Ancestry DNA: Part 2

(Image source)

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. The first one is about taking the test, this second one will be about my results.

It took 22 days, much less than the 6-8 weeks told me I would have to wait. When I first sent off my DNA sample, I waited impatiently. During that time I received a few emails from Ancestry. One email told me my sample had been received. I hadn’t expected an email telling me that but I appreciated it since I always worry about things getting lost in the mail. The other two or three emails they sent me were trying to convince me to sign up for an account – those emails I didn’t appreciate so much, because each time I saw I had an email from them I’d feel my heart race, thinking my results were available.

So when I received the email that my results actually were available, I was kind of calm at first, thinking it was more junk mail – But then I saw the subject line: Your AncestryDNA results are in!

I clicked the email and then clicked the button that said “See my results” – Then… I had forgotten my password and was temporarily delayed logging in which made me mildly crazed.

Finally, I logged in. It’s kind of difficult to say what I felt looking at the results. Awe. Wonderment. Surprise. Curiosity. Maybe a very small amount of disappointment, sure. There were some predictable results and some shockers, too. To be honest, I’m still kind of processing it all.




The first three results weren’t surprising. According to, “Europe West” is defined as:

Primarily located in: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein

Also found in: England, Denmark, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic

While I wish it was more specific about which countries, I can probably safely say based on surnames (and cooking traditions!) from my mother’s side of the family in Pennsylvania, that the bulk of my “42% Europe West” blood is German.

The “European Jewish” is defined by Ancestry as:

Primarily located in: Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Israel

Also found in: Germany, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, Bosnia, Serbia, Estonia

This would most likely be my father’s side of the family. My Austrian-born grandmother was part of the Kindertransport during World War II. She lived in England for awhile and later immigrated to New York. Her father’s side of the family was from Poland, and her parents survived nazi concentration camps, also immigrating to the United States. My paternal grandfather’s mother immigrated to New York from Russia. This side of the family is Jewish – So again, this second result which accounts for 38% of my ethnicity is just confirmation of things my family already knows.

For those who are asking, “Wait, isn’t Judaism a religion, not an ethnicity? How can they pinpoint that genetically?” – Well, apparently Jews around the world share some common genetic ties.

The third result, 9% Irish, I expected, but for some reason I thought it would be a lot more. Maybe because my maiden name was Irish and I’m told I have Irish ancestors on both my mother’s and father’s side of the family.

The “Trace Regions” is when things get super interesting. I’ve got 4% “Great Britain” which, as defined by is:

Primarily located in: England, Scotland, Wales

Also found in: Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Italy

The countries listed as “Primarily located in” are not countries anyone in my family has ever laid claim to, but Germany and Austria make sense, so perhaps that’s what it is. Then again, I recently watched a documentary about The Plague. It was pretty horrific as you might expect, but I learned so much. One of the things I learned was that during this time many people, desperate for a scapegoat and an end to all the deaths, decided it was the Jews who were to blame. (They were one of many scapegoats blamed for The Plague at the time.) As a result, Jews fled Western Europe (England, France, etc.) to avoid murderous mobs. Many of the Jews fled to Poland where they were welcomed (I believe because the ruler of Poland at the time had fallen in love with a Jewish woman.) … So, who knows? Maybe one of my ancestors fled England during this time. It’s kind of crazy to imagine that far back in one’s history – beyond any oral histories that you know from living relatives or those who only died a generation or two ago.

In the “Trace Regions” category I also have 3% Europe East which could be Poland, Austria, Russia and a number of other countries, so that one made sense in the context of heritage I already know about.

Then I came to a happy surprise: 2% Iberian Peninsula! … This could be Spain or Portugal, but is also found in France, Morocco, Algeria, and Italy. None of these countries have ever been mentioned as part of my heritage and I kind of just want to claim it’s Spain and be done with it. Finally! I’m a little bit Latina!… Okay, not really, but this is still a happy surprise. Because of the Jewish blood on my father’s side of the family, I would guess it’s from my paternal line. It makes me wonder if maybe my ancestor(s) from that area were expelled from Spain when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella issued the Alhambra Decree in 1492 (yes, the same year “Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”)

The last two “Trace Regions” are just as surprising. Less than 1% Italy/Greece and less than 1% “Caucasus” which, according to is:

Primarily located in: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey

Also found in: Bulgaria, Jordan, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Palestine, Romania, Turkmenistan

Because of the extremely low percentage on these last two, I imagine they could just be a fluke, but it’s fascinating if true. None of these have ever been mentioned as part of my family’s heritage. Maybe there was a traveler or two who set out for distant lands, to places where they didn’t even speak the language, and fell in love with a local. (In other words, maybe I had ancestors who did the kinds of things I’m prone to doing.) I wish I knew, but it’s fun to think about.

Now for the little bit of disappointment I mentioned. It was thought, although not proven, that there was a small amount of Native American blood on my mother’s side of the family. There’s even a photo of a great-great-great grandmother who we thought was 100% Native American, but we lacked any evidence regarding her true ethnicity.


The tricky thing is, the fact that “Native American” didn’t show up on my Ancestry test doesn’t necessarily mean that isn’t part of my heritage. Of course, it could absolutely mean that, but it’s possible that it just didn’t show up in my own unique genetic mix. If my mother or grandmother took the test, it could show up for them. (For more technical information on how this is possible, here’s a great little article about exactly this topic on Ancestry.)

Until older generations on my mother’s side of the family get tested, I’m going to assume that we were just wrong on this one, and that I’m not even a smidgen Native American. So there’s a little bit of mourning that. I’m not crushed or anything, but it does feel weird to find out you aren’t something you thought you were. It’s kind of like when you tried out for a sport in high school and you thought for sure you had made the cut – somehow you just KNEW it, only to find out you didn’t make the team after all… Not the best metaphor but that’s the most relatable one I can come up with at the moment.

In the end, I’m happy I took the test even if it provided just as many questions as it did answers. I’m left with an intense sense of connectedness to the world and everyone in it – not just those who now share it with me, but with all those who came before us, and those who will come after us. That alone kind of makes it worth it.

For those who are very serious and knowledgeable about genealogy and ancestry, I would probably not recommend AncestryDNA because it lacks the tools that other DNA testing websites provide, although you can upload your raw data to websites such as GEDmatch if you want to explore further. To be perfectly honest, I’ve barely dipped my toes into digging deeper into DNA results and it’s extremely technical and very confusing to me. If you just want a simple to understand result, and accept that you probably won’t get all the answers you’re looking for, then AncestryDNA is worth considering.

When we’re able to afford it, Carlos would like to be tested next since he knows almost nothing about his ancestry, so be on the lookout for a third post on this topic sometime in the future!

Ancestry DNA: Part 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 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.


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.


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.


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

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 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 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


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?


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 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.]

We Need Diverse Books!

Image created by:  Icey Design

Image created by: Icey Design

The past couple days, I have had the immense pleasure of helping organize #WeNeedDiverseBooks with some amazing people – (You may have seen me tweeting already from my @Latinaish account as well as my personal @TracyDeLopez account.) The campaign is described in detail below, but it is basically a call for more diversity in books – something many of us have been talking about for a long time. I remember when Latinas for Latino Lit launched with this same mission, and through that I had the opportunity to express my views on the topic, as well as host authors René Colato Laínez and Meg Medina here on my blog. So I am really excited to see so many people coming together, from la comunidad Latina and beyond – to hopefully bring about some real change in the publishing industry. I hope you’ll join us! – Tracy López

A Joint Message From The Organizers of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, And Details On How You Can Get Involved:

Recently, there’s been a groundswell of discontent over the lack of diversity in children’s literature. The issue is being picked up by news outlets like these two pieces in the NYT, CNN, EW, and many more. But while we individually care about diversity, there is still a disconnect. BEA’s Bookcon recently announced an all-white-male panel of “luminaries of children’s literature,” and when we pointed out the lack of diversity, nothing changed.

Now is the time to raise our voices into a roar that can’t be ignored. Here’s how:

May 1st at 1pm (EST) – There will be a public call for action that will spread over 3 days. We’re starting with a visual social media campaign using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. [People are already using it, so join us!] We want people to use Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, blogs, and post anywhere they can to help make the hashtag go viral.

You can also support #WeNeedDiverseBooks by taking a photo holding a sign that says:

“We need diverse books because ___________________________.” Fill in the blank with an important, poignant, funny, and/or personal reason why this campaign is important to you.

The photo can be of you or a friend or anyone who wants to support diversity in kids’ lit. It can be a photo of the sign without you if you would prefer not to be in a picture. Be as creative as you want! Pose the sign with your favorite stuffed animal or at your favorite library. Get a bunch of friends to hold a bunch of signs. However you want to do it, we want to share it! We will host all the photos at WeNeedDiverseBooks.Tumblr, so please submit your photos by May 1st to with the subject line “photo” or submit it right on our Tumblr page here and it will be posted throughout the first day.

At 1:00PM EST the Tumblr will start posting and it will be your job to reblog, tweet, Facebook, or share wherever you think will help get the word out.

The intent is that from 1pm EST to 3pm EST, there will be a non-stop hashtag party to spread the word. We hope that we’ll get enough people to participate to make the hashtag trend and grab the notice of more media outlets.

The Tumblr will continue to be active throughout the length of the campaign, and for however long we need to keep this discussion going, so we welcome everyone to keep emailing or sending in submissions even after May 1st.

May 2nd – The second part of our campaign will roll out with a Twitter chat scheduled for 2pm EST using the same hashtag. Please use #WeNeedDiverseBooks at 2pm on May 2nd and share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.

May 3rd – At 2pm EST, the third portion of our campaign will begin. There will be a Diversify Your Shelves initiative to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is and buy diverse books and take photos of them. Diversify Your Shelves is all about actively seeking out diverse literature in bookstores and libraries, and there will be some fantastic giveaways for people who participate in the campaign! (More details and giveaway entry HERE!)

We hope that you will take part in this in any way you can. We need to spread the word far and wide so that it will trend on Twitter. So that media outlets will pick it up as a news item. So that the organizers of BEA and every big conference and festival out there gets the message that diversity is important to everyone. We hope you will help us by being a part of this movement.

Onions and Unintentional Racism

The onion I wanted to throw at a clueless woman's head.

The onion I wanted to throw at a clueless woman’s head.

I know, it’s a strange title, but I wasn’t sure how else to sum up our visit to the grocery store today.

Carlos and I walked through the produce section as I checked my list.

“I need onions,” I said.

Carlos steered the cart and followed me to the onions.

“Whoa!” I said, when I came to the onions, because they were the biggest onions I’d ever seen.

“Those are huge,” Carlos said.

“Do you think they’re like, genetically modified onions or something?” I joked, picking one up.

“I don’t know. One onion is enough for a whole week.”

“Hey, quick, take a picture of it,” I said, holding it up.

Carlos obliged without question because he’s become accustomed to my odd photo requests over the years. Carlos snapped the photo and then that’s when everything went downhill.

A middle-aged blond woman standing nearby smiled at us. Her blond child sat in the cart and several more stood behind her.

“Where are you from?” the woman asked, turning her attention to Carlos, still smiling.

I glared at her while setting the onion down. Carlos shuffled uncomfortably as he put his cellphone back in his pocket.

“El Salvador,” he answered.

“You must not have onions that big there, huh?” the woman said in a voice that reminded me of a Kindergarten teacher speaking to one of her 5 year old students. She wasn’t trying to be insulting… She wasn’t trying to be.

“Um, no, not really,” Carlos said, shifting his eyes to make eye contact with me ever so briefly. Carlos and I didn’t need words, didn’t need to speak, to know we were thinking the same thing.

I bit my tongue, resisted the urge to ask the woman where she was from. I wanted to tell her that Carlos had lived in the United States for 15 years now, that he’s an American Citizen, not some onion-photographing foreign tourist. I wanted to lob one of the onions at her head but she was oblivious to her white privilege, her unintentional racism, how she had made Carlos feel “other” … She didn’t realize that if another white person had been taking a photo in the grocery store she would not have asked or even wondered where they are from.

“We just went to Thailand. We love anything international!” the woman exclaimed.

The awkwardness was unbearable.

I wondered in my head how she would have reacted if I blurted out something equally as random. “Tea and crumpets are amazing!” is what I wanted to say. I bit my tongue harder.

“That’s nice?” Carlos said, unsure, as was I, what she expected us to respond.

I looped my arm through Carlos’s, forced myself to smile at the woman and we walked away. I kept quiet because I still don’t know how to explain white privilege to other white people.

What would you have done? How would you have responded?

Xenophobia and The Boston Bombings


The Boston marathon bombings – I didn’t think I would be writing about this, but here I am. Like most of you, I’ve been watching way too much TV, reading too many articles on the internet, and when torn away from those, listening to the radio in my car. Like most of you, I’ve had a lot of feelings the past few days on many different angles of this tragedy.

Tonight, the second suspect has been captured and it’s “over” … and yet it isn’t. I hear my fellow Americans chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” … and it seems somehow inappropriate. I understand relief. I understand pride in our first responders. I understand feeling some sense of justice or closure – but the all-out celebration, taking to the streets like revelers on New Year’s Eve? I can’t connect with it.

Those who died, are still dead; those who are mourning, are still mourning; those who are injured, are still injured. Those innocent people who were mistakenly caught up in the investigation, are still dealing with the resulting emotional damage. The young suspect in custody, if he survives, will face a long trial, all of which we will once again watch as if it’s some sort of sick reality show/telenovela hybrid.

After everything is said and done, we are left with scars – and some of those scars were inflicted on our society by the media, by irresponsible journalists. The use of racial profiling and the xenophobic language exhibited by journalists of networks I once respected, has disgusted me. It’s as if the journalists salivated at the idea that the suspects might be Muslim, as if that explains everything, when that fact alone explains nothing. That is why I’m writing this – It’s why I created a video – because at first, I couldn’t find words.

Maybe you’re not Muslim – most people who read my blog are not. Maybe you’re saying, “What does this have to do with me?” – Believe me, it has everything to do with all of us. The sentiments stirred up by the media, intentionally or unintentionally, are not only anti-Muslim, they are anti-“foreigner”, anti-brown person, anti-accent, anti-bilingualism, anti-immigrant. They are sentiments that divide and quite frankly, we’re better than this as a people, as a nation, and we deserve better than this from our news agencies.

If you agree with me, please consider sharing this video far and wide.


#101HispanicWaysToDie was a trending topic on social network Twitter today.

The range of responses to the hashtag was interesting. The vast majority, including myself, had fun with the hashtag – just some light-hearted joking around. Others became nostalgic for childhood, even when it meant remembering being smacked with a chancla. Some people expressed disgust at the hashtag, possibly assuming the worst, and not actually checking it out. Then there were the racists who couldn’t resist jumping in and talking about illegal border crossing – decidedly NOT funny.

One Latina tweeted “say [to your parents] you’re going out with a moreno” – It was unclear whether the person who wrote it meant it seriously, as an honest commentary on their reality, or if they were trying to be humorous. This unfunny tweet which points out the racist tendencies of some parents, was re-tweeted 301 times and favorited 119 times at last count and there were other similar tweets which, perhaps reflect a sad reality that deserves more discussion en la comunidad latina.

Whenever there’s a trending hashtag on Twitter, you’re going to get this diverse mix of funny, honest and offensive. I jumped in and tried to keep my tweets light and funny. Here they are re-purposed for this blog post. Feel free to add your own in comments!

13 Latino Ways to Die

1. Suffocation after too much Vicks Vapo-Rub has been put up your nostrils.

2. Pine-Sol and bleach fumes after your mother cleans the house.

3. Setting off illegal fireworks.

4. Third degree cheese burns from not allowing the pupusa to cool before attempting to consume.

5. Laughing with your siblings during misa.

6. Accidentally telling your Mom that you’re “embarazada” when you actually mean to say you’re embarrassed.

7. Parents use a lesson from the old country. You respond “But we’re not in El Salvador! We’re in the United States!”

8. Empacho

9. Riding in the back of a pickup truck.

10. Laughing when your parent translates a Spanish idiom to English but it makes no sense.

11. Rooting for the U.S. team when they play your parent’s home country in soccer.

12. Kicked in the nalgas by a bota picuda.

13. Making too much noise in the room when your abuela is trying to hear her horoscope from Walter Mercado.

Update! Related Link: #101HispanicWaysToDie Shows True Colors on