Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What the Pork!

Thanks to the scare tactics of mass media, swine flu is the latest "oh my god, did you hear...blah blah". Another reason to stay glued to the tube or in my case online news sites. Argentina has yet to confirm any cases but the folks here are concerned nonetheless. Our maid Rosa told me that there is a joke going around that the next big one will be called "Mosqui-cerdo" - a combo of the Swine Flu and Dengue Fever (which until last weekend dominated the front page of most South American newspapers). El Dengue is transmitted by mosquitos and cerdo means pork in spanish. Although my pediatrician claimed there were no cases of Dengue Fever yet in Buenos Aires, it's swept the northern provinces and much of Brazil. Because of the news, every mom I know lathers their child in insect repellent and covers the crib with a net (even though the Dengue carrying queeter only bites during the day). I've not succumbed yet to the panic but I find myself itching imaginary mosquito bites all day long.

Fotos of my 1st reading at the 09 BA Book Fair

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oh yeah, I write

Yesterday morning I awoke to the baby's cry at 3am. A typical start to the day. The morning passed in a blur feeding pureed apple mixed with plain yogurt, getting everyone dressed, dog walked, makeup applied. We ventured out with the stroller and carseat to visit friends Jane and Tim who live in a renovated house in Palermo Soho. It took us 3 tries to find a cab that would and could fit the stroller in their trunk. Jane and Tim brought an entire retail stores worth of inventory from Indonesia to BA when they moved here. Opened up shop six months ago and are now liquidating everything and instead going into the real estate biz. They are the only ones we know that moved here with their family like we did - selling everything and taking a big risk that life in a foreign country would work out. Their eldest daughter Laura is thriving. She's incredibly bright and got into the feeder Jr.High/High School for UBA (Univ of Buenos Aires - the best university in the country and free to residents). If she completes school there she won't even have to take the entrance exams to attend UBA. It's quite an accomplishment for a girl who didn't even speak spanish when they moved here two years ago.

We visited for an hour or so, then found a quick cafe to scarf down a steak sandwich while feeding the baby. She fell asleep in the car ride home and I had exactly five minutes to prepare her lunch (carrots, squash, egg yolk and Casan Creme - a cream cheesy product; rice cereal and banana her favorite), change clothes and dash down the street to the La Rural Conference Center. The annual book fair Feria de Libros started Thursday and 3pm was my first scheduled reading at the US Embassy booth. I arrived with two minutes to spare and no time for nerves. The crowd gathered and the set up was much better than last year with a partition between the walkway and the reading space, also a more professional mike. About 25 people sat and listened as I read the two stories published in our now annual Thursdays@3 anthology. This year my stories were short and deeply personal. As soon as I started reading, the hectic morning melted away and for fifteen minutes I was a writer, reader and individual again - not just a mom.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


The expat mommies I befriended in prenatal yoga class last year reunited for Sunday brunch with babies and daddies. It was quite a scene with feedings, changings, crying, napping and playing at the outside table of the Evita Museum Cafe for two and a half hours. When the babies were a few months old we gathered weekly at a nearby park to share sleep deprivation horror stories and get out of our routines at home. It seemed at first a likely group to stay connected. but little by little we've drifted and it had been months since our last gathering. The swiss and italian couples are planning to move back to Europe in the next few months. The three aussie/argentine pairings are here now but trying to make a move to Australia. The spanish couple will be here for another year or so but then hope to go back to Spain. And the Argentine/English pair want to live here 3 months and in Australia the rest of the year. We are the only ones with a plan to stay in Argentina. Ultimately, I got tired of listening to how much better things were in their home countries and how they were looking forward to moving back. Although we shared an experience of being foreigners and becoming mothers in Argentina, we are on different paths. I stopped making the effort to meet at faraway parks and instead settled in to a afternoon excursion to a playground around the block. About a month ago, I met a lovely Argentine mom Carolina and her 1 year old Isabela. She lives just two blocks away and we have become quick friends. We meet to stroll with the girls, play at the park or run errands nearly every day. She has no plans to leave, is patient with my spanish (the other day she thought I said I would leave Valentina in her stroller alone in the lobby of her apt building while we went upstairs for a mate - I meant to say I'd just leave the stroller) and is for now the perfect companion.

Birthday boy

Friday was Hugh's birthday. No one here believes he is in his 40's and he swears that since moving to Argentina he's turned back the clock at least 5 years due to less stress, better food and more exercise. I surprised him with a "Desayunos a Domicilio" - basket of breakfast goodies that a company delivers to your house early morning. It came with fresh baked medialunas and other pastries, coffee, teas, cookies, coffee mug, orange juice, milk, balloons and linens. We opened it in bed and Valentina dove fistfirst into the plastic wrapping and ribbons. That night we had Rosa stay late so we could go out for a date. Hugh put on a suit and I sported a fancy dress that hadn't seen the light of day for over a year. We dined at Sotto Voce, one of our favorite italian restaurants in fancy Recoleta. The food was delicious but we agreed that after so many years of living in San Francisco and eating out at least four nights a week, we don't miss it. For now I am just as content with a chicken breast milanesa and a salad at home.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Everyone an Einstein

Every parent I know imagines their child some sort of Einstein. "did you see how he picks up a spoon all my himself?" "look, she touches the guitar like she can play a cord!", "he's already got a six-pack, will be a stud when he grows up for sure". The truth is most babies are average and below. Hugh and I always said we'd never pretend our child (if we ever had one) was some kind of genius or super talent. That we'd love to hear one of our friends say "you know what, my kid's pretty average - nothing special". So now we have the chance and I caught Hugh on more than one occasion exclaim "look, dude I can make her laugh when I make this face!" as if we figured out how to land on the moon. Her micro developments are a daily delight but is she the next Mozart, Einstein, Picasso....probably not. She's exploring the world with her mouth, one lick at a time, laughing a lot, and being a normal baby. For me, that's more than enough.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Friends, family and Marshalls

The recent trip to Dallas reminded me of what we left behind when we moved to Argentina. We left friends like the Coughlins (Brendan, Bridget, with their boys Brendan Jr, Connor, and Dillon) who have two things we'll never have here - a gigantic house and parents that live around the block and stop by all the time for visits. We left family like Grandma Suzanne who makes some of the most entertaining baby noises I've ever heard. And we left discount shopping. Here Valentina took her first tour of Marshalls (we went three times in a week).

What I don't miss: having to drive everywhere, Starbucks coffee every morning (I've got Mate now) and fat butts (I'm sorry but there are a lot of fat people in the US).