2014: Our Year in Review

December 31, 2014

  Happy 2015!  I hope you all had a wonderful and safe New Year.  Ours was quiet and spent at home with the kids.  We watched youtube videos of fireworks, at a delicious lamb dinner that D cooked, and then watched a movie as a family.  The kids were in bed by nine and I fell asleep by eleven.  I think D made it to midnight but only because he was up pre-cooking for the gumbo party we're having today.  I know, we're all crazy party animals here!
  2013 was a quiet year for our family.  It was the first year in a long time that we didn't move or grow our family and since we tend to thrive on a bit of stress, we struggled.  If you look back at that year on the blog, you'll see several posts ( like this one) about trying to learn to just "be" and how hard that was for us.
  2014 started out in much the same way that 2013 ended, with more being and waiting and then all of a sudden our lives started changing: we moved to a new house, took a vacation to Singapore and Malaysia, applied for Sky and Fire's US citizenship, and committed to a growing our family through adoption again.  We considered a move to Texas and instead ended up racing off of Kwaj for Water's birth and adoption.  While we were in the US took a family vacation in an RV and went to family weddings in Texas and Kansas.  We flew back to Kwaj as a family and spent the last few months of the year settling in as a family of five.  It's been a crazy-busy year and so much fun!

Our family in March, on our way to Singapore

  Our family in December, after the Christmas Eve service
How was your year?  Exciting, quiet, peaceful, crazy?  I hope it was a good one and that 2015 is even better for you!

Start your new year off right with a win! 
Click over to 
Our Big Post-Holiday Giveaway
for your chance to win Marshallese dresses and jewelry sets for the little girl in your life!

A New Year's Goal

December 29, 2014

  I'm not much for New Year's resolutions any more.  I used to throw myself into them- I'd make big plans to change every year and then be disappointed in myself by March when I hadn't managed to work out every day, change all my eating habits, and become an all-around better person. 
  The theme for this round of the Mommy Reality Challenge is to share a bad habit that you'd like to break in 2015.  I was pretty surprised when I really had to do some thinking on this one to pick a bad habit- I'm not perfect by any measure but I'm feeling pretty happy with myself these days so I don't have a lot of drive (or the energy!) to change much in my life. 
  I think the one thing I'd like to do differently in the new year is to change how D and I spend our evenings after the kids go to bed.  Before we got real (not dial-up) internet in our home in March (not kidding, there was no residential high speed internet on Kwaj until 2014!), we would watch some TV shows or movies in the evenings after the kids were in bed but those night would be interspersed with ones spent talking out on the porch, playing cards or scrabble, or working on little projects.  Now that we have internet we have Netflix, which means that so much more TV is accessible to us and we're spending a lot more nights camped on the couch.  We're sitting next to each other but not connecting like we used to.

In 2015, I'd like to have more of this:
And less of this:

How about you?  Do you New Year's Resolutions?  Anything you'd like to change in your life in the new year?  Share in the comments below or link up at:

Jenerally Informed

Also, don't forget to stop by
Our Big Post-Holiday Giveaway
for your chance to win Marshallese dresses and jewelry sets for the little girl in your life!

Our Big Post-Holiday Giveaway!

December 28, 2014

  Originally, this was going to be "Our Big Holiday Giveaway!" but I just couldn't get everything together in time- Christmas is such a busy season!- so now it's a post-holiday giveaway. Either way, I think you'll love these two dresses and two handmade necklace and bracelet sets we have to give away.  Instructions for entering are below and the giveaway will be open until January 12th. Goodluck and thanks for stopping by!

4T-5T girls Marshallese muumuu
A muumuu like this would be worn to church or to a special occasion.  This dress is made of a polyester fabric but they're usually made from a heavy printed cotton

A closer view of the fabric pattern and collar design
2T-3T girls Marshallese guam
This is an "everyday" dress in the Marshall Islands.  It's usually worn over a pair of shorts and washes and dries easily. The fabric is a soft, stretchy polyester.
A close up of the dress fabric and collar

Childs Necklace and Bracelet sets

These were both made by Fire's birth mother.  She makes amazing traditional crafts, called "animono" in Marshallese, and makes wonderful jewelry in particular.  Both would fit a child about 6 or under.

How to enter: 
You can enter once for each prize in the giveaway and a second time for one item only.  To enter, simply pick any other blog post, read it and then leave a meaningful comment.  You can do this up to four times, one for each item you want to win in the giveaway.  When you leave your comment, it will ask you to use an email account to identify yourself- I'll need that information to get in touch with you if you win! Once you've commented, return to this page and the rafflecopter below.  Click on the gray circles until you see the prize you want to enter for, then click on the tab that says "Comment on a blog post".  Clicking on that officially enters you for the giveaway.  For your second entry for one item, sign up to follow our blog by clicking on the "follow this blog" tab.  If you're already a follower, leave me a comment on this post that says that and says which item you'd like to have a second entry for.  Good Luck!

Our Christmas in Pictures

December 25, 2014

 Stockings first, then presents

 Water's first Christmas!

 On Christmas afternoon, after a morning of playing with toys and swimming at the too-cold beach, we headed to Ebeye.  Going over to watch the Beat dances is one of our Christmas traditions. 

 Fire with his birth mother

 Fire's sister S
 On Ebeye, sometimes Sky is Marshallese and sometimes she's not Marshallese enough.  This Christmas trip over was one of those times.  Just before D took these pictures, she'd gotten told off for sitting next to her ri-belle friend.  I'm guessing the man who told Sky to move thought she was from Ebeye (spangly hair-ties, ripped flip-flops, and too short muumuu might have made her blend in too much).  At the same time, she's so American that she just can't relate to the kids that do live on Ebeye so she ends up playing with the ri-belles.

We got rained out of the dances but the kids still had fun

How was your Christmas?  Do you do anything to make it special every year?

From Our House to Yours

December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Operator Error and Our Week in Pictures

December 21, 2014

Operator error...
D, even with his engineering degree, couldn't get Water into his Sunday clothes!
Introducing Water to the guitar
Sky and I made a gingerbread house
(there must have been a heat wave...)
It didn't last long!
Look who tried cereal for the first time
He loved it! 
Avocado, not so much

This Christmassy island girl has had a great week!  I love how much she's growing and it's so much fun to see her personality come out.
What's it like at our house with three kids?

Proud of Myself

December 20, 2014

I've always wanted to play an instrument but never really had the chance to learn. A friend of mine organized a bell choir for Christmas and I volunteered to play with them.  To be completely honest, I wanted to run away and cry in the middle of the first practice. It was terrible-  I can't read music and never had to keep time like that.  I was more nervous about playing in front of the church than I've been for anything in my life- and that's saying something!
We played for the church today and all our hard work paid off:

Sky's Frozen Fifth Birthday Party

December 19, 2014

  Kids birthday parties are a big deal on Kwajalein, mainly because the island is so small that everyone knows everyone.  Nobody wants to leave anyone out so whole classes get invited to parties.  D and I knew that going into having kids here so from the beginning we agreed that we would only have big parties on the "5" birthdays: 5, 10, and 15.  All other birthday parties are family birthdays with Auntie Mo and Uncle Paul or another family invited over. 
  Since this was going to be her first "real" birthday party, Sky was very excited about it and as we started making plans, she had a few very specific requests.  She wanted it to be a Frozen themed party with Elsa on the cake.  She wanted to play in the big bounce houses in the gym, and she wanted to invite all her friends.  Sky rarely gets everything she wants but this time, D and I did our best to make sure that her birthday was everything she wanted it to be. 
  I shared in this post about sending out 34 invitations to her party, which meant that we were expecting over 50 kids.  That covers pretty much every child under five on the island.  I had originally hoped to have a drop-off birthday party but with that many kids, it just wasn't going to happen so we had to account parents as well.  My sweet girl was going to have about 70 people celebrating her!
  We had Sky's birthday party last weekend and it was just perfect!  We had great weather, some wonderful girl friends help me set up the party room and the bounce house went up just as kids started to arrive.  Sky, and all the kids, had a great time playing on the obstacle course bounce house, chasing each other, and playing hide and seek.  I had been worried that one big bounce house wouldn't keep all the kids entertained but I needn't have worried.  When the pizza arrived at 11, the kids had to be pried out of the gym to come and eat.  The cake was a huge hit and we had just enough- another worry.  Just before her friends headed home, I asked Sky if she liked her party and if it was what she had wanted and she said yes and gave me a big hug.  Mission accomplished!

The cake.
 The decorator did an amazing job and all the kids were drawn to this like flies when we brought it out. 
Obstacle course bounce house action shots:

Now that we have three kids, I would be lost without friends to hold the baby for me when I need to take care of something! 
We got Water all dressed up for his big sister's party

Water and his godfather, Uncle Paul
Just before the pizza arrived, Elsa showed up at the party.  Sky felt a little self-conscious since she was the only one in a costume but all the moms oohed and ahhed as she walked past and that cheered her up a bit.

Me and my princess

Pizza for 65:

Ignore those cupcakes- don't even look at them.  Between being left on a hot dryer and then being turned upside in their box, they were destroyed.  

Singing to the birthday girl
Another sweet friend holding Water for me

I had brought our copy of Frozen in case we needed another activity beside the bounce house but we only put it on to give the kids something to do while we cleaned up.  The perfect end to a great party.  
The three girls in the picture are some of Sky's favorite friends to play with and their moms graciously volunteered to help with clean up. This party wouldn't have gone as smoothly as it did, looked as nice as it did, or been as easy as it was without my friends.  Thanks a million to the wonderful ladies who helped make Sky's big day special for her!
Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.