Saturday, December 27, 2008

Starr Readers Book Drive Thrives Despite Failing Economy

From the LBBC -
"It never fails to amaze me how just one person can make a difference. For the past four years, Texas native, Karen Furlong, has been collecting and donating books to nine libraries in Rio Grande City public schools. The city is located along the TX-Mexico border and within Starr County, which is considered to have one of the hightest poverty levels in the country.

Despite this year's economic struggle, it looks like she may end up with a record number of donations and $5,000 worth of books to deliver. Karen delivers a diversity of books - classics, popular fiction, etc. - and this year she'll be buying more culturally oriented stories like Jonah Winter's Frida and Elena's Serenade by Campbell Geeslin.

If you would like to send some money, gift cards (a Barnes and Noble store that she works with will give her the books at discount), or actual books, you have until the 4th of January. Then the next day, she and her mamá, Evangeline Rodriguez Marino, will make their now traditional drive down to Starr County to deliver their gifts in time for Día de los Reyes. Please mail donations/ checks, made out to Starr Readers, to 3125 Damascus Way, Dallas, Texas, 75234.

Isn't that wonderful? So many of these children will be lucky to get any presents at all. If you'd like to read the whole article about the Starr Readers Book Drive, click here.

Perhaps, dear Readers, next Christmas, we can help out and have a little on-line book drive to send to Karen? I'm sure we all have many books that we could share with all the niños of Starr County."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Feliz Navidad from Latin Baby and Mi Cielito Lindo

A little note to wish you all a wonderful Noche Buena and a very Feliz Navidad.
Mis niños are drunk on the excitement and the anticipation of all the goodies they think they will be getting. Already they have received so many gifts from family friends that I think I will have to take some of mine back. No child should have so many toys.
Friday morning will be spent going through "old" toys and filling the Goodwill box. A nice way to end the year by giving to those that are in need that which we do not. In fact, I will be combing through my closet and the coat closet as well, to dispense with our excess. How many of you are like me with sweaters/shirts/dresses/shoes sitting in your closet that are either too small (yes) or too big (no)? Or maybe there is an outfit that has nothing wrong with it, but is rarely worn?
I will post pictures next week, so that by promising to do so, I will be forced to carry out this plan rather than just talking about it.
I wonder, Amigas, would any of you care to join me? Let me know if you, too, will give generously and selflessly to those who have less this year. Send me a picture and I will post both it and your story.
With warmest holiday wishes from mi familia to yours,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Really, I don't need a job !

Hola y Felicidades Navideñas !

Monica has graciously invited me to join the wonderful mamitas that will be contributing to Cielito Lindo (ayy ayy ayy ayy, canta y no llores....) - sorry about the spontaneous singing.

My name is JoAnna Ordóñez. I grew up deep in South Texas and now live in the Texas Hill Country. Just about 4 years ago I decided to leave my engineering job and stay home with my family, we have been blessed with 4 children (ages 6 to 9 !) who are the light of my life. Vidriosa Glassworks has grown in many ways since I first began making glass pieces and today is a great success, and it affords me the luxury of staying home with my children. Life in our home can be very busy, but there is always time for play, travel and fun.

Really, I don't need a job !

In my business I meet so many people from many different walks of life. Art shows are a way of life for my family and I'm blessed with being able to share my story with my customers. It seems lately that every time a man who seems really interested in my work comes into my booth, they then call about 1 to 2 days later offering me a job. And not just any job, no sean mal pensadas !

A little background... In a former life, I was a Chemical Engineer and making very good money. But one day I woke up and what seemed like the perfect life, a house, a dog, 2 great cars and all the toys we could ask for, was just not my idea of what it was I really wanted out of life. Although I'd followed my parents plan of finishing school and getting a great job making lots of money, I really wanted to be a Mamí. My little sister, whose career is very important to her, gave me the whole "how could you do this to women" speech, but there was a real yearning in my heart to have little ones running around the house.

My husband of 18 years and I decided it was time to start trying for those babies and after a long run of fertility treatments we were just not able to conceive. It was by the grace of Diosito that we were able to adopt a beautiful little girl of 18 months. And then 2 years later we were blessed with 3 hermanitos. Our adoption story is a great one filled with the ups and downs and blessings that only could have come about through divine inspiration.

Fast forward to this last fall and my many art shows... It seems that every man that has come into my booth and looked interested in my product has something to offer.

From Xango to Pampered Chef, to Nona-V, Airbonne and Tupperware, there is always an offer of a way for me as a stay at home mommy and as a great sales person to make some extra income.

If they only knew, that I thoroughly enjoy being at home with my children and not having the stress of a 9 to 5 job. If they knew that Vidriosa is doing wonderfully thanks to the following and relationships I've been able to create with my customers, that to date we have over 45 wholesale accounts and counting. And, If they only knew that 25 of the 24 hours in the day are filled with childrens activities, working on my glass and craft projects with the kids, being the Arts Writer for Insite Austin Magazine , being the creator and Director of Artejanos, volunteering for Meals on Wheels and our ACTS Community, playing Bunko with the ladies, and keeping the house in "semi" order, they would never even dream of offering me a job !

Thankfully Vidriosa has blessed me with more business than I can keep up with in a day and I really don't need a job !

I'd love to hear from you and your experiences with this "dilemma" and if you're doing this I applaud you, I just really don't have time for another job. You can find me online at Vidriosa Glassworks and on facebook and myspace too.

Many blessings to you and yours.

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo - I want to wish you a merry christmas, I want to wish you a merry christmas, I want to wish you a merry christmas from the bottom of my heeearrrrt !

~* My children are singing too ! *~


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mi Cielito Lindo is Growing!

As I have mentioned already, things are totally crazy for me. Latin Baby is growing and new projects (such as the Book Club and the Latino Family Gift Guide) are constantly cropping up. It is getting harder and harder for me to keep up with all the blogs, so I have invited some other talented Latina mamis from around the country to help Mi Cielito continue to grow.

The goal of this blog has always been to write about issues affeting Latina moms. My comadres bring a diversity to the blog that I am eager to have and will be writing about everything from art projects with the kids to health issues, fashion to the challenges of single parenting.

I hope you will welcome them with open arms and the warmth that makes us Latin mamas. I wasn't going to have them start until after the first of the year, but some are ready and willing to begin immediately with ideas for Navidad.

Welcome, Amigas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A New Blog on the Block

There is a new mami blog on the web that you should be aware of. Carla Molina Martins the blogera behind Mama Hearts Baby has recently signed on with to be their official Latina mami. Their new blog, The Mami Diaries, are a fun (sometimes hilarious) take on issues that Latina moms face. Frequently featuring her baby girl, Dessa, Carla infuses her posts with humor, insight and helpful information.
I already call her the Super Mami because she has a hand on the pulse of the internet - MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, two blogs - while juggling a 16 month old AND pregnant with bebé number 2. And I think she's got a day job, too - don't you, Carla?
Anyway, her most recent Diaries post features Latin Baby and several other great businesses with product discounts for readers.
You can check out The Mami Diaries here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Angelito Ornaments

This week has been a busy one at our casa, just as it probably is at yours. My oldest finished off her preschool week with a Christmas performance that I gleefully video taped. Of course, every breathing moment leading up to that was pure, frantic chaos. She worked hard to memorize the Christmas poem she had to stand up and recite, while I fretted over what she should wear and how to arrange her hair. My eyes were bloodshot from staying up WAY too late trying to finish making the felt angelito ornaments that I made for each of her teachers (there are four.) I was more or less happy with the finished pieces and have decided to make more for us and others as Christmas gifts. Here's a picture of what they looked like before I put them in their individual gift bags.

Now the Christmas break is here, so it is a good thing I finished shopping for the kids because between now and Christmas, I will not get to enjoy a single moment without one of them in tow. It is fine, though, provided I schedule my time wisely. For instance, I still have a few more presents to get, but shopping times will have to be planned for the early mornings as afternoons equal naptime and without naptime, shopping is hell. Actually, it is not that bad if you enjoy a crying, frothing, screaming two year old who wants to have everything in the store while the four year old keeps crawling out of the cart in a mad attempt to touch everything she sees in Tar-jay.
Morning shopping equals two docile little lambs who sweetly ask if we can get this toy or that toy, and barely blink an eye when I say "maybe" or "put it on your Christmas list." Much less stressful. I wonder about you, dear readers. Do you shop alone or with kids? or with kids and an adult backup?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gift Sets for Abuelitas

One more shameless plug for Latin Baby...for those of you wondering what to buy Abuelita this Christmas, be sure to check out LB's gift sets. The one pictured here comes complete with a "#1 Abuelita" tee (available in azul or lavendar, sizes S-XL), an "Abuelita" pendant made of dichroic glass, and a pack of 5 handmade "Dichos de mi Abuelita" notecards using loteria images. All these are carefully packaged inside a vibrant day bag that is perfect for trips to see her grandkids.

For more information, check out the Latin Baby boutique here.

Or, if you prefer, a gift certificate to the store also makes a great regalito for mamás y abuelitas and is available for as little as $20.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Latino Book and Family Festival

I never seem to be at the right place at the right time to catch the Latino Book and Family Festival (though I am often at the right place at the wrong time!) But maybe if you are in the Houston area this coming weekend, December 13 & 14, you could catch the festival at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Originally scheduled for October, the festival had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Ike.

Co-hosted by Nuestra Palabra: Latinos Writers Having Their Say, the Latino Book and Family Festival is the largest book fair in Texas, and the fastest growing book fair in the country. Over 30 Latino authors will be in attendance, many of whom will be leading workshops, including America’s first best-selling Mexican American author Victor Villaseñor, the author of Rain of Gold, Burro Genius and Thirteen Senses as well as Gustavo Arelleno, who pens the nationally syndicated column Ask A Mexican, and Stephanie Griest Elizondo, author of 100 Places Every Woman Should Go.

The festival itself is a weekend event that promotes literacy, culture and education in a fun environment for the whole family. I have wanted to attend the book fair for ages, so if any of you go, I hope you will tell me how much fun you have!

Admission is free.

For more information, click here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Las Posadas: Remembering Childhood Traditions

Sometimes it is very hard being so far away from familia. And the holidays are often the hardest. I think back about all the great times I had as a child during this time of year, and I wish so much that my own children could experience the same things.

For instance, the tradition of las posadas.

Growing up, this was one of my favorite holiday celebrations. More often than not, we participated in several each year before Christmas. Sometimes la posada was hosted by a community center or park, but most of the time a group of amigos took turns hosting it at their homes. I remember the pride each couple took in having one at their house. Rooms were meticulously cleaned, pictures of children and grandchildren were lovingly dusted, decorations were carefully arranged with special attention given to the tiny (and some not so tiny) nativity scenes. The homes were warm with love and laughter - especially the kitchens. ¡Ay! The aromas wafting from each one were a sensual delight - tamales, champurrado, chocolate caliente, buñuelos, and on and on...

I can remember usually being in the group that forms outside asking for shelter/lodging. Bundled up against the chilly nights with a tiny white candle in one hand and a piece of paper with song lyrics in the other, we would sing our little hearts out, steam from our breaths rising like the notes into the black, frosty sky above.

Occasionally I got lucky and was chosen to be one of the people who carry los peregrinos (the statues of Mary and Joseph) in the procession. Such an honor, but I always felt a little guilty because I never could memorize the words to the songs so I had to lipsync and hope nobody caught on.

The best part though, of course being when the "inn keepers" finally granted us permission to enter and everyone began joyfully singing,

"Entren, Santos Peregrinos,
reciban este rincón,
que aunque es pobre la morada,
os la doy de corazón."

If you'd like a good description on the history and current celebration of Las Posadas tradition, you can check out Wikipedia or Mexico Connect or even CinnamonHearts

For the complete song lyrics, click here (includes a link to a printable score.)

Now, if you are getting ready to host una posada, and are planning your menu for the night, why not check out these recipes for tamales de chocolate y canela (shown above) or cinnamon chocolate coffee, or maybe this one for warm apple empanadas. Mmmmm, delicioso!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Abuelitas Deserve a Lot of Love

Mi mamá leaves us tomorrow after 10 days of shopping, merriment and planning. I've spent almost all the money I had saved up for the holidays, and at least have my kids' presents taken care of and my office space better organized. I'll truly miss all the help she gives me with mis niños - feeding them breakfast, reading them to sleep, changing diapers, and so much more. Does she let them watch too much television when I'm not looking? Absolutely. But she also showers them with kisses and hugs and buys them (and me) the things that we need and I can't afford.

This afternoon was the best gift - a much needed nap for me! I've been fighting a sinus infection for almost 3 weeks now and it seems to be getting the better of me. The nap was such a blessing.

And, of course, let's not forget the night off I got to actually go somewhere without a child in tow! The movie, Australia, was magnifico! I'm not a big fan of Nicole Kidman, but she did a great acting job. And now I can see what all the fuss is about Hugh Jackman! Man alive, let me just say, Sisters, it's a good thing for him that I'm married or he'd be in trouble! I think my hubby had to shut my mouth for me during the scene where Jackman is soaping up his magnifico torso. Ay, dios mio. I really owe my mami something special this Christmas!

So the point of all this is...have you got someone special in your life who helps you with the little things? Maybe it's your mami, or your tia, or your sister, or your best friend. Despite this holiday's economic crunch, why not do something really special to show your appreciation? Give them something you made yourself, or bought just for them. Make them their favorite meal, knit them a scarf with your own hands, get them the softest pajamas you can find. But remember - don't forget the card! And take the time to write down how much they mean to you.

Thank you, Mami.

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