Operation: Science Stuff In The News

January 29, 2014

Check it out:  Marshall-ing a Family  OSS (and the our family), are in the news!  The local paper in my home town did a profile of me, the fam, and Operation: Science Stuff.  I'm going to blow my cover here and say that it makes us sound way cooler than we really are. 
  If you're a first time visitor and you found us through the news story: Welcome!  I promise, we're really just a normal family, albeit one that lives on a tropical island that's a slice of life from 1950's America. 
  If you're interested in learning more about Operation: Science Stuff, click on the tab at the top of the page.  The fundraising portion of the project is closed but if you want to contribute to education and health causes in the Marshall Islands, I've linked to two of my favorites in the "Help the Marshall Islands" tab.
  As always, thanks for stopping by!

A Post Worth Sharing

January 28, 2014

  This is from one of the blogs I follow: Germs  Because of the lack of medical facilities on Kwaj to care for those with special medical needs, it's unlikely that someone here would be in a position to get as sick as her sweet daughter did, but any illness that is brought into Kwaj will sweep through the whole community.  Just a few months ago, Fire had to stay home from school for a week because of a viral infection and several childern were hospitalized because of fever and dehydration caused by the same virus.
  I still think that my kids will get whatever's going around, because that seems to be how it works here, but I'll make a much greater effort to stop it from spreading on from us.

About That Piano

January 26, 2014

 Do you remember this post: The Time I Bought a Piano... ?  Well, I was able to pick the piano up from the reutilization building last week.  I was on pins and needles until D came home.  While it was still in the truck he played a few keys, and then played a few more, and then turned to me and said.... "not bad.  Good job, A."  Yay!!!!  I was so happy that something I was so excited about wasn't going to be a problem.
  I didn't get any pictures of the actual move but here are some before and after shots:


  The kids were excited about the piano but they thought the best part of the whole thing was the truck.  After we got the piano unloaded (with six guys bringing it in through the back door), they begged me to go for a ride.  I took them with me to return the tie-down straps and Sky rode most of the way with her head out the window.  Every few minutes she would turn to me and say, "We're going so fast, Mommy!" (since we were outside of "town" we were going between 20 and 25 miles an hour!). 
  I've started teaching myself to play piano and I love having a new challenge.  I have the Suzuki book but since I don't have a teacher, I'm using the first John Thompson book to teach myself the basics.  D has found some information on tuning online and is going to work on fixing the hammers and bringing the piano a little more into tune.  I think it'll be good for both of us to have this new project and I'm so, so glad this ended well!


January 25, 2014

We're starting to teach Sky to ride her bike without training wheels.  At one point, D decided to demonstrate- Sky thought it was the funniest thing she'd ever seen and still talks about Daddy riding her bike.
How to learn to be patient, in four easy steps:
1: have a four-year-old
2: by a sun catcher kit for the four-year-old for Christmas
3: make the sun catcher with the four-year-old
4: sit on your hands and hold your breath for the ENTIRE time so that you don't snatch the tweezers out of her fingers or shout,  "no, let me do it!", even though you really want to

Sky modeling a "new to her" dress next to the Operation: Science Stuff supplies

We got a new stroller ahead of our trip in March- it's an umbrella stroller with really tall handles so that D doesn't break his back pushing it.  The kids love it and fight over who gets to push and who gets to ride up as they go up and down the alley.

One last family picture before Auntie, Uncle, and the kids fly to Majuro

We spent a morning at the beach with our friends last weekend:

There are so many flies here right now!

Fire won't sit through a movie yet but if you give him a controller and sit him down to play video games with Daddy, he's one happy boy!

Operation: Science Stuff- January Delivery

January 23, 2014

 We made our first big delivery of Operation: Science Stuff supplies the the high school on Gugeegue on Monday!  We took over chemistry glassware, pipettes, hotplates, prisms, thermometers, meter sticks, plaster of paris, light bulbs and wire for electricity labs, test tubes, and test tube racks.  The teachers were so excited to have the new supplies and kept telling us how wonderful it was to have them.  We were there on a teacher work-day so we didn't get to see any of the students but the Biology teacher told us that they're really excited about the equipment too.  She told us that they were already using the microscopes for a lab on flat worms and that she kept having to shoo the students away from the microscopes so that they could do the rest of their work.  That the students are excited makes this whole project worthwhile!
Loaded up and ready to head to the boat
On Ebeye and waiting for our ride to Gugeegue

At the school

The biology teacher describing the students' work on a recycling project

A sign in the school urging students not to sleep- don't waste time dreaming of graduating, stay awake and learn!

A view of the entrance of the school

Gugeegue is about seven miles along the causeway from Ebeye- you can see it in the distance

Thanks again to everyone who helped with the fundraising for Operation: Science Stuff, and thank you to those who helped with this delivery.  More equipment is arriving daily and there'll be another opportunity to take things to the school in February.

Still Waiting

January 16, 2014

  "Life is made up of the small things that happen while you're waiting for big things to happen"

 We're still waiting; waiting for Auntie and Uncle to be able to travel to Majuro, waiting for Mommy Elizabeth and the girls to come to Ebeye and waiting to see what effect that will have on our lives, waiting for our vacation in March so that we can finally leave Kwaj for a family vacation, waiting for the piano to be delivered and to see if D divorces me because I bought it! 
  Some updates: Auntie and Uncle and the kids were supposed to fly out tomorrow but they wanted to go on the local airline (Air Marshall Islands) and while it posts schedules on it's website, there's really no guarantees.  D and I are buying their tickets but we have to  pay in cash- I can't even tell you how uncomfortable it makes to have to make that large of a transaction in 20-dollar bills.  Uncle is getting worse- he's in lots of pain and can't lie down any more (I'm guessing because of fluid collection in his lungs).  Auntie and Uncle keep telling us to visit them in Majuro and every time they do, D and I share a long look that says. "Please, God, let us not be visiting for a funeral!"
  Mommy Elizabeth and girls coming from Majuro: Auntie told me the other day that they might not come until May because Ilani started school this year and they want to wait until her summer break.  That changes things regarding our Monday visits to Ebeye because it's not really appropriate for me to be with Jobe without D there.  Exceptions would be made because I'm a ribelle and because the family knows our situation, but it makes me uncomfortable too.  We're also starting to wonder how much contact we should let the kids have with Mommy Elizabeth and Daddy Jobe.  Part of that's parental possessiveness and jealousy but there are also so many unknowns.   Do you have an open relationship with your childs birth family?  How open and how much regular contact do they have with your child?  Any advice on this front would be appreciated.
  Our family vacation: the kids' Malaysian visas were approved and their passports are on their way back to us!  All that's left is for them to arrive in time for the trip (with mail lately, there's no guarantee, but we're hopeful).
  That piano:  the piano will be delivered tonight.  I've rounded up a few friends and promised them beer in exchange for some lifting.  There's been some emails back and forth about tuning (waves are waves right?  If these engineers can tune a billion-dollar radar, they can tune my $50 Baldwin upright, right?), but we'll have to see tonight how well the piano works.  I'm going to try and get pictures of the move, since it will probably be a pretty Kwaj-style production.  Stay tuned!

Some Sweet Pictures of the Kids

January 15, 2014

   A friend took these pictures around Sky's birthday in December.  D and I have decided to only do big birthday parties on the "5" birthdays (5, 10 15) because they can be so expensive, and on Kwaj you really do have to invite everyone to your kid's party.  We decided to invite a few of her friends from school and church to the beach for cupcakes.  Everyone had  a great time and Sky loved having everyone sing to her.  I was so busy that I never took out my camera- luckily my friend Holly did and she got some good pictures. 
 Be still my heart!

 Sky with her friends L and S
 Lighting the candles and singing

 Sky LOVES cupcakes and is a very neat and efficient consumer thereof
Baby H, not so much!

Nervous and Other Thoughts Right Now

January 10, 2014

  Both D and I are nervous these days.  It doesn't keep us up at night but we have a bit of apprehension about how our lives will be changing soon.  We fervently hope that the change will be for the better but there's so many unknowns right now.  Auntie, Uncle, and the kids are flying back to Majuro next week, so that Uncle can go to the hospital there and plead his case directly with the referral board.  If his referral is denied or put off, their son in America is working towards flying them to Indiana to stay with him, so hopefully soon Uncle will be getting the dialysis he needs.
  Any day now, Fire's birth mother Elizabeth and his sisters (Ilani and Susan, I think) will be arriving.  They'll be staying in Jobe in Auntie and Uncle's house here, so that they can be with Jobe and near Fire. 
  Please don't misunderstand me, we are happy that Fire will get to spend time with his birth parents and more of his siblings, but their moving here does make D and I a little nervous.  We have no idea what kind of relationship we'll have with them.  D is concerned that they'll ask us for things like phones or money- they did once in a letter, so there is a little precedence for it.  Funny story about that: the letter was mailed to me but written in Marshallese so I had to have Auntie and Uncle translate it for me.  They were reading it in Marshallese and then telling me what it said in English but then stopped translating what they were reading and their faces got really angry looking.  They wouldn't tell me what it said so I took the letter back and figured out for myself that they were asking for a PSP or an Iphone.  When I asked Auntie and Uncle to confirm that that's what the letter said, they said over and over how mad that made them.  They were mortified that they would ask us for something like that.  I know from later conversations that they called Elizabeth and Jobe and gave them a bit of talking to about the letter, but I don't know how that will affect things after Auntie and Uncle go to Majuro.
  Another concern for me is the fact that Elizabeth doesn't speak any English.  Jobe does but it's not entirely appropriate for me to talk to him all the time.  Plus, I want to be able to have my own relationship with her, not one that's filtered through someone else.  I'm doing my best to see this as a positive opportunity to encourage me to really get back into learning Marshallese.  I've started studying with the LDS missionary sisters again but because of the holidays, we haven't been getting together lately.
  A big joy in the family's move to Ebeye is that Fire's birth-sisters will be coming.  I think Susan is the younger one and she's only a year older than Sky (I think Ilani is around 7).  It will be great to have more kids Sky's age for her to interact with and I think it will help encourage her to start responding in Marshallese as well, especially with Auntie and Uncle to translate for her.
  Life is a journey, a move from one season to another, and the best we can do is make the best of every one of those season and journeys.

In other news:

-Fire learned how to climb out of his crib, so we took a side off and put up a rail to keep him from falling out.  He's gradually learning to stay in his bed and leave his sister alone but sometimes he ends up sleeping with her.  That's a pretty sweet thing to find when I go in to wake them up in the morning.

-Fire has also started potty training.  No!!!  Okay, not really, but I did want to wait longer to start him.  Ms Carmen at the daycare thinks he's ready so we're sending him with pullups.  Hopefully since we've got one potty training battle under our belts, this one will go smoother (and less like a battle?).

-Sky is *this* close to learning to ride a bike without training wheels.  We're going to practice again this weekend and then maybe take off one wheel next week.

-Sky's behavior has been fabulous lately!  Fire is really trying to provoke her these days (because it's fun to poke a lion with a stick, right!?) and she's doing a great job of ignoring him and using her words instead of fighting back.  We're trying to make a point of telling her how proud that makes us.  We're still giving pennies for good behavior and we added two for getting herself ready in the morning.  Sky's not much of a morning person so that one is a struggle.  She just earned another prize for getting all 44 pennies from our penny jar this morning: a half-hour playing on my tablet.  I'm so happy that we've found a positive way to motivate good behavior.

-D and I are both happy that we made it through 2013.  Not that it was ever in doubt that we would, but man, that was a tough year for us.  It turns out that we're not very good at "just being".  We've got two big trips planned this year and we're going to be making some big decisions this year too so that puts us back on some familiar footing.

-The kids' Malaysian visas were approved and hopefully their passports are on their way back to us.  We're flying to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for a two week vacation in March.  We'll be seeing shows, going to Universal Studios, visiting zoos and aquariums, camping in the jungle, and shopping.  Look out south east Asia, we are coming!

Operation: Science Stuff In The News

January 8, 2014

  Thanks to some lobbying on behalf of an old high school friend of mine, Bert Jones (check out his photography and design site: http://bjpds.com/), Operation: Science Stuff, and yours truly, made the school district newspaper.  I just received and email from a writer at the local city newspaper so there may be even more exposure for the project in the future.

To see the full article and paper, click here

Christmas Morning

January 7, 2014

   All the photos below were taken on Christmas morning but there was so much more to the day than opening presents.  Both D and I thought that this was our best Christmas yet.  We started with the kids' stockings and presents, since they're both still too young to wait on turns for opening.  Once their piles of gifts had been unwrapped and ooohed and ahhed over, we dished up our traditional Christmas morning monkey bread and the four grown ups opened our presents (while the kids rotated between breakfast plates like monkey-bread stealing satellites!). 
  After presents, we cleaned up a bit and had some play time before lunch (D's Eggy-Cheesey Bake: recipe soon) and naps.  We took the ferry to Ebeye in the afternoon to watch the jeptas at Auntie and Uncle's church.  I LOVE watching the dancing and singing and it made me so happy when Sky said that she wants to try and learn the jepta for next year.  That would be the best dance class ever, especially for her! 
  When we got back from Ebeye, we headed to our friend Kristin's house for dinner.  Her family has a tradition of doing a fancy Christmas dinner and we were lucky enough to be invited.  Since we were already dressed up for Ebeye, we stopped at the house to pick up the baguettes that I'd made (I'll get the recipe for those up soon) and headed right over for a night of great food and wonderful conversation (and surprisingly well behaved kids).  It was the perfect end to a wonderful day.  I hope you and yours had a great Christmas too!

Because when Auntie L and Uncle J send you a floatie and new shoes, you HAVE to wear them!

As D says, "It's not Christmas without a cat in a box".


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