This Poor Neglected Blog

December 23, 2015

So much has happened since I posted last and I just haven't had the time (or the internet connections) available to post about it.  Since I posted last we've flown around the world, celebrated Sky's 6th birthday, closed on our house, and taken the kids on a short vacation to Great Wolf Lodge.  We're looking forward to spending the holidays with our families and then getting our new lives in started in Tucson.
  I don't know when I'll be able to get back to blogging regularly but here are a few photos of what we've been up to:

If you want to talk, Earth is all ears

Santa Comes to Kwaj

December 9, 2015

  Santa made his official arrival on Kwaj this past weekend!  In previous years, he's arrived by boat but this year he came by plane.  There was a large group waiting for him at the terminal so we decided to wait a little further along the parade route.  D, Sky, Fire, and Water played at the skate park while we waited:

Gospel Day on Ebeye

December 8, 2015

  So it turns out that being a stay at home mom doesn't leave much time for blogging!  Between taking care of the little boys, getting the house clean for the inspection, and packing up the last few things, I just haven't had the chance to post anything. 
  I'm really enjoying being home during the day with Water and Earth and while I'm a little nervous about how things will go when Fire is home too, I looking forward to having him home with me as well. 
  We've been trying to see as much of our Ebeye family as possible during these last few weeks and we headed over last Sunday to watch the dances for Gospel Day, a national holiday that celebrates the missionaries that first brought the gospel to the islands.  We've gone before and but this year was a little more special because Mama Lila danced in a jepta (chapter)! 
Mama and Water

High Five for Friday #28: The "I Quit My Job!" Edition

November 26, 2015

It sounds so dramatic to say it like that, doesn't it?  In reality, it was a couple of phone calls to my supervisors sharing with them something that had happened and arranged to be on a leave of absence until we fly out in two weeks.  I won't go into details but it involves our nanny,  Ms B, and it's not something we're going to put up with any more.  Today is my last day of work and I already have play dates an library trips lined up for next week.  High five, friends, I'm finally getting to be a stay at home mom!

Our Last Trip to Roi

November 24, 2015

  We managed to squeeze one last trip to Roi last weekend.  We usually try to spend the weekend when we go but since it would have been too much to manage the little boys sleep up there, this last hurrah was just a day trip.  
  Fire was so excited to get on an airplane!  He's been having tantrums lately because he wants to get on the big airplane but getting on the little airplane placated him enough that he stopped all the hitting/spitting/name calling that's been happening lately.

First stop, feeding the chickens
(or spilling food in the chickens general vicinity, since you're not supposed to do feed them anymore)

Packing Out

November 22, 2015

  One of the benefits of our jobs here is moving service and that includes having a team come to pack up the house for us.  To get ready for them, D and I left the kids with our family on Ebeye for a day and made a bunch of "stay" and "go" piles.  This is the "go" end of the kitchen:

Five for Friday #27: Earth's Baptism, D's 40th Birthday, and Every Day Life

November 19, 2015

High five, friends, we made it to Friday!  This week was a busy one for us, starting with Earth's baptism and ending with D's 40th birthday.  There was a bunch of normal family stuff in between but here are the high lights:

Earth's Baptism
Job and Earth before the baptism

"Disturbed" by Suburbia

November 16, 2015

  As I've shared here recently, we're moving back to the US.  We've known this move was coming for a long time, we just didn't know exactly where in America we would be living until recently.  I alluded to a decision in this post - I couldn't give specifics at the time but I can tell you now that D got offers from jobs in Tucson, AZ and Green Bank, WV.  Those are very, very different places and we had a terrible time choosing between them. 

Water's Baptism (A Very Belated Post!)

November 14, 2015

This post has been sitting in my draft file for over 6 months! At first, I was just waiting for a friend to send me photos and then life just took over and it got lost. In preparing for Earth's baptism this weekend, I was looking for the other kids baptism posts and realized what happened. Although Water definitely gets his share of the limelight here, I feel bad that his special day didn't get shared.
One of the wonderful things that the Protestant congregation on Kwaj does is a sunrise Easter service at the beach, with baptisms in the lagoon following the service. It's a really beautiful thing to be celebrating the Savior's resurrection while watching the sunrise and then to affirm other's faith with "island style" baptisms.  We wanted Water to be a part of this island tradition so we waited for Easter rather than having it done sooner.

For Water, it was just another day of looking adorable

High Five for Friday #28: The Island Adoption Edition

November 12, 2015

High five, friends, we made it to another Friday!  This post is about celebrating, both the big things and the little things.  Let's start with something big:

We finalized Earth's adoption!  As the post title says, it was a very island adoption.  I'm so relieved that this isn't the first time we've done this dance, because if it had been the first time, I would have been freaking out in that picture instead of smiling.  Here's what happened:

When Sadness and Fear Look Like Anger

November 7, 2015

  Fire is struggling a little bit right now.  Part of it is just being three and the growth and change that happens at that age and a bigger part is sadness and fear.  The last few months have been full of ups and downs and he's having a hard time coping with all of it.  First, he and D went to Hawaii for his surgery, then Sky started Kindergarten (he'd never been at the preschool without her), and D left on a plane without him and was gone for three weeks.  As soon as D got back, Earth joined our family and we started talking about a move to America. 


November 5, 2015

Happy Halloween, from three of my little elements and their princess and knight friends!

The First of the Lasts

November 3, 2015

  This past Monday was my family's last Kwaj Running Club Fun Run.  D and I have been participating in the monthly event ever since we moved down from Roi and we've loved sharing it with our kids as they've joined our family (see past posts here).  Sky started doing the 1/2 mile runs last year and Fire did his first one on Monday.
Sky running towards the finish line

Playing Catch-Up and Some Big News

October 27, 2015

 Whew!  Things are crazy around here, friends.  While everyone is adjusting really well to the new baby and the added demands he necessarily puts on our lives, to me at least, it feels like everyone needs something from me all the time and all at the same time. But that's life, my life, and I love it.
  Earth has made the transition to our family beautifully and we are slowly getting each other figured out.  He sleeps better if he's well swaddled and if there's a night light on.  He only like one specific kind of pacifier and prefers to be held sitting up so he can see things.   Sky and Fire argue over who gets to hold him and Water hasn't acted out towards Earth at all.  I know this might just be the honeymoon period but I'll take it and hope that it keeps going.
  It has been a hassle and half to get Earth's adoption paperwork in order but it finally is and we've been told that our hearing will be on Ebeye on Tuesday.  Cross your fingers and say a prayer for us that everything goes smoothly!

Water is a little jealous that Earth gets a bottle and he doesn't but he loves to help feed the baby

and sometimes, both our babies need their bottles and cuddles.

A Surprise Baby Shower

October 19, 2015

  Since Earth is our fourth child and his homecoming was so abrupt, the last thing I expected when I headed to my book club meeting this past weekend was a baby shower but since I have the sweetest,  most wonderful group of friends that a woman could ask for, that's what I got- a surprise baby shower!

Shaving Cream Social

October 17, 2015

Every year in mid-October, Community Activities hosts a Shaving Cream Social for all the island kids.  Sky has gone for the past two years (2013 and 2014) but this year was the first year for Fire.  Both kids totally understood the point of it (oh, the irony of having to teach your kids about revenge after all the time we spend teaching them for forgive!) and had a blast chasing their friends and getting dirty. 

Earth is Home!

October 16, 2015

  I spent the last three days just waiting for this day to come.  I kept thinking that Entry/Exit would find a problem with their paperwork or that Elizabeth would change her mind but in the end, nothing went wrong.  A friend came over to Ebeye with me and brought her 11-month-old daughter with her.  It was so wonderful to have L along for support and baby M broke up the huge amounts of awkwardness and tension at the house.  When it was time to go, Elizabeth changed Earth's diaper and clothes, wrapped him up, and placed him in my arms.  I told her we'd be back to visit on Monday and said, one last time, "Emon?" (okay?).  She said, "Emon, sister" and we said good bye.

We stopped at Sister Schaffer's apartment on the way back to the ferry.  She's been a wonderful mentor to me and I knew she would want to see Earth
I changed him into the outfit I picked out for him to meet his daddy in:

Precious Paperwork

October 15, 2015

Here it is: the paperwork we need to bring Earth home.  Between timing errors, cultural miscommunications, and weather, we hadn't been able to get it from our family on Ebeye.   But now we have it!  My sister Elizabeth has asked me to come for the baby on Friday so that's what we're planning on.  
These past two weeks have held so many ups and downs and there are still a few hurdles that could trip us up.  At this point, even with this paperwork finally in hand, it's just easier to think that something will go wrong so I'm not celebrating just yet.  I will finally believe that all this will really happen when I walk out of the Dock Security Check point with my boy in my arms.

(Is it Friday yet?!)

You'd Think I Was New at This!

October 13, 2015

Somehow this lovely, peaceful moment happened on one of the last days before D flew back from the States: all three kids seated at the table, quietly coloring or working on sticker projects. I was able to get dinner started and a load of laundry going, all the while patting myself on back.  And then I came back to set the table:

Fire and Fire Prevention Week

October 11, 2015

  This week was a big one for the little kids on Kwaj and our boy Fire in particular.  He loves anything to do with fire trucks and fire fighters and both have been much more visible than usual during Fire Prevention Week.  The topic for the week in his preschool class was fire prevention and Fire got to bring his toy fire truck for show and share.  He got to sit in a fire truck, get fire-themed temporary tattoos and saw Sparky the Fire Dog twice.  Although the pictures below don't always capture it, having all these things happen in one week made for a very happy boy.

Escaping from the "Fire House"

High Five for Friday #27: This and That

October 8, 2015

High Five, friends!   I'm all over the place today- this week has been so full of ups and downs that it's hard to wrap it all up.  Here are a few things that have happened, will happen, and won't be happening:

Today's the day!  D flies back in from the States and we are so excited to have him back!  (Is that enough exclamation points?  I'm not sure two is enough to express how great it will be to have D home.  Life's just better when we're all together).

An Update

October 7, 2015

  Sorry to leave you all (yes, all five of you!) on such a sad note for so long with that last post about Elizabeth.  Between the all uncertainties in our lives right now and single parenting, I just haven't had the time or energy to post.  Let me catch you up on what been happening here:

Scarf Swap

October 6, 2015

About a month ago, I entered a scarf swap over at Floral and Fudge.  I was so glad that Rachel let me participate, even though we don't live in the US.  My scarf arrived earlier this week, from Cathy at The Queen of Everything.  I love that it's lightweight and I really liked the darker plaid pattern. 
(don't judge- we've already established that I'm not a fashion blogger!)

The Weather Lately

October 5, 2015

  The weather has been crazy this summer- windy, rainy, and chilly when is should be hot and still. We've had waves in the lagoon and for the last few weeks, the wind has regularly been coming from west, opposite of it's usual direction.  Apparently all this has been caused by a particularly bad El Nino cycle and it's not predicted to end any time soon. 
  To give you an idea of what this kind of weather does to these tiny, low lying islands here are some photos that a friend took just the other day of the lagoon:

Maybe I'll Laugh About This Later

September 30, 2015

  Maybe I'll laugh with D about this later but right now, all I want to do is tear my hair out and sob.  Elizabeth was supposed to fly to Kwaj with the baby today but she wasn't on the plane.  I didn't stay long to talk to Job when he arrived but it sounds like they thought I bought the ticket on Air Marshall Islands rather than United. 
  It sounds like a joke, right?  A simple cultural miscommunication: "their" go-to airline is AMI and "ours" is United. It never occurred to me to clarify which airline I'd bought the ticket on.  Funny, right?  It might be except that I've been so spun up by everything surrounding this adoption that I'm just wrecked by this falling through.
  There was a plan (I should know by now better than to hang my hopes on plans made in the Marshall Islands!) for Elizabeth to arrive today and finish the custody paperwork with Job before the weekend.  The baby was going to come to stay with us starting Saturday.  I was ready for the challenge, ready for the distraction, and really ready to have some kind of answer to all this. 
   I'm sure someday this will be funny.  Someday this will be a great part of Earth's story, and I know that everything happens for a reason, bur right now, I just want my baby home with me.

High Five #26: By the Numbers

September 24, 2015

High five my friends, it's Friday!  Since I'm very outnumbered here right now, I thought I do this week's review by the numbers. 

 In our house right now, the parent-to-kid ratio is a little skewed.  It's currently 1:3 because D got on an airplane the other day.  He's flying off to all these places
 to do something that has to do with what was put on hold when we found out about this little number:

Meet Earth

September 22, 2015

We've been told that the family wants to go ahead with the adoption so I think some introductions are in order.
World, meet Earth:

Baby News

September 16, 2015

  Elizabeth delivered this beautiful baby boy into the world yesterday. Isn't he perfect?  They've named him Telenken after her father.  
  My heart is so conflicted.  I hate being in this place, of not knowing if he's ours and hating that if he does become ours, it's a loss to her.  Elizabeth has told me that she would like to keep a boy, since family has taken her older two and they placed Fire with us.  There are so many other factors in the decision though, like what her husband and her mother want, that it's not as simple as you might think it is.  Adoption is a terrible and a wonderful thing.  A blessing for one family means a loss to another.

The Evolution of a Photograph

September 15, 2015

  Since I've got a terrible head cold and ear infection this week, I'm going to phone it in a little bit with this photo series.  I considered titling this post Little Brothers Are Annoying but didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea about Fire.  He's usually a pretty good little brother but he was on a real tear the other night while D was trying to take a picture of Sky and I.  I think the photos say it best:

A Chopper Ride to Roi

September 12, 2015

  I was lucky enough to get to ride in a helicopter twice this week and I was able to get some great pictures on one of the trips.  I love these rare opportunities to get an up-close and unique view of the atoll.  Even after six years here, the beauty of it amazes me!

High Five for Friday #25: Fashion Blogger Fail Edition

September 10, 2015

 High Five for Friday, everyone!  Hurray for the weekend!  Most of this week's five involve clothes so I guess this is where you learn why I'm not a fashion blogger.

I thought I'd try something new this week for the blog: Island Fashion.  Don't go book marking my page just yet, because it looks like it's going to be non-starter.  I only remembered to take pictures of my outfits two days this week and while I do put effort into what I wear, these clothes don't really lend themselves to fashion blogging!

High Five for Friday #24: Anniversary Edition

September 4, 2015

  High Five for Friday and congrats on making it through another week!  I don't know about you but I'm ready for a three day weekend.  As long as the weather cooperates, we'll be spending a big part of ours in classic Kwaj style: at the beach. 
  How was your week?  Ours was pretty good- a few highs and not too many lows.  Here's a quick recap:

D and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this week.  We talked about doing something special but ended up just meeting for lunch and then watching a movie together that evening.  We are some hard partiers!

Sky and The Angry Tiger

September 2, 2015

 Sky face was tear-stained and my arm was bruised from where she'd been kicking me.  My whole body was tired from trying to hold her while she flailed and Sky's eyes were red from the intense rubbing she does when she's stressed these days.  I was doing my best to calm her after one of her rages and we were finally moving towards regulation.  Sky had stopped rocking, was breathing slower, and nodded her head just a little when I asked if I could go get her a graham cracker.  This tantrum had started when Sky asked for something she knew she couldn't have and quickly grew out of control in part because she hadn't eaten much that day. 
  When I came back with the graham cracker, Sky was still where I'd left her waiting on her butterfly rug (a good sign- if she'd been hiding, we might have had to go through all this again before I could get her to eat).  I sat down across from her on the floor, gave her the cracker, and asked, "Sky, did you feel like you were in control of your body just now or did it feel like there was an angry tiger in control?"
  She didn't take her eyes off her graham cracker but answered in a tiny whisper, "Angry tiger".  She nibbled at her cracker, then looked at me and asked, "Mama, how do you know about the angry tiger?"  Sky looked so relieved, like I'd opened a secret door she didn't know she was trying to keep closed.

Nesting for Number Four

August 31, 2015

  It's September and the surprise addition is due to be born some time this month.  Between the busy-ness of our lives and my own difficulty accepting this turn in our lives, I'd been putting it off doing anything to get ready, beyond accruing some baby clothes.  This weekend I found some free time and got started nesting for our new baby.  Since this is our fourth child in four and a half years (over-achievers, making up for lost time, call it what you will!) we have most of the things we need.  I dug out our Moses basket and a baby blanket, found the baby monitor, and cleared space in the low-boy dresser in Water's room. 
  Since there will be six of us in a 3 bedroom house, the current plan is to have the baby sleep in our room until she (Elizabeth has always said that it's a girl and I hope she's right because I just bought a bunch of second-hand girls clothes!) outgrows the Moses basket.  When we're ready to move the baby to the crib, we'll switch to a boy's room-girl's room set up, with Water and Fire sharing one room and Sky and the baby sharing another. 
  We still don't know when the new baby will be coming home to us but our best guess is later in October.  My RMI law, the court date must be at least 30 days after the baby's birth.  That means that even if the baby is born today, the earliest we could go to court would be the first week of October.  I'm guessing there will be some delays in getting Jobe's notarized consent, since he didn't want to travel to Majuro for court, and then a wait for an open court date.  All that adds up to it being at least 6 weeks before we'll need any of these baby things.
  I'm so glad that I made the time to do this, even though there's still a wait.  I'm getting genuinely excited and having to hold my tongue when I see Ms B in the morning, to keep from asking her if she's heard anything from Elizabeth in Majuro!

High Five for Friday #23: So Glad to Be Here

August 27, 2015

  High five, we made it to Friday again!  I'm so glad to be here.  Not here, in this space (although I do love my blog space and my three lovely readers!) but here in this time, at the end of August.  Between Kwaj's amazingly bad weather this summer and the heavy feeling of waiting (for Kindergarten to start, for D to get a job offer, for baby number 4 to come), these last few months have felt ridiculously long and seemed to pass very slowly.  We're not great at waiting but we made it to here, relatively intact and still loving each other.

  The cascade of beginnings started this week with Sky starting Kindergarten.   She was understandably nervous about starting school but loved it, like we hoped she would.  She comes home still full of energy but it's joyful instead of frenetic.  She's being challenged and praised and is using her amazing brain all day and it's so good for her.  Life is so much easier for all of when Sky is happy.  D and I feel like we have some space to recharge our batteries and we've been handling the regular stresses of parenting so much better over the last few days because of it.

What The First Day of Kindergarten Looks Like Here

August 26, 2015

  My girl was so brave today!  Sky has been attending the same preschool, with the same teachers, for three and a half years, and going to Kindergarten means giving that up.  Sky struggles with transitions and she's been acting out her anxiety about this one for the last few weeks as we've transitioned her out of daycare.  I was expecting the same big emotions this morning but beyond refusing to take a "first day of school" picture, she did great.  There wasn't any excitement but there wasn't any balking either.  Somewhere in all that nervousness, there was a little girl excited for something new.
  Sky is ready to be in school- ready for the structure, the higher level of expectations, and the broader horizons that Kindergarten will bring.  I am truly hopeful that she will thrive in her class and that school will be someplace exciting and fun, someplace where she feels safe enough to let her guard down and enjoy herself.

High Five for Friday #22: The Parenting Edition

August 20, 2015

  Happy Friday, Everyone!  How's your week been?  Between a bad head cold going around the family, Water cutting teeth 7 and 8, Sky acting out because she's not in school in the afternoons anymore, and Fire acting out because he misses Sky, D and I have felt like we're just putting one foot in front of the other right now.  This parenting business is hard.  There are so many times when I would love to do it the easy way, to assert my will over theirs and rule by force, to make them do something "because I said so."  While that would be the easy way, at least for my family it's not the best way.  To get through the challenging times, I'm reaching for every strategy I can find and applying them left and right.  For my Five this Friday, I'll be sharing my resources for parenting in trying times.

When I started writing this post, the plan was to have it be all about the books and blogs I run to when I need help to find a way through something, and those are still going to be in here, but I'm going to be honest with you: they're not my first resource.  This is:
 I'm not overt or evangelical about it here on the blog but I do believe that He is my first, and best, resource and time spent in prayer always helps me center myself and find a way through our toughest times.

The other man in my life:
While he doesn't have all the answers, we can usually find a way through things together. (We can also open each other a beer and toast to having made it through another day!) 

How to Throw an Amazing First Birthday Party!

August 18, 2015

Want to throw your own super-duper, amazing, awe-inspiring first birthday party?  I did and it was fabulous!  I know you're thinking, "How can I do that?"  Fear not, my friend, the post below contains all the information you need to throw your own Amazing First Birthday Party (to make Pinterest pinning easier, all the suggestions are on the pictures). 

High Five for Friday # 21: Water is Turning One!

August 14, 2015

  High Five, ya'll- my baby is turning one this weekend!  It's been an amazingly long and short year, all at once.  I won't retrace all of it for you (there was so much puking that I would rather forget!) but if you'd like to reminisce a bit, click on "Water" in the Categories box there on the right. 

  In honor of our special boy, this High Five post will be all about Water

Look how much he's grown!

Her Ending and My Beginning: An Open Adoption Memory

August 11, 2015

 It is 1:33pm on August 18, 2014 and I am watching the clock.  I'm trying not to count the minutes left, the minutes until she, my beautiful baby boy's first mother, can no longer change her mind.  Mama D pays no attention to the clock.  She never has.  From the moment I met her a week ago, she has never seemed to question her decision.  I'm sure that inside she is a whirl of emotions and that uncertainty is on of them, but she has never let on any of that to me.
  Water stirs and begins to fuss in his bassinet and we both turn towards him.  Because of her stitches, it's hard for Mama D to get out of bed so I go to him, change his diaper, and then carry the baby to her.  She lowers her hospital gown and begins to nurse him.  I've been bottle-feeding Water at night so that she can sleep but she wanted to breast feed him for these first few days.  While she cuddles with our sweet boy, the last minute ticks past and the paperwork she signed before he was born become unrevocable.  He is mine.  Half of my heart breaks for Mama D while  the other half soars in selfish joy. 
  Thirty minutes later, with custody paperwork in hand, we are discharged from the hospital.  A nurse checks that Water is properly buckled into his car seat and Mama D's boyfriend picks up her bag.  We form a slow procession to the elevators.  At the hospital entrance, there are two cars waiting, one for me and Water and one for Mama D, and she begins to cry as the reality of this separation sets in.  I cry for her and with her, give her a hug, and tell her to call anytime.  I ask if she'd like to get together tomorrow and she says she'll let me know.  We get into our cars and are driven off in different directions.  It is both an ending and a beginning...

See where I'm linking up here

One Week on Kosrae

August 8, 2015

  I'm so, so glad that we decided to go ahead with our vacation on Kosrae!  There seemed to be so many good reasons for cancelling: it was too soon after Fire's surgery, we should save the money and vacation time for our upcoming adoption, it would be easier on the kids to not go.  In the end, D and I decided that we could all use a break from our regular lives, that we all needed to be someplace else for just a little while.

High Five for Friday #20: Post-Vacation Edition

August 6, 2015

 High Five for Friday!  I know I said that we weren't going to be able to go on vacation but it turned out that Fire's surgery was successful (and it would cost more to cancel the vacation than to actually go!) so we decided to take our week away.  There wasn't a lot of internet access so we kind of checked out from the blog and fb world.  It was a really nice break for everyone.  We got back early this week and have been slowly getting back into the swing of things.  Here's a quick recap of what we've been up to:


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