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

 

 

 

Our Hike to Cascada El LImon

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When I found out we were assigned to the Dominican Republic, I did what any cliche traveler does, and searched for the best things to do/see on this island. As I scrolled through google and Pinterest, a specific waterfall kept catching my eye.

 

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As soon as we got our dates for our vacation, I searched where that specific waterfall was to see if it would be possible to visit. It was located in the beautiful town of Samana, so that is where Derek and I decided to “vacation” to. You can see our whole weekend spent there in my previous post.40The waterfall didn’t disappoint. The hike to the waterfall was the perfect amount of distance (1.5 miles each way). It was a bit rocky, but the hike was beautiful. At one point, we came out on top of a mountain and saw forests of palm trees. It was one of the most interesting and beautiful views I’ve ever seen.4233

As we approached the waterfall, other tourists were heading back down the trail, leaving us and our group almost completely alone to swim. The water was refreshing after our hike, and we had fun swimming under the waterfall, cliff jumping, and relaxing.41

I’ve done a lot of hiking in my life, and this one is definitely towards the top of my list. It was the perfect start to our weekend vacation, and the perfect reminder of how beautiful this world, this island, and this life of mine is.

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If you ever find yourself in the Dominican Republic, add the Cascada El Limon waterfall hike to your list.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Sweet, Sweet, Samana

2This past weekend, we had 4 day vacation. I know what you’re thinking. A four day vacation from your summer long vacation? But yes. A vacation on our program means our teachers get a break from teaching or doing service work. Which means Derek and I get a break from “working” as well.

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For our vacation, we decided to go to the beautiful beach town of Samana. Derek and I knew that we wanted to hike a certain waterfall and zipline while we are here in the Domincan Republic, so Samana was a place that was towards the top of our to see list.

3024We planned our vacation, and 9 other volunteers from our group decided to join us.  We stayed in an Airbnb that was right on the ocean. Even though we saw a total of 6 spiders the size of Derek’s hand, falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves made up for it.

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571If you are ever interested in ever seeing the beautiful town Samana, Domincan Republic I recommend staying in this beautiful jungle home. The hosts are so friendly, the home is beautiful, and they even have horses and a dog. (just be aware of spiders. 😉 )

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/15529655?search_id=276616a1-3fc2-036c-eb9e-2d10aac0f77f&federated_search_id=0e9d392f-3022-4315-91d3-26d0d9567e8129Our first day on our vaction, we hiked the beautiful Casda el Limon waterfall. I am going to post about this hike in a seperate post because the photos I took that day are some of my favorites I’ve ever taken. (and there is a lot).31Our second day we went zip lining through the jungle. The zip line had 12 cable lines, and it was 350 ft up. Most of us have been zip lining before, but we’ve never been able to ride together, or go on one as long as this. We all had so much fun!15

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After zip lining, we headed to Playa Rincon, which is one of the most beautiful hidden beaches on the whole island of the Dominican Republic. We were the only ones on the beach, and the water was the most beautiful, tourquise, clear water any of us have ever seen. It did not disappoint!

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The third day, we took a ferry to the beautiful island of Cayo Leventado. This island is known as “Bacardi Island” because this island is where they film the Bacardi commercials. On our program, we are not allowed to drink any alcohol, so I wasn’t able to drink any Bacardi on Bacardi island, but this virgin Pina Coloda almost made up for it.  🙂23

8172225Today (Sunday) we are heading back to our “home” here in the Dominican republic to do another week of service, before heading out on “vacation” again next weekend.26281218This weekend was amazing, and I am adding Samana to one of my top favorite places I’ve ever visited (spiders, bug bites, and all).

Onto the next adventure, Wren

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