Lily Yeh came up with a winning formula: Crafting for a cause. Through its subscription program, Little Loving Hands sends children engaging, fun crafts to make, and they in turn gift their completed crafts to those in need. Past projects have included handmade birthday presents for children living in shelters, superhero capes for orphans around the world, and decorated notebooks and chalkboards for students who cannot afford school supplies.

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Lily and discussing the role of empathy in raising children, the many benefits of giving back, and different ways in which parents can foster empathy in their children.

Continue reading Guest Interview: Lily Yeh, Founder of Little Loving Hands

Co-Founder Lisa Hall on Baby Ventures’ Interview with Top DC Mom Blog

As co-founders of Baby Ventures, Golzar and I were recently interviewed by Do DC with Kids, one of DC’s top mom blogs! We sat down with its founder, Tina Smith, at Eastern Market’s scrumptious Bourbon Coffee for a chat over morning coffee and pastries. The location was particularly special to us, given Golzar and I met just around the corner exactly 12 years ago while working at a nonprofit NGO.

We thoroughly enjoyed sharing our Baby Ventures story and discussing our ABCs of Washington, DC board book and what’s next (hint: our 2nd book)! Read the interview here for the inside scoop and be sure to check out www.dodcwithkids.com for more articles on exploring our nation’s capital with your little ones.

Happy DC adventures,

Lisa & Golzar

How to Decorate a Safari-Themed Nursery

Cultivate a love of creatures early on in your little ones from the comfort of your own home. Create a safari-themed nursery with all the amazing animals that call East Africa home and each day can be a new adventure in learning and exploration!

Decorating Tips

  • Start with your background: paint the walls a color inspired by the picturesque African landscape, such as beige or light green
  • Add a welcoming feel to the room with natural wood furnishings, including crib, dresser and rocking chair
  • Layer with furnishings with textured accents such as bamboo shades and wicker hampers
  • Bring the whole room to life with vibrant accessories such as Baby Ventures’ Safari Party canvas art, linens, books and toys featuring their favorite East African animals

Want more inspiration? Check out Baby Ventures’ safari theme Pinterst board for more of our artwork as well as our favorite products, including wicker elephant-shaped hampers, zebra rockers and cute-as-can-be clothes hooks.

And don’t forget the best part: with the nursery décor in place, baby’s learning adventures can begin! Use the new safari nursery as a virtual sensory exploration by identifying shapes, colors and animals with your little ones and cultivate an early appreciation for these wonderful creatures.

Happy safari adventures!

*Did you know that some of the most beloved East African animals endangered or vulnerable? Visit the African Wildlife Foundation website to learn more about the animals and how to help ensure they survive for future generations.

Guest Interview Part II: Mary Grace Otis, Host of The Global Mom Show

In this week’s blog, we continue our conversation with Mary Grace Otis, Host of The Global Mom Show! The Global Mom Show is a weekly podcast that connects moms around the world who want to live globally-minded lives and teach their kids to do the same. Below is Part II of our interview with Mary Grace where she discusses the importance of multicultural children’s books, and how parents can inspire an expanded worldview in their children early on.

Baby Ventures’ books seek to inspire young children to explore our diverse world. What role do you feel diversity-inspired children’s books play in raising globally-minded children?

In our home, books take center stage for all we do. I’m currently homeschooling my first-grader and preschooler, and read-a-louds are the core of our curriculum. In my opinion books are the gateway to the world. They can capture the imagination and teach lessons without being preachy. I know how much I’ve learned through stories, and I want my kids to have access to all types of stories too, so that they become engaged at an early age with the reality that everyone has multiple stories to share and all of them are worth hearing.

Diversity-inspired books play a critical role in developing the type of empathy and open-mindedness necessary for children to become globally-minded. In many cases books may be the only opportunity that children have to interact with another culture, so creating good diverse books—and many of them—is, I believe, a wonderfully important task.

As a global mom, what more would you like to see in books that present elements of diversity and multiculturalism to young children?

Well, first of all, I know there are so many more diverse and multicultural books out there than we’ve been able to read. It’s actually really exciting for me, because I look forward to learning with my kids about other cultures, people, and places. Although I love the books that delve into historical events and cultural events, I also would just love some fun books for my boys that happen to have diverse characters.

For example, my boys are currently into the Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary. Now if I could find a Henry Huggins with multicultural characters, that would be great. A lot of the multicultural books I find seem to deal with some difficult subjects, and while I think that is so important, I also just want my boys to have engaging stories that include characters that happen to be diverse. As a white mom raising kids who have an Asian-American heritage, I would also love to see more books with multicultural families of all types and combinations.

“I think one of the most ‘enriching realizations’ for me is…that everyone has a unique story that’s worth listening to and sharing.” – Mary Grace Otis

What are some of the most enriching realizations you have had during your podcast interviews?

One of things I love about talking with other global moms is that I get to go deep quickly and ask about the things that otherwise might take months or years to uncover through natural conversation. As I’ve done so, I’ve realized how important it is to be intentional in our own relationships with one another as moms.

This whole global journey is not just about or for our kids, but it overflows from our own lives. And if we want to be inspired to teach our kids to become globally-minded, we have to be connected ourselves. It has been absolutely enriching to my own life to enter in to conversations with women doing amazing things around the world in the areas of diversity, training, writing, blogging, homeschooling, and parenting. I think one of the most “enriching realizations” for me is just the continued realization that everyone has a unique story that’s worth listening to and sharing.

Subscribe to The Global Mom Show podcast to join the conversation and connect with moms around the world who share a global worldview.

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Mary Grace Otis is the host of The Global Mom Show podcast, a wife, a mom of three boys, a former expat and development worker, and a freelance writer for nonprofits and businesses. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Grab a copy of her free PDF guide 10 Ways to Create a Global Home—No Matter Where You Live, or join her private Facebook Community, The Global Moms Network, to connect with like-minded mamas.

Come Visit Us at the Gaithersburg Book Festival: May 20th!

In honor of World Book Day today, we’re so thrilled to announce that Baby Ventures has been selected to participate in this year’s highly anticipated Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 20th! Since its founding in 2010, this Festival has become a top literary event for the whole family in the greater Washington, DC region, attracting hundreds of award-winning authors, poets and songwriters. From author readings to story time and sing-alongs for children, the Festival is the perfect outing for bookworms of all ages!

Come visit our Baby Ventures booth in the Children’s Area for signed copies of Baby Ventures’ ABCs of Washington, DC board books, children’s canvas art, and more –  the first 10 visitors to purchase a board book or canvas art will receive a free Baby Ventures onesie or toddler tee! And be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get the latest info on day-of giveaways and other special promotions at the Festival.

Book Festival Logo

Gaithersburg Book Festival
Saturday, May 20th
10 am – 6 pm
Gaithersburg City Hall Grounds
Old Towne Gaithersburg, MD

The Festival will take place from 10 am – 6 pm—rain or shine—in historic Old Towne Gaithersburg, MD (complete with real trains and a Community Museum). “Say Yes! to the Book” and see you on May 20th!

Guest Interview: Mary Grace Otis, Host of The Global Mom Show

At Baby Ventures, we encourage children early on to explore all the places, cultures and creatures of our diverse, wonder-filled world. How can parents foster a globally-minded worldview from a young age? We asked Mary Grace Otishost of The Global Mom Show! The Global Mom Show is a weekly podcast that connects moms around the world who want to live globally-minded lives and teach their kids to do the same. Below is Part I of our interview with Mary Grace.

In your experience, how can travel – to new locales in particular – expand a child’s worldview in his/her early years? How would you characterize the long-term benefits of fostering such a worldview?

When I was a child, we never traveled internationally, but we were always on some sort of road trip or field trip to a nearby historical site or a state park half-way across the country. These trips, however long or short, prepared me to be curious, flexible, and optimistic about travel experiences as a child. When I was old enough to travel on my own, it was only natural for me to push the boundaries and explore overseas.

I think international travel is an amazing way to expose kids to other cultures. Of course, it’s incredible. But, if you can’t afford it, if you can’t get time off work, if you can’t seem to make that happen in your current situation, that’s okay. Travel can be as simple as a camping trip or a visit to a nearby metropolitan area. Wherever you go that’s outside of your own usual circle will expose your children to new experiences, let them see people who may look or act differently from them, give them an opportunity to see various landscapes, and teach them how to accept change to their usual schedules and norms.  In my experience, those things set the foundation for more extensive travel later on.  Even trips through an airport or to a multicultural festival where children have opportunities to see diversity firsthand, listen to multicultural music, or taste unusual-to-them foods can have a huge impact on small children and will give you, as a parent, an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary and concepts to a young child.

In my own children, I’ve seen that even the littlest bit of travel during the preschool ages can have a big impact in expanding a child’s worldview. The long-term benefits are the realizations that come with understanding that life doesn’t center around you or your town, but that life is varied, multifaceted, beautiful, and worth exploration.

If travel is not often possible, in what other ways can parents help broaden their children’s understanding of and appreciation for other people, places, and cultures? 

There are several entry points to other cultures that are within reach for most parents.  Some of the easiest ways to broaden children’s worldviews are through books, music, food, and friendships. We’re really just starting this journey in my own home with my boys, and I am always on the lookout for new resources to bring into the home that will allow us to explore other cultures. I usually start at the library, checking out all the multicultural books I can find!

I’ve written a short list of 10 Simple Ways to Create a Global Home—No Matter Where You Live, and in it I give descriptions of some of the things parents can do to incorporate an appreciation of other cultures into their home life. Simple, practical things like putting up a map in the dining room so that you can reference it whenever you hear about or read about another country; listening to podcasts about diversity and global issues that keep you inspired to pass on these values to your kids; teaching your kids another language so that they expand their understanding of culture; internationalizing your media so that you are getting music and videos from around the world as well. Those are a few simple things that make global living accessible to anyone.

How have you incorporated globally-minded living into your family’s daily life? What key tenets of globally-minded living can you share that we could all put into practice?

To me, globally-minded living is something I haven’t mastered, but something I strive to incorporate into our family life.

I believe it starts with the parents. If you want your kids to grow up excited and eager to engage with the world, then you have to also be excited about learning and engaging with the world. For me, that started with a simple framework of “looking up, looking out, and looking all around,” that I later decided is critical to becoming a global mom. The first few years of motherhood, or parenting in general, can be so all consuming, that you can feel very isolated. It can feel like the only thing you think about is just keeping everyone fed and diapered—and hopefully getting a little bit of sleep along the way. But, I actually find that when I look only at my circumstances and what I have to get done in a day or what is going on with the kids right at that moment, I can become discouraged and discontented. When I start looking up from my own mess and looking out into the world again, I’m reminded of the beauty both within my own home and family, and beyond it. Things like having beds made and cooking awesome meals seem to become less crucial, and I can focus on connecting with the world around me and teaching my children to do the same.

As far as the key tenets of globally-minded living, well, there are just so many! Believing that all people have worth and value and that all cultures have something to teach us is a start.

My framework of “looking up, looking out, and looking all around” is how I encourage moms to take practical steps to become more globally-minded. This is how I explain it:

Look up. This basically means getting out of your own way, so that you are not so self focused. It’s the simple act of looking up from your own circumstances to recognize the stories of people around you. With kids, it can be simple steps like teaching them to stop complaining because they wanted a different kind of cereal for breakfast, and reminding them how blessed they are to even have food. It starts with a sense of gratitude for our own lives and circumstances and then we have the mindset to look up and start seeing what’s around us.

Look out. Now that you are not so self focused, take some time to look out. Outside your window, outside your neighborhood, outside your city. What do you see? This could literally mean taking a walk to a new neighborhood, or taking a bus-ride across town. It basically means observing how people from other cultures and communities live, and teaching your children to look as well—not judge, but just observe. This is where we start to build compassion, empathy, and open-mindedness in ourselves and in our children—traits that are important for developing global citizens.

Look all around. This third step entails really making an effort to explore—through books, music, cuisine, language, travel, art—as many different cultures as you can. This is where we take learning as a life-long goal and understanding and building bridges between cultures as our mission.

All of this is part of what I call living with the world in mind, which basically means thinking of others as you go about your day. Living with the world in mind involves understanding how our own decisions affect others worldwide. It involves looking into how we spend our money and our time, evaluating how we educate our children, considering which charities we choose to support, and so much more. It can really impact all areas of one’s life.

Stay tuned for Part II of our interview with Mary Grace as we discuss the importance of multicultural books, coming soon!

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Mary Grace Otis is a wife, a mom of three boys, a former expat and development worker, and a freelance writer for nonprofits and businesses. You can find her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Grab a copy of her free PDF guide 10 Ways to Create a Global Home—No Matter Where You Live, or join her private Facebook Community, The Global Moms Network, to connect with like-minded mamas. 

“C” is for Cherry Blossoms!

No ABCs of Washington, DC book would be complete without a colorful ode to DC’s iconic spring blooms: cherry blossoms!

Even before writing and illustrating the ABCs of Washington, DC board book, Baby Ventures authors and illustrator Lisa Hall and Golzar Kheiltash knew the letter C would represent cherry blossoms – those gorgeous, ephemeral blooms that bring our nation’s capital to life each spring and most famously, line the banks of the Tidal Basin overlooking the Jefferson Memorial.

The aesthetic beauty of the cherry blossoms is undisputed. For Baby Ventures – a children’s book company – so is the beauty of what these blossoms stand for:

  • Kindness and Friendship: The cherry blossoms were a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC in 1912. This gift marked the beginning of a lasting friendship between the US and Japan.
  • Welcoming and Inclusive Spirit: Every year, over a million tourists flock to the Washington, DC area to experience the cherry blossoms first-hand. Our city welcomes them with a vibrant, internationally-inspired National Cherry Blossom Festival for all ages to enjoy (for emphasis on enjoyment, check out these insider planning tips from KidFriendly DC).
  • New Season, New Adventures: The cherry blossoms are one of the first to bloom around DC. They usher in the spring and all of the wonder-filled adventures awaiting little ones around DC (boat tours on the Potomac, stroller rides through Rock Creek Park, out and about just sightseeing – check out MommyNearest DC for more!).

This year, a tardy cold snap disrupted the cherry blossoms’ peak bloom period, throwing tourists, DC families, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival into a scramble trying to reassess the viability of the blooms. Much to our relief, the National Parks Service recently reported that while the snow hurt many blossoms, those lining the Tidal Basin are still going to bloom!

More good news: if your family missed the cherry blossoms this year, don’t fret – you and your tots can experience C is for Cherry Blossoms year-round with our ABCs of Washington, DC board book! And if you’re in the greater DC area, stop by one of these one of a kind local specialty shops for your copy!

From the Baby Ventures Team in Washington, DC: Happy blooming spring adventures!