Tea Time!

December 28, 2013

  Sky recieved a tea set for Christmas and I was able to sneak a few pictures of her serving tea to her dollies.  Sugar, anyone?

Merry Christmas from Kwajalein!

December 25, 2013

 Us in church before the Christmas Eve service
Sky in one of her new outfits from her Aunt L
   Only two pictures from our Christmas?!  Yup, sorry, dear readers.  The present-opening pictures were taken with the big camera and it'll take a little bit to get to sorting through them and I didn't even take my camera out of my purse when we went to Ebeye in the afternoon.  I'm hoping to get some photos that friends took and I'll post them here when I do.
  D and I both think that this was our best Christmas yet.  We are both so glad that we decided not to travel back to the states for Christmas and I think we're going to try to stay at home for the holidays as much as we can from now on.  We tried some things this year that I hope will become family traditions: pizza and a Christmas movie before church on Christmas eve, monkeybread for breakfast while opening presents on Christmas Day, going to Ebeye for the Jepta dances in the evening, and then a big holiday dinner at a friend's house (Kristin says we'll need to have the dinner at someone else's house next year, that they're going to Hawaii for Christmas next year but her dinner was so fabulous, that I don't know if we'll let her!).
  We hope that you and your family had a Christmas that was just as wonderful as ours!  Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Update: Christmas Pictures

An Evening on Ebeye with Grandpa and Grandma

December 23, 2013

  R and C went to Ebeye with us on our regular Monday afternoon trip.  I was really happy that they got to meet Auntie and Uncle and I think that C and Auntie felt a real connection between them.  Isn't it amazing when a family can be built like that: two women who would never otherwise have met becoming family through marriage and an adoption? 

We always make a parade when we "jambo-jambo" 
The kids on Ebeye love having their picture taken!

Can you see Jobe up there?  He climbed the pandanus tree to harvest one for R and C to try

Auntie with C, R, and the pandanus (called "bub" in Marshallese). 

Jobe cuts the end off...

And then everyone eats!

Sky LOVES pandanus!  I think she ate four or five of them

What about Fire?  
Nope, he's two-fisting it with a freezie-pop and a cupcake 

Fire and Daddy Jobe

December 21, 2013

   The one good thing to come of Uncle's illness is that Fire's Daddy Jobe has come to Ebeye. Uncle is hoping that Jobe can take his job here on Kwaj, or find another one, so that he can pay off a debt that the family owes. Fire and I hadn't seen Jobe since March and for D and Sky, it's been longer, since Fire's adoption I think. We are so happy that he will get to spend time with Fire, and with Sky, and that we'll get to know him a little better too.

I think Atesh has Jobe's nose and eyebrows, don't you?


Our Favorite Christmas Gift

December 19, 2013

  One of the best Christmas gifts this year arrived a week before Christmas on an airplane from Kansas:  D's dad and step-mom.  Our kids know Grandpa R and Grandma C from the times we've stayed at their house and Sky in particular was very excited that they were coming to visit.  For D and I, they have always been a calming center and they've helped us see Kwaj with new, more appreciative eyes.
  While Sky loves spending time with her Grandma and Grandpa, she was also excited because they'd brought her a gingerbread house.  She'd read about them in school and seen them in her Candyland game and was finally going to get to build one.  We teased Sky that she was going to have to protect her house from Daddy because he loves gingerbread and he was going to eat it up (turns out those things aren't that edible so Sky didn't have much to worry about!).
  We're so, so glad you're here, R and C and can't wait to celebrate the holidays with you!

Construction in progress
The gingerbread architects with their masterpiece

Sky's Birthday

December 18, 2013

  I can't believe our big girl is four! Sky grows into a little girl more and more every day. She has a calmer temperament than she used to and she's can focus on something until it's finished most of the time. Her favorite things are Barbies and puzzles, although books, especially princess books, are near the top of the list as well.
   For her birthday, we had a small family party at our house. We were worried that Uncle wouldn't feel well enough to make it over but he came and everyone had a great time. Sky opened her presents before dinner and then we had the meal that Sky chose: macaroni and cheese, smoked sausage, and corn on the cob. At least, that's what the parents had- all the kids were too excited to eat much. Sky picked out a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting this year and she was so excited to hear us singing "Happy Birthday"! She loves that song so much she's been asking us to sing it to her before bed. Everyone had a great night and it was a great way to kick off the partying part of our Christmas season.

Happy Fourth Birthday, Sky!
Look at all those presents!
The first Barbie (Thanks Grandma Lynn!)
Barbie number 2
A Dora doll from my Dad
What's the first thing you do with a new Barbie? Take the cloths off, of course!
Fire getting loved on by Bubu and Jimma
D and Lomodro playing video games
Sky and Merlynn coloring
Time to sing!


D's Birthday

December 17, 2013

  This is a very belated post but I have a good excuse! I usually get my pictures for posts right off the camera but because we were compiling photos to share with our families, the camera's card was emptied before I had a chance to do the post. It took me almost a month to find the time to get the pictures off our big computer then onto a thumb drive then onto a CD via our laptop.
   D turned 38 this year and I wanted to make it special for him. Like good Midwesterners, that means food. I made him spicy banana fritters for breakfast and then D made his delicious fried chicken for dinner. After dinner we opened presents and then, because D doesn't really like cake, I brought out a plate of cookies (spicy bacon maple cookies and chocolate peanut butter monster cookies) with a candle in them. Since I made about 3 dozen of each kind of cookie, that was the gift that kept on giving!

The spicy banana fritters had been devoured by the time I got the camera out!
D's homemade fried chicken is so good!

Happy Birthday D!

Time out! While we were making dinner together that night, D earned himself a time out (I think he didn't have good listening ears), so I made him sit in the corner and told him to stay there for 38 minutes, since we do one minute for every year. D made this very sad face about having to sit for so long and when Fire saw it, he ran over to sit with his daddy to cheer him up. And don't worry, we let D out early after he apologized and promised to be a better listener!

A Few Good Reads

December 16, 2013

  I've stumbled across a few new blogs lately and read to really great books and wanted to share them with you.

I'm probably the last one on the internet to come across this one:
It's a hilarious blog about marriage, parenting, and life, illustrated with, you guessed it, crappy pictures.  I think I lost two hours reading old posts on it last week.  And that blog had a link to this one:
A mom with five kids who raises her own meat, grows her own veggies, and generally lives a life that I would love to have if I didn't live here.  Another few hours lost to old posts.

Then there are the books.  Both of them were cheap buys on Amazon when I was refilling my Kindle last week. 
I LOVED this book.  I read it in just a few hours and wanted to read it again the next day.  It's a fiction book about fostering children and it's very open, realistic, funny, sad, and wonderful- all the things that life is when you open your home to a child. 

I'm about halfway through this book now and I'm already looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.  It's about a family in China that adopts abandoned girls.  I have loved reading about China since I was a child and I especially enjoy modern Chinese history so this book is perfect for me.  It's set mainly in the modern day but there are parts set during the Cultural Revolution as well.  The family faces the challenges of adoption, raising daughters, poverty, and change with open hearts.  The parents are wonderfully human with their own flaws but they try to teach their daughters to find their best paths in life. 

Great News!

December 15, 2013

  Auntie and Uncle stopped by the house Saturday afternoon and they had great news- Uncle is doing better!  He spent most of the week in the hospital and the combination of  medicine and relaxing gave his kidneys a chance to improve.  Because they have improved some but not completely, Uncle was also approved for a short referral to Honolulu for 10 dialysis treatments.  I was so excited to hear the news that I almost started crying.  They don't know when he'll fly out but the doctor on Ebeye says to be ready.  I was really surprised that they approved him for the referral but I think the fact that his kidneys improved a little on their own showed that his body still has the capacity to heal so there's a greater chance of improvement with dialysis.
  So that all sounds great, right?  And it is.  Except for one thing.  Uncle was on Kwaj Saturday to see his doctor at the hospital here, the one who's been treating him this whole time.  He also ran Uncle's lab work and agreed with the doctor on Ebeye that his kidneys were improving.  And then- oh, then he tells Uncle that he is going to recommend that the referral be cancelled because Uncle doesn't need it! 
  I just about exploded when I heard that.  I've kept quiet about what I think about this doctor both to my uncle and on this blog but the fact that he thinks that Uncle doesn't need those dialysis treatments- it still makes me mad.  I told Auntie and Uncle about how he forced us to treat Ciela for TB even though she didn't really have it and how he canceled D's referral for his stomach pain when it got just the slightest bit better (see this post for some background- I would say this doctor has it in for my family but most people on Kwaj have a similar story).
  Happily, Uncle's doctor on Ebeye seems to be making up his own mind and as of Monday night, Uncle is still scheduled for a referral.  If you're praying for Uncle, please keep it up.  He's not in any pain but he still has lots of swelling and isn't getting around well.  Hopefully the referral will come soon and then Uncle can really start improving.

Still Waiting

December 13, 2013

  This is just a quick update to let you know that we don't know anything more about Uncle's treatment prospects than we did the other day.  We went over to Ebeye on Wednesday night but Uncle's doctors hadn't heard back from the referral committee yet.  He thought they would call him on Thursday.  Uncle and Auntie are coming to Kwaj for another appointment at the hospital here this morning, his last since he is being medically retired, and they said they would call when they arrived at the dock.  D might actually know the answer already, since he's home with the kid's this morning for an in-service day.  One hopeful thing is that the doctor on Ebeye was asking about passports before the referral meeting.  Would he have asked if they could travel if he didn't think there was a slight chance they'd get approved?  We'll keep you posted. 

Operation: Science Stuff Fundraising Wrap Up

December 11, 2013

  We did it!  Thank you all so much for your generosity- because of your participation, we raised just over $1700!  That's more than enough to purchase everything that the school had on their wish list with some left over to help buy work tables and have the air conditioning installed in the lab.  I delivered the first purchases from Operation: Science Stuff the other day, and although I don't think the students were very excited to recieve the microscopes, their teachers were (pictures coming soon).  I'm going to start purchasing the rest of the equipment soon and we'll be making deliveries throughout January.
  Thanks again for supporting the young people of the Marshall Islands!


Gospel Day + A Whole Lot of Running And a Few Other Things = A Very Busy Weekend (and Another Update On Jimma)

December 9, 2013

   This past Sunday was Gospel Day, a national holiday to celebrate the day that the first missionaries brought the Christian gospel to the people of the Marshall Islands.  We don't celebrate it on Kwajalein but it's a very big deal everywhere else in the country.  Every church organizes groups of young people to dance and sing and everyone around is invited to watch.  The line dances are called "jebta" and I love watching them.  We weren't able to get to Ebeye early enough in the afternoon to see Lomodro dance his jebta but Auntie took us to see the one at the Mormon church.   
Parading in and then around the church


Fire with his Bubu

Beautiful Merline, Fire's cousin
More dancing

Bubu and Sky
This is Crabby, which means "gecko" in Marshallese.  His real name is Ling (he's half Chinese but you'd never guess it) and he's AJ's little brother.  He likes to run up and poke me and then run away laughing!

The quality is terrible- it took me a bit to figure out how to start and stop the video feature on my camera- but this is the best video I got of the dancing.

 Beautiful singing.  I wish I'd gotten the start of the song- there was a group of young boys calling out (in Marshallese), "Gospel!  Our island's morning star!"

  After watching the jebta dances, the kids and I headed home for a family movie night, the second prize that Sky's bought with her good behavior pennies.  As a surprise, we let her open one of her birthday presents early-  the Puss in Boots movie, or as Sky says, "The kitty cat movie!" 
  Monday morning started very early because D and I were both running on teams in Pauper's Marathon (named because the originators didn't have the money to fly to Honolulu for the marathon there).  I only ran five miles (and it was a pretty slow five miles, I'm sad to say) but David ran 13, a full half-marathon.  Here he is finishing his second of five laps:

  The rest of the day was so full it's almost a blur today: Sky had her last dance class , then into town to get the kid's visa photos taken, then naps, then our regular Monday afternoon trip to Ebeye, which turned out to be a much different evening than usual. 
  When we got to Bubu and Jimma's house, they were waiting for us on the porch. Jimma said that he'd been to see the doctor at the Ebeye Hospital and that he was being admitted there right away.  He had waited until we arrived because he wanted to tell us himself.  We walked down to the hospital with Auntie and Uncle and I helped Auntie set up his bed (you have to bring your own linens but they do bring you food).  He was in a room with four other men but Auntie and Uncle asked us to stay and talk.  Uncle told us that the doctor had arranged for blood tests early the next morning and that he was going to present the case to the referral committee on Wednesday.  I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high because I don't want them to be crushed but I'm encouraged by the fact that the doctor is even presenting the case to the committee.  He could have just told Uncle to stay home and pass away quietly like the doctors on Kwaj did.  We'll be going back over on Wednesday night to hear the doctor's report on the referral meeting and Uncle's final decisions. 
  At this point, I don't know what the best outcome is.  Uncle will still need dialysis for a long time and there's no guarantee that his kidneys will heal.  Is it better for him to go to the Philippines, stay there for several months, then come home no better than he left?  If he had family in the Philipines, I'd say yes but he doesn't.  On the other hand, I don't want him to just fall asleep, to not fight for more life when he really does have so much more in him.  We'll keep you posted.

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