This is Mark Connolley-Mendoza, Jenn Chic, Walt Chic Mendoza, and Charlotte Chic Mendoza — this month's Sparkler Spotlight family! We asked them all sorts of questions about their experience with Sparkle and here's what we learned:
- They discovered Sparkle Stories at the beginning of the pandemic — but Jenn tells us that it feels as if Sparkle has always been a part of their lives!
- Jenn and Mark live in Nelson, BC, Canada with their two little ones.
- Jenn tells us they have raised their children very similarly to Martin and Sylvia. Coming from a Waldorf-inspired, attachment-based, homeschooling background, the whole family gets a sense of belonging by listening to the stories.
We asked the Chic Mendozas all about their experience as new Sparklers, and one answer in particular stood out to me. Jenn tells us that Sparkle Stories have been much more than just a source of entertainment. They've also found a sense of belonging:
"When we can see similar values reflected back to us it feels familiar and right and like we're a part of a bigger community than the one around us. We feel like a part of the world."
Read more about the Chic Mendoza family below and enjoy their favorite story playlist!
How (and when) were you introduced to Sparkle Stories?
I'd love to be able to say that I can remember the day when we first discovered Sparkle Stories. But I can't. It seems like we've always had Sparkle Stories in our life. I do know that we discovered Sparkle Stories right around when the pandemic began because that's when we first signed up for our subscription.
What are your children's favorite stories or collections? What do they love about them?
My children, Walt (age 7 ½)and Charlotte (age 5 ½) love Martin & Sylvia, Junkyard Tales, and Sparkle Sleepytime. We've dabbled in Windward Ho but it hasn't stuck yet. And we listened to the new alien series, too. We don't have favourite stories but lately we love listening to different collections — Junkyard Tales: All Belong, Martin & Sylvia Saturdays, a few different advent story collections, and Sparkle Sleepytime.
Over the last two winters, Walt and Charlotte have also been loving cross country skiing — once we get there, that is! When we’ve made it into the car and everyone is settling in for the 20-minute drive to our ski area there are always lots of feelings to deal with — excited, apprehensive, tired. We started listening to The Willowbee Tree on the way to skiing and it made such a difference. Not only did they have something to look forward to in the car but the stories are so full of just what we needed for our adventures. The Willowbee children take off on their adventures and deal with their emotions with magical animals they meet and end up feeling better by the time they come home. I love all the voices of the animals as they teach my kiddos that all the emotions are okay and they can find their way through them.
They love anything that's funny and goofy (Bunny Wonder, Winnie the Puppy) but are also drawn to stories that reflect what we love back to them — camping inside the house and out, building forts, mud, hanging out with the older neighbors, animals.
What first drew you to using audio stories with your children?
My kids love to read. They read on their own a lot throughout the day and I read to them in the morning and the night, but sometimes I need a break. Listening to audio stories is one of my magic tricks to give me a chance to get some things done in the morning and to help out with falling asleep at night (the kids, not me 😁).
Kidding aside, listening to Sparkle Sleepytime when the chaos of the world came creeping in was so helpful.
I also find audio stories so valuable for car rides. We have used them on long trips and just doing errands around town. The characters are like friends that keep us company when we travel near or far.
What has your experience been like? What has Sparkle Stories brought to your family?
What I most value about Sparkle Stories is the sense of wonder they inspire in Walt and Charlotte. They manage to keep our children deeply connected to their innocence and imagination. In a world that is constantly encouraging children to grow up way too fast, Sparkle Stories puts the brakes on. I am so grateful for this.
Have the stories been helpful in more ways than entertainment?
We get craft ideas and ideas for yummy snacks and meals. Somehow if Martin and Sylvia like it, it must be worth a try. I got Alabama Toast for Mother's Day this year.
I have watched my two (who are the same age as Martin and Sylvia this year) absorb the relationship that those siblings have with each other and inspire some better behaviour between each other. Like most siblings, they squabble and get tired of each other. Hearing about Martin and Sylvia getting along or NOT getting along helps them to put things into perspective.
And because we have raised our children very similarly to Martin and Sylvia (Waldorf-inspired, attachment-based, homeschooling) the whole family gets a sense of belonging by listening to the stories, and not just Martin and Sylvia. When we can see similar values reflected back to us, it feels familiar and right and like we're a part of a bigger community than the one around us. We feel like a part of the world.
I never have to worry that the stories will be "inappropriate" for our kids to listen to. I value the age ranges put on the stories and always give the kids a chance to listen to something new, but for now it's all about our favourites.
How and when do you listen the most?
Have you had a favorite craft or recipe that you've used?
The Alabama Toast the kids and their father made for me on Mother's Day was so good. It just so happened that I printed out the Sparkle Stories Cookbook a few days before. 😉 I'm looking forward to getting into the knitting stories with Charlotte to help us with knitting this coming winter.
About the Author
Jessica is a content creator, writer, strategist, and vintage pyrex collector. She has a passion for facilitating authentic connection, whether that's through her work at Sparkle Stories or her songwriting.