We made it. We have survived the first month! I am amazed at how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. I often look back to that first night in the house, the night of the 2 am candlelit picnic. I was so hopeless, convinced that we had made a terrible mistake and that we had ruined our lives by moving here. And the first day of school. That was one of the hardest mornings of my life. Seeing how upset Elizabeth was, the terror and sadness in her eyes broke my heart. I apologized to her that morning for doing this to her, for tearing her away from her happy life and bringing her here. But now, one month into this adventure, I am happy to say that we are not just surviving, we are thriving here.
School ended for the term last Wednesday and the girls were actually sad! They have fallen into a happy rhythm at school, mornings spent learning and afternoons spent outside in the sunshine. Kristin only goes for half days so she spends the afternoons at home with me and Leanna, playing and working on her sight words. Elizabeth is done just before 5, her afternoons filled with cross country practice and swimming. When the second term begins in May, field hockey will be in season. That should be interesting! The girls will also begin horse riding lessons in May, something they are VERY excited about! How lucky are they to attend a school where they have this opportunity! I attended the final assembly of the term on the last day of school and it filled my heart to see them interacting with their classmates, trying to sing along with the National Anthem and school song and participating like it was second nature to them. Lomagundi College accepted them with open arms and the girls seem to be blossoming in the embrace. They are on break until May 3rd and I’m hoping they are as excited to go back as they were upset to be done last week.
Now the girls and I are settling into the new routine of school holidays. This is the first time I will get to spend an extended period of time with them out of school since I have always been working during summer break. I am excited for the days ahead and admittedly a little nervous, too. What the heck are we going to do for the next 6 weeks?!?!?! We’re planning playdates, picnics, swimming and adventures with new friends. My friend Liz and I have discussed a weekly trip to Harare with all 5 of our girls for movies and trips to Tamba Tamba, which is basically a giant McDonald’s playground. And there’s always the girls’ playhouse in the backyard. My hope is that they will end each day dirty and exhausted from a day spent in the sun, just as children should be!
Dan’s first harvest will start in a few short weeks and he is busy preparing. This harvest should only take about a month in contrast to the seemingly never-ending harvests in Iowa. He is looking forward to being back in the field and we are looking forward to combine rides and visits to daddy at the farm. This is why Dan came here and he is ready to get started.
We celebrated our first birthday and holiday this week! Dan’s 34th birthday was on Friday. With his parents out of town, we planned a quiet evening at home. My friend Liz caught wind of this and felt that was unacceptable! Within minutes she had planned a surprise braai, or barbecue, at her house for Dan. The girls and I made him a cake, which sadly looked like a pile of mud, but tasted amazing! We snuck over to Liz and Bruce’s house while Dan was in the shower, claiming to go and play with their girls. Bruce later called Dan, telling him to come over for a quick birthday drink before dinner. Dan arrived to shouts of “Happy Birthday” and “Surprise”. The veranda had been decorated with balloons and Happy Birthday signs and after a steak dinner, the cake glowed with candles. It was a perfect evening spent with Liz and Bruce, and their girls, Liz’s parents who are visiting from England and us. Nothing too crazy for shy Dan but enough to show him that there are people here who care about him! He spent the next day fishing and caught two pretty good sized bass, exactly what he wanted for his birthday!
Easter came on Sunday and I’ll admit, I was a little worried. Our decorations, baskets and plastic eggs are on the shipping container and the usual treats the Easter Bunny brings are not available in Zimbabwe. Also, the eggs are all brown here, not suitable for dying. How were the girls going to react to such a different Easter morning? Would they balk at the lack of Peeps and color-coded egg hunt that they are used to? Turns out I had nothing to worry about! They shrieked at the candy that was left by the Bunny and happily searched for the candy eggs. Goes to show that things do not have to be over the top to make my kids happy! Next year will be closer to normal since we’ll have our stuff, but I think I’m going to pare down a little bit. It’s about the memories, not the loot!
The next big thing we have on the horizon is the arrival of the shipping container!!! I can’t wait! I’ve mentioned before that my mother-in-law went out of her way to make sure that we have everything we need and our house is very comfortable. But it’s just not home. It feels like we’re in a vacation rental, making it hard to really settle in. The container is scheduled to arrive in South Africa on April 30th and then should take another week to 10 days to arrive here. I’ve heard horror stories from some other families that have immigrated in the last 5 years or so of containers arriving 6 weeks late, being unpacked on the side of the road by customs, or with things missing. Please keep your fingers crossed that ours arrives on time and intact!!
We’ve started the immigration process, technically Becoming Zimbos!!! (Sorry, I couldn’t help it!) The girls were granted Zimbabwean birth certificates since Dan is a Zimbabwean citizen. Those birth certificates give them automatic permanent residency and they are good to go. I have quite the process ahead of me. It will take a total of 6 years before I am a full permanent resident with lots of paperwork and red tape to go through. We plan on going to Harare next week to turn in the application and first round of paperwork and keep fingers crossed that it goes smoothly. We also have to visit the American Embassy because I’m dumb and never checked to see when the girls’ passports expire. Turns out Kristin and Elizabeth’s both expire in May!!! Luckily the embassy can handle the renewal from here. Good job, Kati…
As our family and friends back home are welcoming the first signs of spring, we are noticing the first nods of fall. The mornings and evenings are beginning to cool down, with a crispness in the air. The rains seem to have gone and the humidity is lessening. It’s still quite warm and sunny during the day so we are getting the best of both worlds! I’m looking forward to the changing of the seasons, curious to see what each new month brings.
So here we are. One month down, a lifetime to go! It’s been a good run so far and I have a feeling this is the beginning of a long love affair.