Monday, June 15, 2009

PAWS for a Good Cause

Last Saturday was the Saipan's Annual Best of the Worst Dog Show. Meatball and Rescue joined the fun but beforehand we did some costume fitting...

Meatball as Princess Leia

"I don't really wanna do this..."

"What!? There's prizes!"

Rescue as Yoda

"Judge me by size, do you?"

"Skilled with my tongue, I am"
After all the planning, Brad and I packed up the Rav and headed to the airport field for the competition. Meaty won a couple of prizes for her costume and her talents, but PAWS was the real winner for bringing together a group of people for a celebration of man's best friend.
Thanks to all of the organizers like Katie Busenkell, Angelo Villagomez, Cinta Kaipat, PAWS, Beautify CNMI! and all of the volunteers who helped make PAWS WARS III: Revenge of the Boonie possible.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Great Circle of Life

I love when creativity is challenged. This year, Rhonda and I orchestrated Walt Disney's The Lion King for Rotary's Parade of Books. With 35 students from grades 2-6, we bagged 2nd place with $750, The Most Spirited award winning P.I.C water park passes for all the participants, and The Best Producer award garnering a free night stay at the Pacific Islands Club with free breakfast. WOHOO!

We went all out, not just sewing costumes for the characters but fashioning each child so they could fully portray their role. Okay, we really wanted them to look cool.

Greg Sablan, my 2nd grader, stood in front of about thirty older kids during auditions and jabbered through an African Chant because he knew he wanted to be Rafiki.

We practiced every day, after school, for a full month. Some days, we kicked back and designed our props using whatever we could find in the classroom. I treasure the bond it created between our upper grade and lower grade students.

During D Day, teachers and parent volunteers came out to braid hairs, iron costumes, paint faces, and helped with last minute errands. Every child, including Rhonda and I, were styling corn rows.
Crazy duo, Eugene Mendez as Simba and Micheal Cerna as Scar (4th graders)

Maria Terlaje, one of my sweetest 2nd grader, smiles with me and her little brother Jared after the performance.

Rhonda, her niece, me and Tori Jade (Rhonda's daughter) display our cool dude poster.

It didnt stop there, the cast and crew were asked to perform in front of the PTA and the entire student body. After all the hard work and the amazing performances, we set a date to have FUN! Each student received a special T-Shirt from our winnings (approved by our ever supportive principal) and ate some not so healthy but incredibly delicious chicken at the beach.

The Pacific Islands Club with Mr. Mendoza, the artist! oh, and Shieky the huggable mascot

Thank You Rotary Club of Saipan for making this happen!

Check out the performance on YouTube: Parade of Books or SaipanKat

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Love You Papa

It happened all too quickly. From the frenzied phone call to the numerous "my condolences, he was a good man."

Papa lived his life. A life filled with faith and love. During his last hours, familiar faces came and went even after the hospital recording announced that visiting hours were over. Within that short span of time, the room was filled with songs, prayers, kind words, and silent sobs. A little after the family finally had a chance to be alone with him, I was torn between staying over for the night and going home to feed my crazy dog (what a stupid thought). I watched mama leaning on his bed, stroking his face over and over, whispering things like "Ayaw na kabalaka To,' the kids are big now and they promised to take care of me." My heart ached, and still does, thinking about how Mama must've felt saying those words. I probably drifted to sleep with those thoughts. Around midnight, I woke up with a cramped leg and saw that mom has moved onto the bed, next to Papa. She said to Kuya Randy "his face is changing." She then turned to me and asked me to time his breathing. I learned earlier that night that he needed between 15 to 20 breaths per minute but was slowly reducing by the hour. I set my watch and waited for the inhale, ready to count the next one. I waited and glanced at the timer. Thirty seconds, forty five... when the minute passed I began to panic not seeing any signs of breathing. I didn't know enough information about the counts so I had no intentions of telling mom that two minutes is about to hit. Within the next second, mom started shaking him, crying out his name. I rushed over to the bed and from there everything was a haze. I remember sitting on the cold floor waiting for the nurses to clean the room, I remember feeling tired yet fighting the exhaustion.

Within two days, Ate Ta, Ate Kristie, and Kuya Bong, arrived from Vegas and Washington. This kept mom strong. We all had to say or sing something during the funeral. It was incredible how each of my siblings shared aphorisms that Pa had instilled in them, in us. I found it funny when Kuya Bong mentioned how Papa used to wait up for him during his teenage midnight escapes. Pa would just wait for him to come in or listen for his car pull up then without saying a word walked to his room. I clearly remembered my first rebellious act. A friend invited me to her sisters 18th birthday. We had just left Hafa adai Hotel when a group of people I met that night decided to go Karaoke. I didn't think it was a big deal since I had a good hour before midnight. My singing was interrupted by "You have to call your parents! they're looking for you, they called my mom and my mom had to call Jeff to find out where we are!" I couldn't believe it! I decided to ignore the urgent remark until my conscience got the better of me. I called the person least likely to get upset, my brother's friend Rodel, who lived with us at that moment. He picked me up with my parent's car and said "They woke everyone up at the house. They almost called the cops, your Pa said he's going to sue the bar that let you in when you're not of age!" My heart pounded hysterically, I imagined different scenarios, different alibis. When I got home it was quiet but the light from the living room felt like lightning about to strike in my direction. I slowly walked in and saw just Papa heading towards his bedroom. Before he completely left from sight, he said "did you eat?" and closed the door after he heard my shaken "Yes."

His funeral couldn't have been more beautiful. The Mt. Carmel Theater Group orchestrated "What a Wonderful World." The cathedral was packed with family, friends, and people I have never seen before. It was incredible to hear "I was his student 30 years ago" or "I worked with him for 17 years before he moved to PSS." His good friend Jess Sonoda gave a remarkable eulogy. I never fully understood why he and Ma did certain things like invite random strangers from the airport to have dinner or had non-relatives spend holidays with us. We've gotten quite used to it but there were definitely moments when we wished that it was just going to be a small yet intimate Christmas Eve. Hearing his life from a friend, listening to the priest talk about how he was welcomed into our home even before he was a seminarian, helped me realize that it's simply who he is. He accepted me and Lovelle like his own, why not others?

During the interment, Brad whispered "you better cry like your mom when I pass." I knew then that our fathers' love has inspired our future.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beach Clean Up

Picking up trash along the way, my 2nd graders, accompanied by parent volunteers, hiked to LauLau beach on a beautiful Wednesday morning. Our fieldtrip was tied to the study on coral reefs and the ongoing effort to beautify our island. Here are some journal entries that our students wrote beforehand.

We need to clean our beach so the animals in the ocean can be safe. We can also eat some of them but not every animal. That’s why we need to make the sea creatures healthy by keeping our ocean clean. Our class will also clean Lau Lau so the sand can be white again.

We should clean Lau Lau or any other beach because the fish would die and get sick from pollution. The sea turtles might eat trash, too. People could also cut their feet from the glass. That’s it folks!

There are five reasons why we need to protect our ocean.
1. If people will continue to throw trash in the ocean, the fish will die and we will have no food.
2. The corals will die and the big wave will just swap our island when it comes.
3. When the water is dirty the corals can’t breath and no one will like to go diving anymore.
4. When you drive on the beach the turtles nest will be destroyed.
5. When you drive on the beach you will kill the vegetation and the other animals that eat the plant.

We’re doing a beach cleanup to keep our corals and sea creatures from dying. We are going to help the animals and the environment that they live in.

When the trash goes in the water it makes water pollution. That makes the coral die. It also makes the fish die, when the fish die bigger fish won’t have food and people would also run out of big fish to eat. But San Vicente 2nd graders will clean up the beach so we can help save the ocean animals.

Why is it bad to throw trash on the ground? Because when it rains it flows down and it usually ends up in the sea. People just don’t care that’s why we will hike to Lau Lau beach. Now the sea could be clean and the coral could be safe.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Love Scavenger Hunt

It was a typical Wednesday afternoon, little warm hugs of goodbyes, supervision, and then staff meeting. I stared blankly on the paper I was doodling when Betty handed me a familiar set of keys and said "check your text messages." Like most days, I overlooked to charge my battery so I waited to call Brad after our ‘How to care for your fish’ assembly.

On the first ring, Brad picked up and announced "you're not following the rules, you can't call me" and hung up. I stood there puzzled about the unusual phone call. Less than a minute later, he called back and said "I'm guessing you didn't charge your cell phone again?" I answered with a quiet "Yes". He replied, "well I guess I'll see you later."

"Okay, should I pick you up from work? Meet you somewhere for dinner?"

"Nope. You'll just have to figure it out" and hung up, again.

Still baffled by the conversation, I got in my car and found a paper on the dashboard. It had a spiffy K written on the folded note. Inside was a fancier type written message

Here's your invitation to a day full of mystery.
If you solve all my clues, it'll be one for all history.
I'm waiting for you at the end of the journey.
But your first steps will take you to a place with a gurney.
Your next clue awaits plain as you can see
Just look on the road sign in front of CHC

A silly grin was slowly forming my lips at the same time thinking, this should be effortless.

As I reached the hospital sign closest to the main road, I saw a similar paper to the one I had on the passenger seat. Although, this was secured in a Ziploc bag attached to the familiar signpost. I ripped out the plastic eagerly and read the next one.
You've made it this far
I'm so proud of you.
Now let’s see how you manage with Clue Number Two.
The answer to this one is not very far
In fact you can solve it from inside your car.
This one may sound seedy
And just a bit shady,
But you'll need the assistance of some Barenaked Ladies.
(I played my CD without delay)

Press play on the disc,
Pick song number one, then continue your journey
For the next round of fun.
The next clue is three, and after is four,
But to find them you'll have to check
The sliding glass door.

I drove down North as the song played "Broke into the old apartment this is where we used to live...” I thought of possibilities on where this hunt would end. I was certain this would lead me to Marianas Resort and Spa. My fantasy carried me further to a relaxing afternoon in a hot Jacuzzi, watching a bit of light pass through the clouded sunset. When I got to the old cozy pad there was the next clue, taped on the sliding door.
That was too easy, but it shouldn't be hard
Just solve all the riddles I write in each card
Think of the beach, your feet in the sand
And an ice cold beverage in the palm of your hand.
It's close to you than you might think
(PAU PAU? my thoughts interrupted)
Just head back from where you came, and claim your cool drink.
Drive to the place where I finished my "half" run
And sat down with a cool towel because I had too much fun.
Once you are there, get out of your car,
And walk 'round the corner to the beach side bar.
Be sure to tell the bartender your name
And soon after that you'll be happy you came.

Heedlessly, my feet carried me back to my Rav while reading the clue. I sped, once again, to where the riddle led. "Hyatt, of course" I told myself, the silly grin still stuck on my face.
As soon as I got to the beach, I took my heels off and started walking in the sand. The warmth was soothing on my bare feet. Surprisingly, the weather was beautiful after a morning of rain. I got to the bar and asked the bartender if he had a note for “Kathy”. He gave me a genuine smile and said "I do, and I also have a present for you." He handed me a corona, definitely a gift from Brad, as I sat admiring the view. After a quick conversation about my unexpected afternoon, I chugged the drink and read the next one

You're in Garapan now
And I'm not far away
But you'll have to work harder to end this foray.
Get back in your car and drive to the Paseo
And soon you will find
Your next piece of mail-o.
Walk up the stairs
To Saipan's home of Rasta,

(Is he trying to get me wasted? as I thought about another drink
waiting for me at Oceans Bar and Grill)
Grab the next clue
And then join me for pasta.
No, I’m not there
You'll still have to follow
Just grab the next clue
And fly like a (canary) swallow
I held my final clue, thinking about my options

As the zodiac goes
Tomorrow it expires
Come claim your Scorpio
And fulfill your desires.
If you need one more hint
To get your brain clickin’
I’m behind the tallest building
Where you get tasty chicken
Hafa adai Tower was the tallest building I knew, but where does the tasty chicken fit in?
Aquarius made more sense, given the zodiac and chicken hint. I stopped and talked to a police officer I knew and asked what he thought about it. He threw in Hard Rock and the possibility of a restaurant that served really good chicken at one of Hafa Adai’s restaurant. That made sense, so I drove to the hotel and walked around the area. I was feeling a little woozy, the anticipation and early alcohol didn’t blend well. After what seems to be forever, I decided to give Aquarius Beach Tower a shot.

There he was, my personal dose of natural high, attempting to make a large blue tarp look like a tent. I nearly tripped as I excitedly ran to his arms, but I composed myself just in time to make my clumsiness the topic of the night. He handed me an exquisite bouquet of lilies, another personal favorite. I smiled as I realized here is my taste of magic in my ordinary life.

The rest as they say is history.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Will you come visit us, please?

Yesterday, a student council member came to my classroom and asked if I could read this letter to my 2nd graders. I thought it was the most amazing project the kids put together this school year. It made me proud to be a Canary.
After I read it, I told my kids that it might just happen. My 7 year old student replied "If it doesn't, at least we gave it a shot."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Meatball Trouble

Have you heard of Marley and Me? Marley the sweet, affectionate puppy who grew into a mischievous hyperactive dog.
Meatball falls in that mold.
Maybe worse. Who knows, she's still growing.

Last July, Brad and I picked up the cutest well-mannered puppy at an unusual pet store. Let's just say we joke about saving her from being on the Menu. She was the sweetest thing on four legs. Now, not so much.

Among the many antics she gets herself into, chewing is her top priority. She chews anything that would fit in her mouth. Gum. A piece of Frisbee. Shin Guards. A large rawhide would last 3 days before it would vanish in thin air. If it weren't for the splinter on her lip, she wouldn't have stopped chewing on our furniture. She has also managed to chew on all my sandals before Christmas, giving Brad the perfect opportunity to buy me six new pair of shoes :D
The best part is when she chooses one out of a pair leaving the other unharmed.

hmmm... left or right?

One beautiful day my neighbor called me with a muffled laugh and said "um, Kathy, I think Meatball ran outside with your bra." Movie fans, sounds familiar?

Another time, she started her very own top soil business right in front of our door. Now, we don't keep any plants on our porch. Just last week, Brad came home to a clay covered Meatball. As he forewarned me about her appearance and the giant red paw prints on our stairway, he hadn't the slightest idea on where or how she ended up that way. Before the day was over, Brad had solved the mystery. Our poor neighbors came home to this...

Sorry Glen and Lindsay.

And while I am in the subject of deep remorse, I would also like to apologize to the Church of Latter Day Saints for interrupting your baptismal ceremony at Wing beach. *blush*

I was packing our things after a day at the beach, when Meatball decided to acquaint herself with one of the girls from the congregation. The little girl was trying to run away from her, while Meatball thinking "PlayTime!" The ceremoney came to a complete stop as they heard little shrieks of help from the girl. As I was running to resue her, Meatball thought I came to join in the fun. You could imagine how much chasing I had to do with a wet sandy dog.

I know Meatball's heart is huge and her love boundless despite her lack of social graces but I sure am looking forward to that day when she decides to be a fire place dog.
For the meantime any suggestions from all you dog lovers out there?