Category Archives: Corazón

Can You Help Six Quinceañeras in Mexico?

Quinceañeras in colorful dresses parade past Mexico City's Palacio Nacional 2012 / Image source: Javier Hidalgo

Quinceañeras in colorful dresses parade past Mexico City’s Palacio Nacional 2012 / Image source: Javier Hidalgo

At 15 years old many girls in Mexico and throughout Latin America look forward to their quinceañera, the traditional celebration that recognizes a girl’s coming of age, but what about girls who live at an orphanage?

Denisse Montalvan, founder of The Orphaned Earring, wants to make sure six deserving girls at an orphanage in Mexico have their special day, and she needs our help.

The quinceañera celebration for these girls is planned for September 28th, 2013 at Calvary Chapel of Rosarito, Mexico and a reception will be held at Grace Children’s Home, but there’s much to do to prepare. The girls need dresses, heels, tiaras, cake. We want to have their makeup and hair done, too. Denisse is taking donations of all kinds to make this happen – You can make a cash donation or send her a dress for one of the girls, for example, if you happen to have an appropriate one in your closet.

Quincedonate

Other causes/ways you can donate: Denisse will be traveling to Nicaragua at the end of August to give the kids at an orphanage there a summer party. You can donate money for their activities by clicking the “donate” button on The Orphaned Earring. The most creative way you can help is by donating earrings for which you’ve lost the mate. Denisse and her team recycle them into bracelets and sell them to raise funds. You can also purchase these bracelets here.

The Day I Almost Lost Him

The place where Carlos almost lost his life.

The place where Carlos almost lost his life.

I didn’t know if I would write about this publicly but I think doing so will help me process everything, and that is something I’m struggling to do. Also, I think this story can teach at least two important lessons.

We woke Sunday morning before the boys. Carlos headed out to the driveway to work on the car and I headed to the kitchen to work on breakfast.

There wasn’t much of a plan that day. As we lay in bed with the sunlight streaming through the blinds I had mentioned that it might be a good day to go swim in the river, but had the day progressed normally, we probably would have stayed home. I had already done the grocery shopping the night before and planned several recipes I wanted to make and photograph to share here on my blog.

As I set to work in the kitchen I heard Carlos call my name from the driveway. I don’t know how I heard him and today I’m plagued with the thought of what could have happened if I hadn’t. Carlos often calls my name from outside and I often don’t hear him – but yesterday I did. Yesterday, the way he said my name, it was urgent, strange. My first thought was that he wanted to show me something, but I knew that couldn’t be right. Why was his voice like that? I’ve never heard his voice like that before.

If I could have flown to him, I would have. I ran so fast that my chanclas came off my feet and I abandoned them, running faster barefoot. Halfway to the car I knew what I would find but I didn’t want to believe it.

Carlos had jacked the car up and was working under it. He’s not sure if the jack simply failed, if he bumped it, or if the car rolled, but when the jack fell and the car fell on top of him, he somehow managed to get enough air in his lungs to call my name.

I crouched down. I thought I said, “Oh my God,” over and over but I realize now that was in my head. Carlos later reminded me that what I actually said, is “What happened, baby?” in a weak, strangled voice. Carlos responded, “Tracy, I can’t breathe.” I remember that he said that very clearly because that is when I began to tremble. Even today, twenty-four hours later, my hands feel weak and begin to shake when I think of how I tried to work the jack and I couldn’t. Even if the jack wasn’t jammed, I don’t know if I could have made it work. My hands were trembling so much that I couldn’t hold onto it.

As my hands fumbled, I began to scream like I’ve never screamed before. “Help! Help me!” … I was hoping one of the neighbors would come get the car off Carlos – I was failing. Carlos was dying and it was going to be my fault. I replay it in my mind – why I didn’t call 911 but that would have meant leaving Carlos’s side when he couldn’t breathe. I wanted the car off him, I didn’t want to abandon him for even a minute. The screams that came out of me sounded like another person. Carlos managed to tell me “Calm down,” and even reached a hand down to try unsuccessfully to turn the jack. I kept screaming over and over again.

Inside the house, our dog, Chico, began to panic. He scratched frantically at the door and barked in response to my screams. It was Chico who woke our sleeping sons. My older son came outside when he heard the screams. He looked about wide-eyed, “Mommy, what’s happening?” he said.

When I spoke, I stuttered. I couldn’t speak clearly. “The car fell on Daddy,” I said, “I can’t get the jack to work.”

My older son grabbed the jack but he couldn’t work it. “I can’t work the jack! I don’t know how!” … He began to panic, too, and I started to scream again as a big, black pick-up truck stopped in front of our house and a man I’ve never seen before, ran to us. He later told me that he lives down the street, that he heard my screams. He thought it was kids playing at first, but decided to check. I wonder today if he hadn’t heard my screams or if he had ignored them – what would have happened.

The man tried to lift the car, my son and I joined in. I still don’t understand how we couldn’t lift it even a little. My son’s head left a small dent in the side of the vehicle – that’s how hard he thrust himself against it as he lifted. We cut and scraped ourselves, our bodies are sore today – but the car didn’t budge. Assured that my son and the man were actively trying to save Carlos, that Carlos wouldn’t be alone, I ran to the house, dialed 911, and brought the phone back with me outside.

The dispatcher told us not to attempt to move the car. I had worked very briefly as a dispatcher-in-training myself many years ago, and knew the dispatcher knew better than I did – but the man somehow managed to get the jack working and Carlos’s voice and breathing were weakening. I told the dispatcher we were going to jack the car up, that we had to, that my husband had a thick chest and the car was low to the ground, that he couldn’t breathe. The dispatcher told me again that she was advising me against moving the car in any way and that the ambulance and fire truck would be there soon.

The man worked the jack and the car lifted enough to take the pressure off Carlos’s chest. Fearing that the jack might fail again if he jacked it up enough for Carlos to get out, the man said we better just stop there. A minute later, my younger son flagged down the ambulance and fire truck. Within a few more minutes the first responders had used a tool I don’t know the name of to lift the car the rest of the way.

At one point the car started to slip again because a rock at the rear tire wasn’t doing a good enough job to keep it immobile. Carlos didn’t wait for the EMTs to slide him onto the board while he was under the car – he says he doesn’t know how he did it but he didn’t want to be under there anymore and he pulled himself out. An EMT grabbed his legs and pulled him the rest of the way onto the board and put a neck brace on him.

Carlos was airlifted to a hospital with a trauma center. I gave the boys some instructions, grabbed a few things and drove to the hospital. Because it wasn’t our local hospital, I got a little lost and that is when I finally started to cry actual tears. I had barely held it together until that moment but it’s usually Carlos who drives – he’s so good with directions, and I often get lost, and he wasn’t there to help me and I couldn’t find my way to him. When I finally arrived at the hospital, he was in for CAT scans and x-rays to check for internal injuries. The nurse reassured me that he was still conscious and talking, soon I was able to see him.

When I came into the room, Carlos was hooked up to all kinds of things. He still had the neck brace on, his shirt had been cut away and he wore a hospital gown. He had tubes in his nose for oxygen, IVs taped to his arms and hand, little electrode-looking things stuck all over his chest, a blood pressure cuff on his bicep, and a heartbeat monitor on his finger.

In the end, the test results revealed that not a single bone had been broken and there was no serious internal injury. Carlos was discharged within hours and even requested an ice cream cone on the way home. He will be very sore and is not working for at least a few days, but the doctor said he is either “very lucky or very strong.”

The only things I’m certain of today – I love Carlos with all my heart and I’m incredibly thankful that I’m not facing the rest of my life without him.

The two lessons for everyone:

#1. Do not ever use a car jack to raise a car up to work under it. That is not what they’re meant for. People often do this and end up dead or severely injured. Either go to the mechanic or find out the proper way to work under your car and do not take shortcuts. It’s not worth the risk you’re taking.

#2. It sounds cliche, but show your love for your family every day and in all your words and actions. You don’t know when your last moment together will be.

Carlos had to wear the hospital gown because his shirt got cut off him, but he was alive and home, and that was all that mattered.

Carlos had to wear the hospital gown because his shirt got cut off him, but he was alive and home, and that’s all that matters.

Señal de la Santa Cruz

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!

Ayer pasé muchas horas mirando las fotos digitales desde la niñez de mis hijos. Encontré unos videos cortos también que yo ni siquiera sabía que existían. Aquí es uno de los videos. En este video mis hijos están practicando cómo hacer La Señal de la Santa Cruz. Ni creo que ellos entendieron lo que estaban diciendo en español.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Yesterday I spent many hours looking through digital photos of my children’s childhood. I also found a few short videos that I didn’t even know existed. Here is one of the videos. In this video my boys are practicing the Sign of the Cross. I don’t think they even knew what they were saying in Spanish.

How to Make a Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic

mosaictitlefinal

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

The Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network challenge for July is “outdoor art.” I decided to pay tribute to one of my favorite artists, Fernando Llort. When we went to El Salvador in 2011, we visited The Catedral Metropolitana in San Salvador – a cathedral full of history and which featured a colorful tile mosaic façade by Llort. Months after we returned to the United States, that façade was thoughtlessly torn down. It’s difficult to say how sad and angry this made me – it still upsets me to this day. Making a replica of part of Llort’s mosaic felt like the right thing to do.

The cathedral before its destruction, and the section of the mosaic I decided to replicate.

A photo I took of the cathedral before the mosaic’s destruction, and the section of the mosaic I decided to replicate.

This project is time-consuming but worth it. Here’s how to make your own Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic.

How to Make a Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic

Materials:

square white ceramic tiles (amount depends on desired size of mosaic)
glass paint (gloss opaque in desired colors)
fine tip paint brush
ruler
rubbing alcohol
cotton balls
1/2 inch deep wood board cut to desired size (depends on desired size of mosaic)
screwdriver
2 screws
hanging wire
Gorilla Glue
needle-nose pliers
scissors
pencil
colored pencils
permanent marker
plastic gloves

Instructions:

1. Choose a design for your mosaic. This can be an existing design you want to re-create or one you created yourself. Decide how many tiles wide and high you want your mosaic to be and using a ruler and pencil, divide your image into a grid with an equal number of blocks. If your image is small, you may have to re-draw it larger. I recommend doing this the old-fashioned way instead of blowing the image up and applying a grid through computerized image editing, since the old-fashioned way gives you practice drawing the design. Use colored pencils to lightly color in the image if desired.

mosaicgridsketchFINAL

2. Number the blocks on the grid and the backs of the corresponding tiles to keep things organized in case you don’t finish in one sitting. (If your tiles come attached to each other, separate them and remove as much of the glue as possible using pliers.)

3. Screw the screws into the top edge of the board. Later you’ll tie the wire on but do this part now. You don’t want to do this after the tiles are attached and have the board crack.

4. Clean the surface of each tile with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol and then allow each to dry before applying paint. You can use a pencil and/or permanent marker to draw the outline of your design before you paint it.

5. Paint each tile, referring to your grid as a guide. Allow to dry.

6. To cure the paint on the tiles, place tiles in a cold oven on a foil-lined baking sheet. Set oven to 350 F, bake for 30 minutes. The foil is especially important if there is still glue on the backs of your tiles. This glue will melt in the oven and the tiles will attach themselves to your baking sheet! Turn oven off, allowing tiles to cool completely inside the oven before removing. Note that your tiles go into the oven when it’s cold and come out when it’s cold. They must be allowed to heat up and cool down properly. If you have a lot of tiles, you may have to do this in batches. Note: When moving tiles be careful not to chip the paint. The paint is not permanent until tiles are cured. If you do chip the paint, touch it up and wait for it to dry again. The tiles, (I believe because of the glue), smell strongly while being baked. I recommend having a few windows open while baking.

MosaicCollage2

7. Now you’re ready to assemble the mosaic and attach it to the wood. Put on some plastic gloves to avoid getting Gorilla Glue on your skin. Lightly moisten the back side of each tile with a damp paper towel and apply a very small amount of Gorilla Glue. Place tiles on your piece of wood in order using your grid as a reference. (Remember to check that the screws are at the top before attaching tiles!) Carefully place a flat heavy object, such as books, on top of the glued tiles to apply pressure. Wait 30 minutes until dry. If your mosaic is large, I recommend doing this step one section at a time. Note: You may want to test this process with extra tiles and a scrap piece of wood. Gorilla Glue expands and what you may think is a small amount, will be too much if you aren’t experienced in using it.

8. Wait 72 hours to be sure that paint and glue are fully cured before tying the hanging wire to the screws and hanging outside.

9. Optional: For a more finished look, you can glue thin pieces of wood molding around the outside of your mosaic. To make the mosaic more weather-proof, you could apply a ceramic tile surface sealer but I did not attempt this and can’t tell you whether it would affect the appearance of the painted tiles.

Note: Although the paint and glue are permanent, harsh weather will take a toll on your mosaic. Consider bringing your mosaic indoors during cold or rainy months, or display it in a sheltered area, such as a patio under an awning.

finalmosaicgrass

What will your mosaic design be?

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

Algo Nuevo Cada Día

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!

myart

Es una tendencía humana quedarse en una rutina, pero la rutina me hace sentirme aburrida y deprimida. Levantarme cada mañana, trabajar en la computadora después de procrastinar, pagar billes, limpiar la casa o lavar ropa, hacer la cena, pasar un poco de tiempo con mi familia antes de dormir, leer un poquito, y mañana a empezar la misma cosa. A veces me siento como si viviera el guión de la película, Groundhog Day, repitiendo el mismo día.

Aunque viajar por todo el mundo sería una cura perfecta, tengo que ser realista. Entonces, para combatir el mal sentido de nunca hacer nada diferente, empecé algo que yo llamo “Algo Nuevo Cada Día.” La idea es muy sencilla. Cada día trato de hacer algo nuevo, algo diferente, o algo que tengo mucho tiempo sin hacer. Idealmente es algo que me haga feliz, algo que me haga una mejor persona, o algo positivo que me dé una experiencia de vida más diversa.

Unas cosas que ya hice: Di una caminata en las montañas, pinté con acuarelas (mi pintura está ahí en la foto), me desperté antes del amanecer, y preparé samosas indias. “Algo Nuevo Cada Día” me está ayudando en sentirme menos aburrida con la vida.

¿Y tú? Qué haces cuándo te aburres de la misma rutina?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

It’s a human tendency to get stuck in a routine, but routine makes me bored, depressed. Waking up every morning, working on the computer after procrastinating, paying bills, cleaning the house or doing laundry, making dinner, spending some time with my family before bed, reading a little, and tomorrow the same thing again. Sometimes I feel like I’m living the scenario of the film, Groundhog Day, repeating the same day.

While traveling around the world would be a perfect cure, I have to be realistic. So to combat the negative feeling of never doing anything different, I started something I call “Something New Every Day” The idea is very simple. Every day I try to do something new, something different, or something that I haven’t done for a long time. Ideally it’s something that makes me happy, something that makes me a better person, or something positive that gives me a different, more diverse, life experience.

Some things that I’ve done: I went walking in the mountains, painted with watercolors (my painting is there in the photo), I woke up before sunrise, and I made Indian samosas from scratch. “Something New Every Day” is helping me feel less bored with life.

What do you do when you get bored of the same routine?

$panish $ummer

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!

money

Estoy completamente rendida. Esta semana decidí motivar (o sobornar, depende tu perspectiva) a los niños para que hablen español. Usé dólares del juego Monopoly para representar dólares reales y por cada día que ellos intentaban hablar español la mayor parte del día, recibieron un dólar. (Ellos saben que en una fecha posterior pueden cambiar el dinero del juego por dinero real.)

Suena como una buena idea, ¿verdad? El problema es que mi hijo menor está obsesionado con ganar tantos dólares como sea posible. Me habla todo el día hasta que me vuelvo loca. (Si no me conoces bien, necesito mi espaciocito y silencio.)

Peor, a mi hijo se le ocurrió un nuevo esquema. Primero él me preguntó: “¿Puedo ganar un dólar si hago tres páginas en el libro de español?” Estuve de acuerdo para que me dejara en paz.

Después mi hijo me preguntó si él mira una hora de televisión en español iba a ganar otro dólar. Estuve de acuerdo otra vez para que me dejara en paz.

Haciendo la historia más corta, estoy en deuda pero el español de mi hijo está mejorando.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I’m completely exhausted. This week I decided to motivate (or bribe, depending on your perspective) the kids to speak more Spanish. I used Monopoly dollars to represent real dollars and each day that the boys tried to speak Spanish the majority of the day, they received a dollar. (They know that at a future date they’ll be able to trade the play money in for real money.)

Sounds like a good idea, right? The problem is that my younger son is obsessed with trying to earn as many dollars as possible. He talks to me all day long until he drives me crazy. (If you don’t know me well, I need my personal space and quiet.)

Even worse, my son figured out a new scheme. First he asked me, “Can I earn a dollar if I do three pages in the Spanish workbook?” – I agreed so he would leave me alone.

Then my son asked if he watched television for an hour in Spanish would he earn another dollar. I agreed again so that he’d leave me alone.

Long story short, I’m in debt but my son’s Spanish is getting better.

A Quince Party… (for my boy)

Image source: Flickr user Kaptain Kobold

Image source: Flickr user Kaptain Kobold

I briefly mentioned in a previous post that I’m planning a quinceañero party for my son, and I promised to give details at a later date – so today I’ll tell you how this all came about. Below is an excerpt of the story as I wrote it for latinamom.me, with a link to read the rest over there.

When I first suggested the possibility of a quince to my husband, whispered one night in the dark as we fell asleep, Carlos waved me off like a lost and confused moth that had mistaken a porch light for the moon. I wasn’t surprised that it took awhile for Carlos to open his mind and warm up to the idea—after all, quinceañeras are traditionally coming-of-age celebrations only for girls and Carlos is a very traditional-minded person. However, over time I explained my intentions and little by little, Carlos came to support the idea of throwing a quince for his son.

[Read the rest on latinamom.me HERE]

Would you ever consider a quince party for your son?

Domingo Para Todos

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!

domingoparatodos

A veces Carlos mira programas en la tele que son extraños para mi y los niños – Uno de ellos es Domingo Para Todos. Domingo Para Todos es como una version salvadoreña de Sabado Gigante. La idea principal es tener gente de la audiencia participando en juegos chistosos, patrocinados por marcas para ganar dinero.

Tengo sentimientos contradictorios sobre el show. A ver la gente haciendo juegos en que tienen que vestirse como un rollo de papel higiénico o un gran pollo, me da algo de pena ajena. A veces parece que la gente se siente con vergüenza pero lo hacen porque necesitan el dinero – y por eso a veces pienso, “¿No es explotación?”

Por otra parte, hay gente que parece que están gozando estar en el show y me dan risa. También me gusta que hay un segmento de promover músicos salvadoreños. Entonces, cada domingo, miramos Domigo Para Todos en familia y los niños aprenden más español, además de observar la moda en El Salvador, (parece que pantalones apretados y fauxhawks todavia son populares con los muchachos.)

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Sometimes Carlos watches TV shows which are weird to me and the kids – One of them is Domingo Para Todos. Domingo Para Todos, (Sunday For Everyone) – is kind of like a Salvadoran version of Sabado Gigante. The main idea is to have audience members participate in funny games which are sponsored by brands so they can win money.

I have mixed feelings about the show. Seeing the people playing games which involve dressing like a roll of toilet paper or a big chicken, makes me feel a little embarrassed for them. Sometimes the people seem to feel ashamed and like they’re only doing it because they need the money – and for that reason, sometimes I think, “Is this not exploitation?”

On the other hand, there are people who seem to be having fun on the show, and they make me laugh. I also like that there’s a segment which promotes Salvadoran musicians. And so, every Sunday, we watch Domingo Para Todos as a family and the kids learn more Spanish, in addition to observing the latest fashions in El Salvador, (it seems that tight pants and fauxhawks are still popular with the young men.)

Verano de Español: Chucho

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!

veranodeespanol1

Hoy tenemos una semana haciendo el “Verano de Español” en nuestra casa y va bien. Mis hijos tienen 14 y 11 años y este es el cuarto año de “Verano de Español” – (por no hablar de que hemos estado hablando más español en general desde el primer año, no sólo durante el verano.) O sea, todos sabemos qué esperar y no es tan difícil este año.

Mi hijo mayor es más reacio a responder en español espontánea pero cuando lo hace, su vocabulario siempre me sorprende. Un día quería hablar conmigo sobre la bolsa de valores y le instruí intentar lo en español. Él puso los ojos y suspiró, pero luego lo hizo excelente.

Mi hijo menor me habla en español espontánea pero todavia está aprendiendo vocabulario. Me pregunta muchas veces al día qué significa una palabra, o cómo decir algo en español. Ojalá está absorbiendo todo como una esponja.

Anoche, jugamos un juego que es casi una versión de Scrabble en español. Mi hijo menor quería jugar y dijo: “Vamos a jugar en español” – a pesar de que se puede jugar en inglés. Sonreí cuando se deletreó la palabra “vos” – pero me reí cuando en su siguiente turno se deletreó “chucho.”

Parece que su vocabulario salvadoreño está bien establecido.

chucho

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Today we’re a week into doing “Spanish Summer” at our house and it’s going well. My sons are 14 and 11 years old and this is our fourth year doing “Spanish Summer”- (not to mention that we’ve been speaking more Spanish in general since the first year, not only during the summer.) In other words, we all know what to expect and it’s not as difficult this year.

My older son is more reluctant to speak Spanish without prompting, but when he does, his vocabulary blows me away. One day he wanted to talk to me about the stock market and I instructed him to do it in Spanish. He rolled his eyes and sighed, but he did an excellent job.

My younger son speaks Spanish without prompting but is still learning vocabulary. He asks me many times each day what a word means or how to say something in Spanish. Hopefully he’s absorbing everything like a sponge.

Last night, we played a game which is pretty much a Spanish version of Scrabble. My younger son wanted to play and said, “Let’s play in Spanish” – even though it’s possible to play it in English. I smiled when he spelled the word “vos” (a word commonly used in El Salvador to mean “you”), but I laughed when on his next turn he spelled the word “chucho.” (“Chucho” is slang for “dog” in El Salvador.)

It looks like his Salvadoran vocabulary is well established.

Madagascar Culo

veranodeespanol1

I’m trying to kick off “El Verano de Español” (Spanish Summer) a little early this year and yesterday I made a very concentrated effort to stick to Spanish with the boys.

I’m not sure what happened this year. At one point I was in the habit of speaking Spanish with the kids the majority of the day, then one day I realized I was speaking a lot of English to them and had been for some time. Each night I went to bed feeling guilty, promising I’d go cold turkey the next day but I’d wake up exhausted and forcing my brain to stay in Spanish was like trying to baptize a cat.

Anyway, Friday I managed to speak to the boys in mostly Spanish and they even responded to me in Spanish several times. To keep the momentum going, after dinner I decided we’d watch a movie in Spanish together, having recently discovered a bunch of bootleg DVDs from El Salvador I had forgotten we own. (To be very clear: We didn’t purchase these DVDs and haven’t even watched them – they were sent as gifts from one of Carlos’ tíos many years ago.)

My younger son popped some popcorn and I put the DVD for Madagascar in. Here’s a little video I made about the surprises that awaited us. (And as hilarious as this was to me, let this be a word of warning for anyone buying bootleg DVDs for their kids in El Salvador… They aren’t exactly rated G! This may be a good reason to buy the real thing.)

Ah yes… Spanish Summer is off to an excellent start.

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