"That's My Wife"

So it's 12:45ish Jan. 1 2011. Lauren is in bed because I'm making her clean the church with me bright and early. In a few days I think we hit our 6th month mark in Guam (Lauren is so much better with dates).

Since taking this crazy leap of faith to an island few will ever experience...I have continually said "that's my wife."

Here is my attempt to express my love to "boo-bear" and remind you all of that girl you probably miss dearly:

I wish you all could have seen "boo-nuts" (don't judge our nicknames) at my work Christmas bbq. Dancing and Singing in the parking lot, she put on one of the best shows ever for some of the best co-workers ever. That night ended with "that's my wife." (Sorry no picture of the dance, too busy laughing)

Christmas day...we took a lot of pictures and I'm sure Lauren will post some of the better pictures, but this one is my favorite. If there is a camera I'm making sure my euro-trunks are on! It takes a special women to put up with me. I'm pretty sure I'm doing/saying a lot of stuff right before this picture was taken. And look! It worked. "That's my wife."

Not sure if she's posted this picture before on the blog... But this sums up what I'm trying to get at...She might be your friend, cousin, niece, sister or daughter....but that right there..."that's my wife."


Eat, Drink, and Be Merry {Christmas}

'Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the house
"Traditions are scarce!" I cried to my spouse.
So off to the store with some cash in my hand
To find the goods that would make our night grand.

Martinelli's, summer sausage, and cheeses galore
One movie per night, I can't ask for more!
This holiday season feels more like it should
With family traditions anew in our hood.


The Sun Will Come Out, Tomorrow

"Tooooooooomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow,
you're always a day awaaaaaaay!"

Folks, I'm happier than a little red-headed orphan right now. 2:45 tomorrow afternoon marks the beginning of the glory us teachers know as Christmas break.



Rock on.

My plans are a-brewing: Cooking, baking, lounging, planting, SLEEPING, shopping, beaching, snorkeling, tanning, laughing, Just-Dancing, reading, EATING, scootering, movie-watching...need I go on?

Life is good.


To My Girl, J.

Tonight as I was lying in bed my mind took longer than usual to clear itself and fall into peaceful slumber. One thought triggered another until I realized the importance of today's date. A very special birthday for a very special person. This one's for her.

I wrote this last year for a book the ladies at my church put together.

"But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ."
Mosiah 16:8

It was December 12, 2009, and my father and I were busy finishing up some Christmas shopping. During this time of year, shopping becomes stressful. Parking lots are chaotic, customers are frantic and store clerks are hanging by their last thread of patience. Questions bombard my head like "will he like this?" or "what size does he wear?" and "can I exchange this later?" Despite starting my Christmas shopping in September, I still found myself in the middle of purchase pandemonium in the electronic section of Costco. My last big Christmas purchase lingered before my eyes and, as I pranced through the checkout line, elation filled my body as we exited the warehouse.

Running errands with my father has an advantage: free lunch. As we left the parking lot my father started driving in the opposite direction of our next destination. Maybe there was a new Thai restaurant he wanted to show me? Perplexed, but trusting he knew what he was doing, I went along without questioning him. Not ten minutes had passed before we pulled up to the gates of a cemetery. Baby Jasmine's cemetery. The realization sank in like an anchor to the ocean floor. Tomorrow was her birthday.

Last year my brother and his wife gave birth to their first child, Jasmine Pearl Higgins. The birth of a new baby usually brings joy and excitement, but for my family it was quite different. Ali, my brother's wife, was only half-way through her pregnancy when she went in to labor, and Jasmine only lived for an hour.

Recalling this event filled my heart with sorrow. Weaving our car through the cemetery we passed other families leaving mementos and paying respect to their lost loved ones. I couldn't help noticing all the groups of people with their chairs, picnics, and music desperately trying to feel close to those they missed dearly. Death's sting was still fresh in their hearts, and this was how they treated their pain; spending hours at a cemetery staring at a headstone. It was then my sorrow melted into peace. The sting of baby Jasmine's death is swallowed up in Christ. We will see her again because we are an eternal family.

My father hammered an adornment, a metal Christmas present topped with a green bow, into the ground next to her headstone. The questions that had previously bombarded me were long forgotten, and the only gift I was now thinking about was the gift of eternal life made possible through Jesus Christ. Is there anything more important than this gift? If you ask my brother, his wife, or baby Jasmine, the answer would be, no.

Merry Christmas, Baby J.


"Find your voice, stomp that yard, all that crap..."

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

I love acapella music

Perhaps it's because I'm cheesy. Perhaps it's because my mother's cousins have been singing acapella since I was 4. Perhaps it's because I'm a band nerd and hearing five-part harmonies sung tighter than skinny jeans on Thanksgiving sends chills from my inch-long roots to my unpainted toes.

My current love affair:
The Sing Off.

I love the coordinated outfits, the vocal percussion, the heart, the blood, the sweat and the tears. I even appreciate Nick Lachey's dramatic prompter readings. This stuff thrills me.
I wish I could sing like them. I wish the students at the school I teach spontaneously broke out into song and dance like in Glee.

Unfortunately, our wardrobes are not coordinated (unless you count the uniforms), Sue Sylvester does not roam my halls terrorizing the no-gooders, and my school cannot afford Nick Lachey or a prompter.

C'est la vie.


Chapter 6: All I Want for Christmas is a Christmas Tree

Before anyone gets the wrong idea about this post, let me start with a disclaimer.

*Christmas trees are aplenty here in Guam. We didn't want to buy one.*

I am no Grinch. Just fiscally responsible. What is the point of buying a Christmas tree when we already have one tucked away in my parents' storage unit? But to keep the Christmas spirit alive in our humble abode, I used my connections at work to score some butcher paper. Sprinkle in some Santa hats, a dash of construction paper, a dollop of Baldo's creativity and a pinch of Mariah Carey's Christmas CD, and you get this...

Eat your heart out Rockafeller Center.


Stress Relief

How do I forget about the students who cursed me out and then proceeded to storm out of my room today?

I put on a happy face.

Happy Mustache Monday, everybody.


An Orphan Thanksgiving

This year we spent Thanksgiving with a few other orphans living in Guam without family. Good times were had, yummy food was devoured, and delectable desserts were savored. We all missed spending the holidays with our families, but these folks are as close as it comes to family out here.

Please meet our orphan crew:
From left: Diane, Robert, Tina, Sam, and Baldo

Our dinner didn't start until about 7:30 because we had to wait until Baldo and Tina were done with the news show. Tina let Baldo fill in as co-anchor that night. He did great!

Sam spent all day giving TLC to the turkey...and it was amazing.
Yum, yum, turkey drum!

Finally, the moment to chow arrived.

Can I get a "what-what" for how svelte my main squeeze is looking these days?

What holiday celebration isn't complete without a little Martinelli's? (but literally a little Martinelli's...get it? The bottle is little.)

Because of all the wonderful food, I changed into my comfy clothes about 10 minutes into dinner. Skinny jeans should be prohibited on Thanksgiving Day.
Go Devils!

Please meet our new friend, Black Forrest Cake.
He's definitely the reason I had to change into my comfy clothes.
And yes, I'm eating some leftover cake as I write this post. You would be too if you knew how good it was.

We survived our first holiday away from family, but we thought of them often. This year I'm grateful for the technology that allows us to communicate often with our families. I'm comforted knowing they are a Skype session or a Gmail call away. These luxuries make our long distance from home easier to bear.

We hope your Thanksgiving Day was enjoyable, although we know it's nearly impossible without us there.

I'm only kidding.

Sort of.


Tales of a Scooter Sass

I think my bad luck started when I woke up this morning and found a gecko scurrying across my kitchen floor. It was an omen...I should have known.

On my way to school I passed by a dead dog. Gross, gross, gross. If my misfortune had ended there, the day would have been considered a success.

But if my misfortune had ended there I would not have written this post.

Lauren's Scary Scooter Story

My story is based on five true events.

Event #1
After grading a six-inch high pile of papers (progress reports are due Wednesday) I finally started my journey home. I rounded the first corner and remembered the dead dog I saw earlier this morning. Enter paranoia. I felt uncomfortable driving by the dog without the protection of an enclosed car because I knew it would be surrounded by flies. Convincing myself not to looked failed, and no sooner were my eyes glued to the putrid scene. The dead dog was still there, but so were about a hundred nasty flies. I managed to pry my eyes away from the dog just in time to dodge a horse fly that probably would have knocked me off my scooter if it hit me.

Event #2
Thanking my lucky stars I continued driving on the windy road until I spotted some stray dogs a short distance ahead. I wanted to do everything in my power to prevent another road side fly feast, so I positioned my thumb over my scooter horn ready to sound it if needed. The dogs stayed out of my way, thankfully, but a few moments later I lost myself in deep thought and forgot my thumb was on the horn. Then for some unknown, unintelligible reason my thumb pushed down on the horn startling me to the point of almost falling off my scooter.

Event #3
With my heart racing I zoomed into the jungle canopy and started noticing how windy it was. Naturally this lead me to think about the probability of a snake falling from the trees directly onto my head. Out of nowhere something fell and hit me right on my chest! Maybe it was a huge leaf, a butterfly, or a flying squirrel? It fell so fast my chest felt it before my eyes saw it.

Event #4
Certain that I had seen the worst of my drive home I turned up the hill towards my street. A few yards ahead I saw a man walking a dog on a leash followed by, yet again, another stray dog. As I passed the trio the stray dog wheeled around and started chasing me! If we had been on a flat road that dog would have eaten my scooter dust. Sadly for me, my scooter maxes out at a whoppin' 10mph uphill...so did the dog. In case you didn't know, I am not a huge fan of dogs. I was sure my life was ending at that moment, but my trusty thumb once again found its way to the horn and blasted the dog off my trail. Once more, a crisis was averted.

And finally,

Event #5
Surely I was out of harm's way. Or so I thought. I scoot-scooted my way to the back of our house timid and shaken. All that was left of my journey was to park my scooter on the back porch. But after all the excitement from the fly feast, awkward horn blow, falling unidentified object, and dog chase, my motor skills were impaired. I rode up the ramp and ran my moped right into the wash basin! I definitely won't tell you that I also almost ran into the water heater. Now my candy-apple-red scooter bears an ugly white blemish; a scar that tells the story of Lauren's scary scooter ride.


Here's an Idea... Swass it up on the Beach!

(If you have never heard of Swass, don't worry it means nothing.) I uploaded all these pictures from our young men campout, but then noticed they are in reverse chronological order.

You leave these kids alone for 5 min. and they start doing crazy push-ups.

We drink it straight from the nut, coco nut that is.
Even Cpt. Dr. Pres. Stan Kimball does! (He has a lot of titles)
Camping with these guys is not for everyone.
But views, like this, make it all worth it.
Young Men from the two northern branches went on a morning hike.
Northern coast of Guam.
The hike was more like... a stroll on the beach.
Yigo Branch Young Men.
Old water-well built in the 40's
This was the only water source in the 70's after a major typhoon.
Super clear water.

Part 2 of the stroll.
Cpt. Dr. Pres. Kimball motivating the troops to press forward.
Okay the Night Before: Spent the night playing on the beach and catching...
A flesh-eating baby pre-historic shark fish (or that's what I thought.)
Crazy creatures every where on the beach, and look there's also a crab.
Crab only has one arm, after the kids got to him.
Hunting fish and things in the rocks.
They could have done this all night if we would have let them.
You don't know where that crab has been, don't eat it.
On Guam food is everything. So an overnighter must have a delicious spread.
Bro. Besich provided the super hot Habanero Sausage.
Add some rice (because you add rice to everything) and bbq chicken and you are living the Guam life.
It was 90 degrees all day and all night, aka Fun. But on a side note... these boys are pretty amazing and it is more than a joy to serve them.