Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wild One


It's been almost 2 months since we celebrated Mateo's first birthday and since then, and as with everything, it was just another reminder of all of the support and love that's been shown to our litlte family.

We weren't even sure if we wanted to throw Mateo a big birthday party.
Some of the reasons: We know he'll never remember it. He isn't in need of tons of presents. Parties can be stressful/expensive to throw.

However, I am so glad that family and friends convinced us to do it. They also did a lot of the work! And though it was stressful and I had to let go of some details, at the end of the day, we were all able to celebrate his first year with us, our first year as parents, and the wild journey it was to get here.

With all of the running around at the party, I felt like it was really hard to just be in the moment. Thankfully I had two amazing photographers there to capture the moments that otherwise, would have just flown right by me. My two former students (both of whom I've had since they were in middle school) spent the day with us, celebrating, eating, and snapping away. (I had a handful of other students there and it was so awesome to see them at Mateo's birthday. They really love him and were a huge help.) I am forever grateful. Because even though he won't remember it, he'll have these pictures, and I'll be able to look back and get a sense of the sweetness and the joy of the day, that I may have otherwise missed.




A few weeks later we celebrated one more time with my Arizona family. We didn't want them to miss out on celebrating. I think by the second time around, Mateo had the hang of the singing and understood what cake is (even if it was applesauce cake).



Of all the words of advice that were passed on by other parents, “they grow up fast be sure to enjoy it”, kinda sums up this first year with Mateo. Those blurry days of AM feedings that I wished to be over are distant memories in the many milestones we have gone through with Mateo.
There are so many things that happen within the first year that it's difficult to reflect on.

Our job of parenting has been “easier” because our boy has been kind, joyous and loving. He has slowly been showing us his little personally. In particular, his joy of eating, dancing, and curiosity with dogs, planes and dirt.

His happy place.

First time in dirt.

I know we are being loving and giving him chances to explore and letting him know when to be nice. And if we continue to do that, I know this kiddo is going to turn out fine.   

In Venice Beach.

At his friends' first birthday party!

"Baby, there will always be a reason to celebrate you. In both big and small ways, the celebration and the gratitude will continue for a lifetime. I look back all the time, watching videos and looking at pictures of you from a year ago and sometimes from even further back, when you were still in Tina's belly. I have no idea how we got here so quickly, but it's been like a freaking magic show. I am completely entertained by you and everything you do absolutely amazes me."
---excerpt from a letter to our baby

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