Land Travels

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In autopilot for now…

Today I need to think, hence I need to write, since this is how I unfold my thoughts. As my mind holds origamis of repressed thinking, my body is in auto pilot. These days I only have time for one type of thinking, the one that allows me to give unconditional love to my daughters, that helps me breath when the minutes are rough, that complies with my business’s to-do list, hugs and loves my husband, cleans the house, cooks, holds conversations and pets our pups. I can do this type of thinking well, it is what my routine requires and I get it done. But what I haven’t done lately is challenge my brain.

Questions such as these make me ponder:

Is it ok that I am sitting typing away when I know that children are being sold into modern day slavery?

Should I be doing more for all the young girls that get pregnant before they are ready?

How am I going to have a positive impact in this world?

Am I being truthful to myself?

Am I raising my daughters to be thoughtful of their privilege in this world and to do something about it?

How can I be more efficient at what I do in order to get there quicker?

Am I enjoying the present enough?

Am I being as good of a human as I can possibly be?

When Jax and I met, worlds collided. My desire to help people and his passion for technology. Since that day we have been building our life together trying to stay true to those desires that brought us together. After plus 8 years we are working on our biggest projects yet, raising our daughters and on our second technology company. Time is the most expensive asset in our household right now, since we barely have any. Our “auto pilot” day starts at around 5:30 and ends at around 9:30 after the house has been cleaned, both girls are tucked in and dreaming away and we have worked for an hour. The time between 9:30 and 11:00pm is our time, but often exhausted we sit watch a movie or show that makes us laugh, drink wine and share any thoughts. So there is very little time for harder questions. Questions I need to keep in mind so that I do not get lost in the process.

As busy as our life is, I can truly say I am enjoying it. I love what the girls have brought into our life. Mila is so sweet and interactive. Things she says:

  • When Jax and I have any sort of disagreement: “Hey guys, ok what’s going on” While holding her arms apart as if to separate fighting futbol players.
  • “Time for little hugs” when she wants us to lay down next to her in bed, she lays her face so close to ours noses touch, and falls asleep.
  • “I need a dress, I need to be a princess now”
  • Jax broke a branch from our banana tree and he said “oh no, I broke it”, Mila walked up to the tree and says “Don’t worry, you’re okay tree, we’ll fix you.”
  • “Estoy chisisiqui” – Deriving from chirisiqui, Quetchua word for being naked.
  • My mom asked her if I was the best mom in the world, Mila looks at her and says “No, she is not! She is a princess like Cindewawa”
  • One morning Mila looks at me and says “Mami, in my dreams I have big chichis too!” (chichis are boobs)

Mila adores Ella and they spend almost all of their time together. Mila now asks me to leave Ella while she is playing by herself, I’ll ask her if she’ll take care of her, she says yes and does exactly that. I often come back and Ella has one of Mila’s doll’s bottles in her mouth, Mila looks at me and says “Ella was hungry, now she is eating”.

Ella is a bliss in our life, she is currently getting everything she can into her mouth, she rocks tummy time and falls asleep by herself like a champ! Her laughter is unbelievably corky and cute and although she is not the chuncker her sister was, her thighs are the best!

Our startup is going so well, we are working towards our pilot launch for February and if we are successful at getting the traction we need, this will be a rocket! Jax and I have the pleasure to work with our cofounder Delna everyday, plus two pretty cool programmers. Life in our little office is pretty awesome.

So life is good… soon our daughters will be a bit older and we will have more time to think, but for now auto-piloting does the job.

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The crib you see in this picture was 100% made by Mark and Ellen, Jaxon’s parents. They made it for Mila when she was born. Taking every measure of what makes a good crib into account they came up with this design! It swings in every direction, it can be adjusted so the head is slightly higher than the feet, plus it doesn’t have one screw!! It is truly a remarkable piece of art. I have been meaning to post a public thank you and a photo for years now! But we finally got the right camera lense to give it justice. Thank you very much guys for such a wonderful and unique gift!

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A week with my mom…

My mom came to stay with Mila, Ella and I for a week while Jax was away in a business trip. Knowing how hectic our life is, I was not sure how my mom would react to the amount of work, sometimes chaos and constant cleaning that is involved in keeping our life going. But my mom left me mesmerized! Not only did she have all the energy in the world for us, she also quickly developed systems to keep the house so neat that any new visitor would have had trouble believing that a toddler also resides here. She managed to do a small load of laundry every day, help me transition Mila’s room into a big girl’s bedroom and even go for a daily walk. Other than being an incredible help to me, my mom also sustained the longest and most frequent conversations with Ella till this day and left Mila with a long lasting sense that she is in charge of cleaning the kitchen. Both girls fell in love with their Babu. It’s an understatement to say that I miss her! And having her around only made me miss my sister even more and my entire family! It has been way too long…

On the other hand Jax is here! His trip went great! Delna and him went to Money 20/20 in Las Vegas, a conference of extreme importance to our startup and they both came back feeling good, with lots of input and great connections. Jax also went to Colorado to visit his mentor Michael, there he hung out with lots of other dudes, talked about life, established dreams and had a tarantula walk on his face. He came back recharged and as awesome as always.

The girls are my fav! Mila is terrible, she has me in complete domination. She can be vicious as she can be sweet and has me questioning my parenting on a daily basis! But what can I say – I am madly in love. I might be spoiling her, but yet again hopefully all of this patience and love pays off. Wow is the word that better describes Ella! She is just so chill, so fun, so beautiful! There is not one hair that I would change about her, she is perfect. She is starting to babble, chews anything that she can get her hands on and is completely in love with Jaxon. The girls now play together (in as much as they can) Mila is so sweet with Ella and she is so patient with her. They make me want to have more kids!!! (yes! I’m crazy) But Jax and I have decided that the factory is closed, so I just need to focus on enjoying them!

Below some photos of the last few weeks!

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Mila actually enjoyed Halloween lol!

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Amores mios – in time of chaos

It is hard to describe how hectic our last few months have been, as when we sailed down the backbone of the United States, the intensity and challenges of this moment will forever be erased from our memories, only to be replaced with a “how did we manage to do that? “we certainly could not do that again!”. Trying to explain everything that we have going on gives me mental laziness, for I am not here to list our accomplishments and endless tasks but rather, I am here to write a few lines to my girls and hubs before too much time goes by.

Endless appreciation for you three is what I have.

Ella, I haven’t written you a personal letter yet. One that describes how crazy in love I am with you. How your toothless smile makes every muscle in my body tense and relax with love! How I absolutely adore cuddling with you. Your endless patience with your sister is astonishing to me. You get excited every time you hear her voice, even if you never know how gentle she will be, or not – she tries her best, I promise. I love the way you yell when you need something before resorting to crying. You currently find kisses on your neck offensive, hats a violations of your rights and pacifiers, an insult. You love laying flat on your back anywhere.

I consider myself very lucky to have had the chance to start my motherhood journey with your ñaña and end it with you. As you grow, chapters of my life close behind, while new horizons open. Your papi and I could not be more excited about having you and Mila in our lives, we are going to have so many incredible adventures together!

Mila, you are the sweetest ever. I am so impressed by how much you love Ella and how gentle you are with her. You are not only the best sister ever, but I predict you two are going to be great friends! Thank you so much for all the love you give papi, Ella and me. You are also so funny right now! I wish I could have a video camera recording your every second, just in case my memory fails – and it will. Some of the things you say:

  • “Mami, your face is so dry!” – Mila “Do I need lotion” – Me “Yep” – Mila (Where did she learn that lotion hydrates skin is a mystery)
  • Jax and I where having an intense conversation in the car, nothing major but she noticed that we were not agreeing so she said, “Okay guys, okay guys, that’s enough” while holding her arms out.
  • After going to HomeDepot and seeing Halloween decorations she concluded that “Hitting is not nice, Bitting is not nice and HALLOWEEN IS NOT NICE”
  • Jax broke a part of a little project him and Mila where working on and he says “that was so silly Mimi, I broke it” and Mila looks at him, pats him on the back and says, “It’s okay Mopi, it’s not broken, you’re just tired”

(Yep she now calls us both Mopi.. why not, much easier! right? No : |)

You currently love to paint your nails, I truly don’t know where this obsession is coming from. It is probably just related to your love for painting, anyway you have me doing your nails every week and you always “suggest” that I too do mine. You recently started to cry out of empathy. When you are watching a movie and something sad happens you let out silent tears of sadness. It breaks my heart to see you sad but it makes me happy to know that you are capable of such compassion.

You are surrounded by little best friends who you love, here are the top names that always make you smile, Hayden, Rebekah, Connolly, Lula, Samar, Adam and Nevin. You are always up for everything and are the best companion we could have wish for. Almost every night you ask to go to the beach, which makes Papi and I smile thinking that our love for the water made its way to you. Soon baby girl we will all have our feet buried in the sand and a surf board at our side.

Jax, I’m going to keep this one short and corny. You are just too much to handle. Thank you for your endless patience, hard work and drive. You make my every day an absolute pleasure and even though I am not always on top of giving you lots of kisses and thank yous. Know that every kiss I give to Mila and Ella is for you too! Because with each one, an endless amount of gratefulness is attached, and they would not exist without you.

Thank you three for an endless source of inspiration!

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New House!!

We moved out of our tiny apartment to a full house! It’s a move we had been wanting to do for some time. Finally, after months of waiting, the right house came into the renting market. It took us a week and a lot of grandparent energy from Mark and Ellen to do the whole transition. Now we are here! We have a big yard, two stories, a tiny kitchen, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and most importantly a fantastic neighborhood. We are surrounded by little kids and new families and from our bed we can only see trees that embrace a beautiful converted railroad bike trail that could take us far away. The area is so low-key and safe that Mila is now officially Yana’s dog walker!

The girls love each other. Mila is constantly kissing Ella and letting me know when she is crying or asleep or awake. Ella is starting to interact more! She smiles whenever my love for her is so overwhelming that I talk to her in the silliest voice. She also loves kisses in her tummy and hearing Mila’s voice. Her favorite activity is bath time, a close second contender is bouncing on a yoga ball and sleeping in my arms. She looks A LOT like me as a baby, sometimes I glance over to look at her and an image of me as a baby overwhelms my senses, it feels strange.

Mila started going to pre-pre-school from 8:30 to 11:15 at an incredible Montessori school. She is absolutely loving her classmates and teachers and we love her miniature classroom, all the activities she does and the energy that the school has!

Work is busy! We are preparing ourselves for our first private pilot! We are looking into offices and officially have all of our paperwork in order! We are a legit startup and life could not be busier and more exciting!

Now I must sleep!!! Below, some photos…

 

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Life…

So much! So much! So much has happened in the last week, but nothing worth writing about. Not because it was not a copilation of great memories, but rather because life is just hectic right now and I barely have time to type some lines. We had to take a last minute week-off from work after Valy, our nanny and good friend, told us that she had an unexpected family emergency and had to take off to Texas. So, we packed our daughters into the car and took them on a journey to visit great friends and their grandparents. We had lots of fun.

Things that are happening in our life right now:

– 7 year anniversary – passed without even a celebratory toast and passionate kiss.

– All of our birthdays, Mila turned 2, I turned 26 and Jax turns 29 in a couple of days.

– We are moving to a house, a bit farther from Chicago’s gorgeous downtown and a bit closer to some pretty awesome natural reserve.

– We are exhausted.

– Ella is not too sure that sleeping is her thing.

– Ella is sure that being awake is not her thing.

– Ella is pretty sure that bouncing all day long is most definitely her thing.

– Ella is certainly our last newborn.

– Mila is fluent in Spanish, English and Spanglish.

– Mila is 97% potty trained.

– Mila adores Ella so much that she bit her twice trying to give her a “bigger” kiss – not a pleasant way to start two mornings in a row.

– Jax is a trooper.

– I need an extra energy shot, so that I can do everything that I need to. Sometimes I wish I could encapsulate my mental and physical tiredness so that I could give it to my daughters as part of their “use protection” talk when they are older.

Now some photos! Good night people!

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The Results

The results are in! Ella is healthy! We were so happy to hear that bit of news! On the other hand it looks like I have the same deficiency they thought she had… so I’ll be taking the L-Carnitine supplement for about 9 months and then getting tested again. Luckily if I do have it, it is not too concerning since the treatment is pretty simple for adults – keep taking L-Carnitine supplements and get tested every couple years. 

So that’s out of the way!! Yeii!! 

Life has been pretty exciting and to be honest a bit exhausting as Jax and I learn how to manage all of our to-dos while still taking care of our babies. We are constantly awed by how sweet Mila is with Ella, how much she loves her and how understanding she has been of this whole transition. Nights are the toughest, Ella does not fall asleep easily and between putting her and Mila to sleep we are often done at around 9:30pm, then it is time to clean the house, make some sort of dinner, have sometime for ourselves and before we know it it is 11:00pm. I rush to bed, while Jax gets more work done in his computer. Around 1am Ella is up until around 3am and at 6am Mila is all smiles and our day starts.

Luckily, I now know not to panic since it is probably a stage. From here things could go uphill or down. Mila might have a growth spurt that might have her waking up at night again or Ella might finally realize that this world is just not THAT exciting and give in to sleep.  Another bit of news, Mila turns two this Friday!!! And to honor her birthday (and the fact that we don’t have childcare that week), we are taking a week off and doing cool trip, visiting people and taking her to cool places! Ella is 3 weeks old today!! 

Ok, here are a few photos… Not so good but, trust me the selection was limited! But you get to see part of Mila’s climbing wall! and her swimming classes!

I’m going to bed. Goodnight beautiful people, sleep well.

 

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1 in 40,000 – Ella’s possible condition

For a brief weekend, we were told that Ella had a genetic condition that affects 1 in 40,000 babies and would mean that she could not process fatty acids into energy. Carnitine Uptake Disorder it is called. Below I have included a graph that explains it pretty well.

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Luckily the condition is very treatable. Unluckily, it can be lethal. If Ella had the condition, she would have to to take supplemental Carnitine and make sure she is ate very often. An episode of hypoglycemia is what we would be trying to avoid at all cost, because it could have disastrous consequences.

Tuesday morning at 8:30 am Ella, our very good friend Allison and I drove to Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital so that Ella and I could have our blood drawn for further exams. After walking into the beautiful underwater scene that decorated the walls of the main floor of the hospital and going through two check-ins, where we had to give Ella’s date of birth as it it were a secret code, we arrived to the genetics department.

The chairs where filled with parents and kids, most of which had noticeable genetic disorders, my heart sunk. There I was holding in my arms a ‘possibly’ almost completely healthy child. What a privilege to know that even if the results came out positive my worries would be mild compared to those of so many people in the room. After giving Ella’s name and date of birth one more time, we were given a room. Naked Ella was weighed and measured in a bunch of ways and we were given the great news that she has gained a pound and an inch since birth.

A geneticist walked in the room shortly after and Allison and I were thrown back into college biochemistry. After a 20 minute speech about how cells and the cell wall works, we were told that Ella could also have had an irregular result due to the fact that I could barely eat during the last trimester of my pregnancy. With Jaxon now in the room, the four of us went to the lab. After tears from all of the girls in the room and a painstakingly careful insertion of a needle into Ella’s tiny vein, we strollered to a farmers market that pleasantly surprised us right in front of the hospital.

We will know the results on Monday.

Below some photos… they do not do much justice to the last weeks of seeing so many wonderful people. Nonetheless they are the few that we have managed to capture with our lens.

 

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Ella’s Birth

I am sitting in bed typing one-handed once again. My left arm holds my new baby while my right one tries to describe this feeling that I once felt before, infinite unconditional love. I smell her head and kiss her frown. I am so lucky, I live among two sources of endless inspiration – my two daughters.

Ella’s birth was not easy, yet it was fun – or partially at least – all thanks to my three companions, my mom, sister and Jaxon. In total it lasted 39 hours. I did 29 hours of early labor, meaning I would get a contraction every time I stood up or did something active. The last 10 were of a minute-long contractions, every 3-5 minutes. Of those 10 hours, the last 20 min were very intense. My water broke, I rushed to the birthing tub and 10 minutes later Ella was born.

I was so fortunate to have my mom and sister here for the whole ride. During early labor they sat with me at home, ordered food and made sure I was having a great time relaxing. Once labor got more intense, my sister’s sense of humor kicked in, as she played (and sang) YouTube songs from our teenage years. We had a great time remembering how much each boyfriend had made us cry and singing many songs that do no favor to humanity. We all laughed between contractions and during them Jax was a champ. He remembered from last time not to talk to me during those incredibly long 60 seconds of pain and was an incredible support in every way.

As the early morning progressed, I got more and more tired and probably a lot less pleasant to be around, but my mom, sister and Jax made me feel so loved. There were three midwives (two were assistants/in-training) with us in the room. They too were very supportive, patient and helpful. At 3:26 am Ella was born – this time we have it on tape! My mom recorded it as it was happening!

Mila miraculously stayed asleep through most the commotion and at 5:30am, she woke up and joined us in the living room, as Jax, her and I observed the midwives do their newborn exams. She absolutely loves Ella and we are crazy for both of them.

My family is complete and I could not be more at peace.

 

Below a mix of photos, some from before the birth, some from the birth (taken by my mom) and after.

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Ella’s countdown… 3 weeks

Yeiii!! Made it to week 37! Now we can safely deliver Ella at our home. A week ago, we had our 36 week appointment. A midwife, from the team of CNM we are working with, came to our house to make sure that everything is ready to welcome Ella. We went over the recommended birthing kit we ordered, all the procedures for a land birt, water birth, emergency hospital transfer and our plans with Mila during those hours.

The past three weeks I have had strong contractions at night and for a moment doubted that I would make it to 37 weeks, so getting this far has been a milestone I have been longing for. As we discussed different scenarios of what could happen with Mila during the birth, we were advised to show her some birthing videos from youtube, as to prepare her just in case she is home when Ella surfaces. As the midwife talked about videos, it dawned upon Jax and I that unlike when we were expecting Mila, this time we had not browsed youtube or any other website to prepare for the birth.

As Ella’s due date approaches I can truly say I feel prepared for her arrival. Other than for some specific burp cloths and a double stroller, we have not had to purchase anything for Ella. All of Mila’s clothes and baby things are still intact from when she last used them. Everything we didn’t use we have given away and this time around we are making sure we just have what we need and not much more, we like life when it is not cluttered with stuff.

As for being prepared for her birth, well lets just say I look forward to it with a certain level of respect. I now know the greatness of the pain, but also (surprisingly) know how quick the pain will go away the moment she is born safe. This time around we are not trying to naturally induce it, instead we are just living, keeping busy knowing that she will be cuddling with us any day now.

Two weeks ago, my incredible friend Delna hosted a surprise baby shower for me! She invited three of my closest friends from the city. They, together with their husbands and cute little girls, joined us at their place for a pool party for the little ones and a sit back brunch for the grownups. By total coincidence Aaron’s mom and stepdad and Jaxon’s parents got to be at the event too! Making it a very fun and beautifully decorated morning.

I wish I would have taken more photos of how beautiful everything was laid out at the shower, but I failed… I was having too much fun. Thank you so much D. Below you can see a tiny example, plus a mix of other photos.

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Dear Jaxon: this one is for you…

This letter is for you and for us to always remember how awesome you are. Close to seven years have passed since you first kissed my hand and we decided that spending the rest of our life together was an awesome idea. Since then you have taken my dreams, laid them at my feet and fearful or not made me walk the path. Every day since, I have woken up next to you and have had the enormous honor to see your pretty eyes greet me with a smile.

I love you beyond reason and the thought that one day I might not be so lucky to wake up next to you drives me crazy. Thank you for being there, always, reminding me of our goals when I feel foggy. Thank you for the love you give our daughter and your endless energy and patience with her. Thank you for all the systems you create in our life to make it just a bit better each day. But most of all thank you for your roots that create such a strong base for us to flourish from. I always imagined myself as a cloud, constantly moving, mood changing and often wanting to disappear into thin air only to become a cloud again when the conditions where right. I imagine you as a tree, a beautiful tree. One with big branches that extend to find light and make beautiful flowers, nonetheless grounded and strong. Our babies can sit on your branches and from there see it all and I will make sure that y’all are getting enough light, rain and shade to thrive.

It is still a mystery to me how I ended up in Beloit, Wisconsin. But I know that it is was the best most unintentional decision I made in my life. In a few weeks we will be parents again and will once again get to be mesmerized by what our genes mixed together can create. Thank you for being a parent with me. And thank you for being alive everyday, you make life an absolute pleasure.

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So strong… Mila’s time capsule

I’m laying down on the warm sand looking over at Jaxon and Mila playing in the waves of the still-frigid lake Michigan. Mila runs into the water and comes out with a concerned look “no mas!! achachai” (no more, too cold) she says and turns around and does it again. My smile is evident as I just melt away with love. There are about 305 other families surrounding me, the beach looks like a big mess. People of all sizes, nationalities and socioeconomic status merge to make the scenery incredibly relaxing.

As I think about life with Ella, Mila comes to me and says “papi is so strong”, I look at Jaxon, he is laughing. “Si amor” I reply knowing that Jax probably just taught her how to say that. She asks for pretzels, agua (water) and a manzana (apple) and trying carefully not to get sand on my towel sits down. She is not even two years old and Mila is a little girl. She loves to paint, play pretend with her stuffed animals and dolls and get bounced against everything in the street while Jaxon repeatedly says, “parkour Mimi”.

She occasionally bites when she is frustrated and we are trying our best to make her understand that “bites are not funny”, even though it is laughably ridiculous when she looks so much like a zombie! She also yells and cries when things do not go her way, but more and more she is replacing her baby communicating skills with please/porfavor, thank you/gracias, help/ayuda and just generally letting us know what she wants.

She is aware that Ella exists although she finds it very confusing when Jax and I include her in future plans. For now, Ella lives between my belly and her own – which she rubs whenever we ask “where’s Ella?”. Jax and I could not be having a better time with Mila, she is our little awesome friend. She is for the most part always excited to join us in any adventure to very boring places, bake anything my pregnant belly craves and sit back, watch a movie and eat lots of popcorn. We can talk to her like an adult and she actually understand us and every day she amuses us by how much she is learning. She is almost completely potty trained, not because we have pushed her to eliminate diapers, but because she has. Since she was 8 months old we have only changed about 8 dirty diapers and now in the eve of her second birthday she is letting us know every time she needs to pee too!

She calls Jaxon “papito” an extra loving way to say “papi” and she calls me “mami linda” (beautiful mom), we do not actually know why she does this as we have always taught her “mami and papi”, but the fact that she does make us fall even more in love. We are so looking forward to Ella’s birth, knowing that once she makes a safe entrance into this world our family will be complete.

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Update

I have not written in a while, so in my grandma’s honor (my most avid reader), I will post a mini update.

Mila’s talking has taken off, she is the most adorable little human being ever! She understands English and Spanish and speaks both. She favors English, which is the reason that our house is a Spanish-only house, for now. She is in an incredible nanny-sharing situation with her best baby friend Adam, Delna and Aaron’s baby, and Hayden, an adorable two year old girl. Valerie, Hayen’s mom, takes care of the three of them. We feel very fortunate to have found such a cool nanny, with such an amazing daughter. Mila looks forward to playing with Hayden every day and from our office we can hear them running up and down the house laughing.

We are working hard with the best team ever! Last post, I talked about heading to Ecuador in May to do some fundraising, well that trip never happened – primarily because funding is going very well and a big group trip to Ecuador simply is not needed. In the past I have not written enough about our co-founders, Aaron and Delna. They are super cool! Jax and I could not be more delighted to be working daily with such an amazing couple. They both bring complementary parts to the company and between the four of us, we form a very effective team.

Our past month has been spent noses deep studying startup methodologies. I now know so much more about the business world and have to admit that I’m pretty excited about our next steps.

On another note, my cousin Manuela and her boyfriend Jordan came to visit us for a long weekend and we had the nicest time ever! Mila absolutely loved them and Jordan became her official favorite name to say over and over! By the end of their 3 day visit, she was ready to go back to New Orleans with them. It was so nice to see them!

Ella will be here soon. My belly is very big now and my movement is limited. I am so looking forward to meeting this little girl. We already love her so much and cannot wait to have her in our arms. Mila is constantly talking about “ñaña Ella” (sister Ella in Quetchua) and pointing to her stomach, so something about Ella’s arrival is registering! Our house is all ready for her and the only thing we are missing is the double stroller.

Life is good, Mila is happy growing and adorable, Jax is awesome, Ella is on track for a healthy birth, Yaku and Yana are still spoiled and loved and I’m just happy to be able in the middle of it all.

 

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Pequeña Ella

It was a Friday morning at 7am when I laid in our living room’s couch to see you for the very first time. The ultrasound technician, Tom, plugged in his $60,000 device and set it on a chair. Your sister Mila was wearing her pijamas running around the room offering Tom “tea”. Dad had the camera in his hand and we nervously looked at each other, knowing that in a few minutes our life would once again change completely depending on if you were a boy or a girl. I was 51% sure you were a boy, dad had not even considered the option of you being a boy and Babu knew from day one that you were indeed an Ela. “Congratulations” he said looking at Mila, then me, followed by dad “you are going to have another little girl!”. Papi almost cried, as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders, I smiled trying to let the excitement sink in. You, peacefully threw some kicks, before settling in. Your sister kept bringing her baby dolls to Tom, trying to understand why he was constantly saying baby and not taking one – he must be picky, she probably thought.

I am cruising the sixth month of this pregnancy and yet I have dedicated you very few words on the blog. As you look back don’t ever think that it was because we were not as excited about you as we were with Mila. Truth is that the feeling is rather fulfillment. Before Mila was born, I had no idea how to be a mother and how her presence would spin my life around. I needed to write all my thoughts down so that I could make sense of them. With you baby Ela, I just want to get all my work done so that I can uninterruptedly enjoy you for those first moments of your life. I have no doubt that your presence will completely change our lives and that you will add so much to this family. Late July or early August we will welcome you to our family, most likely at our home. Babu and Bibi will be here to witness your first hours of life, so will papi, Mila, the midwifes and maybe Yaku and Yana. And from there you will officially be part of our family of four.

I can hardly wait to hold you, but I am glad that for now you are inside swimming away, while mami y papi get some stuff done.

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Our friends Chris and Su came to visit with their babies, Artemis and Oberon. Mila and Artemis played like there was no tomorrow and by the end they were inseparable. Delna, Aaron and Adam came over for waffles and then we all went to the zoo!

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pitch

Insecurities before pitching…

As we prepare to present our startup idea and prototype to merchants, investors and mentors, I have felt the need to fight some of my most deeply kept insecurities. Qualities that define me in other aspects of my life, but that brought into a business setting make me a little hesitant to go out and talk to all the people that we need to mingle with in order to make Keyo work.

My dream…

At heart I am a writer and a caregiver. In my ideal scenario I am sitting in my gorgeous house in some Caribbean Island, writing at dawn in a room surrounded by windows, from where I can feel part of the ocean’s force. My morning would be trailed by breakfast with my beautiful family, on our deck, followed by a jog or a surfing session outside. My children’s education would follow, either them going to a great school or Jaxon and I pouring our hours into teaching them about the world in a fun way. My afternoon would start with lunch with my family, followed by going to a foundation we have stablished aimed at the education and empowerment of local communities, with a focus on women’s rights. In my ideal world, we would provide all kinds of educational resources to local kids, such as internet schooling, programming classes, health related courses, environmental studies and beyond. By having a center in the town we would provide jobs and set a standard of employee etiquette that would be equal for both men and women, acknowledging their individual needs as part of a broader picture.

Our center would not be the only one of its kind in the world. We would be part of a much broader network of community-empowering institutions that work towards helping communities develop in a healthy environment for future generations to flourish, while respecting the environment that surrounds them. My evening would be spent enjoying the warmth of our land, cooking with my girls and hubby, surrounded by endless peace, appreciation for our journey and a glass of good wine. Our land would host a number of incredible little houses, where inspiring people from around the world could join us for a relaxing few weeks, while giving something back to our community, learning about the foundation and potentially opening chapters of the foundation in their local communities. Maybe following McDonalds’ incredible franchisee-school model, but doing a lot more good in the world and frying a lot less food.

Since the day we met, Jax and I have had a clear North and decided to join hands for the journey there. With every new challenge we decide to take on we have had to learn an incredible amount about each other, the world and most of all about our own strengths and weaknesses. It is 5:08 in the morning in our cold Chicago apartment and we have been at work for an hour, trying to gain some control over our life as we approach maybe our biggest challenge yet, the funding of our company. For months Jaxon has been diligently preparing himself for the months to come, by reading the best writing and listening to the best speaking he can find about planning and launching a tech startup and generally being as efficient as you can be in life. For the last month or so, his  days have started at 4:30am with a cold shower, a quick workout session, green tea, meditating, writing and day planning. In the last two weeks I have decided to join him in waking up early, my days start with my workout routine, followed by writing which helps me process thoughts.

Will I be able to…

Walk into a room of investors with a pregnant belly, my accent and my gender. These three qualities of my life are ones that I am generally extremely proud of. I have a belly because I am growing an awesome little being inside of me! My accent comes from one of the biggest joys of my life, being Latina. Finally I am a woman in a male dominated sphere, making me only that much more kick-ass. Yet, for some reason I am a bit intimidated to walk into a room of investors and pitch Keyo to them.Not so much because I care if they judge me or not, more because I really hope that the company gets funding and I don’t know if they might have just too many prejudices about three of my qualities.

I have given this a lot of thought and the easy thing would be to stay backstage, preparing all of the documents we need, making sure the pitchers have lots of support and focus on other parts of the company. But I won’t do that! Because if I do, I will not gain any first hand experience in pitching an early stage in a company, which I am entirely sure over the next years of launching bigger and bigger projects.

On another note…

Since my last post our sleep life has drastically change – life with kids in a nutshell. I’ve come to learn over the last year and some months not to stress out about a certain stage that Mila finds herself in, since it is pretty likely that a week later the habit will be gone. Child brains are working at such a pace, developing and learning in elephant steps, making it hard to fully understand why one week can be so different from the other. Mila now falls asleep by herself in her crib and either joins us in bed at around 3 am and or sleeps in her crib until around 6:30 am.

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Mila and her two little best friends – Rebekah and Lula. These are the best shot I have of them, since they don’t sit still for a second when they are together!

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Mark and Ellen, Jaxon’s parents, came for a quick visit last Saturday. We had lots of fun outside with them!
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mimi

Being a mom…

After one year, 6 months and 11 days I still cannot fathom what made Mila. I understand the biology behind her, but her spirit, her laughter and her toes mesmerize me. About a year ago we were visiting my family in Ecuador and I asked Mila a question I often ask her, “who made you so awesome?” My sister, who was was sitting next to me, gave me a look and then proceeded to say “what, do you want her to say, “you mom”?” My immediate response was “No way, it was definitely not me!” And it is true, Jax and I had so little (yet so much) to do with her creation. She came into this world with the sweetest hands, a dance move that consists of spinning until everyone in the room panics about her falling over and a thing about personal hygiene. I am so utterly in love with my children, yes the tumbling being inside of me already has a place in my heart.

I do not remember the last time I slept through the night, went until 5pm with a clean shirt or simply sat down and procrastinated. It seems like now our life is composed of, waking up at 5:30 am with a smile, even though we have barely slept, so that Mila starts her morning happy. Making breakfast, making her lunch and packing snacks, getting her dressed, entertaining her, getting to the office, handing her off to her nanny, work, work, work, lunch break (where we talk about how much we miss Mila), work, work, work, by two she wakes up from her nap time and her and I go home to have fun. After letting the dogs out, we completely mess up the entire place, with painting, dancing, baking, tea time, babu calling and games. Jax gets home at 5 pm and I make dinner, followed by bath time,  reading time, brushing teeth time, Mila’s bed time, we clean the house and by 9:00 pm we are exhausted. We lay in bed, sometimes watch Jon Stewart or John Oliver and pass out. At around 11pm Mila wakes up asking for “mami” I go in and comfort her, 1 am Mila wakes up and asks for “mami” I go in and comfort her, 2 am I give up and bring her to bed. 5:30 am she wakes up and our day starts. The night schedule fluctuates, but it is uniformly restless.

Our life used to not be like this. We used to have time for ourselves, energy, time to cook together, Ikea trips, long walks, hold hands and even sex. Yet, I do not think we have ever been this fulfilled, productive and at peace. We know that both our kids will eventually grow up and that in not too long we will once again have movie nights, writing time and the bed to ourselves. But what we will never have again is a family of two and that is exciting to us, we will always have two new, awesome people to share our life with. That’s what being a mother is to me, the best long term investment I could ever be making. It is not easy, but it is so much fun! I could not be more deeply in love with Mila and my love for her only reinforces the love I feel for Jaxon and the deep admiration that I have for him. We decided to have our kids young, partly because I pushed for it. But now that we are on this road, he constantly reminds me that indeed this was the best decision we have ever made.

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