Today is the 5th day of “El verano de español”, and my attempts at speaking only Spanish to mis niños.

Yesterday while running errands, I stopped and got the boys some french fries for a snack on our way to the library – And since I’ve now lost my chance at winning “Mother of the Year” for buying my kids fast food, I might as well tell you that while I was driving I was also listening to Reggaeton, (but I’m pretty sure the kids still don’t understand the lyrics.)

From the backseat my 8 year old says, “¿Quieres papitas, Mami?” … It was like re-living his first words as a little baby all over again! … Don’t get me wrong, he does speak a little Spanish here and there, but it usually has to be prompted, is Spanglish or grammatically incorrect, and this was, perfect. (And yes, mi amor, Mami would love some french fries.)

My 11 year old has learned the words “antes” and “después” (“before” and “after”). Apparently I use these words a lot when I’m bossing them around/mothering them. (For example: Before you can do this, you have to do this. After you do that, you need to do this.)

I’ve learned a lot about my mothering by the words they’re picking up more quickly due to repeated use. Other words/phrases they’ve learned: tal vez, quizás, ahorrita no, vamos a ver, no sé. (Maybe, perhaps, not right now, we’ll see, I don’t know.)

Since I repeat myself so often, some of the phrases are starting to slip off my tongue easier – sometimes slipping into Spanish is too easy, in fact. At the library, I ran into the mother of one of my children’s (Anglo) friends. “Hey! How are you?” she said.

My response? … “Bien, ¿y tú?”



  1. I have to say this. I am a Russian born girl living in America. My father has ALWAYS been strict with my brother and I. NO ENGLISH IN THE HOUSE unless talking to a guest. I used to hate the rule and hate the fact that for every English word my stubborn self said, I had to do 10 jumping jacks, or crunches, or pushups. Yes. That’s how our Russian household worked.
    Now that I’m ALL GROWN UP and heading off to college,I can’t help but thank my father for my impeccable Russian. I can read, understand, and write it. And speak it of course. Trust me, your sons will thank you when they get a scholarship based on them being bilingual. :D

    • @ ofsoundandfury8 – Hey, my great grandmother was from Russia. That’s so great that your father made sure you learn the language. Hmmm… I like the jumping jacks idea ;)

  2. I’m sending a link to your blog to my friend who just started a Spanish class. She’ll be as happy as a bird with a french fry to read your blog, I’m sure. :)

    • @ Gloriadelia – Thanks for spreading the word. I always appreciate the chance to make some new friends :)

  3. I agree that parenting styles are reflected in what kids say. This is usually good way for me to see how I’m failing/succeeding. Great post! And Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    • @ TK – Too true! Kids definitely reveal their parents in what they say! … thanks for the “congrats” :)

  4. ¡¡Hola Señora López!! I just found your blog because you were featured in “freshly pressed”. It’s very amusing!!

    Yo soy mexicana y tengo un food blog bilingue. No me siento gringa para nada, but I like to be on the blogger community en Español y en Inglés. No tan divertido como el tuyo, but perhaps you like some of the recipes.

    Aprendí inglés desde niña and sometimes I also think in English because I read in English A LOT.

    Visitaré tu blog a ver cómo te va con tus niños. Suerte!!!!


    • @ Lilly – Hola, Lilly! Mucho gusto! Thanks for all your kind words. Voy a visitar tu blog muy pronto. I love some good recipes!

  5. My favorie frase from little people that is learning both languages is “I wanna mi comida”. Spanish is an awesome language, I’m glad you keep your kids learning it. Welcome french fries!
    ~Great Love to you!
    Mirian from peelingtheorange.

  6. Wow! Just a quick comment to say thank you to WordPress for choosing Latina-ish for the dashboard today. Second, bienvenidos and gracias to all my new amigos :) Thanks for all the sweet comments you’re leaving. I hope to visit you all back soon!

  7. Holla como estas? hehe how are you? Neither English nor Spanish is my native language, but I like to learn foreign languages.First, I got the impression that you are coming from a mixed marriage family? which means you are bilingual even multilingual family.
    I know some people who raise their kids with 3 different languages- the mother’s native language, the father’s and the local dialect of where the mother comes from. The kids are amazing
    Salute for you and your kids!

    • @ Lulu – Yes, my marriage is mixed. I am an Anglo (white) American, and he is from El Salvador (Spanish speaking Latino.)

      How great that you also love languages! I’m very passionate about them, too.

      People who manage to raise their children trilingual or multilingual, amaze me! (And what lucky children!)

    • @ hopelesslycrushingonyou – Hang around here long enough and you’ll pick up plenty of Spanish :)

      As for saying “french fries” in Spanish – A quick lesson:

      The “formal” and proper term for “french fries” in Spanish is “papas fritas” … but the word “papitas” is a cute way of saying it.

  8. I think it’s great that you are immersing your family in another language and I think more families should be doing this. As someone who is trying to incorporate la lengua de Espanol into his own casa, I can appreciate your efforts. Felicidades on being “freshly pressed!”

    • @ Stirling – Thanks for the “felicidades”. It’s great to meet other families who are attempting a bilingual casa :)

  9. Mis padres me enviaron a English Class desde que era niña. ¡Y se los agradezco tanto ya que me salva día a día en la crianza con mis niños!Con mi marido hallamos en el inglés una excelente vía de escape para hablar con libertad de todos los issues que no deseamos que ellos comprendan por razones prácticas. El problema es que, como tu, nos repetimos en ciertos términos y debemos reemplazarlos por su definición de diccionario para que no los comprendan. Por ejemplo, playground es “the green place where kids can run while we rest, uh?, did I say rest in the playground? Naaa, let´s take a nap”… Imagina si comprenden esta línea de pensamientos en voz alta!! También lo usamos para hacer planes a solas y que no se enteren: “I´d love to have japaneese traditional rice enveloped in seaweeds”… (Nos tomamos libertades gramaticales y sintácticas con el uso correcto del idioma anglosajón). Obivamente no podemos mencionar sushi (ni pizza!), estas palabras son rápidamente decodificadas y se suman a la fiesta proponiendo opciones: “¡Excelente idea! Pero, ¿qué tal si en vez de sushi compramos patitas??” y poniendo ojitos redondos agregan: pleaaaaase mooooommmm!…
    Entonces pienso: Oh my! they are picking up English too fast! May be we should start learning German!
    Thanks a lot for your post. An argeninean mother using English for the sake of convinience.

    • @ Pedí3Deseos – Gracias por compartiendo tu historia conmigo. Fue muy divertido y interesante! … Como tú, mi esposo y yo, usamos español como una idioma codiga. La “problema” es que los niños entienden más y más, y tenemos que estar más creativas con el vocabulario que no entienden ellos!

      También, usamos inglés en frente de la suegra que no entiende y pasa la misma cosa que tenemos que decir, “The really big store with everything that starts with the letter W” en vez de decir “Wal-Mart”, porque bien sabe ella qué es “Wal-Mart”, (y siempre quiere ir!)

      Ji ji ji :)

  10. that last part made me laugh. have you ever woken up and been a little scared that you forgot how to speak one of the languages?…maybe it’s just me. i agree though that it’s good to teach your children another language.

    papas y papas para mama. papas y papas para papa. jajaja

    • @ G – I have felt that sort of panic a couple times for a split second, but thankfully not often! It usually happens after I’ve spent a day immersed in Spanish, and then I find myself thinking in Spanish. When I realize I’m thinking in Spanish, it sort of shocks me and I feel very strange!

      Maybe it’s a normal reaction?

    • hola cricricricricricri spanglish es una deformación de ambos idiomas, es mezclarlos por ejemplo parkeadero para deci estacionamiento (parking lot in english), etc.

      Señora Lopez congratulations for being “freshly pressed”, I don´t think reggaeton is a nice choice for your kids to listen…

    • @ cricricricricricri – Hola, y gracias por tu pregunta.

      Bueno, el “Spanglish” no es una idioma verdadero. Es una mexcla de inglés y español. Si hablas las dos, puedes hablar el “Spanglish”. Casi no hay reglas. Solo tienes que mexclarlos como quieres.

      Por ejemplo:

      Hoy voy a shopping con mi amiga. (En vez de “Hoy voy a comprar con mi amiga”.)


      No puedo ir a los movies porque tengo mucho homework. (En vez de “No puedo ir al cine porque tengo mucha tarea/deberes.”)


      ¡Qué cute! (En vez de “Qué lindo!”)

      También, hay palabras nuevas en “Spanglish” que son un mexcla de inglés y español. Por ejemplo:

      “lonche” (lunch/almuerzo)
      “puchar” (push/empujar)
      “troca” (pickup truck/camioneta)

      Espero que te ayudaré.

  11. Why are you worried about slipping into Spanish! Be worried about not treating with proper care and attention!
    You sound like the mother of the year to me :)

    • @ QBert – Thank you. I edited the post to give credit. You’re very right. I’ve seen that image all over the internet and had no idea where it originated from, so thank you.

  12. Awww, this was awesome! I don’t have kids yet, but the Mr. and I are planning to start trying next month and are therefore thinking a lot these days about our {future} parenting styles. I love the idea of speaking to them in a different language while they’re young!

  13. Hey I saw your blog featured. I know how you feel (well…as much as an unmarried lady can anyways). Buena suerte con los hijos- maybe when they’re older they’ll add a third language!

    • @ katorikurant – A third language would be fantastic. I attempted it several times, but it seems that when I do that, I start to push out language #2. I’m envious of people that are able to retain more than that!

    • @ Federico – No estoy preocupada que van a perder el inglés. Vivimos en los Estados Unidos e inglés está en todas partes. El problema que tienen los niños estadounidenses de los inmigrantes, es que ellos rechazan el idioma de sus padres en favor de inglés, (y no al revés.)

  14. I have most definitely also spoken to English speakers in Spanish, particularly after a visit to Mexico. Oops. :-)

    Good luck with your verano de español! I look forward to hearing more.

  15. It is good to see parents teaching their children languages, specifically Spanish. I am a language major (Spanish, French, Japanese) and I intend to teach my children all three, along with English of course!

  16. Coming from a Latina (me), I can relate so easily to this! I lived in Gainesville Fl for a while and the people there always said that I have an accent. I never noticed it at all until I moved away. i also noticed how easily I would slip into speaking spanglish, leaving most of my non spanish speaking friends really confused.


  17. Oh wow! This is just too good and super rich! Thanks so much!

    I have an 11 and 3 year old and I speak Spanish to them as much as possible.
    Hubby is uber monolingual and my mother-in-law (who lives with us) says she knows Spanish, but uhm…not really! (I never told her that her Spanish SUCKED, but it does.)

    So I keep trying to stick with it – but it’s super exhausting because I feel outnumbered.

    The 11 year old is going to middle school in August and she decided to take FRENCH…UGH! I’m great with that (selecting French), but now I have to sign up for French TOO because I want to practice with her and I actually want her to be FLUENT!

    Stay at it, dear. So worth it! :-)

    • @ itsafullnest – Ahahaha, you got the mother-in-law living with you too!

      Wow – good luck with the “parleando Frances”. LOL. That is one language I will never attempt. What little I know, I speak with a Spanish accent ;)

      • @ ItsaFullnest – Yes, we have a live-in MIL — and as you know, NO, we are not saints. Some situations are somewhat inescapable and we put up with a lot, (and we don’t always act saintly while putting up with it!) Glad you’re enjoying my blog. Thanks for your kind words. I’m watching la Copa Mundial too and that’s why I haven’t had a chance to visit you back on your blog! Hopefully I will soon but these games have been too amazing! :)

  18. Hi Señora López, I just visited your blog, i like it very much, that mix between english and spanish is unique, I’ll keep coming. Greetings

  19. I would give anything to have been brought up bilingual. It’s one of those skills that you need to learn while you’re young. So I think it’s great that you’re doing this for your kids – they will thank you later!

  20. jajaja. that totally happened to me when I got back from Miami. Language would so easily flow from English to Spanish that when I got back home I would do the same with my husband while we were talking and he would look at me a bit confused and then I would have to remind myself, oh yea, he doesn’t understand what the heck I’m saying. hahaha (but he does hear me speak it to the kids all the time, just not him)

  21. Hola! I too am a Latina who always thought of herself as ‘caught in two worlds’. I remember walking to school and hearing a girls speaking in Spanish about my long hair and how I must have thought I was big stuff etc., etc., with the clothes I was wearing and being ‘hueda’ and all…(their own racism actually)… but as they passed me, thinking I didn’t understand, I mustered just enough Espanol to tell them that I thought they were being mean to me and that they should just scram.

    I have a very good accent, but much less of a vocabulary to draw from. funny thing is that if you grow up hearing your parents and other family members speaking Espanol, somehow it etches into your mind, unbeknownst to you. It lays dormant in and surprisingly you can call up the words and fit them together when you most need it. (Well to a point anyway…)

    Anyhow… I found your post muy interesante! Your writing is very familiar and funny. What a great challenge you gave yourself! I should do this! No Ingles for 5 days! My kids will have to carry a Spanish dictionary, but it would be fun! Can I re-post your entry?

    • @ Christina – Thanks for sharing that story and way to go for standing up for yourself!

      I hope you attempt a “verano de español” with your children. It really is a very precious gift to give them, (as frustrating as it is for everyone at first!)

      As for re-posting, I’m really flattered and appreciate that you asked. The problem is that Google penalizes duplicate content so I try to avoid having things re-posted as much as possible. I don’t mind if you re-post a small quoted excerpt with attribution and a link to this post but would prefer it not be re-posted in its entirety. Thanks! :)

  22. Congrats on your Freshly Pressed post and thanks for sharing!

    I can totally relate to your post, as I just came back from Guadalajara and thoroughly enjoyed my time (1 whole day) there. I experienced more in one day there than I have in a week or even a month in other countries. My Spanglish really sucked (what Spanglish doesn’t?), but it was great to connect with people using whatever means (is there a Spanglish equivalent for bad sign language?) necessary.

  23. Languages are important in those days, your children won’t regret knowlegde of some more of them in the future :). You must be proud of yourself and your kids.

    Btw. I have to work more at my English :D.

    • @ littlelondonobservationist – Does your boyfriend speak English well? When I first met my husband he didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Spanish. (Just the basics but not enough for proper communication.)

      We’ve been married for more than a decade though, so anything is possible!

  24. No kids…never married (career always came first and I suppose, I was scared to death of the institution) though I love men and Latin men, especially.

    Because of a special affinity I have always had to all things Hispanic, I studied Spanish in college and then my first job after college was in a larger city along the TX/Mexican border. I had the chance to apply my Spanish a great deal while there, but because it was my Second language and one learned a bit later in life, to this day, puedo hablar completamente cuando he tenido tres cerverzas.

    Or four.

    Guess it makes me more relaxed and less tentative.

    But had I children, I would’ve insisted that they learn Spanish at the same time they learned English: cat/gato water/agua house/casa….you know, that approach.

    What you’re doing is admirable and considering the bi-cultured genetic coding of your children, it’s the right and fair thing to do as well. It’s important they know who they are and what they are and that the two halves that comprise them, join forces to create an incredible, single individual.



  25. I think it’s cool how you’re learning about your parenting style from the Spanish words and phrases your children are learning. It’s always surprising (and sometimes alarming) when I hear my kids parrot something they’ve heard me say a million times.

  26. Sra. Lopez, you sound like such a great mom! Your boys are very fortunate to have you! Keep us posted on their progress in speaking Spanish over the summer…

  27. Hi Senora Lopez! I came across your blog because it was on Freshly pressed and I am so glad I did. I just started blogging and you inspire me in many ways. I enjoy your blog so much! I share it with anyone who will listen. I love what you are doing with your kids! Rock on my fellow Latina :)

    • @ Alialways – Awh, you’re too sweet. I see you are enjoying the same WordPress theme. Don’t you love it? I will have to visit your blog again soon and comment :) World Cup has kept me busy and I haven’t had a chance to visit and comment to everyone the way I’d like to!

  28. I find your post very interesting and familuar. Almost 3 yrs ago I married my husband who is mexican. I didn’t speak more then a few words of spanish and most of those words were food items. After 3 yrs of speaking it I find my self slipping in and out of spanish much easier and sometimes find it easier to say things in spanish then in eglish.

    My daughter speaks both languages and she learns more everyday. Most of my in-laws don’t speak english, so she has to as well as myself. The only thing that I’m still getting used to is the cultural differences when it comes to meal time and some of the things they do when a child gets sick. I’ll enjoy seeing more post and getting another womens view on this change in life.

    Tabitha Vicencio

    • @ Tabitha – Hermana! :) So pleased that you found my blog. So you’ve been married 3 years – still in the toddler days of marriage! lol :) I found those years quite difficult at times, and yes, cultural differences make things even harder than a marriage between people of the same background – but it’s never boring, is it? ;) I think it’s great that you are raising your daughter bilingual, and so far you’re having so much success. Keep it up and please continue to comment. So great to hear from others who know the “vida loca” ;)

      • My Aunt showed me your blog. I was glad to find someone else as you put that know the “vida loca”. Have you and your family traveled to mexico since the cartel problems in mexico? We are going in Dec. and to tell you the truth I’m scared out of my mind.

      • @ Tabitha – As much as I adore Mexico, Mexican-Spanish, Mexican food, Mexicanos and Mexican culture — My husband is Salvadoran! LOL. (So this is all very annoying to him – though I love things about El Salvador, too.) … I haven’t been to El Salvador since 1999, and I knew Mexico only briefly, (one afternoon in Tijuana as a child). I hope to visit both again sooner rather than later.

        Which state of Mexico do your in-laws live in? I imagine cartel violence is limited to only certain areas of certain states – though I’m sure someone who lives there (some of the readers of this blog), would be able to tell you better… El Salvador has its own violence, (gang related), and that is a concern of mine, though it wouldn’t keep me from going.

  29. Amiga Tracy I just discovered this post! And “freshly pressed”, wow!
    You are awesome. If you want to come to Mexico, mi casa es tu casa! I´m from Guadalajara (I´ll give you a tour!), but am now living in Veracruz with my hubby and our cat. I promise to feed you and your lovely family lots of tortillitas recien hechas, nopalitos, pescado a la Veracruzana… you name it!
    And Suegra… well you can bring her too. ;)

    • Guadalajara is where I would most like to visit in México! … And now it makes sense why you’re so beautiful. I’ve heard that region is famous for pretty women :)

      Hey, my husband’s co-workers are from Veracruz. I have blogged about them before:

      Thank you for the invite. You have given me so much hunger just thinking about it!! Ojalá some day!

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