It has been seven months since our travels ended. We are definitely back in the swing of things here at home. We talk about our trip often nowadays and our memories have sweetened all the hard moments and bumps we experienced along the way. Harper and Cal still remember a lot and my favorite dinners around our table these days involve a random memory that sparks a list of good times. Just tonight we looked at the date and realized we landed in Santiago one year ago today and that evoked all kinds of stories...the park at Plaza Peru, our favorite places to eat, the polluted and exhaust-filed tunnel we took into the city that first day, the amazing MIM hands-on science museum, empanadas all the time and of course helado (much better than Penguino!) to wash it down.
Life back in Carbondale is fast-paced and hectic albeit fun. Although we lost our old dog Sadie just a few months after coming home, we recently adopted a new puppy whom has stolen all our hearts. We named her Santiago after one of our favorite stops along the trip, and affectionately call her Santi. She is a good pup so far and her crazy mix of breeds keeps everyone guessing at the dog park.
Harper and Cal have had a great start back in the scheduled and organized life of school. Kindergarten agrees with Harper quite well and her Spanish occasionally comes in handy even if she won't admit so much. Her favorite activities at school are digging in the sandbox and drawing. We have been happy to see that learning to read has come together for her on its own this year as well and now she is trying to read anything she can get her eyes on. We also really like her teacher Mrs. Salazar and my improved Spanish has helped our relationship grow. Cal loves Waldkinder preschool and how could he not, especially when so many times in our travels Harper, Danny or myself would exclaim, "Karen would love this!" All the exploring and random adventures of Waldkinder are a little like a miniature version of our last year- following your curiosities, playing as much as you can and talking together about everything you experience each day.
Danny has jumped back into his position teaching fourth grade, although he gets to see the schooling experience from a different perspective this year with Harper at CRES. They commute together each morning which is really a special and happy way for both of them to start their days. Danny and I realized just recently that up until he reaches his technical "retirement" year he will have a child riding bikes with him to school each day. What a blessing!
I have fallen back into the stay-at-home mom role pretty easily. Although I loved moving from place to place, eating meals in any and all kinds of situations, or dropping our laundry at the lavadora, I missed our home. I missed making bread in my kitchen, trading recipes with my friends, picking food from our garden, and cooking with my kids. I did not miss and still do not enjoy the laundry however, and the lavadora in Canoa looks good to me just about any day of the week. I have also starting volunteering in Harper's classroom a couple days a week and I've enjoyed being back in a classroom.
The addition of a new brother or sister to our family in early March is the next big adventure the Traveling Stoneleys will embark upon. Danny and I talked so much about this possibility as we traveled that I feel like this little one was somehow already along for the ride. He or she will probably tire of our stories and the occasional sit down and rehash of South America traveling through photos and memories, so we are pretty confident another year away is on our horizon sometime. It will have to take a different shape with school-aged kids, but living in a new place for an extended time again has appeal for sure.
We are blessed by so much in our life. We can see the impact our last year had upon us all and we are grateful to have had so much time together as a family. Until next time...