Belated Birthday Surprise!

Charlie celebrated his 29th birthday back in January while I was visiting my family in the states.  I was sad to miss Charlie’s birthday, but promised I’d make it up to him with a cake and belated birthday celebration.  What he didn’t know was that he’d have a little birthday surprise.

Let me just say that planning a birthday surprise (even a small one with a handful of friends) for a super-focused, stressed out med school student is no easy task.

I went over to a friend’s house to make fun cupcakes – yellow cake batter topped and filled with homemade chocolate frosting, decorated with chocolate shavings and Rastafarian colored M&M’s.  Plus the cupcake wrappers went with Charlie’s island nickname, Jungle Charlie, so perfect!  Making the treats was the easy part.

The tricky party was getting Charlie to go to his own surprise party.  I kept it small, since I knew a test was coming up and Charlie wouldn’t be able to hang out for too long, so I just invited a handful of close friends.  Normally, Charlie will study at school in the afternoons, come home for dinner around seven, and then study at home for the rest of the evening.  The plan was to have dinner at home and then go get some ice cream after dinner, where Charlie would discover his friends and cupcakes waiting for him.

Well, the evening of the party, Charlie come home for dinner, but was ready to head back to school immediately after, which left me stalling for forty-five minutes.  This meant reading aloud all the recent emails I could find from my mom and sisters; watching Caribbean music videos by Vibz Kartel and Demarco on You Tube; explaining the Sh*t Girls Say video phenomenon; listening to songs on iTunes; showing him things I liked on Pinterest; and honestly, I cannot even remember what else, but there was a lot of stalling.

Finally, Charlie was ready to go, standing outside on the porch with his backpack on, ready to head to the library  fifteen minutes before he was supposed to arrive at his party, which meant me pretending to look for shoes I couldn’t find and standing in the bathroom for at least five minutes with the water running, calling friends and asking them to call Charlie and stall him.  When his friend’s called to stall him, Charlie’s phone rang and he pressed “ignore” and put his phone back in his pocket… talk about focus!

Finally, when I couldn’t stall him any longer, we walked towards campus together, and at that point I was heading to the ice cream shop to eat ice cream alone since Charlie was adamant on getting back to the library.  Luckily, we walked by at the perfect time, just as our friends were walking up the street carrying the cupcakes.  Needless to say Charlie was very, very surprised, especially since his birthday was a few weeks past.  Everyone yelled surprise, and we had a good laugh about how difficult it was to get Charlie to his own surprise party.  We all hung out for thirty minutes or so and enjoyed the cupcakes, and then Charlie headed off to the library.

It was a good birthday, hilarious, and short but sweet!   Happy belated birthday Charlie!

Second semester, going strong!


I know I’ve been a stranger, but with exams last semester, moving to a new apartment, our trip home, my extra time in the U.S. to attend Frannie’s college graduation (you go, girl!), Frannie’s visit to Dominica, and my trip with Frannie to St. Maarten, it has taken me a little while to get settled back in to life here on the island.

Charlie has been working hard to master neuroanatomy (my worst nightmare!) and is studying night and day in preparation for Mini 1, the first huge test of the semester. He has also gotten to do a little bit of work outside of the classroom, diagnosing a standardized patient, and playing dominoes with the older generation of Dominicans at a local senior citizens center. I think it was a nice break to step out of the classroom for a little while! As always, he is working and studying like I have never seen. His dedication is amazing, and I know it will pay off!

The kittens, just a few days old. Please focus on them and not my grungy, sweaty appearance, which sadly is inevitable in this insane heat... We're talking boiling heat with 70% humidity. I was so hot and flustered the other day on my walk home that I choked on my own spit and almost passed out on the road. No joke. It's so hot you can't even breathe properly!

I have been busy volunteering with CALLS (the alternative high school) and In.Light.In (a ministry working with local kids on Friday afternoons), serving on RSO’s (Ross Spouses Organization) board helping with fundraising, and mainly just trying to stay cool. It has been unbelievably (unbearably) hot lately, so just trying to maintain a functional body temperature has been a task in and of itself! I’ve also spent lots of time with friends, mostly hiking, swimming, having game nights, and hanging out in the air conditioned coffee shop. My friend Brandi’s cat just had 7 kittens, so I spend as much time as I can watching those little cuties (I actually saw the mama cat give birth to 2 of them… CRAZY!). And I am looking forward to a fun day with Charlie after his test next week!!!

Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT how Charlie spends his days. (Only after a big test!)

This, however, is how I do spend mine!

Sisters at Frannie's graduation from Sewanee

Enjoying a hike and swim during Fran's visit

Our fabulous porch view!

P.S. — I apologize if this post has the lame sound of a holiday Christmas letter, updating you a little too chipperley on our fabulous life and the many accomplishments of our 4 amazing children (all on the honor roll!) and their little league championships.  (As I proofread this myself, that’s the vibe I got.)  Luckily, I spared you from having to read about the accomplishments of our 4 amazing children since we have none.

Our Guilty Pleasure

At home, I am a sucker for Starbucks.  Specifically a grande, nonfat chai.  I love them.  This was especially dangerous when I lived on Hanover with Starbucks right around the corner… luckily I always had a few gift cards from my cuties at school to subsidize my addiction.  Here, there’s no Starbucks.  There is a coffee place called Rituals which is good, and while their chai latte is tasty, it’s just not the same.  So, I have discovered my new, latest and greatest guilty pleasure here in Dominica, at the Shacks, from the Juice Man: a low fat iced coffee with a little bit of chocolate.  I don’t know how they make it, but man is it good.  I also am a sucker for their juice: you can get passion fruit/mango/orange/grapefruit/guava juice alone or mixed in any delicious combination you fancy (Charlie loves to mix passion fruit and grapefruit; I prefer passion fruit and orange or orange and guava).  I love it.  Charlie does, too!

The Juice Man's Shack

Get your coffee or juice and enjoy it on the beach (campus is right on the beach!!!!!).

Juice + Beach + World's Best Wife = Perfect Study Break

This is heaven!