Holiday blues…

Since I was seven years old, the holidays have never been easy on me or my family. Those who know me intimately know that since 1997 I have spent most holidays with friends or just sitting around watching movies with my family.

Don’t get me wrong, I have fond memories of spending Christmases and New Years’ with my middle school “squad” or spending it on the couch watching TV with my mom and sister–my dad worked all the holidays–but once we had PJ I realized that we would have to bring the magic back to Christmas.

This year was especially hard because we spent Thanksgiving with Carlos’ family in the States. Apart from the expected family drama, it was pleasant trip. PJ got to spend a lot of time with her cousins. They have the sweetest relationship which made it really hard for us to want to leave. Every day since we’ve been back she has asked for her cousins and every day we have to break it to her that they live very far away and we can’t just get in the car and go to their house.

Since we’ve been in Uruguay, Christmas doesn’t really feel like Christmas. We don’t have extended family to celebrate with and since it’s just us we don’t see a point to dressing up or setting up an elaborate table.

This year we ate Christmas dinner in our pajamas and Skyped in my sister while PJ opened her Christmas gifts. Then we Skyped with Carlos’ side of the family so the kids could show off their gifts to each other, which made me cry because duh my kid kept looking at me asking to go to their house. It was rough to see her want nothing more than to be playing with them. But it gives me hope that she’ll get along with her little sister come February–surprise! We’re having another baby! But that’s a post for a different day.

All I can say is that I hope one day Christmas will go back to feeling magical and bright, that we can make new traditions even though we’re not with all of our family and friends…

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What I wish I knew…

I always find that around this time of year my social media timelines are full of an array of engagement and pregnancy announcements.

As Christmas and New Years came and went I patiently waited for my Facebook friends to start boasting about their new life adventures and it made me start thinking about where I was when I got engaged/married/pregnant. What I wish I would’ve known before hand and what I wish people knew that isn’t shown in Instagram posts and vague Facebook statuses.

  • Marriage isn’t work. It’s a choice. If you go into your marriage thinking something along these lines, “Uhhhh…I don’t really want to do this. Not sure if I want to be here. Well, if it doesn’t work I can always quit later on.” Then you probably shouldn’t be getting married to that person. Your marriage is a choice, not a chore. You chose this person. You need to choose them more than just one day in your lifetime, but every day.
  • Marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100%. It’s easy to say marriage is 50/50. But it really isn’t. It wasn’t until I wasn’t able to give 100% of myself in my marriage that I realized that my husband gives me 100% of himself. Without complaint and without anger, but rather with total compassion and understanding does he pick up when I fall. And the days when he can’t give 100% of himself to our marriage, I pick up where he can’t. If each of you is only giving 50%, it will seem like work when you have to pick up for your partner. Or you’ll constantly be thinking, “Well, I wash dishes and pick up the dry cleaning. What do YOU do?” That’s not a healthy mindset for your marriage. And for the days when neither of you can give much to the stresses of daily life, say “Screw it!”, order takeout, and watch Netflix all night.
  • No one is obligated to love your kid except YOU. I’ve had trouble truly accepting this. I’ve had issues with my in-laws and how I don’t feel they treat my kid the same way they treat the other babies in the family her age. Sure, it could be because of the distance, but that doesn’t take away from how much it angers me  when I see that they regard her with apathy as opposed to the love and kindness she deserves. But it makes me all the more aware and grateful for my parents that think the sun shines out of my kids butt.
  • Stop comparing your partner to other people. Seriously. Don’t do it. Just because someone posts the amazing things they do/their spouse does all over social media doesn’t mean that they’re happy or that their husband is any better/worse than yours. Your husband may not buy you flowers or expensive jewelry, but does he help you wash dishes, do laundry, help with groceries and dinner? Yeah, I’d pick that over dead flowers any day. And even if he doesn’t, I’m sure that comparing him to others isn’t going to make YOU or your marriage any happier.

It’s not a long list but I know that these are things I wish I knew before I entered my marriage/parenthood.

Feel free to share any advice you may have for those about to get married or become parents!

Devoted.

Oh well hello there! I can’t believe I haven’t written since last year! [insert sting drumroll here] It is very hard for me to accept that we’re already in 2016. It’s crazy how time flies as an adult but when you’re a kid a year feels like an eternity.

This month is Carlos’ and my nine year anniversary of being together. Three of those we were long distance, five married and the past two as parents.

I’ve been in love with Carlos since I was 16. And when I fell in love I never thought I could love anyone more than I loved him in that time. But I was wrong. Here we are nine years later and I love him more than I did then. Every day I’ve fallen more in love with my husband than the last and know that will continue well into the future.

Today we went on a walk with PJ up our drive way and I had my fiftieth moment of realizing how blessed I am to have married such a loving and caring man. I know that I’m bragging about this man but just hear me out for a bit.

When we were younger, Carlos was a total jerk. He set limits on our relationship, he wouldn’t call when he said he would, blew me off with no explanation, and would never express himself in a way which satisfied me. My friends strongly disliked him and how he treated me. My parents hated him. It was awful. But I was young, in love, and convinced that I knew him better than anyone else.

When I moved away to college we decided to stay together and he started changing. He made it a point to be kind and thoughtful whenever we saw each other, and the days I couldn’t be in Miami we would talk constantly. Every day he reminded me that being together was a choice and as long as we chose to put an effort into our relationship we could make it work. But that didn’t stop us from “breaking up” a few times.

When we got married, I don’t think anyone in our families thought we would last six months, let alone 5 years (this May!). We had had a rocky relationship but we loved each other. We wanted to be together forever. And we agreed going into our marriage that divorce would never be an option. If we were doing this, there was no going back.

The first year of our marriage was one of the hardest years of my life. We were newlyweds living with my parents, I hadn’t found a job yet, he lost his job due to cutbacks, student loans were looming and I had ended the relationship with my best friend so I had no one to confide my fears in. I was so used to my independence that jumping into our marriage and under my parents thumb at the same time probably wasn’t the best decision. I spent most of that year in tears, praying for guidance, and maybe not so secretly breaking our agreement by looking up divorce lawyers.

But we worked through it. We found a balance to everything. And honestly the next few years of our marriage were great. We made a conscious effort to connect and love each other. So…we decided to have a baby.

It only took us four months to get pregnant. I think both of us expected it to take longer but we were thrilled. And nervous. And terrified. Here we were not only moving 4,000 miles away from all we had ever known,  but now we would soon be responsible for a new life? We started bickering and becoming distant. I admit that while I was pregnant I HATED Carlos for the first four to five months. If I saw him just sitting down and watching TV I would throw things at him for no reason. Or let’s say he would wash the dishes before bed I would purposefully dirty tons of dishes and make him get up and wash them. Typing this makes me wonder why I want to get pregnant again, but I digress.

Once Paloma was born everything changed. As my husband fell in love with our daughter,  I fell more in love with him than ever before. I’ll never forget how serious he took his responsibility to clean PJs umbilical stump. He set an alarm every few hours to clean it and would then change her diaper and cuddle her until she fell back asleep. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, my heart swelling from the joy of seeing those two together.

Nothing has changed in the past two years. He still dotes on her (and me) and spoils her (and me) rotten. He has never been afraid to change a diaper or ignored a sink full of dirty bottles. He is a vital part in our potty training journey. He takes his time teaching her things and takes notice of little things like when her laugh changes or always knowing where her Peppa Pig stuffed doll is. And because of his love and devotion to our daughter, I find myself more devoted and in love with him.

Somedays I can’t help but think back to where we started and know how blessed I am to be where we are. To know that our relationship is standing on solid ground and that this man chooses to love me even when I don’t deserve it. I know that our relationship works because every day we remind each other that our love and commitment is a choice we make daily. Some people find that making a declaration of commitment is enough on your wedding day but we keep it at the forefront of our marriage. It’s easy to forget your vows when you’re living the same day over and over again, falling into our societies repetitive nature of work, home, work, home, work, home day after day.

I renew my vows to him each day by doing little things that I know will make him smile. I let him pick what movies we watch or what we have for dinner. I leave little notes in his studio for him to find just saying “I love you.” I make him tea when he’s sick. I constantly remind him to reach out to his family, no matter my personal feelings. And he renews his by being an amazing father, partner, and son-in-law.

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February 2011. Gainesville Museum of Natural History. 

The past nine years have been a roller coaster and I can’t wait for the next hundred.

Going green: Camino Verde

Oh Uruguay! When it rains, it pours. We are on hour 13 of nonstop rain. Parts of the country are completely flooded, it’s cold and the idea of going outside is unappealing.

It’s been like this on and off for the past few weeks but this past weekend we were blessed with a break from the wet weather. Our not-so-wet weekend just so happened to coincide with the Camino Verde fair in Montevideo. What’s that? Well, there’s two different parts to Camino Verde. The organization itself serves as a platform to connect merchants and consumers interested in environment friendly products. They also promote healthy living through affordable cooking classes, events for children, and a blog full of clean eating/living information. For my Spanish speaking and reading friends you can find more information here.

The organization puts on fairs every so often to easily connect buyers and sellers. We hadn’t had the opportunity to attend one of the fairs before so I was really excited when Carlos agreed to go. It was a muggy day but overall no rain was to be expected. We packed the car and Paloma with us and headed for Montevideo.

La Molienda food stand. Very friendly and very delicious! Photo courtesy of Camino Verde Facebook page.
La Molienda food stand. Very friendly and very delicious! Photo courtesy of Camino Verde Facebook page.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when we arrived but was very pleased to be greeted by lots of green. As you can imagine the majority of the stands were dedicated to food: organic fruits and vegetables, vegan baked goods, chocolates, organic condiments, and amazing food stands. They also had stands dedicated to urban farming like vertical planters, repurposing furniture for planting and stands dedicated to composting.

PJ devouring a blueberry and pumpkin seed muffin.
PJ devouring a blueberry and pumpkin seed muffin.

We only stayed for about an hour but it was definitely worth the trip. I bought some organic coconut oil–normally very difficult to find outside of Montevideo–and some goat cheese. I’ve already had a lot of fun experimenting with the coconut oil. My favorite so far has been putting a teaspoon of coconut oil along with two or three drops of lavender oil in PJs bath water. She comes out silky smooth and smells so good afterwards.

I wish I would’ve taken pictures but I forgot when I stained my favorite jeans with synthetic paint. We sat down to eat on some chairs they had in the dining area and I guess whoever put them out didn’t realize they were still tacky and when I got up the paint was stuck to my thighs. It. was. awful.

Overall we had a nice afternoon as a family and got to learn more about organic and eco-friendly options here in Uruguay. I’m really excited to see how fast the movement is growing here. Can’t wait for us to start farming!

Flyer for event. Photo courtesy of Camino Verde Facebook page.
Flyer for event. Photo courtesy of Camino Verde Facebook page.

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.

Happy Father’s Day?

While a lot of people take this time to celebrate Father’s, I like to think of it as a second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc) reminder to think about family. About the choices that come with parenthood and grandparenthood or anyone that is blessed enough to raise a child.

Today I’ve seen a lot of posts stating things like, “To all the mother’s that double as mom and dad, y’all are the real MVP.” And while yes I agree that being a single parent is probably the most difficult job on the planet, it doesn’t take away from anyone that chooses to raise a child. Every person that raises a child makes sacrifices, has doubts, fears and difficult choices to make.

I’d like this post to be a thank you to those people who don’t get enough recognition in raising a child; the grandparent that is picking up where a parent is lacking, the single parents, the parents that are doing it together, the childcare workers in foster homes or orphanages. Doing this job is hard. The sleepless nights, the endless crying, the potty training, teaching how to read, write and add. There are different aspects of this life that make it difficult, but it’s a job that NEVER ends. Whether your child is two days old or 50 years old, you never stop worrying or caring for you child.

Yes, there may be grandparents day or aunts/uncles day but for those who carry that title along with mom and dad for a child that isn’t their own shouldn’t be overlooked. Know that while your child may be unappreciative a lot of the time, there are people out there that appreciate everything you do to raise that child. That any choice you make, no matter how difficult, is to do what’s in the best interest of your child.

The outside world may look at a child that isn’t raised by their parents with pity, thinking that they may not be getting love at home. But only you know the love that flows in your home. That while there are days you worry that you aren’t enough for your child, you’re doing your best to give that child love.

Every morning I wake up and see Paloma surrounded by love and kindness by all sides. Her grandparents are constantly spoiling her with hugs, her aunt makes her delicious meals and cuddles on the couch, her dad and I are completely in awe of everything she learns on a daily basis. We are blessed to be able to raise our daughter with her whole family around her. You are equally as blessed to raise a child, because of the choices you made you are able to bless a child with love.

This may not be a popular view but it is how I feel. Parenting isn’t a competition because at the end of the day we’re all doing the best we can. Today we appreciate our father’s but I feel like we should also appreciate any child rearer.