Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cookouts, Babies, and Birthdays

I need to start blogging more often throughout the weeks so my posts are a little more organized. But here are the highlights of another busy and fun week at home. We are truly loving every minute. Last Friday night, we had a cookout with some other couples from church. We enjoyed the delicious kabobs and s'mores around the fire pit, but especially being able to catch up friends we haven't seen for a while.

On Saturday morning, my mom made us fresh blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon, and Orange Julius for breakfast before we spent the rest of the day cooking and cleaning in preparation for having friends over for Sunday lunch.

After lunch on Sunday, Ryan and I headed out for our tour of the hospital where we will deliver the baby. We are so blessed to live about 10 minutes away from a brand-new hospital. The rooms are spacious and bright, and have flat-screen TVs, mini refrigerators, and hot tubs. It definitely feels more like a hotel than a hospital. It's hard to believe we'll be back here in just a few weeks to meet our daughter!

Sunday night after church, we went over to my cousins' house for pizza, brownies, and games. They have the cutest house, and it was great being able to spend some extra time with them.

My birthday just happened to fall on Memorial Day this year. So Ryan's parents and brother took us out for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. I usually get the same thing every time we go there, but this time I tried their French Toast with fresh blackberry topping, and it was amazing! I will probably be getting that each time we go there from now on. Both our daughter and I were spoiled with some beautiful gifts from them as well.

After breakfast, Ryan headed back to the office for some more studying, while my mom and sisters and I prepared for our family cookout. The afternoon began with a little entertainment, as Ryan and my uncle had to dispatch a rather large but harmless snake we found in our yard (mostly so my mom wouldn't have a heart attack if she ever happened to see it). We have a very funny video of the whole process, complete with lots of screams from us girls who decided to watch the event. It definitely made for some good memories!

The food at our cookout was absolutely amazing. I think our family has some of the best cooks in the country! Ryan and I especially were thankful for the opportunity to spend time with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that we haven't seen in a few months. My cousin's little girl, Halle, is getting so big! It's hard to believe she was only a week old the last time we saw her. She is the sweetest baby, and I can't wait until our girls are old enough to play together.

Later that evening, I opened a few gifts with my family. My sisters bought me the most beautiful, comfortable pair of pajamas to wear in the hospital. Mom and Dad got me a duvet insert for all the chilly NJ evenings we will experience this winter. And Ryan bought me a new Bible. He also got me a new camera a couple weeks ago that I am absolutely loving! But the best present was being able to go to the airport and pick up my Dad from his 2-week trip to Turkey. He wasn't sure if he would be able to make all his connections, but the Lord worked everything out even better than planned, and he arrived home a few minutes ahead of schedule.

Ryan has gotten into a good study routine and spends about 8-9 hours a day preparing for his Step 1 exam in July. I have been able to get quite a bit done this week, but there is still much more to be done before this baby arrives. Thankfully, everything is in the Lord's control and His timing is always perfect.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

First Week Home

It's hard to believe we haven't even been back home for a week yet. We have been so busy that our life in Grenada seems like a more distant memory than it actually is. Our flights home last Wednesday went as well as they could. We were delayed for a little bit leaving Grenada, but it didn't affect any of our other flights. The workers at the airport in Grenada even let Ryan and me skip to the front of the line at customs and immigration, so we got through those long lines in record time!

We were greeted at the airport by my mom and sister, and came home to a beautifully redecorated bedroom that looks like it came right out of a magazine (pictures to come shortly). My family had welcome-home gifts waiting for us. And sleeping on a nice mattress again was heavenly!

Thursday morning, we wasted no time in running errands and getting unpacked. Ryan and I both had appointments to get our hair cut. Then we visited my sister's first grade class at the school where she teaches. The kids were very interested in our baby and asked all kinds of questions, such as "How do you get into bed?" and "How do you two hug each other?" Ryan brought in his stethoscope and the kids were fascinated with his explanations. Then the children sang a couple songs from their upcoming school program. They were absolutely adorable, and we loved getting to meet them.

From there, we went to my 34 week appointment. We are very thankful that everything looks great with our little girl. She is growing and healthy, and moving around all the time. Hopefully we will be able to schedule our hospital tour and birthing class before she actually arrives!

On Friday morning, we met up with my aunts, cousins, and grandma to celebrate Grandma's 81st birthday at Panera Bread. We spent the afternoon going through Ryan's clothes that were stored at his parents' house and several boxes in their office. It took a few hours, but I'm glad we took the time now to throw things away and organize a few things before we move later this summer. We'll probably end up having a yard sale later in July! That evening, we went to a cookout with other young couples from our church. We love getting to spend time with our family and friends again.

Since being home, we have thoroughly enjoyed my mom's amazing cooking and spending the evenings with family. This afternoon, Mom treated me to an early birthday lunch at a beautiful outdoor restaurant in town, and a shopping trip for a few new maternity clothes. My dad is in Turkey right now, but we look forward to seeing him in just a few days.

As of yesterday, Ryan has started studying for his Step 1 exam, which he will take on July 3. He has set up a schedule for himself and is very diligent about sticking to his plan each day. My mom is so sweet to pack him a lunch each day, so he leaves early in the morning and can study until he comes home for dinner.

We have so many other fun activities coming up in the next few weeks, and I'll do my best to keep this blog updated over the summer and start taking more pictures. Thank you for your prayers as we finished up our time in Grenada and made the big move back to the States. We are loving every minute of being back in the States and can't wait to see what the rest of the summer will hold!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The End of an Era

Just about two years ago, we bought our wonderful little toaster oven from a student who was leaving the island. (You can read about that day here.) I don't think a day has gone by that we have not used the toaster oven in some capacity, whether toasting bagels in the morning or baking cakes, casseroles, muffins, and many other treats. We have been so thankful for this appliance as our dorm room had only a two-burner stove and a microwave furnished for us. While I am still looking forward to having a full-sized oven in a few months (and being able to bake more than 6 cupcakes at a time), this toaster oven has definitely made our time in Grenada much easier.

Of course, all good things must come to an end. And tomorrow we will pass on our oven to another couple just starting their time down here. They are flying home a week before we are, so I spent the evening baking anything I could think of that would also use up our remaining pantry ingredients. We now have a batch of chewy oatmeal cookie bars and a pan of cornbread to eat. And tomorrow morning, I will bake a lasagna for dinner. I would have made that tonight as well, but I forgot to take the ground beef out of the freezer yesterday.

Tonight as I scrubbed and cleaned the toaster oven, I couldn't help but be thankful for the blessing that a simple appliance has been, and the reminder that God cares about the little things in our lives.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Packing & Answered Prayer

We have finally made it to the end of Ryan's medical school classes. The next two years of clinical rotations in NJ will complete his degree, and then he will begin residency. Only two final exams remain (Monday and Thursday), then a few days of relaxation and a long day of flying before we arrive back in the States. The Lord has been so good to us over these last several years. And I am particularly thankful for the way He has worked in specific areas these past couple weeks.

As I mentioned last time, we've been getting things ready to sell before we leave and starting to pack a few suitcases. We had a few options available to us as we listed items for sale. There is a campus-wide online post, a separate Facebook group for spouses of medical students, and a few yard sales on the soccer field. We began by listing our items on the online marketplaces. We sold several smaller things and began to clear out some of our extra clutter.

Then last week, Ryan and I spent Wednesday morning sitting under a crowded tent with most of our belongings spread out on a sheet. Yard sales in Grenada are an interesting experience. The students that come by are generally knowledgable about an item's value and might negotiate down a few dollars or ask to combine items for a discount. The locals, however, are a different story. It is not uncommon for a Grenadian to offer less than half the asking price, and then walk away in disgust when you counter with a more reasonable offer. Once we figured out the best way to deal with all our customers, the rest of the day was quite productive. We returned home that afternoon with only a small bag of miscellaneous items remaining.

Now the tricky thing about trying to sell everything you are using is that some things you need right up until the last day. For example, we need to sell our dishes, silverware, cookware, cell phones, Brita water filter, and mattress topper. But we'd like to still be able to eat meals and call each other and sleep comfortably for the next couple weeks. We began praying that the Lord would provide buyers for those items and that the buyers would be leaving the island around the same time or later than us. As of last night, the Lord has answered that prayer! We will sell our phones and Brita on Monday, our dishes, silverware, and mattress topper on Tuesday, and fly home early Wednesday morning. The timing could not have been better!

I have planned our meals for our remaining days here, using up as much of the food we have on hand as possible. We are selling our toaster oven this Wednesday, so I will bake a lasagna and a meatloaf to eat during our last week. Ryan was kind enough to make one final grocery run with me last night. I'll have to make a small trip next week for milk and a salad to go with the lasagna. But the days of carrying 5 or 6 bags (each) on a crowded bus and walking up the steep hill to our room are over! I will be so thankful to have a car for grocery shopping once we get home again. Plus, I'm starting to have trouble fitting down the narrow aisles on the bus with all my bags and my big stomach.

This week I plan to get as much packing done as possible so Ryan and I can enjoy our last few days in Grenada once he completes his finals. We are planning lots of afternoons at the pool, dinners with friends, and one final excursion downtown. In the meantime, Ryan will be diligently studying for his exams, and I will be counting down the days until we are home!

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