Tuesday, December 8, 2009

we're coming home

We'll be coming home in early January. Leaving Tarawa on Jan. 9 and arriving at RDU on Jan. 12 at 5pm. I'll blog more when I get home.
Take care,
Jennifer and Family

Friday, November 6, 2009

The power's out

by James
I was talking to Mommy and then I was walking but only got to a chair near mommy. Why you say? because the power was out! don't say "so!" it was comin up to 8:00 pm. dark, eh? I couden't see and mommy said stay where we were. I held on to the chair I was by. daddy got a lantern and three flashlights, two blues and one red. I took the oldest flash light, blue. Tanielu took the red and parker took the blue, other, flash light. then we had a flashlight party. then I went over to the other house. Tanielu put his flashlight beside Daddy and went over to the dark house. in 2 seconds he ran back shouting "monster, monster, monster." I asked him "were?" and he said "over there." he showed me where and started shouting the same thing. Tanielu was too loud that Daddy said "go over to that shelf." While he was sitting there he drawed himself. Well at least he tried to but in the dark he put a B on the face, wich was sopposed to be on the body I guss, and the face was outside of the head. then it was bedtime. now you know that I had fun after all. the end.

by Tanielu
when the lite went off
when the lite went out I felt scared and then Parker cryed very loud and I felt very scared I felt my way to a poset that I could holed on too but then daddy came with flashlites too give us so we can see around the hous the end

Weekend Getaway

For the past several weeks, Conn's mom has been helping administer the Junior Secondary Certificate exams and Kiribati National Certificate exams in North Tarawa. Last weekend, we were able to go and visit her there on the outer island. We went on Saturday by boat and returned Monday by outrigger canoe. The boys had a great time with all of our experiences over the weekend. When we got there, we stayed with the Assistant Principal of the Secondary School where Mama was staying. Their house faces the area of water between the lagoon and the main part of the island, so there was water in the front yard at high tide. The boys were eager to go straight from boat to lunch to water. They stayed in the water for about 2 hours before coming out to shower and change. While the boys played, Conn, Parker and I took a motorbike ride to our old stomping ground just a short way up the island. We pulled into the school compound where I worked in the Peace Corps on our way to the village where we first knew each other. We were disappointed to see the school compound in worse condition than when we left. I didn't know it could get worse with falling down classrooms, worn out school yard and houses that were not kept up but now the brush and trees have grown up, the houses are also falling down and have holes in them (including mine), the school classrooms look like they had been fixed, but were falling down again, and the window screens of the library/office were coming off. We turned around and headed into the village. There weren't many people out, and the ones we went to see weren't home, but the village is nice and kept up and the house we went to was well taken care of. We saw the people when we came back to South Tarawa and we're planning to return during the school break to stay with them and visit. When we returned to the Secondary School, it was getting dark so we had our showers and relaxed until dinner. We had the best food there! Pork that was so tender, fresh fish, soups, and my favorite - te bekai, which is grated taro mixed with coconut cream and sugar. The boys really liked it too, and it was a great dessert for them. We slept outside on the buia - a roof with a platform floor and no walls. It rained all night and the wind blew to keep us cool. Mama had complained about the heat and mosquitoes, but we thought it was better there than at our house! On Sunday, we enjoyed the relaxed environment of having nothing to do and the cool, constant breeze so we laid around, the kids played and we just relaxed and refreshed. In the afternoon when the tide came in, the boys played out in the water for another 2 hours or so. There was more kids playing after dinner and Conn and I packed our bags for the early morning trip the next day. We slept again with wind and rain all night and woke to clear skies. We got on the wa - outrigger canoe from the village with about 35 other people and sat still for about an hour and a half until we returned to South Tarawa. Although we were tired from letting the kids stay up a little later and getting up early in the morning, we were refreshed from not having anything to do while we were gone and being able to enjoy the company.

from Tanielu: The weekend me and James went swiming we had lots of fun and we made freinds with a boy and we wer in the watr very long but then daddy calld us back then we went back home and had a shawer then we had dinner but the boy was older and he cepet falling.

from James: swimming in North Tarawa.
Me and Tanielu were swimming in (I guess what you call an ocean pool.) It took a long time till we got out. eniy way we were playing power rangers and Tanielu was Dustin, power of air, water, earth, I was the leader of the bad guys but desighned as Dustin's freind. I was trying to steal a scroll which was rilly a peace of wood. Tanielu was tossing it around shouting, "fech." I tryed to get it but it always landed near Tanielu and he always got it. only 2 times I got it. we then went to a moniaba that was kind of streaching in the, as I said, ocean pool. We hunted and chased crabs along the stones beside the moniaba with sticks. One big crab with big claws fought back. I jumped back and called Tanielu to come see this. he said "cool." I told him how the crab fought back. a kid with his dad came over to where we were. The dad knew how to speak english and he asked us what we were doing. I said "looking for crabs." Then we started playing with them. the boy was tanner, just a little bit more than us. the dad was darker than broun but lighter than black. they both had short hair. the boys funny. we're playing hide and seek (we taght 2 people how to play hide and seek.) I'm hideing on some big roots from mangroves. I put my leg on the roots and he triped. he looked back and I went under. then it was time to go back. the end

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Candy Making

Our newest endeavor is making candy. We've been short on cash in this house and the candy business has been our answer. Laae and Toamwane had been making the candy to earn some money for their daughter's first birthday party. Since then Laae had been pretty tired and not home very much to keep it up regularly so Conn and I decided to learn the process to help out more. This will add to our contribution for the family needs. So, in the evening around 8:30 or so, Conn puts the kids to bed and I start cooking the candy. The main ingredient is sweetened condensed milk. We use 6-8 cans each batch. I put a little oil to cover the bottom of the pot, then empty the cans into the pot cleaning them out as well as I can with a metal tablespoon. The pot goes onto the stove on high, stirring constantly until it boils. When it comes to a full boil (watch out because it splatters), reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir constantly making sure it doesn't stick and doesn't burn. While I am stirring (6-8 cans takes about 40-50 minutes), Conn puts a big of oil in a large mixing bowl and two trays. Also a bit of powdered milk in another bowl to roll the finished candies in. Conn usually takes over the last 10 minutes of stirring because I'm usually tired by then, and because it's getting really thick and hard for me to scrape the bottom. We know it's done when it's thick and dark caramel brown. The candy gets scraped into one tray so it can spread out and cool enough to be rolled by hand into balls. Bit by bit it goes into the bowl so that part will cool faster and get rolled. Usually Conn pinches off the right size pieces and I roll it into a ball and regulate the size. The other tray is for the balls to cool and harden enough before tossing them in the powdered milk. The rolling process takes about an hour. When we're finished, we count them from the powdered milk bowl into containers to be taken to school and sold for 10 cents each. 6 cans makes about 200 1 inch balls. The candies are very similar to caramel, although Conn says they're not. It's a bit tiring, but we prepare mentally for it all day, and we only do it Sunday-Wednesday and sell leftovers on Friday. We sell all the candies by Friday so we've been doing good so far. We're going to make a bit more this week (30 cans of sweetened condensed milk) and see how we do. This money pays for laundry soap, gas for the stove, rice, fish, sugar, flour, etc. for the household. We're also hoping to save up for the long term break from school in December when we won't get paid and school will be out so we won't sell as much candy. It's pretty easy to make once we've gotten the hang of it, and it gives Conn and I time to talk together and talk with his sister and her husband when they help roll the candy. The kids really like to eat the candy, especially Parker, so we try to make it at night when they're asleep. Let me know if any of you try it at home. I'd like to know how it turns out. I'll probably keep making it (in much smaller quantity) when we return to the US.

Geckos and mice and cockroaches, oh my!

This is just a bit of the wildlife here in Kiribati, and we can enjoy it right in our own home. Geckos are regulars about everywhere. They hang out around the lights at night and around the kitchen during the day. We enjoy them because they eat the bugs, but are annoyed when they poop on us, which I hope is understandable. When we can catch one, I mean when someone else can catch them (like Conn or Tanielu have been known to do) they get fed live to the chickens. This must be a real delicacy to them because they sure do fight over them and you can really see what the pecking order is out there. Another delicacy for the chickens is mice. Conn beats any cat around here in catching mice. He says he used to leave mice and rats alone because it's been said that if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone. Until, one night when he was young and woke up to a rat chewing on his toes and fingertips. After that, it was war! To date, since we've been here, Conn has caught 9 mice and 1 rat. The chickens are loving him. Most of the time, he just stomps on them but his most interesting trap was a roll of tin foil. The mice like to run on top of the food safe, which is where the foil was. They would run in one end and peep out at me from the other end. When I alerted Conn to this, he was on the task right away. There were 2 running between the table and the food safe. He watched them for a few minutes and found something to close one end of the cardboard tube. They both ran into the tube and he turned it up and put his hand over it. He found something else to close the other end (so the mice wouldn't bite him) and laid it on the ground and stomped on them. The two mice quickly became chicken food. Another proud moment for Conn (and not so proud a moment for the rat) was late one night on his way back from the shower. The rat was sitting on top of a rice bag looking the other way from the door where Conn was entering. Conn saw it, and without thinking twice slapped it into the wall where it fell to the ground knocked out. It wasn't dead yet, but Conn was quick to make sure he was going to complete the task at hand. He grabbed the rat by the tail and laid it out on the rocks. The rat's body began quivering and Conn chose an adequate sized rock to bash its head in the rocks. This eradicated the last thoughts of living the rat may have had. Since this was late at night, when chickens should be sleeping and ours were, Conn just put several rocks on top of the dead rat and waited until morning to feed it to the chickens. Now, mice are about 1-2 inches plus tail while rats are 4-6 inches plus tail. This rat was almost too big for the chickens, but I guess they found a way because it was gone when we checked later. Oh yes, did I also mention cockroaches? Well, they are here too, as in everywhere else in the world. But geckos also like to eat cockroaches, if they can swallow them. We saw a gecko battling a roach and the roach almost won if Conn hadn't intervened. The gecko had the roach in his mouth, but the roach was still alive. It was struggling to get out and the two were coming closer to where we were sitting. Geckos are not fans of people and also are not the bravest of creatures. The slightest move will send him running away. So, when the gecko saw us move, he was quick to move in the other direction and, unfortunately opened his mouth just enough to let the cockroach go. Again, Conn was quick to react and slapped the roach to its death. He threw it back to the gecko, who was now on the other side of the room. The gecko just grabbed it and ran. It was pretty amazing to watch. We're thankful for the things we probably wouldn't experience elsewhere in the world, however wacky and weird they are! I'm sure thankful to have Conn the Exterminator on my side.

We got to use the floaties

but not for a tsunami, thankfully! We finally got to take the boys swimming the weekend after the second tsunami warning after the earthquake in Vanuatu. That Friday, I took the boys to Betio to school with me and Conn took Parker in his floatie out to the lagoon. He said they had such a great time, we decided to take all the boys on Saturday afternoon. They were all so cute and having such a great time floating around. The boys found out they could move around better doing the backstroke. Our water shoes also were a great thing as they protected our feet from the rock and coral at that part of the island. There is not much beach at that part and the shoreline is pretty close to the road so we also didn't have to worry too much about trash and human/animal waste (you know what I mean). While we were out there, I wished I had my camera so we made plans to go back on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, we went to another part of the island on the ocean side with Toamwane and Melesiata. I took some pictures of the kids in their floaties, then went in myself. The waves were a bit bigger, but still fun to ride. It's nice swimming in the sea here because the waves break far enough out on the reef that they're not crashing on you, but they still roll in to the shore so you can still float up and down on them. The water was warm, like a bath. Not refreshing, but still fun. Each day we were in the water for about an hour in the late afternoon. Enough to wear out the kids for a good dinner and restful sleep. We also got to enjoy a nice sunset before heading home. I've noticed that since the tsunami warnings, I've seen some really beautiful sunsets. Mom, I wish you were here to enjoy them!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We're safe from the tsunami

So, Wednesday morning, we woke up to hear news that a tsunami was headed our way. It should hit within the hour! Imagine our panic and worry that followed. The schools were sending their children back to their families and preparations were being made. We listened to the radio for updates and all emergency personnel were on standby. Conn's mom bought some swimming floaties and we blew up the exercise ball to float with. We filled all the water bottles with boiled water and put them in the fridge so we could find them when we need them. Then waited. I prayed without ceasing that morning for our safety. I remembered the Bible verse that Pastor Bryan taught James: "Do not worry about anything, but pray about everything and thank God for his answers." Philipians 4:6. Well Praise God! The tsunami warning was cancelled about 11:30 in the morning. It never showed itself here. We're all safe.
We pray for recovery for the people of Samoa and Cook Islands and of Indonesia.
Tanielu said too bad the tsunami didn't come. Now we can't use our floaties! He was the most worried about it beforehand. I guess we'll have to take the kids for a swim in the lagoon.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

End of Ramadan

On Monday, Ramadan was over and the Muslim community gathered to celebrate and feast. Our boys were invited to join in the trip to Betio. This is what James has to say about it:
"Yesterday we went to Betio with Grandmama and Uncle. Mommy and Daddy stayed behind. At Betio, we played with our friend there, Khaleel. They had an Amazing Mazes. I enjoyed doing them while the Muslims prayed. Then it was lunch time. I had chicken luncheon (like chicken spam) and part of a potato. Then we went down to the beach and I dug a hole in the sand for Tanielu's crabs he found. Then we went home. What a day at Betio!"

Day to Day Same Old Same Old

Well, sorry I haven't written about what's going on here for a while, but it doesn't seem like there's anything new or exciting to write about. Our daily life has evened out to morning chores, trying to get the kids to do their schoolwork, and afternoon school. Our morning chores include getting breakfast and cleaning up, doing laundry, and cleaning up outside. The boys always help with setting and clearing the table and washing the dishes. James helps run the washing machine and both boys help hang and fold laundry. All the boys help clean outside. They sweep, pick up trash and brush, and today they cleared the branches from the back of the house so the sun will hit the clotheslines. They also repaired the duck pen outside so the ducklings won't get out. Cats can still get in, but the ducklings are safer there if a cat does go to them because the male duck will fight back. We're down to only 3 ducklings so we're trying to be more protective of them.
The kids are doing well in their schoolwork, but it's harder for them to focus here. There's not really a desk space for them to work and it's hard to keep their materials organized and easy for them to find their stuff. We're working our way around the world with Asia first. We've studied Japan, China, Korea and India is next. We're also incorporating their Scout requirements into their school work so that gets done too, and adds fun. In the afternoon, the boys play with the school kids, then work with them during school time. In the evening, they come out to the road to meet me when I get off the bus and we come home to eat dinner (sometimes late, like 8) and get off to bed. They enjoy their reading time in the mosquito net before lights out. Even Parker gets his nose into a board book. They are quick to fall asleep after lights out and prayer. It's a full day for our three boys who are starting to be not-so-little anymore.

Silly School Kids

Just wanted to share a funny experience with my school kids this week. On Wednesday, the wait for the bus was especially long so the kids I ride with had extra time to play and be silly together. There were some birds soaring overhead and the kids were calling to the birds and trying to attract them. There are some concrete cinder blocks near the place where we were waiting so a couple of kids climbed up there to be closer to the birds. No, none jumped off and tried to fly, thank goodness. But a feather floated down from the sky and when the kids saw this, they went crazy trying to catch it. Apparently it's good luck or you get a wish if you catch a feather. So they were all over each other trying to catch the feather. Then, they kept throwing it up for each other and dropping it from the pile of cinder blocks so they could keep catching it. They were really silly and fun to watch.
These kids I ride home with are really great. They really take care of their teacher. They make sure they wait for me after school and that we all get on the same bus, and the right bus since not all buses go all the way down the island. They also try to sit around me on the bus. They all get off before I do, but they all wave and shout good-byes from the roadside after they get off and the bus moves away. I really love them and I'm lucky to have such great students.

Happy Birthday, Parker!

September 17 - Parker turned two years old! And he's every bit of two. He talks all the time, he's curious about everything, he eats a lot at every meal, he's almost running and goes all over the place, he goes outside to play with his big brothers, but still he's attached to his Mommy and Daddy. He's still learning to share with his younger cousin, and he's practicing picking up his toys, but he knows what he wants and how to get it most of the time. For his birthday, we had oatmeal with dried fruit from a package from the Brants for breakfast and the traditional spaghetti for dinner. Grandmama came through with a cake, which Melesiata almost sat in, and Parker had the first cut. We didn't have any gifts, but he didn't really notice and we've been getting lots of packages lately with gifts for all of us. It was a nice day for all of us. Since then, Parker has been working with his sticker pictures, coloring in his journal, watching the ducklings, and playing with Melesiata. He's already outgrowing some of the clothes we brought. Luckily, it's warm here and clothing is optional for kids this young. We got a kids' toilet seat from Mom and he's been enjoying his trips to the potty. No action yet though. Prayers for quick potty training, though, so he can be trained before we come home, whenever that may be. We appreciate all the prayers you've been sending for us. We really can feel them and they are much needed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Yesterday we woke up to find that 6 out of the dozen or so duck eggs had hatched! The yellow balls of down were so cute to watch explore their world on their first day. They followed their mother around, ate broken up pancakes we fed them, drank water from the low tray, huddled underneath Mama Duck, tripped over themselves, flapped their one inch wings, and like all children, got under her feet and in Papa Duck's way. So cute to watch. All the kids, even Parker, wanted to stand out there and watch them all day. Today they left their pen and went in search of food. We threw rice out for them. They still run away from us, but keep close to Mama Duck so that's good. We hear them peeping as they travel around. It's a great lesson and will be fun to see them grow up.
The boys each have their responsibilities to contribute to household life: they each have an area of the yard to sweep in the morning, they're learning to draw water from the well since the pipe for the pump broke, and even Parker is helping to clean up around the house. He's very good and picking up his toys and putting them on the shelf. Last week, James helped Conn get some breadfruit out of the tree and off the roof and he cut some papaya out of the tree. Tanielu helped Conn build a chicken coop outside and move the chickens out there.
We're definitely filling our days. We're tired by the end of the day, and ready to go the next morning. And, thank you for your prayers for rain. That day it started raining and rained hard, too. We haven't been worried about the rain again since then. We're also much healthier now. James and Parker have coughs, but otherwise, we're doing well.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to school

Well, term 3 has started with a bang. Conn is teaching the class here that I used to teach, and I travel to Betio with Laae and teach the juniors there. We got the scheme for the term last Thursday and spent our weekend planning and preparing for the first week. It went rather well. Seemed like the kids enjoyed our lessons and were learning. We worked on setting up incentives for the kids (those who come to class on time, bring their exercise books, library books, and those who come to the library on the scheduled days), what activities we'll do this term and how we'll assess the students and report to the parents. This week we worked on the 'b' and 'p' sounds (which are practically the same and children here, and adults, have trouble with); nouns; learned a good morning song; read stories and wrote summaries; and wrote about what the children did during the term break. We'll continue with these skills and build on them for next week. We're looking forward to doing puppet shows, songs, skits, reading sight words and key words from our readings, math word problems, and writing sentences leading into paragraphs. (I feel like I'm writing a beginning of the school year letter to parents!) I usually take the bus to Betio, which is an hour long ride, so I get daily reflecting time. The boys stay here with Conn so they get time to play with their friends before class. We found that Parker really likes a couple of marbles he found so we've incorporated them into his therapy to get him to turn his hand over and reach up and out to pass them back and forth with us. He also likes stickers and has made several sticker pictures with them.
Healthwise, we are getting better with only minimal setbacks. Parker's diarrhea seems to be getting better, but he threw up in the night this week, and Tanielu threw up six times yesterday morning. We did go back to the American doctors for a follow up. Since Tanielu was still wheezing some and we had been giving albuterol every 4 hours, he got some steroids to help out. They really did and he's doing much better. His antibiotic worked wonders and almost all his sores are healed. We also got a couple more bottles of children's multi-vitamins. The kids make sure they take them every day, even Parker asks for them. We're hoping and praying that we keep getting better and that this is making us stronger for the rest of our stay. We're taking it term by term, so we're aiming for December. It's hard to justify staying in a place so dirty and contaminated when your kids are so sick... but who wants to travel with vomit and diarrhea? We're instilling the importance of keeping their hands out of their faces and washing themselves with soap twice daily.
Hope all is well Stateside and everyone enjoys your Labor Day weekend. Have a hot dog for us!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Term Break sickness --

literally! We have spent the past two weeks nursing the sick in our household. First, Conn's mom was sick with the flu. Then, Melesiata was sick, I think just the crud. Hers turned into a rash because she was reacting to some of the medicine they were giving her. Conn's mom's turned into diabetic issues with very high blood sugar. I don't really know much about how she is managing it, so I don't know how she's doing with that. Last Tuesday, Parker got it. He started with fever, then runny nose, cough, lethargy, loss of appetite, general discomfort and crabbiness. On Wed. his temperature was 104.7 under the arm! Glad we brought acetaminophen and ibuprofen for kids. We dosed him up and gave him a cool bath. This helped somewhat as well as lots of cuddling. He started having diarrhea Wed night too. To me, this is the worst part! By Friday, he still was feverish and symptomatic so we took him to the doctor. He didn't really say what he thought was wrong, but he gave us a prescription for amoxicillin and nystatin. He seems to be doing a bit better since starting those, but the diarrhea is not. That's still pretty often. He gets lots of baths each day which is also good for his fever. It's not that high now.
Next was James. Monday night he woke in the night and threw up. Tuesday he seemed fine, but Wednesday morning he couldn't hold anything down. He also has some diarrhea.
It hit Tanielu Tuesday night. He had diarrhea in the night (in his sleep twice -- think Ernest P. Worll: eeeeeeeeewwwwww), and all day Wednesday. He also has the high fever and lethargy, loss of appetite, and runny nose and cough.
Luckily, we found out that there are American military doctors here this week and next. It's part of a project called Pacific Partnership. They are providing medical services specifically for eyes, teeth and ears, and for general medical concerns. Since Conn's mom wanted to go about her eyes (which are getting worse, I attribute it to the diabetes) we rode along to have the kids seen. We registered them all and Conn and me too. Starting with Tanielu: his sores on his knees and under his nose are impetigo again, he's wheezing, everything else is probably viral going through our family. He got an antibiotic (cephalexin) and a couple of bottles of albuterol. James just has the viral crud and got some multivitamins. Parker was advised to continue the antibiotics he already had and to be very intentional about getting rehydrated. The doctor was pretty concerned about this. He also got a bottle of vitamins and a recipe for homemade rehydration salts. Conn is fine and I just have some fluid behind my ear that had the infection and I'm a little dry. I got some Sudafed. We also got a couple more tubes of Bacitracin (antibiotic ointment) and a couple of Cutters (stick mosquito repellant). The doctor wants us to come back next week to follow up with Tanielu and to make sure Parker is rehydrated enough.
As for all other medical issues, we're all doing fine and everything is resolved, except the lice. Parker and I still have a few. We comb our hair with the fine tooth comb daily and we're using coconut shampoo. Otherwise, we're waiting for the Nix from Mom.
We have a few more days before our school starts back up, so we're all resting up and taking it easy so we can heal and get healthy again. All prayers are welcome. And while you're at it, pray for rain. It hasn't rained for about two weeks except for a couple short midnight showers. It's been very hot as a result.
Hope I didn't jinx anyone and make you sick (Beth, maybe you shouldn't have read this!). I'll keep you posted on our recovery.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

End of Term quiz

Saturday morning was the end of the term for the school here at the house. There are two classes, one here in Bikenibeu and one one in Betio that Laae teaches. We went to Betio for the two classes to compete in a quiz and then to present their dramas and songs to each other and their parents. The morning ended with lunch. The morning was fun, but also frustrating for me. It started with rushing around to get everyone ready to leave in time. We had donuts (Kiribati donuts are different from American donuts, but still good) for breakfast in the car on the way. When we got to the school, I found out that I had to score my class's exams differently and fill out progress reports for each of my students. I didn't want to have to do this at the time they were due! Now I know for next term. We started with a quiz where the students were in two teams with their class and they stood up to answer questions for points. The Bikenibeu class got the most points, but some of the questions were confusing, even for me. Again, I know now to plan some questions for next term. At the end of the questions, we presented our dramas. My class did The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I was really proud of them. We spent a lot of time on it. Conn videoed it, but we haven't watched it yet to see how it turned out. I'm going to let my class watch it to see how they did. I think the main thing is they needed to speak louder. The songs went really well too. They sang If You're Happy and You Know It, The Hole in the Ground, and Skip To My Lou. For lunch, Conn got some donuts and cut them open and made sandwiches with corned beef. They were pretty good. We got the idea to make some sauce and we could try to make NC style bar-b-que with corned beef instead of pork. We can't wait to try it.
By the end of the event, I had a splitting headache. We came back home and were due to go to Temwaiku for a botaki there. We helped clean up here first, then went there. That party was for their daughter who recently "eloped". They spend the first two weeks with the husband's family, then her family goes there to get them and brings them to stay with her family for two weeks. This was the end of that time when his family comes back to get them again and the couple is free to go between the two families. It's to show that the family is happy the couple is staying together. The kids played with the other kids there, and Conn helped with the preparations while I finally got to take a nap. It ended up being a very busy day, and the quietness of our Sunday was very welcome. I finished reading James' book, Artemis Fowl, and did some cross stitch. Now, we have 2 weeks off from our school before the next term starts. Hopefully we'll get to do some planning and preparing during this time. Conn is starting to make candy with Laae to sell and we're hoping to start a preschool class with the new term. I found a store that has school supplies and books. I look forward to going back and looking around there more.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Melesiata's first birthday party

This Saturday was the big day that much preparation, time, energy, worry, money and space has been put forth over the past few weeks. Let me introduce the cast of characters (a.k.a. family): Conn's sister, Laae; her husband, Toamwane; their daughter and star of the show, Melesiata. Melesiata turned one last Wednesday, August 5. Here in Kiribati, the first birthday is a huge deal. I think historically because it marks a turning point when the survival rate for a child greatly increases. This has led to tradition that cannot be broken in this culture. The weekend began Friday night with the arrival of Conn's family #2 from Temwaiku. They camped out on the living room floor and watched movies all night (there's no electricity at their house). There was some minor preparations that night, mostly preparing bread dough for baking early Saturday. The real festivities began Saturday morning. Family began arriving around 8. We ate hot African bread with butter for breakfast then began preparing the food for the evening party which would include dinner. The "head chef" was their Muslim missionary's wife from Ghana, Africa. This added some variety from the standard Kiribati "botaki fare." (A botaki is a party in Kiribati.) Soon after breakfast and long from a shower, I found myself with 3 other girls gathered around a bag of onions, a box of garlic cloves, then a huge basin of chicken legs. We peeled the onions (I showed them the quick way of cutting down one side to make the peels come off easier), peeled the garlic (I also showed them to chop off the bottom part so the peels come off easier), and finally "peeled" the chicken. That's right, under direction of our African cook, we removed the skins from more chicken than I could count. It took us until early afternoon to complete the task. At that point, we were at a pause in our work as the meat left our hands and went outside to the men who were bar-be-queing. This allowed me an opportunity to make sure the kids were getting fed and I gave Parker and Tanielu a bath, hoping this would make them want to sleep. We had no such luck for a couple more hours. I am still far off from my own shower at this point. Later in the afternoon, Tanielu came and showed me how big his finger was getting after smacking it on the door while he was running around. It was so swollen in his finger and into his hand, and it hurt for him to move it or for anyone to touch it, I really thought it was broken. I think I worried Conn to death over it and he finally agreed to take him to the hospital for an x-ray. We didn't see any break on the x-ray so we're just taking it easy and trying to let him put cold water bottles on it whenever we can. At this point, the swelling hasn't gone down much and it still hurts him. The doctor said we can go back and get his x-ray in a couple of weeks if he's better. Anyway, after our trip to the hospital, we made our way back home and got the kids' bathed and dressed for the party, then ourselves. It turned out that Conn was the MC, which means that he kind of leads the party and tells us what's happening next and who should do what. So, that was kind of good because the party couldn't start without him. You really gotta love Kiribati time and that's something that you just have to get over while you're here. The party was supposed to start at 6:00 pm. There was still cooking going on at 7:30, the birthday girl and her parents didn't leave the house until after 7, the MC and his family didn't leave the house until after 8. Luckily, Parker did have a nice long nap just before he had to start getting ready for the party. Melesiata, I'm not so sure about, but they took her pillow and blanket for when she fell asleep at the party. The maneaba (building where meetings and parties take place) was decorated nicely, with two tables of food of what seemed like equal amount (one from Laae's family and one from Toamwane's family). There was a couch for Melesiata and her parents with balloons all around. Some girls danced to present the cake to Melesiata, everyone sang Happy Birthday, then she cut the cake with her mother's help. Then there was some dancing, a band, everyone ate dinner, the kids got to play, and the transport started taking people home around 10. We got going home around 12. On the way home, James said he wished we could repeat that day because it was so fun. Tanielu fell asleep on the short ride home. We got lots of pictures and video of the festivities. We can only hope our pictures turn out ok because we found that morning that the display screen is broken. The camera seems to be fine otherwise and it seems to still take pictures, but we can't tell if they're any good until we put them on disc later. LOL. Such is life. Well, Sunday the girls set to work cleaning up around the house and family #2 set off back to Temwaiku. They left us the promise of just as much fun next weekend at their house for the next botaki.
Now, we've recovered, and life goes on.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

James is 8!

Wednesday was James' birthday. Hard to believe he's 8 already. The early day was uneventful. The kids did their school work and Conn went out with his mom to try applying for jobs. They got back just before school started at 4 in the afternoon. When the kids all sat down, one of the students came in carrying a cake and the kids all celebrated James' birthday with him. They sang to him, we had cake, and James and Tanielu did their Kiribati dances for the schoolkids. It was a fun time and something special for James. After school, we made spaghetti for dinner. James was so glad to see this much loved, and much missed, dinner. We found dry pasta at a local store and another American gave us the sauce (thanks Diane!). There was plenty for everyone to try it, and the boys each had seconds. There was even enough for lunch yesterday! Then we had ice cream and the rest of the cake for dessert. Aunty Laae gave James a toy truck and a box of plastic insects from Melesiata. We're still waiting for the package from Grandma in NC.
Happy Birthday, James!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Help, "Timmy's" in the well!

So, on Tuesday, we went to our first real Scout meeting. They meet at the local school in the afternoons. this week we just played some getting to know you games. The kids are pretty excited about it. The leaders are going to get their planning book in English for me so I can see how their scheme follows ours and to see how I can help them lead in English so the children can practice more.
Tuesday evening, we had some friends over for dinner. On our way here, we met a couple of girls from England. They are medical students doing an elective course here observing in the hospital. Well, they're leaving today, so we had them over for dinner before they left. It was a really good dinner: boiled breadfruit, tuna fried and in tomato soup with noodles and vegetables, rice. The girls brought bananas cooked in kamaimai (coconut syrup) for dessert. We taught them canasta after the kids went to bed. Then we took them home. Conn and I stayed and talked for a while at their house, then headed back to our house. It was good to make that connection for all of us.
Wednesday was also eventful. It was getting close to school time in the afternoon when the sky got very dark. We thought it was going to rain so we hurried out to bring in our clothes (again), but we heard others talk about the eclipse. We couldn't see it clearly because there was a big cloud in the way, but it was cool how the sky got dark, then light again. We knew it wasn't just because of the cloud because the blue parts of the sky got dark too. It was a great teaching moment as I explained it to the kids in the moment. I've never experienced an eclipse before.
While we were out there, the kids were playing around and we headed back to the house to bring in those clothes. Mama was still out in the yard with the kids when we heard "help, he's fallen!" and we heard James calling for help. My worst nightmare about being here had happened. Luckily, it happened the best way it could. James had tripped while he was playing, and fell into a nearby well. He hit his head on the way down, but that made him go feet first. Also, the well was not very deep so he could stand in the bottom. One of the bigger boys was able to help him out pretty quickly and Conn ran to get him from him. He had a big gash on the back of his head behind his ear so we washed it out and Conn took him to the hospital to get stitches. He was being such a brave, big boy about it, hardly crying and really just taking care of business-like. After they left, Tanielu fell apart a bit because he was worried about James and he had to stay here with me for our school. Conn and James were only gone for about an hour before they were back, and James was playing with the kids and joining in like nothing had happened. We dressed it and cleaned it out this morning and got a good picture of it. We'll post it as soon as we can. He has 3 stitches. The gash resembled Tanielu's when he had his "hole in the head" on his forehead a couple of years ago. James says it doesn't really hurt and he's being a trooper about keeping the bandage around his head to hold the gauze on so it stays clean. We're getting good use out of our first aid kit, that's for sure. Between keeping Neosporin on all the boo-boos and using the tylenol for the kids' little fevers, I just wish Parker would keep a band aid on his sores so he'll leave them alone. For those who heard about Tanielu's sores on his face, they're getting better with the daily Neosporin. I think it was impetego, but isn't spreading any more and no one else has gotten it.
It's time now to join the family for our fish and rice lunch. Looking forward to hearing your comments.
God Bless, Jennifer

Friday, July 17, 2009


We're really enjoying reading your comments. I'll try to answer questions when I can. Please keep in touch!
The Hercules airplane we visited was like being in a military plane. Not the cushy seats like on commercial airplanes. One of the crew said it could hold up to 90 passengers, but this flight had 14 politicians and 16 crew. We took some pictures, so when I can get them up, you'll see what we mean.
Church is the only thing, Lynne, that starts on time around here. 10am sharp. If you're late, just sneak in the back and pick up with the others. School might start on time, but not always. Even teachers are late for school sometimes. One time, Mama was 20 minutes late for school. Conn took over and started them on some games to keep them busy while we waited for her. That was when we first got here.
We're getting more and more settled. The kids have made friends to play with between the school kids who speak English and the neighborhood kids who don't. The only thing is the food. If the kids say they're hungry, we don't really have snack food for them. We just have to wait until the next meal. We're working on variety and satisfaction.
Not much has been going on. We're hanging out and enjoying our free time. There hasn't been school this week for Independence so the kids have been out playing a lot. We've had our school though, so still something to do.
Conn applied for a job as driver/messenger for UNICEF. It's a fixed term appointment, but not sure how long the term is. We're hoping he'll get that job and save the money from it and just live off the money I make. Please keep him in your prayers. He's very qualified for the job. We just hope they see it that way. We'll probably find out in a few weeks since they're sending all the applications to Fiji for deciding.
Looking forward to hearing your comments. God Bless! Jennifer

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Visiting the Hercules

by James
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
We went to the airport to see the Hercules (Royal New Zealand Air Force). We saw the sink, oven and coffee pot. We saw the pilot's seat and co-pilot's seat. Both of their steering wheels turn the same way so they can't turn different ways. I got to wear one of their life vests. It was heavy! There was a safety radio inside it. Then we got off the plane and went home. I was glad we visited the Hercules Air Force plane.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Independence Day!

Well, Kiribati has been an independent nation for 30 years now. Since the 12th was on Sunday, they celebrated on Monday. We went to Bairiki for the parade and saw the Scouts, schools, and even the little pre-schoolers. Then we had a snack of bananas in the car while it rained. The timing was perfect that the rain took only just as long as we did to eat. Then we got back out and went back to the stadium. We had lunch, which the boys gobbled up (fish, chicken, sausage, rice with ketchup, cabbage). We started with one plate that they shared, and had to get another. Then we went over to see the ferris wheel and rides. The boys saw other Scout friends and were welcomed into their group immediately. We got tickets for the boys to ride the ferris wheel with their Scout friends and we watched. They really get that wheel going fast. The boys looked like they had a lot of fun on it. James looked a little unsure at first, but he had his hands in the air before long. After that, we went looking for ice cream. The boys were still hungry and wanted more lunch, so we got another plate which they finished. We wondered if these really are our kids with them eating so much! On our way back to the car, we stopped to inquire about putting our pictures on a cd and in this process, Tanielu got lost. He didn't see that we stopped and he kept going. He realized he wasn't with us when he got to the banana stand. He knew we were going back to the car and thought we were ahead of him, so he went back to the car. When we were done at the photo shop, we were looking for him and couldn't find him anywhere. I stayed where I was, Conn looked one way towards the car and other friends looked the other way we came from. Conn came back with him crying from the car. We were glad he was ok, but stressed the importance of him staying with us and looking up and being aware when he walks around. Then we headed home.
When we got home, we rested, bathed, and got our dinner ready. That evening we went to dinner with the Scouts because it was the last night the Australians were here. The 8:00 dinner opened at 10. While we were waiting, the kids played and adults talked. It was a late night. We walked home and went straight to bed.

Sunday - church and Temwaiku

Sunday we finally made it to church. We went to Temwaiku where Conn's family #2 lives. Church was good. Three children were baptized. Different from ours where we make a huge deal out of it. Here it was very simple and quick. No big deal. Parker went to Sunday School with Roine (his new friend from family #2 - she's about 10 years old). After church I asked Tanielu if he wanted to go to Sunday School next week and he said he didn't. We went around the meet the kids coming out to get Parker and when Tanielu saw all the kids, I asked him again if he wanted to go to Sunday School next week and his face brightened and he nodded yes. After church we walked back to the family's house and rested there for the whole afternoon. We napped, the kids played, we ate. Tanielu and James learned to draw water from the well. We all stayed well from the food this time. The wind is really good there and no mosquitoes, so it's quite nice to be there. There's just a lot of flies. We're going to try to spend every Sunday there.

Saturday with the Scouts

Saturday was the kids' day to work with the Scouts. Conn, James, and Tanielu went early to meet the Scouts to work on cleaning up part of the roadside, then have lunch, and practice for the Independence march. I was to go to the library with the school, then meet them at the park for the lunch. Such is life in Kiribati that things didn't quite work out that way. The Scouts didn't actually leave for the clean up until around 11 so they were very late for picnic time. I rode with Mama and Laae, so luckily I wasn't sitting at the park with Parker and our pot of rice waiting for them. Even more so, they changed their minds and didn't even come to the park! They went back to the maneaba and had lunch there before practicing for the march. I rode around with Mama and Laae while they checked prices and began the shopping for Melesiata's birthday party. (That will be Aug. 5) It was very hot and tiring. Not pleasant at all. We met back at home after dark, in time to eat and get to bed.

Conn's birthday

Last Friday was Conn's birthday. He is now 33! On Thursday night, I went out with Mama, Toamwane and Laae to shop for his present. We got a few things that he mentioned wanting while we've been here: a tablecloth, a pitcher to make our drinks in, and a pair of plastic flip flops. We were also planning to get chicken, fish, vegetables, and a cake for his birthday dinner, but that fell through. While we were out, we heard on the radio that a daughter of Mama's cousin died that day. She had a heart attack and died suddenly while teaching her class that day. This means that Mama had to give some money to the funeral botaki and couldn't buy the food that she had planned to. It apparently also meant that we couldn't even have a dinner for him. On Friday, Conn and I and the kids hung out at the house while Mama, Laae, Toamwane, and Melesiata went to their church. It looks like Fridays are our day to hang at the house by ourselves, or go wherever on our own. They basically spend the day at the missionary's house. They got back rather late, then Mama and Laae went to the funeral gathering. So, there was minimal celebration for Conn. Good thing it was his birthday and not one of the kids! He would be the least bothered. Anyway, we did get to give him his present Saturday morning and he enjoyed that. He also got to eat the raw fish that Laae prepared and he also enjoyed that.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tanielu lost a tooth

You may see this on America's Funniest Videos, but I figured I'll tell you about it first. Tanielu had a wiggly tooth that he's really been working on today. Tonight he felt that it was loose enough to come out. Conn tied a string to the tooth, and the other end to the Lightning McQueen car that goes by itself. Tanielu started the car and waited, but the first couple of times nothing happened. He tried another time and was surprised that it worked! He's quite pleased with himself. We don't do Tooth Fairy, but he is getting to be a big boy now! Congratulations, Tanielu!

Found the Scouts in Kiribati

Yesterday, as we travelled the island to Bairiki, we saw the Cub Scouts along the side of the road! On our way back we stopped and asked the leaders (a couple of them Australian) about how we can join them. They invited us to a meeting that night to welcome the Australian that had just arrived that day and we would meet the leaders then. We were very excited to get involved so quickly. We left Parker home with Grandmama and we headed over to the maneaba for the meeting. Of course, we are in Kiribati so even though we arrived 15 minutes after the time they told us, we were still the first to arrive, and the keeper of the maneaba didn't know about the meeting. Luckily, as we turned to go ask others, the two Australians showed up in their scout uniforms. So, we sat by the lagoon and talked while we contemplated Kiribati time keeping and learned about Scouting in Australia and America. We also watched an amazing moonrise and a lightning show. Others began arriving shortly after and our 6:30 meeting finally began around 9:00. We met all the leaders of Cubs, Scouts, and Venturers from the island, and enjoyed a good dinner. The leaders entertained us while we ate, then the boys did their Kiribati dances and told a couple of jokes while they ate. There will be a clean-up and bar-b-que on Saturday that we can join in. Their regular meetings will resume when school starts back after the Independence. We look forward to the boys making more friends and working on their Scout requirements. The Kiribati also have a cool flag patch that says Kiribati Scouts that they wear on their uniforms. I'm going to see about getting a couple for the boys.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Internet is back on!

Thanks for
being patient. Please remember this is a third world country and we are beginning to feel the impact of that. We've had power outages a couple of times in the past w]
eek, our internet time ran out and only just got paid for again yesterday (by us), and we are realizing that even though we are from the land of plenty, we are not currently in the land of plenty and things are very limited here, including our money. We are beginning to know what it is like to not have all we want. We are having to tell the kids we can't have things, even fruit, apple juice, milk, ice cream, chicken, because we can't afford it, or because it's not available here. It's very hard for us to disappoint them like this, but also very eye opening for us all. We also feel the impact of little choice of books at the library, little variety of videos, and little choice of toys. Often the kids are bored because there isn't much for them to do here. They really enjoy when the kids come over for school and they can play for a few minutes (sometimes an hour) before school starts.
Saturday we went to a wedding of Kateta and Nick. Kateta is a friend of Conn's from the US who is a Kiribati who went to the US to study. We met her on the plane from LA to Fiji. Nick is an American whose mother is Kiribati and his father is American. We went early and hung out with the family before the ceremony. We had ham and breadfruit soup (finally!) for lunch. The boys really liked that. Then the kids and I went to the ceremony while Conn finished helping prepare the food for the evening. It was a beautiful ceremony and very meaningful. Afterwards, there were refreshments including sandwiches, fruit and cakes. The kids really enjoyed this and filled their bellies. This was dinner for them. After returning to the house, Conn and I took the kids home and put them to bed so we could go back to the party. It was lots of fun with local dancing and singing. We were out pretty late, but it was worth it for our time together. We haven't had a date night in a long time.
Sunday we attempted to go to church, but the rain kept us from getting there in time. We were all ready to leave and would have gotten there in time, then the rain fell hard so we waited instead of getting soaked. When the rain let up, we headed to Conn's family #2 in Temwaiku. We spent the day with them, the kids playing and Conn and I visiting and resting. Again, good food and fun, but Parker and I had allergic rashes after eating the food. Conn said it's from the fish. We just had red rashes and headaches. I took another nap, and felt better. Parker had some Benadryl when we got home. We've both been ok since then.
It's been rainy and "cold" but still humid so only some relief. As long as we get some sun to dry our laundry, I can live with the rain. The breeze from the sea also leaves that salty feeling so baths are still needed morning and night.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ants in Every Corner

Conn has decided that this will be the title of his memoirs. We have to inspect our clothes before we dress, towels before we dry off, dishes before we use it, food before we eat it (Tanielu stopped eating when he saw ants in his rice!), bed before we sleep. Parker even had ants in his diaper without us realizing it, even after inspection.
Mosquitoes are equally bad. There is so much erosion when it rains, there are huge puddles that make wonderful breeding grounds. There are also too many things laying around everywhere to collect water. The lid on the rain tank is also not secure against these little blood suckers. They don't bother me or Tanielu too much, but Conn, James, and especially Parker get it really bad. We've been keeping the Skin-so-Soft Bug Guard on them and mosquito coils burning.
Flies have been ok. We keep the food put away, and there isn't much trash in the house. We're not bothered by them too much.
Haven't seen any other insect pests. Knocking on wood.
The welcome diarrhea has come to the boys. When they have to go, they have to go NOW! Only a couple of accidents so far. Parker had a little vomiting last night and much runny diapers today. Hopefully he'll do better tonight. We've gone through all our diaper covers just today! Gladly we're using cloth, knowing we're not leaving our disposables on this poor, littered island. I'm thankful that Conn doesn't mind washing them out every time. I'm also glad that we don't have to keep pants on Parker over the diaper. We don't go through as many clothes.
We've gone to the library again since James finished his book before we even got home from the library Monday. He found a Winnie the Pooh book. We also went to Betio today and bought some food, and a box to keep our school supplies in.
Starting Tuesday, I've been teaching the younger class of the English school here in the house. Conn's mom (Mama) runs the school and there is a class here in our house, and another at the other end of the island in Betio. Conn's sister, Laae teaches the class in Betio. I will be helping here for this week while the other teacher is out. These are the kids in grades 1-4, about 2 or 3 kids in each grade and they are more beginner than the older kids. We're playing some games and reviewing while I get to know them and find out their levels. It's hardest to get them to understand what I want them to do, and to coordinate my teaching style with the way they are used to being taught. If I keep working with this group, I hope to make some materials to use and individualize a bit more because as a group there are a few who are just copying the others and a few who always jump ahead and don't give the others a chance. James and Tanielu have joined in my group as they are the same age, and can practice these skills as well. They enjoy getting to know the other kids. They each have already found friends, but only get to see them at school time. The kids call me Mrs. Jennifer Apisai because they also call Mama Mrs. Apisai. So, when they arrive they say Good Afternoon Mrs. Apisai and Mrs. Jennifer Apisai. It's kind of cute. Conn plays with Parker during this time, and yesterday also took his neice Melesiata to play with them too. She's loving the new toys we brought. She's a bit under the weather today and slept during class. After class, we have dinner, get the boys' baths and get them ready and into bed. If they are ready early, they can read or watch a video until bedtime or they fall asleep. That doesn't happen often here because we are definitely on "Kiribati time."
I guess we're doing better, although the kids are still looking for food and drink they like. Conn made lemonade, orangeade, and cocolade (with coconut) which they liked. They don't like toddy (the sap from coconut tree) too much, so we're trying to disguise it as cocolade. Parker likes to eat the baby food prepared for Melesiata so we're not too worried about him.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our first weekend here

It did get a little better, considering the 100% humidity and 90 degree temps. Besides the food, drink and hard sleeping floor, I guess it's not too bad. Saturday, we went to the edge of Betio and sat on the beach a while. The kids played in the sand and put their feet in the water. They found some crabs to chase and Laae dug up a few and put them in a hole together to make them fight. The boys really enjoyed this. Alas, we are in Kiribati so only 50 feet beyond that, some girls from across the road came over to do their business in the lagoon. Thankfully, the boys neither noticed nor made a deal over it. The boys also enjoyed their first Kiribati ice cream on this trip. That might have been a mistake because that's all they want now. Saturday night we had our first "fish and rice" dinner. Really, that's all. All the boys had diarrhea in the night, so we're laying off the fish a bit. Sunday morning we didn't make it out to church in time, but we drove around, showed the boys the church we will be going to, visited Conn's uncle whom he's named after, and visited a store. We didn't buy anything there. The rest of Sunday we hung around the house since Laae and Toamwane had to take the car. We did go for a walk around the village, just to get out of the house, and to show the boys where they live. We got some canned spaghetti for the kids (which they enjoyed). It was sunny all weekend, so my laundry finally dried.
This morning the kids and I went to Bairiki to the library. We were able to check out 3 books, but the pickings are slim. Finding great material to supplement what I brought will be tricky. I think James has already finished all 3 books! When we got to the library, we met a couple of Americans from Knoxville. They're leaving tomorrow, but they are supposed to be coming back. They're missionaries. We're all looking forward to knowing some other Americans here. Now, we're going to enjoy a fresh lobster lunch. Don't be too jealous... ok, it's really good so you can be jealous about that. :)
We're still trying to figure out how to get our pictures from the camera to the computer, so please be patient in that regard. We appreciate your prayers and we need all you can give for this to be a healthy, smooth visit for our family. We're looking forward to receiving snail mail, especially James.
God Bless! We love you all! Jennifer

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Welcome to Kiribati

We arrived in Kiribati around noontime on Thursday, June 25. Mama, Laae, Toamwane, and Melesiata were at the airport to greet us. It was very exciting to finally be here and see our family, although, I really forgot how stinking hot it is here! I wasn't across the tarmac at the airport and the sweat began dripping.
We have yet to get settled into our new home, and some of us are having some trouble adjusting, but the rain has stopped temporarily and I have had a shower. The coffee is on the way, and the boys have made a couple of friends and they found a movie to watch.
Hopefully now we will find food the boys will eat, something for us to drink, sunny weather so our laundry can dry, and space to arrange our things so we won't be in the way.
I'm looking forward to seeing the library, market, and recycling facility. We'll also look for the local school and church.
Parker really enjoys eating the papaya and bananas found here and Tanielu enjoyed the dried fish Conn brought home this morning.
Conn went and got some cabbage seedlings this morning. That will begin his garden.
Tanielu had a spell of wanting strawberries and North Carolina. He's doing better now playing with friends.

extra time in Fiji

Well, thanks to the careful attention of Air Pacific, they neglected to notify us that our flight time was changed from 7:30am as printed on our tickets to 3:30am. Therefore, we got to spend 2 more days in Fiji on the airline's tab. We stayed at Raffles, across the street from the airport and enjoyed sunny days, although not too hot. We decided to rest on Tuesday and enjoy the hotel amenities (pool, billiards, fish pond, yard to play in) and go to bed early. Wednesday we visited the Kula Eco Park. Here we saw Fiji's native plants and animals in a rainforest setting. It was really cool. The kids got to hold lizards, and we saw the Kula, Fiji's national bird. It was a nice day and a pleasant distraction from our delay in travel. We finally headed out Thursday morning to Kiribati, our final destination.
Our stay did have it's downfall... both James and I had our turn at the stomach sickness. We're all feeling better now.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Raining in Fiji

It has been raining here since Friday, and despite this, we are still having fun. The kids are loving playing with their cousins, we have enjoyed visiting our family, and we still are seeing the sights of Suva.
Yesterday was Conn's youngest sister, Fatimah's birthday. She turned 27. We enjoyed a special dinner to honor her. We ate lobster, chicken fried rice, lamb sausage and birthday cake. We went to the city center beforehand, to get Fatimah out of the house, and I got her a necklace with a mother of pearl pendant.
Saturday we went and visited more of Conn's family. These are the ones we stayed with on our last trip through Fiji 4 years ago. We got to see all of the children and the grandchildren. Each of us showed off our newest members. The kids made themselves right at home and had a great time. Tanielu got sick twice, but that really didn't slow him down much. He's doing much better now. Must have been the travelling bug.
This morning we went back into the city while everyone here went to school. We walked through the handicraft center (the kids got necklaces), then had McDonald's for lunch (the beloved cheeseburger!), then headed over to the Fiji Museum. It was quite interesting for me, but not so much for the kids.
We are now back home to enjoy our last few hours with this family before we set out around midnight to go back to the other side of this island to the airport. We fly at 7:30 Tuesday morning to Kiribati.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

ahh... Fiji me

from the fresh orchids in the airport restroom, to the "lovely ladies" waiting to help us find what we needed upon arrival, to the eager taximen, and the refreshing breeze and beautiful foliage of this tropical island, we are ready to be "Fiji-ed"!
We rented a car, grabbed a coffee, put our extra luggage that wouldn't fit in the car (and we thought we wouldn't need) in the storage room at the airport, loaded up the car and set off to the other side of the island to our family in Suva. We did make a stop for diaper change and ice cream (not realizing that it was only 9 in the morning, but it's a milk product, right?) and we made it to Suva around lunchtime. We're staying with Conn's older sister, Danietta and her family. The kids are loving spending time with their cousins and were bored stiff while the others were at school this morning. Now Conn, James and Tanielu have gone with Conn's brother-in-law, Katirite and the 3 boys of this family to the park to play for a while and run out their boredom. I get time on the internet after the power has been off all day, and Parker is playing with his auntie.

We're on our way!

This adventure starts out very similarly to one about 9 years ago when I set off for Kiribati for the first time in the Peace Corps: "I've packed my bags, repacked and repacked and repacked and still my bags are overweight." I also reminisce as I wonder "What have I gotten myself into this time?" Well, it turns out that our bags weighed in under our allotted amount and travelling to the other side of the world is not as bad as one might think. We came armed with bribes of gum and electronic devices and when all else might fail, we have the children's Benadryl and we're not afraid to use it!
It turns out that the first flight of only under an hour was a good thing so the kids could play with everything on the plane and be the curious children they are, and the surrounding passengers only had to put up with us for a short time. After dinner in the Charlotte airport and getting on the next flight to LA, we thought the kids would be tuckered out and bed down at their normal bedtime. We did not forsee them being seated so closely to two other children close to their ages and similar electronic devices to keep their conversations flowing. Needless to say, there was enough excitement to keep them up for the entire 5 hour flight. We collected ourselves upon arriving in LA, apologized to the old man sitting next to us, and went on our way to the international terminal and checking in with Air Pacific. We scarfed down our last bite of McDonald's hamburgers (note to parents: do not offer your children their first Big Mac at 11:30pm with only 15 minutes to eat it!), and proceeded through security and to the very end of the terminal to board our plane. We saw a couple of Kiribati folk that Conn knows and ended up sitting near one on the plane. We sat in the first row behind first class and had the extra leg room for the kids to move around in, and the bassinet for Parker to sleep in... both blessings. James and Tanielu were asleep before the plane left the terminal, and Parker was shortly after reaching our cruising altitude. No Benadryl needed, although Parker was close. We all got some sleep but not nearly what any of us needed. Everyone did great despite the circumstances. Parker started getting antsy about an hour before we landed, but we walked around the airplane a couple of times and he waved at the other passengers as they smiled and adored him. Upon our arrival, we took a smooth path through immigration and customs in Fiji. The customs official looked at our mountain of 9 checked bags and 5 carry ons, taller than I am, and asked "Is that all you have?" Good to hear a sense of humor at 5:30 in the morning.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Start up

Two days before leaving- does anyone have a bag?