Other Pages of Interest

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Gretchen's Favorite Things

It's been awhile since I have posted about Gretchen's newest milestones, and with us on the eve of her 20-month birthday, I thought this would be a good time to do so.  We are now talking about a little girl who has all of her main baby teeth, one set of molars, and is only waiting for that second set of molars to come in.

She has been talking up a storm - some words in English, some in Spanish (which is the most asked question I get about her; "Does she speak Spanish yet??" - the answer is yes, sort of, as much as any other ~1.5 year old speaks any language...).

Favorite English words: mama, dada, all done, socks, teeth, baby, pee pee, bye bye, bath, clock, Elmo, snacks, nice, puppy, apple, Talia (her best friend's name), night night.

Favorite Spanish words: mas (more), agua, sapo (frog), es mio (it's mine), nariz (nose), si (yes), aguardar (to put things away), salta (jump), gracias (thank you).

Obsessions: Gretchen is entering the phase where kids are fixated on a small set of things, little obsessions, as we refer to them.  She has some definite obsessions.

  • Socks.  She is in love with her socks and doesn't want to be without them for even one minute.  Sleeping, awake, sandals, shoes, she always wants to be wearing socks.  We've tried to break her of this habit at night, but we end up hearing her on the monitor yell, "Mama!  Socks!" and then we break down and put socks on so that she'll sleep.  Reminder, we live in South America and it's almost summer, wearing socks to bed is like wearing a hat to the beach.  It's a work in progress.
  • Babies. I think this is a common one for kids, they love to point out babies.  To Gretchen, this is anyone in a stroller, or anyone under the age of 14.  The other little kids are offended by this - do you remember the age when you are trying to convince everyone that you're a big girl/boy?  Imagine a toddler comes up to you, points and calls you a baby.  It's not popular with those kids. I, however, think it's adorable.  My baby calling all these other kids babies, it just makes me smile.
  • Sapo Pepe.  This is a South American thing (I think), he's a little frog and has a song and a show and is on every little kid item you can think of.  For a taste of Sapo Pepe, you can watch his music video.  We count for approximately half of his million views on YouTube.  Gretchen LOVES Sapo Pepe, and lucky for me, we have lots of frogs in the house (due to her mama's love of frogs) and every frog is Sapo Pepe to Gretchen.  
Other interests at the moment:

Gretchen loves bubbles.  She also loves eating the bubble mix, which she thinks is hilarious when I tell her it's yucky.  

A few crackers, a little bubble mix...

 What a beautiful day at the park!  Gretchen is wearing our Spanish teacher Grace's daughter Vic's dress from when she was a little girl.  Vic came to visit us later that day - what a treat!  Precious little dress too, what a thoughtful and nice gift.

Gretchen also loves stickers.  All of our fruit has been stripped of the label stickers, and given to Gretchen as decoration.  Gran sent us Sesame Street stickers in the mail the other day, and Gretchen had a hayday with them!  One on each cheek and hand - she was in her glory!

I have started the tradition of letting Gretchen lick the beaters when I make a dessert.  She was happy to oblige, even if she looks incredibly serious in this picture.

Uncle Chris bought her a motion detector runway bib that lights up and an airplane spoon to eat with when she was a little baby.  She is now old enough to appreciate the lights, and it is the only bib we can use.  She wants to make the lights go, and have the airplane sound when the food is "coming in for a landing".

She also loves toast.  Especially when it involves "dip dip" into, really, anything.  Yogurt, hummus, applesauce, jelly, anything condiment gets a dip dip with the toast.

This picture is from a few months ago, but it combines two loves.  The box of nursery rhyme board books that she got from our friends the Millers for her birthday and the red tutu that the Frenzel's got her as a baby gift.  Whenever someone new comes to the house, she wants to wear the tutu, putting it on over whatever she happens to be wearing at the time.  This picture is evidence that she will wear it with ANYTHING.  Completely adorable!

That just about wraps it up!  Now, we're going to add another country to this little munchkin's passport and enjoy a week of vacation!  Happy 20 months baby girl!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


We have been to Oviedo once before, but I never got around to writing about it and neither of us could remember it very well.  We have since read in both TimeOut magazine and seen it listed on the current Favorite 5 list on the SaltShaker blog, so we decided to give it another go.  

Oviedo (Beruti 2602 y Ecuador, 4821-3741) is in Recoleta right near the German Hospital.  TimeOut describes it as having a "clubbish atmosphere", but it seems more antique-train-station themed to me.  The atmosphere is comfortable, though the tables are incredibly close together, something that I remember now from our first visit.  Our service was the sore point for us, which we were reminded of on this visit.  Our waiter took three times to get our drink order right, and he was only asking if we wanted our water sparkling or still.

That being said, the food was outstanding - start-to-finish.  We began with a ceviche appetizer that was, possibly, the best I have ever had.  They had the large fried cord kernels and a crispy topping, but the real treat was the green sauce which was crisp, refreshing, and citric, but I have no idea what it contained.
For our main dishes I had the salmon ravioli, which the waiter said was served with a mushroom sauce - though I didn't find any mushrooms.  Regardless of the sauce, the ravioli was homemade and delicious.  It was just the right amount of food too, not the usual overindulgence of pasta that I'm used to - which was good because I would have eaten the entire dish, no matter how much was there.  Jon ordered one of the trout options, I think there were three available on the menu.  The option that he chose came with thin cut green beans, mashed potatoes and a grilled pepper and onion sauce. Again, a tasty and unique option.

We shared a dessert, the chocolate volcano dessert that is present on almost every dessert menu in the city.  Oviedo's version was good, not much different than most of the others we have tried, but it was a great way to top off a really good meal.

Again, the disappointment here was the service.  It was disjointed, in some ways rushed (they cleared our dishes immediately after we finished, asked us if we were ready to order numerous times, etc) and in other ways absent (they never asked if we needed drink refills, we had to flag someone down for the check, etc).  Jon said that it most closely reminded him of a restaurant in the US, which makes sense if you take out the waiter's attempt to turn the table or build up the check with additional drinks.  The food was fast, and the dishes really made up for the lack of service fluidity.

We may return, hopefully with a larger group so that we can sit at one of the larger, more spacious tables.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's Party Time!

We have known for a long time that the Argentine's are a fun loving people, but as I lay awake last night at 4:44am listening to Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" blaring from the speakers of a DJ in some apartment building on our block, I realized just how serious they are about parties.  This isn't the first time we've been kept awake all night due to a late-night soiree, they can start as late as 11:00 or 12:00 at night and go until 5/6/7:00am.  Surely, it's a great event for those invited, but for the family with a little girl that wakes up on her own time each morning, a 7:00am end time to the music is horribly annoying.  The best part, this party, as many of the others, was probably for a 15th birthday party - a very different custom than in the US.  

On to our actual experience with birthday parties.  

We have been invited to quite a few birthday parties for Gretchen's friends and classmates. It is a nice custom here that if there is a birthday party, everyone in the class is invited - something that was always a difficult subject to manage in the US.  I finally got around to taking pictures at one of these parties, and it was a funny capture of events.  This is like no party that I have attended in the US for a child, there is entertainment, it is held at a party salon, and there are lots and lots of people invited.  Gretchen was a little out of her element with all of the littles ones at the party, the entertainment was a little advanced for her, and the dancing was fun but involved lights, music and singing so she was a bit overwhelmed.  

The greatest part of this particular party room was the side room that had a small kitchen, sink area, washer and dryer for the kids to play with.  Gretchen loved it, and I enjoyed watching her play.

She still enjoyed parts of the party, for example, her favorite song "El Sapo Pepe" was a crowd pleaser, and she liked jumping around in the lights.  I'll admit, these parties are a little piece of chaos, but fun nonetheless.

She also loved the fact that the chips, soda, cookies and Jello were at arm's reach to all of the kids (Mom was not loving this as much...).  Though, I believe her favorite part of the day was the side room  kitchen and laundry room.  She even showed this little girl how the machines worked:

If this is a birthday party for a two-year-old, I can only imagine why the party for a 15-year-old goes until 5 in the morning!  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Teatro Colon

We finally made it to the Teatro Colon, one of the most recommended tourist spots in Buenos Aires, and it took us three years to get there!

The Teatro Colon opened in 1908 after almost 30 years of construction - and has sold out virtually every night since.  The theater which has near-perfect acoustics and is considered to be one of the top 5 concert venues in the world. The theater has recently gone through renovations, which were scheduled to take 18-months and ended up taking 5 years, finally reopened in May 2010 - for the bi-centennial anniversary of the country.  
We were fortunate enough to have friends that wanted to visit the theater, so we joined in with them and got tickets to see "La Cenerentola".  According to the website, this is Sleeping Beauty - the opera, but in actuality it is Cinderella - the opera.  Luckily we recognized the difference right away. Our tickets were in a box on the lowest level, which was a great place to be, but here is a photo of the multiple balcony levels.  Impressive.

The light fixture on the interior of La Sala was painted by Argentine painter Raul Soldi, who painted etherial dancers, musicians and opera singers. It is a beautiful addition to the theater.

A few pictures of us at the theater:

Our box seats!  I have to say that the box was great, it was a perfect view of the stage, but as Jon put it "the seats were like watching an opera from your grandmother's dining room table".  I concur.

The stage of Cinderella was impressive, there were four sets that rotated like a clock.  Here was the final ballroom, and the cast giving a final bow.

The cast was an impressive show of talent, though admittedly this is my first experience at the opera.  I appreciate the talent and the show itself was entertaining and enjoyable.  We had an interesting time listening to the Italian lyrics while reading the Spanish subtitles - so it was lucky that we all were familiar with the story of Cinderella going into the night.

It was a great evening, we were glad to have friends to enjoy the opera with - and we all felt much more cultured at the end of the weekend.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Buenos Aires International Newcomers - BAIN Downtown

Spring at the Sivori event - 2012
It's finally time to write about BAIN.  I wrote about this expat group a few times a while ago, but have never actually described what it is, and definitely haven't written about it since I became as involved as I am now.  Now just involved, I am now (by default because the other co-president moved) the President of the Downtown chapter of BAIN (Buenos Aires International Newcomers).

Please, feel free to be impressed.  

Though I'm sure my friends and family back in the US are incredibly interested in reading about this group (as they most certainly are with all of the things I write about), this post is geared toward the folks that are living in, or moving to Buenos Aires.  The biggest complaint that I hear from English-speaking expats, especially those who have lived internationally in the past, is that there is not a very strong expat society in Buenos Aires, and I have to say that I agree.  This is why I am now so involved with BAIN, I think that BAIN can fill that hole, and I'm hoping to help it to get there.  

BAIN has been around for a long long time in the world of expat living, started almost 20 years ago.  The biggest hurdle with Buenos Aires is that the downtown area is so diverse, that there are a bunch of little clubs, but not really one solid unifying group that works for everyone. Now that there are more young families living in Capital, BAIN Downtown has really diversified to include everyone from the single traveler to the retired couple that has made Buenos Aires their home - needless to say, and everyone in between.  

Membership with BAIN Downtown includes benefits like our monthly activities; Morning Coffees, Dinners, Lunches, Book Club, Book Exchange, End of the month meetings with either a happy hour or presentation, Happy Hour during the week, Baby/Toddler playgroups and our one-time events like running a 10K, Spring at the Sivori Museum, or our End of the Year Party coming up in November.  You can pick and choose what you participate in, or just stay tuned on Facebook or our Newsreel to see what we're up to this week.  

So, to try to get the word out, I'm using my blog as a medium of "advertising" for the group.  Please feel free to contact me directly at dawn.e.gill@gmail.com if you are interested in joining or becoming more involved with BAIN, or contact the general BAIN Downtown email address: bain.downtown@gmail.com.  I am also adding a "recent posts" area on my frontpage so that you can link to BAIN Downtown whenever the spirit moves you!  

So, if you're interested in joining or want more information, you now have lots of ways to find out more about BAIN Downtown.  If you're not yet convinced, follow us on Facebook or follow our blog and see if we can spark your interest in the upcoming weeks.  

I hope to see you soon!

*And now back to my non-promotional, normally written blog :)