Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Island TidBits

Well, when I first started my blog, it was supposed to be about all of the adventures we are having while living here. I didn't realize it was going to turn into "Look how cute my baby is!" Blog. Yeah...well...she is pretty cute...but that's beside the point! But the more I think about it...that IS the point! Living down here has been rough, and fun, and crappy, and exciting, and frustrating, and relaxing, and everything all rolled into a big ball of St. Maarten. I figure that my posts are becoming less about the island because I'm getting more and more used it....and the blog is getting more and more about Ella because she surprises me every day with new adventures! Haha! :) Hers are just as frustrating sometimes, but are much more rewarding in the end....we hope! Ha! Just kidding.

So here are a few little island stories to help me remember them in years gone by...and so my faithful readers can get a little kick out of it.

The Ox Is In The Mire...Well...He's Just Going to Have to Stay There...

A few Sundays ago, we decided to have a new student/member, Rick, over for dinner. He is by himself, so I figured he is probably getting sick of frozen food and the restaurants near campus. So I invited him over for sushi and chicken. We told him we would pick him up at 5:00.

Dinner was aaalllll nice and ready about 4:50 (perfect timing) and I told Tom to go get Rick. I started putting all the rice in a bowl, and setting the food on the table: yakitori chicken, sushi rice, sliced crab, mango, cucumber, and avocado for sushi, and some juice to drink. I go into the pantry to pull out my seaweed wrappers and open the package....there is only one left. Ohmygoodness....I could've SWORN I had a full package...but apparently not. So when Tom and Rick walked in the door, I said, "I have to go to the store!" And ran to the car!

Well, the island kind of shuts down on a Sunday...and especially a Sunday afternoon. So I go to the Food Express...nothing. I go to Gourmet Marche...closed. The I proceeded to go into every single scary little "market" store in all of Simpson Bay! Yes...every one....even that scary one on the corner next to that Robbie Lottery place just before you turn to go to Cole Bay. Yeah...even the PeiKing Market didn't have any seaweed wrappers! I asked the clerk at every store and every single one gave me the blankest stare. So I just went to look myself. Nothing. Oh, every clerk was Asian, too! Mmmhmm....the scariest store was definitely the PeiKing Market. I don't think I'll be going back! Ha!

So I had to return to home empty handed and thoroughly embarrassed that I didn't have the MAIN thing for sushi! *sigh* We tried wrapping the sushi with plastic wrap and then peeling the wrap off...it didn't really work....Note to self: Be Prepared.

Seminary...Is It Really a Class if No One is Learning?

As many of you know, I am the current seminary teacher for our little Branch. I did it all last year, too, so I was feeling very prepared and excited to start Book of Mormon. No one showed up. Well, Junior showed up, and Elizabeth (the young adult institute teacher, because none of HER students showed up either!). Turns out one of my students, Franz, is going to a different church because his girlfriend is going there....mmmhmm....he was one who stopped coming to my lessons after the little "chastity" talk! Sooo yeah. I'm not sure where the other students were, though? Oh well...we'll send the missionaries after them.

Anyway, we started the lesson with "What IS the Book of Mormon" and "How is it different/similar to the Bible". Junior has never read the Book of Mormon...and the only person he could name me was "Mormon". Yeah...it's going to be a long semester. We actually spent a good deal of the lesson trying to explain that the Book of Mormon is what makes our church a little different....mmmhmm...

Piano Students...How Much Am I Getting Paid For This???

I teach piano lessons two days a week down in Philipsburg, and one lesson in my home. On Mondays I teach from 3:15-6:30 and on Fridays it is 3:30-5:30. Each parent pays $65 for a 45 minute lesson, split between two children. That may sound like a lot...but it is $65 for the ENTIRE MONTH. I tried to do the math, and I think I get paid about $7 an hour. That is somewhat depressing. Back home I charged $40 an hour...per lesson....per kid. I never did group lessons and they had to practice, or I would drop them. Things are a little different here. The parents don't care if the kid doesn't practice. I've had one mother tell me that her daughter doesn't have time to practice. I told her it was a waste of time to teach her then if she isn't going to practice. She said the last piano teacher didn't tell her that, so maybe it was me. *sigh* wow.

I also have a couple of brother/sister teams. They gang up on me and make fun of 1. How fast I talk. 2. That I am from California. 3. That I've lived in the snow (some students have a hard time believing me about that...) and 4. I have red hair. I have one student who is constantly petting my head. Bizarre...

All in all, the lessons are feeling like a success. They are slowly progressing and the ones who practice are actually getting better (imagine that!). They do say the funniest things to me, though, example:

Me: Okay, Kishon (a boy), you have to play middle C first, for two beats. Do you see that? That is a half note.
Kishon: No, it's not.
Me: Yes, it is. A half note is an empty note with a stem. Remember? We talked about this...
Kishon: How do I know you're telling me the truth?
Me: What???
Kishon: You could be lying to me.
Me: Why would I lie to you?? I'm supposed to be teaching you!
Kishon: Maybe....we'll see....

Ha! It was very funny :) If he makes a mistake he always stops and goes, "Okay wait...wait.....wait......*thinking* Okay....wait....." Ha! It is very funny :) Example 2:

Jhuwon: I practiced a lot this week!
Khrystal (his sister: No you didn't!
Jhuwon: Yes, I did! Khrystal, Shut up!
Me: Jhuwon, did you really practice?
Jhuwon: YES!
Me: Are you lying to me?
Jhuwon: Yes...I mean...no...I mean...okay....I was GOING to practice....
Me: Okay, Jhuwon, thinking about practicing and actually practicing are two different things you know...
Jhuwon: Not always.
Me: *confused* I guess if you're practicing thinking?
Jhuwon: Exactly. You talk too fast.

The lady I teach piano lessons for is super fabulous, though. Her name is Bernadine Van Veen and her husband, Herad, is about a million years old! I can't tell how old she is, though...but she's kind of old, too. She is a sweet little black lady from Holland, and her husband is as white as they come. They are very sweet together. She picks me fruit from her trees and shows them to me. They are very strange fruits. She tells me how to prepare them and even cooked me up a breadfruit once! The most recent fruit was a "sugar apple" Not very good. She also gave me something called a "Sweet Tomato", I think? It looks like a grape tomato, but it grows on a tree and has a REALLY sweet flavor. Very strange! Haha! She was also the one who recommended me to the crazy fruit lady on the side of the road, who definitely has the BEST prices on plantains, avocados, and mangos! She is crazy though! Haha! :) I'll try and snap a picture of her...

Anyway, that is about all for now. So many interesting things happening on the island that I just don't even really notice them anymore! :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kids Do the Darndest things!

Funny stories about Ella :)

Story #1 - Keep in mind that Ella doesn't really talk yet. She says a few words, but no sentences or anything.
This morning, Tom was trying to discipline Ella by saying, "Ella, I'm the boss!" So then I say, "Ella...who's the boss?" And she points to herself! Ha! It was so funny! :)

Story #2
Ella has a bad habit of going through all the CD cases, emptying the CD's out, or putting them in the Wii (Yes, she is WAY too smart). She always gets in trouble for doing that, so I don't know why she keeps doing it! We usually put her in time out or something. So this evening, Ella pulls out the basket with all the DVD's and Tom says, "Ella...don't you touch those! Put those back!" She looks up...waves to him and says, "Bye...bye...." telling him to go away! Ha! It was so funny!! :D Silly girl is getting too smart for her own good.

We think she said her first sentence today, "I want more." Interesting...I wonder what this says about her personality!? This could be good...or bad...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My busy child! :)

So Ella is getting bigger and bigger every day, of course. And she is getting busier and busier...and faster and faster....and noisier and noisier! Ha!

This is her playing "monkey" and climbing all over everything.

This is her just out of the bath. She is kind of making a goofy-lookin' face, but ya know...sometimes kids look silly :)
Now she is giving her "seducing" stare. :) Ha! I love it!
She often likes to empty her toy bucket and then sits in it and plays with her toys inside the bucket. It is pretty funny :)

Silly girl. Still no talking. She says a few words like, "Puppy" "baby" "Momma" "Da-" and "Car" "Boat" "Bye" "Hi", but no sentences...still patiently waiting... :)

Book Review

Yep! It's that time again - another Book Review Post!

You may wonder where I find all this time to read so many books, well, the answer is simple:

1. I am an astoundingly fast reader
2. I live on a tropical island with nothing to do.
3. My child likes to play by herself, giving me a lot of time to myself.

So yeah, here are my most recent reads:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. My next book club book. Yes, the title is a mouthful, but it is REALLY good! It takes place during World War II, and I sort of thought it was going to be another holocaust book, but it isn't. It takes place in England during the occupation. The Potato Peel Pie society is an underground "book" club that takes care of each other. The whole book is written in letters and notes. It is a really quick and fun read. There are parts that I literally laughed out loud, and that is hard to do in a book that takes place during a war!

Year of Wonders. Very interesting book. It is about a woman living in England when the plague breaks out. There are some slow parts of this book, but overall it was very interesting. It helps you get a look into the every day activities of an individual during that time period. Some of the characters are very superstitious, others are fanatically religious, etc. This book also helps you appreciate being born in this day and age because woooooweeee! Let me tell you about hygiene! Haha! A quick read.

The Red Tent. Wow. Very fast read. VERY interesting. This is the story of Jacob and his sons (yes, from the Bible) from the point of view of his only daughter, Dinah. It is about all the women in that group: Rachel, Leah, Bilhah, etc. I really enjoyed this book. There are some pretty risque parts, so you can just skim over that, but overall it was really well written. I don't necessarily agree with everything the author is suggesting, but some of it really makes you think. Another book that helps you appreciate living now! Haha! It is cool to finish this book and then read Genesis chapters 28-34. It definitely makes you think.... :)

The Weight of Silence. Just a random book I picked out from Costco when I was home. Another quick read. The book is written like The Poisonwood Bible, where each chapter is from a different point of view. This was a quick read, but it was just okay. A lot of the plot was predictable, but I did like the different points of view. The plot is that there are two girls, best friends, who go missing. The one girl, Callie, doesn't speak because she was traumatized as a child, but no one really can figure out why she doesn't talk. So they go missing, and it is all the different people around them trying to find them and deal with it. The ending is pretty good, even though some of it is predictable. A fast read, even though it is kind of long.

Shanghai Girls. Boo. I did NOT like this book. I kept thinking it was going to get better and better and it never did! Normally I like Lisa See, but this one was a huge downer! NOTHING good happens! It is about these two sisters who get sold off as wives to these two guys that are moving to San Fransisco and all their adventures. The only cool thing about this book is that the whole book is written from the older sisters point of view, so she assumes things that are incorrect. It is interesting to have a book where the narrator is false in her assumptions. So that was interesting. Other than that, I could've done without this book.

Woo! Another Wheel of Time book! This one started out REALLY slow and it took me quite a while to get into it, but man...once it gets going, it REALLY gets going! Again, another fabulous book from this series :)

The Alchemist. Very interesting and deep. It is sort of like The Shack, where it is somewhat mystical and religious. The story is about a young boy trying to find "treasure" and his life that he builds around that. It is all about self discovery and inner truth. I really liked it. It is really short, but not a very quick read. You have to sit and think about what the author is telling you. Again, I don't necessarily agree with all of its ideas, but it does make you think :)

Okay, that is all the books I've read in the past month or so...I'm not sure when the next book review post is coming, so keep an eye out! :) Haha!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Here we go! Some funny videos!

Next events of our vacation! :)

The first picture is on a lemon dessert I was determined to try and make! It is lemon souffle inside the shell of a lemon! Yes, those are lemons off the tree in our backyard: Meyer Lemons. Delicious! The whole recipe was kind of tricky. It was a good thing Mom was there to help :) The entire recipe said it would take 20 minutes...it took us an hour and a half! haha! Oh well :) They turned out pretty yummy! I'm not sure if I would make it again. I guess I'm not the biggest souffle lover. I mean, I love lemons...but it kind of turned out like soggy lemon bread and my mom said that's how all souffles are in texture. Soooo yeah...successful recipe...but not going in my recipe book :) They sure looked pretty though. (I also don't know why that part is underlined?)

While we were on break, we did a couple fabulous activities! Of course, I didn't take pictures of a lot of them because I am terrible at taking pictures! Ah! Here are some, though :)

We took in a wonderful concert at the Hollywood Bowl - love it! We packed our picnic dinner up "fancy style" including a fruit salad, a caprese salad, shrimp cocktail, and croissant-wiches. Yummy! The concert was starring Yo-Yo Ma and conducted by Placido Domingo. It was Placido's debut as a conductor...I definitely think he should stick to singing. As my piano teacher said, "Once they're good at something, they think they're good at EVERYTHING!" Ha! So true Peter :)

The concert was good, though! They played a Dvorjak concerto then a Tchaikovsky symphony. Very lovely.

This is the backdoor onto the stage! Yes, that is a big scary security guard! :)


These next pictures are exactly in reverse, since I always forget that Blogger uploads them in reverse! Sooo, you'll get our trip to Disneyland in rewind!

Little Ella was SUPER pooped after a busy day of Disneyland and NO nap! She was quite the little Angel though.
She love love LOVES the Carousel and did NOT want to get off. Definitely not. Silly sweet pie :) She didn't like all the rides, though. Nooooo sirreeee... she did NOT like the Snow White ride. It made her cry. She also didn't like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, nor the Pinocchio ride. I forget how scary those rides can be if you think they are REAL! She did like It's a Small World, though, and the Winnie the Pooh ride and the Dumbo ride. She also likes Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. We're not sure what she thought of the Buzz Light Year ride. Tom and I sure liked the new Toy Story ride, though! Suh-weet! I totally worked Tom....that's 'cause I'm a professional! Ha! Disneyland was pretty warm that day, but it wasn't very crowded - so that is always nice! Ella was so cute in her Minnie Mouse outfit and everyone would say "Oh look at that cute Minnie Mouse!" when she walked by. Of course, I was so proud :) Soooo sweet...

While we were home, we also went to the Ventura County Fair. Only me and my mom wanted to go, but thankfully the rest of the family was good sports...so we all went! It was Fuh-REEZING at the fair...ooohmygoodness. We were NOT prepared for that. We walked around for a bit and then Ella went on a PONY RIDE! Yes...the pony ride. Oh mygoodness...this child is going to need a pony when she gets older! She LOVED it! Funny story about the pony ride:

*Standing in line*
*Next in line*
Me: Ella! Do you want to ride the pony?
Ella: *laugh!*
Guy running the pony booth: Are you going to walk next to the pony while she rides?
Me: Yes.
Guy: Okay, you have to wait till the next pony, this one doesn't like people walking next to it.
Me: Okay, that's fine.
Me: *putting Ella to the side waiting for the next horse*
Ella: *looks at me...looks at the guy...looks at grandpa...looks at the girl who cut in front of her...looks back at me and starts to cry!*
Me: Ella! No, its okay sweetie! You go on the next pony!
Ella: *still crying*
Guy: Okay, here we go!
Me: *Places Ella on pony*
Ella: *LAUGH!!*

*Pony ride is over*


Yes, it was fabulous :) We got a REALLY cute picture of her on the pony. She is even wearing a pink cowgirl hat. Unfortunately I left the picture at my parents house. Darn it.

Lake Powell!

So, I haven't posted in a long time, so you are getting posts in a non-chronological order. This is what I did:

Four days in Utah for Audrey's Wedding - post coming
Two weeks in California for Grandparents 50th Anniversary - post coming
One week in St. Maarten with Tom - post coming
Two weeks at home - probably not a post coming
One week at Lake Powell, Tom met us half way through the week - Current Post
One week at Home - post coming
Back on the island.

So you are getting posts in a non-chronological order :)

Here is Lake Powell *love sigh* pretty much the greatest place on earth. Seriously.

I think heaven will be like Lake Powell - boat rentals and gas will be free and no one will ever get hurt trying to wakeboard/tube/water wienie/water ski. :)

We took a hike through these Narrows. It was REALLY cool!!!

We had to swim through part of it. Wow...it was fuh-reeeeezzzing!!! I don't think that water had ever seen the sun! BRR!!! :) It was kinda scary...hopefully nothing was living in the water...ew...

Here we are a hikin'! Very fun :)

Tom and Ella on the water wienie. We didn't let Ella ride it, but we would sit her on it with Tom and someone would push them out a ways, then pull them back with the rope. She LOVED it. Expect a video soon.

The whole crew on the water wienie. No, I didn't water wienie. I've decided that it is more fun watching other people fall off and get hurt, than being the one everyone happens to fall on! :)

The boys went on a hike up to some restored Indian Ruins. I've done it many a time, so I sat on the boat with Ella. She loves the boat :)

Dad and Ella at Rainbow Bridge - the worlds largest natural bridge. It is so beautiful!

Family portrait. Yes, we are all in our swimsuits. No, you don't wear normal clothes at Lake Powell. Just swimsuits...all day...every day. You can choose to wear pajamas/underwear if you choose, but no one is judging if you just stay in your suit. Ha!

The weather was PERFECT the whole trip and our little camping spot was in the shade most of the day, so Ella could play in the sand without having to worry about the sand being too hot or getting sunburned. She LOVED throwing rocks into the water and yelling "OH BOY!" It is SO cute!!!

Tubing maniacs. I think that is my cousin Justine, Andrew, and Seth.

Ella jumping into the water off the back of the house boat.

Grandpa and Cousin Kyle swimming. Ella loooooves Kyle. She goes up to him and says "Baby!" And gives him a big hug. Sometimes her hugs are a little rough...but its just a lot of love to show! :)

Grandma and Ella swimmin' in the water! This girl is a water baby! She LOOOOVES the water!

Me....trying to wakeboard. So scary. I got up every single time, though! I've tried about four or five times before this on different boating trips and could NEVER get up. One lesson from Seth the Magnificent Teacher and I was up! I even went in and out of the wake a couple times!! :)

Ella sneaking into the water :) Sneaky sneaky.

Our trip to Lake Powell was FABULOUS! There were a lot of people on the boat: Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, Daniel, Barbara, Baby Kyle, Me, Tom, Ella, Kathryn, Andrew, Justine, and Seth. It was a little crowded, but not too bad. The weather was hot but not BLISTERING hot like it normally is. The lake wasn't very crowded and the waterline was just right. The food was wonderful, as always, especially the home made ice cream and frozen otter pops. We went on a huge, long, cool hike. We saw Rainbow Bridge and the Indian Ruins and had ice cream at Dangling Rope Marina. We went water skiing/wake boarding, tubing, water wienie-ing. We played cards and ate a lot of candy. Read a lot of books. All in all it was quite the fabulous week :) The babies were well behaved, too! They hardly ever cried. Ella had to keep her life jacket on ALL day, but she didn't seem to mind - so that was nice. And Kyle was super well behaved, as usual. It was a very fun trip :) Hopefully we're around for next years trip, too! I think I've only missed two trips to Lake Powell in my entire life. *siiiigh* Loooove Lake Powell :)