Cada día sabemos más y entendemos menos

Everyday we know more and understand less.

Cada día sabemos más y entendemos menos

Today we went fishing. It was the second time in my life that I have ever been fishing, but it was a lot more fun than I remembered. We got a late start to the day so we weren’t able to spend as much time as we wanted fishing. However, the time that we did get to spend together was pretty great.

We were in Lake Livingston in Texas, about an hour from Houston. And the lake was so peaceful and quiet. I can’t remember the last time we spent time just enjoying each other’s company. It was nice. I guess the older I’m getting the more I realize how valuable these moments are for our family. 

Growing up the moments we spent together doing things like this are the ones that really stick out the most. They remind me of the happier times, and the times we spent just experiencing life together, and that for me is what made my childhood such an adventure.

It’s been a funny year this year. Not just because it’s 2016 and as everyone on social media has been exclaiming, “it’s been a crazy year!” Also because it’s brought so many unexpected events, life situations, and personal growth. I can’t honestly say I am the same guy who started this blog almost 8 years ago now, but what I do know is that the changes that have happened in my life have been because they needed to happen.

I needed to understand my place in the universe. I needed to value my own abilities and skills. I needed to be confident in the possibilities. I needed to understand that life is about cycles. Sometimes you’re up. Sometimes you’re down. That doesn’t matter so much, what matters is that you can withstand and persevere no matter what.

And as silly as it might sound, I feel I have been preparing all of my life to understand this. Like every moment of joy and every moment of sadness, of struggle, of defeat, of happiness, has been a lesson. A lesson I’ve had to understand in hindsight. And it was only through these lessons that I was able to grow and expand my ability to understand and accept the how and why. It’s not always been easy, and I certainly have my doubts about it getting any easier, but at the same time I am encouraged to witness the strength and fortitude of others who have withstood so much more than I. 

My hope is that I too can make it to the other side without falling apart. That would be a tremendous achievement. 

Cada día sabemos más y entendemos menos

Vlogmas 2016 Week 1 and 2

So we’re taking Vlogmas 2016 for a spin this year. Only instead of daily vlogs, we’re doing weekly Vlogmas videos. Here are our first two for the first two weeks of December. Find all our videos at youtube.com/juanofwords.

Vlogmas 2016 Week # 1

Vlogmas 2016 Week # 2

Vlogmas 2016 Week 1 and 2

Spreading Holiday Cheer with Paypal Xoom – #XoomHoliday #ad

This is part of a sponsored collaboration with PayPal and DiMe Media. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Spreading Holiday Cheer with Paypal Xoom - #XoomHoliday #ad

It’s definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas now that we’re only a few days away from the 24th. And that means for families around the world it’s a moment to take a step back, celebrate one another and share in one of the most festive times of the year. Depending on where you live, how exactly you celebrate is likely dependent on age old customs and traditions. The one thing we all have in common is the desire to be around friends and family when we’re doing so.

Even when you’re not in the same city, state, or even the same country, the ties that bind us together are most often felt on holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Take a look around the next time the clock strikes midnight on either of these holidays and you’ll notice after hugs and kisses are exchanged, lots of your guests will be texting and chatting away on their phones. More than likely wishing others in their lives a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year too.

Spreading Holiday Cheer with Paypal Xoom - #XoomHoliday #ad
The picture is a bit fuzzy, but that was me playing Santa a few years back.

Those who can also do their best to send their loved ones a little help to make their holidays a little more special. Growing up, that was just a part of the season for our family. My father and mother would always send what they could to their parents in Mexico around the holidays and throughout the year. Sending money across the border in those days wasn’t exactly a simple process. It required entrusting the delivery of your cash either by mail, wire or in one of the vans that travelled back and forth to and from Mexico every couple of weeks.

That was my parent’s preferred method of delivery. Handing the driver – a family friend – a sealed envelope with the name and address of my grandparents. In a matter of a day or two they had received the envelope safely.

Eventually, though, these drivers stopped making trips as often, or they simply changed drivers completely. It wasn’t a full proof method by any means.

Paypal’s new Xoom service, however, sounds like it would have been perfect for accomplishing the job without any of the hassle. It would have definitely avoided a lot of trips to drop off envelopes and pick them up. If you’re not familiar, Xoom basically makes it possible to send money to loved ones outside of the United States with a couple of clicks from your phone. It’s an app that you can download and set up to do things like: 1) Send remittances outside the U.S., 2) Pay utility bills in select countries from your mobile device, and 3) Instantly send mobile phone reloads.

Spreading Holiday Cheer with Paypal Xoom - #XoomHoliday #ad

All this functionality is already integrated into your existing Paypal account:

Your loved ones outside of the United States can also setup their own Xoom account and send you requests anytime.

It definitely makes it easier to share more cheer this holiday season!

Next time you’re looking for a quick and easy way to send money, give Xoom a try.

Start Early. Start Now. Apply for Financial Aid Today. – #PayingForCollege #Ad

This is part of a sponsored collaboration with The College Board and DiMe Media. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

If you have children, family members, or relatives who are close to college age or getting there, this topic is definitely one I think you should be interested in. If not for your own benefit, at the very least to pass this information along to someone who might be able to use it.

I’m talking about financial aid for higher education, of course.

In one form or another, a little help when it comes to paying for college courses can almost always go a long way. Especially considering the average financial aid award in the 2014-2015 school year was $14,210. Not too shabby eh? There’s actually about $184 billion in financial aid available right now. You can pay for a lot of books and classes with that dollar amount!

But for most the biggest challenge is actually going through the application process. It’s a little cumbersome, and when you’re unfamiliar with the overall process it can be a little confusing to say the least. I myself – as one of the first to graduate from college in my family – never applied for any form of financial aid. Not because I didn’t know it was available, but because I just didn’t want to bother with the application process.

Start Early. Start Now. Apply for Financial Aid Today. - #PayingForCollege #Ad
Myself at graduation.

Thankfully, I was working full time already and was able to pay for my own tuition without having to take out any college loans either. By the time I selected a major my then employer had a tuition reimbursement program in place that allowed me to be refunded for every single penny I paid up front. Yeah, I was pretty lucky. I can’t even imagine being buried under student loans for years or decades.

Now that Edgar is getting ready to start high school it really is time for us to make concrete plans towards his college education. Besides honing down on which school he’ll be attending, we’ll definitely be applying for financial aid. As have my nieces and nephews who have already graduated from high school and are currently enrolled in university.

Start Early. Start Now. Apply for Financial Aid Today. - #PayingForCollege #Ad
Our soon to be college student.

It just makes sense to do so.

So how do you do it? Well, the first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. You can do that at fafsa.gov. You’ll need your latest tax returns, but it’s never too early to get the ball rolling. In fact, the earlier you start the application process the better. You can get a jump on other financial aid applications (state or institutional aid) that may have early deadlines.

Start Early. Start Now. Apply for Financial Aid Today. - #PayingForCollege #Ad

Before you apply, you’ll need to create a FSA ID and collect the documents you need to get started. To learn more about paying for college, including finding scholarships visit BigFuture or download the CollegeGo app. Students can use BigFuture to search for and compare colleges, find scholarships, understand financial aid, navigate the college application process from start to finish, and receive personalized deadline reminders, tips, and guidance along the way.

The CollegeGo mobile app guides students through the essential steps in the college application process with an interactive interface that uses game, video, and search features to help students plan their college journeys.

Spanish-language resources for parents and families are also available. The Family Action Plan_11th Grade Spanish and the Family Action Plan_12th Grade Spanish are a great start.

But remember, the most important step is completing your application at fafsa.gov.

Now go and apply or share this information with someone you know!

Getting ready for a very dapper Christmas with JCPenney – #SoWorthIt #ad

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with JCPenney. All opinions are our own.

Getting ready for a very dapper Christmas with JCPenney - #MSXEverywhere #SoWorthIt #ad

The other day we were recording an episode of our podcast The Little Radio Show, and somehow the conversation turned to the topic of my personal sense of style and fashion. I believe the reference used was “your signature style.” As in what is it? And for a moment I kind of sat there dumbfounded about how to actually answer that question. We settled on flannel and kept the conversation moving, but in the weeks since I’ve kind of still been privately mulling over the question.

Do I have a signature style?

Other than comfort above all else that is? I mean as a teenager I wore the baggy pants, the hooded tees, the combat boots. I even died the front of my hair with hydrogen peroxide and pierced my ear once. Yeah, really! As I got older, things just kind of got more conservative – including my clothes. I lost the earring, let my hair grow back to it’s natural color and then chopped it off into a more clean cut look. I eventually even let go of my combat boots, which I was obsessed with for many, many years. Life was changing and I had to grow up a bit too – or so I thought.

Then came fatherhood and career moves, and with that the need to pay even more attention to my choice of clothing. I mean you can’t really serve as a spokesman for an organization in jeans and tee-shirts, or chanclas. Although if you could I’d be all over that, jajaja! But seriously, I think my appreciation for classic, well made clothing started then. I began to notice the little details in how a pair of slacks were made. The stitching on a suit and how it made all the difference in the world. How the right pair of shoes could say so much about one – even if the intention in owning them was not to give any impression at all.

I noticed how sleek a good pair of cufflinks could look, and how the right tie could give a man just a little extra boost of confidence. I guess you could say my sense of fashion is all about looking good and feeling great.

Getting ready for a very dapper Christmas with JCPenney - #MSXEverywhere #SoWorthIt #ad

That’s how I’ve felt in the new gentleman’s line, Collection by Michael Strahan – available now at JCPenney. It’s made up of expertly tailored pieces and refined fabrics that are comfortable to wear and perfect for making a great impression.

Getting ready for a very dapper Christmas with JCPenney - #MSXEverywhere #SoWorthIt #ad

For this feature of the Collection line I decided to focus on the details that can really make a guy feel dapper. After scouring through the entire collection I settled on a tie, socks, and cufflinks.

That’s one of my favorite reasons for shopping at JCPenney. You can find so many brands for every single occasion, and it’s so easy to grab everything you need in one single store. For me, it’s definitely worth my time and effort. Plus they always have great deals and coupons to keep things affordable. Y’all know I’m all about saving!

Getting ready for a very dapper Christmas with JCPenney - #MSXEverywhere #SoWorthIt #ad

I honestly couldn’t make up my mind about the tie because there were so many to choose from, but now I’m kind of certain I made the right choice. Look how regal it looks! 🙂

Getting ready for a very dapper Christmas with JCPenney - #MSXEverywhere #SoWorthIt #ad

These cufflinks immediately caught my eye when I saw them. Anjelica gave them her vote of confidence immediately too.

Getting ready for a very dapper Christmas with JCPenney - #MSXEverywhere #SoWorthIt #ad

Then we had to find the right pair of socks to make everything come together. I think these pretty much get the job done.

Getting ready for a very dapper Christmas with JCPenney - #MSXEverywhere #SoWorthIt #ad

You can’t help but to feel like a million bucks when the wife gives you that look. Like “hey, there’s that guy I married!”

I couldn’t possibly do this entire line justice in one single post, so please take a look at the following video that really captures the depth an essence of Collection by Michael Strahan at JCPenney.

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Tamale Festival Houston

Yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds. Anjelica and I spent the better part of our Saturday this weekend walking around Houston’s very own Tamale Festival Houston, which as you might imagine specializes in one very tasty and traditional Latino dish: tamales!

They had spicy tamales, pork tamales, chicken tamales, strawberry tamales, jalapeño and cheese tamales, Puerto Rican tamales. Wait, let’s stop there for a minute. The Puerto Rican tamales were boiled and then grilled. Pretty tasty if you ask me, and they were pretty popular too considering they were quite different from the rest of the selection available from various vendors. They actually had a line – which I stood in for about 30 minutes in order to get a taste of these larger-than-“normal-Mexican-tamales.

The verdict. They were well worth the wait.

Although after stuffing myself with so many varieties of tamales – not to mention the pork skewer, the corn in a cup, and the pupusa I just had to have – I was pretty full.

The good news is they had live music and other entertainment to keep us busy on a full stomach. One of the bands we stuck around to hear was Metalachi. If you haven’t heard of them before you probably soon will. They bill themselves as the world’s first and only heavy metal mariachi, and as you might imagine they were quite unorthodox. An interesting hybrid between both genres that didn’t actually sound like either – save for a few moments when one of the band members serenaded an audience member to one of Vicente Fernandez’s classics, or when the crowd joined the band in singing Every Rose Has It Thorn.

That was pretty fun.

Oddly enough I didn’t end up taking any pictures of tamales. I’ve been practicing taking better pictures of people so that’s what I ended up with. A couple of shots from our DSLR camera of some of the people who were there with us celebrating all of the tamale goodness.

Tamale Festival Houston
Metalachi: the world’s first and only heavy metal mariachi band.
Tamale Festival Houston
They put on a pretty good show.

Tamale Festival Houston

Tamale Festival Houston
Not my best work, but a work in progress I would say.
Tamale Festival Houston
I bought champurrado from her, and it was pretty delicious.

Now, we’re definitely looking forward to next year!

Huevos con Chorizo for the Holidays – #VivaLaMorena #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #VivaLaMorena #CollectiveBias

Huevos con Chorizo for the Holidays - #VivaLaMorena #ad

This holiday season – or anytime really – the perfect recipe for any breakfast, well at least for me anyway, are huevos con chorizo. They just hit the spot, and get your day off to an excellent start. It’s been a dish I have been wanting to feature here for a very long time.

For me huevos con chorizo go perfect with jalapeños… but then again don’t jalapeños go great with everything? In our family, this dish is a tradition my mom created with us, her children. Now we carry that tradition on to our families as well. Huevos con chorizo is usually served with whole jalapeños in vinegar that most of the time are already waiting on the table in a jar or something.

Huevos con Chorizo for the Holidays - #VivaLaMorena #ad

Having the jalapeños waiting at the table is a actually a tradition in it of itself. When you sit down at the table to have a meal the first thing you do is reach over to grab a jalapeño. Or is that just me? I know growing up my dad did this every single time he had a meal. “Y los jalapeños,” he would jokingly exclaim when they were not already placed on the table. We knew he was kidding, but not really.

#VivaLaMorenaSweepstakes

This holiday season I know we’ll be eating plenty of them with every meal.

Huevos con Chorizo for the Holidays - #VivaLaMorena #ad

They go great with every dish. Con posole, tamales, tostadas, tacos, tortas, fajita, and, of course, hevos con corizo. They’re kind of the perfect all American Holiday breakfast feast.

Huevos con Chorizo for the Holidays - #VivaLaMorena #ad

I invite you to pick up La Morena® jalapeños at your local Fiesta like we did this for this collaboration. Why La Morena®? Because their peppers are trusted, high quality, ingredients you can depend on. They’re sure to create delicious meals that will bring your friends and family together this holiday season.

Huevos con Chorizo for the Holidays - #VivaLaMorena #ad

Huevos con Chorizo for the Holidays - #VivaLaMorena #ad

Here’s our recipe for huevos con chorizo.

INGREDIENTS

3 eggs
Salt
Mexican chorizo
Jalapeños

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a skillet, cook three to four table spoons of Mexican chorizo

2. Heat until the chorizo is separated and chopped.

3. Crack three eggs and add them to the skillet.

4. Add salt to taste.

5. Cook for a few minutes until eggs are cooked all the way through.

6. Serve with a side of beans and tortillas.

7. Add La Morena jalapeños to your dish.

And enjoy!

Now it’s your turn. What is the one thing that is never missing from your family holiday meals?

Not right now. Pronto. 

Not right now. Pronto. 

Not right now, she said. Not right now, okay sweetie. 

Soon. 

Pronto.

Mom, can you buy me these shoes. Not right now, sweetie. 

Mom, can we go watch a movie tonight? Not tonight, honey. 

Pronto. 

Mom, can you buy me this book? 

Sí, pero ahorita no. Not right now. 

Soon. 

Only soon never came. This week it was the light bill. Next week it’ll be the rent. The one after that it’ll be something else. Something else is always more important than what I want to do. Something else is always more important than me. 

I hate being poor. Like really, really hate it. Like can’t stand it anymore. I wish I had five dollar bills and single dollar bills in my pockets like my friend Mikey does everyday. Hell, I’d even settle for quarters, like the other kids in the lunchroom who always cling their nickels, dimes and pennies together when they’re looking for quarters in their pockets to buy their school lunches. They don’t have to get in the school lunch line every single day, or have to pull a plastic free lunch card out of their pockets to pay for whatever is being served on the menu today. 

They can buy a chef salad if they want. A slice of pizza. A burger. A burger with cheese if they want. They don’t have to give their names to the lunch lady every single day at the beginning of the school year because the lunch cards aren’t ready yet, and won’t be for at least a month. But I do. 

Name? The cafeteria lady yells, I think. And, of course, she can’t find me because my name is spelled funny and she can’t pronounce it anyway. Spell it! She commands. And every day I have to spell it for her again. R I G O B E R T O. Last name!? M A L D O N A D O. And then she repeats it and I have to shake my head yes, that’s correct. Even though sometimes it’s not, but I shake my head anyway. Close enough, I think. I just want to hurry up and get out of the line before someone behind me says something or makes fun of my long and complicated name. 

I hate my name sometimes. What does it even mean? Why couldn’t my mom just give me a simple name like Jose or Hector. Pedro or Pablo. Maybe even Martin. I think I could have been happy being a Martin. Anything is better than Rigoberto Maldonado, I think. But then I remember I could have been named Aureliano, Norberto, or even Maria Jose had I been born on a different day and my mother decided to name me according to the saint that was born on the same day. And then I am grateful for just being R I G O B E R T O M A L D O N A D O again. 

But, ooh, how I do still hate being poor! 

It makes me want to lie to people and tell them that my mom and dad work in fancy office jobs where they make a lot more money than what they do. Not less than minimum wage cleaning houses and fixing old roofs. It makes me want take things every once in a while, when me and my brother and our friends the Rodriguezes go to the mall together. We pretend we’re trying on shirts, and we grab a bunch of them so you can’t tell how many we have folded over each other in our arms. We walk into the dressing rooms like we belong there. Like we really have the money to buy one or two tee shirts in this store. And then we tear off the tags of two or three shirts and put them on one over the other on ourselves before putting on our own oversized tee shirts or jackets on top. We walk out of the dressing room. Then out of the store. And then back home to our apartments. Nobody even noticed and we feel vindicated. Like we just got away with the ultimate revenge. If we can’t buy it, we’ll take it! Who cares if it’s not right, right? 

I hate being poor so much that when my mom shows up and picks me up from school, I immediately sink into my seat as far down as I can go until only the top of my head is visible, and even then I bury my face down into my chest so nobody will see me. Even if they are really trying to look inside. I’m tired of riding around in this old beat up car that’s too loud and too many different colors – on the roof, on the driver’s side door, on the back side – to look nice. I especially hate it when it stops right in front of the school. 

Right in front the doors where teachers are standing, making sure every student gets a ride home from school. Right in front of the school where I feel everyone is staring at me and laughing at the old beat up car that doesn’t want to turn on no matter how much whining and grunting it does, or how many puffs of black smoke it lets out. How could she do this to me? Why is my mom trying to embarrass me again? Why can’t we just get a new car that’s not so embarrassing? I hate this, I think. 

I’m angry now because my mother should know better than to humiliate me like this. 

I hate being poor so much that one time I yelled at my mother for being so mean and not letting me do anything that I wanted! It felt so good. I finally got it off of my chest. Maybe now she would finally put me first and stop making excuses about the light bill, the rent, the groceries, the whatever excuse it was that she was going to give me the next time I asked her for something. 

Only she said nothing then. 

She stayed quiet for a moment, turned to me, tried her best to muster up a smile despite the look of sadness in her eyes, and then after a while said… pronto. Only this time she wasn’t really telling me. She was asking herself. 

And that was enough for me to understand.

Pronto will come soon enough.

Mexican! It's a Lifestyle

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