Rene turned 29 and we celebrated with a small gathering. His nephew, D, was the first toddler I’ve ever seen who didn’t try to blow out another person’s candles.

Falling with style

Let the stroller dodging begin

The second field trip took me back to Disneyland. It was a long day, but I can’t complain about a free trip to Disneyland and California Adventure and comp time.

There's an inflatable banana in the pool

It’s been a hot summer. I hope all this heat stays in August. I stayed cool by wading around in the pool at my cousin’s new house. It worked, too bad my cousin doesn’t live closer.

Showing off his Jamaican pride @seanathan

Sean’s Jamaican pride really comes out during the Olympics.

Mom is back from the motherland. She brought candy.

My mom took off on a 10-day vacation/chaperoning trip to Zacatecas. She returned with candy, Santo Niño de Atocha trinkets and stories of all the security — plain-clothes and military — accompanying the entourage.

Less than flattering eyewear #science


I went on a biotech field trip for work. I was less impressed with the sophisticated machinery in the labs than the beauty of the campus and the cool recreation/sports facilities available.

Café Tacuba is down there somewhere. We had crappy seats.

Sean, Anel and I had crappy seats for el Reventón Super Estrella at Staples Center. I generally don’t like arena shows, but couldn’t pass up the chance to see Café Tacuba. I’m still bummed I missed Julieta Venegas who played much earlier than I expected. At least I got to meet Anel.

¡Vamos México! They better make waking up early worth it. #MEXvsBRA

More excitement: watching the Mexican men beat Brazil to earn Mexico’s first gold medal in the sport. This reminds me that I meant to write something about Ruben Navarrette’s column. Navarrette excoriated Leo Manzano for celebrating his 1500 meter silver medal by holding up both the US and Mexican flags. As you can guess, I wasn’t offended by Leo’s actions. Rather, I was touched by the gesture and his words acknowledging his roots. I could relate. I opted against a response because others wrote pretty good responses and I think the column was just trolling for pageviews. Navarrette seemed really excited by all the comments on the CNN piece and on his FB page.

At the annual blood drive in honor of my tío Joe's memory. I'm sure he's super proud of his children for all their work to plan this.

Tío Joe passed away two years ago. His lost is still felt, but he’s survived by an amazing family. I know my cousins are still making him proud. Christine, the youngest of the bunch took the lead on organizing the third annual blood drive in his honor. I couldn’t give blood, but Sean donated. The last few times I’ve given blood, it’s been with my tío Joe in mind.

Y que cada estrella fuese una flor / Y asi regalarte / Todo un racimo de estrellas #cafetacuba

Watching from way back. Too hot to be up close with the crowds. #cafetacuba

I found out about the Café Tacuba show at the Observatory in Anaheim a few weeks after I bought tickets for Reventón. If I would’ve known about the former, I would’ve skipped the arena show. Oh well. At least I had a better view for the second show even if I stayed way back by the bar. I can’t stand to be smushed by other fans. Plus, it was way too hot. I can’t wait for their new album. (I’ll post setlists soon. I’m lagging on this stuff.)

Bridal shower favors

Outfit for my bridal shower, matched the Tiffany blue and red color scheme

My sister, mom and cousins/bridesmaids did an amazing job planning and hosting my bridal shower. It was a fun evening, I just wish it was a little cooler. I tried to match the color scheme Lori picked.

Pick your toppings

I finally tried 800 Degrees in pizza in Westwood. I’m mad at myself for taking so long to go since the restaurant is so close and pizzas start at $5-6.

Post consult with a makeup artist

I met with a makeup artist to get a feel for wedding day makeup. I’m not using the same person (Evette) I used for the engagement shoot since she’s not available. Luckily, I liked the new makeup artist, Elisa. She was recommended by our planner. After I got done up, I tested out how the makeup would hold up throughout the day and dancing on a warm evening.

Watching DJ Anthony Valadez get the crowd worked up @anthonyvaladez

Sean and I took the Metro to Chinatown for the free Summer Nights event. We danced a bit to some live music (Buyepongo) before exploring the rest of the area. We ended up up at the KCRW dancefloor where DJ Anthony Valadez put on a great set.

The 10-week summer research programs come to an end this week. I coordinate the largest program, so this week was busy with events every day. One of the events was a poster session. Usually their descriptions just go over my head, but this time I tried to learn something.


The bet

I don’t remember exactly when we came up with the bet. I might have been talking about walking down the aisle.

“You’re totally going to cry when you see me.”

He disagreed.

I argued again. “Nope, I won’t cry. It’ll mess up my makeup!”

Again, he shook his head thinking he wouldn’t need to use the handkerchief in his pocket all day unless it was to dab away sweat.

Since we’re both a bit competitive, we decided to bet on it. The winner gets bragging rights and something else to be decided.

The rules:
Tears caught when we’re getting ready (e.g. reading a note) don’t count
We must both be present

The outlook:
Sean thinks he has an edge being a guy and all. Plus, he knows I get emotional rather easily (see: Toy Story 3) and am not afraid to show tears in public. The site of our wedding is particularly meaningful to me as I grew up in the church and will be surrounded by people I’ve known my entire life, many whom attended my parents’ wedding 35 years ago. I also have to contend with my parents. If they cry — and they will, I know it — I’ll lose it.

Then there’s music, my emotional weakness. There are songs I can’t get through without crying. The music director/organist suggested one of those songs (“Pescador de Hombres”) for Communion during the Mass. I vetoed it immediately. I love the song, but I associate it with Grandpa Bartolo’s passing. A few months after he died, my dad told me Grandpa requested the song on his deathbed. Dad and my tío Johnny sang it for him. I’m blinking back tears as I write this. See!

I can control the tears if it’s about vanity (messing up my makeup) or I have greater concerns. I did it during the final miles of my first LA Marathon. I remembered my sister’s words when I got emotional thinking of my uncle and grandparents. I knew tears and a runny nose would affect my breathing, slow me down and be an unnecessary distraction. If I concentrate on my makeup and the bet I can win.

I told him to leave his sunglasses on, 'cause we're cool like that

If Sean can hold back until the father/daughter dance, he’ll likely win. Maybe I should change the song or follow Grandpa Bartolo’s lead. He wore dark shades at his sons’ and daughters’ weddings.


Reflections on Mamá Toni’s 90th birthday

An aunt gave this photo my grandma for her 90th birthday.

The day after Mamá Toni’s 90th birthday party, I was at my mom’s house. I got nosy checking out the cards and gifts while Mamá Toni rested on her couch. I couldn’t help it. I found this great photo on the stack. It was a gift from one of her nieces.

Inscription on photo from 1938

The inscription on the back (translated): Rafaela Bermudez, Paulita Saldivar, Petra Bermudez Saldivar and the family dog, Sporty. Taken in Casa Blanca, CA at the home of Antonio Bermudez in the year 1938. [Mamá Toni says Casa Blanca is near San Bernardino.] Rafaela is a niece (or cousin). I assume she was Tío Antonio’s daughter.

Saldivar Bermudez clan, 1983

I was really glad I saw the photo. I’ve seen a photo or two of my great-grandmother Petra, and a couple of photos of Mamá Toni with her parents and siblings. However, I’d only seen Paulita in a grainy photo with the rest of the family. (See below.)

Paulita passed away shortly after the photo with Sporty. I always found the story rather tragic. She was the baby of the family and the 7th of Petra and Juan’s angelitos who passed away in infancy or early childhood. To make it more tragic, my great-grandmother Petra died a few hours later in the afternoon. She was only 38 or 39 years old. I’m not sure if the same illness afflicted both mother and toddler. Mamá Toni was only a teen, maybe 16 or 17, when her mom and baby sister passed away. Although Mamá Toni had an older sister, Simona, she was the one who had to step up and fill her mother’s role around the home. I believe Simona was already married and had left home. Mamá Toni had to care for brothers, little sister, and her father. I’ve never heard her complain about this moment when her life turned upside down.

Petra had 9 children who lived to adulthood (above), 7 passed away in infancy/childhood. I’m reminded of this every time I’m in my grandparents’ bedroom and see the large poster board depicting the family tree circa 2003.

Saldivar Bermudez family tree

My grandma’s line of the family is the shortest one — and I thought I had a big Mexican family. It’s nothing compared to some of Mamá Toni’s brothers’ familes. The last time we had a family reunion in 2003, there were over 800 descendants from Juan Saldivar and Petra Bermudez’s union. Amazing.

Tío Sabas, Mamá Toni & baby Tía Chilo, and Tía Josefa

Last time I was in Zacatecas in 2005, I found this photo of my grandmother at another relative’s house. She’s seated and holding my eldest aunt/madrina Chilo. To her left are my great uncle Sabas and great aunt Josefa (she died young too). I believe the year was 1944 or ’45. Mamá Toni was 22 or 23.

The family (sans tía Eva)

She’s changed a lot since then but she’s still hard-working, kind, faithful, selfless and always willing to put her family first. She’s been doing it since she was a teen — at least!

Tres generaciones

It’s no wonder we love her so much.


Are we there yet?

I don’t know if I’d be stressing this much if these next few weeks weren’t also some of the busiest at work. I thought I was being smart by picking a date at the end of the summer and during the gap between summer sessions and the fall quarter.

At least we have help. Lots of it.

I’m grateful for the family and friends who are going way above and beyond for us. Sean and I are lucky.

(Note, the only thing that’s accurate on that Wedding Wire screengrab is the countdown. We have may more than 1 RSVP, the numbers that begin our budget are not zeroes, and we’ve done a lot more on our checklist.)

Boda, Randomness

August of this year

Status updates:

1. Still not running much. I think the only miles I’ve run in the last few weeks have been while doing intervals at the end of my NROLW workout.

2. I completed stage 2 of NROLW. I didn’t like stage 2 as much as stage 1. I purposely kept the weights lighter and might’ve sandbagged a bit. Additionally, I began using the gym at work (same as the one the students use). I like the convenience of the gym being 5 minutes away. Plus, there’s no excuse not to go when it’s 5 minutes away and I already have my clothes with me. I like the facility, but the weight room gets just as crowded as my local 24 Hour Fitness. At least it’s bigger and more well stocked with the weights I need. Another downside os the lack of some equipment (e.g. a low step). Since I used different gyms, I wasn’t that consistent with workouts. I took a week off from stage 2 and 3.

3. I started stage 3. Workout A kicked my ass. I’m still sore two days later.

4. There’s some vanity to my change in workout plans. I tried on my dress while meeting with a tailor. I fit in the dress, but didn’t like the look from behind. My butt looks fine thanks to all the lunges and squats. My upper back? Not so much. It’s not just the wedding dress. I really would like to fit in to half of my clothes (especially my business casual dresses).

Ornate flower girl dresses

5. Wedding planning is coming along. It excites and worries me that we’re less than 6 weeks away. Even though I feel like we’ve gotten a lot done, I know there will be stuff to do at the last minute, but I want to minimize the rush in the final days. Things we’ve done lately:
– Bought accessories for the ceremony (unity candle, lasso, ring bearer pillow, etc)
– Bought dresses for the flower girls (not those above, that’s too frilly)
– Selected and bought our wedding bands, fixed my engagement ring
– Planned out the liturgy (readings, prayers) for the Mass and met with the music director/organist to plan the music. My dad helped out here since he’s very familiar with the music selections.
– Applied for a marriage license
– Found a tailor, took in my dress for some minor alterations
– Found someone to do my hair, need to work out details
– Bought my shoes and some accessories for the bridesmaids

6. Work is going well, but it’s overwhelming at times. In my old position I had very few moments where I needed help. After six years, I had figured things out and due to the cyclical nature of the program/academic year I was sort of on auto pilot. That’s not the case in the new job. I’m not complaining. I like the challenges and opportunity to learn new skills. The trouble is that while I’m trying to learn a new job, I’m still filling in the tasks of my old job since a new person hasn’t been hired.