This time around

I say/write “this time around” a lot these days when talking/writing about my pregnancy. I can’t think about what’s happening now without my reference point of 2012/13.

It’s all feels so different and that amazes and baffles me. How could it have been so easy just a few years ago? Why am I still feeling morning sickness/nausea at the end of the 2nd trimester?

The big — and most important — things are still the same. Once again I’m experiencing an uncomplicated rather “easy” pregnancy and all signs point to carrying a health baby. I can’t complain.

But I still think I should write something, just so I have it for reference to look back on. If these kids ever want to know what they were like in utero, I can go to my archives and say, “Xavi, we called you Meatball and you didn’t kick me until 23 weeks! I was totally freaking out. And ______, we didn’t find out if you were a boy or a girl. Your nickname was Bubble and you began kicking/punching around 18 weeks.”

Bump and Xavi photobomb

What’s the same:
Relatively uncomplicated
Carrying “small.” I haven’t gained much weight, but ditched my pre-pregnancy pants around 20 weeks.

Different:
Seemingly everything.

Health care
Since we moved states and I have a new employer, I have different health insurance and new healthcare providers. In LA I had Kaiser Permanente, a large HMO. I was assigned an OB/Gyn after my first same-day appointment at about 5 weeks just to confirm I was pregnant with a blood test. My doctor was pretty awesome and my prenatal care was truly “covered.” I never had a co-pay for any visits or anything diagnostic such as a test or ultrasound. In fact, the only thing I paid for was parking until delivery/hospital stay which was a reasonable co-pay of $250. We did pay for optional labor and newborn prep course. All labs, ultrasounds — which I had every single visit — and breastfeeding support was covered. I never even saw a bill from Kaiser.

This time I’ve found a local practice that has both midwives and ob/gyns. I’ve opted to only see the midwives as I’m comfortable with that. Instead of seeing the same provider every four weeks, I see whoever is available when I schedule. So far, I’m happy with my care but grumbling about co-pays, co-insurance and prenatal care that isn’t 100% covered as I thought when I chose my benefits plan. I was pretty confused when I got my first bill for the first trimester blood draw to test things like my iron level. I know I’m fortunate to have insurance and we can afford the costs, but it’s still much different. As for quality of care, gone are the days of seeing my baby at every appointment. I took that for granted with Xavi, but was so excited for the 20-week anatomy scan because I’d get to see baby again! The baby’s profile looked so much like Xavi and I can’t wait to see what he/she looks like. I do have competent, kind and respectful caregivers. They don’t treat me like I’m ancient just because I’m 35 years old or push extra tests on me.

Xavi and Bubble

Symptoms
I had it pretty easy with Xavi. I tell people that on the same day I went in to labor at 41 weeks I took a long midday walk hoping it would help get labor started since I was scheduled for an induction the next morning. The walk was more of a hike since the 5-mile route is pretty hilly. I didn’t run, but I did stay active through walking and generally felt okay. I had my weird dizzy spells, but was able to get through them okay and never actually fainted. As for nausea/morning sickness, it was fairly mild.

Bubble is kicking my butt. My morning sickness in the first trimester was much worse than with Xavi. I was happy on the days I kept all my meals down. Once the fatigue and nausea let up in the second trimester then the constant colds started. This coincided with Xavi starting daycare. I got whatever he got, but worse and for a longer period. The congestion made my symptoms worse. All the sickness has probably contributed to slower weight gain. I also have more aches and pains. It’s probably a combination of second pregnancy, age and being heavier than I was in 2012/13. I’m also feeling the effects of being less active. I get tired walking short distances or being on my feet a lot. I know with the Ithaca heat and humidity I’ll feel more uncomfortable.

Baby
I didn’t feel Xavi move until nearly 23 weeks. It stressed me out. When he did move, I never felt it was uncomfortable, no sharp kicks or jabs. It was most amusing when he had hiccups. I’ve felt Bubble move since 18 weeks and he/she is pretty active. It’s nice to be in the middle of work and be distracted by Bubble dancing around in there, but sometimes it just feels weird. 

We also don’t know the sex. I liked knowing with Xavi. Since we were preparing a nursery and my family was planning a big baby shower, it gave some guidance on how we wanted to decorate or what gifts family/friends might want to buy. I know that’s not necessary, but gender neutral clothes is harder to find than it should be. Once we found out baby was a boy, it made things more concrete and helped us move forward on the name.

With Bubble we are not setting up a new nursery and already have all the key baby equipment. If the baby is a boy, then he’ll have tons of hand me downs. If a girl, she can wear Xavi’s clothes too and I know her grandmothers will go nuts buying her new stuff.

Names
With Xavi we had a shortlist for boy and girl names midway through. We had a front-runner by 6 months.

I’m not sure we even have a shortlist yet. (Update: Sean disagrees and is lobbying for his first choice boy name. He’s also convinced we are having a boy.)

B&W party pre-pic

Emotions, excitement and stuff
I’ve read about other women not connecting as much to a second pregnancy. I can relate. It’s not that I’m not excited, but a lot of the preparation we did for Xavi isn’t happening this time around for space/logistics reasons.

Being away from our families and almost all our close friends adds another layer. In LA, my mom and sister would be oohing and aahing over my bump and friends would ask the standard questions, “Do you know what you’re having? Any names?”

Here, few people actually know I’m expecting and if they do they’re not asking questions which I think is a factor of age. From my previous experience, I knew that college/grad students aren’t that excited about babies. In LA it seems like everyone is pregnant. Four of my cousins have had babies this year or are expecting and a few close friends have also had babies.

I did feel some of the excitement when I was in LA recently for Adrian and Alexis’ wedding. It seemed like all my tías and cousins had an opinion on the baby’s sex based on how I was carrying (low vs high) or if Xavi was clingy/jealous. I also got to meet/see some of the new babies in the family/friend group. Xavi even held his newest baby cousin, 2.5 month old Zack, and it was adorable.

I definitely feel Bubble and think about him/her, but I have a lot less time to just sit around and contemplate this baby and think about how our lives are going to change. I already know what labor and birth is like, though I know better to expect the same. This goes for newborn life too. When I get home, I’m not reading my baby book or pregnancy blogs. I’m playing with Xavi, doing the dishes with him, reading to him or trying to get ahead on work for the next day. And I’m thinking of how to prepare Xavi too.

The womb where it happens

This is how I wanted to announce my second pregnancy. Because small Hamilton obsession.  (Nope, still haven’t seen it.)

 

Sean didn’t even like me joking about waiting a month to tell him just so I could use the line from That Would be Enough. I didn’t. He found out right away, not that I could’ve kept it a secret. Yay first trimester nausea and vomiting (worse this time around). Now it doesn’t make sense because I’ve known since before Christmas. 

 
I have to admit that Sean’s pregnancy/pop culture mashup announcement is better. It features big-brother-to-be, Xavi, required when announcing a second pregnancy via social media.  And Star Wars may be a bit more recognizable than Hamilton. 

Enjoy the video

Oh! I’m due mid/late August, currently 20 weeks. We don’t know the baby’s sex despite being able to know rather early due to a blood test for chromosomal abnormalities. Since they look at chromosomes they can tell the sex with 99% certainty. No need to wait until the anatomy scan or for baby to be in a showy mood. I took the test at 14 weeks, but didn’t look at my results. The midwife just gave me info about the relevant results for baby’s development and health. We will likely wait until birth, much to the chagrin of the grandmothers. They don’t like that they’ll have to Wait for It.

Tips on preparing Xavi for his transition to big brother status are welcomed! 

Apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda for bastardizing his song title. 

The first Ithaca winter

Earlier this year I tweeted.

I made it a mini goal.

Frozen.

I had three key reasons. First, weather posts on social media seem a bit lazy. There are so many other things to post about. Second, I wanted to avoid any responses from friends and family in LA gloating about the 70-80 degree weather in the winter months or the “I told you so” comments. I don’t need reminders of how nice and warm it is in LA this time of year, I see it all over social media. Last, I wanted to avoid the “welcome to real winter” comments. As an LA/Southern California booster of sorts, I chafe at comments that my hometown doesn’t have a “real winter” or seasons in general. Why does northeast/midwest winter count as “real winter” when the country (continent, planet, etc) is home to a variety of climates? It’s silly to think winter much closer to the equator and at sea level would be as cold as it is several degrees north. Plus, someone always has it worse. I’m sure Canadians laugh at what a NYer calls cold.

Running around in the snow

All that said, I haven’t had much to really complain about. Winter hasn’t been that bad. Ithaca/upstate NY avoided the big snowstorm that hit NYC and the mid-Atlantic about a month ago with record snowfalls. The temps have been mild for the region, especially compared to last winter, so I’m told. Ithaca and the university are really good about dealing with the snow we do get (max has been a few inches/day). The university doesn’t even do snow days. I don’t drive to work so I don’t need to deal with brushing off snow or waiting for the car to warm up each morning. I don’t need to spend much time out in the elements because the bus stops are 4-6 blocks away (max) and 1 block away (minimum). And we don’t have driveways or sidewalks we need to shovel or maintain in the winter.

Long coat status

Of course, I had to upgrade my winter gear. I bought a short down coat (Nordstrom Rack, for the win). This replaced my every day wool blend coat that no longer closes (this one). My generous in-laws gave me a long and very warm down coat for Christmas that is perfect for the days it’s in the 20s and below. I haven’t had to buy any additional underclothes to keep me warm under thin pants because the coat does it’s job. Sean and I exchanged snow boots as Christmas gifts and my sister hooked it up with warmer gloves.

Exploring the Children's Garden

Xavi is still adjusting to Ithaca winter. He has fleece-lined jeans, snow pants and a few puffy coats. We try to get him to keep his hats and mittens on, but he/his hair have their own ideas. He insists on being carried when it’s colder than the 40s, but otherwise he’s happy running around.

Wind chill warning

Sure, there are weekends when I just want to hibernate. See above. (I didn’t even know wind chill warnings were a thing.) Sean was the only one who went out that day and it was only for very quick errands. It took him longer to get dressed than to run the errands. I didn’t think Xavi needed to experience what -22 feels like. That weekend was an exception.

Overall, we’re managing, but I do miss hoodie weather and almost all things LA (not traffic though, Ithaca is nice in that regard). But what’s new?

2015 Bookishness in Review

completed

CHALLENGE CHECK-IN

75 books overall. CHECK.

10 books from my bookshelf. I read 7/10 in this category.

24 books fulfilling the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge criteria. CHECK.

6 books meeting the What’s in a Name Challenge criteria: CHECK!

  • -ing Word: Late-Talking Children: A Symptom or a Stage? by Stephen Camarata
  • Color: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
  • Familial relation: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
  • Body of water: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
  • City: Still Water Saints by Alex Espinoza (got creative with this one as the fictional city in the book is Agua Mansa which translates to “still water”)
  • Animal: 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

5 books from NPR’s 100 Must-Reads For Kids 9-14 list: CHECK.

  • A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

52 books from Pop Sugar’s Reading Challenge. CHECK with tons of overlap.

READING STATS

Thanks to Melissa/Feminist Texican for the idea to use infogr.am to organize my reading.

LISTS

Top ten favorite novels (alpha order):
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Still Water Saints by Luis Espinoza
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henríquez
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kawn
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Young adult and middle grade novels:
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson [poetry]

Short story collection:
Night at the Fiestas by Lisa Valdez Quade
We Live in Water by Jess Walter

Non-fiction:
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle
Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar
Late-Talking Children: A Symptom or a Stage? by Stephen Camarata

Memoir or essay:
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Humor:
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Favorite new (to me) authors:
Louise Erdrich
Angela Flournoy (best debut)
Celeste Ng
Roxane Gay

Lived up to the hype:
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Most over-hyped:
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Favorite covers:
All the Light We Cannot See had a neat sheen to the cover and even though I read The Buried Giant in ebook form, I still checked it out at a bookstore and it looked pretty.

Dinnison Doerr

Ishiguro Sloan

Woodson LeeOmalley

The 11th and 12th months

I figure before the year ends I need to at least wrap up the last few months.

November seemed to go by quickly thanks to travel in the second half. I attended the American Indian Science and Engineering Society national conference in Phoenix for work. My job includes some recruitment for graduate and undergraduate admissions and student group advising. This trip combined those aspects.

DTW is Xavi's new favorite airport.

When I got the travel schedule in the summer I immediately knew I wanted to make this an extended trip since the conference ended a few days before Thanksgiving. I worked it out so Sean and Xavi would come to Phoenix with me and we’d spend the days after the conference in LA. We got our first taste of long travel days from Ithaca to LA. Pro: Xavi loved the Detroit airport in-terminal tram (because trains). Con: including driving to/from the airports the trip from LA to Ithaca was 13 hours.

Looking for a mind at work

The conference itself was a great learning experience and I got to know some of our students better. The university sent 6 students to attend and/or present their research. Personally, it was the first time American Indians have asked me if I was a American Indian or what tribe I was from. It was weird saying “no, I’m not Indian, I’m Mexican,” because the only difference is the border as I’m indigenous to this continent too.

We arrived in Phoenix on Wednesday the 18th. My parents arrived the next morning. They couldn’t wait until we made it to LA after the conference. They did fun stuff like going to the children’s museum a few blocks away while I worked.

Xavi is now a fan of Scottsdale. Got to ride 2 trains, a carousel, go in an actual Pullman car and check out some amazing model trains and cities.

On a free Saturday morning I joined them on a short trip to Scottsdale and the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend visiting not only because it was affordable and not too crowded. Xavi loved it of course because he got to ride big and little trains. I also found it cool to walk through a Pullman car that had once carried U.S. presidents in the first half of the 20th century. I also was a fan of the model railroads. They reminded me of our neighbor, Mr. Dale, who had his own model town and railroad in the garage. These model trains were on a different scale though and included interactive options for kids (e.g., a drive-in theater where you’re the one on the screen). We got there in the middle of their Christmas prep which I imagine must look pretty neat all lit up.

The conference ended on Saturday night and we returned to LA on Sunday morning.

Have trains will travel. Back in the Heights!

It was 80+ degrees in LA, warmer than Phoenix, and felt so good. The first afternoon we were home was full of several immediate and extended family members coming by to visit with Papá Chepe as usual. Xavi was spoiled by plenty of time with his grandparents and aunts and uncles.

In hindsight I feel like we should’ve done more during our trip but it was nice to just relax. Highlights:

Xavi doing chores like helping to pick up the leaves and walk Daisy and VR.

Thankful for my Ulta obsessed sister who treated me to a makeover day and a goodie bag of new makeup.

Getting pampered by my sister Lori. On Wednesday she took me to her stylist and I got a much needed haircut and dye job. The next day she did my makeup and we had a mini lesson on the basics. I typically just put moisturizer on my face. I relied on Lori to do my makeup for special events. Now that I’m across the country that’s not an option so Lori bought me a bunch of new makeup and gave me a mini lesson. I definitely felt cute for Thanksgiving with my hair and makeup done.

Pre-Thanksgiving pozole

Most important meal of the day

The food! We were spoiled by amazing homemade Mexican food like enchiladas, breakfast burritos from our favorite spot and pozole. Of course we had the requisite In-n-Out trip.

Meeting baby Alexander. Some close friends, Cain and Jessica, came by the house and I got to meet their newborn son, Alexander. I tried hard not to sing his name like in Hamilton. I’m still obsessed. It was also nice to see their older kids, Becka and Jordan. Other than seeing Cain and Jessica I didn’t see other LA friends (maybe for a longer trip). Sean did visit his former coworkers.

Papá Chepe is pre-gaming with a pozole brunch.

Seeing Papá Chepe. I see him on FaceTime calls but with his speech issues communication is easier in person.

We visited my mom’s classroom. Her students have heard so much about Xavi that when they found out he’d be visiting they asked if he could come to their Thanksgiving lunch. The high school students warmly welcomed Xavi and one boy even drew him a picture of a t-rex.

Christmas card 2015

Thanksgiving! I don’t remember much now aside from being very full and seeing lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. We also took the photo we used for our holiday card.

December

This month seemed to zoom by too. After returning from a conference and vacation I had a lot of catch up to close out the semester. [I still feel weird using semester rather than quarter.] We also had several holiday parties at work. I’m used to a small gathering at my supervisor’s house. This year we had: graduate student holiday party hosted by our office (Xavi and Sean came); dean’s holiday party for staff in the college; office holiday party hosted by the professor we work with (Xavi and Sean came too); and student service staff party at a local restaurant. I thought it would feel like a lot or be a drag, but it was actually a lot of fun. Xavi also made us proud by dancing to Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison” and ATCQ’s “Bonita Applebaum.” He was just happy that there was plenty of cheese and brownies.

Xavi's first Christmas at the Campbell home

Christmas was pretty low key. I’ve never been one to decorate my own place much and since moving had cut down on the few decorations I did have. We didn’t even buy a tree. Nevertheless, Xavi still got to see lights and a tree crowded with presents at my in-laws. My mother-in-law went all out with the decorations given that this was the first time her grandson spent Christmas in NY. He was spoiled by presents and still hasn’t taken half of them out of the box. I felt spoiled by the highs in the 60-70s. I know lots of people said this didn’t feel like winter of the Christmas they were used to, but I felt quite at home and appreciative that it hasn’t been oppressively cold yet.

It's all fun and games until mom or dad steps on one of those blocks (barefoot, of course) in the middle of the night.

The big hits were Matchbox Cars, a Duplo farm set (my feet are already crying), and a set of books featuring Mickey & Friends. All the gifts and our bags barely fit in our car.

I have Christmas through New Year’s off from work, but we returned on Monday for Xavi’s speech therapy on Tuesday morning. . The drive was the longest we’ve experienced since Xavi got sick twice. He really doesn’t look sick, does he? Must remember to keep a roll of paper towels in the car.

NYE is just as quiet as it was last year. This year we have the excuse that we don’t know too many people in Ithaca and don’t have a trusted babysitter yet. It’s fine with us, I needed to catch up on some blogging anyway.

Happy New Year!

A bit of tradition in Ithaca

Coloring la Virgencita

[Mainly written on December 12th.]

I grew up celebrating Nuestra Señora la Virgen de Guadalupe’s feast day on December 12th at St. John Vianney. I sang, danced, prayed and ate. I loved the danzantes, the mariachi and the food at the party immediately after mass. Even in the years I rarely went to church I still observed this day. Guadalupano roots run deep.

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to celebrate in Ithaca. The churches here don’t have regular Spanish language masses. One church hosts a monthly mass in Spanish and that’s where I found out that there would be a mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe hosted by the Cornell Catholic Community . Andrea asked if anyone wanted to help sing and I volunteered.

Sean dropped us off at the chapel at 11:30. I was late for the mini choir rehearsal but it was still okay since the music was familiar. Xavi sat patiently and watched Andrea play the guitar and Anna play the piano. We practiced and the non Spanish speakers quickly learned the unfamiliar songs.

The chapel at Anabel Taylor Hall was more full than I expected with a lot of students. The service was a bit different than I’m used to. It was in Spanish, sure, but instead of a mariachi a small choir accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar sang the traditional songs like La Guadalupana and Las Mañanitas. There were no danzantes, kids dressed up as Juan Diego or in traditional Mexican clothing or an elaborate dedication of flowers in La Virgencita’s alcove. What wasn’t different was a gathering afterward with food. Xavi was happy with rice and tortilla chips and I tried to restrain myself when I saw students bring out tamales. They were delicious. Despite the differences and that I barely knew anyone at the service, it was the closest I’ve felt to home in our six months in Ithaca.

I’m glad Xavi got to experience a tradition I’ve grown up with. I can’t wait until he gets his own little Juan Diego outfit and sings along. He comes from a long line of Guadalupanos and I’m happy to continue this tradition in los cerros (hills) of Ithaca.

First Halloween and Día de los Muertos in Ithaca

These days I’m missing California a lot. With festivals for Día de los Muertos, there’s always something to do in late October. Plus, I love Halloween and in recent years family members have thrown parties. Last year was tough with Mamá Toni’s recent passing, but even then it was still a time spent with family as we gathered for the traditional novena (nine evenings of praying the Rosary) and followed the prayer with tamales, pan dulce or pozole.

Ithaca is amusing

Nevertheless, I think this was one of the best weekend’s we’ve had in Ithaca even though half of it was spent doing chores.

Xavi's third Halloween has been such fun. Well done, Ithaca.

On Friday I left work a little early so I could change in to my last-minute Frida Kahlao costume* and join Xavi and Sean for trick or treating in the Commons. Most businesses were passing out candy or other treats and it was full of kids and their parents in cute costumes.

Maybe Thomas Jefferson?

We decided to play up Xavi’s love of trains rather than our love of Prince circa Purple Rain (why don’t costume shops make these) and my current obsession with all things Hamilton the musical. He could’ve been that other significant Thomas [Jefferson — as portrayed by Daveed Diggs].

Xavi's Halloween costumes

He got a lot of compliments and was a champ at grabbing candy and placing it in his bucket. Last year he enjoyed knocking on doors and ringing doorbells, but this year he was all about choosing candy and

Ithaca meets Diagon Alley, Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. #wizardingweekend

On Saturday we tried to check out the Wizarding Weekend downtown (er, 6 blocks away). It was crowded, but we still were impressed by Ithaca. The organizers transformed the area in to various sites in Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, and Diagon Alley. We missed Quidditich and didn’t get to taste butterbeer, but maybe when Xavi’s older we can all dress up as wizards.

After visiting Hogwarts we did more trick or treating until we were tired and kinda cold.

In progress calaca

On Sunday I put the finishing touches on our altar. This is the first time I put together an altar. It felt important this year for Xavi to see it and to also remember family and friends since we’re so far from everyone.

Muertos altar

We put up pictures of Sean’s Aunt Myrtle who passed away earlier this year, Kevin (2014), tío Joe (2010), Grandpa Bartolo (1997), Grandma Juana (2000), tío Johnny (2012) and Mamá Toni (2014). I made do with what I had on hand, could easily find. Rather than sugar skulls I colored calacas (Xavi helped) and put out cookies rather than pan de muerto. We also set out tamales (made Mamá Toni style), a ukulele (no guitar on hand) for my tío Johnny, pancakes and coffee for Grandpa and Grandma, and some more food. I didn’t have a needle and yarn for Mamá Toni, but did put up some of her handiwork. She knitted the pillow on the left.

Hope your Halloween was fun and safe. If you observe Día de los Muertos, I hope doing so was a nice remembrance of your loved ones’ lives.

*No unibrow because Frida is more than a unibrow, it’s barely visible in some photos. Plus, I don’t actually have an eyeliner pencil to draw it in.

Remembering Alicia

On Sunday my dad called me. I knew what he was going to say before he said it. _____ passed away, mija.

There’s something about his voice that is hard to hide when he calls to share news about a family member or friend’s passing.

This time the name was Alicia. He didn’t even need a last name.

Remembering Alicia

Alicia has always been just Alicia since I first got to know her in the early 1990s through church. Alicia was the primary organizer and benefactor of a ballet folkórico that formed at church. She did so much for us. She took time out of her schedule to organize the rehearsals, found places for us to perform and even helped pay for the fabric to make the dresses.

She showed us she cared and accomplished what she set out to do by starting the group. I don’t know when it happened, but when she was much younger, she lost a son to gang violence. As I recall, her son was no involved but he was an innocent victim. In her grief, Alicia tried to reach out to youth in gangs, but found that these youth may be too entrenched in the life. She needed to reach out to youth who weren’t involved yet.

Danny, Lori and I were all in elementary school when we started with the dance group and continued dancing for a few years. In those years we performed at the annual church carnival in the summer and for the Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe. We performed at her son’s restaurant in San Juan Capistrano and were paid in delicious carne asada nachos. Those performances were always extra fun as it was a short road trip with my good friends in the group. She also set up shows for us at youth group homes and convalescent homes.

Ballet Folkórico days (circa 1993)

The performances at the restaurant were fun, but the most memorable time was when Alicia organized a trip to the Shrine Auditorium for a performance of the Ballet Folkórico de México de Amalia Hernández. I remember being starstruck as Doña Hernández left through the stage door.

Thank you Alicia for all you did for us. It’s been a long time since I’ve danced ballet folkórico, but the zapateado and lessons have always stayed with me. More importantly, thank you for showing the importance of being involved in your community and contributing in whatever way you can as a role model. You were the definition of that lady in the village who looked out for us kids.

Thank you to Angelita, the mom of two of the girls in the group, for sharing this picture with my dad.

Introducing Xavi Be Like

I met Sean in 2002 but I didn’t get to know him until many years later. Enter our blogs. I read his blog, he read mine and we discovered we had a lot in common when it came to music, TV shows and the like. We’ve both been blogging so long that sometimes it feels like we’ve run out of topics, at least the ones we’re interested in sharing on a public blog. Parenting isn’t one of those topics.

xavibelike

As the child of two long time bloggers, it was only a matter of time before Xavi had his own blog (sorta).

Xavi Be Like is a collection of animated GIFs about toddler life and all the emotions it induces. Xavi’s an awesome kid, but he’s also a toddler who is, well, a toddler. There’s a reason “terrible twos” is a common — phrase not that it applies to our little angel. Nope.