The Easy Way to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15, 2014

September 15th is a double whammy. It’s Guatemalan Independence Day, celebrating liberation from Spain in 1821. And it’s the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month in the US, which (kind of bizarrely) extends until October 15.

I dig an opportunity to celebrate a theme, especially ones important to our family like these. Since my kids have many friends who are not Hispanic, I have also tried to think of ways to include other families in our heritage celebrations. I want to keep our family's multicultural identity incorporated into our life in ways that feel authentic and connect us to others.

So I throw the easiest party in the world. I invite friends to join us at a local Guatemalan restaurant for dinner. We're grateful for adventurous, globally-minded friends who jump at the chance to try new things and show Billy a little love by embracing his culture.

We've learned a couple things in our experience of this tradition. We call ahead and let the restaurant know we're bringing a group. And this year we pre-ordered appetizers for the hungry "kids" to eat while we wait.

I also went all out and printed Guatemalan-themed coloring/activity sheets for the kids. If you're interested in the specifics or looking for some yourself, you can find them on my Pinterest board. Finally, I have been wondering what to do with the plethora of Guatemalan coins hiding throughout our house. So I gathered them up and gave each kid their very own Quetzal.

I love parties, but I rarely have time to plan them. This gathering has become something I look forward to in September. It's a fun way to honor my kids' Hispanic heritage and an easy on-ramp for our friends to join in the celebration!

This post is part of the Hispanic Heritage Month 2014 Blog Hop hosted by Multicultural Kids Blogs. Check out the details below to find other posts and to win cool prizes!

heritagemonthWelcome to the Third Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop, hosted this year by Multicultural Kid Blogs and 17 of our member blogs! Don't miss our amazing giveaway, and share your own posts at our linky! Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 every year, "celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America" (from Be sure to visit all of the participating blogs (listed below) and follow our related Pinterest boards:
MKB HHM Twitter Party

Don't miss our Twitter party "Celebrating Hispanic Heritage with Kids," Tuesday, September 23, from 9 - 10 pm ET! Follow #mkbhhm to participate!
MKB Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop: Participating Blogs

Hispanic Heritage Month GIVEAWAY!

This year to celebrate we are giving away fabulous prizes! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post for a chance to win! Please note that there are shipping restrictions on some prizes. In the event that the winner lives outside of the shipping area, that portion of the prize will be added to the following prize package.

Grand Prize Package

Smart Play - Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop
(SRP $ 24.99): Interactive tablet like electronic toy makes early learning fun and exciting for little ones. More than 30 touch sensitive keys teach language and pronunciation skills to help prepare children for school. Bilingual feature helps kids learn in English & Spanish. Lightweight and truly portable for on-the-go learning. Ships to US and Canada only.

Traditional Mexican toys and games.

A basket of fun from Escuela Falcón in Guanajuato, Gto., Mexico. This prize includes educational games, ceramic Day of the Dead skulls, a hand-painted ceramic box, wooden toys, and a certificate for 5 hours of Skype Spanish lessons with Escuela Falcón.

A basket from Lanugo with the book "Lula la Consentida,” a limited-edition “Latino de Corazón” infant onsie, and Seventh Generation’s baby product essentials. US shipping only.

Spanish games for kids.

A Spanish edition of the award-winning game Bananagrams.

DVD of Spanish music videos from Rockalingua.

DVD of Spanish music videos from Rockalingua.

Bilingual poetry book from Lee and Low.
Spanish poetry book for kids from Lee and Low.

A Movie in my Pillow and Poems to Dream Together - Books of poetry in English and Spanish from Lee and Low.

First Prize Package

Peru prize basket - Kid World Citizen

A child's sweater and bag from Peru courtesy of Kid World Citizen. The handmade, wool sweater is typical from the Andes and might fit a child ages 2-4. The little backpack is also handmade with gorgeous details typical of the region.

Spanish games for kids.

A Spanish edition of the award-winning game Bananagrams.

Spanish songs for kids.

Chocolalala - CD of songs in English and Spanish from Mister G.

Spanish songs for kids from Mariana Iranzi.

Hola Hello - A CD of children's songs in English and Spanish from Mariana Iranzi.

Spanish poems for kids.

Mis primeros poemas - A book of poems and audio CD for Spanish learners from All Bilingual Press.

Spanish color activities from Mundo de Pepita.

Digital download of Spanish Colors Activities Pack with printable minibooks, games and activity pages from Mundo de Pepita.

Lingua Toys

Spanish activity book with an audio CD with listening exercises for kids between 3-10 years old (value: 12€) from Lingua Toys.

Bolivian Guiro

Hand-crafted guiro (traditional instrument), hand-carved from a gourd in Bolivia with a sun and moon pattern. Great instrument as well as a piece of folk art. From DARIAMUSIC. US shipping only.

Second Prize Package

Handwoven scarf from Nicaragua.

Handwoven scarf from Nicaragua courtesy of Spanish Playground.

Spanish ABC book from Libros Arellano.

Spanish book for kids from Libros Arellano.

¡Las letras! and Señorita Bienvenida en el aeropuerto - Two children's books in Spanish from Libros Arellano.

Spanish songs for kids from Mariana Iranzi.

A CD of children's songs in English and Spanish from Mariana Iranzi.

Children's songs in Spanish from Mister G.

ABC Fiesta - CD of songs in English and Spanish from Mister G.

High frequency words books in Spanish.
Digital download of 6 printable Spanish high frequency words books from Custom Literacy.
Bonus Prize: France Shipping Only!

Las piñatas de Laly

Beautiful piñata created especially for this contest by Piñatas de Laly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Link Up Your Posts Now it's your turn to share your posts! The linky will be open through October 15, so come back and share throughout Hispanic Heritage Month!

Immigration Facts to Shock Friends at Parties

September 11, 2014

Image Source: Ryan Wiedmaier

Every now and then, it happens. I've having a casual conversation about cupcakes, and immigration comes up. I'm sure that's a common experience.

But then I'll make some off-handed comment. And people will respond "What? What?" And not the good kind where we "raise the roof" even though we're too old for those shenanigans.

Source: Giphy

No, people are legitimately shocked. So today I'll share the three immigration bombs that tend to get the biggest reactions in conversation. Feel free to use them to stun your party guests and hopefully start productive conversations about our country's deep need for reform.

It's a 15-year wait to immigrate legally to the US from Guatemala.

I used to be a person who asked, "Why don't people just immigrate legally?" I never had a philosophical problem with folks moving here, I just thought it was a paperwork issue being neglected.

Turns out I was totally wrong. There are only 5,000 visas a year for "low-skilled" workers. To put that in context, in 1910, approximately 5,000 low-skilled workers entered through Ellis Island every day. (Source)

For many immigrants (especially from certain countries), legal entry is simply not an option. I have heard stories of Central American parents putting their newborns "on the list" in hopes that they might receive a visa for entry when they are older. And actually, some would disagree with my 15-year wait statement. That may not be long enough.

My in-laws are not allowed to visit us.

You may confuse friends if you say that exact sentence and it doesn't apply in your situation. But it's true. And every time I tell people this fact, they are floored.

Billy's parents applied twice for visitor visas so they could attend our wedding. They were denied both times without any explanation. After retaining the couple hundred dollars in application fees, the US Embassy simply told them to, "Try again." We have not because of the cost involved and our doubt for success. Sadly, my in-laws missed the births of both of our children.

Some immigrants must leave the country for a 10 year "punishment" in order to receive a visa.

Many immigrants who enter the country illegally are required to return home for 10 years as a part of their legalization process. Billy and I had a scare where we thought this 10 year bar would apply in our circumstance.

However, because Billy entered legally (and was able to pay to replace for his paperwork proving this fact), we did not have to move to Guatemala. This experience points to the class differences in how immigration cases are handled.

Many mixed status couples have a different result. I featured Heather's story last year. Her family is waiting out the permanent bar in Mexico.

I hope one day I won't have any facts about immigration that shock people. Until then, I pray for reform, and I hope you will too.

What have you learned that surprised you about immigration?

World of Wow: Share Your Story!

September 08, 2014

Original Image Source: Flickr

Isn't this world we live in so incredible? Travel is definitely one of my favorite things. I've loved the places I've been, and I've got a bucket list a mile long of places I'd love to see.

So I thought a fun travel series would be in order. I'm requesting submissions so I can travel vicariously with you this fall. So here's the deal: Choose any place, near or far, and share something that surprised you when you visited or lived there. The first sentence for submitted posts is this prompt:

When I went to ___________, I never expected ____________________.

Then tell your story. I'm so excited. I can't wait to hear about your excursions. Need a few ideas to get you started? Here's a few I could write, mixed with ones I just made up.

When I went to Kenya, I never expected to need an ice pick.
When I went to Atlanta, I never expected to eat boiled pig's feet. 
When I went to Guatemala, I never expected to see a mother nursing on a motorcycle.
When I went to Thailand, I never expected to fall in love.
When I went to Pennsylvania, I never expected to learn so much about my mother. 
When I went to Uruguay, I never expected to understand power and privilege in a new way.
When I went to Cancun, I never expected the water to actually be turquoise.

I mean... seriously. That water is ridiculous. 

The story you tell is up to you. You can celebrate the beauty, the culture, the people. Or you may share honestly about the challenges. You can make us laugh or make us think. 

If you have any question, please feel free to ask in the comments or contact me directly. Otherwise, let's get this party started! You can choose your date and register here.
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