29 Jan



29 Aug


Pretty much sums up how I feel about most things:


27 Aug

When there were no colors in the world

278Ella: “Is it true that if I lived a long time ago I wouldn’t be able to be a firefighter or policeman?”
Me: “Yes, a long time ago.”

Ella: “So what do you think caused the problem?”

Me: “Well, boys thought they could do it better, I guess.”
Ella: “Yes, boys think they are better than girls.”
Me: “What about girls? Do think they are better than boys?”
Ella: “No! So because of that you have to be careful who you marry.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Ella: “Well, you have to wait a long time to make sure that person is not mean to you because if they are mean, then you can be like Bye, I’m going to look for someone else. So how old we’re you when you got married?”
Me: “27”
Ella: “Oh 27, that’s pretty good. That means you waited a long time.”
Me: “So why do you think we don’t have a girl president?”
Ella: “Maybe because some boys think they are better than girls.”
Me: “Should we?”
Ella: “Yes because it’s important to know what girls will talk about because when you are president you talk a lot.”
Me: “What do you think a girl president would talk about?”
Ella: “I don’t know! I’m not in her brain!”

… a few minutes later…

Ella: “So anyway tell me what else you didn’t have a long time ago when you were a kid? Or during slavery time? When there were no colors in the world.”

5 Jun

Ella can’t wait to be Six


29 Jan

Kindergarten Phonetic Speller


20 Jan

Dr. MLK, Jr.

“The reason I used these colors is because MLK, Jr. helped peach and brown people get along.”


1 Jun

Dreams DO come true!

A year ago:

Ella, curiously: “I want to have a baby sister. When am I going to get a baby?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Nine months ago:

Ella, persistently: “When am I going to get a baby?”

Me: “Hmmm…I don’t know. Ask daddy.”

Six months ago:

Ella, annoyed: “When am I going to get a baby already?”

Me: “After your 5th birthday.”

Ella: “Oh yeah, my friend Justin is 5 and he has a baby brother.”

So when we took her to an ultrasound and the doctor told her she is going to be having a baby sister, she turned to me, eyes lit up, and said, in her best princess voice, “Wow, dreams do come true!”

Since then Ella asks “When is she coming out? Can she hear me? What does she think about my song? What did she think that noise was?” and has made a point of daily kissing “baby Paco” (affectionately termed after mommy’s affinity to tacos), handing her extra pieces of chocolate, getting her to try cucumbers, gold fish, strawberry ice cream. Meanwhile, mommy’s heart grows, together with her behind.

Ella: “Here, mom, eat.”

Me & Baby Sister

Me: “No, I can’t. Thank you.”

Ella: “But pleeeeeease, for the baby.”

Me: “Oh thanks. But mommy’s belly [and behind] is so big.”

Ella: “How many pounds is baby sister?”

Me: “Almost 2 pounds.” Unfortunately, the other extra 18 are all mine.

Ella: “How strong is she?”

Me: “Not strong at all.”

Ella: “Oh, she’s zero strong. When she is born, I’m gonna see if she can carry a rubber ducky.”

As for baby names, we went from Ella’s initial suggestions of Hello Kitty and Hannah Montana to Bella (“It’s a pattern! See, Ella = Bella”) to Ana, so we are making some progress.

The idea of a baby sister’s arrival, the name she might have and the food she will eat, brought with it some additional questions I wasn’t expecting.

“This is where mommy and daddy lived when we were in college.” I told Ella as we drove through familiar streets of Northern Berkeley last weekend on our way to Cheeseboard, the best pizza in the world.

Ella: “When I was a baby?”

Me: “No, before you were born.”

Ella: “But where was I? On another planet?” We have been reading The Little Prince.

Me: “No, you didn’t exist yet.”

Ella: “But where did I come from?”

Me: “From mommy’s belly. Just like your baby sister.”

Ella: “But how did I get in there?” Oh no, not yet.

Me: “When Mommy and daddy love each other, they kiss and make a baby.”

Ella: “But how did you put me in there?” She’s clearly not getting it but I’m not ready.

Despite what I read in a book or a blog or heard from more experienced parents, the only thing I can say is: “Magic.”

Ella, with complete awe and understanding: “OOHHHHHHH!”

Thus we continued to move from concrete to existential in a matter of days, out of nowhere, on the way to Taekwondo.

Ella: “Who created the world?”

Me: “Some people believe it was God.”

Ella: “Who is God?”

Me: “He or she is…” I was trying to think fast, not having given this subject a thought since my soul searching college days, “He or she is like… a magician.”

Ella: “Oh.”

Me: “Other people believe there was an explosion in the sky that created everything.”

Ella, with the air of confidence and satisfaction: “I know! Maybe, we created it with our imagination.”

So whether it is our imaginations, our kisses, or our dreams that create life, new life is arriving to our family the first week of September.

23 May

Plant and meat eaters

Hemingway once said that it takes two years for humans to learn how to talk and the next 50 years to learn how to be quiet. That is certainly proving true with our talkative daughter, who at age the age of 4 and 10 months speaks nonstop, without periods and without breathing, all day, everyday. Between her never-ending monologues, dialogues and soliloquies, it is ever more challenging to keep track of all the funny or off the wall comments she utters, yet I managed to capture just a few:

Latest bedtime ploy, “Mommy turn on the light so I can see your beautiful face.”


“If being a mommy is such hard work, why did you choose it?”


“Do you ever sleep on daddy?”  (gasp!)


Me: “Please don’t use that baby voice.”

Ella: “We are all different. Just like your porcupine story (Jezeva Kucica) is cute to you, so my baby voice is cute to me.”


Me: “Ella, please wait until I’m done talking with daddy and then you can tell us what you want.”

Ella: “But…”

Me: “Ella, please wait until we are done.”

Ella: “But how will I know if you are done? I’m not you, I’m Ella. We are not the same, we are all different. I don’t know what’s in your brain.”


Baba: “Ella, EAT YOUR FOOD!”

Ella: “Baba, stop yelling at me.”

Baba: “I will when you start to eat. So EAT!”

Ella: “Yelling is not nice. Please use your indoor voice.”


Ella: “It makes me feel sad when you yell at me.”

Baba: “And you make me angry when you don’t eat.”

Ella: “Baba, you are hurting my feelings.”

Baba: “And you are hurting mine by not eating.”

Ella: “But that’s not very nice and politeful things to say.”

Baba: “…” (gets up and goes out for a cigarette)


Ella’s friend from preschool, excitedly showing me her take home firefighter coloring book: “We can paint in here!”

Ella, interrupting: “What she means to say is ‘We can color in here.’”

What a little brat.


373“These blue scissors are not as sharp as purple ones so they are the plant eaters. The purple ones are super sharp so they are meat eaters.”


“You know, some kids are allergic to cow milk so they have to drink soil milk and lots of kids like soil milk because it tastes like maple cookies. And I am not allergic to cow milk, I am allergic to band-aids.”


On the topic of “When I grow up I want to be,” Ella’s career choices have fluctuated a lot over the past few months:

  • Teacher like mommy
  • Teacher and mommy
  • Not mommy, because it hurts and it’s so hard
  • An actress but I don’t know how to get inside the TV
  • A Golden Gate Bridge toll collector
  • A cow girl

And the latest

  • I don’t ever want to grow up, I want to be a kid forever!

11 May

Recycling Wheel

Last night, I closed Sleeping Beauty, kissed her forehead and started leaving the room, when she jumped up.

Ella: “I know! It’s like a recycling wheel.”

Me (exhausted, indifferent): “What is?”

Ella: “The queen and king have a daughter. Then the daughter grows up and finds a prince. Then the prince and princess have a baby.”

Me: “I see…”

Ella: “Like Baka and Deda had daddy. Then daddy and you had ME! A recycling wheel!!!”

Me (using my best teacher voice): “That’s right. You made a connection.”

Ella: “Why doesn’t Baba have anybody?”

Me: “She did but her husband died. My daddy died.”

Ella: “How did he die? Tell me a story about how he died.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I can’t. It makes me sad.”

Ella: “Why doesn’t Leo have anybody but his dog?”

Me: “He does. He has his girlfriend.”

Ella: “But why don’t they live together?”

Me: “They are not married yet. Maybe in a few years.”

Ella: “Oh. I don’t want to get married. I want to stay with mommy and daddy forever.”

3 May

Luna’s First Poem

Here’s what happens when I give my 4.5 year old daughter a school assignment I have used with my high school students:


 I am (list two special characteristics you have) happy and sad

I wonder (list something you are actually curious about) which color the house the workmen are building will be

I hear (when you hear yourself talk out loud) tweet, tweet, tweet

I see (when you look in the mirror) eyebrows, eyes, nose, brain

I want (an actual desire) a pony ride with my friends Ananda & Jazmin

I am (the first line of the poem repeated) happy and sad


I pretend (something you pretend to do) to be a kitty-cat and we are trying to catch the boys and boys like that game

I feel (a feeling about something imaginary) the rabbits and give them food

I worry (something that really bothers you) when Jazmin says “Ok, ok, I know” that makes me feel boring

I cry (something that makes you very sad or angry) when Jazmin and Ananda don’t want to be my friend

I am (the first line of the poem repeated) happy and sad


I understand (something you know is true) that my cousin is Omar and Didi

I say (something you believe in) I believe in my heart

I dream (something you actually dream about) about me and Teresa, and Ananda and I were on the rainbow and we rode a pony

I try (something you really make an effort about) to do a hand stand

I hope (something you actually hope for) that all my wishes will come true already

I am (the first line of the poem repeated) happy and sad