Whew, what a crazy first week. I am writing this on a Sunday morning, after we've had our traditional Sunday slow breakfast meal of chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, blueberries and hash browns. This whole week, I've been trying to make our new "home" feel like home, and it included trying my best to go back to cooking the kids meals that would make them feel more settled. All throughout the week, I've been realizing that the kids have been away from their normal life for nearly 3 months, and just like me, they are anxious to be on the normal side of things and begin their life in a new country.
So far, Kevin has been very positive. I could see him mature more and more, by helping with household chores and taking on new responsibilities. Although we still debate how life is unfair for kids, and how adults can do whatever they want while kids can't, he is proud when he has done his dishwashing duty, or last Tuesday, his cleaning the bathroom duty. Today, I taught him how to do the laundry.
He's been taking school in stride, taking in what is good, and trying not to compare his life in Madagascar with his life here, as it is different. When I asked him if he found friends yet, he said "I'll give it maybe a week or two more. I haven't really connected with anyone yet, but I know I will eventually". He leads Nina to go to school by themselves almost everyday now, but he is so sweet in still requesting me to pick them up after school, so that, in his words, "after a tiring day, I want you to be the first person I see and we can talk about our day together while walking back home". We've been getting our exercise, as the school is about 2 kilometers each way in an uphill road. Free workout!
Nina has had ups and downs. She's been struggling with not having toys or books or stuff she is used to. Our shipment is not arriving until the end of this month, and so it's been hard to occupy them after school. We've been exploring the neighborhood quite a bit, and learning a few things along the way. This cool playground located just a few minutes from this school is perfect for a not so hot day. It's been brutally hot these past few days though, so not a lot of playground time for them. We've showered Nina with lots of cuddles and lots of comforting nowadays, and I know she will get past this stage. She loves that she has her own room though, and she gets to decorate it.
We have been enjoying the lifestyle here. Very polite and nice people, a very safe neighborhood, easy access to everything, and our neighborhood has tons of restaurants and convenience stores. We've been exploring little by little, and the kids have been finding it hard to just walk and walk everywhere. It doesn't help that it's really been hot. Yesterday, they just wanted to stay at home all day and relax, but Tim and I dragged them out of the house to explore our city a bit more. They were tired, but thankful that they saw new interesting cultural things around them too, including this big, creepy and cute mascot we found at Toys R Us.
Tim is in language school for a year, and he's also been adjusting to being a student again. I know the pressure is on, as his job in Tokyo next year will require a lot of reading in Japanese. He won't have a problem speaking it, as he is already fluent, and I know that he'll do a good job. He amazes me with his language abilities, really. He can still joke in Tagalog after all this pressure!
I am back to school as well. I just officially paid my first semester to finish my master's degree online. It has been tougher than I thought, it took me about 2 days to really understand all the requirements and it is a lot. :( I do not know how my classmates, who are working full time while doing this course, are able to go through all the readings, and write the papers each week. Every time I get anxious and nervous, I keep reminding myself that I am lucky to be able to dedicate one full year to finally finish my degree. I have been having mini-heart attacks because of the requirements, and Tim keeps on pointing out to me that it is healthy for the kids to see us struggle through life too, and it is good for them to see that even if something is hard, we should keep going.
I took on a part time job at the US embassy (to pay for my masters), as a community newsletter editor, and it's been a challenge adjusting to the limitations of the software I have to use to produce it, so that it is compatible to the computer systems within the government. Thanks to my helpful computer literate husband who is working on special short cuts for me to do my job with ease. I will also start Japanese school too, twice a week starting in September.
With all these new things going on for me and the kids, plus making sure that there is packed recess and lunch everyday, a clean house, washed and ironed clothes, homework and attendance of school parent meetings and a home cooked dinner, I am a bit overwhelmed. But as with other things, I know that this is again, one stage of our nomadic life that will pass and we will get used to it. I have to take my time to reconnect with friends, go back to singing again and being involved in the community, and I have to find a good rhythm and a balance to still make time for myself, and for Tim.
Wish us luck and I know that little by little, I can find that balance.