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. 

 

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Do unto others…

As I was driving on the highway to take PJ to playgroup this afternoon I saw a few people hitch hiking. Nothing out of the ordinary. Hitch hiking is pretty normal for Uruguay.

I don’t normally stop. Especially if I have PJ in the car. But it got me thinking about this time when we were still living in Miami and I gave this older man a ride home.

It was a Saturday morning and I had just finished dropping Carlos off at work. Instead of taking my normal route home, I went the long way. It was a bright, sunny, but cold winter morning. I had my sunroof open, blasting music and just enjoying the time alone. As I was driving down Coral Way I saw an elderly man sitting at a bus stop with a shopping cart FILLED with bags. I felt a pang in my stomach and a tiny voice inside my head telling me to go back and talk with him.

After debating with myself for what felt like forever, I turned around, pulled into the gas station next to the bus stop and got out of the car. I approached the man and asked him where he was heading. We talked for a bit and I offered him a ride home. As I helped put his groceries in the back of my car, a man in a brand new BMW approached me and told me that he wished more millennials would be so kind and said, “God bless you.”

Instead of feeling shy or honored by his praise, I was angry. I wasn’t giving this guy a ride because I wanted to be patted on the back, I did it because, well I felt God was calling me to. And if it was really such a great thing then why didn’t HE do it himself? He was at the gas station before I was. He could have easily offered the man a ride home. I ended up just smiling modestly and saying, “Oh it’s nothing, thanks.” Got in my car and left.

The drive home was uneventful. It turned out the man knew my dad when they worked at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach back in the 90s. He was just a lonely man living in a section eight apartment by himself. I was genuinely happy I was able to help him, I was able to do something kind and put a smile on his face. From them on I looked out for him every Saturday at that bus stop but I never saw him again.

Being reminded of this made me wonder if I would ever do something like that again. I think about it often enough but I haven’t. Since I’ve become a mom I’ve put other people on the back burner. I’ve been too worried about my daughter and family to focus on people on the outside.

Sure, whenever I’m on the bus I’ll offer my seat to an elderly woman or if someone has one item at the grocery store behind me and I’m buying a whole cart I’ll let them in front. But I haven’t really gone out of my way to be KIND to someone. I haven’t gone out of my way to sacrifice for someone.

Of all the things going on in my/our life/lives right now, I want to make it a point to forget about us and worry about others. I want to be a blessing in other peoples lives even if it means putting myself on the back burner, even for a little while. Stop waiting for other people to bless you and stop waiting for people to put you first. But don’t do it for other people, do it for yourself. Don’t be that guy in the BMW, fully aware that people NEED help, kindness, and love. Don’t wait for someone to do it in your place. If God, the stars, the universe, etc. places someone in need in your path, help them.

Motto for the week: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. (Again, not because you’ll get something in return but just because).

Happy Birthday PJ!

I can’t believe my baby is two years old. I know that every mother looks at their child and wonders where the time went. It feels like just yesterday Carlos and I were bringing her home from the hospital.

But here we are…two years later. So much has changed and yet everything is still the same.

Our days are just as busy as ever, having moved from two hour feeding schedules and nap times that never lasted long enough to rolling over, tummy time, standing, crawling, and now running and jumping in muddy puddles. I can still remember her newborn cries and it surprises me how her cries have changed so much since then. When she was first born she looked so much like Carlos but now she looks like neither of us. She’s her own person with her own distinct voice, traits, and views of the world.

It’s crazy how much has changed in the four~ days since she turned two, as if a switch turned on internally alerting her personality of the “terrible twos.” She started doing this fake cough/cry mix when she wants something where she slyly opens her eyes to see if I’m buying her crocodile tears. Or how about she used to be so good about telling us when she was done eating but now would rather throw everything onto the floor, climb out of her high chair and try to jump off?

Would you believe me if I said that I love this stage though? I love seeing her personality shine through. I love how she laughs at things she finds funny, how fiercely independent she is/wants to be, how fearless she is, and especially how she shows her love. Every time I see her face light up when she sees me, every unprovoked hug or kiss, or even when we’re watching tv and she holds my fingers, those tiny moments make my heart swell and it’s as if I’m seeing her for the first time all over again.

No pictures please.
No pictures please.

This little girl has completely changed my life. I always thought I knew what unconditional love was and that I was the type of person to lay my life down for someone I cared about but nothing prepared me for motherhood. Giving birth to her was the first step in learning the true meanings of grace, patience, love, and kindness. And there are days when I feel like a total failure and have to constantly remind myself that I’m doing the best I can and I wouldn’t change this job for the world.

Happy Birthday to my Dove, my guiding light and peace.

it’s the little moments

Every day that passes I am in awe of how much PJ has grown. Whenever I close my eyes, I still see her as the tiny bundle we brought home from the hospital. I still hear her newborn yawns in my sleep. And when I try to get an unwanted hug in, I can still smell her newborn smell on the back of her neck.

A few days ago Carlos and I were discussing second birthday plans. I was rattling off about Care Bears versus Lady Bug themed parties for CAIF when he stopped me and told me to look at PJ. She was sitting on the floor in the living room just rambling in her own language playing with her Cinderella doll and this pink cat I’ve had since I was a kid. When she noticed our silence she looked at us, smiled and ran over to give us each a kiss.

This past week we were on Netflix and she saw the Curious George icon and started pointing at it and said, “ooo ooo oooo!” (that’s my way of writing monkey noise). It made me beam hearing her tell me that she wanted the monkey as opposed to her normal jelly flop and tears routine.

Last week she started eating with a spoon by herself. It’s something we had been working on for months but just one afternoon at CAIF and watching her friend Micaela eat with a spoon and now she’s a pro. She even offers us some of her food if we’re not eating at the exact moment she is.

It’s in these small moments that it truly dawns on me that my child is not going to be a baby forever. She will one day converse in full sentences, be able to serve her own food, use the bathroom by herself, and even go out on her own. Eventually she will be a full fledged adult and not NEED me anymore. I know that this is what growing up is, this is what being a parent is. She will always be my baby though.

At the end of the day when my husband and I are in bed talking about what cute thing Paloma did while we were alone with her we look at each other and know that moving to Uruguay was the best decision. We get to be here for her 24/7. We’re the ones that are able to raise her, attend to her, and love her. We talk about where would we be had we stayed in Miami and know deep down that she wouldn’t be the same effervescent and lively tiny human she is today.

I’m so thankful for the life we are building and all the blessings that God has given us.

Mom, put down your phone and live this moment.

I love my family. The sweet intimate moments that only we get to share in. The ones that I can’t really capture in a picture or video. Her sleepy breaths, her tickle monster giggles, the way her cheeks get red after laughing for too long, the smell on the top of her head, and especially her little arms wrapped around my neck. These are things I wish I could keep in a box forever.

But sometimes, a lot of the time, I forget those things.  Continue reading Mom, put down your phone and live this moment.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Friendly show or an intro to bullying?

Just to get it out of the way, I let my kid watch television.

I’m not proud of it or anything but a lot of days I need a mental health break from mommy/caretaker mode and put it on for an hour to myself. For my 18 month old there really isn’t really much that holds her attention except for Teletubbies or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I normally opt for the latter because it’s easier to find on Netflix or the dish.

This morning I decided to put Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on for PJ while I unpacked some boxes. Normally I don’t give it much thought, I don’t really pay attention to the dialogue except for those ridiculously catchy tunes. But today I paid attention to the dialogue and caught Mickey throwing shade at Goofy for calling himself handsome. I remember giving the computer a side eye glance but kept on going through boxes. As the episode progressed they called on Toodles and the handy helpers to bring them a Mouskatool. I was completely appalled that one of the Mouskatools was Pete’s pants. They used them as a sail but the way that they mentioned it and then laughed that Pete got left without pants made my blood boil. I couldn’t believe that this beloved Disney character was promoting alienation and bullying of his “friends.”

I thought that this might have been just one episode. Disney couldn’t possibly be promoting these morally corrupt values to 0-5 year olds. I started watching other episodes and saw these instances recurring more and more. How is it that a show with talking mice, ducks, and dogs can encourage children to poke and make fun of things or people that are different? Are these the type of leaders and role models we want to give our children?

My job is to raise my child to be kind, loving, and generous. To encourage her to be the best her she can be. But we all know that no matter how well a parent tries to nurture these values in their child, bits of their character are molded by what they see on television.

Imagine that these little jabs Mickey gives to Goofy or Pete are a drop of water, each one collecting at the bottom of a bucket. Eventually those individual droplets fill the bucket creating a pool. That bucket is your child’s mind and those droplets form the pool that are filling it up. That pool is what your child is made up of. Images of bullying and alienation become her normal. The children watching these shows are at such an impressionable age. Should we really be allowing them to be watching these things? NO!

After today I don’t will not allow PJ to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, or any television program that advocates, no matter how stealthily, the mistreatment of people different than the social norm. All of us, no matter how cool we think we are, are quirky, weird, and dare I say it, DIFFERENT. I’m not going to teach my daughter that she has to fit a societal mold because it makes people feel more comfortable. I’m going to encourage her to be whoever she is, no matter what anyone else may say.

The 5 things I thought I’d miss…

When I moved there were certain things I was sure I would miss like Publix supermarkets and my local Chinese restaurant. However there were other things that I’m doing surprisingly well without. The list is divided between things I thought I’d miss before coming here and things I didn’t realize I wouldn’t miss until I got here.

1. Dishwashers

If there’s one chore I hate it’s loading and unloading the dishwasher. There’s just something about it that frustrates the hell out of me. When we first got to Uruguay I realized that dishwashers aren’t as common as they are in the United States. I used to think that if I hated a machine washing my dishes then I couldn’t imagine being happy having to wash dishes by hand. Much to my surprise I actually prefer washing dishes by hand than I ever did using a dishwasher. My dishes are much cleaner, hardly any water spots and dishes get cleaned right away as opposed to piling up in the sink.

2. Big Box supermarkets

Yes there are big box supermarkets in Uruguay, however I don’t like shopping there much. The produce isn’t as fresh as buying from an outside vendor and I get better deals on protein buying it from a butcher. Their “artisanal”breads leave something to be desired so I usually buy it from a bakery. Living in my small town is what I imagine it must have been like pre-1950s in the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I miss Target so much but for every day shopping I prefer buying locally.

3. Fast food

Oh my word, I was a frequent patron of fast food establishments when living in the States. I’m talking about I went to Wendy’s or McDonald’s twice a day. I was worse than an American statistic. I’m not proud of that. When I moved to Uruguay I realized that while yes they have McDonald’s and Burger King it is only in shopping malls or in Montevideo. Meaning, if I wanted to grab some McD’s I would need to travel an hour and a half to get some. Needless to say I have managed to survive without those golden arches.

4. Television

I’m not going to say I don’t watch television anymore because that would be a lie. But when I moved to Uruguay I thought that finding something to watch in English would be next to impossible. Luckily it isn’t as most TV shows aren’t dubbed but subtitled. Not only do I lack time to watch TV but seasons are so off from what’s currently airing in the States that I just don’t bother. I mean, they JUST started airing How I Met Your Mother. I will say though I really miss watching HGTV.

5. The “big” city

Before leaving Miami, I knew we would be moving to a farm. I pictured small towns of twenty people, miles of wheat and red barn houses. I was already missing my suburban life before stepping foot on the plane. After being here for a year and a half and having returned to Miami I can say I wholeheartedly never want to return. I like our town of 6,000+ inhabitants and I like that I can scream as loud as I want and my neighbors can’t hear me. My daughter has 40 acres of land to run around on and plenty of animals to entertain her. There are some aspects of city living I miss like an abundance of ethnic food restaurants and things being open past 6:00pm but overall I’ve fallen in love with small town living.

 

To my fellow expats, is there anything you thought you’d miss that you find yourselves making due without? I’d love to hear about them!

Be on the lookout for my follow up post to this, “The ___ things I didn’t know I’d miss…” coming soon!