Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mrs. Easter Bunny Stopped By


Easter Eve was always more special than Easter morning in my home. My sisters and I would stay up late eating capirotada, a Mexican dish my mom made every year that filled our home with the smell of melted sugar.

At bedtime, we'd giggle in the dark, as we speculated over the size of the Easter baskets Mrs. Easter Bunny would bring. More than Peeps and jelly beans, we hoped for giant chocolate Easter bunnies whose ears we'd devour before breakfast the next morning. I say might because sometimes there was no chocolate.

I remember waiting for the sound of crinkling plastic, until one year, without warning, Mrs. Easter Bunny never came. Is there an expiration date on the Easter Bunny?

My eleven-year-old son cornered me in the grocery store last year and asked if Santa and the Easter Bunny were real. So many thoughts raced through my mind as I thought of how to answer. "Well ... " It was over. My baby was no longer a baby. I remember how he scrutinized me with his big brown eyes that communicated without words that he knew the truth.

A dear friend and neighbor dropped by yesterday afternoon to return a dish. During our conversation I realized that with the craziness of preparing to have family over for Easter, I'd inadvertently forgotten to make our son's Easter Basket (something that's proven challenging each year due to his food allergies). When I mentioned that our son didn't believe in the Easter Bunny, anymore, my neighbor laughed and replied that her twenty-something daughter still expected her chocolate bunny. That's when I remembered how much I've missed mine.

Mrs. Easter Bunny did drop by before six a.m., leaving tracks all the way up to our son's room. He'll wake to find a small basket bursting with yellow grass, a book, Swedish Fish, Skittles, and Minecraft toys. He'll even find a small, stuffed, yellow chick to remind him he'll always be my baby.

Why is the Easter Bunny a Mrs. instead of a Mr? I'll tell you why -- because The Country Bunny And The Little Gold Shoes says so.


Friday, April 18, 2014

The Stars Shone Bright At Hispanicize 2014


Riding With Crafty Chica And Curves And Chaos


Hispanicize 2014 was filled with surprises, interesting people and turbo charged events. Here's a photo of me with Kathy Murillo Cano, otherwise known as CRAFTY CHICA. I was delighted when I boarded the open air bus that would take us to see Cesar Chavez and saw an empty seat next to her. Kathy's accomplished so much between her crafting books, novels, and branded products, that discovering she's as kind and gracious, as she is successful, is refreshing. Also, that's none other than Monique Frausto, the founder of Blogs by Latinas and Curves and Chaos photobombing us.

Here's Monique, again, on the right. Funny story about the lovely young lady sitting to her left. A lot happened on top of that bus, funny stuff. Sooooo, I thought the young woman was being silly when every few minutes she'd tap Kathy on the shoulder and say, "Mom, look ..." Knowing what I've shared about Crafty Chica's personality, I thought Kathy was being nice to another fan, when every few minutes she'd turn, smile and answer the young woman. Well, it turns out Kathy is her mom. Yeah. Open mouth. Insert foot.


I Saw Cesar Chavez. In Spanish.

 

It made me happy to learn that Cesar Chavez, the new film directed by Diego Luna, would be screened for us at Hispanicize. Before watching the movie, I had very little knowledge of  Chavez, the United Farm Workers Union, and the hunger strike that won migrant farm workers fair wages. Sadly, this chapter of American history was missing from my history books. I found the movie to be a good introduction to Chavez's greatest accomplishment.

Apparently, there was a mix up and the theater only had the Spanish version of the movie for the screening. We didn't find out until they were about to shut off the lights. For a second I panicked. Then I was, like, "Wait. I know Spanish. Vamos." After a few minutes the novelty wore off. To be honest, it felt no different to me than watching a movie in English. Though, I have to admit that it filled me with pride to watch it and understand everything. Awesome, really.

Now to do a little research of my own.

Friendly and Familiar Faces



Here are some peeps that brightened up breakfast the next day. Deldelp Medina (center) is a brainiac app developer and president of @Latino_Startups, Laura Aiello (right) is author of El Cofre de Mis Deseos, and the guy on the left with the big smile is Fernando Rodríguez of Moore Communications Group.

The Nueva Latina Monologues


Prior to attending Hispanicize, I'd not heard of The Nueva Latina Monologues and did not know what to expect when the actress shown above stepped out on stage. The performance took place during one of our lunches, and had they shown the entire show (that I hope to see!), I would've stayed glued to my chair.

The Nueva Latina Monologues is a series of skits written by Linda Nieves-Powell that dig deeply into the psyche of bicultural (ambicultural®) Latinas. The women acted out scenes that could've been taken from the home I grew up in. I have to admit that I got emotional. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a clip for the skit involving a girl whose two cultures, American and Latina, argue with each other over which of the two she should choose to be. It's a clever reenactment filled with humor and sadness.

Here's one of the skits ...




 

Living The Good Life


Miami was a lot of fun. It was also exhausting. Although I wasn't able to completely chill due to homework, the trip reminded me of all the wonderful experiences and good friends I've made because of this tiny blog. I have a lot to be grateful for and feel blessed to have the love and support of my family and friends, as I continue on my journey.

If you can believe it, my last day of class is Tuesday, May 6th. I'll be walking for my MEd June 1st. Here we go.

Taking deep breaths.

 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

ESPN Deportes' Carolina Guillén Opens Up About Her Career



Notice: This is not a sponsored post.


When I was presented recently with the opportunity to interview ESPN Deportes' Venezuelan-born sports journalist Carolina Guillén, the first thing I thought about were my students. I recognized that Carolina's extraordinary success as a sports journalist in a mainly male-dominated field could inspire my students to explore career paths outside of their comfort zone.

Carolina's provided some valuable insight and advice based on what's she's encountered on her journey. She's also shared what she plans to do after her daughter's birth (Yes, she's expecting!).

Thank you, Carolina!

Interview With ESPN Deportes' Carolina Guillén



Carolina, what did your parents, especially your father, say, when you told them you wanted to be a sports journalist?

My father was very concerned about my career choice due to the lack of women in that file. Plus, he wanted me to manage his business in Venezuela. However, 15 years later, he is extremely proud knowing he had nothing to worry about, as I have been able to grow and succeed in the sports journalism field with the "worldwide leader in sports!"


Can you share how your love of sports started, was there a trigger?

I come from a very sports-oriented family - so ever since I was young, I knew sports were going to be part of my future, as it has always been a big part of my life. Can you imagine the daughter of a Real Madrid fan not watching the matches?


What was the biggest obstacle or barrier you overcame to get your first shot at becoming a sports journalist?

Being the first female field reporter covering sports for TV was the biggest obstacle for me. Once I broke through into the field, everything got easier!


Can you talk a little about your mindset and how you broke through? Did you ever doubt yourself?

There were a good amount of skeptics, but I didn't pay attention to their criticism. Times were different back then, but my mindset was: focused on my job and do it well. I knew I needed to swim against the tide and overcome all the stereotypes.


What are your plans after your daughter is born? Will you continue to report for ESPN Deportes?

My family life is very much in tune with my professional career, so I don't foresee any slowing down. I will continue to work with ESPN Deportes till the very end, especially now with MLB season starting. I will take a short and sweet maternity leave period, and come back stronger than ever!


What advice would you give preteen girls who've come to hear you speak about how you became a successful sports journalist? What steps would you tell them to follow? What things would you tell them NOT to do?

The key is to respect the field, and the field will respect you. People can tell when a woman knows or doesn't know about sports. Always behave as a professional committed to your work and to the information you are providing to your audience. Image is a big part of this career, so don't jeopardize it - especially in arenas full of men.


Are there any books or resources you'd recommend they seek out to learn more?

There are a ton of materials and resources out there for every field - you just have to know where to look. Plus, when it comes to your career, you have to be passionate about it and keep yourself informed with the latest news to ensure you stay at the forefront of your industry. The sports industry is not the only competitive field out there.






Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MY BELOVED WORLD by Sonia Sotomayor

I picked up Sonia Sotomayor's memoir MY BELOVED WORLD expecting to find within its pages a measuredly guarded Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, because, really, how much would an active representative of our country's highest court be willing to disclose?  I'll tell you that her unexpected candor surprised and delighted me.

Sotomayor's Advocacy Skills Apparent Early


The reader gets a glimpse into the strong-minded woman she will mature into when at a tender age she is diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, a serious life-long illness. Rather than look to her parents for strength and support, she advocates for herself and assumes responsibility for monitoring her condition and insulin injections. She does this knowing that it will relieve tension between her parents in the home.

"Does it seem strange that a child should be so conscious of the workings of her own mind?"


I read about her family's dynamics: her somewhat strained relationship with her mother, conflicted relationship with her father, and authoritative relationship with her younger brother. She was in a sense, Puerto Rican in the home and with extended family members, as they came together as a family often to eat, sing and dance. She'd soon learn, however, at Princeton and Yale Law School that as she's part of a minuscule minority of students, who are mostly White, she learns that being Puerto Rican comes in varying degrees of authenticity. It's not until she becomes active within Latino groups at  both schools that she questions herself.

Reading Sotomayor's writing and following her logic as she addresses the challenges facing this country's English Language Learners (ELLs), the masses of college readiness resources and tools available to the "haves" and scarcity of the same for students who have access to little to nothing, gives me great hope to know that a person of her caliber represents the people. Her worldview is not one of privilege. She understands the challenges facing underserved youth and immigrants in this country.
Having said that, though, the lens through which she views social conditions serves as just that -- a lens -- that informs her decisions, not one that directs them.

"I would warn any minority student today against the temptations of self-segregation: take support and comfort from your own group as you can, but don't hide within it."

Four IMPORTANT Lessons From MY BELOVED WORLD


  1. Do not self-segregate in communities that remove themselves from the mainstream. Power is diluted by doing so.
  2. Punch the self-esteem monster in the face every time it tries to block you from going after what's in your heart and mind. It shocked me to learn that Sotomayor has questioned her intelligence and "belongingness" so many times in her career. Sotomayor. The first Latina Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Even she's plagued by mind monsters.
  3. "Bigotry is not a value."  
  4. View issues from all perspectives, not just the one you champion. Right is usually somewhere in the middle.

I have nothing but the greatest respect for writers who speak their truth. Sonia Sotomayor is an inspiration to young women everywhere. We might have all benefited from watching a little Perry Mason in our youth.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WHERE DID MOMMY'S SUPERPOWERS GO? by Jenifer Gershman

Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of the book to review. Opinions, as always, are my own.

WHERE DID MOMMY'S SUPERPOWER'S GO? by Jenifer Gershman

 

Helping Young Children Cope With Stress


To be effective, school guidance counselors need to be agile. It's imperative that we possess the requisite skills to address the spectrum of social and emotional needs diverse student populations experience. Students face all types of stressors that sometimes lead to depression, which in turn affect their being able to access the curriculum. The stressors are as varied as the students themselves and include peer pressure, poor self-esteem, adjustment issues, domestic violence, abuse, poverty, homelessness, crime, bereavement, or coping with a critically ill parent or loved one. When available, age-appropriate resources, such as books, are a blessing to the helping profession. I recently came across one such book.


This Author Writes From Personal Experience


Author Jenifer Gershman
Jenifer Gershman's WHERE DID MOMMY'S SUPERPOWERS GO? is a poignant story told from the perspective of a young boy whose mother undergoes treatment for a serious illness. The boy's sweet narrative voice and the book's beautiful illustrations guide child readers through his journey, as he watches his mom lose her "strength," copes with her absence as she undergoes treatment, and later notices how her appearance has changed when she returns home.

What makes this book special is that the author who wrote it writes from experience. WHERE DID MOMMY'S SUPERPOWERS GO? is the book she wishes had been available to her to read to her four-year-old son as she underwent high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplants for a rare blood disorder, that if left untreated, could've taken her life.

I'm grateful to have another tool to add to my school guidance counselor's toolbox. WHERE DID MOMMY'S SUPERPOWERS GO? is a book I would be comfortable reading with a young child because of the compassionate manner in which Gershman handles the technicalities of illness, sadness and a child's capacity to understand both.

To Learn More About The Author Or To Order A Copy: 

Author's Blog
Facebook Page
To Purchase

Jenifer and her son.

Monday, March 17, 2014

When There's No Other Way But By Plane


Whoever forgets their first trip on a plane? I remember mine. It was 1987, and while all my high school friends took our class' senior trip to Mazatlan, I flew across the country to the Big Apple. That was a long time ago. Still, I remember so many details of that flight. Like thinking that the twenty-something law student who sat next to me was "old." Or how annoyed I was to have to crane my neck to watch Some Kind of Wonderful on the cabin's movie screen.

A Fear of Flying


Over the years my discomfort fear of flying has waxed and waned. There was a point after I moved to Boston where for a period of three years I traveled all over the U.S. and other parts of the world. Flying became so routine and mundane, like washing dishes or folding laundry, that I eventually looked forward to those few hours of uninterrupted quiet in the sky. I could read, sleep, watch a movie or just stare out at the clouds.


Know The World


A lot has happened since that has changed how I view humanity. For starters, I'm more outwardly focused; I try to stay abreast of current events (social media helps a lot). And while I'm more informed, it's a constant battle to not become hyper vigilant. Living as though danger lurks around every corner is, well, no way to live. Yet, that's exactly how many in this country and abroad have to live, in order to survive.


Children Watching The News


As parents, our challenge lies in gauging how much of the morning news to allow our children to watch. What I can tell you is that we monitor our son's TV time. He watches. He asks questions. My husband and I answer as best we can. It's tough sometimes, knowing how much is enough. We want him to examine issues from all angles. We want him to be age-appropriately informed to walk in reality, but not be traumatized. We want him to know that there's more good than evil in this world. 

The problem lies in knowing that with knowledge comes its companion -- loss of innocence. 







Monday, March 10, 2014

THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY by Maria E. Andreu


ARC of The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu
Thanks to mí amiga Ruby, I had the chance to read an advance reader's copy of Maria E. Andreu's debut novel The Secret Side of Empty. All I knew before starting it was that the story revolved around an undocumented high school senior.

In many ways, M.T. is a typical teenage girl. She worries about school, is in love with a boy and enjoys spending time with her classmates. Yet, while her friends are applying to colleges and learning to drive, all M.T. can do is watch. Because of her parents' undocumented status and her having been brought into the U.S. as a small child, she has no Social Security Number, no birth certificate, none of the documentation needed to apply for a driver's license or for college. Because of her circumstances, she's forced to be a spectator. M.T.'s experience is not unique, except for the fact that she's able to hide her undocumented status because of her fair features.

"A little chunk of me will always be a stranger everywhere, different chunks of stranger in different situations."


As she nears graduation, M.T. finds herself in an increasingly desperate situation as her home life spins out of control. She's trapped at home and at school with little to look forward to in the only country she knows. With the threat of being deported to Argentina in her shadow, she becomes despondent and nearly gives up on life.

"For a split second I feel like I've forgotten my stuff, but then I realize I'm just an observer. Someone who can look but can't touch."


This novel is loosely based on the author's life and is one that will touch many readers for the simple fact that we may have watched friends, family members, or neighbors suffer in silence, or give up on their hopes and dreams altogether. I'm confident The Secret Side of Empty will soften the most hardened of hearts and give readers a glimpse into what it feels like to be the victim of circumstances.


Hop on over to GUB Life to read my friend Ruby's review!
Gracias Amiga and thank you Maria for the ARC.