Conversations at Casa López

There is usually at least one funny conversation in our household each day. I often share these conversations with friends and family on my Facebook page, but I decided to share the fun with all of you. Here are a few from the past few months.

Carlos: Opossum is same as a “tacuazin”, right?
Me: I think so. Check Google Images.
Carlos: How do you spell it?
Me: O-P-
Carlos: O?!

[I was talking to Carlos about something I can’t remember and I said, “even though I’m not Latina”]

10 year old [interrupts]: You are too!
Me: No, honey, I’m not.
10 year old: You are Latina! You’re half like me!
Me: No, baby, I’m not Latina.
10 year old: Mommy, you are, cause you married Daddy.
Me: If you marry someone from China, are you going to be half Chinese?
10 year old: Yeah, of course!
Me: Oh. I didn’t know it worked that way.

Me: How do you say “listeners” in Spanish?
Carlos: What kind of listeners?
Me: Like listeners to a radio show… Would it be “escuchantes?”

Me: It’s in Kansas.
Carlos: Which Kansas?
Me: What do you mean which one? Kansas, the state.
Carlos: But is it in Kansas or Ar-Kansas?

Gringo co-worker: Hey you see those two German Shepherds over there?
Carlos: Yeah.
Gringo co-worker: You better watch out. They don’t like Mexicans.
Carlos: Well, good thing I’m not Mexican.

13 year old: I’m supposed to make tabs to divide my notebook for Spanish class.
Me: Okay.
13 year old: The teacher wants us to label one of the tabs “RECURSOS.”
Me: Mmhm.
13 year old: What does it mean?
Me: Can you take a guess?
13 year old: …Um… Repeat diarrhea?

Hey, at least he broke the word down and made a logical guess based on what he knows. (“Curso” is slang for “diarrhea” in El Salvador – not sure if that’s the case for anywhere else.)

[Me reading bedtime story to my 10 year old]

Me: “¿Puedes encontrar la araña?”
10 year old: Mommy, I’m not stupid. The spider is right there.

“You have to give me the credit of the doubt.” – Carlos

(He mixed up “Give me credit” and “benefit of the doubt.”)

“Do you know what time Obama is supposed to start speaking? … I want to watch but I don’t want to miss Chavito.” – Carlos

“You’re just adding more wood to the fire.” – Carlos

(He meant “fuel to the fire.”)

“I want to rent that movie Chale Homes.” – Carlos unsuccessfully trying to say “Sherlock Holmes” but sounding like a Chicano instead.

What is the funniest conversation you’ve had lately?

The Pumpkin Patch – An American Tradition

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Carlos pulls the boys in a wagon through a pumpkin patch. 2009

One of the first places I brought Carlos when he was my boyfriend was to a pumpkin patch, and one of the first things I showed him was how to to carve a jack-o-lantern. I’ve always been interested in other cultures and traditions, but there was also something exciting about showing Carlos my own.

Fifteen years later, going to the pumpkin patch as a family each October is one of our favorite things.

The pumpkin patch we usually go to has goats and you can buy food pellets for them from a bubble gum style machine for a quarter. Over the years, Carlos has come to be more of an animal lover. He looks so happy petting the goat here.

After feeding the goats we considered giving the corn maze a try but it takes 45 minutes to go through, (maybe an hour given my sense of direction) – so we decided we’ll come back another day to do it.

Into the pumpkin patch.

My boys are getting bigger, (The oldest is taller than Carlos), but they haven’t outgrown the pumpkin patch.

There’s a type of squash in El Salvador called Pipián. We aren’t sure if this squash here is related but when you’re accustomed to their palm-sized Latin American cousins, these are kind of hilarious.

Now that we’ve picked our pumpkins and brought them home, we’ll soon carve them into jack-o-lanterns. When we clean out the inside of the pumpkin we always reserve the seeds for roasting and eating. Roasted pumpkin seeds, funnily enough, remind Carlos of El Salvador.

Fiesta DC 2012

Taking photos at Fiesta DC this past Sunday was a challenge for a number of reasons, but one of those reasons was the sheer number of other people trying to photograph and video tape the event. At times I felt like I was in a group of paparazzi fighting for position – and then when I would finally frame the perfect shot, someone would inevitably ruin it by running across with a video camera or sticking their iPhone in front of me.

Some of the people were amateur or hobbyist photographers like me, some were obviously freelance professionals or working for media – And then there were young males, usually equipped with cellphone cameras, who were just trying to photograph the nalgas of the cachiporras to share on their Facebook.

Anyway, here are my favorite shots which I had some fun editing and a video of the general atmosphere.

By the way, speaking of nalgas, at one point during the parade a woman with a very generous backside stood in front of us. Carlos, to his credit, didn’t even seem to notice despite the fact that her “pants” were actually leggings and you could see her thong through the fabric.

“¡Qué bárbara!” a little old man said. The old man, not content to enjoy the view by himself and feeling the need to share, elbowed Carlos. Jutting his chin towards the woman in front of them he said, with a lascivious expression on his face, “Ella es Santa Bárbara, ¿vá?”

Carlos looked confused, “Oh, ¿sí?” he replied.
“Ssssíííííí,” the viejo hissed appraising the woman’s behind, practically licking his lips. Noting the fact that Carlos didn’t understand what he meant, the viejo then asked, “¿No sabes?”

“¿No?” Carlos said, the question on his face.

I rolled my eyes at the predictable dirty old man.

“¡Es santa por delante y bárbara por atrás!” the viejo said, erupting in laughter as if he had said the most clever and original thing in the world.

Carlos laughed politely and I pinched him.

“What?” Carlos said.
“Stand back here, away from the viejo chuco,” I said.

After the parade we had lunch. I wanted pupusas but Carlos made a good point that we eat pupusas all the time and that we should eat something different, so we ended up buying delicious Mexican tortas. (The boys and I had the torta milanesa de pollo with horchata. Carlos had the torta de carnitas with agua fresca de tamarindo.)

Just as we finished eating and were deciding what to do next, I heard “Los Hermanos Lovo” announced on a nearby stage.

“No way!” I said out loud, “Hermanos Lovo!”

Carlos looked at me like I had lost my mind as I pulled his hand in the direction of the stage.

“It’s the Chanchona music I blogged about. Remember?… Hermanos Lovo!”

For three songs I tapped my hand against my side, tapped my feet, and moved my hips, waiting for people to dance, but only a few people were dancing, and they were getting stared at. Everyone else just pretty much stood there and watched the performance. I found this a little strange given that at most Latino dominant events I’ve been too, there’s usually not a lack of dancing. I wonder if most of the people there have become too Americanized in this respect? Too self-conscious?

I couldn’t take it anymore. I leaned toward Carlos and he leaned toward me so he could hear me.

“Want to dance?” I asked, eyes brimming with hope like a child asking for a puppy.

Carlos said nothing, just turned toward me and took me in his arms, and we danced.

Within seconds much of the crowd had turned to look at us and stood gaping. Carlos whispered in my ear, “We’re being photographed and video taped.” I felt a flood of gringa self-consciousness wash through me but we kept dancing, and soon, the people around us, were just a blur of colors.


Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is below!

Carlos está sentado en la mesa después de trabajar y está comiendo una merienda con una sonrisa en su rostro.

“Estas galletas,” me dice, levantando una galleta cubierta en chocolate y admirandola antes de comer una mordida, “Estas galletas siempre quería comprar cuando era niño en El Salvador.”

“Y por qué no las compraste, pues?” pregunto yo.

“Eran muy caras,” dice Carlos, “Sólo los niños ricos las tenian.”

Las galletas que compramos son de marca “Chiky” y cuestan aproximadamente $2.50 por una docena paquetes que contienen 6 galletas cada uno. Imagino que cuestan todavía menos en El Salvador.

“Somos ricos,” digo yo, “Aunque tenemos un montón de billes sin pagar, tenemos Chiky.”


Carlos is sitting at the table after work and eating a snack with a smile on his face.

“These cookies,” he says, lifting a cookie covered in chocolate and admiring it before taking a bite, “I always wanted to buy these cookies as a child in El Salvador.”

“So why didn’t you?” I ask.

“They were very expensive,” says Carlos, “Only the rich kids had them.”

The cookies we buy are “Chiky” brand and cost about $2.50 for a dozen packages containing 6 cookies each. I imagine they cost even less in El Salvador.

“We’re rich,” I say, “Although we have a lot of unpaid bills, we have Chiky.”

Sopa de Res

I’m not usually one to deprive Carlos of a food he is craving if it’s in my abilities to make it. As old-fashioned as it may seem, making food for Carlos and the boys and watching them enjoy it is one of my favorite things. That being said, when Carlos requested Sopa de Res the other day, (something I make for the family often in the winter) I found it strange enough that I didn’t want to make it.

“Sopa de res?” I said, “But it’s summertime! It’s hot out!”

“What’s wrong with that?” Carlos said.

“You don’t eat stew in the summer – that’s just weird. Soups and stews are for fall and winter. They warm you up and comfort you when you’re cold.”

“Well, I don’t think like that,” Carlos reminded me. “In El Salvador the weather is always hot so when are we supposed to eat soup?”

I realized he had a point and bought what I needed to make Sopa de Res on Friday. As I make it right now, the weather seems to have obliged with my “soup eating rules.” It has been cold and rainy all weekend.

sopa de res caldo



1 to 2 lbs. stew meat
2 tablespoons Canola oil
salt, pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
14 oz. chunky salsa (whichever kind you like)
1 to 2 cups baby carrots
2 cups chopped potatoes (whichever kind you like)
2 to 3 corn cobs broken in thirds, (1 cup frozen/canned corn can be substituted)
1/2 small cabbage chopped in wedges

sliced pickled jalapeños
handful fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
fresh lime wedges


Brown meat and onion in oil in a large soup pot. Season with salt and pepper.

Add broth and salsa. Meat should be slightly covered, if not, add water until it is.

Bring to a boil then lower heat. Simmer, loosely covered until meat is cooked and tender.

Add carrots and potatoes – Continue simmering until these are tender.

Add corn cobs. Simmer until corn is cooked.

Add cabbage and cook until tender, (not soggy!)

Ladle into bowls. Add cilantro to each bowl. Serve with a wedge of lime to squeeze on top and warm homemade tortillas. If you like it spicy, add some pickled jalapeños.

Recipe adapted from: Caldo de Res

Online Translator Fail

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!

Cosas extrañas suceden en el trabajo de Carlos – A veces la razón es porque la mitad de los empleados son inglés-hablantes nacidos en Estados Unidos y la otra mitad son hispano-hablantes nacidos en México; Carlos cae en el medio – un bilingüe salvadoreño.

Usualmente el jefe y la gente que trabajan en la oficina, utilizan a Carlos como traductor cuándo necesitan mandar un mensaje a los que trabajan en el taller, pero recientemente la secretaria ha querido hacer traducciones solita con la ayuda de un traductor en línea y ella le gusta colocar carteles en las paredes para todos los temas imaginables.

Aquí hay una cartel en la puerta de un baño. Por alguna razón el jefe quiere que sólo utilizan este baño para orinar.

Un buen recordatorio: Si tienes acceso a un hablante nativo, por favor, confíen en él en vez de usar un traductor en línea.


Strange things happen in Carlos’s work – Sometimes the reason is because half of the employees are U.S. born English-speakers and half are Spanish-speakers from Mexico; Carlos falls in the middle – a bilingual Salvadoran.

Usually the boss and the people working in the office use Carlos as a translator when they need to send a message to those working in the shop, but recently the secretary has wanted to do translations alone with the help of an online translator. She likes to put signs up on the walls on every imaginable topic.

Here’s a sign on the door of a bathroom. For some reason the boss wants the employees to use this bathroom only to urinate.

A good reminder: If you have access to a native speaker, please, trust in them instead of using an online translator.

El Sombrerito

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation below!

“¿Qué onda, vos?” pregunté a mi hijo mayor una tarde cuándo venia a casa de la escuela.
“Mira mamá, te tengo una sorpresa,” dijo mi hijo con algo escondido detrás de su espalda.
“¿Qué es?” pregunté.

Mi hijo reveló un sombrerito negro, decorado con lentejuelas. En purpurina color verde, blanca y roja, estaba escrita la palabra “BICENTENARIO.”

“Ah, de México, es. Qué bonito,” dije, “¿Dónde lo econtraste?”
“Lo gané por tener la calificación más alta de mi clase de español,” dijo con orgullo.
“Wow, qué bien. Muy bien,” dije yo, “pero a dónde vamos a ponerlo? Tu papá no le va a gustar.”

Después de unos minutos, dicidimos ponerlo en una estantería llena de libros y chucherías.

¿Lo encuentras tú? Can you find it?

“A ver cuántos días le toma por encontrarlo,” dije sonriendome.

Bueno, más tarde entró Carlos a la casa después de un día trabajando. Me dio un beso y empezó a platicar por unos minutos cuándo él paró de hablar muy abruptamente.

“Ey,” dijo, frunciendo el ceño, “¿Qué es esto?”

En menos de quince minutos lo ha encontrado.


“What’s up?” I asked my oldest son one afternoon when he arrived home from school.
“Look, Mom, I have a surprise for you,” said my son with something hidden behind his back.
“What is it?” I asked.

My son revealed a little black sombrero decorated with sequins. In green, white and red glitter the word “Bicentennial” was written.

“Ah, it’s from Mexico. How nice,” I said, “Where did you get it?”
“I won it for having the highest score in my Spanish class,” he said proudly.
“Wow, that’s great. Very good,” I said, “but where are we going to put it? Your Dad isn’t going to like it.”

After a few minutes, we decided to put it on a bookshelf full of books and knick-knacks.

“Let’s see how many days it takes him to find it,” I said smiling.

Well, Carlos later came home after a day of working. He kissed me and we started to chat for a few minutes when he very abruptly stopped talking.

“Hey,” he said, furrowing his brow, “What is this?”

In less than fifteen minutes he had found it.