Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Snowy Day

I 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.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh.... How They Grow!

Gideon - December 2008 - What a smile!

Gideon - December 2009 - Such a handsome boy!

Lucia - December 2008 - Her first Christmas!

Lucia - December 2009 - The camera loves her! What a cutie!
2009: Go Away ... No Wait, Stay A Little Longer.

Finding the time to post a new story on our blog has become a big challenge for me. I love writing, but I’ve had less time to do it these days. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I posted. On my Facebook page, I recently suggested a link to our blog with the following comment: “After 4 years, The Soto Update continues! It's been a long time since the last post, but life got really busy ... fast.”

Warning: This is one of those reflective, sometimes long winded posts where Alex invites readers of the Soto Update to see what’s in his head and heart. You’ve been warned. =)

To know Alex is to know that he aims to be transparent, and that he wears his emotions on his sleeves. He’s a believer in God’s love and grace, but Alex’s imperfections are many. He may be in leadership roles in church life, but he’s a regular guy who faces challenges of faith everyday … probably more so now than ever before.

You’re probably asking, “Why is Alex writing about himself in the third person?”

I’ll ask him when he’s back to his normal self.

(Transition to first person. Black background, dim spotlight on Alex’s face. Mic set. Soft violin music playing. And, ACTION).

Life has taken a turn that I wasn’t expecting. As I start to look back on 2009, I don’t know whether to wish 2010 a fast arrival or to let 2009 continue for just a little bit longer. Allow me to debate this within myself.

2009 has truly been a year of change, not only on the political front with the election of the first African American President and the drastic deterioration of the US economy, but in my personal life as well.

I’ve been independently employed since 2005, but not until the end this year has my business experienced growth. In early 2009, my family was in dire straights financially, but within a few months things really did turn around. Now, I’m still learning about taxes and how to be a good manager to my team of virtual contract writers, but on the financial front, 2009 has been mostly good!

On the personal side, life got really busy, and as a result, my relationships have suffered a little. Alexa and I have had more arguments than I wish we ever had, my patience with my kids had grown thin on different occasions, and blowing up on family, friends, and even strangers had become more commonplace.

Physically, I’ve become greyer and gained more weight. I’ve discovered new pains in my knees and back and was diagnosed with asthma and sleep apnea this year. My knack for organization has seemingly slipped away, as the house becomes more and more controlled by the stuff that accompany 1 and 3 year olds, mainly toys and clothes.

In 2009, both my kids were hospitalized for several days for different things. Gideon spent 9 days in the hospital with double pneumonia and H1N1. Our experience with Gideon’s sickness caused me to adapt a “do not take any chances” attitude, which is unlike me. Anybody who knows me is aware of my cautiousness when making decisions. I attribute this to the consequences of my hasty decisions of the past, many of which still rear their ugly heads when least suspected.

This change in my personality was on display for all to see when we experienced Lucia’s strange behavior with her eyes rolling to the back of her head 3 times within a 2 minute period. I thought the worse … that she was having seizures. I exclaimed to myself, “not this time, we aren’t waiting for the Pediatrician’s recommendation … we are going to take Lucia to the ER right away … no more hesitation in my life when it comes to my kids’ health!”

Yes, I exclaimed to myself in my head. Weird right?

Throughout the hospital stay, I felt bad as they put her through sleep tests, which involved getting sensors glued to her head, so that her brain activity could be monitored in case the “seizures” happened again.

But, they never re-occurred.

I felt pain in my heart when they put her through the MRI, which in itself is not as risky as the act of giving a 1 year old anesthesia in preparation for the MRI. I doubted my decision to take her to the emergency room in the first place, and putting her through the hassle of getting poked by needles, having a bright light shined on her eyes, and having the cold metal of the stethoscope interrupt her sleep. Plus my wife was once again stuck in the hospital; sleeping in an unfamiliar convertible couch without her son nearby … she was saddened because she wasn’t able to see Gideon for 4 long days.

2009 thus far in a nutshell:

Strained relationships with the ones closest to me; health issues with my children, Alexa’s parents, and me; and complex personality changes, not necessarily for the better … these are all things I’ll gladly bid farewell to at the end of 2009, just 10 days away. The experience of these aforementioned trials are what makes me want 2009 to go away … to leave, never to return …

Except, I’ll hold on to the good memories.

Like the laughs we’ve enjoyed together at the dinner table.

Seeing my wife and kids sing and dance in the living room to songs they don’t know the words to.

Hearing “I love you, Daddy” from Gideon the very first time.

Seeing Lucia master the art of walking, then running, then bumping into things … but getting up right away.

Getting surprise hugs and kisses from Alexa when I needed them most and the date nights I’ve had with her, though sporadic and scarce.

Taking the kids outside to play with the snow, or at Ikea, or in the playground.

The deep and enjoyable conversations I’ve held with friends over coffee, and sometimes cake.

Times when I was able to sit in solitude to reflect on the serenity of nature or the beautiful architecture of city skylines.

Yes, there are plenty of good memories and I’ve had business success in 2009, but the personal challenges that took place this past year makes me want 2010 to arrive ASAP, so that the only things that remain in my heart forever from 2009 are the times of joy with my family and friends.

Perhaps I’ll be my old chummy, normal self in 2010, who knows, maybe even the rest of 2009, as I am starting to get the Christmas spirit.

Wait … I haven’t even started shopping for gifts yet … and Christmas is only 5 days away!

(Fade to black)

Alex exclaims aloud, “Don’t get Alex started on shopping!”

(And, CUT!)

Another post from Alex coming after Christmas. Alexa is working on a more happy story about snow fun and cute kids to be posted in the next few days. Stay tuned!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Very Merry and Healthy! Christmas

After going through so many health issues with my babies this year, I decided it would be fun to have a low-key family get-together. I scheduled a tree trimming party for this past Saturday, with cheesy carol singing, and yummy eats. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans and we got 9 inches of snow. So, no one could get here. Boo.

We tried to make the best of it, and I started decorating the tree, hoping that Gideon and Lucia would join in. Alex had the camera ready, trying to capture unforgettable family moments. Sigh.

First of all, forgive my weirdo hair. Here, Lucia looks like she is trying to help mommy. Awww...so sweet. In reality, she is whining because I took the ornament away from her.
We had Spanish Christmas carols playing. Here I am shaking my groove thing.

Here is Lucia, shaking hers.

A totally staged shot of Gideon being interested in an ornament. He got some Swedish Fish after.

When they were born, we got ornaments for them at the mall. This is Gideon's.

Here I am, trying to show Gideon his ornament, and waiting for him to be SUPER EXCITED about it. I am still waiting.

This is Lucia's ornament.

That's what I'm talking about! Who's my girl?

Hey, who's manly arms are those?

All of this festivity, came on the heels of a really hard time for the Soto family. Most of you know that Gideon was in the hospital for nine days with double pneumonia, and the H1N1 virus. However, not to be left out, Lucia was also in the hospital recently for a possible seizure episode.

Here is my brave boy. Smiling through his oxygen tubes.
He is the sweatiest child. Guess who he gets it from? One guess: he has manly arms.
This is in the playroom of the hospital. Once Gideon was out of isolation, we went there to play. I challenged these to girls to a Jenga throwdown. I am awesome at Jenga. They never had a chance.

This is Lucia on her the first "day", since we technically were admitted at 2 am. She had her head wrapped up so she wouldn't pull the wires out. They glued wires to her head, to monitor her brain waves.

Here is she in her own sleeper. She was a very popular girl in the unit. All the nurses loved her.

Let me tell you, staying at Hackensack Medical during the holidays is a must-do. We got visited by a major league soccer player, and a whole mess of NJ Devils. Also, a couple of groups came by and gave out toys to the sick children. She got a Fisher Price tea set, and a stuffed puppy.

The following are videos on our tree trimming night. You only have to watch these if you are family. I don't want to crush your dreams that I have perfect and lovely children.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I have not been in the mood to blog. I have this long post in my head regarding Gideon, and our hospital stay, but everytime I start to write I want to start crying. Even though he is ok, something inside of me is not ok. I can't seem to let go of what happened, and alot of it is because I blame myself. Most people will tell me that I am being crazy, although I know a couple of people that blame me also. So, right now I have to wait to write. Once my life goes back to normal, maybe I will go back to normal too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
The other day, we decided to put the kids in a wagon, and drag them around our neighborhood.
Here is the photographic evidence:
Here they are, shell shocked. Why are they sitting out in the cold elements, being wagon'ed around for all to see?

The main dragger-arounder.

I take a turn. These kids eat too much. That wagon is heavy!

I don't know why I continue to humiliate myself by posting pictures like this. Internet, what is wrong with me?

Seemingly having a good time.

A video: More evidence of wagoning.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Party Continues...
Gideon's Party Part 2
So, after the kids were finished with their Olympic event, they herded the kids into the eating area, where a long table was already set with pizza.

Gideon sat, as he should as the birthday boy, at the head of the table.
Funnily enough, Lucia toddled over to the other end of the table. I think she felt she was hostessing this event. At one point, she walked over to everyone sitting and greeted them.
There is Gideon self-eating! He normally does not like getting his hands dirty, or sticky, or messy. But, peer pressure prevailed, and he sat and ate just like everybody else. Hooray peer pressure!

Lucia ate pizza too. She is so over baby food.
The triplets commandeered their side of the table.
Here is Mr. Innocent. Look at that face!
More cute kid pictures.
Speaking of cute.
So, one of the issues came cake time. Gideon was so fond of the pizza that he kept eating it.
Here is the cake. That is Wow!Wow! Wubzy! He is happy to meet you.
Ok, so remember all that pizza he kept eating? Well, when the cake came out, and candles needed to be blown, guess who's mouth was full of pizza? Check out the left side of his mouth. So, if your piece of cake had a tiny bit of pizza on it, now you know why.
Other than that, the cake was a success. We had some happy customers.

Happy kid here!
Another satisfied client. Notice the self eating again. Can you all come to my house everyday and eat with us?
Yummy cake! But what is mommy looking at over her shoulder?
Could it be this guy taking handfuls of cake?
Wait! Did you get frosting on your ankle? How did that happen?
Houston, we have a problem. There is frosting on a cute ankle.
Sadness, because the party is over. Don't worry, part 3 is coming soon.