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africa

Easy Inspired Romance for Valentine's Day

FAM, self By January 30, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

Easy Romance for Valentine's Day The continent of Africa has helped me fall more deeply in love this year and I couldn’t possibly set up a romantic Valentine’s dinner without giving a nod to its guttural beauty and spirit.  In February I worked with kids in Liberia with Right To Play Canada and then my husband raised money in August for Canada’s first blood cord bank by summiting Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Throughout the year, our kids’ school fundraised to build water wells in South Sudan. Whish Romantic Table

Typically I am a high-maintenance silver, china and crystal girl. Don’t snicker. But after the 2 trips to Africa, kids’ activities and work, I am rather exhausted.  When my Whish Romance Box arrived I had just attended the kids’ first school musical all about water. The performance talked of the importance of water and Africa was a large component. The boys explained that many families in Sudan are leaving their homes and the wells the school has built because there is a war going on. Wow. Africa deserves a nod, and I am so thankful for how it has touched all of our lives this year. Whish Box

Opening the Whish romance box I was thrilled. They had thought of everything – even menus and a shopping list! Turnkey. Heavy silver plates, cutlery, stunning champagne flutes and wine glasses – all in plastic for easy recycling or re-use. (Hello beach picnic). Chocolates, a pashmina, napkins, vase and tealight holders (with the candles that I always run out of!). In fact, Whish made romance so easy with the essentials that I could focus on the theme and the romance of it all.

So how do you add thoughtful romance? Incorporate bits from your life. It needn’t be as exotic as Africa, but little touches – that this time-saving box of fun gives you – can be tacked on at the end. But if you don’t have an iota of creative juice in your body – you are covered.  Follow the step by step directions, make the (fab) suggested meal and ask the florist for the suggested flowers. The evening will be epic – as my 6 year-old likes to say. But I’m hoping he is referring to something different. IN THE WHISH BOX

I draped a gold and blue cloth I had been given in Liberia over the table in our bedroom. The boys’ two hand carved wooden giraffes kissed at the back of our plates. White flowers and a few stones from the Kilimanjaro climb along with the heart-shaped chocolates strewn on the table finished the look. African drum music was next. We had a beautiful dinner, conversation with depth and given that this is rated G, I think I’ll stop there. Wink.

** GIVEAWAY: Who wouldn’t want a Valentines Day box, extra candles and a Breakfast Basket ? We know you don’t want to cook on the morning after. The contest will run from January 27th to February 3rd. The product will be delivered to the winner in time for Valentines Day.

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post courtesy of Whish.ca. All ideas and opinions are our own.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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andBeyond's WILDchild Program

International, ROAM By June 4, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

WILDchildWe have a pretty soft spot for travel.  And Africa.  But especially for including your children on educational and exciting journeys.  Safaris aren’t just for adults anymore – and we have a hunch that taking kids early on these African expeditions will positively affect them (and our planet) for many years.  andBeyond’s WILDchild program takes kids to Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, and creates daily missions and excursions for children in the care of rangers, trackers, babysitters, and cooks.  BTW, the ‘Poo Walks’ have nothing to do with Winny.

andBeyond WILDchildSample of Daily Missions:

Every lodge has a range of missions that is suitable to the lodge environment and will be given to the WILDchild to complete daily.

·         Poo Walks – embracing the juvenile fascination with scatology, trained rangers at Sandibe help children collect the dried dung of various animals to take back to the lodge to analyze (hyena droppings are often white due to the amount of bones these scavengers consume, while elephant dung is hardly digested and often resembles a ball of hay)

·         Animal Tracking – heading out with an expert ranger at Kirkman’s Camp to find clues such as broken twigs or freshly rubbed-off bark to find where certain animals are hiding

·         Fishing – going to the river at Xaranna to catch fish or to get a little messy with a round of “Kleilat” (a local game involving mud flinging)

andBeyond lodge·         Arts and Crafts – making traditional Zulu bows and arrows or embracing the modern, African love of recycling plastic into new objects such as animal figurines or purses at Phinda

·         Cooking – joining the chefs in the kitchen at Sossusvlei to learn to make homemade pasta and fresh bread or to decorate cookies and cupcakes.

For more details on andBeyond’s 32 extraordinary lodges and camps in Africa and India, visit andBeyond.com.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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The Field that was Leveled Through Hope

fitness, GEAR, International, ROAM By March 21, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , 8 Comments

Hope Right To PlayIt has been several days since my return from Liberia and I feel as if I am missing a big part of myself.  The kids’ faces and gentle touches to my hands are constantly in my thoughts, and the friendships formed with the local Right To Play volunteers and staff are ones I will cherish forever.  Conversations with Olympians Clara Hughes and Rosie MacLennan motivated me to become a better human being, and experiencing so much poverty with fellow parent Lori Harasem made me play even harder to generate smiles from the kids.

Ben Right To PlayThe adults and teenagers we met had experienced terrible things in their lifetimes with a war that ended very recently.  Some had lost parents and raised themselves.  Most had a loved one who experienced sexual assault.  And every adult associated with Right To Play worked tirelessly to restore hope for the next generation.  Housing Bridge LiberiaEvery day the same volunteers (many had no employment themselves but chose to devote their days to teaching children through Right To Play activities) emerged into an empty space and performed magic.  It was like a slow motion film.  The waiting children would all turn, smile and organize themselves into a ‘great big circle’ so they could begin.  The rhythms of their responses to the leader of the game formed a percussive music.  The empty, litter-filled space had become vibrant and full of life.

Liberia Soccer GameLooking back on the experience, there is one thing that resonates: hope.  Despite dire circumstances in every community we visited, the smiles, cooperation and respect for one another was extraordinary.  I was brought back to the basics of life:  drink fresh water, keep your clothes and environment clean to prevent disease, help your neighbour.  Homemade ToyA young boy bathed meticulously in a large bucket by the side of the road.  A woman carrying a huge bundle on her head picked over potato leaves in a market to find the best choices for her family.  A twenty year-old on a motorbike saw the Right To Play sign on our van and gave me a huge thumbs-up.  It was all about hope.

Women in LiberiaThe new department of women and family in Liberia has made women’s rights a priority and there are billboards against the abuse of women and talking about seeking immediate medical help if you are assaulted.  Those were jarring to see.  But one sign on the side of the road resonated.  This one advertisement was a definition of ‘Mother’: a person who ‘makes something out of nothing’.  That is exactly what I witnessed.  These women generated a meager income buying bleach in bulk and selling it in small bags, buying a case of water packets and a block of ice and hoping for extreme heat so they may sell a few individual bags of water to quench thirst in their community.

Right to Play West Point OlympiansRight To Play has never taken a parent ambassador to a field visit and it was a profound experience.  I felt like an Olympian with the amount of interest directed toward me!  But I was clearly not nearly as disciplined or accomplished – I wasn’t great at playing the soccer games (I fell flat on my face in front of 300 kids and sprained my hand).  As a parent, I felt a powerful connection to the children and parents. Right To Play has everything covered for the children who are able to participate.  Baby Wearing AfricaBut the kids whose parents don’t prioritize play are missing out.  Many parents keep their children out of school to assist with washing or to take a long walk to wells for water.  I felt that not only could I connect with the kids as a parent, but talking to the parents was so important.  Their eyes would light up when I talked of my kids or asked for instruction on making a baby wrap out of a piece of towel.

Clara Hughes Playing with KidsAs a mother and publisher, I can make a promise.  I will never stop supporting the incredible work done by Right To Play. My kids are now playing the games and I intend to do everything  in my power to support the organization because it spreads hope.  And it is clear to me from meeting the people of Liberia that hope is all one needs.

To donate to Right To Play in Liberia, please click here.  No amount is too small.  Every donation will be matched 3 times.  Thank you.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Dare to Draw with UrbanMommies: Help Combat Aids in Africa

charity, FAM By January 18, 2012 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Join Team UrbanMommies as we raise money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Help turn the tide of AIDS in Africa.

Calling all kids!

We Dare you to Draw one picture every day for the next 30 days. Funds raised by your drawings will help support kids, parents and grandparents who are working to turn the tide of AIDS in Africa.

Your dare is an act of solidarity with kids in Africa who face great challenges every day because of AIDS.

Calling all parents!

We dare you to contribute $1 to the Stephen Lewis Foundation for every drawing your kid dares to create.

Now Get Going! Here’s How:

Join the Dare to Draw UrbanMommies Team.

Download and sign the Dare to Draw pledge!

Download the Dare to Draw Dare Chart! It will tell you and your kid what the drawing theme of the day is and kids can check off drawings they have completed.

“Like” the Dare to Draw Facebook Page. Share your kid’s drawings and stories about your Dare to Draw experience with other Daring kids and parents.

Donate. You can do this at any time by clicking the Donate button above the thermometer on the Dare Page. This money goes straight to the Stephen Lewis Foundation to make a difference in the lives of kids, parents and grandparents in Africa who rise to meet the challenges of the AIDS pandemic with extraordinary acts of courage, ingenuity, determination, and strength in their communities – every day!

Alternatively, if you don’t want to join a team but you want to participate in the dare, you can simply donate to the Dare to Draw UrbanMommies team by clicking the “Donate” button above the thermometer on your team’s page.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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