Reunion at the airport

Reunion at the airport

Piper tried hard to stay awake for mom, but by 12:30am, this was all she had left.

Piper tried hard to stay awake for mom, but by 12:30am, this was all she had left.

Late on Monday evening, the 19th of August, Tanner, Andi, Piper and I drove to the airport to pickup Carina from her final return flight from St. Martin.  Andi came home last June (two months ago), and Piper and Michelle came home almost a month ago.  After a period of more than a year of our family being sporadically spread across the Northern Hemisphere, we are at last all together again.

And it’s wonderful.

With powerful and mixed emotions, the St. Martin chapter of our family history is officially closed.  For the purposes of historical documentation, so that years from now when we look back, we’ll have a record, I thought I’d put together a timeline of major events over the last 24 months.

 July 2011:

  • Carina receives notice that she has been accepted to the American University of the Caribbean.  Relief.  Gratitude.  Excitement.

July 2011 – December 2011:

  • Put the house up for sale
  • Begin the process of packing
  • Learn as much as we can about the island of St. Martin
  • House isn’t selling.  Should we rent instead?
  • Casey tries to find work he can do remotely. No luck.
  • Beef up the cash supply by selling lots of stuff on eBay
  • The house is not selling.  Time to find renters.
  • Finding a place to live in St. Martin.
  • Pack like crazy.  How did we *ever* accumulate so much stuff?
  • We have renters.  They seem like good people.
  • Say good-by to friends. Won’t be coming back, except to get stuff from storage.
  • House is empty.  Sad.
  • Casey voluntarily leaves his full time job as a software developer.
  • Full speed ahead into the unknown.

December 2011:

  • On December 31st, 2011, Casey, Carina, Andi, Tanner, Piper and Michelle (Cari’s sister) all fly to St. Martin.  Butterflies!  Excitement!  Adventures lie ahead!

January 2012 – July 2012:

  • We enjoy an often challenging but always adventurous 8 months on the island all together during Cari’s first two semesters.
  • We live off savings and student loans while Casey tries to find employment that can be done remotely.
  • Home school doesn’t work out so well.  We hire private tutors, med school spouses Cecily and Ashley, instead.  Much better.
  • Lot’s of new friends. Such good people.
  • Andi: Sailing. Tanner: Jiu Jitsu.
  • Home sick. Boredom.  Tears.
  • Beaches.  Sun burn.  Waves.  Boogie boards.  Climbing jungle mountains.  New and strange foods.  Island church.
  • Casey’s parents come to visit.  Memorable and fun.

July 2012:

  • Casey, Andi and Tanner fly to MN for a State-side vacation.  Unless Casey can find a job that lets him work 100% remote, this may be a permanent move for him, as the savings are depleted.  Uncertain times.
  • Andi goes to Girl’s Camp
  • First sign of medical issues with Andi: Swollen ankles.  We don’t think much of it.

August 2012:

  • Carina, Piper and Michelle fly home after Carina finishes up her second semester final exams.  
  • Road trip to Utah.
  • Casey, out of desperation for income, takes a job that requires him to be in a Minneapolis office every day.  Fighting off depression about not being able to return with the family.
  • Serious family discussion:  Will Tanner stay with dad?  Or go back with the girls?

September 2012:

  • All the girls fly back to St. Martin.
  • Casey & Tanner stay behind and settle into Cari’s parents.  Tears.  Sadness.
  • Andi begins school at Learning Unlimited, a private American school on the island.  Nervous.
  • Tanner enrolls in Highview, the middle school near Grandma’s.  Kinda strange.

October 2012:

  • Andi’s ankle swelling returns, with a vengeance.
  • Emergency medical return flight for Andi. Casey meets her in Miami.
  • Scary, dark, and troubled times.  Family separation, a difficult and life-long medical diagnosis for Andi, and a Mom who can’t be there with her daughter.
  • Andi makes the flight back to St. Martin alone.  Scary.  Just make it to the gate in time, no time for a proper goodbye at the gate.  Sadness all around.
  • Somewhat ironically, Casey *finally* lands a job that allows him to work 100% remote.  However, Tanner is now enrolled in school, is making new friends, enjoying living with his nephew Tommy, and does not want to go back to the island.
  • Casey takes a trip to Tampa to meet his new employer  & co-workers.

November 2012:

  • Tanner and Casey fly down to St. Martin for two weeks to spend Thanksgiving together as a family.  Happy times!

December 2012:

  • The girls come home for Christmas break after Carina’s third semester.
  • All of Cari’s 10 siblings and their kids come for Christmas.  Crazy, packed house.  Fun reunion.

February 2013:

  • Long, cold winter in MN.  This separation stuff is getting really, really old.
  • Tanner expresses a desire to be with his mom and sisters.
  • We arrange with his school for him to take an extended absence.

February 2013 – April 2013:

  • Tanner and Casey spend a glorious, fabulous, wonderful, heavenly two months on the island!
  • Tanner keeps up with his school work with help from Trisha and Allegra (med student spouses).
  • Carina, Casey and Tanner take quick trip up to Florida to visit the Minnesota Twins at Spring Training.  Fun times!
  • We receive notice that our renters are moving out of our house.

April 2013:

  • Upon returning to the States, Tanner and Casey move out of Cari’s parents, return to St. Cloud, move back into our house.
  • Andi has come with us for medical appointments. She returns to the island with Grandma Holm, Great Grandma May, Aunt Dianne and Aunt Sue.
  • The Grandma/Grandma/Aunt/Aunt visit to the island is crazy, but certainly memorable.
  • Tanner finishes up the academic year at his old school in St. Cloud, which he loves.
  • Good friends help us move furniture out of storage and back into our house.
  • Weird to be back in this house.  We left it thinking we would never return.
  • Tanner and Casey spend free time un-packing boxes and making the house livable.

May 2013:

  • Tanner enrolls in Blue Sox baseball, and is a happy boy.
  • Blue Sox baseball consumes the lives of Tanner and Casey!  Games and practice almost every day of the week.  Fun, enjoyable. bonding daddy-son chapter.

June 2013:

  • Casey flys down to St. Martin for what will be his final trip.  He takes a week off work to maximize play and family time.
  • Tanner stays behind.  Friends house him and help him get to games and practices.
  • Casey brings Andi home after she wraps up a successful school year at Learning Unlimited.
  • Andi is excited to be back in her house and to reunite with old friends.

July 2013:

  • Carina, Piper and Michelle say goodbye to our rented Rainbow condo, G-17.  It was a good home.
  • Piper and Michelle fly back to Minnesota.  Happy for us.  Sad for Mommy.
  • Michelle said good-bye to her boyfriend Pierre.
  • Piper misses Mom, St. Martin, the ocean, the pool, Quinny, Tegan and Samara.  The first few nights she cries her self to sleep in Casey’s arms.
  • Carina moves in with a friend and finishes up the last month of medical school classes. She is lonely, but is kept busy with studies.

August 2013:

  • For the three week gap before Cari comes home, Michelle comes to St. Cloud on weekdays and helps out with kids, shopping, laundry, etc.  Andi, Tanner and Piper lover her, and love her being there.
  • Carina rocks a series of exams.
  • On the 19th of August, 2013, Carina returns home.


Carina plans to take 10 days off. Totally off. No studying. Just spend time with the kids.  Then, she begins studying in earnest for the mother-of-all-exams, the USMLE Step 1, which she will take on October 28th.

Once she passes that exam, the school will schedule her for two years of in-hospital clinical rotations.  As of yet, we don’t know where that will be or when she will start. What we do know, however, is that the kids and I will stay put here in St. Cloud for the school year.

The adventures are not over yet.

Written on August 30th, 2013 , Everything Else

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