Giveaway: Throwback time with Netflix Stream Team

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post as part of the Netflix Stream Team. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

I'm all about #tbt, otherwise known as #throwbackthursday. It's fun to look up old photos and post them on Instagram. I love to double tap other people's #tbt photos, too--the bad hair, the over-tweezed eyebrows, the acid wash jeans, all of that good stuff.

Here is one of my latest contributions to Throwback Thursday. It's a photo of me and my little sister, rocking our black bomber jackets. It was so 90's. I was 23 years old and I had a pierced eyebrow!



Celebrating Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros with author/artist Maya Gonzalez

I'm happy to be a part of the 2nd annual Latinas for Latino Literature (L4LL) Dia Blog Hop in honor of Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros. It's a yearly celebration meant to focus on children, books, and the importance of diversity in literature. This year's blog hop takes place on April 6th--30th and it pairs 24 authors/illustrators with 24 Latina bloggers. Visit the L4LL site to find the complete schedule.

I'm so excited because illustrating is near and dear to my heart and I hope to write and illustrate my own book someday soon. It's amazing to see someone doing what they love to do--I'm so inspired!

All of the guest authors were asked to share a story or illustration in support of Latino children's literacy.  I'm pleased to introduce Maya Gonzalez, a proud Chicana who is both a writer and artist who has created art for over 20 children’s books and written three of those. Welcome Maya!

Photos courtesy of Maya Gonzalez

Guest author and artist Maya Gonzalez

Hi! I’m fabulously excited to be part of the Dia Blog Hop and even more excited to be here at Pearmama.com. My name is Maya Gonzalez and I make children’s books. I actually make a lot of things, but the children’s books are extra special to me! Creating multicultural children’s books is a spiritual and political practice as well as an act of love in my life.

When I began, I made the art for other folks’ stories. I LOVE the work of the authors I’ve gotten to work with, namely Francisco Alarcon, a great poet! Amada Irma Perez, a charming story teller! And the incomparable Gloria Anzuldua! When I first started this was AMAZING to me. I didn’t know people like me got to make children’s books! I was just a self-taught artist, but the world opened up. I understood the power of not just our unique vision and voice in the world, but putting this reflection into the hands of children through books. This healed places in me I didn’t even know needed healing and honed my vision as to how I could best serve my community.

I started going into schools to talk about my books, but before I knew it I was in the classroom talking to kids about how I used art to know myself as a Chicana, especially when I didn’t find my face in books as a child. I talked about how important it is for us to see ourselves in our books and if we don’t then we need to create portraits of our selves! Because the truth is we need to see ourselves. This communicates on such a deep level, that we belong. We are here. Over 15 years of playing with thousands of children and my own personal practice, I developed my Claiming Face curriculum using self-portraiture as a tool for self-empowerment in the classroom.

My 3 rules: everyone is an artist, there is never a right or wrong way to make art, art is always an act of courage.


Why mommy bloggers never talk about life with teenagers

I recently read this post titled I worry for Mommy Bloggers from Jamie the Very Worst Missionary. Being a self-proclaimed "mommy blogger turned lifestyle blogger", the title naturally piqued my interest.

She talks about how a mommy blogger has it made when her children are young and adorable. You can style them in photos, pack them inspiring lunches in bento boxes, take them to fun places and blast it all over Facebook, you can make fun crafts with them and laugh at all the cute things they do. From Jamie's blog:

There's a reason there aren't very many blogs from moms of teens. It's because as they grow, they become like a magnifying glass to all your fatal flaws and the myriad ways you screwed them up as children. Who wants to read about that?! It's depressing.

I am the mother of three teenage boys and one tween boy and dude, this quote is real talk.

Five years ago, visiting the Getty Museum.
When I first started this blog, my 16 year old son Noah was 9 years old. I blogged about missing him while he went to summer camp, how he lost his glasses that one time--you know, all of the funny stories and anecdotes about life with boys. Sigh. And then they just got to the age where they could actually read my blog and read about themselves and it freaked them out a little. Their friends can follow me on Instagram (and some do). They can read my blog, too. I slowly backed away from sharing about them.

But man, the part about your kids becoming a magnifying glass to all of your fatal flaws? Same.
How you begin to see the myriad ways you screwed them up as children? Same.
How people don't want to read about the depressing life of raising teens? Same.

It's funny, in a sad self-deprecating way. While I'm crafting and photographing my younger kids, I'm navigating the uncharted waters of life with my teenage sons.  Growing body parts, what to share and what not to share on social media, inappropriate language, squabbles amongst each other, learning how to drive, skateboarding accidents, high school math, friends who are a bad influence, porn, dating and girls--this is my life right now.


Remembering Selena Quintanilla

Today is Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla's birthday. She would have turned 43 years old.


I just can't picture it--Selena will forever be that beautiful, young woman dancing on stage with a radiant smile and a bustier, looking like she was having the time of her life.

In honor of this lovely singer who has inspired legions of little Latina girls (like my own!) that they can sing and follow their dream, I wanted to share this.


Kid's DIY: Painted tile squares

My family has mastered the art of taking things we have laying around the house and utilizing them in our crafty endeavors.

You know, making cool stuff.

We recently spent six months of our lives renovating our two bathrooms. This means we accumulated a pile of leftover tile that now sits in our backyard. Looking for a surface that our kids can use to paint on one day, my husband decided to let our younger kids paint on a few white tile squares while he took them to the park.

Smooth tile works best.


Happy birthday, Dolores Huerta

Happy birthday, Dolores Huerta!

This passionate civil rights activist is 84 years strong today. I thought I would honor her with my Latina peg dolls featuring one of her inspiring quotes. I've always felt it to be true--the women in my family have always been the solid foundation on which we grew.

¡Sí se puede!


Netflix: Inspiring family movie time

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post as part of the Netflix Stream Team. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

I remember when snuggling on the sofa to watch a movie with my kids was the only way I could guarantee to get off my feet for a couple of hours. Being pregnant, changing diapers and chasing after toddlers was so very exhausting. There was a lot of mama, wake up and prying open of the eyelids at the end of each movie.

We've watched and enjoyed so many children's movies over the years, but only a true handful of them are beloved favorites. Those are the movies that will cause my teenagers (ages 13, 15 and 16) to stop what they're doing and sit down to watch with me and their younger siblings.

I love when that happens.


Free Printable: Celebrating Cesar Chavez

My husband and I always make sure we make room in our children's homeschool journey to learn about important Latino contributions to society. They are vital to our growth as a people and how we integrate with the general culture.

I'll be forever grateful for Chicano Studies in college because up until that point, I never really knew about the great Mexican-American Cesar Chavez. I used this lesson plan as a guide to teach my kids about this important person in our history.

Cesar Chavez was born on March 31st, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona. A farm worker, union leader,  civil rights activist, environmentalist and humanitarian, he dedicated his life to improving the plight of migrant farm workers.

During the Great Depression in 1938, Chavez was only eleven years old when his family lost their land in Arizona. They were forced to join the great multitude of migrant farm workers that traveled throughout California looking for work harvesting food crops. It was during the next ten years that Chavez learned first-hand how poorly the farm workers were treated. They worked very long hours, often without clean water to drink, shade and restrooms. They were subject to harsh pesticides. Their living conditions (run-down shacks they rented from the growers) weren't much better. They were also paid so little, they struggled to eat.

When I shared Cesar's story with my kids, they listened intently. As I explained to them how he had to drop out of school to work in the fields, how he was ridiculed in school for having brown skin and speaking Spanish--how he was called a "dirty Mexican",  I had to choke back tears.

That is what shaped Chavez into the great non-violent civil rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers union along with Dolores Huerta.  His fight for social justice has inspired so many people, including myself. 

We celebrate the birth of Cesar Chavez on Monday, March 31st. Cesar Chavez Day is also an official holiday in California, Colorado and Texas--a day to remember the contributions of this great leader.


Mmmm, juice: Make your own sweet & tangy beet juice

I've had a fifteen-year love affair with juicing.

I know it seems like juicing is the "in" thing to do these days, but I've been about that juicing life for some time now. When Noah and Diego were just babies (they're 15 and 16 now), I would juice for them in my little Juiceman Juicer every morning. We would go to the local farmer's market on Friday mornings and buy a huge sack of Valencia oranges, carrots, radish sprouts from the Asian lady who always wore clogs and whatever veggies were in season.

My boys got into the habit of drinking carrot, orange and apple juice everyday. They'd look up at me with their cute little faces and patiently wait for their sippy cups. They spent the morning with orange-stained mustaches. It made me feel good to know they were happy to drink their "juicey".

Over the years I've continued to juice but the frequency depended on what stage of life I was in.  Sometimes I was too big and pregnant to juice for myself and a tribe of children. Exhausted, the thought of peeling, cutting and juicing for all the little people at my feet seemed too great a task. My juicing routine was also dependent on finances. The more my family grew, appetites grew--sometimes my kids would eat all of the apples and carrots before I even had a chance to juice them. And finally, my Juiceman Juicer just up and died one day. It took some time before I was able to afford another juicing machine.

Now I can say we've settled into a fairly consistent juicing routine. My kids are old enough to man the juicer themselves. We pick oranges and lemons from my uncle's house and I buy giant sacks of carrots and apples. Usually, a giant sack for the kids to snack on and another to juice--they're not cheap.

If someone has an apple orchard nearby, I've got the manpower. Holler at a sister.


Up close and personal: Frida Kahlo, Her Photos exhibit at MOLAA

If you love Frida Kahlo as much as I do, then you'll want to make a beeline to the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach to catch their new exhibit, Frida Kahlo, Her Photos.

I had the chance to preview the exhibit last week, a day before they opened the show to a sold-out crowd with a line of eager Frida fanatics snaked around the building.

This is the first time I've ever been to MOLAA, but with the cool architecture and large Frida banner front and center, it was pretty easy to spot. I was excited, to say the least.

If you are expecting to see any of Frida's paintings, you won't find any here. But what you will find are over two hundred photographs that give you an intimate look at Frida’s life, such as family photographs, traditional portraits and candid shots at the Casa Azul, her home in Mexico City.

Photo courtesy of Blogs by Latinas


Children's books celebrating Women's History Month

Women's History Month and the month of March is almost over.


You still have time to head over to BabyCenter for fourteen really cool and colorful children's books to help celebrate the wonderful contributions of women from past and present.


Latina Heroes: Painted peg dolls in honor of Women's History Month

I've been going a little loca over these teeny tiny peg dolls lately.

It all started back in November. I was researching peg dolls in preparation for the nativity set I created for Latinamom.me. After Googling a few key words, I came across a really adorable set of peg dolls painted in the likeness of every Disney princess you can imagine--Belle, Aurora, Ariel, Snow White, Jasmine, etc. They didn't have faces but their gowns were so recognizable, I could immediately name each princess.

Wow, they are so adorable! I need to make a set for Maya and Xixi, I thought to myself.

But upon further contemplation, I decided that my daughters have had enough of princesses. They are now eight and ten years old. The princess phase is behind us--they are practically young women! Instead, I wanted to give them the gift of knowledge and power by introducing them to real, tangible females they could admire and emulate.

This is what inspired me to create this series of hand-painted peg dolls called Latina Heroes.

Just in time for Women's History Month, I wanted to create dolls that were an example of strong women so my daughters could identify with them and be inspired. They need to know there is more to life as a woman than just being pretty, sexy and waiting on the perfect man to satisfy all of their needs and complete them.

So I began to meditate on examples of strong Latina women--women who were brave enough to be themselves, to do what they loved to do in a culture that is unlike their own. Women who were fearless and in being so, became a pioneer and an icon. It was important that these women were women of color. Growing up, I was starved for examples of powerful Latina women. Beyond my own family--my Nana and my mother--I did not know there were women who were artists, dancers, musicians, businesswomen, or activists who were Latina until I was in college.

I didn't want my daughters to wait that long.


Coming to So Cal: Frida Kahlo, Her Photos at MOLAA

I'm excited to announce an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of Latin American Art titled, Frida Kahlo, Her Photos. It presents over two hundred images--both traditional images and more candid shots--from Frida Kahlo’s personal Casa Azul archive in Mexico City and I am so excited that I get to attend the preview tomorrow!

Frida Kahlo has been my muse since I was 18 years old and I feel like I can never know enough about her. I seriously cannot wait to feast my eyes on photos of her that I have never seen before. It is such a privilege to have anything authentic and Frida-related here in Southern California. I wish all of my fellow Frida fanatics could come with me to the preview.


Giveaway from Pattern Pod: Pattern lovers rejoice!

While most women stalk the shoe department during a shopping trip, I can usually be found making a beeline toward home decor.

Wall art.
I swoon for all that good stuff.

I am the biggest sucker for cool patterns and textiles. Back when I was a young warthog, I even contemplated studying textile design in college. I didn't go through with it, but over the years I've always found a way to incorporate fun patterns and designs into my home and any art and crafts I create.

Have you ever heard of Pattern Pod? It's a really cool design resource for crazy pattern and design people like me. I really like their tagline: Join us in our fight against bland design.

That is a mission statement if I've ever heard one.

Pattern Pod allows you choose between hundreds of patterns that you can incorporate into your home and your life, all while showing off your personal style. Once you find a pattern you like, you can then use a site like Zazzle and add your pattern of choice to wallpaper, pillows, rugs, iPhone cases--pretty much anything you can think of.


Things highly creative people do

I consider myself a creative person. However, a creative person that is still very much left-brained. My creative side and my analytical side are constantly going toe to toe, fighting for supremacy. But I know those people--the people who are completely creative and it dominates everything they do.

My husband is one of those people.

graffiti, artist, Jimer, og, LTS

I often describe him as one of those passionate artists that you've read about in art history books. You know, the kind that chop off an ear à la Vincent Van Gogh. The kind that get the idea to move to Tahiti so they can spend their days painting the native women à la Paul Gauguin. The kind that is way before their time.


And by passionate, I totally mean bat sh!t crazy.
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