Monstruos del Mar

Finding things to do with kids during the morning in Uruguay can be challenging. Most child friendly indoor spaces don’t open until 3:00pm or later, but last month Montevideo became the latest city to host an exhibit titled Monstruos del Mar (Monsters of the Sea).

Held in Parque Roosevelt on the outskirts of the city, the exhibit is comprised of about 20 animatronic prehistoric sea creatures.

My sister and her boyfriend are visiting for a few weeks from the Netherlands and we’ve been looking for fun things to do as a family. Luckily I found out about this exhibit before it was too late, because like all things Uruguay, the publicity was lacking. We were already planning to be in Montevideo due to one of PJ’s therapy sessions, so we took advantage and made a day of it.

After showing my brother-in-law (ish) the Plaza de Independencia, Calle Sarandi, and Plaza Matriz, we had lunch at a quaint restaurant we had been meaning to try out called Sin PretensionesThe food was absolutely DELICIOUS and stuffed us all right up. Even PJ ate all her pizza without being forced. I wish we had taken pictures of our food but we were just too hungry.

Once we were done we headed out to Parque Roosevelt to see the exhibit. I’m glad I did my homework beforehand because if not we definitely would have missed it. Off to the side is a little ticket booth where you can purchase entry or the ticket taker stamps your prepaid tickets. Out of the main tent you see the head of a large dinosaur thing sticking out. IMG_7871 I will say the noise machines they had was very loud, especially the exhibits with any sharks, making it kind of rough for PJ with her sensory issues.

At the end of the exhibition there was a colouring area, trampoline, and tiny triceratops for the kids to play and explore. They do have a sandpit where the kids can dig for “fossils” but I really didn’t want PJ to get sandy so we distracted her when we passed through that area. Overall PJ had a blast. She jumped to her hearts content, she manipulated her “Tio Rich” to push her all around on that triceratops, and coloured with her dad until it was time to go.

I will say it was a total splurge for us. It was $400 (USD 14.00) per adult and $240 (USD 8.40) per child over the age of two. It was worth just getting out of the house and being able to see something different though. You can buy tickets in advanced through RedPagos or at your local Tienda Inglesa. The last day to see the exhibit is April 5th.

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Welcome to your world, Catalina!

On February 4th, 2017 our newest addition to our family came into the world!

The past two months has been spent adjusting to life with a preschooler (WHAT?!) and a newborn but overall it’s been great. Paloma has taken so well to her “baby sissy” and has adjusted better than I thought she would.

We are so in love with our newest addition, it’s hard to remember what life was like without this bundle of joy in our life. How she came into our world, however uneventful, will be hard to forget.

After another very hot summer day I was in bed watching tv when I started getting uncomfortable contractions. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions since I was around 30 weeks pregnant so I didn’t think too much of it until I realized that after drinking water, putting my feet up, going to the bathroom, and lying down on my left side was doing nothing to alleviate them. I started timing them at around midnight, they were steadily coming every 7-10 minutes, nothing too concerning or worth going to the hospital for. I tried to sleep but every time I would get a contraction I would wake up. At around 6:30am they started coming in every five minutes. I started getting our bags ready and leaving things prepared for PJ and my parents in case we had to leave at a moments notice. I woke up Carlos at around 7:30am so he could go to the store and buy some food in case we would be gone for more than the normal two day hospital stay.

By the time he got back and PJs breakfast was made my contractions were coming every three minutes lasting about a minute each. Every contraction knocked the wind out of me and my knees would buckle beneath me. We packed the car and started on our hour long journey to the hospital. I would like to point out that I was anything but calm, cool, or collected. I was screaming and moaning in pain, banging on the ceiling and listening to PANIC! At the Disco’s new album Death of a Bachelor for some sort of comfort. How Carlos managed to get us there without crashing is beyond me.

Once I got to the hospital my contractions were so close together I couldn’t get out of the car so Carlos had to pull up to the ambulance bay and grab a nurse to assist me. They wheeled me up to L&D while Carlos parked the car. The emergency room OBGYN checked me and said I was barely a centimeter dilated. I thought it was impossible considering how close together my contractions were but wasn’t too surprised considering the same happened with PJ. As luck would have it my OBGYN was the doctor on call so he already knew we wanted to have a repeat c-section. He did make me wait about two painful hours before getting me into the operating room (rude) but everything went smoothly.

Catalina was born at 1:43pm, weighing in at 3.045kg and measured in at 18 inches. She was much smaller than any of the doctors thought she would be. Two days beforehand we had an ultrasound performed where the technician said she would come in close to 4kg.

My recovery has been great. I was feeling back to (almost) normal once they removed my stitches. Breastfeeding this time around has definitely been more successful and overall our transition to being parents to two beautiful girls has been much easier than I anticipated.

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For anyone looking for a newborn photographer in Montevideo I can highly recommend Charles Sarti Photography in Carrasco. Charles is HIGHLY professional and truly dedicated to his craft. 

 

Our new adventure with Autism.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but PJ has a speech delay. She’s always been hesitant to speak or communicate in ways other than grunting/screeching and pointing.

I started noticing the delay when she was about 18 months old and still hadn’t said,”Mama” on more than one occasion. Whenever I tried to share my concerns everyone brushed them off and said things like, “Kids develop at different speeds/So and so didn’t start talking until they were 5/You’re just being paranoid she’s fine.” But deep in the pit of my stomach I knew that things weren’t fine.

When PJ started school last year I always asked the teachers how she was doing and I was constantly being told that she didn’t really interact with the other kids or that she would immerse herself in her own activities and not participate. They thought she might have an ear problem so we started taking her to appointments. We had a few meetings with the school’s psychologist but she never suggested anything more than what we were already doing.

After months of appointments of hearing tests and figuring out that her hearing was in fact fine we were directed to see a pediatric neurologist. She prescribed an EEG which took us MONTHS to finally get because PJ kept getting sick whenever we had it scheduled–after 5 months we finally got it done and everything was normal. The neurologist also suggested we start seeing a speech therapist to see what we can do. And so, PJ started seeing a speech therapist twice a week for 50 minute sessions.

After only two months of therapy PJ was able to say more than one syllable words. She started asking us for things as opposed to grabbing us by the hand and taking us to whatever she wanted. She was able to put tiny phrases together like “Momma come!” or my favorite at the time “Shake, rattle, roll!”

Don’t get me wrong, PJ knew things. She knew her alphabet. She knew her numbers. She knew the difference between her vowels and her consonants. PJ knew her animals and what noises they made. Everyone, including the doctors and teachers, said PJ was brilliant and knew more than most two and a half year olds but she just didn’t know what to DO with that information.

When we took PJ to Miami, coincidentally right after she turned three, she had an intense mental growth spurt. She was able to answer “yes” or “no” to our questions and she was able to more or less communicate with her cousins. She would talk to us about things she saw or specifically ask us for things like “Mom, we go to cousin house?” I must’ve cried so much on our trip just seeing this new light in her eyes, the excitement of being able to communicate. But she still had her little quirks of isolating herself, not answering to her name whenever she was too immersed in something, or even organizing toys by size or color.

Fast forward to last week when we had a meeting with a new pediatric neurologist. This time we were (unknowingly) meeting with the head of the department at our hospital. She spent almost two hours with us interviewing us and observing PJ play in the corner of the office. For the first time someone asked us, “Have you ever thought that your daughter could be on the spectrum?” I wanted to break down crying because finally someone wasn’t ignoring it. I had spent months trying to get someone to acknowledge that it was a possibility but every therapist and doctor said we hadn’t crossed that bridge yet.

To sum up the meeting she recommended we start taking PJ to meet with an occupational therapist as well as her speech therapy. She was calm and patient, she explained that PJ obviously isn’t on the more extreme side of the spectrum (whatever that means) but that she just had things she needed help with. She assured us that PJ would lead a normal life; which kinda made me roll my eyes because obviously this isn’t a death sentence but I guess not every parent sees it that way.

However I will say that this couldn’t have come at a more stressful time. Trying to set up an appointment with a therapist in the middle of Uruguayan summer is next to impossible since everyone is on vacation. We still don’t know PJs school schedule for the upcoming year so we can’t really schedule a set therapy schedule until the end of February. And then of course we have the new baby coming. We’re going to do everything in our power to get PJ the help she needs but it’s not going to be, for lack of a better word, easy.

Right now I just ask for positive thoughts and prayers as we navigate through this new parenting journey. That God place us where he wants us, with therapists that will help her, with teachers that will be understanding, and as always continue to bless us with people that love and care for our family.

Why hello there…

I haven’t updated the blog in months. I wish I could give you some exciting excuse but honestly I just haven’t felt motivated to do so.

Since my last personal update so much has happened that there may or may not be some overlap:

Paloma started going to CAIF every day back in February. She loves going and has quickly become everyones favorite. While her teachers gave me complaints of the language barrier at first, they quickly fell in love with her and let us know she was everyones favorite! They did however share some concerns with her hearing and we are currently going through testing. Initial tests showed there was a bit of a deficit in the left ear but nothing will be definite until the end of the month. She also has an appointment to see a speech therapist at the end of June since she still hasn’t formed sentences at two and a half.

Carlos had an art show earlier this month that went really well. It was a group show with two of his Cuban friends. He had been really stressed for that show so I’m glad things turned out well. He’s currently working on pieces for two shows later this year. We’ll see how things go.

As for me…well…what can I say? After my initial neurologist check ups and starting on Pregablin things were good. For about three weeks I was symptom free but then my eye flutters came back and I started having searing pain in my left shoulder that reached and tingled my finger tips. My doctor didn’t like that so he sent me for another MS test that I don’t have an appointment until July.

Then there was the diabetes test I had that said I’m prediabetic and obviously need to lose weight in order to prevent it from becoming full blown diabetes. But the test also said that the reason I haven’t been able to lose weight and have a predisposition for being overweight is because of some numbers on the blood test. I started on Metformin and have actually lost weight since starting.

If you thought that was the end of my health problems then, yeah, clearly you don’t know me or my luck that well. I had an appointment with my nephrologist and they checked my kidney function. In regards to the blood check and urine output they said everything is all good. But the sonogram said that I’m starting to develop a fatty build up around my (only) kidney. And of course the solution to that problem? Lose weight.

So right now two out of three of my health problems can/should be resolved by losing weight. But it’s not really all that simple. This is more than just a calorie deficit. This is a battle of mind over matter. It’s easy when you write everything down and say, “Oh this doesn’t seem so bad. Sure, okay, I can limit what I shove in my mouth.” But then there comes that bad day or stressful afternoon of motherhood and all I want to do is stuff my face with homemade Twix I made for Carlos’ and my anniversary dinner (delicious by the way!).

I don’t really know what the point is of sharing all this but I just feel if putting it out into the universe will help me understand or strengthen me in overcoming this dark period then I have to. Every day is a struggle to make it through to bed time without breaking down completely. But that’s what adulthood is, isn’t it? All of us just faking it until we make it?

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Best Uruguayan thing since parrilla…PAGANZA!

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before but paying bills in Uruguay is a headache. Normally you would have to go to a place where you can pay your bills called Abitab or RedPagos. They provide a myriad of services like bill pay, they make appointments to get your ID, you can pay your taxes, exchange money, you can buy scratch offs, and they also have a point system where you cash in and get discounts on things like toys, alcohol, and home goods.

Normally I don’t mind going to our local Abitab. But there’s always that time around the first of the month that you don’t want to be caught near one. That’s when Uruguay’s version of social security checks come out and everyone lines up at the Abitab to collect. I’ve waited in line for two hours before because I needed our internet turned back on. It was not fun.

Which brings me to this amazing new app I heard about through the expat Facebook group. Available for iPhone, Android and Windows, Paganza is an app that links to your (Uruguayan) bank account and allows you to pay your bills through the comfort of your home.

I know what you’re thinking…”What’s the big deal? I’ve been able to do that where I live for years.” I’ll tell you what the big deal is. I couldn’t do that in Uruguay before this miraculous app came into my life. It reminds me of when bills need to be paid BEFORE the paper bill comes to my house–if it ever comes.

It does take a few days for the payment to post onto your account, so you have to be mindful of when your bills are due to avoid your service being shut off. For example, we had one of our cell phone bills due LAST Friday but we didn’t realize that until Sunday. Because this week was Carnaval, the payment didn’t post until Thursday.

Anyway, I definitely recommend this app. If you’re in Uruguay and have a Uruguayan bank account I would check it out! Let me know how it goes, if you do.

Lady date in MVD pt. 2: Fusimi Sushi

Before my sister left for Italy we went on a little lady date. A day full of pampering and stuffing our faces with delicious sushi and chinese food.

In my first post I talked about our time at Me Spa and I’ll be glad to note that we have since gone back for manicure and pedicure and again, AMAZING! Seriously everyone should go there. 

Now to talk about our time at Fusimi Buffet in Punta Carretas. I had heard about Fusimi from a fellow expats blog called Ask Annette. I had never attempted to eat Asian food here for two reasons. a) Lack of fresh fish at the supermarket and b) Hadn’t found an inexpensive enough place. Sounds pretty ridiculous I know but I might as well be honest. 

Like many restaurants in Montevideo, Fusimi does NOT have a website or state their hours on their Facebook page. Being a buffet, and my being American, I would have thought it would be open from noon until at least midnight but alas like most things in Uruguay they take a siesta from 3:30pm to 8:00pm. My sister and I thought we would be safe arriving at around 6:30pm but they didn’t reopen for dinner for another hour and a half. Luckily the buffet is around the corner from the Punta Carretas shopping mall. 

Off to the mall we went, window shopping and debating getting snacks from small vendors in the mall. Actually I will say one thing I LOVE about Uruguay is the McDonald’s soft serve stands they have inside the mall. Independent little soft serve stands, I mean seriously it’s amazing. Anyway, we decided to get some coffee from the McCafe downstairs and wait for Carlos to get out of work to join us. 

After some very amusing people watching, Carlos showed up and off we went back to Fusimi. It’s a relatively small place with not as large of a selection as a buffet in the States but after being away from the States for so long and used to smaller portion sizes I was appreciative of the small selection. 

The staff is trilingual from what we could tell, however I wouldn’t be surprised if they spoke more languages. Fluent in English, Spanish, and Mandarin (at least I think it was Mandarin. Now I feel like a jerk for not having asked). The waitress noticed us speaking in English and addressed us in English. Not necessary but we appreciated it. There were several other diners present but not enough to feel uncomfortable or overpacked. 

Being pros at the buffet game my sister and I quickly placed our purses on our chair backs and grabbed our plates heading straight for the buffet. Piling up the delicious looking sushi, kung pao chicken and fried rice I was set. I wish I had my phone to take pictures of the food but you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say it was everything I could have hoped for and more. The sushi was delicious and welcomingly lacked an overabundance of cream cheese—Uruguayans LOVE Philadelphia and at most sushi places you’ll rarely see a roll that isn’t stuffed with some—and had a mouthful of fresh fish. The fried rice and chicken dishes were delicious and comparable to the stuff I normally ate in Miami. 

Carlos had three or four plates full of food while Vanessa and I could barely finish two. Our server was surprised we didn’t want dessert but seriously who could have more space in their stomachs after everything we ate? I was disappointed it took us this long to find a place like this but glad we gave it a chance. The prices are decent in comparison to other sushi restaurants in town: $390 pesos for lunch and $490 for dinner. They also have a takeout option where you pay $390 per kilogram and sushi is $20 per piece. Not bad in my opinion considering restaurants will charge you $300 for an eight piece roll. 

I will most definitely be returning to Fusimi in the near future, but I don’t know if I’ll be bringing PJ with me. She’s still too young to eat a lot of the food there except maybe for the rice. My aunt is visiting us from Miami mid-September and this will be a nice change of pace when she’s tired of parrilladas and churrasco. 

Fusimi Buffet. Solano Garcia 2468 esq. Jose Ellauri. Hours: Sunday through Thursday 12:00pm-3:30pm and 8:00pm-12:00am. Friday and Saturday 12:00pm-3:30pm and 8:00pm-12:30am. They are closed on Tuesdays.