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!

We Need Diverse Books!

Image created by:  Icey Design

Image created by: Icey Design

The past couple days, I have had the immense pleasure of helping organize #WeNeedDiverseBooks with some amazing people – (You may have seen me tweeting already from my @Latinaish account as well as my personal @TracyDeLopez account.) The campaign is described in detail below, but it is basically a call for more diversity in books – something many of us have been talking about for a long time. I remember when Latinas for Latino Lit launched with this same mission, and through that I had the opportunity to express my views on the topic, as well as host authors René Colato Laínez and Meg Medina here on my blog. So I am really excited to see so many people coming together, from la comunidad Latina and beyond – to hopefully bring about some real change in the publishing industry. I hope you’ll join us! – Tracy López

A Joint Message From The Organizers of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, And Details On How You Can Get Involved:

Recently, there’s been a groundswell of discontent over the lack of diversity in children’s literature. The issue is being picked up by news outlets like these two pieces in the NYT, CNN, EW, and many more. But while we individually care about diversity, there is still a disconnect. BEA’s Bookcon recently announced an all-white-male panel of “luminaries of children’s literature,” and when we pointed out the lack of diversity, nothing changed.

Now is the time to raise our voices into a roar that can’t be ignored. Here’s how:

May 1st at 1pm (EST) – There will be a public call for action that will spread over 3 days. We’re starting with a visual social media campaign using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. [People are already using it, so join us!] We want people to use Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, blogs, and post anywhere they can to help make the hashtag go viral.

You can also support #WeNeedDiverseBooks by taking a photo holding a sign that says:

“We need diverse books because ___________________________.” Fill in the blank with an important, poignant, funny, and/or personal reason why this campaign is important to you.

The photo can be of you or a friend or anyone who wants to support diversity in kids’ lit. It can be a photo of the sign without you if you would prefer not to be in a picture. Be as creative as you want! Pose the sign with your favorite stuffed animal or at your favorite library. Get a bunch of friends to hold a bunch of signs. However you want to do it, we want to share it! We will host all the photos at WeNeedDiverseBooks.Tumblr, so please submit your photos by May 1st to weneeddiversebooks@yahoo.com with the subject line “photo” or submit it right on our Tumblr page here and it will be posted throughout the first day.

At 1:00PM EST the Tumblr will start posting and it will be your job to reblog, tweet, Facebook, or share wherever you think will help get the word out.

The intent is that from 1pm EST to 3pm EST, there will be a non-stop hashtag party to spread the word. We hope that we’ll get enough people to participate to make the hashtag trend and grab the notice of more media outlets.

The Tumblr will continue to be active throughout the length of the campaign, and for however long we need to keep this discussion going, so we welcome everyone to keep emailing or sending in submissions even after May 1st.

May 2nd – The second part of our campaign will roll out with a Twitter chat scheduled for 2pm EST using the same hashtag. Please use #WeNeedDiverseBooks at 2pm on May 2nd and share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.

May 3rd – At 2pm EST, the third portion of our campaign will begin. There will be a Diversify Your Shelves initiative to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is and buy diverse books and take photos of them. Diversify Your Shelves is all about actively seeking out diverse literature in bookstores and libraries, and there will be some fantastic giveaways for people who participate in the campaign! (More details and giveaway entry HERE!)

We hope that you will take part in this in any way you can. We need to spread the word far and wide so that it will trend on Twitter. So that media outlets will pick it up as a news item. So that the organizers of BEA and every big conference and festival out there gets the message that diversity is important to everyone. We hope you will help us by being a part of this movement.

Perro Portero


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!

¿Necesita un momento de ternura? Este perro de raza beagle que se llama Purín y vive en Japón está listo por La Copa Mundial! Mira como defiende la portería.

Fuente: MAS.SV


Need a moment of cuteness? This Beagle named Purín who lives in Japan is ready for the World Cup! Look how he defends the goal!

Source: MAS.SV


Image source: Dauro Veras

This morning when I remembered it was Earth Day, I started thinking about the concept of “Mother Earth” or “Madre Tierra” – and this in turn reminded me of a word I have always loved – Pachamama. Since it’s Earth Day, this is actually an excellent day to learn, “What or Who, exactly, is Pachamama?”

First, what does “Pachamama” mean, and where does the word come from? Pachamama is an Aymara and Quechua word commonly translated to “Mother Earth” but there isn’t really an exact equivalent in English or Spanish. While “mama” means mother, in Aymara and Quechua, the word “pacha” means far more than “earth” – the word also encompasses the cosmos, universe, time, and space. (On a personal note: I find it interesting that the word “pacha” in Salvadoran slang, which typically comes from Pipil/Nahuat, means “baby bottle” – So it’s another sort of mothering/nurturing word. I wonder if they’re related?)

Pachamama is a goddess of the Inca people and is adored in various areas of Latin America – primarily in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, but also in parts of Chile and Argentina.

Image source: ImagenesDeOcasion

Here are a few quotes about Pachamama that I found interesting:

“It is often difficult for an outsider to understand the devotion of the indigenous people for Pachamama…the principal deity of Andean religion. Pachamama is earth itself, sustainer of all life. In the words of one of the villagers, ‘Pachamama gives us life, she nourishes us throughout our existence on this earth and when we die, we go back to our Pachamama from where we will rise again.’ Pachamama is powerful. She sustains life for animals and plants alike, but she can also kill with devasting earthquakes and allow lightening to strike. Pachamama and the god of thunder and lightening are considered compadres.” – Inge Bolin, Rituals of Respect: The Secret Survival in the High Peruvian Andes

Description: “Q’eros shaman, called a Paqo, in his ultra-bright traditional poncho and chullo (hat) calling the Apu mountain spirits to bless a mesa, a cloth-wrapped package of special found and collected power objects (like rocks and crystals from places you’ve done ceremony) that a person on the shamanic path carries for ceremonies.” // Image source: McKay Savage

“It is very common for the Pachamama to receive the first serving of beer at social gatherings since believers pour a few drops on the ground before they take their first sip. This is a way to thank and feed the Pachamama.” – Caserita.com

car-pachamama Description: “Decorated Landcruiser – All decorated in honor of Pachamama over the Carnival period. People were doing this all over the Andean countries today.” // Image source: Andy Hares

“According to Mario Rabey and Rodolfo Merlino, Argentine anthropologists who studied the Andean culture from the 1970s to the 1990s, ‘The most important ritual is the challaco. Challaco is a deformation of the Quechua words ‘ch’allay’ and ‘ch’allakuy’, that refer to the action to insistently sprinkle. In the current language of the campesinos of the southern Central Andes, the word challar is used in the sense of ‘to feed and to give drink to the land’. The challaco covers a complex series of ritual steps that begin in the family dwellings the night before. They cook a special food, the tijtincha. The ceremony culminates at a pond or stream, where the people offer a series of tributes to Pachamama, including ‘food, beverage, leaves of coca and cigars.'” – Wikipedia/Pachamama

pachamama-dance Description: “La juventud es parte fundamental del espiritú que aquí se vive, en conjunto. Yo junto a mi novia nos contagiamos del ritmo y la energía de un pueblo que le agradece a su tierra por lo entregado, un verdadero carnaval, donde no hay personas arrastrandose por demostrar su fe, al contrario hay gente saltando y bailando felices de saber que son ellos los hijos del Inti.” // Image source: Pablo Embry

In this quote, the person seems to be referring to the tradition of some Latin American Catholics to crawl on their knees to show their devotion and to thank God and or the Virgin for answered prayer, when he says “…no hay personas arrastrandose por demostrar su fe, al contrario hay gente saltando y bailando felices…” [Translation: “…there are no people crawling to prove their faith, on the contrary, there are people jumping and dancing happily…”] This quote draws a contrast between the two faiths and the way in which they worship, yet there are some who mix their beliefs.

“When the Spanish invaded the Americas, they brought with them their Catholic religion, forcing it upon the indigenous people. But the people, devout to their own gods, resisted these advances…So the Spaniards had to adopt a different plan of attack. As Dr. Cajias says, ‘They then decided to mix Catholic beliefs and figures with native beliefs and figures.’ At the center of this syncretism are Pachamama and the Virgin Mary. Pachamama is an Aymara and Quechuan word loosely meaning ‘Mother Earth.’ The Andean people saw Pachamama as a mother who gave them food, water, and all of nature. She was considered a fertile mother because of the fertile land. And the Catholic figure most resembling a caring mother? The Virgin Mary.” – Source: Patrick Dowling, BolivianExpress

cruz-pachamama Description: “Ofrenda a Pachamama.” // Image source: Thiago Biá

Regardless of your religious beliefs, all of us living on the earth have a responsibility to care for it, and that’s what I take away from the belief in Pachamama. I find it difficult to live in harmony with nature in the modern world, balancing the wants and daily “needs” of American culture with a deeper and truer need to be in balance with everything outside my climate-controlled home which is filled with technology and other conveniences, but I try – and I want to try harder.

Happy Earth Day, Pachamama.

Pararse a oler las rosas


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 estuve muy ocupada. Encima de mi trabajo normal, tuve que llevar a mi hijo mayor a una cita y hacer unos mandados. Admito que cuando mi día es interrumpido por un montón de correteos por aquí y por allá, me pongo un poco molesta. Es que necesito mi dosis diaria de tiempo, para estar solita y en silencio, para pensar y recargar las energías.

Así que cuando fui a comprar unas cosas que necesitaba en Lowe’s, no pude resistir la tentación de ir al Centro de Jardinería para literalmente “pararme a oler las rosas” como decimos en inglés.




Mientras que olía (y fotografiaba) las flores, me preguntaba si hay un dicho similar en español que signifique “Tómese el tiempo para apreciar las pequeñas cosas lindas de su día.” Le pregunté a Carlos y a algunas de mis amigas, pero nadie sabía de un buen dicho con el mismo significado. ¿Sabes uno?


Yesterday I was really busy. On top of my regular work, I had to bring my older son to an appointment and run some errands. I admit that when my day is interrupted by a bunch of running around here and there, I get a little annoyed; it’s because I need my daily dose of quiet time alone to think and recharge that I feel that way.

So when I went to Lowe’s to buy a few things I needed, I couldn’t resist going to the Garden Center and literally “stopping to smell the roses” as we say in English.

While I smelled (and photographed) the flowers, I wondered if there’s a similar saying in Spanish that means “take time to appreciate the beautiful little things in your day.” I asked Carlos and some friends but no one knew a good saying in Spanish with the same meaning. Do you know one?

Mi Cumple


Today is my birthday. Carlos whispered “Feliz cumpleaños, birthday girl,” to me before kissing me on the forehead and going to work. I smiled and went back to sleep. When I awoke, I found that little note you see above, and minutes later he texted me a video of Pedro Infante singing “Las Mañanitas.”

Honestly, I usually try to lay low on my birthday – the more quietly it passes, the better. Of course, my family and friends never let that happen. Upon opening my email this morning there were even more birthday wishes, and even my gringo family sends them in Spanish these days. My father sent me a birthday song from Dora the Explorer and my maternal grandmother sent me a mariachi e-greeting.

So, since it’s a losing battle, this year I’m choosing to embrace my birthday. After all, I’m 35 years old today, and it doesn’t feel half as bad as I thought it would. Turning thirty was semi-traumatic, so anything short of a complete emotional breakdown is progress worthy of being noted.

This time of year always comes with thoughts about what I haven’t yet achieved and the fact that I still don’t know for sure exactly where I’m going in life. Thirty-year-old-me freaked out about these exact thoughts, but thirty-five-year-old-me shrugs and says, “¿Y qué?” … It isn’t that I’m apathetic about my goals, but I’m more accepting of the fact that they won’t always happen on my timetable, and some of them won’t happen at all – That’s okay because there’s something else I discovered; in life you will achieve and experience things that you never even set out to achieve or experience in the first place, and more often than not, those are the things you’ll end up cherishing more than anything on your list of “things to accomplish.”

“Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.

Un descanso en el camino, una botella de vino,
Un suspiro, una mirada, una alegre carcajada,
Una cara en el espejo, un amigo, un buen consejo,
Un viaje en barco velero aunque no llegues rimero,
Un caballito cerrero que no corra por dinero,
Un palmar, un riachuelo, un pedacito de cielo.

Mira bien alrededor y verás las cosas buenas,
Que la vida es un amor, olvídate de tus penas.
Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.

Una playa, un cumpleaños,
Un buen recuerdo de antaño,
Un olor a yerbabuena, una conversación amena,
Un romance que ha nacido que te roba los sentidos,
Un parque lleno de niños, un bellísimo cariño,
Un lágrima, un momento que sea todo sentimiento,
Una música muy bella, un perfume, una estrella.

Mira bien alrededor y verás las cosas buenas,
Que la vida es un amor, olvídate de tus penas.

Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.”

– “Oye Abre Tus Ojos” by Wilfrido Vargas

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!


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?


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?