Wednesday, April 29, 2009

America Celebrates Día with Special Events and Free Books

On Thursday, April 30th, the United States officially celebrates Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros, otherwise known as Children's Day/Book Day. Orginally a Mexican tradition known as Día del Niño, or Day of the Child, it resulted from the 1925 "World Conference for the Well-being of Children" held in Geneva, Switzerland. Countries all over the world, like Japan, Turkey and India, adopted their own versions of Children's Day. But the holiday didn't blossom here in America until 1996 when author Pat Mora became inspired to combine the holiday with literacy for children. A year later, Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros was born in the United States. Ms. Mora soon found support from across the country, and the vision exploded.

Today, Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros (also known as simply Día) is the celebration and honoring of our children, who represent the hopes and dreams of every family and community. They are our future and the path that our history will take, depends upon their choices and actions. It advocates literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds, as essential to their mental development and well-being.

The current outlook is that Día should be celebrated every day, culminating on April 30th with events and activities all around the country. Families, libraries, community centers, bookstores, museums, and more, all plan and initiate events to observe this holiday and to promote the idea of "bookjoy."

As founder of the American holiday, Mora’s states that the goals of Día are a daily commitment to: honor children and childhood, promote literacy, honor home languages and cultures, involve parents as valued members of the literacy team, and to promote library collection development that reflects our plurality.

If you’d like to check out the official web site for Día, click here. On it you will find tools to help you find out if there are any Día celebrations in your area, downloadable education programs, bibliographies, articles and much more.
And for more information about the holiday, be sure to check out the Latin Baby Book Club for ideas on how to celebrate the day with your familia. As an extra bonus, the LBBC is giving away bilingual and bicultural books (like the one pictured above) this week to celebrate. So don't dawdle...get over there and enter for your chance to win!!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Latino Nutrition Coalition Provides Tools to Help Latinos Eat Healthy

It is no secret that Latinos are at higher risk for certain health issues, such as diabetes and premature births. In some cases genetics, income level, or environment may directly affect the risk. However, in other cases, nutrition may be a contributing factor.

The Latino Nutrition Coalition (LNC) is an education program implemented by Oldways, a non-profit organization dedicated to food issues and improving lifestyles by encouraging healthy eating and drinking. The LNC is an alliance of chefs, scientists, policy makers and others who are involved in identifying nutritional issues within the Latino community and working towards positive changes using education programs and tools such as the Latin American Diet Pyramid and the Camino Mágico Supermarket Guide.

Their web site is an invaluable tool for mamis who are looking for a little help with planning family meals and snacks. I was pleasantly surprised to find it. With pages available in both English and Spanish, the site has a variety of helpful pages, like information on health issues directly affecting Latinos, and one which includes more detailed descriptions of Latin ingredients to accompany the Latin American Diet Pyramid.

In addition to providing free downloads for education materials like those mentioned above, it also has a great collection of traditional – yet nutritious – recipes, such as Green Plantain Tortillas, Paella, Peruvian Quinoa and Orange Salad, and other meals from all over Latin America.

To check out their site and get more recipes like the one below, visit

Colombian Beef and Sweet Potato Stew
A hearty stew for a cold day.

1 pound cubed, lean beef1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon pepper1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil3 cups peeled sweet potato, cut in 1 inch pieces2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped1 dry bay leaf1 cinnamon stick1 large onion, cut into eighths1 (28 ounce) can low-sodium stewed tomatoes8 dried apricots, cut in halfchopped fresh parsley

Cooking Instructions
1. Remove excess fat from beef, cut into cubes,and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat
3. Cook beef in oil for 5 minutes, stirringoccasionally, until brown.
4. Mix beef and remaining ingredients, exceptapricots and parsley, in a crock pot, and cook onlow for 8 hours or until beef is tender.
5. Stir in apricots and cook on low for about 15minutes until apricots have softened.
6. Discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick, andsprinkle with parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

María, María, How does your Garden Grow?

I heard the other day on some morning program, that due to the struggling economy and the First Lady’s example, everyone is now planting a vegetable garden. Over the past 9 years or so, my husband and I have made an annual attempt at planting a garden – not always with much success. Rabbits, deer, drought, flood, and an occasional feral hog(!) are but a few of the anti-veggie garden challenges we have encountered.

And yet, we keep trying.

¡Oralé! This year, we said, things will be different. Since moving to NC 2 years ago, we are finally in our own home and actually have the acreage to plant a sizeable garden. My industrious husband and daughter carefully enclosed our side porch and converted it into their personal greenhouse. As if by magic, seed trays, potting soil, watering cans and fluorescent lights suddenly appeared. Trips to Lowe’s began to center around the seed section and I started finding seed packets in the dining room, kitchen and my daughter’s bed. Plant catalogs started multiplying next to the couch in the living room. And lately, every evening brings eager whispering floating into the house from the side porch as they monitor the seedlings’ growth.

Regardless of whether or not we actually successfully grow a single vegetable, this year is different. It is the first time both our kids have had the actual experience of "farming." Maybe not on a big scale, but they are learning about starting a project and following it through. The last few weeks has found them out in the garden picking out the roots, sticks and rocks as Daddy goes around with the tiller. My kids are fascinated by the differences in the seeds. Tiny, big, pointy, flat, round...seeds come in so many shapes and sizes. They’ve been learning about the effects of light, water, temperature on one little seed. The biology lesson is immense!

And today, for me, was the best day of all. Today we actually sewed seeds in straight(ish) little lines. Okra, gourds, tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, carrots – all planted in carefully marked rows. There is just something innately satisfying in feeling the dirt between your fingers. Watching mis niños staring intently into a hole, their tiny hands carefully dropping in a seed and then covering it up, brought such a feeling of satisfaction and contentment.

It reminds me of my abuelita, who used to plant rows of corn in the backyard of her Dallas home. Tomates y chiles of every shape and color tumbled out of pots scattered around her back porch. Roses, irises, canas and a variety of other flowering plants were there, too. But it is the corn that made the biggest impression on me. Probably because I spent hours sitting in the middle of the rows, staring up at the sky, their towering stalks like a green wall between me and the rest of the world.

How many of you, I wonder will be planting a garden this year? Why? To save money? To eat healthy? To teach your children? Maybe, for the sheer enjoyment?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Latin American Heritage Camp Provides Summer Activities for Adoptive Families

The end of the school year is fast approaching and summer is on many people's minds. Have you thought about how to keep tus niños busy over the next few months? Are they taking summer courses at the local zoo/museum/library? Are you planning any family vacations? What about summer camp?

For those of you with adopted children, maybe you'd be interested in the Latin American Heritage Camp in Colorado. The camp can be considered a wonderful opportunity for families with adopted Latino children to explore their culture/heritage while making some wonderful life-long friendships. One of the few camps of its kind in the country, it is designed specifically for families with children adopted from Central and South America, as well as those of Latino heritage adopted within the United States.

This year's camp theme is Viajando por Latinoamérica: "Traveling through Latin America."Children as young as 3 years old up through high school participate in workshops and activities that focus on countries thoughout Latin America. Activities include folk singing, L. A. handicrafts, cooking, soccer, learning the Mayan calendar and much, much more.

And don't forget the adults! Mamis and Papis get in on the action, too. A few of the workshops for parents include:

- Dealing with Prejudice and Racism with Astrid Dabbeni
- Latin American Dance with Mercedes Hammer
- Latin American crafts with Julie Morino
- Bullying and the Adopted Child with Kathryn Jens
- Latin American Cooking-offering 4 cooking classes this year
with Margie Rodriguez and Jesse Brugger
Young adult Latino adoptees are encouraged to become counselors and share their own adoption stories with each other and the younger campers. For many, this allows them to gain a greater understanding of their own culture and heritage. Serving as role models, the counselors are not required to be adopted, but must be 18 or older, enthusiastic, and of the same ethnic background as the children at the camp.

This sounds like such a great opportunity for adoptive familias! This year's camp will run June 25-28 at the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch facility near Winter Park, CO. To learn more about the camp, visit their website here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

On-line Magazine Targets Latina Youth

Not too long ago, I wrote about a great magazine for young girls that focuses on identifying and rejecting negative stereotypes in the media in order to help girls develop a positive body image and healthy relationships. As a mami with one daughter, I love reading about programs that help girls and young women develop inner strength and pride in themselves. Recently, I discovered another wonderful magazine, but this one is geared specifically for young Latinas.

Latinitas is the first digital magazine created for and written by Latina youth. Their goal is to empower young Latinas through media and technology. The concept for the webzine began in 2002 by a group of University of Texas at Austin students who recognized the desperate need for a publication that focused on the experiences of Latina youth, and the monthly webzine officially launched in January of 2003. In 2004, they expanded to create another magazine geared for Latina teenagers. The purpose of the webzines is to provide a publication that reflects the interests and needs of young Latinas. According to their web site, Latinitas believes that young Latinas should be exposed to Latina role models and that they do, in fact, want to learn about their culture and history.

In addition, despite the fact that the Hispanic population is booming, statistics show that Latinos make up less than two percent of newsroom staff nationwide. And with the current media crisis (newspapers are quickly going belly-up nationwide!) this percentage is likely to drop even lower. Who then, I have to wonder, is writing about issues facing Latinos today? How many stories and issues are not being discussed because there aren’t enough reporters who care or are interested?

Fortunately, Latinitas (a non-profit) is also responsible for a number of programs that guide young girls interested in the field of journalism, including:

· Club Latinitas, an educational after-school newsroom where Hispanic girls learn the fundamentals of journalism through exciting hands-on activities. Girls in the 4th - 8th grade from local elementary and middle schools participate in the program.

· The Teen Reporter Intern Program, a journalism mentorship program where Latina high-school students are mentored and guided by experienced journalists. We have current openings for high school students who are interested in becoming teen reporters for our magazine.

· And, Camp Latinitas, which inspires girls in grades 4-8th to find their creative expression outlet by producing original media arts projects during the summer. In this 2-week-long day media divas camp program at the Mexican American Cultural Center, girls explore multimedia arts such as photography, writing, design, radio production and film-making.

It is no secret that Latinas today, face incredible challenges. Back in August I wrote about how 53% of Latinas will become pregnant at least once before the age of 20 and have the highest high school dropout rates in the country. But most disturbing to me is the fact that Latinas between the ages of 12-17 have the highest rates of attempted suicide than any other ethnic group. If you haven’t read this post, be sure to do so here.

The Latinitas web site states that, "Latinitas deserve to see their experiences reflected honestly and accurately." I say Hallelujah!

This past February, Latinitas printed and distributed their first paper edition to 30,000 households in Austin and San Antonio. The goal was to provide club members and other young Latinas (most of whom do not have internet access at home) with an example of the webzine that they would have access to on-line.

So for you mamis out there with niñas, I encourage you to visit the Latinitas web site. Both their magazines are available on-line. Check them out for yourself. Who knows? Maybe your daughter is the next Elizabeth Vargas or Sylvia Mendoza...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Week of Mamás Blogueras

This week, one of my favorite web sites, Spanglish Baby, is having a special week of Mamás Blogueras. They have invited five Latinas to contribute, each one writing on a topic close to their heart. I was honored to be chosen and have discussed how to use bilingual and bicultural children's literature to enhance language learning.

The other talented bloggers include: Tati of Wanna Jugar With Migo, Jennifer of Bilingual Fun, Violeta the Multi-Culti Mami, and Carrie from Bilingual in the Boonies.

As an added bonus, Spanglish Baby is giving away FOUR baskets with Victoria’s Secret new product line, Naturally. So get over there and enter for your chance to win!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spanish Scrapbooking, Fashion and Activities

So sorry to have neglected this poor little blog the last few weeks. I got hit with pneumonia two weeks ago and have been recuperating.

However, I have a few new products and web sites that some of you may find interesting….

First of all, I was excited to see that some scrapbook companies are finally starting to develop products in Spanish. There were several that I came across, but the one that really stands out is ArteLatínOh. Founded by two hermanas of Dominican Republic heritage, ArteLatínOh draws upon their Hispanic culture and traditions to create a full range of scrapbooking, rubberstamping and paper crafting products that reflect the warmth of the Latin culture. Their colorful web store offers albums, paper collections, rubber stamps, stickers, papercraft kits and much more. You can check out their great site here.

For those of you looking for unique handmade clothing, I stumbled upon Mani Mina on etsy. The picture on the right is a spring version of her "Mango Dress" from Mani Mina’s winter collection. Isn’t it adorable? I love the little button on the back and the rich color. She has a number of beautiful handmade products for sale in her store. You can check out Mani Mina’s shop here.

For older kids, I have found They have several lessons/activities for a range of ages, but the one that I really liked was on Mesoamerican Codex Books. The goal of the activity is to teach students about Ancient Mesoamericans using social studies to create a piece of historical art. It teaches how ancient cultures used visual art as a means of communication and kids create their own book with Mesoamerican glyphs and designs using paint in the traditional Mesoamerican colors. A really neat resource for homeschooling moms especially, but a great activity for kids this summer, too. Check it out here.
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