Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: My Plans While We Are HOME!

I am home for my sister's wedding and some much needed time with family and friends, most of whom I have not seen in 2+ years!! So while I plan to be checking in occasionally and maybe blogging a little, Jon and I have a lot of things we want to cram into a 3 week window while we are home. We aren't planning another visit to the states until our return home in mid 2012! Here are some of the many things we hope to do during the 3 weeks:

1. Obviously, I will be doing all the wonderful duties of not only sister to the bride, but a bridesmaid. Including throwing a bridal shower myself, attending another pajama party and a ladies luncheon in my sister's honor- complete with getting my nails done at the salon with the ladies before the luncheon, the rehearsal and dinner, then the actual wedding itself!

2. At my sister's request, we will be having either a double date with our men, or just some sister bonding time. I believe we will be going to Seattle!

3. At my insistence, Jon and I will be getting a date night of our own. If finances and timing permit, it will be a dinner cruise that we have both longed to go on. In fact, it the same one he had hoped to propose on if I hadn't been so impatient!

4. This is not only a trip to go for the wedding, but also our own family vacation. We haven't been on one of those in a long time!! So we are hoping to take the kids up to the Woodland Park Zoo in the Seattle area, which I have never been too. As well as the Aquarium which is in downtown Seattle- though they will probably need to be separate trips, because we will take the ferry on foot for the Aquarium. Though Jon was disappointed I had taken Natalie on her first ferry ride the last time just us girl visited, this time it will be Zachary's 1st time and we will all go!

5. Family pictures!! I already found and bought coordinating outfits for all of us, to do some in studio pictures at JCPenny. This is were we used to do all our pictures of the kids and family, but there isn't one in Guam! I have this framed print from them in our hall from right before we left, but it is missing our newest member- so we really hope to get something similar to add beside the earlier one when we get home! (Though I am still hoping to also do family pictures on the beach in Guam before Jon leaves for 3 months next year, I don't think you can ever have too many pictures!!)

6. A girls night, or day, with my best friend, Shannah!! We have been best friends for over 10 years, and I miss her a whole lot!! I plan on spending as much time with her as I can between all the wedding stuff and other plans, as well as have Natalie spend some time with Shannah's 3 girls!

7. We will be celebrating Christmas on Thanksgiving with my family! I am looking forward to it, even if there won't be a tree or many decorations up yet, we will still have the big meal surrounded by our family, and exchange gifts all together instead of through the mail!

8. A tradition my mom started when I was young, was that every year we would go see Zoolights at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. In general I spent a lot of time there growing up with my mom and sisters, so it will be a great blessing to now share that with my kids. Zoolights is a lot of fun, it opens the weekend after Thanksgiving and the whole zoo is decked out with Christmas lights! We bundle up, go buy hot chocolate and walk through the maze of displays lighting up the night! I have missed that, I haven't been to it in about 6 years!

9. I will be getting my craft on! I am looking forward to not only trying to creatively and inexpensively decorating for my sister's bridal shower, but also picking up the stuff I want/need in order to decorate Zachary's toddler bedroom- monkey themed! I almost all of the decor in my daughter's ladybug themed bedroom when we switched her to her toddler bed and took out the old nursery decor, and I can't wait to do the same for my son as he approaches 2 years old! And also I will be finishing up last minute touches on the homemade Christmas gifts for my family. We don't have a very great craft store here on Guam- there is one, but the selection isn't great and it is seriously expensive, so this is a big priority for me, I miss running to Michael's (or even Walmart sometimes) for all my crafting needs!!

10. I will also be trying to visit with many other friends I haven't seen in a while, including my friends Chris, Victoria, and Bethany. As well as family, my brother Daniel and my niece Miranda, and all the family attending my sister's wedding.

This post is linked to Top Ten {Tuesday}.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another New School and Meeting New Family

A new year and another new school. Shortly after my mom had us move from the nice big blue house to a small 2 bedroom apartment, I started at a new school, and not just any new school, a brand new, just built, middle school! It was only a year or 2 old and the first school I would be attending without my younger sister Carolyn. There was 5th through 7th grade here before moving up to the high school which started at 8th grade. To prepare us for high school, we actually had our classes set up a little differently then I was used to here. Our teachers were in pairs, and as my home room was Mrs. P, she would have us most of the day for math, geography, and history, we would go over to Mrs. S room next door for her to teach us reading and writing, while her class was in our room learning the math and history from our teacher. Our classes did a lot of the other 'extra' stuff together as well, like art, typing, library time, etc. I had great friends in both rooms, though my closest circle of friends was in Mrs. S's homeroom. Actually overall, I liked Mrs. S better then my normal teacher. Not that Mrs. P wasn't nice enough, but I found her boring- though it may relate to the material she was teaching as well. I adored Mrs. S, she was more personable, kind, uplifting, encouraging, and she taught my favorite subjects! She was probably the earliest teacher I remember having that really helped me develop my love for the written word- both the read and write.
Though I had many more friends in this new school, I was still not very good in the social area. I often was teased as I would wear the same over sized white Halloween sweatshirt, over one of 2 turtle necks with one of 2 pairs of stretch pants I owned, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Don't get me wrong they were clean. Every 2 days I did a very small load of clothes. But this was a time when jeans were the 'in' thing to be wearing, and fashion was becoming quite the social status as we entered the preteen years. To me, jeans were the most uncomfortable piece of clothing ever. I couldn't stand them, and being comfortable was more important to me then being socially accepted- though I longed for that too. Luckily I did have some very good friends who didn't care what I wore!
There was Lydia, she was in Mrs. P's class with me. She was a wonderful artist, she could draw a perfect picture of Bambi completely freehand! I thought she was amazing, but she wasn't a fan of my ever changing mood swings, and we often weren't talking for one reason or another.
There was Shardae, she actually lived in the same apartment complex as me. She was also in Mrs. P's class but she was a social butterfly, and between her and another friend of hers named Jenna, we too were on and off a whole lot. It didn't help that her brother who was 2 years older didn't like me and often threatened me. Funny because honestly if anyone was the bad influence it was her, not me! But she did teach me how to roller blade which we would do a lot in the parking lots of our huge apartment complex.
Then there were my friend's in the other class, the ones that were truly my closest friends that year, Rachel, Katie and Katie. I remember once going to Rachel's house for her birthday. 2 of us (me included) decided we would head bang for as long as we could- don't ask me why. We head banged to some music I wasn't familiar with for an hour straight. That was when I had my first migraine I believe and I ended up going home SO sick. I threw up more then I ever did with the flu in that one time!!
Katie M. was the one I would end up missing the most when we moved yet again at the end of this year. I always thought she was so pretty with her dark short hair, and she was the sweetest girl I had ever met. Before I moved away she even made me something she said she was going to put on a pillow but ran out of time, one of those yarn things (you knot it onto a piece of plastic?? Not sure what it is called but I still see the kits for it at craft stores now) with Winnie the Pooh's face on it. She also gave me a large Mickey Mouse she had gotten at Disneyland the year before, so I could have something to remember her by (I collected stuffed animals). I was so sad we never ended up keeping in touch, but I think we both knew it wasn't likely.
Half way through the year, we actually moved again. This time to a bigger 3 bedroom unit and either my grandma moved in with us or just visited A LOT!
Over spring break this year, for the first time, I went on a trip to see my dad's parents. I had not spent much time with them up to this point, so this was a new experience. They owned an RV, so they came all the way up from California to pick up my sister Carolyn and I and drove back down. I enjoyed the road trip most. I had never been in an RV before and I thought it was the coolest thing. We had to stop for something to be fixed on the RV in Oregon and my Granny taught us how to play Rummicub. We also stopped in southern Oregon again were my Papa went fishing and we picked blackberries. It was beautiful were we stopped in Brookings. I think it was by a river in this RV site, and I only wish I had had a camera back then!
When we finally made it too their house in California, we met our Aunts and Uncles for the first time. There was Aunt Jane & Uncle Leon who lived on the same property (there were 3 houses on the property). Then Aunt Leila who lived out in town and we didn't see much of. Our cousins, Mary, Leon, and Elizabeth came over to play often though. We even went to one of Mary's swim meets.
This is also where I learned almonds grow on trees! In fact my grandparents had at one time had acres of almond trees. Unfortunately most had died and the land was sold, but there were still a few trees behind my Papa's shed. They also had citrus plants in their front yard with oranges, lemons and limes. And my granddad (Granny's father) who lived in another of the houses on the property, had his own garden which grew pretty much everything I could imagine! There were even little fig trees (though they looked more like bushes to me). I tried one, but I thought they were disgusting. The thing I enjoyed most were the grape vines though, those I definitely ate and loved!
Another new thing I learned about on our trip was black widows. Now I had grown up with a healthy fear of spiders (still very active today in fact!), and in the RV on the way to California, we had seen a show about some of the world's smallest but deadliest predators, one of them was the black widow. I was terrified! I imagined seeing them all over the place when we got there and wondered how anyone survived living in such a place! My grandparents warned us about not putting our hands places we couldn't already see first, particularly when we were outdoors. But I had so many nightmares of them the whole trip.
Another part of our trip was going to visit my Aunt Terri and Uncle Nelson. I loved Aunt Terri from that very first time I met her. She is my dad's older sister, and she lived hours away from my grandparents. At her house was a pool, and we went swimming and had virgin strawberry daiquiris. During the day at one point I made a comment that I really liked her little green flower earrings, so she took them off and gave them to me! I felt very special and instantly her kindness comforted me and I felt closer to her then any of the other relatives I had met.
When it was time to go back home, my Granny talked to my mom, then to us girls. She wanted to fly us back, but we had never been on a plane before and I was scared of heights and flying in general! Eventually she convinced us, how could I pass up being home in a few hours verses a few days? We left from the Oakland airport. This was of course when others could walk you all the way to the gate, and wait with you. We waited and I watched the airplane get hooked up to the tunnel with much anxiousness but also excitement. I was scared of it, but it was a new experience and seemed so grown up, especially since we would be going alone, just me and my sister. All I remember about the flight is that we didn't sit together. We both wanted a window seat, so she sat behind me. I remember the rows were like 4 or 5 people in on each side of the aisle. And though I have never seen this set up in a plane since, there was a table and every other row faced each other. So I was sitting in a seat across from a middle aged woman. Ideally my sister would've sat opposite me, but we didn't board in time to find any seats like that both with windows. After that I don't even remember taking off or landing, accept that it was difficult to get off once we did land as EVERYONE was trying to get their bags down and rush off the plane, so we had to wait.
That following summer we moved back into my grandma's house where we had lived from 1st to 4th grade.

To read more about my relationship with my sister Carolyn and what NOT to do with scissors, check out my 5th grade post from last session. (I promise it is shorter then this one!!)

This is the 7th post in a series of 12 I am doing to record my youth to share with my children and grandchildren someday at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shaking the House Down!

Fourth grade was first year we moved that I remember actually being effected by it socially. From 1st through half of 4th grade we had been living at my grandma's house, not far from my school. I had so many wonderful teachers at the school, and great friends from my years there, I don't know that I was 'popular' but I was comfortable for certain. Then we moved as my mom and stepfather tried to reconcile, he even bought me a puppy at Christmas and my little sister a nice CD player, which I always suspected as a way to get back on my mom's good side. And apparently it worked, as we moved closer to their job, a computer type of business (think Kinko's)about half an hour away.
My sister and I began attending a school we had passed many time in the past and always thought looked old fashioned and run down compared to the nice, new and clean facility our prior elementary school had been. I don't think it was a bad part of town, but the school hadn't been updated in a long time, evident by one example- they still used the card system in the library instead of computers. Our old school had taught us how to use it, but only as a formality because we rarely ever had too.
Growing up at my grandma's house, I remember always being jealous of the kids who lived so close to school they could walk. We were close enough, but not quite that close. My feelings towards that all changed when we had moved just up the road from this new old school, and now I actually did have no other choice but to walk. It was also the first time I had to worry about carrying a house key with me since my grandma didn't initially live with us, so we came home to a big empty house most days.
It was another big blue house, one of the biggest and nicest I remember living in, with a huge fenced in back yard and a basketball court too. I remember being excited about it, but then rarely going out to play. I was definitely an indoors kind of girl.
As for school, I was in a split class. I was in the older group of 4th graders which was just a handful of kids compared to the 3rd graders in our class. I don't know if its just a part of the 'oldest sibling' syndrome, but I was very upset at the fact that I was better friends with the younger 'little' kids then those my own age. Apparently at this school, by 4th grade most students had already learned about the 'birds and the bees' but I hadn't yet. I was considered very naive by my 4th grade classmates, and I always felt so small in that class. Thankfully it was the one and only split class I was ever in, but it began a pattern of a lack of self confidence in myself which continued and contributed to the rest of my school years.
At home, it didn't take very long for my mom to decide that her marriage was beyond reconciliation. I barely remember my stepfather being around when we lived in that house. One night, I think it was somewhat stormy outside, so my mom decided we would all sleep on the pullout sofa in the living room for fun. I don't remember if it was just me and my sister Carolyn or if the 2 youngest of my siblings were there too, but we waited on the couch as my mom ran upstairs to get some linens. Then there was an earthquake. Not surprising for the area, and to a kid it was great fun! And from upstairs my mom yelled down to us- "Hey girls, stop rough housing, you're shaking the whole house!" And we were just sitting on the couch laughing at our little secret because we knew it had been an earthquake and she didn't! We told her when she came back down, but I remember wondering how she could possibly have thought it was us since everyone knows you can't shake the house from the downstairs, just the upstairs!!
Well at the end of the school year, since my mom could no longer afford to for us to live in such a big house, it was time for another move. This time to some apartments in a different part of the city, where we would go to a brand new school, and I couldn't be happier!

This is the 6th post in a series of 12 I am doing to record my youth for my children and grandchildren to read someday at