I used to miss my flip-flops, now I miss my clogs.

You’ve probably heard the saying that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Well, maybe we should start realizing that the grass can be pretty darn green wherever we are if we’ll just give it a chance to grow.

When we moved to St Kitts two and a half years ago, we left our comfort zone in a big way. Life was good in our small town. We had a house in a quiet little neighborhood. Kylie had recently made friends with two little girls that lived down the street and life was moving along at a nice easy pace. We made weekly trips to the grocery store where we could find anything we were looking for and more. We had our favorite restaurants where people knew our names when we walked in. We were within a comfortable driving distance of Matt’s family, shopping malls and entertainment venues. We were close enough to my job and Kylie’s school that we could walk and enjoy watching the world come to life. We even had my parents close enough that Matt and I regularly enjoyed “date nights” together. And we had great friends that were there for us in good times and bad and were like a second family. We loved our life.

As good as things were, we both felt a need for something new, something completely different. We were both feeling mired down by the day-to-day routine of work and household responsibilities. Some days it was hard to take a breath and realize how good our life was. Then this email appears out of the blue…

Fast-forward two and a half years. We’re living the dream. Beautiful turquoise waters surround us. There’s salt in the air. We’re within walking distance of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Life is good. We are renting a nice house that’s large enough to host our family and friends. Our niece has moved with us to attend vet school and realize her lifelong dream. Kylie attends a wonderful little private school where she has lots of friends and life is again moving along at a nice easy pace. Matt’s commute to and from work has reduced from a high of three hours per day to a high of a half-hour per day. My job has gone from managing multiple design and print projects to managing our household and working a couple part-time jobs. Grocery shopping has become a multi-day chore and we still can’t always get what we want or need. There are no malls and a very limited amount of entertainment venues. We are multiple flights away from both of our families and “date nights” have dwindled to a few a year. We have our favorite restaurants where everyone knows our names when we walk in. We have made some wonderful friends from all over the world who have opened our eyes to many things. They are there for us in good times and bad and some have become our second family. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and grown so much from our experiences here. We love our life.

I know that everyone has also heard the saying that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. Sometimes though, it’s worth repeating; even if only to ourselves. If you noticed, there were both good and bad things about both places I described. We can love our lives wherever we are if we just give it a chance. As long as we have the most important thing, which is love (that of our family, our friends, our community), we can be happy anywhere. I’ve definitely learned this lesson on our journey; no matter where we end up in the world, as long as I have the support of those I love and trust the most, I can make any place feel like home.

Learning to Live with Less

Growing up in the US during the seventies and eighties, I was like many children during that time. My parents worked hard to give me and my brother a happy childhood by spending as much time with us as they possibly could while both working outside the home and by making sure that, not only were all of our needs met, but that we also had many of our “wants” as well. As each generation before them, they wanted to give us more than what they were able to have while they were growing up. I don’t find any fault in that at all. I never went without anything that I needed and, by being a mostly good kid, I earned a lot of the things I wanted. I’m sure that there are some that feel that I was spoiled more than necessary. However, I always tried to make sure my parents knew how much I appreciated the things they gave me by taking care not to break them and by always thinking before I made a choice to do something so that they could always be proud of the person I was growing up to be. My brother and I understood that they were going without the things they wanted (and sometimes needed) to give things to us.

Having lived in St. Kitts for a year and a half now, I’m starting to wonder when each generation giving “more” material things to their children will be enough. When does it just become a habit? I mean, I don’t really need to give Kylie more than what I had growing up because my childhood was as close to perfect as anyone could ask for. So, is my obsession with buying her everything I think she’ll like really about making her life better? Or is it robbing her of the chance to learn how to earn what she wants for herself? Will having lots of things really make her a happy adult? Or would it be better for her, in the long run, to enjoy the things she has and find happiness in experiencing life? I think island life is going to be good for all of us because:

  1. I can’t shop all the time nor is it enjoyable when I have to.
  2. The latest and greatest name brand items are just not available here so I don’t feel the need to keep up with everyone else.
  3. The cost of importing non-essential items just isn’t worth it so you learn to live without them.

One of the things that I really like about the people here is that everyone is happy to have the things they have and they don’t seem to judge others for what they have or don’t have. Not that they don’t strive to better themselves and provide more to their children but they’re just happy living life. It’s not unusual to see a teenage boy riding down the road on a pink bicycle or carrying a pink backpack to school. The bike gets them to where they need to go and the backpack carries what they need. Who cares if they’re pink? It’s just not that important. This is the way I imagine generations before me grew up; before all the commercialization and constant push to have more things in order to validate your life. Continue reading → Learning to Live with Less

Silent Observation

I’ve always known that my yellow labrador retriever, Molly, is very intelligent; almost human in a lot of ways. I’ve always said that I expect her to just start talking to me any day now. She is so observant of the world around her and so in-tune with it. She always knows when to come around and pass out hugs or slobbery kisses. Since our daughter was born, Molly has become her protector. From the first moment she met her two-legged sister, she has responded to every little cry, squeal, and laugh as if Kylie were her own offspring. She kept me company in the wee hours during that first year and has been my constant companion ever since. It’s funny, when we got her, I was still healing from the horrible loss of our black lab Rudy and had a hard time bonding with Molly. Even though I would play with her some, she was mainly my husband’s dog because it felt like a betrayal to me. Somehow I think she understood and she gave me plenty of time to sort it all out. I believe with all my heart that she was meant to be our dog; sent by an angel named Rudy. Now I don’t know what I’d do without her.

Molly has always been quiet and reserved. Back in the US she would sit on the bank outside our house and look up at the sky at night. She looked like she was counting the stars. Or, as my husband would always say, “contemplating her existence”. She’s never been a big barker unless she’s playing with a ball that she wants you to throw or kick. It’s at that point that her natural dog instincts seem to kick in and she forgets all else in the world except for that ball. Most of the time though, she’s very quiet and notices every detail of her surroundings. She’s even that way with food. When you offer her something from your hand, she has to smell it first and often will take it from you and drop it on the floor so that she can thoroughly inspect it before tasting it. She can seem to be in the deepest sleep possible and one slight move by anyone else in the room will awaken her to full alert in a split second even at ten years old. We’ve always called her our walking barometer because hours before a storm arrives, she’ll start shaking and wanting to be as close as possible to us. Her extreme sensitivity can be both amazing and frightening at the same time.

This morning I watched her in one of her moments of silent observation as she got to know a baby monkey that was teasing her from the wall around our pool. So innocent, so beautiful and so hilariously annoying. She never barked or made even the slightest movement toward it. She just sat and watched as it would come closer, then run away, then closer still. It was almost like a dance between the two of them as the monkey tried to get her to react. I so wish I would have been able to hear the “conversation” that was taking place between them. I wanted so badly to move closer. But, taking a cue from Molly, I too became a silent observer.

I have been thinking about that scene all morning and about how it made me realize that Molly and I are alike in a lot of ways. We both like to take our time when meeting someone new. But, unlike Molly, I’ve gotten caught up in “life” and forgotten how to slow down and enjoy each moment in my day to day life. As I look back, I wonder how many beautiful moments I’ve missed by being in too big of a hurry; in a hurry to grow up…to finish college and start my life…to get married and start a family…to start over when I realized I wasn’t where I was meant to be. I’ve always been a firm believer that God has put me in certain places at certain times so that I could be influenced and inspired in the way He intended. I think today, He intended for me to be inspired by Molly; by her sweet way of observing the world and just taking it all in. I think He’s guiding me to something that I never would have imagined on my own. I think what I need to do now is just silently observe and open my heart to whatever He has in store for me next. Thanks for the reminder Molly.

Amazing Encounters

In looking back at some of my previous posts, I have realized that I haven’t really talked about some of the amazing things we’ve experienced so far while living in St Kitts. Some of my favorites have been the encounters we’ve had with the animals here. From snorkeling with skates, rays, turtles and all sorts of tropical fish to watching a dove lay and protect her eggs in the palm tree just outside our door. This has been a wonderful opportunity for Kylie to learn first hand about wildlife that she would have never experienced back home (like the starfish she got to touch on Sunday before it was returned to the ocean floor where it belongs). There is so much I could say about the wonder in seeing these different creatures but I think I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Blogging

I have so many things to share about this whole experience so far, it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ve started making a list of possible topics to write about. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Driving on the Left
  • Crazy Things I’ve Seen
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Shopping for ANYTHING
  • Snorkeling
  • Learning How to Say No
  • Locals
  • Island Dogs
  • Monkeys, Cats & Mongooses, Oh My!
  • Family Visits
  • Photography
  • Day Trippin
  • Our Funny Child

These are just a few ideas. I’m sure there’ll be more.

What was I thinking?

Day three’s assignment in Blogging 101 was to write a post about what was on my mind when I first started thinking about writing a blog. Well, here goes…

It was January and our family was frantically preparing for our move to Saint Kitts. Knowing how much our families were going to miss us (especially Kylie), I started thinking that I should have some way to chronicle this journey rather than just Facebook posts. That’s when I decided to challenge myself to start a blog. It only took me three months to get started! Here I am though and I have no clue how I’m going to learn all of this. I will figure it out though.

Moving has been such an adventure, both good and bad. We’ve met obstacles head-on though and we’ve done it together so that’s a good thing. We’re building our family foundation one mishap at a time and we’re surviving.

About Kylie’s Mom

My name is Kim and this blog will be about my adventures with my husband and daughter while we are living on the island of Saint Kitts. Located in the West Indies, Saint Kitts is a beautiful little island that is part of the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis. I never thought, when I met my husband eleven years ago that I’d be living in the Caribbean at the age of 42 with a three year old in tow but I’ve learned to never say never.

I guess some might wonder what brought us here and I’d have to say fate. One day while I was at work at the small commercial printing company (Wordsprint) where I had been working for over 16 years, my husband texted me that he had received a random email from a headhunter giving him details about a job at the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. He asked me if I’d be interested in moving to the Caribbean and I said “sure”. Never thinking it would happen, we started on the journey of interviews and five months later we quit our jobs and made the big move.

So, for the sake of our families back in the US and my sanity as a suddenly “stay at home mom”, I decided to start this blog. I hope you’ll enjoy what you read here as we enjoy this crazy adventure called the Life of Kylie.