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More on Storms, Sports, and School in Guam

Continued from my previous post Welcome to Guam:2002 (part 12).

“8/21/04 (e-mails from me to family back home in the US):  We’ve got a typhoon headed our way.  We have everything brought inside, shutters closed, and we’re hunkered down, yet once again.  The kids are all excited, but I am just dreading it.  I keep hoping that it will go north, but we’re gonna get something.  We’re enjoying the Olympics, when it comes on.  We get some live and some replays.  I’ve got laundry to do before electricity and water go out.  Love, SR”

8/24/04:  We were prleasantly surprised to be without power less than 24 hours this time.  The kids were happy to miss a day of school and reluctantly went back today with wind and rain.  Hopefully that will be gone soon.  Our yard is a mess, but nothing is broken so far.  Some of the island is still without power and water.  G8r is really busy working 14 hours a day, doing “cool” stuff.  He also moves around a lot.  Last week he was in a tent, this week he says he got lucky and is in a trailer with a bed.  He said the cots in the tents are hard on his shoulder (where he broke his collar bone…about 6 months earlier he had broken his collar bone and punctured his lung in a bike racing accident).  But next week he moves yet again to another tent.  He’s been there (Iraq) a month now, so 5 more to go.  Love you all, SR”

“9/15/04  Subject: Ivan (this was written during the time period when the 4 hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne – hit Florida ) Well, it looks like we escaped this one.  Unfortunately it is going to make landfall (if it turns more to the north – which is what the forecasters expect it to do) in about 36 hours at Pensacola.  It still has a nw path, and we are hoping that it goes on to Texas.  It has gotten weaker but is still a category 3, and that may change again also.  It can go up or down.  After it is all over if we need to go to Pensacola and check on your house, we can.  Everyone from Key West up on the west coast of Florida was very concerned, but Ivan kept on a nw course.  Really tore up Jamaica.  New Orleans is bracing, and if it makes landfall there they expect flooding up to about 20 feet.  That will put the entire city under water.  It has been quite a summer.  More later and love to all, Milly, Mama, Grandma”

“9/15/04:  RE:  Ivan  We’ve been watching on tv here; they seem to have much more coverage on your storms than on ours.  Thankfully we don’t have any right now.   The kids are all having fun playing flag football.  Mr DL’s position is quarterback mainly, and he loves it when his passes are caught; when they aren’t he gets frustrated.  Jay is playing several positions, qb, receiver, and seems to like them all.  Lulu is playing center; she gets to hike the ball.  I think she likes it, but I think she would also like to receive some too.  They’ve only played a couple games each, so there’s still more season to play.  They are all 3 in scouts again – liking it very much.  I got Jay pushed up to pre-algebra at school as I found out a few other 7th graders had been this year.  He is making an A+ so far this year, so I requested he be pushed ahead also.  He started that class today; I may need to help catch him up; we’ll see how it goes.  I am also campaigning for him to be in the gifted program.  If I had not actually gone up to the school several times so far this year to talk to the counselor, he wouldn’t even be considered.  I just don’t get it.  He was 1 of only 2 straight A students last year, and he was voted by all his teachers to be the male student of the year.  Now if that doesn’t say a lot there, why do I need to go up there and beg for him to be tested?  I’ve got chores to do, so better be off.  Love, SR”

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Space-A’ing From Guam

Continued from my earlier post Welcome Home:  Guam 2002 (part 6).  Space-A means “Space Avaiable” for flights that military planes take between bases.  They are free to military, families, and retirees when there is space available after military personnel and gear are on a plane.  Sometimes the space is jump seats in a C-130.  These were the best for my kids when they were young because the noise  from the plane drowned out any noise my kids made, and the crew loved taking  kids around showing them the cockpit, etc.  Things you sometimes have to have for these flights are a lot of time and patience.

“6/12/03:  Well, we have had a day of it here in the Pacific.  We are still on our little island of Guam.  The flight that we wanted to get on ended up being for duty personnel only – after we sat in the terminal for 2 hours.  Oh well.  I think there is another flight we will try to get on in the morning.  They couldn’t tell me this afternoon how many, if any, seats there will be on that one.  So, we shall see.  I started the day at 6:30 when my alarm went off.  A pilot from the squadron was going to stop by the house on his way to work to pick up something and ended up not coming because he got called in at 3:30 a.m. for a search and rescue flight.  Anyway, I woke up to the sound of “drip, drip, drip” also.  I thought a faucet was left on.  I got up and my feet went “squish, squish, squish.”  The toilet in the hall bathroom got backed up last night sometime, and the flap did not lay back down like it should, so our hallway and about  2 feet into each of our bedrooms was in about an inch of water.  I went to the BX on base here to get a shop vac and they were out.  I was running around getting things from outside inside (getting ready for our trip) and then also had to go to KMart to get a wet/dry vac – at least they had one – and a cool one at that.  It has a neat blower that disconnects from the top also.  Anyway, we barely made it to the terminal to check in, but then we ended up not going.  So, we are on our way to bed and hopefully will be on our way out tomorrow.  Love ya, SR, Jay, Lulu, and Mr DL”

“6/13/03:  Travel Diary, June 13 (Friday, the 13th!)  G8r, I just got off the phone with your mom and told her we are trying for another flight this afternoon going to McChord AFB (Tacoma), Washington.  There are 10 seats…  I think there are a few more flights this weekend going a variety of other places, Wicita, KS, Trenton, NJ, Yuma, AZ, and Travis (San Fran).  Hopefully the next e-mail will be from Florida! ~SR”

“6/13/03:  (To G8r) SR just called.  They are scheduled to leave Guam in about 1.5 hours and fly to McChord AFB.  They should arrive there late tonight.  She will probably come here via Southwest Airlines.  We are looking for them to be here sometime late on the 14th.  Mama”

“6/13/03:  I am sure the kids will be happy to get back to Florida.  It gives me a sense of ease to know that they are back there.  It will be good for the kids to be around you and Daddy.  Sometimes they drive SR nuts.  Growing up with two sisters, she still isn’t used to the dumb things boys do.  Just tell her some of the dumb stuff R (my husband G8r’s brother) and I did.  It was neat to talk to you from the beach in Fujarah.  Give the kids a hug for me.  Love, G8r”

Another thing about space-a flights, they may not take you to your final destination.  We were trying to get to Florida from Guam, but we only got as far as Washington state.  So once we arrived, I was on the phone making reservations with a commercial airline to get us the rest of the way there.

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Guam, Sweet, Guam

Continued from my earlier post Welcome Home:  Guam 2002 (part 2).  These were e-mails to the family back in the States.

“12/12/02:  Hi, I just wanted to let you all know that we just survived a super typhoon here in Guam.  I know that Guam is not national news, so I thought I’d send out this quick e-mail.  Because we are out in the middle of the Pacific, the recovery period could take a long time.  This is supposed to have been the worst typhoon in a really long time.  We have no electricity and may not for 1 to 2 months.  But I think more things are up here at G8r’s office because they have military lines.  We have low water pressure and it may be contaminated, so we are drinking bottled water.  G8r and I sat at the gas station for a total of 8 1/2 hours to get 15 gallons of gas for our generator which may not last long.  We were the 5th to the last in line to get gas, and now the stations are all closed on the island to anyone except emergency vehicles.  We are not sure about the phone lines.  We keep hearing that it could be 2 years without phones (does that sound insane, or what?!), but then I just heard they may be back up.  So…Santa may also be late this year at our house.  We had some big presents in mind, so we were waiting a bit before getting those.  I wanted to send out an e-mail to you all if you don’t hear from us in a while.  I have boxes all ready to send out for Christmas, but there is not mail service right now, so they may be a bit.  Well, I should get off G8rs’computer now so he can get back to work.  I really miss you guys (and electricity right now).  But we are actually not doing too badly right now.  It’s one big camping trip – woo hoo!  Love you all! ~SR”

We ended up being without electricity for about 2 weeks, so it wasn’t too awful.  The military had strong back-up generators, so I went to my husband’s office a couple of times to check e-mail on his work computer.  We had a window air conditioning unit that we installed in the master bedroom, and the 5 of us slept in there a lot of nights.  The kids were very excited because Christmas break started early and ended up lasting a month. 

“12/31/02:  Well, we are on the count-down here.  Just a few more hours and it will be 2003.  I hope 2002 was good to each of you.  We had a new girl cousin join us early in the year.  I don’t think Lulu will ever forgive me for not trying for another girl to give her a little sister, but now she has A!  I got my dream of living in Coronado, California for a majority of the year. I also got to see my mom for the summer; that was such a wonderful, special treat!  Then in October we headed to this tropical island in the Pacific.  Little did we know what surprises this tiny place had in store for us.  But you know, I think it made all 5 of us appreciate things a little more too.  And we found we can do without all of the conveniences (well, maybe for just a little while) without going too wacky.  I am extremely grateful that we have each of you in our lives.  It would be so much nicer if we could just live a bit closer together.  Well, I guess that is a little bit our fault.  It’s been great seeing the world with the Navy, but we’ll be ready to settle down in a few years when G8r retires.  Travelling is wonderful, but it’s always great to go home.  I wanted to tell you I finally got to the post office today with your Christmas packages.  Just be on the lookout for them in the next couple of weeks.  I hope 2003 is good to each of you.  Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers for us – I can always feel them.  Love, SR”

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Welcome Home: Guam 2002

We arrived in Guam in October of 2002 after spending a glorious year in one of  my favorite cities in the US, Coronado, CA.  It is a beautiful city with beautiful weather and wonderful people.  We rented in a neighborhood with million dollar homes facing a golf course and lived paycheck to paycheck to do it.  At least it was only a year!  Or, too bad it was only a year!

I remember stepping outside the airport in Guam for the first time and thinking, “I am in  H * E * double hockey sticks!”  The humidity had to have been well over 100%, and we could hardly breathe because the air was so thick.  But eventually my Florida body got used to the heat and humidity, and we settled into our life on the little Pacific island.  And then December 8, 2002 came along.

“HAGATNA, Guam (AP)–Typhoon Pongsona slammed into Guam on Sunday with intense rain and winds gusting to at least 117 mph, forcing thousands of residents to seek safe shelter.  Six men were reported missing after a gasoline tank at Apra Harbor exploded during the storm, Civil Defense officials said.  Efforts to reach the scene were hampered by storm debris.  Gov. Carl Gutierrez declared a state of emergency and activated the Guam National Guard to help with disaster response and recovery efforts.  The Civil Defense Command Center received reports of downed utility poles, tree limbs and flying debris.  At least one home was believed destroyed, but there were no initial reports of serious injuries.  By noon, about 2,271 people were staying in shelters, said Vince Leon Guerrero, Department of Education response activity coordinator.  The maximum wind speed of 117 mph was clocked before the National Weather Service’s wind sensor failed, along with its radar.  With no radar, the NWS had to use satellite imagery coming in every hour to locate the eye of the storm.  With winds at the center of storm estimated at 150 mph, the storm gained ‘supertyphoon’ status.  As of 5 p.m. (2 a.m. EST), the storm was 35 miles east-northeast of Guam, moving northwest at 12 mph, officials said.  ‘We’re still in the eye wall,’ NWS forecaster Sarah Prior said.  ‘We don’t know exactly how long, but maybe in the next three hours we should be out of the eye wall and the winds should begin to taper off.’  She said typhoon-force winds of 75 mph were expected until early Monday, ‘but it should be decreasing.’  Earlier forecasts predicted the 30- to 35-mile wide eye of the storm would go directly over the island.  After passing Guam, the storm was expected to skirt neighboring Rota, one of the Northern Mariana Islands, forecasters said.  Guam is a U.S. territory located west of the international date line, about 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii.  As the storm approached, Guam Civil Defense officials urged residents to seek shelter in designated schools.  Celina Quidachay and her family, who recently finished rebuilding their home destroyed July 5 by Typhoon Chataan, sought refuge at Astumbo Elementary School in Dededo.  ‘It’s a lot to handle,’ Quidachay said.  ‘The worst part is waiting to find out, to see what the kids and I still have.’  More than 400 people filled the school, forcing late arrivals to seek shelter elsewhere.  Some residents checked into the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, which started the day at 70 percent occupancy.  Manfred Pieper, the hotel’s general manager, said he expected it to be full by mid-afternoon.  Carlos Camacho of Talofofo moved into the hotel with many family members, including his wife, who is eight months pregnant.  He said he chose to evacuate to the Hilton because the hotel is close to Guam Memorial Hospital.  Meanwhile, long lines formed at gas stations to fill tanks and cans for electrical generators.  At the S&L Mart, residents stocked up on necessities.  ‘They come in here for junk food,’ said Giovanna Leon Guerrero, whose family runs the store in Inarajan.  ‘They get candles and batteries, too.  And ice, water and beer.’  Pongsona passed north of Chuuk state in the Federated States of Micronesia on Saturday.  Although there was some crop damage and minor landslides, there were no reports of serious injuries on the main island of Weno, accordking to Chuuk disaster officials.  The FSM (Federated States of Micronesia) is located about 620 miles southeast of Guam.”

Guam, a US possession, is a tiny island in the west Pacific measuring 30 miles long and an average of 8 miles wide and lies 13 degrees north of the equator.  The temperature varies from about 75 to 85 degrees throughout the year which was awesome for a Florida girl like me – flip flop weather everyday!  Most houses are built to withstand typhoons which are like hurricanes in the States and look like concrete boxes all over the island.  We lived at Andersen Air Force Base at the north end of the island because it has the only military airport (and my husband being a helicopter pilot kind of needed it).  The Naval Base Guam, or Big Navy as it’s sometimes called, is located towards the southend of the island.

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Do Not Pass GO

I was so excited yesterday when we finally got a call from the air conditioner repairman and he said we were next on the list.  He had been working something like 16-hour days since Saturday when summer decided to hit here in Virginia.  We now have closed all of the windows (my sinuses are thankful for that) and have cold air flowing through the house veins once again.

Next item, we had to take my car into the shop Monday for some work on the breaks, tire rotation, oil change, and the little engine check light that lit up on Saturday.  It kind of freaked me out when I checked the car’s manual for what to do when that light comes on, and it said something like, “The car’s battery is discharging.  Go directly to your dealership to have it looked at.”  In other words, Do not pass GO.  Do not collect $200…  Well, I had a car-load of groceries and I didn’t think I needed to be taking them to the dealership.  So, after I got home, I turned the car off thinking that maybe it could be jump-started from my husband’s car or get a tow if that didn’t work.  I let it sit for the weekend in fear that I would get stranded at one of the kids’ games that are usually a 30-minute drive from home.  It started right up Monday morning, and I took it in to the mechanic.  He found that some oxygen sensor for the gas line was broken and replaced it.  Is that all?  $300 later, I was halfway home yesterday afternoon and that dang light came back on.  Back to the mechanic this morning…

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This and That

I am ex-wah-sted!  I ran errands all day long and am still running kids around for their doings.  Well, right now I am taking a break between drop-offs and pick-ups, checking e-mails, etc.  My hip and knee are a little sore from the walking around, but I hope the stretches are helping.  One suggestion I found for the IT band problem is to roll on my side from my hip to my knee on a foam roller to “break up scar tissue.”  I looked at the stores I went to today, but the closest thing I could find was a pool noodle.  I’m not sure that it would work because it is hollow down the center.  I probably need to look at a sporting good store.

My youngest has been asking me to make a list of what I want for my birthday.  My husband made one for himself for Christmas – about a month ahead – and ended up buying half of the things on it – before Christams.  His birthday is 3 weeks after mine, and he already has a list of what he wants on the refrigerator.  I think he’s already bought one item.  Makes me wonder if the list thing is a good idea.  But I went ahead and made a list today while I was shopping; I wrote down a few things and created a “Mommy’s Wants and Wishes” list.  My little one said, “Does it only have chocolate on it?” when I handed it to him.  He knows me too well.  But I added the foam roller and a couple of other things just to make him happy.  I will try to be patient and wait to buy what I don’t get after my birthday – maybe with all of the birthday $$$ I get 🙂

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From NYC to Florida

I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with my daughter this past weekend.  Our trip to NYC was fun and exhausting.  We arrived Thursday night and went to dinner and a play, Mary Poppins.  It was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!!  Really, it was awesome.  Friday we got up (not so) bright and early to a rainy, gray day.  But that didn’t slow us down.  We headed back to Manhatten where my daughter’s choral group performed in the largest cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  Their voices echoed throughout the building; it was amazing.  Next stop was a tour of Radio City Music Hall; the group got to meet 2 of the 200 present-day Rockettes and see how the revolving stage works from down below.  Next was free time for lunch and some souvenir shopping.  That night we saw another play, The Phantom of the Opera.  Saturday we packed up for our 7-hour trip home.  But before we left the Big Apple, we went to Top of the Rock and saw a 360* view of the city 70 stories up.  Afterwards, we had lunch at Hard Rock Café and arrived home just before midnight.

This weekend we head to Florida for Spring Break, and hopefully we will find a place to live when we arrive in June while our house is being built.  I can’t believe we are 70 days out from our pack-out.  My husband and I sat down last night with our kids after dinner to talk about how they feel about this move.  It will be different than any other they have done.  I hope that we can make this move as easy as we can on them.  Some of our (my husband’s and my) anxieties have transferred to them, so I’ve got to work harder at trying to remain as calm as I can with this move.  I tend to seem a little stressed at packing time.  I just feel like there is so much to do, and I want it all done as close to perfection as possible.  I need to try to not get anxious when things don’t go like they are supposed to and just breathe.

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