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?

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!

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.

Working mom FOMO

Zoo time

This morning Sean and Xavi came with me to Syracuse. While I attended my meeting they visited the zoo, which was on all the lists of toddler friendly things to do in the city. I knew that was the plan but it didn’t even cross my mind to object because I’d be missing a first. It just seemed like a great activity. Plus, they needed to do something while I was in my meeting.

I didn’t realize until we met up for lunch after the meeting and we talked about the visit that I’d missed Xavi’s first visit to the zoo. I didn’t get to see his face the first time he saw an elephant (he was more interested in some kids and their wagon) and monkeys. I wasn’t there to make him roar at the tiger and try to wake it up. And I wasn’t there to buy some totally cute toy or stuffed animal — that he does not need — in the gift shop.

But Sean was there and he took pictures and told me stories over lunch and the drive home. Xavi had a good time too, which is more important than me being right next to him. We’ll have more opportunities for fun outings.

I’ve always known I’d miss some firsts, but outings like this didn’t cross my mind because up until a few months ago Sean and I were both working outside the home. We both missed his first steps. His babysitter and grandparents witnessed it and took video. A few hours later Sean and I came home from our respective jobs to the gleeful news from my mother-in-law. She was really hoping Xavi would begin walking during her visit. You can imagine her excitement and pride.

This zoo thing, though? It’s like when you see mutual friends hanging out and it bugs you even though you know that’s dumb because even if you were invited you wouldn’t be able to go.

I shouldn’t have any FOMO (fear of missing out — don’t worry I’d never heard of this until one of the students I work with mentioned it) about my husband and son doing fun stuff together. I should just be thankful we can get by with our current family work arrangements and that I have an awesome husband and Xavi has an amazing dad who also makes beautiful pictures and funny videos so I can feel like I was there.

Mini shopper

After lunch we visited the only Trader Joe’s in a 70 mile radius (*tear*). Xavi made a beeline for the mini shopping carts and immediately filled his with the bananas he picked out and my favorite cereal. He’s always fixated on other kids’ toy shopping carts so letting him push the real deal must’ve been exciting. At least I was there for that first and to make sure he didn’t knock down a display or run over anyone’s toes.

Looking for my friends

A couple weeks ago I sat down and looked at our recent spending to figure out if we could afford to enroll Xavi in preschool part-time. We hadn’t intended to sign him up this soon, but the school is close by and had a last-minute opening. After doing the numbers a few things were clear.

  1. I’m spending a lot on new work clothes. My new department only allows casual clothes on Fridays.
  2. We’re not spending much on gifts anymore.

The latter was just one more reminder of all the birthday parties, showers and weddings we are missing. Put another way, we have no social life. 

Friday comes and Sean asks, “What’s going on this weekend?” I used to be able to rattle off a few different options. Even if there wasn’t a formal party coming up, just spending a Saturday or Sunday afternoon at my mom’s house felt like a family gathering thanks to Papá Chepe’a visitor. (A positive side effect of the stroke. It’s brought our family even closer together.)
Now I might say there’s some event I need to do for work but otherwise it’s do chores and hang out as a threesome.

If I was in LA today I’d be in the middle of getting ready to attend my fourth wedding of the summer — pretty average for us — and second of the month. Today, Elizabeth and César will get married. I’ve known Elizabeth since she was a toddler and her family moved to our block. They quickly became close friends. We even visited them in Jalpa, Zacatecas one December and went to Elizabeth’s quinceañera. By chance, I got to see the proposal too. César threw a decoy party complete with delicious tacos and a mariachi. I’m definitely sad to miss this wedding (plus her family throws awesome parties).

Last week I missed David (it feels weird not to call him Oso) and Iris’s wedding. I checked out the photos taken by other friends I met through blogging. I wish it could’ve been like the Carlsbad blogger reunion of early 2012, but alas it’s tough to travel with a toddler cross country. 

Earlier in the summer I missed Diana and Carlos’s wedding. I’ve known Diana since 2002 and would’ve loved to spend a weekend in Santa Barbara celebrating with them. Unfortunately, their wedding was on the weekend right before I started my new job and we had already moved. 

At least I didn’t miss my cousin Vanny’s wedding in early June. I was lucky my new job was okay with me starting later than their target or I might’ve missed Vanny and Junior’s nuptials.

Of course, I knew I’d be missing events when I decided to move. That was part of the deal since I don’t have an unlimited travel budget and vacation days. 

What I didn’t expect was how difficult it is to make friends and how lonely weekends feel just us three. I know I need to give it time. I’ve only been here about 11 weeks and have actually  met a number of kind and friendly people. We say “yes” to the things we are invited to like a picnic for Latinos in the area. We’ve even been to a birthday party. 

But still on weekends like this and last I wish I could teleport the three of us to LA for a good party or BBQ, delicious food and amazing people. 

lookingformyfriends

For now, you might just find me running around the Ithaca Commons skipping like Sid the Science Kid singing “I’m looking for my friends, I’m looking for you!” 

35 notes for my 35th birthday

35small

Monday was my 35th birthday. To commemorate the start of another year of life, I’m giving 35 snippets on life, things I like, and whatever else is too short to really warrant a blog post.


1
The first card I received for my birthday was delivered last Wednesday. It was a butterfly painted in water colors by Papá Chepe. On the back he wrote “feliz cumpleaños” and signed his name. It was perfect. I might’ve cried. Following his stroke, he’s had to relearn to write with his left hand.

2
Sean got me a silly card about farting. Don’t worry, the romance is still there. We just share the same immature sense of humor.

3
Xavi’s card featured Thomas and Friends and had stickers. I let him keep the stickers.

4
For some reason he puts his stickers on his sock-covered feet. He’s silly like that.

Bubble time

5
Sean and Xavi gave me a comal. I forgot the old one on the stove back in LA. Sean said this one had the best reviews. All the other ones “got hot too fast” or “burned [owner’s] tortillas.” I’m baffled that a comal can get a bad review. These people have to be doing it wrong.

6
I used to be a big fan of taking the day off on my birthday and doing something like going to Disneyland. Not this year. It’s the second week of the semester and our office is still pretty busy with welcome events, orientations and the like. Plus, there’s no Disneyland nearby.

7
Family members in LA called to wish me a happy birthday. Again, Papá Chepe’s birthday greetings were most touching. He sang “Las Mañanitas” to me. It was beautiful. (The photo above is from the day we left LA.)

8
I’m a little bummed I wasn’t in LA for my birthday, but not upset to miss the triple-degree heat.

9
No one at work knew it was my birthday.

10
I ordered myself a necklace from MALA by Patty Rodriguez. It hasn’t arrived yet. I’m such a slacker on buying birthday gifts that even when I treat myself the gift is late.

11
Sean has started blogging again. He’s calling his posts about the stay-at-home-dad life S.A.H.D. State of Affairs. Don’t worry. He’s not really sad unless Xavi skips his nap.

12
We’ve started the process of trying to get Xavi in to speech therapy through early intervention. Since we’re in a new state, we basically have to start all over again. I have a lot of feelings about this, but the people we’re working with are quite kind.

13
I finally finished Late-Talking Children: A Symptom or a Stage? by Stephen M. Camarata. It’s a good guide for parents on how to navigate the system. It’s also simultaneously worrisome and reassuring. Of note: Camarata never mentions bilingualism. Thus supporting my doubt that bilingual kids are more likely to have speech delay as has been stated a few times when I’ve written about Xavi’s speech delay.

14
According to Goodreads I’m 4 books behind target to reach my goal (75). Boo. Must download more audiobooks. Or maybe I should count the books I read to Xavi. Note: I love that the librarians put together an easy list of books about trains for kids like Xavi who are obsessed.

15
I found out recently that LA Public Library cards can expire. That’s not cool. At least the university library has ebooks and audiobooks accessible through OverDrive. Yeah, plus one for being at an Ivy League institution!

16
I’ve had a few fish out of water moments. One: At a secondhand kids store I put down my name after purchasing a toddler bed and table for Xavi. I spelled out Mosqueda for the cashier. She tried to pronounce and I corrected her as I’ve done many, many times over my life. Her response to the correct pronunciation? “That’s beautiful.” Rather innocuous, but it was just so strange. I’ve never heard anyone describe my last name as beautiful.

17
Technically I have two last names, but the second is much easier to spell and for ease and not to confuse folks I keep it to Mosqueda. This way I can avoid folks thinking Mosqueda is my middle name and calling me Ms. Campbell. That sounds so weird!

18
Fish out of water moment two: The waitress at a Mexican restaurant in Ithaca was totally confused when Sean ordered mole. Yes, it was on the menu under the chicken dishes. Either she was new and didn’t know the menu very well or she thought it was pronounced like the animal.

19
The tortilla section at WalMart was full of Old El Paso taco shells, taco bowls and other products. There were NO corn tortillas. I nearly cried. I have a tortilla press and can get the masa to make my own, but I’m also kinda lazy.

20
I bought less than a pound of queso fresco for almost $7.50. It doesn’t even taste like queso fresco. Luckily, when my mom visited in late July she brought lots of supplies. I have some frozen queso fresco for emergencies.

21
When people find out I’m from LA they’re really curious about why I’d move to Ithaca. I know the winter is going to be rough, but I came here for the same reason they did, to advance my education/career.

22
They ask a lot about how I like Ithaca. Although I’ve been here two months I haven’t had much of a chance to explore. Plus, I can’t really assess the town when a sizeable chunk of the population was gone for the summer. Xavi and Sean have explored lots of parks and kids activities.

23
I do say that I’m surprised by the noisiness in our neighborhood from traffic and the neighbors across the street. My neighbors in LA were pretty noisy but by the evening it quieted down. Here we still have large trucks or emergency vehicles drive by (we are at a major intersection).

24
We went to a park that was 20 minutes away this weekend. I told Sean, “Oh, it’s far,” after I had mapped it out. Ithaca is messing with my sense of what is close and what is far.

25
I miss our old churches, both St. John Vianney and St. Augustine. I miss the option of an afternoon mass, air conditioning (at least at SJV) and the music.

26
I miss my favorite cereal and yogurt from Trader Joe’s. The nearest location is in Syracuse (which I learned is pronounced like Sara-cuse not Si-ra-cuse). I stocked up on items when we were in Long Island over Xavi’s birthday weekend. My old co-workers also sent me a care package with TJ’s snacks. I miss them too.

27
I missed family and LA most on the day my mom flew back to LA. She visited for ten days in late July and early August. In between flights I texted her that she should get some reast. She said she couldn’t even sleep because she was so sad to leave Xavi. Ugh.

28
While my mom was here we took advantage of the free babysitting. We watched Inside Out. It was entertaining, but nowhere near my favorite Pixar movie. It did make me wonder about Xavi’s core memories that are shaping his identity.

29
Speaking of no longer having access to free babysitting, I was surprised to see Ithaca as one of the top 10 most expensive cities to raise a family in the US. The list came from a report by the Economic Policy Institute on What Families Need to Get By. Here I thought I was moving to an area with a lower cost of living, but not so if you factor in taxes and child care. I recommend doing the side-by-side comparisons.

30
Any disjointed post or photo dump should include recent favorites. I won’t include things I pay for because I’m not about endorsing stuff. First: Super Mamás Podcast – Bricia and Paulina Lopez, two sister and new moms living in LA. Bricia’s little boy is about 4 months old and Paulina has two girls (about 1 and 4, I think). The two sisters speak about striking a balance between using the knowledge they might have gained from their traditional Mexican families along with newer or modern parenting approaches. They have great guests who discuss mom issues I hear less about in other parenting podcasts such as what it’s like to be a teen mom, a singly mom or being a full-time working mom who also has side hustles as an entrepreneur. The podcast is pretty new and they’re only 9 episodes in. However, I’ve already come to look forward to their new episodes. Coincidentally, both sisters delivered their babies at the same hospital where I delivered Xavi. So when they recounted their birth stories I could imagine the same maternity ward. Even better, most of their guests are from LA and they have that LA Chicana/Latina accent I miss.

31
Another Round Podcast with Heben and Tracy – They just make Tuesdays better. I’ve “known” Tracy Clayton through PostBourgie.com and #thatsite for many years. I knew she was hilarious in written form, but her humor and stories are just as entertaining via podcast. Heben Nigatu is also a writer for BuzzFeed and together they make a great team. It probably helps that they have great guests such as Roxane Gay and Lianne La Havas. In the most recent episode they featured small children giving advice on how to be a big brother or sister. I might’ve cried thinking of (a) how awesome it is to have siblings and (b) how I want Xavi to have that experience.

32
Sherman Alexie’s Twitter feed is hilarious. I want to favorite every single tweet. He also started a podcast about a year ago with long-time friend and fellow writer, Jess Walter. On A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment they read works in progress, chat with other writers, answer listener questions about the process and discuss things such as the role of grief in their writing process.

33
OverDrive and public library memberships. OverDrive makes it easy to search for and download eBooks and audiobooks from various public library systems. I rarely buy books these days for myself (Xavi still gets new books) because I just don’t have much space. I borrow from OverDrive through the university and local library system.

34
Radio Ambulante is my favorite podcast in Spanish. Well, it’s the only podcast I listen to in Spanish. It’s hosted by writer Daniel Alarcón and features stores by journalist throughout the public radio world. I need more podcasts in Spanish, but for now Radio Ambulante will do.

35
Turning 35 years old means I’m now of advanced maternal age which could factor in when/if we try for another baby. I didn’t have a rough go of it the first time around at 32 years old, so I can only hope that a few years doesn’t make a big difference.

Xavi is two

TMNT

Xavi is two years old*. That feels weird yet natural to write. It’s not the time that’s passed, but the way we measure it. We’re no longer saying his age in months when people ask.

My son has changed a lot since we first met him that sunny Thursday afternoon. He’s no longer the tiny newborn who nurses frequently and is swaddled to sleep. He’s a bright and silly toddler who says a lot without using many words. He’s obsessed with trains and freaks out when the train rolls by a block away.

And while he is bigger and more active, there is so much that doesn’t change. I still want to cuddle him even if he can wriggle free in two seconds flat. I stare at him while he sleeps amazed that Sean and I made such a beautiful creature. I still send poop emoji because dirty diapers are still an event. His hair still gets him lots of attention and comments and his smile and giggle are the best sounds ever. And he still loves my singing and listening to stories.

***

Ride On

We spent Xavi’s birthday at my in-laws’ house in Long Island. From a two-year-old’s standpoint, it might’ve been the best day ever as it was filled with his favorites and he was spoiled by 1.5 sets of grandparents (my mom was in town).

The word has spread that he’s a bit obsessed with Thomas and Friends and trains in general. My mother-in-law bought him a train he can ride on as well as an iPad. Xavi now officially has the newest iPad in the family. The big train and smaller trains joined Xavi’s collection of Thomases (Thomi?) that my mom helped grow by bringing some of the magnetic trains he left behind in LA and buying him new trains.

2nd birthday

After exploring the stairs at grandma’s we walked down the street for a block party. It was the perfect weather a neighborhood block party. Xavi had a good time trying to stay upright in the bouncy house and playing with water, two more favorites. I was a little squeamish about seeing him play with a water gun, but he’d rather just pour out water from a cup and splash water.

He also had a small birthday party. It was a low key affair compared to his first birthday bash. Eula invited over some friends from the neighborhood and church. She cooked up a bunch of delicious food and we played in the backyard and tried not to get eaten alive by mosquitoes. Xavi played bubbles and soccer with his grandpa. I don’t think he’s ready either for El Tri or the Reggae Boyz squads, but if there was a selección nacional team for chasing and popping bubbles Xavi would surely make the team.

And last there was cake! Who doesn’t love cake.

The perks of being a small toddler.

We returned to Ithaca on Sunday. Xavi had one last awesome experience. He got to sit on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle during a rest stop. The very kind bikers kept calling him a little girl — he gets that a lot thanks to the long hair — but the only thing that bothered him was when I took him away.

Oops. Sorry little guy.

*And a couple of weeks. I’m a little late in posting this.

What a trip

Sunday: family leaves the LA apartment together and begins nomad life by staying with my parents in Hacienda Heights

Monday before sunrise: Sean and my dad begin the drive to Ithaca

Monday evening: I finish cleaning out our apartment and turn in the keys

Thursday 12:35 pm: LAX to JFK (flight 1)

Friday 1:00 am: Reunite with Sean and my dad in Syracuse

***

I was a jumble of nerves the last few days in California. First, I was nervous for Sean and my dad as they traveled a few thousand miles. They sent regular updates and photos of pretty sites in Utah and Colorado. Still I was worried as that is a lot of miles. Second, I was worried because Xavi was still a bit feverish and I didn’t now if we’d need to make a trip to urgent care part of our to-do before we fly out list. Luckily, baby Motrin helped and he was better by Tuesday. Third, I was nervous about trying to fit everything in our suitcases and backpacks. I realized as I cleaned out the apartment that we were too disorganized and should have made better use of the moving truck. Xavi and I really didn’t need all the clothes we hadn’t packed in boxes. Fourth, I was nervous about saying goodbye to Papá Chepe, my siblings and mom. It’s one thing to leave your able-bodied siblings and parents. I know I can call/Sykpe/FaceTime. I know they can visit. But it’s different with my 95-year old grandfather. Even before the stroke, the trip would’ve been rough for him. Plus, I knew that in recent weeks he’d been sad when my mom or siblings brought up our move. (Yes, I felt guilty.) Fifth, I was worried about the flights to New York. We’ve traveled to NY twice with Xavi. The first time was when he was 9 months old and not yet walking. The second time was in March. He was okay on both trips, but those were direct flights with two parents. Even if he was an angelic toddler, I’d still need to consider the logistics of lugging around our bags plus the bulky jogging stroller.

Last what if, for some reason, we arrived in Syracuse before Sean? Who would pick us up at the airport?

***

Xavi's first drum circle

Rather than sit around feeling my stomach tie in to knots and as I freaked out, I kept busy with chores like laundry, eating my mom and aunts’ delicious food and finishing packing. Xavi played with all the toys his grandparents have spoiled with and splashed around in his kiddie pool to stay cool. We also went to the library for a kids’ program about drums of the world. Xavi wasn’t really in to it until he got to try out the drums like the other kids.

Pool time

On Wednesday night, Danny cooked a gourmet meal for us. I was crabby, hungry and rather rude as Danny took a few hours to prepare everything (sorry, brother). I was annoyed because ordering out would’ve been just fine and less work for all involved. Now I’m thankful that he went through the trouble since it’ll be a while before I get one of his gourmet, professionally plated meals.

***

On Wednesday night I finished stuffing our suitcases. I decided we’d gate check the stroller which would help free up an arm and would check the roller bag I usually use as a carry on. I needed my hands free.

The next morning I tried to keep cool as I said my goodbyes to Papá Chepe, Lori and Adrian (he wore sunglasses to hide the dust getting in his eyes). Danny loaded up the Jeep and drove my mom, me and Xavi to LAX. I’m usually okay to be dropped off at the curb, but this time I needed them with me all the way up until we were separated at security. Plus, I just wanted to delay the goodbye and the inevitable tears.

Outbound...

It was bittersweet. I missed Sean and wanted to see him again, but at the same time I knew that our move was tough on both my nuclear and extended family. We are super close both figuratively and literally. I felt the benefit of their nearness as we prepped for the move and I could count on them to come by to bring a meal, paint or entertain Xavi. My mom gave me and Xavi a blessing before we went through security and I choked back the tears. I needed to keep it together.

Flying makes me hungry

As soon as we got to our gate we took care of business (diaper change and getting lunch) and then it was time to board. Xavi and I were sitting in JetBlue’s Even More Space seats. They’re pricey, but well worth the extra space for a toddler who doesn’t want to sit still. Even though Xavi still qualified as a lap infant, I knew he needed his own seat just for the space (and not to bug our neighbor). He fell asleep for a little bit and then played calmly. He even got a compliment from the man who was sitting in our row. We arrived on time to JFK and then waited for our next flight to Syracuse. Our flight was delayed and the delay ultimately took longer than the actual flight. Xavi had a good time running around the seating area at the gate and up and down the concourse but got fussy when I made him stop. He needed to sleep and nodded off before our flight took off.

Last people at baggage claim

We arrived in Syracuse and met up with Sean and my dad. It was so good to see them. We were reunited and it felt so, so good.

Dad flew back to LA the next morning and then it was just me, Sean and Xavi hanging out in a hotel in Syracuse. On Sunday we drove south to Ithaca where we stayed in a new friend’s spare basement studio apartment. The next morning I started my new job.

We kept up the nomad/living out of a suitcase life for another week while we waited to move in to our new apartment (July 2nd) and have our things delivered by the moving company (July 4th).

A month later we’re pretty much moved in but still need to unpack some boxes of items we don’t use daily. I’ve settled in to my job and we’re getting to know our new town. More on that later.