Social Security Numbers for Adopted Marshallese Nationals

May 31, 2013

  It looks like the US Social Security Administration has phased out the explanation letter from the RMI Ambassador that they were using to explain RMI citizen's qualifications for full social security status in favor of a policy.  Here's the policy number that you will need if you would like to get a social security card for you child if he or she is still a Marshallese citizen:
  I also updated an old post Info and Links for Families... that has information on naturalizing Marshallese children adopted overseas.  All the links should work now and point you in the correct direction.
  Again, please take this as friendly advice and not legal counsel.  Please speak to a lawyer if you need any further information.

The Talk

May 30, 2013

  Sky and I had The Talk for the first time this past weekend.  I'd been preparing myself for the The Talk since before Sky came home since I knew we'd have to have it eventually and I knew that how I handled it and what I said would set the stage for how she handles it.  Like most things that you would think would be an important moment, it just kind of happened and then we went on with our day.

The Scene:
Mommy reading on the couch, Sky playing.  sky walks over to Mommy, looks hard at Mommy's tummy and gives it a poke.
Sky: Mommy, there a baby in your tummy?
Mommy: No, honey, Mommy's tummy is broken and can't have babies in it.  You grew in another lady's tummy.
Sky: Another lady's tummy?
Mommy:  Yes, Mommy A's tummy.
Sky climbs into Mommy's lap: Tell me, Mommy
Mommy's mental jaw drops but she recovers quckly and tells the story she's practiced a million times in her head: You grew in Mommy A's tummy but after you came out of her tummy, she made a hard choice and said that you could live with Mommy and Daddy.  Because Mommy's tummy is broken, Mommy can't grow babies in her tummy, but Mommy and Daddy knew that you were our baby from even before we saw your picture. 
Sky:  You'll always be my Mommy. (statement, not question)
Mommy: You betcha! 
Ciela:  I want a cookie!
End Scene


May 29, 2013

    The only place to buy bagels on Kwaj is in the freezer section at the store and they taste like hockey pucks, no matter how much cream cheese you put on them.  So I make my own bagels and they're gone in a week.  I made two batches over the long Memorial Day weekend, plain and cinnamon raisin.  Bagels are a lot easier to make than you think they'll be and if you're kids are old enough to help, instead of "helping" like Sky does, it can be a family activity too.  Enjoy!

4C white flour
2Tbsp and 2tsp vital wheat gluten
475 ml warm water (a little less than a cup)
5tsp yeast
3tsp honey
3tsp salt

Poaching liquid:
16 cups water (I filled my dutch oven rather than measuring out the water)
1/3C honey
2Tbsp baking soda

  Combine all the dough ingredients in a mixer with a dough hook (you can mix by hand if you don't have a counter-top mixer) and mix on low until blended.  Add extra flour if needed to make the dough smooth and easy to handle.  Knead the dough with the hook or by hand until firm and well-developed (you want the dough to stick to itself but not be sticky and to stretch rather than tear if you pull on it).  Let dough rise in a covered bowl until almost doubled, about thirty minutes.
  Preheat oven to 450F.  Mix ingredients for poaching liquid and bring to a boil.  Before adding bagels, reduce temperature to a simmer.  Roll the dough into a rectangle, cut in half to make two squares and then cut each square into 1 1/2- inch-wide strips.  To form the bagel, fold each strip in half the long way and roll into a rope.  Join the ends together and roll them between your fingers and the counter to seal the dough.  Place the bagels on parchment paper and allow to rise while you make the rest of the bagels.
  Add the bagels to the simmering poaching liquid, cooking as many at a time as will fit in your pan (I cooked three at a time).  Poach for 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side, then remove from the water with a slotted spatula and place them on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden, then remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.

*To Make Cinnamon Raisin Bagels:
Increase yeast to 2Tbsp and add 4Tbsp white sugar to the dough before mixing.  Add 2tsp cinnamon and 1C raisins to the dough toward the end of the kneading process. 

Recipe adapted from "On Baking" by R. Labensky

Formation Run

May 23, 2013

  D and I participated in an formation run with the Army garrison this morning.  I had originally planned to take Sky while D stayed home with Fire but since both kids were awake by 5:30, it turned into a family thing.  We met the garrison and a few other civilian runners at the flagpoles, watched the police raise the flag and listened to reveille, and then formed up for the run.  We ran in rows of three, to the Sargent Major's chanting.  I'd never done a formation run before, but D had, from his Air Force days.  He said he'd had enough of it then, so he took the kids and ran with them at the back while I ran with the group.
  We did a two-mile loop around the main part of housing, waking up the neighborhood with our chanting and responses.  While D and I have friends that are part of the garrison and we interact with Army personnel for work, we don't do much with Army garrison as a whole here.  It was wonderful to take part in something that is so distinctly Army, to be reminded that we live on a base, and that we, the civilians, are here for them, the Army. 

Bar Lo Yuk, Jera!

May 22, 2013

   "Bar lo yuk, jera" is how you say "I'll see you again, friend" in Marshallese.  It's both the standard goodbye, kind of like "auf wiedersehen" in German, and what I said to one of my Marshallese teachers last Monday.  Sister Tago is an LDS missionary sister on Ebeye and and has been my teacher for the last three months.  She is moving to another mission site on Majuro to finish her missionary term before she returns to Australia, and I will miss her.  I have learned so much from Sister Tago and I hope that it really is "bar lo yuk" for us. 
  LDS missionary sisters work in teams of two and my other teacher has been Sister Tekiare, who's originally from Kiribati.  She'll be working on Ebeye for another two months, so I'll be continuing my lessons with her.  Sister Tekiare is so comfortable with Marshallese that I know I'll continue to learn from her.  I have been truly blessed to be able to learn from women as knowledgeable and patient as Sister Tago and Sister Tekiare.

Me and Sister Tago at my family's compound on Ebeye (being photo-bombed by Fire's cousin, and Sky's best friend, EJ)

Kwaj Pics

May 21, 2013

   We brought the new camera with us when we took the kids to the playground at Emon Beach on Tuesday.  Enjoy this little slice of our life!

D showing off his mad football skills
D showing off his mad Fire-throwing skills?

Just Kidding!


May 14, 2013

We have been a lot more intentional about going to the beach these days.  Even though it's right up the street, it's easy to go weeks without putting foot in the ocean, and we've really been missing it.   Sky feels a lot more comfortable in the water these days and Fire loves to play in the sand- they're both turning into beach babies. 
I'm a late-comer to stand-up paddleboarding- my friends here have been telling me to try it for ages- and I love it.  D actually got me a paddleboard for Mother's Day and we took it for a test drive last Saturday: 

 I have been taking Sky for ride on it and she has fun, even if she's a little scared of the deep water
My friend Sandra took these pictures of me the first time I tried paddleboarding:


May 13, 2013

Sky is really coming into her own as far as talking and definitely knows her mind. Here are some things she's said lately that made us laugh:

Said to me while walking with Bubu to catch the boat back from Ebeye around bedtime: "I have a idea. How 'bout Fire go to sleep and I stay up?" Nice try, sweetheart.

Said to me this morning as we were heading downstairs for breakfast:
Sky: "Up-pease"
Me: "Can you walk? I have to carry your swim stuff and my glasses and book"
Sky: "But you have two hands."
And I carried that clever girl downstairs, laughing the whole way!

Fire's First Family Day

May 9, 2013

Our Fire has been home with us for a year now! He's still the perfect fit for our family and has grown so much this year. He weighs 25 pounds now and is already in 18M-2T clothes. He's walking and babbling up a storm. He loves his big sister but will give her a smack on the head if she takes too many toys from him. Sky has gone from trying to step on his head to trying to carry him to the dinner table and helping feed him. Fire still has his easy-going personality and is even more wonderful now that he's sleeping through the night.
Fire, we are so blessed to have you in our family! You make us all so much happier!

D and Fire, May 2012
D and Fire, May 2013
A and Fire, May 2013

Kwaj Bike-a-Thon

May 8, 2013

   On Monday I participated in the Kwaj Bike-a-Thon to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  The goal was to ride 100 miles and raise $1000 per rider.  I started at 6am and rode for about 3 hours, for a total of 52 miles.  I took one short break at about 25 miles but for the rest of the time, I was in the saddle.  The last eight miles (two laps around the runway) were the hardest and I really had to push myself to keep going.  Surprisingly, it wasn't my legs that hurt- it was my wrists (carpal tunnel acting up) and my feet (my shoes pinch my feet and after three hours, they were on fire!), but I kept telling myself that I could do it, and thinking about how good it would feel to stop once and for all.  52 miles this year, 100 next year?
  I want to give a huge "Thank You" to everyone who sponsored me on my ride.  With your help, I raised over $600 dollars for the American Cancer Society. 

 photo credit: Sheila Gideon
 photo credit: Sheila Gideon

(picking flowers and running away are way more interesting than watching Mommy ride in circles)

I Could Eat This Boy Up!

May 7, 2013

  And where is Fire while D is practicing with his new DSLR on all this cutenss?
Standing on the kid's picnic table, of course!

Easter Pictures

May 6, 2013

On the beach after the sunrise service
(Yes, I know Easter was weeks ago- better late than never!)

Catching Up In Pictures

May 2, 2013

   Just the random happenings in our lives, caught on camera
 Fire is got his first scrape after learning to walk
 We attended a Kemem over the weekend.  They had Hawaiian dancers perform and Sky loved watching them.  If you look at the bottom of the picture, you'll see Fire getting a hug from an older boy.  That's Sean- he's 9 and loves Sky and Fire and is so good with them.  His older sister is one of the kids regular sitters.
 Me in my muumuu at the party
 The picture isn't great but the Kemem had a great candy bar spread.  Sky blends in a little bit but you can kind of make her out, eyeballing it all.
 Fire and I, rocking our plumeria flowers
 and Fire and Daddy rocking out
One afternoon when I had some cooking to do, I made Fire a paste out of cornstarch and water and let him go crazy with it:

A cool kid in sunglasses

I built a play fort for the kids one afternoon and it was a big hit.  Fire loved looking for Sky in it and would laugh so hard every time he found her.


Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.