Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Saipan Sunsets

Sunsets from our condo balcony and the World Resort.

Birthday celebrations

Pics from my b-day: at home, date night, after church, at the World Resort water park.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

One of my greatest moments

There is a small island off the west shore of Saipan, named Managaha. Ferry boats cart locals and tourists alike across the 15 minute divide. The island is set up for daytrippers with food service, changing rooms, and beach rentals (there is camping overnight but no hotels). The first trip we took to Managaha was on a Saturday afternoon. After discovering I forgot to pack the sandwiches I made, we bargained with Nicholas to eat at the snack bar before heading to the beach. Just as we finished eating, the skies closed into a tropical downpour. Everyone on the island packed under the single tin-roofed shelter. The rain persisted for over an began to get cold. With few options remaining, Ryan took the kids swimming in the rain. We were all glad to see the boat arrive to take us home (TGIO!).
I was determined, and we took off the next Saturday again for Managaha. This time we left in the morning and the skies were clear and sunny. I had found a kid-size mask and snorkel set that Nicholas had been practicing with (first in the bath tub, then in the swimming pool). We pumped him up for seeing "real fish" in the ocean. The color of the water was incredible. The brightest turquois blue you can imagine! Once we arrived, Ryan pushed a sleeping Morgan around in the stroller while Nicholas and I headed straight to the beach (snorkel sets in hand). Bits and pieces of the coral reef lie 10 yards off the shore. Nicholas grabbed my hand and braved the open waters. The next moment is one I hope to never forget. Swarms of fish, all colors and sizes surrounded us. Nicholas was screaming with excitement, pointing in every direction and shouting at me through his snorkel (no idea that I couldn't actually understand him). We coasted around the reef, hand in hand, pointing out interesting tropical fish and coral formations. He wouldn't get out for over an hour.
Ryan and I learned to scuba dive together when we were dating and have since spent many vacations diving. To introduce and experience the underwater world with our child warms my heart like few other experiences.

Island photos

Friday, August 17, 2007

Celebration time

Today is actually Sat. Aug. 18th in Saipan.

The past few weeks have flown by, although nothing moves too fast 'on island'. Nicholas started a pre-K program and he is now going 4 mornings weekly. Morgan goes to the nursery class and claps and sings along to the Bible songs (SDA influenced). Ryan continues to enjoy his job. He has no call and no weekends (only sees outpatients), so the schedule leaves him time to enjoy the island and family.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Ryan is always sweet about making a fuss over the 'day of my birth'. This morning I slept in, am heading to a spa for a massage, then a babysitter is coming tonight (is 4:30pm considered night??). Next weekend we are taking advantage of a 'local promotion' at the World Resort Hotel and will spend a family day at their waterpark followed by an overnight stay for Mom and Dad. We have found a sweet babysitter (Zennie). She spoiles the kids and cleans the house as a bonus. Nicholas is still getting used to the babysitters (to put it nicely). The best part of the week was receiving a huge birthday package from my sister. It was filled with all kinds of love from home, including lots of activities to keep the kids busy. She sent us the BBC DVD set 'Planet Earth', which is absolutely amazing. Thank you, Kelly!!

After 6 weeks on a Pacific island, I am starting to feel at home. I know this will be a good change for us. The sense of community is strong, the no-frills lifestyle is omnipresent, and the physical environment is no short of breath-taking. I miss people the most. As I write this, my best friends from home (KC)are gathering for our annual reunion. I feel a world away. The love that we have for our church, our friends, our parents, etc. is more clear now than ever.
loving and missing you all,

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Like Good Neighbors

We are lucky to have a great group of neighbors. You know, like the ones you could drop in on and ask for milk or an egg if you were in need.
The field behind our condominium is home to a group of cows. And most are bulls, so the corny milk joke doesn't necessarily apply. They are separated from us by a porous fence, so they spend time on both sides. It is fun to hear the mooing and to hear the kids' best impression of them.
My commute to work consists of travelling down a washed-out gravel/coral road that is riddled with deep ruts, holes, and exposed culverts. The travel time to work is between five and ten minutes, depending on how many cows I have to excuse. The grade is steep, and my ears pop each time.
I also have to stop for hens, who walk around and eat meat from the coconuts that their owner has split. The roosters can be heard calling from our condo balcony.
The chickens are on the same land as the bee farm. Hives are stacked around the yard, and swarms shade the surroundings.
Finally, I pass a pig sty. Just like in the movies, they wallow in the mud.
Our other non-human neighbors are the abundant "boonie" dogs. These are strays, whose looks and constitutions have suffered from the obligatory inbreeding and tropical climate. They are loosely adopted by our human neighbors, who give them scraps of food.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Morning After

It was great to get our stuff. Nicholas and I had a ball opening each box. He would exclame, "Holy Cow!", regardless of what was found (although the toy boxes received a few extra "Holy Molys!" and high-frequency jumps up and down). I never thought I would be so excited to see a glass baking dish, sharp knives, and towels. There were about 15 boxes in all and it took all day to go through them. Ryan was most excited to see his art supplies and he is already well on his way to his first Saipan masterpiece. A taste of home is just what the doctor ordered.
Pics of our new (used) porch swing, dinner at the beach, climbing trees in the park (Nicholas is at the bottom right of the big tree), Saipan landscape, and dinner at the market.