Mostly Rainbows and Butterflies, but sometimes not

IMG_5183We’ve called the Dominican Republic our home for 3 weeks now, and as much as we are enjoying our time here, it has also been a little bit of a struggle. I was going to write a very long caption on Instagram, but I know myself too well and know that I wouldn’t be able to explain my current feelings in a short novel/caption, so here is a long one. 😉 (hooray for blog posts!)IMG_5181IMG_5182Our experience so far has been mostly rainbows and butterflies (pun intended) but we’ve also had our fair share of adjustments. Since Derek and I are the head teachers (in charge) this time around, we are the go to’s for the other 30 volunteers we are here with. Which means we are the ones who deal with health problems, teaching assisting, personal issues, vacation plans, coordinating schedules for teaching and service projects, and dealing with issues that come up with our house, all while adjusting to this new lifestyle ourselves.IMG_5146I absolutely love our role here, and know that in the end, it will be very rewarding, but it can be exhausting at times. It’s definitely teaching both Derek and I a new kind of patience. These are a few things that we’ve experienced since my previous post.IMG_5147Spent a day in the beautiful Sosua Beach with our group and I rode a banana boat for my first time ON THE OCEAN.IMG_5352Visited all 4 of our schools and evaluated our amazing teachers in the first couple weeks of teaching (I am not exaggerating when I say amazing by the way.)IMG_5155Derek covered for a teacher who was sick, and got to be “Teacha D” again for the day.

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We experienced our first Dominican Dermatologist (for 3 hours) due to one of our teachers having a bad rash. We also spent a total of 11 hours at the hospital because two of our teachers had severe dehydration. With all 3 of these experiences, and 14 hours spent at the doctors this week, we’ve learned that all doctors here are on island time, and take their time. And we have also learned that the Caribbean sun is not messing around.

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(this photo was taken at 2:30AM ^ practicing mom life 😉 )

We got more rain this last week, and enjoyed two beautiful tropical thunderstorms. (top of my most favorite things in this world)IMG_5153We’ve gone to the beach a handful of times, have found two restaurants that we love and have spent a few nights staying up too late laughing with our new friends.IMG_5351IMG_5354We are definitely getting used to our new temporary home, and everyday I wake up and think “I love that this is my life” but change always comes with challenges and between all of these things that we’ve experienced this week, homesickness hit me hard. IMG_52902I am currently missing my Harvey snuggles, my bath tub, and my car rides alone with my windows down a little more at the moment. But I’ve also been constantly reminding myself that just like I am currently missing those things and many others back home, I will miss this chapter of living in the Caribbean as soon as it’s over. New adventures always feel exciting, but they also bring new lessons and some self-growing pains. And I’m just accepting it all. (Even if that means being overly emotional and spilling my feelings out on the internet.)

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I remind myself that It’s okay to lose patience, to get frustrated, to miss things and people, to experience separation anxiety, to scream in my pillow, or cry myself to sleep. Because with the bad, also comes good.

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Like finding my new favorite meal, or being told by five 10 year old girls that I am the most beautiful teacher and they love my blonde hair, or waking up to random nice notes from the other volunteers. And I have days where I find my new favorite spot on the beach, and nights with my new friends who will quickly become family. And sunsets that remind me of home, and the neighbor’s dog Toby who always wags his tail when he sees me. And so much extra time with my favorite person in this world.IMG_5350I am constantly aware of just how amazing it is that Derek and I get to have this experience together in a place as beautiful as this. And I remind myself when I need to, that most of the time life is filled with rainbows and butterflies, but sometimes it’s not, and that is okay.

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Onto the next adventure (and a happier week!)
Wren

 

 

 

 

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Hola from our new home!

IMG_5023.JPGWe’ve officially lived in the Dominican Republic for just over a week and so far, we are adjusting great. The culture shock here isn’t as bad as it was in China. I don’t know if it’s because we knew what to expect this time around, or if it’s because the time change and life changes aren’t as extreme.IMG_5086IMG_5087.JPG

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IMG_5099.JPGI don’t think it’s hit me yet that we are here for 3 and a half months, but I know from past experience that it will eventually. I’ll get home sick, I’ll get my separation anxiety from Harvey, I will miss certain things and certain people, but right now I am just taking it all in and enjoying this beautiful chapter that Derek and I are lucky to experience together with 30 strangers.IMG_5101

A few things that are different here than back home:

The humidity! On Monday, it was 90 degrees with 60% humidity. We don’t have AC in our house or schools, so we are all constantly covered in sweat, and we’ve just accepted it. I am glad we are all here to stick together through it all (literally and figuratively). My hair and nails are thriving though.

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Our water and electricity situation. Without fail, one of them is always off every other day for a couple of hours. The area our house is in doesn’t have city water and power, so our house runs off of a back up system. (Batteries and cisterns) It feels like we are all camping, but in a very nice house.IMG_5077.JPGIMG_5078.JPG

In addition to not having water sometimes, we never have hot water or good water pressure. With that being said, showering is a whole new experience. Since we are constantly hot and sweaty, cold showers haven’t been that bad. But I know I’ll probably cry happy tears when I get my hard water pressure back (in 90 days) 😉IMG_5079

We also can’t drink the tap water here, which is a habit that Derek and I got used to in China, but I do miss having the luxury of constant access to water. Especially here, where we are always thirsty from the heat.IMG_5083.JPG

Our house situation is similar to what it was like in China. Our “home” is like a larger hotel room with our own bathroom, but we share a kitchen and laundry room with the other 30 volunteers. Since we are the head teachers this time around, we have our own “hotel room” but the other rooms in our house are filled with 6-9 volunteers who all share a bathroom together. (props to them!)IMG_4917.JPGIMG_4928.JPGThe good news is, we can walk 20 minutes from our house and be in the ocean, which makes all of the “bad” and different things worth it. I’ve also learned that most of the dogs and cats that we see on the street are people’s pets, and not strays, and that has eased my emotions and culture shock a little bit.

IMG_5102IMG_5100.JPGIMG_5091Unlike our first living abroad experience, the language barrier here isn’t too bad for us. I love being able to read the Spanish words in the restaurants and grocery stores which I was never able to do with Chinese characters, and Derek loves practicing the Spanish he knows with our personal taxi driver/ neighbor, Papi.

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IMG_5084.JPGWe also have pretty skies, good food, a comfortable bed, and regular toilets which were all things we struggled with our first week when we lived in China. If you want to read the post that I wrote back then, here is the link: https://thestellarstories.com/2017/09/09/ni-hao-from-our-new-home/

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IMG_5089.JPGIn the last 9 days, we’ve adjusted to our new living situation, we’ve made some new friends, we’ve organized all of our groups’ teaching schedules, and we’ve started teaching the kids. Being greeted with a million hugs and hearing “teacha Wren and Teacha D” again as we arrive at the schools almost makes me tear up.IMG_5090.JPGIMG_5092.JPGIMG_5093

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We’ve also explored our city center (with the best architecture), ate the yummiest food,  spent some time at a beautiful country club, and have been to the beach three times, which makes me the happiest little soul. I am so excited to see what accomplishments, experiences, and adventures we have in the next 13 weeks.

IMG_5021Like I’ve said before, with adventure comes change, and with change comes growth. And I am so ready for all of it.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

Goodbye to this chapter, and A very “busy” April.

IMG_4758Today is May 1st, and to be honest getting through the month of April has made me feel like I can do absolutely anything. I know I always start my posts by saying that me being busy is an understatement, but I have recently learned that “busy” is just a sad word to say that I have been taking advantage of every single moment.

I love being busy. I love being on the go. I love taking advantage of every single day. And even though I feel like I haven’t had “a break” since February, I’ve had so many beautiful experiences in the meantime, and have been surrounded by so much love. Here’s a few moments that I took advantage of and captured from this crazy month:

Celebrating our beautiful angel, Ashley, with my work family.IMG_3944.JPGHiking those beautiful red rocks with our best friends.IMG_4757Practicing yoga in my backyard, and cuddling way too often with Harvey

IMG_4741Being crazy hooligans with my favorites, including my sissyIMG_4755Our first swim day of the year at Grandma’sIMG_4122.JPGThe prettiest work sunset IMG_4193.JPGVisits from Kenzie from San Francisco IMG_4761.JPGCoffee date with MarieIMG_4754

Visits from Auston from Salt LakeIMG_4752

Loving on and saying goodbye to my favorite girls
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Double date with my sissy and TylerIMG_4256

I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve consciously taken advantage of the time I have left before we leave the country again, but I’ve learned that when I am “busy” time slows down…

A LOT.

Each day felt like a whole week, and the month of April felt like a whole year. It was filled with so many emotions, temporary and final goodbyes, growing pains, life lessons, and so many little moments that made me feel thankful to be living. I took advantage of every single one of them, and every single emotion and feeling that came with them.

A no sleep, beautiful night in Vegas with my Derek

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Crying and dancing not once, but twice to my favorite band, The 1975IMG_4753Celebrating Derek’s birthday at dinner with our DurstelersIMG_4749.JPGShowering these two beautiful mamas, super model best friends of mine (both of those bellies will be babies next time I see them!)

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Pulling off a 400 people Easter brunch (and a handful of more events) at workIMG_4748.JPGVisits from mom from Arizona (I hadn’t slept in 3 days in this photo)IMG_4583.JPGGame night/ going away party with my work famIMG_4747.JPGLeaving town again to celebrate this girl’s birthdayIMG_4729And so many more, that I didn’t remind myself to capture

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IMG_4746.JPGI know I’ll look back on April 2019 of being one of the busiest, hardest, but most beautiful months of my life. I’ll remember it as the time that I learned that “busy” doesn’t always mean something bad. Sometimes  being “busy” just means that you are living your life to the absolute fullest and taking advantage of every single minute with the people you love, the places you’ll miss, and the feelings you want to hold onto forever.

IMG_4760We leave to the Dominican Republic in just a few days, and even though

I CAN NOT WAIT

to “have a break”, live on the beach, and spend every single minute with my Derek, I can’t help but feel so proud of the things I have accomplished in the last few weeks. I am proud of myself for looking at my to do lists and thinking “I am going to miss this” instead of “I am so stressed out”. For still working 50 hour work weeks, because I know how much I’ll miss the job that I worked so hard to get and the people who come with it. For giving up sleep to cuddle Harvey a little longer,  and taking advantage of my good internet, bath tub, air conditioner, and washing machine. For giving up my alone time to spend time with the large amount of people I want to see and hug before I leave, and constantly thinking “I am so lucky to have so many people who fill my heart”. And the most important, for allowing myself to feel every single emotion, instead of blocking them out.

I know that change is always good, but I am also very aware that it means new chapters, new self growth, and changes in relationships. I know from past experience that things will be much different when we come back home, and this month has taught me that that is okay.  It taught me that emotions, busy-ness, anxiety, stress, tears, love, happiness highs, and missing moments before they’re gone, are all a part of being human and living. And if you read my previous post, you know that I think, there is nothing wrong with LIVING. 

Onto the next adventure, Wren