Category Archives: niños

U.S. vs. Brazil: Holding hands with Rômulo & Chatting with Donovan

As most of you know, my 10 year old attended a McDonald’s Soccer Clinic and was selected to be an escort for the U.S. and Brazilian teams at their game last night.

The day was a little crazy and I was overwhelmed by details – I didn’t want anything to go wrong. I checked and double checked that we had everything we needed – tickets, the uniform, money for the Metro, etc. Even when I was sure we had everything, I worried that we would arrive late, (we ended up arriving super early as a result), or that my son would spill something on his shirt, (he didn’t.)

Finally we were able to turn him over to the organizers from McDonald’s for a couple hours. The McDonald’s people were really awesome with the kids and I relaxed knowing that whatever happened now was out of my hands.

I think most of the kids were nervous – also, it was really hot, but they’re all so adorable.

After we dropped off our boy, we went to our seats and waited for the big moment. We knew we would be sitting in the upper level of the stadium but I wasn’t prepared for how high up it would be. Climbing the stairs to our seats felt like climbing Chichen Itza and I was very close to having an anxiety attack. It took a few minutes and some deep breathing but I calmed enough to appreciate our beautiful view.

So high up that a bird flew past my face.

The players came out to warm up and the escort kids were instructed to sit along the sidelines. Little did I know at that time that my son had actually had a chance to talk to his favorite U.S. players minutes before in the entrance hallway from the locker rooms to the field. He says he told Landon Donovan, “I’ve seen you on TV. You’re one of my favorite players.” Donovan reportedly smiled and said, “Thank you.” My son also said “Hi” to Tim “El Pato” Howard who responded in kind.

Once the players were finished warming up and the field was readied, the music began and the players returned with their escorts. My son got paired up with a Brazilian player, (Rômulo, #8.)

My sister texted me a few minutes after the anthems played and told me she saw our son on TV – She even took a photo.

Once the game began, Carlos went to retrieve him and we enjoyed the rest of the game together as a family. (This was our older son’s first time attending a soccer game in a stadium so he was just as excited as our younger son.)

Despite the US Team playing really well, ultimately the terrible reffing wasn’t in their favor. While I’m complaining a little, let me just say that the new uniforms make our guys look like Where’s Waldo.

In happier news, we were part of history. The crowd that attended the US vs. Brazil game at FedEx Field on May 30th, 2012 broke records – the stadium was definitely packed.

We ended up leaving the game a little early to avoid being crushed. Thankfully we made it to the Metro moments before a train arrived and we pulled out just as the station was starting to fill up with people. Within minutes our younger son had fallen asleep, the long day finally taking its toll.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. We were invited by McDonald’s to the soccer clinic and given tickets to the game. No compensation was received in exchange for this post and as always all opinions are my own.

Fun for Niños at McDonald’s Fútbol Clinic

Yesterday we were invited to take part in a soccer clinic organized by McDonald’s which took place at Soccerdome in Landover, Maryland. At the soccer clinic, the kids were given a free uniform and tickets for the US vs. Brazil game later this evening at FedEx field. Chévere, right?

El Zol 107.9 FM was there playing music and getting the kids hyped up and they also introduced special guest, Ronald McDonald, the clown. This freaked me out and I made sure to keep my distance, (es nada personal against Ronald – all payasos make me uncomfortable)- however the niños seemed to have fun with him.

At some point, Carlos and I, as well as our 10 year old, were interviewed by Telemundo. I have no idea when and where they’ll use the videos, if they choose to use them. I say “if they choose to use them” because the questions were in Spanish, por supuesto, and I’m sure el chiquito and I made more than a couple grammatical mistakes, besides just being very self-conscious in front of the camera. Carlos was more comfortable than us but even he got a little nervous. Anyway, it was further confirmation that I’m a writer for a reason.

As for the actual clinic – it was a lot of fun. For several hours the kids played fútbol and other games, did drills and were instructed on how to improve their technique by friendly coaches. McDonald’s is often the target of criticism from health advocates and while I don’t disagree with a lot of common discussion on the topic, I think that when a company does something good, that should be recognized. McDonald’s does a lot of good things, the most well-known being Ronald McDonald House Charities – but these sports clinics are also really great healthy initiatives that should be praised. It was fantastic to see all the kids running around getting exercise and I noted that McDonald’s provided the kids with 100% juice rather than soda.

The best part of the event was that 22 of the children were chosen as escorts to walk players of the National US Soccer Team onto the field and stand with them during the anthems at tonight’s game – My 10 year old is going to be one of those kids and I’m sure this will be an experience he’ll never forget.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. We were invited by McDonald’s to the soccer clinic and given tickets to the game. No compensation was received in exchange for this post and as always all opinions are my own.

Mamá Americana, Niño Latino

After a busy weekend with friends, today we’re just watching a fútbol game, (Manchester United vs. Swansea City), and relaxing. On a commercial break this commercial in Spanish from Kraft Mac & Cheese came on and it was so cute, I knew I had to share it here.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored or paid post. I shared this video because I like it. Congrats to the people at Kraft for not only making a great commercial but for having the smarts to make it available online so people can share it via social media. Other companies, take note – this is how it’s done.

El colibrí

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. English translation in italics!

En la escuela mi hijo menor tuvo que escribir una historia. Aquí es lo qué escribió, (lo voy a traducir abajo.)

In school my younger son had to write a story. Here is what he wrote.

La traducción:

Otro viaje que fuimos era a El Salvador. Cuándo estuvimos allá, vimos muchas cosas nuevas. Mi papá pagó para que pudiéramos entrar en el hotel. Cuándo recibimos la llave, fuimos a nuestra habitación. El siguiente día cuándo fuimos caminando al mall, me fije algo en las flores – ¡era un colibrí! Fue la primera vez que vi un colibrí. Cuándo vi a El Salvador, me sentí como que hubiera nacido allá.

Image source: AnnCam

El cuento que escribió mi hijo me recordó esta cita tan hermosa (traducción abajo.)

The story that my son wrote reminded me of this beautiful quote.

“Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.” – Papyrus

“Las leyendas dicen que los colibríes flotan libremente del tiempo, llevando nuestras esperanzas para el amor, la alegría y celebración. Colibríes abren nuestros ojos a la maravilla del mundo y nos inspiran a abrir el corazón a nuestros seres queridos y amigos. Al igual que un colibrí, aspiramos a flotar y disfrutar de cada momento que pasa, abrazar todo lo que la vida tiene para ofrecer, y por celebrar la alegría todos los días. La delicada gracia del colibrí nos recuerda que la vida es rica, la belleza está en todas partes, cada conexión personal tiene sentido y que la risa es la creación más dulce de la vida.” – Papyrus

How Bilingual Siblings Argue

A photo of kitty siblings fighting, because it's cuter than human boys fighting.
Image source: Tambako the Jaguar

(Overheard conversation between my two sons yesterday.)

13 year old: Ugh! My hair is being so stupid! It won’t do what I want it to!
10 year old: I hate when I can’t style my hair, too.
13 year old: Ha! I wish I had your hair! You have good hair!
10 year old: Does that mean you think I’m bonito?
13 year old: No, you’re still feo.
10 year old: What?! … Well, you’re feo-er!
13 year old: You’re the más feo del mundo.
10 year old: Well, you’re feo to the luna and back!

You realize how badly you want your kids to be bilingual when you make no attempt to break up the argument but instead smile that they’re insulting each other in Spanglish.

Spanglish Mentiras

For years my younger son has had the habit of crawling into my lap at the dinner table after he finishes eating. I don’t remember why, how or when this started – I only know that he’s a big 10 year old now with unwieldy limbs, and this tradition is becoming uncomfortable. This is the conversation we had at breakfast this morning.

10 year old: Let me sit with you!

Me: No, ahorita no, this chair isn’t built for two people. La silla se va a quebrar.

10 year old: Por fa? I’ll wash the dishes!

Me: Mentira!

10 year old: I’m not mentira-ing, I really will!

I love his Spanglish, but his Spanish is getting better when he chooses to use it – His bribing skills though, are quite advanced. Check out a post I wrote for SpanglishBaby called, The Lesser Known Dangers of Bribing a Bilingual Child.

El Sombrerito

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. English translation below!

“¿Qué onda, vos?” pregunté a mi hijo mayor una tarde cuándo venia a casa de la escuela.
“Mira mamá, te tengo una sorpresa,” dijo mi hijo con algo escondido detrás de su espalda.
“¿Qué es?” pregunté.

Mi hijo reveló un sombrerito negro, decorado con lentejuelas. En purpurina color verde, blanca y roja, estaba escrita la palabra “BICENTENARIO.”

“Ah, de México, es. Qué bonito,” dije, “¿Dónde lo econtraste?”
“Lo gané por tener la calificación más alta de mi clase de español,” dijo con orgullo.
“Wow, qué bien. Muy bien,” dije yo, “pero a dónde vamos a ponerlo? Tu papá no le va a gustar.”

Después de unos minutos, dicidimos ponerlo en una estantería llena de libros y chucherías.

¿Lo encuentras tú? Can you find it?

“A ver cuántos días le toma por encontrarlo,” dije sonriendome.

Bueno, más tarde entró Carlos a la casa después de un día trabajando. Me dio un beso y empezó a platicar por unos minutos cuándo él paró de hablar muy abruptamente.

“Ey,” dijo, frunciendo el ceño, “¿Qué es esto?”

En menos de quince minutos lo ha encontrado.


“What’s up?” I asked my oldest son one afternoon when he arrived home from school.
“Look, Mom, I have a surprise for you,” said my son with something hidden behind his back.
“What is it?” I asked.

My son revealed a little black sombrero decorated with sequins. In green, white and red glitter the word “Bicentennial” was written.

“Ah, it’s from Mexico. How nice,” I said, “Where did you get it?”
“I won it for having the highest score in my Spanish class,” he said proudly.
“Wow, that’s great. Very good,” I said, “but where are we going to put it? Your Dad isn’t going to like it.”

After a few minutes, we decided to put it on a bookshelf full of books and knick-knacks.

“Let’s see how many days it takes him to find it,” I said smiling.

Well, Carlos later came home after a day of working. He kissed me and we started to chat for a few minutes when he very abruptly stopped talking.

“Hey,” he said, furrowing his brow, “What is this?”

In less than fifteen minutes he had found it.

Cascarones vs. Easter Eggs

The first year we made cascarones, I didn’t have any dye so I tried to decorate the entire egg with colored tissue paper and glue. It was messy and they didn’t turn out very pretty, so this year I decided to do it the right way and dye the eggs. I bought your typical $1 kit with colored tablets for egg-dyeing at Easter time – a package that is familiar to me from childhood. However, because these kits are meant for American-style Easter eggs, they come with additional items you don’t need for cascarones which apparently perplexed my 10 year old.

Him: What are these for? [picking up stickers and cardboard egg holders]

Me: We don’t need those. Those are for making American Easter eggs.

Him: You put stickers and these thingies on them before you break them on someone’s head?

Me: No, [laughing] You leave the egg in the shell and cook them – you know hard boiled eggs?

Him: [nods]

Me: Then you dye them, put stickers on them, and these little cardboard thingies are so you can display them until you eat them.

Him: You eat them?! That’s weird!

It kind of boggles my mind that my 10 year old couldn’t remember what regular Easter eggs are – I mean, I made them with them before? When they were little? In the past? Didn’t I?… I don’t remember anymore. Apparently, in recent years I’ve done such a good job of teaching the boys Latin American culture that I now need to step it up with showing them Anglo-American traditions from my own childhood.

¿Qué hora es, Señor Zorro?

Image created by from original photo by: digitalprimate

I recently learned a fun game which teaches kids how to tell time in Spanish. It’s kind of like the English-language game of Mother May I. At first I thought maybe my kids were too old to play these kinds of playground games, but my 10 year old was laughing and having so much fun that my 13 year old came into the living room to see what was going on. He watched us for a few minutes, getting an idea of the game and then say, “Hey… Can I play?”

Here’s how you can play with your niños, (big and small!)

¿Qué hora es, Señor Zorro?

One person is “Señor Zorro” (Mr. Fox.) This person must go to the opposite side of the room (or yard if you’re outside), as the other players and turn his/her back. (If you want to make it even more difficult, Mr. Fox can get on their hands and knees.)

The other players ask, “¿Qué hora es, Señor Zorro?” (What time is it, Mr. Fox?)

Señor Zorro answers with a time, such as “Son las ocho.” The players take the corresponding number of steps, (in this case, eight steps.)

At any point, (usually when the players are close enough to catch), Señor Zorro answers the question, “¿Qué hora es, Señor Zorro?” with “¡Es hora de comerte!” (Which means “It’s time to eat you!) An alternative version is to say, “¡La hora de desayunar!” At this point Señor Zorro turns and chases the other players, trying to catch one.

If Señor Zorro catches a player, that player becomes Señor Zorro – if not, Señor Zorro and the players return to their spots and start again.

Identity in a Brown Paper Bag

sack lunch

Image source: Jeffrey Beall

My 13 year old is going on a field trip this week to a museum in DC and because buying food at the museum is cost prohibitive, I’m packing his lunch.

This is new territory for me because under normal circumstances our kids don’t bring a packed lunch – they buy lunch at school. I carry a little guilt about this since my mother usually packed my lunch when I was a kid. In a plastic lunch box or brown paper bag I could expect either a turkey, baloney or peanut butter sandwich, a Hi-C juice box, an apple and/or carrot sticks, some type of snack cake, and once in awhile, a note written on my napkin telling me how loved I am.

This lunch is different from what I pack for Carlos – arroz con albóndigas, tacos, escabeche, galletas María, semita de piña … I can’t pack these things for my 13 year old, can I? Sure, he eats them here at home but – in public? Around gringos? … I think about a story I read on about what it’s like to bring “ethnic” food for lunch when your gringo classmates bring “normal” things.

The dreaded grade school lunch trade – when my ethnicity was undeniably made public, with the contents of my lunch making who, and what, I was unmistakable.

I wanted to blend in, to be one with the bologna and mayonnaise sandwich crowd, the chocolate chip cookies, the plastic bottles filled with Sunny-D.

But nothing screamed “Not One of Them” louder than my sliced white goat cheese and Goya guava jelly sandwiches, with a chunk of pineapple thrown on top for extra Latino measure.

Oh the squeals and screams of the other non-Latino children as they recoiled — as if watching a horror movie.

- Alexandra on

This is what I don’t want my son to go through – although popular and well-adjusted, he already deals with people asking him if he’s Mexican and if he’s related to George López. And so, while at the grocery store picking items for his lunch, I stood, feeling kind of torn, in the middle of the aisle – a bag of all-American Cracker Jack in one hand, and a bag of plantain chips in the other. He likes both equally. Do I strengthen his identity or allow him to blend in?

Cracker Jack vs. Plantain Chips

I decided I would buy both and let him choose, but I couldn’t wait until I got home to find out which he would take in his lunch. I put the bags into the cart and texted him.

Field trip snack – Cracker jack or plantain chips?

Thirty seconds later, he texted back.

Plantain chips.

I found myself smiling – but does this mean anything? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it means he’s confident in who he is. Maybe it means I’ve done a good job of instilling Latino pride into my boy. Maybe it means he’s not worried about trying to fit in and refuses to succumb to peer pressure… or maybe it means he’s just in the mood for plantain chips.

I have to say though, he asked if he could pack a semita de piña as well and I won’t pretend I’m not happy about it.


Related Reading:

Trading Lunches
El Lonch-eh Latino


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