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Preview: The Soto Update

The Soto Update

Stories from the Familia Soto

Updated: 2018-03-05T10:39:46.082-05:00


Sugar and Spice


This is Lucia. She is four years old, and she is trying to hypnotize you with her smile. So that you will do her bidding. Is it working? Because she is pretty sure she can get you to do whatever she wants, using that look.When I found out (4 years ago!) that I was pregnant with a baby girl, I was pretty stoked. Girls are oh-so-cute! And they are, you know, girly. They smell good, like cupcakes. I would get to watch episodes of Rainbow Brite again! And have someone to share my Anne of Green Gables passion with. We would travel to Prince Edwards Island on a mother/daughter trip! Except that I forgot that little girls are also dramatic. And they stare at you with tear-filled eyes when you speak to them in a slightly raised voice. That they carry, at minimum, 37 stuffed animals with them at all times. That all said stuffed animals have names, and are related to each other in some way, so that you can never, ever donate them to the Goodwill. That they find your stash of hidden dark chocolate, and wonder why you are not sharing? Since sharing is caring? The above picture is the face she makes when she is "a little bit sad". She express this sentiment whenever she feels slighted or her feelings have been injured in some way. That day she she felt "a little bit sad, Mommy" because she realized that she did want to take swimming lessons after all. Even though, moments earlier, she had been terrified at the very notion. Her expression makes me want to laugh and hold her at the same time. I know her feelings are genuine (I think) but the look on her face are almost cartoon-sad.  She is so epically sad, and you want to make it all better, but at the same time you need to make sure that she understands that everything does not revolve around her feelings. It's a fine balance.  Lucia has the amazing ability to fill me with joy, and yet at the same time, fill me with guilt. At school, during career day, while all the other kids wrote down that they wanted to be a nurse, fireman, teacher etc., my daughter wrote "I WANT TO BE A MOMMY WHO DOES NOT WORK, AND STAYS HOME WITH HER DAUGHTER". When I arrived to pick her up, her teacher pulled me aside to apologize. She explained that they tried to change her mind, but that she wouldn't budge. I found it funny and appalling at the same time. Which is how I tend to feel whenever either of my children express an opinion. Lucia is my favorite little girl on the planet. She is incredibly funny. Has the best memory ever. Don't ever promise her something that you can't deliver. She will never, ever forget. She also has an amazing sense of style and fashion. Which, if you know me at all, will make you wonder where she got it from. Do your shoes not really go with your outfit? She will go into your closet and find you ones that do. She asked me once to put my hair up, because it looked better with the dress I was wearing. And she was right. I had several people comment on how nice my hair looked like that day. And I had to credit a 4 year old. She likes watching me put on makeup, and whenever I ask her is she wants to try some, will retort that she is "only a little girl!" in a very shocked voice. Her dad likes that about her. Her favorite personality trait? "I like being funny. I like it when people think I am funny." That she got from me. She enjoys a funny story. She likes a good punchline.   I can't believe how quickly time has flown. If she ever really knew how very much I love her, and that I would do anything for her, it would be very dangerous. She would totally use it against me. Feed[...]

At This Age


I am sitting in the waiting room at the hospital. I just left my son in a very large and intimidating operating room. He was lying on bed, with a mask on his face, surrounded by people in scrubs. He looked very small. As I walked away, tears running down my face, I was reminded about our conversation yesterday in the car. You see, today was CLOWN DAY at Gideon's school. Yes, you read that correctly. Clown Day. Apparently, his school won something and clowns were coming to teach class to give some kind of lesson. Gideon was terrified. Honestly, if he hadn't had this procedure scheduled, I might have let him stay home. Now, most people know about my intense dislike of clowns, and unfortunately, Gideon has inherited that. He explained to us that although he went to the circus last year, and enjoyed the clowns, AT THIS AGE, he is now afraid of them. He said those words: "At this age". Because last year he was just a naive youngster, not knowing any better about what lies beneath the makeup. But now, he knows better, and AT THIS AGE, he is afraid of clowns. I wish I could reassure him, but I cannot. I understand his fear. I once saw a clown driving a car on the GSP, and almost had an accident.

Another thing Gideon has inherited from his mom, is anxiety. He was diagnosed this year with an anxiety disorder, and I blame myself. I am riddled with the stuff. As I sit here typing, my stomach churns. I feel nauseous, and my heart is about to beat out of chest. I am typing just so that my hands stop shaking. I know deep down that Gideon is going to be fine. This is just dental surgery, and he has been under anesthesia before. yet, the dentist said a 1 hour to 2. And it is now 1 1/2 hours. So, it is past the 1 hour mark. Why is it taking so long? Why do I see other parents and family leave the waiting room, and I am being left behind? I would pay for a few clowns to come and do a dance right now. Clowns Shmlowns.

One of the main reasons behind all this anxiety is lack of control. I am useless. I can't help. I can't make it better. I am not in charge. Being helpless makes me afraid. Yet, I have been told to not be afraid. Commanded to, actually. Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." So, geez. How can I not be afraid? I am totally dismayed right now. It seems unreasonable that I give that up. Do I just sit here, all peaceful and calm, knowing full well that my son will be well protected, because God will always be with him wherever he goes? Yes, yes, and again yes. Psalm 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" . My own understanding totally stinks. My own understanding is afraid of grown people who wear too much makeup and entertain children. So, AT THIS AGE,  I have to wake up and let go. I need to able to teach my son about trusting God. So, at this age, I can be a woman who is at peace with herself and her life. Who, despite all the anxiety life throws at me, I can simply lean on my God, and trust that it will end the way it needs to end. This doesn't mean, of course, that I will be visiting a circus anytime soon. At this age, I know better than that :)

Chubby inquiries and more


A little late for this post, but better late than never. Here it goes.

Week #2 (January 8 - 14, 2013)
  • Brotherly love. He may not remember our days much growing up in Jersey City. But I can recall all the times he's either backed me up or defended me from street thugs or bullies when I was a skinny, little, snot-nosed kid. My big brother and I have been through a lot. I'm thankful God has given him another year of life. And to many more!
  • Nice day for a walk. Because of the mild weather, I was able to walk a little more. Admittedly, one of the reasons I chose to walk was because I couldn't drive the car. Late last year, I noticed one of the new tires had a nail in it. The tire was flat for several weeks because I wasn't able to fix it myself. But, this gave me an opportunity to bond with my son as we walked from school to home. We talked about a lot, from topics related to his school performance to the subject of why I was so chubby. Since then, I was able to take the car to the shop to get the tire repaired. But Gideon's "chubby inquiries" kept the car in the driveway during nice weather.
  • Thanks for taxes. No, I'm not thankful for taxes and smaller pay checks. Who is, right? But, while the expiration of the payroll tax holiday is cutting into my take income, I still have a job (or two). And, my wife is working too. So, why complain?

No new resolution zone


2013. Happy new year!

I didn't make any resolutions this year. Maybe it's because when I searched within myself to find out what a new calendar year means to me, I reminisced about 2012. And, I was reminded of the following passage in Ecclesiastes: "So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety?"

Good question I thought. All my hard work in 2012 and years prior had to be worth something, right? Then, I read the answer in the following verse, "Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless."

Depressing right? That wasn't the answer I wanted. But yes, it can be depressing. Especially if a life challenge just finished beating you down. And, I got beat up heavily in 2012, especially from a business standpoint.

I mean, I know there is a point to working hard in life. There are goals to set. There are people to love and care for. There are contributions you can make to improve society. And, that's what the author of Ecclesiastes was trying to tell us by saying just the opposite.

"All is meaningless under the sun." It doesn't mean quit. It means being thankful for what you have. And, it also talks about stress and worrying TOO much to get to a place in life that takes you away from your true purpose.


And, you know what else? Take it all in stride. It's easier said than done, I know. How about we start by being thankful?

So this year, instead of a resolution, I decided to refocus on "thankfulness." Not just this year, but hopefully for years to come. It's not a resolution, it's a lifestyle.

My aim is to highlight three things I'm thankful for every week. So here it goes.

Week #1 (January 1 - 8, 2013)

  • Date with Lincoln: Alexa and I went to see "Lincoln." I enjoy history, especially in relation to today's politics. When I saw the previews last year, I made a note to myself: GO SEE LINCOLN! The time escaped us in 2012. But when the opportunity came last Saturday, we turned it into a date afternoon.
  • Comfy Christmas Gifts: I enjoyed all the presents I received from family. They were great! But, I enjoyed giving more. I'm thankful I was able to share in the gift-giving. But that was 2012. In 2013, I get to use my gifts. And by far, one of the most used are the 2 pairs of comfy, warm home slippers my brother gave me. I wear one or the other (not both) every day.
  • Impromptu Friend Visit: If you have toddlers, you know it's hard to get away and spend grown up time with friends. I'm thankful for my sister who had a sleepover with all her nephews and nieces (Gideon and Lucia make up 50% of that group). This allowed Alexa and I to party all night - or at least past our usual bedtimes. We visited friends in Jersey City, my hometown. While Alexa and I spent most of our time talking about the kids, our friends (who don't have kids of their own yet) seemed to enjoy hearing our stories. Hopefully, we didn't scare them. Next time we promised to talk more about other stuff, like God, politics, and music.

Hope to see you next week!


Standing on a Promise


It has been over a year since I have posted anything. Life has a way of taking over, and blogging becomes a very long and distant pastime. Facebook has also played a large factor, since I can now share stories and photos with my family through that, and I don't have to really think that much. Blogging is definitely harder.However, I find myself sitting at my laptop today and thinking about the past year. I am generally content with my life. I am not the type of person who requires new "things" to be happy. I don't need vacations, or new clothes, or new technology. As long as I get to spend time with my husband and my children, my parents and my sister, I am happy. Yet, this year has been hard. Mostly financially hard. Alex lost his biggest resume contract in the spring. Which amounted to him losing his job. Which meant we went through any savings we had pretty quickly. We went back to living paycheck to paycheck. Our house payments started to get paid late. Minimum payments on most of our bills. We got rid of any non-essential part of our life. We started borrowing money from our parents. It really really sucked.Yet...we are Christians. We believe in a Provider. There are promises that God has made. We believe in those promises.  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11,  And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19. So, I am not that worried. I do not feel that our situation is hopeless, for we believe in the King of Hope. There are some who believe that if you are going through financial trouble as a Christian, then you are doing something wrong. You do not have enough faith, you aren't tithing enough, you have upset God in some way and this is your punishment. But nothing can separate us from the love of God, right? So if God still loves us, (which He totally does) then why are going through this? A test of faith perhaps? I am not sure.But I digress. There is a point to all this blathering. His name is Gideon Juan Soto. And I love him so. Gideon is a great kid. He is sweet and funny and smart. He loves his sister so much, and he is really proud of her, and introduces her to people all the time. My son has some issues. Issues that haven't been diagnosed yet (not officially). They are mostly behavioral and social. He has trouble at school when it comes to transitions, schedules, changes and peers. He hates it when he is unable to control his surroundings. He cries and whines. Sometimes he drives me crazy. He also has an issue with his mouth. Toothbrushing used to be very difficult and flossing was out of the question. The last time we went to the dentist, he threw up all over the poor guy. It was a nightmare. A few months ago, he started complaining that one of his bottom teeth was hurting. I started to panic. How could we do this dentist thing again? Thankfully, I was able to find a pediatric dentist who specialized in treating children with autism. Now, Gideon is not autistic, but I figured if she could treat autistic children, Gideon would be a piece of cake! And it was! Not exactly a piece of cake, since we had to book a double appointment. It took almost 2 hours for him to get his teeth cleaned. The dentist took extra care to show him all the instruments, allowing him to touch them and even put them in his mouth himself. She would give him a sticker each time he let her go in his mouth. She would stop every time he tried to get out of the chair, and she would talk him back. All of this took a very long time, and it was time our insurance did not cover. But all in all, a success dentist visit. No throwing up, very little crying, and he was left with a good feeling about the dentist. However, there was bad news. The pain he was feeling was an abscessed tooth. Among other[...]



Tiger, Tiger, Roar! Part 1Our son, Gideon, turned 5 years old today. We would normally have thrown him a birthday party, and invited his friends from school. But parties can get expensive, and this year Gideon really, really wanted to go to the zoo. To see tigers. And, I didn't know this, but the zoo is really expensive too. So, we had him choose! We let a five year old choose! And, surprisingly, he chose the zoo. He chose tigers. Over his friends. Nice. Hi-five, Gideon.We decided to go the Bronx Zoo. We verified that there were tigers, and booked our tickets using the Optimum Online discount. I took the day off from work, and Alex put work on hold until later that day. It was an exciting morning. Gideon woke up early, so completely aware of the day and the importance of it. It was the first year that he totally got it. This was a big deal; he was five today! There was going to be a trip to the zoo! He would see tigers! And later, (later!) there would be cake and presents. It would be the best day ever. I read him a Happy Birthday text message from his Aunt Shelley, and he jumped up and down on my bed in total joy. It was pretty awesome. And did I mention the tigers? He was going to see tigers!The entrance to the Bronx Zoo.Father and Son.My darling Lucia, feeling a little left out from all the Gideon birthday celebrating.Their first stop. Ducks. Of all things.A sleeping bear. We saw him later that day, and he was dancing.Now, we weren't there to see ducks or bears (oh my!). We were there for the whole tiger experience. They have at the Bronx Zoo an exhibit called Tiger Mountain. This was our goal. It was quite a walk, and we hadn't brought a stroller or rented one. My mom was with us, and although a really good sport, sometimes suffers from some pain when she walks too much. So, by the time we arrived to Tiger Mountain our expectations were high. We were there to see some tigers! Imagine our disappointment when we entered and saw a lone tiger, asleep at the top of the hill. There was a crowd of people at the glass, waiting to see action from the tiger. He just lay on his side and blinked. And then Gideon approached the glass. He stood there and touched the glass, and looked at the tiger. Suddenly, the tiger stood up. He started down the hill, and walked in a straight line, right toward Gideon. It was almost menacing, and Alex and I were a bit startled. My mom let out a silent shriek, and we all moved in to be closer to Gideon. The tiger approached him, and Gideon reached out. The tiger walked by, and then returned to his hill. It was all surreal, as if the tiger had been waiting for him.I almost didn't get this shot, since we were all feeling flummoxed. Gideon wanted to take him home.It looks like the tiger wants a bite of his head. Until we meet again.Stay tuned, there are more zoo posts to come...Feed[...]



The Following Photographs Brought
To You By An Almost-Five Year Old

(image) His Mommy's Arm (comfy like pillow)

(image) His daddy and his fajitas.

(image) His Cutie Sister

(image) She likes being the subject of his photographs.

(image) And then becomes inexplicably exhausted.

(image) His Daddy and His Sister.

(image) His Feets. (We call them feets)

(image) Just chillaxin'

(image) Lucia decided to try her hand at this photography thing.



Gideon's First Performance (and maybe last)

This post is super old, since I meant to post it in June. Some of Gideon's classmates graduated from Preschool in June, and Gideon had been non-stop practicing for his "debut". The song of choice was 'God Bless America'. We heard it in the morning, and in the noontime, and during bathtime. He sang it in his sleep, and even Lucia memorized it.

Of course, on the big day, Gideon woke up not feeling so hot. He had a fever the day before, and was kind of feeling out of sorts (to put it mildly). He refused to sing, and would only sit in a blue chair. Of course, the blue chairs were only for the graduates, so he couldn't. He ended up sitting with his embarrassed parents.

I was able to only snap a couple of shots, and took a very shaky video. You may want to take an anti-nausea pill before viewing, in case you get sea-sick. (Or video-sick)


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A Fun "Spring" Day

So far, "Spring" has been kind of a gyp. From slightly warmer temperatures, to then...oh yes...snow. Outside days have been few and far between. However, with two small children in the house, we have to get outside when we can. Last weekend was one of those days.

Last year, Gideon's school was giving out free playground equipment. They had been able to buy new toys and houses and things, and needed to get rid of the old stuff. Well, we were happy to take something for the backyard.

(image) Our "new" double slide!

(image) You can climb in from the back.

(image) Or from underneath.

(image) With two slides, there isn't alot of fighting.

(image) In fact, it has brought them closer together.

(image) Especially when Gideon shows her his cool moves.

(image) Lucia especially likes her secret hiding spot.

(image) Although, she will peek out and say hello.

(image) Oh, and yes. We have termites. Lovely.



Home Sick...and a late Valentine's Day craftEveryone knows that I work. Full-time out of the house. On Mondays and Tuesdays, Gideon and Lucia are at my moms until at least 9:30pm. By the time we get home and into bed, it is after 10pm. And on the other week days, they usually get picked up by 6pm, and then we have to get dinner made, and baths and stories, and so there isn't a whole lot of time to sit and do a craft. Any time when I am home with them for a full day, is a great day.Last week, both of them got sick. We actually have been quite blessed with zero sickness. This is the first time they have been sick since last summer! And for those of you that know our track record with illness, that is quite a feat! My mother credits the cod liver oil she has been spooning into their mouths. (I know, gross. But it's orange-flavored, and they actually like it!) But this time, Gideon got sick with a cold, and by Wednesday night, Lucia had a fever.For two days straight, Lucia was very sick. But, by Saturday, she was feeling better. And on Sunday, I got sick. Am still sick, as I type. However, I was determined that we would actually sit together and get a craft done. I had been holding on to this heart box, and had meant to have it ready for Valentine's Day. However, V-day came and went, and we never started it. I took some TheraFlu, and decided to make sure we had a fun day. "Let's do a craft!", I said, "Let's paint!"We set paper towels out, and Lucia picked her paint colors. Gideon, was sort of helping.They were all girly colors. Pinks, red, and purple.These were on hand.She was a good painter. Very detail-oriented.She loved that the paint brush was purple. "It's my favorite color!"Did I mention there was purple glitter glue?"I can do it myself! No helping me!""I did it!"More glitter glue!"It's so beautiful, Mommy."Gideon decides to join in the fun.He decided red was the most masculine color he could pick.Lucia needed to fix his mistakes. "He left spaces, Mommy!"I had to hold the heart up so she could do the sides.Oh, did I mention there were jewels? There were. This is the top of the heart.This is the profile shot.And where was my darling husband during all this extreme fun? Upstairs, working. But, he decided to make sure to play with them, while I was dying on the couch. They are playing with Lucia's dollhouse furniture.See the pink box? That is the box the craft came in, but Alex thought it would make a great TV entertainment unit. Did you guys have a fun day? Their faces speak for themselves :)Feed[...]



Pictures that Gideon Took

I don't tend to let the kids play with our camera. But, every once in a while, under our supervision, we let him take pictures.

Here are a few examples:
(image) His Favorite Girls

(image) His Feet!

(image) Lucia in Motion

(image) This one isn't terrible.

(image) We are obviously giants in this picture.

(image) Hi Daddy.



Groovin' at the Breakfast Table

Gideon loves playing on my laptop. And Lucia loves watching him. Here is a little clip of their time together.

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The Best Day (part two)So, I mentioned in the last post about something life-changing that took place last night. The thing is, for some of you, it might sound silly. But, if you are parents, you just might get it. You see, Alex and I have found...a babysitter! The lack of a babysitter has really taken it's toll. We needed a night out pretty badly. And I was getting so tired of begging my sister to watch them, or feeling guilty of asking my mother, since she has them for most of the day. How could I say, "Um mom, I know you have watched the kids for 8 hours, but do you mind watching them another 3 hours, so Alex and I can go watch a movie?" I couldn't.So, ever since we moved to the house, I had this fantasy of the perfect teenage girl living across the street. And she would come over, and have tons of babysitting experience, and be super cheap, and love my kids. Well, there actually is a teenage girl across the street, but she has never come over with her Babysitter's Club inspired tote bag. Sigh. But, but! We have a new youth pastor at our church, and they have 4 kids. And out of those four kids, there is a teenage girl. And she is the oldest child, which means she has changed a diaper or two. And the minute I heard about her, I felt a sense of rightness about her. Like I knew.So, I stalked her on Facebook for a while. And then I talked to her in person. And guess what? She was very excited about the notion of hanging out with my kids. And we texted back and forth. And set a date. I showed the kids her picture on Facebook, to remind them of who she was. And we talked about how she was coming over to play with them. And THEY were excited. And Alex was excited.So, she came over. Her parents dropped her off. And we walked around with the kids trailing behind us. They were shy at first, but eventually warmed up, and started showing her their toys. We hung around for about 30 minutes, and then felt like we could go. And because we live in such a cool town now, we walked to the restaurant. It was a beautiful night, and I felt so great about this whole new stage we were in.I have been wanting to go to this crepe restaurant for a while now, but was concerned that Alex wouldn't like it. But he told me he was game, so we gave it a try. It's called Creme de la Crepes. It's on River Rd. in Fair Lawn. I was under the impression that it was kind of a gimmicky restaurant- because of the crepes. But actually, it's like a small French bistro. The owner is French. And our waiter was French. Very Frenchy.The walls are red, with Eiffel Tower decor. See? Bisto-y.This flower was on our table. It was pretty.Perusing the menu. I take this part seriously.There was actually alot for Alex to choose from. He was debating between being safe, or being adventuresome. Can we decide on the dessert crepes first?We ordered the Creme Champetre as an appetizer. A crepe with brie, homemade pesto and tomatoes. Nice and light.This is my entree. The Croque de Mer. Scallops and mushrooms in a garlic bechamel sauce. This was Alex's. The Stroganoff. Sliced sirloin, sauteed with Roma tomatoes in a wine sauce. All in a crepe. Definitely dessert was the best part. I would go just for dessert. This was the Bananas et Cream Glacee. Without the cream glacee (ice cream). Bananas, caramel sauce, and almonds. With fresh whipped cream. Loooved it. I had a cappuccino. So good. I don't know if everything was truly as delicious as it was, or if I was so enamored with being out, but everything was fantastic. Fancy sugar packets!Adorable tiny salt and pepper shakers!We walked back home, totally happy, and anxious to see how the kids did. I don't know if they had even realized we had left. They had so much fun, and apparently babysitter-girl did too. She[...]



Sesame Street Live! Live!

A short video of me interrogating my children, and forcing them to say that they are having a good time. Also, proof of Lucia shoving popcorn in her mouth, for those of you waiting to report me to child services.

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The Best Day (Part One)It has been awhile since we posted, and alot of that has to do with the moving in to the house, and getting settled part. Also, we "lost" our camera for a few weeks, and "found" it under one of the seats of the van.So, today was Saturday. Yesterday, I went to the dentist and did not die. Hooray. But, then I came home and my Gideon was sick. AGAIN. He had a fever, and cold symptoms. And he was clingy and sad. So, I didn't go back to work, and I thought, "Well, there goes the weekend." But today, he woke up feeling better. And ready to go to a birthday party. A birthday party with a bouncy house.He had a ridiculous amount of fun.It was an outdoor family/friends party. The backyard was decked out with kid's stuff.One thing I noticed about my son. He likes the ladies. I told him to play it cool. So, there he is, pretending that he is not having the time of his life on that tire swing.We cut the birthday party short, much to Gideon's disappointment. But for a very fun reason. Sesame Street Live! We won free tickets, thanks to NJ Library Champions We entered a contest and actually won! It was very exciting.The seats were pretty far away, but they were free after all.But we still could see the characters.Lucia was kind of amazed. She sat enthralled for at least an hour of it.Gideon was amazed at how much popcorn he was able to shove in his mouth at the same time. We tried to take some pictures of us with the kids. Here is Gideon and Daddy, happily posing for the camera. Here is Mommy and the kids. Notice Lucia's extremely forced smile. It actually was just supposed to be a Lucia and Mommy picture. Gideon snuck in at the last moment.Here is a silly Gideon moment.Back to the popcorn. For those of you that are judging me for letting my child eat a choking hazard, let me tell you that you are right! Because I was allowing Lucia, when suddenly she started making a sound in her throat. She gagged and spit out pieces of a kernel. Lordy. Elmo probably heard her. And is judging me too. No more popcorn for Lucia! Daddy went and got her a soft pretzel.Here she is. No worse for the experience. Doesn't she look older already? Later that night, the most exciting thing happened. But I am very tired right now, so I will post about it tomorrow. Just know that it was life-changing for Alex and myself. Stay tuned.Feed[...]



Here's the Play-by-Play.

Boy meets Lucia. Boy tries to say hi to Lucia. Lucia walks away. Boy follows Lucia closely. Lucia starts running. They pause, then Lucia proceeds to run full speed. Surprised at her acceleration, Boy focuses in on catching Lucia, so much so that he bumps into a group of boys, falling down. Lucia has him beat; the Boy is nowhere to be seen. But he returns with a vengeance, and Lucia takes it easy, walking towards daddy, whose recording. Boy is persistent and gets her to smile and she runs away again. Boy's parents indicate that he should stop chasing Lucia. He does and runs off onto the sunset. Lucia can now get back to seeing the band play.

Cut to next scene.

Lucia is showing off her moves, and catches a glimpse of older girls, who are talented dancers themselves. She studies, then joins in. Then she walks away, but returns to check out what the girls were doing. She sees that their interest in her has faded, so Lucia makes her famous dance move, winning the dance off. Lucia walks off to the left towards Mommy, celebrating her victory. The camera focuses in on Gideon.

He notices the camerman, Daddy, and waves. He then begins to dance the hop-along-Gideon. Showing off his fancy moves again. The play ends with a flurry of activity, whereby Gideon and Lucia join in on the chaos.


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Taking a Bow.

Lucia and Gideon have become accustomed to performing in front of the camera. It comes natural to them I guess. They also like to dance, and I think they have pretty good rhythm for their age. Notice how Lucia takes a bow at the end of their "performance." She's a natural!

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As parents, Alexa and I often talk about our kids' futures.

Gideon is awesome with words, and enjoys putting letters together to build words. He's also a good singer, funny, and as the video above shows, a great dancer.

We've discovered that Lucia has a love for shoes, and she does well in selecting the right ones for her mom and aunt when they're picking out their outfits. Really, she does. Just last night before dinner, her Tia Andi asked her what she felt about the shoes she was wearing. Lucia did not approve of her aunt's black shoes, and selected a metallic silver style. The choice was clear, Lucia was right, and Tia Andi changed her shoes.

A bit later, after about an hour of sporting her new lavender Crocs and looking at her feet while walking in them, Lucia decided to change her shoes to better match the torquise dress Mommy selected for her. She was right again, the lavender clashed too much with the torquise, and she wore her pink ones which had little shiny things on them.

Is Lucia destined to be a famous shoe designer?

Will my kids' love for the camera translate into eventual fame on TV, or the big screen?

Don't know. I do know that I think that both my kids are natural performers and love the camera. And, I'm pretty sure the camera loves them.

I've actually done quite a bit of research and thought about calling an agent to see what needed to be done to see if my kids got "It." But, just the other day Alexa provided "Words of Wisdom" out of the blue. It was deep, and I was surprised because in the ten years I've known Alexa, as girlfriend, then fiancee, then wife; she has never shown an interest in philosophy. But there she was, providing a philosophy that made me think. Pensively, she asked, "When has fame and fortune ever improved someone, from the inside, spiritually?"

Straightforward question, but "wow," I said in my head. Because if you think about it, the answer is, hardly ever. When people you know become famous, all of a sudden they disappear. They are ever present on the screen, but just not around anywhere near you. And, then phone numbers change, and you are uninformed about it.

There are the few that have actually used their fame to contribute to society, but I think the story with fame is that it usually separates; the famous from the common. Fame and fortune causes people to wall themselves up against those who are not famous. And, the riches associated with the fame is something you need to worry about.

To lose the sense of peace with the world and fellowship with the common person - not sure if it's worth all the fame and fortune. I wonder what you think?



A Day by the RiverWhat river? I have no idea. It was Memorial Day weekend, and we had promised the kids that we would go to Bear Mountain! Bear Mountain! Gideon was very excited. I am pretty sure he thought that we were going to see bears everywhere. However, we weren't that smart about it, since we didn't leave until late morning, and by that time, Bear Mountain was closed. There were people everywhere; parked on the side of the road, pulling coolers and carrying babies. We were disappointed, but Alex was determined to find a playground or something fun for the kids.We drove for awhile, Gideon and Lucia asleep in the back. Driving in upstate NY is pretty; winding roads and lovely vistas. Suddenly, we saw a giant sign advertising a PUERTO RICAN DAY PARADE! Alex took it as a sign from God, and we pulled into that town's main street. We followed the road until it took us to the banks of a river, and thank God, a playground. The children woke up and Gideon asked, "Are we at Bear Mountain?". "No," we replied, "we are at a river! with a playground!" Gideon was satisfied. Water! We must touch it!Gideon found a plethera of sticks. Some of the sticks looked EVIL.Lucia was unsure about dirt touching her sandals.Throwing rocks with Daddy!Umm...why is the sun touching me? Why am I warm? Why am I slightly sweating? Can you make it stop?A breeze. God hears Lucia. Do you think either of them inherited my nose?Feed[...]



Playing Catch-Up Today Alex informed me that the Soto Update can lose it's status on Google. Meaning, that when you type in "Soto Update", it might not be the first thing that pops up. The horrors! That was his subtle way of informing me to get off my tuckus and post something already.Ok, so this will be a little of a wrap-up of the latest happenings. The following pictures are from Mother's Day. I know, that's like sooo 2 months ago.We went out for Japanese. This is Lucia doing some kind of intricate arm flapping maneuver. She is practicing to be a ninja.Gideon with Daddy. It is very hard for him to actually look at a camera directly. He is practicing for when he is famous, and he has to act all indifferent to the paparazzi.Lucia with Ya-Ya. They are pretty much in love all the time.This a family shot that the waiter took of us. It is, for us, an excellent picture. No one is blinking or sneezing. We all look pretty happy, and the kids are looking at the camera.Lucia had the brilliant idea of wearing matching outfits. We tried to get a nice picture of Mommy and the kids.Not successful.She is checking out my shoes. She loves shoes, and usually picks mine out for me.I thought I would take a sweet picture of my parents walking arm in arm. Instead, I got a picture of my father lifting the back of his jacket to show me his butt. He is so classy, my father the ELDER.Alex and Gideon had run up ahead to scare us.Surprise!!And Lucia is really surprised!Will post again very soon! Have lots more pictures to make fun of :)Feed[...]



Getting Our Hair Done I don't know how it is for you moms out there, but finding the time to get my haircut happens like once a year. Literally, I got an actual professional haircut at a salon last fall. And for those of you that see me on a daily basis, my hair totally reflects that. However, the kids are a different story. You see, Gideon's nursery school had a picture day. Picture Day! And, as my dad likes to say, Gideon was looking a little bit like a hippie. Those hippies. So, off to the the salon we went. Now, I used to take them to a kid-friendly salon. In Paramus. However, they charge $25.00 a haircut, and for two kids, that's $50.00. Did you see that bit of math-wizness? I know. Amazing. So now we go to a hair salon in Passaic. A Mexican hair salon. We can watch telenovelas while we wait. And they charge ten bucks a pop. That is less than one haircut at the Paramus place. This was pretty much Lucia's first haircut. My mom had trimmed her bangs before, but nothing at this level. She was not entirely sold. Gideon is a pro. He is even fine with the clippers. Unbeknown to me, the girl doing Lucia's hair was planning a major 'do. It was only when I saw her come out with a big box of rubber band things, did I even guess at what was going to happen. Lucia did not like it, but she did like all the attention she got afterwards. I was still unsure.Here she is sitting in the salon. Here she is in the car. They both got lollipops for good behavior. Another salon trick. Hey, what is this kid looking and smiling at? Could there be something cute to his left? Hey, who is she looking at? Could there be something cute to her right?Yup! Two cuties!Feed[...]



Our New "Firsts"The cliche is "Time flies when you're having fun". And it is (flying), and we are (fun). Our children are growing so fast, and it is wonderful, and it is heartbreaking. I can't imagine a time when they won't be this small, and if I could I would keep them like this forever. Except that I wouldn't. Because seeing them grow up is amazing. They are truly a gift. And we are very blessed.This past January, we decided that Gideon absolutely needed to start nursery school. He needed some friends, and he needed to stop talking to crayons. The dance moves we assume will never go away, and really why would we want them to? He is attending a nursery school in Paramus. It is very close to my job, and I can pick him up on my lunch. This is us on his first day. A mom saw us trying to take a picture and she leaped out of her SUV and offered to do it for us. Nice, right?Here we are walking in. I was more nervous than he was.He wasn't entirely sold on this school idea.Once he saw the other children and the toys, he felt better.All in all, he seems to ok at school. He definitely isn't in love with it or anything. If given the choice, he would stay home with Lucia. However, he never cries. He always runs in to see Miss Jeaninne, his teacher. He actually calls the school Miss Jeaninne's house. He eats his lunch. He plays outside. He brings home crafts. We get to order books from the Scholastic book orders! My favorite part :) The DentistAnother new thing we started this year was going to see the dentist. If any of you know me at all, you know that I abhor the dentist. The dentist is scary and frightening. The dentist puts his hands in your mouth andyoucantbreathandthenyoupassoutandsomeonehastocomerescueyou. So, the fact that I had to bring my precious children to the dentist and pretend that it was going to be OH SO MUCH FUN! was kind of ironic. It was like going to the circus and being surrounded by clowns. (Did you know that I was afraid of clowns?)It started off great. They had a playroom, and they seemed to really enjoy their surroundings. Lucia had to check everything out first. Gideon went first. Big mistake. He refused to open his mouth, and pretty much screamed and cried and gagged the entire time.When it was Lucia's turn she didn't seem that excited. She also cried, despite the hygienist using cherry-flavored gloves.However, both kids got to pick a prize when it was over. They seemed pretty happy about that. I am glad we don't have to do this again for a while. But I realized that I can't put my fears on my children. I don't want them to grow up afraid of ridiculous things, like clowns. I want them to enjoy everything life has to offer. Even the circus. And the dentist.Feed[...]



If a tree falls in a forest (or in your backyard) and no one is around (or sleeping) to hear it, does it make a sound?After dropping my cousin off at her house, I headed back home amidst heavy winds and rains produced by the latest Noreaster to hit us this year. Throughout the trip, I was actually worried about the tree in our backyard. It's large and old. It looks like an evergreen, but I don't know much about trees.Seeing twigs and branches strewn about on Garden State Parkway didn't help either. The van vibrated violently; suddenly ... a flat tire. I pushed on through, as changing a tire in a heavy rain storm with barely any light on a highway wasn't something I wanted to do ... again.Over 12 years ago, a friend of mine and I had arrived from a road trip, and about 30 minutes away from town, we got a flat. We hung out on the edge of the highway, talking about guy stuff and deep thoughts about life .... I guess what single 23 - 24 year old guys see as deep. Eventually we installed the bicycle tire-like spare and made it home safely. It wasn't fun ... the tire changing that is, but my friend being there turned the experience from being really bad to pretty okay.This time, I was alone and didn't want to change the tire by myself, considering that it was dark, wet, and windy. I pushed forward, noticing more and more shaking as I was nearing the exit, but then remembered what happened 2 years ago, when the same van shut down in an unexpectedly deep pool of water in a nearby exit. Not wanting to wade in thigh high, dirty water again waiting for the tow truck for several hours, I headed towards the next exit, which was a bit farther, but on higher ground.A few blocks from home, I heard metallic scraping noises. Only 2 blocks away at this point. I kept driving home. When I made it home, little did I realize that the tire, whatever was left of it, was actually off the rim. But, I was home, finally, glad to be alive, but still thinking about the tree in the backyard. I went to sleep.I woke up bright and early the next day, and headed to church, completely forgetting about that tree in the backyard, as there were no more winds to remind me of it. So, I just got into the other car and headed out. Roads were closed due to fallen trees, and despite all this, the tree was not on my mind, at all. My mind was writhing with thoughts of the van, and what we were going to do with it, as it isn't drivable. Arriving from church, I pulled into the driveway.I saw it ... that big ole tree, laying on its side; atop the roof of the neighbor's shed, completely uprooted. I was glad, because it could have easily fallen towards our bedroom, only about 10 feet away. The roof of the house we live in, which is very old too, probably would not have withstanded the weight of the tree. It's my estimation that had the tree fallen the other way, I would not be writing this right now.Roots no more.Hey Neighbor! (This picture was taken right outside our bedroom window)It's simple. The direction the tree fell was the determining factor on whether my wife and I (and, Gideon too; as of late as he's been sleeping with us) should live or die. It's that basic.I didn't know what to think at first. I was flooded with the absoluteness of life and death. Lucia, who was in another room, not within reach, would have been left alone. A tragedy. We joked that Lucia would have been angry at us for not getting her out of the crib, with a bottle of milk ready.We never heard the tree, so there was nothing we cou[...]



Knock, anyone still out there?I don't have a real reason why we haven't blogged. I can use the "exhaustion excuse", or "the house is a mess excuse", or "chasing Lucia around making sure she isn't electrocuting herself takes all my time excuse". Maybe, part of the reason is because we were in Costa Rica! In January! Which is over a month ago! So, that's not a good reason either. But here are some highlights:The Pacific Ocean! Fruity Monkey Poop!Lucia walking in my abuelita's backyard. In her bathing suit. Wearing her sunhat. Holding a pail. Gideon doing a freestyle dance. Holding his cup. In my aunt's courtyard.Palm Trees! In January! Oh Costa Rica, how I miss thee.Let's put all the kids in the hammock! Look at how happy Lucia is! Not.Alex and I enjoying a typical frozen treat. Shaved ice with a fruity syrup thing on it. It's...(to quote Dora) delicioso!The main event: My Abuelita's 80th birthday! Look at how good she looks for 80. Look at how good I look for 34! Look at how good Lucia looks for 17 months! Good genes, people. Good genes.Lucia all dressed up for my grandmother's birthday. The hat gave her a sense of self-importance. One of the best things we got to do in Costa Rica was to hang out with family. Especially Jerry and Adriana. You all remember my cousin Jerry? If we all lived closer to each other, we would hang out all the time. We are very compatible.The gang's all here. Awww...Look at how pretty Adriana is. And Jerry. Look. At. Jerry. Triple A. Andrea, Adriana and Alexa. Out on the town, people. Out on the town!A trio of cousins! This is Lucia's threatening face. She is warning me not to be so lax about blogging. Ok, Luce! I promise! I will blog...I will blog.Feed[...]



A Very Happy Birthday Mama!

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday. Her name is Alejandrina Soto, and she is a wonderful woman, mother, and grandmother. My kids call her Mama.

Without her, I would not be able to work full-time, since she is the main caregiver for my children. This video is for her. We love you Mama!

A disclaimer: Please ignore my messy house and dirty children. I was not prepared.

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A Snowy DayI had planned on having a day filled with merriment with family and friends at our tree trimming party. The weather had other plans. We ran out to buy Gideon some snow boots on Saturday, knowing we would need them the next day. We did need them. Here is the evidence:Lucia was unsure of the whole experience.This is her looking at me, wondering why I am making her stay outside.For those of you that know Gideon, you know that he doesn't like getting his hands dirty. Or sticky. Or, apparently, snowy. So, I told him to clap his hands to get the snow off.Hee hee hee, I knew this would happen.But, he didn't mind some snow in his face.He then proceeded to try to make a snow angel.I put Lucia down to see if she wanted to try too. She did not.Daddy and the kids, posing for a shot. Mommy and Lucia, who is trying to escape. Gideon needed a break. Playing in the snow is exhausting. Feed[...]