Language is a Bond

Take a walk-3

Did you hear the news?  The US has more Spanish speakers than Spain.  This shouldn’t really come as a surprise due to the size and population differences between the two.  What is amazing to see (for me at least) is how many Spanish speakers there actually are in the United States. A recent study conducted by Instituto Cervantes* found that there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US plus 11.6 million others who are bilingual.  How awesome is that? 
For me this means that I am not alone in wanting to teach my kids to speak, understand and love Spanish. There is an awesome community right outside my door. Thanks to someone special, we were able to put both boys in Spanish summer camp this year. M went last year on his own because T was too little. We thought T was ready this year. That is still up for debate. M loves school, comes home excited about the new words he learned that day, knows a lot of new songs and has made new friends. T cries every time we drop him off and on and off throughout the day. He hasn’t even bonded with his teacher or his classmates. I’m hoping this changes as they have 4 weeks to go. I really don’t like having him be so sad and would pull him if we didn’t think it may just be the terrible twos taking effect for not getting his way. What would you do? 
Once he gets past the tears, however, he does throw out some Spanish words without being asked. He also gets excited when we read books in Spanish at home and when we sing our songs. That makes me happy. We will keep trying with the summer program this coming week and revaluate at the end of it.  
But I digress. As far as Spanish always being a part of their lives, the new study gives me great hope.  Also, with all of the attention being brought to our language and culture in the news today, it makes me proud to see how we have come together as a community no matter what part of the world we are come from. Spanish is our bond, family is our heart and pride is our power. All of these are great lessons for my boys in the long run. Let’s keep our love for languages alive! 

What languages do you speak with your kids?

I’d love to learn more about your love for languages!
Also, if you haven’t done so, please send a family pic. You do not have to include faces if you don’t want to…shadows, backs to the camera, hands held together, etc) for a fabulous future post. Thanks and have an amazing weekend. 
*The Guardian
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Global Pick of the Day

Your Family Can Help Boost Bilingualism
As part of my Global Pick of the Day and the mark of my one year anniversary as a blogger last week, I picked one of the first posts I did. I had started doing research on all things bilingual and came across some awesome articles. They have given me some great ideas about how to help my children become bilingual. We still use these tips today as well as so many others I have found along the way through the Multicultural Kid Blogs. It’s fun to look back and see where we are now. It also makes me want to try to remember what the baby photo project I mentioned was. I should write things down more often, (words no blogger should say, ha)…
Enjoy!
Please Click here: Your Family can Help Boost Bilingualism

My Global Pick of the Day!!

Global Pick Image for 4.27.15 Final (2) (600x503)

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!

public speaking image

Walking Tall

Walking Tall white

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.
IMG_9996

Be proud, my love, you and your brother will reach great heights.

Managing My Time

Managing My Time

So my posts have been dwindling a bit, not from lack of enthusiasm or ideas, but simply from poor time management. Right now it’s Spring Break, so my days are full of kid activities. Before that the kids were sick (nothing to worry about just winters germs) then I was sick then they were sick again and then again me.  I was just tired. We are all on the mend (for good I hope)

There has also been something else occupying my time:  writing books…children’s books. I don’t know if they are any good.  I would like to think they have promise, though.  I even attended a very inspiring conference that gave me a little more courage to get out there and try a little harder. I had one of my stories critiqued by an editor which gave me the fire I needed to get moving on these.  I know what I need to do. I just have to find the time to do it.

That brings me right back to my poor time management dilemma.  I need to find a way to fit everything into my schedule and not completely ignore my children. I mean they are the reason I am doing all of this, right? So this is what I need to fit in every week on the few hours the kids are asleep or in those days they go to school for 4 hours.

  • Research and prepare fun learning activities for kids
  • Find ways to help them love the world and the people in it
  • Write 4 blogs a week (ideally) for the blogs I contribute to as well as my own in English and Spanish
  • Work on my books: edit and work on existing stories to submit
  • Develop new stories
  • Work on website
  • Cook and clean
  • Run errands
  • Exercise
  • Enjoy the quiet!

How in the world? Seems crazy, right? It may just be! I’m reading up on what may help and here are some things I found that I need to try:

Plan ahead!

This one is so important for success! Give yourself time to prepare all that you can at least one day a week.  My mom was a teacher and tells me stories of staying up late cuting up games and crafts for kids every night after we were in bed.  I do not have the patience she has, so I would like to find a way to do multiple days at once just so I had things prepared in advance.

Be flexible

Things come up and schedules get turned upside down. Don’t panic. Take it as light as possible, as hard as that is, and rework your schedule if only in your own mind. You may have to save the schedule you had planned for the next day, but at least you know you have a plan.

Post it!

Not necessarily for the world to see, but for your own peace of mind. Find a spot where you can have your very own chalkboard or dry erase board and write down a list of what you want to do during the week.  Having it in a place you always see without it being right in your face all of the time may help you not feel so overwhelmed.  I keep a little one I found at Target at the corner of my desk helps me glance over when I want to remind myself of what it was I was writing about without taunting me too much.

Here is my board that makes me smile. Sure the list is long, but at least is cute!

Here is my board that makes me smile. Sure the list is long, but at least is cute!

Organize, reorganize, and make it nice! 

Having a messy work space or living space can make you feel more scattered and uninspired. I had a crazy craft room/guest room happening for a while there. There were paints, glues, markers, crayons, construction paper, toys, craft ideas, stickers, yarn, and everything else you could think of in boxes and all over that room.  My Father in law built me a beautiful desk with room for bins and the room has opened up quite a bit.  This is what I now call my office and it makes me feel more centered. So find a place to keep the things you use the most like bins or pretty baskets to make your home feel more organized and put the rest away. Baskets are great for keeping those little toys and cars that end up following you around the house for some reason. Everything in its place may help you keep everything in your head in order, too. That’s the hope, anyways.

My desk.  May not be perfectly organized, but I have plenty of space to write.

My desk. May not be perfectly organized, but I have plenty of space to write.

Make extras

This is especially important in meal planning. Double up your recipes and freeze half. This way you can give yourself permission to do other things some days knowing that you have what you need in the freezer. Just don’t forget to thaw it!

Use the Internet

The internet is an amazing resource to find anything you need. You can find new recipes. You can find out what other cultures do with their kids for fun and try to replicate it if you can. You can learn how to make anything you want really.  I like to use it to find fun projects for the kids, get printouts for our learning times, find songs and games in Spanish and see what the rest of the world is up to. Google away!

Learn when to say no

You can’t be expected to do everything yourself.  Don’t take on too many projects at once or you will drive yourself insane. Make sure you take on only what you know you can easily handle. It’s good to challenge yourself from time to time, though. So if you must, make sure that you are not cutting into family time and it’s a project you really enjoy.

Fall in love with routines

This is good in all aspects of life.  Yes spontaneity is fabulous, but if you are trying to get your life in order it may not be the best way to go. Save those times for something more fun. Set up your days in advance so that you give yourself some time to work on as much as you can.  Don’t expect to do it all at once, though.  Be realistic about what you want to accomplish on a given day and how much time you want to spend on it.

Take care of YOU

Overworking yourself in order to get things done is not the answer. Also, it can be exhausting. If you find yourself a little overwhelmed and worn out, change your plan and try to add time to relax. If you think you may be coming down with something, stop and listen to your body, it may just need a break from running around.

Breathe

Nobody is perfect all of the time, not even you. Remember that your kids are only the age they are now once, you don’t want to miss the special moments each age has to offer just to have a perfectly clean home or three blog post a day in my case.  

Enjoy your days as much and as often as you can. All things will get done with time. Now, go play with your family!

Here are the articles on time management I found helpful.  What has worked for you?

Time Management Tips for Working Moms

Time Management Tips for Moms

Spanish in the Kitchen

Learning Through Food (500x419)

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.

sopa-fideo-TOSOTT

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.

tostadas

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!

m bitet bite 

 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.

ingredients

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?

hooray

“I Am Jackie Robinson” Book Review

Jackie Robinson featured image

We are almost at the end of Black History Month and I did not want the month to end without adding a little something.  Thanks to the fabulous folks at Multicultural Kids Blog, I recently received this book to review for it.  I am very happy to be a part of this celebration and to be able to share a little bit of history with my boys.  The book we read is “I am Jackie Robinson.”  Not being a baseball fan or knowing much about him, I learned a lot from this book about this amazingly talented man and the obstacles he faced growing up and throughout his career.

The book is written for children and the illustrations are great for kids as well. The author, Brad Meltzer and the illustrator, Christopher Eliopoulos, have a series of books dedicated to teaching children about real heroes in the world they can look up to. I love the idea of such a great series.

My boys are 2 and 4 and love stories. This is a great way to teach kids a little history in a fun colorful book.  My only issue with it was the violence and some of the remarks. I know that is a subject we need to teach our kids because ignorance is the same as intolerance. I guess I just wasn’t as ready to teach it just yet. I probably should have read it first to prepare myself for questions. We read it for the first time together and I had to pause to explain to them why the way we treat people is important. I wanted them to understand that judging people for, not letting them participate in things or being mean for any reason is not ok. Once I gave them a little background and explained a little history to them so they could get an idea about what many people have suffered through to be treated equally, we were able to continue reading the story. I must confess that I completely skipped over the pages where Jackie got into a rock throwing fight with a little girl and her dad.  I just couldn’t bring myself to read that a grown man was so mean to a little boy.

Other than that, my boys really loved seeing a little boy be so good at sports. They were also very excited to see the real life pictures at the end of the book of the real Jackie Robinson and his family. They really liked that this was a true story.   The quotes are also very inspirational, I enjoyed those myself. I think it is the first biography we have read together so that was a good treat. I can’t wait to read more books from the series and learn a little bit more about some amazing people.