How I Spent My Weekend

The things she does with her daughters don't leave much time for anything but fun

By Laura Longoria
Published on LatinoLA: September 21, 2000

How I Spent My Weekend

As usual, a recent weekend found me without much relaxing time, which is normal for me, because I always find some cultural activities to share with my daughters Simone, age 10, and Madeleine age 8 (almost 9 as she likes to remind me, this September 25).
They complain that I drag them to too many "things!"
Friday night is the beginning of our week together, so we do our regular family night Soda Jerks "thing." Every time we walk into this Pasadena diner, located on Fair Oaks near Old Town, we are greeted by Andy, Vanessa, Ashley, Joel or the other Vanessa with a big "hi!" and smiles. Soda Jerks has a fun, friendly ambiance and we find it is a great place for children of all ages.
Simone orders her usual kid's plate, the Stymie (chicken nuggets in the shape of dinosaurs) while Madeleine likes to occasionally 'throw' the staff by ordering the Darla (spaghetti with red sauce) when she doesn't order the Stymie. Though we've finished our meal, we don't leave the diner until the girls read a few chapters from a book they bring with them or see one of their favorite movies on the television/VCR set up. But mostly, the girls spend time chatting away with one or more of the staff discussing school & homework, their lemonade stand...recounting any of the jokes they remember from school that week or anything else that may come to mind.
A recent night added a new reason to stay longer: homework! School started and Simone brought an armful of books to the diner to complete her math and social studies homework. I was aghast! Mustering a newfound maturity, Simone calmly said, "It's fifth grade, mom. We have homework on the weekends now."
I smiled and found it wise of her to want to finish her assignments Friday night so she wouldn't have to think about them the rest of the weekend. She is making me proud, taking such initiative.
Saturday held another new experience for us. Choir practice for Simone and a get-acquainted meeting for parents and siblings of new choirsters. After two hours of practice, music theory, getting to know each other, volunteer possibilities for parents and more practice, it was over. Simone said she likes it and Madeleine wants to audition for the choir again next year.
Then it was on to the Latino Fest for us, held on Colorado Blvd., in Pasadena between Madison and El Molino, which was only a few steps away. Very convenient to have this cultural event celebrating Latinos so close, so I didn't hear too many grumbles about having to walk so far. As we began our walk along the festival area we discovered we were a bit early as many booth and festival participants were still setting up.
So we meandered to the school supply store, which is dangerous for me and my checkbook as my daughters love to read, do arts and crafts and this store is filled with workbooks, paints, clay, beads, feathers, books ? most everything a child could want for their very own. A parent too for that matter, because since I'm a graphic designer and artist, I love all that stuff.
I was able to walk out with finances intact as I reasoned with the girls that they would have to carry their own items because I sure wasn't going to carry their stuff around the festival. So we decided we would stop back on our way home. Unfortunately by the time we stopped back the store was closed.
The festival was filled with wonderful live music and dancing ? both folkloric and salsa ? colorful wares, friendly faces, smiles, great food (we ate tamales from one booth), incense, jewelry, rides for children and adults. Madeleine fearlessly lead the way to the trampoline ride in which she was harnessed and tossed and jerked up into the air (with help from an assistant who used his weight for leverage). Simone was more reticent about trying this "ride," but seeing that her little sister survived it and said it was "almost as good as Goliath" she had to try it too.
A few people in the crowd viewing the trampoline action told me they were amazed by the daring and nerve that both my daughters demonstrated. Hey! Just like their mom!
The dominant culture represented was that of my people ? Mexican (as I am, born in Los Angeles), but I also heard the smooth, cool Latin jazz sounds of Bobby Matos; the hot charanga Cubana melodies of their son and salsa; Quetzal entertaining the crowd with their Chicano/Mexican/Latin street rock sounds; and Johnny Polanco y Su Conjunto Amistad, who, with their Los Angeles salsa sound, had the crowd on their feet, swaying, stepping, sweating and just enjoying the pachanga.
All the bands had the crowd dancing, tapping feet and nodding heads to the rhythms.
After much cajoling, and a little guilt spread on for good measure, I was finally able to convince my two suddenly shy girls to dance with me. Normally they feel quite comfortable dancing in front of their mirror at home, or in the backyard singing and moving with Christina Aguilera or Destiny's Child, even the Backstreet Boys! After a bit they realized that everyone was not looking at them and they just danced! Smiled and had fun too! I'll turn them into little salseras yet; we have decided to investigate enrolling in folklorico classes soon.
Wheeee! All this cultural "stuff" I expose them to has begun to penetrate.
After the band finished their set, the girls started with their "I'm tired, Mommy?I am so tiredpick me up." Yes, I agreed with them, I was tired too, so we trod off to the car, tummies full, feet just a bit sore, anxiously anticipating a sound "mee-mees."
As I was still a little pooped from our full Saturday , I decided to make Sunday our day to rest. We did do a few chores (grocery shopping: kinda fun; laundry: ugh; cleaning: double, no triple, no multitudinous ugh) we had neglected the previous day.
Honestly, resting is not often a normal activity for me ? I could have added a couple more activities to our Sunday calendar, but I decided we really did need time to relax and sleep somewhere in there to get ready for the week. I can hardly wait for our next weekend together!
Last time I glanced at the LatinoLA Calendar, there was the East Side Art Crawl, the Latino History Parade, the 2nd Annual Unity Concert, Alhambra's 1st Salsa & Latin Jazz Festival.....oh, and that weekend also happens to be Madeleine's 9th birthday weekend.....bowling party, cake, burgers.....

About Laura Longoria:
Laura Longoria is currently serving as LatinoLA Calendar Editor. She can be reached at laura@latinola.com

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