Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Year Anniversary

On April 26, 2008, we were getting all dressed up, saying our vows, and sealing the deal with a kiss. Now on April 26, 2009 we are celebrating our first year of marriage. I can't believe that we've already been married for a year...time flys! A few weeks ago, Jason had told me that he was going to take care of the anniversary and I shouldn't plan anything...he had it taken care of. I love surprises, but I'm not good at staying out of everything. I want to be surprised--but then I don't...doesn't make much sense, does it? Well, I'm glad I stayed out of everything because Jason had some great surprises planned! He didn't say anything until right before it was time to leave and then he said to grab some clothes for dinner and some clothes to spend the night. We loaded up everything we needed and headed on a road trip...or that's at least what I was told. We ended up about 20 minutes down the road at the same place we were a year ago--The Rose Bed Inn. Jason had booked the room that I had gotten ready in before the wedding and where we stayed on our wedding night. It was perfect! I had no idea--he kept telling me that we were heading to Tennessee or Kentucky. We pulled into the parking lot and entered into the garden...it was just like I remembered. All the plants were budding, the grass was green and trimmed, the arch way was overflowing with rose vines, and the pond had floating lillies. It was beautiful... We headed up to our room to get ready for the evening...all I know is that I was instructed to pack a nice dress and heels. Little did Jason know but I had a surprise of my own! I ordered a replication of the top layer of our wedding cake. I hid it in the back of the car so when we got to our destination, we could enjoy it!
We enjoyed some cake and a little rest and relaxation before we headed out to dinner!
When we were finally ready, we headed out for dinner. All the nice places that Jason had planned on going were closed! What nice restaurant is closed on a Sunday afternoon?? This was not something we were used to, especially after living on an island that caters to tourist and most restaurants are open all day and all night. We didn't let this stop us from having a great evening. We decided that we would go where we had our first date....Logan's Roadhouse. All dolled up in our nice clothes...eating peanuts out of a metal can and throwing the shells on the floor....with the love of my life! It doesn't get any better than that!!
After dinner, we went back to the bed and breakfast. We sat outside on the wooden dock where we said our vows and tried to remember everything about our wedding day and everything since. It was a great evening...there were lights hanging in all the trees, the stars were shining bright, and when the wind would blow we could smell the lilac bush that was in full bloom. I couldn't have asked for a better anniversary. God has truly blessed me with a great husband!
I'm looking forward to all the future anniversaries we will have.....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

L.O.V.E

"Little Rascals" is a movie that I remember watching over and over again when I was younger. I loved Alfalfa and Darla and their cute little relationship. At one point in the movie--Alfalfa sings a song to Darla about how much he loves her. The song goes like this....L-is for the way you LOOK at me--O is for the ONLY one I see--V is VERY VERY extraordinary--and E is EVEN more than anyone that I adore. I think that song is so stinking cute and pretty acurate...I'm so lucky to have fallen in love with my best friend! L.O.V.E is a great thing...

These pictures were taken on one of our last days on St. Maarten...thanks Alissa!

It's Official.....I'M A CONWAY!

Yesterday was filled with tons of phone calls and running all over town....I was trying to get all of my paperwork changed over to my married name. A year later and I'm just now getting around to changing my name....seems a little crazy! I waited to change it so long after we got married because we had to get back to the island right away and all my flights, paperwork, and passport was in my maiden name. I didn't want to throw off customs in St. Maarten, so I just decided to wait until we got back home for good to change my name. I thought the process would be simple--show them my marriage license and they would make some changes, but there were a few more steps that were thrown into the equation. It took about 3 hours to get my paperwork changed (bank account, debit/credit cards, license, and social security card)--I still need to get my passport changed but that will have to be another day--but I finished it! I'm officially Ashley Conway now! I was going to take a picture of all the new cards and papers, but since there is some private information on there...I decided against it. Just take my word for it....I'm a Conway!

Back on US Soil...For Good!

April 18, 2009 was our last morning on St. Maarten before we headed back to the states for good. We had a yummy breakfast at Top Carrot with our great friends, Megan and Bert, and then it was time to head to the airport.
It was definitely a struggle trying to maneuver 5 bags, 2 backpacks, and 2 dog carriers. We lost a little circulation....but we made it inside and to the checkout counter. After a bit, she gave us our iteneraries, took our bags, and we made our way upstairs to our gate. Our flight to Charlotte was great--smooth sailing! Once we made it to Charlotte, we had to get our baggage and re-check them after customs. Once again, we were a little tangled in all our luggage. After we made it through security and found our gate, it was time to board and head to St. Louis. The plane was a little smaller than the first one--Jason was a little more cramped. Once our wheels landed on the St. Louis runway--we couldn't stop grinning! WE WERE HOME...
We pretty much ran to the baggage claim...not that we wanted to lose our circulation again and have all 5 bags to maneuver but we were excited to see the friends and family that were picking us up from the airport! We headed down this long hallway and we saw some neon signs with glitter on them and bouncing up and down in the air and everyone yelling "Welcome Home Conways". The man walking beside us asked if all the commotion was for us....yes, sir it was!!
Everyone grabbed a bag off the luggage carrier and we headed out to the parking lot--it was nice to have some help with all the bags!
It was a great welcome...it felt so good to just be able to see and hug them again! The drive home was nice--the boys in the truck and the girls in the car! I'm not sure we stopped talking the whole drive home...it was pretty late, but seeing our family gave us our second wind. We didn't realize how much we missed everyone....and how much everyone missed us!
Thanks for making our welcome so memorable...you guys are the best!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Homeward Bound

Our time on St. Maarten has come to an end! The last week on the island was filled with as much fun stuff that we could pack in before it was time to say goodbye to the tropical paradise. We felt like we were constantly running around--trying to pack and get everything organized and trying to enjoy the island. Tuesday was the spouses farewell luncheon--and for once, our semester was the reason for the party. Lunch was at one of my favorite restaurants, Pineapple Petes, and the company was great. About 30 spouses showed up to tell the 5th semester girls goodbye. It was so nice to be the ones that were leaving, but that's when it really hit home that we were leaving for good. Here is a picture of the 5th semester spouses...Wednesday was my last day at CIA--the kids were so sweet! It was a lot harder to say goodbye to them than I thought it would be....there were plenty of hugs that were shared that day. I became really attached to those kids just in the little while that I helped out...they were great! Jason's exiting exam (Kaplan) was Wednesday and he did great! The second he finished with his exam and he got his score....he was considered a third year medical student! No more class lectures, no more block exams, and no more island! Since we were both finished with school and work for the last few days--we took advantage of the last few days on the island! We headed over to the French side on Thursday to explore the Butterfly Farm and hang out at Jason's favorite beach-Orient. The Butterfly Farm is an outdoor garden type area that is covered with a mesh covering so the butterflies aren't able to escape. There are pieces of fruit throughout the butterfly house that are used to attract the butterflies. We dipped our fingers in the pieces of fruit and butterflies would land on our fingers and drink the fruit juice. The butterflies were beautiful--they were some of the brightest colors and they came in all sizes and shapes.

We stayed at the butterfly farm until our little hearts were content and then we headed to Orient Beach. Orient Beach has been one of Jason's favorite beaches since we got to St. Maarten-he loves the beach chairs and umbrellas, not to mention the drinks and the food served to us on the beach. It was great to be able to relax and be STRESS FREE for the day!

Jason made a little friend when he was eating his club sandwich--I guess the dog realized that Jason was a sucker for puppy eyes.

We definitely took advantage of our last days on the island. The last few days were not all play though-we had to pack up everything we had accumulated over the past 20 months and squish everything into 4 suitcases. We unfortunately did not make the 4 suitcase limit, we had to borrow a duffle bag (Thanks Camille) so we could get all of our goodies back to Missouri.We were able to get all 250 lbs into 5 bags, 2 backpacks, and 2 dog carriers! Our time on St. Maarten has come to an end. I never thought we'd be the ones leaving and now that the time has come, it feels sureal! We will definitely miss our friends that we made...but we've promised to meet up with them sometime in the near future! Until then--we're in Missouri studying for the STEP 1 and waiting for the next chapter of our lives.....clinicals!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Last Vet Visit On St. Maarten

This morning was Bazzle and Muzzy's vet appointment--10 days before we leave we have to get a health certificate so the dogs can fly home with us. We pulled down their carriers this morning and they immediately started getting excited. They both wanted to be in their carriers...they love laying in their carriers, except for when they are zipped up in them for a 12 hour travel day!

They enjoyed the car ride, but when we walked into the office the nervousness began. A health certificate is pretty minor--no shots or anything painful--just a routine checkup.

The doctor said they were both healthy and he didn't see any reason why they shouldn't be allowed to travel. He filled out the health certificates and sent us on our way--short and sweet! It's crazy to think that the dogs will have flown 11 times in 20 months--they are pretty spoiled! I don't even want to think about the crazy amounts of money that we've paid to have them with us...I wouldn't have had it any other way! Their last vet appointment on the island really got me thinking...this is it! The pups will have to adjust to a new home--no more morning beach walks, no more chasing stray cats around the parking lot, and no more running down 4 flights of stairs to meet Jason after a long day of studying!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

So Proud of My Girl!

My niece, Ana, had a soccer tournament this past weekend and her team made it to the CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. It stinks that I was on the island because I heard it was an amazing game...other than it being rainy and freezing cold. The game was against the two biggest rivals-Jackson and Cape. Ana worked very hard to compete on the rival city's older team and her hard work has been paying off. She is definitely one of the hardest working kids I know! It was a hard game for her because she was playing against all of her best friends from her hometown. Once the game started, she put everything to the side and just played soccer. She scored the first goal of the game...woo hoo! The game was close throughout most of the game and then became tied. The game finished in double overtime with Ana's team winning!
I'm so proud of Ana and her soccer team...I can't wait to get home and cheer her on. Until then, I'll be cheering her on from St. Maarten

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

T-Minus 10 Days

Hold up both hands...go ahead do it....no, seriously.....hold up both hands....now count your fingers....oh, come on....count your fingers....

The answer you should have found was 10! We have 10 days left on St. Maarten before we'll be saying goodbye to our home and our friends. We've been so busy trying to get all the loose ends tied up that the days are literally flying. When we first moved here, I never thought I'd be the one that got to leave for good. Well, the time has come for us to start selling all of our goodies that we've accumulated over the past 20 months, to stop buying groceries at the store (we're eating everything we have before we buy more), and to start packing our 4 suitcases (they get smaller everyday).
The last few days are packed with things we have to get done before we fly home, but we are going to try and enjoy the island as much as humanly possible these last few days!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Playground of Many Colors

A few weeks ago, Matt, one of the male spouses, decided that he wanted to fix up the playground equipment at AUC. The playground at AUC gets used mostly by the spouses that have children, as well as the few professors that have small children. The playground was starting to look pretty crummy so he mentioned the idea of painting and rebuilding parts of the playground area that had been destroyed by the hurricane. The spouses organization jumped on the idea...we wanted to get a chance to help out the school and make things nicer for the future families that are coming to AUC. Before we started, the playground was painted a deep red color but was starting to peel. A few places had to be sanded off and then we could start painting. I didn't get any pictures of the before, but I did get some of the progress! The project took about two weeks--it was hard to get everyone on the same schedule! The spouses organization provided drinks and lunch to try and encourage more helpers. Here are some more pictures a little bit further through the project!
The playground is finished and it looks so good! A lot of hard work and sweat was put into getting the playground back in good shape for the children.

It feels nice to know that the spouses organization did something to help out the school--we've left our mark at AUC forever....or at least until the paint fades out!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Selling Our Goodies

This weekend was the first of the 'last semester sales'--the last ones will be next weekend. We priced all of our things the night before so we could be better prepared, but when morning came we were still frantically digging through our stuff. We wanted to make sure they we got rid of as much stuff as we could, especially the big stuff. Since we sold our car, we had to load our stuff in our laundry basket and reusable bags and carry them to the school's gazebos. When we got to the gazebos, we arranged all the stuff on the side counters and patiently waited for customers. We had a few lower semester students that came by but it was mostly local residents that were interested in our goodies! We taped up pictures of our big products that we wanted to sell because we didn't want to carry them down, not sell them, and then have to carry them back. We were a little nervous that no one would look at the papers--it is hard to sell products when the product isn't out for the customer to visibly see.Well, the papers worked because we sold our TV. We were a little bummed because we still have 2 weeks here but we couldn't risk not being able to sell it at the next sale, so we gave it up! The sale went really good for us--we sold a lot of the bigger products that we were hoping to sell. When it was slow, we decided we would model the products. Jason was fascinated with Chuck's machete knife...I think he secretly wanted to buy it and take it back home with us!
The sale was a success....we sold a lot of our stuff! Our apartment is starting to look bare--no rug, no TV, only the necessities needed to cook with, and minimal amounts of food. It is finally starting to feel like we are moving--the time is almost here. We still have so much to do in the next two weeks, but this weekend was definitely a step in the right direction. I have a feeling the next few weeks are going to fly by...so much to do, so little time!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers

From the time I was little, I can remember the saying "April showers bring May flowers" and I wasn't really sure what it meant. Since then I've gotten a better understanding on the phrase. It essentially means that the rain that April brings will result in budding, blooming, beautiful flowers in May. In April when the rain is an everyday occurance or when it comes down so hard that your vision is impaired, it's hard to focus on the rain's importance. Without the rain, the flowers would not be able to bloom to their full potential or even survive throughout summer. I wonder if the person that came up with the phrase meant it to have two meanings?? I think there could be a little deeper of a meaning....
Sometimes life gives us rain--problems, down times, serious issues--and we have to know that it is all part of a bigger plan. Without these bad times, the good times might never be realized. When you have life exactly as planned and never have to think about rainy times, it is easy to forget how fortuate, grateful, and blessed you are. No one likes going through these rainy times, but they are sometimes essential to see beauty.
Experiencing some rainy days so early in the month of April, I can't help but think this is all part of God's plan....something bigger than I can even imagine. I know that everything happens for a reason, but it is still so hard to grasp--my mind doesn't expand very far! "This too shall pass" and when it does I will experience all the beauty that God has to offer. PLEASE PRAY for these April showers to pass so I can enjoy the May flowers!