Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ezra's 12!

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Unbelievable, but true!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Love You More Today Than Yesterday...


Happy 29th honey! (Thanks again Del.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Madie's Got the Hiccups

Madie's just a little over 2 weeks old here--big hiccups, little girl. :)

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ex-PATRIATE, Not Ex-PATRIOT

Our niece is moving to Spain with her husband and four children ages 14 and down. What an incredible experience this will be for them! I hope they will come to love Spain and the people. I'm sure there will be challenges and certain aspects that may be confusing, frustrating, or just plain annoying, but I hope that overall they will fully enjoy the wonderfulness of their new home and they'll end up with many happy lifelong memories of their time there. I also hope they will acknowledge and express at least an appreciation for the home they've left.

I've noticed, since moving away from the U.S. in 2001, that some ex-pat Americans have a tendency to fall into the habit of viewing their native land with a jaundiced eye. My own experience has put me in a community with members of many other nationalities and I don't see it anywhere else. Palauans love and revere Palau, Koreans long for Korea, Filipinos miss the Philippines, and many Americans miss the good ol' USA, but definitely not all judging from the sometimes volatile tirades they get on in listing everything that's wrong with it. Loudly. Publicly. Authoritatively as if they're the final word.

Of course, there are any number of reasons behind a decision to move away, and that may be why these people are ex-pats in the first place. Some of them end up being the convicting judge and jury on their new homelands as well, but I wish they would keep it to themselves. Doesn't it ever feel like a privilege to be where they are? Maybe they grew up in families that moved around a lot and they're just plain sick of all of it--I guess I could understand that. Maybe the nay-sayers feel like they need to run down the U.S. in order to appreciate wherever else they are. You don't have to dislike one to like the other--you can love both! The beautiful lands, the cultures, the people, the interesting histories, the quirks, the language(s), the struggles, all of it!

Being an ex-pat enriches, enlightens, and expands life in marvelously meaningful ways. I've learned more about other people and how they think, the influence culture has played on my sense of right and wrong (as opposed to what is truly right or wrong), since 2001 than I probably would have in a lifetime if I had stayed at home. I've also come to have a greater appreciation for freedoms that enable me to live and travel pretty much where I want and have shaped--and allowed--a compassion and interest in others. I have learned to marvel at the God-given privileges that my native country has in this world and seen it struggle with how to live up to the responsibilities that come with that position.

Enjoy life in Spain! Love it. Embrace it. Be Spaniards! And be Americans. Be both.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On the Wagon--An Update

Remember the personal pledge not to eat junk foods or sweets for 6 months? Well, I'm about at the half-way point (or will be as of June 27), so I thought it was about time for a little report on my progress and findings.

What I have found is that I seem to have better control over my eating, which makes sense because I've heard that sugar can actually stimulate appetite. Of course, I haven't given up all sugar, just sweets and junk, but still I'm sure that it cuts my sugar intake significantly (I definitely have a sweet tooth!) At first, I think I was eating a little more, but it was easy to stop and I pay attention to portion control.

Another thing I found is a sense of freedom. That probably sounds weird, but it's true. It feels good not to think about what I can eat or can't eat. That decision has already been made and I don't think about or consider it at all anymore. Everything else--anything that doesn't fall into the categories of sweets or junk--is available. At first it was like, well, okay, what constitutes "junk food"? For me, it's chips, soda, candy, and that kind of thing. Mega empty calories.

I think I have a better disposition. I think. I probably should ask the kids, but just in case they disagree we'll just go with that.

It probably goes without saying that I'm eating a lot better--I have a tendency to grab something to eat on the run, but now it's almost always fruit--an apple, grapes, whatever. Or a piece of cheese. Or a handful of nuts. It's so much better than a couple of cookies, or one of the donuts I bought for my class, etc.

And here's the kicker--7 lbs. down with no increase in activity. Oh yeah.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Just Thinking about Names...

I'm up waiting to take a young man who has been staying with us to the airport for a 4 a.m. flight to the States (so we'll have to leave here around 1:45 a.m.), so I'm just killing time Facebooking and surfing the internet and I thought "Hey. I could actually do something constructive like blog," so here I am. It's been a while.

I was thinking awhile ago how weird names are here. It seems like people find a sound they like and go with it. I know a brother and sister whose names are Scarley and Scarla. Then there's Wallynda and Wandalyn and Wallyson. There are Eileen and Heileen--

Aaaaahh! Earthquake! We just got a shake!! Okay--just a little one.

ANYWAY, there's Marlene and Maylene and there are the twins, Marcy and Marsha--maybe not so unusual for twins.
Another thing I don't get about names is Bo-boy. It seems like everyone has a son that they call Bo-boy--the Filipinos and the Islanders. The boy has a real name, but he's called Bo-boy. I don't get it. Juniors they call Jun (June), but he may also be called Bo-boy. It's confusing to me, but it's not unusual for someone to have 2 names that they're well known by. For instance, in my class I have a young man who goes by "Sev," but he also goes by "Ton." Sometimes I call him Sev and sometimes Ton--trying to go by what seems to be most popular among the other students at the time. The Secretary of Health's name is Joseph Kevin Villagomez--sometimes the newspaper uses "Kevin" and sometimes "Joseph" or "Joe," and it's the same with people around island--about 50/50 "Joe" or "Kevin." Of course, there are probably 2 or 3 "Joe Villagomez"-es that all have government positions.
When somebody dies and their half-page color obituary goes in the paper it gives their name and then the name everyone knew them by which doesn't seem the slightest bit related to their real name--like the name may be "Margarita Sablan Camacho" and underneath it will say "Tun Chong" which is what she was known by.
There are some really beautiful names like "Sioloa" (the "Si" makes the "sh" sound). Then there are the misunderstandings that stick, like the brothers, Jim and James, who didn't realize that they were just two different forms of the same name when the US came on the scene and they chose American names. Or one Korean student who chose the American name "Jenny" but her mother made her change it to "Jeiiny" (pron. Janey), because she was told (probably by other Koreans I'm sure) that it would be luckier (maybe) and easier (huh?).

Well, I've got to go to the airport. It's 1:45 a.m.--I'm interested to see how this is going to read tomorrow when I can think straight.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Latest from OrlandoSentinel.com blogs
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FMF, Day 3: A deal and the sounds on Orange Avenueposted by JimAbbott on May 16, 2009 3:11:39 AM

Abit of a late start, relatively speaking, because of a Fringe commitment and a visit to the rooftop party at the Plaza. On the roof, I got a chance to meet Matt Maroone of Universal/SRC, who was singing th praises of Million Year Echo. That band, led by Levi Conner, has moved from Central Florida to New York, but is still managed by Sean Perry of aXis Promotions and, of course, FMF.
(Orange You Glad folks: Be sure to look for updates from Kelly Fitzpatrick and Mary Frances Emmons, who were taking in the action on Mills Avenue tonight.)
On Friday, the band reached a handshake agreement with Maroone and his partner Jon Rifkind (Loud Records) on a production deal with Cartilage Records, a new spinoff company that Maroone and Rifkind are launching. The team will be working to produce a demo that will eventually get the band to a major label.
"They have stepped up their game to a whole new level," Maroone said of the band, which performed Friday on the Wall Street Main Stage. "I think Levi Conner is a once-in-a-lifetime talent."
On Wall Street, the band banged out an exuberant, high-energy 30 minutes laced with enough big, melodramatic hooks to put them in the ball park with Fall Out Boy, if that does anything for you.

Go Levi!

FMF: Million Year Echo signs label deal...posted by JimAbbott on May 15, 2009 4:36:16 PM

Million Year Echo, the latest band featuring singer-songwriter Levi Conner (Leave Calmer), signed a deal with Universal/SRC over lunch today, which gives the band something to celebrate at its 10:30 p.m. Wall Street Plaza FMF slot tonight.
"We're pretty happy," says Sean Perry, who manages the group. Universal/SRC is the team behind the success of Asher Roth, the no-show headliner on Thursday at FMF. "This is the way to break a band," Perry added, "This is the new formula."
With Million Year Echo in a sweet slot just ahead of Filter tonight, it's the kind of Cinderella scenario that is sure torankle those in the local scene already cynical about FMF's approach and motives. And a deal doesn't mean much unless something eventually happens.
Still, it should make for a happy vibe on Wall Street around 10:30 tonight.
Speaking of Asher Roth, he will be doing a make-up gig on Wall Street Plaza next month, Perry told me. No details yet, but I will pass along when available.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On the Wagon

*I'm posting this blog to force myself into a state of accountability.*

I'm an addict. A junk food addict. I am a junk food junkie. Me. I have to accept that. I love sweets. In fact, it seems that the less nutritional value a food has, the better I like to eat it. Marshmallows? Love 'em. Sugar wafers? Mmmmm. Cotton candy? One of my favorites. I call them ingestible non-food items, because food is supposed to have nutritional value. Can you live on pure carbohydrate? Groan.

Some of the youth here, in order to develop their self discipline I assume, will occasionally pick a "vice" (most often chocolate) to give up for a specific amount of time. I knew a man who used to live here that gave up sweets because he could see that he was getting hooked on them. Well, I'm joining that club. I'm going to give up junk food for six months.

At first I thought that I would just give them up for good, but I decided that I need a more concrete, short-range goal at least for now, so six months sounds good. That puts me at September 26th. At the end, I'll see how things are going and hopefully add on another six months. We'll see. No junk food. None. Nada. Zippo. Six months. Yeah.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Songs of The Heart

We're weird! I never knew! Okay, that's a lie. But I didn't know that one of the ways that we're different is that we sing regularly--as a family.

We're certainly not the King Family Singers (boy, that dates me!), or the Jackson 5, but we do sing in our home quite a bit. I guess "quite a bit" is a relative term and I'm just realizing that it might apply to us. Of course we have individuals in the house that sing privately in their rooms--with or without the cd player. We have those who, like my sister when she was a teenager, sing in front of the mirror with a make-believe mike (deoderant containers work great).

But as a family we sing every morning before scripture reading and every night before family prayer. Several Sundays a month we have friends over and sit around the livingroom and sing whatever hymns we happen to want to sing (in between eating biscuits--actually, I'm not sure if we have biscuits when people come over to sing or if we sing when people come over for biscuits!). Sometimes Casey plays the banjo and we sing "old timey" songs like "I'll Fly Away" or "Amazing Grace." We've prepared special numbers and done them for church (the whole group, not just our family). We've taken a whole year getting a special number ready for performance before--it didn't need that much prep it was really just an excuse to get together to sing.

Many years ago Casey suggested that he would like the kids to have some of the hymns memorized, so we did that. It was pretty easy--kids are great memorizers, especially anything set to music. We rarely sing children's church songs, but one time we did learn a song called "Love Is Spoken Here" in parts (girls' part/boys' part)--that was for Family Home Evening. We've memorized all of the books in the Old Testament to the tune of "Praise to the Man" and the New Testament to "Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah." (I like those better than the ones they have in the children's book--we can sing them FAST.)

One of my favorite memories involves singing together. It was Christmas 2006 and all of the "away" kids had come home for the holiday. One of the drawbacks (and it's a big one) of living where we do is that when you send one of your children off to college, etc., you never know when you're going to see them again--especially at home. It was the night before Levi was to leave and we were having family prayer before sending the little kids off to bed. We paused as we looked around the room, and someone started to sing "I have a family here on earth...." Even though Levi no longer was practicing our religion, of course he knew the song and we all joined in as always. I never felt the words of that song more warmly than I did at that moment--I was glad that we could express our feelings for each other in that way.

The hymns that I know have helped me a lot over the years. I suspect they have helped the other members of my family as well--I hope they have.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hello Kids - Million Year Echo

by FFTL Productions

Friday, February 20, 2009

Do You Facebook?

Have you ever been looking over the feeds on your Facebook home page, clicked on the thumbnail photo of a friend and suddenly realized that you have access to someone's Facebook that you've never met? It happens--what I didn't realize when it happened to me is that although the photo I was clicking on was of my friend, it had been posted by a friend of theirs that I didn't even know. By clicking on it I had access to all of the photos and all of the comments on photos in that album. Hmmm...
So I happened to be checking out the news on msnbc.com today and here's an article on "10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know." Good information on using features that I didn't even know existed (no great revelation--I'm not exactly an internet pro).

Sunday, February 01, 2009

FACEBOOK?

I knew this day would come...

You have a friend request.

Judith B Alexa (Bangor, ME)
You have 8 friends in common.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Looooong Way from Forest Street

Ez was looking through the refrigerator for something to eat after we got home from church today.
"Mom, is there any more of that raw fish?"
"I don't think so."
"Oh. I was really hoping to use up the wasabi--it's really good with the raw fish."

Oh my.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

You Never Know What You'll Find...

...when you clean your bedroom...like this--from January 2007.