Passport: Lost Maples

p-LMSNA_EntranceInteresting Fact: 

This tourist attraction is called Lost Maples because  of the trees found in this  location in Texas. These kinds of trees are generally only found in the east coast, but this special location in Texas has a lot of them. This state park has most of its visitors during the Fall time since this is when the trees turn into the gorgeous red, orange, and yellow colors.

3 things I was able to do at this travel destination that I could not do in my hometown:

Food I tried: Before arriving to the park, my family and I stopped at a small town that was on the way to our destination. We were not sure if there would be any food at the park or if there would be any other nearby towns on the way to stop at. We decided to stop at a little town called Leakey, Texas. This dine in restaurant is called The Friends Grill. Such a fitting name! The waitresses were very hospitable and the food was delicious even though I am on a strict gluten/lactose free diet due to my health. (Gluten intolerance is when the stomach is unable to digest foods such as wheat, barley, and rye). Although this small town is more or less an isolated town, the mainstream gluten-free diet was not new to them. They knew how to accommodate my needs and I ended up eating one of the most delicious salads I have ever eaten.

Favorite Memory:

Every moment of this trip was unique and special in its own way. There is always something new coming up in this park. After all, it was all nature so anything was bound to happen in those trails. I took this trip with my family so we took so many pictures but did not feel rushed in any way from upcoming hikers. The views were beautiful and the experience was priceless.

If you visit this travel destination, you absolutely have to…

Walk all the way to the top of the hill. It will be worth it! From here, you will be able to see a whole bunch of maple trees. The amount of trees you can see all at once is priceless and the colors are so beautiful! Hiking all the up the top of the hill is challenging, but it will definitely be worth your time and energy.

When traveling to this place, don’t forget to pack your…

Water! Water is such a vital thing to pack on this adventure, no matter how cold it may be! Also, you WILL get hungry from hiking up all those windy trails so make sure to pack some snacks.

Review: Rio 2

rio_two_ver6_xlgAs a sequel to the first “Rio” movie, this movie takes place three years later when Blu and his three kids with Jewel, another macaw, returns. Their “humans,” or owners, Tulio and Linda discover the flock from which Jewel comes from. They thought that their macaws were the only ones left in the world. As they investigate this circumstance, they encounter many obstacles such as Nigel, who wants to knock down the rain forest and build stuff which would result in killing wildlife. The new characters in the sequel to “Rio,” which screened in 2011, create a different plot from the first movie.

The message behind the movie is great for both adults and younger ones. Its message is about love and acceptance. This family friendly movie is entertaining for everyone because of the animation, the comedy, the message, and the enjoyment parents will find in seeing their kids take pleasure in the catchy tunes and colorful scenes. The amount of musical numbers adds to the attraction of the film because of its comical animation and entertaining motions and phrases. The 3D animation adds to the adventure and becomes a different take on the well-known family-friendly movie. The film does, however, contain the typical villainous plot which makes it, in a way, predictable. But this type of plot is still enjoyable because the story told in this movie is one that most families and children will enjoy. We all love happy endings so the overall plot of this sequel will be sure to please the audience.

This colorful and vibrant movie is a must-see for children and adults alike! The animation is very appealing to the eyes and keeps your attention throughout the movie. The colors and animation itself is reason to watch this movie, along with the humor that appeals to all tastes. Make sure to grab some popcorn or other favorite snack to enjoy with this movie with family and friends. Even if you think that this movie may be only for smaller children, give it a chance and let your inner child come to life with this adventurous and exotic film!

DIY: Father’s Day Gifts

It is always hard to buy a gift for a guy friend, brother, uncle, or a boy. Your uncle would probably not like a bouquet of roses as much as your aunt. And even though we are all kids at heart, you can’t really buy your grandfather a doll. Now is the time to really think of some gifts you can buy your fatherly figure, or you can even make something yourself if you are a last minute gift-shopper or maker.  If you have nothing in mind, don’t worry! There are plenty of gifts you can make and things you can do to give your dad as a surprise gift for a Father’s Day that he will never forget. Here are some last minute go-to gifts you might want to give on Father’s Day:

Sticky Note Car (Warning: This is very time consuming)

Are you working on a budget? Well this is a surprise that would surely make a bigger impression on anyone and everyone who sees it. Here’s what you need:

A. A pack of permanent markers

B. 100+ 4×4 sticky notes

Start by writing some sweet messages to your father. It is going to take some time but write messages, one by one, on each of the sticky notes. Then, start posting the notes on your dad’s car. Depending on the size of his car, you might need a lot of sticky notes. But try to cover it up the most you can. That is the point of the surprise! If you find yourself stuck on what to write, a simple “I <3 YOU” is enough. Here is what the final product should look like:

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Coupon/Activity Book

A. Construction Paper

B. Scissors

C. Ribbon

D. Markers/Crayons

Do you feel as if you’re not as close as to your father than you wish you would be? Here’s an idea! Why not give your father a coupon book where he can “cash” in on activities he can do with his favorite daughter? Give your father a coupon for “TV TIME” or “Father/Daughter Gardening.” Make him know he has quality time with you and get ready to have a lot of fun! Use markers and crayons to write out different messages on the construction paper, hole punch each one (like a mini-book), and use the ribbon to tie them together. Don’t be afraid to be creative!

 

The Video Message

A. 1 Smart Phone

B. Creativity

C. Computer/laptop

This idea is fun and super easy! Just make a fun plan and tape a nice video message for your father. You don’t have to have video skills to make this gift – all you need is a smartphone. Search through YOUTUBE to get some ideas!

 

The MIX CD

A. 1 Blank CD

B. A computer/laptop

C. I-tunes*

Is your dad a music fan? Is that a passion you both share in common? Well, it can be! Make a mix cd for your dad with songs you like and songs he likes as well.Or make the CD with songs that remind you about him. Whatever it may be, the CD will definitely be something your dad loves! Decorate the CD case or write a nice message for him on the CD. Guaranteed smile every time he listens to it.

*You will need to purchase the music.

Giving your dad a Father’s Day he will never forget will not be difficult at all. What a dad wants the most though is just to really spend time with the family. So on June 15th leave your cellphone at home,  and don’t worry about Twitter, Instagram, or even Facebook! Give your father all your attention.  Make sure to really engage with him in whatever way your family chooses to spend Father’s Day. If you don’t have any ideas yet, you can always plan to do his favorite activity. Does he like to fish? Does he like to play board games? Whatever it may be, do it with him! All that really matters on this day is to show your father that he is loved.

Mi Barrio: Rio Grande Valley

rio-grande-riverWhen you hear someone say “I’m from the Valley,” do you ever wonder what they mean? Do they mean Nappa Valley? Do they mean Silicon Valley? What exactly is the Valley?

“The Valley” is actually located at the Southern tip of Texas where it is most often referred to as the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) or the Lower Rio Grande Valley. It is made up of four counties, and as most recent as 2012, has an estimated population of 1,300,000 people. This makes the Rio Grande Valley more populated than states such as Montana, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

It really is a big place with a culture that changes the more south you go. Somewhere along the cities of Edinburg and McAllen, the culture slowly begins to change – an effect from the close proximity to the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas and the country of Mexico. As stated by the website Rgvpride.com, “this part of the country is a crossroads between American and Mexican cultures.”

Food, for instance, is one of the things the Valley is most known, like Mr. Taco. Mr. Taco is one of the restaurants where people can go for a quick lunch or a late night snack. While the menu is just tacos, they never get old! The Valley also has chain restaurants like Romano’s Macaroni Grill and Italian Restuarant and Five Guys. However, just as any Valley native will tell you, any taqueria, or taco place, is delicious. You will never get tired of them as even the local gas stations have “breakfast tacos”, a trend that is native and most popular in the Rio Grande Valley area.

Photo Credit: Charrodaysfiesta.com

Photo Credit: Charrodaysfiesta.com

Its location adds to the major cultural influence. While New Orleans, Louisiana has their Mardi Gra celebration, the valley has Charros Day.  As stated on the website charrosdaysfiesta.com, the very first Charros Day took place during the Great Depression in 1937. Brownsville was home to a couple of the small battles (Fort Brown is a military post popular in the city of Brownsville). Because of this history, Charro Days celebrates and honors Brownsville’s neighborly location to Matamoros, Tamaulipas with the Sombrero Festival and local parades and festivities.

South Padre Island is the most popular tourist site you will find in the Valley. You have probably been introduced to the island by The Travel Channel, The Weather Channel, and MTV2. Whether you’re in the mood for a road trip or a fun weekend activity, South Padre Island is always the place to go.

That does not mean there are not any other attractions. If you are interested in history,the Resaca de Palma State Park and the Palo Alto Battlefield and Park are two of the most historical landmarks you can visit in the Valley. If you are interested in checking colleges, the city of Brownsville has the University of Texas – Brownsville while the city of Edinburg is home to the University of Texas – Pan American.  If shopping is what you enjoy, the city of Mcallen and the city of Mercedes have the two most populated malls in the valley – La Plaza Mall and the Rio Grande Valley Outlet Mall.

While the Rio Grande Valley has faced its controversy in the past due to the rise of drug trade along the US-Mexico border, the Rio Grande Valley continues to be one of the most unique places to live in and travel to in the United States.

Poem: If We Were All the Same

Polet Espinoza

Polet Espinoza

Have you ever wondered?

What life would be like,

If we were all the same.

What would be exciting about life

If we were all the same?

Never learning new things,

Never seeing new things,

Never doing new things,

That would be a waste of a lifetime.

If we were all the same,

How could you know the difference among us?

No one would be special

No one would stand out.

Why would you like to be the same,

When you have the chance

To be different.

Tips for Talking to Mamá

tumblr_mjwvnxzOhf1qdlkkxo1_500One conflict young girls are faced during their pre-teens and well into their teenage year are conflicts with their mom. It is inevitable to not disagree with the woman that has always had the best interest in mind for you; the problem is not always being able to handle the situation the best way. When handling an argument with your mom, always  be honest and keep calm and listen.

Tell the Truth:

Believe me, losing the trust our mothers whole heartedly place in our hands is not worth it. Be responsible and think twice before deciding to lie to your mom. We think it is just a little white lie to say: “Hey mom, I’m going over to Sara’s house for a while,” when in reality you are going to see the guy you’ve had a crush on since the sixth grade. It is not worth it. Your mom has seen you grow up and has given you morals and values to live up to. My mom would always tell me, “I am your mother before I am your best friend,” to set a boundary. She basically told me I could trust her with everything I ever needed. This boundary is called respect and must always be honored; the moment you lie to your mom, you slowly begin to erase that line…. it is not worth it.

Keep Calm and Listen:

Always stay calm and listen to the point your mom is trying to get across to you. Think about the situation from her point of view, and then speak your mind. The basic “you don’t understand!” never works. Our mom is the biggest source of knowledge we, as girls, have, especially when we are still trying to figure who they really are. The pre-teen stage is perhaps the hardest stage of puberty for most girls. The pressures fitting in in society and being popular in school may seem like the biggest accomplishment, but it can sometimes be very overwhelming. This leads to hasty decision that can later have negative consequences.

All relationships are going to have conflicts once in while, but learning how to deal with them, instead of making them into bigger problems than what they are, is important. Whenever you don’t see eye to eye with your mom, relax and take a deep breath. There is always a solution without having to overreact and push our moms away from our lives.

Staying Fit for a Healthier You

Fitness is a mixture of staying physically active and eating a variety of foods to help keep your heart, mind and body balanced. Most people choose a fit life because they want to feel great about themselves, because when you feel good it shows on the outside — great vibes all around!

Benefits of Exercising

Latinitas El Paso - Summer Camp, Yoga Session

Latinitas El Paso – Summer Camp, Yoga Session

Physical activity can reduce stress and help you feel content. Brain chemicals, called serotonin are released during exercise, and they improve your overall mindset. Melissa Gomez, 7, says, “I like to ride my bike on trails. My dad takes me to the park and I ride my bike and he walks. I go a lot with my dad since my friends don’t live around here.”

Staying Active

Working out with a friend helps keep you motivated to have an active lifestyle. Being on a team helps create a tight bond with friends. For example, Angelina Diaz, 27, says, “I like to come to the park with both my aunt and my three daughters. I like watching them have fun.”

Her daughter, Mya, 3, jumps from one end of the hill to the next. “I would like to see my daughters live an active lifestyle. I know they look up to me. I do play soccer. I met some of my best friends on my team. So, as they get older I will encourage them to take up soccer like I am,” Diaz says.

Mya screams out, “Swing!” and proceeds to run from the hill top to the swing at the playground. Diaz says that though her aunt and other family members are overweight, she does her best to limit fast food and encourage more time outside so that her children remain consistently active.

In a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011-2012, it found that Hispanic obesity (being overweight) was slightly higher than any other group at a percent of 22.4% that set off the epidemic into adulthood. Having an active lifestyle at a young age helps decrease chances of obesity into adulthood. The benefits of physical exercise include the prevention of cardiovascular disease and obesity, as well as improving overall health, being more energetic, and being more confident.

Jenna Duenez, 8, says, “I play handball at school every day.” Her mother is quick to say that it isn’t only about being active, but the types of food consumed.

“It’s also a matter of what chemicals are in our foods. We live a no meat, no dairy diet and find that my daughter is growing with these eating habits just fine,” Duenez’ mother explains.

Duenez says, “I like coming to the park with my brother and mom. We like to walk around and play on the playground.”

Eating healthy means having a balanced diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables. Even though Duenez does not eat meat or dairy products, like milk and cheese, you can lead a healthy lifestyle by reducing the amount of junk food, like chips, coke, fast food, etc., in your diet.

Melissa Gomez, 7, says, ““I don’t drink soda’ cause it rots your teeth…I drink lots of water… it helps me stay cool.”

Finding the Motivation to Exercise

Though overweight children have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self esteem, Kimberly Avalos, 13, and Ana Espinoza, 14, are the best of friends with the same journey. Avalos says, “I used to be a little thicker, well chubby. I was always so depressed.”

Espinoza adds, “Me too! I really wanted to feel better about myself. I was hoping to join the dance team by this year, so last summer Kimberly and me started running at the school park. Then we got into doing yoga to help stay flexible, and,well….”

“Now we’re both on the dance team,” Avalos finishes.

Avalos explains, “I get why we run in gym class. I get that it helps our self-esteem. It’s helped mine. When I see other people in gym who don’t try, Ana and I like to be positive and tell them, “You can do it. Hustle! Hustle! Hustle!”

“We mainly try to say encouraging positive words because we both know how it was to be chubby.”

Having a positive support group, like your best friend, can be the motivation you need to go start exercising. A little “sì, se puede” from a friend can make a 15 minute walk around the park seem like 1 minute!

Ana adds, “Staying active starts off slow.

“There is a lot of pressure to look good from artists like Becky G and Jennifer Lopez, I like to tell myself that I do this to feel better about myself, to be a better person and be body powerful,” Espinoza adds.

Physical education can encourage a fit body and mind. It helps fuel the mind and pumps the heart to alleviate the stress and prepare students to do their best in school.

You too can take small steps in achieving a fit lifestyle. Encourage family and friends to ride bikes to the park or walk around town to find a new location to talk to talk to other kids your age.

Quiz: Do You Know Your Mamá?

Latinitas El Paso - Mother and Daughter Workshops

Latinitas El Paso – Mother and Daughter Workshops

Do you spend enough time with your mom to know her likes and dislikes? Do you frequently have to ask her what she wants for her birthday or Mother’s day instead of knowing exactly what she wants? Some people say they know their mom like the back of their hand, but do they really? Take this quiz and find out if you really know your Mom!

1. When you’re shopping for a gift for your mom, what do you do?

a. Ask her what she wants

b. Get her what she’s been wanting

c. Call your dad to see what she wants

d. Buy her a gift card

 

2. When your mom gets home tired, what do you do?

a. Make noise all around the house

b. Make her a tea and clean the house

c. Nothing

d. Dirty dishes because you know she’s cleaning them

 

3. If your mom says, “I’m craving a chocolate” what do you do?

a. Say “me too”

b. Go to the store and buy her favorite chocolate

c. Go to the store and buy the first chocolate you see

d.  Say “well, go get one”

 

4. As soon as your mom gets home from work, what do you do?

a. Keep watching TV

b. Greet her, help with her bags, and ask how her day was

c. Ask her for money to go out

d. Tell her to make you food

 

5. It’s your mom’s birthday and when she wakes up you:

a. Tell her to be quiet, you’re trying to sleep

b. Make breakfast for her and tell her happy birthday

c. Yell across the house happy birthday because you don’t want to get up

d. Ask her when her birthday is

 

6. When your Mom says “I’m too tired to clean” you:

 a. Say “me too”

b. Clean for her, she’s had a long day

c. Do Nothing

d. Get mad at her because it’s so messy

 

7. You walk into your moms room and you see her struggling with heavy boxes and you:

 a. Tell her to put her back into it

b. Offer to help her right away

c. Tell her to call someone to help her

d. Tell her she’s weak

 

8. Your Mom asks you for a favor, and you:

a. Whine and stomp around

b. Offer to do it for her

c. Say you’re busy

d. Tell her to do it herself

 

9. You get home from school very hungry and you tell your Mom:

a. “I’m hungry, make me something!”

b. “Let’s make some food together”

c. “Buy me some food!”

d. “Why isn’t there any food!”

 

10. Your Mom is going on a trip for work, when she’s boarding the plane, you:

a. Tell her to bring you something

b. Say you Love her and to be careful and hug her

c. Say bye

d. Say “Finally!”

 

Now that you have finished this quiz you can look below to see where you stand, and how well you know your mom. If you’re on the good or bad side, if you need to work on some things. Good Luck!

Mostly A’s or C’s

Sometimes you make an effort to be nice to her or do something sweet for her, but you’re missing important things about her!

Mostly B’s

You know your mom like the back of your hand! You know exactly what she wants, exactly what she likes, and you always go the extra mile to make her feel loved, congratulations!

Mostly D’s

A little bit on the heartless side I would say. You know your mom is a person, she exists, but you don’t know exactly WHO she is. Pay more attention to her, spend a day with her, talk to her, and appreciate her, you only get one mom!

Five Latinas Taking Action

The earth’s climate is changing and human activity is to blame. What may seem like a distant problem left for countries across the world to deal with actually affects us at home. Environmental health hazards are especially impacting Latino communities and workplaces nationwide. Recycling and reusing are some ways we can help make a difference in the environment, but there are even bigger issues that we need to solve. Here are five Latinas working hard to make the earth and Latino communities healthier and safer!

SUSANA ALMANZA, P.O.D.E.R.
Austin, Texas

Photo Credit: statesman.com

 

East Austin native Susanna Almanza works to bridge the gap between environmental issues and social and economic justice. As director and founding member of Austin’s P.O.D.E.R.(People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources), Almanza and the organization seek to increase awareness and active advocacy in communities affected by toxic pollution and unfair economic development. Her impact extends from local and national efforts, such as membership of the City of Austin Environmental Board and service on numerous committees including the EPA’s Title VI Implementation Advisory Committee.

VICTORIA A. ARROYO, Georgetown Law School
Washington, D.C.

 

Photo credit: ted.com

 

Graduating magna cum laude with her B.S. from Emory and J.D. from Georgtown Law School, and with top honors with her M.P.A. from Harvard, Arroyo’s dynamic career and accomplishments include extensive work in environmental policy, general counsel, carbon emission programs and economics to name a few. Arroyo is the Assistant Dean for Centers and Institutes and director of the Climate Center of Georgetown University Law Center. She oversees projects on climate mitigation and teaches environmental law courses at Georgetown Law School, as well as serves on the editorial boards of the Climate Policy journal and the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review. Arroyo has worked in private firms and served in two offices at U.S. EPA, with responsibilities including the review of development of standards under the Clean Air Act.

ANDREA DELGADO, Earth Justice

Washington D.C.

Photo credit: earthjustice.org

 

Andrea Delgado’s passion for the environment comes from growing up in the Ecuadorian Amazonia. She is part of Earth Justice’s Policy and Legislation team where she develops and implements strategies to protect public health from hazardous waste, chemicals and pesticides in the workplace. She works with Congress and federal agencies to strengthen policy and also serves on the Advisory Board of Voces Verde. In 2008, Delgado became the first Fellow of the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change and in 2011, won the national MillerCoors Líder of the Year Award for her work on labor and environmental issues.

 

BEATRIZ PEREZ, Coca-Cola

Atlanta, Georgia

Photo credit: voices.mckinseysociety.com

 

In July 2011, Beatriz Perez became The Coca-Cola Company’s first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). For nearly twenty years, Perez has worked with the company’s marketing programs, which range for various media and entertainment, American Idol, entertainment, university marketing, sports properties and more. She is behind Coca-Cola’s efforts to incorporate sustainability into its business practice, which includes changes to its packaging, recycling, delivery and fuel cost alternatives. Perez also works to promote women entrepreneurship and recently helped start a Ghana water center to reduce time locals spent getting drinking water.

ADRIANNA QUINTERO, Voces Verde

San Francisco, California

Photo credit: vocesverdes.org

 

Adrianna Quintero is the founder and executive director of Voces Verdes, an independent non-partisan coalition of Latino advocates for sound environmental policy changes and support for clean, renewable energy. Quintero specializes in public health issues revolving around safe drinking water, bottled water, pesticides and toxic air pollution. She is also the senior attorney at NRDC. Quintero has litigated before the Supreme Court, testified before Congressional subcommittees and the United Nations, and appeared on national and international English and Spanish television and radio programs. Her 2004 report, “Hidden Danger: Environmental Health Threats in the Latino Community” marked the beginning of her mission to engage and inform Latinos about environmental health threats.

 

Gluten-Free Dessert Pizza

Gluten intolerance has become more common in many people today.  More often than not, many are gluten intolerant without even knowing! Being gluten intolerant means your body is rejecting gluten, which is commonly found in foods process from wheat. They may be experiencing stomach troubles and not able to figure out why this is so. Since gluten intolerance is becoming more and more common, many foods have become available to these people in the past year or so.

This  gluten-free dessert pizza recipe is for those who are gluten intolerant but still want to be able to eat delicious foods like everyone else! Not to mention, this may be more healthy than many other desserts out there.

SONY DSC

What You Will Need:

Crust:

1 large ripe banana

1 box Gluten Free Graham Crackers

3 tbsp agave (or honey)

Frosting:

3/4 container Cool Whip

1/4 cup cream cheese

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup sugar

Before beginning, preheat the oven to 350ºF.

To start off, crush the graham crackers until it becomes almost like a flour texture. To do this, you can use a food processor or manually. After this is done, add the ripe banana and agave, or honey, into the graham cracker crumbs. Combine these ingredients with either an electric mixer or a fork, so that the banana is mashed completely or until the mixture will turn into a dough.

Next, grease a baking sheet, and roll out your dough mixture onto the sheet—flattening it into your desired shape. If you would like, indent the edges of the dough with a fork (like you would on empanadas) to add a little decoration to it.

Once this is done, place the crust into the oven for 12-15 minutes. Check on it periodically. It is done when the crust has a cookie-like texture.

While the crust is baking, prepare the frosting topping.

Add all the frosting ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until the frosting is whipped and creamy. Refrigerate the frosting mixture until it becomes firm. While the topping is firming up, let the crust cool down on the baking sheet.

To decorate your dessert pizza, grab your favorite fruits and other toppings such as nuts and seeds. Set them out and have them ready to use as toppings for your dessert pizza while your frosting is firming up and your crust is cooling down.

Decorate your pizza however you desire and have fun with it! It is healthy and safe to eat for those who are gluten intolerant.

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