Friday, March 27, 2009

Drying up

Levadura de Cerveza (Brewer's Yeast)
Dark beer
Mate cocido
Mother's Milk tea
Lots of water
Less stress
More sleep
Reliveran drops
Pumping more
Nursing more
Eating well
Eating more than usual
No strenuous exercise
Skin to skin contact with baby

I've tried it all. More, less, this way, that. Everyone I meet has a cure or a new idea. Five months of disappointment, of struggle, of wishing and wanting it to be different. She got some breastmilk but in the end my jugs are more Kate Moss than Marilyn Monroe. Still she's a healthy, good-natured giggly girl. And as a new mom I'm finding there are plenty of other things to feel guilty about.

Another baby

Yes, it looks a lot like Valentina at 12 weeks but only because they're related. Rachel's pregnant and due in September. Whoo Hooo!!! I am hoping for a girl so the cousins can be best buds but the truth is our family could use more testosterone. Ever since the grandpas passed on, the men are sadly outnumbered and surrounded by a gaggle of strong-willed bossy females. Hugh calls us "the witches". When Rachel and Rey got married, he told Rey "Welcome to the club man - we have our own website. It's called"

How Y'all Doin?

You know you're in Dallas, Texas when every other house has a sign in the front yard that says "Welcome Home George and Laura", you can't walk from your house to the store (because there are no sidewalks) and every strip shopping mall has a Starbucks, a Marshalls, a Container Store and a Tex-Mex restaurant.

In 8 days, Valentina met her 94 year old still chesnut haired (1st foto) great grandmother VinceLee, grandparents Robert (3rd foto) and Suzanne, uncle Collin (2nd foto), great-aunt Betty Ann and great-uncle David, cousins VinceLee Jr., Gus and Alex, friends The Coughlins and The Fennegans. We were visited and did a lot of visit'n which is what there is to do other than shop great discount stores and watch the sky turn from celestial blue to a hurricane warning in less than an hour. It wasn't the beach vacation we'd envisioned pre-baby but the change of scenery and seeing family renewed us both.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Leaving our firstborn

This week marked several major milestones. Thursday, my self-imposed maternity leave ended and I started teaching yoga again. Friday was the 10 year anniversary of our first date (movie: Cruel Intentions with Reese, Ryan and Selma and dinner: sushi in the Mission). Saturday was the two year anniversary of my arrival in Argentina. Tomorrow - another biggie. We'll leave our beloved bulldog Utta in the care of a friend for the first time since we moved here. By extension, this trip to Dallas (visiting family) will be the first time Hugh and I have taken a vacation together in two years.

Taking care of Utta is no small favor. She has a condition called Megaesophagus (an enlarged esophagus) and is a "special needs" doggie. What are these needs? Well, for starters, she eats in a chair like a baby and will do so for the rest of her life. It's a highchair but rests on the ground. Twice a day, one of us leads her to the chair, puts her in it either by picking her up (at 50 lbs, its like heaving a large sack of sand) or backing her into it and lifting her paws up to slide the rollbar in front of her chest. Once seated, she's fed by hand. The dog food is soaked in water first (to weigh it down and to satisfy her hydration needs) in a measuring cup. Once the dog pellets are placed in her mouth two or three at a time, the leftover water (like dogfood soup) is poured into her mouth. Set the timer for 30 minutes and leave her in the chair for the food to make its way down to her stomach. If this routine weren't followed, she'd vomit the food/water and potential aspirate fluid into her lungs, get pneumonia and die. The vet who diagnosed her back when she was a 1 year old puppy told us she probably wouldn't live another year and that we should come to grips with the reality of her condition. Instead of listening to him, we found a support network through Yahoogroups of other owners of megaesophagus dogs. One of the members of the group designed a chair for her dog to eat sitting upright. For every new member, she sends (for free) a CD with detailed instructions on how to build the chair for your own dog. Utta is almost 5 years old now, healthy and happy thanks to that chair and our vigilant routine.

She can't have treats or eat anything off the floor. She gets hot easily (like all bulldogs) and must sleep with a fan blowing on her and the a/c on. There are only a few people in the world that know how to take care of her. Me, Hugh, my sister Rachel, our friend Edie the bulldogger breeder, and our ex-SF dogwalker Doug Pizzy. We miss Doug a lot. He took great care of Utta when we went out of town and took her on daily walks with a few other well tended furries. For the next 8 days, Hugh's expat friend Chris will stay at our apartment while we're in Dallas to take care of our baby. Tonight he came over for a practice run. We have three pages of care instructions, emergency phone numbers and tips. Hugh is so nervous he asked Chris to call us everyday with an update of how things are going.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009


Look up the word tramite in the english/spanish dictionary and it says "procedure or transaction". But somehow it just doesn't capture the essence of it here in Argentina. The word is used to describe anything that must be done (pay bills, fill out forms, stand in line blah blah), is a pain in the ass and takes eons. We've been in tramite hell the past few weeks getting Valentina's American and Argentine passports. The tramite for the US passport was so efficient and easy. Of course it already arrived only a week after we applied for it. The form asked for a headshot which I thought was absurd and would no way apply to an infant. Well, I was wrong. They did expect a photo of our little darling. So, here' one of me trying to get her to look straight ahead while Hugh played cameraman.

The Argentine tramite was as they say here "un kilumbo" (shitstorm). Hundreds of people waiting in a myriad of lines in a run down building with no a/c (it's summer remember), forms, more lines etc. We got to the end of it all and they say it will take 30-40 days. Not so bad if we didn't already have tix booked to visit the Alexanders in Dallas in two weeks. Until she is 18, she has dual citizenship. She'll enter and exit Argentina with her Argentine passport - same on the US side when we make trips back to visit family and friends. So, we wait and hope they send it early.

Tomorrow we start the next tramite - applying for permanent residency. We've been here on one year renewable visas but since Valentina is Argentine, as her parents we can apply for permanent residency. This time, head shots for us, more lines, more offices and at the end of it all....a legal pass to stay here for good.