Holidays

Welcome to 2015!

Waiting patiently to open a gift on Christmas Eve 2014.
Waiting patiently to open a gift on Christmas Eve 2014.
 Woohoo!! The holidays are done. I can't say I am sad to see them go (see my last post about homesickness).

We did have a good time, though. Our family enjoyed a lovely, quiet Christmas at home and a more lively New Year's Eve celebrating with friends.  I am happy to now have some time without the bustle and stress of the holidays to enjoy the lazy days of summer (Christmas in the summer will always feel wrong for me, though!)

We're working on our yearly goals, which is aided by a fantastic new analog tool called the Passion Planner(Not an affiliate link. I just love it so much, I want to share with everyone!) and ridding our lives of extraneous stuff on our quest for minimalism and focusing on what really matters.

We have some surprises coming up, to be revealed in the next few months. Have to keep mum for now.

But, to no one's surprise but my own, Geneva will start second grade at the beginning of March and Franca in Salita de 3 (3-year-old) preschool.

Where is the time going? Too fast!! They are growing too fast!!

We are looking forward to the year to come but hope that it slows down, even just a bit. Personally, I will be doing my very best to savor every second and truly live this year to its full potential.

May 2015 be everything your heart desires.  Make it count!

Feliz Año Nuevo!! (Happy New Year!!) Besos a todos! (Kisses to everyone!)

It's The Most Wonderful (Terrible) Time Of The Year

grumpy-cat-christmas-meme
grumpy-cat-christmas-meme
--Or, 5 Ways to Survive the Holidays--

Christmas is upon us. I've been feeling it for a few weeks already. This year, our Thanksgiving was filled with friends and activities. Three feasts to be exact. It was lovely (and filling) but the signpost on the calendar of tough times to come.

I can't say it's all bad because during this time is my daughter's birthday, but that one big day was coming up. The elephant in the room that I don't want to face. Christmas.

Living abroad is not all piña coladas on the beach (in fact, there is no beach here. We're in the fly-over country of Argentina). There are real struggles. With language, with culture, with homesickness.

I wrote about my personal struggles during the holidays last year as well.

Homesickness is the very worst for me during this time of year.

While I love the summer, summer produce, the pool and lazy vacation days, I do NOT like celebrating Christmas when it is hot. It feels wrong on so many levels. I struggle to create traditions for my daughters when it is an atmosphere so different than how both my husband and I grew up.

Lots of people struggle during the holidays, whether it is from missing the ones you love because of physical or emotional distance, or because of death, divorce or other family struggles. The holidays are hard.

What we can do is try to be gentle with ourselves during this difficult time and find ways to treat ourselves kindly.

  1. Know your triggers. Mine are certain Christmas songs and Skype calls. I can't get through them without crying. My best advice is to avoid them when you can (I hear the first notes of "I'll be Home for Christmas" and I skip to the next song) or keep Skype calls brief and on subjects other than missing home. Not saying there won't be tears, but the might be kept to a minimum.
  2. Get away when you can. Know when you need a break and take it. Go for a walk, journal in private, lock yourself in your room for a bit if needed. Sensory overload and overwhelm is common during the holidays. Sneak away and take some time to re-center.
  3. Avoid foods/drinks that can make you feel worse. Foods have a huge emotional impact and when you are already feeling vulnerable, that extra piece of pie or glass of wine will not make you feel better. Keep with a clean diet, drink a ton of water and keep caffeine and alcohol to a minimum.
  4. Sleep. I know there is a lot going on: From wrapping presents, to the office party, to getting the tree set up. None of these is worth sacrificing sleep (said the night owl that is often awake past 1 AM. I need to listen to my own advice!)
  5. Prepare for the stressful times. Treat yourself to a bath, a massage, practice yoga or meditation, exercise or whatever works for you. Settle your mind in any way that you can before the times that are going to be the hardest for you.
  6. Open up about your struggles. Talk to those you love and trust. Be honest that this time is difficult. They can help be the shoulder you cry on, or the one you sneak away with to take that walk (see #2).  Once you share, you might just find that others are struggling, too.

*If you are experiencing depression (more than holiday blues) please seek professional help ASAP. Talk to your doctor or other trusted person who can help you get the assistance you need. I struggled with depression for years. Medication and light therapy helped substantially but I know the darkness of undiagnosed depression and how difficult that first step can be. You can do it.

PEACE AND BLESSINGS TO YOU ALL.

Wishing you HAPPY HOLIDAYS and a WONDERFUL 2015 TO COME!!!

Love,

Lisa, Brad, Geneva and Franca

I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas...

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the day! Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to everyone!!! Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree & Little F With An Angel

This is a season of strong emotion for us- as it is for many people. We have chosen not to travel back 'home' for Christmas and rather travel in the summer (June/July) to the US when we can enjoy the weather there and get away from the winter here in Argentina.

That does not make this time of year any easier. As we struggle to create warm-weather Christmas traditions without our extended family nearby, it doesn't quite seem like Christmas to us. We both grew up in the upper midwest of the United States. Christmas meant cold and snow and baking Christmas cookies and navigating holiday storms/slippery roads to visit family.

Visiting Papa Noel December 2013

Our Christmas in Argentina will consist of opening up a family present to each of the girls on Christmas eve, along with setting out cookies/milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. Unfortunately no homemade cookies this year. 100 F heat with a broken AC is too warm to turn on the oven. We'll be streaming Christmas music on the ipad (avoiding "I'll be Home For Christmas"-- that always makes me cry) and enjoying plenty of ice cream and many a frosty beverage in an attempt to keep cool.

Christmas morning will be chaotic, like many households with young kids. Our 6 year old and 1.5 year old will dive into their presents and we'll take a few new pool toys out to enjoy right after breakfast. Christmas day will be no baking for us. We'll be grilling salmon and beef tenderloin on the parilla and taking dips in the pool to cool off in between cooking.

Christmas memories will not always be like this and we are planning to enjoy a snowy white Christmas with family again very soon. Right now though, our Christmas is bittersweet. We are missing family and the Christmas experience of our childhood as we create a new 'normal' warm weather Christmas for our girls. Lets just hope that I don't start bawling during all of our planned skype calls with family! :)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Argentina!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!

New Year's Eve in Cordoba

The lanterns New Year's eve is different in a country where it is summer rather than winter on December 31st. Last year was our first New Year's eve in Cordoba, after living through it in Montevideo and again in Bariloche. Bariloche was quiet, but then again, nearly every day in the country outside of Bariloche is quiet. Why should New Year's be an exception? Montevideo and Cordoba are decidedly NOT quiet on New Year's eve. They are the exact opposite of quiet. They are loud, obnoxious and extremely dangerous with every single person (or so it seems) lighting off fireworks. It's similar on Christmas eve where we had about 30 minutes of fireworks last week but we are bracing for a lot more tonight.

The thing is, it's not just one house or one fireworks display in the distance. It is coming from all around you. We live across from a park, so much of the noise comes from there, too. Seemingly every house lights off fireworks and there are pyrotechnics pop-up shops around town for the weeks leading up to the holidays.

We tend to be on the more reserved side and want to keep up the South American traditions, but also celebrate in our own way. Last year we purchased large paper lanterns that fill with hot air after lighting a giant wick on the bottom. They float away until the wick burns up (or burns the lantern). We lit paper lanterns like this when in Thailand many years ago and it was a peaceful way to celebrate while not contributing to the noise- unless you count the medium-sized-one crying. She did NOT like to let go of the lanterns last year!

httpvh://youtu.be/NXO_vIL3Ois

We'll be sending off paper lanterns again this year. After releasing the lanterns, we'll lay in the backyard to enjoy the neighborhood display and our lanterns floating away peacefully in the not-so peaceful night.

Lets just hope the huge cracks, pops and bangs throughout the neighborhood don't wake up the baby. Who am I kidding, they will. That's okay, it's New Year's Eve. :)

Happy New Year everyone! Make it a safe and beautiful celebration, wherever you may be. Wishing all your dreams come true in 2013!

Halloween 2012

Halloween in Cordoba is not a big holiday. It is not like the USA where you all eat dinner early so you can get the kids out for trick-or-treating, only to come back and gorge on a huge bag of candy. It is not like Mexico that celebrates Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos). Oh no. Halloween in Cordoba, Argentina is something like Halloween-lite. For good or for bad, holidays and customs from the USA are slowly infiltrating the calendar here in Argentina -- not that Argentina needs any more holidays, its calendar shows the most public holidays of any country in the world. For real. Some of the jardins (pre-schools) have dress-up day for the little kids, the major malls will  have an event but for the last two years, we have only had about 8 trick-or-treaters each year (and in 2011 they came by our house on Sunday the 30th and Monday the 31st!)

Our friend who lives in Villa Belgrano and was born in the USA organized her neighborhood to have group trick-or-treating and graciously invited us to join. It was the first year for this activity and she sent out fliers to her neighborhood and had the kids meet in a park at 7 PM. As usually happens, some of the houses are friendly to the mob of trick-or-treaters and some are not. The ones that were didn't have much candy to give out and on several occasions, the little kids were pushed to the fringes of the mob and didn't get anything. It was fun nonetheless and for the first year, it was a great turnout. The group had a huge majority of witches, along with our WonderWoman (Mujer Maravillosa) and our friend's daughter, a beautiful Princess.

Afterwards, we ventured home, put out our two small jack-o-lanterns and had one group of kids come for candy. It was a good night and we tried to stress the fun and excitement of the night instead of the differences from what we know.

One of my gripes is that I really miss the chocolates in the USA for Halloween: mini candybars, Milk Duds, Tootsie Rolls and Reeses Peanut Butter cups, just to name a few.  Here you have caramelos, which is a blanket term and encompasses hard candies, starburst-type square fruity candies and other various assortments of individually-wrapped candies. Not bad but not as satisfying to this North American as a handful of mini candybars! We do have several of the same US candybars here, but they are the full-size options. You have to be committed. Somehow 5-6 of the little ones doesn't feel as 'bad' as eating a full-size candybar does!

If we're still here next year, we'll continue to carve whatever pumpkins we can find. I really like the green, bumpy calabazas here because I like the color contrast between the skin and the flesh, and they look spookier to me.  Check these guys out:

We might try something else for trick-or treating next year, maybe check out one of the mall's activities. Halloween seems to gain momentum here every year so who knows what our options might be to celebrate the season next year.