I Am Going To Be Uncomfortable

February 28, 2014

  I'm actually uncomfortable now, squirmy-inside uncomfortable with the fact that something I'll be doing tonight is going to make me uncomfortable.  I hate that I thought about not going because I didn't want to be uncomfortable.  In the end, I decided to go because it is so important to be made uncomfortable, to put yourself in situations that are new and unknown and grow from them.
  And what exactly is your intrepid adventurer nervous about doing?  Attending a pot-luck dinner- a Black History Month cultural celebration, round-table, and pot-luck dinner.  Really? That's all?  That's what I was thinking myself.  Why am I even questioning whether or not I should go to this?  It's an opportunity to talk about history and culture and I love that.  There's the rub though: it's not my history and culture.  Yes, part of African American history is American history and I've read a lot about it but that's not the same.  Yes, I have African American friends but I've never participated in anything that celebrates the African American culture. 
  So if it's not fully my history and it's not my culture, why am I going?  I'm a talker but I won't have anything to add to the discussions and if anything I may end up feeling defensive and left out.  This celebration tonight is not about me and that, my friends, is exactly why I'm going.  I'm going to listen, learn, and to celebrate something other than me and mine.  I'm going so that I can be made uncomfortable and so that I can embrace that feeling and learn from it. 
  I'm not sharing this with you because I want a pat on the back or as a nod to my multicultural family.  I'm sharing this because I want you to know it's normal to feel uncomfortable about something different and because I hope you might follow my example and push into, and through, that uncomfortable feeling to get to a place of growth and understanding.  A comfortable life is one lived with blinders on.  Those blinders can block out other cultures, poverty, or injustice and everyone has them to some degree, but I believe we should all work towards reducing and removing them so that we can truly see and understand our fellow man. 

New Digs For Us

February 26, 2014

Q: So A, what did you and D do this weekend?
A: Oh, not much, just moved almost all our worldly possessions from one house to another.
We applied for a larger house on Tuesday, got our approval on Thursday, chose our house Friday, signed for the keys on Saturday and then spent the whole weekend moving in. We still have a ways to go and lots of setting up to do but the big stuff is in place and we've been sleeping at the new house for a few nights. Our new place is one story, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms and while it's only 150 square feet larger than our old house, it feels like a mansion. The kitchen has a lot more counter space, there are two linen cabinets, and it has a large grassy back yard. The kids were surprised by the move but they've taken the change really well and pretty happy with it.

Back- I'm so excited to have that yard for the kids to play in!
Acres of counter space in the kitchen
A huge living room
A linen cabinet- seriously, this sort of thing is what has me most excited about the new house
Our bedroom- photo taken from the doorway of the master bath. I like that we have our own bathroom but what I'm most happy about (again) is the storage aspect. Both bathrooms have cabinets under the sinks and our bathroom has drawers as well. It's the little things, isn't it?
This house is huge and I feel a bit guilty about asking to move into it. When you live so close to those who have so little, getting more of something you don't really need, even if your position entitles you to it, seems so wasteful to me and I'm struggling with it. We were fine in our 1100 square feet and it felt like the right size house for us. We loved the back patio and the location and had talked about ways to make the house more efficient and how to fit more of us into it if we decided to grow our family. Do we need this much space? No, but this house was open and we asked about it at just the right time. The move has been a great chance to sort through our things and really consider what we do and don't need. The new house doesn't quite feel like home yet but I'm sure it will soon- until then, I'll be getting lost in the kitchen and trying to decide which towels go in which linen closet (because I have two now!).

Coming in Last

February 21, 2014

  My friend Kristin and I participated in a running club relay run last weekend.  We took turns running a mile each, in turn, for a total of four miles.  My miles took about 9 minutes and Kristin's took about 10.  And we came in dead last. Behind elementary students. So last that the run organizer had already started announcing the winners when Kristin turned a corner and headed into the last 100 yards.  Embarrasingly last.  Everyone had said that it was all in fun, that they weren't going to push themselves- and did I mention that there were teams of elementary students?  We got beat by seven-year-olds.
  In our defence, Kristin is almost six months pregnant and was pushing Fire in her jogging stroller, while I was pushing Sky and Kristin's daughter Ember in mine.  That makes those run times sound a lot better doesn't it?
  Since we were the only ones pushing kids, I think that we were actually running in a category all our own, rather than running against the rest of the competitors.  That means that we actually won, right, since had the best times in our category?  If we take it even further besides being a winning team, both Kristin and I were individual winners as well.  She was the only pregnant runner and I was the only one with two (external) kids with me in the run.
  So there you  have it- we may have come in last but I guess we were running a different race than everyone else and in the end, we won ours.

A Little Gardening on Ebeye

February 20, 2014

  Last weekend, D spent a morning on Ebeye helping out the Canvasback team working on Ebeye to install a public garden at the hospital.  They've had a lot of success with grow-box gardens on Majuro- most of the produce eaten at the Diabetes Wellness Center there was grown in the Canvasback gardens- and I'm hopeful that they can transfer that success to Ebeye.  Diabetes has had a devastating effect on our family so I'll support almost any effort to help people here avoid it.

 There is a training room at the hotel where they give cooking demonstrations and serve healthy meals.  Not only is eating healthy difficult here because of the cost of fresh produce but if you didn't grow up eating that kind of food, you're not going to know how to cook it or how to make it taste good.
Getting started

A bunch of dirt to be moved and a bunch of kids standing around watching?  D put two and two together and used his Marshallese language skills to put together this fire line to get it moved.

A grow box

The Garden

  Since D was there, they've put up a shade cloth and finished a dozen more boxes.  The hospital has hired three gardeners to take care of the boxes, with locally funded money.  I'm hopeful that the local investment of money and labor will help the people on Ebeye embrace this project.  So many ideas put into place here have failed because they weren't organic to the community -this one truly (in several, pun-ful ways) is so hopefully it will be a real benefit to the people here.

On a Boat!

February 18, 2014

 Some friends of ours are retiring soon and one of the going-away parties took the form of an evening lagoon sail on a trimaran.  D and I had been wanting to take the kids out on a boat for a while now but we always worried about their safety.  A few hours on a large, flat boat, with lots of other people around and no sailing distractions for D and I seemed like the perfect opportunity.  We took the kids down to the boat early and made sure they knew where they could and couldn't go and that they were comfortable with their life jackets.  They were both excited to explore someplace new and they both had fun scampering all over the boat.
  The seas were a little rougher than I would have liked, with lots of rocking.  I thought that I would be the one getting seasick but Fire beat me to it.  He was fine while he was sitting up and walking around but  eventually all the motion made him want to lay down (he couldn't get comfortable over my shoulder because of his life jacket) and after about 10 minutes across my lap, all his dinner came back up.  There were several buckets of sun-warmed seawater on the boat and we got him rinsed down quickly.  The poor thing had never thrown up before so besides not feeling well, he was pretty scared. 
  The rest of the sail was uneventful and we made it back to Kwaj without any other problems.  D and I have talked a lot about possibly buying a boat, either for sailing around the lagoon or sailing out of here, but this short evening sail confirmed for us that it'd probably be best to wait until the kids are older before we do.  It would have been a lot for one parent to manage to get Fire cleaned up and Sky calmed down while the other parent was single-handing the boat.  Maybe we'll revisit those boat dreams when the kids are a bit bigger and can understand being sea sick and how to avoid it.  Regardless, it was a (mostly) fun night and I loved that we had the opportunity to show our kids another way to connect with the ocean.  


 After (notice both mine and Fire's wardrobe changes)

Valentine's Day

February 16, 2014

   We're not much for the Hallmark holidays around here so we kept Valentine's Day pretty low key.  One of the grandmothers had sent Sky a packet of make-your-own valentines so we spent two weeks frustratingly gradually making me want to pull my hair out working on them.  I've tried my whole life to be more patient- who knew that all it would take would be working on projects with small children to teach me that skill?  So Sky and I made her valentines for her class and I used double-sided tape to attach a few chocolate kisses to each one and that was it- no bags of plastic toys or futzing with anything fancy.  D bought me flowers the day before (but mostly because the store had them) and chocolate the day after (50% off!) and that was it.  We spent the evening together as a family, playing around the house and reading.
  How was your Valentine's day?

 fire got this big balloon from one of his teachers.  It was a huge hit with the kids
 Sky's valentine
 The flowers, and yes, the vase is a cookie jar.  We've gotten pretty good at making do here!

Happy Birthday Fire!

February 12, 2014

   I can't believe fire is two! How did that happen? It seems like just a minute ago, he was a just a wobbly-headed, big eyed baby. He's such a big boy now! He's trying to talk more and more and has added the words stop, up, down, yes, milk, and run to his vocabulary. He's started growing again too, after taking a six month hiatus and has gotten a half-inch taller in the last month. Fire wears 3T now, although the shorts are a little long for him. He's still a sweet boy with a wonderful laugh but he can retaliate like any little brother will when Sky teases him. His go-to is hair pulling but we're working on it.
   We had two parties for Fire- only half as many as last year! We invited a bunch of our friend to the beach for dinner and cupcakes and then had a family party last night.

Fire got scared when everyone started singing to him

but he thought the cupcakes were pretty great!

Fire fell asleep on me while we were watching the Olympics over the weekend - love that boy!

We had noodles and potstickers for his birthday dinner


and then opened presents

(thanks for the bubblewrap, Grandpa Ken!)


We gave Fire a helmet for his birthday and then broke it in with a trip to the skate park




Playing on the pull-up bars

Sky and I made a pan of blondie brownies for Fire
He took the singing better this time around and blew out all his candles

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