Heelys! (Zapatos con ruedas)

Heelys (the shoes with wheels), have a new line of shoes coming out this fall – and many of them are designed for women! I was offered a pair for review but, as much as I wanted to try them, I opted to get a pair for my 10 year old instead. (Honestamente, my roller skating and ice skating skills aren’t so bueno, so I don’t know if I’d be able to get the hang of Heelys.)

Heelys can be worn with or without the wheels, (we will have to take the wheels off if he wears them to school), but most people don’t know they come in adult sizes. In addition to the adult sizes, Heelys is introducing three brand new lines – an athletic shoe which will be lighter in weight, shoes made specifically for girls and women with more fashion forward colors and styles, and a street shoe with improved outsoles. (Ahora falta botas picudas con ruedas. Can you imagine? Now that would be chévere!)

For more information you can find Heelys on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, in addition to their regular website.

My 10 year old was super feliz to finally get a pair of Heelys. These are the “Element” style Heelys in Youth size 3. The wheels were easy to install and are easy to take out, too.

It took my son about 30 minutes to get the hang of them. The trick is positioning your feet just so.

Once he knew how to use the Heelys, he didn’t want to stop. Here’s a little video to give you a taste of the fun.

Now he wants to learn how to do tricks with the Heelys. I’m happy he’s found another activity to get him outside and away from the video games.

Disclosure: A pair of Heelys was provided for review. All opinions are my own.

Bilingual Siblings & Disparities in Fluency

Today I read a post called “Pocho studies” on Lotería Chicana. I started to leave a comment but by the time I finished it, I realized the comment was long enough to stand alone as a blog post, so here I am.

Cindy of Lotería Chicana writes about how her Spanish fluency is different from that of her siblings. (I encourage you to click through – it’s worth reading and the photos make it all the more special.) This is a really fascinating topic because most people would assume that bilingual children raised in the same household would be equally fluent, but most parents raising bilingual children know this isn’t true.

Just like children raised in the same household may end up with different eating habits, religious beliefs, or athletic abilities – the same goes for language. I imagine there are an endless number of possibilities in each family depending on all kinds of circumstances – many of which are only apparent in hindsight.

Here is the comment I started to leave but which I’m pasting here instead.

I was raised in an English only Anglo home but married a Salvadoran. It’s always been my goal to raise our children to be bilingual. This was something I had my heart set on before they were born, before I married my husband, Carlos. It was a desire borne out a love of language and the knowledge that I would want to share that with my future children because of all the beauty and opportunity the gift of bilingualism can bring.

At some point my idealism was hit with a major dose of reality.

Our older son will soon be 14 and his little brother is 10 – While I have tried to raise them to be bilingual, the journey has been long, inconsistent and not nearly as easy as I had imagined. Their language abilities are both so different that it sometimes feels like they weren’t raised in the same household — in some ways, they weren’t.

When we had our first son we were both really young. My Spanish was very basic and I lacked confidence. I never said more than a couple words here and there in Spanish to the baby. My hope had been that my husband would speak Spanish to the baby, but Carlos was struggling with English and our focus at the time was his fluency – not our child’s. During the first year of our first son’s life, we lived with my (English-speaking) family. This was good for Carlos’s English but meant a very English dominant environment for our son. Once we moved out, we still spoke English most of the time since Carlos needed the practice. Most of the Spanish our son heard the first couple years was when my husband was on the phone to El Salvador or when he watched TV, (mostly Spanish-language news.)

When I had my second son, life was very different. Our household had become a place where Spanish was very frequently spoken and heard throughout the day. (Our older son was 3 or 4 at this point.) My mother-in-law had moved in with us and she didn’t speak English. My new baby, myself and my older son were now immersed in an environment with 2 native Spanish-speakers, (one of whom we had no choice but to communicate with in Spanish.)

As my skills and confidence in the language grew, I tried to speak and read to the kids more in Spanish and encouraged my husband to do so as well. Still, I didn’t use Spanish with them much of the time because English had become my “code language” – a safe haven to speak to my husband and children in, a place where my mother-in-law couldn’t understand me, (and I desperately needed that privacy.)

In 2010, realizing that my kids weren’t on grade level with their Spanish from the limited interactions with their live-in grandmother, I decided to speak Spanish to them almost full time. Since then I’ve slacked off here and there but there has definitely been a much more concentrated effort on my part to ensure they’re bilingual. Seeing how much more comfortable the kids are in Spanish, my husband has joined the effort. It comes naturally now – not the awkward way it once was, but it took a long time to get here. (Coincidentally, their grandmother moved out a year ago, so speaking Spanish to them has become even more vital.)

At this point both boys understand spoken Spanish very well but prefer to answer in English or Spanglish. My older son, when he does speak Spanish, has a great vocabulary, but the accent is very “gringo.” His reading and writing was not very good but it’s grown by leaps and bounds the past year because he’s studying Spanish as his “foreign language” at school – having the basic foundation made it an easy “A” for him even though he started the class a year ahead of his peers and was given “native speaker” work.

Our younger son, perhaps because he heard native speakers since infancy, has a fantastic natural accent in Spanish. (He can pronounce the “rr” but his older brother can’t.) Our younger son’s vocabulary is probably not as big as his older brother’s though, and I think maybe it’s because he’s the “consentido” and his older brother always does things for him, including translating things he doesn’t understand. His ease at reading written Spanish aloud is probably better than his older brother though, because I read books in Spanish to him more than I did to my older son.

Another interesting development occurred this past week. Our older son is away at science camp and our younger son is home with me all day. Suddenly my younger son has begun to respond to me in Spanish when we’re alone together… Yesterday he came to me and completely unprompted, offered me half of his snack saying, “Mamá, ¿Quieres compartir?” (and “compartir” is a word I’ve never even heard him use before.)

I’ve come to accept that there will be disparities in their fluency – that one may be better at one skill than the other, just as they have their own unique talents when it comes to sports or art, but it’s harder to get over the feeling that I failed them. I couldn’t have spoken Spanish to them any earlier than I did, and I tried to convince my husband to do it but, like many immigrant parents, he worried more about their English fluency until it was “too late.”

I continue to speak Spanish to them, determined that they will be as bilingual as possible, but knowing that the ship has sailed as far as them being native speaker fluent, makes me incredibly sad sometimes.

____________

What are your experiences with your bilingual siblings or your bilingual children? How are their skills different?

Worldwide Culture Swap!

I was recently contacted by a French expat and mother living in Canada who told me about a free program she runs called Worldwide Culture Swap and I think you guys are going to love this!

The program’s purpose is to teach children about the diverse cultures and traditions around the world. The way this is done is by swapping packages which teach the recipients about the country you live in, (or the country you’re representing. So, as Salvadoran Americans, my family could choose to send a package with items from our area of the United States, or items that represent El Salvador.)

It is totally free to participate and already more than 2,000 packages have been exchanged around the world!

Worldwide Culture Swap is especially in need of Spanish-speaking countries right now, but everyone is welcome to sign up! Basically, once you sign up you’ll be put into a group with four other families in other countries. When you sign up, you’re agreeing to send each of those families a package containing items that teach about your culture, country and/or state, (check out some of the packages! – People are so creative with what they include!)

As much fun as it is to send packages, I’m sure kids get really excited to receive packages, too. That’s right – the other four families will each send YOU a package about their country/culture!

This is such a fun way to teach your kids about the world. I really can’t wait to sign up but I need to wait until I know for sure that we can afford to send 4 packages first. While the items inside don’t have to be fancy or expensive, international shipping isn’t cheap — so keep that in mind before signing up. (There is a Culture Swap between US States that is available as well which would cut down on shipping costs, but I want to do the worldwide one.)

Until we can do the Culture Swap, I’m planning on signing my kids up for their free Pen Pal Program. I had pen pals around the world and it was always exciting to get those special airmail envelopes in the mailbox.

Image source: Donovan Beeson

If you’re ready to sign up, or just want to check it out, visit the website for more information.

Special note to teachers – there is a Culture Swap for Schools as well!

Arriba con la Selección Salvadoreña!

On Friday, while watching the game (El Salvador vs. Costa Rica), the Salvadoran soccer team’s anthem came on during a commercial break. Our 10 year old son jumped up and started dancing; we all started laughing because this cipote has moves and I have no idea where he gets them from. He can dance to almost any kind of music, and he dances really well. (My Suegra used to say that he gets it from her side of the family but I’ve seen Suegra and her family dance – they aren’t any better than my family!)

Anyway, with the México vs. El Salvador game coming up on Tuesday June 12th, (9 pm ET on Telemundo), I asked my son if he’d be willing to give a repeat performance in front of the camera. He didn’t want to at first but a piece of chocolate, 50 cents, and my explanation that he would help pep everyone up for the game, convinced him.

Arriba con la Selección!

Fruit For All! Fruta Para Todos!

One of the great things about having a blog is that sometimes opportunities come along to use that blog to do good – this is one of those times. I have an amazing project to share with you today, and then after that, a really unique giveaway.

First, the project – Nestlé Juicy Juice and Feeding America are working together to literally put fresh fruit into the hands of children who otherwise wouldn’t have it, and there are a lot of ways you can help make that happen.

Ways to contribute to the Fruit For All Project

• Now through August 31st 2012, when you buy Juicy Juice products, Nestlé will donate fruit to Feeding America.

• Now through August 31st 2012, you can complete “challenges” such as sharing a photo on Juicy Juice’s Fruit for All website, in return Nestlé will donate fruit to Feeding America.

Ready to help out? Here are the websites in English and Spanish:

Juicy Juice – Fruit For All Project – English

Juicy Juice – Proyecto Fruta Para Todos – Español

The Giveaway

Okay, now for the giveaway – I hope you believed me when I said this is unique. The prize in this giveaway is a donation of 400 meals to a food bank in your community! What an amazing gift to be able to give!

How to Enter

All you need to do to enter is just leave a comment below telling me your favorite fruit!
(Please read official rules below.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be living in the United States. Your information will only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. 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 48 hours to respond. After 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between June 8th, 2012 through August 1st, 2012. Entries received after August 1st, 2012 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.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored or paid post. The only compensation I received was the offer to donate 400 meals to my local food bank. All opinions are my own.

Los Muchachos de Koh Panyee

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 is in italics!

¿Qué te inspira? Este video me ha inspirado esta semana. Un grupo de muchachos forman un equipo de fútbol, pero hay un problema … Ellos viven en una isla del sur de Tailandia que se llama Koh Panyee y no hay cancha ni espacio para practicar. ¿Qué hicieron? Se dieron por vencidos? … No! Ellos construyeron un campo en el agua. Chécalo.

What inspires you? This video inspired me this week. A group of young boys form a football team, but there’s a problem … They live on an island of southern Thailand called Koh Panyee, and there’s no field nor space to practice. What did they do? Give up? … No! They built a soccer pitch on the water. Check it out.

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