Saturday, January 31, 2009


Here are a couple of things about me. For one thing, I’m quite shy. I’ve become a little more extroverted as I’ve grown older, but unlike my mother, who is privy to the life stories of strangers within the first five minutes of meeting them, I don’t always strike up conversations with the people I encounter as I go about my day. Secondly, my looks are pretty nondescript, and it’s not obvious to people at first glance that I speak Spanish.

I live in an area with a large Latino population and have everyday encounters with other Latinos all the time, yet often, I used to speak to people in English during many of these routine transactions. Sometimes, if I was just getting lunch, it was so that I could rush back to work and eat. Sometimes I just wasn’t in the mood for the conversation that would ensue if I spoke Spanish. Often it was because I would remember my father, who after more than three decades in Costa Rica spoke Spanish pretty much perfectly, albeit with a thick American accent. When people heard his accent they often immediately switched to English, and he was always indignant when that happened because he was doing his best to speak Spanish and wanted people to respect that.

Anyway, whatever my reasons were—shyness, wanting to respect someone who is learning English, being in a hurry—having children has changed that for me. Because our house rule is, Mama speaks Spanish and only Spanish. Not just at home, but everywhere. And that means that when I’m in line at the checkout counter with my boys, I’m busted and can’t pass for just your average gringa, because my comments to them (which range from “Don’t even think about touching those candy bars!” to “You can have a cookie when we get home” to “Did you thank the nice lady for the balloon?”) are all in Spanish. And if the cashier happens to be Latina, she will smile, or laugh out loud, or praise them for speaking such nice Spanish. And I love it, I love the social interaction, how having my children with me makes me feel not quite as shy.

More importantly, it’s occurred to me recently that I’m happy that my boys have a model. That Spanish is not just a strange language I’m making them learn, a language different from what their teachers and classmates speak. That hearing me speak it with the people we encounter when we're out and about or hearing my side of phone conversations in Spanish will seem completely commonplace. And though I expect some rebellion in the not-too-distant-future, I hope they come out on the other side of things the way I did—hablando español.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Las Misadventuras de una Mamá Adoptiva

Hi, It's JoAnna again from chilly Texas ! Okay, I never thought I'd say that, but it's pretty cold down here... I thought I'd post this week about something I know many have had to go through when they are adopting, just as my husband and I did. You can read more on our adoptions on my website.

Las Misadventuras de una Mamá Adoptiva
The Misadventures of an Adoptive Mommy

Long ago, in a land far away, and after a long and beautiful courtship, Jerry & JoAnna were married in a candlelight ceremony, surrounded by family. This is how the fairy tale began, but the circus that it is today is a different story altogether !

You see, we got married and at the time thought we’d set up the 5 and 10 year plans and all would go according to schedule, and well, there were other plans in store for us.

After trying to conceive for a couple of years, we found we were unable to. Thanks to the grace of God and my “Tia Metíche” (Busybody Aunt) we were given the opportunity to adopt our beautiful baby girl in 2002. Then again my Tia had a hand in 2005 when we brought home 3 gorgeous little brothers.

So we went from being total DINK’s+doggy (dual income NO kids) to a family of 6+3 doggies in a matter of 3 years. As you can imagine the adjustments for all were quite harrowing at times, but the circus that ensued has been just grand !

Here’s the list of things I never imagined would happen, but did !

1. No one prepared me for diaper changes !
I didn’t have the 9 months of becoming a mommy and then about a year of un-stinky baby poop to prepare me for the ugliness that would greet me when I first changed the diaper of our precious 15 month old baby. OH MY GOODNESS – that was really scarry ! My Mom kept telling me that I’d get used to it, but I didn’t and our precious poop monster was potty trained in record time !

2. Never feed a 15 month old an entire granola bar.
Okay, so this one was not my fault… let me explain. We had just adopted our little girl and we were in Mexico City waiting for an appointment at the US Consulate. I had to run and make copies and find a notary while Daddy stayed with the baby for while. When I returned, there was an onslaught of poop and no explanation. 4 diaper changes later, Daddy fessed up and told me he’d given her a granola bar as a snack. We vowed to hold off on granola until the potty training was complete.

3. Their favorite words

Being that we didn’t have children and from one day to the next had a toddler on our hands, the adjustment period for me was shockingly fast. About 3 weeks after bringing our new little one home I found her in front of the TV with a very distinct “chin*%^$” on her lips and pointing the remote all the while. Ooooops ! We quickly explained that that was not a nice word, but it didn’t really matter and it became her favorite. As you can imagine that word made it’s way into conversation just because she felt like it ! Today it has stopped and she regularly corrects me !

4. Toothpaste can be found in the most unusual of places
Everyday I am amazed by the amount and location of toothpaste that we’ve found in our home. From the ceiling fans to the couch, in the DVD player and in their hair, my 3 boys have found new and industrious uses for it and Im sure that one day they’ll find a new and improved use for it that will change history !

5. The forbidden
This one I blame on my family and all the other mothers out there that did NOT tell me that it was a huge no-no to have stickers, markers, stamps, crayons, pencils, clay, sharpies, sticky notes and tape readily available to your children ! “We’ll set up a great craft area for them” I told my husband, at the time I thought was a good idea, but now I understand how crazy I was to allow free access to these goodies. Today our house is colorful and this home is now completely theirs, daddy & I just live in the room downstairs !

6. Heart Attacks will be frequent
Life with our little girl was beautiful, the perfect child who cleaned up after herself and loved helping Mommy. We have a 2 story home and never heard her upstairs at all – life was golden…

Then, the boys came home, they were 3, 4 and 5 when they came to live with us. The very first day we were in our home, I was calling 911 in a panic ! Our 3 year old had found a piece of hard candy and swallowed it whole, next thing I knew the other children were frantically calling me upstairs – I don’t think I’ve ever been faster in all my life. I ran upstairs and tried to dislodge the candy, but it wouldn’t budge. His little eyes were searching for help and all I could hear was this little gasp from time to time.
I put 911 on speakerphone and called for help.
The operator asked me if his lips were turning blue, to which I answered “I can’t tell, he’s too dark!” and then finally she helped me get the candy to make it’s way down his throat. He had a great time when the paramedics got here and loved his new toy – a tongue depressor !

There are so many more stories and things to tell… maybe next time !
I’d love to hear your stories too, Im sure that together we could all compile a great book.


Mango is my favorite fruit ever! And it grows like crazy in some places in Ecuador. About 30 minutes from my hometown there is a city call Portoviejo, a valley very well known around for producing quite a few varieties of the fruit. We even call the people there "come-mangos" (mango-eaters) as a silly nickname. My mother was born in Portoviejo, so she is a come-mango, that must be a reason to love the fruit so much, no?.
We have tiny little ones that you can just squeeze the juice directly in your mouth, others are just better cut in wedges, and also the big variety that we find here in any mercado, but with the pulp more green in color than yellow.

I agree that the fruit is delicious by itself, and when is ripe and juicy is certainly good, but my favorite way of eating it, the way I remember most from my childhood is green and salty, pretty much like pickles. Still at this point in time, there is not a single corner store in Ecuador, when mango is in season, that you can not find a big glass container with green mangos all pickled for sale...mmm, delicious!
I'm always picking up the un-ripe ones at the supermarket, with all their firm-yellow-crunchy-bitter flavor to take home with me, then, I peel them, cut it in pieces, put them in a glass container with water, salt and a little vinegar if I have any, let it alone for a day or 2, and voila!
My mouth is watering already!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Add Me to the List!

My name is Keen (or at least, that’s what I go by on the Internet), and I’m thrilled to be a part of this blog, and in such good company, too!

When people ask me where I’m from, I size them up and try to figure out if they want the short version or the long version. The short, evasive version is this: I live in the D.C. area. But the long version is: I was born in Costa Rica to a Costa Rican mother and a father who was as Midwestern as they come. After a few years in the U.S., we moved back to Costa Rica for good when I was eight and I stayed there until I came back to the U.S. for college when I was eighteen. My whole family stayed there, but except for a few months here and there and a two-year stint in the Peace Corps, I’ve lived in the U.S. ever since.

I have twin boys who are three, and I’m making a tremendous effort to raise them to be bilingual, just as my parents did with me. (And at least for now, I’m happy to report, they speak way more Spanish than English!) One of them is quite the little intellectual, he is obsessed with books and can read Spanish fluently. The other was diagnosed with autism last fall and is speech delayed. You can read about it on my personal blog, Keen, if you like.

As for me, I work full time as a translator and interpreter, and I love my job with a passion. I interpret in court and in jail, in hospitals, at conferences and community meetings. I translate letters, autopsy reports, birth certificates, tax returns and court decisions. The variety keeps me on my toes, and I learn something about language--Spanish and English--every day. I feel at home among the people I work with, who have backgrounds just as convoluted as mine, and I also feel lucky to live where I do, in a city with a large Latino population, where I can easily satisfy my cravings for pupusas and salteñas, a diverse city that I hope will make it easier for my boys to remain connected to their heritage.

So for now, un saludo, y hasta la próxima.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Magazine for Young Girls Fights to Improve Their Self-Image

For all you mamis out there of young girls ages 8 to 15, here is a company you need to know about! New Moon Girls Media is a company dedicated to creating a healthier media environment for girls. Their goal is help teach young girls to recognize and resist the negative stereotypes and media that they are exposed to on a regular basis. They believe in building a girl’s confidence so that they are able to develop self-esteem, positive body image, and healthy relationships.

On their website,, girls are able to read educational articles and interviews, share their creative work through portfolios, participate in adult-moderated discussions, and much, much more--all in a safe, supportive community created by girls for girls.

The November/December issue of their print magazine focused on Pride and Prejudice. Inside you can read about how girls just like your daughters experience both pride and prejudice. It's a great issue for girls who want to be inspired and change the world!

Membership includes 6 issues of their print 100% advertising-free magazine, 12 months unlimited on-line access, fully moderated chats, the ability to share their poetry, artwork, videos, and so much more. You also get 30 days free, when you subscribe.

Now mi hija is not old enough yet for this type of thing, but I fully intend to sign her up when she is. I know how much I would have loved this as a girl and I know she will, too. And one of the big selling points for me is that the site is fully moderated AND that it is guaranteed safe for children (it is a PrivoLock enabled website.)

If this sounds like something your girl would love, check out their website here for more information and to see all the activities/pages it offers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Latino Designers Find Fame in First Lady

What a day! I don't know how many of you were able to watch this mornings inaugural events, but my little familia and I were glued to the tube. Well, okay, I was glued, the kids were a little too young to realize the significance of the whole thing. And regardless of what party you are with or who you voted for, don't you think it is wonderful tht we are able to live in a country where the people's voice can completely change the direction of their nation's government? It really overwhelms me to see all those people standing out there in the frigid cold, cheering at the top of their longs, waving their little flags. This little sea of humanity - the emotion is almost too much for me to fathom.

And can I just say how touched I was when the Obamas arrived at the White House? I think George and Laura, but especially George, were so very warm, welcoming - real Southern hospitality, I guess? I don't know, maybe he was just like "Hallelujah! Get me outta here!" but I thought they were so gracious. And how classy was it of Michelle to bring a gift?

And on a side note, I was really proud to see that Michelle chose to wear a design by Cuban-American designer Isabel Toledo! Hooray! In fact, when looking at the list of designers that Michelle has chosen before - including Narciso Rodriguez, Zero and Maria Cornejo and Chicago designer Maria Pinto - this could be an unexpected bonus for Latino designers! She did look very sophisticated, yet classically simple today, didn't she?

So in parting....Bien hecho, America! Land of opportunity, determination, freedom and dreams....


Friday, January 16, 2009


My suegros are visiting us from New York. I like to have people visiting and staying with us, and my in-laws are the best! El abuelo is really good at teaching the kids discipline and manners, and my suegra is the best at cooking, they’re from Bolivia, so we get to eat really delicious South American food, mmm, yummy!
My suegro loves to watch old western movies, going for walks or reading. Looking for some books for him to read, I found this little old poetry book that I’ve forgotten I have.
This little book took me down memory lane, to the time in High School, when all that it matters to me was reading poetry and literature, and that was mainly because boys didn't look at me too much...I wonder why?... Oh yes, I was the nerd type, all complete with the big plastic eyeglasses, braces, pimples in my face and skinny as in oh-my-god-you're-really-thin, that was way back in the 80s; but I MUST say I have come a long way since then, I wear contacts now, ahem!.
Ok, back to poetry: In my last 3 years of High school I was mostly studying literature and the social sciences, so there was a lot of reading, memorizing and analyzing poems and stuff in those years. I still love poetry, but don’t ask me about modern, or contemporary poems, because I might know one or two, but no more than that; I think I've stayed at home to long, I can barely remember how to write my full name! I’m the kind of old-fashioned-poetry reader, I like the ones that have been written for decades, centuries, the classics that never fade. And I still remember a few strophes of some of them, yay!
So in honor of all those classic masterpieces of nuestra literatura, I would like to leave you this Friday with some famous and familiar verses from Antonio Machado’s "Proverbios y cantares XXIX", which is also part of the lyrics of one of the famous Joan Manuel Serrat's songs:

Caminante no hay camino.

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar

I think we should read a little more poetry from time to time, don't you think?
Have a great weekend everyone!

Monica A.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Act Affects Work from Home Moms

Many of you may have already heard about the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that has been passed and will affect thousands of small business owners, especially moms with a side business out of their home. The act that goes into effect on February 10th , basically imposes stricter regulations for lead and phthalate testing on ALL products for children under the age of 12. This includes books, T-shirts, bodysuits, dolls, wooden toys, educational materials, puzzles, everything. Even things like soft blocks, aprons, crayon wraps, crochet/knit scarves, hats and more will be regulated.

However, rather than punishing the main culprit (toys mass produced in China accounted for every single recall in 2007), the new law will cause independent toys makers, indie designers, and hundreds – if not thousands – of other small business owners specializing in handmade children’s products to close up shop.

The cost of testing each product for lead and/or phthalates could cost anywhere from $100 to $4000 – an impossible price for those who make original, one-of-a-kind pieces, such as baby quilts, hand-carved wooden toys, boutique-style outifits, etc.

Small business owners in the US, Canada and even Europe have taken great care to produce items that are safe for children – mostly because the owners are parents themselves. Though toy producers will take the biggest hit, many children’s apparel companies will be put out of business as well.

The outcry has been HUGE, but more voices are still needed. To learn more about the issue, check out the following sites. CoolMomPicks especially is a great resource.

And to join in the fight to protect work from home moms like you and me, start by signing the petition here. We already have over 17,000 signatures and the more the better!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Latinas and Folic Acid

This week is Folic Acid Awareness Week. And, as I have commented on this topic before, I was not surprised to read Latinas are the least likely group of expectant moms to be taking Folic Acid during their pregnancies. In a statement issued by the March of Dimes, only 17% of Latinas of childbearing age are taking a daily multivitamin. Combined with the fact that Latinas, as a group, are most likely to get pregnant before the age of 20 (more than half of which are unplanned pregnancies,) and voilá - you have the group with the highest rate of nerual tube defects in their newborn babies.

Actually, I had forgotten some stuff about which foods contain high levels of this vitamin. Did you know breakfast cereals are a great source of folic acid? If you'd like to "test" your Folic Acid IQ, the March of Dimes has a great little quiz here.

The good thing is, I have always been a cereal junkie for breakfast and most are fortified with this important vitamin. So's a nice big glass of oj.

Overall, the March of Dimes is a super great resource for pregnant mamis. They have an English site here, and a Spanish site here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hello from Puerto Rico!, er....Georgia...

Let me explain, I am a fairly new blogger and was invited to blog here at Monica's Cielito Lindo site after we took to a mutual admiration of our blogging abilities...or our similarities. Just a bit about myself....

I am a late 30 something Puerto Rican Latina, which hails from a small town called San Lorenzo, (yes, for Puerto Ricans that are familiar, "el pueblo de Chayenne") I was raised by my loving grandparents from about age 7 until I was 16. Then I moved back to the United States. Lucky me, I am comfortable writing, reading and speaking in Spanish, as well as, English, much like many americanized latinos. When I get really mad's just Spanish. I am a full time working mother to two wonderful daughters and began blogging because I needed an outlet to deal with an upcoming "divorce" situation. Yes, I know...not the lightest of topics, but truly the reason that I began my blog in which I fight against a range of emotions and learn to find myself while keeping it together for my sweet "nenas".

With that said, I know that several of us have been invited to blog here and I also invite you to visit my blog at and mark it as one of your faves....I also do special Salsa dances at each comment.

Oh yeah, I live in Georgia now....

's friend.....Limon Partido

Monday, January 5, 2009

So nice to meet you!

I was so surprised, and so happy that Monica invited me to be one of the contributor bloggers for Mi Cielito Lindo. I'm not the best at expressing things on writing, but I'm more than happy to be here and be part of the Latin community through blogland.
My name is Monica Andrade, I’m a stay at home mom of 4 kids (ages: 4, 5, 7 and 9) that, in a good way and sometimes not so good way, drive me nuts... most of the time.
I was born and raised in Manta, Ecuador, a very tropical, breezy place in South America. I came to this country when I was 18, way back in the 80’s, lived for about 3 years in Waltham, a city near Boston (a place that I truly love) and moved back to Ecuador. After working some years for a financial institution in my hometown, I had the unexpected chance to come back here in the late 90’s, this time to New York to attend Fashion Institute of Technology and get a degree in fashion design. I met my husband while at F.I.T. and in my last semester there, I got pregnant. My plan was to stay-at-home for a while with my firstborn, and then have a career at the fashion capital of the world, but I guess I wasn’t counting on the other 3 kids that came after, and ever since, my degree it’s been decorating my walls while I've been raising my kids. Although it's been tough and they drive me nuts a lot –did I say that already? - I’m happy to have made the decision to be here at home for them. We moved to San Antonio, Texas, in 2005, a great place to live and the weather is as close to my hometown as possible: Sunny, warm, breezy most of the time. I'm definitely not a winter person.
My children are all in school now, the youngest one started Pre-K last August, so now I’m surely enjoying my time alone from 7:30 to 3:30pm every day (introduce a very happy dance here). Somehow along the way, my love for fashion totally disappear, (there were lots of diapers to change for eight years) now that I have time for myself (introduce another happy dance here) I’m certainly rediscovering my passion, and I’ve have started to design again. I would love to have most of my clothes for 2009 to be my own designs, and get away from my standard jeans and T-shirts and dress up a little bit again.
I also have a blog, where I'm starting to post more about my taste in fashion, along with some crafts and other random things.
I hope everybody started the New Year con el pie derecho and that it comes to you full of health, happy moments and lots of blessings.
Take care,

Monica A

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hola! Soy...

¡Hola, Hola!
Mi nombre es Claudia Marchán, I've been invited my Monica to contribute to this amazing blog. I'm quite flattered to be honest, I never thought anybody would be interested in my latin mami endeavors. So let me start out by introducing myself, I am married to an international man of mystery which whom I just celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary last week! We are proud parents of two adventurous (traviesos...ahem!)boys, 6 and 2. I was born in the US but raised in Mexico until the age of eleven. My parents brought me back to the US in 1987 to learn my ingles and I've stayed here since. I have only visited Mexico once! Yes, believe it or not. But I dream of Mexico all the time and hopefully I will visit soon.

I am currently a stay at home mom, I must say that as much as I love staying at home to take care of my babies and do all the house work and running errands and... yeah, all of that! I still crave having a 9-5 job and being around adults. But then I think about the time when my oldest son was born and I had to go back to work and I would sit at my desk missing him and feeling so guilty... it is then that I forget about that craving. Coming from a latin home I was always told by my mom and my sisters to stay home with my babies and is not that I didn't want to, we just couldn't afford it at the time. So now I'm enjoying every single minute of it!

I think I have always been creative, one way or another. So in December of 2006, after being at home with my boys for six months I began looking for a creative outlet which led me back to embroidery. I used to embroider as a little girl with mi mamá, mi abuelita y mis hermanas. I remember I would get so excited just looking at the vibrant colored floss and the different kind of designs on the tortilla napkins just waiting to be embroider. It was like coloring with a needle and floss! Shortly after getting back to embroidery I found floresita's blog and her embroidery group on flickr. I continued to do research and finally found Etsy! Which later led me to open my little shop Stitchado and the rest is history!... jajaja! ok, maybe not.

If you like to find out more about me (in case I missed anything...ja!), you can read this interview of me at the Feeling Stitchy blog or you could just visit my very own blog and read more about my shenanigans!

I look forward to adding my little "granito de arena" to this awesome blog!
Till next time!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Nostalgic Holidays


That is the sound my body made when my eyes opened on January 1st. As enjoyable as they were, it is nice to have the holidays over with, so that things can return to "normal." I'm still tired from all the visiting, eating, laughing, shopping, and driving. I spent Friday cleaning my house which had greatly suffered from neglect during the last couple of weeks. It is terribly satisfying to restore order where there once was chaos.

Despite the merriment and the joy I received over seeing my children squealing gleefully over their gifts from Santa (this was the first year that they were both old enough to really "get it,") I was really sad to be far away from family. For some reason, this year was especially hard during the holidays because I really missed experiencing some of the traditions from my childhood.

I missed helping my 'Buelita in the kitchen. Surrounded by ollas filled with pork, chicken, and beans, the smell alone was thick enough to fill my stomach. I remember her hands quickly, but rhythmically, swishing back and forth as she spread the masa onto corn husks. Her gray hair would be pulled up tight into a little bun at the base of her head, perfectly neat except for a few little strays that escaped around her temples and curled slightly in the steamy kitchen. Glasses perched on her nose, her old, sweet, wrinkled face would be flushed just a bit from the warmth of the stove and her own labor. A smile, never far from her lips, would spring up everytime she talked. And a little, white apron would rest on her plump, huggable body with little smears of pork or masa as decoration. She's been gone since I was 12 years old. And it surprises me a little just how much I miss her laugh, her voice, her happy spirit. How very, very sad that my children do not get to know her, laugh with her, love her as I did.

And I really miss the posadas. Dressing up and visiting with friends, our voices raised in song. The warmth of our host's home, the food, the visiting, the twinkle of Christmas lights and the carefully arranged nativities.

I miss Christmas sitting around a huge table with mama, nanita, grand daddy, 'buelita, tias, tios, primos, and friends. Noisy but happy, you know?

I think the best but saddest moment for me was when the phone rang VERY early on my birthday a few weeks ago. My dad calling from Spain to wish me un feliz cumpleaños, who then passed it to his sister, who passed it to her other brother, who passed it to their other brother, who passed it to their other brother! They all sounded so happy and I missed them so much. But it was certainly the best birthday wake-up I'd had in many years.

So many traditions. So much work for such a brief moment - but, ay! ¿Es un momento magnifico, no? One that forever remains in our hearts and minds.

I would love to know about your family traditions and hope some of you will share.

And here are a few of my favorite blogeras sharing theirs:
I greatly enjoyed reading Multi-Culti Mami's (Violeta's) latest contribution to Literary Mama and am happy to share it with you here.
And here is Floresita's post that shares some of her family traditions, as well.
And be sure to check out Carrie's fantastic collection of Latino holiday music here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

¡Prospero Año Nuevo!

From all of us at Latin Baby and Mi Cielito Lindo, we wish you all a Happy New Year!
May it bring you and your familia peace, comfort, good health, the warmth of friendship, prosperity, alegría y amor.

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