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Cinco de Mayo con Niños…Not Tequila

Cinco de Mayo NashvilleMomsBlog

Let me preface this article by saying that I am grossly unqualified to write it.

I am Canadian. As of 2011, there were a mere 96,055 Mexicans living in my home and native land. To put it in perspective, there are an estimated 500,000-1,000,00 moose.

I don’t know anything about Mexico.

I didn’t have refried beans until I was 25 years old, and my pronunciation of the word “tamale” gets WASP-ier every single time I say it. And let me tell you—it takes a staggering lack of finesse to make a Mexican menu item sound like the name of a Mid-Western city. (“Hi, I’m Shannon from To-maaah-lee, Ohio!”) So why exactly should I write about Cinco de Mayo? Why should you trust someone whose cultural immersion is limited to a set of Dia de los Muertos magnets and standing in line at Chipotle? Because I have Pinterest, a limited skill set, and I’ve had three cups of coffee today—that’s why!

Of course, you and your little ones could take the easy way out: a bag of Tostitos for breakfast, an afternoon of telenovelas, and a relaxing evening at your friendly neighborhood cockfight. (Kidding! Though I do sense some discord in my neighbour’s backyard coop.) However, Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Mexican culture (NOT Mexico’s birthday, by the way) that, sadly, has become synonymous with selfie-drunk frat boys with too much Cuervo on their hands. There are plenty of easy, entertaining, and—dare I say it—educational ways to do Cinco de Mayo right (and without the bucket of beers).

1) Make and Shake Maracas

So, Easter happened. About a month ago. But, if you’re like me, you’re still tripping over these little gems six times a day.


You’re also feeling pretty bad about the fact that you consumed 80% of your child’s Easter candy. Fine, 85%. What to do with feelings of remorse and empty plastic shells? Why! Fashion a smart-looking pair of maracas, OF COURSE!

All you need are some plastic spoons, tape, some rice/beans/lentils/popcorn, and a few markers.


This, friends, is craftiness at its best. Just (partially) fill up the egg with your shaker of choice, tape it closed, and secure it to the spoons.


Tape some more, and decorate! (For WAY better directions, click here.)

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Diego Rivera he ain’t, but we love him anyway.

Of course, if you have older kids, and you happen to be ultra-artsy, go on and unholster that glue gun! Embellish those bad boys some more!

2) Work on Your Spanish.

I can say three non-food things in Spanish: mapache (raccoon), baño (toilet), and piso mojado (wet floor). So basically, if a raccoon trashes a restroom in Guadalajara, and you need somebody to talk to about it, I’m your girl. As hella-worldly as I am, I kind of want Wilder to maybe have a few more skills in the foreign language department than I do. You know—just in case that whole raccoon in the potty scenario is less common than I believe it to be.

I’m a book girl, so rather than parking my little one on the couch and having Dora the Explorer scream at him for a half-hour, this Cinco de Mayo (and beyond) my son and I will be studying our favorite Spanish Language primers.


There are also plenty of other excellent titles available for loan at the Nashville Public Library.

3) Melt Stuff!

I’m not talking about queso—though that would be awesome too! I’m talking about crayons. Truth be told, this is not the first time we’ve made super crayons. This craft is where all of our ailing Crayolas go to die. In order to keep our Mexican theme alive, we elected to go with colors from the Mexican flag, but if you just happen to have a silicone mold in the shape of say, a saguaro cactus or Pancho Villa laying around that would be infinitely more festive.

All You Need:

  • Some busted up crayons in red, white, and green (and maybe some brown to give that sweet eagle a shout out)
  • A silicone baking mold
  • An oven

I’m not sure what internet genius came up with this brilliant idea, but Wilder absolutely loves making these things. I like to think he’ll be less inclined to be one of those scorching the grasshopper with the magnifying glass types if he’s got himself a viable, equally destructive alternative.

First, the really fun part—the peeling and the breaking. Prepare yourself. The sound of a snapping crayon is alarmingly satisfying. Be sure not to get all caught up in the crunching, and let your kiddo help out too.


Fill up the molds to the top, making sure to distribute the colors evenly. Well, evenly-ish.

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Bake at 250 for 15 minutes, and wait for them to cool completely before popping them out.

Ta Da!


**This is also a great activity for little ones to work on their colors and slightly-less-little ones to work on their Spanish color names: Red-Rojo. Green-Verde, White-Blanco, and Brown-Marrón.

4) Visit Your Local Mercado (<–ANOTHER SPANISH WORD!!!)

Admit it. You’re in a grocery rut. You’ve been going to the exact same Publix on the exact same day of the week for the past six years. It’s okay; I’m in a rut too. I could navigate Whole Foods blind folded and still find myself with exact same four bags of groceries I end up with every. single. time. My kiddo, whose greatest pleasure in life was once throwing humiliating, produce-smashing, can-denting public meltdowns is now overcome with ennui by the time he’s strapped into the cart. For Cinco de Mayo, we’re shaking things up!

That’s right. My days of trotting down the International Food aisle, picking up a bottle of Cholula, and feeling like I’m some kind of lady Anthony Bourdain are over. If we’re buying Latin American ingredients, you better believe we’re going to a real Hispanic market.

Nashville has plenty of fabulous places to shop for May 5th. Sure, you might feel like you’re committing culinary adultery on Ina Garten, but you’ll be so overcome by all of the beautiful food that you won’t care. Before you know it, you and your tot will both be molars deep in a pair of conchas and have a cart stocked with things other than Capri Sun and cheese-food.

Cinco de Mayo Ethnic Foods NashvilleMomsBlog

If you feel like scoring 9-billion mom points,  pick up a crazy awesome piñata and some yummy Mexican candy to fill it. (If that doesn’t help absolve you of the aforementioned Easter guilt, nothing will.)


If you aren’t one for Yelping, here are a few local faves:

Las Americas

La Hacienda

K&S World Market (International)

5) Cook Something!

I’m not saying you should put your two year old to work seeding Habaneros or spend all day sweating over authentic mole, but it would be a shame to subject your child to that weird noodle thing you make on the one day of the year when you can sit around eating tacos all day long and call it a celebration.

We make guacamole—not because our boy has any interest in eating it but because squishing an avocado can keep him blissful and occupied for an astounding twenty minutes—which means I get to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by going to the baño by myself. (Woot! Woot!)

Last year, we used this brilliant toddler-friendly recipe from Weelicious (forgoing the blender for the manual masher of course), but this year we’re going to step up to their Big Kid Guacamole—which makes sense because unless my son’s palate has some undergone some amazing transformation, I fully expect to eat the entire batch by myself. And I’m a pretty big kid.

Flashback to our very first Cinco de Mayo, back when he thought avocado and breastmilk were his only options. *sigh*


See? Being a mom doesn’t mean, you have to spend the day lamenting the loss of your tequila-drenched youth, nor does it mean you have to spend the six weeks leading up to Cinco de Mayo papier mache-ing a homemade piñata replica of Chichén Itzá. Just relax, have fun with the fam, and don’t make the eerily nipple-like sombrero sugar cookies that I made last year!!


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