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Showing posts from 2021

Why You Should Talk to Kids About Money

For some reason, talking about finances is taboo in our culture. We've been taught not to share our salaries, our money problems, and disguise our lack of wealth with flashy name-brand purchases that supposedly afford us some sort of clout in society, even when we can't afford those items ourselves. Being poor is looked down upon, and being rich is the ultimate American Dream. But our capitalist society is built upon the poor making the rich richer, and there is no way we are going  to be able to break through the glass ceiling of the American class system without explicit lessons on financial literacy.  In February I took an unpaid leave of absence from work to stay home and care for my children, because I didn't have reliable childcare and I just couldn't imagine returning to work and putting my family's lives in jeopardy for a paycheck. My husband's landscaping company was doing well, and I had just finished a year-long unpaid maternity leave, so I knew altho

Why We Don't Celebrate El Dia de los Muertos, either

El Dia de los Muertos, (The Day of the Dead) is often considered the Latin-American equivalent to Halloween, as it is a celebration that takes place every year on November 1st and 2nd throughout Latin America. But it actually has nothing to do with Halloween, and even pre-dates the Celtic Samhain, which is where our modern-day Halloween traditions come from.  The ancient indigenous Aztec people of Mexico celebrated the lives of past ancestors 3,000 years ago, and that month-long ritual was condensed into just a few days around the 20th century and is now known as the Day of the Dead. Today,  El Dia doe los Muertos is a time for Latinos to remember their dead loved ones and celebrate them, for it is believed that the souls of all people that have passed away return to Earth to check up on their families during this day.  But up until last night, I didn't believe El Dia de los Muertos was celebrated in Guatemala. Growing up in California with many Mexican-American friends, I was fami

Why We Don't Celebrate Halloween

Leaves are changing, there's a chill in the air, and it's getting darker and darker every night and every morning. And on October 31st, All Hallow's Eve, families will be getting their little ones dressed up as princesses and superheroes and ghosts and goblins to get ready to take to the streets to trick-or-treat. But not in our house.  Halloween was originally called Samhain and marked the end of the harvest season for Celtic farmers, and they believed on this one day of the year, the curtain between the living and the dead was the thinnest, and common people would light huge bonfires and disguise themselves to protect themselves from malevolent spirits.  In the 8th century in an attempt to convert the Celts from their pagan ways, Pope Gregory III established November 1st as All Hallows Day, a day honoring all saints, known and unknown. Those early Europeans accepted both, and began to celebrate Samhain as All Hallow's Eve, which has morphed into what we call Halloween

See Mamita Barrios on a Live Panel about Learning with COVID

I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at the WBUR CitySpace at the Lavine Broadcast Center on Monday night. We discussed how educators and students have changed their approach to teaching and learning during pandemic and post-pandemic education. Check it out below! WATCH: Learning With COVID: How School Has Changed And The Best Ways Students Learn After Trauma

Teaching in a Post-Pandemic Classroom

Although school resumed this fall and every day we try to get our lives back to "normal," there are still resounding impacts from pandemic learning.  One of our ESL teachers unexpectedly did not return for this school year, and I stepped into the role as ESL Social Studies teacher for the first few weeks of school. While being in person is overall better than being remote, teaching and learning in a post-pandemic classroom is exhausting. We no longer need to keep three to six feet between us physically at all moments, but masks are still mandatory. And trying to teach a language course when my mouth is hidden from view and surrounded by 15 students whose mouths are also hidden from view presents immense challenges. It is so difficult to project my teacher voice and call attention to the class when students are sneaking side conversations behind their masks. Additionally, trying to teach enunciation and teach pronunciation is all but futile. I find myself repeating things over

Teaching and English Learners in a Pandemic

Unfortunately, the pandemic negatively impacted emergent bilinguals worst of all. 

Why Kids Should Do Chores and How to Get Kids to Do their Chores

"Clean up, clean up, everybody every where. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share." We sing this in English in our house, because to the best of my knowledge there isn't a Spanish equivalent. Probably because from the time they learn to walk, it is expected that Latino children learn to help around the house and they don't need a little jingle to coerce them to pick up after themselves. That's probably why children in Central and South American tend to be more willing to help with chores around the house than their American and European counterparts.   We are in the interesting position because my husband is from Guatemala, so we are trying to raise our children more aligned to the Central-American tradition. We have two biological little ones, ages two and four, and we foster our niece, age 10. It might come as no surprise that the two little ones, who embrace their Guatemalan-American identity completely, enjoy helping out with the chores. Whereas with th

What no blog/website tells you to pack for the hospital

 Before giving birth to my daughter, I scoured the web for Hospital Bag Packing lists. There were innumerable articles and blogs that were somewhat helpful, but nothing really prepared me for the before, during, and after of being induced at 42 weeks, laboring for 12 hours, needed two epidurals because the first one didn't work, and then eventually having a c-section. As soon as I got home from the hospital with my daughter, I jotted down this list, because I wanted to make note of what was actually helpful to have at the hospital with me, what I wish I had brought, and what I would have done differently. Things I wished I'd brought with me to the hospital: More snacks for husband and me (while I could eat them--once the epidural goes in you can only consume ice chips) Extra small baby outfits (newborn was too big!) At least 2 birthing gowns for me. I had bought one to labor and deliver it, but after spending 25 hours in it, I was ready for a change of clothes.  Extra long cell

The Family that Exercises Together Stays Together

When everything shut down due to mandatory social distancing back in March of 2020, I had to find something to do with my active family. We were used to leaving the house every day for one activity or another, but when the libraries, parks, and extracurriculars all closed down for an indeterminate amount of time, we took to the trail. Walking, running and hiking became the one ways our family was able to get out of the house safely. At that time, my kids were nine, two, and nine-months-old. I bought a double stroller so we could all spend time outside exercising together, and we started to frequent the rail trail in our town every afternoon. The double stroller was perfect because the 9-month-old couldn't walk/run yet, and the two-year-old could move as much as she wanted, and then when she got tired she could hop in and be pushed. My oldest proved to be quite the athlete, and often outran me! Being able to be on the trail allowed us a healthy outlet for our cooped up and stressed-

Why Kids Need Pets

My chickens were my first babies. W e have had chickens since before any of my children were born. I'd always dreamed of farm fresh eggs from backyard hens, and when my husband surprised me one day with a small coop and four chickens, I was elated.  Our family began soon after, and when my daughter was just one week old, we had her out in the yard meeting the chickens. Then when she was old enough to be mobile, she learned how to walk by chasing them around the yard. Those chickens were her first friends, and important members of our family. I know the usual household pets are dogs, cats, maybe a hampster, but the chickens have taught my children so much. They've learned responsibility and care of others, as it is their job to feed, water, and collect the eggs each day. They've also learned appreciation for the life cycle and for other beings.  I love chickens so much because they give the gift of an egg each day! Cats and dogs only gift you with poop you have to pick up! N

Is 5 Little Monkeys Racist?

I’ve seen a lot of Tik Toks debunking children’s nursery rhymes lately. I have two toddlers, so now whenever I hear one of those rhymes, I think about their unsavory origins. But my son loves, loves Five Little Monkeys. He’s just learning to talk, and can almost say it by himself. I’ve thought about telling him to stop singing it since I learned in the original lyrics it’s not monkeys jumping on the bed, but he just gets so much joy from singing it as he jumps up and falls down, I thought... no harm, no foul, right? As long as he thinks the song is about monkeys, it’s ok.  Until my niece came over one day, and the three toddlers were playing on an old mattress we have on the living room floor for them to jump around on. My son asked me to sing 5 Little Monkeys. At first it was cute, because they literally were jumping on the bed, but then I took a good look at the three of them.  My kids are half-Guatemalan but very fair, like I am. Whereas my niece is half-black, and her skin happens

The Story of Our Rainbow Babies

  My pregnancy with my daughter was a miracle.  In 2015, a month after my husband and I began trying, I got pregnant. We were overjoyed and immediately began picturing our new life with a child. Since it was my first pregnancy, I had no idea the risks or complications that were possible, and at that time I didn’t know that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, nor did I ever imagine I would soon be a statistic. But when I started bleeding at 6-weeks pregnant, I knew immediately something was gravely wrong. It took the doctors over two weeks to determine that I had an ectopic pregnancy, and by that time the pregnancy had progressed so far, the course of action had to be surgery. The day before my 29th birthday became the worst day of my life, when I lost both my baby and my left fallopian tube.  As soon as I had recovered from the surgery and with the doctor’s approval, we began trying to get pregnant again, but to no avail. Getting pregnant became my daily hope and prayer, but days tu

A Homage to Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Neither cinnamon nor cumin, peppermint nor paprika, were scents often smelt in my kitchen growing up. My mom was never a culinary caper — she worked full-time for most of my childhood — but mostly it was because cooking was something she never really learned how to do. “ I just don ’ t know how to season, ” she says. Mom was the product of a single-parent household, back when the Beaver family was still a model home, but microwave dinners were first en vogue. Her widowed mother worked full-time, so ensuring there was food to eat was more important to her than the preparation, and extravagant cooking for just the two of them was unrealistic. Grandma was the product of the depression, where children were taught to eat what they were served and commodities like eggs and butter and milk were treated like delicacies. It is not surprising that when my mother became the head of the household, homemade cooking was not a priority. It is our family joke that when my sister was a baby, she though

Our Family Motto

Our family motto is Growing is hard, and that’s okay. I’ve had it plastered to our fridge since we got married and bought a house in the same weekend in October 2014, and I’ve used it in my ESL classroom since 2011, when I first read Carol Dwek and learned about the idea of a growth mindset. I’m an ESL teacher and I used to start every school year with an inspiration speech to my students. I’d tell them to expect my class to be hard, because it would be a waste of time if it were easy. And that’s how I came up with growing is hard and that’s okay.   Right around that time, a friend of mine posted a photo on Instagram of new life emerging in northern Chile months after a 24-hour flash floor buried seemingly everything in mud. It’s one lone flower poking up between dry, cracked earth and when I saw it, I knew it was the perfect depiction of my motto.    My life motto became our family motto when we started our family in 2014. It is elementary in its simplicity, but that simple phrase re