Feliz Día del Niño!

Oh Uruguay…How you’ve managed to bring more holidays into my life is ridiculous. But here we are celebrating our second día del niño!

You’re probably wondering what the día del niño is, so let me explain. According to Wikipedia–my source for all things unknown–it’s a yearly holiday celebrated across the world to unify and celebrate childhood, bring light to the wellbeing of children, and promote child rights. It’s celebrated across the world in countries like Nicaragua, Albania, Argentina, and Paraguay just to name a few.

In Uruguay, the día del niño is celebrated on the second Sunday of August. For kids, it’s bigger than Christmas. There are events and festivals dedicated to it.

I don’t think it’s a holiday we’ll adopt until PJ is in school and she mentions it. I will say that I take advantage of the sales and buy her birthday/Christmas presents now. Much better discount now than at Christmas.

Most towns, churches, malls, and schools have celebrations in honor of the day. Something to get the kids out of the house. But our town canceled it’s event due to a weather-related power outage. I was looking forward to the bounce house and the firefighter show/thing they were going to do. Hopefully next year we’ll be able to take her.

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i’ve got the blues

I haven’t written in a couple of weeks due to some personal issues. I’ve debated writing on the subject, afraid of being too honest in such a public forum. 

I’ve been going through an inexplicable wave of depression for the past few weeks. All I’ve wanted to do is stay in bed, watch Supernatural, and sleep. 

At first I thought it was due to the impending arrival of Aunt Flo, but after her usual visit I’m still feeling blue. Then I figured it might be due to the wet weather we’ve been having but on sunny days I feel just as down. 

I suffered from depression as a teenager. I went to several therapists, was put on multiple mood altering medications, suffered from the effects of said drugs, and eventually quit it all. I blocked a lot of that time in my life from my memory. I couldn’t tell you why I started going to therapy to begin with even if I wanted to, but I can tell you that it wasn’t something I had to deal with often after I graduated from high school. 

It wasn’t until recently that I started feeling it weigh on me. There hasn’t been a major catalyst in these feelings. Carlos and I haven’t been arguing. Things with my parents are normal. Vanessa and I are good even with the distance. Paloma has just been her usual vivacious and loud self. But somehow I can’t find a way to get through this period.

I keep getting asked, “Are you okay? You don’t seem okay.” Those are the questions that make my skin tingle, my blood boil, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It’s a ridiculous reason to get upset. They mean well. They’re my family and they love me. However when I’m in this dense fog of depression it’s difficult to see their good intentions. 

The worst part of feeling this way is how I feel when I’m around Paloma. My patience is thin and my temper is roaring. The more frustrated I get, the clingier and more emotional she is, causing me to get even more frustrated than before. I’m beyond blessed to be in a situation that I can leave her with my parents of her dad for a few hours so I can take time to collect myself. It breaks my heart every time I walk away, hearing her cry and reach out to me. But I know that I need to take a few moments to myself so I can be the best mom I can be to her. 

Even knowing that those few moments are what’s best for BOTH of us, I still get hit with mom guilt if I’m not with her 24 hours a day. I feel inadequate as a mom. I see these YouTube vloggers or other bloggers sharing their stories of their life with their littles and I feel like being depressed is something that just doesn’t happen to them. I feel as  if they’re constantly smiling, doing cute activities with their littles and their lives are peachy. I know, logically, that it isn’t true. Logically, all kids throw tantrums. Logically, all moms lose their cool. Logically, not everyone has everything together. Again…logically. 

Depression isn’t logical though. It has no rhyme or reason other than a chemical imbalance. I’ve been debating going to a therapist but finding one that speaks English is going to be difficult. I could attempt to see one but I feel like most of the sessions would be spent trying to make our way through my nervous and broken Spanish. 

I often wonder if this is what postpartum depression feels like. Drowning in a glass of water, feeling completely alone and misunderstood. The more you try to explain the more people look at you with concerning eyes that are secretly saying, “Bless her heart. She has everything she could ever want and she’s here complaining.” Fearful of the backlash of sharing this very real crisis.

These are things that I FEEL. Having them, let alone sharing them, doesn’t make me dysfunctional. It doesn’t make me spoiled or flawed. I am many things: a mom, a wife, a daughter, a friend, but most of all I am human. Like most things in life, my emotions go through hills and valleys. I just so happen to be going through a valley right now. I look forward to the day when I’m back on the hill. I’ll be okay if it’s not today or tomorrow because I know that one day I’ll feel like myself again. 

Clouded Faith: My walk with Christ

I feel that in the current state of our society, Christianity is being eaten away, being diluted by political correctness and sensitivity. People are constantly bashing Christians for their views on hot topics like gay marriage or abortion. The anti-religious are becoming more vocal in their distaste towards Christians, while openly embracing other religions. Young Christians are afraid of sharing their faith in fear of being seen as “uncool” or are content in being in the lukewarm waddling pool of the faith. 

I used to be one of those people. I grew up in a strong Christian home, my mother being our example of who and what a Christian is. We went to church three days a week; participated in youth groups, bible studies, and volunteered whichever way we could. However that isn’t to say there weren’t major bumps on that road. I was bullied by other kids in the church for being fat and having a fat family. My sister and I were never invited to birthday parties or outside of church get togethers. That didn’t stop my mother from being active in the church until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

At that time I was 9 years old and tried very hard to hold onto my faith. But it proved to be difficult whenever my aunt picked us up for church and the church kids would make fun that my mom had a shaved head. Or would be sweaty/weak/sick from her chemo treatments. I hated going to church but not going wasn’t an option. At least not until my mom had a conversation with our then-pastor that we stopped going. I don’t know the exact topic of the conversation but I do know that the straw that broke the camels back was when he said, “You must be so full of sin that God allowed you to get sick.” 

My mom never went to his church again. He’s had a lot of success as a pastor and is now known as the “Prophet of Profit” or something in Miami. Good for him. 

But his lack of kindness is what darkened my view on religion for the next eight years of my life. How could someone say that someone deserves cancer? That God, the loving man you portray, would use this awful disease as a punishment? I slowly came to hate religion. I hated religious people. I always looked at them warily and tried to steer clear of them before they could hurt me. 

I spent those next few years lost, constantly searching for something or someone to fill the void in my heart. I was desperately holding onto unhealthy friendships, defying my parents, and experimenting with things that don’t make me proud today. My mom always tried to remind me of God. That I was His child, that His love for me mattered more than anything, and that most importantly Jesus died for me.

You can imagine how often that conversation led to a fight due to my lack of response. But I wasn’t ready to hear it. I hadn’t yet found someone that practiced the love they preached. 

But summer 2003 I experienced one of Gods inexplicable miracles firsthand. My sister had a boyfriend that lived out of state. He came to Miami for her high school graduation and stayed on our couch. One night I was in my room listening to my portable CD player (haha, remember those?) and I fell asleep relatively early. Not exactly sure what happened next but I woke up to my CD player door open, the CD turning backwards and hearing in my headphones, “Michelle WAKE UP, Michelle WAKE UP, Michelle WAKE UP!” over and over again. Needless to say I was creeped out enough where I tossed it across the room and darted for my bedroom door. As I opened the door, there was my sisters boyfriend reaching for the handle to my room. I ran past him, straight for my parents bed, hid under the covers and kept repeating, “Greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world.” 

Looking back now, I like to think that God was protecting me from whatever that ex-boyfriend of my sisters had intended for me. Later on I tried showing my mom how the CD sounded while rotating backwards but it didn’t work. I was stumped. At the time I didn’t know what to think other than I was going crazy. 

Fast forward to May 2011, a week before Carlos and I got married. My sister, my friend Vivi, Carlos and I were headed to a club when we got into a scary car wreck on the interstate. It was the type of accident where you spin out of control, hit a bunch of cars and pray you don’t die. But right as I was losing control of the car and we were headed for the barrier I felt hands other than my own on the steering wheel controlling the car. Carlos would later try to explain it as the power steering but I know what I felt. 

At that point I had already had a personal relationship with Christ. I went to church regularly, was in a Christian sorority in college, and volunteered at a faith-based orphanage. I knew that Gods miracles were possible. But I was still insecure about sharing my faith. God saved me, twice, from awful things happening to me. I should have been shouting His miracles from the rooftops. But whenever it was unearthed that I was a Christian I made sure to explain that I was NOT a Bible thumping Christian. I made sure never to preach or share my faith in fear of chastisement. Whenever I was in church I made sure not to worship too loudly or dance or jump because I didn’t want people to laugh.

I’m so ashamed of those fears. I hate that I worried what other people thought of me. The only person who has proven to be there for me time and time again has been Jesus. He has protected me from the things I wanted and given me the things I didn’t know I needed. 

I’m sad that I allowed a handful of negative people cloud my view of Christ. How could I see His glory when I was blinded by hatred? People will always disappoint you, ridicule you, and try to break you. But Christ will protect you and guide you through what needs to happen to reach your end goal.

I came to Uruguay with the obscure intention of spreading the Gospel. And while it’s taken me almost two years to start, I’m going to take the first step and start spreading the love and joy Jesus brings to my life. 

A break through the clouds.

Keeping Paloma entertained is hard enough when I have tons of different options but with the dead of winter upon us it’s getting harder and harder to keep her entertained. Our days usually consist of emptying out the toy box, placing things back in, emptying it out, screaming, running, and trying to trip me in the kitchen.

You would think that living on a farm PJ would have a sufficient amount of free space but until we fence the houses off from the animals her grass space is pretty limited. The animals poop any and everywhere, the dogs are constantly tripping her and the ground is uneven. I try to take her to the park in town at least once a week but I haven’t been able to do that in awhile. I also get a break during CAIF but July is vacation month in Uruguay so no playgroup until August.

The last week we’ve been dealing with cold rain but today we were blessed with SUN! Sure, the wind was brutal but we had sun making it the perfect day to head to the park for half an hour. Luckily today was Carlos’ day off and I didn’t have anything major on my to-do list for him so we got to go as a family.

Ever since I posted about putting my phone/computer away while enjoying time as a family I’ve been able to really take in the little moments. I notice the small things, the quiet moments. Like when Paloma plays with her Little People and gives them little kisses. Or for instance the hilarious moment we had yesterday at breakfast. I was playing music from the iTunes radio on my iPhone when Maroon 5’s Sugar comes on. Paloma drops what she had in her hand, gave me the dirtiest face and slowly raises her fingers to her ears to cover them. She didn’t move them until I changed the song. I got a stitch on my side from laughing so hard.

Anyway, while at the park I made it a point to take pictures with my DSLR as opposed to using my phone. I knew that if I had my phone out I would be distracted by social media or tempted to play a level of Dots.

I was surprised how Paloma now LOVES to go down the slide by herself. She normally wants us to go down with her or hold her by her waist as she scoots down. But today she was a big girl! It made my heart hurt but simultaneously swell with joy seeing how much she’s grown.

I love days like this. Days where smiles and giggles flow freely.It’s these little moments that I live for. All the tough to get through moments are worth it when I get to experience days like these. My family is my everything.

Climbing the stairs to get on the slide.
Climbing the stairs to get on the slide.
Moments like these melt my heart.
Moments like these melt my heart.

*I wrote this post on Tuesday before we took PJ to the hospital. Didn’t have a chance to post it then.

I think we’ve got an emergency.

Last night was our first middle of the night trip to the emergency with little Paloma.

During dinner I noticed that she was only eating with her right arm, at bed time she didn’t help me get her dressed, and while drinking her bottle she only held it with her right arm. I thought it was a little weird but since she wasn’t screaming or anything I figured she was being particular.

She went down at 8:30pm like normal but at around 10:00pm she started crying in her sleep. Nothing serious at first, just random cries, but as the night progressed her cries got more intense and at around midnight she was screeching. I pulled her into our bed thinking she might be hot from the heater in her room. But after getting her undressed and giving her some water I realized something was up.

When Paloma throws a tantrum she normally gives it her all kicking and punching with all her limbs. But last night I noticed that she only used her right arm. At that point I knew something was odd and we should take her to the emergency room. It was 1:45am and I was dreading the hour drive to the hospital but it needed to get done. After waking my parents to get the car keys and successfully freaking out my mom we headed to the hospital. It was freezing last night. There was ice on the windshield and even Paloma didn’t object to being bundled up in three different blankets.

After a very bumpy and scary ride thanks to my dads driving, we got to the hospital in 35 minutes. We walked up to the window to speak with the secretary about needing to see a doctor. We were quickly processed and taken to triage. The nurse took down all her info and we waited about two minutes before we saw the doctor. Our doctor was hesitant at first to see if anything was wrong but after attempting to play with Paloma she realized that something was bothering her arm. She had me undress her slowly and she noticed that she was definitely having issues moving her left arm. She did a another physical examination and felt that her elbow was dislocated.

Hearing that my heart dropped. I felt like it was something I did. I pulled her arm too hard to get her away from something dangerous or maybe she fell too hard at the park. Why hadn’t I noticed it earlier? I felt like an awful parent.

The doctor was very quick to tell me it was a miracle I even noticed it when I did considering PJ wasn’t crying. After popping it back into place she gave her some Ibuprofen and kept her for few minutes for observation. While she wasn’t comfortable using her left arm all that much afterwards you could tell there was a HUGE difference in how she moved. She slowly started using her arm to hold my cell phone and she used both arms to ask to be picked up.

Once the doctor saw that she had improved mobility she sent us home. I’d say we spent a total of half an hour at the hospital. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a short emergency room trip in my life. I have friends with kids in the States and when they tell me of taking their kids to the emergency room it’s literally hours before anyone gets seen by a doctor. It’s moments like these where I’m extra appreciative of being in Uruguay. The healthcare here is amazing, people are treated like people and not like money. I wish that the States could adopt this, that hospitals could be stopped being seen as businesses and could be seen as healing centers.

Today we’re taking it easy at home. Carlos has the day off so we’re at home trying to recoup from a long night. Thankful for that our adventurous little girl is feeling alright.

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. 

Lady date in MVD pt. 1: Me Spa

I mentioned in my previous post that my sister is moving far far away! I’m still not ready to talk about her new adventure but I will say that as the day of her departure approaches we have been spending a lot of quality time together.

A few weeks ago we decided we needed a lady date in Montevideo. Get away from the baby and all the craziness that is our house. My sister is obsessed with all things beauty and is definitely my biggest supporter in taking care of myself. So she suggested we have a grooming date where we get bikini waxes and I could get my eyebrows done.

Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal for us but in Uruguay I’ve been VERY hesitant to get waxed because of some horror stories. Women have told me that some places recycle the wax (EW!) and that they don’t sanitize their utensils in between customers. I don’t know about y’all but basic human hygiene is not something I want my salon to skimp on.

As a stay at home mom I found it really difficult to find places based on word of mouth so I had my sister ask one of her coworkers what her suggestion would be. Her friend suggested we try Me Spa in Punta Gorda. It’s located in a very quiet residential area with lots of parking available in front. Beautifully decorated, both outside and in. Very spacious and welcoming aura. I decided to check out their facebook page (linked above) to see what kind of work they do. To say I fell in love is a total understatement. Lucia, owner and eyebrow QUEEN, posts before and after pictures of all of her clients. Her eyebrow philosophy clearly showed through each and every picture published. I knew we were led in the right direction.

When we got to the spa we were welcomed by Camila, the holder of all things wax, who would perform our bikini waxes. Of course the amazing sister that I am let Vanessa go first so I could hang back and check out all their stuff on display. P.S. I definitely made sure to copy jokes I saw in THIS buzzfeed listacle about getting a bikini wax beforehand. Anyway, it had been FOREVER since I had seen an O.P.I. nail stand so I was in heaven. Lucia was working on another client and I noticed it was strangely quiet for a spa/salon. Eventually I was told that Lucia and Camila work by appointment only allowing for a calm and quiet experience.

Once Vanessa was done it was my turn. Their waxing room is located in the back, really nice and small room with plenty of privacy. When it comes to getting waxed I don’t like big rooms because it just makes me more paranoid about being naked in front of a complete stranger. I appreciated the more intimate setting. Camila was super professional, especially considering it had been more than two years since I’ve gotten waxed, and friendly during our time together. If her demeanor and cleanliness hadn’t sold me yet, she told me they use a homemade all natural wax. Seriously? Could this place get any better? No burning, no rough chemicals, no bumps or redness afterwards. A+!

Shortly after it was time to get my eyebrows done. Let me say that it had been about two years since I had gotten them done professionally. When I was in Miami last September I didn’t have enough time to get to a Brow Bar at Ulta so I figured it wasn’t worth risking a spotty experience. Right away Lucia sat me down in their comfortable eyebrow chair, leaned me back and explained her process to me. I opted for the pricier design package where she would design and shape my eyebrows. Most of my previous eyebrow experience was basically all done by winging it. I wanted to see how it would go. After cleaning and prepping my eyebrows, she outlined the natural shape of my eyebrows. She then proceeded to MEASURE them to make sure they would be as close to perfectly symmetrical as possible. I had never had anyone EVER measure my eyebrows before. Needless to say, I was impressed.

Based on what Lucia told she normally does all her eyebrow designs using tweezers but since it had been so long since I had done my very bushy brows, she would use wax to clean up most of the mess. No complaints on my end. Once the almost painless waxing was over she went to work. I swear I have never been tweezed by gentler hands. It took about an hour just for my eyebrows but it was worth it. I was almost crying when she was done. Not from pain but because I looked and felt like a human again.

Lucia and Camila definitely have a return customer in me. We actually already have reservations for next week to get our nails done with them. If you’re ever in Montevideo and find yourself needing a mani-pedi or a wax it’s definitely worth making your way to them. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00am to 8:00pm by appointment only. To gauge their prices a bikini wax was $250 pesos or roughly USD$9.00. The eyebrow design was a little more expensive $590 or roughly USD$28.00 but I have paid way more for my eyebrows to get done in Miami. However after the work she did if that’s not a bargain, I don’t know what is. Check them out, I promise you won’t regret it!

Since no lady date would be complete without dinner make sure to stay tuned for my review on Fusimi Buffet in Punta Carretas early next week!

The Before and After!
The Before and After!