Shara and Axel’s Woodland Baby Bash

image3 (3)I’ve kicked off my holiday season with so much celebrating, and I am not an ounce upset about it. Two weeks ago, we celebrated baby bird at Ryan and Amber’s shower along with our Halloween party.  (see previous post) image0 (3)Last weekend we celebrated our nephew at Shara and Axel’s baby shower, and also attended Nicole and Andrew’s wedding. And Monday night, we are celebrating my wonderful grandma turning 80. My life has been a constant party filled with loved ones, and there is nothing I enjoy more.

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image4 (1)Since I hosted Shara and Axel’s baby bash with Michele and Heather, I wanted to post about it. It was such a perfect celebration, I got so many wonderful pictures, and it was another event that I decorated that I was pretty proud of.image1 (9)image3 (6)image0 (5)image5 (4)image2 (7)

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image7We went with a woodland theme for decorations and food, complete with “mama and papa bear” sashes. Much to our surprise little boy got so many cute outfits and gifts that also went along with this theme. I have a feeling he is going to love campfires, trees, and the mountains. 😉image2 (5)

image4 (2)image3 (4)image1 (10)Shara and Axel wanted a more intimate party with family and close friends, so we kept the guest list small.  Aunt Debbie and cousin Shawnee even made it from out of town, making it that more special for the parents to be. Shawnee is also pregnant with a little girl who is arriving in March, so of course we had to get a photo with our THREE baby bumps. image2 (6)image0 (4)We played a couple baby shower games, enjoyed each other’s company, indulged in way too much food, and sat in awe of all of the cute baby things that little dude got spoiled with.

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I love this nephew of mine so much already, I can’t wait to hold him and give him all the loves in just two short months!

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Also, since so many talented people helped this cute little party come together, here is some credit! 🙂

Food: Heather, Michele, Shawnee, 
Label signs and HOMEMADE cookies: Shara
Wood cookie stand and sign holders: Axel
Diaper Cake: Heather 
Theme, Decor, & Photo back drop: your’s truly 

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

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Our Very Happy Halloween

image1 (8)I can’t believe I am already writing my “Halloween post” again. Years always seem to go by pretty slow to me until the holidays roll around, and then I feel as if I was just celebrating these special days. This year, Derek and I dressed up as the milk man and a 1950’s house wife, I had to take advantage of that bump of mine because who knows if I will ever have another baby bump on Halloween!

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image6 (1).jpegOnce I thought of our perfect costume, I had to figure out where we were going to wear them. Instead of waiting around to get invited to plans or a party, I decided to throw my own! Kallista and I hosted a friend Halloween party last Friday, and it was one of the most fun Halloween celebrations I’ve ever had. We kept things cute, but also spooky. image3 (7)image1 (11)image0 (7)

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image2 (9)We had drinks, food, dancing, and of course costumes, and the best part? Most of my favorite people attended.image1 (10) image4 (2)image1 (9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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image4 (3)image0 (5)image3 (6)I’ve had a lot of friends and family ask me if is it different celebrating the holidays since I am pregnant, or boring since I can’t indulge in my usual celebratory wine. And to be completely honest… no. Being surrounded by loved ones,  good music, and good food, for any type of celebration or holiday, will always be my favorite thing no matter the circumstances. Plus, the party planning part of it all was just another highlight. image10

image6 (2)Other than our Halloween party, the only other celebratory thing we did this month was carve pumpkins with the Birds. Unfortunately I didn’t get photos of our end results, but we took these bump photos and they turned out way cuter than our pumpkins did anyways. Who wore it better? The ladies or the guys? image9image1 (7)image7image8And of course, I decorated our Dursteler abode. Decorating for the holidays is my favorite thing about our home. Plugging in our lights every night and lighting my fall candles day makes our home so cozy! image5 (1).jpegimage4 (1)image3 (3)

image0 (3)I’ve also indulged in way too many pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Being pregnant this year on the holidays is great because I am supposed to be gaining the weight that I’ve put on. And everything tastes better than it ever has. Little babe must know how content my heart is this time of year because she seems pretty happy with all of the cookies and sweets I’ve been shamelessly eating. 😉 image0 (4)image2 (8)Speaking of little babe, it is so weird to me that this holiday season will be our last of just Derek and I (and Harvey) This year is our 10th year of holidays together, so next will obviously feel so much different. I am so excited though! I can’t even comprehend the magic that having a baby, or kids in general, will bring to the best time of the year.image5 (2).jpeg As far as tonight goes, our plans are to order take out and play cards at Ryan and Amber’s, which is a usual week night thing for us. I am glad we have friends who still likes to socialize, but understand the tiredness (and hungriness) that comes with being pregnant. (and dealing with a pregnant wife 😉 ) image0 (6)I wish you all a Happy Halloween!

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

Our Magical Night at Rise

image0 (4)At the beginning of this month, Derek and I attended the Rise festival. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is an annual lantern festival held in the Mojave desert that promotes letting go of the past and setting new intentions for the future. It is a 3 night event with live music, food trucks, and a total of 6 lantern releases. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in or you want more information on it, here is the link:

https://risefestival.com/image1 (9)I’ve been wanting to attend this event for years, especially because it is so close to our home. Derek surprised me with tickets for my birthday back in March and to be honest, after our crazy summer, I totally forgot we were going until we got the “your event is coming up” email. Of course after being reminded, I felt like it was my birthday and got so excited again!image4 (2)image1 (7)

image1 (11)image0 (9)We attended the event Saturday evening/night. We drove down to Vegas that morning, checked into our hotel and ate dinner at a cute little diner. We even made it to 7 magic mountains along the way. I’ve always wanted to visit this spot as well, and even though we’ve passed it probably 100 times, we had never been. Isn’t it funny how we don’t take advantage of all the cool things and landmarks that surround us so close to home? It wasn’t anything too special, but it was cool to see nonetheless.image1 (8)image2 (5)image4 (1)

image2 (6)The event itself was amazing. We had such a fun night together in the desert surrounded by beautiful music, bright stars, no cellphone service, and thousands of like minded people. It was such a peaceful experience and such a nice little break for us to have together.image4 (4)image1 (10)image7image8 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

image9Our tickets each came with two lanterns to release. I wrote my absolute favorite things on one, and new intentions I’ve set for myself on the other. Derek wrote things that fill his heart on one, and drew his Aries symbol on his other one. (Since when did I convince him to be so into astrology 😉 )image5 (4)image2 (9)

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image4 (5)The actual lantern release was magical to say the least. I’ve seen plenty of photos and videos of these things, but I was blown away by the beauty of it all. Derek and I were both at a lost of words for a while and I may or may not have even cried. 😉  It was such a beautiful moment that I highly recommend every one experiencing at least once. We’ve already talked about going again next year!image3 (7)image0 (6)image4 (3)image3 (5)We ended the night binge watching cable TV and eating way too much pizza in our hotel bed, slept in the next morning and headed back home. I love all of our extravagant travels and adventures, but something about our short weekend getaways together fill my heart in a way that airports, beautiful beaches, and fancy airbnbs could never.image5 (1)

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image3 (3)Side Note: Since I am on the topic of travel and a lot of people have asked… Yes, we have a couple travel plans before baby comes. We will probably leave for the holidays, and hopefully have one more “vacation” before her arrival. We don’t like the idea of a “baby moon” because we plan to still travel a lot with our future little ones. The main difference being, we’ve both agreed to never leave Harvey again for longer than 2 weeks, so looks like we won’t be gone too long for the next 10ish years. 🙂image6 (2)image5 (3)

And with that, I’ll leave you with the words I wrote to the stars…

Here’s to: Adventure, Change, Memories, Happiness, Growth, Beauty, Gratitude, Love, Feelings, Being aliveimage2 (7)

Onto the next adventures (grand and small), Wren

 

 

Second trimester update and some exciting milestones

Happy October!IMG_8555I am officially down to the “5 more months” mark of this pregnancy, and I am finally starting to feel like myself again! I know it is different for everybody, but it has been true for me when they say that the second trimester is easier on the body than the first. To be honest, I think most things that I experience will be/ and are easier on my body than experiencing the first trimester I had. 😉IMG_8533In the last week, I’ve experienced some amazing milestones. One of them being receiving my blood test results back to confirm baby’s sex. Since I announced it on my social media accounts today, I wanted to write a little second trimester update on here- for anyone who cares, and for my future self, of course.

  • First things first, and one of the most exciting… It’s a girl!!

IMG_8545IMG_8587Growing up with only sisters, and having only nieces so far, I always pictured myself as an “all boy mom”. I always thought that I’d be completely content having all sons, but the second that pregnancy test came out positive, I knew my little one was going to be a girl. I just had a strong intuition that I was going to have a daughter.IMG_8544When the doctor told us at our 14 week appointment, I wasn’t at all surprised. Derek was actually more excited and shocked than I thought he would be, probably because he was surprised at how right my intuition had been. 😉 Since it was still early, we told family and close friends, but didn’t announce it. But I got my blood test results back yesterday, and baby is still a girl. And we are so excited!IMG_8557

A few other fun milestones and updates in the last couple weeks:

  • I can’t remember the last time I threw up a meal, and I can make it through a day without a 2 hour long nap, meaning I haven’t felt this good since June. Now that I finally feel better, I can’t believe how sick I actually was!
  • With that exciting milestone, I am finally starting to gain some weight back and am very proud of it. Right now, I am one pound away from my pre-pregnancy weight and I am happy that baby is finally starting to grow at a faster pace.

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  • I felt baby girl kick for the first time, and my belly finally started to pop. Both of these things have made the pregnancy, and the fact that I am going to be a mama, feel more real.
  • Baby girl’s official due date is February 29, 2020. Meaning she is due on leap year! But if she arrives 5 days late, she will be born on my 26th birthday. Whatever day she arrives, she will be an emotional, sensitive Pisces like her mama. (sorry Derek 😉 )

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  • We have a name that we really like, that we occasionally call her, but we will probably wait to meet her before we make it official. PS-why are names for dogs so much easier than they are for humans?

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  • Derek’s sister, Shara, is due with a baby boy in January, meaning she will have a cousin just 8 weeks older than her, and I finally get a nephew! It’s been so fun being pregnant together.

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  • Derek is obviously very excited to have a little girl. He always greets me with a kiss, a kiss on my belly and a “how are my girls?” and I can’t wait to see him become the best daddy.

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  • Harvey is still just as obsessed with me as ever, he loves resting his head on my stomach and is already the best big brother. I just hope he loves her this much when she keeps him up all night and takes his spot on the couch.

IMG_8560IMG_8559IMG_8547And with that, I want to say thank you for all of the love and support we’ve received with this new chapter. Our lives have changed so much this year, and to bring this adventure into the mix of it all makes me think even more that things do happen for reasons and that timing is always right, even when it doesn’t always feel that way.IMG_8554Here’s to this beautiful changing body of mine, the rest of the wonderful second trimester, and to officially being parents to a daughter!

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

Lessons I Learned from Spending a Summer Abroad- #1

IMG_8296We’ve been home for almost a month now, and I have enjoyed every single minute of it. Yes, I still have ocean withdrawals, but I can’t think of a time in my life when I haven’t wanted to be on a beach, so I am slowly getting used to not living within walking distance again.

Like our first experience abroad, Derek and I spent this summer focusing on our ourselves and each other. Time away from home means unfamiliarity, being uncomfortable, and a lot of changes in perspective and mind set. With all of these changes, comes a lot of life lessons learned. I think learning these type of lessons and having the personal growth that I’ve experienced is my absolute favorite thing about traveling, or living in a different place. I absolutely love coming home with a new outlook.

Like my China experience, I am going to share the five main lessons I brought home with me from living abroad this summer. Each lesson is just as important as the others, but knowing myself, I have a lot to share,  so I will be posting each one separately.IMG_8292

Lesson #1- You never realize how great your comfort zone is, until you don’t have it

I think most people go through life feeling quite comfortable. Obviously, there are the occasional moments that bring us all discomfort: public speaking, job interviews, learning something new, the first day at a new place or school, meeting our in laws, etc.

And then there are the more serious things that bring us discomfort: being laid off from a job, going through divorce, dealing with physical and mental health issues, totaling our cars, natural disasters, death of loved ones, etc.

But overall, I think most people are able to live a comfortable life even when they are dealt with uncomfortable situations. They may think “my life is horrible” or “I have bad luck” but I hardly ever hear of someone saying “I am constantly uncomfortable” because I think as humans, we tend to make things work, and find comfort even in the most unfamiliar situations, or we eventually find our way back to the things that make us comfortable.IMG_8291IMG_8290And that leads me to lesson #1. I knew that moving to a different country would force me out of my comfort zone. I knew I’d have to live without the things I was used to like my car, my house, my favorite foods, and being in close proximity to family and friends. I expected to not have hot water or air conditioning, and I obviously expected to be uncomfortable.

see lesson #4 from my China experience—> https://thestellarstories.com/2018/01/24/lessons-i-learned-from-living-abroad-4/

I’ve always been one to like change and unfamiliarity, so I jumped into this opportunity expecting a lot of feelings of discomfort. Like I mentioned before, I personally enjoy the self growth and lessons that come from those situations. What I did not expect is to have such a strong realization of just HOW comfortable I was back home.

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IMG_8294I didn’t have this realization until about our half way mark, when all I wanted was something familiar and to feel comfortable again. I was over not having air conditioning, living off food I didn’t love, and not being able to take a hot bath. These are all little things, but for the first time in a very long time, I longed for the feeling of my comfort zone. After spending a good 7 weeks out of it, I really started to miss it and I had the realization that comfort zones aren’t always a bad thing, most of us just tend to take them for granted.

Since being home, I have enjoyed every single minute of being comfortable again and I have focused on the appreciation of all of the little tings I missed while I was gone. The sounds of Harvey’s feet on our hardwood floor, the creaking of our air conditioner. The smell of my candles, and our coffee pot. Driving in my car alone with the windows down, the feeling of my own bed and my bath tub! Practicing yoga in my yoga room with Harvey breathing next to me, cooking in my kitchen while blasting music. Even pulling my weeds and planting flowers. I’m usually far from a homebody, but stepping away from all of these ordinary, every day things gave me a new appreciation of them, and I’ve enjoyed doing each of them more than I ever have.1

I had this similar realization when we came home from living abroad the first time and I learned to not take these little things for granted, but it was much stronger this time around. It took me being VERY uncomfortable, for a long period of time. It took every ounce of my mental strength, patience, and “my first world problems” to disappear completely, before I realized that I actually enjoy being comfortable, and I have it so good at home.

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IMG_8287Since being home, I have enjoyed the simple things like being surrounded by people who I love. I’ve enjoyed driving on familiar roads, and having a routine. I’ve enjoyed the places and the little things that I missed so badly, and I have finally consciously enjoyed the feeling of being comfortable in my comfort zone. Even though I know I will eventually crave stepping out of it, I’ve learned to never take it for granted again.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

The People of the Dominican Republic: AKA a huge part of my heart

image6 (3)Since being home from the Dominican Republic, I’ve had a lot of people ask me my absolute favorite thing about my experience. While I can think of and type a long list of things that I absolutely loved, one specific thing comes to mind that fills my heart a little more than the beautiful sunsets, and living within walking distance from the ocean.

And that is: the people.image2 (6)Since we’ve been home, we’ve been in contact with a few of these wonderful individuals, but that doesn’t make me miss them any less. Derek and I both bonded with them in a way that I didn’t think was possible with a language barrier. They all welcomed us with open arms, showed us love, and taught us that it is possible to have close to nothing besides human connection, and still have genuine happiness. Only a couple of these people speak English, but I love each and every single one of them as if they were family. So this post is to them! (and to my future myself as a promise that I will see them again one day.)

image7 (2)Amarillis-

Our local coordinator. This lady was our go to person for questions regarding the schools, health issues, the culture, and pretty much a shoulder to lean on anytime we felt uncomfortable, unsafe, or homesick. She worked directly with ILP, made sure that we were doing our duties as head teachers, and always double checked that all of the volunteers were having a good time.

She also set up our service projects, taught us Spanish lessons, and occasionally checked in on the house to make sure the power and water were working correctly. She was our local coordinator, but to me, she was so much more than that. The first time we met Amarillis at the airport she hugged me and said “Welcome to the DR, I love you very much.” And even though I knew this lady for 5 seconds, I never felt anything less from her than love.

The day that our house got engulfed by smoke from a wild fire was the same day that I found out I was pregnant. Since we had to evacuate our house, Amarillis found a different house for all of us 30 volunteers to sleep at, but I told her I wasn’t comfortable staying there because I was very sick that day. She looked at me with worry and asked “what are you so sick with?!” And that made her the first person Derek and I told. She jumped up and down for 5 minutes with joy, saying “I am going to be a grandma again, but this time to an American baby!” She then let us stay in her home, made sure I slept okay, and even woke us up with Dominican breakfast to say “congratulations.”

Amarillis was the most busy person I’ve ever met. She workd with our volunteer group, taught adults English, had 9 grandkids of her own, and was constantly giving back to her community with service projects. Between all of this, she has checked in on us and “baby” 3 times since we’ve been home to make sure we are doing okay and to let us know that she misses us. I’ll never be able to repay her for the love she showed us in the 3 months of knowing her, but I am so thankful that I had the chance to meet someone like her.image5 (2)Tamari-

Also known as a literal angel. This lady was the cook at our house. She made our group lunch and dinner every single day, in a small little kitchen that didn’t have AC or even a fan. She didn’t speak a word of English, but she was constantly showing us love and laughs by giving us hugs, flashing her bright smile, and dancing to her loud Dominican music. She couldn’t pronounce our names correctly, but she always called us her son and daughter.

On our first day in the DR, Derek and I really wanted our usual morning cup of coffee, and since the volunteer program is mostly LDS, not a lot of people in our group drank coffee, so our house didn’t have a coffee pot (until we bought one later.) We walked down to the kitchen to ask Tamari if she had any coffee, or where to get some, and to our surprise, she acted so excited that we asked! She pulled up two chairs, directed us to sit down, and then proceeded to spend 40 minutes making us Dominican coffee from scratch with a manual coffee pot. And that was only the first act of love she showed us.

When I started getting my daily morning sickness, I had to stop going to the kitchen as often because the smells would make me nauseous. Derek would still go visit her every day, and loved helping her (since cooking is one of his favorite hobbies.) He also practiced his Spanish, and she practiced her English while they cooked together. Since I wouldn’t see her as often, she would ask Derek what specific food I wanted every day, and would go out of her way to cook me something completely different than the rest of the group. Derek once told her that a hard boiled egg sounded good to me, and she made me 5 eggs every day for the week!

The day before we left, Amarillis came to tell us goodbye and told us that she’s never seen volunteers get so close to Tamari, and that Tamari was so sad to see us to leave back home. It made Derek and I sad, but also feel so good, knowing that we changed this lady’s summer like she had changed ours.

image4 (2)Papi-

Oh, Papi. Where do I even begin? This man was our next door neighbor, and he was also our go to taxi driver. Any day that I saw Papi was a good day. We bonded over our weekly grocery store runs, and practicing Spanish while driving around in his beat up taxi that didn’t have a working door or any AC.

Just like Tamari, Papi didn’t speak any English and couldn’t pronounce or remember our names. So a month in, he renamed Derek and I. And from then on out, we were known as Pedro and Mari by all of our neighbors and community. Most mornings I’d wake up, and go outside and there Papi would be yelling “Hola hola hola Mari!! como esta!” It was always followed by “where’s pedro?” He loved both Derek and I, but could speak to Derek better, so he always wanted to talk to him and he always worried when I was alone without Derek, in case I wasn’t feeling good.

Papi lived in a little 2 bedroom (seperated by a sheet) shack, that was painted bright pink and didn’t have any AC. He lived there with his wife, Frecia (she’s next!) his son Davey, their two dogs Toby and Bronco, and his grand daughter, Denise, who occasionally stayed with them. They had close to nothing, and as a taxi driver, he was the provider of the household. Frecia was in and out of the hospital all summer getting surgery on her legs, and he would tell us all the time that he was stressed with money, but he was one of the happiest person I’ve ever known.

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image2 (5)Frecia-

Frecia was the sassiest, most hilarious person, and the definition of a Dominican woman. She was Papi’s wife, our neighbor, and she was also in charge of the school that was in the lower level of our house. She would walk around the school with curlers in her hair, and smack the walls with a fly swatter or a ruler to get the kids to behave. Some of the kids found her “scary and strict”, but she really had a heart of gold.

Frecia loved dancing, but would tell us that she couldn’t dance good anymore because she had to have leg surgery. That never stopped her from trying though. She would rock back and forth on her front porch whenever the neighborhood would play loud music, and laugh at Derek and I for dancing (because she knew she could once do so much better).

My most favorite thing about Frecia was that, much like Papi, she would always greet me with a “buenos dias Mari, como esta?” But before I could ever answer she would ask how the baby was. She was so excited for us, so much that she would tell all of her friends and family who visited her house, that I was pregnant. Frecia always cared about how I was feeling and how the baby was. And when we left, she begged for me to visit in the future with the baby, so that she could meet the human she already loved so much.image3 (3)image6 (2)Colasa-

Colasa was another neighbor of our’s. If I could think of one word to describe this woman it would be, giving. Her whole life revolved around serving others, and giving way more than she personally had. She was always in and out of our house to visit with us, but to also clean our toilets, mop our floors, and help us with our laundry. And even when we told her no thank you, she persisted to help. She was always so happy to do it. Just like Papi, Colasa lived in a small little house with close to nothing, but she was always welcoming us into her home to visit, and loved to show off photos of her sons, who she was so proud of.

When Colasa found out I was pregnant, I woke up to fresh fruit on my kitchen counter every morning, even when I told her I didn’t need anymore. She would insist, because “the baby needed it.” She would always leave my room with a “I love you, Mari” because I love you was the only thing she knew how to say in English. And I loved her right back!image2 (7)Marteen-

Marteen also lived in our neighborhood, and he sold handmade jewelry out of his little house. He lived with his wife, and his autistic son, who was always so shy when we came around, but would randomly break out with the best dance moves. Other than constantly trying to sell us jewelry, Marteen invited us to his home for dinner twice. His wife spent all day cooking for a large group of us, and they never let us leave hungry. Even though, we knew they didn’t eat much themselves, they always gave us seconds and even thirds.

Marteen offered us a certain flavor of soda once, and when all of us politely declined, he went all the way back to the store, to buy us a different flavor, just to make us happy! He was always so fun to visit, and like most of the people we met, was always so willing to give.image2 (4)image7Jose Luis-

Even though Jose Luis is a kid, he deserves to be mentioned, because he taught me so much and holds a huge place in my heart. He lived with his grandparents just a few blocks from our house. And every time I saw him, he was either smiling the biggest grin, or making the most angry face. His facial expressions were my absolute favorite, because they always made me laugh.

Last year, Jose Luis walked on his mother who committed suicide, and after this heart breaking incident, his father stopped coming around, which is why he lived with his grandparents. Sadly, just before we were leaving to come back home, his grandfather passed away. This kid had been through more in his lifetime than any kid (or even adult) should go through, especially at his age. He always acted out in school, and had a hard time listening to his teachers and Frecia, but watching him act that way just made me want to love him more.

He just needed some extra attention and love, and Derek and I were always happy to give it. He was so sad when I told him Derek and I were heading back to the US, but then he quickly smiled and said “yay that means new teachers” in his perfect English, that he loved to pretend he didn’t know. I know he didn’t mean it though. 😉image1 (5)image3 (4)I apologize for the long post, but if I’m being honest, I could probably write a whole novel for each of these people. I’ve never felt so welcomed, and so loved by a community in such little time. They always told us volunteers that the work we were doing was so incredible, and how thankful they were for us, and for what we do. But I don’t think it would be possible to do any of it without them.image5 (3)image6image5image1 (6)I learned a lot this summer (lessons learned posts still pending), but my greatest lesson of all, was this:

You can meet complete strangers, who have a completely different life than the one you have back home, who speak a different language, and believe in different cultures and lifestyles, but love is universal, and it is the one thing that connects us all as a world. Even though I’ve always known this, I will forever be thankful for the people of the Dominican Republic for showing me it.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

 

 

Adjusting Back to a New Reality

image3 (2)We’ve been home for just over a week now, and it’s been quite the exciting and emotional 10 days! I’ve been having ocean and beach withdrawals, but other than that, I am so happy to be back home.image4A lot like the first time we came home from being abroad, most things feel the same, but after the summer we had, Derek and I feel much different. The culture shock and the jet lag wasn’t as bad this time around, so adjusting back to America has been quite easy for us. But even though it’ been easier adjusting this time around, we still came back with new perspectives, mindsets, appreciations, and so much love for the people we missed while we were gone. Like I did with my China experience, I am planning on writing out a few lessons I learned in the last 3 months, but I will save those posts for a different time because this post is about something much bigger than some lessons learned. 😉image1 (6)image2 (5)

For those of you who don’t follow me on social media, and just on word press…SURPRISE!

The most exciting thing we came home with was this surprise and we FINALLY got to tell our family and friends the secret we were keeping while we were away. We only told one friend, and the group that we were with that we were expecting, but wanted it to be a surprise for everyone else. We are so excited for this next adventure and I am overwhelmed by the love that this little babe has already received this week!BASo far, pregnancy hasn’t been a “walk in the park”. I have been so sick, and have just about every symptom that you can think of. But after being that sick in a foreign country with no hot water or AC, I feel like I can accomplish anything. We thought about coming home early, but with the support from our volunteer group, and all of our sweet Dominican neighbors, we made it through. ( I am still working on my “people of the DR” post as well, and I will post it once I can get over my emotions of missing them to finish it.)1111image1 (4)I am feeling a little better now that I am heading into my second trimester, and I think being back in the comfort of our own home with AC and american food has helped a ton. We also got to hear babe’s heartbeat yesterday, and the moment made all of my sickness worth it.

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image15I have to say, I thought I loved Derek a lot before, but after having him take over the group of 21 girls, catering to my needs, helping me keep the secret, and waiting it out until the end of summer to leave, (because my heart wasn’t ready to leave the ocean just yet), I love him more than I ever have. All summer I was reminded subconsciously, and by many other volunteers how lucky I am to have him, and I can’t wait to watch the boy I’ve loved for the last decade become the best daddy.

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As expected, our reality is obviously different than it was when we left in May, but I think with the circumstances, we’ve adjusted great. Even though Harvey seems a little confused with not being the only baby anymore, he is so happy to be back in our home with us. Him and I are both very happy to be inseparable again, I missed him way more this time around because my emotions and anxiety were more out of my control than the first time around. I told Derek to punch me if I ever mention leaving him again. 😉image3 (4)I have a lot of posts to catch up on, and my Dominican Republic video to finish, as well as a million other things on my to do list, but as of right now we are just taking things slow, and spending as much time as we can with each other before work and school hits us next week. Hooray for island time, and soaking in the final days of summer! (our last one alone!)image4 (2)

Onto the next adventure,

Wren