Friday, February 27, 2009

Of Mochilas and Sopa de Caracol

We play children’s music at our place during what feels like every waking hour. I function best when I have some background noise, my boys love it, and very early on I realized that it would be an effortless, fun way to expose them to more Spanish. So most of the children’s music I play is in Spanish, usually until my husband can’t take it anymore and begs me to play anything—anything!—in English.

I’ve tried to build up a collection of non-screechy music that both my kids and I enjoy, but as much as I love José Luis Orozco, Cri-Cri and Suni Paz, you can really only play your selection of children’s CDs so many times before you feel like you just can’t take it anymore. I sneak in some NPR on the Metro and listen to music when I’m alone in the car, but I started to miss the days when I used to blast the music just for the sake of blasting it, the days when I would sing along and dance around the living room for no reason at all, except that the music energized me and made me happy.

Then I had the simplest, most obvious of revelations: My boys can enjoy my music, too. In fact, when I think about the music of my childhood, I think not of the children’s records that I used to put on the record player over and over again, but rather of the folk music my mother used to play, music by the Chad Mitchell Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary. I bought those albums as an adult, because they reminded me so much of my childhood and I couldn’t imagine not owning them. And although my boys enjoy our children’s CDs, I want them to remember my music, too. I want them to hear a song thirty years from now and remember dancing around the living room with their Mama.

Right now we’re very much into Latin music, the catchier the better. Our current (eclectic) playlist:

El Tiburón by Proyecto Uno. This is their absolute favorite, for some reason. You go un poquito más suave and then un poquito más duro, and chant about chocolate and canela.

Mi bombón by Cabas. It’s all about the teléfono going ring-ring and the corazón going ton-ton. Love it.

Limón y sal by Julieta Venegas. This is our mellow song, the one I rock my babies (who are no longer babies) to on the couch or in bed. When I’m old and gray, this I will still remember.

Color esperanza by Diego Torres, the MTV Unplugged version. I’m not too choosy about the song lyrics when I pick songs for our playlists (unless there are any words in the song I don’t want them to learn), but this song is positively uplifting. I first heard it as background music to a Special Olympics video montage and it made me cry. Plus, you’ve got to love the carnaval-style drums in the middle, and Diego busts out with some Portuguese, too.

Cha cha by Chelo. Just plain catchy.

Querida by Juan Gabriel. If there was ever a song that begs to be sung out loud with feeling, this is it.

Sopa de caracol by Banda Blanca. The best thing about this song is you can totally make up the lyrics, and then just shout, “Sopa de caracol—¡JE!” every so often. Cracks them up every time.

No tengo dinero by Kumbia Kings

Anything by Juanes, but especially La paga and A Dios le pido. I’ve made sure that the boys can recognize Juanes on his album covers.

La pollera colorá by Charlie Zaa. Just because I like it.

Mi cacharrito by Roberto Carlos. An oldie but goodie that brings back memories for me.

Pelo suelto by Gloria Trevi. It's pretty much an excuse to shake your head around like a madwoman and get your hair looking as wild as possible.

La de la mochila azul by Pedrito Fernández. Because the boys love their mochilas. And God help me, rancheras are growing on me!

So, what am I missing? Any grown-up music that your kids love? I’m always looking for more ideas.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Entra a Mi Mundo: A Gift for Mothers and their Babies

For mamis of young children that are looking for ways to help develop their children’s imagination and stimulate their curiosity, there are books on the market that center around activities for toddlers… but there is nothing like Come Into My World/Entra a Mi Mundo. Published by Lunita Company, the book contains 365 creative games and activities for children ages newborn to 5 years.

You can use the book by simply flipping through it and picking out activities, but for those mamis who like a little more structure, it is divided into months with a supplies list at the beginning of each and a space for writing down notes at the end. Told from the perspective of a child, each month contains one activity per day that will help him or her discover the world around him and/or develop her inner creativity.

For example, August 4th says…

Let’s make an Emotion Mobile.
Draw or cut out faces expressing different emotions,
such as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and frustration.
Let’s talk about these feelings. Can you hang the mobile
(away from my reach) for a few days so that I can look at
the expressions and explore the faces?

The authors, Lina Maria Cuartas and Annabel Lugo Hoffman, both have extensive experience with teaching children. Cuartas, who is also the book’s illustrator, is a devoted advocate for underprivileged children, and has taught young children in the U.S., Colombia and in remote villages across the Amazon rainforest. Her first activity book for school-age children, Crezcamos Juntos! (Come Grow With Me!) sold over 25,000 copies in Colombia. Co-author and attorney, Hoffman is also a trained volunteer promoting early literacy for young children. She speaks to audiences throughout the Dallas, TX area about how to prepare children for school.
In addition to beautiful illustrations, the book contains a lovely poems and an Invitation from a Child at the beginning. Here is an excerpt from Entra a Mi Mundo

Regocíjate en la certeza de que cuando estoy jugando,
estoy aprendiendo. Cuando bailo y canto, estoy aprendiendo
sobre la armonía y el espacio. Al pintar con mis deditos,
estoy aprendiendo sobre colores y formas que desarrollan
mi creatividad. Cuando toco diferentes texturas, estoy aprendiendo
que el mundo está lleno de nuevas experiencias que deleitan
mis sentidos. Cuando pruebo nuevas comidas, estoy aprendiendo
a ser flexible y curioso acerca de la vida.

This book is certainly an asset to any family looking for ideas on how to connect with their children and develop their senses of curiosity and exploration.

To learn more about this book and other products by Lunita Company, you can check out their web site here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mundane and Magical

As a "outside the home" working mother of two girls, it's really hard to work in quality time with my daughters, usually I am rushing home thinking about what to cook for dinner and determining what I have in the freezer that can defrost quickly and what vegetable or fruit can I get in the meal so that it's balanced. Then its off to help with homework, coordinate playdates and carpools so that my girls can get to their activities in the event I don't make it out of traffic in time. I rely heavily on my mom friends that work all day at home (and don't get paid) and those that work outside the home and don't get paid what they are worth. They keep me abreast of what's happening in Girl Scouts, who are the better teachers, what happened to the neighbors kids....etc. I mean it....I need them and I try to make sure that I always return the favor.

Tonight was one of those nights, dinner, homework, guitar practice, endless questions and commentaries about subjects that turn my brain into mush and wear my patience thin. However, I bought this awesome book from and it has glow in the dark stars (remember those?) and print outs of the constellations in the sky with binoculars and a booklet with many more details about the planets, stars, meteors and shooting stars. This kit has been sitting on my living room coffee table for about 2 weeks and I still had'nt taken time to share it with them. I wanted some quality time tonight, only because I know that the next 3 days are going to be chaos. So we did, we sat on the rug and identified Casseopeia, Pegasus, Orion and other constellations.

When we went outside, all we could find were the big dipper, little dipper and we think Taurus. My girls were intrigued by the fact that planets are around us and we may be able to see them if we had some tricked out telescope. They wondered if life existed on other planets or maybe even the stars. I tried to incorporate some religious and scientific explanations which may cause them confusion later in life as they attempt to balance the two theories. I don't think that at their ages they can comprehend the vastness of the earth which has so many different people, cultures, languages and traditions, much less the incredible depth of our oceans and the immensity of the universe around them.

I hope to teach them to look at things around them, not just houses, bikes, toys and the color of nail polish. They can look to the sky and be astonished at the magical aspects of the heavens, they can listen to the rustles of leaves and wonder if there truly is a spirit in inanimate objects. One day they may become jaded as knowledge teaches them that there is a logical and scientific explanation for everything. Heck, I am a pretty logical, numbers driven person, believing wholeheartedly in scientifically or numerically supported evidence.

However, I also know that I see magic in the mundane world everyday. I see it in the calm before storms, I see it when birds return to my feeder afterwards, signaling that all is right with the world again. I want them to see the mysterious of their universe, and look for it in the most mundane places. I hope that they will be surprised at the delicate balance that you see in the world, the way the people, places and things all fall into line and support or oppose each other. It may be mundane to write about how other mother's help me and combine it with night viewings of the sky. It's the ole' "it takes a village to raise a child" concept merged with a mama trying to define her version of quality time. But I see it as proof that all is right in the world, it's magical to witness woman supporting each other without trying to define who has the tougher "job". It's mundane to try to teach your kids about the world around them, but it's magical when they connect dots in the sky.

by Limon Partido

Monday, February 16, 2009

Warning: Embarassing Material to Follow...

Is it just me, or do gringos have a lot of hang-ups about toilet privacy?
Situation A:
My husband's in the shower and nature comes a callin'. I don't think twice about walking in for a quick tinkle. Unfortunately, it never fails that every time this happens, my shout of "Don't mind me, I just gotta pee" is met by strangled gurgles behind the shower curtain and a series of complaints. I think that if he could reach the door from the shower to slam it behind me after I'm done, he would.
Situation B:
I'm in a hurry and run into the bathroom for a quick tinkle. Hubby happens to go walking by (or maybe nature is calling him, too) when his footsteps suddenly stop, he clicks his tongue and his laments of "why can't you shut the door?" fade into the distance as his footsteps beat a hasty retreat.
At first, I thought it was just being a mom, but then thinking back on it, I can remember how growing up, if someone had to do their business, they didn't always shut the bathroom door. Maybe we'd sort of shut it - the halfway-closed kinda thing, you know? I'm mostly talking about the females in my family, of course, which leads me to the question: is it being a mom, a woman, or a Latina that makes using the potty no big deal?
Of course, I mean among familia only! I really wouldn't go to my husband's bosses house for a dinner party and just go use their bathroom without shutting the door! Obviously, there would be more than a little shock and embarrassment involved there. And come to think of it, I wouldn't do that at my in-laws, either. Just at home.
But seriously, at home, who cares? Everybody's gotta pee, no? What's the big deal? Maybe part of my deal is that our bathroom has a little wall that runs perpedicular to the door and hides the toilet. Anyone walking by can see my legs, but it's not like they can actually see me doing anything. That is, until my kids come barrelling in arguing and complaining about one another. Sometimes I'm yelling, "chihuahua, get outta here, can't a mami have a little privacy?!?"
But sometimes, in the early morning moments, when the whisper of tired, little feet come dragging quietly in, I'll admit, that on occasion, I have been known to give in and pick up a tiny body and hold it in my lap as they sleepily beg to be held and snuggled.
So, que? What do you think? Is it just me? Would you be embarrassed to death or could you not care less? Do you think it is being a woman? A mom? Or a Latina? I'm curious....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In the Blogosphere

Some fun stuff in the Latina blogosphere this week!

For all you blogeras out there, my friend Carrie is trying to compile a list of Latina bloggers with links to their blogs. I was delighted to discovered new blogs that I really like. If you're a Latina with a blog, why not head over there and introduce yourself and list your blog? Carrie's also trying to find a way where we can get to know each other better and keep in touch. Great idea, Amiga!
Also, this week marks the launch of a great new site for mamis that are trying to raise bilingual children. Spanglish Baby is the brainstorm of two amigas, Roxanna and Ana Lilian, who are trying their best to raise bilingual kids. For their opening week, they've teamed up with Victoria's Secret and are giving away a basket of Victoria’s Secret "Sexy Little Things" Noir line of beauty products to one lucky winner each day this week. So córrele to their fun blog and check them out!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

¿listas?! - are you ready?!

so, are you ready for that special day coming up? have you purchased those cute little valentine's for your kids to give out at school?... no!?...

no worries! i've got a little quick and simple project for you. if you have kids at home, i'm sure you have construction paper, glue, scissors and maybe even a hole punch. all you need to buy is a bag of lollipops! here are the instructions.

i made these for my son diego two years in a row and he loved them! we also got a lot of sweet compliments from the teachers :) i recommend making them with your kids, they love doing all the cutting and gluing! and it gives you a chance to spend some quality time with them as well.

till next time!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Downloadable 2009 Spanish Baby Shower Invitations

Hurray! Our new 2009 line of Spanish baby shower invitations are finally here! We have started listing them in our etsy store and they are super. The best thing about them?

You can download them and print them at home!

This takes the hassel out of second guessing how many people to invite to your shower. Think you got them all done? Oh, no! You forgot to include one for Tia Elena - and you know how insulted she'll be! No problema, Amiga. Just print another one up!

We're happy to offer you fresh designs in a variety of styles and combinations (card-like invites, single page invites, etc.) at a very low price. We even offer custom wording. After purchase, we'll send you the pdf file with the invitation design and you can download it to your computer or a disk and print it at home. Or take it to your favorite local printers (aka, Kinko's, Office Max, etc.) and have them do it for you. And we have many more designs in the works, so keep an eye on us!

You will need Adobe Acrobat to open the file. If you don't have this free software, you can find it here.

Another super bonus is that we will be adding matching baby announcements and thank-you cards by the weekend. Each can be personalized or custom worded. Want to include a picture of your baby? Send us a photo and we'll include it, or you can simply add a photo to the inside of the card style announcement.

Wishing you all a happy baby shower! ¡Felicidades!

Monday, February 2, 2009

For the Crafty Mamis

When I have the time, I am a super crafty chica. But finding the time is often hard. That doesn't stop me, though, from buying supplies that I might "one day" use and I am always excited to find sites that provide endless inspiration such as PimpStitch, the Crafty Crow, and, of course, the CraftyChica (have you seen her Valentine Heart Bottle?) I LOVE flickr - whenever I can get my dial-up to work fast enough (yes, still working on getting satellite...someday!) anyway, my favorites section is a mile wide.
Recently, I have gleefully stumbled upon not one but two yummy crafties. The first is ¡Oy! You should see my wishlist on this site. It's a little out of control. I need to go through and organize it and decide which pattern to buy first. I started out like the lead contender in a hot dog eating contest, gulping down everything I saw. Fortunately, I have since regained my self-control and so now I need to go back and sort out the mess. This site is a super goldmine for mamis who are sewing divas.

And my next little surprise for my fellow crafty mamis is this adorable embroidery pattern by Jenny B Harris's store, Loopsies on etsy. This is the Lucia, A Spanish Doll pattern from her Pretty Maids - All in a Row collection. She actually has many other dolls - Irish, Portuguese, Greek, Italian, etc -but this is the one that I purchased this weekend. Whenever I find time to get her done, I'll be sure to post a picture so you can see. I'm thinking she will make a lovely little portrait for my daughter's room. I bought some beautifully colored threads a few months ago that will be perfect for this mamacita. I just have to decide what kind of fabric to use as a base. If you'd like to download your own pattern, you can check out her fun store here.

Seeing these sweet little designs really does inspire me and it re-ignites the urge to create something that is "hecho de mano." What about you? What is your little weakness?
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