Traveling back to the US

The kids and I left for Nashville on Friday, December 14. I was a little anxious about traveling internationally with them by myself. But they were amazing. We had several bags that I had to pack strategically with bags inside of bags because I knew that we would have much more luggage coming back because of Christmas and shopping…. if you’re not familiar, when you enter the US from an international flight, you have to re-check your bags at your layover and go back through security. We almost didn’t make our second flight because of this process. We had lots of hiccups along the way but we made it! We reminded ourselves of the family in “Home Alone” running through the airport.We spent a few days in Nashville with our Johns family. The cousins were all so happy to be together and it was pretty noisy. They played lots of games and made a lot of music:) We even got to celebrate my brother’s 40th birthday. I have to admit I was very happy to get to “run into Target” with Rebecca. From Nashville my mother-in-law picked us up in our vehicle and took us to Memphis. There we got to go to the kids old school and see several of our friends. Sloane and her friend AinsleyBlake and Mrs. Pam taking selfies Benson and his friend ConnorSloane and her friends at Lunch We were so happy to see our neighbor, Mrs. LindaGirls dinner It was great to see Mr. Jim and Mrs. Cathy Chambers We got to help grandpa with the yard work We enjoyed a late movie and Starbucks Sweet Maggie Lynn and BrantleyWe did enjoy some Memphis barbecue Despite Benson’s face we were glad to pick daddy up from the airport for the middle part of our time there. Next stop Christmas in Arkansas

Decompression

A friend asked me a few days ago what it was like to be back in the States. I told her the best way to describe it is that when I got off the plane I felt myself kind of decompress. Not to say that we are not enjoying our time in Costa Rica but being in the states is definitely “easier.”

Again, I do not want to sound like I’m complaining. I’m just documenting, mainly for myself, what this journey is like. I do feel like I’m in a little bit of a pressure cooker here in Costa Rica. I am always aware of my surroundings and don’t feel like I’m ever on auto pilot. We SIGNED UP FOR THIS and I knew that’s how it would be and I’m honestly getting used to it. But the feeling that I got when we landed in the US was definitely like a sigh of relief. I could drive places without even thinking about where I was going and could understand what people around me were saying. I could read the signs and not have to constantly be translating in my head.

I think it is good for us to be challenged and to overcome those challenges. I know I’m growing as a person through this experience. It was great to have that break from reality for a little while. I think I counted 13 times that we went from place to place. Often back to the same places but we had to move our belongings several times. We got to see a lot of family and friends and had a wonderful time.

It was great to be back at our home church but I also missed the precious faces of the people at our church here. We enjoyed a break from school but we were also delighted to see our friends on Monday here. It is good to be in a routine and sleep in your own bed 🙂 we missed our dog terribly and I think he missed us too but I know he had a wonderful time with Katherine, Diego and brownie. In fact, I think he misses being with them more than he missed us….

We feel very sure that this is where we are supposed to be and are going to enjoy the time we have here. The challenges will make us stronger and the distance will only make us closer together. Nathan and I both agreed that this visit with our families was the best ever because we appreciated it so much more. I hope this experience helps me to not take people for granted.

While we were in the States I lost my last living grandparent and attended a funeral for a very close family friend. We had to leave before my grandmother’s burial but I was glad I was able to spend some time with her in the hospital before she passed. I was lucky to have had a grandmother still living. Nathan still has three living grandparents and we were able to spend time with all three of them.

I was honestly a little bit nervous that I would not want to come back after being gone for a month. I think we needed a whole month there to make us realize that, for now, this is our home. I didn’t know until now that I could have two “homes.” We are still working to make our house in Costa Rica a home. In the US we had people over all the time and kept an open door policy. Here, we are not as close to our immediate community and about an hour from our church family. That is one thing that we do miss. We would love to be closer so we could have them over more often. We laugh, because our house in Memphis was not very big but that didn’t stop us from having company all the time. Here we have plenty of room but feel very disconnected out in the middle of nowhere….. that is something I need to work on. I feel very intimidated having people over from our community. When we have been invited to peoples homes it is much more lavish than we are used to and I have been afraid to host very much because of my redneck style. I just have to get over that!

As a family, we have decided to only speak Spanish on Tuesdays and Thursdays at home. It is been very quiet this week 🙂 we know that it would be a shame if we went through this experience and did not learn Spanish. We need to immerse ourselves in it more if we are really going to learn. I have decided to treat this like a part-time job and give my homework much more attention.

I will post next time about our time in the US with pictures.

Going home…..

I just wanted to document some thoughts on how I am feeling today about going “home”. I have had people ask me how I’m feeling about going back for so long? Am I afraid I will not want to come back to Costa Rica? Will it be hard living out of suitcases for a month? Will it be hard to try to see everyone I want to see?

As for how long will be gone… It will be about a month. We will be traveling between Nashville, Paragould, Searcy and Memphis. I’m not really afraid about not wanting to come back to Costa Rica because where my husband and children are is where my home is. And at this point in our lives we need to be in Costa Rica. I think after living out of suitcases for a month we will be glad to be back in our own home.

I am a little bit anxious about trying to see everyone that we want to see and do everything we want to do in that time. People are busy and traveling as well so making definite plans can be difficult. I’m hoping to just be able to spend some time relaxing and appreciating all of the things that I took for granted before.

I imagine some long walks through target and visits to Chick-fil-A and our favorite restaurant OEC in Bartlett. I imagine all of the laughter that will be heard with all the cousins getting to see each other again. I imagine playing a lot of cards at the Cochran Christmas in Searcy.

I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye to friends and family again but at least I know that we are doing better than expected here and the kids are really thriving in school in Costa Rica. I have made some wonderful friends here and I will miss them and be ready to be reunited again. The kids and I are about to get on a plane so goodby for now!

Twin day

I’m feeling overwhelmingly thankful this morning. When my children announced that they would be having “twin day” at school about a month ago it made me very anxious. Our kids are obviously new at school and there are a lot of other children with very established friendships. I was afraid my children would have no one to twin with. Very quickly after the announcement I knew I didn’t have to worry about the girls because their best little friends we’re already making plans with them on what they were going to wear. Benson was a different story. He never would tell me if he had made plans with anybody. He has several good friends at the school but had not really talked about a best friend.

I try to let my children handle these kinds of things by themselves but yesterday I started getting a little nervous for Benson because I could tell he was feeling left out. I asked him what his plans were and he told me that he’d talked to a friend of his about matching but he was out of town and wasn’t sure if he was going to make it in time or if he even remembered their conversation. I just had to let it go and let him deal with it. I also had to remember that boys are very different from girls and don’t need to discuss at length every little detail of what they’re going to wear. Yesterday he came out of school with a big smile on his face saying that Nolan was back in town and they had talked about what they were going to wear. Now, it was basically just a color scheme but he knew he would have someone to match with today.

I do realize that this sounds very trivial but when you move your kids to a different country, away from friends and family, there’s already so many things that they have to deal with and feeling left out is not something I wanted them to have to feel this week. We have been blessed with some really good kids that have made my kids feel very welcome and today was no exception. I don’t know why I was even worried about it to begin with. Benson and Nolan. Sloane’s friend, Regina, borrowed Blake’s shirt. It worked out perfectly! Blake’s friend, Mariana, actually bough Blake an outfit to match her!

Sloane’s teacher sent me this picture.

Uncle BJ’s visit

Couple of weeks ago uncle BJ, Nathan’s youngest brother, came to visit.  The kids have been excited about this visit for a long time.  For him this was more of a leisurely vacation because he travels all over the world and does all kinds of cool things.  He mainly wanted to see the country, try the food, and go to a fútbol  game.  We did all those things and even used him as a babysitter a few times to take kids to doctors appointments.Sloane perfected her sign to greet visitors at the airport.

One of the big hits for the week was playing blackjack using Halloween candy to bet with. Our new favorite restaurant is La Tortilleria. We went twice that week! 😋BJ and I got to do the Britt coffee tour and acted as taste testers. He really enjoyed the “typical food” In the evenings the kids took him to the soccer field in the neighborhood I took BJ on a hike called Tres Cruces or three crosses. It is a pretty steep hike with three different crosses as landmarks. Unfortunately, we only made it up to the first one because it was so muddy. I will try this again in the dry season. There was a beautiful view of the city the whole way. We even got to see a Christmas 🎄 farm. Nathan was able to take a day off and we visited the Poas volcano. This volcano has been closed to visitors for 17 months because of volcanic activity. It was beautiful. The smell of sulfur was very strong and it was a little daunting. It was at least 10 degrees cooler up there as well. One of Nathan’s coworker’s took them to a local fútbol game. On our last couple of days we all went to Manuel Antonio and surfed. This has become something we all enjoy to do as a family and we wanted BJ to be a part of it. The water was crazy that day but we still had a great time.We hope he will come back and visit soon!

Humidity

So my sister-in-law just reminded me that I need to document The issues were having with humidity….

So, a lot of people ask us about the weather here. We are super happy because it is so nice. The kids can play outside every day without being too hot or too cold. We even tell people that we love the fact that the humidity is nothing like what we experience in Memphis. One thing we did not think about was the humidity in the house😏😩 One day I was just looking through the closet to see if anything needed to be ironed and discovered thisEvery pair of Nathan’s dress pants was covered in mildew and most of my clothes were as well. Luckily, I was able to soak them in vinegar and baking soda and it came out.

I messaged a few friends here and they told me that this is normal for rainy season. Unfortunately, rainy season is most of the year here so it is something I’m going to have to learn how to deal with. I quickly got recommendations for how to handle it. . A trip to Walmart later I came back with a dehumidifier, dehumidifying bags and buckets for soaking up water. I am not being dramatic when I say these bags will fill up in a week.This dehumidifier holds 2 L of water and I have to change it out about every 3-4 days! This is something I really have to stay on top of. Our clothes still smell a little sour so I still need to figure that one out😩 so if anyone has any suggestions I’m happy to hear them!

Making ourselves at home…

I’ve noticed lately that I’m using the word “home” more often. I found myself the first few months always saying “at the house” or just not calling it anything at all. While Memphis is still home, I am starting to see the place where we reside here in Costa Rica as home now also.

We are really loving our school and our neighborhood. There is so much to do to keep us busy and active and we are really enjoying the beauty around us. Our church family is becoming a real FAMILY and we are starting to really know our way around. In fact, Nathan was able to drive to and from church this Sunday without using the navigation at all.  That may not mean much to just anyone but if he had visited us then you will understand😆

We were able to have our church family over in September.

we enjoy a yoga class on Wednesday evenings in the club house. The girls are working on their headstands. We are still all taking Spanish classes and although it is coming very slowly I am noticing the kids are communicating a lot better with people in Spanish. In fact, Benson was able to call the security guards the other night and have them turn the lights on at the soccer field!! All in Spanish! I was so proud. He is definitely the most confident of all of us! This is the Arenal volcano. We have now visited 3 volcanoes here in Costa Rica. Nathan has celebrated a birthday and Sloane made the cake all by herself. ( btw I had just hit a parked car in the parking lot right before the picture above😏)We are now officially temporary residents of Costa Rica. This is great because now we are able to leave the country and not worry about coming back here.

The kids were able to have student-led conferences at school. It was a great experience. Our neighborhood celebrated Halloween and the kids had a great time. We get to see all kinds of interesting things around here and this is just one example. Sloane and her friends almost got to see a cow give birth during recess one day. Sloane’s teacher asked her to decorate the classroom with positive sayings. She worked really hard and her friend Regina helped her hang them up.

This is a picture from a lunch we were invited to last Sunday after church. I honestly felt like I was with Family. This is a great group of people! I am looking forward to getting to know them even better.

I hate to jinx it but the kids seem to be getting closer through this experience. They still fight and scream at each other but the bonds that they are forming are strong and I am so grateful. Our puppy Blue has even made a friend:) we are thankful to Diego and Katherine for watching him when we go out of town and as a bonus he gets to play with Brownie My girls and their friend Mia. Blake in her soccer uniform The kids on UN day at school. They got to wear clothes to represent heir home. And Benson got to play his trumpet in the band for the first time.

We are almost 6 months in to this adventure and I’m feeling very positive. I remember the first month that we were here I was doing a mental countdown to when we were going to move back home. And the hard part of that is we don’t even know when that will be so I just had an imaginary number of weeks in my head. I don’t find myself doing that anymore. Progress!

On December 14 the kids and I will leave for a month to go back to The States. We are beyond excited and are making plans to try and see our loved ones.