Thanksgiving 2009

6 03 2011

Where to even begin? We had so much for which to be thankful in 2009! We’d been blessed with the gift of life and were anxiously awaiting the birth of our island baby.  We had our health, family and good friends surrounding us.  Life was…dare I say? Good! As we grew in faith and in our marriage, there was a wonderful comfort in knowing we were building something larger than ourselves. There was also a crazy anxiety that came along with the unknown, but we were mostly at peace.  We loved spending quiet moments together in those days (something which everyone with kids told us would be a rarity once the baby arrived: they were right!) So we made this our first ‘family’ Thanksgiving and enjoyed cooking, laughing and eating together. As per usual, Michael was entrusted to cook the bird, while I focused on the sides and dessert. It was thoroughly delicious.


Here’s a peak at baby boy! I’m in my 5th month here.

Aside from family, friends, good food, Michael wanted me to add how thankful he was for his moped! 🙂  He bought it from another student shortly after we moved into La Terrasse and had been on the go ever since! To say he loved this thing is a great understatement. He even decorated and named it: The Decepti-scoot! He says riding this thing around the island, manuevering through stand-still trafic and feeling the wind on his face was some of the most fun he had on SXM. We still had the Hyundai, but it was rarely used!

Here he is in front of BB’s BBQ  (yes, there’s a restaurant somewhere in that rubble).

When he wasn’t cruising the island, you could find him on our terrace or by the pool with a stack of note cards in his hands.  Pharmacology came into the mix during 4th semester. While he liked the subject matter, he says he could have studied night and day and still not remembered all the details. I wasn’t too worried. He was doing great in all of his classes and charging through his 4th semester.


4th semester continues…

17 12 2010

4th semester was in full swing and we were starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Not that we were ready to leave the island, but Michael was raring to experience clinical rotations and see patients. He would have to wait a while longer.

While he was making progress in school, I was making progress as well! I was 19 weeks at this point and getting bigger by the day!

This was right before heading to our ob/gyne to find out the baby’s gender! We had anxiously awaited this day and had dinner reservations to go celebrate the good news. However, we ran into a minor glitch when we arrived to find this sign taped to the doctor’s door.

Most places would call and reschedule your appointment, right? They do things a little differently on the island.

We tried taking our minds off of our disappointment that weekend by enjoying some quiet time on the beach.

Mike also treated me to a mani-pedi downstairs at The Spa. My friend Leah came along.

We decided to go through St. Maarten Medical Center instead of the private doctor we had signed up with originally. It didn’t take long to get in for an appointment and find out what we were having….

A BOY!!!

We were overjoyed to finally know! It deepened my connection to him because I could now imagine the future and all the things we might do. Daydreaming became my new favorite hobby. I’d daydream about what he would look like, how he would sound, and what things he would like. I could not wait to meet him!

While I was getting bigger, Mike was getting faster…at keeping up with my cravings 🙂

Mmm…pizza from “Pizza, Pasta”, a little place behind Tantra nightclub in Maho.


Pre-Thanksgiving feast. I just couldn’t wait!

Fried rice, anyone?

I did some cooking as well. It was my turn to host Book Club (Life of Pi was my pick), so I got to work making some yummy treats for everyone. I love hosting, baking and organizing, so this was lots of fun!


Enjoying a lively discussion about Piscene and the animals.

Time was really flying! It was Halloween before we knew it. Our friends Allison and Austin came up with the idea to host a doggie costume party. Although we didn’t have a dog on the island, I thought this was going to be too cute to miss.  Here are two of their pooches: Mango and Marion, aka: the inmates.

Talk about cuteness overload!

I’m not sure what the pups thought of the whole thing, but we had fun. I was wiped out by the time it ended. A far cry from Halloween’s of yore when I would dress up and dance the night away. As fun as those days were, (and I’m glad I have them to look back upon), I wouldn’t trade where I was in my life for anything! With baby safe and snug, we were snoozing by 9pm 🙂

Tomorrow’s agenda: watch planes come in, watch cruise ships go out, go swimming, pick up a fresh baguette on the way back upstairs. Life on an island has its perks!

4th semester begins…

17 10 2010

After an extended Stateside break, I reunited with Michael in St. Maarten. He was already one month into his 4th semester of basic sciences at AUC.  I, on the other hand, was nearing the end of my first trimester and happily starting to feel like myself again. Weeks 5-9 were spent deciding what to eat, changing my mind, feeling queasy, and sleeping. I have never slept so much in my entire life!  It takes a lot of energy to create and sustain a life.

I was so excited to get back to Michael, our new apartment, my friends, and our little island in the sun. The little island that had worked its way into my heart, that I had come to know as home. Yes, it was great to be home and have the whole family back together again 🙂

 We took every opportunity to spend time together. The reality that a) our time on the island was drawing near and b) our freedom as soon-to-be parents was about to end was hitting us!  We tried going out as much as possible (when I wasn’t passed out by 8pm!) We truly looked forward to our date nights and enjoyed every minute.



 Here I am making tortilla soup with some island buddies.


Lunch at the famous Sunset Beach Bar is always fun! You can watch the planes come in (it’s so, so close to the runway).

We spent a lot of time at the pool…just us, with friends, whatever! lol  The baby loved it whenever I was in the sunshine and water. He would kick and move all over the place. I even took a few aquarobics classes.


We also loved having this as our front yard!!!


Mike and the guys looking for a spot to cliff dive at the Sonesta Maho.

It wasn’t all fun and games for Michael. After all, he was still a medical student! For every bit of fun, there was just as much studying going on.

Hmpf! I could’ve sworn he was studying out there…

Blessing of the Hands

28 06 2010

I know I’m jumping ahead here, but I had to break the order so I could post something very special. It’s Michael and I’s third wedding anniversary today (6.28.10)!!!   I’m so in love, sickeningly so! I’ve been thinking back on our wedding day, our vows and specifically The Blessing of the Hands we received that day.  These words have such a deeper meaning now that we have grown in love and in number (can’t forget Jude!) I wanted to share them with you.

Blessing of the Hands

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children. These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

I love you, Michael and I love being on this journey with you!


27 06 2010

We had a great time exploring Brooklyn and visiting my friend Rochelle during our trip to NYC.  We toured Brooklyn Hospital (one of the possible clinical sites) and just soaked up the atmosphere.  The area surrounding the hospital reminds me of the Uptown neighborhood in Chicago: very diverse, cheap clothes on sidewalk sales, food carts on every corner, brick buildings, etc. Although, when I left Chicago in 2008, Uptown was undergoing intense gentrification. I’d be interested to see it now.



Uptown Chicago: Broadway Avenue


This is the neighborhood I worked in for 9 years. I worked 9-5 at a doctors office, then went to night school from 6-9pm. This was my El station and the train I would take home.  Hot Popeyes biscuits on a cold winters day were the best things ever!

I ran into some of the most colorful people anywhere. Some of the things you see and hear on the El at 10pm will blow your mind (let alone the things you see and hear coming home at 3am on the weekends!)  


Back on topic: Michael’s sister had just moved to Manhattan to attend law school. She was temporarily living with some Julliard students in a roommate situation she set up on Craig’s List.  It was our first time to see a tiny Manhattan apartment! Here’s the living room of this 3-bedroom.  Someone was crashing on the floor as well.  Her apartment in D.C. was really cute, stylish and clean. Sometimes you have to give up a little to get what you want…and finding out she was accepted to school, she dropped everything and just went for it.  So, we had to document this because it’s one of those things we’ll look back on and laugh.

 Here’s her bedroom.

She’s since moved into her own place and is enjoying life in the city.

 Having caught up with friends and family, Michael and I decided to play tourists. We were on a mission to pack in as much as possible during out trip.

We visited Central Park…





the Guggenheim (it was free day and the line stretched for blocks)…

 the Met…


Staten Island…

the Bronx Zoo…

street fairs…

HAIR on Broadway…

and more! Here are some random shots around town.


It was my goal to take pictures on top of the Empire State Building at Sunset, but I found that I needed a nap every day around 5pm. With all the random snacking and feeling so run down, we started to wonder…sooo I took a test!  This photo was taken moments later. Michael’s face says it all!

 That’s right: we just found out we were going to have a baby (hence my taking 8 months to update my blog)!

They say there’s never a “good” time to have a baby, and it certainly was tricky to plan with a husband in medical school. With clincals rapidly approaching, we didn’t know where we’d be in 6 months or even a year.  We only knew that we wanted to start a family and hoped to have him between basic sciences and clincals. We were so excited to discover we’d be doing just that!

Here we are on our way to JFK. It still hadn’t quite sunk in, but it certainly has now!

Jude Matthew: 11 weeks old (photograph taken 6.26.10) 


Summer Break, 2009

28 03 2010

Our time here in St. Maarten is really flying by!  Michael finished up his 3rd semester of medical school on 8.19.09.  We decided to spend his break in New York City. Chances are good that he will do his clinical rotations there, so we wanted to learn as much about the boroughs, neighborhoods, and subway as possible.  We wanted to be near everything, so we stayed in Times Square at the Millineum Broadway Hotel.

 We wasted no time in getting over to the famous Junior’s Restaurant in Brooklyn.


We met up with my old friend Rochelle. She was kind enough to take us on a tour of Brooklyn Hospital as well as point us in the right direction towards anywhere else we wanted to go.

She also gave us a tour of the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. We loved the neighborhood and the views of lower Manhattan were amazing!

All that walking reminded me of being home in Chicago. Being a city girl, I’m used to taking trains and buses, which involves a good deal of walking as well.  5 or 6 miles a day used to be completely normal.  

It felt great to be mobile again, but I found I needed to stop and eat all the time.  NYC had no shortage of great food to eat on-the-go.  Here I am with a scrumptious cannoli.

and some NYC-style pizza we took back to the room.

Re-fueled, we were ready to head back downstairs and walk around Times Square.

Having some fun at Toys-R-Us.  We’re big kids, what can I say?!

By the time we ate dinner, browsed a few shops and walked around some more, I was famished again! Luckily, I knew where to get more pizza 🙂

I’m not sure if Michael was actually hungry again or just couldn’t pass up the 1/2 off sushi Rochelle told us about!

I chalked up this food-fest to the fact that we were used to spending so much money on food in St. Maarten. Also, you can’t really walk around St. Maarten and just grab food to go the way you can here.  For instance, we only had to go down the block to get this $12 breakfast for two the next morning.


Charged and ready for another day in NYC! Where will we go next? Will we do anything other than eat?

Stay tuned…

A Change of Scenery

2 02 2010

As Michael’s 3rd semester came to a close, the island’s power and water company seemed to be on the verge of collapse. We were losing both almost daily. We would check their website, only to find that generator 14 or 11 (or whichever one happened to be overloaded at the moment) was down. When you live on a tropical island, air conditioning and regular showers are necessities.  Not to mention how much food you waste when your power goes out mid-preperation…day after day.  It was really beginning to wear on us so we decided to keep our eyes and ears open in case one of the nice buildings with generators had an opening. As luck would have it, we stopped at a local mini-mart one day and found a flyer on their door for La Terrasse Resort apartment rentals! Located in the village of Maho, only a 4 minute drive to AUC (just on the other end of the golf course), La Terrasse is one three sister-resorts (others are LaPlage and Sonnesta Maho).


We wasted no time in calling for an appointment. We loved it! It’s a 1-bedroom condo in a building with a mix of time-shares, long-term rentals, and hotel rentals. Within a week, we had a deposit placed and contract in the works. There is a laundry room on premises, an infinity pool with a hot tub, a restaurant, a mini-mart on the first floor, a spa, bi-weekly maid service, and tons of little shops just outside the door! On a clear day, you can see the island of Saba from our place.

We enjoy trying out new restaurants and taking walks up and down the strip at night.

We can also use the amenities at the sister-resorts, including more pools, a beach, a gym, tons of activities (aquarobics), and $10 free “game cash” at the casino downstairs every night!   Michael wins $40 weekly on average. It’s great!!!  Not to mention, all utilities are included in the rent. All-in-all, we pay LESS here than we did at our old place with NO GENERATOR!

Needless to say, our outlook on St. Maarten changed dramatically as soon as we moved in 🙂  We feel like we’re on vacation everyday. It’s going to be really hard to leave here 😦