Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Just a quick hike...

    We have had the incredible pleasure of having PJ's cousin with us for the last 2 weeks. The day after Christmas, we decided to go for a "quick hike", his first since arriving. We chose a short, 3(ish) mile loop at a beach located on base called Tarague Beach. I placed quick hike in quotes for three reasons;

1. A hike when children become unwilling to continue without dragging their feet and telling you how miserable they feel as many times at they can is never quick.

2. A hike which cuts through the jungle "somewhere around here" and meets the main road "somewhere up there", is not quick.

3. A hike which infringes on lunch time feels as if it will never end. 

And so, just like that, our 3(ish-in theory) mile loop became close to a three hour outing.

View from the road leading down to Tarague

Another overlook 

There are many of these velvety black butterflies with beautiful bright blue markings on the top of the wings all over Guam

Checking out a school of fish

Bubs thought he wanted to get up on the rock with Josh

He quickly figured out that he did not

Maddie happily braved the climb

These little guys are all over and Grant has finally made his peace with them

Maddie and PJ walking out to the reef

Josh happily obliging the camera while PJ and Maddie snub it

    The refreshing water and beautiful views were enjoyed prior to the jungle portion of the trek which was also filled with beautiful views, thousands of spiders, thick mud, evasive trails,  and eventually a long walk down a hot asphalt road.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day, 2011

I do not have very specific memories from the past 6 years of this day, save for the first one which was one week to the day before Mads was born. As I sat with our church family on Sunday with Taryn in my lap, the time came to take communion. Having already blessed me with sleeping sweetly in my arms through a good portion of the morning, Taryn became very excited and interested when the bread passed towards us. As I took a piece of bread, she took one as well.  Needless to say, PJ and I were thankful to avert disaster as her flailing hand grabbed for more.  While sitting and waiting for the rest of our brothers and sisters to receive their bread, I began to feed Taryn microscopic bits of ‘her’ piece. It was the first time she ate something solid other than Cheerios, and she responded very enthusiastically, hardly content with working each little bit around in her mouth while anxiously looking ahead for the next piece. The thought suddenly struck me that this was a picture of my greatest task, or calling, as a mother. When I take communion as a follower of Christ, the bread functions as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice-his body broken for me. On Sunday I sat and fed my daughter; something that she physically needs in order to survive. The bread she ate, while meeting her physical need for the moment, was actually representative of my Lord Jesus Christ, the only one who can meet her greatest and deepest need forever. Every day, every moment, I am to ‘feed’ my children Christ. I am to nourish their souls through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in me. This is my blessed vocation and my great passion. The loudest and most fervent cry of my heart is that my children will be satisfied by the eternal bread of Christ.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


There are two people that must live somewhere in our house which I have yet to meet. The kids know them well and interact with them daily. They seem to have their hand in practically every unpleasant interaction that transpires between Mads and Bubs and they only involve themselves when I am not present to witness their actions. Their names; I Don’t Know and Not Me.
I Don’t Know is often the cause of many accidents. Just this morning, I Don’t Know spilled some milk on the floor and left globs of toothpaste on the bathroom counter. I Don’t Know is notorious for leaving many of Bub’s toys strewn about which is unfortunate for him since he often receives the blame. I Don’t Know caused me quite a bit of frustration this afternoon by leaving the screen door open-twice.
I Don’t Know’s counterpart is the notorious Not Me. Not Me has accidents every so often, though not quite as often as I Don’t Know. Not Me leaves toys out only every once in awhile. Not Me has never left the screen door open, though Not Me has pulled the screen door off the track entirely-twice. Not Me has a habit of being physically malicious. Bubs is most often the target of bumps, pinches, and pushes from Not Me. Not Me tends to be bossy, from what I gather, because I Don’t Know often reacts badly to Not Me’s dominion by doing things such as messing up neatly arranged toys or making angry faces. Not Me also yells loudly in protest at times and from the other room, the voice sounds strangely familiar.
I never want to be the Mom who falsely accuses or disciplines unjustly. Unfortunately, until they show their faces, poor Mads and Bubs will have to continue shouldering the consequences for

I Don’t Know


Not Me.

I have it on good authority that they will soon be joined by a third elusive friend; the irresistible

Me Either

Monday, February 14, 2011

25 Truths and One Lie

On the drive to church this morning we may or may not have seen the following;

1. A cow tied to a tree
2. A lizard as long as my leg
3. Hundreds of black butterflies
4. 1 dead boonie dog and several live ones-one which tried to chase our car for a short distance
5. A Chinese school
6. A family sharing breakfast in the back of a driving truck
7. Two shirtless, bare-headed men with flip flops riding motorcycles
8. Fresh fish for sale on the side of the road
9. An outdoor swap meet
10. Two beautiful bays
11. Kmart
13. A rainbow
14. A burned-out building
15. A BMW dealership
16. A car driving against traffic on the wrong side of the road
17. A billboard advertising a ‘miracle crusade’ this weekend
18. Dense jungle
19. Huge goats
20. Chicken lean-tos and chickens in a front yard
21. Random roosters strutting along the side of the road
22. A bright purple house
23. A Mormon church, Catholic church, Baptist church, Lutheran church, Episcopal church, ba’hai faith center
24. A veteran’s  cemetery
25. A Louis Vuitton store
26. Two McDonald's

Which of these is a lie? I will leave it to your discretion.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Midweek Maunder

Maunder: to move, talk, or act aimlessly or idly

Am I just a word geek or does anyone feel excessively pleased when they put their finger on a word which perfectly describes their current state? Maundering is exactly what I am fixing to do as it is late and I am tired yet feeling the need as well as the desire to write something about life in the past couple of weeks.

It has been raining a LOT. For about 4 days the weather cleared up considerably but today it was back to the rainy, soggy, steam room weather. This new bit of rain has included lightening which is a beautiful thing to watch. The huge clouds that collect in the seemingly endless sky are beautifully formed and vividly colored in dark gray, blue, and purplish hues with occasional streaks of light which illuminate parts of the sky and the water below. I would love to watch a more dramatic lightening storm out over the ocean from a safe, dry, elevated vantage point some time. By the way, just in case any of you picture us gazing at the ocean from dawn ‘til dusk or stepping out of our front door and strolling a few yards down to the beach, you are picturing us in our retirement home, not our present home. Though we are on a tiny island, there are many places which do not afford a view of the ocean. Granted, a short drive down the road offers a beautiful vantage point overlooking the gorgeous, sparkling blue, warm water (read; plug for you coming to visit us). We are not close enough to walk to the beach. At least not with three kids and the equipment necessary to facilitate a successful beach trip for said three children.

The neighbors are on a vacation and the kids are on a forced hiatus from playtime with them. It has been good for them to rely solely on one another as buddies this past week and it has been fun to see what the two of them have contrived to play. There has been an excessive amount of dress up, many puzzles worked (most begun by both, abandoned by Bubs, finished by Mads), a zoo in Mads room on one occasion, bubble blowing wars, and an extensive set up outside on the patio which included practically every water-safe toy we own as they played under the shade of an umbrella with their water table. It is precious to me that my children are friends. This does not spare them from the inevitable spats and sibling rivalry, but they ‘get’ each other and continue to develop a chummy little bond which, I pray, will be an even greater source of much enjoyment and blessing in the future.

Baby girl is coming up on 5 months this next week which I can hardly believe! She thinks that it is grand to get up early in the morning which puts a bit of a wrench in some of my early morning plans. Still, it is hard to be frustrated for long with a chubby, smiling, bright-eyed little bundle that commonly waits expectantly on her back while clutching her feet with her hands (latest trick) and makes happy shrieking noises. She continues to be an absolute joy and delights the kids to no end. Bubs calls her “my little sweetheart” or “my little sweetie”. Mads speaks baby talk to her in a tone and style which I have finally recognized as one which is patterned precisely after the way in which I often speak to her as well. Hence, my daughter sounds like a bit of an idiot and I have resolved never to talk baby-talk again when within earshot of anyone but a baby. I seem to have my father’s tendency to bequeath ridiculous nicknames which seem to come out of nowhere. It is my fervent hope that she does not remain ‘Beano’ (or one it’s other many variations) forever.

February fifth marked month number three of being on island. In some ways it feels much shorter and in other ways, longer. Our greatest prayer was answered two weeks ago as the Lord led us to a church body which we have felt undoubtedly called to be involved with. Two and a half months of floating was beginning to take a toll on us and the overwhelming assurance we felt as we left the service on our first visit to this church was an incredible blessing. I really need to dedicate a whole post just to this issue, but for now I give glory and praise to the Lord for this tremendous gift!

I think we are all continuing to adjust fairly well to life here with ups and downs sprinkled throughout our days (as with anyone, anywhere!). Bubs still continues to wrestle a bit with the concept of moving. As I continue to get to know him, I think he is a kid who thrives on permanence. He asked me just yesterday what kind of hotel we are living in and wanted to know when we would go back to our house in Monterey. Whenever we go through this routine, I remind him that we are in our new home and that the home in Monterey is no longer ours. He then asks if this is our home forever and does not receive the inevitable response well no matter how many times he hears it. When we talk about life beyond Guam, I do not have much to offer him except for the hope of God’s plan for our family. This concept can be hard enough for me to entertain most days-how much more so for a permanence loving four year old?!

On an extremely high note, I just discovered that we have a recently-opened Yogurtland of our very own! We have yet to go and partake of its delicious offerings, but simply the knowledge that it is here on this strip of land with us is a delight. The term ‘island fever’ is beginning to develop into a completely new and understandable reality. In the first few weeks of moving here and meeting people, one of the first questions I asked everyone was “How do you like living here?” Without one single variation, I received a favorable response with the caveat being the island’s size. I have heard many people speak of their impending need to get off the island for a bit, many times included in the same sentence in which they inform me of the length of time which has elapsed since their last getaway. The little and familiar things such as Yogurtland help to assuage this feeling of being far away or trapped. In light of this, it sounds both pathetic and shallow to confess that some of my happiest moments here have involved eating out or walking around in a familiar restaurant or store.

Being the privileged US citizen that I am, and coming from an area which boasts of endless shopping, entertainment, activities, etc… I am rather spoiled in many ways. One thing which I will NEVER take for granted again is the simple (not so simple, in this case) pleasure of ordering something and having it delivered. Online shopping here is much more prevalent (understandably so), but you would think that Guam is another planet from the hurdles that have to be cleared in many cases to simply place an order. Everything goes smoothly until I reach the one dreaded box in which I have to select my state. Scroll, scroll, scroll….nope. Not in the US options with the other US territories. The next step is to then ascertain whether or not the company in question offers International shipping which may or may not be accessed in the same spot. In the case that it is not, this requires filling out the same information all over again before reaching the dreaded box which, in this category, is Country. Scroll, scroll, scroll…nope. Let’s just say that I am slowly becoming an expert on many things related to online shopping and customer service representatives. It is also an excellent exercise in patience since I do not get enough of that with three young children.

I leave you with a quick description of my current state; I am the only one awake as it is after midnight. I bought some Swedsh Fish at the BX tonight because buying candy is a must when you take your son on a date. I do not generally enjoy candy like that, but after about 10 pm I lose the ability to make good and rational decisions. This means that I have a belly full of Swedish Fish which I ate simply because they were next to me and I was tired. As I type, the air conditioning is blowing continuously with a familiar rattling sound that is annoying when you pause to actually listen to it. Intermittently, the chirping (yes, you read correctly) of geckos can be heard from outside and though I know full well that they are not in the room with me, I cannot help but glance around the room occasionally just to make sure. I am in a state which PJ can pinpoint simply by looking at me and is very amused by. This state is the feeling of being exhausted and in need of bed, yet reluctant to give up the precious quiet time which is afforded by sleeping children. This state is also a reluctance to go to bed because going to bed means that I will all too quickly have to wake up and begin another day which I currently feel far too tired to imagine doing. It is a vicious cycle and feels like a lose-lose situation. Whenever I reach this state, it makes me think of Ecclesiastes. So, that sums me up for now. Typing, candy eating, gecko-watching, bed-yearning, bed-resisting, Ecclesiastical-thinking me.

Enough maundering for one night.

Friday, January 28, 2011


If I do not hear two children begging me to go and see if the neighbors are out at least four times daily (and that is a moderate estimation), then I somehow either switched children with someone else or I woke up in a life that looks just like mine but isn't. This afternoon when my children approached me with their familiar plea, I gave my usual response in which I say yes so long as they mind the boundary line. Two disappointed faces appeared at the back door moments later as they came back inside to tell me that they'd had no luck. I was in the midst of dinner preparations only ten minutes later when they came to ask again if they might go out to check on the neighbor status. After giving them permission to do so they were off like shots. A few moments later, Mads appeared in the kitchen asking if she and her brother might color for awhile using their little folding table. Pleased that they had found something to occupy themselves with and surprised that there was no bemoaning of the fact that no neighbors were available for play, I gave them the go-ahead and returned to fixing dinner. In my distracted flurry of activity (racing against the content-for-now baby time bomb), it suddenly dawned on me that the kids had taken their tables and chairs outside. I stepped out onto the back patio and saw.....


And then this.

 They had posted themselves directly on their boundary line which is the wall that separates us from our neighbors.

This tree (or as we now unaffectionately call it, the Tree of Terror) used to be their boundary.

This is why the tree is no longer their boundary.

They sat drawing, talking loudly, and waiting at their table. I like to call this 'permissible loitering'. It sounds gentler than stalking.

Wouldn't you enjoy having this little face keep you company in the kitchen? 


I have got to hand it to them, that was one slick stakeout.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tropical Paradise?

So...I am suffering from some mild panic attacks here in the GU lately, all stemming from the creatures which inhabit this tropical paradise. As previously mentioned, I've made my peace with the geckos. That does not mean, however, that I jump for joy when they dart out of my cosmetic bag upon handling it, or surprise me by hiding in the shower curtain when I am about to take a shower. I hate being taken by surprise (a fact which my husband can attest to), and that is exactely what these little guys seem to do best. I often open the kitchen blinds in the morning to find a larger variety of lizard clinging to the screen-sometimes two or three. There is also a particular pair of lizards that enjoy frolicking on the outside of our front window in the earlier half of the day. My husband serves me wonderfully by being on trash duty most of the time. However, on the occassions that I do need to dispose of something in the outdoor containers, I have learned to steel myself for the inevitable scurrying of frightened lizards upon opening the lid. I can never seem to steel myself adequately though, and the kids relish the enjoyment of watching mommy shriek.
Another species which I have now encountered several times are frogs. We experienced frogs a bit in Albuquerque, but they were small and somewhat cute. The frogs we have encountered here are larger and slow- moving. Bleh. According to my neighbor, they are very prolific during the spring and, being as slow-moving as they are, the streets are commonly littered with flattened frogs during this season of the year. According to my neighbor, they are also poisinous. By the way, I have come to rely quite a bit on the authority of my neighbor about all things concerning Guam, and I am constantly quoting her information and opinions regarding life here as fact to PJ. I will most likely quote it as fact to you as well. She is, after all, super woman. More on that later.
This past weekend, we headed into the backyard for a bit of fresh air and PJ proceeded to play ball with Grant. He decided that it would be a great idea to kick the ball as far/high as he could and let Grant run for it. You know, kind of like you would for a dog. He ended up lodging the ball in the tree which is in our backyard. This is the same tree which our children and their neighbor friends frequently climb upon, hang from, and enjoy. I headed over to dislodge the ball from the branches with a basketball in hand. As I was peering through the thick leaves to try and locate the ball, I noticed a web. Upon closer observation, a large and menacing spider became apparent in the middle of the web. This was unlike any spider I had ever seen in person, and I had no desire to disturb it. As I backed away from the tree I noticed yet another web with the same variety of spider clinging to the corner of it's monstrous and intricate creation. It was then that the proverbial veil was lifted, and what seemed like hundereds of webs and spiders came into view all at once. The branches were absolutely inundated and I was aghast that I had been sending my children out daily to play in such a tree.
The following afternoon I was carrying groceries on the two mile trek from the carport to the front door. After several trips I realized that I was having to shoo (or at least attempt to shoo) more flies than usual in an effort to keep them from entering the house with me. My whining children and crying baby, along with the rapidly melting frozen goods which needed to be strategically stuffed organized in the freezer, quickly turned my attention away from pursuing the reason behind the increased amount of flies. It was not until early that evening when the kids and I went out to greet PJ on his arrival home from work that the source of the excess flies was discovered. It was found in the form of a dead frog resting upon the very stick to which Grant was attracted to for the purpose of throwing it at something...anything. Why would he desire to throw the stick you might ask? Because it was a stick, he is a boy, and that is what they do. The End.
That was enough dead frog to last me the whole year. Unfortunately, my attempt to re-establish some healthy habits post-baby backfired when, while on an early morning jog, I lept off the curb to avoid jumping on a mouse....and landed directly on a flattened frog. I was already suffering from some mild creature-induced panic attacks by this point, and the experience did nothing except to aid in throwing that panic into a temporary overdrive.
I spent the next rainy day in the house with the windows fogged up due to the extreme humidity, feeling as though I was living on the inside of a gigantic terrarium. When the rain subsided later in the afternoon I allowed the kids to venture outdoors to play with their neighbor friends. At some point during their play one of the kids threw the lid off of our empty sand table exposing a large, creepy white lizard. It quickly made itself scarce and I breathed a sigh of relief as I stepped outside, baby in tow, to check on the kids and replace the lid. It was then that I noticed the "boonie" beehive that was clining to the underside of the lid with several bees buzzing nearby. If I have ever come anything close to running with a baby in my arms, it was at that very moment. We continue to hear about the awful stings which these bees impart, and I myself witnessed the effects of a sting for the first time just several days prior to this incident. Our neighbor was stung on his finger while taking down Christmas lights. When I ran into him at the clinic his hand still resembled a latex glove inflated as a balloon. Upon describing his hand to my husband, he shuddered and told me that he would most likely scream like a little girl should he ever get stung. I hope that he never ever has such an encounter...Almost as much as I hope that I will one day get to hear him scream like a little girl because, frankly, that is one of the funniest mental images I have ever entertained.
Upon escaping from the bees I spent several moments chatting with my neighbor while our kids played. When we both decided that it was time to head back to our respective kitchens to finish dinner preparations, I directed Mads and Bubs to head back towards the house. I had to think carefully beforehand in order to determine which route they should take. Option number one did not sound great: "Hey kids, why don't you walk past the spider-saturated tree of terror, around the house to the front door-mind the rotting frog- and just try to keep moving upon arrival so that the flies don't bite you while you wait for me to open the front door for you from the inside." Option number two was even less inspiring: "Hey kids, why don't you walk past the spider-saturated tree of terror to the back door where the bees of death await to sting you over and over until your body swells up like a marshmellow". We went with option number one for the kids, while I had to brave the back door since it was the only open door available. Thankfully, we all emerged from our trips to the house unscathed. I say 'unscathed' and not 'no worse for the wear' because, by that point, I was feeling like a mental case.
When PJ came home that evening he disposed of the dead frog and then graciously and bravely headed out to deal with the hive...flyswatter and kayak paddle in hand. As soon as he stepped out onto the patio I quickly slid the sliding glass door closed, and the kids and I watched from the safety of the house. It took me awhile to figure out just why he thought the kayak paddle would be useful to complete this task. In the meantime, I began to appreciate the humor of the situation as I watched my husband. He was sweating and his stance was noticably rigid/intense. He successfully killed the few remaining bees with the flyswatter and then annihilated the hive with the end of the paddle despite the fact that Mads, Bubs, and I had dissolved into laughter-along with him- as we took in the scene.
The following day, I did not set foot out of the house. I was not planning on going outside ever again until after dinner that evening when my man lovingly encouraged me to get outside for some exercise/time to myself. If I did not know any better, I would say that the Lord planted the huge frog that greeted me the moment I opened the front door just to get a laugh. PJ certainly did.