Emma Turns Four!


Emma 12 days before her 4th birthday

Emma turned four years old last month. She is an amazing girl. I am always so pleased and happy at her development. She is confident, happy, healthy, ambitious, independent, and beautiful. I have always been a firm believer that you get what you put into your kids. I am happy to have married a woman who shares this belief and has committed herself to playing an active role in our child’s development. Elena, like most Mothers, shoulders the burden of child-rearing. She is the primary caregiver and the glue of our family. She makes sure the house is clean, food is purchased, dinner is served, and Emma is exposed to a diverse array of activities (without being over-stimulated). She is a kid after all and we want her to enjoy her youth.

Emma’s scheduled activities for the week consists of the following:

  • Swimming (1 day / week)
  • Pre-School (2 days / week)(4 hours each day)
  • Gymnastics (1 day / week)
  • Ballet & Jazz (1 day / week)

It’s a busy schedule on paper, but it is spread out throughout the week so that Monday though Friday she has something to look forward to. We intentionally make sure no two activities occur on the same day. Emma looks forward to each and every activity and will cry if we threaten to not do one when she misbehaves.


Emma’s 4th Birthday Gift

Now don’t get me wrong. Despite our most valiant efforts, Emma is no angel. She has a stubbornness that can be hard to deal with, and only recently (in the last two months) has she started reciprocating my affection for her. You see, Mommy and me like to give Emma lots of hugs and kisses but Emma has never liked to be held or kissed. She’s a cold fish that way and it is difficult for us to deal with because Elena and I are affectionate people. I had hoped that over time, Emma would change, and she kinda has for me in the last couple months as I eluded to earlier. I make sure that I keep my face well shaven, because Daddy has a scratchy beard and she wasn’t buy’n the “Porcupines need love too” argument that I have been making over the years. She has trained me in a way to go easy on the kisses (like a single kiss or hug once or twice a day). I know, she’s strict!

Elena, on the other hand, hasn’t been that lucky. Although it’s true, she has been getting way more love from Emma than I have throughout the first 4 years of her life, Elena is not where she would like to be in terms of reciprocated affection either.

Psychologists to this day still hotly debate whether a child’s personality is a product of their natural surroundings (“nature”) or the type and quality of care they are given (“nurture”). Some believe it is a combination of the two. My observations of Emma seem to support that it is indeed a combination of the two. In what proportions I cannot say. It is clear that when a child is born, he/she comes into the world with his or her personality already intact. That’s the nature part. Environmental conditions (i.e. the things your child is exposed to) can enhance or diminish your child’s ability to flourish. Love, affection, attention, involvement, interest, stability are some ways in which parents can improve a child’s confidence and feeling of self worth. Likewise, abandonment, neglect, disinterest, etc. are ways to negatively impact a child’s development.

If I do my job right Emma will grow up with the confidence of knowing that she has two parents that love her more deeply than words can describe. She will know this not through our words or empty promises but through our deeds as parents. I intend to make sure the hopes and dreams I have for her are modeled in my behavior and realized through experiences we share during our limitted time on this planet together. Any structure worth building requires a strong foundation. Children are no different. It seems way too easy in today’s day and age to make excuses as to why we don’t commit the hard work and effort required to lay that all too important foundation. Raising children is arguably the hardest job on the planet which is why I suppose so many people outsource the work through the use of daycares, nanny’s  and such. It is my opinion that if you can’t afford to raise your own kid you should not have them. I am writing this here not to condemn or pass judgement on others, but rather to articulate to my own daughter, Emma, my values so she knows where my head is at in the event I am not around to have this conversation with her later when she is older and ready to have children of her own. Understand that there may be mitigating or unforeseen circumstances that necessitate alternate care for your children. Just don’t make this the primary plan of action when you are deciding to start a family, as it is a poor one that will make your children feel abandoned and unimportant during the most impressionable and developmentally important time of their life. It’s the age old adage, pay now or pay later.

Emma’s 3rd Birthday!

On October 21st Emma turned 3 years old. To celebrate we had a “Princess Themed” birthday party with two of her closest friends (Alex and Emma). Elena set up an action-packed and fun-filled day with balloons, arts-and-crafts, a pinata, playtime, and cake. It was really nice to watch Emma enjoy herself so much. Elena and I were honored to have her friends come over to celebrate her special day and make it as beautiful as it was.

Happy Birthday!!!


Today we celebrated Emma’s second birthday. She received a lot of wonderful gifts and phone calls from friends and family as well as a visit from her Abuelo and Abuela. The day was all about Emma. We played, we sang, we laughed, and played some more. Emma really enjoyed herself and Elena and I reflected upon how quickly the time has gone and how blessed we are to have Emma in our lives.

Family Visit


Last weekend we had our first guests from out of town. Emma’s Godmother Ceci, Great Aunt Araceli, and Great Grandmother Sarita flew in from Florida to stay with us for the weekend. They had wanted to come for Emma’s Birthday but this was the best time they could all make it. Emma was really excited and had fun playing with them. We went to the farmer’s market and checked out the local produce. It was a fun relaxing time for all and we were very pleased and honored that they made the trip out here to visit. We hope to see them all again soon.

Elena’s Birthday


On January 13th we celebrated Elena’s 37th Birthday. We had dinner at O’Charleys in Raleigh, North Carolina with Elena’s cousin Pititi and his family. Emma met her beautiful twin cousins, Jackie and Alex for the first time. Both are the most loving, well-behaved children you could ever meet. It was nice to see them after so many years. We look forward to seeing and spending more time with them in the future.


In five days Emma will be 15 months old. She is quite mobile and surprisingly fast for a creature of her size. Her verbal skills are still extremely limited and has a five word vocabulary (“was-is”, “dadadadada”, “nana”, “clock”, “cup”). Despite this she can sign at least 17 different signs (“milk”, “vegetables”, “bath”, “potty”, “banana”, “bear”, “cheese”, “water”, “diaper”, “more”, “train”, “all done”, “bubbles”, “me”, “I love you”, “hi”, “bye”) and can process simple commands like “give the doll to daddy”, or “put the paper in the garbage”. She is quite fascinated by the trash can and despite our strict rules against her touching it, will deposit random items in it when we are not looking. So far a shoe, and a toy has found its way to the bottom of the receptacle. It’s only a matter of time before our coveted TiVO remote is sent to an early grave at the bottom of a landfill. Little by little I am starting to feel like a Dad. I wish it would have been a more immediate feeling but for Dads I believe it takes a little bit longer before you feel like you matter in the eyes of your child. Today was a fine example of that. When I returned from work and opened the first of a pair of doors I use to enter my house, I heard the pitter-patter of little feet hurrying to greet me. When I opened the second door, Emma was standing on the other side with the brightest little smile. She had heard the garage open and recognized that the sound she had heard meant that Daddy was home. It’s moments like that that make me feel like a million bucks.

Pictures of Emma at 1 year old

Elena took Emma to JCPenny’s to get some professional pictures taken the day before she turned one. She dressed her up in a “birthday dress” and her Halloween costume. Here are some of the shots that were taken.