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.

Friendship

My friend Heather Meadows asked me to write a guest post for her site. She let me pick the topic, and I already knew what I wanted to talk about. Something that has been on my my mind and heart these past few months.  To continue reading the post, follow a link to her site, where I hope you take a few minutes to meet the lovely Heather. The Lord so clearly orchestrated our meeting, almost a year ago at the She Speak Conference. We met as we sat alone at our own tables waiting for our food, and five hours later we were still together with 3 other amazing ladies-laughing, crying, praying over each other, and sharing our stories! (And hers is a pretty incredible one, let me just say)
Here is the post:
Friendship. It’s one of those special, almost magical things in life. When you have real, honest, genuine friends, it feels as though you can go through just about anything in life and still come out sane, and maybe even with a smile on your face. And without those people, you feel like a plant that hasn’t been watered in a really, really long time. Perhaps even one that has lived at my house, deprived of water, oxygen, and love, and then thrust outside thinking a little sunshine will revive it, only to char it to death.
Currently, I am a plant living somewhere other than my own house. I am thriving. I am flourishing. I feel loved, supported, encouraged on a regular basis. I am surrounded by a community of women that I cherish. I am part of a mom’s group that meets every Monday and leaves me feeling refreshed in my heart and soul and ready to face the week. I live 10 houses away, from a soul mate of a friend. I am part of an accountability group/goal setting group of women who love Jesus so deeply and fiercely that every time I’m with them I desire to grow in my relationship with Jesus. And other dear friends, who also live close by, who regularly make time for play dates with me and my kids, girl time, family dinners, and drop anything to help and support me.
And I am moving. Far, far away.  To keep reading go to Heather’s Blog.

Setting goals. (with a Dream Guide)

A little while back I shared how, or rather why, I got my butt into gear last year and actually started writing. Consistently. It was a combination of A. filling out a Dream Guide (more about this in a sec) and B. having friends who held me accountable.

So, in light of it being the typical time of year we all like to think about the upcoming year, and perhaps set some goals, I thought I would share a pretty great tool. You see, I’ve never really been one for resolutions, I guess for a few reasons. One, I would set some pretty lofty ones, and therefore never attain them. Two, I didn’t ever share them with anyone, so I didn’t have accountability and my personality is such that having someone to gently ask “how’s that ___ goal going” really does me good. And three, I just kind of wrote them down and that was that. I didn’t set aside a chunk of time to think about it, and I certainly didn’t pray about them. And I loved the idea of actually praying about categories that weren’t “spiritual”…like praying about what work things to pursue or not, or how exactly was I going to be intentional with friends both local and far this year.  What projects did I want to carve out time for, and speaking of time, I needed to think through that and be intentional about working out because that does not happen naturally for this girl! (side note: that did change however, after setting great work out goals last year that I actually stuck to!!) And fourth  I didn’t re-look at them through the year. I didn’t check in with myself and see how I was doing, and what needed my time, attention or effort, and what goals could perhaps be adjusted or changed half way through the year.

Some dear friends last year introduced me to the Dream Guide. It’s put out by Jennie Allen and can I just say how much I LOVE it? (and not just the dream guide, I also happen to think Jennie is a pretty amazing woman who clearly loves the Lord! I say her first name only as if we are BFF’s, but its more like I’ve heard her speak at IF, read some of her books, and think she has a heart of gold!) Her Dream Guide is kinda great because it’s simply about thinking through the next year, reflecting on the past year, praying over everything, and how to be intentional as you set goals. And she breaks things down into categories, giving help and guidance because for someone like me, setting goals for the year can feel like an overwhelming task!

Since I loved it so much last year, I am going to do it again this year.  This time I’m hoping to rope Brandon into it. I thought it might be kind of cool if some of our family/parenting/eating/financial goals lined up too. Could be pretty awesome to write those together…!!! And, honestly, since it was so impactful for me last year he is pretty excited to sit down and do one himself!

So I’d like share it with you in case you’d like to try it out too!

Here it is!!! Click HERE.

Hope you love it as much as I did!!