Friday, November 29, 2013

seven quick takes friday - ed. 8

1. Wow. Iceland was never on my Top List of Places to Visit until I saw this video.  Now it is.  (Can't embed the video, sorry.)

2. Unless you've been living under an internet rock for the past couple of weeks, you know that this video is all the rage, with everyone talking about how motivational and innovative and inspirational it is:

Don't get me wrong - I actually love the ad.  The song is catchy (Faith watched it about fifty times in a row), the premise is clever, and I'm ALL in favor of getting girls more interested in S.T.E.M. (that's science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects.  And I do think starting early is the way to go.

Credit: SMBC Comics
But I'm kind of ambivalent about the GoldieBlox product.  It's an engineering toy... but pinkified.  Now, I don't have anything against pink.  But why can't girls play with plain old Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets and Legos and Tinker Toys?  It seems like this is saying, "Engineering can be for girls too... if it's PINK and has PRINCESSES!"

But on the other hand, if this encourages parents to buy engineering toys for girls when they otherwise wouldn't, or encourages girls to play with engineering toys when they otherwise wouldn't... well, that's good.  And I certainly think that girls can like princesses AND building things.  Liking math and science doesn't make you un-feminine, and doesn't mean you can't like Pretty Things too (and I would argue that math and science are also beautiful in their own ways).  So, like I said... ambivalent.

3.  Excuse the language, but this is hilarious:

Cranberry sauce is SO EASY TO MAKE.  And SO MUCH BETTER THAN CANNED.  (I make the first of the three recipes on this page.)

4. Speaking of which, we did the Thanksgiving thing yesterday. It was just the four of us, which was fine.  We had signed up to host displaced sailors for the holiday, but apparently more people signed up to host than be hosted. I can understand that -- it might be kind of awkward to spend Thanksgiving with a stranger's family, and maybe you'd rather just get together with your friends and celebrate with them.

It was fun anyway. I roasted a turkey for the first time:

Made this centerpiece (Pinterest for the win!):

And this dinner:
Note the dog lurking under the table, waiting for us to turn our backs.

And it was yummy.

5. How awesome was the Day of the Doctor??! Pretty darn awesome, that's what. We got our Doctor Who car decals in time to celebrate:

(We bought them from the Epic Family Decals Etsy shop. Highly recomend)

6. So this video of a little girl walking on ice for the first time is ridiculously adorable:

7. There will be no walking on ice for us this year, here in the Land of Endless Summer. It's really disconcerting to have almost no seasonal changes.  I didn't realize until now how much I subconsciously rely on the changing of the seasons to internally mark the passing of time. I've started playing Christmas music now that Thanksgiving is over, but it just feels weird.

(I know the arguments for NOT playing Christmas music throughout Advent. But we tried it last year, and honestly, it just made us kind of depressed rather than reverent and preparatory... not the intended effect, I imagine.)

Go to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

things I have learned about guamanians so far

1. They are super Catholic. All Saints' Day, the Feast of the Assumption, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception are island-wide holidays. Schools, banks, and government offices (except the military) are closed.

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2. They are super patriotic. Everyone is either a veteran, in the Reserves, or a family member of someone who is. 

3. They are in no hurry. Ever. To get anywhere or do anything. Examples:  The maximum speed limit is 35mph island-wide. It took 2 months to repair a traffic light at a major intersection after it was damaged by a storm. Et cetera.

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4. On a related note, efficiency isn't really a priority. Many companies just have one person answering phones, with no way to leave a message or streamline the process in any way.  There's one DMV on the entire island and you just show up and stand in one long line. There's no "take a number" system. But no one gets upset because...

5. They are super easy-going and friendly.  They'll go out of their way to help you out. I've had customs employees stay past closing time to help me, DMV employees make extra phone calls and give me their personal emails to solve a problem, and daycare providers refuse extra payment when they watch my kids for an extra day.  

6. They go with whatever works.  If it ain't broke (or even if it kind of is) why bother fixing it? Enter the concept of the Guam Bomb.

7. They revere the coconut. Coconut oil will cure all external ills, and coconut water will cure all internal ills. (And sometimes vice versa.)

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8. They love to eat.

9. They especially love Spam and fried rice.  Fried Spam with a side of fried rice is a common Guamanian breakfast entree at many restaurants.

Read the description under the Fried Rice section.  Read it!

10. The women are magically immune to the heat and humidity. A large percentage of them have hair that is well past shoulder-length (even the older ladies), but you almost never see them pull it up into a ponytail or bun. Meanwhile, my hair is above my shoulders and I feel like I want to die if I go outside with it touching my neck.

11. The majority of children under five have never in their lives worn shoes that require socks.

12. If you are Caucasian, Guamanians will assume you are military. Or if not military, then a Russian tourist.

13. Instead of "out-of-state," the phrase on Guam is "off-island." E.g. "I haven't seen them for awhile-- I hear they're off-island." "Oh, the new hire? Yeah, he's from off-island."  "We can't do that lab test here, we need to send it off-island."

14. "Hafa adai" (pronounced "hoffa day") is to Guam what "aloha" is to Hawaii.  Only MORE. It's EVERYWHERE. Hafa Adai Motel, Hafa Adai Daycare, "Hafa adai, how may I help you?"

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15. They are fascinated by blue eyes. I get comments on my (or my daughters') eye color on probably a weekly basis.

16. Boonie dogs and Japanese tourists are both just basically... background noise. They're everywhere, but generally Guamanians don't acknowledge or interact with them.
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17. They think nothing of riding unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck. Construction workers, college students, kids, everyone.
If there are people riding in a truck bed, it's an automatic Guam Bomb.

18. 90% of the population has the last name Dueñas, Castro, or Leon Guerrero.

19. Typhoons (like everything else) ain't no thing to Guamanians. They all have generators, concrete roofs, and a 3-month supply of canned foods (mainly Spam).

20. If you go to church, there will be guitars.  There will probably also be a drum set.  And there will definitely be applause at the end.  That's just how it is.

That's it for now... I've only been here for four months, though, so I'm sure there's more to learn...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

happy belated halloween / all saints' day / all souls' day

So now that we're almost to Thanksgiving, time to recap Halloween, right?

We took Faith Trick-or-Treating in our neighborhood, which is the first time she ever remembers doing it.  (I took her around to a grand total of 3 houses last year, but she was only 20 months old.)  She was a super-adorable Red Riding Hood.  Tons of people stopped us to tell us how cute she looked.

I knit the hood/cape (with cotton yarn-- this is the tropics!) based on this Ravelry pattern, but instead of buying a pewter fastener, I just knit I-cord ties.  It worked out really well!  The dress was a vintage find on Etsy, and I sewed the apron out of an old pillowcase (I am a terrible seamstress, but this was pretty easy.)

Oh, and not to leave Josie, MD out:

Her "costume" was just a set of doctor-themed pajamas which were a gift from my dear friend Laura when Faith was a baby.  No muss, no fuss.

Faith had a blast going from house-to-house, although her shyness kicked in and she was quiet at every door.  In between, she was her usual excited self, pointing at the next house and exclaiming, "Dis one!!!"  "Look!  Punkins!!"  "Oooooh, LIGHTS!!"  And when I asked her what she was supposed to say, she'd recite, "Twick oh tweat!"  But when she actually was confronted with a smiling grown-up holding out a massive bowl of candy, she'd go totally mute.  Ah well.  Perhaps next year.  She did enjoy the candy.

(Don't tell her, but we swiped some from her basket to give to other trick-or-treaters... there were so many kids that we were running out!)

On All Saints' Day, Jack and I had to work, sadly.  The girls' regular daycare was closed, along with all the public schools on the island (Guam is super-Catholic, you guys) but the child care center on base was open, so we just used that one for the day.

For All Souls' Day, I stole this idea (discovered on Pinterest):

Here was our version:

The idea is to write on  glass candleholder the names of all friends and family members who have died, to help us remember and pray for them.

We also made Soul Cakes!  We got the recipe from this website, which also talks about the origin of soul cakes and trick-or-treating.  (I cut the recipe way down, though, as it would make a huge number of cakes as written.  Good if you were going to give them out, I suppose, but I wasn't expecting any children to come "souling.")

Thursday, November 7, 2013

thing one and thing two

It's funny how you can't help comparing your second baby to your first.

Faith is an amazing, fierce mixture of overwhelming shyness and stubborn ferocity, quick to giggle and be silly, but a bit high-strung and prone to tantrums -- and her moods can flip faster than you'd believe!  She's smart and curious, but shrinking and quiet around strangers.

Josie isn't even 5 months old yet, but I can already tell how different she is. She's a mellow, sunshiny sweetie-pie with a huge smile and a soft chuckle, who loves nothing more than a good snuggle (except maybe eating). The only time she cries is when she wants to nurse or be cuddled, or preferably both.

It's funny how you're different with the second one, too.  Every stage Faith is in, I think of as so amazing and so crazy that I could have a child that mature.  While with Josie -- I love each stage, but I always find myself looking ahead to the next one.  Like, "Okay, Josie, time to start rolling!" or "Omg when are you going to sleep longer than 5 hours at a time?!"

Even the little, unimportant things are noticeably different. When Faith was a baby, I was working A LOT, and pumping for all but one or two feedings a day.  She was cared for at home by Jack's sister Clare initially, and then by our au pair Marcelle. So when she started solids, I was all, "YES!! One less bottle to pump!"  But with Josie, I'm the one who's home most of the time (I'm working one full day and two half-days a week). And dudes -- starting solids is kind of a pain. When you're nursing, you can have your hands (or at least one hand) and eyes occupied with other things... such as, say, writing this blog post. Not so when you're trying to wrestle spoonfuls of puréed peas into the uncoordinated mouth of a wiggly infant. 

I don't really have any profound (or even not-so-profound) summary paragraph to offer. So in lieu of that, have a cute baby picture!

Aren't those the most delicious cheeks you've ever seen?

Next post: belated Halloween fun! (The fun wasn't belated; the post about it is.)