New Season, New Beginnings

Where do I even start? An entire season has passed and not a word from me. I like to write, but to write while there are so many other things to be done – working, making sure my toddler doesn’t knock over the vase on the table, making dinner, folding clothes, washing dishes, spending time with my husband, washing more dishes (because it is just the most never-ending cycle in the history of time when you don’t have a dishwasher) – writing is 100% of the time put on the side. Writing is pushed into the couch cushions and forgotten, and then when I’m looking for my phone that was hidden from me by a my own personal three-foot human tornado, I find that ‘will to write’ next to the phone and think, oh right, my blog still exists. There are a handful of people that would like to hear from me.

So here I am again.

July and August went by quickly. It was winter here, but winter 2015 in Santiago was balmy. It didn’t rain good and hard until mid-August, so we were stuck with that smog for much longer than we wanted.

Joaquin began saying more words this winter. He says hola, chau, vamos, bravo, mama, zapato (papapo) and some others. His only English word is banana (balala), and that word comes from Spanish, so it’s safe to say that Spanish is his dominant language. Now that he’s saying a bit more, we can see how much more he understands. He understands my commands in English, and the parts of his body in English, like nose, ears, eyes, belly button, teeth, mouth, tongue. But, he also knows where other body parts are in Spanish, like cabeza, manos, brazos y piernas (thanks to a horribly annoying educational Chilean TV show that I detest with all my soul).

He waves goodbye, blows kisses and his new thing is to say chau and wave goodbye to me on the sidewalk and start walking in the other direction like he’s off to his first day of college. He’s always been blindly independent…takes after me.

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September was a much more fun month. I only had to work the first week of the month and then I had two weeks vacation. Andrés and I were able to take a mom-and-dad only trip to Brazil, while my mom and Julia manned down the house and had Joaquin all to themselves for a week. Everything worked out pretty perfectly…except for the 8.4 earthquake the night before we were coming back home. We got a message from my mom when we were at dinner to the effect of “Yikes! Earthquake!” and I thought, well, they’ve never felt an earthquake before, so it was probably just a small tremor.  Except not, and it was actually the biggest earthquake recorded worldwide so far for 2015. So, yes, kind of a big deal. Andrés and I were not in Chile for the earthquake in 2010, and now we missed the one in 2015. We feel left out. So unfortunately, my poor mom and sister had no idea what to do (we don’t really need to have earthquake drills in the midwest) and wanted to run out into the street (which is really not what you’re supposed to do). Thankfully our neighbor Manuela calmed them down and told them to just stay put.  

Our trip to Brazil was lovely. We decided not to let the rainy weather bring us down and we were able to see a lot of really beautiful places. We stayed in Cabo Frio, a city 2 hours east of Rio de Janeiro, and visited Buzios and Arraial do Cabo on two separate days. We spent our last day in Rio and were able to go up the Sugarloaf Mountain and spend some time at Copacabana.  

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At one of the million beaches we visited that week.

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Copa-Copacabana

“…At the Copa-Copacabana”

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It was a time of rest that we needed, so we came back missing our bubs and excited to spend a few days all together with Julia, Mom and Joaquin.

We are normal, I promise.

Joaquin caption: Is it too late to get out of this family of weirdos??

Sadly on the 21st, reality struck and we went back to ‘routine’ mode. Joaquin wasn’t super excited to return to daycare, though I can’t say I blame him. Spending two weeks with all attention from Grandma and Aunt Juju understandably has that effect on a return to real life. I was equally un-excited to be back at work.

And in upcoming news, Andrés’ visa interview will take place on October 7 at the US Embassy in Santiago. As I’ve told some, it’s more or less a formality to ask him a few questions and be able to issue him his resident visa. We have 6 months to move to the USA, so it’s a real deal!  Freak out mode has not officially begun, but it will probably come round January when we have both left our jobs, have no income and no house and are leaving the place we’ve called home for 3+ years (and many more in Andrés’ case). Yeah, I could pretty easily freak out around then. But God provides. He always has, and He always will. He’s never left us out in the dark, and I know that He won’t now. I’m actually pretty calm about everything right now, probably because I think back on to when my life started in Chile and have seen how amazing God has been to my family. So, 2016 will not be any different.

I’m Still Alive

Hey, who is in charge of this site? It is grossly out of date.

*Awkward silence*

Moving on, I just want to make a few clarifications: yes I am alive, yes I have been busy and yes I have been making excuses not to write. Mostly because I just haven’t been in the mood. Colder weather, awful smog, shorter daylight hours, headaches, busy work days = perfect recipe for writer’s block.

But now, mostly thanks to my boss who decided to ditch the country for a month’s vacation, I have been granted the gift of holy time…and quite a bit of boredom at work. Instead of oogling Buzzfeed for 8 hours and drawing suspicions from the IT department on my obvious misuse of company internet, I will be drafting my blog posts on Word and staying under the radar.

In the interest of staying organized, here is my grocery list of updates from the past two months:

Andrés’ Visa:

We are in the full-blown green card process, my friends. If I have found out one thing, is that it’s a whole separate sub-world filled with a s*** ton of people going through the exact same thing, if you don’t mind me getting to the dirty truth. In May, I read that there are 4 MILLION PEOPLE in line to immigrate legally to the USA, so, yep, our family is not some special case by any means. This also may be a little insight as to why many families try to skirt around the legal immigration procedure because it takes so LOOOONG (because there are so many PEOPLE…a vicious circle).

If in Mid-March we sent in step 1 of 1,098,921, mid-June we are now at step 7. OK, in reality, there are really only around 20 total steps to having the actual Immigrant Visa in his passport, so we’ve actually advanced quite a bit.

His case is currently at the National Visa Center (NVC, correction from previous post stating National Visa Service), and has been there since the end of April. There was a major computer glitch (or so they say, says the subworld of immigrant visa applicants) for nearly the entire month of May. Seriously, if you want to talk to some verified conspiracy theorist crazies, just start posting on some US Immigrant Visa forums. So, even though our case was confirmed at the NVC on April 29, we weren’t able to complete the first document submission until June 1. And guess how long it took for me to submit the first document: 5 WHOLE MINUTES. And guess how long it takes for them to review the document that took me 5 minutes to complete?: 30 DAYS. Why?: because there are I think 3 people at NVC working to process 4 MILLION IMMIGRANT VISA APPLICATIONS. Let’s all say this together out loud: the US Government is understaffed!

After they approve the first document, we have to fill in the actual Immigrant Visa Application. I imagine this will occur sometime in July. Once we submit the Application and give the government nearly $500 in fees, they take up to 60 days to review the case. They don’t tell you when your case is complete (understaffed), so you have to call them to find out and wait on average 60 minutes on hold for an operator (understaffed). Once his case is complete at NVC, it is shipped to the Santiago Embassy at some point in time and an interview is scheduled.

Based on our current timeline, we hope to have Andrés’ visa approved by the year 2100.

Just kidding. Hopefully by October/November 2015. Then we have about 6 months to enter the USA. This is what we had planned for, and we knew how long this takes, which is why we applied when we did.

So that’s that. Prayers appreciated for no further delays.

Work:

Prior to May, my office in Santiago was split into two: Sales and Finance/Administration. Both offices were in the same building, but in separate towers. So if I had to drop off or pick up something from the other office, I had to take the elevator down 21 floors, walk outside to the access of the other tower and go up 14 floors to the Finance/Administration office.

Obviously, the management didn’t see this as a great way to work ‘together as a company’ and since our lease was up in 2015, they decided to rent a larger office in the same building on a different floor so everyone could fit. Fine. It makes sense. We were supposed to move in on May 1, but we’re in Chile, so that meant May 11. Just add 10 to whatever they say. I’ll be there 10 minutes really means 20, move in on day 1 really means day 11.  They don’t teach you in Spanish class that you will also have to learn how to translate time.

We have been in our new offices for exactly 1 month. They are still not done with the remodelations, and honestly, based on the pace they’re working at, pigs will fly by the time they are done. Two older guys come in every day, and at least once per day, I see them sitting on the buckets of drywall picking the paint out of their nails. Dead serious. They also are incapable of performing a job at an individual level. They are always together, and they are always talking to each other. Meanwhile, me and my coworkers are fully installed in these new offices, and they’re still ho-humming around with their fingers up their noses. Give me the stupid screwdriver and I will get my work done and theirs faster than them. It’s so weird to me, that every remodeling job done in this new office has to be completed by two humans, because for some reason one human is not enough to clean out the ventilation ducts of the air conditioning system. I have had a random sheet of glass in front of the desk next to mine since May 19. I suppose there was supposed to be another sheet of glass placed in front of my desk, but I have yet to see this occur.

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But, what most of us in the office has seen happen with these “maestros”, is that when they come in to do the handiwork, is that they install something (i.e. half of a sheet of glass), leave it there half done for a week minimum, then take it down and re-do it completely different. No one knows what’s going on, or when they’re going to be done, or what the final product is even supposed to look like. I even asked them when they will be done (especially in reference to the random sheet of glass), and they kind of just looked at me with dead in their eyes and lifted their shoulders up and down kind of as an automatic gesture. Not even a guesstimate? Nope? Nothing. Dead in the eyes.

I had my employee evaluation discussion with my boss, and apparently I’m not very friendly because I don’t say good morning to 50 people when I get to the office. I’ve lived in Chile for about 5 total years and I still can’t get used to this. If I see you, I’ll say good morning, but I think it’s a huge waste of time to play Mr. Rogers, walk around and do the ‘hey neighbor’ thing to every single person in my office, every single morning. But, according to my boss, I’m not getting more projects or assignments because I’m Elsa the Snow Queen and no one wants to ask me for anything. And, I’m almost certain that he put me in my new spot on purpose because now I am right within eyeshot of the employee entrance in the mornings. Therefore, I am now forced to be friendly and see everyone as they arrive to work. Bah humbug.

Joaquin:

This child just keeps growing and growing (I shouldn’t be so surprised). I would be perfectly happy if he didn’t grow any more, thank you very much. He is very portable and adorable and I refuse to accept that he will be 2 in December. He literally just turned 1. My parent soul is filled with unbelievable amounts of denial.

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The poor thing has been ganged up on by his baby teeth. 4 teeth in November 2014, 2 teeth in December 2014, 1 molar in January 2015, 1 molar in February 2015, 2 teeth in March 2015, 2 molars in April 2015 and now two upper incisors have been working their way in since the last week of May = 14 teeth in about 8 months. His mouth better start growing because the first four molars that came in look like dinosaur teeth.

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As with many children growing up in a bilingual household, Joaquin’s speech is delayed a few months. We are getting excited as he is starting to try to spew a few words. Hard emphasis on the try. Many of you may know that his first word was Hola, and currently his only word. We are starting to push some new words because now that he understands himself, that’s all he says. It’s very friendly and personal, but hearing ‘hola’ 175 times a day makes us want to get some new vocabulary on the market. The cuteness though…it’s barely able to be contained with this one.

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He is our social butterfly and has a nice time at daycare. We are obviously very thankful for this, because he spends a lot of time there. Maybe some see this as a sad thing, that one of us can’t be a stay-at-home parent, but for the amount of socializing he does, it’s appropriate that he spends most of his day with a lot of kids. And as a super bonus, he is exhausted by the end of the day and sleeps a solid 13 straight hours a night. Excelente.

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We have had to teach him the difference between nanai and hitting, because he does get frustrated and hits others (original sin…cough Grandma Sue). Nanai is a novice concept for me, but it is basically the Chilean way of saying ‘be nice’ or ‘be gentle’ to a child. And Joaquin completely understands us when we say Nanai, he starts stroking my face and gives us a kiss (original grace…cough cough Grandma Sue).

My little sweetheart, my bugaboo, my little bear.

IMG_7896P.S. – Vamos CHILE!!!