Friday, July 15, 2016

Unwound

This week I had the unique opportunity to live a dream! Or so I thought.
I'm a full time mom to 4 kids ranging in age from 6 years to 20 months. You other moms know how busy and crazy the mom job can be! I read an article this week about moms being wound up tight and I can relate! There are so many bodies, meals, feelings, fights, housekeeping duties, errands and possessions to manage! All the while feeling the pressure of knowing these precious moments will pass all too quickly and I should slow down more to really enjoy them! I have certainly been wound up tight to varying degrees in the last 6+ years of motherhood.
Do we moms dream of cloning ourselves?! Yes! I've often wished there was another copy of myself in the background doing the laundry and mopping the kitchen while I sit on the floor and do puzzles, read books and shower my children with my relaxed and undistracted attention. Other days I've wished for someone else to come occupy my kids so I can find myself again through a solid block of uninterrupted kid-free time.
I lived the dream this week! No, I wasn't cloned but I did have a full time housekeeper/nanny at my disposal 8 hours/day. This was a trial partly because Mitchell had to travel back to the states all week. We also wanted to see if full time domestic help would be something I would want long term.
Surprisingly, this was not as dreamy as I had always imagined! It was actually quite uncomfortable for so many reasons. As a person who values privacy pretty highly, I did not like the feeling of sharing my home and my every move with a near stranger. I hated the internal struggle of devoting my complete attention and time to my kids all while this sweet woman was working up a sweat cleaning MY house and the messes WE had made! As she had been hired as not only a housekeeper but also a helper with the kids, she kindly and with wonderful intentions inserted herself in breaking up arguments, assigning the kids jobs and managing their time. She did these things in *gasp* not the way I would have done! It's so difficult to see a person as an equal and treat them accordingly when you are the boss and have hired them to do all of the undesirable jobs you don't want to do. All of these thoughts and feelings flooding in made for a very uncomfortable few days!
As I've pondered this more I realized that my role as a wife and mother goes deeper than just the activities and work I do all day to fill the time. I am a wife and a mother. That is a lion share of my identity. It's who I am as an individual. I've chosen this life as a full time mom because it's what I want to BE, not just what I need to do. When I hired out the work of my identity I felt a void in myself and an uneasy urgency to fill that void with, what exactly? A new identity? Redraw my whole life trajectory? I wasn't prepared for the deep soul searching and philosophizing I would experience by simply paying another person to scrub my showers and play with my kids!
Needless to say, having a full time domestic employee was not actually a dream come true for me. In fact, after Wednesday I did my best to explain some of my feelings and told her that the trial period was over and it wasn't going to work for me.
The good that came out of all of this is, I feel so unwound! Somehow the perspective gained in taking back my roles (all of them! Even scrubbing the showers!) voluntarily and eagerly has helped me undo years worth of winding up! I am so confident that I have chosen right for me, my family and my children.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Beach Bums

This week we were beach bums! Nicaragua has some amazingly beautiful beaches! Monday was the 4th of July, Happy Birthday America! Mitchell decided to work Monday and take the holiday on Friday instead. Cool that he can do that. The kids and I went to a beach called Playa Majagual with one of Mitchell's coworkers and her family. The pictures tell all! White sand, no other people, big waves, thick clouds and no one got sunburned it was a perfect day! The one thing I would have changed about Monday is, I would have bought more bananas at the road side fruit stand! I bought 12 but we ate them all before we even got home! So delicious! On that topic, I still marvel at the prices of some things here. I got a medium sized watermelon, a pineapple, 5 mangoes and 12 bananas for $5! All local, organic and DELICIOUS!








Thursday I took the kids to the movie theater to see Buscando a Dory. The movie was dubbed over in Spanish so they likely didn't understand the words but it was simple enough that they followed along and enjoyed it. They are really looking forward to starting school next month, they really miss their friends!


Speaking of friends, the kids in our housing complex are starting to come back from summer vacations!! We figured out that they normally come out to play around 4 until about 6. We've made a point to go out and make friends and the few neighbors that we have met are so welcoming and kind! There is a boy named Vladimir they have played with a few afternoons. Last time they played he gave Reid a hug when it was time to go in! Yay for friends! Interesting fact: The kids play freeze tag here! Audrey and Reid used gestures to explain it to Vladimir and he understood. They call it "pez congelado" or frozen fish. Fun times! Another fun fact: speed bumps are called "policia acostado" or policeman laying down. We thought that was amusing.

Friday afternoon there was a celebration down the main highway in our end of Managua all the way to Masaya. It was celebrating the retreat of the Sandinistas to Masaya on July 8, 1979. The war ended victorious for the Sandinistas on July 19, 1979. There were flags up and every mile or two there was a stage set up to play music.



I snapped some pictures of the beautiful countryside from the car. I love this place! It's a paradise!





Friday we left first thing in the morning for San Juan del Sur! First stop was a steep but short climb up to the Cristo de la Misericordia (Merciful Christ) statue. It is a massive 24 meters tall and stands 110 meters above sea level on a sheer cliff overlooking the beautiful San Juan del Sur inlet. 


Yes you *should* come visit us!! I mean, this view!

 



Our friend August, R&R's friend Cooper's dad, told R&R that they would probably see a beetle with horns in Nicaragua. They have been on the hunt and finally found a beetle with horns!



On our way back to the same beach that we visited on Monday we saw monkeys!! It was so neat! I also loved these huge twisted jungle trees.








After a few hours playing in the waves, making sand castles and collecting shells we headed back to our house for the night. Airbnb hooked us up with a super cheap house and it was pretty neat. It was authentic rural Nicaraguan farm living. There were banana trees, plantains, mango trees, papaya, cucumber vines, coconut palms, a large chicken coop several bunny coops and more! When we got there the host showed us how to use a machete to cut through the husk of the coconut and drink the water inside. It is slightly sweet and has a mild coconut flavor. Mostly it tastes like warm water though. Haha! I'm glad we stayed there and I am also very glad we don't live so "authentically" all the time. It was very picturesque though!






We all slept under mosquito nets because the roof was not connected to the walls of the house. That was great because it allowed the cool night breezes to come right on through. It also allowed the bugs (mostly moths) to come on in also. The kids thought the nets were awesome.
We had planned on spending another day at the beach on Saturday but it rained all night and all day. Redick was the most bummed! We had to take a literal "rain check" and head back toward Managua. We came across a neat museum about the geological and agricultural history of Nicaragua that was housed in one of the oldest buildings in the area. It was closed so we'll have to check it out later. We missed a highway interchange somewhere along the way and ended up going home through Jinotepe. It was a slower route but we passed through a bunch of tiny farming towns and it was so neat! We were up in the hill country and you could see farms plowed right across the steep hillsides. Since we were in the hilly area the road had some steep climbs and steep drops. The views were incredible!





This is the back side of Volcan Masaya. It was spewing out thick smoke!
We are loving it here more and more all the time! It may take more time for me to find the charm of Managua itself (it's a big busy city with lots of traffic and people worrying about stuff) but I have fallen in love with the rest of this country!



Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Highlight is LAVA!

We've been here a little over a week now. It's still somewhat unbelievable and crazy but Mitchell and I both realized that things are beginning to feel more familiar than overwhelming now! That's progress! It's been a busy week of running errands to get more settled and also trying to have some fun at the same time. I successfully navigated my way across the city, on 3 different highways and found Walmart! That may not sound like much but I'm celebrating all of the victories right now. My housekeeper, Carla, started working this week. I have so many feelings about that! I would love to raise my hands up and shout FREEDOM FROM HOUSEWORK!! However, there's more to it than that. In all honesty, though it is amazing not to have to mop my own floors and scrub my showers, it's a bit uncomfortable too. If I am home while she is cleaning I feel really guilty about sitting and playing with the kids or reading something while she is hard at work sweating it up! There is also a huge class divide here between the haves and the have nots. By hiring her we're not taking advantage of her lower income status at all. In fact, she really appreciates the work and the income we provide. Since we can afford to hire her (normal wage is $150/month full time) it is expected that we would, and even considered stingy if we didn't. It's also uncomfortable for me to have another woman come into my home and see all of the messes. I am a clean for the cleaning lady kind of person! This will take some getting used to. It is really nice to be able to use my time for other things like personal interests and outings with the kids. Overall it's a pretty great arrangement and we all love Carla. She is super sweet.

I mentioned last week that the days start early here. Mitchell and I are up at 5:30 everyday and loving it! **I need to get some black out curtains for the kids' rooms though! The point of getting up with the sun is to have some personal time!** We spend those early morning hours studying the scriptures, exercising, reviewing together our budget, reading the local newspaper to become familiar with local interests and to practice our Spanish, setting goals and getting organized etc. I will highly recommend getting up early, it is so great!

Want to see some more pictures?? ...haha, of course you do! Enough blah blah blah, here we go!

Coolest park ever!



This awesome park is in the same subdivision as Mitchell's office. It is so cool! I love all of the big jungle trees that provide shade from the heat of the sun.



This is the face of a boy who can no longer be contained by his pack and play for naps. He thinks his new trick is pretty clever too! Mom thinks it is less so...


Lesson learned: Always bring your clean laundry inside to dry if you're going to leave the house during the rainy season!


Even in Utah this is my happy place! After a couple of hard days this week Costco, or Price Smart as it is called here, felt so familiar! We even had pizza from the food court for dinner like the old days!

On Friday I took the kids to the zoo! I had been dragging a bit on Wednesday and Thursday. It's hard for adults and kids to completely change everything around us. I feel for the kids, they didn't even have a say in this decision. They are just along for the ride, like it or not. Friday I was determined to make it a good day for everyone. It was! The admission to the zoo for the 5 of us was a whopping, $130 cordoba and that includes 10 cords for premium parking. I can't do the math in my head either. C$28.5=$1 USD so the zoo cost us $4.56! Yeah, that's cool. It was a pretty neat zoo too! 


Parrots

Audrey had just learned on Thursday that the national flower of Nicaragua is Sacuanjoche (Plumeria). She was super excited to find one!




These monkeys (not the ones in the green shirt and yellow dress, the ones in the background) were so entertaining! 




I have no idea what kind of bird this is but it stood about 5 feet tall!

Watch your fingers there Reid!







Reid and Redick were really impressed by these giant leaves!

We bought a bag of Pithaya, dragon fruit, from a roadside fruit stand. Super convenient! They sell right to your car window while you wait for the light to turn green! They are very eye catching with the bright pink skin. We weren't sure what to expect because some of the locals don't like it too much. It is SO GOOD! Think kiwi but not as tart. Yum. We're adding "dragon food" to our regular list.

Saturday is our outing day. We really want to see and experience as much of Nicaragua as we can while we are here. We will do some tourist focused trips and also some more local experiences. Yesterday was definitely more tourist focused but it was worth it! We made our first visit to Volcan Masaya! Of the 19 volcanoes in Nicaragua it is the closest to us. Not only is it an active volcano which means earthquakes in this area for us, right now the molten lava inside is exposed and visible!! Oh my goodness, it was amazing and the photos DO NOT do justice! You all *need* to get your passports now and get down here because this could close up at anytime!








I am on the hunt for a large print of this painting. I absolutely fell in love with it. It is supposed to be a representation of all of the beauty and industries that Nicaragua has to offer. 

We were amused by the Hawaiian name for this type of lava. The kids looked for old flows of "Lava AHHHHH!" to step on. Haha!



This is a beautiful country! Everything is lush and green.


The crater. Below that sulfuric smoke is boiling angry lava!!

The ancient inhabitants of this area called this crater "La Boca del Infierno" "The Mouth of Hell." I can see why. It looks pretty menacing down there.


The smoke cleared a little for the picture and you can see a slight red glow. We could see it better though. You could see the lake of molten rock boiling and splattering and churning down below.

A little closer view
After seeing the volcano we explored Masaya a little more. I wanted to go to the artisan market to look for a print of that painting I liked so we explored. This cute little park is in the main town square adjacent to the large catholic church. I liked Masaya a lot. It has so much more charm than Managua.



Home Depot! Another familiar place.

Last night Audrey and I decided to go back to the volcano after dark to get another look at the lava pool. Fun fact, there are only a handful of places in the world where you can observe a lava lake! The night view was definitely impressive.





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