Ancestry DNA: Part 1

ancestry-dna-test-1

Because a few friends have expressed interest and asked me a million questions about this process, I decided I’d do a two part blog post about it. This first one is about taking the test, the second one will be about my results, (which at the time of this writing, I have not yet received.)

First let me just be clear that this DNA test is not a paternity test. A friend of mine joked that Carlos requested this test be done and referenced the cumbia song “Capullo y Sorullo.” — So in case you’re anticipating a Maury Povitch “you are not the father” type of moment, it isn’t that kind of DNA test. This is an ANCESTRY DNA test which will tell me more about where both my mother’s and father’s bloodlines come from.

___

Years ago I heard about DNA tests which could tell an individual more about their heritage. I wanted to order one but the tests were way too expensive, and so it’s one of those things I put on my wishlist “for later.”

However, I’m excited to say that “for later” finally came this month!

I discovered that Ancestry.com has a DNA test that was much more affordable than the original one and several friends had already tried it and recommended it. So I asked Carlos if this could be my early birthday present, and he agreed. I ordered my Ancestry DNA test online and then waited. About a week later the small white box arrived in my mailbox.

I opened it up to check out the contents.

ancestry-dna-kit-contents

As you can see, the package contained just a few things: an easy to understand instruction booklet, a collection tube which includes 2 different tops [I’ll explain in a minute], a little ziploc bag, and a pre-paid mailing box to ship the DNA sample back to them for testing.

Seems easy enough, but I was worried I’d do something wrong so I waited for Carlos just to have a second pair of eyes to read the instructions with me, (which is a good thing because I actually ended up needing his help physically thanks to my carpal tunnel-weakened hands.)

So, here are the instructions, page by page.

ancestry-dna-booklet-steps

Basically, you first need to find your unique ID number on the tube and register it on their website, (I blurred mine out in the photo but it’s just above the UPC code.) Registering is super important otherwise you won’t be able to get your results. For good measure, write your unique code down in the booklet. If more than one family member is doing this test at once with their own individual kits, I recommend doing them one-by-one so that nothing gets mixed up. (Carlos didn’t do one with me, but we hope to do his sometime this year.)

Once you’re registered, open the sterile package containing the plastic “collection tube.”

What will you be collecting? Saliva… as in spit. You put the funnel-shaped top on the collection tube and start spitting… They say to go to the black line on the tube. Doing this reminded me of that lollipop commercial and the boy who asks the owl, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?” … except instead of licks it was spit.

One…(patooey!)
Two…(patooey!)
Three…(patooey!)

I kept spitting and spitting and Carlos kept saying it wasn’t enough. I felt like a llama with dry mouth. Just when I was ready to get the bottle of Tajín to help me out, Carlos declared that I had spit enough. (Sorry, no photos of my spit in the tube. I know you’re thoroughly disappointed.)

By the way, the Tajín was only going to be for smelling in the hopes that in would induce my mouth to water. When you do this test you aren’t supposed to have had anything to eat or drink at least 30 minutes before.

Once the tube had a sufficient amount of spit, I removed the funnel top and tried to follow the directions to replace it with the screw-on top filled with blue liquid to seal it. I had a very difficult time twisting the top on securely enough and was afraid I was going to break the tube, but the instructions said that when it’s screwed on properly, all the blue liquid will flow from the top into the tube, and that hadn’t happened. Carlos managed to get the top on and the blue “stabilizing liquid” flowed down into the spit-filled tube. I shook the tube for five seconds as instructed then put it into the ziploc bag.

The ziploc bag containing the spit-filled tube then goes into the pre-paid mailing box and you send it back for testing. Now the wait begins! In 6-8 weeks I should receive an email with my results. I’m anxious to see if there will be anything unexpected to share with you, (and my family), but until then, we wait.

For more information or to order your own Ancestry DNA kit, visit DNA.Ancestry.com.

Helpful Tip: I used coupon code FREESHIPDNA when I ordered online. I’m not sure if it’s still valid, but you’ll want to give it a try as it’ll save you almost $10.

Disclosure: Just in case you’re wondering, I’m in no way affiliated with Ancestry.com. This is not a sponsored post. I was not given anything free to review or any compensation. This is just something I wanted to try and share with all of you. As always, all opinions are my own.

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

latino-books-2015-2

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?

which-jane-character

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

143-93709-6-mixto-joel-sowers-1424388693(Image source: Joel Sowers)

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.]

Agua de Berenjena (Eggplant Water)

eggplant-water

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!

Con el tiempo Carlos va tomando más responsibilidad en su salud. Hay un edad cuando uno se da cuenta que el pan dulce es para de vez en cuando y no cada día, y lamentablemente esos días están aquí para Carlos y yo.

Una de las preocupaciones Carlos tiene es sobre el colesterol porque es un problema hereditario para él, (y bueno, un amor para hamburguesas no ayuda.)

Recientemente Carlos mencionó la reducción del colesterol a su hermana y ella recomendó el agua de berenjena. Ella dijo que su suegra corta una berenjena en pedazos (con la piel), y la pone en una pichel de agua durante la noche. Durante los próximos días, se bebe una taza de agua berenjena cada día.

Busque alrededor de la internet y parece que esto es un remedio casero muy conocido en la comunidad Latina para todo tipo de problemas de salud. ¿Alguna vez has oído hablar de Agua de Berenjena? ¿Lo has probado?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

As Carlos grows older he takes more and more responsibility with his health. There’s an age when one realizes that pan dulce is a once-in-awhile food, not an everyday food, and unfortunately those days are here for Carlos and myself.

One of Carlos’s concerns is about his cholesterol because cholesterol problems are hereditary in his family, (and well, a love of hamburgers doesn’t help anything.)

Recently Carlos mentioned reducing cholesterol to his sister and she recommended Eggplant Water. She said her mother-in-law cuts an eggplant in pieces (with the skin), and she puts it in a pitcher of water overnight. Over the next few days, her suegra drinks a cup of the Eggplant Water each day.

I looked around the internet and it seems this is a well-known home remedy for all kinds of health issues in the Latino community. Have you heard of Eggplant Water? Have you tried it?

#SiAmasADios

Si Amas a Dios - Espinoza Paz

Over a week ago Regional Mexican artist and composer Espinoza Paz announced that he would be releasing a new song called “Si Amas a Dios”, (#SiAmasADios on Twitter) inspired by the 43 students of Ayotzinapa, Mexico.

The song is now available free to download from iTunes.

If you don’t have iTunes, you can also find it on YouTube.

I searched the internet and wasn’t able to find the lyrics so (with a little help from Carlos), I transcribed them myself. Here they are for anyone else who wants them.

Si Amas a Dios

por Espinoza Paz

Si amas a Dios
No tomes café con el diablo mañana
Hagamos consciencia hermano, hermana
¿O de qué lado estás?

Si amas a Dios
No juegues al bueno con esa pelota
No dejes que al vaso le caiga otra gota
¿O de qué lado estás?

Si amas a Dios
Es tiempo de hacerle caricias al mundo
Dile que lo sientes en lo más profundo
de tu corazón.

Si amas a Dios
No cierres los ojos, la boca, y la puerta
Se encuentra encendido un foco de alerta
Ya pasa la voz.

Si amas a Dios
No rompas piñatas llenas de pistolas
Que ya no se tiñan de rojo las olas
¿O de qué lado estás?

Si amas a Dios
Oremos por todos los que tienen hambre
No dejes que siga rodando el estambre
¿O de qué lado estás?

Si amas a Dios
Es tiempo de hacerle caricias al mundo
Dile que lo sientes en lo más profundo
de tu corazón.

Si amas a Dios
No cierres los ojos, la boca, y la puerta
Se encuentra encendido un foco de alerta
Ya pasa la voz.

No dejes que la maldad gane más terreno.
Sólo nosotros podemos ponerle freno.
No más veneno.

Si amas a Dios
Es tiempo de hacerle caricias al mundo
Dile que lo sientes en lo más profundo
de tu corazón.

Si amas a Dios
No cierres los ojos, la boca, y la puerta
Se encuentra encendido un foco de alerta
Ya pasa la voz.

Si amas a Dios.
Si amas a Dios.

SUN BELT EXPRESS – immigration, humor and corazón

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 4.31.07 PM

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.

Sopa de Pollo Salvadoreña

Sopa de Pollo Salvadoreña

Carlos has been sick for a week, and on Friday he was so sick that he even took off work. I’ve been doing every home remedy I know of to make him better – Vicks Vaporub on the feet before bed, honey lemon tea, vaporizers, vitamin C, and just plain old bed rest, but nothing seemed to help very much. (I did all these remedios caseros on myself too for prevention and so far, so good.)

On Saturday Carlos asked me to make him Sopa de Pollo, but he didn’t want the Bolivian Chicken Soup recipe I always use. He asked if I’d try to make Salvadoran Chicken Soup “with lots of vegetables” this time. Obviously he was needing a little extra apapachamiento! Of course I always love making a new Salvadoran dish and seeing the way his eyes light up when it’s a success, so I did some research, looked at a handful of recipes, and then headed to the grocery store to get what I needed.

Before the soup was even ready, Carlos was getting excited. He kept calling out to me from the living room where he was on the sofa covered in a blanket, “It smells so good. It smells like I remember…” Then when it was ready, I put the bowl before him at the table and he smiled, “It looks like how I remember!” … Then he tasted it, and I’m not exaggerating, he stood up, kissed me (on the neck so I wouldn’t get his germs) and told me he loved me. Jajaja.

Here’s my recipe in case you know a sick salvadoreño or salvadoreña who could use a little “TLC”, (Cuidado amoroso y tierno.)

Sopa de Pollo Salvadoreño

You need:

10 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
3 corn cobs, broken in half
1/2 1 small cabbage, cut in chunks
cilantro
basil, (fresh, not dry)
2 to 3 celery stalks with leaves
2 cups baby carrots, (or cut up carrots)
3 green onions, (roots cut off)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 small potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
1 small zucchini, skin removed and chopped in bite-size pieces
1/2 cup uncooked rice or small pasta like “conchitas” (little shells)
1 tsp. salt, plus to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. achiote (ground annatto)

Directions:

1. Assemble and prepare all your ingredients, (wash and chop vegetables, etc.)

Note: I used all boneless, skinless chicken thighs because Carlos prefers dark meat and it gives the stock a better flavor, but you can use a whole chicken cut in pieces (remove skin – bones optional as some people like to “chupar el hueso”), or substitute some chicken breasts. As for the vegetables, feel free to experiment. For example, some people use yucca instead of potatoes, and some add chayote/güisquil, broccoli, cauliflower, and/or green pepper.

2. In a large stock pot over medium high heat, add the chicken plus enough water to cover by about 2 inches.

3. Add to the pot: a handful of cilantro, a handful of basil, celery stalks with leaves, garlic, tomatoes, green onions, 1 tsp. salt, cumin, pepper, and achiote.

4. Simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove and then discard the cilantro, basil, celery, tomatoes and green onions. Use a small sieve to skim off any foam.

5. Add the rice (or pasta), corn cobs, potatoes, and carrots. Cook covered until rice is cooked and vegetables are tender.

6. Remove cover. Add cabbage and zucchini. Simmer for a minute or two and then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly and then taste. Add additional salt as desired. (I prefer to let each person add more salt to their own individual portion.)

7. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro if desired. (I like to eat all the meat and vegetables out of it and then eat the broth with crushed Ritz crackers.)

Buen provecho!

La Cerca (The Fence)

Image source: Orange Grove Media

Image source: Orange Grove Media

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!

Uno no siempre puede saber todo sólo mediante observar. Ser observador es importante, pero sólo si uno recuerda que como ser humanos, nuestra abilidad de ver algo con los ojos y destilar la verdad, es imperfecto, limitado e influenciado por nuestras propias emociones, experiencias, y creencias.

Tomemos por ejemplo esta sencilla cerca. ¿Por qué estaba construida? ¿Los dueños quieren privacidad? ¿Es por protección o un sentido de seguridad? ¿Quieren previnir que salga su mascota o sus niños? ¿O que no entran extraños y animales desconocidos? ¿Tal vez van a construir una piscina o tienen un perro que muerde, y no quieren poner sus vecinos en peligro? ¿Es por razones estéticas, que se ve bonita la propiedad? ¿Quizás quieren vender la casa y están agregando valor a la propiedad? o es que ¿No quieren que su vecino les moleste?

Lo único que sabemos es que hay una cerca, pero no podemos saber por cierto por qué hay una cerca sin preguntar a los dueños. Pero ¿por qué estoy hablando de las cercas y los supuestos? Estos pensamientos se inspiraron en una hermosa serie que he estado leyendo en The New York Times. La serie se llama “The Way North“, y se trata de la inmigración.

The Way North: Day 25” es una entrevista con una mujer que se llama Francene en Wichita, Kansas. Francene ha vivido toda su vida en Wichita en la misma propiedad. Ella cuenta tanto las experiencias positivas y negativas que ha tenido con los inmigrantes mexicanos en la communidad que han estado moviendo a las casas en su vecindad. Ella contó sobre jovenes mexicanos que quebrarón una ventana, y entraron en un edificio de su propiedad, dañaron y robaron cosas. Contó también del hombre mexicano y su hijo que hicieron las reparaciones a la ventana y trataron de cobrar menos por la reparación porque se sentían mal por lo que le pasó. Una parte de la historia menciona a la familia mexicana que vive detrás de la casa de Francene. Anteriormente Francene les llevaba sandías cada domingo durante sus barbacoas familiares … hasta que se construyó una cerca.

Al final del artículo, nos encontramos con Leonel, el vecino mexicano que vive detrás Francene – El mismo vecino que construyó la cerca. Cuando el escritor del artículo hablo con Leonel y le dijo cómo se sentía Francene, Leonel expresó sorpresa. “¿En serio?” dijo Leonel. “Ella es una buena persona. Yo no sabía que iba a molestarse. Simplemente lo hicimos para hacer la casa más bonita.”

Esta historia me puso muy triste, porque estos tipos de malentendidos y suposiciones dividen a la gente más que la cerca física. Es una lección de no saltar a conclusiones.

¿Qué “cerca” estás malinterpretando en tu vida?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

One can not always know everything simply by observing. Being observant is important, but only if one remembers that as human beings, our ability to see something with our eyes and distill the truth is imperfect, limited, and influenced by our own emotions, experiences, and beliefs.

Let’s take for example this simple fence. Why was in built? Did the owners want privacy? Is it for protection or a sense of security? Do they want to prevent their pet or children from going out? Or prevent strangers and unknown animals from coming in? Maybe they’re going to build a pool or they own a dog that bites, and they don’t want to put their neighbors in danger? Is it for aesthetic reasons, to make the property look nice? Perhaps they want to sell the house and they added the fence to increase the property value? Do they not like their neighbor and want to make it more difficult for that neighbor to bother them?

The only thing we know is that there is a fence, but we can’t know for sure why there is a fence without asking the owners. But why am I even talking about fences and assumptions? These thoughts were inspired by a beautiful series I’ve been reading in The New York Times. The series is called “The Way North“, and it’s about immigration.

The Way North: Day 25” is an interview with a woman named Francene in Wichita, Kansas. Francene has lived all her life in Wichita on the same property. She recounts experiences both positive and negative that she’s had with the Mexican immigrants in the community who have been moving into her neighborhood. There are the Mexican teenagers who broke a window, entered a building on her property, damaged and stole things. There is the Mexican man and his child who made the repairs to her window and tried to undercharge her for the repair because they felt badly about what had happened to her. One part of the article mentions the Mexican family that lives behind Francene’s house. Francene used to bring them watermelons each Sunday during their family barbeques… until they built a fence.

At the end of the article, we meet Leonel, the Mexican neighbor who lives behind Francene’s house – the neighbor that built the fence. When Leonel was told how Francene felt, he expressed surprise. “For real?” Leonel said, “She’s a nice person. I didn’t know it was going to bother her. We just did it to make the house look nice.”

This story made me really sad, because these types of misunderstandings and assumptions divide people even more than the actual physical fence. It’s a lesson in not jumping to conclusions.

What “fence” might you be misinterpreting in your life?