Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Photo Challenge: Day #14 and 15

I’ll be participating in the “15 Days of Hispanic Heritage” photo challenge over on Instagram hosted by ¿Qué Means What? and The Nueva Latina. If you want to participate, just use the hashtag #HHM15Foto and take a photo for the given theme on each day! Here’s my photo and caption from Instagram for the final days of the challenge, #14 and 15.


Challenge day 14, theme: #hoy / today (Posting a day late, ironically) … This photo of an #accionpoetica quote in #México by Flickr user esperales says “Somos instantes.” Translation: We are instants. It’s a simple reminder of the fragility, uncertainty, and brevity of life. All you have is today, this moment. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I try to always remember it and act accordingly. #HispanicHeritageMonth


Challenge day 15, theme: mañana / tomorrow … This #dicho in #Spanish, (“Hoy por ti, mañana por mí”) means, “Today for you, tomorrow for me.” …When was the last time you did something special for somebody? When was the last time somebody did something special for you? #HispanicHeritageMonth

Gracias a los policías colombianos


Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

A veces es difícil tener fe en la humanidad. Hay tantas cosas malas pasando en el mundo y tanta gente eligiendo hacer daño a sus hermanos en vez de ayudarles. Pero lo hermoso es que toma sólo un pequeño acto de amor y bondad por llenar mi corazón.

Hoy el acto que tocó mi corazón hasta el punto de llorar venía de estos valientes hombres – policías colombianos que arriesgaron sus vidas para salvar a un perro siendo arrastrado por las aguas de la inundación.

Son increíbles y sólo quiero agradecerles públicamente. No hay palabras suficientes para expresar lo que siento, pero policías colombianos, si ustedes están leyendo esto, yo les mando un fuerte abrazo de los Estados Unidos y les deseo un millón de bendiciones. Gracias por todo lo que hacen por proteger vidas – grandes y pequeñas.


Sometimes it’s difficult to have faith in humanity. There are so many bad things happening in the world and so many choosing to harm their brothers rather than help them. But the beautiful thing is that it takes only one small act of love and kindness to fill my heart.

Today the thing that touched my heart to the point of tears was these brave men – Colombian policemen who risked their lives to save a dog being swept away in flood waters.

They’re amazing and I just want to thank them publicly. There aren’t words to sufficiently express how I feel, but Colombian policemen, if you guys are reading this, I send you a big hug from the United States and I wish you all a million blessings. Thank you for all you do to protect lives – both big and small.

The Magic That is The Latino Community


This week I’m giving thanks for community, and the Latino community specifically. Let me tell you a story about something that happened last weekend.

Carlos and I had just returned from grocery shopping, literally still in the driveway with bags in the trunk to unload. My 16 year old son, who hadn’t seen me since leaving for school early that morning, greeted us and then launched into a “Mami, I hate to tell you this, but I’m going to need some money…”

This is a good moment for me to dispel a myth for some of you. Young parents have a tendency to believe that kids get less expensive as they get older — it isn’t true. Maybe this feels true for a few years after the diaper days, but there comes a point where your children out-grow the kid’s menu at restaurants and it’s downhill from there, financially speaking. Soon they start needing things they never needed before – cellphones, deodorant, face scrubs, and all manner of personal hygiene products.

They become increasingly conscious about the way they look, so your famous bowl haircuts will no longer suffice – now you must shell out for a trip to the barber for fancy Cristiano Ronaldo-style haircuts. (If you think you can recreate this look yourself with a pair of clippers, trust me that you probably can’t and your kid will hate you for a couple weeks.)

Then they start eating twice as much as you do. Groceries that used to last a week are gone within days. Just when you financially start to catch your breath and think you can make it work somehow, they start talking about getting their license. You can’t afford a car for them but you call your car insurance company to find out how much it will cost to insure them at the very least – You end that phone call sick in your gut, because you have to tell your kid that they have to wait for their license because you can’t afford to insure them. Meanwhile “all their friends” have their license already, and some of them were even gifted cars. You have a good kid though, and while disappointed, he understands. In a way, this makes you feel even worse because he’s a good kid and deserves things you can’t provide.

On top of these expenses, your kids’ free public school education is not so free after all. In addition to increasingly expensive school supplies, laptops, a printer, printer ink and paper to ensure your teen can type up and hand in presentable assignments, there are fees for everything imaginable. Dances, clubs, science projects, yearbooks, class trips, fancy calculators, musical instruments – God help you if they want to play a sport. And when you have an especially ambitious teen who wants to take advanced college-level classes, you pay even more.

When your child becomes a Junior in high school, it’s time to start seriously looking at the cost of college. There are days your brain just can’t take anymore. Your child will be talking about tuition, room and board, meal plans, books, and other expenses. With glazed eyes you will just nod your head while fantasizing about running away, except you don’t even have enough gas in your car to make it out of town, let alone enough money in the account to book a flight to Cancún.

So, back to the original scene – we had just grocery shopped, which is less and less fun the older I get. When I make it home, I’m just thankful the whole process is over – and then my son tells me he needs money.

What does he need money for? He needs to buy a suit. We’ve long put this off because of the expense but it was becoming unavoidable. His admittance into the National Honor Society and various other upcoming events would require it.

I felt panicked, frustrated, exhausted.

“I don’t know how we’ll find the money for a suit.” I sat at the dinner table surrounded by the bags of groceries and put my head in my hands.

My older son, thrift-minded thanks to his upbringing and the necessity of being so, offered, “We could look at Goodwill and Salvation Army?”

“Maybe,” I responded, but I wasn’t optimistic about the idea. I had looked for suits there before and even when I’ve been lucky enough to find the right size, they’re usually horribly outdated.

“What’s wrong?” Carlos asked, because apparently he had tuned out the whole conversation. So I explained that our son needed a suit within the next two weeks and I wasn’t sure how we’d afford one.

Carlos was uncharacteristically calm. (It seems we switch personalities every now and then.)

“A suit? Hmmm… Let me make a phone call.”

Carlos disappeared into the bedroom and came back 10 minutes later.

“I may have found a suit for you.”

Carlos had called a local Salvadoran woman who has been somewhat of a surrogate mother to him the past few years. She’s well-connected within the local Latino community so Carlos simply told her our older son would need a suit within the next two weeks and asked her if she could keep an eye out.

Her response?

“I have a closet full of suits. Come to my house with your son at six o’clock and we’ll see if any of them fit… And bring Tracy so she can make sure they look nice.”

At six o’clock we arrived at her house. She showed us into a bedroom with suits hung in the closet and some laid out on the bed. She later told me that she had actually had twice as many not long ago because a lawyer she knows had given them to her so that her visiting brother could take them back to El Salvador. These suits were just the remains of what he didn’t want or couldn’t fit in his suitcases.

It turned out two suits fit our son and she encouraged him to take them both. “If a suit fits you, too” she said to Carlos, “take it, please. You’re welcome to it.”

And so that’s the story of how Carlos procured not one, but two suits for our son, (plus one for himself) within just a few hours, thanks to our friend and the magic that is the Latino community.




Disclosure: Latinaish.com has partnered with Cricket Wireless as a 2014 Blog Ambassador. All opinions are my own.

I can’t resist any sort of “random acts of kindness”/”pay it forward” love-spreading-movement, so when I found out Cricket Wireless started #MissionSmile, I was totally in.

#MissionSmile is simply a mission to make others smile. That’s it! It can be an act as small as sharing a photo of your cute perrito on social media, or as big as paying for all the groceries of the person behind you in line at the store.

Here are a few things I’d like to do:

1. Hold a sign that says “Abrazos Gratis” and give away free hugs.
2. Smile at every stranger I encounter and see how many smile back.
3. Visit the dogs and cats at the Humane Society and spend time playing with them.
4. Give any overabundance from my garden to a neighbor.
5. Buy diverse children’s books and books in Spanish for my local Head Start program.

How about you? Which good deeds do you like to do? How will you make others smile?

For more from Cricket Wireless ambassadors, follow the #VidaConCricket hashtag and @MiCricket on Twitter.

I’m a madrina! (and you can be too)


The other day I received a message from my amiga Denisse Montalvan over at The Orphaned Earring, letting me know that she is once again accepting donations to give a quinceañera to the orphan girls in Mexico and Guatemala who are coming of age. This is something a little extra she does for these girls, because her organization supports many orphaned children, both boys and girls, in various Latin American countries throughout the year with food, fun activities, and more.

This cause is really close to my heart, and there’s a sort of ugly truth behind my reason. One thing Denisse pointed out has really stuck in my mind, and that is the fact that there are sick people out there who lure teenage girls to run away with promises of a better life. A girl with unfulfilled wishes may be especially vulnerable to falling victim. We need these girls to know that they are loved and make sure they feel special on their special day. They are no less deserving of having their special day than any other girl in Latin America, (and Denisse tells me they are all such good girls – super kind, helpful with the younger children, and they do well in school.)

So, when I received the email from Denisse the other day, I asked Carlos if we could donate a sum of money again this year and he not only agreed, but told me to double it. It wasn’t a huge sum of money, but Denisse makes the money go far – you’ll be amazed with what she can do on a small budget (Just $30 a month feeds about 60 children daily for a month in Guatemala! That’s one fast food meal for a family of four in the U.S.!) and every little bit helps, so if you want to be a madrina or padrino too, even if you can only give a few dollars, please do – it could make all the difference in the world in their lives.

Details from Denisse:


Guatemala girls: The celebration will be held Sunday, August 17th. Thankfully our three beautiful girls already have quinceañera dresses that were donated for last year’s quinceañera celebration. We just need to raise money for the party and gifts for the girls!

Mexico girls: To our surprise, the girls in Tijuana want to do a history tour in D.F. Mexico. They’ve read about the history of their country and dream of traveling to visit the museums and historical sites in D.F. Instead of spending money on a party, they would like help with plane tickets. Once in D.F. we would find a church or friends to allow them to stay with them.

Become a quinceañera madrina o padrino (godmother or godfather) and help raise money for celebrations for 4 girls in Mexico and 3 girls in Guatemala. This is how you can help!

• Donate using The Orphaned Earring Paypal Link or send your donation to donation@theorphanedearring.com

• Help meet our goal by contributing to the #QuinceDreams Fundly campaign and encourage your family and friends to #DoGood by donating any amount. Simply click here: https://fundly.com/quincedreams

• You can also become a monthly supporter to help us continue to bring smiles to over 300 children! Become a monthly donor. Any amount helps! Click on this Paypal Link, enter the amount you want to donate in the amount box and click on the recurring monthly payment.

It might be ambitious of The Orphaned Earring to think they can make all their orphaned children dreams come true, but with your support I know nothing is impossible!

Regalitos de México

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

El fin de semana pasado pasamos un tiempo super bellísimo con unos amigos que visitaron Washington D.C. desde México, (¡y por eso no escribí mi entrada de Spanish Friday!) Los amigos que nos visitaron fueron nuestra querida amiga, Sue, que ya conociamos por unos años por internet y Skype pero nunca cara a cara, y también su esposo, Toño.

Otro día quiero contar más sobre su visita porque tengo mucho que quiero decir, (todavía es díficil para mi poner en palabras la felicidad que esta visita nos dio) – entonces, por ahora sólo los regalitos que nos trajeron les voy a enseñar.

¡Y qué regalos más lindos nos trajeron! …


Estas revistas en español se llaman “Muy Interesante” y con mucha razón porque son muy interesantes, (¡como dice Sue!) Ya pasé horas leyéndolas con mi hijo menor. Las revistas “Muy Interesante” son buenísimas para empezar conversaciones sobre cosas de que usualmente no hablamos y para aprender vocabulario más técnico y científico.


También nos trajeron un cómic y es muy divertido leer porque los ruidos son bien diferentes cuando pelean los personajes.


Un gallo de Oaxaca para el guacamole de Carlos.


Cucharas pintadas a mano, (las voy a colgar en la pared en vez de cocinar con ellas porque son demasiado bonitas.)




¡aretes de Guadalajara diseñados como piñatas! Lo mejor es que todos los regalos (además de las revistas), apoyan a los artesanos en México.

Veo estos regalos cada día y mientras yo ya extraño a Sue y Toño, me siento muy, pero muy, agradecida por nuestra amistad.


Last weekend we spent an amazingly beautiful time with some friends who were visiting Washington D.C. from Mexico, (and that’s why I didn’t write my Spanish Friday post!) The friends that visited us were our dear friend, Sue, who we’ve known through the internet and Skype for a few years, but had never met face-to-face, and her husband, Toño.

Another day I want to tell more about their visit because I have a lot I want to say, (it’s still difficult for me to put in words the happiness their visit gave us) – so, for now I’ll just show you the gifts that they brought.

And what beautiful gifts they brought!

These magazines in Spanish are called “Muy Interesante” and with good reason – they’re very interesting, (as Sue says!) I’ve already spent hours reading these with my younger son. The “Muy Interesante” magazines are fantastic for starting conversations about things we usually wouldn’t talk about and for learning more technical and scientific vocabulary.

They also brought us a comic book which is really amusing to read because the sounds are really different when the characters fight.

A rooster [bowl] from Oaxaca for Carlos’s guacamole.

Spoons painted by hand, (I’m going to hang them on the wall because they’re too pretty to damage.)


earrings from Guadalajara designed like piñatas! The best thing is that all of the gifts, (except the magazines), support artisans in Mexico.

I see these gifts each day and while I already miss Sue and Toño, I feel very, very, thankful for our friendship.

Giving Tuesday & Visiting Perritos


Have you heard of Giving Tuesday? Giving Tuesday, (celebrated December 3rd this year) is a national day of giving, a movement that was created last year to encourage people to take part in charitable activities and to support non-profits. I wanted to do my part to spread the word and hopefully inspire others by sharing my family’s Giving Tuesday story.

You see that cute pup who looks ready to tackle the Christmas tree in the photo above? For those who don’t know, that’s Chico. We adopted Chico from our local Humane Society last year. For Giving Tuesday, we decided we wanted to donate supplies to them so they can continue to do what they do – find homes for deserving cats and dogs.


Since I’m a Lowe’s blog ambassador and receive gift cards to complete my monthly projects, I decided to make use of one of the gift cards that had leftover money on it by buying most of the supplies at Lowe’s. If you want to donate to your local Humane Society, call or visit their website to find out what they need and accept. Our Humane Society listed specific cleaning and pet supplies. Besides these items from Lowe’s, (plus some cute Christmas stockings I couldn’t resist) we bought a couple bags of kitty litter and cat food, too.


My boys carried the supplies to the car and we went as a family to the Humane Society to drop them off, (well, drop them off and visit the animals for a little while.)


There were over a dozen dogs awaiting homes and it was hard to walk away from them. We stayed and talked to each one for a couple minutes. I don’t know if they understood me, but I told each one they would be adopted soon and to hang in there. I got a little choked up doing this. Also, you’re not supposed to stick your fingers through the bars, but after letting each dog sniff my closed fist and reading its body language, I did pet most of them. Some of them were so hungry for love that they’d lean against the bars trying to get closer to me.

After visiting with the dogs, we visited with the cats. Our Humane Society allows some of the cats free roam of a closed room full of toys and everything they could possibly need. Carlos kept complaining that he didn’t want to go to the cat room because he doesn’t like cats but after a few minutes, I caught him like this.


Hmmm, does that look like someone who doesn’t like cats to you?

Leaving was bittersweet but it was literally closing time and we had to go. I think we all felt happy that we were able to give a little something but sad that we weren’t able to do more, so this is my attempt at doing more by spreading the word.

If you didn’t know about Giving Tuesday, or hadn’t planned to participate, I hope you’ll consider it. You can support any organization or cause you feel passionate about, but if you’re an animal lover and have room in your home, I hope you’ll consider adoption. There are plenty of sweet dogs and cats waiting for you to make them part of your family.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. This post was in no way encouraged by The Humane Society, Lowe’s, or any of the product brands shown.