Jet-lag + Sleep Training + a Twin Bed = A Very Tired Family, Part Three

December 27, 2011

This is the third and final installment (please, God!) of the Very Tired Bates' series.  See these posts: Part One and Part Two for more information.  The Jet-lag problem kind of resolved itself with Sky's bedtime moving from around 7pm to a little before 8pm.  We decided not to push that since we were dealing with the twin-bed problem and she is still getting enough sleep.  But how did we solve the twin-bed problem, you might ask?  Well, I did a lot of research, on the internet, in books and through polling other moms.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, our situation is not that unique but nothing that I found really seemed to apply to the problem we were having.  In the end, we followed the common thread of advice: we did what worked for our family.
  Before I tell you what we decided on, and what has been working for us, let me ask you, reader, not to judge.  Yes, all two of you!  Put on your objective hats and realize that this is what we needed to do.  I know it's hard not to disagree with another parent's methods (believe me, I do it all the time, and I'm working on getting better at it) but every family is different and this is how D and I chose to deal with this problem in our family.

Jet-lag + Sleep Training + a Twin Bed = A Very Tired Family, Part Two

December 25, 2011

This is the follow up to this post.  We're still really tired here at the Bates house.  Last night (or should I say this morning) Sky was awake off and on from 2:30am until we called it a night at 5:30am and the two nights before that were just as bad. We had previously been trying the sleep training method recommended by a friend where you keep putting the child back in bed, over and over, until they stay there and sleep.  It worked on the first night.  Sky was only up for about 20 minutes and D and I thought, "Yay, this is going to work!".  The next two nights were awful.  Sky has lost her ability to sleep through the night and every time she would cry herself to sleep in her bed, she would wake up 10 minutes later and we'd have to do it all again.  It really wasn't working. 

Sky and Ugly Christmas Sweater

December 22, 2011

I picked this sweater out of a Goodwill donation bag specifically for these pictures thinking, "Won't that be fun? We can put it on her and take some nice pictures in front of the tree?". Well, it turns out Sky is allergic, almost violently allergic, to bad fashion. I had to fight her to put the sweater on and these are the pictures I got:

The one semi-good photo

She's Got This Bowling Thing Figured Out

December 21, 2011

   This post is for my Dad.  You know, it's way easier to knock the pins over if you just hit them directly with the ball, rather than trying to roll the ball at them.  Here, Sky will show you:

Pictures with Santa and Kwaj's Christmas Tree

December 20, 2011

   Santa actually arrived at the end of November but I'm just getting around to posting these.  Happy Holidays All!
 How does Santa arrive on Kwaj?  By fishing boat, of course!

Jet-lag + Sleep Training + a Twin Bed = A Very Tired Family

December 19, 2011

  As the title indicates, we are a very tired family this morning, and last night went better than most have since we got home.  We have encountered a perfect storm of sleep problems.  The first one is jet-lag.  Thailand is 5 hours behind us and we're all having trouble waking up on time in the morning and then going to bed when we need to.  Sky has been staying up as late as 9PM when her usual bedtime is 7.  D and I have been having the same problem so we're all dragging when the alarms go off in the morning. 
  To add to the jet-lag, Sky is having trouble sleeping alone and has figured out how to climb out of her crib.  We all slept in the same bed during our vacation in Thailand which was fine while we were there but has come back to bite us in the butt now that we're home.  We only have a full size bed here and Sky is a flail-er, which means that the family bed doesn't work here.  To be a good Mom, I need my sleep and I can't get it when she sleeps with us in our bed.  When we tried the method of sleep training that we used with her before, we discovered that she could get out of her crib, something she'd never done before vacation.  For a few nights, we took turns sleeping with her in her twin bed but that wasn't a long term solution. 

She's Two!

December 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Sky!
We celebrated Sky's second birthday this Saturday with Sky'a best friend and her parents.  We had her favorite noodles and corn on the cob for dinner and then opened presents.  Sky had a great time tearing open presents and then blew out her candles herself when we had cake.
  I can't believe that she's two!  She's grown so much in the 10 months that she's been with us, both physically and mentally.  When we adopted Sky, she was 14 months old but was the size of an American 9 month old.  Now she wears 2T size clothes and her teachers tell us she's actually tall for her age.  She is starting to try to express more things with words and to make sentences.  She's also potty training already and doing great at it.  We're still having some issues with biting but it's not as bad as it used to be.  She's already acting like a two-year-old, exploring our boundaries and then pushing past them but she's still our perfect girl and we are so blessed to have her.

 She got a doll house from her BFF

The Erawan Waterfalls and Elephant, Bamboo Raft and Train Rides

December 17, 2011

    Next time we go to Thailand (yup, we loved it so much, we were talking about another trip before we left), we'll probably rent a car and do these trips on our own but with it being our first time there and with Sky being so young, it was just easier to jump onto a tour.  So we did.  Our second tour day was a full one.  The seven-waterfall hike at Erawan National park in the morning and after lunch, elephant rides, bamboo raft rides and train rides.
  Sky wasn't too sure about the hiking part, at least not at first.  We'd promised her more swimming and she couldn't understand why we kept walking past all these waterfalls.  The plan was to hike up to number seven and then swim on the way back down but we didn't make it that far.  D carried Sky most of the way so we ended up stopping at waterfall number five to swim.  Well, D and Sky swam.  If you scan through the pictures below, you'll notice there aren't any of Amber swimming.  Now why is that?  Anyone in my family can tell you that I'm hyper-ticklish and all of these pools had nibbling fish in them.  I tried, I really really did, but I jumped and screamed every time on of them nibbled on me and I just couldn't do it.  It was too weird!  I kind of wish I'd braved the fish so that I could have slid down the the waterfall at number four like D did, but I suppose there's always next time.

Motorbikes and the Bridge on the River Kwai

December 16, 2011

  Between tour days we scheduled ourselves a day off to loaf around the hotel and spend some free time in town.  D took a taxi into Kanchanaburi and came back with a motorbike for us.  We loved riding our motorcycle so we thought this would be a great way to get around.  Well, it worked for D and I but Sky didn't think much of it!  She didn't like having to sit between us but didn't like the wind and bugs when she rode in front of D and she was getting pretty annoyed with the whole thing by the time we returned the bike a few days later. 
  We spent a little time tooling around town, visited another railway museum and the war cemetery and then found our way to the Bridge on the River Kwai, the one from the movie (The Bridge over the River Kwai).  Part of it was bombed during WWII but it was rebuilt and used after the war and is actually still in use today.  The metal bridge is the second bridge built.  The first one was wood and kept collapsing.
  After a morning in town, we spent the afternoon playing in the pool again and then took the baby to a bar in town.  Yup, a baby in a bar.  We're those people!  Just kidding- they had a special on fish and chips and we were out of there before 6pm.

How brave are we?  We're Thai brave! 

What to do today?

December 15, 2011

   We didn't make any plans on our last day in Kanchanaburi so once we were up and moving we hopped on the motorbike and headed into town. What to do, what to do?  How about we stop and pet a leopard?  What!  Yes, a leopard.  Right there.  In town.  On a table.  Hmm.  Is that really a leopard?  Yes.  Should we encourage this very questionable enterprise by paying 100 baht (3 dollars) have our photos taken with her?  The hippie backpaker in A is outraged at seeing such a beautiful animal chained and made to "work" in such a demeaning way, but older, tourist mommy A says "Heck, yes!"  So here you go, us with a leopard:

Thoughts on Traveling with a Two-Year-Old

December 14, 2011

Thinking of taking your two-year-old on vacation? Avoid it at all costs!

Hellfire Pass, Sai Yok Waterfall and the Tiger Temple

December 13, 2011

  On our first real day in Kanchanaburi we went out on a tour to see some of the sights.  Our first stop was the Hellfire Pass Memorial and Museum.  It's built for and dedicated to the World War 2 POW's and conscripted workers that built the Thailand-Burma Railway in 1944, and died doing it.  I had read about Japanese attitudes towards POWs in Unbroken  but to actually see what these men were made to do was striking.  It's good to have these kinds of reminders about the awful things that happened so recently in the past (both my grandfathers fought in WWII) so that we can try to prevent them from happening again.
  After the museum we stopped at Sai Yok waterfall before heading to the Tiger Temple.  If you haven't heard of it before, the temple gets a mention in this month's National Geographic magazine.  It's a fairly controversial place.  Tigers are bred there and raised by hand by the monks and staff and then used to raise money for the temple.  I have to say, the whole thing was very tourist-y.  At no point were told a mission statement or philosophy regarding the tigers, told any other reason for them having the tigers, directed to the temple or encouraged to speak with anyone regarding the religious life of the temple.  And for the amount of money that the tickets cost (1200 baht, almost $40!) and the number of tourists that go through there, the whole place seemed pretty run down. 
  The tigers were amazing though.  They were all obviously well fed and kept well excercised and all were very tame.  Because they're raised by hand and have imprinted on humans they don't mind us touching them, and becuase the temple wisely does it's tiger show in the heat of the day, they are very drowsy and sleepy when the tourists see them.  I've never been that close to a big cat and let me tell you, they are BIG.  They're very impressive animals and it was never far from my mind what they could do to us if they chose.  But of course, we got our pictures taken petting and walking them!   Sky wasn't too sure about them but kept pointing and saying "kitty cat". 

D and Sky walking to the railway cut

On to Kanchanaburi

December 12, 2011

 Sky at our hostel doing some trip planning for us

Happy Birthday King!

December 10, 2011

   On the night of the 5th, we went to Sanam Luang to see the celebrations for the King's 84th birthday.  We'd watched some of the parades on TV and were excited to see what was going to happen that night.  We'd been told that in light of the recent flooding and the King's poor health, it was going to be more subdued than usual but that it would still be worth seeing.
  There were lights in the trees and forming pergolas over the street.  There were lots of vendor tents set up and the streets gradually filled up with people.  We ate and window shopped for a while and then followed the crowds to the walls outside Wat Phre Khao where people were lighting lanterns and releasing them to the sky.  I've never seen lanterns that big before and the sky was full of them- I don't think we got a good picture of them but it was pretty amazing to see.  There were a lot of people and Sky was getting pretty tired so we didn't stay too late but we're really glad we went.  Happy 84th Birthday, Your Majesty!
 D and Sky with the lit-up trees

Medical Wrap Up (A Post by D)

December 9, 2011

  Not that it will be any surprise to anyone, including myself, but yes, I do just seem to be crazy. All kinds of tests found nothing wrong with my innards that should be causing this pain. Docs seem to think it doesn't fit w/ the hiatal hernia, and my resulting acid reflux is well under control w/ meds. So we're back to what I knew, I must maintain perfect posture and limit stress. Just knowing that's the case will take a large part of the stress off, which should help. It still seems implausible that such a high level of pain can be caused by worrying, but my family will know I do come by it honestly.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and concerns

Rivers, Temples and Kao San Road

December 8, 2011

   D spent a night in the hospital this week and didn't get out until later in the morning.  We met up with him around lunch time but that morning, Sky and I expanded our maps of Bangkok and gave the Chao Phraya river ferries a try.  Sky kept saying " Bee boat, bee boat!" (big boat), so I think she liked them as much as I did.  They can get pretty crowded but you can get from one end of the city to the other in 20 minutes for about 10 cents.  Sky and I went to Wat Pho and had a tour guide show us around.  Mr Jimmy was great, carrying Sky's stroller for me and telling me all about the temple.
  That evening, D, Sky and I got back on the boats and headed up to Kao San Road, the traditional backpacker area of Bangkok.  Our hostel is near a night market but I wanted to see the one here to compare (plus, backpackers make me laugh- I know, it's the pot calling the kettle black).  We had a good time and did some good shopping before catching a cab back to our hostel.

Sorry folks, the pictures are out of order and I'm not going to hassle with fixing them.  I'll try to make it make sense in the explanations.

Someone gave Sky this balloon for free and she figured out pretty quickly how to pull the string to hit Daddy in the head with it- that made her night!

Taking it Easy in Bangkok

December 7, 2011

    Sky and I had most of the day to ourselves the other day so we spent the morning playing at Lumphini Park and the afternoon at the Children's Museum.  Well, that was the plan.  The park part went fine, Sky actually didn't want to leave but after a snack and some water, we headed out to find the museum.  Two trains and half an hour of walking later we get there, only to discover that it's closed :(  What to do, what to do?  
  A movie, of course!  Sky had never been to see a movie in a movie theater so we headed over to see Puss in Boots.  She loved it!  I don't know how much she really saw though because it was in 3D and she refused to wear her glasses, but she sat still and watched the screen for the whole thing, so I think it was a success.

 Playing at Lumphini Park

Is Sky Thai or Black?

December 5, 2011

  at seems to be the burning question on Bangkokians minds- what is Sky? Naturally, we get stared at. We'd get stared at without her, but with her, we're in whole 'nother realm of staring. As another blogger I follow puts it, we're conspicuous. For the most part, the stares are just curious- taking a look at something new in the neighborhood. Most of the time, I ignore them. If it's a woman, I will usually smile back. A baby is a baby and Sky is a particularly cute one, with a kind of cute that crosses cultures and most ladies will smile back.
   Some people have asked and they've asked nicely. The trend seems to be that if D is with us, people tend to think that she's Thai and that we just adopted her. She's a little bit darker than the darkest Thai person I've seen but I suppose she could be mistaken for asian. If it's just Sky and I, people will ask if she's black. I ran this past a foreigner that lives here and he said that Thai's just don't know what black people look like, that they think she's my biological daughter and that she's mixed.
   So, greater Bankok, that's the burning question: what is Sky? Besides being my perfect handful of almost-two-year-old daughter, Sky is Indian. Yup, that's what we settled on. People here don't know about the Marshall Islands, or Polynesia but they do know India. We found that out when we tried to explain her heritage to someone and they latched on to the Indian part. So we've copped out and stuck with that. So keep an eye out here folks, for more travel updates from us and our Indian daughter :)

D's Thailand Lesson Learned

December 4, 2011

#1 - Don't pay too little. Don't pay too much, but don't pay to little either. All advice I seem to run across is all about getting the best deal. My advice, we're the rich tourists and things are very affordable. There's nothing wrong w/ putting a little extra food on the locals tables. MOST "scams" are just a bit of hustle and they're how mouths get fed. Even for a hustle, the end price is not that unfair. Compared to time shares, the worst Tuk-Tuk re-routing to a gem shop is merely annoying. (Not that they've succeeded w/ me on that one.)

An example is taxis. Advice is to always insist on the meter. We were hearing that taxi meter prices have not been allowed to be raised in 17 years. If you pay that price, which is cheap, your driver may not even make any money that day after taxi "rent." I like to get the meter, but then go 50-100% higher.

Bartering is present, but not always. I could be wrong on this, but if the prices are listed, I'll generally pay, or barter down a bit. Bulk discounts are a must. If you have to ask the price, a real price is tricky number between 20-80%. If everyone is selling the same thing, try to walk away from the first three w/o even offering a low barter. One of them will show you the desperate price. Pay more than that to the next guy or your favorite. If the item is handcraft, real price may be closer to opening bid. When I named a number they accepted w/ a stomp and pout, I then paid a little more than I said.

The chief thing about don't pay too little is it can be the hustle. It's much better to approach them. Anyone coming up to you is probably not going to shanghai you, but is not your choice business, either. China town was a nice break. Everyone just showed wares and waited for their customers.

#2 - Quickest, cheapest, most straightforward way to get some where is take the Skyrail, Subway or boats to the neighborhood and grab a moped taxi. Then tuck your knees in tight, pray, and try to learn where a little about the neighborhood.

#3 - Take car taxis through Bangkok before 0730 or after 2300 if at all possible. Traffic sucks.

#4 – All crisps (potato, or otherwise, chips) are meat flavored and 90% seafood at that.

Eating Chicken Nuggets in Bangkok

December 2, 2011

  So far, this vacation isn't what we expected but it's exactly what we needed.  A lot of D's time has been taken up with tests at the hospital and Sky and I have been taking it easy around the city.  As far as D's medical situation goes, they've decided that he doesn't need the surgery he actually came here for and are doing tons of tests to try and find the real cause for his abdominal pain.  I'm very impressed with the hospital and the fact that they actually seem to care about D's health.  They've done x-rays, cat scans, endoscopy's and lots of blood tests.  D has a few more tests scheduled for today and then hopefully we'll have some answers.
  Sky and I have been spending our early mornings at Lumpini park, a fabulous park in the middle of the city with a lake and jogging paths and a nice, big playground.  Sky has a great time there and it's nice to be able to just let her run.  We've also gone to an aquarium (Nemo!) and the zoo and today we're going to a children's discovery museum.
  So we're not doing the usually tourist thing, going to temples and the like and we don't have too much bragging rights as far as food goes, because we actually have had chicken nuggets here (sometimes, you just need to feed a kid something you know she'll eat!) but we're having a really good time.  We really enjoy the city and Bangkok has a much mellower feel than anywhere we were in Japan.  The weather has been perfect and we haven't run into any scams.  Everyone stares but we expected that and the stares are curious without really seeming judgemental.
  There are so many more things I'd like to post about: travel with Sky, the food, how to go on a date with a baby and the fact that Sky looks Thai, sort of.  Oh, and sweet Thai coffee.  That stuff is so amazing it'll probably get it's own post, but without further ado, some pictures:

 Sky playing at Lumpini Park

D on the Road

November 29, 2011

Ok, Ok, Ok. I'm not the best at regular posting, but I have been in Thailand for one week and there’s no A to pick up my slack, so here it is. It’s been a bit of a crazy trip. I lost my “orientation” day to a 7 hour late flight from Kwaj that left me staying in Guam overnight. Guam is like a more Americanized version of HI. So, I mostly holed up in my room. Enjoyed some AC, some internet, some alone, non-hectic-ish-ness and properly set mind on vacation. I had a long swim in very shallow ocean water, had some beers thereafter at the pool and walked around enough to decide upon a swarma for my “first meal” off Kwaj. Oh, yes, I did shop at the world’s largest Kmart, which really isn’t all that big. It’s nice. It’s bulk like a Walmart, but nice like a target, and way less miserable and soul sucking than a Walmart. Here’s pics of just what you need: Jalapenho Cheesy Poofs. En Masse.

And here I am cheesing.

Once in Thailand, at 0130 in the morning, I took the wrong, expensive taxi, but look at this pimp retro classic Lorry! I’ll pick A up tonight, and will use city taxis for less than half price, I hope, because I’ll need one to get there also.

Since I lost the extra day, my first day was spent figuring out directions to the hospital,, getting my appointment, heading back to hotel to pack, back to hospital for another appointment, back to the hotel to pick up bags and then onto a crowded skytrain to go find a mini-van that would cheaply get me down to Hua Hin, where I took my three day kiteboarding class.
So, Bumrungrad Hospital. I’m in. Hook line and sinker. I want to get all my medical care done over here (thus far.) The most succinct way I could describe it is, I think the Thais have not forgotten they are providing customer service. They just said, ok, we need to find out what your problem is. How does this afternoon work? This is the free market system that the ideals of capitalism tout, but America seems to fail miserably at. Sorry, I shouldn’t put my political rants in a blog, but I have to say just once how much I hate Tea Party Extremists that claim an ideal (Ayn Randianism, really…I refuse to call objectivism) when what they’re furthering is not true capitalism, but the deadlock that is today’s aggressive monopolies (confusopolies, from Scott Adams) and simple gambling/scamming on the stock market. Sorry, again. I’m done. Ignore me.
And…Kitesurfing. Wow. I can’t sleep at night now, because in my mind I’m harnessed in and ready to roll. On this one hand, I’m actually eager to get home so I can start playing around. Here’s some pics of me:

Just kidding. Who’s taking the pictures? That’s a pro out there.
I did a three day course and did well. I made my instructor yell for me to stop when he asked me to do figure 8’s, just to see how much power the kite had. He said he’d never seen anyone pull that much out of that kite. Whee! I was ready to keep going. I was a bit more soprano, and I don’t mean like the HBO special, but loving it all the same. The second day I rode some. The third day I rode a fair deal and worked on going both directions, as well as tried, and failed pretty badly to go upwind. A necessary, but hard learned skill. Prior to that skill, you spend a lot of time walking up the beach w/ a lot of heavy/cumbersome equipment. I’m absolutely in love w/ the sport, so hopefully I’ll find enough time to do it on Kwaj. I live in the prefect place, I figured I had to…
I then checked out of my hotel and tried to make my way back to Bangkok to check into my next hotel and hit another hospital appointment. That soon became, let’s try to just get to the hospital, w/ all my (new, large, cumbersome) baggage. Bangkok traffic finally made me settle on just take me to the hotel. I was crabby from not eating and late and hot. That day was really bad. At the end, I felt like I hadn’t accomplished much. I’d been in Thailand for a week and hadn’t really done a single thing like see a sight, or temple, or anything.
Granted, I travel different from A. I’m a big fan of just seeing the streets, cars, merchants, merchandise, everyday culture, and buying some local a few drinks until I get a real feel for the place. But still. One week. Nothing but hospitals, restaurants, bars (and mostly behaved at that,) kiteboarding and transport.
This morning I atoned. I followed the “cynic’s” (Lonley Planet’s) walking tour of China town. It was rough at first, as it started at a subway station leading up to a (exaggeratedly, but not greatly) 9 way instersection. So after the first hour of walking up and down all the streets and comparing the map, I began. I took the following picture in that time because I liked seeing the, well, just look:

I passed by a lot of temples, but didn’t go in. I get templed out pretty quick and I know I have two in my future. Additionally, I wasn’t wearing pants. Long pants, for those who know me well enough to ask. I woke up at 0530 and dressing around sleeping hostel mates wasn’t necessarily thought out. Anyway, here’s the obligatory pics:

The point I REALLY starting digging my morning tour happened when it led me to these twisting little crazy back alleyways. This is what excites me, just seeing a life so far alien to my own. America, with all its space and little history compounding on top of itself, rarely leads you to such a crowded space. Philadelphia had a similar feel, but nowhere near THIS. I loved this little garden:

I got to see the streets really starting to awaken. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a girl on the street give me whiplash like the smell of this little coffee stand:

And the iced coffee, for 15 THB (THB *pi = US Cents, so ~50 cents), in bag:

So good! So, so good! I didn’t mention breakfast was street-meat chicken, fruit and Chinese street fired donuts, did I? At the coffee, I was really disappointed A couldn’t be with me having one of those. (Also, often felt like having my baby to show off.) I knew I was in the right place because the whole street was customer-less and this little coffee cart had about 5 people standing waiting.
I then went through a lot of little markets. China town doesn’t hassle you w/ sales, which is nice. The food markets were awesome:

A lady making a cauldron of soup starting w/ about 3 huge whole chickens:

Wow, I wanted to go back for the final result.
I did pretty well following the guided walking tour considering how high maintenance stopping, reading, comparing maps, and checking unclear road signs was, but one wrong turn, and little concern about that fact had me cut and pasting the tour. Then I rapidly just decided to follow my own paths. I ended up on a wrong street and wanted to see where it went. It should have gone to the other subway station, but I had misread, headed away from any subways, and instead moved toward a boat station that would do me no good. So I returned to my usual solution. The moped-taxi. Fast. Cheap. No scamming/ haggling. Very convient. These guys dart in and out of traffic like nothing else. (Knees in, if you dare it.) Here’s a great pic of him swearving in and out of traffic while talking on his cellular:

Am I any better? I'm holding on to the back and taking a picture at the same time.
Ok. I posted. Hope I didn’t lose my readers. If you just scanned the pictures, rad. That’s what I’m here for! Trust me, I understand. I will now pass the torch to A, whom I am SO eagerly awaiting. And my girl! I’ve got both the girl's beds made up, w/ stickers for Sky, a stuffed pet, the room clean and organized, and both their pajamas, ready, at an arm’s reach.

What I Am Thankful For:

November 27, 2011

  This year, I'm thankful for Ms Cheri.  Yes, of course, I'm thankful that I have a wonderful daughter and husband and that I have a job and that I live on a tropical island.  I'm thankful for a family that supports me and loves me and that I miss so much, especially on days like today.  But this year, I'm most thankful for Ms Cheri.
  Sky had a rough day today.  Things just aren't normal here, with D being gone and school being out for the day, and she had a hard time dealing with it.   All of her behaviors were normal toddler behaviors but they were... more extreme than they usually are.  There was more crying, more saying no, more throwing things and some biting.  And I couldn't be out of her sight- she even napped with me today.
  So tonight when we went to Thanksgiving dinner at my neighbor's house, I let out a huge sigh of relief when  Ms Cheri walked in.  As soon as she sat down, I pointed Sky in her direction and told her that it'd been kind of a rough day for both of us and she took right over.  She carried Sky around, entertained her, fed her dinner and gave her her milk.  For the first time today, I got to sit back for a little bit and it was wonderful.  I had a chance to eat some wonderful food, have some great conversation and a little bit of wine.  Ms Cheri and I talked for a little bit and she gave me some great pointers on getting through these rough days and offered to help out some more when she could.
  Thank you, Ms Cheri, for helping me end Thanksgiving Day with a smile!

A Little Catch-Up

November 25, 2011

 Sky demonstrating exactly how high up she can pull her pants

I think I can, I think I can...

November 22, 2011

  D left for Thailand today and I'm nervous.  Sky and I are own for a week and then we're flying to Thailand to join him.  I am really scared that she is going to push my buttons all over the place and I'm not going to be able to just let it go.  She was what D and I call "a pistol" yesterday and I was shorter with her a lot more than I should have been and I don't want that to be the pattern for the week.  I'm also worried about flying with her for so long on my own and navigating new airports where we don't speak the language and to have us be tired of each other by then will only make that anxiety worse. 
  Luckily, we're going to be pretty busy and I'm hoping that will help.  Tonight her best friend P and her mom are coming over for dinner and tomorrow is her afternoon with Ms Cherie.  Friday is Thanksgiving, which we're spending with friends, and on Saturday, Santa arrives on island (by fishing boat, of course!).  P's birthday party is on Sunday and Ms Cherie will be watching her for a few hours on Monday.  Hopefully, all that will be enough of a distraction for both of us!
  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

Adoption Fundraiser!

November 21, 2011

  Hah, gotcha with the title!  Nope, this fundraiser isn't for us, it's for another family working to bring home their son from the DRC.  The family is selling hand-made jewelry and it is beautiful.  Here is the blog:  with pictures and if you like what you see, the email address is there.  Click on over and check it out!

And we're back!

November 18, 2011

  Hi folks,
  Sorry for the break, but we have been workin' fools lately!  Being that we work for The Man, I can't tell you much about what we've been up to but since some of it made the news, you can read it here for yourself:  I'll just say that it kept us busy here and that afterwards, I literally slept all day yesterday. 
  Now that that's over, we can get on with the fun stuff!  D's birthday is this weekend ( 36- how'd that happen?) and we're having two parties for him, one for friends and one just the three of us where there may or may not be mint-chocolate ice cream cake, maybe.  After a very birthday weekend, D flies to Thailand on Tuesday for some vacation and maybe surgery, while Sky and I stay here for Thanksgiving and some mom and daughter time.  We'll be having Thanksgiving at our friends Bridget and David's house and then Sky will be going to her BFF's birthday party before we fly to Thailand on the 29th. 
  Exciting times ahead for us!  Keep an eye out here for updates and pictures!

On Hold

November 10, 2011

Sorry but things are pretty busy lately and I don't think I'm going to have time to post for a few weeks.  So scroll back through the old posts to get your adorable-Sky-photo fix and standby for updates.

Halloween Pics

November 9, 2011

 D went to the Halloween party at the Vet's Hall- can you guess what he's dressed up as?

Marshall Islands Trade Fair

November 6, 2011

 Once or twice a year, the command hosts a trade fair for local Marshallese artisans to sell their crafts.  There was a trade fair this weekend and I was able to purchase some very unique and beautiful items.
 The Marshallese are known for their weaving and I've wanted one of these mats for a long time.   This one is about 5 feet long and 3 feet wide and we decided to display it on a wall (it's still unrolling).  We hung it while Sky was napping and when she saw it for the first time she pointed and said pretty! and kept saying that every time she walked past it.

We're Number 1!

November 4, 2011

The soccer team I played on , K.A.T, took first place last week.  We played a hard game against the second place finishers, Go Green, but beat them 2-1.  I had a blas playing soccer and I hope I get a chance to play again next year!

 K.A.T. team photo

Sky Made the Paper!

October 31, 2011

Sky and her best friend P walked in the Halloween costume
parade together and had their picture in the Hourglass this week!

Two Buckets

October 29, 2011

  There's a saying here:  When you get off the plane, you're given two buckets, one for money and one for BS and when one of the buckets gets full, you're ready to leave.  Well last week, one of our buckets got a lot fuller and I'll let you guess which one.
  D has had a lot of abdominal  pain lately, so bad that he has had to take some time off of work.  We initially suspected that his hiatal hernia had gotten worse and that it was time to have surgery on it and when D met with the surgeon here, he agreed and recommended D see a GI doctor in Hono about it.  Well, the CMO (the same guy who wouldn't let us return to Kwaj after Sky's diagnosis) decided he wanted another opinion so D started seeing a GP here.  She really seemed to care, which was nice, and ran every test under the sun.  They didn't find anything, but D was still in pain.  Lots of pain.  She finally agreed to recommend him for surgery as well and he was scheduled to fly out to Honolulu just before Christmas.
  Well, the pain's gotten better recently and when D mentioned this to the Dr, she in turn told the CMO and he decided to rescind D's referral.  That's right, weeks and weeks of fighting for this and they take it back right after it's scheduled.  The doctors here never found any causes for his pain and never actually resolved anything.  It went away on it's own and they feel that that's good enough for them. 
  We really love Kwaj and have been pretty flexible with a lot of the things that make living here a little more challenging, and would have been happy to stay here for 20 years.  But having something like this happen makes me really question this company (the hospital is company-run) and why we should be loyal to them.  If my husband  and I and our work and knowledge aren't worth a measly 3G (and yes, I know that sounds big but compare that to the loss of two good employees) in a plane ticket and hotel bill, than why should we stay?
  Have you guessed which bucket is full yet?

It's the Little Things

October 26, 2011

  It's the little things that make life here so much better, like the care package I got from my mom the other day.  Not only did it have barrettes and headbands for Sky and sewing fabric for me, both things I can't buy here, I found a Pearson's Nut Roll tucked in at the bottom.  They are my favorite candy bars and you can't buy them just anywhere.  My wonderful mom remembered how much I like them and sent one out to me and it made my day.  There was another surprise in the box that was just as great as the candy bar: two terry-cloth beach cover-ups from my mom's best friend.  Sky goes to the pool every week but has had to walk back and forth in her towel.  Thanks to the random kindness of Auntie L, she will be fashionably warm and dry between the pool and school. 
  In a faraway place like this, when even getting mail feels special, it's the little things that make it easier to be happy here.

Gearing up for Halloween

October 24, 2011

We've started gearing up for Halloween at our house. We put up our decorations and pulled out the pumpkin D bought to carve only to find that it had rotted. We were pretty surprised by that, and D was pretty sad, but I came up with a pretty good substitute, if I do say so myself: pumpkin coconuts. I picked out four nice-sized coconuts, painted them orange and then drew faces on them. I think they turned out pretty cute. Something else that's pretty cute is Sky in her bumble bee costume. Her fairy godmother gave it to her ages ago and I've been hoping that it would still fit her when we got to Halloween. It does and she is adorable! She wore it for the first time to a costume parade at the youth center. She didn't really have any idea what was going on but she loved playing with her wand and got a gigantic sucker out of it. Sky is going trick-or-treating this weekend with some friends of ours that have a daughter the same age as she is and one that's a little older. Their older daughter T is pretty excited to have two little sisters to show the ropes to. I'll definitely put up photos from that!

 Poor Pumpkin!  It didn't do too well in the pantry waiting to be carved

Sky's First School Pictures

October 23, 2011

The shirt stayed clean, the hairband stayed in but we didn't get a smile.  Still, not a bad picture.  Friends and family, email me by the end of the week if you want a copy.

A New Shirt and Sky Versus a Cupcake

October 22, 2011

D showing off his new shirt

What He Found

October 21, 2011

...when D thought it was a little too quiet in Sky's room. This makes me just about the happiest Mama in the world- my baby fell asleep reading a book to herself!

Playing Soccer

October 20, 2011

 Getting warmed up

General Cuteness

October 19, 2011

Manit Day and a Trip to Ebeye

October 18, 2011

 The photos below are what I got when I tried to get a picture of Sky in her guam:

D's 99 things

October 17, 2011

58, actually.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars... in Minnesota, Kansas, Antarctica (if you include the sun) and in the Marshall Islands
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii ... Every time I fly back to the states, but all I've seen of it is Waikiki

Decisions, decisions...

October 16, 2011

  For some reason, I feel compelled to make a big decision RIGHT NOW and because I can't, I'm worrying about it.  So, I'll tell all of you about it so you can worry too.   D's medical referral came through last week, which is good news, but we've been told by the less-than-helpful (seriously, it is her job to be unhelpful, and I'm not exagerating!) referral person that his appointment with a specialist probably won't be until December or January.  Unfortunately, we have a trip to Thailand scheduled in December, and we were hoping to start our next adoption after that.  Plans!  We have plans and this might derail them! 
  I know things happen as they're meant to but I want them to happen as I want them to.  We've considered flying D to Thailand before our vacation for the surgery but I think that's off the table since we got his referral approved.  Canceling the vacation to Thailand would free up a lot of money and vacation time for the next adoption but we were really looking forward to this vacation with Sky.  I really wanted her to have something that was just hers, even if she only sees the pictures and doesn't remember it. 
  Also, I'm having a hard time waiting for our next adoption and have been thinking about our someday-daughter a lot lately.  What effect will the timing of this referral have on our next adoption?
  Don't feel too bad for me about all this- usually my hardest decisions are like the one I had to make last night:  which window should I hang the Halloween pumpkin window clings in? 
  In case you're wondering, they went in the living room windows and no matter how things go with this issue, we will roll with punches.

My Daughter is a Vampire

October 14, 2011

  Just kidding!  That's what D called her the other day after getting a call from her pre-school that Dky had bitten another child there.  Unfortunately, this isn't a new problem.  Sky has always bit herself, usually her hands but occasionally her arms.  The Marshallese don't give their children teething toys so she used what was available (like her hands) and we haven't been able to entirely break her of the habit.  She has bitten both D and I in anger but mostly we get bit when she's excited and forgets herself.
   Sky went through a biting stage in August but we thought she was over it.  Back then, part of it was teething but all of her teeth have cut through now so that's not really in issue.  Most of the incidents stem from her trying to defend herself in some way, usually another child pushes her or takes something from her and she bites them in retaliation.  She is very empathetic and feels terrible about it afterward.  She will say that she's sorry and try to hug the child she bit, but in the moment, she can't seem to control the urge.  We're working on it at home, trying to get her to use words when she's mad and they're doing the same at school.  Hopefully this stage will pass as she continues to learn and use more English.

What a Great Weekend!

October 12, 2011

  We all had a great weekend!  Thanks to Christopher Columbus, we had three whole days off and we made the most of them.  D and I both got off work early on Saturday- he stayed home and took a nap and went to the beach by myself.  I layed on a towel in the sand, enjoyed the peace and quiet and read a new National Geographic.  It was fabulous.  After dinner, the three of us headed over to the skate park.  D still does a little skateboarding and Sky loves watching him.  We brought her helmet with us and she actually started doing a little skateboarding, mostly just rolling back and forth, but she held her arms out and hardly fell at all.  Sky and I left shortly after the highschool boys got there but D stayed for a bit and worked on being the cool old guy!
  Sky spent Sunday morning playing with Daddy while I went to church and bible study.  After her nap, we played around the yard and the house as the weather allowed and then had our friend Adam over for dinner.  He and D went to see the Captain America movie and I got to spend a quiet night at home by myself.
  Monday morning was laid back around the house.  My book club met on the back porch- we had bloody mary's and mimosas and discussed a biography of the band Queen.  That afternoon we took Sky to the beach and then spent the evening hanging out with some very good friends, who happen to be the parents of Sky's best friend.  It was really relaxing to just sit around and talk with them about parenting and life on Kwaj. 
  Tuesday was a big day for D and I: we ran in the Kwaj Running Club Columbus Day Runabout, a 6.5 or 13 mile run around the island.  We did the 6.5 and I think we were the only family that ran with their kid.  We ran then entire thing and finished in 72 minutes.  Neither of us had ever run that far before so we were pretty proud of ourselves that we did it.  Sky's favorite part of the run was the donuts afterward :) 
  We don't have any pictures of the wonderfulness that was our weekend but take my word for it, it rocked!

Family Update

October 10, 2011

Just to keep you all in the loop:

-D's medical referral finally came through!  After about 5 weeks of investigating possible causes for his abdominal pain and wrangling with doctors, the hospital has agreed to send D off-island to see a GI specialist.  We don't know when he'll be heading out- a friend has warned me that these kinds of specialists can be booked months in advance, but even the chance for D to see a specialist feels like a small victory for me.
-Sky just keeps growing.  She's still skinny, so she's still wearing 18M pants and shorts but I've added her 2T shirts, pajamas and swimsuits to her dresser.  It's so amazing to see her grow so fast!
-We've started potty training!  Ask me in a month or so and maybe there won't be an exclamation point after that but it's pretty exciting for now.  She has used the potty several times at school but last night was the first time she asked for it at home.  Of course, as soon as she finished using the potty and stood up, she bent over and swished her hand in it, but hey, it's a start.  I'd thought that it would take a lot longer to get to potty training but I guess she's ready.
-Sky's language is growing almost exponentially.  She said her first non-prompted, appropriately-timed and gramatically correct sentence yesterday: As I was riding away from her school, she waved and said, "Bye-bye school".  We're really proud of her and are trying not to brag too much about how smart we think she is, 'cause, you know, she get's it from us!
-I'm going to be running in Kwaj's Columbus Day Runabout.  It's a 6.5 mile loop around the island, longer than I've ever run before and I'm going to take the baby in her jogger.  I really think I can do the whole thing but I'm not going to be too upset at myself if I have to walk a bit.

  So, I guess that's the high points.  Other than that, it's the usual day-to-day.  Our day-to-days have been going okay lately and I hope yours have too.

99 Things

October 6, 2011

  I stumbled across this while looking at random blogs on the internet (you know you do it too!) and since I really don't have too much to post about and no pictures to share, I thought I'd give it a go.  Enjoy!


Copy the list, bold the ones you've done (with explanations if needed), share with friends.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars... in Minnesota, Montana, Washington, Alaska, at sea, in Kenya, Australia, Australia again, Antarctica and in the Marshall Islands

A Big First in Our Family

October 4, 2011

  While we celebrate the usual "firsts", first word,  first day of school, first spicy chicken wings, we're also celebrating a unique first this week:  Sky's first Visa!

Look out Thailand, here we come!

Random Pictures

October 3, 2011

 Rainy Day  in our sweaters

Burger King Breakfast, You Will Be Missed

September 30, 2011

  That's right, starting October 7th, no more Burger King breakfast for the residents of Kwajalein.  It's just another victim of the budget axe.  In a wrap up to this post: Budget Cuts  here's how this year's budget cuts have affected Kwajalein and Roi:
-274 positions cut, most of them through removing open positions and reducing hours.  I understand there were about 10 contractor layoffs and about 20 island-hire layoffs
-Reduced hours at the stores, the rec center, small boat marina and the hobby shop
-No more PE, Spanish or music classes at the schools
-No more bus service on Kwajalein
-The physician's assistant is being cut on Roi (meaning only a nurse and EMT are available for medical treatment)

  D and I both still have our jobs and these cuts won't affect us too much, although we will miss that Monday morning Burger King breakfast splurge.  We've been told that KRS has to make these cuts over a three-year period, so we have one more year of these kinds of tough cuts.  Well, there could always be more cuts after that, of course, but we're keeping our fingers crossed.  The biggest thing that keeps coming up is whether or not to cut the schools or families here.  I've been told that it's been brought up every time there are budget cuts but so far, no one has really taken it seriously, until now.  There's nothing final but I've heard through the coconut wire that the suggestion to make either of those cuts went higher up the decision chain than it usually does.   We've heard that any major changes like that won't be implemented until closer to 2014, so we've got a little time.  We're pretty good at rolling with the punches and we have some back-up plans so don't worry too much about us.  I'll let you know when we know!

Kitchen Remodel!

September 27, 2011

 You read that title right!  We did some remodeling last week.  Was it this kitchen, built in 1955?  No, sorry, we're still living in Army housing and kitchen remodels for bases at the end of the world really aren't in their budget.  So which kitchen got the remodel?  This one:

A Weekend On Roi

September 26, 2011

 Sky looking cute in her raincoat after running through puddles
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