Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy 15th Birthday Caitlin!

Caitlin's first time behind the wheel

Yep Caitlin is officially 15 years old. It feels like she just showed up just a little while ago yet I can barely remember life without her around. I think she would tell you (if she were the one typing) that she had a pretty great birthday today. It all started this morning when Lee took her and 2 friends (Amy and Makayla) to the mall so they could go see Pirates. After Pirates the 3 girls all went to eat lunch at Tony Romas which is located in the same mall. We knew what time they would be eating so we called the restaurant and asked the waiters if they could take a brownie dessert to the table and sing Happy Birthday to Caitlin. They did and Caitlin was amazed that it all got arranged without any of them knowing. We went to pick them up and listened to the 3 girls giggle all the way home. Some things never change no matter how old they get! On the way home we stopped to pick up Lee's car which was parked at the mini mart about 1/4 of a mile away from our house. Caitlin joked offhandedly about driving the car home so Lee called her bluff. Before we knew it she had the keys and under the watchful care of the daddy was driving the Mazda home. Yikes!! Caitlin got her first taste of driving on her birthday. I'm afraid to say that now I think shes hooked! Later we celebrated at home with friends and Caitlin got a purse she has been wanting as well as hair tools and candy from her sisters. All in all it's been a good day. Happy Birthday Mert!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

EOY Swim Banquet

Caitlin receives Top 5 Team times in short course backstroke and long course IM, backstroke, and freestyle. Her teammates voted her most likely to swim in college and someday become a swim coach. Caitlin also got a 3 year trophy.

Holly got a top 5 time in short course in the IM and a 3 year trophy. Holly was voted by her teammates to be most congenial.

Abbie received the 3 year trophy and was voted by her teammates to have the best flip turns and to be the one who smiles her way through practice.

Gracie received a 2 year trophy and the most team spirit award.

The girls commiserate together about their loss to the boys relay team.

Payback is a booger! The girls relay team had to wear these shirts and then be waitress to the boys relay team during the banquet. I must admit that Caitlin and Dakota (relay team captains) were the most sensible of the group and were against the wager from the get go. In the end teenage logic won out and a bet was made, which the girls lost hands down. Maybe they will think twice before jumping into lost cause again, but probably not!

Lost Fans Unite!

Above is the unofficial Apra Heights Lost Fan Club. We gathered together to watch the season 3 finale. Man o' Man all we have now is MORE questions and we must wait for 3 whole months for season 4 to begin! I am really not too sure Holly will be able to go for 3 months without a Lost fix. Thankfully she has seasons 1 and 2 on DVD.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The joys of living in Todorrow!

Todorrow- a word used by those of us who live on the opposite side of the world yet still have family and business in the States. Our 14 hour ahead time difference forces us to stay awake and conduct important business transactions after midnight on the phone with people who have just arrived at work. These people are usually very cranky (because they are being forced to think immediately upon arrival to work) or very perky (possibly because they are freshly at work after a good nights sleep or just excited to be talking with someone in an "exotic" location).
People who live in todorrow must also learn to adjust to the phone ringing at all hours of the night. Which is precisely what happened last night at 3 am when a unsuspecting real estate agent in Virginia called to chat. No matter how many times this happens I am always rattled. I mean who calls at 3 am except the ER or the jailhouse saying someone you love is there? Yikes! Lee let the nice lady on the phone know what time it was here and she was completely embarrassed. He did offer to call her back, asking what time she will be eating dinner. Fair is fair right? Just kidding, we are nicer than that! Now I am wondering what she wanted!

Farewell To Guam

We did it at Camp Lejeune and we did it again here on Guam thus establishing an "end of tour" tradition. We threw ourselves a goodbye party! A family like ours has to get good at saying goodbye so we figured why not do it with a flair. Yesterday afternoon all of our buddies gathered with us at the Navy Hospital pool to swim, eat, laugh and wish each other farewell. It turned out to be a gorgeous day which made for a successful pool party. In keeping with tradition, we asked each family to bring snapshots of themselves to the party. I set up all the scrapbooking supplies and each family made a page with their photos for us to keep in our memory album. This has proven to be a wonderful way to keep the memories of all the wonderful families we have met along the way fresh. It was a great day! Like always, farewell party pictures can be seen on our Picasa web albums.
3o Days left on Guam!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Our last swim meet on Guam

Caitlin off the blocks.

For our girls swimming has been such a HUGE part of their life here on Guam. They joined a newly formed Navy youth swim team shortly after we arrived on island, quickly learned how to do all the strokes and have been swimming ever since. So this past Saturday was a bittersweet day for them (and us). It was their last meet as Typhoon swimmers and it was the long course championship meet. All four of the girls swam very well and did their best.
Caitlin's age girls relay team made a bet with the boys relay team (same age). Guess who won that bet? WRONG! The boys overwhelmingly won this year for a change! Of course that did not stop the girls from trying to change the rules when they realized they were gonna lose. Girls will be girls! Now the girls have to serve the boys there dinner at the awards banquet on Thursday.
Gracie was the only one of our sweeties that earned enough points in the meet to get an award. She placed third in the girls 8 and under category. Go look at LC Meet pics in our photo album linked to the right to see her proud little grin.

Attaboy Chaps!

Lee receiving an award on behalf of the USN Hospital Guam for their outstanding participation in community service.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happy Belated Mothers Day!

This little story was sent to me by a beloved friend and mother of three. Enjoy!!!

We had this great 10 year old cat named Jack who just recently died. Jack was a great cat and the kids would carry him around and sit on him and nothing ever bothered him. He used to hang out and nap all day long on this mat in our bathroom. Well we have 3 kids and at the time of this story they were 4 years old, 3 years old and 1 year old. The middle one is Eli. Eli really loves chapstick. LOVES it. He kept asking to use my chapstick and then losing it. So finally one day I showed him where in the bathroom I keep my chapstick and how he could use it whenever he wanted to but he needed to put it right back in the drawer when he was done.

Last year on Mother's Day, we were having the typical rush around and try to get ready for Church with everyone crying and carrying on. My two boys are fighting over the toy in the cereal box. I am trying to nurse my little one at the same time I am putting on my make-up. Everything is a mess and everyone has long forgotten that this is a wonderful day to honor me and the amazing job that is motherhood. We finally have the older one and the baby loaded in the car and I am looking for Eli. I have searched everywhere and I finally round the corner to go into the bathroom. And there was Eli. He was applying my Chap Stick very carefully to Jack's . . . rear end. Eli looked right into my eyes and said "chapped." Now if you have a cat, you know that he is right--their little butts do look pretty chapped. And, frankly, Jack didn't seem to mind. And the only question to really ask at that point was whether it was the FIRST time Eli had done that to the cat's behind or the hundredth. And THAT is my favorite Mother's Day moment ever because it reminds us that no matter how hard we try to civilize these glorious little creatures, there will always be that day when you realize they've been using your Chap Stick on the cat's butt.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

Everyone keeps emailing to ask me why I have not posted on the blog for a few days. Wow there must be a few faithful readers out there. Honestly our life has been a bit on the hectic side lately. We have 37 days left on Guam which means everyone is scrambling to fit in lunch dates and going away parties etc... There is a large number of families leaving this summer, so we are all scurrying around taking care of all the last minute details. The above group of gals are the Navy Chaplain's wives here on the island. We met yesterday at the Curry Kabob (my fav) to have lunch and say our farewells. They gave me a carved story board from Guam and a lovely scrapbook. Today and tomorrow I have similar lunches with friends and different groups and tonight Lee and I have a dinner to attend with a chapel family that is leaving this week. Lots of eating, hugging and saying goodbye happening lately.
We still do not have any word on a rental house yet. It is such a difficult thing to accomplish from a world away! I have plenty to put in the house we don't have yet though. Last week Lee and I went on the hunt for a coffee table and end tables. I wanted a particular style that is popular here called an opium table. I know the name leaves much to be desired but it is a lovely and simple design. We finally found one we really liked and bought it on Monday. I love it, it's so cute! It is going in my neighbors household goods shipment since our shipment already left. They are moving to Virginia also and will be packed out on June 5th, so I get to enjoy my new litle table till then.
Caitlin is counting down the days till she goes to Peru-47 to be exact. She has us running all about pulling together all the little things she has been told to bring with her. She is so excited! Anyway, if I skip a day or two of blogging it's not because I don't love ya'll!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bali Days 6-7

My last Bali post!! I am combining days 6 and 7 because there was not a lot of activity on those two days and it can all be covered in one post. Frankly, I am ready to move on to writing about other things. Day 6 was a simple day. We loved the spa so much and it was so affordable that we spent another morning there. Then we spent the afternoon at the hotel pool relaxing. Keep in mind that I was getting over my tummy troubles, so an easygoing day was in order. Later we walked to the monkey forest again for one last visit before we left Bali. Holly learned a very valuable lesson during this visit. She wore her overalls because the monkeys seemed to like them so much the day before. She would hide fruit in the pockets on her side and the monkeys would dig it out. It was fun until the fruit ran out and then one of them got angry. He climbed up her and reached in only to find a spent peel and then proceeded to bite her on the pocket. Luckily there was a lady nearby with a stick and she kept the monkey from inflicting any more trauma. I was thankful that he bit into two layers of denim fabric which kept her skin intact. She was just bruised in that spot and a bit shook up. Needless to say, she left with a bad opinion of the monkeys. That night we were so tired of Indonesian food that I got a ride in to a grocery store and bought whatever I could find that looked American. I brought it back and we had a junk food supper. Sometimes you just need an Oreo ya know? We spent most of our last morning there in Bali packing up our suitcases with all of our goodies from shopping. We traveled there with 2 suitcases full and two empty. We left with all 4 crammed to the limit. Nyoman our driver came to pick us up just after lunch so that we could make the long journey back to Denpasar where the airport is located. Along the way we stopped at the Harley Davidson store and got our favorite guys a Harley t-shirt that say Bali, Indonesia on the back. We also got out and put out feet in the Indian Ocean, and ate at the Hard Rock Cafe for supper. We also stopped in at a batik place where we watched ladies painting silk with special hot wax/paint. They offered to paint on the girls shirts or shorts. Each of us got a beautiful batik painted flower design painted, a very neat souvenir to fly home with. Around this time we were finally making our way toward the airport for our 10pm flight and I began to feel a bit worse for wear. By the time we unloaded luggage and were saying goodbye to Nyoman I was feeling very ill. I managed to get inside and check in but had to quickly locate the bathroom. What a nightmare! It's horrible to be sick even in the comfort of your own home but imagine in an international airport in Indonesia where standards are a bit less than good. I managed to go through the security checkpoints about 8 times because of all my running back and forth to the bathroom. At least they were CERTAIN that I was not a threat. In the midst of all of that we were told that we had overstayed our Visa by 2 hours and in order to leave the country we would have to cough up another 100 US dollars! So once again I had to go back through security, go outside, find an ATM and then try to find the cheapest way to change the Rupiah it gave me into American money. Aiyiyi!! International travel is fun but not without its headaches to be sure. Let me also just say that I thank my Lord that I am an American! All in all we had an experience of a lifetime and even with all the headaches I would jump at the chance to go again. I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings about our little trip, now we can get back to the everyday stuff that life is made of. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bali Day 5

So sorry I did not get to type this out last night like I normally would. We got busy watching "Lost" and then it got late and I was too tired to think straight. Man that show is getting creepy! Anyone else here keeping up with it? Caitlin and Holly (esp Holly) are BIG Lost fans, so we never miss an episode. Last night at a very spooky point in the show we heard our very preggo neighbor Amy come running in through the kitchen door. Her hubby is away for a few days and she was over at her house watching the show alone. She came in with this speepish look asking "can I watch with you guys?". It was funny. Caitlin's friend who's name is also Amy walks one street down every Thursday night to watch with us. Last night she was so freaked out she made Caitlin walk her halfway home. Silly girls! Anyway back to Bali. Day 5 for us was all about the shopping. In Bali they make these really cool handwoven purses that can be bought for about 10 US dollars, some are fabric lined and some have wood carvings woven in. These purses are all the rage hear on Guam. About 5 different ladies gave us $20-30 asking us to pick up a few purses for them. We also had money from others to buy beaded flip-flops that they make there. After breakfast we headed off to the Ubud market which is this enormous area jammed packed full of all kinds of great stuff. It's definitely not the place to be though if you are even the slightest bit claustrophobic. The local folks have booth after booth set up with their wares to sell to tourists. Then in the center of the market there are flower, egg, banana, spice etc... sellers. The local people literally go to the market every day to gather what they need for meals that day. It was really such a unique cultural experience. Trying to buy things using a different currency and then having to haggle for the price was also quite an experience. We had to learn quickly to never pay the first price quoted or you would be WAY overcharged. So buying a purse would go something like this... Me: How much for this purse? Vendor: I give you special morning price for good luck. M: I don't need good luck. How much is morning price? V: I need good luck, you pay 320,000 (@$32.00) that is special morning price. Very nice purse, you need 2 more. M: No I only want one and that is way too much money. How about I give you 75,000 (@$7.50) V: (with a look of shock) You joking me! I will loose money! Ok you pay me 225,000 thats very good special price. M: No way thats still too high I only want to pay 80,000 V: I see you love this purse and I will sell it to you for 150,000 but that is very special morning price. I cannot sell it for less.It is handmade, very good, see. M: Ok (as I put down the purse and turn to leave) I will go across and buy from the next stall. V:(chasing me down with same purse in hand) Ok how much you want to pay? I see you good person how much you pay? You need good luck. M 100,000 (@$10.00) and no more thats my final offer. V: Ok because I need good luck I take 100,000. You want 2 more? I give you good price. So you can imagine how exhausting shopping was. After one morning of that the girls and I were worn out!! After lunch on that day we went back to the market to finish up our shopping list and I began to notice my tummy rumbling. A few minutes into haggling for a deal on some sarongs my stomach had mounted an all out assault. I had to duck quickly into a restaurant bathroom nearby! Unfortunately my lunch did not stay with me. I had a full blown case of Bali Belly! We tried very hard to not drink the water and to be careful about what we ate but I guess we did not try hard enough. So I got the full Indonesian tourist experience. That afternoon we went to see the monkeys again and this time they were very friendly and sat on our shoulders while we fed them bananas and red fruit. They LOVED Holly's deep overalls pockets. That night we ate supper at the hotel. The owner found out about my queasy condition and offered me some Chinese herbs, ginger tea, rice porridge and homemade bread. They said that this was their standard treatment for Bali Belly. The tea and bread were great but I passed on the rice porridge and Chinese herbs. The question of the day for the girls was "what was the most unusual thing you have seen here?" Caitlin said she spotted a good bit of "engrish", Holly mentioned the ladies carrying full tables on their heads, Abbie said seeing the monkeys sitting on her sisters was strange and Gracie mentioned the guy riding down the road on the moped with his Rottweiler on board. Yep we've seen some unusual things! Stay tuned for days 6-7

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Bali Day 4

Our fourth day in Bali was not packed full of activity but I will have to say it was my favorite day. I enjoyed it because we took a cooking class that morning. Cafe Wayan is a popular restaurant there in Ubud. They began offering cooking lessons to tourists several years ago because so many were asking about how to prepare the delicious food the restaurant serves. When Caitlin, Holly and I arrived for class that morning we found that we were their only students for the day, so we got a lot of personalized attention. Abbie and Gracie tagged along and watched. Later they enjoyed their roles as official taste testers. Our teachers were two master chefs and boy, they really knew their stuff. They were very patient with the girls, taught them many new skills, and encouraged them to try many new tastes. We learned all about spices and herbs and several unique Balinese ingredients. We prepared about 6 different Indonesian dishes, some of them were; grilled tuna salad, chicken satay with peanut sauce, chicken curry, and a dessert made with sweet potatoes called Casava Caramel and of course rice. After cooking we all sat down to a feast. It was so yummy. For the rest of the day we relaxed at the pool and enjoyed the Bali sun. That night we ate supper at Cafe Wayan where Gracie completely enjoyed a large slice of "Death By Chocolate" cake all to herself.

I asked the girls that night what they enjoyed most about the day. Caitlin enjoyed learning how to flip sliced eggplant in a hot frying pan; Holly loved slicing, dicing, and chopping all the ingredients in the recipes; Abbie and Gracie both loved tasting everything as it was being prepared; and I loved learning to cook new recipes. I plan to put my new skills to good use in my own kitchen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bali Day 3

Day 3 in Bali was a Sunday. It was very odd for us to not be attending church. I discreetly inquired about where we may find a Christian church on the island but no one seemed to know if one even existed. Instead we had our own mini church service that morning and then proceeded to have a very full day. Day 3 was all about the animals. Our driver took us first to a play/dance called Barong and Kris at a temple nearby. The play was centered around a tiger who represented good and a monkey who represented evil. It was very colorful and interesting but the who point of the story was lost on us in translation. Our next stop was the Bali Zoo and then on to the Bali Bird Park. While having lunch at the bird park a couple of friendly peacocks wandered up beside us and ate whatever hit the ground. Kinda like what Snickers does at home. I kept trying to get the girls to get closer to them in order to get a good picture or two. Later when the birds got a little too close to me the girls teased me saying "mommy get a little closer so we can take your picture". I didn't think it was funny. After lunching with the birds we headed over to the elephant park. There we completely enjoyed a 40 minute ride on the elephants. When the ride was over the elephant handlers did not have any more customers so they let each of us ride on the front of the elephant and had them do lots of fun tricks for us. It was really something and turned out to be a lot more fun than any of us had anticipated. To continue our animal themed day we ate supper at a popular restaurant called The Dirty Duck. The restaurant got its name from the muddy ducks that would wander in from the rice paddys nearby while the building was under construction. Once again our supper was great, another really neat dining experience. The question of the day for the girls was "what one thing do you miss the most from home?" The very quick and unanimous answer was... Air Conditioning!!!
Keep in mind we were not only without AC but also without TV and internet. Our hair dryers and curling irons did not work either because the plugs there are different. I can hear many of you gasping now wondering how we survived. We took a lot of showers in our outdoor bathroom (see pictures from Day 3) went through alot of deodorant and insect repellent, let our hair air dry and played cards on our front porch every night and loved every minute of it.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Bali Day 2

Our second day in Bali was a complete 100% girly girl day. We began with our usual breakfast, bible time, and prayer at the hotel and then we were off to the spa. All five of us got manicures and pedicures complete with cute little flower designs painted on fingers and toes. The spa was so nice. The setting was partially outdoors overlooking beautiful gardens with little waterfalls and gorgeous tropical flowers. Completely relaxing! After our spa time we strolled up the street which was lined with shops on both sides. We mostly just window shopped which is a difficult task in Bali. Everywhere we went someone was trying to sell us something, offering us special deals and morning prices for "good luck". If we showed even slight interest in any item the shop owner would assume we wanted to buy it and try very hard to sell it to us. They believe that the first sale of the day will bring them good luck, so they do all they can to keep a customer from leaving before making a purchase. We learned all of this the hard way and quickly adjusted our Americanized shopping skills. Eventually even Gracie learned to haggle like a pro. After lunch at Lotus Cafe we wandered back down the same street to the spa again. We had afternoon appointments for Holly, Abbie and Gracie to get facials while Caitlin and I got Hair Cream Bath treatments which included a head, neck and shoulder massage. Talk about relaxation!! That night we ate supper at a place near our hotel called Laka Leke. It was so nice. We sat in a little gazebo house on cushions at a low table. There were small ponds and flowers everywhere lit up by tiki torches. It was a very cool dining experience. My question for the girls that night was "what differences do you see between here (Bali) and the USA?" I got too many responses to list, but here are a few highlights. No AC is the norm, people take their shoes off when they go inside a room, everyone drives a moped, they drive on the wrong side of the road and traffic rules seem to be optional, all prices are negotiable, no fast food, roofs are made of thatch, and lastly they eat rice with EVERY meal.
Day 3 tomorrow, don't forget to go see the pictures at Picasa.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Bali Day 1

The girls and I have just returned from a solid week in beautiful Bali, Indonesia. Let me just start by saying that I have thought about what to blog about this wonderful trip and I think I will have a hard time expressing how amazing this trip was for our family. I will give it a try though! As a matter of fact I may be typing about Bali for a while. Another thing I would like to say before I get started is that the religion of Bali and much of Indonesia is Hinduism and Islam. Christians in this country literally endanger their lives by openly professing belief in Jesus. Knowing this, the girls and I were careful to stay in the Word and pray every morning before stepping foot outside our room. Each morning we started out with a wonderful Balinese breakfast of Banana Jaffles, fresh baked bread, fresh cut tropical fruits, juices and deliciously strong Balinese coffee along with a chapter reading from the book of Daniel then prayer. One of the girls pointed out that a verse we read from Daniel seemed to describe the culture we were in to a tee. It is Daniel 5:23 which says "And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your very breath in His hand and owns all of your ways you have not glorified."
Our first day in Bali we woke up early and went with our guide on a long walk through the rice paddy land. He taught us all about how rice was grown and harvested and the extreme importance of rice to their culture. Rice is eaten with every meal! The Balinese have been growing rice the same way for many generations. It was a hot long walk but a great introduction to the Balinese way of life on our first day there. Afterwards our guide took us to his home where he and all of his extended family live in their own compound. We found that this was very normal for them to all live together in one small area, complete with it's own family temple for daily prayers and offerings. They took us in and fed us fresh fruit, served in banana leaf boats, and green banana pancakes with fresh grated coconut and honey on top. The girls enjoyed being served cold Coca-Colas out of glass bottles. We then went back to our hotel to cool off in the pool for a while. It's HOT in Bali!! After swimming Gracie was begging to go see the monkeys. Our hotel was only a block away from the sacred monkey forest, so off we went to visit the monkeys. These guys are not even a little bit afraid of humans and came right up to us. This being our first time visiting the monkey forest, we were a little hesitant to get very comfortable around them. We simply observed and stood very still. After lunch at a little cafe nearby we loaded up and went furniture and jewelry shopping. Our first taste of shopping was a little strange. We quickly learned that the price of everything is negotiable. Caitlin bought a beautiful hand made silver ring and Holly bought a lovely aquamarine and silver pendant. Later that night we went to see a Kecuk (key-chuk) dance at the temple in town. We felt very awkward as we watched, and we ended up leaving early because it was too scary for Gracie. Truth is I was a bit freaked by it as well. All in all it was a wonderful first day.
Each evening at supper the girls and I would write down all that we did that day. I would ask each of them a question for that day like "what is the most interesting thing you saw today?" or "what new thing did you learn today?" For day 1 I asked "What did you enjoy most about today?"
Caitlin loved jewelry shopping, Holly liked visiting the monkeys, and Abbie and Gracie enjoyed swimming at the hotel. Personally I loved the rice paddy walk and learning all about the Balinese way of life. All of our pictures from the trip with captions can be viewed by clicking the Picasa web album link to the right. They are labeled by day. Enjoy and stay tuned for Days 2-7.