Experiencing a New Los Angeles

My DMs are blowing up. Birthday parties, festivals, concerts – every weekend there’s something super fun to do and lots of people to do it with. No, I’m not a 25-year-old that just arrived in Los Angeles, but I feel like I’m new in town. 

I moved to LA 14 years ago with a newborn and a toddler and, other than my husband, I only knew one person. Since then I’ve made wonderful friends – all of them through a connection to my kids or from being a mom blogger. Everything I did for so long was about momming.

As a family, we went to neighborhood potlucks, camping trips and even vacations with our new friends, and kids were always at the center, “Mom, Mommy, Mom, Mama, momomomommmmmm.”  And as a blogger, I went to every museum, every festival and countless family-centric events all over Los Angeles with my kids.


Whenever an older woman would stop me on the street when my boys were freaking out (or doing something adorable) and say that I should cherish this time because it goes by so fast, I would scoff. I was young, my kids were babies and I had plenty of time.

But then when I wasn’t paying attention, it happened just like the ladies said; time passed more quickly than I ever thought it could.

My boys are teenagers now and they have their own lives. They don’t want to hang out with their mom. When we do the neighborhood potluck thing, the parents have to coax the kids to come out of whatever cave they’re playing video games in or text them wherever they are to come and get something to eat. If we’re lucky, they might stop to talk to us for a few minutes.

Sometimes I wonder if I will look back on those years when my boys were little and think that those were the best of times…

But there’s no use in dwelling on that (as a I brush the tears off my keyboard) because not doing as many things with my kids has freed up a lot of time. I’m finding that there’s a whole other Los Angeles to explore and it starts after 6 pm. 

I was thinking about this recently while I looked for last-minute tickets to see Lizzo. Why? Because I love Lizzo so much and my kids had plans and it didn’t want to miss out.

Back in 2011, Prince played 12 shows at the Forum and it only cost $25! Did I go? No, because I am an idiot. I mentioned that to a friend recently who had no kids at the time and had gone to several of the shows. She asked the obvious question, “What the hell else were you doing that was better than that?” 

Nothing. I wasn’t doing anything that was remotely better than that. I have a husband who was perfectly capable of taking care of our kids so I could go out, but I just couldn’t get my mind around it at that point in my momming career. Plus, I was just too tired to go out. Working and having small kids is exhausting. And we did so much together as a family. There wasn’t time left for me.

Well, now it’s all about me because my kids don’t want it to be all about them anymore. So I’m experiencing LA like I’m new in town because I can’t sit at home crying about how I can’t turn back time.

Outside of Beauty and Essex in Hollywood

So on nights when my kids are out with their friends, I’m going out, too. My husband and I get cheap, last-minute tickets to shows. I spontaneously meet people for dinner at new and interesting restaurants. And I go to the movies with a group of ladies on a weeknight ($5 Tuesdays at AMC) without worrying about getting kids to bed because now they can do that their own selves.

So whoever wants to join me, I’m researching all the fun things to do in LA for ladies of a certain age. If anyone knows a fun place to go dancing where you don’t have to arrive after 9 pm, let me know!

It’s possible that I’m having a midlife crisis or I’m worried that I’ll soon be an empty-nester, but I can’t think about that right now because I’m late for happy hour.

Lady Bird Makes Being Catholic OK Again

I loved Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. It’s a hilarious and heartbreaking coming of age film set in Sacramento about a girl named Lady Bird (it’s her given name, she says. In that, she gave it to herself). She has a complicated relationship with her mother, which I – and most people who have a mother – can relate to, but the main reason I responded to the movie was the uncomplicated relationship the film has with the Catholic Church.

In most films that have a priest or a nun or the church represented in any way, Catholicism is the devil. The priests are pedophiles, the nuns are ruler-wielding psychopaths and the church is seen as cold and oppressive. I know there are pervert priests and terrible nuns, but they are not all monsters and some of us have good memories of growing up Catholic.

I spent a lot of time at church growing up in Tucson. My family went every Sunday and I had catechism once a week plus youth group. That doesn’t mean I was or am religious. I went to church because I had to (and to look at cute boys) and I went to youth group because my friends were there.

It kept us out of trouble (or more trouble than we would have gotten into) and we had some amazing experiences. We had dances and parties and made new friends. We raised money to go on trips to Bisbee, Disneyland and Washington D.C. Most importantly, we had a place go where we felt safe and cared for.

In the movie, Lady Bird plays a prank on one of the nuns. The nun takes it in stride because the prank was hilarious and the nun had a sense of humor. Because nuns, like other humans, can have senses of humor. There’s a brief scene with a priest who has some kind of depression, which again, lots of people have.

I don’t know why when I think of the jovial priest from my teens, that I always think of this one afternoon when the youth group kids helped him move into his new parish house. A lot of what we moved were big jugs of wine. He was always nice and knew all of our names. The priest he replaced was very serious and had an Irish accent, which in Tucson for me was very exotic.

The woman who ran the youth group and planned all of our events and trips passed away last month. She was loud and opinionated and extremely kind. I read her obituary and was amazed by what an interesting life she had before she came to us.

My time there was all very lovely and sometimes strange. There was that one time when the catechism teachers, a married couple who seemed ancient, but were probably my age now, told my friends that they were going to hell because they talked too much in class. Or the time one of our catechism teachers, a single mom, talked about going out to bars – nothing too crazy, just not Sunday school talk.

She was not conventional, but accepted.

Lady Bird’s director, Greta Gerwig, was on Fresh Air recently talking about her relationship with Catholicism. She went to Catholic High School, but wasn’t Catholic. She said that her not belonging to the church allowed her to have affection for it because she wasn’t really part of it; it wasn’t hers so it couldn’t oppress her.

Being Catholic wasn’t oppressive for me either even though at home we were very Catholic. My grandmother had an altar in the upstairs hallway with statues of saints and a framed picture of a flowing-haired Jesus. My great aunt had a giant oil painting of a Virgin of Guadalupe in her bedroom at her house.

Going to church was a nice foundation for me that is still important today. I can pray even though I don’t agree with many of the rules of being Catholic (but I do love the progressive views of the Pope!). And, like in Lady Bird, it’s always there if I want to go back.


The White Mexican

Yvonne Condes at the We All Grow Summit (photo courtesy of Robson Muzel and ?#?WeAllGrow? Summit)

This is the full version of the story I told at the #WeAllGrow Summit 2016. To watch the video, visit MomsLA.com.

One day my son came home with a mask he’d made in art class at elementary school. It was for indigenous people’s day. He put it on and said, “Look at me. I’m a Mexican.”

I looked at my blonde haired, blue-eyed son and said, “Sweetie, you don’t have to wear a mask to be Mexican. You’re a Mexican all the time.”

And you may not know it by looking at me, but I too am Mexican. My name is Yvonne Condes de la Torre but I was raised Yvonne Condes. I’m Mexican American, but no one ever knows it unless I somehow slip it into the conversation. Because I’m not just a white Mexican, but I’m often the whitest person in a room full of white people.

My son coming home with the mask reminded me of a time when my mom told a story about the family that lived in the house behind us. She referred to them as the Black family. “You can’t talk about them that way,” I told her. “They have names just like the Jewish family and the Single Mom.”

“You don’t think everyone calls us the Mexicans?” She asked. Up until then I hadn’t thought about it. Even though there were plenty of Mexicans in town and plenty of Mexicans that came to our house, we were the only ones on our street.

I realized that other people saw us differently. And that we might not be like everybody else. I didn’t know it then, but that’s how it would be most of my life. I was something different. And anyone looking at me, might not know what that is.

One of the things I love about this community is that years ago when I started blogging, I found a badge that I could put on my site that said “Blogs by Latinas.” Finally there was an answer to the question that has plagued me all of the years: What are you?

And I’ve asked myself that question. What am I? Who am I? And more importantly right now, what are my kids and who will they become?

My parents had a hard time growing up, my mom didn’t speak English when she first came to the Southwest and the kids and teachers were terrible to her. By the time she and my dad moved from the border town where they grew up to Tucson, she, like many Latinos of her generation wanted us to assimilate.

And assimilate we did. To my great shame, I don’t speak Spanish. I don’t even speak very good Spanglish.

So when my older son said, “hey, look at me. I’m a Mexican.” It really struck me. What will that mean to him later on that he’s Mexican. Will it mean anything to him? That he’s a super white half Mexican whose mother doesn’t speak Spanish.

Since that day I’ve tried to infuse as much of my culture into their lives as possible. I take my boys to festivals, we listen to latin music, we watch documentaries, we’ve marched in protests, and I’ve enrolled them in Spanish classes.

I’m actually trying to make them the Latino kids that I wasn’t growing up and I’m not always successful. My younger son has always hated having to go to after-school Spanish class. Last year he would stop any mom he knew and try to convince them that I had scheduled a play date with their child so he could get out of it. He made me a little miserable about it. But even though he didn’t like it, some of what he’s learned did stick.

And I’m exposing them to the language and culture because as most mothers feel about their children, I want everything to be great for them. Because I don’t want them to feel like they’re missing something.

Like I do when I go to a Crossfit class and I see this group of Latinas that hang out together and talk to each other in Spanish. They’re so badass and I want to join in on their conversation and say Hey, Look at Me, I’m Mexican, too. But I realize that would be weird.

Because I’ve often felt like I don’t fit in with other Latinas, like I sometimes do at events like these.

And I don’t want my kids to to ever feel like that, like they’re not Latino Enough. Because I have definitely felt that way and I know I’m not alone.

There are memes and youtube videos and blog posts and tweets dedicated to the feeling that some of us are not Latino enough. That because we were raised differently or we live differently that we’re not quite Latino.

But I don’t believe that at all.

As the years have gone by and my kids have gotten older and I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that all of our experiences are unique and meaningful. My life might be vastly different than the badass ladies from Crossfit, but being super white with no ear for language doesn’t mean that I’m not really Latino.

I know that someday my kids will look back and talk about their crazy Latina mom, who yelled too much, who made them take classes they didn’t want to take and eat a lot of Mexican food. But I hope that whatever they say about me, the say it lovingly and I hope they say it in Spanish.

Real Moms Talk on Mom.me

I contribute to the site Mom.me, which is a lifestyle site for moms, and I think my latest post is really special. It’s called Real Moms Talk: Game Changers. A group of amazing women share stories about the challenges and joys they’re experiencing right now – from life after cancer treatments to having a fourth child to picking up and moving to Mexico. The women featured include Lolita Lopez from NBCLA, Sugar Jones, Shannon Colleary of The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful, Desiree Eaglin of The Funny Mom Blog, Davina Rodriguez from Dancing Hotdogs, Shannon Gosney of The Mommy Files, Jessica Ashley of Sassafrass, Beth Feldman of Role Mommy, Sharon Greenthal of Empty House Full Mind and me, Yvonne Condes of MomsLA. 

Family and Latino Americans on PBS

This week’s Wordless Wednesday is Family. These are my grandparents on my father’s side and I recently wrote about them for MomsLA and the PBS Latino Americans site.

Here’s an excerpt:
The story begins in 1884 in Chamela, Jalisco, Mexico when my great grandfather Pedro was born. He was forced into work as a boy when his father, a federal judge, died. Pedro joined the Navy and quickly worked his way up the ranks. By the time he was 26, he was married and commander of military garrison in Baja California. He became Colonel under President Porfirio Diaz and was being groomed to become Governor of Baja. – See more at: http://momsla.com/latino-americans-pbs/#sthash.kHGTEQEA.dpuf

Alyssa Milano's "Sex Tape," The Cost of Childcare, and Telling Kids to Suck It Up


I wanted to share a couple of posts that I’ve had on different sites recently.


Junior Ranger Program at Mesa Verde National Park

Junior Ranger Badge from Mesa Verde National Park (photo by Yvonne Condes)

During our trip to Mesa Verde National Park for the American Latino Expedition, my boys completed the Junior Ranger program. In order to fill out the booklets they had to explore the park, visit the museum, and study the exhibits at the visitor center. They learned so much filling out the booklets. They were rewarded with this badge.

Junior Ranger Badge from Mesa Verde National Park (photo by Yvonne Condes)

Here is the video of what they did to earn their badges.

Catching up with YvonneInLA

I’ve been so busy over at MomsLA.com that I’ve hardly had time to post on YvonneinLA. I’m going to refresh the site a little and start posting here again. In the meantime you can check out some posts I’ve had on LatinaMom.me, Babble, and MomsLA.

Memories of a Bedtime Song

When I was a little girl I never wanted to go to bed. Ever. I would sneak out of my room, tiptoe down the hallway and sit in the corner not making a sound. My parents would watch Johnny Carson or reruns of the Dick Van Dyke show (I was obsessed with Rob and Laura Petri and their perfect house in New Rochelle and Rob’s comedy writing job in Manhattan so far away from Tucson).

Sometimes my parents would find me asleep in the hall and carry me to bed. Other times they would see me and drag me back to bed. My mom would tell me it was time for “Mimi’s” and she would sing the “Mimi Lu Lu” song and I would drift off to sleep.

I thought that everyone had this experience and everyone knew this song. I would mention it to other kids and they thought I was crazy. From then on I thought my mom had made it up. Then in my 20s I met a woman who knew the song. She even had lyrics.

My version has no lyrics and when I sing it to my boys. They know it as “Mimi mimi mimi lu lu, mimi mimi mimi lu lu.” I’m not terribly creative so it just goes like that until they fall asleep. They seem to love it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about our bedtime routine and how it can create special memories for kids. Latina Mom Bloggers and the California Milk Processor Board sent me the adorable bedtime story “Las Olas de La Luna” that I’ve been reading to my boys in both English and Spanish. There is an entire collection of bedtime stories here that you can read to your kids while they sip on a glass of milk before bed.

I hope that when my boys get older, they think of the crazy song their mom sang to them and ask their friends if they’ve heard about the Mimis and the Lu Lus.

This is part of a sponsored campaign with the California Milk Processor Board and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

If you’re looking for a little Positivismo, stay connected with El Maestro del Vaso Medio Lleno on Facebook and Twitter.


Summer of Feminista, Downton Abbey, and the Difficulty of Being a Mother

gluten free cherry pie yvonne condes mom blogger los angeles

My relatives have been asking me why I haven’t posted here as much. That’s because I’ve been over at MomsLA, where I am editor and co-founder, writing up a storm and making videos. Plus I had a post on Viva La Feminista today and a post on Tiki Tiki Blog a few weeks ago.

Here’s what I’ve been up to –

Where Is My Money Going?  on Viva La Feminista –

Downton Abbey; Me and Mr. Bates on MomsLA

Motherhood is Hard; From the Aurora Colorado Shooting to Everyday Life  on MomsLA

To The Mexican Beach on Tiki Tiki Blog

A Recipe – Gluten Free Cherry Blueberry Pie  on MomsLA

Video – Sprinkles Cupcakes ATM  on YouTube


Dear Husband, Happy Father's Day (A Little Late)

Two Saturdays ago, I was working diligently to finish a Father’s Day video for MomPulse. I had just pressed saved and was sitting back and wondering if my husband would think the video was too sarcastic when the computer went “Poof” and shut off. It actually made that noise.

My computer was dead. So instead of me showing my husband his video on Father’s Day, he spent the morning trying to save the computer’s hard drive. Well, I have to say that my husband is not only a great dad, but a great IT guy and he managed to save everything. At first I couldn’t find the video, but I recovered it yesterday and wanted to share.