Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Hallowe'en!

We went all out this year in the jack-o-lantern carving (one of the few things I actually like about Halloween).  Casey had the biggest pumpkin, so he did a...circle-rama?...of bats, night skies, and the Grim Reaper.  Kait did the Cheshire Cat, Ezra the one with jagged teeth and vacant eyes (hahaha!), and Eden did the scary one with the eyebrows.


 
We turned Casey's around to get a better look.  I love the clouds across the moon.

Vampire Jack was there too! :)

Saturday is the Primary Halloween Party at the church and Monday our family is in charge of the FOA trunk for the American Memorial Park annual Trunk or Treat.

...And roasted pumpkin seeds tomorrow!  Yum!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Birthday Tribute

We're in the preparations for my love's birthday dinner--steak, local sweet potatoes, and the obligatory something green (hmmm).  A super-fantastic looking cheesecake is ripening in the fridge readying for the multiple toppings we'll try on it (he couldn't decide which he wanted).  He has been playing with a rich, dark chocolate homemade ice cream recipe this morning--the batter is chilling as we speak.

I asked family member to send in any funny stories or good memories that they wanted to share:  Jacob had memories of "The Red-Headed Babe and The Pencil-Necked Geek," Alexa shared her appreciation for one-on-one time which included a glider ride over Mount Desert Island during peak colors one October, and Lee's email revealed of one of his lesser-known talents:
Did he tell you the one where he told me he could flush himself down the toilet? I was little and thought he was pulling my leg but when I went up the stairs following him he would come up behind me from down stairs. He was really going out Mom's window and jumping off the porch roof. Being young I couldn't believe someone could jump that far so flushing himself down the toilet seemed logical.
I love that last sentence! Hahaha!  I got such a kick out of the look on Casey's face when we read that one!


Here's a "card" that we want to share:
  I love the sweet reassurance she adds at the end. :)
Happy birthday Case!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On the Road

I've been doing some traveling in the States visiting family and friends.  Since I don't have FB anymore I decided to put a few of the photos I've taken here so everyone can see them.

 Hannah Johnson, Madison Smith, Will Shakespeare, and me. :)  The performance we saw of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was wonderful and hilarious!

 Oh gosh--let's see if I can get the names here: Lois and Frank Weston, Mom, a guest and Charlie Foss, the people I really enjoyed who sat right across from me and the guy winked at me as he talked, and Joe and Viola Godreau--Frank, Mom, Charlie, the cute guy, and Joe all grew up in the same neighborhood and try to get together for lunch once a year.  Mom's the baby in the group--or maybe Frank is....

Here's Levi right after receiving his endowment and then attending Dickon and Oona's wedding on August 4, 2011.

 A pretty photo of Ashleigh, but I'm sorry that I didn't get one of her and John that day.  I don't know why I didn't, but this is all there is.

Lindsay and Jorge.

Lincoln and his girlfriend--another Lindsay.

I love this photo of Rinda. 

video
The wedding couple--much more relaxed AFTER the wedding!
I don't know why the upload came out blurry--the original is fine--but the essence remains!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Morning

I love getting up early and Sundays are my favorite.  Right now the house is clean and quiet--Casey and Sam have left for PEC (Casey's in the bishopric and Sam is ward mission leader).  I really crack the whip on Saturday nights.  No dishes are to remain undone, the trash is out, a quick vacuum and general straightening up, we toss a cloth on the table and "that's how we get ready for Sun-day".  Ahhhh.

Eden and Ezra are still finishing up their courses from the online school they did this last year.  They are going to be going back to school downtown for this next year--it's called Saipan American Education Foundation (SAEF School).  I went in to visit the other day to see what improvements they had made and I'm satisfied with what's going on there.  I really like and respect the head teacher and a lady we know from church is going to be Eden's 6th grade teacher, so she was happy about that.  Ezra was just called as Deacon's Quorum President last week. Eden found out that since her birthday is the same month they have Girl's Camp (August) she gets to go!  My last Primary kid is on her way up!

Sam was thinking about going out to Utah to do his Assoc. of Lib. Arts at LDS Business College because they have one geared specifically to transfer into a 4 year degree, but he's decided to do this semester here and then think about transferring in December.  He only has 21 credits right now and he would have to start as a new freshman, but if he has 24 he can go in as a transfer student, so since he's so close to that I think that's probably what he'll do.

Kaitlyn and I leave in just 3 days for the States!  We're excited!  Three of the boys from here just got back from attending EFY in Utah and had a great time.  I think she's going to love it.  The only part I don't love is that we'll be gone for a month and I miss Casey and the kids already.  I love that I'm going to get to visit with the Browns and maybe get to see other friends while I'm there.  I also get to attend Dickon's wedding at the Boston temple and their reception.  I might go to my 35th (!!!) high school reunion even.  The best thing of all is that I'll get to check up on all of my Stateside kids.  It's going to be a good trip.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

I'm So Proud...

This came for Sam in the mail yesterday:


Dear Samuel:
As a result of your hard work and determination, you have excelled in your present studies at the Northern Marianas College.  It gives me great pleasure to inform you that your name has been placed in the Part-Time Student Honor of outstanding students for having achieved a 4.00 grade point average (GPA) for the Spring Semester 2011.  This honor will be printed on your permanent academic record....
...Congratulations and my hope is that you will continue along the path of excellence that you have chosen.
Sincerely yours,
Barbara K. Merfalen
Dean of Academic Programs & Services


Oh what a difference [the right] two years can make. :)
Great job Sam!  Keep it up!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Praying Life

I just finished this book by Paul Miller.  It's unusual for me to read an entire religious book other than the scriptures.  It's extremely unusual for me to read a religious book written by someone of a different religion--in this case Evangelical Christian.  For a while now, though, I've been bothered by my prayers. I knew I needed to do better--I knew I could do better--but they just seemed kind of flat.  Anyway, I was looking for some books to download to my iPod to read at the gym and I stumbled across A Praying Life.  It had a good reader response, so I bought it.  It was an answer to prayer :)

Here are some things I connected with in this book:

"Our natural desire to pray comes from Creation.  We are made in the image of God.  Our inability to pray comes from the Fall."
This reminded me that by nature I am divine--something I tend to forget--so I should be able to communicate with a divine being.  Not just communicate, but relate--have a relationship.  Maybe I'm trying to hard to pray "right" instead of to pray intuitively.

"You have true intimacy, based not on how good you are but on the goodness of Jesus."
Casey often reminds me of this--that the love that comes to us from God comes because of who He is, not who we are.  "True intimacy" is something I think I want--I want to want it.  Actually, I'm not sure I know what it is or what it involves.

"We don't learn to pray in isolation from the rest of our lives.  For example, the more I love our youngest daughter, Emily, the more I pray for her.  The reverse is true as well; the more I learn how to pray for her, the more I love her.  Nor is faith isolated from prayer.  The more my faith grows, the bolder my prayers get for Jill. (his wife)  Then, the more my prayers for her are answered, the more my faith grows.  Likewise, if I suffer, I learn how to pray.  As I learn how to pray, I learn how to endure suffering.  This intertwining applies to every aspect of the Christian life."


"...learning to pray is almost identical to maturing over a lifetime."

"Many Christians pray mechanically for God's kingdom (for missionaries, the church, and so on), but all the while their lives are wrapped up in their own kingdoms.  You can't add God's kingdom as an overlay to your own."


"Adam and Eve began their quest for self-identity after the Fall.  Only after they acted independently of God did they have a sense of a separate self.  Because Jesus has no separate sense of self, he has no identity crisis, no angst.  Consequently, he doesn't try to "find himself."  He knows himself only in relationship with his Father."
Initially, this feels a little offensive.  But when I think about it it feels true and right.  He goes on to say,
"That's why contemplating the terror of the cross at Gethsemane was such an agony for Jesus.  He had never experienced a moment when he wasn't in communion with his Father.  Jesus' anguish is our normal."
That last statement really got me.  Jesus' anguish at being separated from his Father--even briefly--could that have caused some of his agony?  Of course, it did--he cried out for Him on the cross.  How much does the pain of that separation affect us?  It certainly affected Alma the Younger when it was brought to his attention.  He said it was so awful that it made him tremble to think of anyone having to go through it.  The sons of Mosiah risked their lives in order to go into the land of their enemies to try to bring them to God so they wouldn't have to go through what they had.

"When our kids were teenagers, Jill asked me, "Do you know what our family needs most?" Lots of things came to mind, including a newer car.  Her one-word answer took me completely by surprise: "mercy."  We didn't need to get more organized.  We didn't need more money.  We needed mercy."
I need mercy.  Boy do I need mercy.

"A prayer life isn't simply a morning prayer time; it is about slipping into prayer at odd hours of the day, not because we are disciplined by because we are in touch with our own poverty of spirit, realizing that we can't even walk through a mall or our neighborhood without the help of the Spirit of Jesus."
I'm a covenant-breaker, but I want to be a covenant-keeper. The covenant I break the most often is most definitely the one I make at the sacrament table each week--"that they do always remember Him."  Yet here I am--"That guy looks creepy."  "She's got on some pretty sleazy looking clothes."  Maybe I don't say it aloud, but I'm definitely not remembering Him.

"I make the jump from optimism to darkness so quickly because I am not grounded in a deep, abiding faith that God is in the matter, not matter what the matter is.  I am looking for pleasant results, not deeper realities."
I so much need to give the word "blessing" a new definition--how about a blessing is something that comes from God and is designed especially for me with the intent to bring me closer to Him.

"Repentance brings the split personality together and thus restores integrity to the life.  The real self is made public.  When the proud person is humbled, the elevated self is united with the true self." and "When we remove our false selves, repentance creates integrity.  We return to the real source of love--our heavenly Father.  We become authentic."
Is repentance not merely a change of heart and mind, but an actual restoration of my true self?


"It (Judaism) survived attempts to exterminate it from Pharaoh (Moses), the Philistines (David), the Syrians (Elijah), the Babylonians (Daniel), the Persians (Esther), and the Samaritans (Ezra).  It survived the Greeks during the time of the Maccabees, the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the forced evacuation from Palestine in AD 135.  It survived Islam, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Russian tsars, and Hitler's Final Solution.  But Orthodox Judaism has barely survived the Enlightenment.  It is but a shadow of its past, claiming only 10 to 15 percent of Judaism."


"A thankful heart is constantly extending grace because it has received grace."
How often am I extended grace from the Lord and I refuse to receive it?

"Self-will closed the door to a spirit of prayer."
I'm always stumbling over that one.  And the next highlight--
"The great struggle of my life is not trying to discern God's will; it is trying to discern and then disown my own."
I hear ya.

"The best gift of the desert is God's presence.  We see this in Psalm 23.  In the beginning of the psalm, the Shepherd is in front of me--"he leads me beside still waters" (verse 2); at the end he is behind me--"goodness and love will pursue me" (verse 6, NIV); but in the middle, as I go through "the valley of the shadow of death," he is next to me--"I will fear no evil, for you are with me" (verse 4).  The protective love of the Shepherd gives me the courage to face the interior journey."
I read little story once of a guy who was sitting in a priesthood leadership meeting.  The general authority who was conducting the meeting asked (probably in reference to D&C 18:10), "Brother Jones, what is the worth of a soul?"  He was taken by surprise at being put on the spot and asked him to repeat the question.  Finally, he said,"I suppose the worth of a soul lies in its ability to become like God."  God has eternal life.  He lives it and He has the ability to give it.  To give life--in and of Himself.   No wonder we are cherished, loved, protected, guided.
Recently we had the sister missionaries over for dinner and one of them talked about an article in which the author said that everything is stacked in our favor to triumph over this life.  So everything must be stacked in my favor to be able to pray more meaningfully--to really communicate with Him.  Knowing that--believing it--helps a lot.

"When we don't receive what we pray for or desire, it doesn't mean that God isn't acting on our behalf."


"The thought--Paul, I'm going to work on your character--had a similar impact on me as Jesus' words--"You will deny me three times" (Matthew 26:34)--had on Peter.  After his fall, reflecting back on Jesus' warning would have brought Peter to a deeper repentance.  It also gave Peter hope, possibly saving him from suicide.  He could say, "Jesus knew this about me ahead of time, yet he loved me and prayed for me that I wouldn't despair."  In my life, when suffering came the following year, that unexpected thought gave the suffering meaning and purpose.  It gave me hope."
I really appreciated this reflection.  In fact, reading it again makes me feel so thankful and increases my desire for my family to know this.

"We need the sharp-edged, absolute character of the Word and the intuitive, personal leading of the Spirit.  The Word provides the structure, the vocabulary.  The Spirit personalizes it to our life."
The "unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost."  Yes.

"Augustine recalled when he was a boy stealing unripe pears from his neighbor's orchard even though he had ripe pears on his side.  Because Augustine had encountered the living God, he was able to see the irrational bent in his heart toward evil."
It is irrational.  It doesn't bring happiness--it's against the nature of the beast to find happiness in doing wrong.

"By June, I realized that God didn't seem particularly interested in saving me from the difficult situation.  He just wanted to change me."
Gasp.  How often am I praying for things--in my life and the lives of those I love--to go against His will?

"Don't be truth-focused.  The truth is that I need to love the other person."
I know that's more important than being right and I have a LOT of things to change.

"Just last week I'd prayed that my Father would show me what feeds a lack of faith in me.  I was beginning to see that too much media was subtly framing how I viewed the world."
Introspection.  I need a greater ability to understand what I really need to ask for.  That's a prayer in and of itself.


I want to have a praying life--to "pray in all things."   There are so many things this book has made me think about that I haven't written here.  I can't write them because I feel them more than think them, but I believe He understands that kind of communication as well.  I can do better.  I can become closer to Him.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Terrible, Wonderful, No-Good, Beautiful Day!

It started out with a phone call from Casey. Of course, that was good!
He wanted to tell me that he had lost his wallet and had called the bank to stop all of our cards.  Bad.
This will give me the opportunity I needed to adjust our personal account with the Quicken file that had become corrupted and get that all straightened out because very little money will come out of that account over the next few weeks.  That's good!
The scale was down another pound.  Two good things in a row!!
All of this happened as I was just getting up on June 24th, which was my 53rd birthday.  Eh.
Ami called to wish me a happy birthday and I've lived to be 53.  Very good!
The kids overslept, so they didn't get to bring me breakfast in bed.  Bad.
They all got up before 7 a.m. without me being the alarm clock and I don't even like having to eat my breakfast in bed!  Yay!
I got a late start to the gym. Bad.
I went to the gym. Good!
Lillian gave me the coolest beaded thing that can be used as a belt or necklace or tied however.  Good again!
I have Lillian!  Another good!
I made maple walnut ice cream, but I thought I didn't put enough walnuts in so I put in more and now there are too many walnuts in the ice cream.  Kinda bad.
I love walnuts! Good!
The kids and I went out to dinner (Tony Roma's) and to a movie (Cars 2)where I ate too much and slept through some of the flick.  Groan.
I really don't care that I ate too much and slept through the movie--it was fun to just be with the kids. Good!
I spoke with Casey several more times on the phone and got a call from each of the away kids except for Jake who I got to chat with online last night.  Best in show.

It's all in how you look at it--and that's very, very good!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sniff.

Today.  Price Costco. Checkout.

"Senior discount, right?"
"No! Well...how old do you have to be for a senior?"
"Ummm..."  (She knows she's in trouble now.)  "Maybe 60?"
"What?!  I'm not even close! Groan." (Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration.)
(Backpedaling as fast as possible.) "I think I got you mixed up with another lady.  Same haircut...white....."
"Yeah.  We all look alike."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

facebook Revisited

Several years ago I wrote my first comment on here about, what was at the time, the relatively new social phenomenon Facebook.  As time has gone on, my FB friends list has grown to over 400 (?!--who ARE they?), and photos, videos, comments, observations abound in my account.  Some of it has been lots of fun (the Conner Butt photos--hahaha!) and sometimes I am inspired, but sometimes I come away wondering what I find so absorbing.  More often than not, I check my FB and find nothing particularly interesting--kind of like running to check the mail and coming back with a handful of ad flyers.  Or worse, sometimes coming back with bills!  Ugh.  Sometimes I come away feeling like I wish I hadn't seen, read, or (this is the worst) commented on something I did--sure, I could go back and delete, but often it takes me a day or two to realize I should have kept quiet about something.  I'm slow like that.

Recently I've been wondering how much FB affects us as individuals.  I'm sure it varies, but I don't know that I want to be shaped by FB on any level.  Often it seems posts are competitive--seeking the approval of other people--"how many comments did I get?"  We do that too much already without Facebook to encourage it.

In our day distractions are plentiful and insidious.  I had a quote in my old scriptures that said "Don't get thickly involved in thin things; don't leave the things that matter most to the mercy of the things that matter least."  Casey doesn't Facebook--never has.  He says he doesn't have time for that and he doesn't want to get caught up in it.  For me to be ruminating on it to this extent I figure that the Spirit has brought it to my attention.  Maybe it's an important adjustment for me to make.  Maybe it's a necessary step.  Maybe it's an answer to prayer.

Definitely, for me, it's right.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

And More Changes...


Well, not huge changes, but a little change.  We have a 6 bedroom home--which sounds big--but the living room, dining room, and kitchen are all in an open floor plan.  The living room is really just a seating area within that space and that seating area is small and hard to arrange (for me anyway).  Anyway, I figured new curtains, new furniture arrangement...  We all agree that it feels better.  It's kind of interesting how furniture placement can make a room feel cozy or stark or can determine how much a room gets used.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Results Are In...



Bamboo Roman shades in "pecan", lined, pinch-pleat drapes in "pure gold" hung from rings on a rod.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ingin' the Ooh

Some days I just feel like hiding.  No reason.  Nothing's wrong.  Just want to hole up somewhere with a good book and no responsibilities.  And maybe my laptop.  And wireless, of course.  Music I like.  Food readily available.  A phone to which nobody has the number.  Family around, but totally preoccupied with anything that doesn't involve me.
Feelings like this make getting older sooo much more attractive. :)

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Best Mom of All!

Happy Mothers' Day!  I want the same thing every year: a clean house and good kids.  I usually get it, too.  Well, not always, but this year was a good one and here's the run-down (or maybe it's the run-UP since I'm starting with the youngest):

Eden made me a card which was presented to me at a Primary Mothers Breakfast on Saturday.  Unfortunately, the Primary cards had been stacked before they were dry and Eden's had paper stuck to it.  Crud.  Fortunately, however, Eden decided to make a new card which I like better than the first one--especially the message inside.  The first one said "Happy Mothers' Day" and then inside "I hope you have a great day! Eden."  Nice enough, but just a tad impersonal.

Here's the new card and on the inside, in cheery yellow, it says "You're the best mom of all moms because you're my mom!  Love, Eden."   I love it!


Ezra made me a pig--what more is there to say?  He knows I love this kind of quirky gift--especially from him! :)

Kaitlyn made a proclamation on FB, arranged some flowers and greenery, and made a card as well listing reasons she loves me.  Here's an excerpt:
"And then the next I'm ashamed to say
Is that in almost every day
Whenever I fall or stub my toe
I scream real loud so you will know
The reason for this I'll tell you now
Is 'cause I get a kick out of the way you worry.
And when you cry, sweat, or weep for me
That just makes my whole day, seriously"

Ahhh--a masterful manipulation.  Ain't love grand?

Sam gave me a hug which is my favorite gift right after a clean house and good kids.

From Levi I received a phone call which is my favorite absentee gift next to a video chat (which I hope to get from Mal, Michael, and Madie tomorrow--maybe from Jacob and Alexa too!  Alexa called today, and posted on FB, but she's not getting off the hook until I hear her voice!  That would be great.).  I love what is happening in Levi's life right now and frankly, no other gift can compare.  There's nothing like seeing your prayers for your children answered in their lives.


Casey and the kids worked together to make a wonderful meal and guess what?  It was soooo delicious that I couldn't find anything wrong with it or even come up with any suggestions for improvement!!!  Now you know that had to be good!!

I know the scriptures say that eternal life is the greatest of all the gifts of God, so mothers must be second, but whenever I do anything that is especially kind, friendly, helpful, active, faithful, thoughtful, loyal, dedicated, or a myriad of other wonderful ways to be, I think of my mother.

Happy Mothers' Day Mom--you're the best mom of all moms because you're MY mom!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hippity-Hoppity

I got everything done I had to do today:  I made fish chowder, enough to send some down to a friend who just had a baby and feed my own family dinner, bought candy, an egg-coloring kit, and the ham for Easter dinner which is now thawing in the fridge, made the carrot cake for the bunny cake and have it in the freezer, I ran errands, balanced the checkbook, spent an hour visiting on the phone with Levi, worked with the kids, took Casey to the airport, started a new book, and took a 15 minute nap.  I thought about doing the dishes--just a thought.  Just for the record, I dyed eggs this year using pieces of old silk neckties (see the finished product above--I think they would have been brighter if I had left them for the 40 minutes instead of 20), but the kit is for Eden to use while I'm gone.  I also watched a video of Madie saying "nanana" about 10 times :)

However, I have not done everything I should have done today:  I did not have scripture reading; did not make my bed; did not assign anyone to wash the dog and cat--or do dishes; forgot to invite my neighbors to Easter dinner (easy fix); did not exercise (but DID chow down on chocolate-covered almonds and raisins).

And tomorrow I go to Guam to be with my honey for a few days. :D

Friday, April 08, 2011

...and MORE changes...

I wanna play tooooooo!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Time for a Change

Here's the thing...we've lived here 10 years.  When we first came the landlord had these blue/white/pinky drapes that I didn't want because 1- they were blue/white/pinky, and 2- because of this:



which is The View from the living room
 and the dining room. 

I didn't want to cover up The View!  However, I also had the noise.  Oh, the noise, noise, noise!  Marble-tiled floors, concrete walls--aye-yi-yi! 

 I've stood it for 10 years, but now as our house settles into less kids and more contemplation (?!) I want a more muted sound.  A year or so ago we got a bigger area rug for the living room and I think we're just about ready for a rug under the dining table (no more spilled jars of pickles, etc.), but I just don't know what to do about the windows. At one time I did put up some curtains and when I think about those curtains now--they were gross.   Maybe I've just gone so long with naked windows that I can't picture them with clothes.

I'm open to suggestions...  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Another Day at the Conner's

Well, I've talked about baking on Sundays, done an FHE post...probably the only other day of the week that really stands out at our house (other than Wednesdays, which is Youth Night so we aren't even here), is Friday night.
Friday is like this big release--you made it through another week. Ahhhh. Time to kick back, relax, maybe watch a movie, have a little free time when it's okay to put off whatever needs to be done for another day or another week.
Maybe that's what it's like for some people, but not here. Friday is ... fun! The kids invite bunches (yes, bunches) of their friends over, if I want I make pizza, we order out if I don't. The Wii, computer games, music--the limits of the week are off! Oh the noise, the smells, the noise, the eats, the noise, the sights, and the NOISE! It's a blast!
On Friday nights, I'm living the dream of having a home where the kids would want to bring their friends to hang out and have fun. We talked about that many years ago when we only had one kid. I wanted them to come to OUR house--I wanted to know what they were doing and where they were and I didn't want to miss out on the fun of knowing my kids' friends.
Tonight, Friday night, is no exception. I've been making pizzas since 3:30 this afternoon when Kait called to ask if Ashley, Christina, and LaKell could come home with her from school. Then Jershon called to see if Christina was here and I told him someone would come down and pick him up. Then when the girls arrived LaKell had her little sister with her. Then Arthur showed up. Then Solofi. Then Sam said Joe and Jenny and Daniel would be coming up with him tonight....
I'm tired. I've been up since 5:00 this morning. But I'm old enough to know that when this is all over I'm going to miss it. Memories--that's what I'm after here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

FHE Hike

We found this trail that goes up this hill...

I've lived here for 10 years and didn't know that "papago" meant "little thorny plant that rips the skin off your legs." Huh. Go figure.


Ezra and the rest got up to the top in no time. Eden and I didn't like running into the "papago," so we took a little longer and were a little more careful about where we stepped.


It was a beautiful view from the top. From the top of the hill we could see the lagoon on the Philippine Sea side of the island and the water on the Pacific side as well. Pretty. Here's the sun setting over the lagoon--we were on our way down by this time because we didn't want to have to feel our way back.


Eden was a trooper. Even though you can't see it in this picture, some of the grass we went through was taller than her. On the way down she found an interesting rock--that's what she has in her hand.


I'm kind of in a weird position scrunching down trying not to hide Kaitlyn's face (Eden really isn't as tall as me--yet!), but here's the happy group. Happy that we did it and happy that we knew the next part of FHE was going out to eat!







Sunday, March 13, 2011

Preparing for the Pioneer Trek

Is it possible that 5 years have gone by since the last time we studied D&C/Church History in Seminary? My, my, my...
Well, anyway, we went out yesterday and today to work out a route. It's not easy to come up with a 20-25 mile route on a 14x6 island! Several people have given suggestions, so we went and checked out a couple of places, but today we retraced the route that was used 5 years ago and I think we will most likely end up with a modified version of that. When we did the trek then, we basically mapped out an approximately 18 mile route in the northern part of the island (Marpi area) and walked it. This time, however, we are really getting into the spirit of the trek. Last week the Seminary girls met on Saturday afternoon with Sister Smith who helped us measure and cut materials for bonnets and skirts (!!!), then she took everything home and sewed them up for us. Also, last time we just spent part of one day, but this time we're going for two days, overnight. One of the students is making a couple of handcarts to satisfy requirements for his Eagle Scout award--YES! we're actually going to have 2 handcarts!!! Gulp.

Will we go down this trail and up over that hill?
Or another swing around Bird Island?

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rota: The Sequel


Been there, done that...and it was wonderful! We really enjoyed Rota and the place we stayed, The Coconut Village, was very charming and close to the water so we could easily hear the surf.
Rota's reef is very close to the island instead of forming a nice big lagoon like on Saipan, but it has it's advantages and the sound of the surf was only one of them.



Here's Casey looking all manly with the pink girly bike. On the way to Rota we realized that neither of us had reserved a car, but we weren't worried because...well...it was Rota. However, the 4 rental cars available on island were already taken and we were out of luck. No problem, we'll just take a...oops! No taxi service. Okay, we'll just call our hotel for an airport transfer. Hmmm...maybe something was lost in the translation, but for whatever reason they couldn't come to pick us up. Okay. Casey ended up just asking a guy if he would give us a lift into town and he was so nice and accommodating that he took us out of his way all the way to our hotel. Very nice, friendly guy. We invited him and his family to be our guests for dinner and he said yes, so we waited that evening until 30 minutes after the appointed time and then just ate. We know that here in the islands "yes" often means "no thank you", but we wanted to wait a bit just in case. Islanders generally don't like to come right out and say no.

Lucky for us the hotel had a nice little restaurant, The Hibiscus, at which we ate our meals. It was pretty good. Casey had a good seafood curry that first night--I had spicy pork something. But the real treat was the dessert--sour sop sorbet! It was delicious and refreshing! Yum! They said they just take sour sop and milk and sugar and ice and whirl it up in the blender. I'm definitely going to give that a try here at home! The next day after our sweaty adventure that's ALL we ordered to eat for lunch!

Just a couple miles further into the jungle from our hotel was one of those advantages I mentioned from the reef being close to the island. It's a place called simply "the Swimming Hole". We walked down there the first afternoon to check it out and it was great! It's basically a huge tidal pool surrounded by rough rocks and reef, but with a soft, sandy bottom. I'm sure it can be treacherous during high tide and rough seas, but we hit it on at just the right time of day and it was a lot of fun. When I was getting out I saw a flurry of tiny, neon-blue fish flitting around in one of the smaller tidal pools on the side. I forgot to take my camera, but I found this photo of the Swimming Hole online. Unlike here, there were a few waves coming over the outer edge the day we went.



On Friday, we decided to take the two old single-speed bikes available at the hotel and head off to the Latte Stone Quarry and the Bird Sanctuary on the other side of the airport. Casey wanted to go by way of the main roads, but it had been quite a while since I've been bike riding and I didn't feel comfortable about how much control I had on it, so he sweetly agreed to go the back way which took us past the Swimming Hole again. I didn't think it would be any longer judging from the cartoon map we had, but he felt sure it was and he was right.


Poor Casey--I was soooo slow, but on the way, and not too far after passing the Swimming Hole, we came across an old Japanese train that was used pre-WWII by the Japanese for transporting sugar cane around the island. We were taking photos when I notice a low hum coming from inside the engine. That ended that little photo shoot for me! Jungle bees are nothing to mess around with--they're very aggressive. After leaving the train we continued on and between pedaling on the flats and downhills and walking on the uphills we finally made our way--arrrouuunnnd the runway--to the airport terminal.

After a rest and plenty of water it was an easy ride over to the Latte Stone Quarry, except for the fact that Casey's bike got a flat! Groan! He just picked it up and heaved it into the savanna grass so it would be hidden until the hotel manager could arrange to come and get it. He walked the rest of the way.


The Quarry was awesome! No one knows what the latte stones were for, but many people think they used them in building their houses--kind of as foundations to raise them off the ground I think. We disagree. What people would go through that kind of trouble to build a home? Especially here! The native people here lived outdoors, why go through that much work? These things are huge! I'm sure they weight many, many tons. Casey thinks it was more likely they had some religious significance, which would explain a lot including the lack of any knowledge being passed down about their use. Many of the Chamorros converted to Catholicism at the point of a Spanish sword, but I know there were a number of them who chose the other option. If the stones did have religious significance and assuming those who chose death were the most devout, then that knowledge went with them. As for the "converts", why tell your kids about something if you know it could endanger their lives?

We didn't continue on to the Bird Sanctuary (it would have been another 4 mile round trip from the airport), since Casey didn't have a bike anymore. We went the mile back to the airport, then my resourceful husband hitch-hiked us back to our hotel. Hahaha!


It was a fun trip--I loved it. Rota is lovely and quiet with very friendly people. It's one of those place where everyone waves whether they know you or not! I like that.

Casey admitted during our little stay on Rota that he had actually forgotten that he had intended to arrange this get-away as a Valentine gift to me. Hmmmm. That's okay--he made up for that on Guam. :)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sunday Baking

Sunday afternoon and baking just go together, don't they? I remember my mother telling me that she loved to cook--just not meals (and I'm sure when she said "cook" she meant "bake"). I think I've inherited her attitude. I like leisure baking, not duty cooking. Mallory said lately "cooking therapy" and that's what it's like. It's in-home therapy--creative, goodly, cozy, productive, even philanthropic (hahaha!)--all those things that make me feel like for a little while the world is all right.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Rota

We're going on a little Valentine's excursion this year--we'll spend a couple of days snorkeling on Rota, then go over to Guam for a couple more days and then home. Valentine's on a remote tropical island---WOW!! But, you know, a tropical island is a tropical island and just because we live on one doesn't make it any less beautiful or a moonlit, ylang ylang-scented tropical night any less romantic.
Rota is the smallest of the developed Mariana Islands, only has about 1,000 residents, and was skipped over in the bombing and burning during WWII so it doesn't have the erosion-control plants (tanga tanga and ironwood trees) that were introduced to save the soil after Tinian and Saipan were ravaged. It has a bird sanctuary (probably for all the poor refugees trying to escape the brown tree snakes on Guam) and a latte stone quarry. Latte stones are monoliths with a bowl-shaped capstone. According to one website, "Their precise use remains one of the great mysteries of the Pacific to this day."
I've never been to Rota, but I hear it has great diving and snorkeling, white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, a turquoise lagoon, palm trees swaying in the breeze, brightly colored tropical fish, moonlit nights, ylang ylang,....
:)

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Visitor

Well, we've had rare birds, monitor lizards, and of course gekkos, shrews, chameleons--rats (ew)--etc., come to visit, but this is a first for us here in Saipan anyway. This little brown pig came to visit on Sunday afternoon. Ezra caught it by the hind legs at first, but it kicked like crazy. He looked like he was trying to hold the handles of a souped-up rototiller trying to chop through rough ground! Hahaha!

Eden had a different, and more effective, method for making friends. I was surprised how calm Pepper (our dog) was around it. In front of the camera Piggy definitely turned out to be something of a...well...never mind. ;)


Friday, January 28, 2011

Vacancy--Inquire Within

I want to do something today. It's Friday and I often feel like this on Fridays. I just taught my last early morning class for the week, the kids are just about done with the weeks schoolwork and ready to turn it all in, I don't want to think about my diet or what I need to prepare for Sunday, or any of the things I have to do. AND Casey's home, so I just want to do something. Something fun.

I want to sit in bed all day and play on our computers. I want to IM back and forth and laugh at how silly that is. I want him to show me interesting articles and information he finds on the internet or something funny someone sent him. The kids can bring us food. :)

Or maybe I want to go snorkeling and look at the fish and the coral. And we'll sit on the beach and talk and let the water cover our feet with sand.

Or maybe after lunch we'll go for a walk. Not a fast exercise walk, just a walk we'll walk until we want to turn around and walk back.

I want to eat Chicago-style pizza and watch something funny with Sam and Arthur because hearing them laugh makes whatever so much funnier.

Whatever. I just want to do something I don't have to do. I like Fridays.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Back to The Blog

I repent! Maybe. I told Mallory that I thought one of my New Year's resolutions would be to write in my blog again, so here I am. The problem is Facebook.
I've gotten so into Facebook as a place to upload pictures and videos, keep up on what's going on with family and friends, and record my little thoughts and comments that a blog has gotten to seem a little redundant. I feel like with Facebook I do my duty as far as keeping my Stateside kids reasonably up-to-date on what's going on in our lives and on the rare occasion anything comes up that needs more detail or more privacy, I email them.
That's been my way--and the way of some of my children. If asked how was our day, the answer is short (i.e., "Good." "Okay." "Mmm." "Eh."). Often, I just don't have anything else to say. That day is over--what is there left to say?
Other of my kids will launch into a detailed account of every part of their day. Every conversation, thought, action, everything! I love that, but it's not me. Oh sure, I have times when I want to give a detailed review, but on the day-in-day-out? No.
Ironically, the most consistent blogger in the family is of the short-answer type. And it's at her request that I repent. Maybe.