The Week in Pictures

These are some pictures we took over the week. Another glimpse into our world here.
This was taken on Tuesday when our boat home malfunctioned and we had to be towed back to the resort. Luckily we were not too far away. The girls got out their homeowrk while we were waiting. Love ūüėČ
Monday was St. George’s Caye Day in Belize. It is a national Holiday.
Sabrina has taken to “reading” books. She loves to get them out and talk to them as she turns the pages. Sometimes she climbs into her chair to read, sometimes she will bring the books to us to read to her, and she will sign the word “please” whileholding up the book.
Emma andLilly were so graciously trying to dress Sabrina after her bath, but she was not having any of it. Haha.
This is Sophia, Karina, Lilly and the baby is Julianna. We dock our boat at the Princess Hotel and Casino and have made a few friends there. The older girls go to school together, and we have known the baby since Sabrina was born, she’s several months older. This is out back by the pool of the hotel.
One of the most beautiful sunrises i have ever seen. The beauty around us always amazes me.
I went to lay Beena in her bed and found Alley, the cat, already made herself comfortable in there! These two love each other.

Carnival

This past Saturday we were invited to watch the Carnival parade at a friends house in the City. Barry and I gladly accepted the invitation and took the older girls with us. (Since we didn’t know what to expect we decided to leave Sabrina at home)¬†Our gracious hosts¬†were friends¬†of Barry’s from Rotary and, we discovered this week, the¬†parents of Emma’s new friend at school ūüôā¬†¬†It is a small place here in Belize, and it feels more and more like “home” as our social lives begin to evolve and we settle into a more “normal” way of life that is not solely centered around work and the resort. Balance.

Back to Carnival….this was fun! This was my first time seeing anything of its kind. The closest I have been to something like the Carnival parade has to be ACL Fest in Austin. Lots of people,¬†a variety¬†of music, great outfits, and lots of booze. Some of the costumes were so detailed and so big! Many of the larger costumes actually sit on wheels so different people can wear it, and pull it around. Too heavy for one person to go for miles, which is how long the parade route is. Every now and again as the people passed by dancing and playing music I would recognize a face, which was fun! And when you are a tall white woman in Belize people remember you, too! So it was fun to say hello to familiar faces.
I think the girls had a good time. They only only appeared briefly to get something to eat or drink, and then were off with the other students. Or hiding in a corner. Either way they seemed to enjoyed themselves.

Thank you to Michael and Ninette for a great Carnival!

(I am pretty sure you can click any of the pictures to see them larger)

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 B and I hanging out and enjoying the day.
By the time the parade got to where we were
they were all so tired. It was HOT!


Beautiful colors, beautiful people.


 

School in Belize Begins

We made it through the first day with a BANG! Thank God.¬†¬†Sunday was quite the scene here on the island as we¬†hosted hundreds of people (this coming from an operation that is full¬†serving 30 people) and¬†Saturday¬† Barry and I¬†went to our first house party in Belize…so needless to say after a weekend of parties it was¬†a bit taxing to get up this morning….. BUT WE DID IT! 6:45am the school boat left and all kids were dressed to the nines in their uniforms and ready to face the day!
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Emma, Lilly, Jessica and Ronnie on the school boat with Carlos and Maria.
Not really wanting to stop for a picture… The girls walking into school.

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Lilly and I in her classroom.

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Emma in her class, of only 17 students!!!! Love that.
 

Today Emma started Standard 6 (8th Grade) and Lilly began Standard 4 (6th Grade).
The Belizean school system reflects its British roots. There are two levels of education preceding University; Elementary and High School (called college in many places here). The girls are both a little dissapointed that they still attend a school with the word ‘Elementary’ in¬†the name. I like it. I like so many things,¬†thus far, about their educational and cultural beginnings in Belize.¬†¬†Let’s start with uniforms. Um, yes please. Parents, uniforms at school are amazing. It truly does help the students focus on what they are at school to do… LEARN. And for teenage girls it takes the opportunity away from¬†them to judge each other by the way they¬†dress. No makeup is next on my list of favorites for the same reasons I gave for loving uniforms. It has been so wonderful to see my 13 year old student, a beautiful young lady, actually look like a beautiful young lady. And not a fully eye lined, eye shadowed, face powdered, mascarra wearing, wanna-be some kind of¬†person she can be when she’s in college. Before classes begin all the grade levels so this same thing. When the bell rings all the students file out into the hallway and form two lines, boys and girls. When the teacher prompts the girls, followed by the boys,¬†file into the classroom and quietly sit down to officially begin the day. Another thing I like, in contrast to the schools in the States, is that the students all have rotating “duties”, better known to Americans as chores. This is part of school, taking care of your community together. Janitors do no lurk behind every corner sweeping and wiping up behind them. (Although our housekeeper at home does that for the girls even though I ask her not to!) The students¬†clean up¬†themselves.

We are fortunate enough to be able to afford what is considered the BEST elementary school in Belize. Many of the elite families in the country send their children here. And many families sacrifice greatly¬†to send their children here.¬†It is an international school with students from all over the world. The parents I have met are from Germany, Bulgaria, Honduras, and England. Oh, and one from the US too¬†ūüôā For now, this is all I’ve got. Thank you to all our family and friends thinking of us during this transition back to school for the girls. And thank you to our new family and friends in Belize for welcoming us and accepting us into your world here. We are most grateful for all of you.

Best Regards!
Ashley

Home from a Texas Visit

All three girls and I traveled back home to the island this past Sunday. It is always a bit difficult to leave Texas. Leaving is like¬†taking¬†off a bandaid; You can do it slowly, draw it out as to not endure too much pain, or you can rip it off quickly which will make you tear up but the pain doesn’t last as long. This time was ripping. I’ve done the slow peeling, the saying goodbye for days and wishing I had more time. Life is too short. Take the moment you have and enjoy it. Remember the smell, the feel of the laughter, the friendship….it all has very real energy and power. But if we don’t focus on it, even for the brief moment¬†during which¬†we¬†acknowledge it, we can never feel it.

The children and I all enjoyed so many wonderful friends and family members while we were in Texas. For this I am so grateful. I have learned so much packing up and moving to another country. One thing I have learned that surprised me has been how little I miss and remember about the things we left behind, and how deeply I miss the people we left in Texas. I knew Barry and I had some first class friends as well as incredible family members. But true love, even if simply in friendship, surpases distance and time. What a beautiful thing love is. May everyone know and feel loved like we do.

We are still very much in transition back to Belizean life. I have learned not to put any expectations on our first few days either leaving Belize, or returning. Each place has some stark differences that even adults I know have a difficult time with. So this week the older girls are setteling into their rooms and reaquanting themselves with a more tranquil world that has niether shopping malls nor 24/7 texting capabilities. Ha. Sabrina has bounced back like she never left. True Belizean style this girl has. I am very thankful to be home with my family together.

Here are a few pictures from our homecomming.  

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Estel grabbed Beena straight off the boat ūüôā
Playtime with Dad.
 
When our boat arrived at the island Sapo had drinks
waiting for us, just like we do for our guests! There was
even a bottle with punch for Sabrina!! We missed our staff
and they missed us too.
Familia. ūüôā

 

Introductions

I thought I’d start by introducing some of the crazy characters of our stories … The Family!

I’m Ashley, or mom, and my hunky husband is affectionately known as the old man, daddy, Boss, B or Barry. We have a total of 4 kids. Seth, 22, ¬†lives in Austin, TX while he finishes his Anthropology degree. He is Barry’s son from his first marriage. Seth is a wonderful young man! ¬†Next up are Emma now 13, and Lillian,11, who are my biologicals’. They live in Belize with us along with¬†baby Sabrina. Yes, a baby.¬†Thirteen¬†months. Born, and so far raised, on this tiny island we call home. Last, we have Alley the cat. Alley is a special feline who has traveled from Austin to Belize with us and has adjusted to island life quite well. Like she was meant to be here. She’ll give me some stories to tell for sure.

We happily reside on an island 7 miles from Belize City called St.George’s Caye. Barry and I manage the St.George’s Caye Resort, for roughly 1.5 years now. It is beautiful here. ¬†The ocean views never tire. The sunset rarely disappoints. Even the rain dances for us. I imagined big things for my life, but I honestly did not ever think I would ¬†live, work and raise my children on a tropical island in a foreign country. We live a dream. And we are vigilant to remember this. ¬†That said, haha…. We do LIVE and WORK and¬†raise children¬†here in this paradise life we live. So naturally it’s not all sun-bathing topless and drinking rum punch all day.

Welcome to our stories. ¬†ūüôā
Big Love.

Growing Under Pressure

The last ten days have been challenging. You know the old saying that when it rains it pours? Yes, well its been pouring. The good news is this is how we grow. By dealing with and handling stressful, unpleasant situations and feelings; without killing other people in the process. This is how we grow as emotional beings as family units and as compassionate understanding people. What we do here is not easy on any given day for the adults much less the older girls, and how they¬†have dealt with¬†their feelings and the realities of how and where we live makes me more proud and fond of them each day. Part of what makes it hard for us as Americans coming to live here is the fact that we are not as busy all the time. We are not running from activity to activity, to homework, to eat, to bed, to wake up and go go go again the next day, then shop shop shop all weekend. (God, I wish!! I miss me some shopping!)¬†We often have days in a row where we walk and talk and swim and look at things online together. But we are together even if we don’t say a word.¬†What this means is we have more face time to¬†interact with each other making it hard to hide true feelings. This allows us to be more authentic with one another¬†thus emphasizing our individual and family¬†strengths and weaknesses.¬†So I feel like it has been a time of purging, if you will, at our house. Old maps, or ways of¬†doing things,¬†are being torn apart; they aren’t taking us where we want to go anymore!! It’ uncomfortable, trying to learn new ways to be a successful family. But when we do it with LOVE and COURAGE and COMPASSION and KINDNESS we are certainly headed in the right direction!

With that all said, here are some pictures from last week….

Sabrina at her Pediatrician visit. She had her first shots!
At 14.5 months she weighs 18 lbs. and is 30″ tall (2.5 feet)
The three island Princesses going to town for a fun trip to the grocery store ūüôā
At the Grocery store…. haha, Sabrina had a blast.
She wanted to get everything off the shelves!
Barry and his best man, Cornel.
Sabrina just being herself.
She is always making funny faces
We participated in the International OCEANA costal clean-up
this past weekend. The girls and I picked up trash from the
island.