Casa de los Primos

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The beach has always been my magical place. It has been my favorite place to disconnect from real life. There is something about the sound of the waves that can lighten even my heaviest thoughts.  Thankfully we were lucky enough to visit a lovely little beach named Akumal that is found on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico about 60 miles from Cancun. The name Akumal means “place of turtles” in Mayan and the name suits it perfectly. The town’s tourism centers on the life of turtles, from birth on. There is a wildlife sanctuary for the turtles, snorkeling tours to watch them in their own habitat and a plethora of decorative turtles and gifts to be bought everywhere you go.

This post focuses on the place we were lucky enough to stay in. It was a beautiful house called Casa de los Primos on the south part of Akumal.

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The house is a 4 bedroom house with an additional guest room separate from the main house that has one room and mini kitchen. It has its own pool and is right on the beach. This is not a post to advertise the house for you to rent, as I have no affiliation to the owners. I just wanted to give you a layout so you can visualize it with me as I show you what struck me most: the artwork and decorations.

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The owners (or decorator if they used one) took time to cover almost every nook and cranny with gorgeous and mostly original Mexican artwork. There were sculptures, paintings, weaved artwork, masks, crosses and everything you can think of throughout the house. Here are some of the pieces they had that I wanted to share with you to show you just how beautiful Mexican art really is.

 

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My boys loved all of the vibrant colors they say there and have since painted with a little more enthusiasm themselves. My oldest picks bright colors for his projects and can draw a beach scene for you with no hesitation. It may be his favorite thing to draw and paint right now, and I love it.

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There is something special about art from Mexico that just makes me smile. I am very grateful that this is my culture and that I am able to share it with my kids. Thank you, Mexico, for having such deep pride in the arts. Thank you, Casa de los Primos, for showcasing so much of it. Thank you, Akumal, for inspiring my boys and me to love art, color, nature and life a little more than before.

I hope you enjoyed the art. 

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Have a bright and colorful week.

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My Global Pick of the Day!!

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It is my turn to share one of my first posts with you and the Multicultural Kid Blogs readers.  So I thought I would share with you one of my firsts post dealing with my greatest fear.  It’s not snakes, dark spaces or even heights. I’m pretty good with all of these. What is it then? Public Speaking. Can’t do it, even at my age. What’s a mama to do?

Public Speaking: Not in English or in Spanish, Please.

I hope you enjoy my take on it and I would love suggestions on how to help my little ones avoid this challenge.

Thank you!

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Easter Maracas

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Sorry for the last minute post, but I wanted to share a quick an easy craft for all of those Easter Eggs you may have laying around.

Easter Bunny Maracas

I love the fact that my boys know what maracas are and that when I asked them if they wanted them to make Easter Bunny Maracas for their friends, they were so excited. Everything that I used I already had at home from previous art projects.  I know you can make them match better if you go out and buy supplies in the colors of your choosing, but for this post I used what I had at home.  I hope you enjoy.

What you will need:

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  • Plastic eggs
  • Tape
  • Wire cleaners
  • Plastic spoons
  • Markers

Optional

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  • Eyes
  • Glue Gun

I had some light blue spoons left from M’s first birthday party. Yes, he is 4 and I STILL had the spoons.  I may just be a pack rat.

I also already had some red painters tape left from the boy’s last bday party.

Everything else I had in my craft room already.  They are pretty much standard in my house.

  • First you fill your eggs with whatever you choose. I was lucky enough to find a bag of plastic eggs for sale at Target that were already filled with candy. But if you have some empty eggs you can fill them with uncooked rice or beans. They are perfect for making music.
  • Fold a pipe cleaner into small bunny ears to the size you like. I bent them at one end so I would have plenty left after it was taped to make a tail.
  • Place the egg on the spoon, put the ears into position as well and start taping.
  • Roll the end that is left into a little tail.

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  • Next I glued the eyes onto the egg. If you don’t have eyes, you can have your kids draw some on with either paint or permanent marker.

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My trick for getting the eyes on without accidents or mess is to place the eyes upside down on a hard surface first. Put a dab of glue on the egg. Carefully press down onto the eyes where your glue is to pick up the eyes. This makes it so much easier to do for me and my little helpers.

Once you have it all assembled, you can let your kids draw the faces on.  This was great fun for them.  They don’t really get to play with permanent marker for obvious reasons (mainly because it is impossible to wash, especially on their face).

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There you go, sweet little bunny maracas.  Have a Happy Easter!

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You can make all kinds of little creatures using this same technique.  Stay tune for a follow up post on that.

(If you would like to share my blog, I would be so grateful. You can find it in our new website http://www.bilinguazo.com/blog.html and on Facebook. We are now also on Pinterest. And don’t forget to hit me up on Twitter. Thanks a bunch!)

Walking Tall

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When I think of raising world citizens, I think of raising children that are open to all that they see and respect anyone they meet. I think of children as being an extension of their parents and caregivers. Parents that do not appreciate the beauty of the world, the amazing traditions and cultures of others and the wonderful people all around may not teach their children about them either. If they are not exposed to the world (be it at home or in a classroom), how can they learn to live in harmony with it?

With that in mind I truly believe that some of the bullies of the world have just never had the opportunity to learn from the differences around them. Children who are not exposed to other cultures and traditions may see others as different from them. They may not understand the world that anyone else lives in.

So far, in my kids’ young lives, they had yet to encounter the infamous bully.  The other day at the park, however, we came across our first bully in the making. We went to play as we usually do when the weather is nice. The park we like has a playground for big kids and another for toddlers.  We always go to the toddler side so they don’t have to worry about the big kids. Also, that park is usually empty which is even better for me.

Enjoying a typical day at the park

My boys were minding their own business, singing and dancing and just being silly.  There is a large raised walkway at the park that kids sometimes use to draw with chalk or parents sit on.  This is both boys’ favorite spot because it looks like a raised stage. They love to march back and forth on it and sing songs from “The Music Man”.  This time only T was marching when a boy that was definitely older than both of them decided to stand in his way, legs and arms stretched out to make sure T couldn’t get through. Here is how I saw it happen…

“Maybe he just wants to play,” I thought granting him the benefit of the doubt as he stood there with a very determined look.

“Excuse me,” said T (proud mama that he was so polite)

“No!” replied the kid.

M sees what is going on, runs over to them and says, “Please move, we are trying to perform.” (Yep, that’s how we roll.)

He still wouldn’t move. M tried everything from asking nicely to asking him if he wanted to play a game.  He told the kid that he could be the gate and they would push a button on the boys belly to see if that would open the door.  I found this hysterical myself since we play that at home sometimes. I guess I have to think about how our silly games translate into the real world.

The boy still didn’t move so M sighed and said, “Come on T, let’s just go this way.” They happily went around the boy, but the boy followed!

The boy went back up to Mario and said, “Wanna fight?” At this point I gasped and was ready to pounce. I told myself to wait to see what happened and stay calm (easier said than done).

Mario’s response was classic, “Fight? No way! Only mean people fight and mean people are yucky!” Proud mama moment again, even if calling people yucky is not so good either.  I knew he was just stating the obvious, though.  Loved it!

The kid then tried to take M’s toy horse away and that is when the (who I assume to be the baby sitter due to her age and lack of attentiveness throughout all of this) finally ran over and took the boy away. She’s lucky she did, or else that kid may have gotten an earful from this mama.

Way too cute to pick on, I say!

Way too cute to pick on, I say!

Point of the story is that if that boy had been exposed to more people and more situations, he may have had a little more respect for my boys and maybe even played with them instead of trying to cause a fight with someone so much smaller. He saw easy targets (smaller children) that were different from him (not just physically but because they were singing show tunes) and decided he would teach them a lesson. Something I’m sure he didn’t learn on his own.  This is a child imitating something that he has seen before.  I only hope that his parents or caregivers become more open and respectful so that this child and any other kid can do the same.

I am proud that my kids weren’t intimidated and stood their ground. I’m also proud that their first response wasn’t that the kid was threatening but maybe wanted to play. I am proud that they acted with respect, didn’t let them affect them and went on playing as if nothing had happened when it was over. Yes, I am a proud mama. I hope I can teach them to keep the respect and the patience they showed that day for always.
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Be proud, my love, you and your brother will reach great heights.

Wednesday is Orange Day!

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Every month on the 25th day of the month the world unites to End Violence Against Women! The campaign is UNiTe to End Violence against Women Campaign is managed by UN Women to raise awareness and to help in the prevention of violence against women and girls. This is a very important campaign that I feel more people need to be aware of.  Please check the link for all of the information as well as a schedule of events you can participate in. Please let everyone know about it, support it and wear some orange to promote it.

Launch of UNiTE campaign Call for Action for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, ‘Orange your world: Make a dent’

According to their website:

The year 2015 marks the 20-year anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive road map to gender equality. World leaders will meet in March at the United Nations 59th Commission on the Status of Women to take stock of the progress made and commit to take actions to close the gaps that are holding women and girls back. This is also the year when a new development framework will come in to replace the Millennium Development Goals. The elimination of violence against women and girls must be a centerpiece of the new development agenda. – See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action#sthash.OGkrtvTI.dpuf

Help launch the UNiTE campaign with their call of action by checking out their website where you can donate and learn more about this great campaign.  I think it’s an awesome cause.  Here is to hoping more people become aware of this campaign and all that it represent.  I hope we can stop it before our children have to see any of these terrible things happen.  The only way we can do that is to work together and learn from each other. This is a very important campaign that I feel more people need to be aware of.  Please let everyone know about it, support it and wear some orange to promote it. Link your pics with your orange love on Twitter to #bilinguazo and #UN_Women or on Instagram at Bilingualeyes and UNWomen. Looking forward to seeing your pics!

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Spanish in the Kitchen

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Yesterday was a great day for learning Spanish as well as delicious meals. I don’t know why I decided to experiment a little, but I’m glad I did.  The boys were extremely happy with their meals and that doesn’t happen very often.  There are days that one meal works and another doesn’t. There are also days that meal time can feel like it takes forever because they eat it so slowly.  I can’t complain too much, though, at least they eat healthy. They always eat their fruits and veggies, thank goodness. For that reason I’m so glad we started them early on the love of healthy food. I am also very glad they like to try new foods even if I have to sell it a little. When I found these recipes online, I knew I had to share them with the boys.

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For lunch I decided to try a recipe I found for “sopa de fideo” which is a tomato based soup with thin noodles. You can use actual fideo noodles or if your grocery story doesn’t carry them, then you can just cut noodles you have.  I used angle hair noodles and broke them into small pieces.

We would eat sopa de fideo a lot as kids.  It brings back very lovely memories.  This soup is one of those comfort foods that make you feel so warm and happy inside. I just had no idea how much work went into it at all.  I should ask my mom her recipe for it to compare, but I must say this one was close.  It makes me want to grow a bunch more tomato plants so I can make my own sauces and soups.  I adjusted the recipe here a little as I didn’t have and don’t like onions and garlic (crazy, I know). Instead I added half a teaspoon of cumin which happens to be my favorite spice. 

 As far as a teaching moment with this, I used the whole dining experience to tell them about how I grew up.  We sat at the table and as we ate, I talked about Mexico and yummy food.  We talked about family and how wonderful it was to bond in the kitchen and at the dining room table.  We talked about how important it is to keep traditions alive even if they are just cooking or playing in the kitchen and family meals.  In Mexico, my family has been known to sit for hours at the dining room table, chatting about our lives, laughing at each other jokes, reliving old memories and just being happy together. It wasn’t only a tasty meal, but one that made me feel a little closer to my boys.

Then it was time for dinner.  I let them play while I prepared the main components.  We decided to do our take on “make-your-own-taco” night and it was awesome! I have been reading a lot about how to get kids involved and make them feel independent at the same time.  I saw a  post about letting kids make their own sandwiches on Super Healthy Kids and thought, why can’t it be tacos? I’m so glad I did. I even made our own taco shells.

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All you have to do is warm the tortillas just a bit in the microwave (no more than 30 seconds) and then spray both sides of a tortilla with cooking spray. Lay them in a preheated oven at a temperature of 375. Place the tortilla over two of the bars of the oven rack as shown and bake for 8 minutes or until crispy.  This makes awesome shells and because of the rack makes them stand up on their own which is great for little hands. I also cut the tortilla in half before I baked them so they could have mini tacos making it easier for them to have full control.

such concentration!

such concentration!

Something as simple as choosing what they put on a taco can do wonders for their self-esteem.  They were so excited that they created their dinner that there was not a single complaint. I think they thought their own taco creation was the greatest thing they had ever tasted because they made them themselves. They devoured them and wanted more! Hooray!

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 Our teaching lesson this time was naming and recognizing the ingredients.  We would name the ingredients as they filled up their tacos.  They put everything I put on the cupcake tray on their taco which made me happy as they were mostly veggies.

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green peppers, lime and cilantro, lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, cottage cheese and shredded cheese

There is a a game the boys like to play in the kindle which also reviews foods as a guy eats them and says “gracias” (thank you) and then makes munching sounds every time he gets food.  My little one loves this game and at dinner said “gracias” and munched every time he took a bite.  Now that is a compliment in my book! 

 All in all, I feel amazing about the day.  We shared, we learned, we grew, we ate good food.  I have to find a way to keep this going. Any suggestions?

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“Last Stop on Market Street” Book Review

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For Black History Month I was able to review another children’s book thanks to Multicultural Kids Blog. This time our book was “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt De La Peña. I review books based on how my children see them and if they can relate to them. This book is not only bright and colorful but teaches a good lesson to little ones.

The book tells the story of a little boy and his grandmother that take their regular bus ride after church one day. The little boy can’t understand why he can’t stay behind and play or why his friends don’t have to go to where they are going either.  The grandmother then helps him see the beauty in their surroundings when he cannot. When they arrive at their destination, it is revealed to the reader that they were going to volunteer at a soup kitchen as they do every Sunday.

It really is a lovely story that teaches kids about charity, helping others, family and finding beauty in the most unlikely places. I love telling my kids stories like that. My only issue with the book is the grammar. I find myself correcting it every time I read it.  I know that it was written to show the way people sometimes speak, but I have worked very hard to speak English properly and intend to teach my children the correct way to do so as well.  In my mind if I show them how not to say things, they may do it just to spite me. Yes, I know how silly that sounds.  I will try to teach them that people speak differently around the world; not only in different languages, but in different ways in the same language. I will continue to correct them when I can, though. That is just a mama thing. That might be a post for another time.

Back to the book: It was a great story with lovely pictures and a good lesson. I would recommend adding it to your collection. I hope you enjoyed my review. Now go out and read more!