Sunday, September 30, 2012

MommyMaestra's Fall Bucket List {PRINTABLE}

Fall has officially arrived here in our neck of the woods. And although I love the changes in the trees, the arrival of our songbirds, and the cooler temperatures, I'm certainly not ready for winter's cold breath. Pero, sometimes you just have to make the best of things, no?

So to inspire us and get mi familia into the rhythm of the season, I created our own fall bucket list of things I love about fall. It's not bilingual, but I thought I would share it with you all anyway, just in case someone would like to borrow ours or needs a little inspiration to make their own.

Are you excited about the changing of the seasons?

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Kid's Guide to Latino History {GIVEAWAY}

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, IPG has graciously offered two copies of my favorite Hispanic heritage learning book, A Kid's Guide to Latino History: More than 50 Activities as a giveaway for MommyMaestra readers.

This books is the ULTIMATE teaching guide filled with great information, activities, recipes, and more. You can read my review of this book here.

I think every Latino home should own a copy of this book, so I'm thrilled I'm able to offer a copy to TWO MommyMaestra readers. Even if your children are not old enough yet - get it! (They're only going to get bigger, no?) Teachers, this is an excellent resource for your classroom with some great activities you can do to supplement your lessons.

To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Sunday, September 30th. The winners will be chosen using and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If I have no way to contact you, I'll have to choose someone else!)

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1) Share with me your family's heritage. (Mine is Mexican and Spanish.)

2) Follow the MommyMaestra FB page.

3) Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: Win a copy of A Kid's Guide to Latino History from @LatinMami #giveaway

Don't forget to let me know by posting a separate comment for each entry!

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!

Disclosure: I contacted IPG and asked them if they would consider offering a few copies as a giveaway. I was not compensated for this post, and the opinions expressed here and in my review are completely my own.

This giveaway is now closed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Studying Nicaraguan Traditions in Your Homeschool

Hispanic Heritage Month continues here on MommyMaestra! Some fantastic Latina moms are sharing their experiences with passing their culture on to their children. Today's post is written by Tiany Davis of The Homeschool Lounge.

When I think of my family, our Nicaraguan traditions, our culture and the many things that unite us, I'm filled with such gratitude. I'm grateful for the language, the music, our celebrations, our food and FAMILIA! We have a Nicaraguan family reunion coming up and the excitement of tios, tias, primos, primas, nietos y nietas coming together again after being apart for over a decade is overwhelming! We have such a gift to hand down to our children! My mother was born and raised in Nicaragua, and moved to the US in 1972. Nicaragua, known as “The Country of Lakes and Volcanoes”, is a beautiful and fragile country in the middle of Central America.

Central America forms a bridge between North and South America. It's a treasure-trove of biodiversity, lush tropical rainforests, volcanoes, mountains and beaches. Though similar, this family of countries in Central America each have their own unique culture, traditions, clothes and food! There are many traditional Nicaraguan dishes, some of the more popular dishes include Vigoron, Gallo Pinto & Nacatamales

Nicaraguan Foog Vigoron, Gallo Pinto & Nacatamal

Gallo Pinto: most people in Nicaragua eat this almost daily and it is considered a national symbol. It is composed of a mixture of fried rice with onion and red beans boiled with garlic. They are mixed and fried together over a small amount of oil.

Nacatamal: similar to a tamal, yet unlike the tamales typical of other countries in Latin America, the nacatamal is unique to Nicaragua. The nacatamal is perhaps the largest production within the Nicaraguan kitchen, stuffed with pork, potato, onion, rice, and veggies then wrapped in plantain leaves and steam cooked. Nactamales are often served for Sunday meals and special occasions.

Vigorón: a plate is covered with a part of a plantain tree leaf, topped with yucca, chicharrón and a salad made out of cabbage and tomato. Mouth watering!!

Traditional dress, Nicaragüense perform at the Festival Latino in Baton Rouge

Nicaragua’s music and dances represent the deep cultural roots of the country. Traditional dances are used to share Nicaragua's culture. Dances include Nicaraguan Folklore and “El Gueguense”, a satirical drama that combines theater, dance, and music. Nicaraguan Americans Christianne Meneses Jacobs, is the publisher of IGUANA, an entirely Spanish-language magazine geared towards kids aged 7 to 12. IGUANA, is the only magazine in the US entirely in Spanish. One of the more famous Nicaraguan - American families, is the Lopez family! They're the first family of TaeKownDo, representing the US at the past 3 Olympic games. Did you know that Christopher Columbus landed in Nicaragua in 1502, during his fourth and last voyage of exploration to the Americas? He did!

Even though most of the population is considered "poor", Nicaraguans lead a life deeply rooted in tradition, live life fully, joyfully and celebrate their Hispanic heritage with pride!

Coloring Pages / Printables 
The Homeland of the Maya for Children 
Rainforest lesson plans & teacher resources 
Interactive Map Central / South America Game
Lesson Plan - History of Nicaragua – Pre-colonial.
Learn about and meet the people of Nicaragua. Grades 4-8 


Tiany is Nicaraguan, Salvadoran and German. She wears many hats and juggles many jobs as a wife, homeschool mom to four boys, mom-preneur and social media engager. She is the owner of The Homeschool Lounge, a community exclusiely for homeschool moms and she blogs at Social Savvy Mom. You can find her on Twitter @SocialSavvyMom.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teaching My Children Their Hispanic Heritage through Empanadas

This article is part of our Hispanic Heritage Month series featuring stories from Latina moms who have agreed to share their thoughts on raising children and what their heritage means to them. Today's post is by Nadia Jones, publisher of

Teaching My Children Their Hispanic Heritage through Empanadas

I am fortunate to have a mother that saw the importance of passing on traditions from my Mexican and Haitian backgrounds. One of the ways that she did this was through food and cooking. When my mom married my father, Haitian born and raised, she learned from my dad’s sisters how to cook and speak French and Haitian Creole "better than most Haitian women," as my dad likes to say. By the time I was 12, my mom was at work with me teaching me about the different spices and dishes from both sides of my family.

Eating and learning about the different spices and ingredients that go into these dishes is just one of the many ways that I plan to teach my children about their Latino heritage. I cook food that I grew up on and also expose my three children to dishes from other Latin cultures as well. Teaching my children about the variations found from one Latin region to the next is a great lesson on culture and geography.

Recently, I used my love for empanadas as an opportunity to introduce my children to the level of diversity found in the delicious little pies filled with all kinds of goodness. I knew that empanadas varied from country to country but I had never really taken the time to learn about the differences. So I decided to educate myself and my children at the same time.

I did some research and found a small Latin bakery known to carry empanadas from several different countries including Chile, Argentina, Venezuela and others. I also did some research on the traditional style served from some of the different countries in which empanadas are most often served. I shared what I learned with my children and with excitement we learned that in some regions like Peru, the empanadas are made with dough-like bread, while in others, Argentina for example, they are more commonly made with a flakey crust that is usually deep fried and filled with seasoned meat. We talked about all the different fillings and which empanada everyone wanted to try.

When we arrived to the bakery the kids were so excited. We ordered 10 different empanadas to split between the five us and then of course, shared and compared. We each had a different favorite. My ten year-old liked the spinach and cheese empanada from Chile and my daughter loved the cheese filled deep fried empanada from Argentina. We ended up ordering a few to go for later and I was so happy to hear my daughter say she wanted one in her lunch the next day.

Our empanada excursion turned out to be a great success. Not only do my children have a deeper understanding and appreciation for a dish that varies from region to region, but, they also learned another tidbit from their Latino heritage.

What are some of the ways that you introduce your children to their heritage through food?


Nadia, a.k.a., Justice Jonesie, is a mom to three, lawyer, blogger at, founder of Niche Mommy Network & Conference & co-founder of Blogalicious Weekend.  She enjoys blogging about work-life balance, fitness, and her journey through motherhood. When she is not working or chasing after her kids, you may find her training for a half-marathon or enjoying a chic night out on the town with her hubby. Find her on Twitter @justicejonesie

Monday, September 24, 2012

Being Latina, for My Children, For Our Heritage

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, a number of my fellow Latina bloggers have agreed to share their thoughts on raising children and what their heritage means to them. First up is my friend Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel (formerly NYCityMama). Please welcome her warmly as you always do...

Being Latina, for My Children, For Our Heritage
By Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel

Celebrating my Latino culture and identifying the things that make it so only became really important to me when I had children.

Granted, I have always loved the food of my abuelita and learned the language fluently when immersed in the culture upon moving to the Dominican Republic at the age of 9. I also made it a point to learn to dance merengue and salsa (because it became a competition over who could and who couldn’t at parties) and bachata (because it was the forbidden dance when I was in high school).

I picked up a few things here and there, slangs and information about things that you would only know when in it. But, I never really considered it all that special.

Until I had kids. Then so many details of my childhood came to surface, details that I loved and formed who I am today.

Things like how it made me feel when my mother would lovingly ask me "¿De quién tu eres?" (Who’s are you?) to which I would respond "De mami" (Yours) to which she would again ask, "¿Todita-todita?" (All of you?) and I would excitedly respond "¡Sí!" (Yes!); or how my abuelita’s house used to smell during the holidays from the days upon days of seasoning and cooking for the feasts; or how us kids would kill each other over her pastelitos; or how the adults would always reprimand us in Spanish to really send the message that things were serious.

So many things I wanted to pass along to my kids that brought out the Latina in me with pride and a stronger sense of awareness than ever before.

I think this tendency to want to be what our cultural heritage represents, for our children especially, is something we American Latinos experience more than any other. If our growing up was heavily influenced by the US, as kids we followed along – some of us even rejecting our ancestors’ customs and culture.

But when we have kids we finally realize how important it is for us to not let those cultural nuances die with the older generations. We want our children to have a taste of what growing up Latino, even as an American-born child, meant to us.

No one else will pass on those details, that history, those recipes, those sayings, that knowledge, those traditions to our children – no one else will be able to in the way that we can. This realization smacks us in the face when we have kids. The sense of urgency suddenly transforming itself into who we are as a parent and as a person.

And so now, as the American holiday of Thanksgiving approaches, my three boys anxiously talk about it because they know it means I will be in the kitchen all day making pernil and arroz con guandules. Like my siblings and cousins before them, they will fight over the pastelitos.

When I ask them "¿De quién tu eres?" they respond right on cue "De mami". When I call them out by their full names (Irish first name, followed by their Spanish middle named, followed by all of their last names – including mine), they know they are in trouble. I am, in many ways, the typical Latina mother…it is what they will grow to know.

They eat rice more times a week than any other kid on the block, and they can dance a mean merengue. They know they are special and do things a little different, maybe even a little louder than other kids in part because they are Latino. And though they are Irish too, and we work on educating them about that heritage too – let’s face it, we have better food, so you know who they are going to want to learn from the most!

Whether it be through my cooking or through our language or through travels where I can expose them further to our culture, I can’t think of a greater gift to pass on to my children than the beautiful heritage of my people. And maybe, one day, when they tuck their own babies to bed they will ask them "¿De quién tu eres?" too and in those words, just as it was for me, the love of all the Latina mothers before them will be passed along to live in their hearts and in who they represent forever.


Carol Cain is Dominican/PuertoRican from Brooklyn, NY, and mother of three boys. She's a freelance writer and a travel and food blogger at Girl Gone Travel. You can follow her on Twitter at @CarolACain.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Using Lifeables to Save Memorable Moments

As a homeschooling mom, I rely heavily on photos and other recordable moments to keep track of my children's progress, as well as to provide our family with memorable moments. I've talked before about how each year I create a "yearbook" for my kids so that they have something to share with their family and homeschool friends, as well as a keepsake of their yearly accomplishments. I think it is important for kids to see a record of their work and the fun they've had in school.

In the past, I've labored through the process of sorting through pictures and uploading them individually to an online software program that lets me resort them and arrange them in an album. But now, there is a new site that is helping me streamline the process.

Lifeables is a new company that is the first service that automates the entire process of capturing, sorting through, organizing, and displaying your family stories. I connected it to my personal FB page and it went through and found photos and status updates related to my kids, then organized them in chronological order in an online album. I have the option of sharing this album with specific people (family) IF I want to. I'm very particular about my kids' privacy, so I like that what I create online is kept secure and no one can see it unless I invite them to do so.

In addition, the company is in the process of creating a shop that will allow you to create personalized gifts, including albums, posters, and even coloring books from your own pictures just to name a few. I think by the end of this school year, I'll play with creating an album/year book for the kids using Lifeables.

You know what I like best? I was able to register for an account for FREE. And so can you.

Disclosure: This post was compensated and in collaboration with Lifeables and Latina Bloggers Connect. All thoughts and opinions, though, are purely mine.

A FOOD Coloring Book from MamaYala {PRINTABLE}

Last week I shared the MamaYala project with you. I'm pretty excited about it as I think the creator, Sara Ponce, has a fantastic idea and her products would be great teaching materials.

We have five (5!) days left to help Sara make MamaYala a reality. And to show her appreciation to those of you who have already pre-ordered cards and such, she has kindly offered 10 food-themed pages from her coloring book as a free download to MommyMaestra readers. These include the mango, ulupica, yuca, empanada, aguacate, quenepa, níspero, jalapeño, hallaca, and flan! To be honest, I had never even heard of some of these, so I'm looking forward to learning about them with my children.

To make it easy on you, I've put these all together so you can just download the lot one time and have it in one file for easy access. I think they would make a great supplement for lesson plans revolving around food from Latin America.

Thanks again to Sara for sharing these, and if you like what you see, won't you please consider helping her out? Pledging even one dollar helps her get one step closer to her goal. And she has some excellent gifts lined up according to how much you pre-order. Don't forget that you will not be charged unless she meets her goal!

Let's show publishers how badly bilingual and bicultural education materials are wanted and needed.

Con much cariño...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Los sonidos de Pepe Pato {PRINTABLE}

I am so happy to share with you a new Spanish reading resource for beginning readers. Doodles and Kreations is the creation of two PreK bilingual teachers, Kim Jungman Fails and Debby Patterson. Together they have over 30 years of experience teaching Spanish-speaking children who come to school not speaking English.

Based on their experiences, Kim and Debby are putting together fun and clever materials to teach beginning sounds to Spanish speaking little ones. The students learn the sounds, then Kim and Debby offer activities that teach them to put the sounds together to start reading.

So many of you are always asking me about resources for teaching children to read in Spanish. Do you remember the bilingual alphabet and number booklets in Spanish from DJ Inkers that I featured last year? Well, Kim is the one who designed them.

You can find all of Kim and Debby's Spanish-language education materials in their TeachersPayTeachers Store, and even download a free copy of their insanely cute Spanish alphabet charts so you can get an idea of the quality of their products.

I would also encourage you to visit their blog, which is devoted to teaching beginning sounds in Spanish. There they share some really creative activities and printables that you can download or purchase.

But the most exciting thing to me is that the two of them are working on a whole system for teaching beginning sounds. Their mascot is Pepe Pato, an adorable little duck who makes sounds. Over the last year or so, Kim and Debby have worked to create the program Los Sonidos de Pepe Pato.

And in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, they have put together a sample packet with a little bit of all their Pepe Pato activities - just for MommyMaestra readers.

Click here to download your copy.

Please note that this is a big file, even though it is only 16 pages, so you need a good connection.

And if you do, please take a moment to leave a comment below for Kim & Debby.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Child Passenger Safety Week

This week is Child Passenger Safety Week. I've written about the importance of children's car seats before, so I'm not going to give you the numbers again. But now that our kids are back in school, I do want to gently remind parents to take the time to double check your child's car seats to make sure that they are properly installed.

addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has put together some free information sheets in English and Spanish to help parents determine which car seats are the right ones for their kids. (Feel free to download your copy.) And you can also call this toll-free hotline, 1-888-PROTEGIDOS, to get advice on choosing and correctly using the right car seat.

NHTSA also offer several resources in Spanish to help you keep your children safe in the car. These resources include:

Tips for safely installing car and booster seats.

A car seat inspection station locator that includes the option of searching for Spanish-speaking technicians.

Instructional videos for installing several types of car seats and booster seats.

• An ease-of-use rating system for car seats and booster seats.

Rosita y Conchita Book and DOLL!

YES! I'm happy to say that my first Rosita y Conchita shipment of the year has arrived! Some of you already know since I started getting order requests a month ago. These books sell fast - I placed three big orders last year and still sold out - so if you are interested in purchasing your own copy, click here.

Have you already purchased your copy? Then maybe you'll be interested in my little surprise for this year: the new Rosita doll!

She is so freaking adorable I just can't stand it! Rosita is a cloth doll, about 10 inches long with embroidered facial features and black yarn hair. Absolutely preciosa!! She is the perfect companion to the book.

So if you'd like to purchase the book, the doll, or save some $$ and buy the set, go here and place your order.  SOLD OUT!

Available only while supplies last!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tech Tuesdays: Noyo Spanish App {GIVEAWAY}

If you are a Spanish teacher or a parent teaching your child Spanish at home, consider purchasing a copy of the Noyo Spanish app. We have the iPad version and love it. The app is a supplemental vocabulary builder which helps your child to build his Spanish vocabulary in a fun and engaging manner. It is especially beneficial for those of you with more visual learners.

With nearly 200 scenes and over 1800 vocabulary words, this app is a valuable resource. The words are divided into 8 theme-based units: Los viajes, la comida, los deportes, la ciudad, la casa, los animales, las estaciones, and la escuela. Each unit features a set of interactive slides that depict colorful, child-friendly (and often humorous!) scenes. My kids oftentimes learn best through their own inquiry or examination. To discover the vocabulary in this app, my kids just investigate the picture on their own, touching various elements and then reading the pop-up text while listening to the voice over word or phrase. If they have a question, they ask me and I try to describe it without giving them the answer. I especially love that the voice overs are done by native speakers, so children easily learn the correct pronunciation the first time.

Once your child or student has completed the set of slides, she is presented with a set of assessment questions. Each question is multiple choice and is accompanied by an image from one of the slides. For example, in las estaciones, there is a picture of a person ice skating on a frozen pond and the question asks the student to describe the weather. The options are:

A. Hace frío.
B. Hace calor.
C. Hay trueno.
D. Es el invierno.

The app I have shows both the English and the Spanish words, with the questions in English. However, Noyo also has a Spanish immersion version with all the vocabulary and questions in Spanish, which I think would work well not just with language learners, but also with bilingual or Spanish-speaking children who are ready to expand their vocabulary.


The creators of the Noyo app have graciously offered a free download of their Noyo Spanish Immersion App to one MommyMaestra reader in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. This app regularly retails for $7.99.
To enter, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Tuesday, September 25th. The winner will be chosen using and contacted via email - so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If I have no way to contact you, I'll have to choose someone else!)

And to increase your chances of winning, you can:

1) Follow Noyo on Facebook.

2) Follow MommyMaestra on Facebook.

3) Follow MommyMaestra on Twitter (@LatinMami).

Don't forget to let me know by posting a separate comment for each entry!

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. This contest is open to all MommyMaestra readers worldwide.

No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!

Disclosure: I received a copy of the Noyo app for the purposes of this review. All opinions are strictly my own.

This giveaway is now closed.

Monday, September 17, 2012

MommyMaestra's Hispanic Heritage History Quiz! {GIVEAWAY}

Okay, mi gente. It is that time of year again! Time for MommyMaestra's annual Hispanic Heritage History Quiz! How many of you are Latin history buffs?

The last two years, I've given away a set of BrainQuest's Hispanic America. So it's sort of una tradición around here.


And once again, one MommyMaestra reader will win a set of BrainQuest's Hispanic America trivia cards. To enter, all you have to do is correctly answer 6 of the 12 (yes, I went up!) Brain Quest questions listed at the end of this post. I tried to pick ones that were a mix of easy and hard...(Mwuah-ha-ha!) AND ones that weren't part of last year's giveaway (Chihuahua, it's getting harder to do that!).

• For an additional entry, follow MommyMaestra on Facebook. Be sure to leave a separate comment letting me know that you did!

• Like last year, anyone able to answer all 12 questions earns the title "Supreme Trivia Master."

The deadline to enter is September 30th, at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be chosen using and be notified via email. (Please be sure to provide a valid email address with your entry or some other way to contact you or your entry will be invalid.) The winner must have a valid United States mailing address.

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.
¡Buena suerte!

And now for the questions:
1) Where would a Latina be at home wearing a pollera and dancing the tamborito?

2) If you wanted to have a rest, would you have a fiesta or a siesta? (Everyone better get this right!)

3) What is the oldest surviving European city in all the Americas?

4) Which country's capital city is Managua?

5) Which is the Spanish word for "infinity:" infinidad or infinito?

6) The word sierra can be found on maps of Mexico and the U.S. What does it mean?

7) En español, a student is an estudiante. What is a teacher? (I will be highly offended if any of you miss this one.)

8) Which South American river is the world's second longest river?

9)  What does the title of the song "Guantanamera" mean?

10) What Latin pop singer had her first English-language album, Laundry Service, go triple platinum?

11)  What Arizona-born Hispanic singer's first big American hit was "You're No Good" in 1974?

12) What Spanish American actor played the President of the United States on TV's The West Wing?

Bonus: During America’s war for independence from England, which side did Bernardo de Gálvez fight for?

This giveaway is now closed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Resources for Celebrating Mexico's Independence Day

¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva!

We've got a whole week coming up dedicated just to Mexico, so I'm going to just focus on a few of the great resources for learning about Mexico's Independence Day (Yes! It's today! No! It's not cinco de mayo! But you already knew that, no?) To learn more about Mexico or other Latin American countries, be sure to check out my Lesson Plans and Activities for Hispanic Heritage Month.

First off, you can find most of these and more on my Pinterest board, Mexico Independence. But my favorite items include...

Websites for learning about Mexico's Independence Day

  • This free ebook of El Grito, written as a song, from There's not really a lot of stuff out there for kids about El Grito, so enjoy!

  • BrainPopJr. has a free page dedicated to Mexico. It includes a nice little write up about the country, just hitting a few of the highlights, a game, a joke, vocabulary, drawing and writing activities, etc. The best part may be the great animated video in English introducing Mexico.




Here are some child-friendly videos in English to watch with your students.


Other Posts You May Enjoy

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hispanic Heritage Month on MommyMaestra

Today kicks off a whole month of celebration here at MommyMaestra. Nothing makes us break out our art supplies and dig through books like Hispanic Heritage Month. I'm excited about the coming weeks and the great resources and giveaways I have to share with you - some new, some not, but all equally fun and informative.

To start off, I want to list for you all of the great resources we already have here on the site. I know you will find lots of crafts, lesson plans, books, and activities to satisfy your learning quest of Latin America.

So here we go...

Most importantly, don't miss my page with Lesson Plans and Activities for Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. It is a good starting point with lessons you can do at home or in the classroom.

This page goes well with Mommy Maestra Resources for Hispanic Heritage Month, which just gives you a more thorough explanation of the month and a few additional resources, like a beginner's list of Inspiring Latinos You Should Know.

And don't forget to watch this fun video on Celebrating Hispanic Heritage With Stamps.

Most recently, we've added a new board on Pinterest dedicated to Hispanic Heritage Crafts, and another on Mexico's Independence Day, which takes place tomorrow.

Remember, when you open an article here on MM, always double check the list of suggested articles at the bottom of it for other fun ideas.

Friday, September 14, 2012

McDonald's Listens to Moms with Nutrition Changes

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about nutrition and how it affects academic performance. I shared some great breakfast recipe links and ideas, as well as healthy snack options.

Of course, making my kids a homemade meal is at the top of my list (and my mother's, too, judging by nagging repetitive phone and email conversations). But I'll tell you the same thing I tell her: The reality is that I simply cannot fix every single meal for them. Some moms do. I am in total awe of them. But quite frankly, I'm not the world's best cook. And for me, time is a big issue. I want fast and easy and nutritious. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it isn't. Most of the time, I don't really find cooking enjoyable, but rather simply another task I have to do to make it through the day. (This is really ironic because my daughter and I love to experiment in the kitchen, or sit and watch cooking shows. What's the deal?) I really need a good meal planning service. But that's another post.

Anyway, as I was saying, sometimes I need a break, or sometimes we are on the run from one thing to another, or simply want to get together with friends. We live in a rural area with very few restaurant options. In fact, I can count them all on one hand. And - yep! - McDonald's is one of them.

Now 10 - or maybe even 5 - years ago, I would probably have had reservations about letting my kids eat there on a regular basis. But today I don't really blink because there are far more healthy choices available on their menu than there has been in the past. We frequently stop to pick up a strawberry-banana real-fruit smoothie or fruit and yogurt parfait during the summer. (Note: We are smoothie aficionados.) And as far as my daughter is concerned, nothing beats their grilled chicken snack wraps. That's pretty much my standard fare, too, though I like the salads. 

This week, I had the chance to attend a McDonald's event where they announced new changes that are coming to their restaurants.

Are you a mom? Apparently last year, they conducted a number of Listening Tours across the nation. Did you attend one of these? And according to their President, Jan Fields, they got three things out of those events:

1 - Moms wanted McD's to make it easier to find nutritional information about the menu items at the restaurants.

2 - They also wanted more balanced-diet options available not just for their kids, but for adults, too.

3 - They wanted more variety in the menu items.

So in response, McDonald's will be adding calorie counts to all their menu boards starting next week. They've also created a free nutrition app for mobile phones (it is very visual so even Spanish-speakers should find it easy to use), and are launching a new elearning program to educate their employees using the USDA's dietary guidelines... so that when you ask your server a nutrition question, they might be able to actually answer it. :)
In their efforts to provide healthier menu items, they've also begun to expand and are working towards offering choices from all of the food groups. this really McDonald's? Yes! Here are a few changes they've already made, that were especially important to me as a mom:

• They have reduced the amount of sodium in 70% of their burgers, and 100% of their chicken!

• They no longer offer whole milk. All of their milk is fat-free - including the chocolate milk.

• Their salads offer 2 -3 cups of veggies.

• Their real-fruit smoothies serve 1/2 cup of fruit.

• Are committed to offering more seasonal produce, as they did with their fresh blueberry banana nut oatmeal this year.

By 2020, their goal is to reduce the amount of sugar and saturated fats on their menu (but don't worry, their famous burgers and fries will still be available).

I had the pleasure of talking with Sylvia Meléndez Klinger, a nutritionist working with McDonald's. She was just the loveliest and most informative person to talk with and I'm looking forward to sharing more of what she said with you soon.

But for now, if you're wondering what's coming to the menu next year, then lick your lips because they are adding blueberry pomegranate smoothies, egg-white breakfast sandwiches on a whole grain muffin (8g of whole grain & 0% fat!), and the McWraps full of fresh veggies that have proven to be really popular in Europe. 

Now, if we can just get them to add some grilled McNuggets or a Snack Wrap to the Happy Meals...

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, but I was invited, and did attend, their live announcement event.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

MamaYala World Cultures Project


A week or two ago, I was contacted by Sara Ponce who shared her beautiful project with me. Sara is trying to find funding for her education materials, the first series being focused on Latin America and Spain. I simply love not only the idea, but her illustrations, too. Since I have not seen the cards myself (yet!), I asked Sara to share a bit about her project.

And she shared her video, which tells her story best...

Sara also says-

MamaYala™ World Cultures presents the cultures of the world project. Our beautiful and colorful card sets include illustrations of artifacts, foods, flora, fauna, and instruments. The first card series is based on the Latin American and Spanish cultures.

MamaYala™ World Cultures le presenta las culturas del mundo. Nuestra bella y colorida colección de tarjetas contiene ilustraciones originales de artefactos, comidas, flora, fauna e instrumentos musicales. La primera serie está basada en la cultura española y latino americana.

I'm excited to support Sara in her venture. I love the whole idea and the creativity she possesses. Just take a look at these beautifully illustrated cards!

I hope that you will join me in helping Sara make her dream a reality (and pick up some beautiful cards at the same time!) visit her kickstarter campaign page,

You can also find her on Facebook ( where she shares updates about her project.

Un abrazo!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Napoleon's Buttons: When History and Science Collide

Sharing with you a new video from my favorite Science Evangelist, Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, who explains how material can dramatically affect history as she shares the story of Napoleon's army.

Watch it with your children and/or students. Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vacation School Days

Wow. Last week just flew by! We did a quick trip to the beach that we all desperately needed and had the best time ever! Day 1 involved beach time, followed by introducing the kids to snorkling, back to shower and rest up, dinner, and finally a night of catching crabs along the beach. My son actually caught this teeny, tiny crab when we first arrived and we snuck down for a quick walk on the beach before lunch.

The rip current was fierce, though, so we didn't really let the kids swim in the ocean. (It was better the next day.) My daughter was so afraid that her little brother would be swept out to sea. So we put floaters on them just to be safe, and let them play in the surf with one of us present at all times. But honestly? They were just as pleased to look for shells and build sand castles.

Afterwards, we drove down the coast to look for a good place to snorkle. Fortunately, we found a little inlet that was surrounded on three sides and was shallow with little wave action. The kids truly loved snorkling. They found a bunch of hermit crabs and other bits that satisfied their hunger for adventure.

The best part of this trip? Everyone in NC is back in school by this week, so the beach was relatively empty. Well, maybe not empty, but there weren't any other school-aged children to be seen. The last few times we've been to the beach, the traffic has been horrible and it was hard to find a place on the beach to sit without practically being on top of someone else. Seriously, it was just perfect. These are the moments that I love homeschooling the most. Being able to take advantage of a flexible schedule and enjoy opportunities in a more relaxed manner.

Okay, I was wrong. The BEST part of the trip was the next day when (after spending the morning at the beach and lunch time hiking on one of the islands) we went to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island where we spent the afternoon learning about ocean life. This was perfect because we've been studying ocean life in science for the last four weeks or so. The first thing I did was purchase two Junior Marine Biologist booklets for them to fill out as we went through the aquarium. Once they got all their answers, we turned them in at the front desk to check their answers and then each of them received their own Junior Marine Biologist badge. Talk. About. Excited. My kids were crazed.

And what I really liked about this booklet is that it was divided up into three sections by age. So my son's pages were appropriate for a six year old, and my daughter had different questions and activities that were best suited to an older child. Guess what? This counts as a School Day! *Score!* Field trips are the best.

Anyhoo, it's back to the salt mines this week for me. Juggling work and kids and home and husband. But it was sure nice to have a break. We ALL need one from time to time. I hope you've gotten a chance to have yours.

Un abrazo!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Be Back Soon...

MommyMaestra will be on vacation for a few days. I'm taking this week off so that I can spend some love time with my familia, catch up on my sleep, and finish up a few other projects.

When was the last time you took some time off?

Un abrazo fuerte...