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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Life After Argentina

We have lived in Texas for a year.

It does, in fact, feel like we have been here a year. Don't get me wrong, we really like it here, but in many ways the creative juices in our lives (and my brain, hence the lack of blog topics) has dried up. Living in Texas is really easy, getting around is pretty straightforward and most of the time, people are predictable, reliable and prompt. It's very easy to get used to, and also, kind of boring.

Not that life itself is boring, we have a whole lot to keep us busy. To start with, two little munchkins that are constantly on the move, constantly doing silly things like this:

and this:

We live in a fantastic neighborhood with lots of kids and fun adults to relate to. We have gotten to reconnect with family and friends that we haven't seen in years. We own a beautiful home, with a yard, and a pool that is clean, safe and accessible without an elevator, portero, or multi-lane city street to cross.We have lots of hobbies and interests and we are still learning about our 'new' town, exploring new places and figuring out where we fit into things. 

Still, I can't help but feel like a little bit of pizzazz has been stripped from our lives. Things that used to make me crazy, not being fluent in Spanish, living in a big (dirty, noisy, flooded) city, the unpredictable lifestyle (traffic, store hours, virtually all scheduled times, bus system, airport) I now think on with fond "remember when" tone. 

The strange thing is that there is an abundance of Latin culture here in Houston. A HUGE amount. Gretchen is at a bilingual preschool. Three of our four yard-touching neighbors are Mexican. Almost every written sign is in both languages. The majority of my friends are bilingual. And somehow, that makes it almost more difficult to stay connected to the things that we learned while we were abroad. 

So, instead of figuring out which restaurants will open before 8:30pm we are beating the "night rush" by eating at 5:30pm. Instead of walking to wherever we want to go, we get into our air conditioned cars and drive. Instead of wondering if we have enough cash, or more precisely, if we have small enough bills, we charge or write a check or use an app to pay for whatever we're buying. It sound alluring, right? All of the conveniences of home, without any of the story of living in Argentina.

I guess this is all to say that I miss it. We miss it. And we don't. It was hard, complicated and frustrating. It was also fun, challenging and incredible. 

I'm beginning to wonder if this is what repatriation is all about.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

4 Year Old Firecracker

Every year it's the same, we cannot believe that our baby girl is another year older. Four. I remember when a four year old was a "big kid", and I still feel like she is very little. She has grown up so much in the last year, consistently amazing us with her abilities. She remembers the most incredible details; the wall color in the doctor's office, the last song playing on the radio in the car yesterday, the name of every cat or dog that her grandparents have (or had in the past). She is silly and funny and kind. Her energy knows no bounds. Every day she makes us laugh, surprises us with sweetness, walks the line between personal strength and defiance and shocks us with her abilities.
She loves her routine. Eats "brown oatmeal" for breakfast everyday. Reads two books before bed every night with a bathroom break in between. Sleeps with her pink giraffe. And loves, loves, loves
her birthday.

This year we had a gymnastics party. It was a great decision. For a little girl that has never actually taken a gymnastics class, she had an absolute riot.

Maximum Gymnastics was a hit for the everyone involved. Gretchen's friends, classmates and their siblings (big and small) all had something to do, space to play and it seemed as though everyone had a great time.

Alex was a natural. He was on the balance beams, pummel horse, and was seen even hanging from the uneven bars:




Gretchen spent the majority of her time in the more active parts of the gym. The trampolines, the mats, the springy floors, it was virtually impossible to catch her being still. Just what we wanted for our little ball of energy.






Miraculously, the party coordinators were able to corral this group of rambunctious kiddos together for a group photo.


And my favorite shot of Gretchen just exuding happiness:



Last but not least, we had a delicious chocolate/chocolate/chocolate cake for our favorite chocolate lover. She was really excited for the Lego candles, talked about them all week, but nothing beat her excitement to eat cake. I'm not gonna lie, it was one of the best cakes I have ever eaten. And I ate a LOT of it.






Happy Birthday Little Lady! I hope this coming year is as fun, genuine, exciting and happy as the ones that came before. We love you more than you know.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mini-Man Alexander

It has been a big few months for our little man. He has gone from baby to toddler before our eyes, with so many new tricks and so much more personality.

He loves being outdoors, to the point where we have to lock our back door so that he doesn't escape at will. His single favorite item is the bubble mower, a flashback toy that reminds me of my brother as a little guy. It also brings back memories of our childhood pup, Cindy, and her love of chasing and eating bubbles.

My favorite part of his love of outside is when we're getting ready to head out, I'll tell him to get his "shoeskis" and he'll promptly run to the stairs and sit patiently waiting for me to put his shoes on. He will then run to the closet and grab everyone else's shoes and hand them out. It's precious.

This little guy loves his big sister. He follows her every move, running to her room first thing in the morning, and we have to pull him out of her room for bed at night.


He is also great with hand-me-downs. Some of his favorite items are bright pink and obvious, but real men, they're comfortable with pink.


He is happy, and loving and content with playing with a single toy for a very long time. He has more hair than any baby I have ever known.


He was not an instant fan of the water, but grew to love it over the course of the week. He was better in the pool than the ocean, but loved to feel the waves (below his knees) by the time the week was over.

He also learned some new tricks while we were in Mexico. And a few weeks later he began impressing us with a few words. Cookie, Bubble and a few days later Mama and Dada, although the order doesn't matter, right? He has been saying "Ma!!" for a few months, though it was referring to just about anybody or anything.




And after an abundance of food stuck in his long, flowing locks, we decided do cut Alex's hair after our trip. He had a cool mohawk for a minute and then looked like a totally new, completely older child.


This is our little man. He is silly, he is loving, he is fun and he has found his personality. We love our little guy, and are having so much fun watching him grow!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Acapulco!

We are thrilled to be able to vacation with the Newhooks once again! We were able to join them on a vacation to Acapulco, Mexico for a week in February. This was the kids first time in Mexico, our first time in Acapulco and our family's first time out of the country since we returned last March. Texas wasn't experiencing the winter weather, but we gladly left for weather that could only be described as perfect. 

Gretchen and Talia give our resort four thumbs up! We love the view from our balcony!

Alex loved standing on the balcony and pointing at things that move.

We spent our mornings deciding between the pool, the beach or a really cool waterpark across the street at a sister resort. The outdoor pool area had a number of pools to choose from, so we would set up at a different spot each day.




The kids loved this pool that had a mix of shallow and deep areas, places with jets and long benches and it was great for the big girls and little ones alike. We insisted that Alex keep this highly attractive pink lifejacket on the entire time.  He didn't seem to mind.


We took a trip into town one afternoon. It was a short lived, the kids were miserable and the taxis brought back haunting memories of taxis in Buenos Aires. One visit to town was plenty.



The dads and big girls took one day to go on a fishing excursion, a half day trip out on the only slightly cloudy day of our vacation. Upon their arrival back, Gretchen exclaimed "Mom! I had the best day fishing with Daddy! We caught one fish, and I threw up all over my swimsuit!" She was thrilled, seasick and completely happy with spending time with Daddy. 


The lone catch of the day


I love seeing these two having fun together!

We also spent a lot of time at the beach. Alex was unsure about the water at first, but he was immediately happy with the sand.




Gretchen was in love with every part of the beach. She loved the water, the sand, building things, looking for things, she was in the zone.



Alex eventually warmed up to the water. He didn't want to go in alone - which was fine with me, I was nervous around the vast open water. By the end of the week, he was having fun in the waves, just getting his feet and legs wet, but enjoying himself - which is the most important thing.


Beach Babe catching waves
One major topic of discussion during the trip was Alex's unbelievably long, thick hair. I cannot believe this child needs haircuts as frequently as he does! I thought it could wait, but his hair was seriously out of control by the time we got to Mexico. The length of hair is one thing, but he loves to eat a full meal with his hands, then run his hands with all remaining food through his long locks. It makes for a very sticky, matted mess. So, this particular morning, I took matters into my own hands.

He seemed to take this opportunity to be even more silly than usual. He has recently discovered the reaction he gets when he uses his tongue. It's pretty adorable.



Vacation was a hit, we had a relaxing, fun-filled week. Sitting home now while it's 40 degrees and raining, makes the memories even more sweet. We can't wait to do it again someday.