Folks we Love with Araceli Valdes de McErloy, co founder of Au Liquid Gold
Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you’ve come to arrive here.
I was born in Colorado, raised in Mexico, and moved to LA around 18. Lots of movement and excitement, but also a lot of chaos. Hustled and worked my ass off, and it all clicked in my mid-twenties when I got into interior design and remodeling houses after too much travel working in TV production. In a series of serendipitous events, I met the man of my dreams a few years ago, which tied it all together. Three babas later, never been happier. We live in Morocco at the moment where my husband is posted for his job. Next we go to Indonesia for a few months followed by Mexico City.
Who’s in your family? Ages? Names?
Sammy and I have three boys, Santiago, Constantine and Rafael. Santi is 2 1/2, our twin boys Rafa and Consti are 10 months. I have boys coming out my ears.
How did you choose your kids names?
It started with a list of easily pronounceable Hispanic names. I’m Mexican and my hubs is British. We wanted first names that reflected my heritage, but his parents are Irish – we couldn’t name their grandchild anything like Joaquin (which my mother-in-law pronounced Jowakin). But even then, sometimes life throws you a curve ball… While I was pregnant with our first son, we called him Enzo but as soon as we met him, he was just such a little Santi.
Interior Designer, Au liquid Gold Co-founder
What’s on your manifest board?
Ah man, I’m an interior designer so I literally have ten boards going at once. But… someday we really want to build a family sanctuary somewhere like Todos Santos, Mexico. A big chunk of land near the ocean with lots of cacti + oodles of doggies and babies running around – an escape the boys will remember forever… We love remote and off the beaten track, and deliberately seek it out.
What is your favorite book?
That changes often – I’m a huge Cormac McCarthy fan.
How do you unwind?
Cooking! It’s always therapeutic for me. And I’m a total “˜mood’ nut/ambiance police. When the kids go down, candles are lit, wine is poured and my fave playlist of the moment gets turned on (usually Billie Holiday-ish or chilled electronica). Setting the mood makes me so happy.
Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?
Mornings are my absolute favorite! I love being awake before the rest of the world. Some mornings, I make coffee and take two cups back to bed – like room service but better! I love recreating extravagance in our everyday lives. Eventually the boys start waking up and clambering all over us like baby cubs. It’s heaven – an amazing way to connect, even though it’s only for twenty minutes before we all start our day.
What are some silly/fun things that the kids do or say?
The twins are busting out with some adorable bahs, but no words yet. Santi, our eldest, is hysterical – he makes me belly laugh on a daily basis. He’s a late speaker because I speak to him in Spanish, my hubby speaks to him in English, and he speaks French at daycare. The other day I put a dress on and he looked at me and said “Ooooh la la Mama.” He’s also picked up a little Arabic: he says “Yalla, mama” when he wants me to hurry up.
What is something you wish you had known before having kids?
Hmmm that’s a tough one. I honestly like the process of figuring it all out. But I do wish I would’ve incorporated meditation in my life. Right now when life is so unbelievably busy, I think it would be so helpful but seems daunting to learn now.
When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different?
I feel very privileged to somehow be living an even better version of the life that I visualized when I was younger. I always yearned for an adventurous life spent raising a family among other cultures.
And I’ve always wanted a loud, happily-chaotic house. I spent a lot of my adult life in Los Angeles, but as much as I love LA, I hoped to raise kids outside the American bubble. My boys were born here in Morocco. We are so lucky to be able to expose them to to as many different cultures as possible, still with a very strong connection to their Mexican, British roots. And I really wanted my kids to have the kind of close relationship I never had with my father. My husband is totally that type of father. It has been amazing to see him become a super hands-on, present, and engaged father. I have to restrain myself from being a cheeseball and hash tagging feeling #blessed a lot!
What are some things you really believe in?
We have to do the work; nothing comes on a plate. Getting out of your comfort zone is a must. A dip in the ocean cures most things. Kids should get dirty – scraped knees are okay. The world doesn’t revolve around our children – our kids fit into our lives. And, maybe most importantly, we shouldn’t take ourselves, or life, too seriously.
Where do your passions lie?
I’ve always wanted to create something surrounded by a community of supportive women. When Demetra, my dear friend and business partner, and I came up with Au Liquid Gold, it happened organically from our shared questions. Together we discovered that dark stouts helped boost our milk production. Then, we set out to meet our own need and make the brew we’d be craving. I’m so passionate about creating things in the mommy world. There is nothing better than women supporting women, coming together and being there for each other during this incredible ride. As difficult as it is to start a business, I’m passionate about working on ideas in the mama world, and just love surrounding myself with empowering, strong, supportive women.
And I believe we need to lighten up a bit. We’re so lucky with all the information we have at our fingertips now. But, the flip side to that, is that we put incredible pressure on ourselves to be these super-human mamas. There is so much joy in the ridiculousness and chaos, and we miss it all if we’re wasting time being judgy and uptight.
Has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids? How do you stay connected?
My husband and I had a very short and powerful courtship – in the span of 8 months we fell in love, got married, moved to a foreign country and found out we were pregnant. I gave birth to Santi here in Morocco where we were away from all of our friends and family. At the time it seemed crazy, and it wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad we did it that way. Moroccan hospitals are a far cry from Cedars. We had to pay with a big wad of cash. No towels provided, I had to bring my own. They didn’t have thermometers – the nurse took my temperature by touching my thigh – and there were packs of wild dogs howling outside my window all night. Even with all the developing world challenges, it was an incredible experience to be in our own little world with no distractions for the first few weeks. The whole experience brought us together in a way I never knew was possible.
Having a family has an amazing way of naturally prioritizing what’s most important to you. I don’t have the energy to dwell on some things that I used to that weren’t good for me. I feel grateful every day that my husband and I are so in synch, and see eye to eye on the life we want for the boys. We work hard to be a good team – if we’re off then everything is off.
For us, to stay connected, kids-free activities are a must. The other weekend, my mother-in-law was visiting. So, instead of our usual fam trip to the beach, we left the kids with her and went paddle boarding and had a picnic on the beach with some beers. It was so nice to be active together, just the two of us. Spontaneity and creativity are everrrrything. We try to be more creative than a dinner out, mainly because I’m always too tired at night!
What are some of your favorite life lessons you’ve grown to love? (even if learning them at the time was hard)
Hiding behind kindness, and not speaking up for your wants, can be cowardly and difficult. It took me a long time to realize that. I think people let toxicity and manipulation into their lives because they’re afraid that shutting the door on people is unkind. So we can allow ourselves to be steamrolled. It takes work and strength to close the door on toxic people/stuff. You have to be able to weather being accused of unkindness or whatever.
What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?
I would have said, “Do you, Boo!.” Stop worrying about people who don’t matter in the long run. And listen to your gut – get out of the dysfunctional relationships you know are no good!
What do you find most challenging about being somebody’s parent?
I think the challenges are constantly changing. Right now being a mom of three boys under three, it’s challenging to spend enough quality alone time with each.
What do you want your kids to learn about the world?
I want them to be excitable, appreciative, curious, well-mannered and hungry! We spend time in the UK, Mexico and US, and we’re about to move to Indonesia, but I want our boys to never lose their sense of awe, to marvel at it all, and to appreciate every second of it.
What are 4 things you can’t live without as a parent?
A sweat a day
Angel baby bottom balm – it smells heavenly and I rub it all over my boys and myself!
I’m half American, half Mexican. My husband is British/Irish. We’re parents to three young boys, all under the age of three! My husband’s job (diplomat by day, doting father and surfer in-between) means life will be in three-year long chapters for the next while. Our boys were all born in Morocco, where we’ve lived for the past three years. We’re moving to Indonesia soon, then Mexico for three years after that. So, multi-cultural is kinda our jam (and I guess three is my lucky number).
I grew up in Mexico and then settled in Los Angeles as a teenager. Lemme just say spending your early twenties in Hollywood is… um… a fun combination! For years I bounced around the globe as a television producer, but as much as I loved it, I loved the concept of “˜home’ more. So, it sort of made sense to transition into interior design and real estate which I did during my late twenties and thirties. Creating ambience, mood, and designing beautiful places for families to live their lives in, and make memories, is what makes me tick.
I’ve had some amazing adventures, for sure. But the biggest, baddest, raddest one of them all is being a mother and wife. Obvi, it’s not always glamorous and gorgeous, but I think every mama knows the best moments, the ones you hold nearest to your heart, aren’t always Instagrammable.
If there’s anything that gets me through the sleepless nights and temper tantrums, it’s that we try hard never to take ourselves seriously. Life can be so beautiful, absurd and baffling. Sometimes all I can do is laugh, like when I have baby puke on my third outfit of the day. Oh, white skinny jeans, I miss you.
Life in our rowdy house is an ever-evolving balance between a free-for-all (self-expression, germs and scraped knees are cool around here) and discipline (kids don’t run the show, WE do). Getting the boys – Santi, and our twins Rafa and Consti – outdoors, exposing them to new cultures and experiences, reading them lots of stories, and cultivating their sense of wonder is priority numero uno. It’s a wild, wide world, full of craziness and imperfections. We’re just bumbling our way through, fueled by lots of love and apres story-time Pinot Noir.