September 26, 2013

Surprise! Part 2

There were so many wonderful things about my surprise trip home. I don't even know where to begin. I thought it may be easiest to make a list. So bare with me. Here's my top 20.

1. Without question. Quality time with family and friends. Goodness. Just what my heart needed.

2. Carpet. the feeling of soft carpeting between your toes. Didn't think I would have missed that.

3. Having internet access without wifi. Who knew?

4. Hearing my phone ring.

5. The food. Oh America. You have wonderful food. Cinnamon rolls, red meat, ft. dt. coke.

6. So many options at the grocery. I had a minor panic attack the first time I went grocery shopping with my mom. After filling the cart, I started panicking on how we were going to get all the groceries home. You see, in America, you take your car to the grocery. Convenient.

7. Driving. Oh how nice it was to get in my car and go when I wanted to. I only drove on the wrong side of the road once. I guess that's a success.

8. Watching my nephew's soccer game. He is getting too old. Too fast. Future soccer star right here folks.

9. The hilarious things my nephew says. Brace yourself for belly laughs.

      I know my licious, but I'm just not hungry. (He always says, 
      this is delicious. And I know my licious.)
      Singing at the top of his lungs while going #2.
      Mimi. We need to have a conversation.
      Seriously, Mimi. I'm serious.
      Well, you're just going to have to be brave. (When telling me 
      I need to get a video of a snake. Child please!)
      But I'm a good guy.
      (In a super whiny voice.) Mommy, can we get a pumpkin
      and make me a pumpkin pie??
      Look at how cute you are.
      Does Uncle Matt's doctor school teach him how to give stickers?
      I'm not cute. I'm cool.
      When I grow up, I want to be a fighterfire and a doctor like Uncle
      Matt. Then I can help him with his doctor stuff and make
      people feel better.

That face says it all.
10. Starbucks. Fall drinks came out the week I got home. Coincidence? Maybe. But those Salted Caramel Hot Chocolates were fantastic.

11. Target. Oh sweet Target. I may have gone a little overboard here. Just a little.

12. Washing my clothes not in the sink. 

13. I even got flowers delivered to the office the week I was in Indy. What a sweet husband!

14. Not being afraid that every small thing you see moving out of the corner of my eye was some sort of giant bug getting ready to attack me.

15. Let's not forget air conditioning. Glorious air conditioning.

16. The wonderful fall weather Indiana was starting to get. I got to wear a coat! I loved every shiver.

17. Seeing my dear friends Erin, Lynne and Katie. 

18. Being in the office with my wonderful co-workers. We really are a smart bunch. It's always refreshing to go in and reconnect with everyone. 

19. And another one about my nephew because he's clearly the cutest kid in the world. He showed me how he can ride bike without training wheels. And introduced me to his cat Jill. Who should technically be a Jack. But that's ok.

20. And of course, seeing my sweet, sweet Emmy. But that's for another post....

It was just so good to be home. My mom actually broke her arm the week before I came, so it was good to be there to help her around the house and such. I'll spare you the awful picture of her blackened arm. And I say blackened, because bruised isn't the right descriptor. 

Funny side note. Mom fell when she was moving Landon's bike in the garage. The handlebars were loose, and it slipped out from under her and she fell. Landon was the one there with her. But if you ask Landon what happened, he'll tell you that Grandma was actually doing wheelies on the bike and that's how she broke it. Love that kid.

There were many meals shared, laughs, shopping trips and more that made this trip so wonderful. To be home again made me feel so much more refreshed heading back to Dominica. Plus, we only have 2.5 months till we head back for Christmas break. Then we are lucky enough to have an entire month at home. The both of us.

Of course, being apart from Matt was the downside. But thank goodness for technology, we kept in very close touch. And, he still had clean clothes and food in the house when I got back! I call that a success. Since it was the beginning of the semester, he didn't have any tests or a major events while I was away. It couldn't have worked out better.

And, to be fair, there were things I missed about Dominica while I was home. Dominica has taught us to live a simple life, to find joy in our surroundings, and to slow down a bit. With that being said, I did get many awkward glances when I would try to start up a conversation with those around me, and greet people before I ordered lunch or something along those lines. I also was getting frustrated by the fact that everywhere you go, people are on their phones, focusing on the phone more than who or what is around physically instead of virtually. I know I was the same way before we came, but it was a good reminder that technology has its place.

I flew back to Dominica on Sept. 21. Five airports later, I arrived only about 30 minute late. It was a Liat miracle. 

And now, here I am back again and into our routine. It's so good to be back with my husband, but being home that made me long for the time when we can be near our family and friends once again. We're now at our half way mark in Dominica. So we are just going to focus on enjoying our time here as it will come to an end so very quickly.

September 25, 2013


I got one of the greatest surprises I could ask for. I got to go home and surprise my friends, family and of course, my office!

I am very blessed to work for such a wonderful company who brought me home for a staff retreat. It couldn't have been more perfect timing in all aspects.

I didn't find out I was going home until the beginning of August. It went a little like this...

I woke up to find Matt standing on our counter tops. This isn't normal. Apparently, we had a huge ant outbreak. Those sugar ants. They'll get you out of nowhere. Thankfully, Matt had them all taken care of by the time I got up, so he was just cleaning up at that point. But, still not how I wanted to start the day. I was also going through a period of major homesickness. Some days are easier than others here. But once you get homesick, it gets worse. Fast.

I started work, and got a message from my boss saying, "Hey do you have a minute to talk?" Now, I was already emotional. And no matter who you are, when your boss asks you that question, it sends a shiver of panic.

We get on the phone, and she says, "Can I bring you home in a few weeks?" Well, that's all it took to tip the emotional lever, and I just started crying. Needless to say, it was a yes, absolutely. But then she said how fun it would be to keep it a surprise. But that meant some serious secret-keeping on both fronts.

So, only a few people at home knew. My parents, my sister and of course my boss!

I booked my trip for three weeks. Matt encouraged me to stay longer than necessary for the staff retreat to see that I could make the most of my trip.

I left on Aug. 30. So that meant figuring out how to tell my co-workers I wouldn't be working that day. Because Dominica has such a great reputation for reliable internet, I just let them know the internet would be down that day as they were making some fixes for the start of the semester. They all bought it. Totally believable.

Well, Liat foiled the plans a bit. My flight out of Dominica was delayed over four hours so I missed my connection in San Juan. Since I booked my Liat flight separate, I had to have my sister rebook me on a brand new ticket while I was in the air. I got in San Juan with my sister rapidly texting me details of my new itinerary. I made it to Miami that night, enjoyed some not-so-stellar airport food, and headed to the hotel.

Saturday morning, I boarded my flight to Indy. Ironically enough, the gate next to me was bound for Freeport. I thought about wildly yelling and warning them not to go. But didn't think that would be a good idea for the airport.

As we flew in to Indy, we flew over the Speedway, downtown and familiar corn fields. I had missed Indiana so much, it brought me to tears. I'm pretty sure the woman next to me thought there was something not quite right with me. Oh well.

I'm pretty sure I muscled my way first off that plane. And nearly ran to the baggage claim area where my parents were waiting for me. Oh, it was so good to be home and welcomed with their hugs.

We made our way to grab some lunch - a burger and of course a fountain dt. coke. America.

With the mix up in flights, we had to let my grandparents in on the surprise. But there was still a lot of surprising left to do. We stopped in at my sisters, and got to surprise my nephew Landon. Such fun! He asked how long I was staying for. I told him three weeks, and he let me know I was welcome to stay for seven weeks. But then of course, it was, "Where's Uncle Matt?" Priorities.

That evening, I went to see my grandparents, and hooked my Uncle into coming over. We got him pretty good! Needless to say, he wasn't expecting to see me.

That week was the hardest to keep the secret. Being in Indiana, and not really getting to let people know was so tough. I didn't head to Indy to the office until the next Monday. But Leslie and I sure had some fun with our co-workers keeping that secret!

That day quickly came, and I made the familiar drive to Indy bright and early so I could get to the office first thing.

Leslie met me in the parking lot, and we walked in the back door of the office. She took me to my friend Christine's desk, and said she wanted to introduce her to a new employee. That's when all the excitement broke lose!

Leslie and I were called liars all week. But that excitement was completely worth it.

There's so much to say about those three weeks. And I certainly don't want to bore anyone. So this will have to be To Be Continued....

September 22, 2013

St. Maartin Vacation

Yes. I realize it's been over a month since I've posted a blog. But, I actually have a good excuse this time.

I took a surprise trip home to the States for a few weeks! So, in order to keep that tough surprise, I put myself on an internet lock down. I was very careful about what I posted and when, so as not to slip and leak the good news.

And then when I got home, it was a whirlwind of enjoying America, so no time to post then.

So now, I'm back. Not 24 hours of being back to Dominica and I'm blogging. That's dedication, right?

Enough babbling. Now to the point of the post! Our exciting St. Maartin vacation!

Yes! We went on a vacation. To a beautiful, tropical Caribbean island. And no, not the one we live on.

Matt finished his second semester, so we decided to a book a vacation instead of flying us both home for the break. While we love going home, it can be expensive flying two people back. Plus, we learned last break, it's not much a vacation because we were constantly running around trying to see everyone and do everything, that Matt didn't get to rest his mind too much. So we were looking to relax and refresh a bit. And we sure did! And, when else in our lives are we going to be able to just fly to another Caribbean island in less than an hour?

So we settled on St. Maartin. And yes. it's spelled St. Maartin. It is a tiny little island (smaller than Dom) that is actually two countries - Sint Maarten and Saint Martin. Sint Maartin is the Dutch side, and Saint Martin is the French side.

We stayed in Simpson Bay. And it was lovely. Beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear water, delicious food, entertainment, shopping and more! We even walked around in an air-conditioned mall!

We spent the majority of time our posted up reading on the beach. And we loved it. And the day it rained? We huddled inside and froze in the AC. And enjoyed every shiver.

We indulged in all of the delicious food. I even had a steak! Yay for red meat.

But probably the most exciting meal we had was Dominoes. Delivery. Yes, I said it. We loved it. We ordered pizza and sat in our huge comfy bed in the freezing AC and loved it. Every bite. It's the little things.

One of the coolest things we did is good to Maho Beach. Maho is situated right on the runway of the airport. Literally right on the runway. So you can enjoy the beach, and get up close and personal with the airplanes.

Sunset Beach bar has this board up that announces arrivals.

The huge, double-decker plane from the Netherlands.

Yes. That's a danger sign. People will hold onto the fence to get jet blasted when the planes take off. We weren't that crazy.

So yes, clearly we loved it.

We also rented a car, so we were able to enjoy that luxury. We drove throughout the whole island which took about 45 minutes. 

And because the island is actually two countries, we were able to stand on the border and be in two countries at once! There is no border patrol or anything, so it was similar to crossing a state line.

Dutch side.
Turn around and you have the French side.
Standing in two countries at one time!

We also found the most delicious ice cream place. It was gelato actually. The place is called Carousel. And it was so amazing, that once we went there, we went back again. And again. And again. They had Nutella gelato. Of course we kept going back.

Our hotel room was lovely. We stayed at the Flamingo Resort. We had our own little kitchen area as well which made it nice. We took advantage and went to the grocery where it was stocked full of varieties of food! It was overwhelming and a wonderful change!

They also thought we were honeymooners. So they gave us the honeymoon suite. Fine by me.

That's our room in the very top left corner!
The view from our kitchen.
Our spot on the beach.
We took one day to drive to Phillipsburg, the Dutch capitol. There we found this great boardwalk with lots of shopping. It was right on the beach. So, the beachfront and shopping? My kind of day.

We had such a wonderful, wonderful. time. We love everything about the island. It gave us a quite the break from Dominica, and even gave us a taste of America. To me, St. Maartin felt more like America than the Caribbean, so it was a nice change of pace for us.

Plus, we got to enjoy each other. Spend stress-free, study-free time together. 

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