Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Night Divine

If any of you ever decide to come visit us here in Guam (the welcome mat is out and waiting to be stepped on), after tonight I would HIGHLY recommend you come for Christmas.  First off, the weather is pretty spectacular, we're getting trade winds again, which keeps the temperature and humidity down.  But mainly, if you come for Christmas you could go to Rota Walk with us!

Tonight, since this is our first Christmas on Guam, was our first Rota Walk.  I've been hearing about it since practically the minute we found out we were moving here.  It totally lived up to and (incredibly) surpassed my expectations.  Rota Walk is held every year on the Saturday night before Christmas. Rota Drive is the nicest residential street on base and winds up a mountain hill.  Pretty much all of the base leadership lives on Rota Drive and they decorate their houses for Christmas.  Rota Walk is the night when all the lights have to be up and everyone walks from the bottom of Rota Drive to the top of the hill.  Along the way, there are choirs, bounce houses, people serving hot dogs and cookies and even hot chocolate.  It's basically a huge block party/street festival.

My description above doesn't really do it justice, and the pictures below probably won't either.  But, it was a great night. We kicked the evening off by having a rather impromptu dinner party (on the menu chili dogs and tater tots- that just reeks of Christmastime doesn't it?  Maybe not, but I think it's the start of a new Michael family tradition, we will serve chili dogs and tater tots and have a pre-Rota Walk get together every year we are here) at our house.  After all 15 of us finished eating, we headed out to Rota Drive.  It was a beautiful night out:  no rain, perfect breeze, no frogs were seen, no shrews were heard- couldn't ask for more. Price rode in his wagon and he spent the night looking at all the lights and watching all the people.  He got to ride a carabao and even got snowed on.  He saw Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman and bulldozers and big trucks.  I saw Christmas through his eyes.  I heard the carols and felt the tropical breeze on my face, and I realized why my mom always loved taking us to look at Christmas lights, I am pretty sure it wasn't for the lights themselves, but for the lights reflecting in our eyes.

The Carabao started walking off after being hit in the behind with a glowstick. I guess I was laughing about almost being trampled by a huge animal.  And no, contrary to what the picture may lead you to believe, I am not pregnant, I have just been eating a lot of cinnamon rolls.

Once again, I feel blessed to feel a sense of wonder and watch Price experience things for the first time and also be experiencing things we never would have if we hadn't moved to Guam.  It was a hard move and it's hard to be so far away from home this time of year.  But tonight was a reminder that we aren't alone here, that someone recognizes that being on this tiny spec of land could be tough this time of year, and goes out of their way to put on an event like Rota Walk so we can feel closer to home and closer to each other by sharing one, dare I say, magical moment with our friends and neighbors.

Guamanian Nativity Scene

Santa travels by a dolphin guided kayak when delivering gifts to Guam.

Bubble Snow and Palm Trees, it's a Corona commercial in the making

I'm pretty sure that those are Price's gifts on that bulldozer based on what his really generous grandparents, aunts and uncles have shipped to him!

Friday, December 18, 2009

How Lovely Are Thy Branches

I've been meaning to post these for a while, but it's been a whirlwind of a week!

After the dough ornament adventure with Price, I was looking forward to decorating the tree.  I think it turned out pretty well, I even (mostly) like the colored lights...

Once the tree was up, time just started to fly by!  We got into a little bit of a holiday frenzy.  However, it's really not as bad as what we would experience in the States, this frenzy is more laid back.  Kind of like a riptide, just going with the flow, until it slows down even more and then we can relax.

It all started last weekend.  We took a little break from our routine and headed to the Westin for the Med Group Christmas Party.  We got a room for the night so we could have some pool time on Saturday and Sunday.  We had a blast!   It was so much fun hanging out by the pool with friends, having fruity drinks, looking out at the ocean.  Price's harem of tweenage girlfriends played with him most of the time we were in the pool, so he had fun too. Our little water baby swam and swam until he turned blue.

That night, we got dressed up in real clothes (I even wore heels, the invite specifically requested NO FLIP FLOPS, and panty hose), left Price up in the room with his favorite babysitters and had a great night NOT trying to entertain a 16 month old at dinner, eating, drinking and being merry- I even got a case of disco fever and hit the dance floor more than usual (I wasn't even tipsy)- it just felt good to cut loose.  As usual, I forgot to take pictures, but I think some were taken, so if  I get copies I'll post them later.  We did take some pictures from our balcony before we checked out of the hotel on Sunday...

We also spent some time on the beach, trying to get some Christmas card worthy pictures...

Now that Price is walking, he walks right into the water.  Luckily, it's pretty much like walking into a warm lake.

We got home from our mini-getaway and I still had to bake 10 dozen cookies for the base's Unaccompanied Airmen Cookie Drive.  I procrastinated all afternoon and didn't start baking until 9 at night and didn't finish until about 1 in the morning.  I got a call the next morning asking if I could bake about 10 more dozen, so I did.  After making 20 dozen cookies, I don't really want to see another cookie for a while.  That is good news for my scale, the bad news for my scale is that I decided I wanted to give Don's element and some other folks homemade, from scratch cinnamon rolls (by the way, if you ever make these, make the icing in this recipe-even if you're a traditionalist like I am- I never knew adding a little coffee to a cinnamon roll would make my heart go pitter-patter and not because of the sugar rush or infusion of caffeine, but because it is the best subtle flavor explosion, I can't even describe it, just trust me on this) .  So, I made 17 pans of them.  They turned out great, especially considering it was my first time making them (I am learning to love baking here, it's the perfect climate for yeast to work- I am currently 2 for 2 on successful attempts).


Anyway, between all the baking, Christmas shopping, meeting attending, Christmas shopping, and trying to get ready for my brother's arrival this weekend, it's just been busy, busy around here.  I am looking forward to this weekend- Saturday is Rota Walk and Sunday, my brother will be here.  I CAN'T WAIT!!  The anticipation and all the preparation is making it feel more and more like Christmas every day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Today was the first time that I did an "organized" (the quotes are for those of you who know me well, know that I use the term VERY loosely) craft project with Price.  He's finally at an age where we can do things like this.  We had great fun and I said a prayer of blessing and thanks to all of my friends and family members who are teachers, especially of young, unruly children, and do things like this on a regular basis with children who don't belong to them!!

Here are some pics of the fun we had...

"Mom, I think this bowl is too big, I think I might dump everything on the floor."

Smaller bowl, easier access, less chance of a mess.  He loved how the flour felt on his fingers.

Stirring the goop

"I wish I hadn't tasted that!"  It was really salty.

Before paint

After paint

Some paint actually made it onto the ornaments, but he's still too young to really paint.  We won't attempt paint again for a while unless he's naked and outside and his mouth is taped shut and there's a hose to wash him off.

Deck the Halls

Trying to get into the Spirit of the season, I figured it would be a good idea to decorate the house.  So, on Saturday we loaded up and headed to Big Navy to buy a tree and decorations.  Sometimes I am in denial forget that I live on a small island where things aren't always in the abundance I have grown accustomed to.  We get to Navy and decide to get an artificial tree (real trees are available here, but they are shipped here from far away lands and are more dead on arrival than most "fresh" trees).  The nice trees were more than we wanted to pay (I've already asked my mom to buy me a nice tree for next year at one of the after Christmas sales, and we'll just ship it over when we're home next year), and we were a little concerned about Grabby Grabberson pulling a tree down on top of himself, so we (I very begrudgingly) settled on a little 4" tree with colored lights (I don't like colored lights).  Even on display, it kind of looked like Charlie Brown's tree.  Sigh.....

Then, I'm like, "Come on girl, pick yourself up by your boot straps, you can make this tree look nice.  It just needs some sparkle, some pizazz."  I start planning the theme in my head- we'll do all silver balls to reflect the colored lights and find cute whimsical ornaments that reflect childhood.  (Oh and if you're wondering why we are doing all of this, after all, we have been married for almost 9 years, you'd think we would have Christmas decorations already.  Well, we do.  In fact we have boxes and boxes of Christmas things- beautiful, wonderful, sentimental, fun Christmas things.  All packed away in long term storage- sent there by mistake because our big movers didn't load them and we didn't realize it until too late.  One box made it- it contained a pillow and a candle holder).  I was excited, I had a plan and a mission and then I walked down the ornament aisle and was met with- not much.  And NO shatter proof ornaments which, with a newly walking young man who has a fondness and knack for pulling on anything shiny, breakable and off limits, glass ornaments weren't going to work.  So we struck out at Navy, but I figured we still had our BX and I was SURE I could find what I wanted there.

Ha-ha, the joke was on me!  We went to the B/X the next night and they had even less of a selection and the only unbreakable ornaments were about $4 a piece.  Don could see the disappointment on my face and was like, "just get them, it's a little tree, we don't need that many".  But I couldn't justify spending $30 on 7 ornaments.  So, another wave of bah humbug started to crash over me.  And then, I decided, "Nope you're not going to get me.  I want a tree that captures the spirit of this holiday.  I want a tree that Price loves looking at and that makes his eyes sparkle as much as the lights on it."  I started wandering around the store, looking- wondering- what could I use for ornaments?  That's when I stumbled into the bakeware section and found a three pack of cookie cutters.  And I had it!  I knew what I would do.

We would hang the cookie cutters as ornaments.  I found some twine and candy canes and it was taking shape in my head.  It might not be the fanciest tree ever, but it was going to be good.

On Monday, I decided to see what Kmart had in the way of decorations.  I was pleasantly surprised to find ribbon and bows that went with my theme and found some shatterproof ornaments to add some extra sparkle.  Not only did I find what I was looking for, I also discovered that it's apparently ok to bring your pet chicken with you when you shop at Kmart.  I kept hearing a chirp and looked up only to find that a little girl had indeed brought a live baby chicken into the store and no one seemed fazed by it...

Monday night, more inspiration struck and I thought, why don't we make some dough ornaments to hang on the tree too (I am a little concerned about what creatures this may attract, but hopefully shellac will help prevent an infestation).

Today, Price and I made a batch of dough ornaments.  Let me tell you- there was a reason I couldn't find the tree I wanted or the decorations I wanted because making these ornaments was so much fun and really helped me get into the spirit of things. I never would have thought of making our own ornaments if everything had gone the way I wanted it to.  Isn't that what Christmas is about?  The unexpected surprises you find when you weren't looking, the beauty that comes from events not planned?  I couldn't help even but think of the birth of baby Jesus in a manger because there wasn't an abundance of places to stay. I'm not trying to compare my quest for a Christmas tree or its decorations to that of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to have their Son.  But really, it boils down to having to make due with what there is and then being amazed by what comes of it.

I may not have the biggest or most beautiful tree on the block, but I have some memories of a wonderful time I shared with my son.  Memories are going to help make this Christmas in this strange, crazy, wonderful place feel like Christmas (and like home) and I am so happy to have started making them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Weather Outside delightful.   It just REALLY, REALLY doesn't feel like winter.  Last week, we had some rainy days.  It was so grey and dreary those days, I could almost fool myself into thinking it was a winter storm, not a tropical disturbance.  But then, I'd walk outside and it was as warm and humid as always.  So, even though I won't be wearing anything like this* on Guam any time soon....

I have gratitude for several things about our non-wintery Christmas:

1.  I am actually LOSING weight instead of gaining it like I normally do this time of year.  No baggy sweaters to hide my winter insulation.

2.  It's almost the middle of December and I'm still working on my tan!

3. The weather is really nice right now, especially after 3:00 each day- it's so cool.  The other night, once the sun went down and the wind picked up, I could have, almost, actually worn a very light weight sweater outside and have been comfortable.

4.  And I'm not really sure how this relates to it being non-wintery weather, but we have been graced with amazing rainbows the past 3 days. The pics below are of the same rainbow, just different vantage points.

In addition to our great weather, we also had an early visit from Santa this weekend.  On Saturday, the Med Group sponsored  a breakfast with Santa, who arrives by ambulance when visiting the Med Group kids and is accompanied by an elf in Birkenstocks because that's the elf footwear of choice here in Guam.

The food was great. Price had fun doing his drunken Frankenstein walk around the room wanting to play with all the big kids, and he seemed to enjoy meeting Santa.  At least, he didn't freak out...

*BTW, I created this outfit at  It is an AWESOME website that allows you to put together complete outfits- it is so much fun, it's like playing with paper dolls.  And all of the clothes are linked to stores where you can buy the stuff.  Now, if only they'd ship to Guam.  And no, I'm not getting anything by mentioning the website, I just know several of you who read this blog like to shop and this site is really fun to put looks together!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tis a Few Weeks Before Christmas*

and all through my house, not a thing is ready... I feel like a louse.
No stockings are hung, there's no chimney, our walls are bare
St. Nicholas probably thinks I just don't care...

We live on a tropical island you see, and it just doesn't feel all that Christmas-y.
You have white snow, we have white sand.
I'm finding it hard to get into the spirit in this far away land!

Seriously, I think I may getting a case of the Bah-Hum Bug.  Which I don't want!  Is there a vaccine?  For some reason, today has been rough.  I think it is hitting me that my birthday (a pretty big one) and Christmas are right around the corner.  While I am so fortunate and blessed (and actually feel kind of selfish for even having some of these feelings when there are so many people worse off than I am) to be celebrating Christmas with my boys (hubby, Price and brother), it is the first Christmas that won't be spent with parental units and definitely the first Christmas we've spent so far away from home.  It won't even be Christmas in the States while we're celebrating it here (which, I guess is good in a way so Skyping will be easier).

Honestly, I always get a little down this time of year- and really can never put my finger on it.  But I think it boils down to two things.  One, and this is sooo stupid and EVERY year I tell myself to quit caring and EVERY year I continue to care- is my birthday.  It's not about how old I'm getting (although this year, I am officially moving into a new age bracket when it comes to filling out surveys and questionnaires), it's just so close to Christmas it kind of gets lost in the shuffle.

The other reason is that it always feels so rushed and anti-climatic. All the present buying, wrapping and then the mad frenzy of opening gifts and then it's over.  No one seems to slow down and think about (other than the hour you might spend at church) what it's all about.  Maybe in Guam, since everything is on island time, we will have a slower Christmas and really reflect about why we are celebrating on the first place.

I really want to go into this season with a joyful heart.  I want to make this a special holiday, full of warm memories and traditions, for Price.  (as I'm writing this-thank you blog- I'm realizing another positive about being in Guam is we are getting to create our own traditions without being rushed from one end of Texas to another to make sure we get face time with everyone this year).  I want him to begin to understand that it's about more than just Santa and presents.  I want him to experience the magic that I did as a child so that he looks forward to Christmas every year.

In an effort to achieve this goal, I'm going to be journaling this Christmas.  From now through January 6 (12th Night), my blog will mainly be devoted to helping me (and our little family unit) get into the Spirit.  Don't worry- there will still be lots of pictures, like this one, taken last night at the base Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Although it looks like he's doing the Jingle Bell Rock he's actually just walking around, enjoying the beautiful weather we had last night.  

*(with my apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)


As you can see, I learned how to create my own background (thank you Photoshop Elements 8) and add a new header (thank you again

I'm not quite in love with the new look.  I feel like it might be a tad on the busy side (Don agrees) and I keep thinking about some great advice Coco Chanel once shared, "before you leave the house, remove one accessory."  So, I am trying to decide what to remove, but I'll leave it like it is for a day or two.

P.S.- I created the trees all by myself in PSE8, however the ribbon came from a digital scrapbooking kit, "Shabby Princess Festival," which I got from Shabby

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Priceless Discoveries

Which of these makes more sense?

The can of soup in the bathroom.


The tennis ball in the dishwasher?

These were today's goodies from Price.
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