Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


We hosted Thanksgiving this year! It was very fun to plan, shop, and cook with Tonio and the kids. Here was the menu:

zucchini/goat cheese roll-ups
garlic/tomato/spinch dip
spicy pumpkin soup
pear/watercress salad
brined turkey
wild rice with dried fruit and hazelnuts (our gluten-free and vegetarian stuffing!
my mom's sweet potatoes
mashed potatoes
green beans
tamarind/vanilla cranberry sauce
regular cranberry sauce:)
pumpkin pie
pecan pie
YUM!!!! No diets allowed;). It was a challenge to explain to Vivi and Tonito about Thanksgiving- they don't understand "thankful" so we told them it was a day to celebrate things that make you happy. Vivi's short list included: spinning around, peanut butter and jelly, giraffes, and her school. Tonito said goldfish (the cracker!), coches, airplanes, Boo and Mingo and his friends make him happy. Neither of them mentioned their parents, hmm. We asked them, what about mommy and papi?" and they go "oh, yeah." (read: I guess so). But jokes aside, we are all very thankful for our healthy family. We were so excited to spend Thanksgiving with the whole family- even Christy came in from NY, and the kids were thrilled to play with their Tia Didi. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by people that love us:).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

I love a certain supermarket near our house- the colorful and exotic foods represent all of the languages you can hear while shopping there (although Italian is definitely the most dominant!). I have to admit I was a little misty and proud to live in this country as I saw Middle Eastern and Russian families buying Thanksgiving turkeys, watched an Indian couple discuss how to make cranberry sauce, and then a cute, young Hispanic family asked us in Spanish to show them sage and rosemary as they grasped a stuffing recipe they had cut out of the newspaper. Not only am I fascinated by the cliente;), but also by the amazing and cheap food!!! So we bought all of the ingredients for our Thanksgiving dinner plus a little feast of "goodies" (ie finger food) for putting up our Christmas tree: pistachios, dried fruit, hummus with veggies and bread, tabouleh, etc. YUM! The kids set up the tree with Tonio while I got the food ready and fed Maya (sorry baby, you go to sleep too early!). With Maya asleep we had fun putting up all of our ornaments- most are from places we have visited, and many from Mexico and China. Tonito loved it!!!! He was so excited when we showed him the dragons from China, and both he and Vivi had a a blast decorating the bottom third of the tree (while we snuck the ornaments higher moved some to the sides and back of the tree;). We listened to Christmas music, enjoyed some wine, watched the kids decorate the tree, and just sat on the couch taking it all in. Everything is new for Tonito, and he and Vivi are at the perfect age to get into Christmas. We have so many activities coming up this month- it is going to be so fun!!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

3 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

Life is fun when you learn how to climb in and out of the crib while your sister is sleeping and mommy is making breakfast:). The three of them shrieking and giggling and jumping crazy in the crib is a dream come true. We did sing that "5 Little Monkeys" song, and Tonito

now knows the entire song and will scream/sing it while acting it out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Little Sous Chefs:)

One of my favorite activities (hobbies?) is to cook. I love to travel also, and whenever we go to another country I wiggle my way into a kitchen and ask them to teach me how to make whatever they are making. I also like cooking at home because for some reason it relaxes me and gives me a break from the craziness. Vivi, and now Tonito, really love cooking too- "mommy, can we cocinar with you??" Sometimes I can't figure out a good little job for them, but many times they help me stir, pour, mash, sprinkle, or mix. Our recent culinary concepts: sweet potato muffins (sweet potatoes mashed by the kids;), English muffin pizzas, and croissant wrap-ups with cheese, ham, broccoli, and sweet apples/cinnamon. I am so happy that Vivi is less picky now that she is getting bigger, and that Tonito and Maya will eat anything! It makes it much easier to let them "help" cook. I think all kids should grow up cooking healthy food!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008


Where we are from, kids have "playdates" (ie get together to play at each others' houses). It is questionable if playdates are more about the moms or the kids;). Sometimes the mom and all the kids come over and play and the moms get to chat, or other times we drop off our child at their houses for a couple of hours and are able to run some errands or get something done. So after hearing several names pop up again and again when the kids come home from school, I started sending notes to school to be slipped into the backpacks of their little buddies, inviting them to come over and play. It has been SO fun!!! Most times siblings come with, so even Maya gets some playtime. What I am so proud of is that Vivi and Tonito are making friends on their own!!! I love the look of excitement and surprise on their faces when they open the door and it is one of their classmates. The first couple of minutes they are *wild* and show off acting goofy. But then they calm down and play all over the house, take out every single toy, run up and down the stairs, while their mom and I enjoy tea and conversation:). It is cute to see this other side of Tonito too- he definitely acts sillier around his friends (boys) then when he is with Vivi and Maya.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

From biped to quadruped: Maya is walking!!!!

UPDATE on Maya
My little baby girl, just shy of 15 months, decided yesterday that she wanted to WALK!!!!!! Picture this: wobbly little Frankenstein, with a toothy grin that takes step by step until she is close enough to dive into my arms:). CUTIE!!!! She still prefers to walk on her knees, but she has walked across the floor several times. First at storytime at the library, when she saw the bells the librarian was passing out she took a couple of steps (that was Monday). Then my dad came over on Tuesday and she walked from me to him a couple of times. And then we had a playdate with Tonito's friend Georgi and she walked completely across the basement! She is getting so big- her list of words is expanding as well:

wow-wow (dog), book, "ook"= look, mas= more, "chs=" cheese (when we take pictures;), "um-ma"= grandma, Vivi, and her favorite word to repeat over and over, mama:). She also can do animal noises: moo, uuf-uff (dog), mao (cat), ooo (wolf).

She is just getting her 4th molar in which brings her up to 12 teeth, and loves to eat all fruit, peanut butter toast, broccoli, yogurt, noodles, edamame, tomatoes, and anything the big kids are eating. She really likes Vivi and Tonito and wants to do whatever they do (coloring, playing with whatever toy they have, sitting on the couch to watch Wonder Pets, reading books, etc). She is cuddly and loving, and just wants to be held all day so she can see what's going on while she sucks her little thumb.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


You may know that Tonio and I try to speak a lot of Spanish at home so that the kids will be truly bilingual. Unfortunately with school and friends being all in English, and me being around the kids more than Tonio, (although I was trying to do Spanish, I would slip into English whenever we're in a rush or someone's in trouble, etc). So anyway, when Vivi started to refuse to speak in Spanish and say she didn't speak "espanol," we decided we needed to be more proactive about teaching them Spanish. I got out a ton of books from the library about homeschooling, and about preschool activities in general, and created a little program that I was going to do in the afternoons after nap (mornings they are in school!). Tonio and I decided we would do themes every week or two and the whole time it would be in Spanish.

So we started with dinosaurs since it is an easy topic to start with. Our library has a search on their web site where you can look for book in the entire metropolitan area and then request them with an interlibrary loan, and they will deliver them to your library. It is awesome!!!! I have used this before for other books, but this was perfect- I put in "dinosaurios" (in Spanish) and requested about 30 kids books, which all trickled into our library. Every night before going to bed we read a couple of these books (some were just stories, and some were non-fiction). The kids LOVED it!!! Here are the activities we did over the past 2 weeks:

* Made footprints in playdough with our play dinos

* Dino stickers

* Classified our play dinos into plant eaters and meat eaters

* Made a dino puppet and practiced our prepositions (put it between your knees, on top of your head, under your foot, etc)

* Coloring/painting/stamping dinos

* Cutting out dinos from a worksheet (we need to work on our cutting skills;)

* Matching skeleton pictures with dino pictures

* Playing dino memory (or just finding matches)

* Pretending we are paleontologists and searching for dinos that mommy hid

* Trip to Science and Industry Museum to visit the dino hall and "Sue"

And then one activity that we did that I read on someone's web site (some of you are going to laugh at this!:) But you know I'm a nerd, so..): I put on a little "play" for the kids with a lamp, a black piece of construction paper, the play dinos, a fake rock and plastic plants. First I had the kids help me group the dinos that were plant eaters, and then meat eaters and we talked about the different protection the plant eaters had against the others (stegosaurus' plates, ankylosaurus' tail, etc). Then I showed them eating plants, and how the meat eaters would come and try to eat them. I wasn't going to get this detailed but the kids really liked watching the tricertops fight against the t-rex! So then the "meteor" (rock) came and crashed into the earth and the "dirt" (black construction paper) covered the sun. (then I turn off the little lamp). All the plants disappeared because they didn't have sun, and then the plant eaters had nothing to eat so they disappeared as well. Then the meat eaters had nothing to eat so they disappeared. After a while the dirt went away and the sun was shining again, so the plants came back but the dinosaurs did not. Tonito and Vivi absolutely loved this little skit and after me doing it a couple of times they could do it as well. The do it in mostly English and a little Spanish, even though I do it completely in Spanish. But I'm happy that they at least started using a little Spanish. I even asked Vivi why the estegosaurio had plates on its back, and she answered in Spanish! (para protegerlo!)

Our little experiment seems to be working! I am doing food this week and then Thanksgiving the following week. If anyone has any other ideas point me in the right direction!:)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama Makes History

So I am not going to bring up politics, except to say I am so excited Obama won!!!! What an amazing journey. We are living history!!! Tonio heard Barack Obama speak at his Master's graduation ceremony at Northwestern University in 2006 and was so impressed with our senator at the time that he downloaded the speech for me to read (I missed his graduation because I was in Costa Rica!)... Even those who don't agree with him politically must acknowledge the profound impact his presidency will have on history. I feel like having an African-American in the position of president is sort-of like overcoming the last racial frontier or barrier. I know we won't see instantaneous change tomorrow (or January 20th) but I will be optimistically patient:).

As we were watching the returns, around 8pm my sister mentioned that she wanted to go downtown to Grant Park to hear the speech. Of course I would go with her!!! So my brother, sister and I frantically rushed to catch the train and then between text messages and phone calls kept tabs on who was winning which states- "he got Pennsylvania," "it looks like he'll win," and then we made it to the city and were literally running down Madison trying to get to Grant Park and I got a text from my other brother saying "Obama won!" You could tell that the news was just trickling into the throngs of people because you would hear a shriek, clapping, screaming- people didn't know if he had just won another state or had won the election. Passing by bars and restaurants with crowds surrounding TVs and jumping up and down- it reminded me of being in London during the World Cup or being in Latin America during any soccer game... everyone rooting for the home team, hugging strangers bonded by the whirlwind of emotions. We finally got to Grant Park and the periodic dull roars enveloped us in a crescendo of cheers as the news was being broadcast on huge screens scattered around Grant Park:

That's not my video, I got it from youtube, but it was my experience and still sends chills down my back and puts tears in my eyes!!!

WHY DIDN'T I HAVE MY CAMERA!???? I can't believe I didn't bring my camera or videocamera- what was I thinking!???

Here are my cousin's awesome pictures of Grant Park:

I am so proud to be an American.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Leaves leaves leaves and the origin of popcorn

Playing in the leaves on a beautiful fall day.

The kids studied "apples" and then "pumpkins" at school and had so much fun with their class making apple pie and pumpkin muffins, weighing the different types of apples and gourds, voting on a pumpkin face to carve, making an apple orchard, and then a pumpkin patch, and many other fun activities. We brought in different kinds of apples for them to taste, and different little gourds and pumpkins to play with- and one mom brought in popcorn that can apparently pop from the cob. The kids were SO excited that day when they came home from school!!! If anyone knows my husband, Tonio LOVES popcorn (I think corn runs through his Aztec blood;)- not microwave, but real popcorn made with a little butter and oil, and then salt and sometimes Tostito's chamoy salsa (tangy with a tiny kick). So of course he passed on this popcorn passion to his 3 kids. The look of amazement and enlightenment on Vivi and Tonito's faces when they were telling me "Mommy!!!! "palomitas" (popcorn) comes from corn!!!" They told me how they put corn in the microwave and "pop pop pop it was palomitas!!!!" They were so excited to tell me this little secret!! It was so cute:). They are learning so much at school and I am SOOOO glad that we haven't sold our house yet so that we can keep taking advantage of this wonderful preschool program.

Here are some pictures of us playing with the tarp to pick up the leaves;)-