Laundry.

I have never in my whole life been so excited to do laundry.

We’ve been without a washer for about two weeks now, leaving the giant job of cleaning clothes to A. hand washing or B. trying to be casual about asking to bring over dirty clothes and use new friends washing machines. No, that’s not awkward at all. “Hello, nice to meet you. Yes, we’d love to come over for a play date. How has life been since we arrived? Do we need help with anything” YES. Actually. I’m going to say YES. When we come over for a play date, and we’re just getting to know each other, would you mind if I bring a load of dirty clothes to throw in your washer? Cool. Thanks”

Oh my word. It’s been so hard for me to do this. But for my own survival, I’ve gotten over it. Hand washing isn’t fun, but it’s not the act of the washing that isn’t working for me. It’s the fact that you can only get clothes so dry when you wring them out. Then, try to get those babies dry when it’s been raining every single day. It adds up to a lot of not dry laundry that ends up not even smelling that great because it’s been taken inside and outside and back in again. Trying to get it dry but avoiding the raindrops that come on suddenly has made for some pretty entertaining moves that the kids find hilarious.

I, on the other hand, am exhausted. Have you heard of something called the poverty of time? To sum it up in one over simplified sentence, it’s this:  one of the many reasons poor people have a hard time rising out of poverty is the loss of time doing basic things like hand washing clothes, collecting water, farming with only basic tools, cooking over fire, etc. The poor cannot attend basic school, or continuing education when they have to help the family simply do basic chores and survive.

And I’ve seen this time and again living abroad. But it’s funny, or rather ridiculous that I still forget that fact. I have spent the last two weeks doing nothing but thinking about, working on, moving towards one thing: doing laundry. Each day, as a family of five, we go through at least five outfits. That is of course best case scenario.

Take yesterday as an example of worst case scenario. In the middle of the night last night, Eliana wet the bed. Poor thing. (I think this is due to both processing new things and she’s SO tired when she goes to bed (because she’s not napping anymore) that she doesn’t wake up to go pee like normal). In the morning I access the situation: now I have an extra sheet, blanket, underwear and pj’s to wash. Naptime comes, and poor Audra wakes up crying. I give her a few minutes to see if she’ll go back to sleep and when she doesn’t I go into her room and get a lovely surprise. She has had a legit blowout. I pick her up before I realize just how bad it is, so now I have poo on my arm. And only until I lay her down, on my bed (since we don’t have anywhere else to change diapers) with newly washed sheets do I see and smell the gravity of the poo situation. Now there is poo on my bed. Insert bad word.

If I had a washer at my house, I’d simply be annoyed. Throw them in the washer and what’s another load? But here, minus a washing machine, not enough rope to line dry everything and rainy weather so nothing actually dries and it’s real kill joy. Well, that’s not entirely true.  Said baby was then smiling and coo’ing at me for the next hour since she had lost half her body weight in poo and felt like a million bucks.

Oh.my.goodness.

So I met a new friend at church, who after she found out I didn’t have a washer she offered for me to use hers. She happened to be going out of town and told me to come over whenever I wanted to do a load, or twenty. Normally, I’d hmmm and haaaaa over it, and feel bad for saying YES, but not this time. We brought them pizza for dinner before the left, got the low down on her house and washer and I’ve been making daily trips to her house to laundry every day this week.

It’s solved 90% of my laundry issue. The other 10 is minor, but man trying to dry clothes during the rainy season is a problem. Of course I’m still playing the mix up change-a-roo game as I try to capitalize on the sun and breeze but am trying to avoid the rain. I have moved these four loads of laundry around the house and outside and back in now about 6 times in the last 24 hours and I’m glad to say they are all, finally, dry!! And remember, this is coming from a girl who lives in a nice house, with room to spread line and clothes all over when it does rain. I have to admit, that is one thing I love and also don’t love about living here. Not for one second can you feel sorry for yourself. Ever. As a foreigner that is. I mean heck, it’s like a rich person complaining about which car of their 5 they are going to drive because it’s just so hard to pick. Gag. I feel sorry for myself until I remember, duh, most of the people living here don’t have a washing machine. Most people don’t even have running water in their homes. (to be more exact about 37% do not have water in their homes)

So boo hoo poor me first world problems in the third world. They are no different than first world problems in the first world, you just can’t wallow in it very long here. And considering sometimes I’m the dramatic, wallowing type, I tend to think this is a very good thing for me. I’m then forced to suck it up and deal with it. And instead focus on what I do have, and choose to be thankful for that. Because, the fact is, I have three stinking adorable kids (even if said kids are the main culprits of my laundry woes!), I have a handsome and hard working husband who loves us dearly, and I live in a safe and beautiful home. These are not small things.

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A nest of crap.

A foul smell has been waffing through our house. Not all the time, only when the breeze comes in from a certain direction. I cannot figure out where it is coming from. It’s been going on for about a week now. At first I was pretty sure it was rotten eggs. Since we don’t have a table and chairs yet, we just eat outside and when we make a mess it’s easy to clean up. That works fine and dandy until you sweep up scrambled egg bits into the grass. Oops. But Dora, or as I like to call her my -saving-grace-how-on-earth-did-I do-life-and-three-kids-without-you, is pretty sure it’s a rotting animal on the other side of our wall. (more about Dora and her amazingness to come)

 

Until today.

 

We have three little baby birds living on a column right outside our back patio. They are kind of the cutest things ever. Sitting in that nest all day, just poking their heads out with their teeny tiny mouths open waiting for mama to bring them worms. Mama. Oh how I’ve never thought much about that mama bird. From the moment the sun comes up, mama bird is flying back and forth from that nest. All.day.long. I would know, since I am home, inside, playing with my kids on that back patio. All.day.long. Just when I think I’m busy, catering to the demands of three little kids, I sigh to myself when I watch this mama bird. She flies into this gorgeous pink tree right about 8 feet away and sits there. She makes sure all is clear and then she brings her loot to her babies. They chirp chirp chirp and gobble gobble gobble up whatever she has brought them. Then, she’s off again. Back and forth all day.
But I digress. The point is, I’ve figure out where the smell is coming from. Have you ever wondered when baby birds live in a nest, where does their poo and pee go? Me neither. Until now. They poo and pee inside the nest, and that is why there is a rancid smell that makes its way into our house when the breeze comes from a certain direction.

 

And then it occurred to me. Is that not just like life? I sort of feel like it’s a metaphor for how I’m living right now. No, I’m not literally living in my own nest of crap. But rather, spiritually speaking, I have crap I’m not taking care of. I’m just wallowing in it. I have unrepentant sin, and heart issues that I’m not dealing with. And it’s starting to smell. Ever since we’ve arrived here I’ve been smacked in the face with some issues and I think I’m just trying to ignore them. I’ve tried coming before the Lord, several times, and well, I hate to even admit it, but it’s like my heart isn’t in it. I’m sort of acting like a child. Maybe even a like a little four year old I know. Like when said four year old is unkind to her brother and I ask her to apologize and she mumbles, ‘sorry’ as she keeps playing. It’s a little different when she stops playing, and looks her brother in the eye, and asks, ‘will you forgive me?’ And then gives him a hug after. I think God is trying to show me, every so gently, that I am just mumbling ‘sorry’.

 

So I find myself on my knees before my Creator. And the calm and healing that comes from that repentance and subsequent restoration is pretty amazing.

 

Just wanted to share in case you needed to know you’re not the only one sitting in your own nest of crap. I think a lot of us are. Some of us are so used to our nasty smell, that we hardly smell it ourselves anymore, even though others around us might be gagging when the breeze hits us just right.  (sort of like people who don’t wear deodorant… ?!) So, I’m glad I fixed the problem. Both the actual bird problem (two flew away and the third baby bird just need a little, um, encouragement) and my own issues too. Even though I am still my sinful self, I am washed clean once again and I am so thankful I serve a God who forgives me again and again.

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I am home.

We are no longer homeless. Or wondering nomads. Or a family in transition. Or whatever you want to call it. May 1st we packed up our house and had it shipped to Nicaragua. Then we packed 8 bags full of things we thought we couldn’t live without for 3 months, and drove from Texas to New Mexico, then on to California. It was a delightful but whirlwind visit, the benefits of seeing loved ones thankfully outweighing the cost. And I’m not just talking the financial cost. I am specifically referring to the pleasant way children act when they are A. out of their routines, B. hyped up on sugar and extra attention and C. staying up way past their bedtimes and skipping naps too often! Six week of that and we flew to Nicaragua and we stayed at a furnished place on the beach to bide our time until our stuff arrived via container.

Not a bad idea in theory. Who wouldn’t’ love to kill some time at the beach while waiting for their household to arrive? 100 bites on the five of us combined, living in dense humidity and heat and this mama had to raise the white flag. Up it went, and off we went.

So we moved into the house we are renting. Why risk trying to make another place work?  Yes, we shocked our land lady when we called to tell her we’d be moving in without our stuff (she was like, ummmmm, what are you going to be sleeping on dear?) And we explained that a tile floor sounded better than where we were. I’m only kidding-mostly. A friend dropped off twin blow up mattresses and the two younger kids are each in pack n plays and Eliana has a sleeping bag.  We moved in last week, and the day we arrived our landlady came to greet us. She lives right next door to us, so she popped in to welcome us. Then she came back with a real mattress. Yes, she is just that nice. Then later that afternoon she came back with plates, silverware and banana bread. As she scanned my kitchen she was like, ‘do you have anything to eat?’ and I said yes. (peanut butter and jelly, what else do we need?) Then she offered the kids the banana bread and they ate it like they hadn’t eaten in a week. I sheepishly smiled. Then it was time for Audra to eat, and since we didn’t have a chair to sit on I just stood there and fed her. She smiled at me, and once again left our house and returned with two chairs. I just laughed. Partially out of the absurdity of it, partially because she was so sweet and if I didn’t laugh I’d pry cry.

Sigh. My heart is thankful. We still might be living in suitcases, but I am home. I might be flipping eggs with a wooden spoon and knife cause I don’t have a proper spatula, but I am home. I may have just severely overpaid for laundry because I can’t seem to find a laundry matt and can’t hand wash our clothes anymore because it’s been raining all week and things aren’t drying out and are starting to smell, but I am home. I did buy a wok from Costco and made a mean stir fry tonight, cause I am home. I have fans and the weather is amazing, and I am home. We have an avocado tree dropping like 5 a day, and I am home. I did go for a walk with the kids a few days ago and met one of our neighbors and it was so nice to say yes I live here and it’s nice to meet you, because I am home.

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Thankfully we had that blow up mattress! Because Eliana, who rarely wets the bed, did two nights in a row. So that meant I tried to wash her sleeping bag by hand and it didn’t dry cause it was raining the next day. So I put a few sheets down as a bed, which she pee’d through the next night. Crap. Then I remembered we had that blow up and when Brandon finished blowing it up for her she sat on it and looked me right in the eyes and said, straight faced, “mama. This bed is so nice. It’s not like the ground, the ground is really hard” (Oh sweet thing!!)IMG_3019IMG_3016

 

 

Tuesday.

Last Tuesday was pretty rough. So much so I couldn’t really bring myself to write about it. I’m not sure why exactly. I think part of me wants to think I’m tough. Part of me wants believe I can do anything. Part of me doesn’t like to admit when something has kicked me in the shins and I just wanna scream out obscenities.

Tuesday.

Let me just paint you a picture. Come. Journey back with me. It started like every day has since we’re arrived. All 3 kids up at 5:15am. (Need I even say more?) By about 8am I was dripping sweat. I kissed Brandon goodbye while trying to not curse his lucky fortune of getting to drive an hour in air conditioning to the capital. Mid-morning rolls around and we’ve got to get out of our 20×20. I buy spray us all up, and off we go. Nothing more delicious than when you’re already dripping with sweat and bug spray, and then you strap a baby to you. We lasted about 20 minutes before we were overcome by mosquitoes. So back to the house we all ran. I am trying to remove one soaking wet baby from me when I hear another scream out. Like a I’m really hurt this is terrifying scream. I look up to see the thick and heavy tree stump that makes for a wobley coffee table has fallen on Eliana’s achilles. I too let out some sort of gasp and run over to her. I manage to lift the dang monstrosity off of her, and she is now hyperventilating.  I see blood, and naturally my mind goes to worst place. I panic. I cannot call Brandon because today his big to-do in Managua is getting us phone numbers. Thankfully I do have internet, so while holding pressure on her leg with ice while she continues to cry I send an email that reads something like “Eliana. huge gash on leg. Call me ASAP”. ( I probably should have been a bit more accurate on my medical assessment… Because, in fact, it was a large scrape & bruise not a gash, of which apparently there is a big distinction. So when Brandon got my message and called me one hour later, he was ready to take us to a hospital.) Oops. I’m telling you, I don’t do great in medical emergencies.

Thankfully, she was fine. It could have been so so much worse. We then ate lunch, played, and attempted to take naps but no body could sleep because it was 100 degrees with 100%humidity, and zero breeze. So after an hour of trying to keep everyone in their beds and give myself a moment to sit, I just gave up. Now I had 3 cranky kids who, bless their hearts, just wanted to sit in my lap. All at the same time. So there we sat, 4 tired and hot bodies, just staring at each other.

Later that afternoon, Brandon arrived, and we went down to the beach. The place that is just a one minute walk but feels like a different world. It’s a place where there is a breeze, and also therefore, minimal bugs because of that blessed breeze. We ordered two beers, and put Audra in the hammock, and watched the kids play. Sigh…

Until, that same scream. This time it was from Hudson, my non dramatic child, and my heart froze. I jumped up to see that he had fallen from where we were all sitting (a little deck above the sand) about 3 feet up, into cactus. Yes, 3 sides have sand but he fell into the side with the cactus. Poor baby. And oh my goodness, it could have been so much worse. He got it all in his hands, and wrists, and was bleeding.

We walked home, and wearily showered everyone and put them to bed. Shortly thereafter I too went to bed.

I see now that it was just an extra-ordinarily rough day. It doesn’t mean we don’t love the beach, the woods, the bugs, the log tables. It just means that on this journey of moving back to Nicaragua we are going to have good days and bad days. It’s not any different for every single person living on this earth.  But this rough day,I think somehow, in my heart, felt different. These tough days feel more like a defeat. It feels deeper, like I’m questioning my sanity. And I thought I was tough, but perhaps I’m less tough than I think. I feel pretty soft these days, and I’m not just talking about my post baby squishy spots.  It’s been over 3 years since I’ve lived here and I think I’ve forgotten what a struggle just existing here can be.

But for real, if there is any part of you feeling an inkling of pity for me, don’t. The next day the property manager came to check on me and after hearing the dramatic re-telling of that table squishy, cactus eating day, she hugged me while I cried. Then the next day she had a lady come and clean our little rental and the last hour she was here she watched all three kids and I went and got a massage. On the ocean. Listening to the waves.

I guess life isn’t that hard after all.

“where do we live?”

I can’t really keep our living situation straight, so trying to explain it to my four year old has proved challenging.

“Yes, this is Nicaragua. We are finally here! No, honey, we’re not going back to Texas. And no we didn’t live in New Mexico, we were just visiting Auntie.  No, this isn’t California, we were visiting our family there. And yes, this is our new house, yes we are in Nicaragua (finally). Well, actually this is our house for a month while our stuff ships here. Remember mommy told you our stuff was boxed up and put on a ship? It’s in the ocean right now. So we’ll live here and then move to our new house. Then all your stuff will be there.”

I sound like a moron. And clearly I am not explaining myself well because she keeps asking me the same questions but in a different way. The good news is, we went to visit our new house just outside the capital of Managua on Sunday, and it’s lovely. Mind you, this was a small miracle. Brandon went to Nicaragua a few months back for work, and managed to find a house he thought might work for us as a family. He Face Timed me a few times to walk through a few houses with him (don’t you just love modern technology?!) but this particular house he didn’t have service at. So, instead of a video he sent me two pictures. And then he signed a lease! I have to say, I think that is a testimony to fourteen years of marriage right there! (That, and he really knows what I love… and perhaps I’m easy to please) Okay, truth be told, more like the first one option.

The house is great, tons of room. The backyard is amazing. It’s got lovely grass, a little dirt, rocks the kids will love, pretty trees, a great porch, even some shade, and a giant avocado tree. What more could a girl want?

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“My eye is broken”

Friday and Saturday were spent doing not.one,thing. After 14 hours of travel, the plan for the day was recovering. I’m pretty sure this could be just the right place to do that considering there are more hammocks than there are people.

And even though it was a sweltering 100 and dense humidity, everyone still managed to sleep all afternoon. And they all even slept in.

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Reality came knocking Saturday when we all did a count and the kids both had about 30 mosquito bites each, me about twenty, and Brandon and Audra a big fat zero (thank goodness). Plus, bonus, Eliana’s eye was just about swollen shut from a bite on her eye lid. She woke up with a funny look on her face and kept saying, “my eye is broken!” She looked awful, but strangely she didn’t mind.

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Day Two and Three. Tagline “Mosquitoes are the worst.”

It’s moving day.

We officially moved to Nicaragua. June 1st we managed to get ourselves, our three small children and 12 fully loaded, exactly at 50lbs, brimming with clothes/ toys/ my favorite 1st world things, to the airport. The best part was since we had a rental, Brandon dropped me at the curb with a giant monstrosity of luggage so the United guys couldn’t help but feel sorry for me. (If I only had a free hand to get a picture of our 12 bags and giant surfboard bag teetering on top being wheeled behind me) I’m proud to say i got us successfully to the counter and checked in all.by.myself. The looks I got ranged from sheer amazement to total pity. But don’t worry, Brandon joined us shortly, and we spent the rest of the day tag teaming. I’m pretty sure I got the sweet end of the deal, since I was in charge of Audra.  (the worst part being that I was told, NO, I could not stand up and rock my baby because there was turbulence, but would I like a glass of wine to ease my stress? As politely as I could I mumbled NO. Of course I wanted wine, but how on earth would I hold a glass of wine with a screaming baby?)

The kids did amazing. They always seem to do better than I think they will. (since I do suffer from having unrealistic expectations, I did try to keep them as low as possible) I love that they are at ages where a cup of water with a straw and a bag of pretzels keeps them occupied. We cleared customs without one single issue. We managed to get all our stuff packed on and in a van that came to pick us up, and we made it to our rental house by 11pm.

Day One. Success.

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It’s the little things in life right? Well, wanna know what got me through the day? A last minute surprise- I got to wear my friend Callie’s AMAZING diaper bag!!! She designed it, and had a model made in NY, and now she’s exploring the possibility of it being made in Nicaragua!!  And oh.my.goodness. It doesn’t just look stunning, it’s actually  blow your mind functional. I had everything I needed for the entire day, for three kids (including, wait for it, 3 changes of clothes) in ONE bag that fit perfectly on my back.