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2 Girls, 2 Boys and a whole lot of noise.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Random week

This is a random blog today. I have random stuff to post with little coherency. Sorry.
This is Jeremy and I right before he left. We went to San Luis Beach with our friends, Aspen and Russ, Lindsy and Rick, and Cindy and Will, and we played in the water. No, we are not those people who look amazing when they swim in water. We look like drowned rats...well, I do. Jeremy looks like a pearl...a very white pearl when he swims. Someone commented that she can tell he hasn't been on Guam long because he was so white. hahaha. Made me laugh. Jeremy, not so much.
These are my kids and our friend's kids. David, the Dad, watched all the kids while we went to the Relief Society Broadcast a bit ago. I just got this picture. Thanks David!
Look at that beautiful blue water. We were going on a hike and you come down a hill and the Ocean just says, "Hello."
I took the kids on a "Boonie Stomp" (Guam's term for a hike). Actually, Guam's term for everything. Boonie dogs are dogs that roam the island with no owner. My kids call kids that are playing on the side of the road, "boonie kids". (I'm not sure if that is appropriate.) Anyway, this is called Priest Pools. We went on a short walk to get here but we got to this point and found that you are about 5 feet up from the surface of the water. The only way to get down is a steep path with sharpish rocks. We looked over the side for a while and I thought, "Should I just throw my kids in? I really don't want them to slide down on the rocks.?" But no, although throwing them in would have been easier, we shimmied down the rocks. The pools were clear enough to see that they were lined with algae. After much coercion, my kids did get in. It was a freshwater pool, which is hard to find on Guam. They had life jackets so they were fine but it is weird to take life jackets when you usually just float in the salt water.  We didn't stay long and eventually went here:

I don't remember what these are called but they have water from the ocean  flowing into them from the waves. It was a fun day.

As a side note, Lovely, my visiting teachee, called me this week and asked me to bring her some medicine. She said she was sick and needed help. I took her some tylenol, etc. but found that she was all out of bottled water. (She has no running water.) When I asked how she was going to take the medicine (which she had never taken before) she said she was going to cut open a coconut and drink the water inside. Talk about living off the land. I didn't find this acceptable but I only had 24 oz of water in my car. I gave it to her but wow. The homeless people in America got nothin' on Lovely.

Funny Kaitlynn Story: She woke up the other night at midnight and yelled something out. Then she got up and turned on her light in her bedroom. I told her to come lay with me and she yelled, "No!"
So in the morning she gets up and yells, "Why did Cody turn on my light?!?"
So that sets off her whole morning and she is mad about everything. She is grumbling at Cody about something and then suddenly, out of left field, yells at me, "And when are we going to use my Easy Bake Oven?!?"
I am still laughing about that crazy kid.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Guam experiences

The other day I decided to do the craziest thing I could think of. I stopped at a hot dog stand on the side of the road. I love hot dogs.
I met Tony, the owner. He is a retired maintenance guy from the local hospital. He decided that the honey-do list wasn't enough for him so he set up the stand.
Also there was a police officer named Franklin. They were both very kind to Cody and I and we sat and visited for a bit while a storm blew over. We learned that Franklin usually lets people go when he pulls them over. He tells them to slow down. However, if he catches you speeding later, then you are in trouble. Franklin also invited me and all my friends to his annual party in February. He serves everyone who comes the typical Chamorrran feast - roast pig, red rice and chicken, Chamorran potato salad, custard pie, and all the other awesome stuff they eat here. It is on my calendar, seriously. This is very typical of all Chamorrans. They post their parties on the side of the road with cardboard (like garage sale signs) and then anyone is welcome to come.
Also that day, I went to a store equivalent to Home Depot and found this:
Is this not the coolest display of duct tape ever? I have never seen so many varieties. Hello Kitty, Army, Air Force, skeletons, colors, etc. I stood there for a long time looking at all these things wondering what I could do with all that duct tape. I only bought the white one to tape Cody's juice boxes to make them look like ghosts. I was so excited about that until I saw that I could have been more creative. Now I feel lame.

So I had a crazy day today. It started before 7AM. The kids didn't have school today so we were supposed to be sleeping in. However, I got a call from Lovely. She doesn't understand that Aspen fields all calls before 8AM. :) So Lovely asked if I would take her to the store. She was very apologetic for calling and needing help. I insisted that it was fine so I got myself up and after a while we made it to Lovely's. She got in the car and headed to the store.

(side note: there is a problem, island wide, with dogs. It is very common to have dogs in the roads and running loose everywhere. They try hard to control the dog population but it is difficult because there are just so many loose dogs. I add this note because Lovely has about 6 dogs that hang out outside her "house" and every time I go there I sit in the car and wait for her to come out so I don't have to deal with the dogs. If I have to get out, I say a prayer that the dogs won't touch me.)

On the way to the store Lovely tells me that it is her daughter's birthday and she said that she never gets to have cake. Her daughter really wanted a cake this year so Lovely asked me to take her to the store so that she could buy a cake mix. She has an oven but it would blow the circuit to run it so she was going to ask her neighbors if they could turn off all their power so she could run this oven - which would probably heat up her house to an unbearable level. I tell her that if I had known I would have just made a cake. Instead, I said that we would go to Wenchell's (a donut place) and see if they have cakes and maybe we could just buy one. Sure enough, they had a cake so I bought that and a few other items that they had for sale. I asked her if she had sufficient food for her birthday dinner and she said she needed a couple things. Next door to Wenchell's is a small store. It is called White Market. How much do you want to bet that we were the only white people in there? Well, you would win that bet.
 As we were leaving the Market there was some commotion. I, being naive, didn't know what was going on but Lovely told me that the girl running out of the store had just stolen something. So sad, really. These people are so poor and the prices in that store were so high. a dozen eggs were $5.99. A ten pound bag of rice was $30. There are few places for the local people to shop, especially those without cars.

I just don't understand the disparity and why I am so blessed with good finances and an education while others go without. I have wondered if it is because when the USA liberated Guam from Japanese control, they offered the people welfare rather than education on how to cultivate the land. What that leads to is laziness and a curse, almost, because the people do not understand the value of work and the satisfaction it brings. On the road to Lovely's house the streets are lined with trash that people just throw there. This is where their kids play, (yes, in the streets) and yet they don't take care of their small pieces of land. I'm sure I sound very political but I can see that while welfare is meant to be a good program, it isn't managed properly and people do not want to improve their situations when it is easier to be handed money for not doing anything. It makes me sad for them and for us.
I took Lovely home after that and she was in tears because she was so grateful that she had a great dinner for the night and a cake for her daughter's birthday.
Her other daughter was home because she had a cough. Lovely was concerned that they could send her home from school if she got worse and she had no way to pick her up from school, or really a reliable phone in the event they called. I am so grateful for the things that Jeremy and I have, I am not even sure "grateful" is the right word. How is it that the $40 I spent today means so much to her and hurt so little to me? I am perplexed.

My friend, Lindsy, and I took my kids to Underwater World. It is a small aquarium on the island that we have a season pass to. It has big tropical fish and all kinds of underwater life located inside a hotel. I took this picture as I thought, "I wonder why I haven't taken my kids picture here before."

Oh, maybe it is because there is a piece of paper that says "no personal photos please" right in the middle of the shark mouth. Yes, I didn't remember that and I didn't see it until I took this picture. The guy walked over and smiled slightly at me. I apologized and I think he rolled his eyes as he turned his back. I felt awesome.

After that, Lindsy and I decided to go to the Godiva Chocolate Store located just a few tiles over from the aquarium.
Godiva Store: before
And after:
Um...we devoured those 6 golden bars of delicious chocolate. (We did share each bar with the 5 children we had with us, except for the raspberry chocolate one. That was a "mommy's only" bar.

Friday night is date night and Lindsy and I were each other's date (Lindsy's husband is gone for 6 weeks) with Aspen and Russ at Chili's where we ate 3 plates of chips and salsa before dinner, dinner, and then shared a brownie Sundae at Cold Stone afterwards. Tomorrow's schedule: 3 hour workout.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Personal thoughts

So because of the time difference, we observed General Conference today so we have now watched all but the Priesthood session and since there was no adult here to experience it with me, I have some comments to make about things.
1. What is the protocol in having children watch conference? I believe that they need to learn that it is an event that is important to me and Jeremy and that we show respect and watch it quietly. They can do quiet activities like we do at church but it really is a time to feel the Spirit of God as our Prophet and his counselors speak to us. With all these expectations, here is what actually happened in my house today...
Me: "BE QUIET! We are listening to conference!"
(internally) Oh crap, now I missed what they just said and everyone is laughing and I missed it. I should send you to your room, but then you will not understand that we sit and listen respectfully to this.
Me: "Stop hitting your brother. Oh now you are both crying. I CAN'T HEAR! You knock that off or we are all taking naps after this." (A fight ensues and then I miss half the talk.) Do I rewind it to what I missed? We still have 3 hours left of this. I guess we keep going.
Then both kids disappear to their rooms. Do I enjoy that or call them back because "We respect conference"? Well, I am dumb. I call them back. Katy says, "Why?"
(internally) Are you serious, why do you think, punk?
You get the point. It was awesomeness. We did take naps, just so you all know that mom lays down the law here.
2. I really appreciate and respect President Eyring's talk. Here is the story I am going to talk about:
One of my daughters-in-law spent many years feeling that God had placed a pavilion over her. She was a young mother of three who longed for more children. After two miscarriages, her prayers of pleading grew anguished. As more barren years passed, she felt tempted to anger. When her youngest went off to school, the emptiness of her house seemed to mock her focus on motherhood—so did the unplanned and even unwanted pregnancies of acquaintances. She felt as committed and consecrated as Mary, who declared, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”6 But although she spoke these words in her heart, she could hear nothing in reply.
Hoping to lift her spirits, her husband invited her to join him on a business trip to California. While he attended meetings, she walked along the beautiful, empty beach. Her heart ready to burst, she prayed aloud. For the first time, she asked not for another child but for a divine errand. “Heavenly Father,” she cried, “I will give you all of my time; please show me how to fill it.” She expressed her willingness to take her family wherever they might be required to go. That prayer produced an unexpected feeling of peace. It did not satisfy her mind’s craving for certainty, but for the first time in years, it calmed her heart.
The prayer removed the pavilion and opened the windows of heaven. Within two weeks she learned that she was expecting a child. The new baby was just one year old when a mission call came to my son and my daughter-in-law. Having promised to go and do anything, anywhere, she put fear aside and took her children overseas. In the mission field she had another child—on a missionary transfer day.
We hear these stories a lot and they kind of bug me. Where are the stories about the righteous wife and good mother who was barren and stayed barren? The one who begged and pleaded and finally submitted to God's will for her and decided to be happy and move on even though she had no child in her arms to comfort the unfulfilled righteous desire? I know that everyone wants to hear a happy ending but there is happiness even when you can't have the 5 children you expected to obtain easily before you turned 30. (I mean, you got married at 18, right?) There are just no stories in the Ensign or in conference that talk about the mother of 2 who was so grateful that she was finally able to have 2 but really wanted more. She told the Lord that she would "Go where you want me to go and do what you want me to do." She moved to California and then to Guam and still did not have the children that amazingly came to the lady in the story above.
What about those women who can't even have 2 but have chosen to surround themselves with other people who can have kids? The ones who never married but attended weddings and baby showers always reflecting on their unfulfilled righteous desires? There are millions of amazing people out there, you know. They just don't get their stories mentioned because they put their shoulder to the wheel and hope that their husband, child, or losses will someday be "made up to them." I love that miracles happen to people, especially when you submit your will to God's will for you and I am certain that this was the point President Eyring was trying to make but it still hurt a little.
3. Loved the "Joy of Redeeming the Dead" talk. I added some items to my to-do list from that one.
4. Six months always seems so long. The sad thing is that Jeremy won't quite be back yet for the next conference. I guess that means that we will have a round2 of the first conversations that I discussed.
5. I was made the Relief Society Additional Meeting Coordinator. First item of business: Super Saturday. How do you plan an Americanized Super Saturday when half your ward is local people? "Here is your homemade craft we made. I know you don't have running water in your home but this cute craft will really spruce things up. No, I am sorry it does not come with a cement nailer for you to hang it on your sheet metal wall." It just seems silly. I guess I will figure it out.
Ok, moving on. Cody started basketball this week. It was so cute.
                                              Here is Cody in line for basketball shooting.
                                                                      Action shot.
He was really timid at first and didn't want to play but we borrowed someone's ball and showed him how to dribble. (Yes, I know how to dribble.) After that he wanted to take some shots and we were good to go.
                       Friday was a crazy day. I won't even go into it but it involved Tarague, a homemade bouquet of flowers, homemade doughnuts, a bonk to the head, a thunderstorm, a trip to the ER for a friend's kid, 4 hours in the car, and Wendy's for dinner.
                         Saturday we went to see Hotel Transylvania at the movies. It was very cute.
So after conference, (taking naps helped them realize I was serious about conference and they sat fairly well through the last session) I said we could make sugar cookies. Yes, she intentionally posed like that while I took this picture. Jer, we need to move to a state that allows us to have shot guns. Then we walked to a friend's house to deliver the cookies, realized that it was getting late and took home her leftovers to eat for our dinner.  We read stories with Dad over skype and went to bed.
Whew! Crazy weekend.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Guam post

So today we went to the Micronesia Fair where they have vendors from all the islands around here. Every island has different traditions, crafts, and customs. I took some pictures to show you all.
First off, we walked into the park and there was a carabou (local cow) there. If we paid for it, the kids could have ridden a carabou like this. (This particular cow was one I saw on another day but I forgot to get the picture.) So we didn't ride the cow because I forgot to go back there.


 Look at these flowers! They are huge. These are our friends Allie and Ashlyn.
And here are my cuties.
And this was the coolest flower ever.
 OK. This was interesting. They had these sticks out on the table and they each have a different carved pattern. We were told that the men in Chuuk (pronounced Chewk) would wear these in their hair, each one having a different pattern. The women were supposed to observe the men during the day and differentiate between the patterns. So at night, the men would come to the woman's house and put his stick in the doorframe. Then the woman would feel the pattern and see if it was someone she wanted to "be with". If it was then she would take it into her house and the man would know that he was welcome to come in. If it wasn't, the woman would just throw the stick on the ground. (Harsh!) Either way, I thought this was interesting.

 So this guy was husking coconuts like a pro. He had his machete and was chopping them until the coconut spits some water out, then you could buy it and drink straight out of it. I have done this before for free so I wasn't going to drink mostly flavorless water today.
 This was my friend Russ (and Aspen) trying to play a conch. Russ needs some more practice. :)
 This is a lady who taught us how to weave. She takes these long stalks of leaves and splits 2 leaves in half. Then she starts to braid them...
 as you see here. She handed this braid thing to me and told me to keep going. I was totally confused because with the way she told me to do it, I just kept turning it and turning it. I was pretty sure that I was a disaster of a weaver.
As a side note, you can kind of see the mat we were sitting on. It is white and next to the basket. Go to the end of the blog to discuss this. *
She made this headband for Ashlyn.

 But then she turned my circular weave into a rose. Now if she had just said that in the first place...
She also made Katy a ring and Cody a whip  (for a cow).
 After that we came across some carved sculpture things. These are pretty crazy to me so I did not purchase any. Can you imagine having these in your house?
These are some of the other items they had. These are turtle shapes with a very nice, polished rock in the middle. We also saw turtles carved out of coconut shells. Very pretty.
 After that, we ate lunch. This is typical Chamorran food. It is called red rice, jerk chicken, and ribs. They make the meat in the big charcoal smokers - which makes it very good. The "red rice" (which is really orange) is made with achiote powder. It can be flavorless depending on who makes it. This is very popular here along with Chicken Kelaguen(not pictured) and Lumpia. I forgot to take the picture before my kids ate it but the lumpia (fried egg roll thing) is between the corn and the eaten chicken.
Kaitlynn loves the ribs right of the bone. Cody was liking it today but Katy eats more than her weight in ribs when we have them.
The Chamorran diet causes a lot of people to be overweight and have health problems but boy do they eat well. This food is yummy!

*She said that they live off the land so they sleep on these mats that we were sitting on. Let me tell you, they were hard! She said that it is a cultural thing as well as a lack of money thing. It is just what they do. I understand that they are used to that but it makes me wonder why Heavenly Father allowed me to be born into a house where we sleep on clouds while others don't get that priveledge. Then I wonder why we care so much about our material possessions. These people are happy and they have so few things. They are a family centered culture but everyone has to pitch in to make things or else you couldn't survive. Basically they live in the 1800's with some conveniences of the 21st century. (They get bottled water rather than tracking their water down and hauling it back to their "house".)

So why do we, as Americans feel that people with less should have more? Because we have more? How happy are we with more? These are rhetorical questions.

So to end my long day, I got to go to the Relief Society Broadcast with some amazing friends. we all rode together in "Lily" (As Katy has named our purple pilot). It is a week later than it is in the states because our Saturday night comes before Salt Lake's. So this weekend is RS Broadcast and next weekend will be General Conference (observed).

I have to say that although people may be jealous of us living on a tropical island I believe that what you should be jealous of is that Heavenly Father has sent us to a very foreign part of the world and expects us to learn some hard lessons - which allows usto grow. However, he has provided for us some very amazing men and women who love the Lord and who have bonded with our family in such a short amount of time. Most people take years to become such good friends with others but I truly believe that Heavenly Father has sent some people that are perfect for us to be able to lean on and us, them. I am not sure that living somewhere where you have everything at your fingertips provides this kind of opportunity. We have access to relatively little in terms of easily accessible modern items. Because of this, we have great friends who make up for these things that we are going without.