Thursday, October 22, 2015

We're Halfway There

It's been a big week.

The girls ended their school year with their Clausura (end of school closing program). They dressed in costumes (a scuba diver and a seahorse) and did a dance they've been rehearsing at school for weeks. It was so fun to watch them and remember a year or two ago (check out the links for a fun reminder), when they weren't nearly as comfortable up on stage.
Ellie dancing
Ellie and a couple of her amigas
A proud Mama
The process to buy tickets was intense. One morning a few weeks ago Michael had to wake up early, walk to the school and stand outside the front doors in line. At 6:30 AM the doors opened, and then he had to wait in another line until the ticket booth opened at 7:30. But, it was worth the early morning because we were in the second row, right up front. (And we had already decided not to shell out the big bucks to pay for the school-produced video of the year's events, so being in front was even more essential). We learned our lesson from Mother's Day when we were in the back row and could barely see their faces.
My little seahorse
You would never know that the week she brought her costume home for us to try on she cried and screamed for a week and refused to put it on. But finally, the moment she put it on, she loved it.
We celebrated Ellie's 5th birthday this past weekend. We went bowling with some friends, took a piñata to church, had the Chapman family traditional birthday pancakes, and went to Pollo Campero for a special birthday dinner (her favorite).
Friends at church ready for the piñata
Bowling with some friends.
Ellie got Legos for her birthday and has played with them every day for hours.
Five feels like a big milestone. It's usually the year of starting kindergarten in the US, although because of the school year here she will start Pre-K in January, followed by what's seen as Kindergarten the following year. It's a bit arbitrary, since this year she was learning to write in cursive, learning letters and numbers, 2 years before Kindergarten.
Birthday pancakes for the 5-year old!
Somehow, my baby is 5.
And then yesterday marked another significant milestone in the Chapman house. We've officially been here two and a half years, out of a five year contract. Half way done. That means every day we are here marks more time that we've been here than what we have remaining. That feels a bit surreal.

Granted, 2 1/2 years is still a huge chunk of time. Our girls will do a lot of growing and changing.

I can't help but notice a few things and think about expectations I've had, and things I did or didn't know 2 1/2 years ago.

I didn't know we'd have another baby (though it was a possibility in our minds).
I didn't know that in may ways Guatemala would feel like "home," especially to our girls. Ellie has now lived half of her life here in Guatemala, and of course Hazel has lived a huge majority of it here. This is "home." This is normal for them.
I didn't know I'd fluctuate so much with my Spanish. Some days I am confident in my ability to speak and understand, and other days I feel frustrated with my lack of full comprehension.
I didn't know how hard it would be to make friends, especially due to language and cultural barriers/expectations.
I knew it would be hard to work alongside my spouse, but I didn't know just how hard.
I didn't realize we'd get to travel so much as a family, a big bonus.

Though the workload is still intense, we've figured out a rhythm. The first year was hard. Super hard. Really, really hard. But we pushed through. I look at Ruby, who is now 9 months old, and I remember Hazel, the same age when we put her in daycare. It breaks my heart. It probably always will, knowing of all three of my girls, Hazel was in daycare at the youngest age, purely out of necessity for this work and my opportunity to study Spanish.

Fun Comparison Time:
Ellie at 9 months
Hazel at 9 months (our first week in Guatemala)
(So much hair!)
Ruby at 9 months

We've entered another phase of work and life here. Our team has changed drastically in the last year, and we have a relatively new team. We don't foresee any changes to the team for the next year, and that's a change for us, and one we're looking forward to.
Out on a walk with these beauties.
The girls and I are now at home for a 3-month break, and I'm looking forward to having time with them, a throwback to my full-time stay-at-home Mom days of Fresno.


Elizabeth said...

I know exactly what you mean about having no upcoming changes on the team be a big change! And so many other things too... I have this rule of thumb, that the middle third is the hardest part of anything. A hike, a road trip, an MCC term... at least that is the part when time drags the slowest. And the last third goes super fast. We are at month 36, and 40 is 2/3 of 60 (total months). So according to my math this is the hardest/slowest part for us too right now. But a shift is just around the corner. Congrats on halfway! EEP

Shelly Cunningham said...

I always love reading your posts and can totally relate to so much of what you experience being in a different culture. Hard to make friends, hard to believe your children think of this as " home"... We are on year five of five (just a mental time span we gave ourselves when we started this journey), and this year we're apart. I'm "home" in Washington growing Baby #4 while he's "home" in Alaska, working to provide for our family. It's been tough, but we're hopeful that next year will land us somewhere less remote and somewhere we can be together as a family!