Monday, January 20, 2014


2013 ushered in a huge number of changes and challenges for us. So I must say I am looking forward to 2014. I am most excited about:

My parents coming to visit in February

Going home for a month in May

Making a move to a nice little apartment which will simplify things for me quite a bit (even though it won’t have a dishwasher.)

Restocking (meaning SHOPPING!) while in the states

And Mason getting through another year of medical school.

I am not going to lie, living here has been way harder than I thought, but I can’t help but feel that the worst is over. We have settled into this island life and to Mason being gone ALL THE TIME. It was a big learning curve but now its just maintenance.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas with Babies

Our sweet girls were 14 months old for Christmas this year. Although more interactive than last year, they still didn’t understand a lot. However, there were a few things we did that they seemed to recognize as being special.

1. Obviously the Christmas tree was magical. We didn’t have a lot to choose from, in terms of décor, with our limited budget and resources (evergreen trees don’t grow on the island :) ), but it was important to me to still have something. So I bought the cheapest artificial tree I could find, ordered some lights, and picked out some simple ornaments. Every morning the girls and I came into the living room and turned on the Christmas tree lights together. Throughout the season they spent hours staring at the tree and pointing to each ornament.

2. Candles on the table. The centerpiece I made for the kitchen table included 3 candles (and the store included ash trays for their holders, but hey it did the job!).  We enjoyed lighting them every time we had a special meal: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and every Sunday in between. We pulled the girls up to the table with us and they loved  to watch the flames flicker. They could tell something was different, special.

3. My awesome Mom helped me fulfill a dream of starting a Christmas book collection. She is an amazing Thrift Store shopper so I sent her on the hunt to pick out some books for us. She found 12 beautiful Christmas books, each one seemed to represent a different aspect of Christmas i.e. spiritual, musical, baking, snow, Rudolf, etc. She then wrapped them and sent them to us. So for the 12 days leading up to Christmas we would cuddle up on the couch and un-wrap a book to read just before bed each night. Then we read these books over and over again all season long trying to get as much use and familiarity out of them as possible. My hope is that something might jog their memory next year. My girls love reading books so this was pretty fun for them. Another bonus was that it got them used to opening gifts so that come Christmas morning, they might understand better what to do. It definitely helped!

4. While doing her Thrift Store scavenging (I tell you she is the champion of this!) she found another treasure: A Nativity story advent book. I think this was the best part of the season for the girls. The book consisted of 24 tiny 2-page ornament books. We would read the brief story and then hang the book on our tree. It was amazing to me how quickly they caught on to ritual. They would squeal with delight when we pulled out the book; would patiently wait while we read the 2 pages; and then would hold it up to the tree, dying to hang it up.   Just for fun we would count up all the books we had read up to that point. Giving them more “tree time” and helping them learn to count.

5. An idea I had that I think may become a Heywood Family Tradition, was “Christmas Fort Movie Night.” I put Mason in charge of the Fort and he did such a fantastic job, especially for us with very limited resources (we don’t really have any blankets around here with our 80 degree weather and only have 1 extra set of sheets, but somehow he made it work!). It even included a fan (as it was a warm night), décor made up of our Christmas books we had read thus far, and mood lighting (some battery operated candles that my mom sent me. The girls LOVED them!). We ate homemade Pizza and watched Frosty the Snowman.

I love holidays, parties and traditions and often find myself looking forward to when the kids are a little older and we are able to do more. However, I still felt these simple gestures helped bring a little magic into our home for them and for us.

So I am curious to know, what else have you done to make things special for your little ones before they really “get it?”


Monday, December 16, 2013

St. Georges LDS Branch Christmas Party

We had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with our LDS Branch on Friday. It was scheduled to catch as many students as possible after finals but before the mass exodus back to the states. I got to be on the planning committee (LOVE!) but boy was it different than what we are used to in the states.

Our budget was about $1.20 US per person. 
We planned for 100 people
The party was held in the Chapel
There were no table cloths, centerpieces and only paper décor and a few lights on the walls
We ate hot soup and rolls in humid 80 degree weather
And Santa got too much sun!
The girls were not so thrilled with their first Santa experience!
I was in charge of the program. I used this great program about the Symbols of Christmas compiled by my dear friend, Nicole Rowland, and added in Christmas Hymns for the congregation to sing.

The highlight of the night for me was when our cute 5 year old friend James came marching back into the chapel from being outside and announced, "That is not the real Santa...there is no sleigh out in the parking lot." That was your first clue? Oh the innocence of children. I am so charmed!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why Medical School?

Mason often talked in High School about wanting to be a doctor. I think the idea was brought on by the sheer desire to provide a good living for his family. Once he decided that making it big as an actor in Hollywood his next thought He took a medical terminology course from a neighboring high school his senior year and that sealed the deal. I thought that was a great dream, but how many people actually make it? Especially poor kids from Magna.

We were married 3 years after graduating from High School. Mason hadn't done any schooling and I had one semester left to finish my Bachelor's degree. He worked 3 jobs to get me through those 6 months and then it was his turn.

Little did we know that it would be 6 years later that he would actually finish his degree.

He went to school full time and worked part time. He devoted his life to being prepared for Medical school. The jobs he took on, the hours he spent volunteering at the hospitals, the classes he took, every decision was based on whether or not it would look good on his Medical School application, help him with his MCAT (medical school admissions test), or give him a leg up on the classes he would be taking in medical school. He worked hard and I was proud of all he was doing to reach what still seemed a little like a pie in the sky ambition (but I would never tell him that).

Therefore, when he didn't get accepted anywhere his first year we applied. We were pretty devastated. Everything we had done in the last 10 years was all in preparation for something we weren't being allowed to do. We began discussing back up plans and debating on whether another round of applications (and thousands of dollars to do the applications, the tests, the extra tutoring to improve his scores) was worth it. We decided that we would do one more year of applications and then move on to Plan B.

I was really hoping to fulfill my dream of living back East by riding his coat tails. I made sure he applied to every school where he had a chance of being accepted. Then he came home with the crazy notion of going to school in the Caribbean. I thought, "it doesn't hurt to apply, but I would never want to live there."

He made sure that he submitted his applications early that second year. He revamped his personal statement and narrowed his applications to 16 schools that he could realistically be accepted to (and there may have been a couple vetoes from me). He was requested to submit a secondary application for most all of them and then we waited; and waited; and waited. We knew people who were getting acceptance letters and he had only had 1 interview. I could tell, his confidence was crumbling.

He began talking about applying for a 3rd year but I begged him to just move on. He had set himself up nicely to be successful in a number of other fields. We had been married for over 8 years, had 2 babies, I was no longer working, we were living with my parents as we were trying to sell the condo, and I was desperate to move on.

Then, he came home from work one day and said, "I have to show you this email I got today." Assuming it would be something humorous, I quickly glanced at the email while juggling the 2 babies; but then had to put the babies down, grab the phone and read the words, "You have been accepted." I didn't care where we would be moving, he was going to medical school! This life we had dreamed of since high school was finally coming to fruition.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Does it really have to be itsy bitsy?

Finally someone studied this out! Living on an island, I spend a lot of time in a bathing suit. Not my outfit of choice! I have found it interseting the see the spectrum of swimming suits out there. I have seen full body suits similar to this:

and the teeny tiniest bikini's. We all know what those look like.

I am amazed by the justification of bikinis even among devout Christians. So I really appreciated Jessica Rey studying out the issue of why the girl in the yellow polka dot bikini was afraid to come out of the water. And better yet, she took matters into her own hands to create a line of really cute modest swimwear. Thank you! Check out this video.

BTW, Mason caught most of the video as I was watching it and his response at the end was, "I love research." Another reason I love my husband!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

10 Things

Recently a lot of people had posted their list of "things most people don't know" about them on Facebook. Secretly I have loved reading every single one I can find. I love learning about what makes people tick, their idiosyncrasies, and their passions. However, I haven't been as keen on the idea of putting my own list out there. I am not sure why that is: I don't have very interesting things to say? I don't want people knowing that much about me? 

Whatever it is, I have been thinking about what I would say, if I could have to courage to put myself out there. So instead, I will include my list here, for me.

1.   I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I use up a tube of lipstick or chapstick.

2.   I spent the month before my Senior year learning all 1300 students names who went to my school. I photocopied their pictures and made myself flashcards. 

3.   My love story is one of "love at first sight" when I was only 14 years old. I knew I had to find away to weasel myself into Mason's heart.

4.   I do not wear shorts. So how is it living on an island? HOT!!!!

5.   I love to plan parties and events. I often do my best planning lying in bed at night trying to go to sleep. It doesn't work until I have written my ideas down and often drawn a layout. HOWEVER, I also have a problem where I get so excited and pumped up before the event that I am often too exhausted to actually enjoy it and can't wait for it to be over. I am working on getting the right balance here. 

6.   One of my biggest regrets in life is not being a True Aggie or True Badger. Its a silly tradition, I know, but I always wanted to go. I even invited a guy I had gone out with a few times and got rejected!

7.   Although I went on a lot of dates, Mason is the only guy I have ever kissed. (Now I couldn't include that one if I was a true Aggie, so I guess I should be proud!)

8.   I am 5' 4", not very tall, but I haven't grown an inch since 5th grade. I was always one of the tallest and biggest kids in school. People even gave me nicknames like Jolly Green Giant and Big Bird. All I wanted was to be one of the sweet petite girls who got to sit in a chair with her legs crossed on the front row the class picture. Instead I was "Hefty Helga" most often found back row, center.

9.   I struggled with infertility for 6 years. Growing up I always had a feeling this would be a challenge I would face. Fortunately, I think this experience brought Mason and I closer together. Over 8 years of "just the two of us" and the emotional roller coasters we experienced together really solidified our relationship

10.  I am extremely self conscious. (hence my avoiding the activity until now) This drives my husband nuts. I think that with turning 30 I am starting to let go and not care so much, but it is still hard for me.

10 is plenty right. How strange to put so much about ME out there. Please don't judge! Refer back to number 10 if you don't like this.