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

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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.

Club Glee

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!

clubglee

Hoy quiero introducirles a mi nueva causa favorita en El Salvador. Glasswing International es una organización independiente, y tienen muchas valiosas iniciativas que estoy planeando apoyar con mi dinero – y ojalá un día cuando regresamas a El Salvador, con mi tiempo. De las iniciativas que tienen, Club Glee es una de mis favoritas. En Club Glee, los jovenes aprenden como cantar y bailar – pero es mucho más que esto. Los jovenes que participaron aprenden cooperación, se sienten aceptados, hacen amigos, y ganan confianza. Al final, programas así no sólo ayudan a los niños, pero también el futuro del pais porque está creando mejores ciudadanos.

Aquí hay un video que realmente me llegó al corazón. Chécalo.

Si quieres apoyar a programas como Club Glee, aprender de sus otras programs, (incluyendo programas en Guatemala y Honduras), o seguir sus perfiles de medios de comunicación social – dale una visita a Glasswing.org [en inglés], o en español AQUÍ.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Today I want to introduce you to my new favorite cause in El Salvador. Glasswing International is an independent organization, and they have many worthwhile initiatives that I’m planning to support with my money – and hopefully one day when we return to El Salvador, with my time. Of the initiatives they have, Club Glee is one of my favorites. In Club Glee, the youth learn how to sing and dance – but it’s much more than that. The young people who participate in the program learn cooperation, feel accepted, make friends, and gain confidence. In the end, programs such as this not only help the children but also help the future of the country because it’s creating better citizens.

Here is a video that really touched my heart. Check it out.

If you want to support programs like Club Glee, learn about their other programs (including programs in Guatemala and Honduras), or follow them in social media – give them a visit at Glasswing.org [English] or in Spanish HERE.

Sardi’s

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!

sardis

Para los que viven cerca de Gaithersburg, Maryland y quieren comer pollo peruano – Te recomiendo el restaurante Sardi’s en 355.

pollo

El pollo estaba bien rico, también la yuca frita, los platanos fritos y las salsitas. Tienen arroz con frijoles negros, lomo saltado, ceviche mixto, arroz chaufa, y claro, Inka Kola. Lo mejor? Los precios son bien asequibles.

Tres advertencias, (porque nada es perfecto):

1. Cuando el estacionamiento está lleno, es mejor estacionar en el KFC de al lado y caminar.

2. La fila adentro puede ser larga y cuando ordenas, debe estar listo. Ordenar en Sardi’s me recuerda un poco al “Soup Nazi” de Seinfeld.

3. El restaurante es muy buena para familias pero el baño para hombres es en el basement, y el basement sirve como un club. Mi hijo menor tuvo que ir con Carlos al basement y cuando regresó me dijo, “Mami! Hay una fiesta en el basement! Hay música y luces, y mucha gente bailando. Cuando tengo 18 años yo quiero ir al club en el basement!”

Hay ubicaciones también en Beltsville, Frederick, Capitol Heights y Manassas. Hay más información en Yelp, y en el sitio web de Sardi’s.

Después de ver la foto del pollo, tengo ganas de comer lo otra vez. Ahora tal vez voy a textear Carlos, que traiga comida de Sardi’s cuando viene regresando de su trabajo.

Buen provecho!

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

For those who live near Gaithersburg, Maryland and want to eat Peruvian chicken – I recommend the restaurant Sardi’s on 355.

The chicken was really delicious, as was the fried yucca, fried plantains and little sauces. They have rice with black beans, lomo saltado, mixed ceviche, fried rice, and of course, Inka Kola. The best part? Prices are very affordable.

Three warnings, (because nothing is perfect):

1. When the parking lot is full, it’s best to park in the KFC next door and walk.

2. The line inside can be long and when you order, be ready. Ordering at Sardi’s reminds me a bit of the “Soup Nazi” on Seinfeld.

3. The restaurant is very good for families but the bathroom for men is in the basement, and the basement serves as a club. My youngest son had to go with Carlos to the basement and when he returned he said, “Mommy! There’s a party in the basement! There’s music and lights, and lots of people dancing. When I’m 18 years old I want to go to the club in the basement!”

There are also locations in Beltsville, Frederick, Capitol Heights and Manassas. More information on Yelp, and on the Sardi’s website.

After seeing the photo of the chicken, I’m craving it again. Now maybe I’ll go text Carlos and tell him to bring food from Sardi’s on his way home from work.

Enjoy!

Conversations at Casa López – Part 2

It’s that time again. As I mentioned in the first edition of “Conversations at Casa López” – there is usually at least one funny conversation in our bilingual household each day. You know how when older people get mixed up and say, “Sorry, I’m having a senior moment”? Well, I call these “bilingual moments” and I’ve been writing them down the past few months to share with you. Here we go!

Me: Dame un cucharo por favor.
Carlos: {laughing} What?
Me: The knife, give me the knife.
Carlos: Cuchillo.
Me: I swear I knew that.

_

[Talking about a friend he's unhappy with.]

Carlos: He fell off the motorcycle.
Me: What motorcycle? What?
Carlos: Don’t you say that in English?
Me: What are you talking about?
Carlos: In El Salvador, when you don’t like a person anymore, you say se cayó de la moto.

_

Carlos: Can you put lotion in my back?
Me: In it?
Carlos: Yes.
Me: Are you SURE? You want me to put lotion IN your back?
Carlos: On.

_

11 year old: Buenos días, mamá. [Kisses my forehead while I'm still in bed]
Me: [smiling] Eres un niño dulce.
11 year old: I’m a candy?

_

[Giving a spelling test to our 11 year old.]

Carlos: Damness.
11 year old: Whaaat??
Carlos: DAMNESS.
11 year old: Daddy, let me see that, [Pulls book toward himself] … That says DAMPNESS.
Carlos: DAMNESS… You know what I mean!
11 year old: No Daddy, I actually didn’t. I thought you were saying a bad word.

_

[Carlos yelling at our 11 year old who was rough housing with the dog.]

Carlos: Don’t let the dog bite you like that. One day he’s going to bite your ear off and you’ll look like that artist… What’s his name?
Me: Van Gogh.
Carlos: Yeah, you’ll look like Vengo.

_

[At a Salvadoran restaurant. The waitress had been speaking Spanish to us the entire time but when she came to check on us during our meal, she accidentally spoke in English and caught herself.]

Waitress: How is every— oh! [pauses, bows head and closes her eyes]
11 year old: [whispering] Did she fall asleep?
Me: No, she’s just trying to switch her brain back to Spanish. The gears get stuck sometimes.

_

What has been your funniest bilingual moment lately?

The Noche Buena Pavo

Still marinating our pavo.

Still marinating our pavo.

Actually, despite the title, this turkey is for tomorrow, Christmas Day. Tonight (Noche Buena), we’re going to have tamales, Mexican queso fundido, and Cuban tostones with mojo. (Not a traditional Salvadoran spread, but somehow, those are the diverse recipes I ended up choosing – and that’s after Carlos discouraged me from making a Venezuelan Pan de Jamón on top of it all.)

I don’t cook poultry that looks like poultry very often. It kind of grosses me out and I prefer to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (Suegra always told me I’d have never survived in El Salvador since she had to wring the chicken’s neck and then pluck it.)

Anyway, when making Panes con Pavo I end up having to handle a whole turkey, which happens maybe once a year. Right now I was just putting the “Salsa Perrins” and mustard on the pavo to marinate and my 11 year old came into the kitchen. He looked at the turkey for a minute, checking it out from both ends and all directions. Then he asked, “Which side is the culito?”

The Search For Salvadoran Characters

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In response to the New York Times article regarding the lack of Latino authors and books for children, Latina bloggers have launched the “Latinas for Latino Literature” campaign which works to identify the problems in today’s publishing world that contribute to this lack of diversity so that we can provide ideas for changing the situation to the benefit of not only Latino readers and writers, but to the benefit of the industry itself as they tap into this growing demographic. Look out for forthcoming Google hangouts, Twitter parties, and follow-up posts as this coordinated effort to bring quality books to an emerging group of readers continues.

I kneeled on the coarse, crimson carpet at the library, the third library I had visited that week, trying to find something, anything, on the shelves about El Salvador – the native country of my new husband. I often left libraries and bookstores defeated, with a stack of novels about Mexico, Mexicans, migrant workers – stories that I ended up loving, and still love – but what I really wanted was a book with Salvadoran characters, and I couldn’t find any. Any book I did manage to find about El Salvador would be non-fiction, and usually about the civil war.

When I became a mother of two boys, two Salvadoran-American boys, I wanted desperately to buy them books and read them stories with characters they could relate to. Again, visits to the library and bookstore turned up books featuring Mexican and Mexican-American characters, when we were lucky.

These days, the library selection has gotten better, and the online selection is a dream come true compared to what I faced when my boys were younger. I’ve read books about Cubans and Puerto Ricans, Argentinians, Venezuelans, Guatemalans and Paraguayans, and thanks to Sandra Benitez, an amazing book called “Bitter Grounds” with a diverse Salvadoran cast. I stayed up late turning the pages, almost not believing that after so many years, I was finally reading a book with Salvadoran characters.

Why am I writing this? – Because I want the publishing industry to know that I am here – an avid reader, hungry for these books for myself, for my husband, for our boys, and for the children out there whose parents won’t go to the trouble I’ve gone to – the children who are at the mercy of whatever their school librarian decides to put on the shelves.

I want it to be known that I hunger for even more diversity, for Latin American characters and characters of Latin American descent from all walks of life. Don’t stop telling the story of the migrant worker, the immigrant, of Mexicans – but let us hear other voices too. We want to hear from characters who are rich, who are poor, and everything in between. We want characters who are white collar workers, and blue collar workers. We want characters who are beautiful, ugly, inspirational, relatable, flawed, ordinary, outrageous, wise, hilarious, serious, complex – in other words, we want all the diversity of voices that are available in the general market. Please, keep seeking out fresh authors and publishing their stories – We are here waiting for them, (and in some cases, some of us are here writing them, too.)

A few of my favorite books for children. Click the image for more.

A few of my favorite books for children. Click the image for more.

These are some of my favorite Middle Grade and YA books. Click the image for more.

These are some of my favorite Middle Grade and YA books. Click the image for more.

These are some of my favorite books for adults. Click the image to check out more.

These are some of my favorite books for adults. Click the image to check out more.

Do you feel there’s enough diversity in the books commonly available in bookstores and libraries? Which Latino/a author or book most influenced you and why?

Chécalo: Other “Latinas for Latino Literature

Bilingual Parenting Takes Commitment… and Re-commitment

Sometimes I think I have the bilingual parenting thing down. We get into a groove and I’m speaking Spanish to my kids and they, more and more, are responding to me in Spanish – but it’s inevitable that just when we’ve hit our stride and are on the road to fluency, we will have a setback.

One big problem for me is that I don’t speak Spanish when I’m stressed or tired or very busy. The other day I woke up and realized, “My God, I’ve been stressed and tired and very busy the past few weeks! I’ve had so much on my mind and so many deadlines. I’ve barely spoken Spanish to my kids at all!”

This is when I kick myself in the nalgas and promise to start all over again.

Yesterday morning before my younger son left for school, I warned him not to run to the bus as he usually does, because a slick layer of frost covered the ground.

“Cuando venga el bus, no vayas corriendo, okay? El suelo está bien liso, entiendes?”

My son tilted his head not unlike a dog when you speak to it. I could almost see the words enter his ear, twist themselves inside his brain and translate one-by-one into English. He spoke aloud as he decoded the message.

“When the bus comes… don’t run… because…the ground is slippery?”

He still understands me, but there is more lag time. Then when he speaks, he doesn’t even realize he’s mixing English and Spanish in ways I’ve never even heard before.

After school he asked me what day we’re going to his grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving.

“El viente dos,” I said.
“Oh, el twenty dos,” he answered.

There’s no point in lamenting wasted time and stalled progress. I’m human, I was tired, I spent weeks speaking very little Spanish to my kids who I desperately want to be fully bilingual. It happens. Seguimos adelante.

____

Related: SpanglishBaby: Raising a Bilingual Child is Always a Work in Progress

Conversations at Casa López

There is usually at least one funny conversation in our household each day. I often share these conversations with friends and family on my Facebook page, but I decided to share the fun with all of you. Here are a few from the past few months.

Carlos: Opossum is same as a “tacuazin”, right?
Me: I think so. Check Google Images.
Carlos: How do you spell it?
Me: O-P-
Carlos: O?!

[I was talking to Carlos about something I can't remember and I said, "even though I'm not Latina"]

10 year old [interrupts]: You are too!
Me: No, honey, I’m not.
10 year old: You are Latina! You’re half like me!
Me: No, baby, I’m not Latina.
10 year old: Mommy, you are, cause you married Daddy.
Me: If you marry someone from China, are you going to be half Chinese?
10 year old: Yeah, of course!
Me: Oh. I didn’t know it worked that way.

Me: How do you say “listeners” in Spanish?
Carlos: What kind of listeners?
Me: Like listeners to a radio show… Would it be “escuchantes?”

Me: It’s in Kansas.
Carlos: Which Kansas?
Me: What do you mean which one? Kansas, the state.
Carlos: But is it in Kansas or Ar-Kansas?

Gringo co-worker: Hey you see those two German Shepherds over there?
Carlos: Yeah.
Gringo co-worker: You better watch out. They don’t like Mexicans.
Carlos: Well, good thing I’m not Mexican.

13 year old: I’m supposed to make tabs to divide my notebook for Spanish class.
Me: Okay.
13 year old: The teacher wants us to label one of the tabs “RECURSOS.”
Me: Mmhm.
13 year old: What does it mean?
Me: Can you take a guess?
13 year old: …Um… Repeat diarrhea?

Hey, at least he broke the word down and made a logical guess based on what he knows. (“Curso” is slang for “diarrhea” in El Salvador – not sure if that’s the case for anywhere else.)

[Me reading bedtime story to my 10 year old]

Me: “¿Puedes encontrar la araña?”
10 year old: Mommy, I’m not stupid. The spider is right there.

“You have to give me the credit of the doubt.” – Carlos

(He mixed up “Give me credit” and “benefit of the doubt.”)

“Do you know what time Obama is supposed to start speaking? … I want to watch but I don’t want to miss Chavito.” – Carlos

“You’re just adding more wood to the fire.” – Carlos

(He meant “fuel to the fire.”)

“I want to rent that movie Chale Homes.” – Carlos unsuccessfully trying to say “Sherlock Holmes” but sounding like a Chicano instead.

What is the funniest conversation you’ve had lately?

The Pumpkin Patch – An American Tradition

Click this image to see this post featured on Mamiverse.com

Carlos pulls the boys in a wagon through a pumpkin patch. 2009

One of the first places I brought Carlos when he was my boyfriend was to a pumpkin patch, and one of the first things I showed him was how to to carve a jack-o-lantern. I’ve always been interested in other cultures and traditions, but there was also something exciting about showing Carlos my own.

Fifteen years later, going to the pumpkin patch as a family each October is one of our favorite things.

The pumpkin patch we usually go to has goats and you can buy food pellets for them from a bubble gum style machine for a quarter. Over the years, Carlos has come to be more of an animal lover. He looks so happy petting the goat here.

After feeding the goats we considered giving the corn maze a try but it takes 45 minutes to go through, (maybe an hour given my sense of direction) – so we decided we’ll come back another day to do it.

Into the pumpkin patch.

My boys are getting bigger, (The oldest is taller than Carlos), but they haven’t outgrown the pumpkin patch.

There’s a type of squash in El Salvador called Pipián. We aren’t sure if this squash here is related but when you’re accustomed to their palm-sized Latin American cousins, these are kind of hilarious.

Now that we’ve picked our pumpkins and brought them home, we’ll soon carve them into jack-o-lanterns. When we clean out the inside of the pumpkin we always reserve the seeds for roasting and eating. Roasted pumpkin seeds, funnily enough, remind Carlos of El Salvador.