Friday, December 29, 2006

More Christmas Pics





What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

We're having a party of course! We often celebrate New Year's Eve here at home with our family and friends. Our house sits fairly high up on a hill with two big picture windows that look out onto the deck, so it's ideal for shooting off fireworks at midnight. Many people here like to go to the top of Mount Tapochau to see the fireworks shot from the hotels, which is fairly convenient from here also.

Because New Year's Eve is a Sunday this year we'll be a little more structured--not quite as much of a free-for-all as usual--until the clock strikes 12 that is!

I don't usually ask questions here, but I'd be interested to hear if you have favorite yearly traditions or if you just go to bed.

What do you do on New Year's Eve?

Hey! For Unto Us A Child Is BORN!

Christmas Eve 2006--
While visions of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" danced in our heads, we had our annual family Christmas re-enactment of the beautiful words of Luke 2. In an effort at increased reverence, I had suggested that we were all getting a little too old for "acting out" the Nativity story this year and maybe we should just take turns reading it. I'm so glad that idea was promptly nixed and the play proceeded as usual. In fact, better than usual--Mary (Kait) was a beautiful and dignified sight, even with a towel on her head, as she tenderly laid the baby (an old ratty-haired doll) in the manger. There weren't the number of animals in stable there used to be, but Dad still willingly bears the donkey's burden (type-casting?). Joseph (Ez) and the shepherd (Jake) do their parts admirably, and the rest of us (I usually read the story) thoroughly enjoyed it all. Best of all, the exhuberant angel reminded us of the joyous news that was published that night when Peace was born on Earth.

Blog Recycling

Since Blogger Beta is no more and we're all changing over to the new features, I decided that it was time for new paper in the bloggingroom. I hadn't really thought of using Lindsay's old template, but when I was looking through, the name caught my eye. "Harbor." I liked that idea. So since it also fit in well with our real life and nobody I knew was currently using it, I put it up. Does "Reduce, reuse, recycle" go for cyberspace?
The "Benchmark" picture I added for myself. I have found it difficult to reference my memories with no seasons, so I'm giving myself a little help. Now, if I can just remember to change the picture....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This is a test...this is only a test...

Watch Sam do a little break dancing here or here.

And Kait taking Eden for a turn on a new bike (back in August--she rides just fine all by herself now).

Friday, November 17, 2006

The "T"



Ez, Ezra T-bone, Ezra T-bone Willy. He actually argued with us once about his middle name--I guess we'd confused him a little. :) "Any way you say it, it means happy birthday to you!"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Our life has had dramatic and unexpected changes this week. For many years we have homeschooled our children off and on...mostly on.... We're not the super-achiever homeschoolers you read about sometimes, but just the quite ordinary variety. We struggle with motivation, math, motivation, attitudes, motivation. We've been very blessed living here with families that have moved in over the past 3 years that have added to our number and we've had a small but effective, close-knit homeschool group.

Last week, the husband of one of our homeschool moms was hired as the academic director at a new-this-year private boarding school here on island. The school's target market is Korea, China, and Japan--"send your children here and they'll receive an American-style education as well as immersion in the English language and still be close to home." The problem was that they wanted a core of native-English speaking teachers and students and they didn't have any. They had a few island kids who speak English, but it's kind of a pidgin English.

At any rate, Dr. Brown (the new academic director), called last weekend and asked if I would be interested in sending my children there for school (it's K through 6 right now, but potentially through 8). He said that he could make an arrangement where I would work part-time in the office in exchange for their tuition. I would never have to be there when my children weren't there, and it would be great if we could start ASAP.

Casey and I discussed it and thought that it might be a wonderful experience for the kids, so here we are! We started Thursday--me (in the office from 11-3:15), and the three youngest in school. They're expecting 100+ Chinese and Korean students beginning in January, but right now there are only 20 students.

Eden's first-grade class began the day she did and includes her American friends from church! The only "new" person was the teacher! She's having a ball and probably feels like she gets to go to Primary every day.

Ezra's third-grade class consists of him, the director's son, and a Korean boy. Their teacher is a very sweet Japanese lady--on our first meeting she commented that his math was "weak". I agreed and said that was true of our family in general (I didn't mention that I don't worry about math too much until they get older:) She smiled and said to me, very intensely and quietly, "Oh, but I love math and I want Ezra to love math, too!" If she could give him that it would be a wonderful gift. I asked Ezra how his first day went and he said, "ok". Typical Ezra-answer. He did finally allow that, "I guess I would have to say it was good."

Kait's experience was somewhat different. Before we actually began, she had asked if we could just try it...if we didn't like it could we quit? I assured her that if it didn't work for our family we would quit, but we could not quit over a bad day or a difficult assignment. She is in 5th grade and there are (counting her) three girls and three boys in her class. She is the only American and the others are Korean boarding students. After her first day, she was practically gushing. "Oh, Mom! They're so nice! Every classmate was sooo good to me... and so helpful!" She says that her teacher (American) is "brilliant at explaining."

The first night, they had so much homework that I was wondering if this was going to work. I'm not a big homework fan and have been known to send in notes to teachers requesting they excuse my children for not completing a homework assignment because we were having a family activity. I felt better when I found that there is a general school policy for no Friday homework and there are study halls built into the day in which they can complete their assignments. I can live with that.

Okay. So. How do Mom and Dad feel? Well, the first day that Mom came home from Seminary and found her little kids gone she got a little teary-eyed. Dad, on the other hand, said, "It was great! I got so much done!" We'll see how it goes after the fun of new school supplies, etc., wears off. . . .

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Happy Birthday Alexa Aoibhe


On her 22nd birthday we gave her a star...

...to remind her who she is...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

How Old ARE You Anyway?

Here's a test to determine your biological age (as opposed to your chronological age) that Mal sent to me. It's a pretty good motivator...I hope!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Beautiful Kaitie-Lynn

As delicate as a butterfly...


She was Levi's 14th birthday present! Sweet, smart, capable, creative, awesome...oh, AND 11! Happy Birthday Suzie:)

...And Levi, too!

Yes, it's that month of months in our household when birthdays come by the week instead of the year! Can it be that our firstborn is 25??!!! Why, yesterday he was running through the sprinklers in his undies pretending to be "He-Man"... and what better way to celebrate?
Levi, we knew from the moment we first saw you that our lives would never be the same--we just didn't know how far you would go to make sure of that! You're our star...we love you forever.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thinks at 3 A.M.

Life is sooo different than what I had expected. Especially now, living here...I think I'm becoming unconnected with the familiar. Today my baby said, "What are those skinny things that go down mountains?" "Uhhhh...rivers? streams?" "Yeah, streams." And from Kait: "On mountains they use snow-skates." "Skiis." "Yeah, skiis." Weird. They don't know snow or cold or streams, ponds, or lakes. They don't know bluebirds or spring... or autumn... ouch.

But they do know sunsets and tradewinds and ice kekis and flametrees. They know turquoise lagoons and white sands and brown people and things that I didn't know. I love the variety of life and generations and experiences, but I miss what I don't have and what they don't have. Luckily, they don't.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Happy Birthday Malie-Moe!

It's the lips! And all from our newest post-teen (and friends). Happy 20th sweetie--we all love you!
A photo-op with the group Rockapella.

Dressed and ready to dance!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Big Bad Daddy-o


"Big Bad Daddy-o
It's Big Bad Daddy-o"

There's no real tune, but every Conner Kid reading this now has the familiar chant going through their head. He has inspired other names..."Hunky Unky" (he came up with that one himself, but his nieces and nephews would agree I'm sure:)), "Gorilla Head" (Shawn), "Kimmie-Dahlin'" (I think that's Lee's favorite). To me he is husband, confidante, love, and friend. Happy 47th honey.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Announcing the August Birthdays

Here are some pictures of the two birthdays we celebrated this last week--on August 22 Sam turned 17 and the next day Eden was 7.

We had a family celebration with cake, ice cream, and a new bike for Eden's day which was a Wednesday. I realized when I went to post the photos that the only one I had that was useable of Eden was this one. Blowing out the candles on her cake and riding the bike with Kaitlyn were video clips--I'll try to figure out how to post them.

Sam's party was a Saturday night dance with about 25 friends out on the deck (and in the livingroom, the diningroom, down in the family room, running around the perimeter of the house, you get the picture). They had a blast! I love the one of both of the boys dancing.




























Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Waning of The Babes

Eden lost a tooth yesterday.
"What should I do with my tooth?"
"Just put it here on the counter so I remember to tell the Tooth Fairy that you lost a tooth."
"Why don't you have Dad give me the money and then we can just throw it away."
Dad was sad.
Mom was a little sad.
Eden was glad.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Time for A Change

Well, it's certainly easier than repapering the livingroom (that's what mom always did...).

Kids (really do) Say the Darndest Things

Aren't they great? In fact just tonight Ez told us, "I can't remember how to pronounce "yogurt."" Hmmm. That's right up there with the time he suddenly proclaimed, "I'm feelin' salty." I think I've felt that way before, but since there was no explanation included, I'm not sure.

In a conversation reviewing last year's Halloween costumes, Eden reminded us, "I was dressed up as a witch and I didn't have to go to the bathroom once!" Some things you just never forget. (She should try trick-or-treating in the frozen north where you really have to consider how quickly you can peel all those layers off!)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Welcome Home Elder!


This was so much fun!!! Since we live on a 14x6 postage stamp in the Pacific Ocean our comings and goings revolve around the airport, so it was that a good crowd of us were excitedly waiting at 1:30 this morning to welcome Elder Leimson home from his mission. As a result, many of us were a little bleary-eyed at church this morning, but it was worth it!










Monday, July 10, 2006

Meet "Bounce"

This Marianas Fruit Dove flew into our livingroom yesterday afternoon, greatly arousing the interest of Jack the Cat. The kids saved him (the bird) and we were all amazed how calm it seems in perching on the kids fingers. We haven't found any injuries, but can't seem to get him to fly away, so have concluded that maybe he's just young. We called Fish and Wildlife this morning, but they said that we can either try to release it, try to care for it until it can be released, or bring it in to them and they'll take care of it. As you can see, we've opted to keep it here until release.














He's got beautiful feathers. We googled him and found out that these doves are quite shy and not often seen in the open. They are unique to Guam and the Northern Marianas, but unfortunately are now extinct in Guam due to the invasion of the brown tree snake.



Jacob calls him "Bounce." You can see that he's quite an acrobat!

Monday, July 03, 2006

I'm In!



Here's a little 4th of July test in American Civics for you. Both of my grandfathers were "naturalized citizens" and I assume had to take a test similar to this. Luckily for Grampie A. it's an oral interview because he never learned to read. Would you "make the grade" to be an American citizen?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Volcano!


Ah how much vinegar and baking soda has been used in the name of science! What I didn't realize for a couple of days was that the project was left to greet guests coming to our front entrance...right directly in front of the door. (We usually use the side entrance--you can take the Mainer out of Maine, but....)

Happy Birthday Mom!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

At the Movies

I went to two movies this week, one with Alexa and one with Case, and both of them were a waste of time and money. The first one was "The Break Up" and the other was "Poseidon." Terrible both of them. "The Break Up" was a pathetic and unfortunately, true-to-life account of a fictional relationship break-up. The fighting, yelling, selfishness, and pride depicted in the movie depressed me and I found it agonizing to sit through. If I had been with my hubby we would have walked out. I have a pretty simplistic view of movies--if it's real life I want to be inspired. Otherwise, I just want to be entertained. This movie did neither.

I guess with "Poseidon" I just wasn't paying attention--I was focused on a night out instead of what we were going to see, which we decided on the way. About 5 minutes into the movie I remembered that I really hate disaster movies. I have seen some that were tolerable, but this one was poorly done and it reaffirmed my dislike of the genre.

HOWEVER, just when I was thinking that maybe I'd take a hiatus from movies (which is saying something here on island considering there isn't a whole lot to do), in hopes that if I gave it some time one or two films really worth seeing would show up, something really amazing happened.

I rented a movie for us to watch last night and found out after I got home that they had given me the wrong movie. It was too late to take it back, so, a little irritatedly, I sat down with my older children and husband to watch it. The title is "End of The Spear" and if I could only recommend one movie as a "must see" from all the ones I've ever seen in my entire life, this would very likely be it. It's a true story about missionaries in the Amazon Basin; it's a story of sacrifice and forgiveness (remember my criteria for real-life stories?) We don't buy many movies, but we're going to buy this one. I would say more, but it would get redundant and still wouldn't do it justice. It made me want to be a better person...a much, much better person....

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Feeling the Pinch

Pacific islands reel from rising fuel costs
By Gemma Q. CasasVariety News Staff

PACIFIC lawmakers say the continuing rise in fuel cost is affecting their islands’ transportation, power supply and ability to pay for basic food supplies such as rice.Legislators from Guam, Chuuk, Yap, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Palau and Hawaii are here with their CNMI counterparts for the 25th general assembly of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures. They said the value of the U.S. dollar continues to shrink as the price of fuel rises.
With the exception of Hawaii and Guam, which have strong tourism and military-based economies, the other islands now find it difficult to provide the basic needs for their residents. All of the islands get annual financial aid from the U.S. but the lawmakers said it was not enough to cushion the impact of skyrocketing fuel prices.
The APIL delegates agreed something must be done before the situation gets worse.

No more rice
In Chuuk, rice importers have yet to receive their latest delivery from China, Japan and Australia. “We have no more rice in Chuuk,” said Rep. Remigio Bualuay. He said the shipment has been delayed for several weeks now due to the rise in fuel prices which affects the shipping costs of imported goods. He said the rice shortage has resulted in higher prices, a further burden on residents who mostly earn $1.35 an hour — the minimum wage in the Federated States of Micronesia’s private sector. “They now sell a 50 lb. bag of rice for $27,” said Bualuay.

A gallon of gasoline in Chuuk sells for $3.90 — almost three times higher than the island’s minimum wage rate.
Lawmakers from Pohnpei, the state capital of FSM, said a gallon of regular gasoline sells for $3.90 on their island also. They said the situation is making it more difficult for residents to travel, especially since FSM is made up of scattered islands.
Palau Vice Speaker Okada Techitong said the high cost of fuel is slowly eating up their meager resources for public health. He added that a residents’ ability to avail themselves of electricity is also in danger. “It’s affecting all our services,” Techitong said, adding that some residents with no regular income may soon find themselves without power due to the high cost of fuel. In Palau, power is sold at a basic rate of 23 cents per kilowatt hour. But the rate goes as high as 40 cents per kwh with the fuel surcharge added to it. “We have no subsidy for power,” said Techitong. He said a gallon of fuel cost $3.29 as of last week in Palau. The minimum wage in Palau, like FSM, an independent nation freely associated with the U.S., is $2.50 per hour in the private sector and $3.95 per hour in the government sector.
Guam Vice Speaker Joanne Brown, the APIL president, said their island has not been spared from the impact of the constant rise in fuel costs either. “Certainly as a result of that we’re finding that the cost of living has risen dramatically. All of the islands in the region are affected by the rise in fuel costs,” she said. She said the rise in fuel costs has a multiplier effect on all consumer goods as well as services such as electricity. “Shipping costs are going up. The overall costs of all goods and commodities that we consume. Residents are seeing a substantial increase in their power bills and that’s a result of the rising fuel cost. We are very challenged with these issues,” she said.


The prices talked about in this article are typical of those here on island. Maybe only those who have lived in Asia can really understand the trauma of hearing the words "There is no more rice...." The people here eat rice for every meal (and snacks!). Meat and vegetables are almost relegated to condiments for everyday fare.

Here on Saipan (CNMI) the minimum wage is somewhat higher than in some of the other places, having been at $3.05 per hour since 1996. As of yesterday, unleaded gas is $3.46 per gal.
On top of all of this, these islands are often delayed in taking preventive or supportive actions by complicated red-tape procedures that are in place, I assume, to protect against corruption--yet another problem that plagues many of them.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fun Times



Just wanted to post a couple of pictures. Tonight Ezra's cubscout pack had their Raingutter Regatta at the church. It was sooo fun cheering and chanting the names of the boys racing their boats--I think the spectators had more fun than they did! Ez didn't win either of his races, but we thought his "pirate ship" looked totally awesome. He looks so animated in this picture and that's how he is whenever he's in front of a crowd...not the least bit shy.



Sam's still breakdancing. Casey took this picture of him practicing a move in the livingroom. He likes to go downtown once a week and dance. Will ALL of my boys want to be in the limelight?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Walking with Eden

"Can I go? Please..."
"I don't need help. I walk fast. I can walk a long ways."
"C'mon Mom. Mom's slower than us, isn't she Dad?"
"A dead rat. Yuck."
"A dead toad. That's a toad, it's not a frog."
"I wish we could stop and visit the Steyskals."
"I wish we could stop and rest."
"I wanna stop and rest."
"I'm tired."
"My legs are killing me!"
"I want to to go see that dog."
"I wish I could go see that dog and pet him."

Ahhh...walking with Eden. I wish I could remember everything she said. We only walked about 1.5 miles, but coming back to the house is all uphill. She asks to go every morning and usually we tell her that we're walking for exercise so we're not going to take her because she'd get too tired. This morning we let her go along. I think I'm just going to forget the exercise...after all, a mile is a mile no matter how long it takes, but a little girl, well....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Beautiful Woman

I actually read this for the first time when Audrey Hepburn died, but my niece sent it to me today and I thought I would post it here.

Below is a wonderful poem Audrey Hepburn wrote when asked to share her "beauty tips." It was read at her funeral years later.
For attractive lips , speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair , let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise , walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands ; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A New Look


My "newest" daughter.

The Tooth Dude Is Coming!

We had a bit of a hard time getting her to smile so we could see her teeth!

In our house you get either the Tooth Fairy, which means you get whatever can be scrounged up in loose change (if she remembers at all), or the Tooth Dude, which means you get a dollar.

(For those of you who might check, yes, I changed the photo. I like this one better.)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cinco de Mayo!

It was a fun party. Case and a friend of ours decided a while ago that it would be fun to have a "theme" pot-luck--Italian, Mexican, etc., so we thought we'd go ahead and do it. When we were deciding on the date for the party we realized that the day we had chosen was Cinco de Mayo! Of course we went with the Mexican pot-luck and it was a really fun way for us to get together with our friends before many of them leave island for summer vacations. Many of the people here from the states and Canada go home at this time to attend graduations, weddings, check out new grandchildren, or just generally touch base with stateside family and friends.

Thank goodness for evites! That made it so easy to keep track of everything. The kids helped clean the house and made lots of big, colorful paper flowers that we put up around the main floor. We made a cd of mariachi (etc.) music and one of our friends and her kids made a piƱata. Casey had some plants--some quite big--he had "inherited" when a friend of his passed so we put them out on the deck along with some of our colored Christmas lights. I made guacamole and quesadillas (we seal the edges of the tortillas and deep fry them--I think anything tastes good in a deep fried flour tortilla. Yum!). Anyway, everybody brought a dish--there was some incredible fresh salsa...

Jake's band played a few numbers out on the deck, that's always fun. After they were done, our little trio did a reprise of the tune we did for the Cultural Night at the church. Half way through the evening, some friends came in that have been in Hawaii for the last couple of weeks for their daughter's wedding, so we looked at the wedding photos on the tv. All in all it was a really fun time. I think we had about 50 people. We started early, 5:30, so that people wouldn't need to keep their kids up too late--the last guests left at 10. What a great group of people. We're so blessed.

Laundry

the living mountain
ever grows ever changes
on fridays it dies

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Yogurt!

An eye surgeon here on island writes a column for the local paper which has become a favorite read. His subject usually centers around healthy living and last Friday it was on yogurt.

Although my children absolutely loooove yogurt, I was never a big fan until I visited Thailand. My favorite breakfast there was muesli with fruit and yogurt. The way the menus read make it sound as if the yogurt is a condiment, but in reality (which means, of course, my way of speaking), it's yogurt (like a cup or two) on top of a little fresh fruit and sprinkled with muesli. I was hooked! I don't buy the fruited yogurt anymore, just plain. We eat it on fresh oranges, peaches (when available), burritos, tacos, potatoes, in smoothies, and we most recently discovered it's wonderful on Grammie Haskins' peanut butter cookies (which are the world's BEST p.b. cookies with or without the yogurt!).

Dr. Khorram was right, prices here on island are expensive, so I was considering buying a yogurt maker. I have looked at recipes before, but they seemed so particular about times, temperatures, etc. that a machine just seemed easier. Many thanks to Dr. Khorram for his wonderful column and sharing his memories of his grandmother making yogurt--I love the "homely" way and it is so easy! Here's what I do: first, wash a pot and spoon in hot soapy water, rinse and dry. Pour 1 liter of milk (I just use skim milk which is what we always buy) in the pot and bring to a boil over low heat. While it's heating up, I follow Dr. K's suggestion and add some full cream powdered milk, but that's optional. The Indian restaurant in town makes their own yogurt and it's thinner and sharper than the storebought. Casey wants to get a little from them to make a batch because he really likes the sharper taste. When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat, skim off the skin from the top of the milk, and let cool until the outside of the pot feels only slightly warm. When cool, stir in a couple of tablespoons of yogurt, cover, and place in the oven with just the oven light on as per Dr. K's suggestion. Eight hours later, VOILA! Yogurt. . . yum!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

And Introducing. . .


Posted by Picasa THE CADETS

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Saipan Relief Society Cultural Night

After growing up in Maine (a beautiful place with many wonderful aspects, cultural diversity not being one of them), it is a cultural feast, or fiesta in this case, to be here on Saipan. I only took a few pictures tonight, but they make my point. Besides the many varieties of food on the buffet table, we enjoyed presentations from Pohnpei, Thailand, The Philippines, Japan, Chuuk, U.S., Peru, the Marshall Islands, and Kiribati among others. Some of the people that are in our church here that did not present tonight are from China, Samoa, Nepal, etc.

Pohnpei, Chuuk, the Marshalls, and Kiribati are some of the other Pacific Islands. There are thousands of islands out here with rich and widely varied cultures; over 1,000 islands make up the Philippines alone! The Pacific is amazingly vast--for example, Saipan is 10 time zones from Maine (going across the U.S.) with 7 of them being over the Pacific!

I mixed up a little in posting these, but it's too late to bother to try to fix it. Enjoy!
Peruvian

Thai
 Posted by Picasa
American

Chuukese


Pretty Young Women:)

Sioloa Posted by Picasa