Saturday, 28 January 2017

Home Stretch of Island Life

Hello friends and family!

I know it has been a long time since I have blogged. I am so sorry for not having continued updates. Last semester (Med 4 for Kyle) was probably the busiest for both of us.

Here is a quick recap:

October: Sweating our way through this month by using the A/C a lot!! My best friend got married. I was so happy I was able to be home for it.

November: Got another flat tire. I got really sick, and had to actually see a doctor on Nevis. That was interesting, Kyle actually checked me out and then I had to get an x-ray and some of his classmates got to analyze it. A learning opportunity for all. Ended up with a bacterial lung infection and had to take a week off work.
I also met Prince Harry! That was the best!!! We also celebrated American Thanksgiving with some of the spouses of students.

December: Graduated from ASU, traveled to Arizona for my grad, went to the Grand Canyon, had a white Christmas, and rang in the new year with some friends!

So now that you are all caught up, this semester so far has been pretty good. It is much cooler this month, we haven't needed to use the A/C at all. Now that I am not in school, I have more free time which has been great to enjoy more beach days. Kyle has really been cracking down with studying. He has a final comprehensive exam he has to write at the end of the semester so he has been really focused on that. Since we have been back, I have spent more time meeting new spouses of students, and hanging out with the old ones. We have had some brunches, kids' birthday parties, sunset beach running and I even tested out meal prepping for the first time and loved it! 

I cannot believe we are down to our final months here! People keep asking me if I am going to miss it or if I am excited to leave. Honestly, I don't know. Some days I find some myself dreaming of fast food places, Costco and other amenities, especially when the water goes out, or we lose power. But then I have other moments where I am watching the sunsets, the blue waters, and hanging out with my new friends and our brunches we have, my workout classes, the kids I work with, and just reflecting on the connections I have made here and I can't imagine leaving. I know Kyle is ready to go, he wants to start the next chapter, and I am sure I will be ready too. But I have invested so much into getting to know this island, and truly making it my home I know it will be hard to leave. I met the island postman the other day who was shocked he hadn't met me before, so I guess when you live on an island for 2 years you are supposed to know everyone by then? Nevis is small but I didn't think it was that small, and also, we don't get mail...

These last few months for me will be wrapping things up at work and hoping all the stuff I accomplished won't fall apart the day I leave. I also will help out at one more Special Olympics National Games and hopefully compete in the Cross Channel Swim to St. Kitts in March. We then have to start thinking of what items we will be bringing back with us and what we are going to sell. I have met some new spouses here who have already called dibs on a lot of my stuff. Plus having connections in the community, they are more than willing to help me get rid of stuff. We have to sell our car, (Kyle is tempted to let it run off a cliff  :P) and we have to close our bank accounts and then I have to say my goodbyes. I will do my best to write more blogs these last few months. Last semester was hard because I was finishing my last two courses, working, volunteering and exercising.

April is coming up fast. It is hard not knowing where we will be in the coming months but we do know we will be back home while Kyle completes an online study course and prepares for the Step 1 exam. After he writes that, things are up in the air. He will have to start clinical rotations which will most likely be in the States. I am not sure I will be going yet. Lots of decisions and unknowns right now, but for the time being I am trying to enjoy my island life until the last possible sunset.

Thank you friends and family for your continued support, you have stuck with us this far and we are so appreciative!!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Fitness Filled Fall!

Hey Friends,

What a crazy month it has been! Between settling back to the island life, Kyle back in classes, the extreme heat and my new position at work, time is flying!

A few exciting events have happened this month. It first started with the Nevis Running Festival. I participated in the 5k race on behalf of the Special Olympics team. I then ran in the 10k. It was hard work, there were a few hills I was not prepared for, and even at 6 am it is still really hot!
These were some of the participants for the 5k

5k Medal                                                                                    10k Medal

I also went on a hike up to some waterfalls. Truly and I took some visitors up the mountain on the long weekend. Before I leave, my goal will be to hike to the peak! I have heard it's pretty intense, so I need more practice with the smaller hikes :) 

This was a cool silo at the base of our hike

My friend's pup was anxiously waiting to continue the climb

Another event I participated in was called the Fit Games. It's a an obstacle course that you can compete in with a team or individually. My trainer signed me up unbeknownst to me! He needed a substitute, and you have to have at least one female on your team. So I only had 2 weeks to train, oh and then he told me the day before the competition that their team has been undefeated so no pressure :/ okay, cool... Anyway the day of the competition they changed the rules a bit which threw off which leg of the race I was completing. However we still managed to finish first! Phew! My other friend who I teach swimming with competed in the individual competition and won first place also! Kyle came out to support us, and managed to catch some of it on film, especially where I totally wiped out! I got a nasty cut on my leg from the tires I was running across. Good times! I'm not sure if I will compete again, it was harder than it looks, but at least I got a cool medal out of it. 
The winning team!

The fancy trophy that allows for bragging rights! The guy on the left was partner for most of the course! 

My friend Val who is also my swimming partner and she won the individual comp! 

The nasty tire burn I got. It makes for a good conversation starter ;) 

We have also started our swim program again. We have a good turn out so far, so I am excited to see how much we can build up our swim club. The Special Olympic athletes will also be involved in some of our classes. Our goal is to build a team to participate in the cross channel swim in March, where we swim from Nevis to St.Kitts. We are hoping to do it in a relay style. I am hoping to train and participate in that as well. Training involves swimming at 6am 3 mornings a week. I haven't really started yet, but hoping to next week. Ha! 

Finally, I completed in another 5k race this past weekend to support the St. Christopher Children's Home in St. Kitts. We ran around the golf course by the Marriot. It was fun to run somewhere different for a change, plus all the proceeds help the children!

This was the group I participated with! 

Currently, I don't have any other scheduled fitness events. I just continue to train for running and soon swimming. My friend on the island is trying to convince me to do the triathlon in November, but that involves riding a bike on these crazy roads, which I have no desire to do. 

On another note, I have been so busy with my new position it's kind of amazing what we have been able to do. Training teachers on implementing a checklist that myself and my colleague created for the preschools has certainly kept us busy. We have seen a lot about how the education system works on the island here. They have a lot of catching up to do if they want to come even close to North American standards, but the good news is they are realizing they need to make changes, so I am happy I get to help with that. Especially after receiving some devastating news that one of my clients I used to work with here passed away last week. She was the first child I worked with here, and one of the reasons I was able to get a job in the first place. I was so upset by this news and disappointed that it got to the point it did. She had been sick for a long time, I am just sad that no one here was able to help her in the way she deserved. 

Anyway, that's how our September went. We also survived hurricane Matthew. We experienced some high winds and some rain, but nothing to crazy like some of the other islands. I'm pretty sure it was still a tropical storm when it was over top of us. It was two full days of overcast weather. We haven't had that in the whole time I have been was actually a little depressing not to see the sun for awhile. The breeze was a nice break though, I was able to wear pants! 

I also had a new experience of playing island bingo! A couple of the spouses of students wanted to check it out so I tagged along. It was actually so fun. It was very loud and the bingo announcer was not your typical guy. He liked to call out numbers by saying O for October and G for Make America Great Again, and N for Nevis and then my favourite was when he said B10 minus 5. Or I16 plus 4. However it was all worth it because one of my friends actually won the jackpot! It was a full card, and right before she got bingo, someone thought they had it but it was a bad bingo! So 2 other people won also so they split the pot of 3300 EC. We then raced to the car and got out of there as quick as possible. People were jealous for sure! But it was a neat experience, and something I never thought I would do here. 
My card was a loser

My friend on the left was the big winner!

So that is the latest update here. Kyle begins hospital rotations this week, and I start my final two courses next week. It is going to be a busy couple of months until December. I'm not sure how much blogging time I will get now. I also will be travelling back to Canada for a week at the end of October for my best friends wedding. So exciting!! 

Thanks everyone for your continued support! We really appreciate it! 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Heading into the Home Stretch of Island Life

Hey everyone,

I know it has been awhile, but we are still living the island dream. My last post was back in April, and I basically finished out the school year and then headed home for the summer while Kyle finished up Med 3. Well he passed! He has begun Med 4 and we can finally see the light. 8 more months of island living. 

Even though we have a short amount of time left, we are going to be super busy. Before I left for the summer, I started yet another island project. I met a French Canadian gal, who is an awesome athlete! We had the opportunity to become certified swim instructors through FINA. We started up our own swim club called the Nevis Barracudas. Our goal is to teach a lot of the local kids how to swim, and we have even taken on teaching some of the Special Olympic Athletes. The program ran through the summer while I was away and the team made some great progress!! We will be continuing the program in the coming months, and I am excited to help make a difference for some of these kids. 

As well, my colleague and best friend on the island have made huge strides in the education world on Nevis. This last week was back to school, which was full of workshops and learning opportunities for the teachers on the island. My friend and I presented a workshop to the preschool and kindergarten teachers. We created a checklist to help bridge the gap for children transitioning to kindergarten. Lets just say presenting two, three-hour long workshops was both nerve wracking and exhausting! I have never done anything like that before, especially to a group of women from a completely different culture than what I am used to. #culturemapping For those at the Global Leadership Summit you will appreciate that! ;) Anyway, it was a successful day with some great feedback that ended with my friend and I getting our own office space at the Ministry of Education. It has the best view, and we have a computer! Amazing! I am so excited for this school year. Last year was so tough breaking through so many barriers and obstacles, but this year I will finally be able to use my skills in a beneficial way to help this island. 

Kyle is starting Med 4, so far he likes his new schedule, most days he is done at 3pm, and there is a lot more hands on experience this semester. He will even be spending some time at the local hospital. A blog update will definitely be needed after that! 

So we have only been back for a week, and the hardest part so far has been getting used to the heat. It has been crazy hot here, I know back home it was a great summer but the heat here is something else. A lot of humidity, and no AC is tough to get used too. Also, I'm pretty sure our lovely car's AC just broke. We are at the point where I am just praying it makes it through these last 8 months. 

I spent a few days at the beach here, and chatted with my friend about the fact that we know we aren't going to be here forever and so with the time we have left we really need to make the most of it and enjoy it as much as possible. This island may not have lots to offer but it is beautiful and I will never get bored of that. 

Beach selfie with my work wife

So as Kyle gets back into studying, I get back into working and studying (I only have 2 more courses left for my program so I will be done in December), we are both back to our routine island living. Full of iced coffees, tank tops and flip flops, donkeys and goats and just taking it day by day. 

Thank you everyone for your continued support. It was great to visit a lot of people over the summer and we are amazed at all the love from friends and family. It was a tough summer for us personally, and in those moments it is very hard being so far away and feeling helpless. Just know that we are always thinking of our family and praying for everyone even in the middle of the Caribbean. We love you guys! I will be back in October for my best friend's wedding, otherwise we will see you in December! 

Before we left, my mother-in-law made an amazing turkey dinner! We celebrated an early Thanksgiving and it was delicious!! 

Here are some of my favourite moments from being home this summer:

Ashley's Bachelorette Party 
Hanging out with my nephew!

Michigan Wedding

Jays game!

Cottage time with some great friends!

Gabi and Murphy! BFF

I spent a lot of time with my sister. She was thrilled for every moment! ;)