Eating Healthier, Saving Moolah, Moving Forward

I need to first say that TODAY is my dad’s birthday. Happy Birthday to you, Dad. You provided me with a lifetime example of what I needed to look for in a husband and how a dad should care for and love his children. When I was younger, I thought that my dad is how all dads are, and as my naivety faded as I got older, I saw that I am really on top of really blessed because there really are not THAT many dads who are as wonderful as mine.

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#tbt to 2014. Only one of them looks like they have aged since last year.

Same goes for you too, Mom…who, no fooling, celebrated her birthday on the 1st.

...same goes for this 2014 photo.

…same goes for this 2014 photo.

Next week: shout out to Aunt Pooj whose birfday is on the 15th. She’s your reminder that your taxes are due.

I loved her rather aggressively as a small child.

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In mid-March I did a 5-day challenge with Fitness Blender and it kicked my arse. In between that, I have been exercising for 30-60 minutes 5 or 6 times a day since early February. However, I have not really seen any numerical differences on the scale and my pants fit the same as before…a.k.a. not well. I do feel stronger (I can do five push-ups straight through instead of suffering through one) and in much better shape, but honestly, I’m tired of feeling lumpy and much larger than the size I’ve been almost my entire adult life.

I’m freely admitting that my diet sucks. I am totally addicted to candy lattes (my current version of ‘coffee’) that probably have ungodly amounts of sugar in them but I’m in denial so I refuse to look it up. I don’t even want to know because I know it’s bad. But hey, I order it with fat free milk so of course I can throw down 24oz. a day and think I’ll see my body magically decrease in size. Reality: I am probably only burning half of one of those lattes in an exercise session, because as I so sadly read, I am likely overestimating calories burned during exercise and underestimating caloric intake. It’s so hard, because caramel lattes bring me to my happy place at work…and Starbucks’s in Chile are popping up faster than tulips in the spring.

I also have another large problem, and that would be portion control. I eat one piece of something filled with butter and sugar and think, oh hey, what’s one more…which spirals into five more.

Third,  I will go out to eat and think, ‘well, I never come here, so I might as well get the most awesome thing on the menu’. But I end up doing that more than once a week to different restaurants because I ‘never go to that restaurant,” and I end up eating the junkiest junk on the menu at more than one place more than once a week.

And finally, I love food. I have a hard time saying no. It’s pretty easy for me to say no to some things, but food is not one of them.

However, I have realized in the past 8 weeks that pure exercise is not gonna cut it. Literally. I have to make small goals for myself. Instead of 5 sugar-infused liquid beverages per week, ideally 1 either on Monday or Friday to either help me face the week or celebrate that the week is over. Instead of choosing the most exotic thing on the menu, actively look for a good choice that won’t leave me hungry for that burger I didn’t order. I can’t do dieting. I can’t do non-processed foods. I can’t do non-sugar, non-fat, non-dairy. Sorry I’m not sorry. So, I’ll just have to do less of what I really like (burgers and lattes) and more of what I’ll tolerate (salads and vegetables).

I will also tell you a thing about eating in this country: it’s hard not to eat crap. A lot of their foods are processed and full of weird stuff. Kids birthday parties and family get-togethers are packed with soda, chips and cubes of sugar disguised as candy. You don’t want to be the weird, rude foreigner that chews on celery and carrots they brought along with them and say no to your sister-in-law’s homemade lemon cake. You eat that lemon cake with a smile on your face.

On the flipside, their fruits and vegetables are a-plenty and much cheaper than in the USA. This is good for Joaquin, a raging banana and strawberry addict, and good for his mom who puts the not-so-good-quality fruit in a blender for a smoothie.

Andrés and I are also in an attempt to not be like madmen with our checking accounts and be “fiscally responsible adults”. We’re planning a fairly big life change in 2016, and in general, life-changes require money. We are actually already pretty fiscally responsible. We’re not in debt, we don’t spend more than we have and we have savings. We’re just trying to get that pile of savings a few feet…erm…inches…higher by the end of the year. And maybe that means the end to “Sushi Tuesdays” and the start of “Sushi Once a Month”. Boo-hoo. Saving and eating better doesn’t mean you can’t have the things you like, you just have to have less of them. Novel concepts guys.

Mid-March we sent in step 1 of 1,098,921 for Andrés’ US residency application (what most Americans know as a ‘green card’). You’re not a citizen, but it’s the next best thing (paying taxes, fun). The giant binder of information on ‘why my foreigner husband is good enough to live and work in your country’ was sent to a random address of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Chicago. They let us know that they got it and just as soon as it arrived in Chicago, it was shipped off to California. Why they can’t do everything in one place with one organization of the government, I don’t know. Once the Californians deem him good enough, they send it to a completely different government entity called the National Visa Service (NVS) and they have to deem him good enough and rich enough and healthy enough and tall enough and skinny enough and physically fit enough and smart enough to come to our country. Maybe I made a few of those up, but the list really similar to that.

Once two government entities find him good enough, they let the US Embassy in Santiago know he’s a stand-up guy and we get a notification to go to an in-person interview, but not before Andrés is medically examined by a consular approved doctor saying he’s good enough. Then Sr. Consular Officer interviews Andrés and makes sure he’s good enough. If we get through that, they give us a package to bring to the immigration officer that checks us at the point of entry at the airport and tells Andrés if he’s good enough to finally enter the USA as a resident.

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD MY HUSBAND IS GOOD ENOUGH TO ENTER MY STUPID COUNTRY WHY DO FIFTY PEOPLE NEED TO TELL HIM HE’S GOOD ENOUGH AND TREAT LEGAL IMMIGRANTS LIKE THEY WANT TO BREAK THE LAW. FIX WHAT’S BROKEN. FIX YOUR SYSTEM.

Oh, and the whole process from applying abroad costs over $1,000.

Super.

It involves a lot of waiting, a lot of steps, and a lot of patience. We’re hanging tight in Chile until things pan out and trust that God has everything under control. He always does, doesn’t He.

On an end note, our 1+ year old has taken to talking to himself. He is fluent in babble.

2014 All Wrapped Up

I am back from my vacation of life and blog with Chile welcoming me back into the country in the form of sunny, 85 degree days. I have been back at work since Monday, and I’m already ready for another vacation. January and February are such slow months in the southern hemisphere. Everyone is either on summer vacation and not physically present, getting ready to go on summer vacation and not mentally present, or coming back from summer vacation and still feeling like they should be on summer vacation, and therefore not mentally present. Productivity is not the best right now.

Here are some highlights of how the last month of 2014 went for this girl.

-I’ll just start with the biggest news. Somehow, my baby turned 1. I can’t really, totally, fully understand how this happened yet, as I am receiving timehop notifications on my phone of “one year ago today” and there are pictures of me with a miniscule, beautiful newborn that I’m pretty sure were only taken 1 day ago…not 1 year ago.

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We just upgraded him out of this carseat because he outgrew it…waaaah!!! Me sad!

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We co-celebrated his birthday with one of our family Christmas celebrations, something I’m sure he’ll come to resent in a few years. But he’s 1 right now, all he cares about is the next thing he can put in his mouth – edible or not.

The kid went TO TOWN on the jumbo cupcake once he figured out it tasted like the best thing he’s ever put in his one year old mouth.

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Andrés and I found it at Mariano’s (among some other things…like italian cookies and a build your own 6 pack of beer). By the end of it, he was clutching the cake with his baby jaws of life.

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“Don’t you even THINK about taking this away from me. I’ve earned it, I’m one.”

When we saw the innards of the cupcake, we discovered it was about 98% buttercream frosting and 2% cake. As my aunt graciously put it, he was “breastfeeding the frosting”. The only version of sugar Joaquin was familiar with before his birthday was fructose from bananas and peaches, so this was a whole new world of super, artificially enhanced sugar. By the time we got back to Chile, I’m sure that the three of us well accumulated over 20 pounds as a family unit.

-Andrés and I both got to go to our first ice hockey game. Shut out 4-zip! I knew they played well because we both figured they knew we were going to be there all the way from Chile. We sat next to a couple consisting of a 60 year old man that looked like Hank from Breaking Bad and his 30-something Asian wife whose thighs were the approximate size of my wrists. I also found out that technology now permits you to spy on your babysitter during timeouts of a Blackhawks game. Thanks, Hank.

-We got to spend a lot of time with my family. This was the first time in maybe three or four or five years that every single member of my dad’s side was together, and every single member on my mom’s side was together. I hadn’t seen my cousin since 2010, which is kind of nuts considering our parent’s houses are only an hour away from each other. I even got to see four of my greatest friends (and facetime another far off in Colorado), an awesome thing to have happened for such a short trip.

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Andrés, Grandpa Dave and Great Grandpa Wes celebrated Christmas supporting the Cubs version of Chilean soccer…C.D. Universidad Católica. They always come kind of, sort of close to winning…but never seem to be able to pull it off. But misery loves company, right?

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-Amy got seriously teched-out this Christmas. I came back to Chile with so much technology, I wasn’t exactly sure if I was capable of handling it all. My dear husband gifted me a beautiful mini Ipad and a Chromecast. I opened the Chromecast and I’m all ‘thanks honey!’ and kind of put it to the side. Andrés is like, ‘do you know what it is?’ and I said, ‘sure, it’s a chromecast, for google chrome and stuff’…(that was a guess). I eventually was informed that it turns a regular old boring TV into a super awesome intelligent TV (or I guess a smart TV) that makes your tablet or phone or computer act like a TV remote. I guess I’ve been living under a rock. Then, my dad got my sister and I each a Bose bluetooth (almost spelled it blootooth…I’m 100 years old) speaker. I’m opening all of these awesome things and I have no idea what they do. Don’t worry, I eventually got it all figured it out and under control.

-Andrés’ big gift was a new, fancy Macbook Pro. We were tech-blessed in 2014. I personally don’t want Joaquin getting into all of his parents new toys because 1. he has he his own toys, 2. ours are expensive, and babies are attracted to breaking expensive things, and 3. I think my baby is just fine without all that added nonsense so young in his cute little life. But I know that comes with limits of our own. We try our best to limit all of this usage, especially around him. At any rate, Andrés is all excited about his new computer, and since I have a Macbook of my own, he’s asking me all these questions about what to do if this happens, how do you do this, etc etc, and I’m so tech-tarded I’m the worst person to ask.

-The New Years Party involved Joaquin being the first to hit the hay at 8pm, my mom falling asleep on the couch at 10:30, my dad wanting to celebrate New Years at 11pm because “it was New Years in New York and I’m tired” and Andrés and I ringing in the New Year with champagne and frozen hair in the hot tub at 12:30am.

Every time I have visited home this past year, I always return to conflicted feelings about wanting to leave Chile. Do I want to leave the beautiful Chilean weather and all of my new, married-into Chilean family I’ve grown so close to? Do I want to leave this little home we’ve created together and start over? Do I really want to go back to the USA and learn how to be a grown-up there when I’ve only ever been a grown-up here?

But then my thoughts pull me in the other direction. There is so much more physical space in the U.S. Our kiddo(s) would almost definitely have a yard with grass instead of 3 square inches of tiled terrace on a 7th floor apartment. I would be able to see my mom, my dad, my sissy, my grandparents so much more frequently (and less expensively) than I do now. I could run outside with my baby, instead of having to leave him at home with dad because drivers are absolutely nuts here.

It’s a constant mental battle for this young-ish gringa. But going back permanently has been on my heart for a while now, and the feeling is mutual with Andrés. We continue to trust that God will help us in whatever decision we make, and he has blessed us so very much in our lives together so far. We are excited to see what 2015 is going to present us with.