Hispanic Heritage Month: Latino Bigs and Why We Need a Mentor in Our Life #LatinoBigs

I’m very excited to announce that I’m a Big Brothers Big Sisters Latino Recruitment Ambassador.  Latino Bigs, A Latino Recruitment site will launch on Monday, September 14, 2012!  The site encourages Latinos to mentor Latino youths.  Many of us have influencers in our lives.  As children, teens or adults we have been influenced by positive role models outside of our immediate family who saw something in us that we did not see in ourselves.  Teachers, coaches, neighbors, co-workers, clergy and family friends are all people who serve as mentors in informal ways every day.

I’m very fortunate that I have had many positive role models in my life.   In High School my teachers and advisors always challenged me to do better.  Many of them went out of their way to encourage and motivate me as well. I took on many challenging roles as the result of their guidance and support.

While I was in High School I took English and was active in sports.  My English teacher Mr Nicolof always made his class a lot of fun.  He always allowed us to learn English creatively.  We also learned the story of Macbeth by participating in a play for the classroom.  My English teacher was also the football coach and my soccer coach.  He really pushed me to do better in the classroom and as an athlete. After our games he would go out of his way to give everyone on the team a ride home if they needed it, including me.  I believe the continued support and encouragement of my teacher and coach  made me a better person and provided the environment and opportunity to excel.   It also gave me the self confidence to challenge myself when I went to college and inspiration to become a mentor to others today.

High School Trip to Yosemite National Park - 1986

While in High School our Dean of Activities took a group of young  leaders on a one week trip to Yellowstone Park.  It was a trip of a lifetime for many of us.  During the year he acted as a guidance counselor of our young ASB leadership team.

A couple years ago I had the opportunity to catch up with with Mr. Nicoloff and Mr. Cinaris. They are both very proud of the accomplishments I had made in my life.  Last year I  also surprised Mr. Nicoloff in his English classroom.  He is teaching and making a difference in his student’s lives.  It’s one of the reasons I continue to proudly give back to my alma mater.

Event to Unveil $11 Million Dollar Facelift at High School Alma Mater

Not everyone has the opportunity to have mentors in school.  That is why I’m so glad a program such as Latino Bigs exists.

Why Latino Bigs are so Important

About 20% of the children Big Brother Big Sister program serves are Hispanic – a number on the rise. Yet, only 9% of Bigs are Latino.  Also, more than 70% of the children ready and waiting to be matched with a mentor are boys, yet only 3 of 10 volunteer inquiries come from men.   Children need a boost in self-esteem and encouragement to believe in themselves that only an adult can give. Guidance and consejos can come in the form of sharing a personal story about the difficulties of algebra.

Join the Chat

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month we will also be hosting a Twitter chat on October 10, 2012  to discuss the importance of mentorship among the Latino community.  Please  join Latina Mom Bloggers and Big Brothers and Big Sisters on Wednesday, OCT 10  from 7- 8:00 pm ET for a Twitter CHAT!

There will be lots of information regarding our Latino ‘littles’ and their need for ‘Big’ volunteers! Lets work together to support our youth, our future. Follow the hashtag #LatinoBigs

If not us, who?  If not now, when?  Volunteer Now.

For more more information about volunteering as a ‘”Big” check out www.latinobigs.org or  www.bigbrothersbigsisters.org.

This is part of a supported campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Big Brothers Big Sisters.  However, all opinions expressed are my own.


Question:  Have you ever mentored a child?  Have you considered mentoring a child?

Roadtrip to Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona

The Petrified Forest National Park is a United States national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona.  It is considered one of the largest concentrations of petrified trees in the world.  The tree trunks in the forest have fossilized as petrified wood and is noted for its agates and late Triassic fossils.

A Spanish explorer is rumored to have named the area “El Desierto Pintado” (The Painted Desert) because the hills looked like they were painted with the colors of the sunset.

The trees in the petrified forest look like someone sawed the logs apart but are actually cracked over a period of time.  We were very fortunate to hike throughout the park.  The climate changed several times during our visit at the National park. At the beginning of the exploration there was heavy rains, winds and monsoon warnings.

In the middle of the trip is was hot but very clear.  It was a perfect opportunity to see all the colors of the Petrified Trees.

Towards the final hour of our hike we were alone in complete silence with the petrified forest and we were able to capture the beauty of the forest and a close and personal view of a colorful collared lizard which makes the Petrified Forest their home.  It was a surreal experience for a city girl like me that loves trees.

One of the things I couldn’t help but wonder is how the Petrified Forest was formed.  According to the Petrified National Park the forest dates back to 218 million years ago.  There was a large river system with coniferous trees, tree ferns, and some gingkoes trees along the waterways. As the trees died naturally, some floated downstream to form log jams.

The mineral silica, from volcanic ash, in stages of crystallization replaced most of the organic wood to form petrified trees.  The various “forests”  are those log jams which form the individual parks.   Today some people use petrified wood as a semi-precious gem.  However, it is against the law to remove petrified trees from the National park.

For additional Petrified Forest National Park photos, please go to my FB page HERE.   To plan a visit, go to the Petriefied Forest National Park website:  http://www.nps.gov/pefo .


Disclosure: The Latino Heritage roadtrip was partially funded by American Latino FundVerizon Wireless & General Motors.  The vehicle driven during the roadtrip was provided by General Motors.  All opinions and content rights are my own.

Roadtrip to Socorro, New Mexico established 1598

On our Latino Heritage trip through New Mexico we decided to make a stop off the beaten path just to explore a city. Definitely found a lot more than what I was expecting in the small town of Socorro, New Mexico — population 10,000.  The town is so small if you don’t purposely look for it you will miss  it.  So thankful we didn’t miss it.

The city is full of Hispanic culture and history.  Many the buildings and business in the small town were established by Hispanics in the 1800s.

San Miguel Church est. 1821


San Miguel Church est. 1821


The Lupe Torress House est. 1898

I have a lot of appreciate for this small town because they preserved this history and their heritage proudly.

For additional photos and historical facts about Socorro, NM, please go to my FB page HERE.   To plan a visit, go to http://www.socorronm.gov/ .

Disclosure: The Latino Heritage roadtrip was partially funded by American Latino Fund, Verizon Wireless & General Motors.  The vehicle driven during the roadtrip was provided by General Motors.  All opinions and content rights are my own.

Question:   Have you ever planned a roadtrip or a vacation to learn more about your heritage?


Roadtrip – Casa Grande Ruins National Monument – Coolidge, Arizona

Our Latino Heritage road trip continued towards the Southwest to Coolidge, Arizona.  We had the opportunity to obtain a guided  tour of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument with the National Park Service Superintendent, Karl Cordova.  His staff is  dedicated to conserving, preserving, and providing an atmosphere for recreation at the Casa Grande Ruins.  They also reach out to the local community and visit local schools.

The Casa Grande Monument is one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America. It is the first prehistoric and cultural site in the United States.   The four story structure was built around 1300 and is located about an hour drive from Phoenix, AZ and Tuscon, AZ.  The protected area spans about 472.5 acres.  It’s purpose remains a mystery.


The area is also home to the largest cactus in the United States, the Saguaro cactus.  A mature Saguaro cactus is about 40-50 feet tall, 125 years old and weighs about 6 tons.   I felt so small next to the Saguaro cactus.  The cactus was a source of food and the wood was used to create tools.

As I walked towards the structure it’s very hard to imagine that a structure made out of sand, calcium carbonate & clay is still standing after over 650 years.  We learned that the area also didn’t have any water which must have made it a challenge to obtain and transport water during the period.  The ancient Sonoran people did all their building without the basic tools similar to what we use today.  Their basic tools were their hands, a digging stick and a planting stick.  It’s amazing how much they accomplished.  It’s obvious that the Sonoran desert people were very resourceful and innovative.

In speaking with the Superindendent, he advised that Archeologists discovered evidence that the ancient Sonoran Desert people who built the Casa Grande also developed wide-scale irrigation farming and extensive trade connections which lasted over a thousand years until about 1450 C.E.

The next time you’re near Tucson or Phoenix, Arizona consider going to the Casa Grande and explore the history.   It will be an educational opportunity for the entire family.   To discover our shared heritage at National Park Services find out what is happening in your local community or order a map of National Park Museums in the Southwest and other regions at http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/orderform.htm and plan your next roadtrip.


The #LatinoHeritage roadtrip celebrates the contributions of American Latinos throughout the national park and historic places across the country.  For additional information regarding the Casa Grande Ruins, please visit http://www.nps.gov/cagr.  For additional information regarding the American Latino Heritage programs,  check www.alhf.org and Support the American Latino Heritage Fund.  For live tweets, please follow the conversation on Twitter by checking the #LatinoHeritage hashtag on Twitter.

Disclosure: The Latino Heritage roadtrip was partially funded by American Latino Fund, Verizon Wireless & General Motors.  The vehicle driven during the roadtrip was provided by General Motors.  All opinions and content rights are my own.

Question:  Did you know that the National Park Service is honored to connect with people in local communities?   Have you visited any local National Parks are near your community?  What is your favorite local National Park to visit?

Road Trip: Arizona and Vicious Dust Storms

We continued the Latino Heritage Roadtrip towards Arizona as soon as we finished our trip to San Diego Old Town & Old Point Loma Light House.  It was a very long day on the road, approximately 409 miles.  Not many scenic stops, routes or historical sites on our trip towards Scottsdale, Arizona.  However, the landscape was beautiful.


After a short nap, I woke up and noticed gloom in the sky and a very dark cloud in the horizon. I asked my husband what that was — it looks like a huge cloud of rain. However, at that exact moment I noticed it was far away from us. It looked like we were going in the opposite direction of the huge dark cloud. However, within a couple of minutes it looked like we were headed straight into it.


The dust storm was incredibly strong and the winds were powerful. There were moments when we had zero visibility, but we got us through it safely, in part because of the vehicle we were driving, GMC Terrain.  We felt very safe in the crossover.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, here are the steps to safely handle dust storms:

  • Avoid driving into or through a dust storm
  • Do not wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway —do it as soon as possible. Completely exit the highway if you can.
  • If you encounter a dust storm, check traffic immediately around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down.
  • Do not stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane; look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.
  • Stop the vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and away from where other vehicles may travel.
  • Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers.
  • Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
  • Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelts buckled and wait for the storm to pass.
  • Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds.
  • A driver’s alertness and safe driving ability is still the number one factor to prevent crashes.

The Latino Heritage Roadtrip aims to document  the his­tory of the nation through four regional road trips span­ning thou­sands of miles in the north­east, south­east, south­west and mid­west. The American Latino Fund celebrates the contributions of American Latinos throughout the national park and historic places across the country.  Check www.alhf.org to learn more about the programs and Support the American Latino Heritage Fund.


Please join me and my fellow road trip colleagues as we go on an adventure of a lifetime.  For live tweets, please follow the conversation on Twitter by checking the #LatinoHeritage hashtag.  Please check back later for additional photos.

The vehi­cle being dri­ven on this road trip is pro­vided by Gen­eral Motors. Please fol­low @GM_diversity on Twitter.

Question:  Have you ever encountered severe weather conditions on a roadtrip?  How did you handle it?  What additional tips would you provide for handling severe weather?


Roadtrip to Cabrillo National Monument, Old Point Loma Lighthouse and Old Town San Diego California

We’ve started our American Latino Heritage roadtrip of the Southwest with stops in San Diego, Arizona, New Mexico & Nevada. We’re visiting historic sites protected by the National Park Service that honor the contributions of Latinos throughout American history.  As I prepared for the trip I identified a number of historical sites in my surrounding areas, especially in my home town of San Diego.   I never realized these treasures existed in my back yard.

Being raised my a single mom in Mexico and then in Calfornia didn’t give my mother many opportunities to take us on field trips, other than visiting relatives in Mexico.  As I’ve become an adult and raise children of my own, staying connected to my heritage is something that is very important.  This road trip has been a perfect opportunity to connect with my Hispanic Heritage.

On day one we encountered the beauty of historical sites in San Diego, including the Cabrillo National monument, Old Point Loma lighthouse and historic Old Town San Diego.

In 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. A monument was buit on a hilltop where it is believed he landed.  We watched the story of the 16th century exploration and walked towards the grounds of the monument. The monument is also home to one of the most breathtaking views of San Diego.

We also visited the lighthouse. This was my husband’s first time at the Cabrillo Monument. It was exciting to see him explore the surroundings.  The lighthouse is very small.  The people that lived in it were very resourceful with space.  Walking around the lighthouse I couldn’t help to think whether the residents were lonely on top of the hilltop.

Cabrillo National Monument features a 16th century Spanish History museum where you can learn about the Spanish explorations. The lighthouse museum also highlights life at the Lighthouse and the history of the longest standing Lighthouse keeper family, the Israels Lighthouse keepers who lived and worked at the old Point Loma lighthouse for 18 years.





We traveled to the heart of the city of San Diego to old town and also saw the very first elementary school that was opened in San Diego and La Casa de Estudillo.  I’m looking forward to sharing more photos on the epic home on my Facebook page.

For additional information about Cabrillo National Monument visit the National Parks Services Cabrillo National monument page or Old Point Loma page.

The American Latino Fund celebrates the contributions of American Latinos throughout the national park and historic places across the country.  Check www.alhf.org to learn more about the programs and Support the American Latino Heritage Fund.

Please join me and my colleagues as we go on an adventure of a lifetime.  For live tweets, please follow the conversation on Twitter by checking the #LatinoHeritage hashtag.  Please check back later for additional photos.

Question:  Have you ever gone on a roadtrip to a National Park or historical site?  What park did you visit? 



Home Sweet Home! OCFair Opening Day – Top 5 Tips For Surviving #OCFair

The “Home Sweet Home” themed OCFair 2012 opened on July 13, 2012 to a huge crowd of thousands of fans from across the country. We had to be there for all of the excitement and gathered a group of foodies to enjoy the fun!  The Orange County Fair has grown from a small community celebration to a huge 23 day celebration.  Last year a record 1.4 million people attended the fair.   This year the fair is scheduled to open Wednesday thru Sunday on July 13 – August 12.  The There’s No Place Like Home themed event is a tribute to the love of food and respect for the environment in which it is grown.   The focus is also on  locally grown, sustainable concepts and up-cycled creativity.


We were so excited about the theme and calendar of events that we purchased full passes for the entire 23 days!   Let’s just see how many times I can go to the fair for lunch during the 23 day extravaganza, especially on $2 OCFair Food Fair days!

Here are my Top 5 Tips for surviving the OCFair.

#1:  Wear comfortable clothing, a hat & take Cash:

I had the shoes and outfit all planned out.  Little cute flat shoes with a denim dress and an orange hat. However, I did not take any cash. Thankfully between my purse, car & pockets I found $7.  The Fair parking costs $7 Cash and doesn’t accept credit cards or debit cards for parking.   Some of the vendors also do not accept debit or credit cards.    I had to get a couple dollars from the ATM to buy food and paid a $3 service charge to use the ATM.   Thankfully there are many ATMs scattered throughout the park.  However,  to avoid delays and service charges make sure to take plenty of cash.

#2:  Make it a Day trip and Take a group of family and/or friends: 

Life is about creating memories with the people you love.  Consider getting a group of people or family members together and making OCFair a memorable day trip.   I’ve been working in the OC for over 16 years and have never attended the OC Fair.  Getting together with my foodie friends is something I will always remember. Sharing the experience with friends made my first visit to the OCFair extra special and FUNtastic! There are so many things to see at the fair including crafts, educational demonstrations, food exhibits, celebrity chefs, livestock, musicians, performers and more. Check the daily events calendar online or pick one up at the gate for all the the details.

My favorites performers were the Peking Acrobats.  However, the most memorable exhibit is the Let Freedom Ring exhibit located in the Family Fairway.  The exhibit features steel beam sections from the World Trade Center and is meant to serve as a tangible reminder of the events that occurred during September 11, 2001 and a symbol of renewal, inspiration, unity and hope for our nations future.  There is also a daily tribute for heroes It also has a small park to sit and reflect.

#3:  It’s all about the Food! Eat lots of food, be merry & share: 

I shared my food with fellow foodies and we were able to enjoy more food than when I go to the fair with smaller groups.  I ate Kettle Corn, Chicken Charlie’s Maui chicken with fresh pineapples, a Fried Oreo, a Veggie Kabob and  a Pasilla Chile with pepper jack cheese.   Take advantage of the $2 Taste of Fair Food Days which occur every Friday from Noon-4pm.  Purchase $2 items from the food vendors for a delicious time with family and friends.

Every Thursday is Food Truck Fare Thursday. Check the Food Truck lineup for schedule of trucks in attendance.

The Courtyard Wine seminars is the perfect stop for wine enthusiasts.  Enjoy cheese & wine pairing with 8 award winning wines on Saturday and Sunday.

The exhibit is located in the heart of the Home Sweet Home exhibit at the Exhibit Promenade and includes a chocolate lovers paradise at the Chocolate unwrapped exhibit to enjoy divine all natural chocolate making demonstrations by Xan Confections. Robert Irvine the Host of the Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible will be there on July 26 and Fabio Viviani, Finalist on the fifth season of Bravo’s Top Chef on August 2.  All demonstrations will include Q&A followed by autograph signing.  Chef Ray Presents owner will be at the Fair creating amazing fruit and vegetable sculptures.  Greggy Soriano Cake Lush & Pastry chef and celebrity cake designer will also be at the OC Fair daily creating cake designs.

#4: Buy the SUPER PASS:

If you’re planning on returning to the OCFair more than three times and/or considering attending a Pacific Amphitheatre event make sure to purchase the Super Pass.  The benefits of purchasing a Super Pass includes Admission to the OC Fair for all 23 days.  Express entry at all the Fair gates, 2-for-1 concert tickets for select Pacific Amphitheatre events,  20% off select events in the Hangar and Action Sports Avenue, a carnival ticket book.

#5 OC Fair Admission & Carnival  promotions:

One of the things I admire about the OCFair is its Philanthropy. OCFair supports local community efforts by giving back to the community & families with promotions that pay tribute to our military veterans and discounts to make the OCFair a family event. The OCFair also provides a way for visitors to give back with WE CARE WEDNESDAY promotions.

Here is a summary of the OC Fair Admission & Carnival  promotions during July 13-August 12:

  • Everyday is HEROES GET IN FREE Day!  Active military or veterans get a FREE admission daily with ID.
  • Every Thursday is Kids Day. Children 12 and under get  FREE Admission. All day.
  • Every Friday is Seniors Day. $2 off senior admission plus free Ferris wheel and merry-go-round rides — all day.
  • Every Friday from Noon-4pm is $2 Taste of Fair Food Day.
  • Every Friday is  $2 Rides and $2 games Day. Sold until 4pm.
  • Every Saturday & Sunday between 10am-11am is Rise and Shine  Day – $2 Admission
  • $30 unlimited carnival rides every Wednesday & Thursday plus 2 free games. Sold until 5pm. Valid until 8pm.
  • July 18 – Food Drive.  WE CARE WEDNESDAYS. Bring 5 canned food items for FREE Admission
  • July 25 – Children’s Book Drive. WE CARE WEDNESDAYS. Bring 1 new children’s book or 3 gently used children’s books for FREE Admission
  • August 1 – Clothing Drive. WE CARE WEDNESDAYS. Bring 5 gently used clothing items for FREE Admission
  • August 8 – School Supply Drive. WE CARE WEDNESDAYS. Bring 1 new school supply item valued $5 or more for FREE Admission.

Make sure to check out the www.ocfair.com for calendar of events and daily promotion details.

There’s No Place Like Home! Enjoy your visit to the OCFair.

Question: Have you ever attended a local fair? What is your most memorable experience at the fair?  What is your favorite food to eat at the fair? What additional tips do you have for someone attending OC Fair 2012?


Join us for the American Latino Heritage Roadtrip Twitter Party! #LatinoHeritage

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Go out and Vote Today! Youth, Voting and the Impact of a Moms Voice

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Babies need diapers. Help a Mother Out This Mother’s Day – April 16 – May 13

I’ve join forces with Help A Mother Out (HAMO) and several mom bloggers to form Help a Mother Out LA Advisory Council.  Our goal is to help raise awareness and funds for diaper for children during Mother’s day.  This initiative is very important to me, not only because  of their passion to help others but because this nonprofit is helping to meet the basic needs of local families.  Do you know anyone that needs diapers? [Read more…]


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