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Archive for January, 2010
Snow Day

Snow Day

Luki saw snow for the first time today. I don’t think he was too impressed.

Luki in the snow

He is the first person in our family to be born in a place where it snows on a regular basis. And by a regular basis, I mean a couple of inches once a year (we live in the South). Still, that’s a whole lot more snow than I ever saw in Cuba, or Ton Ton in Venezuela.

The first time I ever experienced winter precipitation, I was twelve years old. I remember being really surprised at how quickly a snowflake disintegrated in my hand — they always looked much sturdier on television and picture books. Luki, on the other hand, will always be familiar with scarves and galoshes. From an early age, he will understand the importance of having snow fall on a weeknight so that school gets cancelled the next day.

Winter will come every year, and he will take it for granted.

His childhood will be totally different from my own. And it’s not just snow. Luki will grow up with unlimited hot water, his cartoons uninterrupted by government propaganda, a mall just a couple of miles away filled with all the toys his heart desires. Most importantly, he’ll have access to any information he requires, the freedom to travel the world, and the opportunities to become whomever he wants.

If he wants to be aloof about snow, that’s cool. I’ll never allow him to take those other things for granted though.

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Blog Warming

I am very excited to welcome you all to the new and improved Everybody Loves Baby! Isn’t it gorgeous? Don’t you wish you were a website too, so that you could take into a dark corner of the Internet and make out? I know I do!

But, before I give you the guided tour, I need to recognize the two amazingly talented people who made this possible. First off, the superhero of design, Juan Miguel Marin, who created that ridiculously beautiful and fitting banner from the following conversation:

Me: Can you, like, help me make my blog pretty?
Juan: Sure, how do you envision it looking?
Me: You know, pretty.
Juan: Okay… can you be more specific?
Me: Uh, I like orange.

Juan, you are a genius.

And secondly, the wizard of web development: Jon Aron of 1310 Studios. Because I actually tried to do this myself, and then realized that, unless I wanted the place to look like this, I needed a professional. Somebody who didn’t scratch his head and go, HUH?? WHAA??, when asked about FTP access.

So, THANK YOU! Jon and Juan. You are rock stars.

Jon and Juan…those names are the perfect segue into what I want to talk about next. If you snoop around the buttons at the top, you’ll notice that under the “About” tab I wrote: This is where I document the bilingual adventures of my Cuban/Venezuelan/American family. Bilingual being the operative word. Now that I have my own domain and the freedom to set this place up how I want, I plan to start posting in Spanish as well. Why? You ask. Well, because we speak Spanish at home and have tons of friends and family in Latin America that also deserve detailed and graphic updates on Luki’s poops. So, be on the lookout for that in the next couple of weeks.

For now, I invite you to explore this new space. I transferred all my old posts from blogger, and they are neatly organized by month at the top, and category on the sidebar. I have an “Everybody” and  a “Baby” page with some pictures and descriptions of the people I write about most, and if you want to contact me, I got myself a fancy everybodylovesbaby.com email.

So, make yourselves at home. Take off your shoes, hang up your coat, have a glass of wine, and join me in this new chapter of my Internet life.

P.S. You should totally invite some of your friends over.

P.P.S. I was actually thinking that you could like, post on your Twitter or Facebook profile that this blog is awesome and then we could start a huge movement, like that time everybody was talking about their bra color.

P.P.P.S. You could say, “if you visit www.everybodylovesbaby.com, you will get a free cookie.”

P.P.P.P.S. I know that’s “technically” a lie. But when I have like a million followers, and Everybody Loves Baby rules the Internet, I’ll totally make the creation of cookie dispensing websites my first order of business.

UPDATE: Apparently, websites already give out cookies, just not the soft and chewy kind. So, to avoid confusion, when Everybody Loves Baby rules the Internet, I’m commissioning the creation of flan dispensing websites as my first order of business. Flaaaan. Yum…

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Your grandpa was awesome! Week #4

Dear Luki,

There’s really no better way to put it other than to say: Death Sucks. A lot. And it’s not just because your grandpa isn’t here anymore, it’s that, in a way, bits and pieces of those who loved him died as well. And even though I know that we will rise to the occasion, that this tragedy will make us stronger, better people, I often wish you could’ve gotten to know us the way we used to be.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. Your grandma’s birthday was a couple of days ago, and it was one of those days when we were all drenched in an overwhelming desire to have your grandpa here, with us. We missed him constantly, but none as much as his wife and partner of 33 years. Her life was so intertwined with his, they were such a tight unit, that she is perplexed about the fact that her birthdays continue to come without him.

I know your grandmother is going to be O.K., but  she will never be the same again. She is now a different version of the person I grew up with. And, because I love the way she was, sometimes I feel sad that you won’t get to experience that.

But I also know that the years she lived by your grandpa’s side were amazing. I think that the best word to describe their marriage is: exemplary. Everyone wanted to be like them. Personally, I used your grandpa as the standard by which to measure my love interests. When your daddy met him, he was so impacted that he told me he wanted to be just like him when he grew up. Right then, I knew I’d found a keeper.

When I would tell my girlfriends the stories about how your grandma would call her husband in theatrical hysterics because her gas light turned on and he would drop what he was doing to meet her at the nearest petrol station so that she didn’t have to pump her own gas, they would joke about hiring her to teach them the tricks to finding and keeping the perfect man.

But your grandma didn’t have to use any tricks. The things your grandpa did – dropping her off at the entrance of every store; getting out of bed to buy her ice cream at midnight; helping her make dinner and then washing the dishes each night – were always done willingly. He adored and admired her, and that was just his way of demonstrating it every day.

So, yes, your grandma will never be the same. But if she can find comfort in something, it’s that she has no regrets from her relationship with your grandpa. And, although she may feel sad, lost, and confused at times, after 33 years of being considered the most important person in his world, she will never feel worthless.

Cherish the person you end up spending your life with Luki. It’s the greatest legacy you can leave your family.



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On becoming domesticated

Last week was pretty busy. A couple of very talented people and I are working on redesigning this here blog and turning it into a proper website, so I’ve been spending a lot of time getting things ready at my new URL. You know, making hors d’oeuvres and finding throw pillows that complement the color scheme so that you all feel welcome when I invite you over. Because in my virtual life, I am a domestic goddess.

In my real life, however, things are drastically different. This week I started my new year’s resolution to cook dinner every day, and I have to say that I feel exhausted and underwhelmed with the results of my culinary experiments. After spending four hundred years peeling and chopping one onion, splattering grease all over the kitchen walls, and using every single cooking utensil in the cabinets, I keep ending up with some version of dry meat which may or may not contain traces of Salmonella.

Being domesticated is hard!

So yea, there were a couple of days when I just wanted to order a pizza, buy a jar of Gerber for Luki, and call it a night. But I didn’t do it because I genuinely want to figure out this cooking thing. And it’s not just that homemade food is healthier and less expensive. It’s because some of the greatest memories of my childhood involve food. Really, really good food prepared by my mother. And it is extraordinarily important to me that Luki have similar experiences.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I want to become more like my mom.

My mom, who, coincidentally, is turning a year older today. And now she’s probably really mad because she forbade everyone from even mentioning her birthday. Understandably, she is in no mood to commemorate the occasion without her husband, so I won’t say anything else about it.

Instead, I’ll talk about me, and the birthday I hope to have many years from now. If, when I turn 43 for the ninth time in a row, I have made enough of an impact on Luki that he wants to emulate me, even if it’s in the tiniest thing, I’ll have at least one reason to celebrate that day.

Madre, en tu día no dejamos de mandarte nuestro amor 
Madre, en tu día con las vidas construimos tu canción
-Silvio Rodriguez
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Your grandpa was awesome! Week #3

Dear Luki,

Last week, when I told you about how your grandpa tackled the foreign streets of Miami decidedly and without missing a beat, I briefly mentioned that one of the first things he did was teach himself how to drive. Let me expound on that.

He was thirty five and had never sat behind a steering wheel. That may seem strange to you because you were lucky enough to have been born in a country where automobiles are the norm, but in Cuba, having a car was a luxury saved for a select few. And since your grandmother was constantly protesting and writing letters against the communist regime, we were not part of that small clique.

When your grandpa arrived in the United States and realized that his previous method of transportation, the bicycle, was not compatible with the South Florida expressways, he immediately went out and bought and old junker for $200. With no licence or any driving experience whatsoever, he managed to get the vehicle home and convinced us to hop in for a ride. I’m not sure if the car was actually brown or the color of paint that had completely chipped away; its sagging ceiling needed to be held up with staples; and we spent more time up on the sidewalk than the street during that first ride; but it got us places.

After that, your grandpa purchased other, slightly better versions of old, battered cars. We couldn’t leave the house without a gallon of water to pour into the part of the motor (yes, that’s as far as my technical knowledge of automobiles goes) that needs to be constantly hydrated, lest it get overheated.

When we moved to Charlotte, he was finally able to afford something brand new — a Toyota Corolla for your grandmother. He still drove around in a little used Hyundai that kept stalling.

One day, your grandma, uncle and I were heading down one of Charlotte’s biggest roads when we saw that traffic was backed up. As we got closer to the spot where the congestion started, we realized that it was your grandpa’s car, stalled in the middle of the busy street. He kept trying different ways to get the car to move and somehow figured out that he could get it going by putting it in reverse. So, without dawdling, he got behind the wheel and drove the rest of the way home backwards, looking through the rear view mirror.

Your grandmother was horrified at the risk of such an outrageous maneuver and I, an insecure and foolish teenager, was like, totally embarrassed.

Today, I have a completely different perspective about that event.

Don’t you ever get stuck Luki. Always find a way to keep moving, even if it’s in reverse.



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In search of balance

Confession. Last night, when I happened to find out the Golden Globes were on and realized I hadn’t seen a single nominated film I felt…nostalgic? frustrated? uncultured? mommyfied? I don’t know. I can’t commit to a single adjective. But I definitely wasn’t in a happy place.

Ton Ton and I just went to the movies for the first time in about seven months over the weekend (We saw Broken Embraces, the new Almodovar film. I thought it was O.K., but definitely not my favorite of the Spanish director’s masterpieces. Ton Ton was too distracted by Penelope Cruz to opine).

In my previous life, we went to the cinema as often as twice a week.


When I was pregnant, Ton Ton and I would lie in bed together and fantasize about the baby in my tummy. He would say, “Can you imagine it? The baby, here, nestled between us?”

I thought I could.

Yesterday morning we brought Luki to our bed and, as we tried to get a few extra minutes of sleep, he hung out between us, sucking his feet and occasionally petting/scratching our faces.

Amid yawns, Ton Ton said, “Do you remember when we used to imagine him? When we talked about putting him in bed with us?”

I remembered.

The real deal is exceedingly better than anything my mind could have conjured.


And yet, sometimes I miss bits and pieces of my old life. The movies, the concerts, the cocktails with friends. I can rattle off the different sleep training techniques for babies, but have no idea what’s going on with healthcare reform.

It takes the balance and coordination of a trapeze swinger to be a good mother AND an interesting person. I’m still working on both. I suspect things will get better with time, when Luki is weaned and I am no longer a mobile food unit.

For now, I’ll just have to make do with this Oscar worthy performance:

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Resolution #2

Well hello there! Fancy seeing you here! I am in such an inexplicably good mood! Can I get you a cocktail? A snack? Lovely day, isn’t it? Ahhh…don’t you just LOVE winter sometimes?


On a completely unrelated note, after a three month stay in the United States, Ton Ton’s mom is heading back to Venezuela on Saturday. She and her empanadas will be missed.

With her departure, I will be launching another one of my new year’s resolutions: I’m going to learn to cook!

Stop laughing. I’m serious.

Yes, I know I say this all the time, but this year it’s different. My dad’s not around to make tostones and congri anymore, and I can’t let Luki grow up deprived of such basic necessities. So, now that Mamacita is leaving and won’t be doing the cooking, and while Luki is still too young to eat table food and risk being poisoned, I am going to start experimenting in the kitchen.

I’ve written here before about how I yearn to be the kind of mother whose kids brag about her cooking. The mom whose kids go off to college and can’t wait to come home and eat their momma’s food. That’s the kind of mom (and dad) I grew up with.

Unfortunately, right now I can barely boil water. That’s not an exaggeration. Just the other day, I put the kettle on the stove to make my mom some tea and turned on the wrong burner. I was cooking plain air until my brother walked by, saw the bright red burner, and put the kettle in its proper place.

But that’s all about to change. I’ve made a pact with Ton Ton to cook every day (well every weekday) if he handles the dishes. I’ve been looking up recipes, watching the Food Network, and even got some “hands-on” practice with my uncle who is a chef while in Miami. This weekend, I will take the final three steps to begin my endeavor:

1. Create the week’s menu
2. Grocery shop
3. Develop and test-run an evacuation route in case of fire

Stay tuned! I’ll be sure to blog about my culinary adventures.

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