In August, we went took our annual beach trip to Port Aransas with Courtney’s sister’s family and Courtney’s mom, Patti. We stayed four nights. We spent the entire first day down at the beach. On the second day, we drove into Corpus Christi and went to the Texas State Aquarium. On the last day, we went down to the beach again.
Happy four months to the sweetest and, hands down without a doubt, most smiley boy there ever was. As seems to be the norm for your parents, we simply cannot believe that you have already been in the world for four whole months. You were so small when you arrived and now you are growing at such a rapid pace. We think you change and grow on an almost daily basis, but one thing stays the same….those cheeks. Those wide landing pads on either side of your face seem to constantly attract kisses. They are the best.
You surprised us with your ability to roll from your tummy to back (the cheeks might have something to do with that!) and now we have seen you roll from your back to your tummy a couple of times as well. Physically you are very strong and have taken quite a liking to standing up. We have introduced you to the exersaucer and, when propped just right, you are content for quite awhile.
You are a proponent of sleep and take the task very seriously. You began sleeping in your crib a few weeks ago and seem to sleep quite well in your room, as in all-night-long well. That kind of sleep makes for some very happy parents. However, it was incredibly hard to pack up your bassinet when you proved to us you could manage on your own. Mommy feels a bit lost without having you right next to me during the night, not being able to reach out and feel the rise and fall of your little chest whenever I want to make sure you are okay.
Ever the good eater, you manage to still put away the milk on a regular basis and it doesn’t appear as if you miss too many meals. At your recent four-month checkup you weighed in at 15 pounds 5 ounces which places you in the 75th percentile for weight. Mommy and Daddy are contemplating starting you on rice cereal a little sooner than your sister just to keep up with your penchant for consumption.
Speaking of your sister, your are quite smitten with her. She loves to give you hugs and kisses and make you smile. We cannot think of anything better than watching the two of your interacting and enjoying each other. It still seems like a crazy reality to Mommy and Daddy that there are two wonderfully amazing children to love in our house.
Everett, thank you for being in our lives and for waking up each day with such a beaming smile. Your happiness is infectious and your existence makes life that much more fun.
We love you,
Mommy and Daddy
In July of 2010 my mom, dad and I headed way down south to Uruguay to attend my brother’s wedding. Uruguay is in the southern part of South America, just south of Brazil. We traveled about 30 hours total to get there. When we arrived, it was the dead of winter. We experienced freezing rain and temperatures consistently in the 30′s. And to top that off, most of the buildings lacked central heat.
We got to do one thing on this trip that we don’t often get to do when traveling. We got to really experience the culture. Because we were helping Eric set up for his wedding, we got to participate in something uniquely Uruguayan. We also got to spend a lot of time with Noelia’s family and they taught us the true Uruguayan way.
Day 1: Arrival
We arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay a few hours after we had planned. Our plane got held up in the Santiago, Chile airport. When we got there, Eric and Noelia were waiting. Eric had rented a car and we squeezed in (it was small, as are most things outside the U.S.) and we drove to Eric and Noelia’s apartment (also small). There, we hung out and ate a black beans and rice dish1 that Noelia made us. It was true Uruguayan cuisine and was delicious! After that, we took Noelia to the hospital to start her overnight shift and dropped Dad off at the Hotel Landcaster, where he and I were staying. Mom stayed back in Eric’s apartment. Eric and I went out for a few drinks before turning in.
Day 2: Montevideo sight seeing
We got up and ate breakfast at the Hotel Landcaster. Then we hooked up with Eric and Mom for some sightseeing. The first stop was the Fortaleza, located up on a hill in a Montevideo neighborhood. It mostly contained artifacts honoring General Artigas for his heroics at war. For lunch, we stopped at an indoor market and found a parrilla (pronounced “parisha”), which is a restaurant serving grilled meats. Grilled meats is a very Uruguayan cuisine and we ate steak and sweetbreads (calf thymus or pancreas).
After lunch, we walked around Montevideo until it got dark. We visited Plaza Independecia (Independence Plaza) and the Solis Theatre. After night fell, we went back to Eric’s apartment to help him and Noelia put together party favors for their wedding. We made giant foam ties and cowboy hats – a Uruguayan wedding tradition.
Day 3: The Estancia
Our first stop on day three was to pick up 120 chair covers that were to be used in the wedding. It was our job to haul them to the wedding hall. They barely fit in the car we rented, even after upgrading our car to make room for them.
After our chores were done, we headed northeast to Estancia Aguila Blanca (White Eagle Ranch). The route was long and the road was bumpy. We arrived near lunchtime and were greeted by our host, Jonathan. He served us vegetable soup and shepherd’s pie. These dishes weren’t very Uruguayan, but Jonathan’s mother was from the U.K. and she influenced his cooking. After dinner, we rode on the back of his truck while Jonathan and his ranch hand took us down to some waterfalls at the edge of his property. They were beautiful. After spending some time there, we headed back to the ranch house where we watched the sun set. Then we met Jonathan for a dinner of roasted chicken. After gorging ourselves, we hung out in the common area looking at pictures and playing cards until bedtime.
Day 4: Horseback riding then on to Melo
We woke up early and met Jonathan for a horseback riding trip. I hadn’t ridden a horse in about 15 years but it came back pretty quickly. We rode around his land and saw several capybaras, which are the largest rodent on earth. After about an hour it was time to head out toward Melo.
Melo is a smallish town (about 50,000 people) in northeast Uruguay, near the Brazilian border. Melo is Noelia’s home town so, naturally, the wedding was to be held there.We arrived around lunchtime and met Noelia’s family for the first time at a local restaurant. Only a few of them spoke English, and we didn’t speak very good Spanish, so communicating was a challenge. However, we all managed to form an instant friendship.
After lunch, we went and loaded up some chairs for the wedding and set them up at the wedding hall. Then, we finally got to put those chair covers to use as we put them on all 120 chairs. After we were done setting up for the wedding, we went to the caterers house then ran a couple more errands. That evening, we were invited over to the house of Noelia’s good family friend. Several of her family members showed up and we talked the night away telling stories about our native countries.
Day 5: Wedding bells
Day five was wedding day. We had slept the previous night in the Crown Hotel, the nicest hotel in Melo (that’s nice by Uruguayan standards). After eating a breakfast of empanadas, we met up with Eric and helped him with several chores needed for the wedding. After a much needed nap, we hung out in Eric’s hotel room until it was time to head to the wedding hall.
At the wedding hall, we greeted guests as we waited for the bride to arrive. Around 10:00pm, she finally did. The ceremony was short and to the point. There were a few words said by a local judge, some paperwork to be signed, then the party began. And a party it was. There was food, dancing, whiskey, more food, more dancing and more whiskey until the early morning hours. Around 3:00am, the foam party favors that we had made came out and the party got even wilder. It finally ended around 7:00 in the morning. Through all the festivities, it was great to see Eric and Noelia celebrating their love and take the next step in life together.
Day 6: Sleeping in
We slept in until 1:00 in the afternoon, then headed over to Noelia’s parents house for lunch. We finished off much of the leftover wedding food and exchanged gifts. At one point, a few of use went back to the wedding hall (still in pretty bad shape from the night before) to clean up some and get the chair covers. After some more time spent with Noelia’s family, we finally said our goodbyes and headed out. It was five hours to Montevideo. We made it seven by choosing our route poorly. We arrived back in Montevideo after midnight and checked into a hotel where we went promptly to sleep.
Day 7: Flight out
We spent the final day sightseeing around Montevideo. We ate lunch at a fancy restaurant and then headed to the airport. We said our goodbyes and then caught our plane to Buenos Aires, a stop along the way. Unfortunately, our plane was delayed leaving Montevideo and we missed our connecting flight in Buenos Aires. We were going to be delayed a full 24 hours! Luckily, we found a very comfortable bed and breakfast nearby and stayed there for the night.
Day 8: Home
We woke up on day eight and headed to the airport early. We weren’t going to miss our flight this time. We killed time in the airport until it was time to fly out. We arrived back in Austin late the next afternoon and our trip to Uruguay was officially over. It felt good to get back but we’ll definitely miss Uruguay, especially the people and the food. If we’re lucky, it won’t be our last trip there.
1 After I wrote this, Eric corrected me that the black bean dish is called Feijoada and is actually more Brazilian than Uruguayan.