I know I should perhaps dedicate one post to Christmas and the holidays and another post to announce our baby and future but I think that time is past. So I'll divide it in two parts!
CHRISTMAS in URUGUAY:
Ulises and I went to Uruguay for Christmas this year. The idea was for me to get to know the people and country where Ulises grew up. We also met some relatives and friends of Ulises and they all treated us so well!
They all asked me how I felt about Uruguay. Sometimes it wasn't a question of liking Uruguay, but how bad it was. When they asked me directly I was pretty honest with them--that the public transportation was hot, uncomfortable and incredibly ineffective and that the weather and housing conditions were uncomfortable. Everything was also VERY expensive. (Let's not mention that the cost of this trip could have landed us on a 7 day all inclusive cruise to the Caribbean.....) But considering there were only a few bad things-- they should be proud of their little country!
Now the good things: The people in Uruguay are very congenial and open. The neighbors of Ulises grandparent's neighborhood were so kind to us! When they found out we were expecting a baby, these strangers would buy us baby gifts. His cousins did the same-- all were so kind to us. They also fed us some great BBQ. You haven't had BBQ unless you've been to Uruguay! They throw a whole carcass on a big brick oven grill and eat every bit of it ( I stayed away from the organ meat) and boy is it tasty. For those of you who know me, you know that I love a good steak. Can you believe we had BBQ so often that I almost grew tired of it?.....almost. hehe
The beaches have great sand and it was fun to go to various different coastlines and take a dip in the ocean. Also just driving through the countryside was delightful. Really lovely and green!
Christmas Eve was spent eating cold pork and salads. Not my typical Christmas meal but tasty anyway. Ulises family laughed at me when I wanted to microwave my pork. But honestly, it was much tastier that way! After dinner we sat around and talked until the firework show went on. Fireworks go on at midnight to celebrate the birth of Jesus. After the fireworks end everyone goes back in the house and Santa has quickly come and left presents for everyone! Then everyone opens them right then and there! No waiting for Christmas morning. No stockings, Just open! So we opened them and we got some really cute baby clothing in neutral colors. Ulises got a hat that he lost 2 days later. I got a necklace. It was a nice Christmas.
The next morning I had Ulises fake Christmas again and look in his stocking as if surprised ( It was just a sock...haha) and he got some candies. weee!
So it was really strange to have Christmas in the summer. But the important thing was that we maintained the spirit by spending time with family, reading the Christmas story and singing, and also going to a Christmas concert at the Montivideo Temple grounds. It was LOVELY. It was just what I needed to feel the spirit even in the heat of summer and when I was missing home. It really made a difference for me. Christmas would be so dismal and gloomy for me if it weren't for the music!
At times it was uncomfortable and expensive but looking back I am so glad we went. We won't have the opportunity to go back for a while. I owe a lot to Uruguay. It made Ulises the man he is now. I am not sure if he grew up in Europe if he would have met the church and become the man he is. So I am grateful.
But it is funny the love-hate relationship Ulises has with his country of birth. He LOVES Uruguay and gets emotional when he hears national anthems and thinks of his childhood etc. But then a few minutes later you can hear him say how he hates the country and is so glad that he went back to the home of his forefathers-- Spain! One day he might tell you he is Spanish and another day he might tell you he is Uruguayan. The chances he will tell you he is Spanish increase depending on your perception and knowledge about Uruguay. If you think Uruguay is full of burritos, chile con carne, sombreros and mariachi bands, then you will get the look of death from him. Ulises biggest pet peeve is people thinking that all South American countries are homogeneous. I'll leave that discussion for another day
Instead, enjoy some of these pictures from Uruguay and scroll down for an update on our Cute Little Baby!
So we announced our pregnancy a couple months ago. For those of you who missed it, our baby is due June 7th 2014. It is a Boy! Ulises and I are very excited. His sister is pregnant with a baby girl and is due about 3 weeks before our baby boy is due. So his parents will become grandparents to both a granddaughter and a grandson all within a month! So they are very excited to have one of each! As for my family, already full of grandsons and granddaughters, another one of whatever gender is still a celebration!
We feel really blessed that we were able to conceive when we did and that I can have the baby at the same time Ulises finishes his Masters degree in Engineering. (well, a month before. So please pray for Ulises that he can pull through that last month and successfully defend his thesis and project while having a newborn at home)
We will name him Walter, which means "ruler of the army". It's amazing how many people here ( and perhaps people in the states would do the same. I don't know) are really vocal about their disapproval of the name we have chosen. If it were their own kid I guess I could understand their concern. But it's our kid! And we chose the name because... well... we like it! Walter is the name of Ulises' Grandfather and it also happens to be a lovely English name. This makes it easy for both his family and my family to pronounce and it also carries some deeper meaning. Ulises Grandpa, Walter, is the father of Ulises' dad, Daniel--an only child. Daniel has 3 children and Ulises is the only boy of those 3 children. And now the only boy is having a boy. So it's quite meaningful that we name him Walter, especially if Grandpa Walter passes on soon. My brother did the same with his first son and I think its a wonderful gesture!
My mother loves the name Walter cause it's old fashioned and reminds her of Walt Disney. It reminds me of Walt Disney and also my mission president whose name is Walt. So get ready for little Walter to come in June. You can call him Walter, Walt, and Waltie ( you can call him Wally in front of me, but Ulises doesn't like Wally so much hehe)
So you know how pregnant women look as if they have swallowed a watermelon. Well.... I've swallowed a WALTERmelon!
So when Walter comes in June I will leave work and Ulises and I will try and live off of some savings for a couple months as he finishes up his thesis and project and graduates with his Masters degree in Civil Engineering (in July). After graduation, God willing, we will be moving to the states in August for Ulises to persue a PhD. Ulises has heard back from some professors who want to work with him and although he has been accepted into a PhD program, we are waiting for a final word on funding (which is a bit more difficult as an international student) and also responses from other schools, before we make a final decision and announce anything. But if you are a praying type of person, we would love some prayers in our behalf-- that Ulises PhD program can provide enough funding for us to actually accept it and make our way back to the states, where we feel we can progress as a family and provide a better life for our children. We love Spain but the truth is the employment situation here is dismal. If we want to raise a family in financial security the obvious choice is to go back to the states for a while. While it's true that he can apply for a green card and residency through my citizenship, the preferred route is through a PhD which Ulises wants to obtain anyway. Prayers prayers prayers!
So how is my pregnancy going? Pretty well! I was exhausted the first trimester and emotional, but managed to make it through unscathed (not sure about Ulises, he was at the receiving end of my emotional breakdowns). I had only a hint of nausea and I am grateful for that daily. My health is important for my work and my work is important for our upkeep! So I am grateful everyday that things have been going so smoothly. I still make it to the gym weekly and manage to run a few kilometers on the treadmill each time. People sure look at me strange. But I am grateful for my health and want to keep my body in good condition so that baby is born healthy and strong. ( I also hear labor goes smoother if the expectant mother consistently exercises).
Now that I am about 6 months along ( that's what the books tell me. 24 weeks today) I look pregnant and can feel little Walter wiggle. I am reading all I can about child birth and watching videos. It's been great and I've learned a lot. It's amazing to think this little life will be joining our family in such a short time. And... YOU CAN'T PUT IT BACK. Not that I would want to...but it just makes it seem so real! I know Ulises will be a great father. I am more worried about my own capabilities but I also need to realize that the Lord will make up the difference. Here goes nothin!
So that's our update. I wish I had the ability to write witty and clever things but my travel log type blog is what I got!
Sending love from Sunny Spain