Other Pages of Interest

Friday, August 23, 2013

Waiting For Baby

Tomorrow marks the completion of 36 weeks of pregnancy.  This is an important milestone in the pregnancy because Gretchen was born in week 36, and I have mentally assumed that this is when the real baby-watch begins. Obviously, it is not an exact science, but boy-o-boy would our baby boy be welcome to come at any point after tomorrow.  Really.  Come on down, you're the next contestant on the Price is Right....

Look, we have your room all ready for you!  Complete with the toys your big sister stuffs into the bassinet attachment to the Pack-and-Play.  And of course, the Planets Mat, best.baby-gift.ever.

We are even ready for that round of golf you will play with Daddy!  These clubs might be a little big, but you'll grow into them...

We have repurposed items from Gretchen's room, made good use of our baby shipment and rearranged the closets so that baby boy has a room all his own.  I like to think that it is serendipitous that the room was already painted blue, a great color that we were happy to match.

We have been prepping Gretchen as best we know how for the long-awaited arrival of "baby brother". At this point, we feel that she genuinely knows that a baby will be joining our family, and she pronounces daily that he "will poop a lot" and "will need a lot of diapers".  We are not as confident that she is ready to share her toys with him, luckily, he won't want them for awhile yet.

It is a strange thing to be going through pregnancy for the second time and having so much left to question. There is still no way of knowing what to expect, and life in on a bit of a countdown clock from now until the little one arrives.  Will it be today? Tomorrow? In three weeks? Quite literally, time will tell.

That's part of the fun, right? The bottom line is that we cannot wait to meet our baby boy, introduce Gretchen to her baby brother and begin life as a family of FOUR!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Just Keep Swimming...

Much to Jon and my great joy, Gretchen has started watching and enjoying Disney movies.  The pure joy that comes from watching a classic childhood movie with your family on a rainy day coupled with watching your little girl discover it for the first time is pretty awesome.  To date, Gretchen's favorites are Finding Nemo, Cinderella, Snow White and Dumbo - though I'm pretty sure none of them can beat her unfailing loyalty to Dora the Explorer.  Her love of Nemo is reinforced by the plate and bowl set that Grammy brought her earlier this year, and in Gretchen's eyes, every fish or aquatic-type animal is somehow related to Nemo.

So, when we signed her up for swim lessons, we used this to our advantage.  "You're going to blow bubbles, just like Nemo!", "Let's go under the water, just like Nemo!", you see what I mean.  Not to say that Gretchen is at all frightened of water, she is thrilled to be in a pool, lake, ocean, whatever you've got - but she's not 100% convinced that she wants to do anything but play in the water - and one of our parenting requirements is that our children learn how to swim.

Finding a local pool that offered actual lessons to little ones was a bit challenging for me.  Last year we went to the Ocampo Wellness Club for most of the year, but the instructor that we loved (Luciana) had a baby and stopped teaching at the end of the year.  Also, though the club itself is quite nice, the pool and pool changing room could use some lovin'; the temperature of the pool and the air was either pretty cold or stifling hot, the cleanliness of the pool was questionable at times and the dressing rooms were small, awkward and tough to navigate with a toddler.

I looked at Club de Amigos, a popular option in the city, and decided against it.  First off, they refused to give me prices over the phone or email, I had to come in person.  I went in person only to be told that the classes were not accepting new students until September (this was in June), something that clearly could have been communicated over the phone and saved me a trip.  Then the prices were super premium.  Two strikes - I'm out.

Little swimmer ready for action!
Then I looked in our own backyard, so to speak, at the gym we've attended for year and I've used for pregnancy swimming, Megatlon.  I requested a trial class at the front desk and was given two, so we attended the Saturday group classes and then talked to the instructor, Cristina, about teaching semi-private/private classes during the week.  We arranged a time, and found a friend to take them with us, and now we gladly attend our semi-private swim time for an hour a week.

This was not without it's challenges (of course).  I'm still not sure what the classes cost - I've heard anything from a firm AR$470 per month (10% less if you have another student join the class) to AR$890 per month and the child needs to be a member of the gym.  What actually happened is that we were charged AR$260 for one month of classes, and since we've only paid for one month I have no idea what will happen in the future.

For all of the classes, including the two freebies, we needed to have swim caps (both of us), a swim diaper for little G and proper swim suits (should go without saying, but you never know).  Also, for members to use the pool you need to be checked by the on-site medic, who basically looks at your feet and signs a little card that says you're good to go.

Daddy and Gretchen finishing up class
The pool is decent.  Warm, but not grossly warm. Most importantly, clean.  There is always a lifeguard on duty (though they're usually chillin' in the corner with some friends) and there are designated lanes for slow, medium and fast swimmers there to swim laps.  I will say that in my lap swimming days, there are times when it is quite crowded - I've been told 2-3:00pm is the best time to go.

Not picture here are two baby pools (currently under renovation, should reopen this month) that are super shallow (like 60cm) and available almost all of the time to bring your little one for "open swim".  Gretchen and I have done this in the past, just gone and used their toys to hang out in the pool area and burn off energy for awhile, no one has ever been there to crowd us.  The locker room showers leave a little to be desired, but there is a coat check for your things while at class and plenty of space.  A huge downfall for me is the difficulty with getting in and out of the gym with a stroller - it's possible but really difficult to manage.

So, as Dori would say, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming..." and hopefully we'll have our own little fish before we know it!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

El Baqueano

Address: Chile NÂș 495 esquina Bolivar
Phone: 4342-0802

This gem of a restaurant located in San Telmo, a barrio in the city where we rarely get to for dinner. It's a shame too, because this is a fantastic place to eat.

Reservations are a must and they don't print menus.  The inside is modestly decorated but comfortable with a large bar - though it doesn't look like the bar seats are used much. There is a set "degustacion" that changes every 3 months or so, presented on a chalkboard to each table as you sit down.  The set menu has eight steps for AR$230 with the three supplemental steps available for an additional price per dish.

There is also the wine pairing available for an additional AR$135, we skipped this option but it was an ample amount of wine for the price.

The meal started with a choice of freshly baked oregano or whole grain bread along with an olive oil tasting.  I can't pretend that my pallet is refined enough to know the difference between the oils, but they were all good with bread and we ate all of them and asked for seconds.

The first step off of the menu started a theme that continued through the meal.  Degustacion de papas was potatoes served a few different ways.  There were mashed, roasted, fried and delicious.

Each step was completely different.  We enjoyed llama, shrimp, deer, beets and all of them made with ingredients from Argentina.  It helped that they were all quite pretty to look at too.

Beets served multiple ways, delicious just like the potatoes, but there is something about pureed beets that makes me think of the opening credits to Dexter.

I also appreciate a pre-dessert palate cleanser.  It doesn't take away from the dessert, but gives you something sweet prior to the real deal.  This particular course had a great fruit sorbet, topped with peppercorns, a strange and surprisingly solid pairing.

For the next degustacion we had apples.  This time there were more ways than I thought possible to prepare apples on the plate; a fried apple chip, pureed apples, thinly sliced "raw" apples, an apple sorbet, some sort of apple gelatin surrounded by a cold apple broth.  Good, clean, fresh except the gelatin, which is never a good idea in my mind.

The final course, the real dessert was a ying/yang chocolate dish.  The chocolate was rich and tasty, and the presentation was cool, the waitress poured the two sauces at the table, but the white chocolate was a miss.  It was served cold while the dark chocolate was served hot, which added to the fact that in contrast there was no flavor to the white chocolate - it was more milk-y than dessert-y.  Don't get me wrong, I ate the whole thing, but that would be my response if anyone ever asked :).

This was a great meal, quiet atmosphere and interesting food all at a decent price here in Buenos Aires.  It also gives me more reason to return to San Telmo, a place I rarely go after dark.  Our next visitors looking for a fun place to eat should keep this one in mind!  We will certainly be back.