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?

A Sweet Game

BY TRACY LÓPEZ
(This was originally published on the now defunct CafeMagazine.com on June 14, 2010. Since this piece is no longer available online, I thought it would be fun to reprint it and take a look back at our familia during the 2010 World Cup.)

On Friday, my kids and I gathered around the television to watch the opening game of World Cup 2010, Mexico vs. South Africa.

I was rooting for Mexico, so naturally the kids were, too, (much to the annoyance of my Salvadoran mother-in-law who awakened to the entire household vested in green).

The kids really like fútbol but they have short attention spans, so to make it more exciting for them I promised candy at half-time – but this was not any ordinary candy. This was a mixed bag of “Dulces Mexicanos” from our local Latino market. Luckily my boys are pretty adventurous and were willing to give everything a try. Here is how they rated the Mexican candies, keeping in mind they’ve been raised on chocolate, butterscotch, jelly beans and other traditional U.S. candies. The candies are rated from one star (yucky-face inducing) to five stars (they’d eat the whole bag if I let them):

boycandy

Coconut “banderitas”: The tri-colored green, white and red Mexican flags were pretty to look at and tasted almost as good. Rating: ***

De La Rosa Dulce de Cacahuate: To be fair, I buy these all the time and am slightly addicted, so this candy is very familiar to the boys. They rated it highly and licked the crumbs from the wrapper. Rating: *****

Pica Pepino Relleno con Chile (lollipop): My younger son took one lick and rejected it. The older one took a few licks and ultimately agreed. I thought it was kind of interesting though. Rating: **

Duvalín Dulce Cremoso Sabor Avellana y Vainilla:
My husband really likes these, but the kids weren’t that impressed. Rating: **

Go Mango Enchilado: I think the boys were more put off by the way this one looked than the way it tasted. They barely gave it a nibble. To me it tasted like a slightly spicy fruit snack. Rating: *

Obleas con Cajeta: How can cajeta possibly not taste good? Yet, they didn’t like this one. Rating: *

Eskandalosos Paleta de Caramelo con Chile: I thought they would reject this one immediately but they loved it. They were fruity flavored with just enough spice to make them interesting. Rating: *****

Benyrindo: Deceptively shaped like a Coca-Cola bottle, everyone was fine with this candy until biting into it and releasing the tamarindo flavored juices. Maybe you have to be raised eating tamarind to appreciate these sorts of things? Rating: *

Pica Limón: One child rated this highly and the other rated it low, yet they both kept trying it and laughing. I think the fun of this one is watching people’s reactions after eating it. Rating: ***

In the end, Mexico and South Africa tied 1-1, bitter disappointment for fans on both sides who wanted to see their team win, but my boys’ memories of the game are not bitter; they are sweet like cacahuate, sour like limón and spicy like chile.

Do-it-Yourself: Tabletop Fútbol Playset

Do it Yourself Tabletop Fútbol Playset

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.

Summertime is a time for outdoor activity, but during the inevitable thunderstorms and unbearably hot days when you prefer to stay comfortable in the air conditioning, you may need a quiet indoor activity to keep the niños occupied and happy. Here’s a fun, simple, do-it-yourself soccer playset with little peg people players you can make for the kids with just a few supplies!

DIY Tabletop Soccer Playset

Tabletop Fútbol Playset

You’ll need:

Cardboard (Lowe’s sells moving boxes if you don’t have any on hand)
Artificial turf
Scissors
Paint in various colors, including white (you can use craft paint or Lowe’s paint sample sizes)
Craft size paint brushes
Hot glue gun, glue sticks
Ruler or yardstick (if you like to be precise, but not necessary)
Wooden peg dolls (available in the “Hobby” drawer in the Hardware section of Lowe’s)
A small wooden sphere (also in the “Hobby” drawer)
Pencil
Painter’s tape (optional)

Note: You’ll find the artificial turf in Lowe’s in the area where carpet is sold on large rolls and cut by an associate. You will actually get a lot even if you buy the minimum they allow because they have to sell you the length of the roll. It rolls up tiny though! It’s easy to take home and cut smaller.

Directions:

1. Cut the artificial turf to the desired length – this will be the soccer pitch. Mine was already 16 inches wide, and I cut it off the roll so that it was 21 inches x 16 inches.

2. Put the turf on top of the cardboard. Use a pencil to trace around it. Cut the cardboard out – this will be the base for the turf to make it more sturdy.

3. Hot glue the turf to the cardboard. Use a generous amount of hot glue and work in small sections at a time to ensure it adheres well.

4. To kind of “seal” the edges of the turf and keep it from fraying, you can apply a little hot glue to the edges as well.

5. Use white paint and a small craft brush to paint the markings on the pitch. (Here’s one you can use for guidance.) You can use a ruler or yardstick to measure these lines precisely and painter’s tape to guide your brush in a straight line, or you can do it freehand, just kind of estimating. For rounded shapes, look around your house for something to paint around – plastic cups and bowls work well. (If you get paint on them, just wash them off as soon as possible.)

DIY Tabletop Soccer Playset

6. Now for the really fun part! Choose the two teams you want to create, and paint the little wooden peg dolls to resemble them. I found that 5 players per team was sufficient, but if you want to be accurate you’ll need 11 per team. I chose the United States and Mexico. You can invent uniforms and players if you wish, (I even made one of the Mexican players a female. Why not? It’s your playset! Get creative!) Don’t forget to paint a wooden sphere as the ball, too!

Tips: Painter’s tape comes in handy for straight lines when painting uniforms. Also, you can paint your players however you want, but if I were to do it again, I think I’d keep the face simple with just tiny black dots for eyes and no mouth. In my opinion, the more detailed eyes and smiles make them look a little creepy, (but I have a slight doll phobia, so don’t listen to me.)

Team USA soccer player dolls
(Hmmm, which one could be Tim Howard?)

Mexican soccer players dolls
(Chicharito is smiling on the far right.)

Once the players, ball, and paint on the pitch are dry, time to let the niños have a little fun.

DIY Tabletop Soccer Playset

Want more creative ideas?

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