Friday, February 21, 2014

Ethan's Playlist

This is the Cri-Cri collection that we own
In a former post I talked about trying to prioritize what's really important to me when raising Ethan. One of the practices that made the list was raising Ethan in a bilingual household.  Growing up, my parents and extended family only spoke Spanish, and I have always felt very grateful for this priceless gift.  Unfortunately, lack of practice has left my Spanish skills greatly lacking but I am determined to strengthen my Spanish and foster the same love for the language, in my children, that my family instilled in me.

One way that I am supporting this love is by playing children's songs in Spanish to Ethan.  As I was growing up my mom would always sing Cri-Cri songs to me.  Cri-Cri was the alias that Francisco Gabilondo Soler composed and sang under. Cri-Cri is known as the singing cricket (el grillo cantor).   Francisco Gabilondo Soler performed his first set of children's songs in 1934 in Mexico, and has been a hit in Mexican households ever since.

My mom grew up listening to his songs on the radio.  She says that growing up, Cri-Cri and Francisco Gabilondo Soler were to Mexico, what Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse are to the United States. She sang them to me as a child, and now I play them and sing them to Ethan.  This is such a wonderful tradition that I am so happy to pass along to my son.  It's not just about the language though, I love these songs.  When I was listening to them in the car and my friend Emily heard them she was surprised at how beautiful they are.  The music is made up of violins, piano, and harps; if you didn't know Spanish you wouldn't even know some of the songs are children's songs.  What I also love are that a lot of them actually make some serious social commentary.  For instance the song, La Patita, talks about a mother duck who doesn't have enough money to buy her ducklings food, and her lazy husband just sits at home all day doing nothing.  Pretty intense for a children's song, but it's sung with such tenderness that you find yourself loving and rooting for this hardworking mother duck.

One disclaimer though is that these songs were written in the 30's and some aren't very PC.  There's a song were a child gets spanked for being a cry baby, and quite a few songs that draw upon racial stereotypes (I just skip those when we're listening to the CDs, and when Ethan gets older I plan on explaining to him how things were and why we don't stereotype anymore).  Overall most of the songs are very beautiful and heartfelt.

Like I said, Ethan isn't the only one who loves these songs; below I'm going to share a few of our favorite tracks from the 4 disk set.

La Muneca Fea

Los Caballitos

La Guacamaya

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Finding Nemo

Ethan and I enjoying the new penguin exhibit
A few weeks before Valentine's Day Jeff asked me what I wanted to do.  Romantic dinner date? Trip to the movies? Leave Ethan with my mom and dad, and head to L.A. for the night?  I turned to him and said, "I'm sorry to break it to you, but I've become one of those moms that doesn't want to be away from their baby for long. So, whatever we do, can Ethan come too?" I was happy to hear that Jeff has also become one of those dads that loves having the kids tag along, instead of it just being the two of us.

We had to think of an outing that would be fun for us, and for Ethan; right away I suggested the Aquarium of the Pacific, in Long Beach.  This is one of my all time favorite places to visit in Southern California.  Although it's smaller than the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, I actually like it more and feel that the exhibits are more interesting.

I was nervous about taking Ethan to the aquarium, he's still so small I didn't know if it would be boring for him, or if he'd be over it after half an hour.  Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised.  He loved it! This turned out to be the perfect place to take an infant.  He loved standing on the platforms and touching the glass.  The coolest part was that every exhibit held his attention because he could get right up to the glass, touch it, put his forehead up against it, and we could stay at each exhibit until he seemed disinterested.

This trip was such a huge success that we became members.  This way we can go as often as we'd like this year.  If you're looking for a fun place to take your family (even if you don't have kids), I highly recommend a visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific.  If you still aren't convinced, maybe a tour of the aquarium through our pictures will help.

Their jellyfish exhibit is amazing! They even
have a jellyfish touch tank.
The jellyfish are definitely one of my favorite

The large shark tank.

They have a sting ray touch tank, Ethan's
still too small to touch, but he loved seeing them
swim by.

The clown fish tank was Ethan's favorite.  He
kept trying to touch all of the fish, and was
smiling and talking the whole time we were

My other favorite exhibit is the leafy sea dragon tank.

People watching after an awesome day at
the aquarium.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Playing with Bacteria

Ethan wearing the shirt* that his Tia Alani gave him, it's very fitting.
Two weeks ago Ethan got sick and this sickness has ruled our lives ever since.  It feels as if it's been an eternity.  Ethan got sick last Friday, the illness proceeded to infect Jeff and I.  Then it seemed as if we were all better and then Ethan got worse!  We ended up in the E.R. because it turned out Ethan had Bronchiolitis, and was having trouble breathing.  They gave him a breathing treatment and an inhaler, and he's been on the mend ever since.  The last two weeks have been a complete blur.  I'm down to 4 sick days at work, from taking days off to care for Ethan, and to take him to the doctor.  How the heck do other working mom's ever have enough sick days to care for their little ones?

Needless to say, we seem to be on the better end of this virus, and mommy is finally starting to feel like a normal human being again. Jeff was not so lucky and he's sick again, it just never ends! Is it Spring yet?

Unfortunately, this will definitely not be the last time we go through this.  As Ethan's onesie very accurately states, he loves to play with bacteria.  On a daily basis I take about 5 dog toys out of his mouth, he licks our carpet hundreds of times, and also loves to lick the dogs (I haven't even gone into what he does when we're out in public).  Yesterday he was petting Pauli (our cat), then suddenly he pulled her hair really hard.  She became startled and ran away.  Suddenly I heard him making sucking noises; I looked down and he had grabbed a huge handful of Pauli's hair and was eating it!  I was so disgusted and thought to myself, well this kid is going to have one heck of an immune system.

Although these have been tough times, there are 2 products that have made things so much easier during this germ infestation.  A cold mist humidifier has become a permanent staple in our home.  Before having Ethan I used to run a humidifier in our bedroom every night because of my allergies, and in 3 years we went through 2 different humidifiers.  I had never realized how hard a good humidifier was to find.  When I became pregnant my friend Claudia brought me a ton of her cool baby stuff and one of them was a Crane elephant humidifier.  This humidifier has been the best humidifier we have ever owned.  We run it every night in Ethan's room, and when he's sick we run it all day in the living room.  If you're looking for a really powerful, long lasting humidifier I highly recommend this one (they also have other animals if you're not fond of elephants).  We have walked into Ethan's room at night and had to squint to see through the fog.

The second product I recommend was given to me by my cousin Anabel.  It's the...are you ready for this? Nosefrida Snotsucker, I know silliest name ever! It works so well though, the snot sucker is true to it's name and one of the only ways we were able to clear his nasal passages.  I won't go into detail about how to use it, it's pretty self explanatory, just know that it works much better than those ball sucking things (I hate those things!), and it's really easy to clean.

*Ethan's onesie is from Cafepress, but just know that the sizes run small, he's 9 months and is wearing their 12 month one and it's pretty snug.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I wasn't going to post tonight but something happened today that I can't stop thinking about, and the only way I'll be able to get to bed tonight is if I write about it.

Today was a normal day, like any other day.  I got out of work, and drove home to pick Ethan up from daycare.  Usually, Ethan is the last little one to get picked up because I have a 40 minute commute and I get there later than i'd like.  Today there was another little girl there, I would guess she was about 3 years old.  I was asking Ethan's babysitter how the day had gone.  While Ethan's babysitter was talking the little girl interrupted her.  At first I ignored her, but then I realized she was talking to me.  I turned to her and she said, "Mommies aren't supposed to have short hair."  Shocked by what she had said I just stared at her.  She proceeded to explain, "Only boys are supposed to have short hair, not mommies."  I turned to her and said, "A lot of mommies have short hair, and a lot of boys have long hair, it just depends on how you like to have your hair."

On my drive home I wasn't upset because a 3 year old didn't like my haircut; I was upset because I know it's a sad truth that little girls still think that long hair is pretty and for girls, and short hair is ugly and for boys.  I also became very upset that as Ethan gets older these are the kids he's going to be around on a daily basis.  I started asking myself; will his classmates one day tell him that his mom is weird? Will they make fun of him for it? Will he feel ashamed of the way I look? All of these thoughts have left my heart hurting.

I don't want to place blame on anyone's family in this situation; I'm just writing this because I know that our kids are inundated by societies ideas of beauty on a regular basis.  As princess movies, Victoria's Secret ads, and countless other images were going through my mind, I had a flashback from college.  It was my sophomore year as an undergrad and I was telling my then boyfriend that I wanted to cut my hair really short.  His response was, "You know everyone's going to think you're a lesbian, right?" This memory just re-enforced the fact that these stereotypes about beauty aren't limited to our younger generations.

So what can we do as parents? Honestly, I have no real answers but I know what I'm going to try my best to do.  I'm going to raise Ethan and any other children I may have to understand that there is no such thing as "normal".  That every single person on this earth is beautiful, and we do not have the right to tell anyone otherwise.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Girl's Evening Out!

Amazing goodie and sweet table

One of my wonderful cousins Fances will be bidding us farewell soon, by getting married, and moving to Switzerland.  To bid her adieu her sisters threw her an amazing farewel/bridal party. Unless you are part of the Marquez-Zavala families, you do not understand the excitement that arises when my family receives an invite from the Marquez sisters.  To say that their parties are fun is a gross understatement.

Let me describe the experience by first describing Frances, the bride-to-be.  Frances is an amazingly talented hairstylist in Los Angeles.  She has a style blog, and is the one responsible for giving me my first pixie cut.  Going along with these interests Frances' shower was all about hair, make-up, pinups, and Kate Spade inspired style.

  Each table was decorated with gold, black, white, pink, and red accents.  We had cotton candy, popcorn, and chips at our disposal for snacking.

At the table we were greeted by a table setting that included 2 lipsticks for each lady (like I told you the Marquez girls know how to treat a gal).

Party favors from the goodie table.  
The entrance greeted us with a large display of treats and make-up for our choosing.  On this table instead of a guestbook there was a tray with different shades of pink and red lipstick.  You would apply the lipstick and then kiss the canvas that is on the right side of the table, to bid her farewell with a kiss!

Right next to the dessert bar a make-up artist was giving all guests fake eyelashes...

and next to her was a caricaturist, this is me looking a lot like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

Then, as if things weren't already more wonderful than all the guests could have imagined, we had a burlesque dancer come and give us burlesque lessons!

Like I said the Marquez girls don't throw your average party.  This event was exactly what I needed.  Ethan's been sick all week and we even had to make an ER trip (i'll be posting about this later).  Needless to say,  I was feeling drained and in need of some girl time.  Going to this shower made me feel like I'd gone to a swanky Hollywood party with some of my favorite people. Although I love my little more than life itself I will admit that mommy needs girl time every once in a while to re-charge, and that's exactly what I got to do last night.

Amazing Marquez trio.
From left to right, Anabel (hostess),
Frances (bride-to-be), Irene (hostess).
Each of the Marquez sisters has their own blog
 that I highly recommend you visit,
 I've listed a description and link of each one below.

Anabel's blog, Do Tell Anabel takes us into Anabel's world of working mommyhood in Los Angeles.
Irene's blog afterhours is a fantastic fashion blog from one of the most stylish people I know.
Frances' blog frenchee-lou will give you amazing style, hair, and make-up tips to keep you on trend all year long.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Learning to be Flexible

Before I had a baby I did the thing that all new moms do, I made a list in my head of all the things I would do to make sure my children grew up to be brilliant, artistic, athletic and all around perfect people.  My list started with: I will read at least 3 books to Ethan each day, he will watch no TV until he's old enough and then he will have only 1/2 an hour of TV a day, I will use cloth diapers, I will breast feed (which includes breast milk in a bottle) and not use formula. The list goes on and on.

Things got off to a good start, I was home all day with Ethan and I would check things off of my list as the day went on.  I found a sitter who was willing to use my cloth diapers and breast milk in a bottle, I had it all figured out.  Once I went back to work I realized I had no idea what the heck I was talking about, I was on the verge of killing Jeff, and ready to tear out the little bit of hair I still had left (FYI I totally went bald after having Ethan as if there wasn't enough to feel bad about).

Finally, one event made me realize that I needed to re-evaluate my list.  Ethan is taken care of by a babysitter Mondays-Thursdays, and my mom and dad take turns watching him on Fridays.  During one of the Fridays, my sister was visiting and helped my dad take care of Ethan.  After half an hour of watching T.V. the conversation went as follows:

Alani (sister): Dad, Luanita doesn't like Ethan to watch T.V.
Dad: I don't get why not; there is a lot of educational T.V. for kids.  He can learn a lot of stuff from Sesame Street and shows like that.
Alani: But dad, you guys are watching Looney Tunes!
Dad: Yea, but he likes it.

This event made me realize that there's a lot I can control in my children's life, but there is also a lot I can't control.  I made the conscious decision that in order to stay sane (and married) I needed to relax and choose things that I truly felt were important for my son's well being, and then not sweat the small stuff.  Don't get me wrong though, if you're a mom that's been able to control such things, good for you!  My point is that each mom has to be realistic about the fact that even though we're expected to do everything perfectly, we're not superheroes.  If throughout your parenting journey you end up doing or allowing things you had previously said "Oh, I'll never let my child do that," don't be so hard on yourself.  Give yourself a break and know that whatever decisions you're making you know what's best for you and your baby, and no one else can tell you what's best for your family.

In the end I decided that breastfeeding and cloth diapering were my priorities, things that I could control even when I'm not watching Ethan.  Now when I leave for the day I take a deep breath and know that the people that watch Ethan love him and will use their best judgement, but part of that means that there will be Looney Tunes watching and very few books read when mommy's not around.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Double Take

Last night Ethan came down with a stomach bug and now Ethan is healthy and happy, and Jeff and I have the stomach bug. Why is the baby always patient 0?  Since we've been stuck indoors all day I thought I'd write a post to pass the time.

So I heard of this artist that takes double pictures of strangers who look like twins, his name is Francois Brunelle.  I had once read that we all have at least one person in the world that looks like us but I didn't believe it until I found mine!  My friend Emily was surfing the net and she came across this picture

For those of you who know me (which is everyone that reads this blog really) this girl looks just like me! When I saw it I did one of those cartoon double takes were you look at it look away then shake your head a few times and look again.  I even showed it to my aunt without telling her it wasn't me and her reply was, "Oh, Luanita, you look so pretty".  Every once in a while I pull this picture out and just stare at it cause it weirds me out so much.  Hopefully the poor girl whose picture this is never finds out that her creepy doppelganger stares at her picture to pass the time.

If you have some free time check out Francois Brunelle's project, here's the link: and have fun looking for your twin!
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