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

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Photo Challenge: Day #12 and 13

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 Days #12 and 13.


Challenge day 12, theme: tu ciudad / your city

I was born and raised in Maryland, about 30 minutes from DC and we now live about 90 minutes from DC in an area that strikes a perfect balance between city and country as there is plenty of both. One of my very favorite things about parts of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, are the mountains. I never get tired of seeing them, especially on days like this when they’re green, and the sky is blue and full of perfect white clouds. They remind both me and Carlos of the montañas and volcanos of El Salvador.


Challenge day 13, theme: #amor / #love

Like millions of other people out there, Catholic or otherwise, I’ve been really touched by Pope Francis’s message of love this past week as he has visited cities in the United States. I have to say, his sense of humor is pretty great too. Here is some of what he had to say on the topic of families yesterday: “Families have difficulties. Families, we quarrel, and sometimes plates can fly. And children bring headaches. I won’t speak about mother-in-laws…In the family, indeed, there are difficulties. But those difficulties are overcome with love. Hatred is not capable of dealing with any difficulty [or] overcoming any difficulty. Division of hearts cannot overcome any difficulty. Only love. Only love is able to overcome. Love is about celebration, love is joy, love is moving forward.”

#popefrancis #HispanicHeritageMonth #family #familia #papafrancisco

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Photo Challenge: Day #4

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 Day #4: Hogar/Home


#HHM15FOTO challenge day #4: Hogar/Home … The first time I went to El Salvador, I admired this wall hanging in Carlos’s childhood home. My suegra insisted I take it, so for many years it has hung near our front door. “Dios bendiga este hogar” means “God bless this home.” To be honest, I’m not really religious and at times the words seem a little ironic since life isn’t perfect, (like the fact that my suegra no longer speaks to me and moved out of our home on bad terms), but most days I just try to be thankful for the blessings we do have, even if it’s as basic to human survival as a roof over our heads and clean water to drink, because some in this world, in my own city even, don’t have even that.

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.


Podcasts, Jane the Virgin & Resolutions

Thankfully “Jane The Virgin” continues to be a much needed source of entertainment and distraction in my life. The scene in this past Monday’s episode when Jane prepped Rafael for dinner with her family was hilarious, but what really made me laugh out loud was Rogelio’s interactions with Xo after Xo had vowed to remain chaste.




(Image source JaneGifs.Tumblr!)

By the way, if you’re also a “Jane” fan, you might like an article I wrote for Latinamom.me this month, 7 Reasons to Watch ‘Jane The Virgin’.

Writing for Latinamom.me again has kept me a little busier than usual. As many of you know, I took a break from freelance writing for a couple months last fall so that I could work on my manuscript (book writing) instead, so getting back into the flow of balancing my time at the computer between freelancing, book writing, this blog, social media, and the constant flow of emails, not to mention responsibilities away from the computer like family, household and my own self-care – Well, that’s been a little challenging, but I’m attempting to figure it out. (And I know so many people struggle to balance even more, so I’m not complaining.)

Anyway, if you’re looking for more of my writing since I’m not updating this blog quite as often at the moment, here are two more articles I wrote on Latinamom.me that you might enjoy.

10 Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep (in GIFs)

5 Must-Listen Podcasts for Latinos

In February, be on the look out for more posts from me over at Latinamom.me. I can’t tell you what they’re about before they publish, but I think many of you are going to love the topics!



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.

No Tengo Sueños, Tengo Metas.


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 title of this post comes from a quote my oldest son loves. The other day at dinner he was talking about all his plans for the future. He’s an ambitious, goal-oriented, Type-A sort of guy; he’s had it all mapped out for years. He wants a career in aerospace engineering. He’s been taking AP classes since his Sophomore year of high school, he’s an honor student, he’s a member of the Science National Honor Society and other academic clubs, he keeps a folder of colleges he’s interested in applying to. He’s a driven kid who pushes himself hard, and in a few weeks he’ll be starting his Junior year of high school – a very important year academically.

His little brother, our younger son, is also an honor student, but personality-wise he’s the opposite. He’s a happy-go-lucky laid back sort of fellow. Things just seem to fall into place for him so he doesn’t tend to plan too far ahead – He enjoys the moment and doesn’t worry. If he had a theme song, it would be Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, because in his mind, “every little thing is gonna be alright.”

So at dinner the other night, when our older son was talking about all his plans to conquer the world, his younger brother responded, “Well, I guess it’s good to have dreams. Maybe they’ll come true.” Our older son put his fork down and stared his little brother down. “I don’t have DREAMS,” he said, “I have GOALS.”

“Wow, that’s a good quote,” I said.

Carlos had zoned out. He was enjoying his panes con pollo.
“What’s a good quote?” he asked.

“No tengo sueños, tengo metas,” I answered in Spanish, so he could feel the depth of the quote.

“Wow. That is a good quote,” he said.

Carlos and I have done everything we can to support our boys in whatever they want to accomplish. A few weeks ago that meant lugging home a new desk for our older son even though we just bought him one last year. The problem with the old desk was one of size – it was just too small to accommodate the way he works. The new desk helped him spread out, but as you can see in the photo at the top of the post, he still needed a little help clearing space. Despite appearances he can be really organized, but when he’s in the middle of working on homework or projects it doesn’t look that way.

When Lowe’s said the August theme would be “Back-to-School” organization, I knew I’d be helping our older son organize his “office” area, as he calls it, but I wasn’t sure how. It took hours of walking around Lowe’s before I stumbled upon a creative idea and an easy solution all in one.


This is a shower caddy, designed to hang over the shower head and hold shampoo bottles, soap, razors, washcloths, and things of that nature – but what if I hung it on the wall instead?


I easily moved the majority of the clutter off the desk and into the caddy. I just put a screw in the wall and hung it on there and it’s super sturdy. On the top shelf, I placed a few binders and folders. On the middle shelf there was plenty of room for cans of pencils and other office supplies. More little office supplies fit nicely on the bottom shelf, but my favorite use for the shower caddy for office organization is this:


The bottom rung which is designed for hanging washcloths, is perfect to clip up notes which need to be typed up with the simple addition of two binder clips! This worked out so well I may have to go buy two more to install at my own desk and my younger son’s desk.

I think my boys are ready for back-to-school!

Want more creative ideas?

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