January happenings

I tried this post once today and I left the page thinking I could come back. You can’t. I think I had about 40 pics on here, with captions, too. Blasted! January was a busy month for us since we have the kids signed up for a lot of activities (when they get out of school at 2:15, you need to kill 6 hours before bedtime, that means lots of boredom if you have nowhere to go) so we spent that month trying to figure out how to make our new schedule work best. Here are photos. (fingers crossed!!)

Christmas in Guam

I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much this year. I’m used to being around family, whether that means one or two grandparents or a house full of cousins. I was thinking that I was going to be really sad, lonely and feeling terrible for my poor husband having to put up with me feeling this way. The first two weeks of December were tough, but then I realized that it didn’t matter where we were or how many people were here, as long as the four of us are together it will be wonderful. Especially since we weren’t together last year. Brandon really wanted to spend Christmas afternoon at the beach and grill out. I wasn’t totally on board, but I wanted him to have his Christmas too. I may have pouted a little bit more, but this Christmas ended up being so very special and I wouldn’t have traded one second of it for anything. Brandon grew up spending most of his holidays without extended family since they were living overseas most of the time, so it was really special to get to see and experience the kind of Christmas he is used to. And the kids had just as much fun with it being the four of us as they do when we have everyone we know in the same room. Ok, enough talk, here’s the photos of our day together….

First we went to our friends, the Johnsons, house on Christmas Eve for a delicious dinner. Sophie was so cute and told me how to fix her hair and she had to have a necklace and a bracelet to wear too. She was also very excited to find out that Rachel had made pumpkin pie.

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Sophie loves going to their house because Rachel always finds some kind of craft that Sophie can make. She was very serious about her gingerbread house. Her buddy Ben-Ben was being his adorable self too.

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The dads were able to relax out back. I went out there too late and half of the dads had gone back inside.

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After the Christmas Eve service at the chapel on base we told the kids if they got their pj’s on and we read a book then we would let them open one gift. Can you tell they were excited?

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Ok, NOW we are on to Christmas morning. I’ll keep it short because there are a lot of photos. And I left some of them out too!

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Forced photo in front of Christmas tree may end up with more crazy faces.

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Christopher was really excited about the Star Wars Lego set that Sophie bought for him. They were so cute when picking out gifts for each other and could wait to give them out.

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Christopher knew how much Sophie was going to love the Hello Kitty ornament he picked out so he went ahead and got ready for the hug he knew was coming.

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Daddy got a ukulele. Now to figure out how to play it. He tried tuning it, but it won’t hold a tune, so I’m praying that it’s not broken.

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They had so much fun at Legoland that we decided to get them a big box of the bigger blocks they could play with together. They love to build towers and tunnels and these work better and faster than the little ones.

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Sophie pretty much squealed as she opened her gift from my brother’s family. It was full of jewelry and all kinds of girly stuff.

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Christopher bought Sophie her own scuba gear. She could not wait to try it out that afternoon.

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Christmas hug!!!

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Brandon really wanted to get Christopher his own golf clubs. He thought C might enjoy it more if he had actual kid clubs instead of ones that were cut down to size. Christopher’s reaction was priceless!!!! He was even more excited than we thought he would be.

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Giving Daddy a big hug to thank him for the new clubs. :)

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Skyping with Mimi and Papa John.

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Sophie wearing the new dress she got from her best friend in AL, Christopher playing with who knows what and Brandon taking a nap. It was a great morning.

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At lunch we headed down to Gab Gab Beach on the Navy base. We had heard it was really nice and everyone was right. It’s my favorite beach so far. Mostly because you can park right next to the beach and palm trees line the water so we didn’t even need to put our tent up.

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It would start to rain every now and then so I would go sit in the back of the van while Brandon and the kids played/snorkeled in the water. This was my view.

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And here’s the view of the van. I cranked up our Christmas music while Brandon grilled out next to the van and the kids ran around playing and dancing. This will definitely go down as one of my favorite Christmases.

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Brandon showing the kids the ribs and sausage we were having for lunch. I didn’t plan well at all, so we literally had ribs and sausage that Brandon bought. Ok, we also had doritos and cheetos. I forgot that I threw in an apple at the last minute. Probably should have eaten it because we felt pretty gross by bedtime since every meal we ate that day was either sausage or pork.

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The kids found a butterfly and Sophie let them stick it on her shirt.

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Before we left, we were all sitting on the beach playing and Sophie said, “Cover me up in sand!” so we did. I was laughing because we just kept tossing it on top of her and when we were done she looked like a walrus.

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On our way home we decided to stop at Two Lover’s Point. We didn’t realize that you had to pay to go up to the edge and we didn’t have any money, so we just peeked around the corner. This was the better of the views I could get. If we had waited a little later it probably would have been even better. Next time.

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Overall I would rate this as a wonderful Christmas. I thought I would really miss all the craziness and the chaos that usually occurs this time of year, but there was something so special about it being simple and quiet and just us. Merry Christmas from Guam!

Rota Walk ’12 and a performance

We live on a wonderful street. Some run away from it, and we did when we heard about it, then we saw the house, saw the view and decided to embrace it. We also thought it might make living here a little more fun. We live on the street where everyone (as in hundreds) come to trick or treat and to see Christmas lights. Some have a theme and some don’t. Some pass out treats and some don’t. You are free to do as much or as little as you’d like, but you know moving in that you have to participate. Since we moved here the week before Halloween we didn’t do anything except buy candy. And we had to rush to get Christmas together (shipping takes FOREVER with Oriental Trading, the best place to buy bulk) and the stores run out of decorations fairly quickly. I originally thought we’d go with a winter wonderland theme because snowflakes, if we could find any, could stack easily and I loved white lights. But after talking with Brandon’s mom, she said, “Why don’t you use your kayak and go with a Hawaiian theme?” Well, as soon as we heard that we were sold. We headed to Home Depot and couldn’t believe it when we found a pair of light up flamingos dressed for Christmas. We grabbed a blow up Santa and as many colored lights as we could. We searched online to see where we could get a lot of plastic flamingos and threw a couple more things in the online cart and had it shipped to my in-laws who then shipped it to us. It was a lot of work, mostly because we have never decorated the outside of our house before, but it was totally worth it and now we know what to do for next year and it won’t take nearly as long. I really wish the photos had turned out better, but the little flapping flamingos in the yard were awesome and also too small to show up in the whole picture. And Christmas lights just don’t photo well at night. You just have to take our word when we say the whole street looked amazing and the kids had a blast!! I can’t wait for next year!! And poor Brandon is probably dreading it, he worked SO hard and I can’t thank him enough for all the work he put into it.

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For three days leading up to Rota Walk the wind was insane. It was steady at around 25 mph and never let up. The above photo is the same shot as the photo on the top of our blog. You can barely see the water in this one though. We normally have “sea air” leaving it’s mark on your car, but these few days it was worse. And you could see the direction the wind was blowing in because the front and right side of my van was so much dirtier than the rest of it. I had to clean my windshield just so I could see clearly to drive that day. The photo below also shows the strong winds because normally the palm trees are perfectly round on top. I was laughing when I came home because one of the trees had a branch that was wrapped around a light pole like it was hanging on for dear life.

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Here is the front of our house that night. It started raining about 2 hours before Rota Walk was supposed to start so everyone was nervous. The year before apparently it poured a LOT and thankfully this year it was much shorter.

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Here is the view of our street from out house.

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Here is the cutout that Brandon had made for people to take their photo in. And yes, Sophie looks like she’s falling out, but she’s heavy now! I swear she has grown two inches since we got here!

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Here is Sophie at the cutout across the street. There are supposed to be gifts flying out the back, but the sind had blown them back in when I took the photo.

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Here’s an attempt at a crowd shot. All I had was my phone, so it wasn’t great.

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One of the houses at the top of the street (where the General and some other “more important than us” people live) had a live nativity scene. IMG_0352

Another house had Photo Booth there and so we could take some fun pics together as a family. The kids (by that I mean Christopher) got into it more than I thought they would. It was so fun!

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Last week, Sophie’s preschool had their winter performance. Imagine 120+ preschoolers dressed as either a snowman, Christmas tree or a reindeer belting out about 6-7 carols. It was the cutest thing I have ever seen! I got there early and parked myself on the front row. Then I went and grabbed Christopher out of his class so he could keep me company. And to help take pictures and video. IMG_4074

Here’s Miss Priss dressed as a snowman. Her class had to wear a white shirt and denim bottom. The teachers had made these cute little hats with their names on them and they had a paper scarf to wear. He hat fell backwards in this pic, but it was the only one that didn’t show all the other kids and their names, which I thought the parents might appreciate. All I have left are videos and I’m hoping to figure out how to post one on here. Seriously, the cutest thing you have ever seen!!

IMG_4075 Well, it’s Christmas Eve and we are trying to get the kids down, correction, Sophie. Christopher put himself to bed! Goodnight and Merry Christmas!!!!

December so far…

I apologize for not posting in a couple of weeks. We’ve been pretty busy. And I was sick one week. Nothing serious like the flu or anything, but I felt bad enough I didn’t want to do anything. I have a good bit of photos, but they are mostly of Sophie, since she’s who I’m with most of the time, so it will look like I’m playing favorites. Christopher just runs too much for me to get a picture of him. Here’s a little of what we have been doing (in no particular order):

Picking up packages at the post office. I hate that they won’t deliver to your house, but what can you do. I’m a little annoyed with the post office right now because they have sent at least one package back and two are nowhere to be found. But we have had some wonderful surprises show up and the kids LOVE checking our box to find mail or help to carry the boxes to the car. No matter how big. (I just found out the packages were sent different ways, so hoping that just means one way takes longer than the other.)

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Trip to the commissary with Sophie. Those are almost always entertaining. I’ve learned to become much more patient than I have ever been, of course allowing yourself 3 hours to get through the store AND going at 7:45 in the morning really helps. She almost always has a purse, we both have our sweater/sweatshirt and she MUST grab a newspaper when we leave. She loves that they have kid carts there so she can help me and thinks it’s funny that hers fills up before mine does.

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Sophie’s outfits are either really cute or really funny. She has several pairs of bloomers, most of which are little shorts, that she can wear under her skirts and dresses, but the kids still say they are panties. She hates this, so she has decided to wear leggings under everything. And they never match. I love it because my sister was the same way when she was little. They both need shorts so when they hang upside down from the monkey bars nobody sees their panties!

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One day Christopher got out of school early (they only had one full week in November if that tells you anything) and it was a really windy day, so Sophie and I decided to take our bikes to pick him up. I walked mine and Christopher’s bikes and Sophie rode hers. He was SO excited! Poor Sophie was a little tired on the way home, but we made it and hope to do it again another day.

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We went to the post office after school one afternoon and had 4 packages in the mail! The kids were so super excited to see all the goodies that a sweet friend of mine had sent us. It was so awesome and exactly what we needed.

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An awesome friend of mine here made this adorable Grinch quilt for the kids.

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This is how Sophie dressed one morning when we had to run errands. She almost made it the whole time with the wig on, but it started to itch and we had to take it off after a while.

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Brandon worked REALLY hard getting our house ready for Rota Walk. Our street is named Rota and every year it where everyone comes to trick or treat and see Christmas lights. Having never really done either of these things before we thought it would be fun to dive into the madness we heard it could be. The walk is this weekend and we can’t wait! I will post photos, but go ahead and know that Christmas lights don’t photo nearly as well as they look in person. We had a trial run last night and it’s going to be awesome!!

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Brandon and Sophie making a coffee cake one Saturday morning. I can’t tell you enough how much we have enjoyed Brandon’s new work schedule. It’s been so fun to have him around so much and I feel like I have my best friend back. It’s been 9 years since we’ve spent this much time together. :)

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Here’s a peek at our theme for our outdoor decorations. hehe!!

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I caught Sophie lying on her back staring up at the sky one afternoon. This girl has my heart totally wrapped.

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Last Saturday night we had Brandon’s office Christmas party. We had so much fun and they even had this awesome photographer there with all these props. Here we are with our friends, the Johnsons.

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And here’s Brandon and I at our table. I forgot to mention that they had a vintage theme. We were all trying to figure out what in the world to wear and how in the world to find it on this tiny island, but I think we pulled it off pretty well.

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Here’s our yard in the day time. I can’t get a good photo of the whole thing, you just have to see it in person. We have about 45 tiny flamingos with spinning wings staked into our yard. It’s loud when the wind gets blowing. One of my neighbors told me that it freaks her dog out every time she walks him in front of our house. We have been told how happy our yard makes everyone. Our sign on the wall says “Mele Kalikimaka from the Hemphills”.  It’s Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. We love it. :)

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We have been collecting coconuts around base, not sure what we would do with them, but figured it would be fun to have them and one afternoon while Brandon was working the kids wanted to drill a hole in it to try the milk. Sophie was the only one that liked it.

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Brandon building the frame for our photo op in front of our house.IMG_0266

Sophie proudly helping. And looking great while doing it. Pop would be so proud. :)

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Well, that’s all I have for now. I apologize for them being a little out of order and for it taking so long to get them on here. I will try to do better next time. I also have some hilarious videos of the kids I want to post, but haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Belly aching laughter from those two! We have had some great family moments lately and I’m loving it!

Thanksgiving Week

I really thought I would have this post up sooner, but I kept putting it at the bottom of my list. We had a great, and very busy, Thanksgiving week here in Guam. We had three different meals to attend and I was so happy to be at each one.

First, up this week was the movie Sophia the First finally coming on tv. All the tv shows come on the following night here. It’s a little confusing because they advertise the night it comes on in the States, but since we are ahead of you we have to wait for it to come on the next night. And I have to remember it’s on at the eastern time zone and not central. Which means I really have to think when it comes to recording. Then you throw in that the timer is slightly off so I have to adjust every recording so we don’t miss the beginning or end of a show….. let’s just say I watch most things on hulu. Anyway, I tell you about this only because Sophie has been asking for a month if it’s time for Sophia the First to come on. I let her plan the menu for that night (she asked for hot dogs and chicken, but I told her we could leave the hot dog part out) and she wanted to make a cake…. and popcorn. Before she went to school that afternoon I let her help me make the cake.

Sophie really loves corn on the cob, so we had that with our chicken. And since the kids had been studying about Thanksgiving/Native Americans, Christopher jumped at the chance to help get the corn ready. They were so serious!

Daddy couldn’t wait until the movie to eat the cake so we dove in as soon as we finished supper. It was really yummy!

Tuesday was the Thanksgiving feast at Sophie’s preschool. All the classes brought food to share, but first we went to Sophie’s class and they sang some songs for us. The girls were dressed as Pilgrims and the boys as Native Americans. They were so cute!! And as much as Sophie loves getting attention from others, when she is supposed to be up in front of a crowd, she freezes. It’s really funny! (What’s even funnier is the next day at our parent-teacher conference her teacher talked about how shy and quiet she is! I about fell out of my chair. She was surprised to hear me say that she doesn’t stop talking at home unless she’s asleep. Funny girl!)

She’s such a cutie and so proud of her daddy! She wants him to take her to school, pick her up and stay home with her when she’s there. I think she would glue herself to his side if he would let her. :)

This is the only picture I took on Thanksgiving day. Sophie has really been missing Alabama, especially her best buddy, Joshua. We were so happy to get to Skype with them that morning. The two of them giggled and chatted for about 20 minutes. They have such a special and precious friendship. I told her one day on the way to school that she can make new friends just like she is with Joshua, her response was, “No. There is only one Joshua and I want him.” Poor girl is having fun here, by sometimes I want to just pack it all up and take her back to her friend. Thankfully this week was much better. All she needs is time and a good Skype with her buddy every now and then. :)

The day after Thanksgiving we went to the mall to see if we could find anything for Brandon and I to wear to his office Christmas party. The kids found this huge “marble works” thing in the middle of the mall. It used pool table balls and a basketball instead. I think we stood there for about 20 minutes just watching it go.

We finally got the kids to go ride on the train. Funny, I know, making your kids go ride. They wanted to, we just had to remind them. Want to know how much it costs per kid to ride? One dollar each. Yup! We may not have much here in Guam, but we DO have $1 train rides at the mall! :)

When we got home Brandon went to cut the grass and Sophie decided that she was going to sweep up the grass that was on the patio. She went inside to change her shoes and came out with her boots on. I love these boots. And they worked MUCH better with her outfit than her dress up high heels that she stomped around in all day. I’m sorry, I don’t care who you are, but high heels with a denim skirt just don’t work.

Saturday we decided to head down to the beach. We loaded the kayak on top of the van, grabbed all the buckets and shovels and chairs that we could and off we went. It was so nice to just sit and watch the kids play and Brandon to get to enjoy time in the water again. Nothing brings me more joy than you sit in the quiet and watch my family enjoying time outside.

On Sunday after church we went to a different beach with our friends, the Johnsons. They have been wanting to take us to Ritidian Beach, but we just haven’t made it yet. It was a beautiful, but rough, drive. Potholes that almost made Brandon want to turn around and get his jeep. It was actually kind of funny to watch several cars drive over the road because you didn’t care about being on the right side, you just wanted to avoid the holes. But once we got past it, it was glorious. I still can’t believe that we live here sometimes.

This is where we parked our cars. You back up to an opening and unload your stuff onto the beach.

Once we set up our tents everyone either went straight into the water to snorkel, play in the sand, take a nap in a chair or just relax in the water. Not sure who’s in this photo, but this was several of the kids and it looks like Brandon, snorkeling…

Here’s our set up…

Here’s our view, with Brandon and Sophie happy to be in the water again…

Our view to the right…

Our view to the left…

Brandon and I went for a walk with Sophie and Ben and when we came back the other boys had found a place under a tree to call their fort. Then my phone died. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

A busy week

Last week was the busiest week we have had since we moved here. Monday was a holiday and the school had parent/teacher conferences most of the week. Christopher went a full day on Tuesday, was out by 10:45 the rest of the week and Sophie didn’t have school at all! I also had a Pampered Chef party, Bible study and MOPS three of those mornings with only about 45 minutes to kill before having to pick up Christopher. So, I honestly didn’t have time to do a post until now and didn’t think I had any photos to show you either. I should be going to bed, so this post may be happening over several days. It turns out that I did take a few pics with my phone so I will post those for you to see. Here goes!

At our MOPS meeting at the end of October, one of the moms told us about how her family makes a thankful tree every year. Her girls are now young teens and still make sure they do it every year. She even gave each of us a hand out explaining how she did it and had templates of pretty leaves we could trace. Of course I lost that piece of paper and so I had to wing it. I also only had a tiny window one day to cut it all out and enlisted Sophie to help me. The kids have had so much fun writing on their leaves (which were hand-drawn, very loosely, but hey, leaves aren’t perfect in nature, so why should they be in my house?) and it’s so precious to hear the things they are thankful for. Sophie’s are a little more long winded than the rest of us (more like a run on sentence than 1-2 words), but still just as sweet.

Our laundry room is awesome and has tons of storage. I had bought some indoor/outdoor fabric several years ago thinking I would recover some chair cushions, but basically got scared and never did it. Little did I know that I would be thankful I was scared back then because I would need it now. There is a cubby in that awesome laundry room that I was able to cover with this fabric and I love it! Of course when you squat down to take a photo at it’s level you realize that it looks like the mustache from The Lorax is in the pattern. Brandon and I laughed because you don’t think that standing up, but when you squat down we have Dr. Seuss in our laundry room.

Last weekend I really wanted to go down to the Navy base to look around. Sophie broke her only pair of flip flops and we couldn’t find any at our base. We were told it was flip flop central down there. So off we went on Saturday afternoon and ended up finding two pairs of shoes for her and not much of anything else. Well, they actually have a lot more there than we do here, but since the kids were with us there was no way to get any Christmas bought without them knowing. We had told them that we would take them to see Wreck It Ralph too and so we grabbed an early dinner at the food court, tried to talk the kids into just going home because Brandon and I were so exhausted, but they really wanted to go. So we headed to the mall and went to the movie. The sign below was on the door into the mall. I thought it was really funny! Most malls tell you no soliciting or skate boarding or smoking, etc. Not here! Apparently it’s kind of like dip. But of course I had no clue. I’m just glad the sign is there now that I know what a Betel nut is!

On Sunday we went to the BX and bought a new tv stand and desk.We really hoped to not need a tv stand and to find a used desk, seeing as how we left/sold both of those items at home (the tv stand was too small anyway), but we had reached the point of not caring and bought them anyway. We spent the rest of the afternoon putting the tv stand together and I have to say, I’m really glad we bought it. I love it! Aren’t you glad when that happens? We also were not happy with the kids rooms and Brandon would sneak off while I was working on the tv stand and took all the doors off their closets. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about everything being exposed, but he was so right! It looked so much more open and since the kids don’t need to hang any of their clothes anyway (well, Sophie has a few dresses, but not enough to matter) their rooms feel so much bigger. So Monday we woke up and went to Kmart to see what we could find as far as storage for Christopher’s room. We found what we needed and went home and put it together. Their rooms aren’t finished yet, but we are basically down to just hanging stuff on the walls now. While we were working in the living room I heard something. The kids stole some of the foam from a box we’d opened and shredded it. I heard the vacuum running and went to see what they were up to. This is what I found them doing. I can’t tell you enough how impressed I am with how clean Christopher is keeping his room. We have made a rule that toys stay in your rooms and it has to be picked up before going to bed. He even cleaned his room without me asking him to! He always finds ways to impress me. I love him!

Here’s Christopher’s closet. It’s just an industrial shelf (like we have in the storage shed) and some baskets that collapse. We figured we could use the shelf in a garage when we move away and he already has a nice bookshelf. And the baskets just happened to be the right size and color. They are empty enough that there is room for more stuff too, which I love! He has changed it up a little everywhere else, but the shelf was all I cared to show right now.

And here’s a corner in Sophie’s room. She loves to play dress up, so I thought a little corner to do this in would be perfect. Again, we have changed things since I took this photo, her dresser is now on the opposite wall and the kitchen is where the dresser is. Like I said, it’s all still a work in progress. And why nothing has been hung up. We’ve been told that everyone gets here and then never really unpacks for about 4 months. I refuse to wait that long. I also lose steam and don’t feel like unpacking anymore. But I can happily say that we are very close!

Sophie really wants to help in the kitchen. And she has become a very good little helper. She has always wanted to help, but wouldn’t stop talking long enough or listen and I was afraid she would get hurt so she was banned. But we have started trying again. We set some rules. Rule #1, she has to talk less. She knows she will be kicked out if she doesn’t listen because Mommy doesn’t want to start dinner all over OR have her get hurt. We wear our aprons and slide our little step stool all over the place. It has been a lot of fun for both of us to do this together.

She also loves to go to the commissary (base grocery store) with me. They have littld kid carts and she usually fills hers up before I am half way through our shopping. It’s closed on Mondays, so sometimes we  go after we take Christopher to school Tuesday morning. She has learned that it’s kind of chilly in there and makes sure that she brings a sweatshirt. We went yesterday and we spent about 15 minutes trying to figure out what to wear. We changed into comfy pants, t-shirt, sweater and a scarf we found a week ago that Grammie had made. She keeps asking when it’s going to get cold enough to need it. She is not happy that we only have warm weather here and keeps asking to go back to Alabama so she can see family and wear winter clothes. :( So we have started wearing it in the grocery store. I forgot to get a pic of her though. Here are some other ones that are just as cute. And just so you know, she picked these outfits out all by herself.

Have a happy week!!

Halloween and some beach photos

We were invited to a Halloween party at the last minute that was in our new neighborhood. The kids had costumes, but Brandon and I had to come up with something. He spent about an hour googling ideas and found the perfect one. We ran to the BX, bought markers and poster board, rushed home, drew it out and did all of it in about an hour and a half. Can you guess what we are? Two tickets to paradise. Thankfully we had gone to Hawaii and had leis and I had a sarong. I was kind of proud of him for coming up with it, that it cost us about $5 and we pulled it off in less than 2 hours.Image

We knew that we would need another vehicle when we got here, so Brandon searched around before we left. He really wanted to get a Jeep. It seemed like the perfect island vehicle to have. He found a guy that was selling one when we arrived, it looked great, drove well and was the right price, so we got it. The kids love it as much as their Daddy does! They giggle the whole time they are in it, especially when Brandon takes the cover off. It’s pretty fun and I see us spending a lot of time in it on the weekends.

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We didn’t really have much time to play on the beach when we were staying at the hotel. So the last night we were there we took them down there to run around and play while watching the sun set. It was so beautiful. They dug and ran and got soaking wet and had the best time.

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Enter Halloween night….

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Sophie becomes Merida!

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If you ask her, her name IS Brave. :)

Christopher was Optimus Prime.

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Our street is where most of the trick or treating happens. Here’s the crowd before it got dark.

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We were very new and our neighbor friends were only 4 months into life in Guam so we decided to pass out candy together. Johna had the cutest stuff to decorate the table with. Here’s the pumpkin Brandon carved. Sophie wanted round eye and a nose with a booger. Christopher wanted the teeth to look like his. They were very proud. :)

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This past Saturday afternoon our friends, the Johnsons, took us down to a new beach. It’s quite the hike down there, but totally worth it! We felt like we were on our own private island. Brandon, Eric and the Johnson’s oldest, Elliot, went snorkeling. Sophie went out later with Brandon. We had a great time and will most likely go back again soon. (Of course I have to start exercising more because the hike back up about killed me!)

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Brandon set his camera up to time the sunset. It was beautiful!

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It’s time to take Sophie to school now, so that’s all I’ve got until next time!

Our house

Everyone has been asking about what our house looks like. Well, here’s the front of the house. Pretty, huh? :) Everything on the island has to be able to withstand typhoons in case they ever hit. So pretty much every building is a concrete shoebox and has those ugly, but necessary, storm shudders.

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Here is the den and the front door is open. I’m standing between the kitchen and the hallway to the bedrooms.

 

And here’s the den with it’s first train track on the floor. :)

 

Through these arches by the front door is the dining room and to the left you enter the kitchen or go through a door to the right and there is a huge laundry room that leads to the back yard.

 

This is the sun room off the dining room. There is an open storage space at the top above the windows and it now holds almost all of our Christmas decorations. We are going to hang a curtain over it. Maybe. We want to.

 

Here is the kitchen (standing in the doorway to the laundry room) and there is a counter across from the sink where all the boxes are and it has a little opening where the kids can sit on the bar stools and eat. I love it because I can feed them breakfast without leaving the kitchen.

 

Haha!!! I’m not sure why Christopher looks mad here, probably because I’m bothering him by taking photos. He was in heaven on moving day! The kids never got in the way, just kept asking us to open more boxes so they could find whatever toy they hadn’t seen in about 3 months. But this is Christopher’s room facing his closet. The closets are 3 doors wide, but we took one of the doors off in Sophie’s room and stuck her bookcase in it. They have identical rooms and a window across from the closet side. I didn’t get a photo of our room, but it’s a little bigger and has less closet space. Go figure.

 

Here’s the best I could get of Sophie’s room. I took these with my phone and it’s really hard to take photos inside a house to begin with, but with a phone it feels harder.

 

And here’s the back of the house. Almost everyone ends up buying a tarp to cover the back patio so you have a nice place to sit and/or the kids can play there when it rains. We are hoping to take one off the hands of someone who is moving. We can’t wait to add this to the house because when it does rain the covered area gets slippery.

 

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m still learning how to use this blog, so please forgive me if the photos are all crazy. It has been a very fun and busy weekend and we still didn’t get everything done that we needed to do. I just hope Brandon got his list crossed off. Mine is too long for any human to finish in one weekend. Even a super human like my husband. I’m hoping to post photos about what we did this week/weekend too. I’m trying to get used to life here and the kids being back in school again so I’m not as on top of this as I’d like to be.

We made it!

By now, most of you know we made it to Guam safely. We still don’t have cell phones, house phone, internet, cable… you know, the “luxuries” of America. It takes a little longer to figure out which company to use here because they each offer something different and it’s a headache. Do you want to reach the states cheaper through text or a house phone or a cell phone? Do you want to deal with slower internet? Do you want to bother getting cable and if so, how much? Do you want a cell phone that can call the states and a house phone that can’t? Do you want to only reach them through Skype? Do you get one cell phone plan that can text and call the states and another one that is less likely to drop calls in certain areas of the island? Are you starting to get why we are still unreachable? We really take for granted the ease of everything in the states. Everyone there offers basically the same plan, you just have to decide which one to purchase. But we are going to work on it this week. Here’s what we have been up lately and hopefully it will answer some of your questions.

How was the flight?

Honestly, it could not have gone any better. All the prayers that everyone sent our way were definitely heard. The kids were amazing, especially on the really long flight. We were not given assigned seats for some reason, so we had to sit in pairs, which I think actually worked out better. Both sets of seats were in the middle and behind a wall, giving us extra leg room. I can’t tell you how awesome this was! I could prop my feet up and we could put all our stuff on the floor. We had more movies and tv shows available to watch than ever and I watched 3 movies that I wanted to see this past year, but never got around to seeing. The kids slept a couple hours and Brandon slept a little and I got about 30 minutes of sleep. By the time we got to Tokyo (13 hour flight from Atlanta) I was really tired, so Brandon, the amazing husband that he is, let me stretch out on the chairs at our next gate and sleep for at least an hour. Then I got about another 1-2 hour nap on the next flight. The kids both slept a little more and I’m not sure Brandon did, but I hope so! We landed in Guam around midnight, walked right through customs (mostly b/c we were Americans and had small children) and on to baggage. All 8 pieces pretty much arrived together and we headed to meet the people who we were hoping would be there to pick us up. We got to our hotel, finally got to our room and were in bed asleep by about 2:00 in the morning. It was about 24 hours total flying time.

Things I learned that helped. #1, bring a stroller!!! I had ours set in the Goodwill pile at home, but we had pulled it out to carry our cooler at the zoo before we left and I realized it might be worth it to take through the airport. I think having the stroller is what got us through the lines faster. Plus it carried the kids backpacks and more.  #2, if flying to the complete opposite time zone, try to arrive at your destination around midnight. You can go straight to bed and it makes easing into the new time zone much easier because you don’t have to force yourself to stay awake for over 24 hours. The only problem we have had is waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and it takes a few hours to go back to sleep. Mostly b/c we were thinking of all the things that we needed to take care of now that we are here.

What have you been doing?

We have been staying downtown in a hotel, but mostly we have been crashing at the Johnson’s house. (I can’t tell you how amazing they have been! They bought us food, let us hang out all day, fed us meals, drove us around, etc., etc., etc.) We have met new people and everyone is very friendly and they have kids around the same ages as our kids and I’m very excited to get to know everyone more. We loved living on base at Eglin so we missed having kids around to play with and moms to talk to during the day. (I wasn’t completely abandoned in AL, I had incredible family and friends there, but it’s really nice to just walk out your door and have someone to hang out with for a few minutes.) We’ve also been trying to figure out housing and cell phone/internet/cable/phone plans and Brandon has to deal with all of the in-processing he has to do. We picked up our van the day after we arrived and since it has been sitting here for almost 2 months it took about 3-4 days for everything to work smoothly. The A/C gave us a scare because it wasn’t working and though there is a very nice breeze here, it’s still hot to drive around without the comforts of air conditioning. We finally figured out we had to turn it up to 80 and that gave it the break it needed and we are comfortable again. It still has a rattling sound, but we’ll deal with that later.

What is your house like?

I love our house!!! Our house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, with a back patio and a little sunroom in the front. (I will post photos later.) We thought it was going to take at least a week, more lik two, before we could move into a house. Brandon has already been living out of hotels since July and the kids and I have been out of suitcases and in/out of hotels since then too, so we were desperate for a house fast. We walked around looking at empty houses, made our list, prayed it would happen sooner than later. When Brandon finished his work on Monday morning, we met him for lunch and then headed to the housing office. Typically, they tell you which houses you can move into and you hate them. You can turn down 3 houses and then have to wait until other people look before you get another turn. We were given two houses, but told them that we really wanted the renovated ones if possible. She gave us two other houses to look at, we took the keys and went to check them out. One was nice, but we weren’t crazy about the layout. We headed to the other one and it was clearly the winner. We went back, told her we wanted it and asked her when we could move in. When she said, “Tomorrow if the movers can bring your stuff.” and I was crossing my fingers and praying hard! Brandon called the movers, they were free and would bring all 3 shipments the next morning. It’s moments like that when I wonder how people can’t believe in God. This never happens! Our flawless flights, mellow kids, a van, a house AND moving in within 5 days of arriving?!?  So, our stuff arrives and it went smoothly as well. And we had the kids there. Of course it felt like Christmas for them because they hadn’t seen most of their stuff in months. I got rid of a good bit of stuff and left some pieces of furniture at home, so the house feels perfectly spacious. We would have had room for all of it, but I felt so cramped the last time we were in base housing and didn’t want to go through that again.

What is the weather like?

It’s a lot like the beach in the South. The sun does feel a little hotter, but there is a constant breeze so it’s not too bad. It’s humid, but after about 3 days we felt used to it. Having only lived in the South really helped. The temperature is in the low to mid-80s and drops way down in the mid to upper 70s at night. : ) You still need a sweatshirt inside because the A/C feels so cool compared to the humidity, especially on rainy days.

I hope to post on here at least once a week with photos to keep family and friends up on what we’ve been doing. I’m still trying to figure out how to use this blog, hopefully it won’t take too long.

Above photos (L to R):

Brandon and the kids at the hotel beach, Christopher with his “favorite coral” that he found on the hotel beach, Sophie being silly, Sophie climbing at the tide pools on base, Christopher at the tide pools on base, “Guam <3″ written by some Asian tourists and we thought it was cute.

(Since writing this we have had cable/internet/phone set up, so hopefully we can start calling and Skyping again!!)