Sunday, August 26, 2018

Back to School 2018-2019

'Tis the season for "Back to School" craziness, the time when kids get back to their routine and parents try to get it (and keep it) together again!
Between uniforms, school supplies, lunches and school open houses, I am usually exhausted by the time the first day of school rolls around...this year was no exception and Olivia starting middle school added an extra layer of stress to the mix.  
This year we also decided to switch schools for Oliver and we registered them at the girls' school; after a year of picking them up at different places and different times, we figured it'd be much easier to centralize everything so fingers crossed it was the right move for our family. 
The girls were excited to go back to school for the most part but they weren't too happy about waking up at 6am to get ready or lugging things around; I also wasn't too happy about making school lunches and looking at a million calendars on a daily basis but I guess it was time so we have to focus on the task at hand. 

Olivia was incredibly excited to start 6th grade; for some reason the prospect of switching classes and having multiple teachers really excites her.  On top of it, she now gets to wear her "big girl" uniform so that's the cherry on top.  She looks so grown up already.. I can't believe she's only 11! Good luck in middle school, Olivia!

Gaby is starting the 4th grade and she is looking forward to befriending the new kids in her class; she is the kind of girl that does everything in her power to make the newbies feel welcome so I am sure she will take it upon herself to make sure everyone is happy, especially the new kids. 
She was a little sad that her best friend ended up in the other class and there were some tears shed when the class lists came out, but I am sure it's nothing a few playdates can't fix and she knows her friends will always be friends even if they're in different classrooms. Can't wait to see what you learn in 4th grade, Gaby!

On the first day we were able to walk Oliver to his classroom and the whole drop off was a hot mess; as excited as he was to be his new school, when he realized he wouldn't be in the same classroom as his sisters he lost it and started screaming and holding on to us for dear life.  Being a third time mom I was kind of expecting it but it was still bittersweet to leave him with tears in his eyes.  Of course when I picked him up he was happy and had even made a couple of friends which he already knew on a first name basis! Go Oliver!  There are only 8 kids in his class (4 boys, 4 girls) for 2 teachers so I guess that makes things a little "easier".... or so I hope. 
In the potty training department, he had a couple of poo accidents but the teachers didn't seem fazed at all and one day one of them even told me that all 8 kids in the class had pooped their pants simultaneously (what!?)... I'm just glad my kid wasn't alone, I guess! LOL! 

All in all we all had a great first week and the kids are so happy to be back in school and with their friends again. As a mother, I am looking forward to seeing them thrive and learn new things. I love when they come home from school excited to tell me about their day and when they wake up happy in the morning full of hope and joy; this is what I live for!
I pray that God remains in my children and that the Holy Spirit continues to light their path to wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord!
God Bless my children and all the kids going back to school this season! May this be another wonderful year in the life of our family!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Potty Training success!

About a year ago I wrote this post about my failed attempt at potty training Oliver, who at the time was about to turn 2. I had read somewhere that 23 months was an "ideal" age to potty train so I set out to conquer this dreaded task. I, of course, failed and became incredibly frustrated considering I had successfully potty trained our 2 girls at 22 months and 30 months. Potty training was never a challenge for me and I mistakenly thought it would be just as easy with Oliver....WRONG!!
Many of my friends had warned me that potty training a boy was a bit different and "boy were they right!". I tried and tried incessantly for the next few months (not continuous months!) and it just wasn't happening... It was like Oliver was completely oblivious to the fact that he eventually would have to do away with diapers and be like every other person who pees and poops in a toilet.
At one point the whole ordeal was affecting my mood and making me question my motherly abilities.. I know I was taking it way too seriously but I was just done with changing (and buying) diapers... I knew I had to let it I did!
Summer rolled around and the pressure was mounting again because I enrolled Oliver at the girls' school and he just HAD to be potty trained come school time (August), so I basically had 10 weeks to get this done. Around mid June I decided to "pull off the bandaid" and just do it! We took off the diapers and it just "clicked" for him; within a couple of days Oliver was peeing on the potty consistently and we got through the weekend with almost no accidents; granted we had to take him to the potty constantly and just remind him that he HAD to go.. and he did it every time...I was so happy!
So we basically spent the next few weeks helping Oliver master the art of the potty and between random pee (and mostly poop!) accidents, he was officially out of diapers and ready to take on the world!
I won't lie, it wasn't an instant thing and I feel like he struggled much more than the girls ever did.  There were worse days than others and even though he was (mostly) willing to go along with potty training, I spent a good part of my summer cleaning pee puddles and wiping poop off his butt.
Around mid July he was already sleeping in underwear and even asking to go potty on his own.  We bought a little urinal on Amazon and even though he rarely used it at first, it ended up being a hit and he even learned to pee standing!
The poop part was (and still is) a bit more challenging...he has random accidents throughout the week and it's still a work in progress but I am confident he will master it in no time.
Even though it has been 2 months since Oliver has been out of diapers, it took me this long to finally believe it and write this post.. I didn't want to jinx myself because it was an uphill task for us.
Some of the things I learned this go around are as follows:

  • Every child is different! (duh!)
  • Potty training a boy is much more challenging than doing it with girls
  • Potty training cannot be forced! (double duh!)
  • Kids have their own timeline
  • Pull ups suck! (mostly!)
  • There is such a thing as spending all day cleaning pee puddles
  • Toddlers can POOP! (uggh!)
  • No matter how long it takes.. potty training will eventually happen!
I am happy we have FINALLY gotten over this hurdle and that Oliver won't be in diapers forever (ha!). I am thankful for my husband and my girls who were instrumental in potty training our stubborn boy and I can only hope he sticks to the plan and does well at the potty while in school.  I pray that his teachers are patient and understanding when things don't go right and that he can feel supported and encouraged to do better and better every day!

Monday, August 13, 2018

A new love affair...

Following my disappointing visit to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, my husband insisted I join him on a work trip to Buenos Aires. His constant business travels have allowed him to accumulate some airline miles and I was miraculously able to make arrangements for someone to stay with the kids so I said "why not!" and finally visited one of the destinations at the top of my bucket list. 
I had always wanted to travel to Buenos Aires for many reasons; first off my father was born there and he has spent a great amount of years convincing me of how wonderful it is and many people had told me about the strange appeal that city has; I was definitely curious to experience that Argentine charm for myself and it did not disappoint. 
I will refer to my trip to Buenos Aires as the start of a new love affair; I was in awe of how beautiful and modern the city was and also of how welcoming everybody was, the whole experience definitely exceeded my expectations and I was nicely surprised. 
Buenos Aires is like a Latin version of Europe; most buildings are reminiscent of classic Madrid constructions and I even saw some of Paris in the streets of this amazing city.  Everything is clean, organized and grandiose and on the second day I was ready to move there...I seriously loved it so much!
I was able to experience the Buenos Aires life style first hand since I happen to have so many friends that live there who were kind enough to show me around while doing it the "local way"; I visited amazing restaurants, modern shopping centers, rode the metro, hailed some cabs and walked an infinite amount of steps around the beautiful streets of Buenos Aires (my watch says I walked about 30K steps per day!)... I am officially in love with this city and my only regret is that I didn't travel there sooner... I can't wait to take the kids there soon and maybe stay a little longer. 
In addition to the beauty of the city and the kindness of its people, our trip was particularly cheap since currently the Argentine Peso is down in the dumps so our dollars went a long way; I could eat a succulent filet mignon for less than $10 or have a scrumptious piece of cake for less than $2, so needless to say I was happy to visit during this time. 
Also it happens to be winter time in Argentina (hello South Pole!) and the weather was perfection; it never went over 60 degrees or below 50 so I was happy to be able to wear my favorite jacket every day (LOL!)..they say that the weather has a lot to do with how one perceives a place, so this probably boosted my experience even more. 
My favorite place in the city was Puerto Madero also known as Buenos Aires' business center; most big companies are found in this area and the building are incredibly modern; the whole place is beautiful and it is nothing short of great even when compared to cities such as New York, Berlin, Los Angeles or any other major city in the world. The metro system (Subte) is very efficient and well maintained and also CHEAP! There are beautiful shopping malls, magnificent churches, sublime buildings, delicious restaurants and everything else I could want in a city. 
Here are some pictures of my brief visit to Buenos Aires, a place I hope to go back to and one that jumped to the top of my list in just one visit.  I love you, Buenos Aires and I know this is only the beginning of a beautiful love affair!

Monday, August 6, 2018

The end of a love affair...

I recently returned from a 4 day trip to one of my favorite cities in the world, San Francisco!
The first time I visited this famous West Coast city I was young and in love (I'm still in love but the young part is questionable...ha!) when we honeymooned there about 13 years ago! I fell in love with San Francisco instantly; the weather was perfect, the food was amazing, everyone was nice and kind and the city is as picturesque as they get.  Even after having traveled to over 30 countries and hundreds of cities, my traveling heart always belonged to San Francisco...there was just something about it that always captivated me...I was lucky enough to be able to return to this great city a few other times and even took the girls there in 2014 (they loved it too, of course!)

But this time was different... I didn't find San Francisco as fascinating as I did on previous visits.. I'd go as far as saying that I was disappointed.. it was the end of a love affair, one that I thought would last forever but sadly it didn't. 
I found the city to be filthy and decadent, riddled with thousands of homeless people, junkies and prostitutes; on the first day I had already lost count of how many people I saw shooting up or inhaling cocaine in broad daylight and when I attempted to take brisk walks around the city at nighttime (not even late night) it was all about street workers fighting over their "customers". The most concerning part was the apathy of everyone's like nobody cares! Apparently the California government is more concerned about banning straws, recycling and charging for shopping bags than it is with cleaning up the streets and helping those in need.
Transit workers and even cops were rude to tourists and everyone seems more concerned with being "green" than being kind...It took me a while to figure out where to put my trash because there's a million recycling options at every corner but regular trash cans seemed to be non existent.  Public restrooms were basically unusable from how disgusting and dirty they all are and that's if I was lucky to find a restroom where I didn't have to pee next to a man because most restrooms were unisex because, you know, gender equality and who knows what else!
I also noticed so much hostility from the unspoken social war.. I seriously felt like I was in another country... and not a nice one!  
Everything was super expensive (and yes, I know California is more expensive by default but this was different!) and Californians didn't seem as receptive and embracing as I remembered them.

Of course I won't deny that the city is still as beautiful as ever and its colors and flavors have no comparison but somehow San Francisco dropped down on my list of favorites and I don't foresee that changing because that special charm I always found in it just wasn't there. I didn't feel safe walking around the streets of San Francisco, I didn't feel welcomed by its locals and I didn't feel like the city can embrace a conservative point of view like just wasn't the same for me!

We did get to visit Napa Valley for the first time and it was very beautiful.  Even with me not being a wine drinker I did enjoy the visit to one of the most famous wineries in the area and had an amazing time exploring and taking pictures...but Napa isn't San Francisco so....

I don't know when I will return to San Francisco or even if I ever will but I will forever cherish the nice memories I have of it and I feel blessed to have enjoyed it for as long as I did!