We’re so happy you are reading our recap, but do us a favor – drop us a line with your 2019 update!
Our end of year recap is really a two year recap. This move back to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands was a big one. The last time we moved (to Illinois), we were renters, had a very easy-to-move 3.5 year old child, and a LOT less things. Moving back to St. Croix this time has been a bit more tumultuous. As of current, our little family is happy individually and collectively that we made the move.
In September 2017, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria devastated our island home and we patiently waited out and followed along on social media from Illinois, worried and fretting over family and friends who were hunkered down in closets and bathrooms hoping to keep their roofs. Post-storms, we played dispatch for Gayle, friends and businesses, helping with any tasks they needed like ordering generators and chainsaws, setting up multiple GoFundMes, connecting people, answering questions that island cell service couldn’t accommodate, even placing a Vitacost order for a friend with no idea when it would get there. Ethan took the first flight down to help Gayle out. She insisted she was fine and didn’t need him to come, but boy was she appreciative when he did show up and set her up to live without power for multiple months. During that visit, Ethan and I didn’t get much voice time and when we finally did, I distinctly remember hearing the peace in Ethan’s voice letting me know that we would be moving back to St. Croix.
In February 2018, Ethan moved back to St. Croix. Taj and I stayed back to close up the house, prepare it for sale, and finish out the school year at Joliet Montessori School. That was a lot, but with the help of our Illinois friends, we did it.
In June 2018, Taj and I moved to St. Croix. Ethan went on-project trying to get module school units installed, fitted, and prepared for the school year, working some pretty crazy work schedule. Did we mention it’s hot here in the summer?
We walked into a state of post-hurricane chaos. Life after the two category 4 hurricanes was different for everyone. Whether you lost your roof or your neighbor did, nothing could make listening to another person’s traumatic recollection of those nights any easier to bear. People were rebuilding and repairing, not just their houses, but lives too. We were too! We moved in with Gayle out of necessity at first (rents were ridiculous from a supply and demand standpoint), but wound up staying to continue helping her rebuild. We gave up our Illinois house, school, and Ethan’s work to be back on St. Croix and it was daunting task after task that made everything feel like the a neverending project. Gayle’s house was mid-construction on the addition (where we live) when the storms hit and needed so much work to feel livable.
I dug into work and found my groove. I kept forgetting about the extra time required to drive across island or that household duties take twice as long. Grocery trips are not a one stop affair. Amazon Prime takes a week to show up, if we’re lucky. Getting a car registered requires nineteen pieces of paper, notarized. By the time we settled into our fall school routine, we realized Taj was miserable and not enjoying school and missing his ‘old’ life. Also, we realized that his reading had regressed terribly. Fast forward a few months and yes, he was tested and has dyslexia, which makes a lot of sense.
So we made lots of changes until we found the right routine. We found Taj the right school. Grandma Gayle started tutoring Taj daily. Ethan found some balance in his work and home life. I found some too. We created a home at Gayle’s by building ourselves comfortable living areas that supported her sense of space and allowed us each space that we needed. We created a multi-generational homestead. And we found peace. We helped friends get settled back in and reconnected with them. We made new friends. And when all else seemed chaotic, we’d stop and go take a swim.
I asked Ethan and Taj what they liked best about our life on St. Croix now and they both like our sense of community and the friendly people around us. We appreciate all the outdoor things that our island has to offer and the closeness of those around us.
With that, here is our list of life lessons that we’ve compiled and need to remember whenever we feel stuck.
2019 Life Lessons of Moving Back to St. Croix:
- Kindness is so important. Show some and realize not only does it make that person feel good, but you feel good too.
- Multi-generational homes can be incredibly helpful and sometimes frustrating. It works for us for all of us for now, but eventually we will need to build our own home.
- We don’t need ALL the things we initially missed when we moved off the mainland. …except good coffee, one can never have too much coffee.
- Creating an entertaining space for local friends to gather, dine, or stop in makes for happy unexpected moments.
- Dyslexic brains work a little bit differently. This BrainsOn! Podcast is a great listen.
- Finding a routine within the chaos provides the structure that we need to be productive.
- Take time to enjoy the beauty of where we live. Sometimes, we get so busy that we forget to walk across the street to the beach and we remind each other. That salt water seems to rebalance life very quickly.
- We really want to have a place for friends to come visit. Our rustic cabin/cottage is getting more and more upgrades as time goes on and we hope you visit! We’re working on the plans for our new home too.
- Traveling the world has been placed to the top of our priority list. We can’t wait to take Taj on another international trip this summer!
Happy Holidays World!