Why must birthdays be so bittersweet?

Miss Maya turned 7 today.

Its bittersweet. I'm noticing that anything related to the chil'rens growing up is bittersweet. My son's feet growing almost as big as his fathers. Bittersweet. My youngest, my lovey--Xixi, just lost her first baby tooth yesterday. Bittersweet. And now, Maya is growing up and with it came the realization that these are most likely the last couple of years we'll have of her as a little girl. So bittersweet. Soon, she'll start to change and blossom before our very eyes.

And I'm already lamenting it. I really am.

Its awful.

I want to see her as a beautiful young woman, I do. A mother, even. I have so many hopes and dreams for her. But it hurts my heart. For whatever reason, it's hitting me much harder with my daughter than with my sons. Perhaps its because I know the changes she'll be going through firsthand. I know the journey she will one day embark on.

Look at me, I'm getting all emotional. I couldn't even look through my archives to post pictures of her when she was younger because then I can't avoid the obvious.

She's not a little baby anymore.

I brought her balloons and cupcakes to school today. Cupcakes so her classmates could sing happy birthday to her and balloons because I know my girl. She enjoys physical demonstrations of my love. She wants people to know, yes I have a lot of brothers and my little sister is really cute, but I still have a place in my mama's heart.

Her class was walking out to the playground when she spotted me. Her cheeks got flushed, she had the goofiest smile ever and she giggled. She proudly handed out her cupcakes (thanks, Uncle Josh!) and held her balloons. Her smile said it all.

Mama loves you, baby.


Only in San Francisco

Last week, I had the pleasure of making the trip up to San Francisco to meet up with the rest of the Babycenter bloggers, as well as to visit Babycenter's headquarters.

What an amazing trip.

It was such a pleasure to meet all of the bloggers. And I love San Francisco! What a great city. I fell in love with this place back in '09, when I came to visit and see Frida Kahlo's show at SFMOMA.

San Francisco has an amazing vibe all its own.

The Bay Bridge, near the Ferry Building. We stayed at a hotel right across from here.

A wall of family pics from Babycenter's headquarters. I am so going to steal this idea!

We ate lunch here the first day we landed. Oh em gee. The steamed pork bun was to die for.

It was so cool to finally be here and meet people I only know through emails!

Our room was simple and elegant.

We ate this delicious eggplant dish at Andalu

The food just kept coming and coming. The tuna tartar was unbelievable.

Michael was the man with the camera for the entire trip.


San Francisco skyline.

We had dinner at Tyler Florence's Wayfare Tavern

And yup, that is the Tyler Florence. It was really cool and the food....well, I'm still fantasizing about the food. Forget Tyler Florence, I'm dreaming about those bacon-wrapped dates!

Enjoying SF's public transportation.

Me, on a quick break between important blogger business.

Chinatown. We braved walking up and down those hills. And now my TOMS stink. Oh well, I had so much fun!


Large family living

Life has me running around like the proverbial chicken with her head cut off, so I haven't really been keeping up with things here the way I should. I've totally slacked on Smothered and Covered Fridays, if you've noticed. My bad. Then there are really cool things happening that I haven't shared, a spa review that I've been working on forever. I kind of see this as blogger constipation. Like a log-jam of drafts, just waiting to be published.

Recently, I was involved in a special feature on Babycenter, called Secrets of Successful Moms, where I shared some organizational tips for moms with large families. I know, right? The irony! Organizational tips from me, the most insane fly-by-the-seat-of-my-fat-pants mom I know. So far I've managed to keep six chil'rens alive and well, so I must be doing something right. Right? Right.


I also made a....gulp...video. The idea was for me to take a stroll through my house and share some of the ways I squeeze six kids and two adults in a 1400 square foot house and how we live as a large family. I was going to be behind the camera but it kept coming out too blurry and shaky. So, Michael volunteered to film me while I narrated. I didn't even contemplate what I wearing (and how my bra strap kept showing), or how my day-three-of-unwashed-hair was looking kinda funky. I didn't even have any shoes on! I basically showed you what I look like in real life.

No Spanx.
No cropping of the image.
No Photoshop.

But overall, it was fun. Once I got over how my voice sounds like a tranny, I was good. I share more about the video here, if you are so inclined to check it out. I plan on making more videos in the future, just because they are such an easy way to communicate, and my kids provide such hilarious sound bites.


Top 10 Most Romantic Movies

Since it's still Valentine's Day and all, there was a post listing the 10 Most Romantic Movies of All Time on the Huffington Post.

I read the list and to be honest, my romance meter was like meh. They are like, old people romantic movies. Seriously, have you ever seen Harold and Maude?

Thank you.

Here is my list, in no particular order:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: I saw this movie in the theater with my husband. After watching the scenes where they are fighting in the bamboo forest and all the green leaves are swaying...sigh...I fell in love with this movie.

2. Brown Sugar: When did you fall in love with hip hop? An important question, and one I've been asking myself since I was a kid. This movie is close to my heart because its a movie I saw with Michael. We were friends first, like Dre and Syd were in this movie.

3. Say Anything: Um, helllooo, John Cusack holding up a boom box, blaring Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes?? Major swoon.

4. Dirty Dancing: Loved, loved, loved this movie. I will always stop what I'm doing to watch it if I stumble upon it on TV. Patrick Swayze, RIP. I've always wondered, who dirty dances that way?

5. The Notebook: This movie made me fall in love with Ryan Gosling. This movie is what gave my husband the idea that we were going to die together, holding hands and laying together in an old folks home. Only we won't be in an old folks home because brown people like to keep their elderly living with them. So we'll most likely die together in one of the chil'rens spare bedrooms. Or maybe a trailer out in back. Heh.

6. Legends of the Fall: Brad Pitt. Long hair. Need I say more? I just wish he could stay this way forever, frozen in time. This time and Fight Club time.

7. 50 First Dates: I love how Adam Sandler's character is willing to make Drew Barrymore fall in love with him over and over again.

8. A Walk in the Clouds: This is a visually stunning movie with Keanu Reeves. Anthony Quinn plays the grandfather, which is really cool because this actor resembles my own grandfather, who passed away when I was seven years old. But I still remember him vividly.

9. Some Kind of Wonderful: This movie made me fall in love with Eric Stoltz (a redhead!). I also loved how cool Watts was--her style was so amazing, even though its been twenty-four long years since this movie came out. Wow. Apparently, girls in combat boots, fishnet stockings and fingerless gloves never go out of style.

10. Grease. I don't care what people say, Summer Lovin' and Hopelessly Devoted to You are some seriously romantic songs. Those stolen, bittersweet moments on the beach in the beginning of the movie were precious. So were the Pink Ladies. And the hand jive.

These are the movies that make my heart go all pitter-pat. They make me remember when I was a love-starved young woman, waiting for her prince. And now, I watch these movies with my prince. So lovely.


The birth of an artist

The one question Michael and I always get asked after,

are they all yours?


how old are they?

is most definitely

are they artists just like their mom and dad?

When the chil'rens were really young, we didn't know how to answer that. We were just your typical parents who ooohed and aahhed over their child's cute drawing. They didn't really show any particular promise. We just hung it up on the fridge anyway.

But now that my son is ten years old, I'm beginning to really see Sol's artistic talents starting to flourish. It's a beautiful thing to contemplate that my son is an artist. Michael and I get excited when we see his work and we realize, he's going to be ten times the better artist than we are!

The kid is amazing. And I'm not just saying that because I'm his mother.


At ten years old, he paints, draws, does graffiti, designs his own vinyl stickers and can operate the vinyl cutting machine and he is learning how to use computer programs like Photoshop. Oh, and he knows how to airbrush, too.

Shoot, I was doodling on my Peechee folder at his age.

When I saw this video of Ernesto Yerena of Hecho Con Ganas, a young Chicano activist and artist, I couldn't help but think of Sol and his art. I let him watch the video and I saw his eyes light up when he heard the soundtrack. And really, how could he not? It was RATM! He was very interested to learn about this young man who grew up working with his father in the garage. When he got to see Ernesto share his creative techniques, Sol was inspired by his fellow artist.

I told him, "Mijo, you could do all of these things. You are a gifted artist. Imagine what you'll be creating when you are this dude's age!"

Which is approximately twelve years or so because Ernesto is a youngster himself.

And Sol just smiled that little Sol smile, dimple and all. I love my little king. I'm in awe of my son. Here is some of his artwork so far:

Mixed media collage with oil pastels, color pencils, tissue paper and magazine clippings, a project we created on Modern Art 4 Kids

His first try at painting Bob Marley. My Dad literally pulled it off my livingroom wall and took it home.

Sol's workstation. He's working on another Bob Marley painting.

Sol and his 10th birthday present: a respirator to use while he uses aerosol cans. Most kids just want a new video game, right? Not Sol.

The artist, working on a wood panel.

While I'm working on my own painting in the background, Sol is working on an airbrush portrait of his Dad in our kitchen/art studio.

A piece in Sol's black book.

A Frank Stella-inspired relief sculpture he did in art class.

still life drawing made with oil pastels.

Sol found these random wood shapes in the garage, so he decoupaged drawings he liked onto the wood, then he added some color to it with paint and/or marker.

Working on a painting of Frida Kahlo to augment the report that he did for art class. I helped him out with the drawing and then he painted it.

I really felt the need to document some of Sol's artwork. He's gonna want to see this someday. And what can I say? Sometimes a mother has to brag about her kid's efforts just a little bit.
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