Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recordando : Remembering

I was never a follower of Selena. As a matter of fact I didn't even own any of her music until last night! Even though I get a huge knot on my throat every time i hear "Como la Flor" or "No Me Queda Mas". And every year I watch the specials on TV honoring her and I can remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of her sudden death. This is probably a tragedy that I will never forget. There were so many great things going for her at the time, her possibilities were endless.

Descanza en paz Selena, nunca te olvidaremos (we will never forget you).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Trying to catch up!

It seems like time is just flying by and I'm running against it! These last few weeks have been extremely busy for me on the home front. Before I start babbling, allow me to give you a little insight as to why things get a little crazy for me and I go MIA. I have a six and a half year old son named Diego, with Asperger's Syndrome (which is associated to the autism spectrum). He was diagnosed officially on Nov. 1 of 2007. I say officially because as parents we always had a doubt and an instinct that told us there was something wrong and that he was simply just not going to "grow out of it". I remember always comparing my son to other "normal" kids and wondering if the things that he was doing were actually going to go away on their own. I would ask my sisters and my mom what they thought since they were mothers way before I was, and all they would say was "no te mortifiques, es niño! ya veras que cuando cresca un poco mas, el va a cambiar" {"don't worry, he's just a boy! you'll see, when he gets a little older he will change"}. Well, time went by and my husband and I worried even more. When Diego started kindergarten, it was absolute chaos. He had been attending Montessori school for the previous years and regular public school had a huge effect on him, so huge, that we realized then we had to do something. We had him diagnosed.

Some of Diego's symptoms are predominantly: Constant movement (hyperactivity), lack of eye contact (at times), impulsivity, frustration and anxiety. For the most part, a lot of these symptoms are controlled with therapy. There are days when you can't tell there's something wrong with Diego and other days when the symptoms are "a flor de piel" (very noticeable). That's just how life is, and believe me, if I could change anything about Diego, it would only be to help him out, because we love him just the way he is. He is extremely intelligent, loving, caring and articulate. He has been the biggest life lesson we've had so far, he has taught us how to be good parents.

So, with all of that said I can finally tell you why it's been crazy on the home front for me. My husband and I were preparing for our second annual IEP meeting with Diego's school, in which we asked for changes to be made. We stressed, prepared ourselves, did some research, stressed some more, did more research, asked a bunch of questions, stressed more... finally we had our meeting and things went pretty well. For those of you who are not familiar with these IEPs and the school districts, let me just say that it's not easy. If you have a child with special needs, the school district will give you what they want to give you and not necessarily what your child really needs! If you don't do your homework and prepare to ask for what your child needs, they will not even mention it to you. No offense to those who work in the education field, I have nothing against teachers at all! If anything, I believe that teachers are the ones who make a difference. I just think that as parents, if you are not prepared to ask for the right things the school district will not provide for you.

My advice, if you are a parent of a special needs child (in a public school) is: Do your homework, by that I mean do some research about your child's special needs. There are so many online sites these days where you could find great information. Don't be afraid to ask questions, if your school turns you down, go to the school district or the board of education. Once your child is set with a good IEP, do some follow ups to make sure he is getting what he needs. Remember that you as the parent know what's best for your child.

And last but not least, perhaps the best advice ever given to me: "When your child is at his/her worst, you have to be at your best."

Here are some helpful links:


Claudia M.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Simple, Handmade Party Piñata for Kids

Yikes! Sorry this blog has been a little neglected. So much going on - I'm drowning over here! Latin Baby is sucking the life outta me and the LBBC has so much going on right now. Not to mention family trips, house projects and my daughter's birthday.

La niña had the best time the last few weeks preparing for her cumpleaños. She fell in love with the Jungle Book story a few months ago and decided that she wanted a JB party. The last few weeks have been busy transforming our living and dining rooms into a jungle. We used up my entire stash of green construction paper to make leaves for vines and trees. It took so many leaves to transform our house that we started going cross-eyed and by the end, my daughter's colorful rainbow colored leaves had turned into mami's no-nonsense ones that were lucky to get a green vein drawn down the middle.

Since she is the daughter of one former zookeeper and one current bird curator, she has plenty of stuffed animals to decorate the house. Toucans were perched on our mantels and entertainment center; the previously mentioned vines had monkeys hanging from them; snakes, rabbits, frogs and lizards peeped out from around the couch, tables and chairs.

But the best moments of the party were definitely those of the piñata. Absolutely no child's birthday party is complete without one. We had the best (and worst) time making them last week. I was all "Oh, ja! No problema! Easy-peasy!"


Chihuahua, I had the hardest time making the paper maché balls! Turns out, I don't think I put enough layers on mine and even though we made three, I made the mistake of putting them outside in our greenhouse to dry (away from little deditos, you know?) and it was too cold, so they didn't dry very well. Then, I had the brilliant idea to bring them in and put them on top of the floor vent to let the central heat blow them dry. "POP!" goes the first balloon and the paper maché with it. So I just put the next two close to the vent but not on top. They sorta dried, but not completely before my daughter’s piñata making girl friend arrived. While the kids got busy cutting tissue paper to decorate, I struggled to attach the star points. Long story, short (too late!) we finally reverted to the cardboard box method. There are advantages to having shipping boxes coming out of your ears. The girls had a blast gluing tissue all over the boxes and they went over wonderfully at the party! They may not have been the most beautiful piñatas ever made – but they were to my kids and their friends.

So I’ll share with you a few tips. If you’re ever in the need for a quick birthday piñata, all you need is a cardboard box, tissue paper in assorted colors, Elmer’s glue, a plastic lid (optional) and some tape.

- First, set your kids to work cutting little squares out of the tissue paper. They don’t have to be perfect, but each one should be roughly 2 inches square.
- While they’re doing that cut the tape holding the bottom of the box closed (if there is any.)
- Then squirt a dollop of glue onto a little plastic plate or plastic lid (for little kids it’s easier.) Take your square of tissue and wrap it around your index finger and dip it into the glue so that only a small dollop in the middle gets glue on it. Then put it on the box.
- Cover the entire surface of the box. You can do the bottom, but unless you have a place to hang it from until swinging time starts, any tissue on the bottom will probably get squished. You can add streamers from the bottom of the box, but they will be the first to go (as you can see in the picture!)
- We did two piñatas. For the first one, just use three or four pieces of Scotch tape to hold the bottom flaps closed. Add some newspaper to the bottom and add candy and/or small toys. This first piñata will give quicker and really get the little kids worked up for the second one.
- For the second one, hold the bottom flaps together with ONE piece of packing tape. You’ll be amazed how well this holds and it gives the kids plenty of whacking time.
- To hang it, an adult should use a pair of scissors to poke a little hole in the middle of each top flap, just a couple of inches down from the edge. Cut a short piece of rope about 12 inches long. Fold in, the other two flaps first, then partially close your hole-y flaps and run each end of your rope through the holes and make a knot to make like a purse strap. Now your piñata can easily be attached or removed from your main swing rope line that has been tossed over a high branch in your yard.
- After the kids have had several turns, let the parents in on the action. I’ve never seen so many gringos having such a good time!
- Keep all kids well clear of the area. Even if the box opens and spews its contents, that dangerous, obsessive, little kid with the stick will still whack away. Trust me. Even the kindest, sweetest children turn into swinging monsters once that stick gets in their hands!
- REMEMBER TO KEEP REMINDING THE SWINGER NOT TO LET GO OF THE BAT! M’ija did and it bounced off the head of one of her guests (fortunately she was pretty tough and didn’t so much as sniffle.)
- And lastly, after it’s all over, if you’ve got a giant paper mess in the yard, have a contest to see who can pick up the most paper (girls vs boys works nicely.) You’ll be amazed how a little friendly competition speeds up clean-up time.
For older kids, you can get a little more creative with your tissue paper and make strips of fringed tissue paper that you can carefully wrap around your piñata box in layers, possible alternating colors.

Now, I hope you have all found this giant post helpful!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Do You Know Who Ana Dodson Is?

Ana Dodson is an amazing and inspiring young woman.

Born in Cuzco, Peru, Ana was adopted as a baby and brought to America. In 2003, she and her mother decided to return to Peru for a visit. Before leaving, she collected books in Spanish and teddy bears to take to a few of the orphanages that they had planned to visit. One in particular, The Hogar Mercedes de Jesus Molina, deeply touched Ana. And her visit there prompted her to establish Peruvian Hearts, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of children living in poverty in Peru through nutrition, education and healthcare.

She was only 11 years old.

Today, Peruvian Hearts has successfully implemented a number of improvements and programs to help both the children at the Hogar and in other Peruvian towns. Their goal is to make the Hogar a model for other orphanages. Ana and her organization are making or have already made a lot of improvements to the orphanage building, such as starting construction of a new dining room and modern kitchen, a covered laundry area, and the completion of modern bathrooms so that the girls no longer have to share one outdoor shower.

Peruvian Hearts also raised enough money this past year for their Education Fund, which they used to send all 19 girls at the Hogar to local Catholic schools in order to provide them with the opportunity to go to college, if they so choose.

The organization does not limit its aid to just the Hogar. It is also dedicated to helping other Peruvian children by supporting a Children’s Lunch Program through local schools. These lunch programs provide daily multi-vitamins and warm lunches to over 500 children living in surrounding Peruvian towns.

For a complete list of Peruvian Hearts programs, check out their web site here.

To me, this is an amazing and inspiring young woman and family. And so, to support Ana Dodson in the pursuit of her dreams, the Latin Baby Book Club for the next 6 weeks will be hosting a small book drive for Peruvian Hearts. The books will be part of their Library Project. So between now and April 12th, we ask all of our wonderful readers to please consider donating a new or very gently used children’s book in Spanish. Bilingual books will be accepted; however, they must contain FULL TEXT in Spanish (and English.) Spanish-only books are preferred, though, for obvious reasons.

To reduce the cost, you can mail your book donation as "media mail" from your local post office. Please address your donation to:

Peruvian Hearts - LBBC Book Drive
24918 Genesee Trail Road
Golden, CO 80401

We know that globally, these are hard economic times, and because of this many non-profits around the country are suffering. We’ve chosen Peruvian Hearts for a couple of reasons: Ana Dodson’s selflessness and compassion at such a young age, and to support this young Latina who is trying to improve the lives of other young Latinos in a country suffering much worse poverty than ours – and succeeding. In addition, one book is a small, relatively inexpensive donation, whose value may be powerful and life-changing.

Por favor, consider helping a child through your simple gift.

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