Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Christmas in St. Martin

Bonjour! We have laid aside the Portuguese for a bit and are back to French culture in Saint Martin. We are officially celebrating Christmas with the Schmidt family! Max’s parents booked a family vacation for us in the Caribbean as an early Christmas present. Max, Pops, Mama Kate, and I are here now, and Brandon, Erin, and our sweet nieces, Tatum and Willa, will be here on Sunday! I’m mostly excited to see how big our nephew is getting! Erin is expecting their third, and I haven’t seen Erin’s belly since I left for Canada two months ago.

We are staying in a community called Terres Basses at a house with the most beautiful beach in the backyard. Our three-bedroom rental is footsteps from the perfect beach view. Last night, Max and I fell asleep to the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore, and this morning we woke up to raindrops splashing against the ground outside. Our house has no real walls and is more like a giant screened in porch-house, so it allows for perfect and natural white noise all night long. Besides the bird that sounded like a monkey, it called for a night of salty ocean smells, a cool breeze, and soothing slumber.

We were so happy to see the beautiful beach yesterday when we arrived! I haven’t been to a beach since our wedding at the Azul Hotel in Mexico.  Well, technically I’ve seen Lake Michigan, but I’m going to go ahead and disappoint the entire Midwest by saying that I don’t consider non-saltwater the ‘beach’.

Before I get harassed, I’m going to move on! Here are some pictures of our arrival to the house. I would like to state that our first day was pretty cloudy and I don’t plan on remaining so pasty, so please ignore my Halloween-esque ghostlike appearance Also, please ignore Max’s hat. I can’t be blamed for his hat just like I can’t be blamed for his beard.

After exploring the beach for a bit, we headed into the city for some dinner. We ate at a bar right on the water, and it also just happens to be 30 yards from the landing strip at the airport. We ate dinner and watched plane after plane take off and land. I can’t wait until our nieces get here to watch! *Brooke, show Mason these pictures!*

After a great night of sleep, we woke up this morning and had our morning coffee on the second floor’s screened in porch. It doesn’t really get better than a cool breeze off the water and a view of the ocean right when you wake up! After our coffee, I went out to the water for some alone time and started reading Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst. My sister’s are reading it with their Bible study. They recommended it to my mom, who then bought it and mailed it to Mama Kate, who brought it to me! (Thanks, Mom!)

After a couple chapters of my new book,  Max brought me a fresh coconut to drink from. He managed to open two coconuts, providing about two sips of coconut juice, while I read 30 pages. Boys will be boys, but I don’t mind because I got to try fresh coconut!

Our afternoon revolved around a little cliff exploration! A couple hundred yards down the beach, the sand turns into rugged and steep rock, perfect for climbing. My adventurous husband helped me make my way through the nooks and crannies, and we were able to get a great view of the beautiful beach (and Donald Trump’s house).  Max also found some bones on the cliff, and that’s about the time I decided to head back J. The cliff was pretty steep, and the waves crashing into the coves slammed against the rocks, so I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about falling. Besides, I’m much better hanging from my hands than I am balancing on my feet!

Instead of walking the formation back, we dove into the water. Max could touch the bottom, so he helped pull me to shore while we cracked Navy Seal jokes that related to a book we both read called Fearless. It’s another great read!

I needed a break after we made it back, and it was pretty easy to find rest. Mama Kate and I spent the remainder of the afternoon reading right on the beach! I have no complaints about our stay here so far, and I have a feeling that won’t change. This has already been a vacation of special memories, and Brandon and Erin aren’t even here yet! I’m sure there will be PLENTY of memorable moments once they’ve arrived, and I’ll do my best to share my favorite stories next time.

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(Three Days Later)

Erin, Brandon, Tatum, and Willa arrived yesterday! We headed to our St. Martin home quickly after we picked them up from the airport and grabbed a bite to eat just in time for a quick dip in the ocean before dark.

 Tatey, who is still a little nervous around water at only 22 months, is doing great in the ocean as long as she never touches the sand! When we try to sit her down, she squeezes with all her might and proves her lower ab strength as she keeps her feet high in the air. It’s adorable, and I know Max and I are happy to hold her J. I’m sure she won’t let us hold her for much longer!

Willa has been keeping up with the rest of us by chasing after the waves and tumbling as they drag her under, only to pop up again with a big smile. Unlike Tatey, Willa’s swimsuit has more sand in it than water after some fun at the beach. She is swimming so much more than the last time we saw her, and there isn’t an inkling of fear when waves as tall as her knock her off of her feet.

Max and I have warm hearts being with all of our Schmidt family! I know it’s going to be a week to remember. Because our nieces/nephews are aged 4 (Hadley), 3 (Willa), 2 (Harper), 1 (Tatum), 5 months (Foster), and 0 (unborn Baby Schmidt), I feel like I get to see all of them grow up and follow each other in specific stages. Because Hadley is a year older than Willa, I can already foresee how Willa will continue to turn more and more into a little girl, and the memories of her as a chubby little toddler seem more and more distant. The same is for Tatey; When we left, she had just starting using her voice to communicate, and now, as I type this, she is saying “Where’d my Mommy go?” From one-syllable words to full sentences, Tatey is headed into the same big girl world of Willa. At least we will have the new baby Schmidt to spoil, hold, and love!

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Max and I are now in Curitiba, Brazil. It was an almost 24 hour trip back, but we are glad to be in a new city and I'm glad to be back to work. The remainder of our vacation went as wonderfully as the beginning. There were early mornings with two happy babies swimming in the pool, afternoons of sunshine spent in the ocean, and nighttime family time spent crowded around a homemade dinner or game of euchre. 

We have so many special memories that are surrounded more by the little things than the big. One night, I watched Uncle Mackie and Willa slow dance to a song that came on the radio, and I almost cried. It was so sweet. Another day, Max built a bonfire on the beach and we star gazed underneath the black sky. After dinner one night, Tatey let me hold her while she was sleepy and cuddly, and when I asked for a kiss, she gave me at least five. During nap time, we snuck away to Phillipsburg with Erin and Brandon, and we swam in a beautiful turquoise bay surrounded by tree covered mountains.

Max and I are living a pretty surreal life. I'm in the circus, and he's on permanent vacation. In Brazil, we experience a different culture and are exploring constantly. We are truly living a pretty grandeur life for 25 year olds. St. Martin reminded me that no matter how extravagant life can get, family has the ability to make the little things more special than most big things already are. We are so blessed… a little bit because we are fulfilling a dream, a lot a bit because we experience so much love through our families.

Praise the Lord.

Pictures from dinner with Mama Kate and Pops at Le Tastevin, a French restaurant right on the water.

One afternoon, we wandered the beach until we found the perfect swimming hole. The waves were big and fun and knocked us off our feet and sent us tumbling into the sand, but behind the breaking waves laid crystal clear water perfect for a swim.

I still can't believe this big girl is swimming by herself and holding her breath long enough for underwater pictures! Check out her daddy's mustache.

Schmidt girls!!!

Dance party after watching Rio… Willa insisted that we all wear hats! It was a great idea.

Here is Uncle Mackie slow dancing with Willa and a curtsey to finish it off!

The boys went snorkeling and found a big chunk of coral and some pretty fish!

More beach/pool pics!

The view from Cupecoy Bay!

These sunset pictures are probably my favorite! Look how big my nephew is getting!!!!

Sunsets and popsicles!

Back to Sunset Bar and Grill to show the airplanes to the little girlies! It was crowded and hot and during nap time, but somehow we made it through!

Back to the swimming hole with Erin and Brandon!

We returned from the swimming hole to find these two sweet snugglers!

Afternoon in Philipsburg with E & B...

These are from our last sunset on the beach and our bonfire!

The moon, a planet, and two cruise ships on the water!

Those are all of my favorite pictures, but there are 500 in total! The Brazilian internet would 100% crash if I tried to fit them all! Well, our goodbye in St. Martin was bittersweet. We probably won't all be together again until at least April next year, but we will get to meet our second nephew then! It's never easy saying goodbye to family; I learned this the first time I left Texas, and I relearn it every time I hug my sister goodbye. Saying goodbye to our Ohio family is new to us, and we will miss them the same as we miss our family in Texas- too great and too achey for words. 

Thanks to my in-laws for a vacation filled with memories. We can't wait to get back to see you all again!

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