2015: New Year, New [insert something witty here]

I’m not sure if I see New Years as the beginning or end to something. Once I graduated college and I entered the “real” world, New Years became irrelevant. There was nothing to look forward to like a new grade starting or big milestone (think turning 21 or graduating from college). A new year just meant I got a day and a half off of work to spend at home with my husband watching movies along with annoyingly dating my checks wrong for about two weeks.

New Years is also a really somber time for my husband and I. Our first year of marriage, a good friend of ours died. I won’t go into specifics but it was a really rough time on us, especially on my husband. Every year since then, it doesn’t feel right to celebrate a new beginning when we’re reminded of an unexpected and abrupt ending.

But since Paloma was born I want things to be different. I want to celebrate new beginnings and enjoy the daily gift of life. I want my daughter to know that the closing of a chapter in our lives doesn’t have to produce fear or sadness, rather it should bring joy and excitement for whats to come.

I have big things planned for 2015. I’m not going to call them resolutions because I feel as if that’s just setting myself up for failure. They’re goals that if I can accomplish them, then great. And if I don’t, then okay. I’m going to list them here in order to keep myself accountable.

Here it goes.

  • Read my bible on a daily basis. I’ve been slacking.
  • Complete Fitness Blenders’ 8 week fitness program. It’s not about losing weight but just about finishing it.
  • Go on a trip. My husband and I made it a habit to go on a yearly trip when we were sans baby and I’m afraid we won’t continue that tradition with baby.
  • Keep a jar with reminders of all the good things that happen.
  • Finish my book.
  • Finish Paloma’s baby photo book.
  • Read a book a month. Because let’s face it, having a one year old is going to make it hard enough to do the things on my list, if I try to read more than a book a month I will definitely fail.

These are my personal goals. Not my mommy goals or my wife goals.  Each of them reminders to take a breath from our busy life to think about life, the world around us, and as selfish as it sounds take a minute to focus on myself.

Later on this week I’ll write about 2014 and why I’m sad to see it go.

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Living on a farm: Chacra Canaan

When we decided to move to Uruguay, my parents had it in their mind to live on a farm.

You see, my dad was born and raised in a small town outside of Havana, Cuba. He grew up around livestock and crops. My mom was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She grew up in the concrete jungle. Two TOTALLY different upbringings. But throughout my parents 30+ years of marriage, my dad had been planting seeds in my mothers mind that when they retired they should end up on a farm, that only those who are self sufficient will succeed at the end of the day. I mean, yeah sure he’s right but whatever let’s be real you raised your kids in the sprawling suburbs of Miami. Does it look like we were prepared for farm life?

I’m sure living on a farm in the States–along with most industrialized countries in the Northern hemisphere–is a little bit different. Cold weather probably means snow and all sorts of weather conditions I am in no way accustomed with. You probably have barns to keep your animals in and to be honest I don’t really know much else about farm life except for the animals or barns.

On our “farm,” which is really just two houses on a plot of land with eucalyptus trees, bamboo, and fruit trees, along with 20+ sheep, 6 cows, 5 pigs and 25+ piglets. Our fruit trees bear apples, pears, persimmons, figs, plums, peaches, and guayaba. While yes it is nice to grow our own fruit, my goodness it’s annoying to have a surplus and have to get rid of them. We normally gift to our neighbors or people in town but even then we can’t get rid of them fast enough.

View of the little eucalyptus forest in the back
View of the little eucalyptus forest in the back
These are our yellow plums. So sweet and delicious!
These are our yellow plums. So sweet and delicious!

Right now we’re trying to really focus on organic farming. We are composting and have a farm breeding area behind the pig pen so the chickens and birds won’t try to eat them. Our plans for the next few months are to build greenhouses to then grow our own vegetables and try to be as self sustaining as we can be. It’s not going to happen over night but I feel confident that we will reach that goal one day.

Some of our sheep. We named the texel (the white faced sheep) Belle. She’s a milking sheep. She always answers when we call and just so happens to be my favorite. She was pregnant with her twins here.

I’ll update on how our farming is going throughout the year. I’m still learning as much as I possibly can. It isn’t easy but new beginnings never are.

How we came to be here…

Hello! My name is Michelle and I’m an American expat living in Uruguay. I have a one year old daughter (Paloma), a husband (Carlos), and a whole bunch of farm animals.

In August of 2013 my husband and I packed our bags, along with my immediate family, and moved to Uruguay in search of something new. Why Uruguay? My parents traveled to Uruguay in the spring of 2010 for their first vacation in years. They fell in love with the landscape and people, came home and told us they planned on moving here as soon as my sister and I were done with university.

Fast forward to fall of 2012: I’m married to Carlos for a year and a half, we were both working two jobs trying to pay off my husband’s student loans as fast as we could and living at my parents’ house. One afternoon coming home from work I get a call from my mom telling me she put the house for sale. I was in complete shock. My parents had been talking about moving for years but I never thought they’d actually go through with it. Now I don’t know you remember the housing market in late 2012 but it wasn’t very good. We didn’t expect the house to sell as quick as it did. Three weeks. It took three weeks to sell our house. We thought we would have more time; more time to sit and think about what it was we–Carlos and I–wanted to do. You see, my parents gave us two options: 1) stay in Miami and live in the rental property they owned and all we would have to pay was HOA fees and the end of year taxes or 2) we could go with them. After many sleepless nights filled with long discussions we decided on the latter option.

We had to be out of the house by February 2013. Have you ever tried packing and emptying a house in two months while working two jobs? It’s INSANE! The last day at the house was filled with tearful goodbyes as we moved into the rental property while finalizing things before heading to Uruguay. A week later we found out we were pregnant with our little girl, which if we were on the fence about moving to Uruguay this definitely solidified our decision to leave.

In August 2013, after a series of bumps in the road, we boarded our flight from MIA to MVD and haven’t looked back.

More to come soon!