Multiracial Kids, Latino Lit, Jane the Virgin Quiz, and Latin American Foods to Eat Before You Die

Well, that might be the longest and most inelegant title I’ve ever written for a blog post, pero no quería marear la perdiz. (If you didn’t know, that’s a Spanish-language idiom for “I didn’t want to beat around the bush.” It literally means “I didn’t want to make the partridge dizzy.” How much cuter is that?)

Anyway, I just wanted to put up a quick post with links to all my latinamom.me posts for the month of February in case you missed any of them. I hope you’ll check them all out and let me know which you liked best so I have an idea of which stories I should write more of in the future. Here we go!

8 Things Moms of Multiracial Kids Are Tired of Hearing

The first is an animated gif post which is a little controversial! My editor asked who wanted to write on the topic of stupid things people say to the parents of biracial or multiracial children, and I volunteered. I usually try to steer clear of topics that get people steamed in any way because I prefer to focus on the positive, but I knew I had some important things to say on this issue so I’m happy I wrote it. [Read it here.]

Latino Lit to Warm Up the Winter

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The second post is book recommendations. I’ve been in kind of a reading rut so I can’t wait for some of the soon-to-be-published Latino Lit to finally be available! (What’s on your “to read” list that you’re most looking forward to right now?) [Read it here.]

Which Jane The Virgin Character Are You?

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This third post was incredibly fun to create because it was the first quiz I designed and it’s all about “Jane The Virgin” – which is my favorite show right now. (A close second would be “Fresh Off the Boat.” Are you watching that, too?) Anyway, let me know which result you got on this quiz and if you felt it was accurate! [Take the quiz here!]

Latin American Foods to Eat Before You Die

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My last piece for latinamom.me for the month of February is “Latin American Foods to Eat Before You Die” – (I know, the title is just a tiny bit dramatic.) It was difficult to choose just 10 foods though and the hunger I felt while putting that post together was painful. If you could have any of the foods mentioned in the post magically appear before you right now, (but just one!) – which would it be? [Read it here.]

Dora & Friends (Giveaway!)

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Disclosure: I received this product for review purposes. No other compensation was given. As always, all opinions are my own.

Apparently I’m a little behind in the world of children’s TV programming, but that’s probably understandable since my boys are now 16 and 13 years old. It’s been quite a few years since we sat down to watch Dora the Explorer together, (and yes, they loved that show back in the day.)

Well, my boys aren’t the only ones who have grown up – so has Dora. Dora and Friends: Into the City! is a show that launched last year. The show features a tween-aged Dora and friends – Kate, Naiya, Emma, Alana and Pablo – in a similar format to the original with a focus on problem solving, the Spanish language, and other useful skills for young minds.

Dora and Friends is available on DVD as of February 10th, 2015 and I was given a copy for review ahead of the release. It felt a little odd to sit down and pop a Dora DVD in after all these years, and it probably comes as no surprise that neither of my sons wanted to watch with me as they’re most definitely out of the target audience age range at this point.

Without a cute little kid to shout out the answers next to me, I only made it through the first episode, (the DVD includes 4 episodes total: We Save a Pirate Ship!, The Magic Ring, The Royal Ball, and Dance Party.) Hopefully my 3 year old niece will want to watch with me next time, otherwise I feel a little weird answering Dora all by myself. (Then again, it’s just as awkward not to answer her.)

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The thing I found most amusing is that the character Map, who used to be a real map in her backpack, is now a map app on her smartphone. (Yes, Dora has a smartphone!) On the language front, I liked that the Spanish they teach seems to be slightly more advanced and now includes short phrases and commands rather than singular words.

If you’ve got a little son or daughter who you’re raising bilingual, check out the giveaway below for your chance to win a copy of the Dora and Friends DVD!

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—GIVEAWAY CLOSED!—

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a Nickelodeon “Dora and Friends” DVD.

Approximate value: $15.00.

How to Enter:

Just leave a comment below! You can say anything you like about Dora, this blog post, bilingualism, or just “Hi, I’d like to enter!” (Please read official rules below.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. or Canada address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. After 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between February 7th, 2015 through February 10th, 2015. Entries received after February 10th, 2015 at 11:59 pm ET, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte! Good luck!

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.

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(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!

Jane the Virgin: Quotes (Citas)

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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!

Usualmente yo no me obsesiono con un programa de televisión, pero yo estoy completamente obsesionada con Jane the Virgin. Cada semana no puedo esperar para el próximo episodio. Mis hijos también les encantan el show. No he querido un show así desde Herederos del Monte. Los actores son todos brillantes, el elenco es diverso, hay una buena mezcla de inglés y español y la trama es perfectamente complicada. Sólo he visto tres episodios y me he reído tanto y también he sido tocada hasta el punto de llorar.

Aquí están tres de mis frases favoritas hasta el momento de la serie. (¿Cuáles son las tuyos?)

“Inhala, exhala, inhala, exhala.” – Rogelio

“I needed a croqueta… I would offer you some but I’m really enjoying it and if I give you a bite I may resent you in a very serious way.” – Jane

“Las pequeñas mentiras se convierten en grandes bolas de maldad.” – La abuela

¿Quieres más Jane the Virgin?

5 Reasons To Watch Jane The Virgin en Remezcla.

Mira Jane the Virgin en linea.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Usually I don’t become obsessed with television shows, but I’m totally obsessed with Jane the Virgin. Each week I can’t wait for the next episode. Both my sons love it too. I haven’t loved a show this much since Herederos del Monte. The actors are all brilliant, the cast is diverse, there’s a good mix of English and Spanish and the plot is perfectly complicated. I have only watched three episodes and I’ve laughed so much and even been touched to the point of tears too.

Here are three of my favorite lines so far from the show. (What are yours?)

“Inhala, exhala, inhala, exhala.” – Rogelio

“I needed a croqueta… I would offer you some but I’m really enjoying it and if I give you a bite I may resent you in a very serious way.” – Jane

“Las pequeñas mentiras se convierten en grandes bolas de maldad.” – La abuela

Want more Jane the Virgin?

5 Reasons To Watch Jane The Virgin on Remezcla.

Watch Jane the Virgin online.

Más y Menos – Guatemalan Cartoon Characters!

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Last night my 12 year old begged me to watch a cartoon called Teen Titans Go! with him. Honestly, I’m not at all into super hero stuff so this show didn’t appeal to me at all, but he promised me this particular episode had two characters who only speak Spanish. (He knows how to get my attention!)

I ended up really enjoying the episode and the characters named Más y Menos. The episode had an impressive amount of Spanish in it and some good lessons for kids built in. Here’s a clip of the twins Más y Menos making and serving tamales to their friends.

I later looked up more information online, and as suggested by the mention of “tamales de Guatemala” in the episode, the twins are in fact supposed to be Guatemalan. (Although they’re voiced by Chicago-born Freddy Rodriguez whose parents are Puerto Rican.)

Anyway, I thought it was really awesome to have some Central American representation in a popular cartoon and I hope the creators make Más y Menos regular characters.

My only suggestion to the creators: When the characters say “¡Los Tamales de Guatemala!” you see and hear mariachi. While mariachi can be found in Guatemala, that’s obviously more of a Mexican thing. It would have been awesome if instead you had used some traditional Guatemalan marimba music like this:

The use of Mexican culture subbed in for other Latin American culture is something you see often in television and movies. Mexican culture is more familiar to audiences in the United States so I think that is part of why it happens, but when characters are not Mexican then you’re doing a disservice to both the Mexican culture and the true culture of the character. I’d like to see Hollywood break away from that so audiences can have a more diverse experience and expand their knowledge of cultures throughout the world. Subbing in Mexican culture for every Latin American culture only feeds into the wrong belief that “All Latinos are the same.”

As Más y Menos say, “Para crecer como una persona, necesitas que abrirte a nuevas experiencias.”

You can watch the full episode of Teen Titans Go! featuring the characters Más y Menos here and on Cartoon Network.

Back When Clair Huxtable Was Dominican

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Played by Phylicia Rashād, Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show has always been one of my favorite T.V. characters for a multitude of reasons, but one of those reasons is the dash of Spanish she brought to the series. If you didn’t know, Rashād is bilingual English/Spanish. Born in Houston, Texas, her family moved to Mexico when she was a child to escape racism in the United States – and that’s how she learned the language.

While Clair’s character remained bilingual throughout the series, Bill Cosby had originally wanted the character to be Dominican. The character of Clair was inspired by I Love Lucy’s Ricky Ricardo, and like Ricky Ricardo, she would speak Spanish when angry. If you listen closely in the pilot episode of The Cosby Show, you can hear Clair speaking Spanish to the kids as she’s coming down the stairs, saying ¡No me digas que no, ey, porque de todas maneras tú lo tienes que hacer!

In another early episode, Clair is portrayed as a mother raising the children to be bilingual. In this scene Clair answers the phone and speaks Spanish. After the phone call, Rudy speaks to her mother in Spanish, with Cliff in the middle looking confused. (Clair speaks Spanish throughout this episode. Watch from 1:41 to 2:42, then 4:34 to 4:41, 14:22 to 15:00, and 16:18 to 17:10.)

I can’t really say that I wish they had kept Clair as Dominican and made the kids bilingual as the series went on – as amazing as that would have been – because I loved the show exactly as it was and it was a historically very important show, not just in the United States, but around the world. That being said, I’m still wondering where the Latino Cosby Show is and hoping it will happen sooner rather than later.

SUN BELT EXPRESS – immigration, humor and corazón

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When I was contacted two years ago by producer Evan Buxbaum about his script for SUN BELT EXPRESS, I was hesitant. He wanted to make a film about undocumented immigrants that “could find some of the humor and light, in what is typically a very dark subject.” I asked myself, is that possible? Can one mix humor and such a serious topic?

In the end I agreed to be a beta-reader because Evan seemed very sincere and I thought it was wise of him to verify authenticity in the dialogue and seek opinions of those close to the topic at hand.

I read his script in its entirety and ended up loving it. Evan thanked me for the feedback and I hadn’t really thought much about his project since then, but this week Evan contacted me again – the film has been completed and will be premiering in the U.S. this October. (Check www.sunbeltexpressmovie.com for locations and dates.)

Today I had the opportunity to watch the full-length finished film and found it very much worth sharing with all of you. My review is below, but in short, I encourage you all to support the film and go see it if you’re able to. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

(Full disclosure: As stated, I was a beta-reader for the SUN BELT EXPRESS script and as such you can see my name in the film credits under general “thanks”, however this review reflects only my honest opinion.)

Review – SUN BELT EXPRESS

Allen King (Tate Donovan) is a divorced Ethics professor in southern Arizona who, accused of plagiarism and fired, is forced to commute daily to his new teaching job across the border in Mexico. The money he makes isn’t enough to keep up with his own bills or car maintenance, let alone meet the financial demands of his ex-wife (Rachel Harris) or pay his teenage daughter’s private school tuition. To supplement his income, Allen gets wrapped up in smuggling Mexican immigrants across the border in the trunk of his beat up 1972 Volvo.

Things get complicated when his teenage daughter (India Ennenga) mistakenly thinks her father is doing something altruistic and unexpectedly tags along for the ride. Add in a pregnant ex-girlfriend (Ana de la Reguera), three Mexican men in the trunk, two corrupt U.S. Border Patrol agents, and an overheated car that breaks down at the worst possible moment, and you have a situation that would seem to be no laughing matter – but that’s where you’d be wrong.

Mexicans have a dicho – “Al mal tiempo, buena cara” – which means put on a good face during bad times. Be positive; it’s an attitude shared by many Latin Americans. And while most films on immigration show the heartbreaking reality, the difficult choices made, the perilous journey – SUN BELT EXPRESS is a rare exploration into the humor of this mostly solemn situation.

Talk long enough to a person who immigrated illegally to the United States – more often than not, they will have a funny story or two to tell about their journey. My own husband has told me stories about a guy who accompanied him and carried a bottle of Pepto-Bismol like a hip flask which he regularly took sips from “to help with his nerves.” During another part of his journey, he wasn’t able to turn off a broken sink in a motel bathroom and chaos ensued.

For me, the brilliance of the film SUN BELT EXPRESS is found in moments like this. The dialogue between “passengers” Rafi and Miguel in the trunk is the main highlight. Rafi (Oscar Avila), who is somewhat fat, makes a stressful situation even more stressful for Miguel (Arturo Castro), who happens to be claustrophobic. If lack of space wasn’t enough of a problem, Rafi is quite generous with stories about all the adventures he’s had trying to cross the border before, although he’s only been caught “cinco, seis veces…o lo mucho siete.” The chemistry between these two actors is fantastic, and the friendship that blooms between them on screen made me smile as much as the well-acted humorous lines which are never crass but full of corazón.

SUN BELT EXPRESS contains plenty of entertainment in the form of humor, but it’s well-balanced by a bigger message. Serious themes including morality and political corruption are an essential part of the plot but the film never comes across as preachy. In the end, the deeply flawed protagonist redeems himself and the film succeeds at traversing the difficult border between heartfelt humor and hurtful ridicule when dealing with extremely sensitive subject matter. SUN BELT EXPRESS is a daring, fresh take on the immigration journey which is just as likely to spark important conversation as it is laughter.