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Expectations

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I was recently speaking to a lovely, smart, high raking executive, who’s also a latina, mom, and an immigrant.  She was telling me that due to her particular circumstances her family’s expectations of her were for her to be an unwed, teenage mom.  

For some reason that really struck home.  It was something that I’ve never thought of, that I’ve never reflected back on and yet, WOW…  

Let’s start off with the fact that my parents really have no idea what it is that I do professionally.  My mom knows that I’m smart and wonderful and all of those fabulous adjectives created to be generally supportive.  My dad is happy that I married a good man and that I have a good life and whether or not I actually “do” anything is neither here nor there.  My best guess is that this blissful ignorance is cultural.  

Growing up, I had my own views on things, and one of them was image.  I often told my mom “who cares what I look like now?!  I’m in school, I’m a teen, now is the time to take advantage of my freedom” and I did.  

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Then I found myself on a wonderful journey of life, and learning that had nothing to do with a traditional education, but again to my family my path has always been misunderstood.  To the point that I wonder if I’m crazy, or if they’re not listening.  What’s even more hilarious, frustrating, ironic is that they gave me the foundation for my career.  When I was born my father already owned his own business, so I was typing and taking messages at a VERY early age to the point of being able to run an office by 14.  Yet at one point in my life my father suggested that I was a secretary, which left me a little stunned as I looked at him and said, “Papi, I HAVE a secretary”.  

I gave up on trying to explain to my parents what it is that I do eons ago.  They see that I’m happy (and in my dad’s case he sees that I’m married and happy) and this makes them happy, y ya.  Until I told them about going to the White House with the LATISM Top Bloguera retreat.  

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Yes, they were excited, but what struck me was the phone call I received from my mom after sharing pictures with her, “mija, es que para mi ir a la Casa Blanca y a l a luna es lo mismo“, in other words, going to the White House is as attainable as a trip to the moon.  Which I appreciate.  It is a pretty big deal, depending on what circle you’re in.  For me it was an honor, one for which I am very grateful for, and  but it’s a little overshadowed by my wondering, is it that my parents had no expectations from me or that the world is so amazing that they did not want to achicar las posibilidades (limit my possibilities)?

Either way, I tell you what… it’s given me the desire to aim for the moon!! #SiSePuede #YesYouCan

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Y padres (parents) let’s give our little ones something to aim for.  Perhaps giving them concrete ideas (astronaut, doctor, inventor, teacher, mother, race car driver, all of the above) and positive role models (within the community, not just on TV).  Let’s have our little ones shoot for the moon!  Even if they miss they will land among the stars. 

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Frack’s “Big Giant Chicken” – a recipe

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Yes, I can cook.  I can’t bake, but I can cook.  I actually love to cook, and if I had a prep chef and someone to do the dishes for me, I would love it even more!  I also love food.  Really good food.  Some would say I’m a foodie.  And because I love my kids, I’ve shared my love of food with them.  It infuriates me to go to a restaurant and have the waiter immediately tell me about chicken nuggets and hamburgers for my children.  I sincerely believe that feeding kids that processed crap is a form of gastronomic child abuse, wait… do I see a soapbox to stand on?!  Another post for another day…

So here’s the deal.  I have a vegetarian child, and a carnivore child, and my carnivore child Frack looooves him some chickun!  OK, so we all love chickun (except for Frick, she’s a vegetarian remember?).   And like so many other moms who have soooo damn much on our plates, it’s a challenge to cook, let alone something healthy, fast and delicious.

Well… I did it!  I found the perfect recipe!  When I cook steaks, I make it simple. A little rock salt, extra virgin olive oil and voila!  Delish.  So I thought, instead of all of the marinating, and rubbing and putting garlic under the skin, let’s make a simple roasted chicken and see if it flies, and it did!  It rocked!  The only downfall is that it smells delicious, which means that the entire time it’s cooking, Frack is asking me continuously if his “big, giant chicken” is ready.  Remember, to a 4-year-old, a whole chicken is big and giant!

So here’s how you too can make a big, giant (and delicious) chicken:

Ingredients:

  • A whole chicken (pick a size that’s good for your family, I cook a small one and always have leftovers)
  • Half a head of garlic
  • A small onion
  • Oregano
  • Rock salt
  • Powdered garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Pre-heat oven to 325
  1. Take a roasting pan, line it with aluminum foil (for an easier clean-up) and spray it with Pam or another non-stick spray.
  2. Remove the chicken from the wrapping, remove all the “stuff” from the cavity and rinse the bird.
  3. You now have two options, if you want a darker skin, dry off the chicken and rub olive oil on it.  If you want a lighter skin don’t dry it off.
  4. Take half of the head of garlic, peel and cut (or crush) put it to the side.
  5. Take the onion and cut it in half.  Use approximately half of the onion and cut it into quarters.  Put it to the side.
  6. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic and onion pieces.
  7. Sprinkle the top of the chicken (the breast side) with rock salt, garlic and oregano and voila!!  You’re done!  The oven will do the rest!

Put your soon-to-be delicious chicken in the pan, put the pan in your pre-heated oven and wait.  It will take approximately 3 – 4 hours depending on the size of your bird. Some have pop-up thermostats, or you can calculate approximately 20 minutes per pound. Serve with the sides of your choice (in my house rice, corn or broccoli and depending on my mood, a salad) and enjoy!!

A quien no lo gusta los bomberos?

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Como mama de dos niños quien trabaja, muchas veces se me hace difícil hacer tiempo para mi niño pequeño.  Por eso mismo encontré unas cosas que podíamos hacer juntos, sin gastar dinero y – no me juzguen – sin invertir mucho tiempo, lo cual en esta casa es un lujo.  Un día se me ocurrió parar en la casa de bomberos.  Ahí aprendí que cuando las puertas están abiertas uno puede ir a visitar, los bomberos siempre son muy complaciente con los niños, porque como he aprendido, los niños y los animales suelan esconderse cuando hay un enciendo.

Por lo tanto ahí pudimos pasar un ratito lindo (entre hacer quehaceres y recoger la niña de la escuela) haciendo algo que mi niño le encanta, y que ojala le dará memorias lindas para siempre.

Este post es parte del blog hop de Plaza Familia cada martes

Just because they’re selling it, doesn’t mean it’s right.

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Something happened when my daughter grew into a size 6.  I stopped buying her clothes.  The days where everything I saw was “soooo cute” were replaced with horror.  Sweatpants with words on their bottom, padded bras, strapless dresses… it was all too much.  Without really making a conscious decision, I just stopped buying her clothes.  It took me a little time to realize what the problem was, it wasn’t that my baby had grown out of the toddler section into the little girls’ clothes, it was that for the most part, little girl’s clothes are completely inappropriate.

Think about it.  Why is it ok to dress our little angels in miniskirts?  What message are we giving our daughters by buying them padded bras?  They are paying attention and if we allow them to dress scantily now, we are telling them that it’s perfectly acceptable to dress in a provocative manner.  And in a few years, when they enter that tween and teen years, will it still be “funny” or “cute” when they want to wear a miniskirt?

This phenomenon of dressing children in our image isn’t just for girls.  Most of the boy’s clothing is “street-style”, hoodies, skulls and crossbones, dickies and plaid shirts.  Are we raising gentlemen or gangsters?

Parents, what examples are you setting?  Are your clothes too tight?  Did you brush your hair today as you ran out the door to run the kids to school? Do you dress like your kids friends? Are you kids embarrassed to be seen with you?  It’s just as important the example we set as the clothes we choose for them.

All children have their own likes and dislikes.  My daughter loves glitter, as I’m sure most 6yo’s do, but I’ve taught her that if everything has glitter on it – top, pants, shoes – you just look like a big piece of aluminum foil. No one can appreciate what you have on.  When she told me she wanted pants with glitter on the bottom, it was that she wanted embellished clothing, not that she cared where it was, but unfortunately, this is what she sees on other kids, so this is what she asks for.  As parents, our job is to guide them.  Our children don’t know the perils of dressing provocatively, or of the endless choices out there, so talk to them, offer solutions and be frank.  Not every child has the same rules that we do in our home, and that’s ok.

Cultivate your child’s individual style now, so that they are confident in their choices later on, and able to be proud of what they are wearing, whether at school or at abuela’s and you will save yourself a lot of heartache now as well as when they are older.

“I had no idea” aka “When your child enters school”

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Last year Frick was in PreK.  They played.  They sang.  They danced.  It was so much fun!  So much fun in fact that she craved more.  So we did “homework” at home.  Mind you, I’m not an educator, and I’m not very patient so God bless my cutie for actually wanted to learn with me.

This year as we were “lucky” enough to have been accepted into a Magnet School (urban speak for what suburbanites consider normal).  It’s not my neighborhood school but it holds promise.  The promise of a “better” high school, therefore a greater chance of higher scores and a great college.

Mind you the entire “selective enrollment” process is more like entering college then what you would expect for Kindergarten, it is after all just Kindergarten!  Well here in Chicago we don’t mess around when it comes to the “right schools”. It’s a two-tiered system.  You have you innocent little preschooler tested as “gifted” which are tests administered verbally by college students to preschoolers in an alien environment to ensure the best success.  Well, we did that.  I did not tutor my child in advance like some do, but we did test.  Then we filled out the paperwork requesting entry into one of the “better” schools, stood on one leg, rubbed our bellies, patted our heads and waited… and waited… and waited.

Am I crazy?  Was the question I got from an education reporter, “your neighborhood school is just fine!” Which she’s right, it is.  But according to the current information available from “those in the know” the reason parents are chomping at the bit to get into a “good” kindergarten is because this sets them on a path for success.  The chances are greater to getting in since not all parents at this age are willing to go through the process (trust me, it’s a nail biter and I did feel slightly ridiculous during the whole thing, until I received the acceptance letter).

So why am I telling you the harrowing tale?  Because you my dear, yes you with that adorable baybe pulling at your hair while you read my blog post.  And you, with a 5th grader.  And you, dad, yes you too.  We must not only be involved in our children’s education – as we show them through our actions that we care – but we must be involved in the policies.  We must learn, we must speak, we must make changes.  Or else you too will end up driving 90 minutes each way to get your little one to school in the morning.

I’m not Mexican

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I say this not to exclude anyone, but to educate.

I am a Latina.  Born in the US, raised in the south.  The question back then was a simple “what are you” because apparently it was not self evident that I was a person, and the fact that I was neither white nor black was a little confusing.

I did not have the pleasure of meeting a Mexican until I was almost 20, which is also around the time that I first had “Mexican” food (tacos & such).

Since then I have had the honor and pleasure of working with countless numbers of Mexicans, have enjoyed vampiritos, learned a thing our two about the Mayan ancestry, have visited many destinations in Mexico, enjoyed some of the vast delicacies available throughout the different regions, and even met my husband (who’s not Mexican either) in Mexico.

My point? Businesses, if you want to speak to my pocketbook, dimelo en Cubano!  Just because you translated it and dropped a lime in it, does not make me your audience. 

I am not acclimated, I am an American. I am not bicultural, I am a Latina. I stand with my fellow Latin@s on issues of immigration and racism.  I do not watch Univision or Telemundo because it doesn’t speak to me, but wish there were more programming like HBO’s Epitaphios because it was great!

I tell you this because the trillion dollar market segment that you are salivating for is not a one size fits all.   Take a moment to learn that in Chicago for example, latino’s in Pilsen are predominately Mexican,  while you can find mostly Boriquas (Puerto Rican for the uninitiated) near Humboldt Park. There’s even a Colombian community, but it seems most of the Cubans got smart and relocated to better climate. 😉

The conversation amongst marketers is that the future is in personalization… how, if you continue to lump us together?

Small businesses, Groupon and other deal a day sites

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We all know what a great deal Groupon is for consumers.  They are growing by leaps and bounds, plus for small business owners it’s a great way to get new business, right?  Maybe.


I have no problem with business owners doing their own marketing, frankly many small businesses have no choice.  A limited budget combined with the intimidation factor that comes with hiring a marketing professional makes you, the business owner, take things into your own hands, which is fine, however are you asking the right questions?  Are you making the best choice for your business?  Remember, these deal a day companies can be a great tool, but they are not a charity.  They exist to make a profit for themselves, therefore you have to look out for you.


The way Groupon, Tipper and the dozens of other deal a day sites work is that you decide on an item or service that you will offer at a deep discount (usually 50% off the regular retail price).  Then, the deal a day site will take a percentage of anything they sell – they are after all doing the legwork for you.

 

Let’s say you are a day spa owner.  You normally charge $100 for a massage, which you will discount to $50 on a deal a day site to garner new clients.  The site will then keep half, so you are now only making $25 on this service.  Factor in your overhead, the masseuse, and ask yourself can you afford this deal?  What happens if you sell 1,000 of these?  Do you have the manpower to answer the phone?  To book the massages?  Remember, the redemption rate depending on the offer can vary from 50 -90% (closer to 90% on spa offers).

 

But what about the exposure you ask?  The exposure is great, only if the numbers work for you, otherwise the only exposure that will remain in people’s minds (including yours) is that of angry customers that could not redeem their coupon in a timely basis and overburdened employees that could not offer the high level of service they normally would.

 

To minimize these factors, call around.  Nowadays most large cities have dozens of deal a day sites.  Chicago has Eversave, Tipper, KGB deals, Groupon, You’ve Gotta Get It, LivingSocial and those are just the ones that come to mind.  Google deal a day sites and take your pick, but do your research.

  • Some companies allow you to set a cap on your offer – greatly helpful for small businesses.
  • Deal a day sites offer different rates for their services, some charge 50%, others charge only 30%.

 

The quick revenue is nice, but the real goal for you, the business owner, is to gain new clients, so what can you do to get these clients to return?  Keep in mind that a good percentage of the people that shop through these sites are only loyal to their budgets, but there are some that you can convert, but how?

 

Remember, they came in on a deep discount, so ease them back up to full price.  To keep with the same analogy:

  • The consumer came to your spa because they received a massage, normally priced at $100 for $50.  Remember, you only received $25.
  • Step them up, offer them a special available “only to clients that came in on the discount” (exclusivity is a nice touch).  Don’t shock them with full price, but even if you offer them the same rate they paid to get there ($50) , you have doubled your profit from this client because this time you don’t have to split the revenue with anyone.

 

    In conclusion, deal a day sites are in fact a very low cost way to gain exposure and new clients, but please business owners, compare companies, ask questions, do the math, sleep on it, and then you can make a decision that’s right for you.

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