Thursday, September 26, 2013

Horse Soup

Today I was telling my Spanish teacher about the soup I made last night.
She asked what the ingredients were and I told her, in Spanish of course:

Broccoli, red pepper, salt, pepper, cumin, mustard, and...horses.

I meant to say cebollas (onions) but I said caballos (horses) instead.

She looked at me, confused, and I immediately realized my mistake. We had a good laugh and I assured her I don't cook with horse meat.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Our new house

A few weeks ago we moved from our apartment to a house just a few blocks away. It has been nothing short of glorious! We have a large yard, a patio, a covered area for hanging clothes (extremely useful during this rainy season), four bedrooms upstairs, two bathrooms including a real bathtub, and a full-size kitchen. We are so thankful!

We now have plenty of space to host people (which we do a lot when our staff have to come to the city). We also separated the girls for the first time since Hazel was just two months old. I was a little torn about this but it's given Ellie the chance to wake up in the morning and not wake up Hazel. And vice versa. We'll put them back together at some point, but for now, we're enjoying being able to sleep in just a little bit more every day. 

The only glitch with this house is that there's a possibility that the owners will be selling it this Spring. We're praying the buyers will continue to rent to us. It would be very difficult to find a house like this with a yard and this much space, so pray with us, please!

Here are a few reasons we love this house:
We chalk almost every day. 
We have a large front patio, partially covered, which means we can play outside rain or shine.
We found a perfect indoor place to hang a hammock under our stairs.

A kitchen with a full-size stove and oven (The apartment had a half-size oven).
I have already enjoyed baking homemade breads and muffins every week.
The kitchen came fully stocked and it's been like Christmas discovering a plethora of pots and pans and gadgets and even brand new bread pans.
Our living room.
Did I mention that we LOVE having a space to play outside? 

I will never take for granted having a yard again (I hope).
Here's the view when you enter our gate. The front of our house.
The side of our house.
Hazel's favorite spot in the house: this bottom step. She especially enjoys eating snacks here.
The previous reps had a keyboard that I was excited to buy.
We have had several dance parties and music nights. Both of the girls love to sing and dance and bop to the beat.
I hope to teach the girls how to play in the future.

We can't wait to host people here. Come visit us soon!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Living Like a Local

We finally did a normal, "we live in Guatemala City" activity.

There is a street called "Avenida Reforma" that is the busiest and most used street connecting the city. It is closed every Sunday for several hours for walking, running, and biking. There were many people jogging and skating and lots of little kids on bikes. And lots of dogs, which Hazel couldn't get enough of. She waved and squealed at each one she saw.
 There's also a sidewalk down the middle of the street with a large park-like green area.
The street gets its name because there are statues and monuments all along the middle green space of people who have been significant in the history of Guatemala. Examples include a Red Cross founder and a Nobel Peace Prize winner for Literature.

Not very far from where we parked was one end of the closed off section, directly across from the US embassy. At least now we know where it is. Many foreign diplomats live in this area and the area is known to be one of the richest in the city.
 And then of course we ran into this awesome group:
 A Zumba exercise group dancing and sweating away. I might join them in the future.
 We stopped in the middle of a big plaza for a quick soccer break.
(Side note: Ellie has finally learned to play soccer with her feet and mostly without using her hands. She's getting better at dribbling and kicking the ball. Her women's college soccer coach uncle should be proud.)
 Soccer break.
 Practicing our "GOAL!!!!!!!" pose.
We continued walking down the street towards the other end. We ate lunch and had ice cream. There's a kid's park in one part that we look forward to visiting again soon.We also passed a fenced off circle of horses for riding, a place to rent bicycles of all shapes and sizes, and other activities.

And more Zumba:
This part of the city is only about 10 minutes from our house. What a great way to spend a Sunday! I'm happy to have found a place I will feel comfortable running. I've really missed being able to just step outside my house and go for a run in my neighborhood without thinking twice or hesitating because of safety. I definitely took that for granted in the States and can't wait to visit Avenida Reforma again.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Independece Day

Last weekend was Independence Day in Guatemala.
The girls had a special presentation at their school. Hazel was supposed to wear sky blue, the color of the Guatemalan flag. Ellie was supposed to wear traditional Guatemalan clothes, which we don't have. We borrowed her outfit from a friend. I was a little disappointed because I wanted an excuse to buy a real one. I hope to buy one soon.
The 4-year old class dancing.
This is the third time we've been invited to the school for a presentation. The first time was Mother's Day the first week we were here in Guatemala and Ellie cried the moment she saw me and refused to go up on stage. The second time was Father's Day and she was shy on stage but stayed and didn't cry. We thought this time would be the best because she's even more comfortable now with her friends and teachers.
We were wrong. The moment she saw us she ran to us. Excited, at first, but I think overwhelmed by the sheer number of parents holding cameras pointed at her in a packed small room.

Then Hazel saw us and had the same reaction.
I tried to help them up front but it didn't help. Oh well. There's always next year.
Ellie was "La Marimba"
Hazel with her teacher.
Ellie with her good friend Mia. 
After the presentations there was food. Hazel spent the rest of the morning playing by the stereo. She loves music and singing and dancing. Our little music lover.
Saturday we went downtown with an MCC group touring Guatemala. On the way back to our car we stopped at one of our favorite coffee shops. It was perfect timing to watch a marching band and parade go by and we had a great view. 
Watching the parade.
 This seems to be the common form of celebrating Independence as we could hear marching bands everywhere we went.
Happy Independence Day Guatemala! (Photo credit: Ellie)

Friday, September 13, 2013

10-Minute Increments

This is a tough time for our family. We're learning a new job where it is impossible to do everything. (Literally, other people with this same role have told us to expect that we'll never get everything done.) I'm trying to balance time at the office with continuing to take Spanish classes with spending time with my girls and being a wife. I'm doing all of these things, going through the motions, but none feel like they are being done well.

I had my first breakdown at work this week. It's an overwhelming job with lots to do and not enough time to do it. Plus there's the whole everything-is-in-Spanish thing, so even sending a simple email takes twice as long because I have to think about each word and my grammar in Spanish as I type. We have a steep learning curve for understanding all the administrative issues and project dynamics.

I have had some ugly moments at home. With my girls. Parenting is so hard. Throw in all the stresses of work and culture and missing family and friends and feeling isolated, and life's a big fat lemon right now. I feel like the worst version of myself lately. I know everyone has moments of not being the best we can be...I just can't remember the last time I had a moment that actually felt close to my best.

I want so much to focus on my limited time with my daughters. I knew working part-time would be hard but I didn't anticipate it being this difficult.

Recently I read advice to take everything 10 minutes at a time. I think this is how I'm going to push through this rough patch. In 10-minute increments.

Just now, as I was writing this, I went into Ellie's room. It's rest time and she's supposed to be reading or playing quietly in her room. She had pulled all of her clothes out of her newly organized dresser. All the clean clothes were piled on the floor. Something inside me snapped and I was immediately frustrated. These are the kinds of messes and moments that have been "the last straw" for me lately. I started to scold her for the mess...and then I stopped. I got down on the floor with her, inside her tent, and asked her why her clothes were on the floor. She looked at me with her big puppy eyes, shrugged her shoulders, and said, "I wanted my baby to sleep in there so she could be right next to me." Sure enough, I peeked in the drawer and there was her baby laying ever so peacefully.

I couldn't get mad. I melted, in fact. These are the moments of every day that make up life right now. I could have scolded her and been frustrated by the mess. And frankly, that's the route I've been taking with most of the messes and happenings in the house lately. I keep telling myself maybe I'll have a better response if I just have a break during naps. Or maybe tomorrow I'll wake up and feel ready to be a better mom. Or maybe if I get to the weekend. Or maybe after these first few months in the job I'll chill out and be less tense about everything. And in the meantime, every moment is another missed opportunity to just embrace life as it's happening.

And really, who cares about the neatly folded and organized clothes? My daughter is happy and playing and instead of reprimanding her for the mess I embraced her creativity. Finally, a redemptive parenting moment.

I want to remember this situation the next time I feel the urge to get frustrated, which, my reality says will probably be sometime later today. I need to let my 2-years-and-11-months little girl be just that. I need to give her permission to make messes and be whiny and a chatterbox and ask questions. And I need to give myself permission to let go. And to just sit with my girls. And to be OK that my 14-month old is extra clingy and just wants to cuddle all afternoon. And to be OK with maybe having cereal for dinner. Because these are my moments that are slipping by, and I can choose to be frustrated or I can choose to embrace them.

My job is just a job. It's a great job and worthwhile and I'm honored to be living here in Guatemala doing this kind of work. But, my husband and my girls are my life and my priority and I need to keep them first.

And so, as a reminder to myself, here are a few moments of the every day normal that I've happened to catch on my camera, moments to embrace and just appreciate as life marches on:

Photo credit: Ellie 

I'm realizing this post is very similar to one I wrote very recently. Apparently, this is a lesson that may take several reminders.