Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Island Hopping

This post will be a little off the topic of Okinawa. A large part of our experience involved getting back to our roots, and introducing our children to our culture. This was one of the most exciting opportunities we had. One of the places we traveled to was the island of Guam. Where in the &%$# is Guam, you ask. Don't be shy. I asked the same exact thing when I met Ron. Well, you might want to grab a magnifying glass, because it's not very big...
My husband's father is from Guam and lived in Guam. My father-in-law was diagnosed with colon cancer before we got there and he was due to undergo surgery to remove part of his colon. So, along with other family members from the mainland U.S., we traveled to Guam to be with him.
Guam hits you right after you get off the airplane with a wall of pure humidity. It falls in the Tropic of Cancer, just north of the equator, so it is a tropical paradise. I could see truly living off the land with the different native bananas, coconuts, papaya, mango, avocado, breadfruit, and guava trees. We also had to acclimate to the constant company of chickens running around everywhere. You would think this would make for prime free range chickens, but these chickens are rarely eaten. They're just part of the landscape and experience.
Guam also has some of the best snorkeling. My kids, husband, and I took full advantage of being there to check out the underwater life as well. Who needs an aquarium when you have the off shore coral reefs to see all the wildlife in its real habitat.
The culture on Guam is very similar to the way I grew up. There is a very heavy Spanish influence there because it was under Spanish rule for awhile. However, there is also a strong Asian influence because of its proximity to Asia and the Japanese occupation of the island. So, like my family in New Mexico, they have empanadas and tortillas. The pronunciation is a little different. For example a tortilla is pronounced tor-tiya in NM and most other Spanish speaking areas. However in Guam, a double l sounds like "z". So, tor-tiya becomes tor-tiza. Takes a little getting used to. Also, you'll hear the "y" sound being pronounced as "j". So the common name Reyes is pronounced Ray-jiss. A northern village on Guam is Yigo. It is pronounced Gee-go. Get it? Got it? Good. There will be a test. I very much enjoyed the laid back island style of Guam. The culture is a beautiful amalgamation of Asian and Spanish. Family is a very big part of the Chamorro culture. Since the island is so small, there are many references to cousins or uncles that you are related to in random places. You go to the mall and someone sees your surname, "Oh, my so-and-so was a Quinata," or "You're my uncle's, wife's cousin." Many native Chamorros can associate your name with your village. For example, the Quinata Family is primarily from the Umatac village in Southern Guam. Sometimes someone who is from Guam will recognize Quinata as being a Chamorro name. "Where are you from?" will be the inevitable response. We were able to get back to the island several times while we lived in Okinawa. The final time we went before we left was to say good bye to my father-in-law who lost his battle to cancer in the winter of 2014. He was a simple man, patriarch of the family, who didn't like a lot of attention, but liked things the way he liked them. He growled a lot more than he grinned, but his love for his family was infinite. We miss him dearly. Although, we've left Okinawa, we still travel to Guam from Hawaii. My husband is deployed to Guam so my kids and I have flown out to see him and our family there to enjoy the beautiful island that holds our roots and remember a great man.

Monday, June 8, 2015


Hello, friends. It's been awhile. Lots has happened since I last sat down here and shared. For starters, we are no longer in Okinawa. Our time there came to an end. I am so grateful for the chance to have been there, for my children to have been there. We experienced so much while we were there, both wonderful and sad. I look forward to sharing it all here. If you're game for the ride, I thank you. I promise I'll be back for more.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

7, seven, shichi, 七

It has been about seven months since I came by here to post something aside from a card. So, I'm blowing off the dust (stand back dust is really kind of gross stuff), and getting back to the posting of things. Those of you who have stayed, arigato! For those of you who haven't, I don't blame you it's been kind of boring. I thought I would break it down to a play by play on what our life on the island has been like. I haven't decided if I would do more than one post or not. I think it all depends on what the kids get into as I'm typing, or if my fingers start to cramp up.

First off, I'd love to show you all our new digs. Here is a view from our 8th floor balcony:
Needless to say, I don't get a lot done with a view that beautiful. We are right on the East China Sea. The water is home to a host of lovely creatures we have had the privilege to meet, including a sea horse, octopus, NUMEROUS sea cucumbers, hermit crabs, urchin, and tiny fish. It's a lot of fun. Our move in was quite the ordeal. With Ron having been gone for two years and being the culinary diva he is (I didn't type that), we had A LOT of STUFF. Our home is not big by American standards, about 1400 sf, but it's quite large by Japanese standards. The average Japanese home is about 1,000 sf. I had thought we might want a new sofa set when we arrived, but we needed a crane to lift and place our CURRENT sofa in the apartment. I knew then & there I was NOT getting a sofa until we left Okinawa. We donated eleven boxes of stuff to the local thrift shop! We're still trying to find a balance, but at least most of the boxes are gone.

In January, we added a new member to our family when we adopted Milo (named after the ridiculous dog in "Mask").
Milo is a rescue from Ozato. If you go to the link, you'll learn heartbreaking statistics on the gassing of animals here. Long story short, owners have five days to collect their animals. If there is not an owner, the dog is NOW offered to American Servicemembers and Japanese citizens to adopt. If the animal is not adopted or fostered (or if it is turned in by its owner), it is gassed. In 1992 over 13000 animals were gassed. In 2008, almost 5,000. This was prior to a change in management and policy, although there are still many gassed. So, Milo became our new rescue and he is an amazing little beast. Sometimes he listens, sometimes he doesn't. Most of the time he's sweet, then he likes to pretend he's much bigger than he is and pretends to growl. He's supremely spoiled rotten. We are very lucky to be his humans.

In March, we had a visit with the whales. The humpback whale cruises on through the warm waters of Okinawa around February to May, while the polar bears freeze their keesters off in the North Pole. The annual migration is an amazing spectacle. Words just cannot describe how amazing it is to see these magnificent mammals in their natural habitat.

Well, I'm off to take care of my domestic duties now. I promise to be back to share more of our island adventures. Sayonara for now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Here's a card I made for The Pink Elephant's latest challenge. I hope it makes you smile. Make sure you head over to TPE & check out the other beautiful DT cards.

Monday, May 14, 2012


That would be what's on the menu for this week's challenge at The Pink Elephant Challenge. Crack open some polka dots, add a side of stripes and ... Voila! So mix some up yourself and come and play. Here's my take using polkastripes & a sketch from Deconstructing Jen.

Make sure you check out The Pink Elephant for more inspiration. Hope you all had a lovely Mama's Day Weekend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Did you all just hop on over from Simonne's ? No? Well, be sure to head on back there before you come here. You don't want to miss out on all the loveliness over there, now do you? If you've made it here safe and sound I'd like to welcome you to my humble little blog. I know you're only here for a bit, so I hope you enjoy yourself. Here is my creation with one of the newest Bug & Roo stamps. This is Bunny Girl One.

Check out Hannah's other new Easter Bug & Roo stamps here.  Don't forget to hop on through and see what the other By Lori Design Team members came up with, too. At the very end there's a lovely treat of $20 shop credit! Remember to comment on every stop you make and enjoy! You should hop on next to Arielle.  I sure hope you'll come back by again!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rabbit Ears

Why, hello there, friends. I hope you are starting to welcome Spring in your part of the world. Seems like the U.S. has been faced with some really ugly weather as of late. I know in my hometown of Albuquerque there was a lot of wind and damage. Well, you know what they say about March, or is that April? In any case, I wanted to share a little Easter with you today. Lori has all kinds of super cute Easter digi stamps, and lots of inspiration to get you in a hip-hip-hop-ya-don't-stop kind of mood. So go on over to By Lori Designs & get inspired. Keep your rabbit ears open for an upcoming BLD blog hop, too.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Oh, Baby!

I have been a little out of the loop here, haven't I? I do apologize. We've been soaking up some sun in our beautiful new home, doing a little exploring, and trying to get into a groove home school wise. I have been playing with some paper & thought I'd share here some of my recent creations. Thank you for hanging in there with me. I promise I'll post some about our adventures.

One of the soldiers in Ron's battalion just had a baby boy. It's always so exciting to see babies. It seems like they are everywhere here. I think there's something in the water- it can't be all the separations and reunions with military life, right? Here's a card I made celebrating this new family.

I was working on one of my projects for By Lori Designs and got very flustered because some of my Copics were running low on ink. Little did I know Copics are made right here in Japan! So, I was able to find a local store that was a Copic mecca. There were so many colors, I think I must have just stood there with my mouth hanging open for several minutes. I'm sure the very kind Japanese sales women were thinking, "Do you think she's okay?" Needless to say, I was no longer flustered and I was able to finish my latest card for BLD.

I hope to be back with more. Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, TPE!

I have been so very blessed to be a part of a fabulous group of designers for the past three years at The Pink Elephant Challenge. This week we celebrate TPE's third birthday! I can't believe how the time has flown! Sadly we say good-bye to some amazing designers, including Trudi who has been with us from the start.

Here is my card for this week's challenge. I hope you can join us.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Everytime I think of this street I remember this song because I'm a child of the 80s and putting things to music is how my brain functions.
So instead of "Hey now, hey now...," I think "Heiwa (prounounced hay-wa), Heiwa Dori-i-i-i." Okay, I've tortured you enough, now on to the story...

Two weekends ago, it was raining as it is apt to do in Okinawa. We were all sitting around with a little cabin fever, snipping at each other (the truth, folks, nothing but the truth). Ron asks, "What should we do?".  I remember seeing an article about Heiwa Dori in a local newspaper and suggested going. At the time, I was reading this fine book:
Georgia Pellegrini (who is just GORGEOUS, isn't she?!) among other things discusses how we have a detachment from how our food gets from farm to table. We walk into these fluorescent lit supermarkets where our food is prepackaged into styrofoam and cellophane containers. We don't really think about how that chuck roast got there, just how we're going to pop it into a crock pot and have it for dinner.

 I lived part of my primary and part of my high school years in Japan. During the summers, we visited my mom's family in Taiwan. Going to market was a part of daily life. Yes, there was a fridge, but that was mainly for leftovers. We bought that morning what we would cook that day. This happens in many countries around the world. It makes a whole lot of sense to me, your food is fresher and there's less waste.  If we wanted chicken, the butcher would grab an unsuspecting bird from a cage and make it happen. At first, my brother and I were wide eyed and aghast. Prior to this our chicken came from the commissary or the local Winn Dixie, sans feathers. After awhile, of course, we adjusted. My husband spent part of his life in Guam and the Phillipines. He had a similar childhood, only his involved some of the actual harvesting of the animals. Part of us moving to Japan involved a longing for our kids to experience a different way of life that doesn't involve supermarkets and big box stores. This is a long way of me getting to part of why we went to Heiwa Dori. If you get a chance, take a look at this video and you can see what we saw and get a little bit of what my rambling is about.

Getting to Heiwa Dori is a bit like a treasure hunt. You park on a main street with lots of sounds and flashy signs to attract tourists. We ended up paying ¥500 (or about $7) per half hour for parking without realizing it. This is one of many reasons why I should really learn to read Kanji. 
Then you walk by souvenir stores with wares somewhat unique to Okinawa. 
Habu Sake {yes, that's a snake}

frog purse with Shisa dogs in the background

Hello Kitty store

You turn into an area that is like a tunnel with stores on either side. Still, you wind your way through souvenir shops until you almost miss the public market. I would have walked by it if Ron had not seen it and abruptly turned toward it. I'm so glad we didn't miss it because it was amazing to see all the shopkeepers and their wares. Most of the shellfish is alive. The fish is super fresh and in colors you've never seen before. The shopkeepers are all very nice.
brilliantly colored fish

fiesty lobsters with a topshell on the side

Fugu or Puffer Fish

I'm really glad we had the opportunity to experience the public market. We also took home some really tasty pickles after being offered generous samples by the shopkeeper. Pickled vegetables are a big part of a traditional Japanese meal.

I will be taking your orders for frog purses for a limited time, so take advantage. I'm only kidding, folks. Thank you for checking out our adventure. I hope there will be more to come.