Mardi Gras: a celebration

As a Latina, I’ve always celebrated holidays with friends and family. My grandmother always made it a point to make every holiday a little special for us. And now, my extended family always makes an effort to celebrate their traditions with the girls, ensuring the cultural significance gets passed down to the next generation.

Mardi Gras in a Latin-Catholic family is about shiny necklaces, sparkly masks made of paper and then the last sad goodbye to whatever treat or activity that you will give up for the Lenten season. In my husband’s Italian family, they tend to focus on amazing food, which just elevates the celebration!

This year, Mike just returned from a trip abroad and so we’ve been fortunate to ramp up for Mardi Gras with new masks from Italy:

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The girls received buckets of beads while their cousin was attending Loyola in NOLA. Olivia is VERY excited to wear hers to school:

And finally, no celebration would be quite as sweet without the king cake!

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We wish everyone a safe and happy Mardi Gras!

Multicultural appreciation

This is my daughter’s first year in real school, kindergarten. This means new rules for us as a family regarding when we can travel. It’s new for us and we’re adjusting, but we also have the opportunity to participate in interesting new events, such as International Appreciation Day at school.

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Because my heritage is Latina/Chicana, I assumed that the girls would wear pretty dresses from Coyoacan, we’d bring some tacos and we’d all have a good time.

Then, I received an excited email from my husband, who is 1/4 Scottish. “I’m going to make Haggis for International fair!”

Oh. My. Goodness.

If you haven’t tried haggis, it’s spiced sheep pluck and you can usually find it at a local Highlands festival. It’s REALLY good and I encourage you to try it. I’m unsure how I feel about having it cooked in my home, but we’ll see.

I didn’t think much more about it until I came home and Mike said that we had an email update that there was going to be a PARADE for the festival and the kids could participate.

What does that mean exactly? In my house, it means BAGPIPES.
My husband unearthed his bagpipes from the depths of our basement and cleaned them up for my 5 year old to play in the school parade.

If you have heard bag pipes in real life, you know that they are a unique sound and can only imagine the delight that making these noises has brought to my child. So, if the purpose of International Appreciation was to interest your children in their heritage and open them to new ideas, then mission accomplished.

In the mean time, Bella and I will just be sitting here appreciating Olivia’s new musical talents.

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Iceland: Touring the great unknown

When you think of vacation destinations, do you imagine endless stretches of beach? Great skiing? Beautiful nature trails with waterfalls? Did you realize that you were thinking about Iceland?

You can get direct flights from most major hubs and we had a toddler. Direct flights were our only criteria for vacationing abroad.  We set out for the land of Vikings and ice and we found a beautiful and diverse country.

The black beaches are made of smoothed lava rock. And although the sea was cold, we ended up taking off our coats and stretching out in the sunshine for a while.

The juxtaposition of thermal geysirs shooting up warm water, the steaming thermal jets and icy  Glaciers jutting through the hills was marvelous to experience first hand. We even went to a restaurant that cooked using the natural steam.

We didn’t get to experience the Northern lights, so Olivia wants us to go back with specific tours to see the wintery phenomenon. So, who knew that this journey would be the beginning of a lifelong love of puffins, glaciers and geological wonders?

Aren’t you dying to experience Iceland?