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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Stateside Fourth of July Turkey Fry

We capital-L Love visits from Uncle Ted and Aunt Kyra and we were so excited to hear that they wanted to come and visit us in (gasp!) July, we wanted to be sure and show them a good time. To start with, we wanted to continue the tradition of frying a turkey on the Fourth of July. Admittedly, this tradition made more sense when July was in the middle of winter in Argentina, but it's too fun not to continue. Even though it's triple-digit hot in July. Lucky for us, the Newhooks were just as willing to keep the tradition going. They loaded up their car with 2 kids, a full turkey fryer and accompanying items, band instruments for a late-night jam session and drove the hour up to our house for the night. Have I mentioned how much we enjoy the company of these friends??

There are a couple of things you can count on in Houston, in July. 1) It will be hot. 2) It will be humid. The thing that you cannot depend on is the weather, it is completely erratic. 

So a day that starts out like this:

Can turn into this - in the blink of an eye. 

But don't worry, it returns to a bright, sunny, hot day before you can say "Fourth of July Turkey Fry"

Seriously, we were in the pool enjoying a lovely day, the traditional July turkey was nicely frying in the corner when the weather turned and a complete downpour with accompanying lightening and thunder stopped everything for 45 minutes. Thankfully, Ted was willing to risk life and limb by holding the largest umbrella ever known over the fryer to keep the turkey going and avoid a fire-filled disaster. We thank him for saving our home, and our turkey.
We were all smiles throughout the day. It was great to have members of our family, our long-time friends and our new neighbors all in one place. The day was made even better with take out food from Corkscrew, hands down the best brisket and pulled pork that I have ever had. 

Alex enjoyed some personal attention from Aunt Kyra

The littles kept themselves busy with bubbles
There were enough adults to go around, but Aunt Kyra was the preferred choice for bedtime stories
The night ended with a jam session, which is always a highlight for us. Jon was rockin' it out on the box drum, a great addition to the band.

The rest of the weekend was a real treat for us and the kids. Aunts and uncles make the best kind of visitors! Uncle Ted spent time being hilarious with Alex, I mean, who wouldn't crack up at Mr. Potato Head's glasses on little Nemo?!

And the monotony of the same game over and over again didn't seem to touch our visitors. The bean bag pick up game was Alex's favorite for the weekend. I love how little he looks in this picture. The bean bag totally envelopes him, such a little peanut.

The patience of someone who lays to let ALL of the matching game cards be placed on them, only to then hilarious stand up and let them all fall to the ground, that is something that only an uncle has. I hope I'm not blowing his cover, but Uncle Ted is patient, fun, hilarious and a favorite among this nice and nephew. Thank you, Ted and Kyra for visiting, and we are now counting the days until your next trip to Houston. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day Fun

Father's Day in Texas has meant a pool party with friends and food and late night fun for the parents. We have been lucky with good weather for two years in a row, and this year we hit the jackpot by having our wonderful friends, the Kemps in town to share the weekend with us.

This year the pool has been so much more fun, and so much less intimidating than last year with the kids. Gretchen and Alex are so much more comfortable in the pool, and I am much more confident, especially now that Gretchen is officially swimming on her own. We did a full session of crash course swim lessons at The Woodlands Infant Aquatics and they took her from swimming confidently with floaties to being completely self sufficient in the water in a matter of 6 weeks. Impressive.

And little Alex is having so much more fun in the water. He's not quite the aqua baby that Gretchen was at this age, but I think he'll quickly get up to speed now that the weather requires us to be in the pool pretty much daily. 

Speaking of water babies, we are always thrilled to have these two beautiful ladies (and their parents) join us, especially when the pool is involved. They are complete mermaids.

Gretchen and Talia are still attached at the hip whenever they're together
The day was to celebrate Dad. Our favorite poolmate, the one who slides with us, the best putter-to-bedder, the one who always knows how to put on a show or get the TV to work, and who lets Mommy sleep in even when he wakes up earlier than everyone else any other day of the week. Happy Father's Day Jon, you're an example of Fatherhood at its finest.
The Man of the day with his little buddy
The true test of Dadhood is making down the slide with your little one with both of you still smiling at the bottom.

Mission Accomplished!
Gretchen was as happy as we were to have baby William to meet for the first time. She played the part of the doting big sister and was completely enamored with her new little buddy.

Whether baby William was on board with all of this attention has yet to be seen. 

Our lovely friends, we are so glad to have met your son and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together. If only it could happen more often! We miss you and would love to have you back as often as possible!

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 to 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!