Andi up near Pic Paradis

Last night as I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep my thoughts kept turning to my children, and I found myself thinking of ways I can do better as a dad while we’re going through this adventure.  I started forming little mental tasks lists in my head.  In particular, I kept thinking about Andi.  I’m not sure why.  But the impression that seemed to weigh on me was that in the four weeks since we’ve been on the island I have felt a certain distancing between the two of us.

It hasn’t been anything drastic or terrible, it’s just that for all of her life she and I have been friends and pals.  This is the girl who, at the age of 13, still comes and plops herself down on my lap and tells me a joke she had made up or shares a funny story.  We chat together, laugh together, and just spend time being friends together.  Lately, however, it seems to me that there’s been less of that. And that thought made me a little sad.

All this was tumbling around in my head as I drifted off to sleep last night. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on January 29th, 2012 , St. Maarten Restaurants, St. Martin Activities

Michelle, Andi and Tanner at the Ocean Beach Club

Carina took her first round of block exams today, which means that when she was done, she had nothing to study until after classes tomorrow.


We partied Mormon style of course.  Dinner out (no booze), ice cream and a movie.  We went to a little restaurant Cheyenne had told us about: Ocean Beach Club.  It’s a cute, well groomed little place tucked out of the way which we never would have found on our own, and well within walking distance of where we live.  The food was yummy and affordable, but sadly we were too early for the all you can eat BBQ chicken.  And we’ll have to come back on Wednesday for the all-you-can-eat ribs.  So fun! Read the rest of this entry »

Written on January 24th, 2012 , St. Maarten Restaurants

Cari and Piper studying together

I’ve been reading posts on Facebook recently about the weather back in Minnesota.  Apparently what started out as a warm and mild winter has now turned vengeful and brutal.  Tami Seibert reported negative 25 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) in Duluth, and that’s without the wind-chill.  (The people renting our house just moved from Florida. I wonder what they think about all this.)

If weather is the only factor one considers, then we truly have moved to paradise. Right now I have our dual large patio doors wide open, I’m listening to the sounds of birds chirping, and a soothing trade-winds breeze is blowing in from the crystal blue ocean.  It’s early in the morning and the kids are still asleep, but my guess is when they wake up they will eat breakfast and then head down for a swim in one of the three swimming pools.

But, of course, weather is not the only factor. Here are a few others we’re also dealing with: Read the rest of this entry »

Written on January 20th, 2012 , AUC: American University of the Caribbean

Plum Bay - Most of the Gang

I thought I’d just share a fun and eclectic collection of photographs that represent some of the things we’ve been doing and discovering since we’ve come to St. Martin.  I’ll let the pictures tell the story.  I still have no way to charge the batteries on my camera, so I don’t have as many photos to share as I’d like.  But this will get us started for now.

Plum Bay

On Friday afternoon we were picked up by Cecily Lew, Cheyenne McGlue, and Cheyenne’s two boys Dillon and Ronan.  They took us to one of their favorite beaches, Plum Bay. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on January 14th, 2012 , St. Maarten Beaches

Sometimes it’s the little things that make life more enjoyable, and often times we don’t know to appreciate them until they aren’t available.

Fruit smoothies for breakfast, I admit, are a little thing.  Yet we made them pretty much every morning in our previous life, and when we arrived on the island sans blender, we all agreed that we missed our smoothies.  A lot.

Sometimes, however, it’s also the big things that make life more enjoyable.  Or more challenging, depending on which side of that big thing you’re on.  This has been a week of solving a few little things, while also tackling some big ones as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on January 14th, 2012 , Everything Else

Cupecoy Beach

This is the view of the beach we have when we walk to the back of our condo complex.  From a technical point of view, I’m not that in love with this shot.  It was an attempt at HDR that failed because my cameras battery died after two shots into a five shot sequence.  And, as fate would have it, my camera battery charger is also dead.  So I Photoshoped this one together the best I could, but a trained eye (Steve Martinez) will spot the problems.  The lowlights are way under exposed.

Still, it’s a beautiful beach.

Written on January 7th, 2012 , Background Images

Mom Studying

It’s Saturday morning. 6:55 am.  Only Tanner and I are awake. When tonight rolls around, we will have been here for a week.  And what a week it’s been!  To be honest, the kinds of things we’ve been doing are the same things anyone would do after moving to a new place and trying to settle in.  We’ve just been doing them on a Caribbean island.  And in the process we’ve been given a healthy dose of island craziness. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on January 7th, 2012 , Everything Else

In the six days that we’ve been on the island, it’s become obvious that while we’re here we won’t ever have the “normal” to which we were accustomed in the States.  And that’s okay.  And even good.  We knew heading into this adventure that we were leaving America and heading to a foreign country.  The kind of normal I’m talking about is a routine.  A schedule.  A feeling of knowing what you’re going to do that day when you wake up in the morning.  Instead, for the first couple of days we woke up thinking “We have no car, no internet, no phone, and low prospects for getting any of them”.

We all felt the most pressing was internet access. It’s amazing how disconnected and lonely you can feel when you have no way to communicate.  But getting that connectivity was a mini-adventure of its own, and I suspect a good foreshadowing of what’s in store for the next 20 months. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on January 7th, 2012 , Everything Else

Mommy and Piper overlooking the Caribbean Sea from the cliff tops on the grounds of our condo complex.

In an earlier post I described how our arrival at Rainbow Beach, the condo complex where we now live, was anticlimactic and even a little depressing. And it’s true that the path from the front gate to our front door is anything but flattering. Much of it is still under construction, and the rest of it looks like it was abandoned when it was about 90% complete.

Once you get past our front door and into the condo, it’s quite nice. But by bedtime our first night, Tanner had asked us ten times and in ten different ways how soon we would be able to move out of this place and into something nicer.

Then on Sunday we went and checked out the rest of the complex.  I’ll let these pictures do all the talking, but I’ll just add this:  On the way back to our condo after seeing all of this, I asked Tanner if he still wanted to move to another place as soon as we could.

“NO!” was his immediate reply. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on January 3rd, 2012 , St. Maarten Beaches

We overslept on Sunday morning.  Luckily not by much.  Scurrying around prepping for church in a hurry was complicated by our unfamiliarity with our new condo and by our hasty unpacking done in a haze of fatigue the previous evening.  The Daniels picked us up about 8:20 a.m. in two different vehicles and we caravanned to church.

Welcome to the St. Martin Branch, Mon!

For friends who may read this who are not Mormon, here’s a quick crash course in Mormon vocabulary:  A congregation of Mormon’s comes in two types:  wards and branches.  Wards are big.  Branches are small.  I don’t know the definitive number where a ward becomes a branch, but I do know that the St. Martin branch is a long ways from reaching it.  Neither is better than the other, they are just different. And each has their own peculiarities and challenges.

I had no idea what to expect of the St. Martin branch. None of us did.  And yet trying to keep an open mind, it turned out, didn’t help ease the culture shock very much.

Ok, it didn’t actually help at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on January 3rd, 2012 , Everything Else

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