Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Well, I didn't win NaNoWriMo this year---I had high hopes but... I know exactly what I have to do in the coming year to make it possible. So, it wasn't a complete waste of time.
This past weekend was so full, on Monday I couldn't remember what I had done at work the previous Friday. We got up and ran a 5K for the USO where Drew was featured in the PDN photo gallery. I managed to snag a PR--25:53 (I just wish I had pushed a few seconds harder). A woman named Erika beat me for third place in the women's Master division. My New Year's resolution was to run a sub-24:00 5K. I didn't make it but I came close. There aren't any more 5Ks for the rest of the year, so I'll have to start over in January.
After the run, we had tennis and judo. We couldn't wait any longer so we saw "Quantum of Solace" at the local theatre. Just our luck---it's showing on base this coming Saturday for free. We ate at our favorite Japanese restaurant, Tairyo Sushi, then came home and finished watching "Amadeus."
On Sunday, we had church and I totally blanked that we were doing Children's Sermon. Gregg presented a great talk on being seeds that grow into trees from the Old Testament reading (Isaiah). After church, we came home and pulled out the decorations for the Christmas tree. It was a heated discussion on whether we should post the tree in the living room or on our newly-enclosed patio. The living room won out---for now.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
By the time Drew and I returned home, it was time to start the potatoes for the Orphans' Thanksgiving Potluck at Calvo Beach. This year, Panini went with us. Panini is a full-blooded Chamorro Sport Hound. Previously, this breed was classified as "boonie dog."
We had a great time sharing food and stories while enjoying the beach and the warm weather. The picture features Drew playing checkers against Sarah with bottle caps and baby coconuts. King me, baby!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
This is what I've been practicing toward since starting class. It has always amazed me that I can throw people heavier than me with no effort. Of course, they need to be moving so I can use their momentum. But, I am thrilled and hope to continue my studies when I leave Guam.
Sensei notified the base newspaper and they sent a reporter to interview me.
Judo lessons teach skills for the mat and for life
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I've been using John Truby's book, Anatomy of Story, to help me understand where I want to go and why my characters want to do what they do. I think I've managed to come up with some compelling situations and characters. Now I just have to keep my butt in the chair.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I hadn't planned on running the 5K today since we are also scheduled for the PIC 5K tomorrow. When I found out there was a unit competition and Naval Hospital was encouraged to participate, I asked Drew if he wanted to run on Saturday AND Sunday. "Sure, Mom," he said. "We can run both days and I can rest on Monday." They don't have school on Monday.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
My Motorola cell phone died. I could receive calls and listeners could hear me, but I couldn't hear them. I guess the amplifier must have just given up the ghost. What to do, what to do...On the advice of one of my corpsmen, I searched Ebay and my phone was so old, I couldn't even find a phone that looked like it.
My Blackberry 7290 arrived in the mail today (yay!). I took the HafaTel sim card from the Motorola, inserted into the Blackberry and voila! the friendly woman's voice came on, saying, "You have no minutes left" because my pre-paid phone card expired back on the 9th.
Mission for tomorrow: Buy a new pre-paid card from Guam Cell (which took over HafaTel). I buy $10 cards which expire 30 days from activation. The cell company makes money off me because I never use up the time and they just pocket the difference. My phone is used strictly for 2-3 minute conversations. The benefit is I probably won't get brain cancer.
For those transferring to Guam, this is one way to use a cell phone you're bringing from the mainland. Typically, a sim card package costs $39.95 and includes the sim card and $20 in pre-paid calls.
Friday, September 26, 2008
The Christmas Drop 5K was done to raise funds for Operation Christmas Drop, the longest running humanitarian aid effort in the Marianas. Most of the supplies are obtained from military members and Guam residents and businesses
Donation boxes can be found at the following locations:
Ace Hardware 653-2237 Yigo/Dededo
Andersen Middle School 366-3880 Andersen AFB
Andersen Commissary 366-2425 Andersen AFB
New BX/Four Seasons 366-6136 Andersen AFB
Cost-U-Less 632-2533 Harmon Loop
First Bank of Hawaii 475-7884 Route 8 Branch
Guam Premier Outlets GPO) 647-4032 Tamuning
Guam Tropical Dive Station 477-2774 366-6975 Marine Dr.
Micronesia Dive Association 472-6324 Marine Dr.
Navy Commissary 339-5173 339-5177 COMNAVMAR
Navy Exchange 339-6594 COMNAVMAR
Micronesia Mall 635-1103 Dededo
USO/Royal Orchid 649-2000 Tumon
DHL 646-1765 Tamuning
If you want to get in on this year's airdrop, don't feel like you have donate money or supplies to be valuable. Operation Christmas Drop is always looking for help with inventory, sorting, packing and getting the word out to business and community leaders not only on Guam, but the rest of the world as well! Send them an email or give them a call and they'll be more than happy to put you in touch with one of their project-leaders!
The most crucial items needed are
- first-aid kits,
- garden tools,
- school supplies,
- fishing gear,
- snorkeling equipment,
- hygiene products,
- canned and non-perishable foods and
- used clothing.
There is a critical need for handsaws, tools, machetes and cooking utensils.
Take a look at the photo gallery. We are most blessed to have what we have.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I also signed us to run the 5K sponsored by SDA on Sunday morning, but Drew bailed, Anna and Gregg declined, and I lost track of time trying to get my iPod shuffle to work. I am finding it harder and harder to run while keeping my mind occupied---and I'm not happy having nothing rattling around in it. The shuffle is perfect because I download the free audio podcasts from NPR and become engrossed in the dialogue. Running to music has never satisfied me and running to cadences is even worse, but at least there are usually a lot of other annoyed people running with me in formation.
I found these 20 commandments for runners:
1. Don't be a whiner. Nobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.
2. Don't make running your life, make it part of your life.
3. When doing group runs, start on time no matter who is missing.
4. Don't compare yourself to other runners.
5. When standing in starting lines, remind yourself how fortunate you are to be there.
6. The faster you are the less you should talk about your times.
7. Don't always run alone.
8. Don't always run with people.
9. The best runs sometimes come on the days you didn't feel like running.
10. Be modest after a race, especially if you have reason to brag.
11. All runners are equal; some are just faster than others.
12. There are no short cuts to run excellence.
13. There is nothing boring about running, there are, however, boring people who run.
14. Look at hills as opportunities to pass people.
15. Don't try to out run dogs.
16. With out goals, training has no purpose.
17. Go for broke, but prepare to be broken.
18. Unless you make your living as a runner, don't take running too seriously.
19. Runners who never fail are runners who never tried anything great.
20. Running is simple. Don't make it complicated.
Drew said this was a wonderful weekend---he and Anna celebrated a classmate's 8th birthday at Tarza. Tarza is Drew's favorite water park. He adores the Lazy River.
I've fallen in love with NPR's Song of the Day and have been introduced to an eclectic mix of writers and songs. Check out this song by Adele from her album, "19" called "Make You Feel My Love." While I like this arrangement, I prefer the version she sings here: NPR Fast forward to 14:00 to start this song.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Have you ever been somewhere you didn’t want to be? Maybe it was a job, a town, or a marriage. Maybe it was a stage in life, like singlehood, or a state in life, like a disability. It’s very possible that as you read this, you’re wishing you were somewhere else – anywhere else – living a different life, but you know it’s not likely that anything is going to change any time soon.
The second email linked to PS Pirro's blog, Crooked Mile:
People usually end up on this blog after searching "living in Guam." Maybe the detailer offered you Guam and you were excited; maybe you didn't know what to think because you didn't know where Guam was. Maybe Guam is the last place on earth you'd rather be. Maybe it's all true. Maybe it's not.
Loving where you are means relinquishing all those comforting contingency plans that spare you the work of local affection – those plans that allow you to leave half your life packed in boxes in the garage or the attic, half your heart tucked away, and half your imagination wandering the map in search of a better place. Loving where you are means calling your imagination home and putting it to work right where you are: learning the names of the people and trees and plants and birds and creeks and flowers, and letting them speak to your heart – your whole heart -- and show you what needs to be done, right here, right now.
In any case, I hope the messages I received today give someone comfort somewhere that this is where they are meant to be.
Friday, August 15, 2008
The purpose of the hearing is to give the IO the opportunity to examine all the relevant evidence and determine whether the prosecution has adequate evidence for trial. The burden the prosecution has to meet is “preponderance of the evidence,” sometimes described as 51%, or “more likely than not.” The prosecution does not have to meet the “reasonable doubt” burden at the Article 32, but will have to at the actual trial, if the case goes to trial.
After reviewing the evidence, the IO produces a report for the Command that convened the Article 32. The report provides the Commanding Officer with a comprehensive review of the case, including background data, the charges, the evidence, the witnesses, etc. The report also provides a recommendation to the Commanding Officer on how the case should be adjudicated.
I really like doing these Article 32’s. They give me a chance to keep my litigation skills honed, and also give me a chance to work with the other attorneys in the area. Plus, I have the opportunity to travel to Japan, one of my favorite places to visit.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Our adventure began at 6:30am on Tuesday, July 22nd. We woke, showered and had another great breakfast at the New Sanno Hotel before beginning our trek to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji. We would have to take two trains and a bus to get there. We left the New Sanno at 7:45am and arrived at the 5th Station at 11:10am.
The 5th Station is the traditional place for Mt. Fuji climbers to begin. It is located at 2300 meters (7500 feet), so climbers are already well up the mountain before they begin their ascent. There are several stores and restaurants at the 5th Station to help climbers prepare for their hike.
One must-have is a climbing stick, which is made of wood and is about 4 feet long. The sticks come with a flag and bells, but most people remove these to keep from becoming annoyed by the constant ringing and flapping.
As climbers ascend the mountain, they purchase stamps for their climbing sticks at 200 yen each (2 dollars) at each mountain hut they pass. The stamps are actually brands burned into the wood with hot irons that serve as a way of memorializing the climb. The goal, of course, it to collect all of the stamps by reaching the summit. Each stamp has a unique design, but most include the name and altitude of the hut.
Another good-to-have item is a can of oxygen. At high altitudes, where the air becomes thin, some people can experience altitude sickness. A quick snort of oxygen can help relieve the symptoms.
So, with climbing sticks in hand and bottles of oxygen stuffed in our back packs, we began our climb at about 12:35pm. The first part of the climb is relatively flat, leading clockwise around the mountain to the ascending trail on the far side. In a way, it lures you into a false sense of optimism. You begin to believe that this is going to be easier than you thought. Then you the reach the 6th station where the ascent begins, and reality sets in.
The second part of the climb is a series of zig zags, or switch-backs, that wind their way up the mountain. The path ascends at a steep angle for 100 yards or so, then turns 180 degrees and ascends again. At first we could knock out three or four of these legs before resting, but as we climbed higher in altitude and became more tired, we slowed to only two, or even one, before stopping.
Then it became harder.
The legs turned to rock climbing, making the ascent far more difficult and much slower. Still, we kept making forward progress and were in good spirits. I have to say I have never been prouder of both my children. They were real troopers and didn't complain about anything. In fact, I had a hard time keeping Drew from leaving us all behind and practically racing up the hill.
We reached the 7th Station (around 2700 meters, or 8900 feet) around 3:30pm or so and stopped for a rest at one of the mountain huts. We bought our first stamp and then had some water and hot chocolate. We also talked briefly with a high school student who was working in the hut as a summer job. Very nice young man who spoke excellent english. After a 30 minute rest, we once again began to ascend.
The rock climbing became more difficult, further slowing our climb. We passed several huts on the ascent, purchasing stamps at each one. We didn't reach the 8th Station (3100 meters, or 10,170 feet) until 5:30pm. Five hours of constant climbing had taken their toll, so we decided to stop for the night and sleep in one of the mountain huts there. We had hoped to get farther on the first day because we would have less to climb to the summit on the second day, but the sun was setting and we didn't want to get caught on the side of the mountain in the dark.
The hut was much like a youth hostel, with open-bay sleeping quarters and communal dining. For dinner, we had a traditional Japenese dinner, complete with obscure vegetables and and an odd-smelling, oily type of fish. The sleeping area was a room with wall-to-wall futons and sleeping bags with buckwheat pillows (read uncomfortable rockiness) side-by-side. Our four were against the far wall. At around 8:30pm we turned in for the night. Unfortunately, Anna, Mary and I didn't get much sleep. Other climbers were continuously entering or leaving the room, and some of those sleeping were snoring. Then there was the unfortunate young child, about Drew's age, who developed some sort of respiratory problem and was wheezing practically all night. But then there was Drew. He went to sleep immediately at 8:30pm and didn't wake up until 5:00am the next morning.
So, it was around 5:00am when we all got up and prepared to resume the climb. But first, we gathered with the rest of the inn guests (about 50 or so) out front for sunrise. This was the moment we had been waiting for, one of the most beautiful sights we may ever see. Sunrise on Mt. Fuji, above the clouds, at 10,000 feet. Before the moment the sun began to rise above the clouds, there was much excitement among all the guests. All were sharing their climbing stories and excitedly pacing about. Then the sun peaked over the distant horizon and everyone became silent. No one wanted to disturb the incredible experience we were all sharing. After a few moments, cameras began to click as each guest sought to record the sunrise, as if anyone would ever need to a picture to remember that awe-inspiring sight. The crowd remained hushed until the sun cleared the horizon. Then a Japanese tour guide stepped out in front of the guests, said a few words, and everyone began to cheer. We had witnessed sunrise on the side of Mt. Fuji. That moment, that exhileration, that once-in-a-lifetime experience was worth all the hard work it took us to get there. We will never forget it.
We began our next leg with the other inn residents, but didn't get far before Anna began to get sick. Drew had earlier experienced some nausea as well. It appeared they may have been suffering from altitude sickness, so we decided to begin our descent instead of trying for the summit.
The trail down was nearly as difficult as the climb up, but in a different way. The slope was significant enough that we had to be careful not to slip and fall as we practically slid down the mountain. We were on our heels for most of the way down, holding hands to help each other balance. After about and hour or so, the trail leveled off and circled back counter-clockwise around the mountain to the 5th Station. We finally arrived at there around 7:30am.
Unfortunately, the first bus didn't leave for the train station until 8:30am, so we had to wait. We were not alone, though, as many others were finishing their adventure as well. When we finally started to enter the bus, the driver began to speak in Japanese and was saying something I couldn't understand. I was afraid were not going to be able to board. Then, from behind me, the young Japanese man we had met earlier at the mountain hut stepped forward and began to translate for us. What luck! Turns out the driver was saying he could not accept large bills, so all I had to do was get some smaller ones. We boarded the bus and settled in for the 50 minute ride down the mountain to the Kawaguchiko train station. From there, it was another two hours or so by train and taxi to our hotel.
At last, around 12:30pm, we stumbled into our hotel and collapsed in our room. One by one we showered to clean the lava dust off, then took a deep breath and congratulated ourselves on our accomplishment.
Monday, July 21, 2008
While at the shrine, we stumbled upon a traditional Shinto wedding ceremony procession. Very formal and very beautiful. Anna and Drew loved it.
Next we went to Harajuku, a fashion district that showcases the unique and eclectic style of Japanese young people. Very cool.
After Harajuku, we were back on the train again, traveling back to Electic Town that we visiting on Sunday. We needed some accessories for my camera and Mary's PDA. Found what I needed, but unfortunately were unable to find anything for Mary. Her PDA is Hewlett Packard, and American company, so they don't have much for it over here.
Finally got back to the hotel in time for dinner. After dinner, we packed our hiking equipment, went for a quick dip in the pool and hot tub, then settled in for the night.
While there, we visited with friends from Guam who recently transferred to Yoko. Had lunch with them at the onbase Chili's. We all love Japanese food, but it's always good to have some familiar comfort food when in a strange land.
We didn't get back from Yoko until late, so we called it a day and went to be early. Have to save our energy for Fuji!
Friday, July 18, 2008
After checking in and dropping our bags in the room, we caught a shuttle to the Meduro train station. Lots to see and do here, including a rotary sushi where we had a mid-day lunch. Found a 7-11 store, or 7 & Holdings as they are known in Japan, and Mary was able to get some yen out of an ATM. My card was not accepted anywhere here. Lesson learned - A Visa debit card is accepted at more places than a Master Card debit card.
We went back to the hotel to relax a bit, then went out again to Akihabara, otherwise known as Electric Town. 50 square blocks of electronic gadgets and games. While we were riding on the train to Akihabara, a friend of mine, Mike Torrisi, from Yokosuka got on the same train and started to sit down right across from us. What an incredible coincidence! I had just worked a case with him in Sasebo, Japan, the previous week. He was in Tokyo for a Star Wars convention and decided to go to Akihabara too. What are the odds that he would be in the same city, get on the same train, in the same car, and sit right across from us?! Pretty cool. Mike walked around with us for awhile before we parted ways for dinner. Oddly enough, we ran into him again on our way home.
We jumped on the train and returned to Meguro Station, where we ate at a traditional Japanese restaurant known as Wendy's. We were hungry and tired and just looking for comfort food. After dinner, we returned to the room for the night.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Check out this web site for a tribute to our fallen comrades:
Monday, May 19, 2008
I got a call from Dr B last night to go in on a SANE case, but it was nearly 9 o'clock at night. I had to decline the offer because all my babysitters are around 14 years of age and it was a Sunday night. The two neighbors I thought I could request a huge favor from are currently off-island and I'm not friendly enough with my other neighbors to ask this big a favor (not unless it was a mass casualty event, in which case most anybody on the street would be willing to help out). So, maybe next time.
Then, this evening I was supposed to meet at the Mermaid Tavern with all the other Nurse Corps officers to break bread with Admiral Bruzek-Kohler, but I forgot I needed a babysitter. Try calling around at 5:00 on a Monday evening. No one is home. So, I missed out on this face-time opportunity.
On a plus, my article celebrating the 100th birthday of the Navy Nurse Corps was published in the Pacific Navigator!
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The 108th Submarine Ball was a blast as always as everyone got dressed up in their party clothes and remembered those who went before. They remember all 52 submarines and it is very poignant to remember those who never came home. When I played the organ for the Pearl Harbor Submarine Chapel, we paid tribute each Sunday to those who were "still on patrol." We would sing the first verse of the Navy Hymn and then sing the verse unique to submariners:
Bless those who serve beneath the deep,
Through lonely hours their vigil keep.
May peace their mission ever be,
Protect each one we ask of thee.
Bless those at home who wait and pray,
For their return by night or day.
Lieutenant Alayna Schwartz was able to get away from the Mother-Baby Unit long enough to sing the National Anthem which just gave everyone goose pimples, she was that good. Of course, what would you expect from someone who gets a perfect score on Karaoke Revolution?
Saturday, April 5, 2008
It was a week characterized by priorities for me. I wanted to present a revamped Powerpoint for the Diabetes Self-Management Education class I facilitate and that needed to be ready for Tuesday's 0900 class. I then had two presentations on Thursday for the University of Guam's senior nursing leadership class: "Motivating and Developing Staff" and "Evaluating Staff Performance."
Friday was the new session for judo and I wanted to donate some hours to G.A.I.N.'s annual spay and neuter efforts on Saturday, especially since I had gotten approval to do a story from the editor of the Guam Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper.
I'm also spending this next week TAD in a course titled, "Clinic Management." I have homework due for that as well and I'll work on it tomorrow after we're done scoping. When I made my return flight, I went ahead and decided I would run for the airport: the class ends at 1130 and my flight leaves at 1400. Fortunately, the airport is practically down the street from the class site, and I'm hoping that the instructor says they've had positive experiences with other students in this situation. In any case, Gregg was aghast that I would schedule things so tightly. I told him I don't get back until Saturday evening and if I waited until Saturday to fly, I wouldn't get home until Sunday. I go to work on Monday and I just didn't want to have my whole weekend blown. As it is, I miss out on a 5K, two judo classes, and a mentoring session with my senior nursing student from UOG.
Anna has spent the weekend putting aloe lotion on her back and ibuprofen in her mouth because of a major sunburn she got while snorkeling at Polaris Point. "I've learned my lesson," she declared. "No more spray-on SPF!" She got up with us on Saturday because she couldn't sleep, but I couldn't persuade her to run.
Drew had Jack and Ben stay over last night and all of them reported they were awake until after 2 in the morning. However, Gregg disputed this, saying they were all asleep before midnight.
Pastor Fred suggested we prayerfully consider using our free round-trip tickets to Manila to assist with the Volunteers in Mission project to build a church near Manila in late July-early August. Gregg and I will have to talk about this more in-depth; it would be a wonderful opportunity and it also falls at the worst time of the year (and in a place normally off-limits to military personnel without connections to the Philippines). We'll keep you posted on what we finally decide.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The adidas® Supernova® women's run skort is a comfortable and versatile option for all your morning runs. It's crafted using the moisture-wicking ClimaCool® performance fabric that draws sweat away from your skin for quick and easy ventilation to keep you cool and dry. The flatlock seam...
Fabulous Running Skort!
Fit: Feels true to size
Pros: Breathable, Lightweight, Stylish, Allows Free Movement, Comfortable
Cons: Waist not adjustable
Best Uses: Warm Weather, Casual Wear, Running, Competition
Describe Yourself: Competitive Athlete
I plan on wearing this to make me look as good as I feel during my morning runs and to out-psyche the competition on those weekly 5K races here in Guam! The skirt sits a little lower on my waist than I am used to; I wish it fit a little snugger. The skort is much shorter than other running skorts I have tried on; however, it appears that it is just as flattering, if not more so, than my current running skort wardrobe. If the feel of a hem against your thighs while running might distract you, consider this skirt for its shorter length.
The Marika® Adrenaline Pleated Mod women's mini skirt is a cute option for your next tennis match or workout. It's crafted using a built-in short with a moisture-wicking fabrication that draws sweat away from your body to help keep you cool and dry. The pleated design creates some added flair, ...
Pleated Mod Mini Too Cute to Run in
Fit: Feels too big
Waist: Feels too big
Length: Feels too long
Pros: Attractive Design, Comfortable, Versatile, Flattering
Cons: Too big
Best Uses: To School, On a Date
Describe Yourself: Bargain Shopper, Classic, Career, Eclectic
I am 5 ft tall and weigh 95 lbs. I like to run. I thought this skirt would make me look good while I run (or to wear to work before I change into scrubs). Unfortunately, the skirt would need someone about 4-6 inches taller and 10-15 lbs heavier to look fabulous in it. This WOULD be a great skirt for a casual event where you need to look alternately chic and be able to play a pick-up game of ultimate frisbee. There's nothing wrong with this skirt except it appears to run large. At this price, it's definitely a bargain and I would recommend going one size smaller than your normal size.
Friday, March 21, 2008
We came back and I enjoyed a cup of hot chai and read my newspapers. I love this habit and can remember fighting over newspaper sections with my parents. They would read at the kitchen table and I would read on the living room floor, then we'd trade sections. I can't seem to get Anna or Drew interested in reading the paper, and for Gregg, it's a mere cursory glance.
MWR held an Easter Egg Hunt at 1000 at Orote Point so I took Anna and Drew. We just made it in time and Anna managed to snag only two eggs. In an effort to be healthy, the eggs were filled with plastic toys like kooshes and crayons.
Gregg has been sick this weekend; he thinks it's from Tarza---I think it's just going around because colleagues have been sick at work and the flu is still trending strong in the mainland.
I have been listening to kd lang sing Leonard Cohen's song, "Hallelujah" (you might recognize it from "Shrek"). I hadn't paid much attention to kd lang because she started out in country and that wasn't my favorite genre back when. I have to thank Rhonda, one of my university friends who felt called into nursing to help with the AIDS crisis, for introducing this wonderful singer to me.
Easter Sunday started out lazy. I woke at 0510 and couldn't get back to sleep (curse you, 0500 weekday run habit!) and I had the house all to myself for an hour or so. We dressed for church and said farewell to George and Carol Butler who are leaving Guam to live in the mainland. We planted a mango tree in their remembrance; they told us they wouldn't be gone forever. As believers in Christ, we already know that and today was a celebration of that promise.
When we got home, Flea had deposited a little blue mousie on my pillow and this is a picture of him playing with a teal-colored mousie (check out his claws). Drew and Gregg spent the afternoon calibrating the software for the upcoming Pinewood Derby and Anna built a house for Spongebob out of Legos.
PS: Gregg was not thrilled with Drew's outfit because of the mix of stripes and plaids---Drew loves to match colors, but not necessarily patterns. I think he made a spectacular choice for an Easter outfit!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
The kids have been on spring break this week so Gregg took leave and I used special liberty for Tuesday and Thursday (to avoid increasing workload for everyone else).
On Tuesday, we had our home visit with Grace. It's always humbling to see ourselves through someone else's eyes. We have a number of tasks left to complete and one is the expensive one---the trip to INS to get our fingerprint cards and immigration paperwork...
After the visit, I took Anna and Drew to Micronesia Mall so Drew could watch "The Balls," his name for the dynamic display outside Macy's. He could stand there for hours and watch the balls travel around the tubes and wires. We ate lunch and waited for Funtastic Park to open. We rode the "Creature Coaster," crashed into each other on "Road Rage," and they finished up with a ride on the "Pirate Ship." I was running out of money and Anna wanted a smoothie before we left the mall.
We stopped at the NEX on the way back so I could get a new watch. My old watch, which was a Mother's Day present 3 years ago, had developed a metal snag on the mesh wristband and I had already snagged my uniform skirt and poked myself a couple of times.
We hung out at home until time for judo class. I told Drew I would be testing for my blue belt on Friday. He was aghast. "I've been taking judo longer than YOU, Mom," he declared. I learned how competitive Drew was because he asked Sensei how long before he could get HIS blue belt and reported back to me.
Today, Thursday, we went to Tarza. Drew has been begging forever to go. According to Drew, this week has been "The Best Days Ever." Isn't it wonderful when we recognize every day has the potential to be "The Best Day Ever"?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
We didn't stay for the awards or prizes. I had NOD so we went to the hospital and made rounds. It was quiet.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Two jog strollers passed me by this time, but when they're pushed by men who are at least 6 feet tall and have legs that end at my neck, well, I know I can't compete. However, I did hear one jog stroller behind me that pushed me the whole way. Every time I heard the creak and whirr of those hideous plastic wheels on pavement, I sped up. I heard a male voice say, "You need to loosen up. You're running like a boxer all tight." I imagined this person running and giving advice to me the entire race and I think that might have been what pushed me forward. However, it was a fast race overall as the third place finisher, Marie Benito, finished in 18:52. She placed first in my division, the master. I don't think I've ever run faster than 6:21 splits and that was when I was running 4-6 miles a day and about 20 years younger so I'd really have to put out some effort to be truly competitive.
Drew also improved his run time, but I'm not certain it's correct. He says it is 25:34, but that would only put him 7 seconds better than his best. I would like to think he also ran faster this time. I'll wait until the PDN prints out the race times.
We also ran the 3.5 mile Rainbow Run last Saturday. My run time was 33:25, which equates to about a 9:30 split. As long as I keep dropping my splits, I'll be very happy. Because more competitive runners were off challenging themselves with the Hafa Marathon, I managed to snag third place in my division. Not bad! And Drew got 5th place in his division. I wish I would have taken a picture of him standing with the boys who were all a foot or more taller than him.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
After judo, I felt exhilarated because I was sweating and my muscles were warm. However, a night of sleeping surrounded by furry black cats left me sore and stiff. I got up at 0100 to take some ibuprofen and still woke with a headache. So, rather than being a running morning, it became a yoga morning. I didn't get any complaints from the kids about my decision. We'll still run the SHRM 5K tomorrow so I should be able to benchmark my time.
Drew lost another tooth, this time at school when Cole accidentally hit him in the mouth. The tooth fairy was very diligent and delivered on-time and on-budget...
Today is a relaxing day as I put the kids to work cleaning the house (Drew loves the vacuum cleaner duties). The kids wanted to make cookies so we'll get the cookie dough for shaping and rolling out in the refrigerator chilling for baking tomorrow. I'll pick up Cole for the tennis lessons this afternoon then we'll do our neighborhood progressive dinner. Finally, I'll prepare for tomorrow's children's sermon and make something for the potluck after church. I'm still undecided about doing a cardboard boat for the regatta on Monday. A little voice inside my head keeps telling me, "But it'll be fun!"
Friday, February 8, 2008
I am rather demoralized at realizing the first place finisher in my division (Master) finished in 23:10. The third place finisher was under 25 minutes. The top runner, Lisa Mason, finished in 18:06.
Drew is going to Jack's birthday party and they are touring a helicopter at Andersen. I will take Anna to tennis lessons and Gregg will be going to play poker at the neighbor's house. Tomorrow is a little busy. We will go to church and Anna will sell cookies for Girl Scouts at the NEX while Drew goes to Boy Scouts. I, of course, will be getting the house in order for the next week and doing laundry. Fun, fun.
Friday, January 25, 2008
This post is an effort to update everyone on what has occurred since we returned from Thailand.
Mary's New Year Resolutions
My resolution this year is to decrease my run time by five minutes. To do this, I'll need to increase the amount of running I do and increase my efficiency as well as improve my overall nutrition. I caught a severe cold the first week we got back (I would have sworn it was the flu except I never ran a fever) and I couldn't breathe through my nose. I was miserable. The second week I had duty and getting up at 0430 meant I would have to get up at 0400 to run (if someone didn't call in the middle of the night with questions or problems---which, of course, they did).
So, no more excuses starting Sunday. I WILL set the alarm for 0500 and get up and run. I have been doing yoga in the morning which has helped with the tight hamstrings and hips most runners get (and makes me feel better overall). I also bought a running watch to help with interval training. We will see if this changes anything. Here are my run times for the 5Ks run in January:
12 January: 30:15
19 January: 29:39 (I started counting the number of people I passed and the number who passed me---it was a pretty good ratio, then it went downhill. Once I was passed by two jogging strollers, I stopped keeping statistics)
26 January: 29:55 (and today I came in 44th in the female race; unfortunately, I was passed by FOUR jogging strollers)
I'm also keeping my uniform at work so I come home in PT gear. That means no excuses for not stopping at the gym for a quick weight-lifting session.
Incidentally, Drew turned in his best PR last week with 27:12. Not bad for 7 year-old stubby legs...
Anna and Drew
Anna is taking piano lessons and will re-start tennis lessons this afternoon. Drew has started piano lessons and will also be starting tennis lessons for the first time this afternoon. He also continues with judo and turned in a 3rd place performance this morning at the competition at Kontenda's Gym in Tamuning.
Gregg started judo lessons with me in the adult class and Drew was very happy. However, he is still not satisfied. "My whole family needs to take judo," Drew says. Gregg will probably be taking a break for a few weeks because he "popped" a rib during a throw and had troubles breathing afterwards. He was feeling fine the next day so he decided to lift weights because it was his "shoulders" day. This was probably not the best decision as he felt fine until he attempted the 5th set.
We were listening to the car radio on the way to the competition this morning and the announcer was discussing the 2008 Presidential hopefuls.
Drew asked, "Is Hillary a girl?"
I replied, "Yes."
"Why are they talking about her?"
"Because she's running for President."
"She can't," Drew declared. "Anna's going to be the first girl President."
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
We walked to the elephant show where the elephants paraded around and performed many tricks. They danced, they kicked soccer balls, and they painted beautiful pictures. After the show, we fed them bunches of bananas and bundles of sugar cane. They hugged us with their trunks and we took many photos.
We were very impressed with the elephants’ artistic ability and bought one of the pictures they painted. We also stopped in the elephant souvenir shop where the profits were dedicated to caring for the elephants. Our guide, Kung, said some people feel guilty about the elephants in the camp. She said we shouldn’t feel this way because the elephants don’t have enough work to do with the loss of teak logging. Performing tricks is one way they can earn their keep.
We went to the Drew Cent---oops, the Monkey Centre, after that. We watched the monkeys count numbers, ride bicycles, and dive after a waterproof watch donated by a willing participant. Drew won a banana by finding the number “4” after the monkey was “tired” of the game.
After the show, we fed the monkeys tangerines and bananas. Anna and Drew played with two baby monkeys and Anna learned the wisdom of keeping her hair away from the monkey’s reach.
Kung took us back to our hotel and we had to decide what we were going to do with our afternoon. We ate sushi at Ikue and Drew and Gregg stayed in the hotel while Anna and I went walking around. I was in search of interesting textile shops and the one I was truly interested in, a wholesale silk factory outlet shop, was closed, which was probably a very good thing. We stopped at Naruk’s and I got my feet massaged for an hour while Anna got her very first pedicure and manicure.
We ate at the Walking Street Market which is held every Sunday from 4-10pm. Everyone, locals included, said this market was better than the Night Market. I have to agree, if only because I did not feel claustrophobic and the prices seemed a little better.
Anna and Drew ate fresh fruit for dinner---watermelon and cantaloupe. Strawberries are in season now and we got a cup. Drew took one bite and said, “Mom, they ruined the strawberries. They’re not supposed to have salt on them!” The strawberries were seasoned with salt and sugar---I’ve heard of freshly cracked pepper on strawberries, but never salt. I was the only one who finished eating them. Gregg ordered fried rice noodles with in an egg omelet---it was only 20 baht.
Anna and Drew chose a few "voodoo dolls" on key rings as mementos of their stay here in Chiang Mai. They finished up with cotton candy---a distinctively non-Thai tradition.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
We woke up the earliest we’ve had to since leaving Guam to visit the Hill Tribes---a three-hour trip each way to a little village very close to the Thai-Burma border. We stopped at the Orchid Farm in Maerim where we learned about the life of orchids and butterflies. The orchid jewelry was exquisite---they took orchid flowers, covered them in resin to dry them out then coated them with lacquer. They edged the flowers with gold. So the flower jewelry really is flower jewelry, not an artistic interpretation. They also did the same thing with the butterflies.
You can tell the difference between the various Buddhas once you’ve been educated. Burma Buddhas are different from Thai Buddhas which are different from Chinese Buddhas. It’s all very interesting and we’ve decided to learn more about Buddhism so we can better understand the Asian culture.
We made one more stop to view a giant Buddha and look out over a rustic northern Thai resort.
Finally, we drove up a rutted road and clambered out of the van. What an eye-opener. The various tribes are refugees from Burma and Laos: the Karen, the Palong, and the Akha.
Today we visited the Hill Tribes of northern Thailand. The Hill Tribes are the remaining members of three separate tribes from the Northern Thailand/Burma/Laos region. They are the Karen ("Longneck"), the Palong ("Black Teeth"), and the Akha.
The "Longneck" tribe got their nickname from the rings the women put around their necks starting at 5 years of age. In earlier times, the rings were used to protect the necks of females from tiger attacks in the woods, as the neck was where the tigers would attack. A second reason for the rings was to alter a woman's appearance to look like a swan, which was revered for its beauty by the tribe. And finally, the rings "protected" the soul, or spirit, of the wearer, which was thought to reside in the neck of the tribe members. Likely because that was where members were bitten by tigers when their spirits were lost at death.
Today, Longneck women are no longer forced to wear the rings - they are still forced to start at 5, but can decide to stop wearing them at 10. The decision is a difficult one, though, since those who choose not to wear the rings must leave the tribe and their family and go to another tribe that does not wear rings.
The second tribe we met was the Palong. The Palong are known for their extremely black teeth, which they get from chewing Betel nut. They chew the Betel nut for the "high" they get, which I'm told is something like that of nicotine but stronger. The chemicals in the Betel nut eventually turn their teeth completely black, as you can see in the picture below. The Palong also have extremely large ear lobes which they get from inserting increasingly large ear rings. Unlike the Longneck tribe described above, there are no underlying reasons for enlarging their earlobes, other than perceived beauty.
Meeting these humble, extremely poor people was overwhelming. We already knew we were blessed with riches when we saw how poor the Thai people living in the cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai were. But these proud people were poor even by their standards. Thatch homes with dirt floors covered by bamboo rods, a kitchen that was nothing more than a fire pit, and no running water to speak of. They had a communal shower that was a water pipe with a rubber hose attached, fed from the stream nearby. Yet they were too proud to beg for anything. (Not the Akha, who were quite adept at begging.)
We were all deeply moved by the experience and are looking for ways to make donations to help make their lives better. The guides who took us to visit them didn't have any suggestions on what we could do, so we are investigating on our own.
In the meantime, the one thing we all took away from our visit was how incredibly blessed we are compared to most other people in the world. I knew before going that there was abject poverty in the world. I've seen it in the Philippines and, of course, on TV. But I've never seen anything like this up close. It will stick with me and give me perspective when I hear others, particularly those living in the United States, complain about how little they have. Believe me when I say that the poorest people living in the US are unimaginably rich compared to the Hill tribes.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
I mentioned the Bangkok Doll Factory to him and he pointed us in the direction of the toy section of the market. We spent 30 minutes (we could easily have spent more, but that's how much time we budgeted before having him return for us). Anna fell in love with a yarn bird marionette and Drew snagged a multi-pack of Lego-type cars.
Our next stop was Vimanmek Mansion. However, the guard told us it was closed. The zoo was next door and it looked busy, but no one really wanted to go. Our driver asked if we wanted to go to the aquarium. This turned out to be an inspired choice as Siam Ocean World was a terrific treat! While more expensive than we had budgeted, it featured a theme close to the hearts of all school-age boys: Monsters of the Deep.
We were familiar with Underwater World in Guam and have annual passes. At Siam Ocean World, we received a free drink with a souvenir squeaky squid lid, rode on a glass-bottom boat and watched the sharks feed, and ate some of the best popcorn we've had in southeast Asia. We also viewed a 4D short movie as part of our entry package.
On our trip to the Floating Market, we watched a video in the van. Drew fell in love with Pingu. We traipsed through the Siam Paragon Mall trying to find a copy of the DVD without success. For consolation, we let Drew pick the restaurant for lunch; he chose Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok. After eating, we returned to the hotel to wait for our ride to the airport to travel to Chiang Mai. Fortunately, we didn't wait long.
As part of our tour package, we chose to tour the tourist industries in Chiang Mai. Our first stop was Jolie Femme, a silk factory where we learned how much time it takes to weave the more elaborate silk brocades and how much the typical weaver makes in a month. Then, we had the opportunity to view and buy products made from silk.
Our next stop was the Gemstone Showroom which achieved ISO 9001 status. I turned to Gregg and told him I didn’t know artistic endeavors could aspire to this award. You learn something new everyday.
We came back home to eat lunch at Duke's.
Gregg was tired and the kids just wanted some downtime with their Nintendo’s, so I hired a tuk tuk and walked around Sbun Nga Textile Museum at Old Chiang Mai Cultural Arts Center. They didn’t allow photos so I spent over 500 baht on postcards and brochures depicting the historical costumes.
This was the only mix-up in our entire schedule. We waited from 1910 till 1940 for our driver who never showed. We hired a tuk tuk to take us to Old Chiang Mai Cultural Arts Center where we were so late we were shoved into a corner far from the stage. Fortunately, our friends were seated close to the stage so once we finished eating, we moved to their table. We couldn’t believe there were people who left in the middle of the dance program, but they did. So we snagged their seats on the floor (along with their pillows) for a real up-close-and-personal view of the dancers. Anna and Drew got into the spirit of the show by dressing in their Hill Tribe costumes (which we later discovered were representative of the Akha tribe).
The dance program consisted of two parts: the first part took place in the center stage where they did the “fingernail dance,” the sword dance, and the circle dance (where participants were recruited from the audience). The second part took place outside. The Hill Tribes were actual hill tribesmen (and women), not city people. We enjoyed it all and caught a lift back with our friends.