The mother, daughter relationship

Complexity. Times seven thousand, five-hundred and fifty-four. Seriously.

Dear Mai,

I bet if you googled the title of this post your mind would esplode. I'm sure you'll find articles from the incredibly sweet to the frighteningly terrifying. It is a well documented cliché but let me tell you first hand, it is jaw dropping, unbelievable watching it develop from the ground up.

Let me first preface this with that you and mama obviously love each other very much but there are hints of the "I hate you and you ruined my life!" stage you will undoubtedly go through when you're a teenager. Or when you're seven. You're pretty advanced.

The one thing that just kills me is the way you play mama. You already know what buttons to push with her and you push them like a robot on crack cocaine, just to the point of madness... then hit her with a "I love you mama, you're the best mommy in the whole wide world!" as you shower her with hugs and kisses. I have to be honest, it's a little bit scary. It's kinda psychotic really.

I don't really help. I encourage it sometimes because it's funny. Let's take the song "Get yo freak on" by Missy Elliott for example. I have that song / beat in my head more often than i don't. I don't know why. It's just the way it is. Don't judge me. Well, chances are if it's in my head, it's going to come out of my mouth eventually. Mommy hates this song. At least my rendition of it. You see where I'm going here. I bust a little move, sing a lil bit and get "the look." So i sing it one more time, laugh and call it done.

Enter 4 y/o Maya.

You see this transpire, think it's funny and want to join in. The only difference is that you will do your bad little, 4 y/o rendition of "get yo freak on" for seven hours straight. I of course laugh. At least for the first 3 times. After the 50th time i see mommy on the brink man... and you do it one more time... three more times.

It's all fun and games now but i really don't know what age 13 is going to look like. Daddy might reek of booze by then. ;-)

But, despite all that I wanted to let Mommy know that the majority of time you and I hang out you talk about mommy. You talk about how you miss her, love her and just want mommy. This is you at the bus stop this morning on the way to school. I'm just gonna leave this here so you both can play this on repeat when those inevitable dark days come.

Love you sweet pea. Love you mommy. 


Little Miss Precocious

Dear Mai,

Some random lady said "Well, isn't she precocious?" about you 2 years ago. I remember the day well. I remember Mommy and I thinking that the way she said it wasn't a compliment. Since that day there has been at least one more person comment saying you are precocious. Well I'm here to tell you they were right. It's a blessing and a curse.

It was March, 2014 you just turned 2 years old. Grandma was in town to celebrate your birthday and we took Grandma up to Victoria, British Columbia for a quick visit. At this point you were already on your way to becoming a seasoned traveler and the 2+ hour boat ride from Seattle to B.C. was a piece of cake. I remember arriving at B.C. and having to go through customs or whatever and then to get our bags. We were in line and you were very well behaved but you always liked to talk. So we were playing the "who can find the luggage" first game. 

2 y/o Maya: "There's our luggage!" (pointing to it from your stroller) "it's in front!"

Random lady behind us: "Well. Isn't she precocious?"

Fast-forward 2 years and well... here are some of conversations these days.

Mommy leaving for work while you and I get ready to take you to school. We've been having trouble getting you to swim these days at your swim class in school.

Mommy: "Are you going to swim today and make mommy so proud?"

Maya: "Of course Mommy!"

Mommy: "Okay great! You can tell me out about it when I pick you up from school. Love you! Bye!"

Maya: "Love you mommy! Bye! I'll make you so proud and swim today!"

(Mommy walks out of room)

Maya: (Turns to Daddy and in a hushed voice) "I'm not going to swim today. I was just kidding with Mommy."

Walking to school one morning talking about Grandma coming to visit soon.

Daddy: "So I talked to Grandma last night and asked her to come visit us in Seattle!"

Maya: "Oh. And what did she say?"

Daddy: "She said maybe but she wants someone to come out with her."

Maya: "Really? Maybe she could just bring her iPad!"

At dinner the other night

Daddy: "I'm texting cousin Maria right now. She's a busy girl."

Maya: "Busy doing what?"

Daddy: "Well you know, she works and goes to school."

Maya: "Oh really? I didn't know that she works AND goes to school! What grade is she?"

Daddy: "I think she's a junior in college."

Maya: "That's exciting. What is her job?"

Daddy: "I don't really know. Let me ask her"

(Texts Maria)

Daddy: "She works at a law firm and makes copies of documents, files documents at the courts and other law errands and stuff."

Maya: "Oh. That sounds like an interesting job cousin Maria has."

Home with Mommy talking about the first sounds of the ice cream truck this season

Maya: "Mommy, when I first heard the ice cream truck this year, I was astonished."

Random conversation on Daddy and Maya fun day.

Maya: "Daddy, do you know why I slept in your bed the other day?"

Daddy: "Yes. You said you were scared and Mommy let you sleep with us."

Maya: "Yep. I told Mommy I was afraid of Volcanoes. I was just kidding about that." 

Putting you to bed the other night

Maya: "Is the big volcano (Mt. Rainier) active or dormant?"

Daddy: "I believe it's dormant sweet pea. Either way there is no reason to be afraid of it. It's a beautiful, majestic mountain that we're lucky we can see."

Maya: "I think it's active"

Daddy: "Why do you think that?"

Maya: "The Fairies told me it was."

(turns out the Fairies were right after a quick google search)

Talking to Mommy about something.

Maya: "How tall is the big volcano?"

Mommy: "I'm not sure sweetie."

Maya: "Look it up on the Amazon."

Mommy: "You mean look it up on google. Amazon is where you buy stuff."

Random conversation on Maya and Daddy fun day

Maya: "You know my Fairy magic wand broke and Mommy can't glue it."

Daddy: "I did not know that. Maybe we'll have to look for a new one sometime."

Maya: "Yep. You'll have to order it on the amazon."

It's going to be an interesting ride with you little one!



Time for your checkup. (x30)

Dear Mai,

Yes this video is cute. But after the four thousandth time? 

Okay, still cute. Especially since you're all out of breath from your umpteenth performance. 

You're just starting to really try to sing songs now. Unfortunately it looks like your going to be in my camp; practice, practice, practice versus raw natural talent. :)

I need to catch a video of you trying to sing this:

We've watched that a million times and you're determined to sing the Spanish version.

Keep singing your heart out baby. Todo es posible!



Cherry blossoms and irrational fears

Dear Mai,

Kids are weird. I'm trying to understand what and how makes you tick these days and sometimes I'm at a loss. You seem to have some irrational fears of natural disasters and I don't know why. This started awhile back when you came home from school terrified of Earthquakes. At your old school you had an Earthquake prep drill and it freaked you out. You found out that California has earthquakes and you vowed not to step foot on that forbidden state ever again. Once you found out that we could potentially have one in Seattle you wanted to move to Ohio. I didn't have the heart to tell you about Tornadoes. Since then you've learned of Volcanoes and hot lava. Scares the bejesus out of you. We had to talk you off the ledge and convince you that Mt. Rainier wasn't going to erupt next Tuesday. Then you wanted to move to Florida. Again, I didn't have the heart to tell you about Hurricanes. 

When you were in Florida last month with Mommy and Grandma apparently you almost were locked in a park because they were closing and announcing it over the loud speaker. Now every time you hear a loud speaker you freak out and think wherever we are is about to close and we'll be stuck in there forever or something.

So today, we had to take Mama to a Dr. appointment so we were bumming around Capital Hill. After a good breakfast

We found some cherry blossoms. We were pretty excited to see some, finally a sign of spring.

They were by this church with this tall steeple. Freaked you out. You said it was too tall and you didn't want to be near it because you were afraid it was going to just fall over.

I don't know where all this is coming from. You haven't had a real reason to fear anything as far as I know. I like to think I'm pretty laid back about things and don't really live in fear. Your mother either. Who knows but we'll work on conquering those fears together my little girl. I imagine it's all part of a very active, developing, young mind and that you have. Despite all the toys you have your favorite things to play are all imagination / make believe games. One of your favorites (not particularly mine) is playing Mommy and baby. You're the mommy and I'm the baby. I'm restricted to two "words" when we play this game: "Wah, wah" If I say anything else I'm met with a strict reminder: "Babies don't talk." and I'm left with only one response. "Wah, wah." I particularly not fond of this game in public places. It's difficult giving people a "hard" look and saying "wah wah."

Today I introduced you to a new imagination game at breakfast: the people watching game. We had breakfast at Glo's in Captial Hill. It's a great little diner with a lot of windows and at a major intersection in that neighborhood. As we were finishing up I commented on how active the city was and asked you to think about all the people buzzing around. What is their world like? Are they going to work? School? Visit friends and family? Shopping? You LOVED that game and we made all those people come to life in our imagination.

That's what it's about my girl. People. Life. Movement. Don't fear the world. Embrace it. Embrace the uncertainty, the danger and risk. Learn about it. Travel. Explore and meet new people. Always stop to smell the flowers. I don't know much but I can tell you one thing, if you experience the world you're probably less likely to have regrets once our time comes around. </soapbox>

I love you my sweet, little. complex dictator


Our little sprout

Dear Mai,

Yesterday I found myself having the strangest argument with a three year old. I couldn't have envisioned this if I tried. You wanted Brussels sprouts for dinner and were having a fit because I wouldn't make them for you. I ordered pizza and you threw an even crazier fit. Before you think I'm an awful parent let me esplain.

We decided to travel down to Portland over the weekend to celebrate with Uncle Shawn on his birthday. It is also quite possible if the three of us were cooped up in this house together any longer we might have done something severe to each other. Oh, and we like Portland. So we are trying to get ready and head out to meet our friends Dave and Megan for lunch to help celebrate Dave's birthday first. We figured, let's just pack up and head out right after. Well, you are in this "test your boundaries" and push us phase and you were throwing a fit. I can't even remember why but it was probably something like we were awful parents and asked you to put your coat on or something. Whatever it was, there were timeouts involved, being sent to you room and all kinds of fun stuff. We finally got out of the house, and made it to lunch. Mommy and I were kind of leaning towards just not going. Maya: "No! Please! I want to go to Portland real bad!" Fine. We went to Portland. Of course we all had fun. You love staying in hotels, especially with Tito. Tito? Not so much.

On Sunday we hit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and you had a blast. 

Just recently you've shown this new found interest and love for all things space. I showed you a picture of the cosmos with all the gases and stars the other day. Your reaction: "Oh my goodness! It's so beautiful!" It's been fun showing your more and more about our universe and beyond. It's not often we're out late enough or in a clear enough spot to see the stars but when we are you can always find the big dipper. We're working on Orion and the north star. You want to go camping so we can lay on the grass and look up in the dark night sky to see more stars. In fact you mention that you want to do that often enough that I thought it was a good time to practice camping a few weeks back. We got our sleeping backs, flash lights, played campfire songs, made smores (in the oven) and transformed our living room into "Camp Ground." You're creativity hasn't fully kicked in when it comes to naming things. 

Not two minutes into laying on the ground: "I'm not comfortable at all." - Mommy: "Welcome to camping kid." You are your mother's child. Tito seemed pretty happy with the company and comforts of our Camp Ground.

Anyhow, back to Portland. After our OMSI visit, we hit the road and headed home. I don't know what the world will be like when you're old enough to drive but if we still live in the Pacific North West region you will know what we mean when we say it is a special kind of hell driving between Portland and Seattle sometimes. 5 lanes of traffic come to a complete stop sometimes for no apparent reason. This was our drive home. What should be about a 3 hour drive turned into an almost 5 hour drive. By the time we got home we all were beat and just ready to be done with they day. I had told you on Friday that I *might* make some Brussels sprouts when we got back from Portland. You were so happy you made up a Brussels sprouts song. So what happens 2 minutes after we walk in the door?

Maya: "I'm so hungry. I want Brussels sprouts!"

Daddy: "Oh Maya, Daddy is too tired to cook. Let's just get pizza or something and I'll make the Brussels sprouts tomorrow"

Maya: (screaming at the top of your lungs) "NOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! I WANT BRUSSELS SPROUTS!"

Mommy: "Go to your room! None of that nonesense"

Maya: (stomps off in a fury and a crying fit) "I WANT BRUSSELS SPROUTS"

Maya: (upstairs, in your room, with the door closed) "I... (cry, cry, cry) want... (cry, cry, cry).. BRUSSELS... (cry, cry, cry) SPROUTS"

Mommy and I were downstairs thinking, "Did we just send our kid to her room because she wanted Brussels sprouts instead of pizza?" 

So after a bit we got past that episode and pizza was enjoyed by all. So today after work you finally got your Brussels sprouts for dinner. In fact you even helped me prep and cook them. 

You of course loved them. You still have on and off days when it comes to food but you seem to like bitter veggies. You love Kale, Red Cabbage, Asparagus and Brussels sprouts. Let's keep that up kiddo. After some watermelon for dessert it was a pretty good evening.

Sometimes I don't know if we're awesome or awful parents. Some days I don't know if you're an angel or the devil. The one thing I know for sure kiddo is that we love you to pieces. No matter how crazy your little three year old self is or whatever your future self will be, we'll always love you. Keep up the healthy eating, curiosity, learning and exploration and you'll be just fine in this crazy world. Who knows, maybe you'll be a space explorer and get to eat space Brussels sprouts while watching the earth from the heavens above. The sky's the limit baby.



Valentines breakfast conversation

(Discussing your new swimming class and one of the teacher's name is Emma.)

Maya: "Not my friend Emma. This is a big Emma. A teacher."
Daddy: "How many teachers do you have at swimming class?"
Maya: "Like 24 or something?"
Daddy : "24! That's a lot of teachers."
Maya: "Yup. There are 2 or 3 teachers and a Emma."
Daddy : "So like 4 teachers then. Not 24."
Maya: "yup."

You're the definition of unreliable narrator these days.

Happy Valentine's Day sweet pea,



Bonding time

Dear Mai,

We're a few weeks into this whole preschool thing and I love being able to drop you off now. Your old daycare was by mommy's work so she was 100% responsible for dropping you off and picking you up. Mommy misses having you in the car with her for her commute but now i get some morning Maya time.

It's just a quick walk and bus ride and boom, we're there! I'm loving our conversations during our commute. Today we talked about giant fog machines and giant fans and played games with your umbrella since it stopped raining. Of course now I'm on a packed bus carrying a small pink butterfly umbrella. Good thing city busses are filled with all kinds of eccentricity.

This is now my new favorite thing.

Have fun and happy valentine's day my little sweetheart,.



So this is Preschool huh?

Preschool. Day one.

Daddy: "Mayacakes! How was preschool?"

Maya: "We didn't even do any work?"

Daddy: "What? What do you mean?"

Maya: "They don't even do any work there?"

Daddy: "So you just played all day?"

Maya: "Yup"

So apparently Ms. Vini used to work you kids to the bone. Seriously though, I thought preschool was going to be more curriculum based. Nope. It's just an all day play date. Or at least that is what I thought after day one. 

Day two:

Daddy: "How was school? Did you do anything today?"

Maya: "Nope. No work."

Daddy: "I thought today was cooking class?"

Maya: "Well I didn't sign up for any of the jobs"

Daddy: (speechless)

Daddy: "Wait. You mean other kids worked but you didn't because you didn't sign up?"

Maya: "Yup"

Daddy: "Dude! You have to sign up for things!"

Maya: "Oh daddy. Maybe next time"

So after week one I think we discovered that Ms. Vini was awesome and didn't put up with crap from you little hoodlums and this new preschool is a bit more relaxed. That's okay really. The main reason we wanted you to switch was to have more social interaction and there are a lot more kids your age. They also do cooking class and the whole class will do swimming lessons too. Apparently we need to have a conversation about what "pro active" means though. They also speak in Spanish part of the class.

Mommy: "Nice! What did you guys talk about in Spanish?"

Maya: "Well mommy, I couldn't understand them, they were talking in Spanish."

Mommy: "Maya, you had 3 years of Spanish at Ms. Vini's."

Maya: "Oh yeah. huh."

In general though you didn't miss a beat and transitioned perfectly into this new school. Mommy and I were of course nervous dropping you off day one. You? Nothing, had your coat off and were making friends before we were even out the door. I'm feeling pretty good about this new preschool, even though "they don't even do any work" as so you say. I'm not too worried about that as you already know all your numbers, letters and you are starting to write. You can write your name and most of the letters. You're learning to spell too. We've been playing the "what does this word start with" game a lot and you like to throw it back at me sometimes in mid conversation.

Maya: "Let's have a dance party!"

Daddy: "Okay! Let's do it!"

Maya: "Daddy you need to put some 'muh', 'muh', 'muh' on. What word is it daddy? It start's with a 'muh' sound"

Daddy: "Music?"

Maya: "RIGHT! Very good daddy. Music start's with a 'muh' sound. That's the letter M."

Daddy: (quietly shakes his head and puts on some Slayer)

You're one crazy kiddo! Love you crazypants,


Goodbye daycare!

Dear Mai,

It's kind of bittersweet that I'm writing about this right now. Tomorrow is your first day of "preschool." Technically it is just a more regimented daycare, I get that but still, you had your last day at a home daycare you've been going to for over 3 years! We've been fairly busy so it's even amazing we've been half way organized to pull this off. If you knew us right now you'd be impressed. But really, you went to Florida with Mommy to visit Grandma. (Which I need to get mommy to create a post or two from that trip... you had a special visit that you can't stop talking about) Today you and I had one of our fun days together too. We went to see "Where the wild things are" the play and bummed around the Seattle Center all afternoon. (FYI, those are fake glasses. We were playing eye doctor at the Children's museum)

It's amazing to think about though. You're first day of daycare was when you were only 11 weeks old!

That daycare didn't last long and you were on to Ms. Vini's not too long after that. I remember after a few days of you going to Ms. Vini's that I felt so happy. Just talking to them, I knew they loved you so much and took really good care of you. It felt really good leaving you there knowing you were in great hands. Everyday you attended Ms. Vini's you were sent home with a little "report card" that had a summary of how your day went. This is from this past Friday, your last day there.

Mommy always saved them for me on our counter and I read every single one. I didn't notice this one until I was going to bed tonight and I have to admit, it made me tear up a bit. The one from Thursday was hilarious. It was the last time you were going to see one of your best friends there, Kaiden and Ms. Vini reported that you told him "you're going to miss me Kaiden." Ha! 

There was one time early one that you were sent home with an incident report! We didn't even notice the scratch and it didn't seem to bother you. They were on the ball though!

I wanted to tell them that it was all okay and that it's gonna happen because babies do dumb stuff like this.

Boy am I glad we're out of that phase!

You seem to have a pretty good understanding of what's happening. You said your goodbyes and said you were going to miss Ms. Vini's but you are super excited about your new school. 

I guess I better get to bed too so we're all well rested for tomorrow. I can't wait to see how it goes for you. I sure hope we have that comforting feeling we had with Ms. Vini with your new school too!

Good luck tomorrow my princess.



New Year's on the coast

Dear Mai,

After a fairly relaxed and calm Christmas break (and the fact that 4 days trapped in the house with just the three of us) we decided we needed a road trip. So New Year's eve day we found a hotel in the town of Seaside on the Oregon Coast and set out for adventure. 

We visited this place back in 2008 way before we even knew we'd end up in this neck of the woods. Mommy doesn't buy this whole "Lewis and Clark thing."

You've been on countless road trips by now but now that you are getting older we get the dreaded "are we there yet?" question more often than we used to. I blame your mother for this. She still does this nonsense. But thank goodness we live in the time of electronics and we can push electronic waves to your brain to keep you occupied for 3-4 hours at a time. 

Here you are doing your best Nicki Minaj impression. It's hard to keep up mang.

You're pretty funny these days, even with out trying. We were sitting at Baked Alaska (which had some of the best small plate food I've had in years) eating lunch in Astoria, Oregon on the way down and you asked:

Maya: "Daddy, remember when we were in Ohio and at not the crazy Aunt Linda's house?" (I believe you meant the Lawrence side, because the Castañeda side has the crazy Aunt Linda. All of this is debatable on who is crazier.)

Daddy: "Yes"

Maya: "Remember that car they had that had a TV inside?"

Daddy: "Yes"

Maya: "We should get one of those sometime so I can watch TV AND play iPad on road trips."

Daddy: "okay. we'll see!" (translation - keep dreaming buddy, not gonna happen)

I don't want to paint a picture that is entirely made up of fun and laughs. In all seriousness part of the reason we went on the trip is because living with a 3 year old is like living with a mentally unstable person. Seriously dude. You are CRAZY sometimes. Here's just a small example. We do pizza for dinner like once a week. EVERY and I mean EVERY time you want you're pizza cut up into pieces. We're trying to get you to do things on your own so either cut your own pizza or eat it by the slice like the rest of 'Merca. Nope. You're not having any of that. In fact there have been more than a few times where you've thrown a fit so bad that you had to go to your room to cry it out. Because of pizza. So at Baked Alaska, Mommy cut up a few pieces for you. Guess what. You threw a fit because you didn't want your pizza cut up. So you put your pizza crust on top of the pieces so you didn't have to see those stupid cut up pieces. Dude, if that isn't the definition of unstable I don't know what is. This is every day life.

But you are always a very good road tripper and we made it to the Coast right at sunset and were able to have some beach fun! (That's 4:30 PM for the folks playing at home)

Apparently the community of Seaside puts on a fireworks show every new year's eve on the beach. We were going to try to make it up. Our hotel was like 4 blocks from the beach. That might not be very far but it was getting brutally cold out. And when I say brutal it was like 31 degrees. You put on a princess light show for us as we're waiting for the ball to drop. I thought you were doing your best Kylo Ren impression. But alas, the day got the best of you and Mommy and here you two were at 11:45 PM.

I was going to try to sneak away to watch the fire works but I was worried when I returned I would have zero room left on the bed by the time I got back.

2016! I love the fact that you wake up in a good mood. That wasn't always the case when you were younger. A little iPad time in then we we ready to explore the day.

Ecola state park was pretty on this beautiful New Year's day. AND we only had one fit because we wouldn't go into the deep dark forest to look for Squatch. 

Our friends Dave, Megan and their family were down here a few days before us and gave us a tip to go to Hug Point. We read up on it and it sounded like they have some awesome tide pools there. That is right up Mommy and your's alley! We found out when low tide was and headed out. It was pretty awesome.

What we didn't read up on was sneaker waves. Of course we didn't come as prepared as we should have. We actually had rain boots and stuff... in the car. Ooops. A sneaker wave, snuck up on us. We weren't actually in any danger of loosing you and Tito to the Pacific but it tried. Other than that the trip was filled with more fun beach time, pool time, good food and carousel time.

Tito is proving to NOT be the best dog traveler though. We discovered he just barks and barks when we're not in the hotel room. Tito, c'mon man. That is not cool! You have a lot to live up to. Goose and Foz never barked at hotels. We tried to put him in the bathroom with the fan on to see if that helps. You did not like that and felt it was unfair for Tito. You and Tito are buds these days.

Maya: (to Mommy) "You are to NEVER put him in there again!"

Mommy: "We have to Mai, he keeps barking and he can't do that while in the hotel."

Maya: (Is visibly upset, almost to the point of tears because you don't want this)

(We walk down the hall and still hear barking)

Daddy: "Shoot. Well let's go back to get Tito, we can't have him barking like that."

Maya: "NOoooo! I'm so hungry I don't want to get Tito!"

Certifiable man. You are cray cray.

It isn't all crazy talk though. We like to play "What was your favorite part" game after we do something. On Thursday your favorite part was the Beach. On Friday it was a tie between the pool and the carousel. When we got home Saturday as we're tucking you in bed, you announced unprovoked. "Do you know what my favorite part of the trip was? Coming home and being with you two." You're pretty darn sweet and cute when you want to be Mai. Those may be the only reasons you're still alive right now. :) I kid, I kid.

It was an awesome little getaway Mai. This morning you came into my office and asked what I was doing. I told you I was working on a blog post about the trip and you said "Can we go on another trip soon? I want to go back to Portland." 

Yes we can my sweet little traveler girl. Soon come.