Wednesday, June 7, 2017



Today, on Mateo's first birthday, I just wanted to share two written pieces that were created just for Mateo this year.

The first is a song that I heard my uncle Donny playing on the piano at my mom's. As always, the melody sounded beautiful and when I heard it, I actually thought it sounded like a theme for a character in a movie. I asked if the song had any words and this is what he shared with me:

~Mateo... Mateo... 
de da da da 
da de da  
Mateo... Mateo... de da

~Wherever you are around our Star
On the Earth or on Mars 
The love you'll find every time 
Is the love you take with you

:Mateo... Mateo...:

 And then my Godmother (my Tia Ana) wrote a poem, inspired after meeting Mateo for the first time. She's my dad's sister, and she's seen what miracles look like in trying times. Mateo is definitely our miracle.

Mateo Mateo cuando miro tu sonrisa en los √Āngeles yo creo
Y en tu inocente mirada, manantial de amor yo veo.
No se si eres estrella o eres Lucero 
O si simplemente eres el anhelado deseo
Aunque la certeza tengo cada vez que yo te veo
Que los milagros existen... Pues existes tu Mateo.

Their works completely melt my heart, knowing each word was crafted especially for him. 
Beyond grateful. Gracias. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Daddy Hood


In my younger 20s I always said I could see myself as a stay at home dad. I’ve always loved to cook, I like to clean, and I tend to have the energy and outlook that I might need to keep up with a baby. I know it is not very “manly” or expected in the latino culture. As a matter of fact, most of my friends and family members gave me odd looks when I told them I was taking so much time off. But we'd waited and prayed for so long that I could not see any other option but to hang out with my little dude for as much time as I could.

For 34 working days, I got to stay at home and bond with my baby boy. By now Mateo was 5 months old, could recognize me, was laughing at my weird faces, could sit, roll, and had a solid bottom baby tooth which was ready to start munching on whatever he could get his hands on.

I knew that I did NOT want to be a home body. Mateo was a pretty well-seasoned traveler by this point, having already hit the road up through Northern California and into Oregon. So I made a list of things we could do:
parks, hikes, swimming, museums, farmers markets, learn a new language etc. I'd say that we would get out of the house every other day for sure. In the mornings I would get a laugh when I went to the store to buy things and see all of the OC mama’s in their yoga pants and Starbucks cups and here I was with my basketball shorts and little man in a carrier in front of me strolling down the aisle buying tri-colored quinoa.

I was also able to introduce Mateo to solids.
By 7mo he was having: sweet potato, avocado,
carrots, squash, banana, apples, cinnamon, & nutmeg

Some other things we did….

With Erika back to work I was lucky enough to take Mateo to basketball practice, where I coach high schoolers. This  was always an adventure. I would have to divide my time between trying to coach and making sure Mateo was happy. By mid practice he was most likely in the carrier, faced out, looking around at the team running around, with us (the coaches) yelling at them to stay in a defensive stance, run a play, rebound... all those darn things high schoolers never do consistently. The JV players who were on the sidelines were the most curious guys. They would often walk over to the stroller when Mateo was in there. I would scream across the gym “don’t touch my baby!!!” After all,  who knows where those unwashed hands had been all day.

Our typical Tuesday would be a 9 am walk around Irvine Park with a visit to the farmers market right afterward. The loop around the park was a solid 3 miles which took about an hour. We did the walk in the heat, cold, wind, and rain. Mateo has always liked looking up at the trees. I tried several times to point out the peacocks that would be roaming the area, but he could not care less.

Our farthest trip we had together was to L.A. Exposition Park where we spent a few hours at the Natural History Museum and saw the space shuttle Endeavor. He liked the dino skeletons and the elephants the most at the Museum. I tried my best to talk about the different animals on display. The time we spent at the Endeavor was more for me than for him. Growing up I always wanted to fly airplanes a-la "Top Gun." My bad eyes ruined my chances of being a pilot, so now I dream through my son. I can envision that one day he might be one of the fortunate few who get to be on the space shuttle headed beyond the Moon to Mars. I told him my dreams for this as he drank his lunch next to Endeavour.
In between these trips were the seemingly mundane parts of parenting, that actually made my bonding time more special. Even just holding him high above me, then bringing him down so I could give him a kiss, while he giggled the whole time. Changing his diaper early in the morning (with no rush) while he’d babble, telling me about his dreams and grabbing his feet.

Perhaps my favorite, was having him fall asleep on me. I could have a massive list of things to do, but when he’d fall asleep on my chest or shoulder there was nothing I could do but stay on that couch until he lifted his head up with a smile and rosy cheeks, glad to know I was still there.

Initially, going back to work was not something I dreaded. I enjoy my job. I like what I do. But about a month into it, I even told Erika, "I don't know how you did it." I seriously started to question my options.
Classic 'Washing Machine"

Now at seven months, he has 2 teeth, can sit, scoot backwards (moonwalk), and spin like a turn table. As the time came to go back to the classroom it was good to know, we had two eager grandparents who were waiting patiently for my days to end so they could spend all their days with Mateo. The first time I dropped him off at my mom's house I could see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice that she had been waiting for that day for a long time. She was quick to hand me some food, coffee, and shoo me off to work.

Just some of the pictures taken during time with Las Abuelas. 

"I don’t know what my relationship with my you would have been like without this time off. I doubt that any of these last 10 weeks will stick to your long term memory or that I’ll even remember all of the small milestones you went though. But even just the simple connection we have built, has made this time well worth it. When I look at you, without hesitation, you instantly shoot a big smile back at me. And for that I would do it all over again."

---expert from a letter to our baby


Saturday, December 31, 2016

In the Mess & the Miracles


A year ago today I climbed the pyramid of the Sun with my dad. 
We looked forward to celebrating the start of 2016.

Ensima del sol. NYE 2015
"2015 had taught me many things, but the biggest is how out of control we are in this life. 2016 started with an undeniable reminder... All I can do is have hope that things will be better, and understand that it's a new day every morning."
In the hospital in Mexico last January.

As angry, resentful, and helpless as I know we all felt at times
throughout this incredibly difficult and unpredictable year, I can't help but look back
and see all of the joy, hope, and healing that this year brought us. 

Only a couple of weeks old.

God was there with us in the middle of the mess and the miracles.
And I know He'll continue to be as we go into 2017. 
These little bear booties represent all the hope we held onto all year.

We've all come a long way.
NYE 2016

"Mateo, you were the light our family needed in a pretty dark time. Even while you were in Tina's belly, you were giving us hope for the future. You connect with Papa and everyone you meet in such a special way. I've seen you bring love and comfort to people in the middle of loss, just by letting them hold you. As crazy as everything got around us and in the world, we could always look at you to be reminded of God's promises, and of His unending, unconditional love. You will forever be the light of our life. Our most special gift." 
---excerpt from a letter to our baby

Monday, December 26, 2016

This Christmas


I love Christmas.

That is an understatement.

I FREAKING LOVE EVERYTHING about this season. The music, the movies, the feelings, the smells, the parties, the food, the tinsel, and the trees.... My love for the season has everything to do with how I was raised, and I am super, forever grateful for that.

He could not be any happier.

Having been back at work now for about a month, it was nice to get these days back with him.

This Christmas we did all of our usual traditions, but with Mateo right there with us. I really tried to take in each thing we did as a new family, and even though I know he won't remember this one (nor even the next couple of Christmases) I made sure to sing all the songs as often as possible... put him in as many different Christmas outfits and beanies... did the Santa thing... watched the Christmas classics... and even added a tradition.

Santa must have had a long day.

Mateo made a much better Santa.
Luis decided we should take a Christmas Eve hike this year, while listening to all of my favorite holiday songs. I was definitely jingle-belling all the way.


Me, Mateo, Tina, and Lilly! He always loves seeing them. <3

At a mommy and me Christmas party! This was the
bow from Mateo's very first Christmas present!
As far as gifts, Luis and I got each other "the gift of nothing."
Because all we ever wanted, is sleeping upstairs in the nursery.

Incidentally, we didn't really get Mateo anything either. All we got him was a box filled with tissue and wrapping paper.

He freakin' loved it.

I ended last year's Christmas post by saying, "2016 is going to be a life changer."

There has never been a truer statement.

Beyond all of the complications and heartache of the year is this "tiny" gift that we received, right smack dab in the middle of the madness, which has provided us with an endless amount of faith, joy, hope, and Love... and not just for me, but for our entire family. And we thank God every day for him.

"Merry Christmas baby!!! Pretty sure this was my most favorite Christmas. It brought us so much joy to celebrate this time with you. Waking up on Christmas morning to hear you cooing from your room, cuddles with you while listening to Christmas music... best present ever. Thank you for being such an amazing little man. Christmas from now on will only be better and better each year. Watching how you'll experience and enjoy it through the years is something I'll always look forward to."
---excerpt from a letter to our baby

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Bye Bye Baby


I don't even know how to start this post.

Tomorrow is going to be my first day back at work in five months. And although I'm excited to go back and meet my students, I've had a lump in my throat all week thinking about tomorrow. I actually burst into tears a couple of hours ago... but then I put Mateo to bed, and I felt better. He watched me as I whispered and sang to him, held onto my finger, and scratched at my chin. He comforted me. That's how amazing this kid is.

I still cannot believe how quickly the time has gone by. Seriously.
It's crazy to think back to a time, when I didn't even think this was a possibility. It's also crazy to think I ever worried about us being able to bond. From that very first second, I felt connected. And since then, that connection has only grown. He lights up when he sees us, and I think that's the one thing that will keep me motivated throughout the workday... thinking about the moment he sees me when I get home. Although, it'll be interesting to see how exhaustion will effect me at work or even when I get home after work.

 When was he ever this small? And why the heck do they grow so freaking fast!?




This is going to be such a fun time for Luis, who decided to stay at home with him until January. He's going to figure out how to do things his way, make him interesting foods, go swimming, and plan day trips and adventures. At five months, Teo is so much more aware and wants to be kept busy as much as possible. He even seems a little bored sometimes... looking around like, "Sooo... what are we going to do next? Where are we going?" Thankfully he's not mobile yet. He is, however, starting to get his first tooth and next month he's going to start eating solids! Hopefully teething doesn't get bad. So far, so good.

I am grateful to have had all this time with Mateo. I don't regret it at all. I didn't get the 9 months of straight bonding with him beforehand. These 5 have really helped catch me up. I did everything in my power to take advantage of every second.  I joined mommy groups, did baby and me yoga, took swim class, traveled, hung out with family, and really just enjoyed him, learning, laughing, and figuring it all out as we went.

"Mateo, tomorrow I'm going to try to hold it together. I will be bragging about you all day long and I'll be holding back a flood of tears. I hope that you have so much fun with Daddy! I'll look forward to hanging out with you after work every day, so make sure you don't get totally worn out." 
---excerpt from a letter to our baby