Fallen Branch before American Flag
Several Downed Trees by the East River
News Interviews
Windows of Local Store Prepped for Storm
NYPD Blocks Off Street
Police Line: Do Not Cross
While playing dominoes (I LOVE THIS GAME) in a friend's backyard in NJ a couple of summers ago, we noticed an unmoving Cicada clinging to a nearby tree.

The size of the beetle surprised me so I snapped a shot of it. This photo does not do the insect any justice.

Imagine my shock, though, when I realized, at least half an hour later that the insect was literally climbing out of its shell!

Fascinated, I snapped more photos of the shedding Cicada; but, in all honesty, I shuddered the entire time that I tried to get the perfect photo. As amazing as seeing such a natural experience unfold before me was, I was still grossed out by the Cicada's large eyes and legs. (Yes, yes, I know that as a mom, I am going to have to get used to dealing with bugs. AHHHH! It still weirds me out that my sister and I used to catch fireflies when we were younger.)

In researching the beetle (it took me HOURS to find it), I found that the Cicada truly is an interesting creature. A mature Cicada has wings! (I expect Equis to appreciate nature.)

To learn more about Cicadas and see time sequence photos of a mature Cicada molting, click here.

My Top 5 Favorite Foods to feed a teething almost-year-old Baby Equis (because they are his favorites too):
1. Banana-Cado Baby Food: Simply mash up an avocado and a banana and mix the two together. This combination makes for a a great first food, is full of "good" fat for baby, and it's fresh! Best of all, it is yummy enough for Mom to lick off her fingers like I do after Equis swats at the spoon. Click here for more avocado baby food recipes. (4+ months).

2. Earth's Best Wheat Teething Biscuits: Made of all organic ingredients, these biscuits are healthful even while helping to soothe Baby Equis' gums. I like that they are organic and make Equis happy. Even our 4-year-old Yorkshire Terrier likes to steal these from Equis' hand while he tries to chase her down in his walker! I plan on trying the Barley Teething Biscuits next. (9+ months).

3. Plum Organic Super Puffs: Baby Equis really enjoys all five Super Puff flavors: blueberry and purple sweet potato; spinach and apple; banana and peach; strawberry and beet; and mango and sweet potato. His favorites have to be the yellow and orange (so are the dog's). I like to mix the different colors so that Equis eats a variety of vegetables and fruits as a light snack in between meals. Super Puffs are definitely one of my favorite buys at Babies 'R' Us. (Self-feeding crawlers; toddlers too).

4. Gerber Graduates Lil' Crunchies Cinnamon Maple: Made with 100% whole-grain corn, these crunchy snacks are one of Equis' favorite foods to eat. They are easy for him to hold, melt in his mouth and taste yummy. They are Kosher too! (Self-feeding crawlers; toddlers too).

5. Beech Nut Oatmeal & Mixed Fruit Cereal: Baby Equis LOVES to eat this oatmeal cereal for breakfast. I just mix in some cinnamon with the cereal and formula (or breastmilk or water) and feed it to him using a spoon or in his sippy cup if we are on the go. The banana and apple flakes mixed with the cinnamon actually smells good! (4+ months).

*Please note that I was in no way compensated for or hired to write this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Inhale the man trembling
across the street--
his eyes are on your eyes.

Look out for the cops, he slurs. -A globule
A woman is the Holy Grail, the Holy Grail you see. -of drool
YOU would not exist without HER orchestrations. -slips.

We drag hard on reality;
Your fists flatten as you nod,
and I exhale poetry.

Good lady, quiet lady smiling,
Write this in your notebook--
Man's talk is not for you and me.

I dust my pants of fragile mica
fragments, glittering like confetti,
and bend to clip my words.

Copyright ©2009 Xiomara A. Maldonado. Originally published for The Song of These Streets
A patch of denim from my favorite pair of pants throughout high school/college. Full of memories from my PRE-MOM life: paint from a Habitat for Humanity project, the outline of my hand drawn in Spanish class, the black graffiti of a college friend. I was even accused of stealing acne medication from Sephora in these pants.
I can hardly believe almost two months have passed since I wrote my first MOM blog post on being a single mom. It feels like it's been MUCH, MUCH longer because of all that has happened since then.

Firstly, I have received lots of praise and encouragement (from parents and non-parents alike) for my writing's transparency while simultaneously receiving backlash from family members who think I expose too much "intimate information" in posts like the one about my son being bi-ethnic. Secondly, I have learned how to use Twitter and Facebook to get to know other awesome MOMMY BLOGGERS and to consistently reach a wider audience. Thirdly, and most importantly, I have a growing readership, and I feel like I am finally back on the path that will lead me to achieving a writing career.

You may wonder why I'm even writing this post. Well, Nicole from By Word of Mouth Musings started a "meme" about the stories behind people's blogs, why they started them and how. With only 8 hours and 15 minutes left before the closing of submissions, I started frantically typing away, trying to determine exactly WHAT made me start my MOM Blog. Here is a list of reasons:

4.I READ Tina Fey's memoir Bossypants on my mom's Kindle. Her book made me laugh, cry and nod my head in agreement; and it made me realize that I can write memoir pieces too (in what would be a book's chapter form except as posts on a blog). Why the hell not?

3. I HAD A CONVERSATION, or rather many conversations. Writer friends are some of the most inspiring friends a writer can have. My best friend and a phenomenal writer, Naima Coster, often encourages me to "Write. Even if it's just a paragraph." The consistent support of these friends (and my non-writer friends' too!) as well as their belief in me is a godsend when I feel like giving up. It was the day after I had a conversation with writer friend, M, in which he reminded me, "Your voice matters. God didn't give you a talent to write so you can bury it in the ground," that I created this website. All those conversations finally took root!

2. I MISSED WRITING. When I learned I was pregnant, I stopped blogging at The Song of These Streets. I am not sure exactly why, but I think I felt like my life was over. I WAS HAVING A BABY! AT 23 YEARS OLD! Thankfully, I did not stop writing completely. All throughout my pregnancy, I wrote letters (in those phenomenal Moleskines I could keep easily in my purse) to Little Star - my nickname for Equis while he was in the womb. In these letters, I detailed my love and hopes for him, my fears of and excitement for motherhood, and the physical joys and tribulations of carrying a child. I wanted to share these thoughts and stories with others. Starting a MOM Blog seemed like the perfect way to continue keeping a record of my life and feelings as a mother and sharing them with others.

1. I LOVE TO WRITE, and I BELIEVE IN ITS POWER. In the preface of Chayil, my poetry manuscript and senior project at Barnard College, I wrote words that continue to express how I feel about the importance of writing to me and to society as a whole:

To me, the written word embodies power: the power to change society through the minds of its members; the power to give lost youth a life’s purpose; the power to return the voices of society’s marginalized members to them; the therapeutic power of releasing concerns and pain to paper (or word documents); and the power to inspire other, perhaps greater, art.

Through my writing, I desire to achieve the following: raise awareness of contemporary social issues; reclaim language in order to combat gender inequities, racial and socioeconomic injustice, and the negative propaganda of established institutions; encourage others to empower themselves through art; and represent myself, express who I am.

In the end, blogging is FUN! Sharing stories on the internet is an instantaneous adventure. There are so many people to meet and so many stories to tell. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: having an audience means the world to a writer. So thank you to everyone who reads my MOM Blog, comments on my posts and shares my writing with their friends. YOU ROCK!

To share your post on Why You Started Your Blog, link up here!
5. So I can take a much needed shower without Equis crying hysterically! (SO SO HOT THIS SUMMER!)
4. So I can get my eyebrows threaded. (It's been weeks, and they look like forests!)
3. So I can go to a baseball game/ a Thrice concert/ the movies/ and play billiards. (Self-explanatory)
2. So I can EXERCISE! (I bought a Living Social deal for 1 month of unlimited yoga... a long time ago... it's still unused)
1. So I can SLEEP. (Yes, Mom, I know you think I shouldn't be so tired all the time, but I am. More sleep would be lovely.)

(BESIDES the fact that Equis is super cute, tons of fun and AWESOME!)
Baby Equis with Abuela
The Flag.