The Santa Situation

Dear Mai,

Well it has been a great Christmas season so far with you. We've had an interesting time with this whole Santa situation.

About 1 month ago you and I were doing fun Christmas things in downtown Seattle. We hit the carousel and the star wars themed gingerbread houses. 

We were in the Pacific Place mall when we saw Santa. 

Daddy: "Mai! Santa's here! Let's go see him so you can tell him what you want for Christmas!"

Mai: "No way man! I'm not going to do that!"

A few days later your Christmas Elf arrived and started taking notes on if you have been Naughty and Nice. Mommy said that the Elf reports all of this back to Santa. So this was one morning before school.

Mommy: "Maya, we should go see Santa so you can tell him what you want for Christmas."

Maya: "No way man! I'll just tell Elf and he can tell Santa for me."

Can't beat that logic.

December 22, a few days before Christmas and we've had multiple conversations like above and you wake up in the morning before school and start sobbing.

Mommy: "What's the matter sweetie?"

Maya: "I never got to go see Santa to tell him what I want for Christmas!!!" (balling hysterically)

Mommy and Daddy: (Look at each other with shock, exasperation and a little manic anger)

Mommy: "We'll see if he's still around."

Maya: "o... k... a.... y" (in-between big sobs)

Guess what?!?! We found Santa! and conveniently for us, he was visiting our local Grocery store just down the road! (Mommy and Daddy lucked out on that one. We got to avoid all the long last minute lines when he visited the malls again)

It was quite the dramatic turn around Mai, especially from a few of our previous encounters with Santa.

You LOVED Santa this year! You told him everything you wanted, hugged him and even helped play in his little Santa band!

It looks like we're rounding off Christmas this year. It's Christmas eve and now we're going to head to our beloved record store breakfast and get a few last minute gifts. Christmas morning is almost here. I'm a little worried because we just finished watching a Christmas cartoon that had everyone wishing for a white Christmas... and of course they got it. 

Maya: "Wow! Look at all that snow Daddy! We never get snow like that Seeatteale! I want to see snow on Christmas Daddy!"

Daddy: "I'm gonna go do a blog post."

Merry Christmas Sweet Pea!



A day of music, dancing and circusing

Dear Mai,

Yesterday was an awesome day. We finally made it to see another Recess Monkey concert. We saw them earlier this year for the first time and we loved it. Good rock music for kids, tons of fun. This show is in it's final weeks at this dinner theater called Teatro Zinzanni. This was special for kids with Recess Monkey. The show was called "Big Top Rock: Lighter than air." I've been meaning to take you to see it for a few months now. We finally had a day to do that. It has been raining non-stop here in Seattle this winter season and today was finally a somewhat sunny day. I felt bad being inside but I knew you would dig this show. Every time it's sunny in Seattle, especially in winter, Mama and I try to do something outside. It's almost guilt driven. Anywho...

We had a blast! Recently you have been breaking out of your shell and doing more things without Mommy and Daddy by your side. I realize this is probably more our issue than yours but it's awesome seeing you explore the world. You are in this ballet class were parents aren't allowed to hang around. At first you didn't want anything to do with it but you made some friends right away and there was this little girl name June that offered to hold you hand. You loved that and didn't look back as Mommy walked out the door. So this recess monkey show... they invited all the kids up to the front. At first you didn't want to but once it started you wanted to join in. It was too late though, they cut the dance floor off! That"s okay, we had our own little dance party at our booth. You were riveted to the show. When the theater part of the show was going on and not just music, you intently watched it. I love seeing your little wheels turn as you take everything in. It's good for my soul. 

After the show I asked you what your favorite part was. "When the girl climbed the rope. I want to do that." (There was a cirque du soleil ribbon dance segment in the show) I replied, "So you want to be a circus performer and run away from home to do that? That takes a lot of practice. You might even have to go to school for it." You replied, "Daddy, I'll get a rope (ribbon) at home and practice at home to become a great circuser."

After the show on the way to the car this was our conversation:
Maya: "Aw Daddy, we didn't get a treat at the show!" (I had mentioned they would probably have treats there and you could get something. They didn't. Only popcorn.)

Daddy: "Yes we did! We had popcorn!"

Maya: "Daddy. Popcorn is just protein! I wanted a sweet treat!" (Then you made this exasperated sigh like you were done putting up with the likes of me)

Daddy: (speechless)

So we were both hungry after the show and there was a KFC / Taco Bell joint down the road from this place. We hit that and this was your first introduction to taco bell. I'm sorry if your tummy hurts right now as you sleep. As we eat our dinner I was subjected to a 30 minute, non-stop, enthusiastic show and tell of how you were going to become a great dancer. 

It was a fun little day Mai. I love our conversations and how your mind is just growing every day. It's soul food for me sweet pea. It's not all fun and games though. I'll have to do another post about how wrong I am about everything everyday. I try to tell you that you don't have enough life experience to be so opinionated. That doesn't seem to help matters.

I love you my complex little being.


More Christmas Preparation

Dear Mai,

Today was a pretty casual day. We've been having fun getting our house ready for Christmas and today was the day we finally went and got our tree. It was decision time. Since this is our first year spending Christmas in our own house, do we start a new tradition and go to a tree farm and cut our own tree? That sounds like fun!

We didn't do that. Between our procrastinating and my over researching tree farms on the Intranet we decided to just go to our favorite local tree lot and get one there. Oh and it was raining. And we're lazy.

So it's not cut your own and you wanted to help Mommy get decorations ready so Daddy was sent off by himself to get a tree. 

Plus you insisted on wearing this outfit without a coat because you are apparently aware of your own cuteness.

Come to think of it, THAT is our tradition. Send Daddy off in the rain to a tree lot to get a tree. Mommy and I have been doing that even pre-Maya! This year I apparently mastered the "I work here" look and was asked by several people to help get a fresh cut or load their Christmas trees.

But after a quick brunch stop at the local Elliot Bay with some homemade donuts...

We finally got our tree up and got it decorated!

It's a pretty tree and you are a pretty girl. Mommy and I joke that we hope you have an awkward phase from about age 14 through 22. Okay we don't. Not really. Kinda. I just don't know how many high school boys I'm going to have to destroy. I worry about these things. 

We also bought your first Advent Calendar (chocolates for 24 days? Who doesn't like that?) and the Elf returned to keep an eye on you the remainder of the year. We're having a blast with all of it this year Mai. Seeing your excitement makes us happy. Now the trick is how to not make it all about commercialism and all that jazz. I don't think we've started on the right foot. We're having fun though! :-)

Good night Mai!



It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Dear Mai,

It was a pretty low-key holiday weekend for us which is unusual. Normally for Thanksgiving we like to host and have as many people that don't have Thanksgiving plans over to share fun times. Isn't that the point of Thanksgiving, sharing and friendship? Well as much as I love to do that this year sounded good NOT to host. This year we had a little Thanksgiving tour and hit up two different Thanksgiving festivities. We are grateful to our hosts and we had a blast. We had to carry you kicking and screaming out of both places because you were having so much fun. Unfortunately Miss Lorelei introduced you to American Girl dolls and you LOVED them. So guess what is on your Christmas list this year? Yup. That crazy expensive American girl doll. You were having so much fun you wanted to drop Mommy and Daddy home and get on your Tricycle and head back to Lorelei's. In the middle of the night. Crazy girl.

Other than that, it was just relaxing as a family unit this weekend. We got out to watch the sunset yesterday. I forget what a beautiful spot of the world we live in sometimes, and just a few minutes away from our house!

You and Tito had fun too although I think the beauty of the sunset was lost on both of you.

We also got you your own little Christmas tree for your room! You absolutely love it. We just got home from getting some lights and some ornaments for it. You picked out the ornaments all by yourself. Sparkly purple ones of course. 

I'm looking forward to a casual Christmas time here in Seattle Mai. Of course only time will tell. Mommy and Daddy might get a bug up our butt and we could end up in Mexico by the 25th but we'll see.

Love you my little bug,


Happy Birthday (from the future) Mama!

Dear Mai,

As you by now know, mama is spoiled. You are well aware that Mama not only has a birthday but she has a birthday week. Well this year I happen to be wishing mama a happy birthday from the future. That's right less than 20 minutes from the time I'm composing this post it will be Mama's birthday. You are sleeping right now and when you wake up it won't be mama's birthday for another 18 hours or so. I'm in the land down under as I post this.

Yup that's right. I had to travel to Sydney for work and I'm missing not only Mama's birthday but the whole birthday week! Unfortunately I'm here for work so I don't have many photos to share with you yet. During our Mija stories we often travel to Australia and because of that you said this to me before I left. "Daddy. I hope you see that guy that says gdday mate!" (with your best version of Daddy's best Australian accent)

So this is the first year you were in charge of birthday week. What does that mean? Well that means mama gets a small little prize each day of her birthday week. Nothing big. Just small little goodies. So before I left, you and I wrapped a few things and hid them in one of your drawers in your room. Your mission was to give one to mommy every morning when you wake up and you were not supposed to tell mama about our plans. As we left your room before I even left. "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!!! I have a lot of birthday prizes for you in my drawer that you get one every nap time. Do you want to see them all?" So you failed round one. I'll have to get a report when I get home. My guess is miss attitude did her best. I'm curious to see how a week with out Daddy went. My guess is pretty okay.  You and mommy and pretty good buddies. 

I've also recently converted some old analogue video to digital and you love watching mommy and my wedding video. 

This post is for you mama! Happy birthday from the future. Look how young and innocent we looked. :) I didn't even have any grey yet!


The Daddy guy

Autumn's photos

Dear Mai,

This past week has been a return to stereotypical Seattle weather: damp, dreary and chilly. I dare not say cold as this is nothing compared to Ohio but it is cold. Cold for us at least.

But before the weather took a turn we had some fun squeaking out a few more fun days in some awesome autumn weather. When we first moved to Seattle we were concerned that we were going to miss all 4 seasons. Growing up in Ohio there was a definite distinction between all four seasons and fall was always a favorite. The colors, the crisp fall air all were so welcome after some ridiculously hot summer days. To our surprise, Seattle does have fall like weather too! Granted, it isn't as intense or drastic as the weather back east but we do get to experience the changing colors and change in weather. Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. I'm glad we're not entirely missing it. 

This year, Fall has been awesome in Seattle. (minus this past week) A few weeks back we we're lucky enough to get outside, enjoy the weather and the great company of our friend Sonja. Sonja also happens to be an awesome photographer so we asked her to capture a moment in your life for us. She did not disappoint and I'm so happy to be able to document how awesome you are right now with some high-quality awesome pictures. I'm glad to see that you haven't been plagued with the awkward photo taking abilities that your mother and I seem to posses either.

Here are just a few of the awesome ones. You insisted that your baby Emily be included in a few photos. You actually wanted her in all the photos. We had to pull a jedi mind trick and hide her after a few.

All photo credits: Sonja Hunt Photography (

Some "action" shots

Some playing in the leaves shots

En garde! It's supergirl!

I love these black and white ones!

And just some of our pretty little girl

All photo credits: Sonja Hunt Photography (

Love you my silly girl,


Maya's Tea Party

Dear Mai,

Since I'm on a music kick here I thought I'd post about a concert we went to recently: The Tea Party.

Now let me put some perspective on this. It was Friday, September, 16 1994. (this is what the world was like on that day) I was working at the record store. Man. The record store. I have some stories to tell you about the record store. Very pivotal time in my life. I'll probably have to G-rate the stories but whatever. Anyhow, I'm working at the record store and one or two of my friends are trying to get me to listen to this Tea Party album. I can't remember if it was Victoria or Lynn or both... I think it was Victoria for sure. At any rate she liked this Tea Party Album called Splendor Solis. I gave it a quick, hurried listen and didn't think much of it. I kind of blew it off. Did I mention I'm a music snob sometimes? 

Anywho, they were going to be in town, Toledo, Ohio, playing at my local hang out where the band I was in at the time played all the time called Frankies. (East Toledo Represent!) I used to go to Frankies 3-4 nights a week even if we didn't play there, although we usually played there at least once a week. So I decide to go see them live. I always, and still do, love a live show. This was no exception. The blew me away. Three musicians on stage were creating so much music it could have been an orchestra on stage. And that's the key with this band. The reason I love them is because their music is very orchestrated. Very well composed. They are awesome musicians and as soon as you get passed the lead singer Jeff Martin sounding a bit like Jim Morrison, you can appreciate his vocal and guitar talents.

So I fell in love with this band that night. Since then I've probably seen them close to a dozen times in concert. I've seen them in Toledo, Detroit, Toronto and now in Seattle. They really are one of my top 10 bands. 

They played here in Seattle on October 1st. I was kind of on the fence on going but Shawn texted me a few days before the show and let me know they were doing an acoustic set the day before at Easy Street records right here in our very own West Seattle! That is where you and I start our Daddy and Maya adventure days for breakfast! THEN I find out the tour they are on is a re-release of their second album, Edges of Twilight, one of my favorites! They are going to play that album in its entirety the day after! I quickly buy tickets and talk to Mommy. We find out its an all ages show so we buy our tickets, 3 of them for our whole family. I'm losing my shiznit I'm so excited.

So this makes you're fourth concert I think? First was Dead Can Dance, then Red Fang, then Red Fang (again) and the Replacements, and now the Tea Party. That is a pretty impressive list. Before the show I played a little bit by them so you knew what to expect. You dig it. I knew you would. The day of the show arrives and I meet you and Mommy there. The record store is tiny. I was worried it was going to be packed. Nope. Very intimate, small group of people. Perfect. Before they started  playing we walked up to the stage to look at their instruments. You loved that. 

In fact you loved that so much once they started playing you said "Daddy? Can we go back up to the stage?" OF COURSE WE CAN! We went up there about 4 times during their 6 song set list and you loved it. The drummer / percussionist, Jeff Burrows, gave you this little skull shaker and was messing with you the entire show. It was awesome.

As we made our way to the front we had to cut through the small crowd. Everyone cleared a path for you right to the stage. We made our way to stage left and were always in front of the same dude. He was too kind. At one point he asked if I wanted him to take a picture of us at front stage. Then he handed me his card and said he took a couple with his phone too that he would send to me. I love concerts and the comradery that takes place there. I said it before music is good for the soul. LIVE music feeds the soul.

You had a blast Mai. In fact you liked it so much you wanted to go to see them again the next night. I was putting you to bed after the show and we were talking about the concert. I made the mistake of saying that I was going to see them again the next day. You wanted to go but it wasn't an all ages show. You. were. pissed. I mean full on throwing a fit pissed. "I WANNA GO TO SEE TEA PARTY AGAIN!" screamed in tears. The next day when I was at work getting ready to head to the show I got a text from Mommy. "You're daughter is very mad you aren't taking her to the concert tonight." 

Here are a couple links to some people that caught part of the record store show on video. This one is kind of long but at about 12 minutes and 20 seconds in you can see you and I setup near the stage. You're all smiles flirting with the drummer, shaking you're little skull shaker. Too darn cute Mai.

Here is a better audio quality of two of my favorite songs by them; winter's solstice and sister awake.

I don't think I can impress upon you how much this meant to me. It was awesome to be able to experience a part of my old self with you and create new memories based on that. Who knows what music you'll like when you get older but I'll always have this special Tea Party with you my crazy little girl.



Baliando con mi hija

Dear Mai,

So this past week I've been participating in this Facebook thing that you are supposed to post one of your favorite songs every day for seven days. I'm dying to know what the internet is going to be like when you are able to read this. If Facebook isn't around anymore I'll explain then, for now just know that it is largely a giant time suck but it's kind of fun keeping up with friends and family. 

Anywho... So I've been posting some of my favorite songs and writing a bit about what each song means to me. It has been fun. I love music Mai. It moves me spiritually. Some of these songs bring me back to what my life was like when those songs were first becoming a part of me. It's good for the soul Mai. 

So anyhow, I get home Monday after listening to The Verve's Urban Hymns album and I'm in an ecstatic mood. That isn't even close to their best album but it moved me listening to it on my bus ride home. I open the door and start singing some of the songs at the top of my lungs and decide it's music time! I turn it up and turn it on and immediately you say "Let's dance Daddy!" 

Over the course of the next hour or so we listen to all kinds of music. We listened to the Verve, Selena, Linda Ronstadt's "Canciones de me Padre" album and a bunch of other stuff... and we danced the whole time. We danced so much I was sore the next day! 

I remember listening to that Linda Ronstadt album growing up. I don't know if it was Grampa's album or Aunt Rosie's or Crazy Aunt Linda's but we listened to that a lot. Listening to it with you has been... well words can't describe. I'm speechless it makes me so gosh darn happy. You call it the princess album where daddy yells "Y UPA!"

So every night since that night we've had a dance party. We've moved on to ballet music because you are about to start a ballet / dance class next week but I love our music and dance nights. Here is some footage of you "dancing" that first night. I'm not sure you have the rhythm yet but that's okay. Let the music move you baby, the rhythm will catch up. 

Of course you already think you're a perfect dancer. We might be too encouraging. We probably have to get more real so you can learn the hard way! :)

Maya: (while we were listening to Selena's Baila Esta Cumbia off her One's album) "I want to dance and sing all the time!"

Daddy: "You know what? This girl right here, Selena. When she was your age she said the same thing. When she grew up she was going to become a great singer and dancer! You can do that too Mai. You have to practice as hard as she did though. It's a lot of work"

Maya: (silent for a few seconds) "Daddy. I don't have to practice or get older. I'm already a great dancer!"

Daddy: "Oh. Is that so? What about a great singer? you have to practice for that."
Maya: (gives me the most displeased look) "Daddy. Of course I'm already a great singer too. Watch"

Daddy: (Witnesses one of the most off-key renditions of "Let it go" I've ever heard. I think you are "blessed" with your Mama's vocal "talents" - sorry Mommy)

You're a little stink butt sometimes. You have this funny little dance / interpretation thing you do to TLC's waterfalls song. This is the kind of nonsense I get when I try to capture it on film. You had just done it like 3 times in a row prior to this.

I hope we continue our little dance parties mija. I hope music has a place in your heart as much as it does mine. It seems like it will and I hope we can continue to create a music filled environment for you to grow in. I'll leave you with Ms. Ronstadt singing one of my favorite songs off her album, La Charreada. When Mommy and I first started dating we went to Cabos San Lucas Mexico. While we were eating dinner at a waterfront restaurant, the owner's wife and a roving mariachi band played this song. I don't think I connected it at the time but now listening to it I remember that evening in Mexico. So now when I hear that song I have childhood memories of my daddy and my sisters, Mommy and I in Mexico and now dance parties with my beautiful little girl.



Philosophizing with a 3.5 year old

Dear Mai,

We were at our local Chinese Restaurant tonight and I realized we're at a different level in our conversation. Ever since you started talking you've had a lot to say, maybe sometimes too much. Now we're starting to broach some abstract thought or at least what appears to be the case. Here's our conversation on our way to the restaurant. Mind you it is less than a 10 minute drive.

Maya: "Daddy? Why are we on the earth?"

Daddy: (a stunned pause) "Umm... because, well... you see... there was once this big bang that created our solar system and the 9 planets in it. We got lucky because the Earth is the only planet that humans can live on!"

Maya: "Why are we human?"

Daddy: (thinks I'm probably not handling this well) "Well, there are many theories on human existence. One of them is that we've evolved."
Maya: "What does evolved mean?"

Daddy: (digging. I'm just digging myself) "Well. To evolve is kind of like growing up. You know how practice makes you better at things?"

Maya: "Yes."

Daddy: "Well life evolves like that. It grows into something else. So like it's possible that humans were once apes. But one day one ape started walking on two legs then more did. Then they started using tools and pretty soon they lost a lot of hair except for on their head and then one day, BOOM! There are humans now! We're evolving right now. The more we use our brains and grow smarter we're evolving as human beings!"

Maya: "Then maybe we'll be able to go into space soon!"

Daddy: "YES!" (wait. Did she just say that aliens are the evolution of humans. mind. blown.)

Maya: "Look Daddy! There's the taco truck!"

You're 3.5 man. I'm guessing most of that conversation was lost on you. That's good because I was just shooting from the hip there. But really? Why are we human? What does a 3.5 year old mean when she asks that? It's probably not the existentialism route that I went down but what is it? Either way we've got a long road ahead of us. I'm not sure I've evolved enough to handle this.

Whatever man. Here are some random pics of you being 3.

The sporty, Seattle girl look

Work it Mai

And enjoying one of Mama's favorite past times. Eating pasta

When you're old enough to read this post, ask me those questions again. Until then, do what three year olds do. Lay on new purple rugs with your footie jammies and sniff your loot you got from trick-or-treat at the junction.

Love you my little inquisitive girl,


Pumpkin patch tradition

Dear Mai,

Since I'm on a fall / Halloween themed streak here I thought I'd share a Castañeda family tradition that we seemed to have created over the past four years. Pumpkin Patching! I know a lot of families do this but I don't recall ever doing anything like this in my younger years so it's a new tradition for me. It's awesome seeing you grow each year here. 

Year Zero

Year One with Lorelei

Year Two

And this year makes year three! (four if you're doing one-based counting)

The first year we went it was kind of random. We were just driving around and happened upon a farm. If I recall correctly we actually hit two farms that year. The following year we did our research (probably via red tricycle) and have been hitting Fox Hollows Farm ever since. 

We have a good time Mai. Pictures on the hay, petting zoo, big play house playgrounds, a train ride and of course lots and lots of pumpkins. We've hit it lucky each year too; every time we go it is usually an awesome fall day. Warm but not too warm and lots of sun. Not a common occurrence in late September / early October here in Seattle. 

We'll hit it every year until you think it's too "lame" or whatever you kids will be saying then but until then... We're loving this new found Castañeda tradition with you sweetie pie.