When Your Child Asks “Is Trump nice?”

Today my four year old asked me if Trump was nice.  She has asked me this many times before.  In the past I have answered this question very carefully.  I have told her that Donald Trump is our president and he lives in Washington DC.  Sometimes that answer is sufficient, but sometimes she continues to dig for a more direct answer.

“So he is nice?!”, she will asks again with a big smile.  She wants him to be nice so badly. I tell her his job is to run our country and protect us.  She thinks that means he is nice.  One day she even drew a picture of him and slept with it.  No joke.

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She drew President Donald Trump and slept with it. I told her to use an orange crayon. I could not help it.

The truth is that I very much dislike our president.  I can’t believe our country voted for such a man, but I can’t tell her that. I can’t tell her that I believe he is ugly on the inside.  I can’t tell her that Donald Trump’s personality is, in fact, a constant reminder of the importance as a mother to teach my children empathy, love and respect. I can’t tell her that he said a Mexican American judge can’t do his job fairly because of his heritage, or that people that come from Mexico are rapist and drug dealers. I can’t.  She knows my parents come from Mexico. She knows her dad’s parents came from Colombia.  She does not know about hate.  She is indifferent to people’s color of skin or ethnicity.  She does not know that the Alt Right is just a modern name for KKK, who believe people like us are beneath them, and we are a threat to their race. She is only four years old.

But today as I watched the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump defend and excuse the “Alt Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, who marched with torches, chanting “Jews will not replace us”, “You will not replace us” and “blood and soil”, I was disgusted.  I could not believe what I was hearing. I could not believe what I was seeing.  How was this real? I was watching Trump’s speech on my phone, and my daughter asked me again, “Is Donald Trump nice?”  I thought about my answer.  I decided I had lied enough. I can’t have her think I was ok with this man’s words.  I can’t with a clean conscience call this man nice, even for the sake of my child’s innocence.  I need her to know where I stand. I want her to tell my grandchildren that I did not vote for that man, and I did not like that man.  For the first time ever I told her that I did not think President Trump is nice.  I told her that some people hate him, and some people like him. She asked me if her teacher likes him. Ugh, of course she has more questions! She will make a great reporter one day! I just hope someone like Trump is not around calling her fake news. I told her I did not know, but that many people in our town do like him, and so I don’t want her to talk about him with her friends.  I told her that I can’t explain to her why I don’t like him because she is too young.  I told her he will not be the president forever, and that one day she will be able to understand why people feel so strongly about him whether it is positive or negative. She was satisfied at last.

Are you honest with your kids about Trump? What is the right age to be honest about Donald Trump with kids?  How do they handle it with their peers? Please share.

 

 

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Being Mexican American surrounded by Trump Signs

Next week is our 2nd year anniversary living in Georgia.  I’ve had no regrets about the move. My blog is filled with words and photographs of my love for Georgia’s landscape and weather. From the very day we moved to Georgia we’ve felt welcomed and accepted.  I have to admit, before the move, I had little knowledge of The South. I was nervous about the cultural differences there might be, and if I would be accepted as a Hispanic or a northerner. I think our friends back in Chicago were nervous for us as well.  We often get asked by family and friends if he we have encountered any racism in our Atlanta suburb.  I explain to them the stereotype of The South being racist is not accurate, at least not in our town.  I had to explain to them that strangers would say hello to each other on the street, and I was invited to play dates by the second week of moving into town.  People were extremely polite and kind.

I had thought we found paradise.  I was excited for my children to say “yes ma’am” and enjoy a childhood where they would have the freedom to be outdoors year around.  If only I could stay living in that rose-colored world, but it is an election year, and my perfect suburb is not immune to the divide that the country is experiencing.

The contrast from living in a blue state to living in a red state is very visible now.  Being a Mexican American in a red state is an eye-opening experience. Mexicans were brought into the forefront of the political arena by Donald Trump during his presidential announcement speech when he said, When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

It was insulting to hear him call my parents and relatives that immigrated to the US rapist and criminals.  What is that you say? He said some are good people so that makes it ok. No. He said he “assumes” some are be good people. You see, to assume is to say you are guessing, you are really not sure.

My relatives are citizens now, thanks to Ronald Reagan’s Amnesty program, but I can’t deny our history.  I know they all came to work, and I know they are not drug dealers or rapists. I know most immigrants work in factories, agriculture, hotels, landscaping, housekeeping…not drug dealing. I know that although they may not become rich working in blue collar jobs, they are giving their children a better life than they lived. I know, I don’t assume.  Trump did not have to walk in my shoes to know this.  It is statistically accurate. It is for that reason that I dislike Donald Trump. I can never support his use of racism to fuel his campaign. Over and over again he paints Mexicans as the enemy, and to me his name is synonymous to a hate symbol.  To discuss securing the border or enforcing immigration laws is what civil people do, but to name call and create an inaccurate portrayal of people that look like me is dangerous and irresponsible.

Currently, Trump signs could be found on front lawns in my Atlanta suburb. Trump bumper stickers are on cars, and people wear”Make America Great Again” hats. At first it made my heart break every time I saw a Trump sign. For the first time since I had moved here I felt unwanted.  I felt that these people must all agree with Trump, who said he could not trust a Mexican American judge because of his Mexican heritage and Mexican billionaire is conspiring with Hillary and the New York Times to create a sex scandal against him.  When in trouble he finds a Mexican to blame. Seeing the vast Trump support in Georgia I wondered if we made a mistake in moving here. Don’t get me wrong, i have to say that there are many other people in my suburb that feel like I do about Trump. It just seems that by the look of the lawn Trump signs we are outnumbered.

If I lived in Chicago,  I would most definitely write these Trump supporters off as crazy.   It is so easy to think of people as crazy if you don’t know them.  Now they were my neigbhors and friends.  I could read their posts on Facebook, where they expressed their distrust in Hillary Clinton and their desire to protect their conservative values.  They are not voting for Trump. They are voting for the party. There are a few who truly do like Trump and insisted the media was to blame for my taking offense to Donald’s Trumps comments, as if it all his comments were not taped on video for all to replay, however, for the most part, as I heard Trump’s supporters reasons for supporting him I found out they care about taxes, the security of the country, gun laws, abortion laws, etc.  They did not like Trump for the racist things he said.  Those comments were just irrelevant to them.  It was something to accept or rationalize in order to protect something higher in their priority list. They don’t hate me, they hate Hillary. In fact they hate Hillary as much as I hate Trump.

Last week I was at my kid’s soccer game.  A man was wearing a Trump shirt.  I read his shirt and looked up and our eyes met. I looked away. I don’t know how that man feels about me, but I do know how the friends I’ve made feel about me.  They reach out to offer help if my kids are sick.  I see them tell their kids to stand up for other kids that get bullied. I see them do their best at parenting.  I no longer think we made a mistake in moving to this suburb of Atlanta.  I realize that it is important for me to be here.  Just like it would have been easy for me to call Trump supporters crazy if I lived in Chicago, it would be easy for Trump supporters to not care how Trump’s words effect me if they’ve never met anyone like me. I can’t defend some of the claims against Hillary and they can’t defend some of the claims agains Trump. We have limited choices. We are forced to make the best choice for our family.  I needed to write this and be at peace.  I needed it to make sense to me. No matter who you support politically being able to look at issues through someone else’s eyes can bring a feeling of peace and calm.  I am now glad for this opportunity. My political stance is unchanged, but at least now I can respect the opposing views, and I hope that by being in Georgia I’ve helped someone else respect mine.

 

Time is Now

My sister had a great idea for our mother’s birthday this year.  She suggested we get our mom tickets to see Juan Gabriel, one of the most legendary composers and singers in Mexico.  She thought it would be great to coordinate with our cousins so that our aunts could join her.  It was going to be amazing.  Growing up my mom would play his music as we cleaned the house on Saturday mornings.  I remember singing along with her.  I currently have a Juan Gabriel Pandora station on my phone for those days I might want to go back to my childhood, and sing to the top of my lungs.

Sadly, my sister called me today to inform me that Juan Gabriel passed away.  Selfishly, at first, I was very upset that my mom would now never be able to see him.  His concert was scheduled for this fall. We should have bought her tickets last year!  Once I got over the fact that my mother’s surprise was ruined, I thought about what a great loss Juan Gabriel’s death is to the Latin American world.  His death, I am sure, feels like a personal loss to so many.  He has been making hit songs since the 70’s with “Querida” and “No Tengo Dinero”.  Since then he has composed hundreds of songs. A wiki page claimed he wrote over 900 songs for 300 artists.  I am not sure if that is accurate, but finding exact numbers is not possible. I tried. I guess we can say he wrote countless amount of songs.  His songs were remade to different genres, including Spanish Rock, bachata, salsa, banda, etc. He recently collaborated to sing, some of his most popular songs, with young artists. The music videos made of those duets gives me the chills.  His lyrics are gold.  His songs are timeless.

It was the kid’s bath time at home, but I just wanted to sing so I turned on my Pandora Juan Gabriel station.  I bathed the kids with the music in the background.  I told the kids that Juan Gabriel was an amazing artists, and that I would listen to him when I was a child. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Ugh! Time is passing by.  My kids don’t know about Juan Gabriel. They barely understand Spanish at all.  My mom will never see Juan Gabriel.  Time all of a sudden seems so precious. My sister said she would now be on the look out for tickets to other Mexican legends that are aging like Vicente Fernandez, Marco Antonio Solis and Joan Sebastian.  I promised myself to start putting on music and singing while I cleaned the house, instead of putting a Frozen DVD for my youngest so that I could clean more efficiently.

As I listened to his music, I came upon “Abrazame Muy Fuerte” (Hug Me Tightly).  It is a very emotional love song about time.  It was a very fitting song for how his death was making me realize time is NOW.

Spanish lyrics:  “Abrázame que el tiempo es malo y muy cruel amigo, abrázame que el tiempo es oro si tú estás conmigo, Abrázame fuerte, muy fuerte, más fuerte que nunca”.

English translation: “Hug me, that time is a bad and cruel friend, Hug me, that time is gold if you are with me, Hug me tightly, very tightly, more tightly than ever.”

We don’t have time, especially with kids, parents and aging legends.

 

We lost a legend. We missed our opportunity to see him in person, but his music will be forever.  From now on I will give more than just my love and attention to my kids. I will share who I am, what I listen to, what I like.  They should know who I am besides mommy. How else will they know what concert tickets to buy me?

May Juan Gabriel rest in peace.  He will live forever in our hearts and through his music.

 

Juan Gabriel Duet with Juanes

 

Here is a mesmerizing Juan Gabriel Duet with Natalia Lafourcade “Ya No Vivo Por Vivir”

 

Mana singing Juan Gabriel song “Hasta Que Te Conoci”

 

Selena singing a Juan Gabriel song “Costumbres”

 

 

Kindergarten: Big Boy Status

It is the first week of August, and although we still have several months of warm weather in Atlanta, school starts next Monday!  THIS is a big deal because D starts kindergarten!  He is going to his next stage in life.  He is a big boy! There are so many changes. This summer he learned to swim, he started to lose his baby teeth and he even wears boxer briefs now! He is five years old, and apparently he is becoming a man!  I am excited. I am happy. I am a little scared.  Grade school will be a whole new world for both us. From what I have heard, kindergarten is like 1st grade now.  Kids learn to read and they have homework.  It means less fun and games and more expectations and responsibilities for both D and I. It was quite fitting that I just watched the Bad Moms movie as I start this new journey in motherhood. I loved the movie. I loved that it pointed out the impossible expectations we have of ourselves as mothers and the stresses of grade school.

From the time D was a baby there was high expectations. After taking a lactating class and reading a Dr. Sears book, I felt that if I did not breast feed my child I was a failure as a mother.  Now I am buying school supplies for Kindergarten and I feel as if it is the first test.  The school asked for 12 count pre sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, but I could only find 12 count unsharpened or 18 count sharpened. Was this my first test?! Why do they have to be sharpened? When I was growing up and the school list included pencils my mom could buy any pencils she wanted!

There are different expectations for our generation of moms and there are also different expectations for our kids.  D actually took a test BEFORE he got into Kindergarten.  The school privately evaluated him to find out if he knew how to identify letters and count to 20 among other things.  In 1985 my classmates and I did not know our alphabet in Kindergarten.  In fact I did not even know English! It was intimidating, but by the end of that year I knew English.  Learning a different language is not a small task, but I would have been extremely behind by today’s standards of Kindergarten!

Honestly,  I think my son will meet and exceeds his generation’s standards. He is smart and confident.  I know he will wake up and get dressed by 6:20 am, while I am still putting snooze on my alarm. He has always been a morning person, and finally that is a good thing.  He is so ready for this stage.  It is bittersweet for me, but motherhood is not about mom.  Motherhood is about loving someone with all your heart and teaching them to be without you. I am excited for this new stage.  I look forward to the many more new experiences to come.  I hope not to be swept away by the competiteness and stress that comes with grade school.  I will continue to try to keep it real: balance the old style with the new style; only do what feels right and don’t sweat the small stuff. I ended up buying the 18 count packages of pencils. It was not the right count, but it was the right brand and they were sharpened. I hope I past my first test!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catchy Phrases (Child Hypnotism)

In parenting some things need no translation, like the mom glare.  In English or Spanish (and I imagine any other language), the mom glare instantly tells a child that mom means business, and that they must start behaving or else!  It took awhile for me to master this look.  It was very hard for me to try to look mad and serious when a cute 11 month old was staring back at me smiling, but eventually parenting is more than just cuddles, diaper changes, feedings and raspberry kisses.

Eventually, I found my inner mom glare in addition to other disciplinary tactics.  My parenting strategy is a combination of ideas I picked up from my childhood, parenting books and teachers, but sometimes my ideas have come unexpected places like cartoons.  For example, my favorite, was saying “Swiper no swiping” when my kids would snatch things away from other kids (thank you Dora for the idea).  It was nice to have a specific phrase to repeat whenever my child took things from other kids.  Because it was short, specific and consistent it made sense to my child, but better yet, I was armed with a plan for that scenario.

A few months ago a friend’s child was crying because she wanted a different color cup.  My friend calmly told her daughter, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”.  It was a cute and catchy phrase, but I expected the child to continue crying like my children often did when they really wanted something, but instead the child instantly stopped crying.  Her mom’s explanation apparently made sense to her. You get what you get and you don’t get upset.  I liked it and I stole it! I tried it out that same evening when it was time give my kids their gummy bear vitamin. Usually, I would try to find their favorite color to avoid whining, but this time I purposely gave them the wrong color.  They cried as expected and I said “you get what you get and you don’t get upset”.  They stopped crying, paused and then ate their vitamin quietly. Wow!  Since then I use that phrase whenever fighting, crying and whining starts about who has the biggest piece of cake, and why can’t I give them a different color straw.  It works every time no matter the circumstances.

I was happy to have a new idea to file into my mommy game plan.  I was new to this American mommy parenting thing. I was parented in Spanish and there was little rhyming involved, but there is one Spanish poem I remember and often use with my children when they fall.  My mom would say this to me after a fall, and somehow it made it all better:”sana, sana, colita de rana, si no se sana hoy se sana mañana” (heal, heal, frog booty, if you don’t feel better today, you will feel better tomorrow).  Not only does this poem make the pain go away, but it puts a smile on your little one’s face.

I like to find patterns in life, and it is obvious that we just need phrases that are catchy or rhyme. It seriously, falls short of hypnotism! I am on to something! If there are more rhyming parenting lines I must know them all! Bwahahaha (evil laugh)! Last week I asked local moms to share the catchy or rhyming parenting phrases that they’ve heard or currently use.  I made a list of these phrases, and added a few that I made up. Thank you to the local mom Facebook page for sharing some of these!

Catchy Phrases (Child Hypnotism)

  • “Criss cross applesauce”
  • “Crisscross applesauce with hands on your laps and bubbles in your mouth.” (so they sit still, keeps hands to themselves and don’t interrupt)
  • “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”
  • “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.”
  • “Get a tissue for your issue.”
  • “It’s time to clean your pits, your sits and lady bits.”
  • “God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt.”
  • “Take a break before you make a lake.”
  • When your kid is whining ask “what do whiners get?” pause and answer “nothing, whiners get nothing”.  I LOVE this one. My kids understand they need to use a different tone when asking for something.

I made up a couple of my own:

  • “Take a nap or mommy is going to snap” (ok, maybe this is not a nice one)
  • “After eight it is too late” (when they ask for snacks after bedtime).

If you know of more phrases in English or Spanish please share in the comments!  

 

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I caught them red handed, but I took a photo and laughed. Sometimes it is best just to laugh at the moment.

 

 

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We are making it up as we go!
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This happens once a week at least. Sometimes moms and dad don’t know what we are saying, and our kids will gladly point it out.

 

Tostadas: A Happy Meal for Picky Families

I love making tostadas. They are easy to make and so delicious! They are perfect for big crowds or for families where everyone seems to have different preferences. Family members can decide how they want to make their tostada and everyone is happy! Yes, everyone happy and eating at dinner is possible! What a concept!  I have a son who is an extremely picky eater. It started at 14 months while he was recovering from Hand Foot and Mouth disease. My little boy, who previously would eat everything under the sun (fruits, veggies, sauces), started to drop all foods until he was only eating crunchy, dry foods like breads, crackers and cereals.  After an evaluation when he was 2 years old we were told that his picky eating was due to sensory issues. Now he is 4 and a half and we have come a long way. A method called “food chaining” started us off on a path to expanding the foods he would eat, but when that was not enough my husband had to be extra persistent and stern with him.  It was a constant daily battle. Some say it is best not to battle with kids about food, but when your son is to the point that he is only drinking liquids one will do whatever it takes! For so long we played by the rules given to us by pediatrician and occupational therapist, just ignore it and he will eat when he is hungry, but our boy went months without dinner and did not care. Thank God we are in a different place now.

Tostadas are one of the foods my son never had a problem eating. The trick was getting him to put something on top.  For a long time the only foods he would allow to touch are peanut butter and toast. One day in hopes of teaching my son about his Mexican heritage and perhaps getting him to eat something different I prepared all of the tostada ingredients and displayed them on top of the counter. I showed him the tostada and explained to him all the things that could go on a tostada: beans, meat, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, avacado, salsa and lime. I asked him what he would like on his tostada. He replied “peanut butter”. I am serious my gringo boy said that! Ugh! Not only did I suck at getting my kid to eat, but my son’s lack of Latino culture awareness was never more obvious then in that moment. I impatiently told him that tostadas don’t have peanut butter and to please choose something from the counter to put on his tostada! He chose cheese. I asked him to choose two items at least.  He chose cheese and ground beef! Yay! Since that day tostadas have become one of my family’s favorite dinner meals. I hope this simple recipe brings your family peace and happiness during dinner time as it has mine!

Ground Beef Tostadas: Makes about 10 tostadas which serves 4.

Tostada Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef (you can substitute for ground turkey too)

1/2 tsp of each: pepper, salt, cumin and garlic powder (fresh garlic or dried minced is ok). *This combination of seasoning will bring authentic Mexican flavor to any meat.

1 can pinto beans

2 tbsp oil

2 cups of icburg lettuce thinly sliced

Bag of tostadas

3/4 cup Sour Cream

1 tbsp milk

10 oz of Queso fresco or mozzarella (they are totally different cheeses but my kids won’t eat Mexican cheese)

Store bought salsa or homade pico de gallo salsa. Recipe is below

Pico de gallo salsa:

1 cup diced tomato

1/2 cup diced onion

1/4 cup diced jalapeno (I used pickled jalapeno)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 or 2 limes.

Salt

  1. Tostadas need a salsa on top. You can use a store brought salsa or you can make a pico de gallo salsa from scratch. It is the most basic of all Mexican salsas in my opinion. Dice all the veggies and mix. Add chopped cilantro, juice of limes and salt. Stir and let flavors mingle.

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2) Next, mix cumin, salt, pepper and garlic. Place ground beef in a pan with medium heat. Add the seasoning to meat. Stir to evenly coat meat and crumble the beef. Cook until meat is no longer pink and is cooked through. If your beef is still chunky you can use a potato masher to break the pieces.

Mexican Seasoning= Cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Use this and don't ever buy Mexican seasoning packets again.
Mexican Seasoning= Cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Use this and don’t ever buy Mexican seasoning packets again.

3) In a sauce pan warm oil in medium heat. When oil is hot add can of pinto beans. Once they boil mash with a potato masher.

Mash the beans with potato masher
Mash the beans with potato masher

4) Wash and thinly slice lettuce.

5) Pour 3/4 cup of sour cream into a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and a pinch of salt. Mix with a fork. Now you have silky Mexican style sour cream with the perfect texture for drizzling. My mom taught me this 🙂

6) Crumble cheese if you are using the Mexican Queso Fresco

7) Display everything on your counter and tell each family member they must choose at least two items (on the counter) that they would like on their tostada. Sprinkle each item on the tostada. Make sure to only use about 2 tablespoons of each ingredients so that your tostada does not end up being too heavy and break. This is a pet peeve of my husband. He also hates that the tostada is too wide and hurts the edges of his mouth, lol. I buy smaller tostadas now and he is happy (sigh).

Tostada toppings: Refried beans, ground beef, lettuce, cheese, sour cream and salsa
Tostada toppings: Refried beans, ground beef, lettuce, cheese, sour cream and salsa
The tostada on the left belongs to my daughter (she used 4 toppings), the tostada to the right is my son's (he used 2 toppings)
The tostada on the left belongs to my daughter (she used 4 toppings), the tostada to the right is my son’s (he used 2 toppings)
They are sooo excited to start building their tostadas!
They are sooo excited to start building their tostadas!
This is my tostadas. I used ALL toppings!
These are my tostadas. I used ALL toppings!