Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Ay Mama! is moving!!!! Here's the new address for us, and I say us because now Ay Mama! includes 4 other funny mommies with all sorts of tips, ideas and experiences. Come check us out at

Come join us! Remember it takes a village and wine to survive parenthood!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Whip cream and TV

It's ironic and I'm sure it happens to all working mothers. When you are at work, you want to be home and when you are at home with your child, work doesn't seem that bad. Well, today is one of those days. I came home from work to wait for the new dishwasher to be delivered between the very generic time frame of 10AM - 2 Pm. When I arrived, my nanny (because I feel she takes care of me as much as she takes care of Amelia) asked me to get out early to pick up her sister at the hospital.

"Sure, Mima, no problem."

Right, well, I totally forgot about Amelia's mood when she has a bad cold. Poor thing, the cough and the runny nose are driving her crazy. In turn, her mood is foul, to put it mildly. So under these conditions, I've decided to just please the girl. She's on her second bowl of whip cream. I tried sneaking strawberries in the first one and she returned them untouched. She's watched more TV than a toddler should with a loving adult in the house. I know, I'm mother of the year.

It's gorgeous outside but I'm afraid her cough will get worse if I take her out for a walk. Plus, I have a sore throat and I'm beginning my second round of antibiotics. Maybe she thinks I'm in a foul mood as well. What a couple. Ay Mama!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Her first shiner, her second birthday

Amelia turned 2 years old on October 3rd. She celebrated with a Dora cake and a black eye. It wasn't me. I don't blame you for thinking that because of my previous entry, but it was an accident. Her first bad fall. She was getting off our bed and didn't nail the landing. At least, that is what we think since I wasn't in the room and my husband, who was with her, wasn't looking.

I'M NOT BLAMING HIM AT ALL. He assumed, like I would have, that she had nailed the landing before and that she would do it again, but she didn't. We think she slipped and hit her head against the humidifier.

"She fell!"
Silent scream followed and then that horrible, gut wrenching cry you never want to hear from your child. We checked her mouth. No blood, all her teeth intact. Then I looked at her eyes and that big purple bump seemed to have formed in a matter of seconds.

Amelia has a pair of the most gorgeous, expressive eyes I've ever seen. I'm always afraid of something happening to those eyes and when it did, it took my breath away. She was fine. I called the doctor, watched her closely through the night and she was fine.

But the shiner was there for almost 2 weeks. At first I didn't leave the house with her because I was afraid someone would question what happened. But I got over that. More often than not, a sympathetic mom would ask "what did she hit?" and told me all about their own child's accident at that age.

I have to admit after I realized that she was fine, I immediately thought about the birthday pictures. My mom was bringing her a beautiful dress to wear and the shiner would not complete the look. But motherhood has taught me that it is what it is. She was going to turn 2, a healthy 2 and that was picture perfect, black eye and all. Ay Mama!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

La Pela

This is the email I sent to my friend Sandra about how Amelia kicked my butt. It's in Spanish. I thought it was very funny and wanted to share it with those readers that speak the language.

Que hace uno cuando su primogenital, el fruto de sus entrañas, el ser al que le dio la vida le da una pela en un parking publico? La saque de una tienda a gritos mientras me halaba el pelo y me daba simultaneamente. Como es chiquita me puede dar en diferentes partes del cuerpo a la ves. Yo le aguanto las manos y la regano pero entonces me tira a morder. Yo como Buena Boricua lo que quiero es dar pa’tras cuando alguien me esta dando. La sente en la acera para que se calmara y la regane. Me dijo “Sowy Mama” y cuando la levanto para irnos empieza a patear de nuevo. La siento en la sillita del carro y empieza a gritar como una loca hasta q llegamos al parking de Gymboree donde se da cuenta q vamos para la clase y se calma.

Pero en la clase lo que nunca. Llorando en el piso cuando no habia instrumentos., Y claro cuando se termina la clase, feliz y divina con todo el mundo. A mi me reconoce una mama. Y yo con ganas de decirle “si yo soy la misma de la tele con una hija agresiva”. Parce q tenia sueño, hambre o sed de justicia. Peroyo lo que queria era llorar!!

A Beating

I was a victim of a beating on a public parking lot on Tuesday afternoon. The perpetrator pulled my ponny tail, slapped my face and kick me in the gut, all at the same time. It helped that she was less than 3 feet tall and I was carrying her in my arms. Yes, the attacker was my soon to be 2 year old daughter.

My human instincts wanted to take control of me. How do you usually react if someone is pounding you for no apparent reason. As I held her hands, she aimed for my arm with her mouth. I kept telling myself "this is your baby girl. She has no idea what she's doing. She's frustrated and has no other way to explain it". The other half of my brain said "F%^* that. Someone is beating the crap out of me in a parking lot. I'm taking my earrings off and punching back". I didn't even call the police on her which would be what I would have done if someone other than the fruit of my loins was kicking my ass.

I sat her on the sidewalk and told her to calm down, that she couldn't hit me and that she needed to say she was sorry. With tears in her eyes she apologized "I'm sowy Mama". So I picked my baby back up and it was like she heard a bell. "Ding" Second round started. By the time we got to the car, my hair was a mess, I had scratches in my arms. I caught a glimpse of myself on the car's window and saw this beaten woman with this unruly cave person in her arms.

I sat her in the car seat and drove her to her Gymboree class. Because that is what you do as a Mom, get the shit kicked out of you as you try to do something nice for your kid. Ay Mama!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Ednita Effect

My husband knows it. He saw me get all decked out on Saturday evening and he knew what was going on. Hair was perfect, outfit was perfect. I had my nice perfume on. No, I don't have another man. I have another woman.

Her name is Ednita Nazario and she has been with me forever. Before there was Shakira, Pink, Whitney, dare I say Madonna, there was and always will be Ednita. She's our Puerto Rican Diva. Her songs have helped me survived heartache since I was about 15. High School boyfriend, college boyfriends, adulthood relationships. Her voice is outstanding and her songs are those you want to sing along even when sober. Although you sound much better with a few in you.

I only sing with her in the privacy of my car. Men don't get her songs. Even those who speak Spanish. They just don't get her. I have to be alone or with my Puerto Rican "amigas" to become "Ednita". I should say Ednita's back up singer, my life long dream.

So Saturday night when I was going out with 3 other Gymboree Mom's, Steve knew I was going to have a concert. It seemed my I pod did too because the Shuffle kept picking Ednita songs. I blasted the radio and sang my heart out. There is no heartache to get over, just daily stress of being a working mother of a 2 year old and a wife.

I also found a new feature that only my concert venue could provide: my Honda CRV's kick ass air conditioning. I blasted that baby and my hair lifted the right way. I was Ednita, hair blowing in the fake wind and all. I could feel the spotlight on me.

By the time I got to the restaurant I was three songs into my concert and I felt alive. Something about doing the one silly thing you did when you were single can always connect you back to yourself.

I unplugged the I pod and lowered the volume on the radio. I didn't want the valet guy to figure out what I was doing. I fixed my hair and went in to the restaurant for some more fun with my new Mommy girlfriends. Ay Mama!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Winter fear

I am afraid of winter. Not only because I live in one of the cities with the longest winter in the U.S., but because I'm scared of being cooped up in an apartment with a 2 year old during the worst season of the year. So for the last month I've been searching for another class to have her take besides her music class.

This morning we checked out a tots class at a Gymnastics Academy. It was for toddlers 22-36 months old. My daughter is 23 months, tall and strong for her age. Perfect, right? Wrong. We first had to walk an obstacle course for what seemed like 20 minutes too long. Amelia got distracted more than once, but loved hanging from the rings, walking on a low beam and bouncing. We went around and around, not to mention sideways and up and down, since she clearly has the body of a 3 year old but the attention span of a 23 month old. I was sweating and exhausted by the end of the obstacle course portion. She was full of energy and ready to do whatever the heck she wanted, except for following along with her classmates and teacher.

It seemed like every other child was paying attention while mine was trying to discover everything her new surroundings had to offer. My husband tried to reel her in, but she was having none of it. I sat in the circle with the other kids and parents wondering: "what do we do now?"

Here's where I have to be careful and not influence my child. When I was a kid, if I didn't get something the first time, I hated it forever and decided it wasn't for me. It usually involved sports which I've never cared for so it wasn't that big a deal. But, I can see that I can get easily frustrated with other things if I don't "nail it" at once. That is not a trait I want Amelia to inherit or emulate. And what's dangerous is that I tend to be ready to leave class if she doesn't follow along during the first session. I admit I was even embarrassed that my girl wasn't getting it today.

Thankfully, I'm aware of this flaw in my otherwise flawless personality. So when she wasn't really getting level 5 at Gymboree, I gave it a month before pulling her out and going to music class. I waited until the obvious melt down as my cue to leave tumbling this morning. Good for me, right?

Now we are on to soccer for tots. Another sport I don't like to do, but then again, I don't like sports and my athletic ability is zero. Steve is really into the whole soccer thing, so maybe he can run after her for 50 minutes. Ay Mama!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In English

From the moment she was born, I have made sure Amelia has been exposed to the Spanish language. My first words to her were in my "mother tongue". Her baby sitter from day one doesn't speak English. Even my English speaking husband talks to our daughter in Spanish.

So after 22 and half months of total Espanol immersion, Amelia answers in English.
"Amelia quieres mas?"
"Amelia tienes frio?"
"Amelia vamonos"
" Alright, here we go!"
"Mama, wait"

My friend Kate who is a Speech Pathologist says this is normal. Babies pick the easiest word to say. Case in point: she says "agua" because it's easier to pronounce than "water". I assume that each kid is different, since I find "mas" a lot easier to pronounce than "more".

I have to admit that my brain plays tricks on me and I find myself switching to English when she answers in that language, but I immediately correct it. I am working my hardest to make sure she learns my language. The question is, where is she hearing all this English?

Well, I figured it out.
It's ironically Dora and Diego's fault. The two latino cartoon heroes have brought the language into our house full time. Spanish is sprinkled through out the show, but Dora and Diego speak predominantly English. Since she watches them all the time, they have become her ESL teachers. I do have to thank Diego for teaching her "sube" since I found that "arriba" was harder to pronounce than up.

What gives me piece of mind is that Amelia seems to understand both languages. I guess she's just not really sure when to speak them. Hence, when we go to Gymboree and her teacher asks her
"Amelia, do you want to sing and dance?"
She answers with a resounding "Siiiiiii!"
Thank you God. Ay Mama!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A spring in my step

I've had a spring in my step since Monday and I know exactly why. After almost seven months, I have my household back. As I've mentioned before. my husband got laid off in January together with 69 other people. Without warning and after working the longest hours I have ever seen him work, his boss's boss delivered the news as that guy hid somewhere in the building. That's ok, I'll get to meet him one day. But I digress.

Unemployment always sucks. It obviously sucks the most for the unemployed, but it's no walk in the park for the family either. I can't help but feel some guilt because from the beginning of our relationship, my career has come first in our house. When we met, I was an up and coming reporter with a bright future ahead of me. Steve was working at an ad agency and didn't love it as much as I loved my job. So we decided early on that we would follow my career path since it was also going to be the most lucrative.

First we went to New York for my network job. Steve left his job and found himself looking for employment right after the 9-11 atacks. That took six months. We were there for three years and then back to Chicago. We hate being apart so he left his job again and came to the Windy City with me for my big English TV gig. He spent 11 months looking for a job.

Needless to say his resume has more than one workplace listed. After getting laid off, some employers found that interesting , a sign of versatility. Others were downright mean about it, even after he explained that he moved around because of me. Steve has never made me feel guilty about our decision, but I can't help it. Especially now that my industry might stop being as lucrative as we thought it could one day be for us. I'm just as nervous as any other American of loosing my job to someone younger, who will do more than I do for a lot less, even if the quality is poor.

For seven and half months my husband did the grocery shopping, cooked, organized the house and helped me take care of Amelia. Meanwhile, he knocked on every potential employer's door. Met with everyone who would give him 5 minutes. Applied on line, in person, over the phone. He also waited by the phone and the computer like waiting for a date to call. He second guessed himself after not getting called back, blamed himself for getting laid off and apologized to me for putting us in that position. He had nothing to apologize for.

Steve was one of the lucky ones. He actually interviewed for 4 jobs and almost got 2 of those opportunities. Friends helped him network and friends of friends met with him for informationals. He kept himself busy, lost 20 pounds by working out and eating better, not to mention the bond he was able to form with his daughter. I'm so proud of him. He was for the most part a pleasure to have around. But I was sooo ready for him to go to work.

When he finally got the job, I didn't believe it, but when Sunday night came around, I had the best sleep I've had in months. I went to work, got back to the Gym and went to the supermarket. Now, I hate grocery shopping. Have hated it since my Mom would make me go with her and then come home an put the groceries away. Well you shoud have seen how happy I was at Trader Joe's picking up chicken and cheese.

By midday I got an email from Steve with his new information. Things were falling into place. I took my daughter by myself to Gymboree and then we went to pick up her Daddy from his first day of work. All is well. My wish is that all gets well in the millions of households in America where someone has been laid off. You are in my prayers. Ay Mama!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What was I thinking?

I know I can't take her shopping with me. She's 22 months old. She loves high heels and accessories but she can easily destroy them as well. If there are stairs close, she would rather climb those than try on my shoes. As I said, she's a toddler.

But I was dying to go to this sale. One of my favorite jewelry designers in Chicago, K-Amato, is having a two day sale in 2 different locations. I can't make it tomorrow because we have a play date, so today was the only day I could. It started at 4 and our baby sitter leaves at three, so I had to take Amelia with me.

I had a gut feeling this wasn't going to work as I parked the car on a side street. Still, I got my cute daughter out of the car and we walked hand in hand to the store. As soon as I approached the door, I got that sinking feeling. Beautiful accessories as far as the eye can see. Not plastic necklaces but fine accessories in silver and gold with shiny stones.

So putting her on the floor and letting her try things on was out of the question. Even worse, there were two steps to go down to the store. Amelia was ready to climb. My only option was to browse around with my 30 pound toddler in my arms.

K-Amato is a pretty hot line so the place was full. Full of gorgeous twenty and thirty something women without children. I'm sure they were thinking "what the hell is this lady doing. She should have left the kid at home". But they were sympathetic.

I was not. I was thinking "what the hell am I doing here?!" I should know better. I was one of these women 5 years ago. I know the rules of boutique sample sale shopping. Even though I was dressed to kill this afternoon, I stuck out like a soar thumb. At least in my head I did.

I did the best I could. I held Amelia with one arm and a tiny jewelry box for shopping with the other. I made my way to the crowded $5 table, but there was no navigating that with a child in tow. I gave Amelia 2 chocolate chip cookies. The girl was happy and chatty. I was not.

Amelia dropped one cookie and some woman said "she dropped your cookie".
"My cookie? That's not my cookie! I know stylish city women who wear local designer accessories don't eat cookies!"
Don't worry I kept it all inside. The nice lady realized I couldn't bend down to pick it up so she gave it to Amelia.

And that was it. Time to go. We gave it the old college try. I left empty handed and Amelia left with snacks. Good for her. I know my daughter is worth a lot more than a $38 pair of earring, now at $5 but I can't help but wonder, "what the hell happened to me?" When did I become the Mom who thought she could still be cool and drag her toddler to a sample sale. Give it up Belaval and stay at home. AY MAMA!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's not like it used to be

I have glorified the role of alcohol in motherhood. I know, I'm exaggerating. But wine did get me through the crying out phase with Amelia. I didn't get plastered. Just a glass of wine a night to relax after a long day of work and more work. I write about this because I just read an article in the New York Times today about author of funny Mommy books and fellow blogger Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, who announced to her readers last week that she has quit drinking. This after she wrote "Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay" and "Naptime is The New Happy Hour". Wilder-Taylor says she realized that alcohol had become a crucial part of her motherhood survival. She had to have it every night. Knowing this is not the example she wanted to give her daughters, she quit.

While reading the article, I obviously took a look at my own habits and realized, I DON'T HAVE TO QUIT. I don't need the one glass of wine a night to get through motherhood. I don't break out in hives if there is no wine in the house. In fact, motherhood has had a sobering effect on me.

After nine months of no alcohol at all, I can't have more than 2 drinks before feeling nice and loose. A great feeling to have when you are out at night with your friends but not when you have to come home to a baby that gets up in the middle of the night. Our first hang over after Amelia was born made me realized, my drinking days were over. You can't nurse a headache and feed a queasy stomach while trying to take care of a child. Well maybe you can, but I feel horrible.

So when we go to a party and Amelia is with a baby sitter and I feel like I'm on a roll, by the second drink, my daughter's face pops in to my head, just like my mother's face would pop up when I was about to pass third base with a guy.

Plus, kids just know when you have left them for a night out of town. That is the day she wakes up the earliest and we have to drag our tired butts out of bed. So I don't encourage drinking and parenting at all but do not take my glass of wine away. It's all I've got. If you can, check out the article in today's NYT Sunday Styles Section: "A Heroin of Cocktail Moms Sobers Up".

Ay Mama!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Nice way to crap on the mood

I'M BACK and with many reasons to celebrate. The most important one, my husband starts his new job this Monday, after 6 difficult months of unemployment. So for that reason, we opened that bottle of excellent champagne (a Christmas gift from friends) to celebrate. It was a Saturday evening. We were having dinner as a family when Amelia said she was done and left the table.

Steve and I sat there enjoying our champagne and great adult conversation. What a great feeling. Quiet child watching TV, Steve and I celebrating that the heavy weight of unemployment was lifter off our marriage. We were so happy.

Amelia comes back to the table with a gift for "Daddeeee". She hands Steve something that looked like a small brownie. Thankfully, Steve had her put it on his napkin. For a split second I wondered where she had gotten the "brownie" from. And then it hit me: "She pooped. That's poop."

Champagne buzz gone, celebration interrupted, back to parent mode. Thank God we were on our second glass of champagne or Steve would have thrown up on his daughter. Instead, he calmly got off his chair and went to throw out his daughter's gift.

What a way to crap on the mood! Ay Mama!

By the way, we finished the champagne after we bathed, changed her and put her down for the night. This time not to celebrate but to forget.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A real Mother's Day

The girl doesn't call me Mami or Mama. She knows who I am, she just doesn't call me anything. Well, sometimes she calls me Daddy. Twice, she has bitten me so hard she has drawn blood. She has slapped me, stepped all over my vital organs and pokes my eyes at the first sign of my falling asleep. And even after all that mental and physical abuse, I adore her.

On the other hand, she beams every time she sees me. I'm the one who can really console her. She follows me around constantly and imitates my every move. She holds me like no one else in the world. She has shown me a love like no other. That is what makes me so happy on Mother's Day.

Granted, I'll spend that wonderful made up holiday wiping her nose and worrying about her bad cough. Making sure she doesn't have a fever and keeps drinking liquids. And probably putting her in her crib for a time out for slapping me but I wouldn't have it any other way. Well... a massage, a mimosa and sleeping in would be better. But like my friend Sandra says
"Querias ser madre, coge ser madre." "You wanted to be a Mom, take that!" And I gladly will. Ay Mama!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weird, right?

I have such a guilt trip this evening. It was after I told a tiny group of people I don't know that I hated the first three months of motherhood. Yes, if you've read this blog before you know that it hasn't been the first time I've said that. Yes, there is some truth to that and when I was in the thick of those three months, I was hating life. But after 19 months, I have to think of a better word than hate. I don't hate anything related to Amelia. I look back at those three months and they were the hardest ever, but those months brought us to this moment and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

With technology the way it is I know Amelia will one day read what I have written and I want her to know that my feelings those first three months had nothing to do with her, but with my inability to let go of control and just adjust to change. She is, as I tell her every night, my biggest treasure. And even when I felt really sick after giving birth, smelling the top of her head would overwhelm me with a feeling of love I can't describe. She still has that smell and I hope she has it forever. Ay Mama!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

RED POOP (Warning: this will be gross)

Amelia's bowel movements have been a constant subject of discussion in our home since the day she was born. The girl eats like a new nail file (direct translation from a Puerto Rican saying "come como lima nueva") but could use some Activia more often than not. We are not talking constipation, more like a consistency issue. 'Nough said.

SO thanks to the Colombian book of remedies, Amelia's babysitter keeps her on a diet of plenty of beans. In the words of my husband, a bean hater himself, Wilma gives Amelia an amount of beans that would be outlawed in certain countries. Lentisl. red beans, chick peas, black eyed beans and even beans I don't even recognize. Yet, since I grew up in PR, beans are just part of a healthy diet.

But to our surprise the scariest poop we have seen in these 18 and half months was not the jumping beans' fault. It happened tonight after a day of too much intestinal activity. It was her fourth time and we were about to bathe her for the evening. I saw something frightfully dark on her diaper and when I lifted: it was RED. Steve immediately yelled "BLOOD!". I thought, "tamal mexicano".

No, not the swine flu that has our poor Mexican friends handing us a note from their doctors before we even answer their emails. This is a "tamal dulce" that Wilma feeds Amelia once in a while. I am afraid she buys it on the street too. The sweet tamal is dark red and it seems our girl ate more of it than she usually does.

Instead of calling the doctor, I called our Colombian wise woman and confirmed my suspicion. Steve is still trying to get the image out of his head. I made Wilma promise me no beans for Amelia tomorrow. Ay Mama!

A size and a half smaller

Amelia is a tall girl. Almost three feet at 18 months. She outgrows clothing like the jolly green giant and I'm always on top of that. Her feet...well , that's another story. We bought her 2 pairs of those expensive shoes "that will make her walk better" last December. She was a 5 1/2 wide. From then on, my shoe quest continued with that number as my guiding light. I love shoes so I pride myself in keeping Amelia up with the latest styles, except her pudgy feet won't cooperate.

Hence, she's been living in her good shoes for a while. But now it seems it was for far too long. We went to one of the children shoe Mecca's, Nordstrom, to get our girl sized. As soon as the beautiful Croatian sales lady took one look at her feet stuck in her way too expensive Ecco sneakers, she said "those don't fit her".

At home they looked fine but in the Nordstrom's light Amelia's feet looked like stuffed sausages. The moment of truth hapenned when she put her little foot on the measuring "scale". Amelia was almost a 7W and she was wearing 51/2W shoes. I thought the sales lady was going to call DCFS on us. She almost hit us when she gave us the news.

In hindsight, Amelia likes to be barefoot a lot. Tight shoes from her neglectful parents might have been the problem. The good news is that she left Nordstrom's with two nice pairs of shoes, moderately expensive, but that fit her perfectly. She is very lucky to have a grandma that will subsidise her shoe needs. I have to go return 2 pairs of cute sandals to GAP and Target. Ay Mama!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Shirtless Ricky Martin

It was that last hour of sleep you realize you have when you suddenly wake up thinking the alarm clock is going to go off. At first, it's a relief and even like winning the lottery to get that extra hour. But the really weird, even scary vivid dreams happen during that hour.

That is when Ricky Martin appeared in my dream. As you can imagine, it was the culmination of a strange dream. I was the counselor at a NASA camp for girls who wanted to be astronauts. For some reason, cat fights kept happening. I kept telling the ladies NASA would never recruit fighters. Like I know, right. And then Ricky Martin came on stage to speak and I guess sing to the girls. For some reason, he took his shirt off.

Then I remember that he came off stage and his security team kept saying, "No one touch Ricky, no one touch Ricky". But he spotted me in the crowd and said "I need to hug my Ana Maria Belaval!"

Yes, he was all sweaty. Yes, my girlfriend Tyra says she would have toweled him off first. But my Puerto Rican id would be taken away if I didn't hug him right away, even in my dreams.

What was even more weird is that he gave me career advice.
"Why weren't you in the Pedro Navaja musical?" (That's a popular musical based on a song by Ruben Blades)
Like a school girl, I just shrugged my shoulders.
He said "Do you have an agent?"
I said "Yes, but he mostly looks for news stuff".
"Well, let me take care of it."

I'm still waiting for the call from Ricky's people. Ay Mama!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

She took a chunk out

NOOOO!! followed by "Me muerdas (Bite me)". My lovely 17 month old. My first born. My sweet baby had just bitten the woman that gave birth to her. Why, God, why would you bite the hand that feeds you?!  She took a chunk (as big a chunk as her small mouth and 10 teeth can take off) of my upper inner thigh. That is the point she can easily reach when she hugs my legs begging to be picked up. I was wearing old boxer shorts so that's why she could do so much damage. But I swear those little teeth could pierce through the thickest denim or leather. 

This was one of the latest wounds sustained by my husband and me for the last 17 months. I don't want to go in to detail but the first war wounds came out of labor. Then the real damage began when she could kick her legs. I'm not sure if we could have another child since her aim on her Dad could have compromised that already. One time Steve had a nice size black and blue on his arm thanks to her sweet pinches. I have become a human step ladder, so I'm almost sure my internal organs are again out of place.

At the beginning, they don't mean it. Actually most of the time they don't. But after their first birthday, they realize they can take you down with a quick move and they are not afraid to use their arsenal.  That takes us to the fun of trying to discipline a young toddler.  After the bite incident, after a band aid was applied to the bloody wound, her father had a "talk" with her. A half hour later, in the heat of excitement because she was hugging me, she went for it again. This time on my shoulder but I was able to stop.  "Don't bite" as I hold my little piranhas head back,  seems to be working. Holding her legs or arms and saying "Don't hit" works too.  And sometimes just putting her in her crib for a time out does the trick, At least she hasn't tried it on other kids. But I'll keep you posted. Ay Mama!

Where have I been?

It's been a month since I last wrote on this blog. I'm not snubbing anyone. Motherhood hasn't become easier. Actually, life has gotten a bit more complicated. Like hundreds of thousands of families, the recession has hit our home. My husband got laid off over a month ago. Our readjustment to a one income household is not something I wanted to talk about here. Not because we've lost our house, our standard of living. We are very fortunate in that sense.  But because emotionally it's not an easy process for the family, especially for the member that has been laid  off.  Plus, I blog about my life as a Mom not my husband's and I have to respect that. 

And as a Mom, let me just tell you, sole bread winner and all, my duties haven't changed. I get home and even though Daddy is a blast, Mama is the one that meets all the needs. At least that's how Amelia seems to see it. Steve is as capable to take care of her as I am. As I've written here before, he took the night time feedings when she was a newborn so that I wouldn't jump off a bridge or drive all the way to Arizona on my own. He changes diapers, dispenses Baby Tylenol and can dress her pretty well, for a guy.  But there must be something biological, something about a Mother that a child just wants to get everything from us.

Steve is making dinner every evening, bathing her when my shoulder is acting up, but if he puts her on the floor for a second, the kid just walks right to me. If I switch  places with him so I can fix her lunch, she follows me to the kitchen where he has to go retrieve her. 

I also can't help it. I make most of the decisions about her since she was born. I consult with him but mostly, I instinctively know what's going to come up and I take care of it. Yes, I know I told a few friends to expect more from their husbands and let them take over once in a while.   But it's so hard. Women's lib and all, I think it's part of our female nature. Don't take me wrong, men are quick to follow along. "She'll just tell me what to do."  

And I do tell him what to do. I have to. Since the moment the girl ate solids, feeding her has been my responsibility. He doesn't want to deal with the faces or the mess. If he has to dress her, I leave the outfit set out, bow and all.  If he bathes her, I usually dress her up and rub her tush with Desytin since he hates the stickiness of the white stuff. 

A lot of it has to do with the fact that now I have a routine and I like things done my way. After she goes down for the night, I pick up all the toys. All of them. He doesn't.  I like her to wear a bow. He could care less. So I just do it or make sure that he does it my way.

I am positive that if I had to travel, he could totally take care of Amelia with no problem.  He would be so willing and able. But I also know that as soon as I come in the door, she would ask  me for milk while wearing a t shirt, plaid pants, sneakers and no bow. 

In conclusion: Ladies, we can have it all or actually, we have to do it all. And frankly I don't mind it. Weird right, I must be a Mom. Ay Mama!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

All alone

I remember wondering why my friend Sandra would go alone to a get together, leaving her husband with the girls. I thought, "wow, that marriage is suffering." Well, now I know why she did it. When you become a mother, if you don't divide and conquer, your friends might never see you again. 

It  always broke my heart the many times my brother and sister in law would miss out on great concerts and parties because my niece would get a cold. I would say, "how can that happen every time they want to go out". 

Well, here I am. After planning a weekend full of activities with my husband and daughter, I have them in locked down with a bad cold. So there I was at my friend's daughter's baptism all by myself. I never thought about not going, neither did Steve. My friend Veronica has left her girls with their Dad many times to come to my things. Three baby showers in 2 months to say the least. I had to be at this Christening. I missed my family the entire time I was there,  but I happy to be there. But when picture time came, I made Vero and her husband be in the picture with me so I didn't look like an orphan. It's ironic that now I have a family of three and I end up alone in the picture.

We also had a pot luck dinner planned for Friday evening. I was in charge of dessert. My friend Nina invited us a month in advance. I had booked a babysitter. It was going to be a fun, adult evening that would cost us very little and give us the distraction Steve and I really need. He got laid off 2 weeks ago after spending 2 and half years busting his ass at a job, working late nights and missing a lot of time with our daughter. But that's another story. So needless to say, we needed some laughs with some friends.

Friday came around, our friend couldn't babysit due to a family emergency, plus Amelia caught her first bad cold. I could have left her with her nanny but that would have cost me more than the night out.  Nina offered babysitting options but I just didn't feel right leaving her with a stranger while she sneezed and coughed. 

I won't lie, the weekend hasn't been fun. I caught myself thinking about my friends having wine and good food as I put my child down for the night and took care of my husband, who besides a bruised self esteem, has a mean cold as well.  But this too shall pass and better days will come. Vero will not have another baby Christening, but we will get a family picture in one of  her three girls' quinceaneras. Ay Mama!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Should I stay or should I go?

This is a classic. It's 6:04 AM and I'm sitting in the living room waiting for my daughter to wake up. I was supposed to be out the door already but work called that I'm not on the air today because who has time for Chinese acrobats (my segment today) when Illinois has a new governor, after impeaching the old one. 

I got up around 4:40m, checked the blackeberry and thought I could go back to bed until Amelia woke up. But when I'm up, I'm up so I jumped in the shower and got ready for when the rooster sang. She got up around 5 so I thought I would be nice and stay with her until her babysitter shows up at seven. My husband was very appreciative; he even called me the best wife ever.

But Amelia went back to bed. Out solid. And here I am, make up on and all, debating if I should bail out on both of them. They are both sound asleep and I'm stuck watching TV with close captions. Should I stay or should I go?

I admit it, I love my job and since my daughter was born, it has become my playground. I remember when Amelia was a newborn and I had to leave the house at 5 in the morning. I would feel sad to leave her but once I was in the car, an overwhelming feeling of "Yeah, someone else gets the early morning feedings! I get to be me!!" would take over. 

Now that she's older and I often have to get camera ready with her hanging off my leg and rummaging through our bathroom drawers at 4:30AM, work is my escape. 

6:12 and she's still out. Good for them (dad and daughter) sucks for me. I really wanted to see her before I left. Serves me right for being nice. Ay Mama!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Screamer

We are loud. Ok, I'm loud but I don't yell at my husband. We don't scream at each other. But for some reason Amelia has joined the ranks of the 15 month olds that scream for everything. She yells like a homeless mad woman in delight, frustration, exhaustion. It's almost a way to communicate. We started putting her in her crib more for our discipline than for hers when she clearly screams because she doesn't get her way.  She doesn't get it but it helps her caregivers, i.e. Mama, Dad and Babysitter, deal with her tantrums.  When it's just pure excitement or to call my attention, I get down to her level and tell her there is no need to yell. Yeah, that works really well.

But what irks me is something that I have noticed from the Mommy clan since I became a part of it. We can be some nasty  bitches when we want to. When I take Amelia to open play at Gymboree, she screams with excitement and frustration often. I apologize profusely to other parents and try to curtail her yelling. Many parents are supportive and tell me there kids behave the same way.  My Gymbo friends even embrace her incessant yelling. But many just stare at me as if I just don't know how to control my daughter.

If I hear "wow, those are some set of lungs" or, "that is a great way to ask for attention" one more time, I could punch someone.   I couldn't control myself and I  told the one woman who said that screaming was a great way to call for attention that it was worst for me than for her since I have to take Amelia home with me.  

What the hell is that? Aren't  we on the same freaking boat?  My kid may scream with joy, but theirs might just not eat or just spit at strangers even when his/her parents eat very well and only spit in private.  Why do women do this crap to each other?  Do we need to be sarcastic with each other when we all know we do the best we can as mothers? Call me hypersensitive but if women didn't unite, we still wouldn't have the right to vote. 

You know who the nicest Moms are?  The ones whose sons cry every time Amelia screams. Bless there hearts. They apologize for their boys being spooked by my rambunctious girl, as I apologize for my loud ass princess.  

For those who think I'm just not doing enough or that is what I get for being a loud ass myself, I just got the email from the experts that reminds me what age Amelia is every week and what she should be doing for her age and my girl is right on target---she's supposed to be a screamer. Ay Mama!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Where are their parents?

It has been a concern of mine since Amelia and I have been paying attention to children's television.  Elmo has their picture on his wall but never mentions them.  Max and Ruby have a family portrait, but they clearly live alone.  Even Handy Many only has an Abuelito. And like any good single Latino working man, he should at least be living with his Mama until he finally shacks up with the hardware store owner he clearly has the hots for.

When I first saw Elmo, I thought the opening song said "Elmo loves his Mommy and crayon too". He actually sings "Elmo loves his GOLDFISH and crayon too."  There is a picture on his wall of an older couple that resembles Elmo but we never see him on the show.  I spoke about this with my coworkers who insist monsters don't have parents.  It takes the village  of Sesame Street to raise them. Ok, fine, Elmo is not human or animal so he doesn't need parents.

But don't bunnies need a Mommy and Daddy?  That is what my friend Ingrid and I keep asking each other.  Max and Ruby must have parents and a litter of siblings at that. What did they do to be left behind?  If you are not familiar with this cartoon,  Max and Ruby are brother and sister. They live ALONE in a two level house.  Ruby takes care of her little brother Max like a mother should.  Feeds him, dresses him, plays with him, teaches him right from wrong plus has time to play with her own bunny girlfriends and do school work. She even tucks her dolls in bed after tucking Max in.  If her little brother has a nightmare she's there. Not her parents.

They have a grandmother but she doesn't even visit every week let alone seems to want them in her house.  When she comes over for tea, Ruby prepares the hot beverage and mini sandwiches. No one ever tells us if the rest of the family was cooked during an Easter feast or what.  Ruby raises Max and that's it.

I know Handy Many is a grown man. But I'm Latin and my hard working brother lived at my parents house until he was 26 or 28 years old.  Many Latin men see no reason to leave the comforts of Mom's house but Manny doesn't seem to have a Mamasita  to go home to.  Abuelito, contrary to almost every grandparent in the world, especially Hispanic, doesn't take him in.

What is my beef with all this?  Are parents not important to the cartoon world?  Who do they think is sitting at 5AM next to their target audience?  A tired Mom or Dad who would like to be portrayed at least as a constant presence in these characters lives.  I want Amelia to be independent but not afraid that I'll leave her at Sesame Street with the monsters or that Abu Tita or Grandma won't take her in.

By the way, don't get me started on Disney and the way they kill every mother in every movie: Bambi, Nemo, Little Mermaid, Cinderella.  Ay Mama! 

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Clapper

Some women cut other people's meat. Some will wipe off dirt from co workers faces. I have become a clapper thanks to my baby. Amelia loves to clap. Not a surprise since we clap a lot at our house. Everything ends up being a song and so clapping is inevitable. But what I did last Wednesday was baby clapping during an adult conversation and that is the perfect example that motherhood has indeed changed me.

I was chatting with my girlfriend Celeste about the latest class reunion that I missed. She was giving me a rundown of who was there and when she mentioned a particular person, I clapped with glee. Celeste said "Ana you just clapped." I knew excatly what she meant. I clapped like a 14 month old. I clapped when I could have just as well used an adjective to describe my feelings. I could have said "he was there. That's so cool." I clapped because that's what I do for hours on end for the last 300 and some days of my life.

I'm a clapper. I accept it and shamelessly admit it I'll probably keep doing it until Amelia starts expressing her delight with words. Ay Mama!

Grandparents wisdom

I've said more than once on this blog that my parents are not your typical grandparents, or at least, they don't think they are. Their house in not wall papered with their grand daughters pictures. They can't quote every statistic on their grandkids development and middle of the night feedings are not their thing. They are loving grandparents who adore their girls but they are done taking care of babies full time. They believe it's their kids job to raise their own.

So as you can imagine, there were some memorable quotes during this trip from them and their friends who are also grandparents who aren't looking to be parents again.

First up, my Dad. He was taking my husband and daughter to pick something up. I called to check on them and asked where my child was. This conversation was in Spanish, so things might be lost in the translation.

"Y mi hija?" = Where's my daughter?
"Con su papa."= With her dad.
"Por que no se quedo contigo en el carro?"= Why didn't she stay in the car with you?
"Ay no porque pega a gritar." = No way, then she'll start screaming her head off.

I thought the way he said it was so funny and honest. He loves Amelia but he's not about to put up with her whining. He already did that with me. His granddaughter's laugh is the only sound he wants to hear.

My mother's neighbour Doña Tere has 4 or 5 grandchildren. None of them babies anymore. But she accepts with no remorse that the best part of their visits is the moment they arrive and the moment they leave. I love that woman!

And last but not least, my Mom. Amelia gets a lot of gifts for Christmas. People love to give her toys. But we travel carry on (that experiece will be blogged about soon) and we can't bring the toys back with us. Besides we go to PR often and having toys there is great. So I said to my mom that I was going to leave the toys in her house.

Here's an excerpt from that conversation.

"Mami, voy a dejar los juguetes aqui para cuando venga en marzo"= Mom, I'll leave the toys here for when we come back in March.

"No hay problema. De camino al aereopuerto yo para en un lugar en Isla Verde para rentar un storage place." = No problem, I'll just rent a storage space for your stuff on the way to the airport.

In all fairness, I have a lot of crap at home. My husband and I have a week's stay worth of clothing, shoes, and toilettries and so does Amelia. I totally understand what she means.

Come to think of it, I think my parents should have a blog for "reluctant grandparents". Now a days when so many grandparents end up raising their grandchildren, I'm sure they would love a space to vent how they really feel. And since I know they are reading this:

Papi y Mami:

Amelia es tan afortunada de tener abuelos como ustedes, como yo de tenerlos como mis padres. "Amelia is just as luky to have you as grandparents as I am to have you as my parents."