Thursday, January 29, 2009


Here's another little post I wrote forever ago. After hearing a friend tell me about her perfect in-between person today, I decided to post it. I've been dealing with a lot of ugliness lately and it helps to be reminded that a little niceness paired with good advice CAN actually help.

Years ago, I didn't think I would be a good mom. I had even been told this by a few others.
I also didn't think I was smart. My older sister was the smart one (still is). I hoped I had something. I just didn't know what that something was.
Then, I met with Dr. OTK.
He directed:
"You need to go to grad school. You're smart. I know you have kids..."
I quickly corrected him, "I don't have kids."
With a puzzled look, he continued, "Maybe I thought you had kids because you are the most maternal person that I have ever met. Anyway, you're smart. You need to go to grad school. I will make sure you get in. I will stand up and fight for you if necessary."

In one conversation, I changed how I looked at myself. I left thinking "I can do great things professionally in my life. I have the potential to be a good enough mom."
He was not TOO close to me, where I thought he might just be talking to make me feel good. He was not a stranger who didn't know what he was talking about. He had no personal agenda. He was that perfect in-between person, who I thought knew enough.

I never got to thank him. He passed away a few years ago. I wish I had. Now I just have to remind myself to be that perfect in-between person for someone else. Or at least aspire to be.

Thank you Dr. OTK. I don't know who I'd be without you.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Due to complaints :), here are some recent pictures!

Judah and his fabulous daddy had a great time visiting horses at the Race Track last weekend. According to the report back to mommy, Judah made a lot of friends. The weather was a spectacular 83 degrees on a January day, and made me seriously reconsider ever moving.

Last Sunday we went to Disneyland (yes, we go often). We love Disney days! Here we are with Judah's grandma and grandpa.

Yesterday we had the best time reconnecting with some fabulous friends! Recognize some cuteness? I got my camera out late, after Jude had calmed down a tad, but there are some sad/hysterical photos that I'll have to get my hands on.
After the play date fun, we went to Lily's 2nd birthday bash! I wish I was better at taking pictures, because there were some great moments of sweetness. Here Judah is shamelessly flirting it up with beautiful girls!

Thanks to everyone for their words of 5th Grader support! In case you missed my husband being cute and me overreacting, it's at (Season 3, Episode 18; Tommy is the 2nd contestant).

Friday, January 23, 2009


Tonight you should watch my darling (and very cute!*) husband on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?! I don't remember much because we taped it well over a year ago, but I DO remember that I was SO nervous (just sitting in the audience) that I couldn't answer one question correctly. I'm proud that he just showed up. I'm WAY too shy to ever do that!

Here in LA, it's on Fox 11 at 8:00pm.

*this is an objective statement. I'm lucky :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happy Half Birthday!

Happy 18 months! I can't believe my sweet littles is 18 months old today. He was perfect from the beginning, but he just keeps getting better...Mommys know.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

One Year

This last weekend marked one year since we passed through courts and Judah officially became our son. I remember waking up in the morning and racing down to the computer (I had very specific rules I had set up for myself so that I wouldn't stay up all night checking every 2 minutes. Being slightly obsessive is not always a strength.). When I opened the email I saw this:
Dear Danielle and Thomas, Congratulations. The court granted your adoption of Tesfahun today.
I had lost my ability to comprehend the written word. I asked Tommy, "What does this mean?" He explained and I still couldn't believe it. I still can't.
I was having a typical conversation with Judah yesterday while I was changing his diaper. I was telling him how I love him. I started with his body parts. "I love your toe nails. I love your belly button wrinkles." That sort of thing. I obviously don't love him because he's the cutest being I've ever seen. I don't love him because he's such a good and sweet little baby. I'm positive if he were naughty I'd love him the same. It comes down to the fact that every one of my cells loves every one of his cells. To think we've been his for one full year. To think about the court deciding that one year ago. It's too strange and emotionally complex for words.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


You should watch Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader to find out if Tommy is. Here in LA, it's on FOX 11 at 8:00 PM. I will be featured as the lovely wife in the audience. It was taped 18 months ago, so I don't remember any details and will be just as surprised as you are.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I've been toying with the idea of dieting. I'm honest about it. I'm just not ready. I love food. I love wine. A lot.
This does not mean that I don't realize I have a tad of extraness. I deal with this by repeatedly reminding myself that beauty can have a little extraness...AND be equally as beautiful. Ok, so sometimes I go to dark, shallow places to remind myself of this.
I was at work observing the kids playing on the playground, feeling very zen. When I noticed in the distance how pretty a fellow teacher was. Here's where I admit what a huge jerk I am (remind yourself, as you rightly judge me, that you sometimes have thoughts that don't make you the most proud). What I noticed is that she was VERY pretty, healthy looking. How had I not noticed before? I processed the info, "see, she is absolutely beautiful and her tummy may even have SLIGHTLY more extra than mine. You can have extra and be perfect. I don't need to diet."
Yes, that was my thought. I'm pathetic. I admit it.
After this sick incident, we had 3 weeks off of work for winter break. I returned this week to the obvious: She's pregnant.
Yes, I was feeling better about MY body by comparing it to a pregnant woman. Sad.
But, here's the interesting part: Not one cell of my body envied her. Not one little cell.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I've read the literature, but seriously folks, how do WE break the "baba"? We are down to one in the morning and one at night...and a few secret cheats here and there. I can't physically resist him when he has tears in his eyes and says, "mama baba" while PULLING me to the milk. You should see the look he gives me when I try to put the milk in a cup or sippy cup. It's pure betrayal. The hardest part is that I LOVE giving him his bottle. Judah pats me gently and looks at me romantically. It's truly great, the stuff-you-live-for stuff. I fear that it's just going to get tougher and tougher, but I'm just as addicted as he is. Just one more time. Just a little more. Please.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Misspent Pride?

I wrote this a few weeks ago and never posted it...don't remember why?
Here it is:

I grew up in a biracial house. Two of my grandparents were born in Hermosillo, Sonora and two were born in the US. I think that's neat. Always have.

You should be proud of accomplishments, not what you were given at birth. This is a logical idea. But, here's the problem with that logic. I DO feel proud. Both of my accomplishments AND of my ancestors, their accomplishments, and what obstacles they overcame. I don't think that I'm better than anyone else because of it. I just think that knowing how to make tamales, the ability to get darker than anyone I've ever met when I spend too much time in Greece, and the way my brilliant elders freely interchange "ch" and "sh" makes my life better...somehow. Much better. Maybe just because ALL of those things, plus a billion more, make me. It's part of my story. It's part of who I am. Through a combination of nurture or nature, these people, these places, helped me to define my life, helped me to understand my world.
So, my question is the same that's been asked a billion times. How do we teach our children WHO they are? Their complete story. It seems too simple just to tell them their story. Often. With pride.
My dad is Hispanic. But, I credit my white mother for instilling much of my Mexican pride*. Why? Because she had the conversations with me. SHE told me that my skin color was beautiful and that I was lucky to have it. I believed her and as a child I secretly felt bad for the poor white people who might burn if they spend time in the sun. Who am I kidding? I still feel badly for them. Can you imagine a worse lot? Not being able to freely go outside. Having to cover your body, even your toes, with a lotion before you play? Such a sad story**. And then, of course, there was the food. SHE taught me how to make Mexican food. Mmmm...Enchiladas, Menudo, Tamales, Caldo de queso, etc. Which was obviously the best food. To me.
I have also been told, more often than I would like, that I'm not Mexican enough. That I'm white. People have questioned my Latina for years. I would be lying if I said it never bothered me. But, I knew the truth. Because I was told.

I had a moment today when I thought that I was perhaps an inadequate mom. When someone said a racial slur in front of me (not about Judah's race, about mine) I didn't say anything. I couldn't. It's happened before. I've frozen. It becomes like an out of body experience. I just freeze. Today I gathered all my strength (I don't like non-family confrontations) and even went to find her after work (unfortunately she's a teacher) to tell her how I felt. I even got so far as to tell her that her conversational tone made me feel uncomfortable. When she started apologizing profusely, I couldn't go further. I just nodded and left. I didn't bring "race" into it. It's just too personal. I might tear (and obviously I couldn't do THAT in front of that much ignorance). Instead of feeling like I was going to cry for ME or any pain I felt, I felt like I was going to cry for Jude. How can I be even close to an adequate mom and be UNABLE to respond appropriately to racial slurs? But, protecting your children is fiercely different than sticking up for yourself. I would mama-bear-style stick up for his toe nails if I felt it was needed. Behind his back of course- to his face, anyone with those ideas is plain CRAZY and we treat them the same as our wonderful friend who sits on the corner every day, with all of her fancy makeup and fur, yelling obscenities at the clouds.
In the area of race, my plan is to remind Jude how beautiful his skin is, how lucky he is to have it (it helps that I truly covet his tone and it makes me grind my teeth because I can't physically take the power of his cute overabundance if I think about it too much), cook up some tibs and wat, and take him to Ethiopia often. On trips to help out where we can, but mostly to learn. I hope I do as good of a job facilitating pride as my mama did.

*This is not due to my father not teaching and sharing. He shares AND teaches. Always has. Fabulous Daddy-friend. Bonus: If you need to know anything about the Middle East or music, he's your guy... and he's Judah's favorite person.

**Although I do think that white skin is very pretty too. Just high maintenance.