La alegría y la angustia del cambio

hojas

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!

Me di cuenta de algo. Me di cuenta que cuando veo las hojas de colores en otoño siento dos cosas. Primero me siento llena de felicidad porque es una de las cosas más bellísimas en este mundo y soy bendecida por verlo suceder. Todo el año espero este momento breve por ver el cambio en los árboles. Pero bajo de la alegría es una fuerte tristeza saber que los días son cortos y pronto se caerán las hojas, desapareciendo en el viento. Me siento feliz por el momento que está frente de mi, pero angustia porque yo sé que no puede durar para siempre.

Y igual me siento al ver a mis hijos creciendo a hombres.

carlos-boys-pumpkin-patch-collage

No importa lo fuerte que te aferras a esas hermosas hojas o esos hermosos hijos. Ellos cambian. Las hojas se secan y pierden su color. Tus hijos crecen. Es natural que esa realidad debe hacerte sentir triste, pero también recuerdate hay que disfrutar el momento. Tal vez sea un cliché, pero a veces existen los clichés porque no hay verdad más grande. La vida es efímera. Ama lo que tú amas con todo tu corazón.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Title: The Happiness and Anguish of Change

I realized something. I realized when I see the colored leaves of autumn I feel two things. First I feel full of happiness because it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world and I feel blessed to see it happen. All year I await this brief moment to see the change in the trees. But beneath that happiness is a strong sadness to know that the days are short and soon the leaves will fall, disappearing in the wind. I feel happy for the moment in front of me, but anguish because I know it won’t last forever.

And I feel the same to see my sons growing into men.

It doesn’t matter how tightly you hold onto those beautiful leaves or those beautiful children. They change. The leaves dry out and lose their color. Your children grow up. It’s natural that this realization should make one feel sadness, but let it also remind you to enjoy the moment. Maybe it’s cliche, but sometimes cliches exist because there is no greater truth. Life is fleeting. Love what you love with all your heart.

Más y Menos – Guatemalan Cartoon Characters!

masymenos

Last night my 12 year old begged me to watch a cartoon called Teen Titans Go! with him. Honestly, I’m not at all into super hero stuff so this show didn’t appeal to me at all, but he promised me this particular episode had two characters who only speak Spanish. (He knows how to get my attention!)

I ended up really enjoying the episode and the characters named Más y Menos. The episode had an impressive amount of Spanish in it and some good lessons for kids built in. Here’s a clip of the twins Más y Menos making and serving tamales to their friends.

I later looked up more information online, and as suggested by the mention of “tamales de Guatemala” in the episode, the twins are in fact supposed to be Guatemalan. (Although they’re voiced by Chicago-born Freddy Rodriguez whose parents are Puerto Rican.)

Anyway, I thought it was really awesome to have some Central American representation in a popular cartoon and I hope the creators make Más y Menos regular characters.

My only suggestion to the creators: When the characters say “¡Los Tamales de Guatemala!” you see and hear mariachi. While mariachi can be found in Guatemala, that’s obviously more of a Mexican thing. It would have been awesome if instead you had used some traditional Guatemalan marimba music like this:

The use of Mexican culture subbed in for other Latin American culture is something you see often in television and movies. Mexican culture is more familiar to audiences in the United States so I think that is part of why it happens, but when characters are not Mexican then you’re doing a disservice to both the Mexican culture and the true culture of the character. I’d like to see Hollywood break away from that so audiences can have a more diverse experience and expand their knowledge of cultures throughout the world. Subbing in Mexican culture for every Latin American culture only feeds into the wrong belief that “All Latinos are the same.”

As Más y Menos say, “Para crecer como una persona, necesitas que abrirte a nuevas experiencias.”

You can watch the full episode of Teen Titans Go! featuring the characters Más y Menos here and on Cartoon Network.

Bilingual Brain Freeze

bilingualbrain

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!

Anteayer mi hijo menor me dijo que hay una nueva estudiante en su escuela que sólo habla español y está en un programa especial para los niños que no hablan inglés. En el pasillo entre clases una compañera bilingüe le presentó mi hijo a la nueva chica y le dijo a la chica, “Si necesitas ayuda, también puedes hablar con él porque habla español.” Bueno, mi hijo estaba feliz de ayudar pero me dijo que desafortunadamente su cerebro se congeló y le costaba recordar palabras que quiso decir, aunque entendió todo lo que estaban diciendo. La nueva chica estaba buscando la clase de un maestro que se llama Mr. Cooper.

En vez de decir, “La clase del Sr. Cooper no está en la planta baja. Tienes que ir arriba” – mi hijo tuvo que decir, “La clase de Mr. Cooper no aquí. Mr. Cooper allá,” y señaló con el dedo.

Cuando mi hijo me contó lo que pasó, me sentí como un fracaso. Hablamos demasiado inglés en casa. Es mi culpa su español no es mejor, y es culpa de Carlos también.

Por otra parte, estoy orgullosa de él porque encontró una manera de comunicarse aunque no era perfecta, y más orgullosa porque me dijo que “Fue un poco vergonzoso pero yo quería ayudar.” Cuando uno no habla un idioma con fluidez, es mucho más fácil sucumbir al miedo y no decir nada que buscar el coraje de hablar.

Lo que le falta en la fluidez, lo compensa con una buena actitud y corazón.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

The day before yesterday my younger son told me that there was a new student in his school who only speaks Spanish and is in a special program at school for kids who don’t speak English. In the hallway a bilingual classmate introduced my son to the new girl and said to the girl, “If you need help, you can also talk to him because he speaks Spanish.” Well, my son was happy to help but he told me unfortunately his brain froze up and it was really difficult for him to remember the words he wanted to say, even though he understood everything they were saying. The new girl was looking for the classroom of a teacher named Mr. Cooper.

Instead of saying, “Mr. Cooper’s class isn’t on the ground floor. You have to go upstairs” – my son had to say, “Mr. Cooper’s class no here. Mr. Cooper there,” and pointed his finger.

When my son told me what happened, I felt like a failure. We speak too much English at home. It’s my fault his Spanish isn’t better, and it’s Carlos’s fault too.

On the other hand, I’m proud of him because he found a way to communicate even though it wasn’t perfect, and I’m even prouder because he told me “It was a little embarrassing but I wanted to help.” When one doesn’t speak a language fluently, it’s much easier to succumb to fear and say nothing rather than find the courage to speak.

What he lacks in fluency, he more than makes up for in a good attitude and heart.

Tienes un hijo salvadoreño si…

abuela-cookies-pupusas

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!

Hay muchas señales que uno está criando un hijo salvadoreño en los Estados Unidos, (aquí hay 15!) pero el fin de semana pasado, mi hijo menor me hizo reír mucho con un comentario que reveló cómo muy salvadoreño que es.

Mi hijo mayor trabaja en un museo para niños y él trajo a casa un papel con actividades para niños por su hermanito, (aunque su hermanito ya es demasiado mayor para este tipo de actividades.) En el papel hay fáciles crucigramas y cosas así. En una parte del papel hay un dibujo de una abuela con un plato de galletas, y el niño debe completar un laberinto para que la abuela puede traer las galletas a sus nietos, (o algo así.)

Sin leerlo, mi hijo menor me mostró el dibujo y me dijo, “Mira, qué gran plato de pupusas tiene la abuela.”

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

There are a lot of signs that you’re raising a Salvadoran child in the United States, (here are 15!) but this past weekend, my younger son made me laugh a lot with a comment he made which revealed how very Salvadoran he is.

My older son works at a children’s museum and he brought home an activity sheet for kids to give to his little brother, (even though his little brother is already too old for these types of activities.) On the activity sheet there are easy crossword puzzles and things like that. On one part of the paper, there’s a drawing of a grandmother holding a plate of cookies, and the child is supposed to complete a maze so the grandmother can bring the cookies to her grandchildren, (or something like that.)

Without reading it, my younger son showed me the drawing and said, “Look, what a big plate of pupusas the grandmother has.”

De Tin Marín de do pingüé

Image source: Flickr user trpnblies7

Image source: Flickr user trpnblies7

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!

En inglés tenemos dos canciones infantiles muy populares entre niños para elegir algo/alguien. La primera es así:

One potato, two potato, three potato, four,
five potato, six potato, seven potato, more.

Y la otra es así:

Eenie meenie, miney mo,
Catch a tiger by its toe,
If he hollers, let him go,
eenie meenie, miney mo.

(Verso opcional:) My mom said to pick the very best one and you are not it.

Cuando canté “eenie meenie” el otro día para elegir un cereal para el desayuno, (a veces soy muy indecisa y eso me ayuda), Carlos me cantó la versión de “eenie menie” que cantan los niños en El Salvador, (y muchos otros paises.)

De tin marín de dó pingüé,
cuca la mácara títere fue,
yo no fui, fue teté,
pégale, pégale que ella fue.

Puedes oír una versión de “tin marín” en esta canción de Los Tucanes de Tijuana. (El cantante está cantando sobre sus cinco novias y su método de elegir una por salir a comer, bailar, etc.)

Y aprendí esta versión que cantan en España (Fuente: WordReference):

Pito, pito, gorgorito
donde vas tú tan bonito
a la acera verdadera
pim, pom, fuera.

También aprendí esta versión de Argentina:

Ta, te, ti,
suerte para tí,
virgencita de Itatí,
chocolate con maní,
afuera saliste tú.

Conoces otra canción en inglés o español que utilizan los niños para elegir?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

In English we have two popular childhood songs that are used by children to choose something/someone. The first goes like this:

One potato, two potato, three potato, four,
five potato, six potato, seven potato, more.

The other goes like this:

Eenie meenie, miney mo,
Catch a tiger by its toe,
If he hollers, let him go,
eenie meenie, miney mo.

(Optional verse:) My mom said to pick the very best one and you are not it.

When I sang “eenie meenie” the other day while trying to choose a breakfast cereal, (sometimes I’m indecisive and this helps me), Carlos sang me the Salvadoran version of “eenie menie”, (which is used in many other countries, too.)

De tin marín de dó pingüé,
cuca la mácara títere fue,
yo no fui, fue teté,
pégale, pégale que ella fue.

You can hear a version of “tin marín” in this song by Los Tucanes de Tijuana. (The singer is singing about his five girlfriends and his method for choosing which one to take out to dinner, dancing, etc.)

And I learned this version they sing in Spain (Source: WordReference):

Pito, pito, gorgorito
donde vas tú tan bonito
a la acera verdadera
pim, pom, fuera.

I also learned this version from Argentina:

Ta, te, ti,
suerte para tí,
virgencita de Itatí,
chocolate con maní,
afuera saliste tú.

Do you know another song in English or Spanish that children use for choosing?

Hand it Over: Cultural Differences in Giving

Image source: Ian Sane

Image source: Ian Sane

After 15 years of marriage, Carlos and I have both compromised a lot. Some of the compromises are not on personal preferences, but on cultural differences – which tend to be a bit more complicated to sort out. Sometimes the belief in the rightness of our own way of doing something is so strong that our kids are forced to navigate two different responses to the same situation, depending on which parent they’re interacting with. (Such is the life of a bi-cultural child!)

An excellent example of cultural differences Carlos and I still haven’t quite hammered out yet – the art of giving something to somebody. This may be something you do on a daily basis and you don’t think twice about how you do it – but in our household, you must.

You see, in the United States, when giving something to someone in a casual environment, (at home with one’s family), it’s quite normal to toss the item to the person requesting said item. A roll of toilet paper, a towel, a pillow, an apple, the remote control, a chancla – all of these things are appropriate for tossing. Obviously one wouldn’t toss anything that could be easily damaged or spilled, but everything else is fair game.

In El Salvador, (at least according to Carlos), such casual tossing of items is disrespectful to the person receiving the item. I can understand in formal situations. I can understand not tossing something, perhaps, to a grandmother or a visiting guest – but to close family? At home? Something completely unbreakable? Carlos believes in absolutely no tossing whatsoever of anything to anyone at any time, and gets highly offended just seeing it happen, even when he’s not involved.

This leaves my children with an unspoken set of rules to follow:

1. Tossing to mom = OK
2. Tossing to dad = forbidden
3. Tossing to mom in front of dad = forbidden

When Carlos isn’t home and the boys and I are watching T.V., I might say, “Hey, could you toss me a pillow?” – One of the boys will then literally toss me a pillow. No big deal.

When Carlos is home and we’re all gathered in the living room to watch a movie, I might make the same request. (I’m always needing pillows for some reason.) The boys, knowing Carlos is right there, will get up and hand it to me. If the boys forget and toss the pillow to me, no matter how gently, Carlos will say, “Hey! Get up and hand it to her. You know I don’t like that.” And whichever son threw it to me will have to get up, take the pillow back, and hand it to me properly.

My only other encounter with “the art of giving” was in Tae Kwon Do classes. My masters (teachers) were Korean and in Korean culture it’s also rude to toss things – particularly to someone older than yourself. Not only that, but it’s considered disrespectful and insulting to hand things to someone, or receive things from someone, with only one hand. If you’re younger, (or lower ranking in some way, like if you’re giving something to a boss), you should be holding the item with two hands when you give it to them. If the item is very small, it’s permitted to hold it in your right hand while supporting the forearm with the left hand. (This also applies to handshakes!)

What have been your experiences in “the art of giving”? What cultural differences still cause problems in your bi-cultural household?

No Tengo Sueños, Tengo Metas.

desk-before

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

The title of this post comes from a quote my oldest son loves. The other day at dinner he was talking about all his plans for the future. He’s an ambitious, goal-oriented, Type-A sort of guy; he’s had it all mapped out for years. He wants a career in aerospace engineering. He’s been taking AP classes since his Sophomore year of high school, he’s an honor student, he’s a member of the Science National Honor Society and other academic clubs, he keeps a folder of colleges he’s interested in applying to. He’s a driven kid who pushes himself hard, and in a few weeks he’ll be starting his Junior year of high school – a very important year academically.

His little brother, our younger son, is also an honor student, but personality-wise he’s the opposite. He’s a happy-go-lucky laid back sort of fellow. Things just seem to fall into place for him so he doesn’t tend to plan too far ahead – He enjoys the moment and doesn’t worry. If he had a theme song, it would be Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, because in his mind, “every little thing is gonna be alright.”

So at dinner the other night, when our older son was talking about all his plans to conquer the world, his younger brother responded, “Well, I guess it’s good to have dreams. Maybe they’ll come true.” Our older son put his fork down and stared his little brother down. “I don’t have DREAMS,” he said, “I have GOALS.”

“Wow, that’s a good quote,” I said.

Carlos had zoned out. He was enjoying his panes con pollo.
“What’s a good quote?” he asked.

“No tengo sueños, tengo metas,” I answered in Spanish, so he could feel the depth of the quote.

“Wow. That is a good quote,” he said.

Carlos and I have done everything we can to support our boys in whatever they want to accomplish. A few weeks ago that meant lugging home a new desk for our older son even though we just bought him one last year. The problem with the old desk was one of size – it was just too small to accommodate the way he works. The new desk helped him spread out, but as you can see in the photo at the top of the post, he still needed a little help clearing space. Despite appearances he can be really organized, but when he’s in the middle of working on homework or projects it doesn’t look that way.

When Lowe’s said the August theme would be “Back-to-School” organization, I knew I’d be helping our older son organize his “office” area, as he calls it, but I wasn’t sure how. It took hours of walking around Lowe’s before I stumbled upon a creative idea and an easy solution all in one.

caddy-1

This is a shower caddy, designed to hang over the shower head and hold shampoo bottles, soap, razors, washcloths, and things of that nature – but what if I hung it on the wall instead?

caddy-organization-1

I easily moved the majority of the clutter off the desk and into the caddy. I just put a screw in the wall and hung it on there and it’s super sturdy. On the top shelf, I placed a few binders and folders. On the middle shelf there was plenty of room for cans of pencils and other office supplies. More little office supplies fit nicely on the bottom shelf, but my favorite use for the shower caddy for office organization is this:

type-up-notes

The bottom rung which is designed for hanging washcloths, is perfect to clip up notes which need to be typed up with the simple addition of two binder clips! This worked out so well I may have to go buy two more to install at my own desk and my younger son’s desk.

I think my boys are ready for back-to-school!

Want more creative ideas?

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