5th Annual March for Babies

Hello all!

I am sad to say we missed this years March for Babies.
This was our 5th year, and I was very excited to go. But of course, the night before, my littlest one came down with a fever, and had it all through the night and next day.
I woke up early that morning, and wondered what I should do.
Should I just take my oldest daughter and go with my husband and best friend?
Should we just stay home? Not wanting to leave a man behind, we decided not to go.

We chose March of Dimes as a foundation to raise money in our son Gabriel's name. You can read his story here

I was 7 months pregnant with Lexie on our first walk and I thought I was going to go into preterm labor on that day. It was a very painful and tough walk for me, and I will never forget it. I know, imagine the irony, here I am raising money for a foundation who's main focus is to help and prevent preterm deliveries and to support families with children who are born prematurely, and I thought I was going to go into labor on the streets of LA.

When I was talking to my husband when we woke up, I asked, "Should we go and leave Lexie with my parents?" Well, Lexie was laying in between us and she piped in with a whiny little "Nooooooooo!" She was just as excited to go with us, and I didn't want to do it without her.

Next year will be here before we know it and we will be back there bright and early on a April Saturday morning.

We will still be raising money throughout May. If you would like to donate to our Team, please do so at www.marchforbabies.org/cynthiaduarte


March for Babies TEAM DUARTE!

Hello hello hello Friends and Family!

It's that time of year again, time to March for Babies!! This is our 5th year doing the March for Babies walk and in the last four years Team Duarte has raised over $5000 for March for Dimes research and programs that help babies begin healthy lives. The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.
Team Duarte walks in honor of my son Gabriel. He was born with a heart defect and now is an angel to my two very healthy daughters and fellow walkers, Lacey and Alexis. Doing the March for Babies is a really amazing event for our family and friends, not only are we raising money for a good cause, but we as a family have another opportunity to get together as a team and celebrate being healthy.
If you would like to join or donate to Team Duarte, here is the link:

Thank you so much for your support!

DIY Pine Cone Bird Feeder {Toddler Activity}

My daughter Lacey is forever on a nature hike, while we were doing our 3 mile March for Babies walk, she managed to find giant pine cones for everyone to take home, luckily we had a backpack to carry them. Anyway, I knew we had to put them to use, so we turned them into bird feeders! I don't know where I've seen this before, but it was really easy, and fun for the girls! I recommend this activity for kids of all ages. 

Supplies needed are: Pine cones, bird seed (from the dollar store),peanut butter, string and a tray to catch all the seeds. 
(And a broom to sweep up all the seed that falls on the floor) 

First, we tied our string or twine to the pine cone. 

Next, I scooped peanut butter onto a plate and let the girls spread it with a plastic butter knife all over the pine cone. (I had to keep telling the girls not to lick their fingers!)

Next, I poured the seed over the pine cones and let the extra gather on the cookie sheet. 

Here are the girls covering the pine cones in seed. 
This was the girls favorite part, getting their hands dirty. 

They did a very thorough job! 

Finished pine cone. We hung this one under a tree. 

And this one we hung under an arch in the middle of the yard. Next, we waited...

 3 days later, we were sitting in the kitchen and Lacey spotted this bird through the window! We were all so excited, I admit, I may have been a bit more excited than the girls.

Here is my daughter bird watching! Hahaha, I love catching moments like this! She takes these types of things very serious. 

And while we were bird watching, we saw this! Another bird on the other pine cone. 
This was a really fun activity that took 10 minutes to create, and lasted a week while we kept an eye on all the birds. Have you ever done this activity? What are some other outdoor activities to do with young children? Please share, I'm always looking for new ideas and adventures for me and my little ones! Thanks for reading! 

Team Duarte 4th Annual March for Babies Walk

Last weekend was our 4th Annual March for Babies walk for Team Duarte. I started this team 4 years ago, with a 14 month old daughter Lacey running around, I was 7 months pregnant with my second daughter Alexis and was trying to find a way to cope with the passing of my first born, my son, Gabriel. When my son passed away, I felt that God's plan for me was to help other Mother's to get through similar situations. I haven't exactly figured out how to do that yet, since it is still quite difficult for me to say his name. But, what I felt I could do, was do something in my son's name, in my son's honor. 

Our first year was probably the most difficult, for two reasons. For one, I felt like people wanted to know my story, "Did you have a preemie?" "Did your child survive?" The truth is, my son had a heart condition that was undetected and inoperable, I held him for a few hours. The March of Dimes foundation didn't help me, personally. But they have helped a lot of other families, and through them, I hope they have more prenatal testing, and maybe someone else wont have something go undetected.  The second reason our first year doing the March for Babies walk was difficult was because I was 7 months pregnant and the 3 mile walk was too much for me. I literally thought I was going to go into labor at the March for Babies, who's main focus is to prevent preterm labor! The irony was not lost on me! 

This year was a lot of fun. Although we had a smaller team and unfortunately didn't surpass our total from the previous year, we still raised about $1700 this year, which should bring our total in the past four years to about $5000. We welcomed a new walker Kristy, her two daughters Felicity and baby Serenity, and Gizmo. This year we had two fundraisers, the March for Babies Valentine's Day Bake Sale and a Shakey's fundraising night, which were both fun and successful and all about making memories. Next year, we hope to have a bigger team, new Team Duarte Tee shirts made, and more fundraising. 

2013 Team Duarte
Linda Martinez, Maricela Duarte, Mark Duarte, Me (Cynthia  Duarte), Debra Castellanos, George Martinez, Adriana Manzo, Melinda Martinez, and Kristy.
And Junior members, Alexis Duarte, Lacey Duarte, and Gizmo. 
Team Duarte in front of the Start/Finish line
My mom Linda, best friend Debra and my daughters Lacey and Alexis, with our Team Duarte banner that I designed. 
Alexis and her Papa
Papa decided to hold her up so she could see the USC Marching band as we were walking out through the starting line. 
Nana and Papa with Lacey and Alexis with the KMart Blue light guy. 

This year I wanted to make sure we were on time for the opening festivities and even though I was the one running late, we made it on time! We were there as they played music for the warm up, and as the always amazing USC marching band played while we walked through the starting line. 
Lexie's little legs carried her for about 50 ft, before she got back in her little car. 
Our furriest member of Team Duarte, Gizmo. 

Lexie looks tired, but never really walked. She was just along for the ride, the face painting, and the cotton candy. 
I love being a part of something that feels good. As you walk along the route, volunteers hold up signs with information about March of Dimes and their goal, hand out water bottles, cheer you on, and were even fanning my daughter as she ran by. I was so proud of my little Lacey, she ran most of the walk and was a pretty good shade of red because of the heat. 

It's nice to know that everyone there, is there for a good reason, for a good cause. There are two families that I remember from the walk. One was a family with triplets being pulled in their little buggies, they had a sign that read, "We were born at 26 weeks" They looked happy and healthy, well, besides the one in the last buggy, she seemed bummed to be up so early in the morning. Another family walking alongside us, had their daughter sitting atop a little wagon, and she was wearing wings. When you looked at her wagon they had pictures of a tiny baby, with tubes in her nose. They were obviously very happy to say that their daughter made it through and was now strong enough to be there and walk with them.

The whole day is just surrounded by happiness, even though their are families and teams like ours, whose babies did not make it through, we are there together, honoring his name. It's a great day to remember, celebrate life, and be surrounded by people that feel the same way. 
Donations are still being accepted, if you would like to donate to our team, here is the link to TEAM DUARTE. See ya next year March for Babies

Valentine's Day Bake Sale for March for Babies

For me, February doesn't just mean Valentine's Day, it marks the beginning of my fundraising campaign for March for Babies. This year was a little different because I decided to take advantage of the Hallmark holiday and hold a bake sale in front of a restaurant in the middle of a pretty busy marketplace, in hopes that somebody would buy some goodies. A week before Valentine's Day, I contacted Just Grillin' in Alhambra and asked about holding a bake sale in front of their restaurant, not only did the owner Steve Fields agree, he also offered to help out by donating 20% of proceeds from customers who mentioned March of Dimes. Once I got the okay from Mr. Fields, I reached out to family and asked if anyone would like to donate baked goods.  

Luckily for me, my sister is a very talented pastry chef who donated her time and delicious cupcakes for the cause. If you are in the SoCal area, you can contact her, here.
So much yummy goodness! Pink Lemonade cookies, Fruity Pebble Treats, Red Velvet, Chocolate, and Vanilla cupcakes!
This is one of the small candy bouquets that I made out of sour belts, Mike & Ike candies, and heart lollipops. 
Here is a shot of our table in front of Just Grillin' in Alhambra, CA. It was such an awesome, fun day! I think we may have to make this an annual fundraiser. 
A HUGE thank you to my sister Melinda at Pinda Sweets, my friend Kristy at Kristy's Cakes & Treats (her delicious cake pops sold before I finished setting up), my Aunt Landa for her carrot cake loaves, my cousin Amber for her Fruity Pebble treats, and my Mom and Dad for donating balloons and all their help. 
Me and my little teammate Lacey. 
She is so excited to do the "March of Dimes Babies" walk.
After all the sugary goodness was gone, we had a very successful bake sale and raised over $400 for our March for Babies team. As successful as our bake sale was, we have not yet reached our team goal, if you would like to make a donation to our team please do so by clicking this http://www.marchforbabies.org/cynthiaduarte
Thank you!