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.



Fashion, Summer Concerts, Books and Independence

Dear Mai,

This summer has been pretty rough for us, especially recently. I don't want to ignore anything but for this post I'm just going to focus on some fun moments.

Its after midnight tonight and you and I got home late from the bumbershoot festival. Mommy couldn't make it with us because of a last minute flight back to Ohio she had to take. Luckily we have the Shraders that live here as well. We met Uncle Shawn, Aunt Becky and Lorelei at the festival and it was just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes when it is just you and I, we have fun but we also have our "moments" too. This morning was one of those times and we pretty much weren't speaking to each other before nap time. We both rallied though and had a blast at the festival. You did awesome at your first outdoor music festival! We got there just in time for Red Fang to take the stage. You were kind of out of it for the majority of that show. I couldn't tell if you were enjoying yourself or what. I think we are heading into that normal kid time now where you'd rather be doing kid stuff than watching a metal show. 

After that show we got pizza and your mood did a 180. You were happy and awake finally. You are your father's girl. Sheesh.

Next up was the Replacements and you had a blast. You were running around chasing Lorelei, dancing to the Replacements and just having a ball. I love watching you play with other kids finally. I'm a little worried you are too much of a mommy and daddy hanger. We try to socialize you as much as possible and you do go to daycare. You seem to still prefer mommy and daddy's company over anyone else though. To see you play with Lorelei and take off with some other kids makes me feel much better.

We were at a friend's birthday party the other day and you finally broke free from mommy and daddy and played with the other kids.

You also had your first kid "celebrity" moment. We were at the Port Defiance zoo a few weeks back and you screamed "Olivia" as we were eating our pizza. Sure enough, Olivia from the books we read comes marching up the pavilion. You even wanted to take a picture with her! Granted, you had to have mommy with you but  you did it. This is a vast improvement over any Santa "photo op" we've ever experienced. Speaking of books. One of our new favorite books we just started reading this week is Zen Shorts. It's an awesome book Mai. I hope we keep it when you are older. There is some wisdom in that book.

You've also recently started watching kid videos. Up until this point you haven't been very interested in TV and the only cartoons we've watched has been the baby channel cartoons and only on Saturday and Sunday for our big breakfasts. Nancy from mommy's work gave you your first DVDs (which you call ABCDs) and I've seen that damn Strawberry Shortcake movie more than any adult should ever have to endure. We'll probably watch it again tomorrow. On the way home from Bumbershoot you and I were talking in the car. Maya: "Let's watch shortcake tomorrow with big breakfast. Nancy bought be that movie." You're pretty funny with remembering who gave you stuff. Especially since Grandma is responsible for 90% of said stuff.

Your sense of independence is also shining through lately. "Maya do this! Maya do that! I do it by myself!" All these are common every day phrases in our household. It especially shines through on your wardrobe selection. I've given up trying to dress you myself. I'll just let you do whatever floats your boat. I'm not the one wearing rain boots and a swimming suit.

Okay, the Metallica shirt is my contribution. I'll take responsibility for that.

You're pretty funny Mai. We worry so much about what we are doing wrong. We want you to just be happy and and kid like. I think that we are probably over protective sometimes. It's hard not to be. I worry about you not playing with kids more. I worry about you not being able to handle a fall. At all. I worry that you're too worried about being careful. Worry, worry, worry. I don't think that we'll ever end. That's okay. We're parents of a wonderful child. We're allowed to worry. Let's just hope we're giving you enough freedom to make mistakes and make your own experiences. 

Speaking of your own way. You finally completed your version of the ice bucket challenge. You're baby makes a cameo experience in this video. Over the last two weeks baby has become your best friend. You talk to her, hug her, kiss her and play all kinds of make believe with her. Its fun to watch. (but if I'm being completely honest, its a little taxing having to play the baby part all the time. :)

Good night Mai and sweet dreams. Love,


Jam Session. Take 1

Hey Mai,

It's Thursday afternoon / evening and I'm struggling to stay focused here at work. I glance at my phone and I see this pic. I didn't even realize Mommy took this shot. I love it. it is our first jam session together. I like that you let me play the electric and while you had the acoustic. You can't tell in this pic but I'm playing a Zeppelin song and your trying your best to sing along. 

If the sun refused to shine Mai, I would still be loving you.


Maya, Daddy and the sick week (with a little Halloween and some name that tune games)

Dear Mai,

I can't believe its been almost two months since I've posted anything. Winter is pretty much here in Seattle and I have so many fun events we did in the summer to catch up on. We even had an awesome visit from Grammy!  But those posts will have to wait.

This week has been filled with Team Castaneda being sick. You and Mommy started getting sick last weekend and it finally caught up with me later in the week. Sheesh. I feel like maybe we should be quarantined or something. But do we let sickness stop us? Heck no, we still troop on. In all fairness you and Mommy handle sickness much better than Daddy. In fact we might be lucky if I make it through this post. I feel a little sore throat coming back. It's a little touch and go right now.


On Monday it was just you and I. I stayed home from work to hang out with the little sickie. (It was probably the start of my infestation) The weather was nice so we were able to get a few goose walks in. I love these pictures of you in the leaves. You were kicking, jumping and playing in them. You were having a blast! Your Aunt Linda has a great picture of your cousins Adam and Maria playing in the leaves when they were younger. This reminded me of that. I wanted to try to capture the same leaf throwing enthusiasm as Maria had in her photo shoot but Stella barely let me snap these few pics.

When you woke up from your nap you were whining for Mommy. You found this picture in my office and carried it with you the rest of the day. You even had me set it up while we at lunch! It was our little family lunch with a 2d Mommy.

But other than that, Monday was pretty much music and rest day. You LOVE to listen to music and watch music videos. You are even starting to make your own opinions and are requesting music daily. Its a little insane and If I'm being honest its kind of taxing sometimes. I'm saying this and I like the majority of the music you ask for. Kids are just relentless with this whole "more" and "again" thing. I guess it could be worse but I digress...

Thursday was Halloween and it was your first trick or treat night! We didn't get many good photos but you had a blast. First you and Mommy came to my work party downtown. This was your first taste of walking up and down the cube farm isles with your little bag saying "treat!" and people putting candy in your bag. Wow. Mind blown. You were pretty into that. We made it back home despite Seattle traffic's best effort and did a little trick or treating in our neighborhood. That was awesome. I haven't seen this many kids out trick or treating since I was a kid. You loved going to people's houses and saying "treat!" We only hit a block or so and went home to hand out our own candy. You kept pillaging our candy to give out, stealing all the lollipops saying "Pouch!" But you were good with sharing and loved seeing all the kids coming up saying trick or treat. You would get all excited and we tried to get you to say "Happy Halloween!" but it kind of came out "Happyeen!" Its ok. The spirit of your message was there. Like I said we didn't get any really good pics but here are a few. You went as a watermelon even though most people called you a strawberry. I tried to let mommy dress you as a baby zombie but she wasn't going for it. No one would have confused a strawberry for a baby zombie. I'm just saying.

On Friday I was full blown sick so I was home with you again. We had to run some errands but made a quick pitstop at the toy store. This was the first time I've seen you play with a little doll house. You played with this thing for nearly 30 minutes! I thought I was going to have a super tantrum on my hands trying to get you out of there. Luckily I was to bribe you on leaving the store in anticipation of a snack and some "Fang!"

Today you and I went to a kids class at the Seattle Symphony. If there is one thing I'm learning in becoming a parent is that you really have to lose any reservations about being and acting silly. One could argue that I lost those reservations a long time ago but those are stories are for another time. Wait. You'll never hear those stories. Just know that I was a perfect kid, teen and young adult. There I go losing the thread again... While the class was silly it was awesome getting to play with some of the instruments afterward. Your favorite was the Piano. Maybe we'll have to have Grandma Castaneda show you a few chops. (You'r favorite also could have been sitting at the kids desk and coloring. Who really knows these things)

Later on, Mommy was attempting to go through some of your old clothes to put away those summer outfits and prepare to get rid of some of the clothes that you've outgrown. Its a very bittersweet time for mommy right now. While the cleaning out of the old is good, the fact that you are growing into this little kid more and more every day and not a baby anymore is kind of shoved in our faces a bit. Luckily we don't have time to get too sappy because you're pretty funny. You saw some of your old clothes and wanted to put them on. So we helped. I think this might be a total of three outfits on and PJs playing a fourth layer as a cape.

Despite all of our sicknesses it was a pretty good week for the family. We ended today with a little name that tune fun. Like I said, you love to listen to music a lot and often ask for certain bands / songs by name. Well at least your names and how you identify them. I noticed one day when I was singing a red fang song you quickly yelled "Fang!" I was impressed that you recognized it from my out of tune rendition. So I sang another and you nailed that one too. So I give you in all its glory, our first video recording of the daddy and Maya, name that tune game. (Disclaimer: Yes I know I'm all over the map when it comes to being in tune. See the note above about losing all reservations about being silly) (Disclaimer #2: The reason I don't have any facial hair is because its Movember. I have to start the stache from scratch)

(If that video doesn't work, see it on youtube here!)

Well Mai, that's about a rap for today. I have so much more to catch you up on. So many milestones and fun events. Just know this; you are awesome, funny and too cute for words. 

With love, love and more love,


Little Drummer Girl

Watch out Vinnie Paul, Maya is gonna rock your socks off!

I think our first song we play together as a Father / Daughter team should be off the Vulgar Display of Power album. Because that is just what it would be. Vulgar. Powerful. Awesome. \m/ \m/

I have to find you a red fang t-shirt, size 2 T. That seems to be your favorite band these days.

(Dime) Daddy