Saturday, December 31, 2011

1000 Happy Famiies for Christmas

Of all the things that made Christmas and the holidays special this year, it was Misa's hopeful wish for "1000 Happy Families." Number 24 on her list said it all. We created a page on Facebook, hoping to reach a thousand "Likes," so we could show Misa that a thousand happy families do indeed exist.

The page was shared by so many of our friends, families, and friends of friends, and before we knew it, we were celebrating more than 1000 Happy Families with Misa.

This video captures Misa's reaction when we presented this gift to her. (It's a little long, but it's really the first minute or so that tells the story . . . ) What it doesn't show is the inspiration, and hope-filled emotions that Brad and I felt receiving the incredible support and enthusiasm as we attempted to gather the thousand "Likes." All of the stories and pictures are fresh and heartwarming - a sure sign that happy families come in all varieties and life experiences.

What a gift!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Uprooting Wildness

I've been thinking about activism lately, reminiscing on where I came from, how I formed my thinking and beliefs, and the strength I have to influence others - particularly, my own children. Reading this interview between Terry Tempest Williams and Tim DeChristopher, brought me back to wildness and wilderness. It's inspiring to hear them reveal the things that formed them. If you don't know either as an author and activist, I'd recommend putting them on your list of people to get to know.

I hadn't known anything about Tim DeChristopher until the last 2 years. Terry Tempest Williams has been a friend of wilderness for most of her life. For a good part of my life, I immersed myself in the power of wilderness, spending a significant time in my early 20's and 30's as an activist for Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and Utah Wilderness Coalition. I've read just about every book, poem, essay, and blog post written by her. From her power and the many people who led the way, I received the gift of wildness, navigating my way through the social and political process to help save wild lands in Utah.

I watched this short film multiple times, and by the end of my fourth viewing of it tonight, I was swaying to the beat of wild lands and what it takes to preserve our beautiful earth.

Must be time to unwind.

To uproot.

To influence.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Celebration of Life

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
-Mary Oliver

When I initially opened my Facebook account, the first album I created was "Goddesses, Matriarchs, Heroines, and Angels." Grandma Betty, who passed away on December 15th, 2011, could be found in my album. She was a true matriarch. Style and leadership, she was one of those people who made you believe that anything was possible. So much so, that when she died unexpectedly at the amazing age of 92, it surprised most of us. Yet, as Brad characterized her so beautifully in his eulogy, her one wild and precious life was distinguished by her health, her independence, and her dignity - making her passing an undeniably graceful one.

Rest in peace, Grandma Betty. We love and miss you so much.

Here I am with Grandma Betty at her 90th Birthday party.
Petrified wood as a memory.
Bible with a lot of recorded family history.

Among the items in Grandma's house, Misa chose these bookmarks.
Nutcracker and jigger
Brad bought this for Grandma 30 years ago, in Ecuador.
Emma, Brad, and Grandma.

Here is a little slideshow (raw) of Grandma Betty's memorial.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Nutcracker

Emma was 6 years old when she nabbed her first role in the infamous "Nutcracker" performance as a baby mouse. Year after year, she danced in other roles such as a toy soldier, puccinella, and party girl. Brad and I always imagined her moving into the next level - a Snow Fairy maybe - before she grew out of those types of dance roles. I remember the year when she decided she wouldn't be auditioning for the Nutcracker, and I remember it being a bit emotional for her.

Fast forward to today. All dressed up and excited, Emma took Misa and John-Pio to the Nutcracker performance at the Overture Center. It was one of her first times that she would be in the audience after her last performance 5 years ago. She was genuinely excited to be taking her little sister and brother to the performance that held so many memories for her. As I dropped them off, Emma was reflective. She said that even though she knew letting go of her Nutcracker performances was hard for her, she realized that she didn't miss it, especially because she began dedicating her time and presence to Kanopy Dance Company. It's instructive how time and experience can change a person.

If there is one thing I hold close to my heart - more than so many other important things in life - it is when Emma, Misa, and John-Pio spend quality sibling time together. They are just so tight, so joyful, so hilarious together, that even when they have their typical sibling moments, it is awesome how grounded they are in each others brotherly-sisterly relationship.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Getting Technical

Misa has a knack for technical learning - she is a quick study, and likes to understand the mechanics behind the device, game, or tool she's using. This weekend, after tiring of just going up and down the walls at the climbing gym, she wanted to do something different. So we showed her how to use the GRIGRI, a belay device with assisted braking, used also for top roping and leading. In Misa's world, learning how to "ascend" using the device, introduced her to a whole new element of climbing. My heart skipped a few beats as we trained her, and gave room for a few practice goes. As a parent, it was great to watch her confidence increase, and it'll be really fun to help refine her skills with technical gear, and watch her develop! Here she is on her first go with the GRIGRI.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day 70 Years Later

We started dinner today with a few words about Pearl Harbor Day, and Guam. Misa had some questions and announcements, one of which was this: "My teachers said that Guam wasn't a part of WWII. Was it?" I felt a strong emotional reaction to this. After clarifying the facts, and the truth, we moved on to dinner and other topics of conversation. At the end, it drifted back to WWII and Guam, Chamorros, Grandma Doreen, and the United States. It was a good night for a history lesson.

Here is a picture of the Guam Memorial Wall, where my mom is recognized as one of the Chamorros who was injured. During a battle, my mom was in my Grandfather's arms. My grandfather was shot, and that bullet skidded her back. I've seen her scar - a deep spade-shaped imprint. She doesn't talk about it much, I think over the years she's actually forgotten its impact. Or, I think the wound and the events that happened were just minimized. I've interviewed others her same age about the event, and they all share the memory of how she was wounded. Someday, I'll record it in its entirety.

For now, here are some pictures and links about the history of War in the Pacific.

To see the Memorial Wall honoring those who suffered personal injury, forced labor, forced march, and internment and click on "N" for Naputi, you can see my mom's name: Doreen Leon Guerrero Naputi.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Salt Lake City to Madison

15 years ago, I moved to Madison from Salt Lake City leaving behind a life of recreation that I believed could never be matched. I was a part of a close knit group of river rats who explored and led river trips down the Colorado, the Green, the Salmon, and other small bodies of water throughout the west. I rode my mountain bike and took backpacking trips all across Utah, including trails right outside my front door in the heart of a beautiful and accessible dry city desert. I was a long-time season pass holder at Alta Ski Resort where both backcountry and resort skiing were not just a passion, but an addiction. I lived a wonderful life of seasonal recreation.

Until 1996.

When I made the move to Madison, I knew what I was leaving behind. Of all my recreational pursuits, it was skiing that I knew I would grieve the most. It was the thing that pushed me to take risks and falls, to understand the forces of snow and weather, and to find ways to perfect the ski line I worked hard to get to. It was skiing that I daydreamed about, and skiing that I read and watched on films. And so for my last season in '96, it seemed only right that I would pursue skiing excellence to the nth degree in the ways in which I knew it best. Steep and deep. Boldness. Technique. Style. Just GO! Kind of like my last hurrah.

It helped, you know? To leave Salt Lake with that personal goal, and to feel like I skied every bone in my body out until there was nothing left but patches of snow and ice to glide on. It made my move feel a bit more enticing, like I was actually going to something.

A lot changed once I arrived in Madison. I purposely came here blind to what the Midwest had to offer. When friends asked me what I was going to do here, I knew what they really meant – they meant, “What will you do without all the amazing recreation you have in Salt Lake?” Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do, except I decided I would be open to new possibilities.

Of course, that one new possibility is obvious to the people who know me well. Boulders Climbing Gym offered a half day course through UW-Madison and it was that day, and from then on, that my life gradually shifted. That was in January, 1997. Since then, climbing has been at the core of my recreation and just about everything else I do for sport or fun, is related to it.

I like to believe that climbing was the thing I was going to as I grieved my way out of skiing. I don’t think much about what I left behind anymore – I grew out of that with the evolution of my marriage to Brad, having kids, and integrating climbing into my lifestyle. In fact, sometimes the way I pursue climbing is similar to the way I approached my last ski season – with those familiar words that served both as my personal goals and mantra.

Steep and deep.




Just GO!

I love that the words I used to assist me in leaving something behind 15 years ago, are also the words I use to approach the thing I love today. And even though recreation here in the Midwest has yet to match anything I've ever done in the West, I hope I will never have to go through a last hurrah.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Warriors Are Out There

Warriors come in all shapes and sizes. My little warrior, John-Pio was at Boulders traversing and practicing his own boulder project. He's been climbing more lately, and not only that, but he's been dreaming about climbing, too. He said, "I dreamed I went all the way to the top and I felt so great!" This is pretty much the only part of the wall he's been working out on for the past two weeks. It's really fun to watch him turn up his psych for climbing!

Now, real films about warriors are out there - mainstream and underground alike. A few of the recently made films in 2011 are actually on my movie list: "Warrior" and "Garbage Warrior." For now, since most of my spare movie time is spent watching movies about climbing and climbers, I would recommend two movies made by Ian Cotter-Brown, creator of Rock Warrior Films. Ian's been exploring Devils Lake and surrounding areas, putting up fun problems and telling others they should probably go do them. I've been out with him several times and his low-key understated psych is, ironically, what gets me psyched!

Check out his newest film, "Wisconsin Stone," which you can download for a mere $5. While you're at it, you should also see, "Midwest Unknown." Both are great films featuring local climbers, including one of my all-time favorite friends, Katie Schultz! If you want psych and inspiration, watch her send Rail Gun V6, Battle of the Bulge V7/8, Fat Pants V7, and Bark Biter V4. Katie shows steady, strong work on these problems, making the film that much more motivating and fun to watch. She's certainly one I consider a warrior - and a humble one, too - as she makes her mark on the midwest bouldering scene. Check out the trailer here, and then go to the site ( and download it - it's worth it. And, thanks to Ian, for making a film we can connect to and for putting it out there for us to see - you're the real warrior for making these and showing us what is possible.

Thanksgiving Weekend

After going back to work full-time this year, I am re-learning how special weekends are to me. Now more than ever, it's the long weekends in particular, that I savor. Since my four day weekend is just about over, I looked at the calendar and counted 26 days until my two-week winter break! As I look ahead to vacation, I don't want this weekend to go by without reflecting on how meaningful and fun it was to hang out with my family. It was great that Peter and Ruth joined us on our little road trip to Chicago to feast with Scott and David. And it was especially wonderful to see Scott and David, something we are committed to doing more often. They are just fun-loving and spirited. And, they're UNCLES. How much better can that be for the kids to be surrounded by three of their favorite uncles?

I actually launched Thanksgiving with the annual JOMANA Team's "Thankful Feast." My students brought dishes to share and many of their families came to celebrate. We had a table of food, and like every year, our event was highly coveted by former JOMANA team students who have moved onto 8th grade. They kept passing by our classroom hoping for that special invitation. We had everything from the traditional to the culture including Dolmas, egg rolls, Thai noodles, Ms. Matson's mac 'n cheese and sweet potato pie, Lefse, turkey, stuffing, and of course, Mint Oreo cookies. It is a tradition that our team started years ago as a way for our students to publicly thank their family, friends, and teachers for being a part of their lives.

It would have been hard to bear going off for two days without climbing, so we climbed for a long time Wednesday evening. My favorite part was that Emma came, too! She is a rare sight these days with her schedule, and juggling two houses, so I loved that she was there to belay Misa and get in some bouldering herself.

With the kids packed and the van loaded with four adults, one teenager, and two kids, Emma drove us all the way to Chicago! She was looking forward to her longest drive behind the wheel and I am totally confident in her abilities, and psyched she can chauffeur us! Our feast with Scott and David, and some of David's family, was an amazing array of casseroles, turkey, roasted vegetables, and pies. The weather was nice enough to get in some football and frisbee, and cool enough to play with the Wii. I love that Emma, Misa, and John-Pio could spend that much time with their Uncles, and I am grateful that family time is just as precious to them as it is to us. At one point, John-Pio exclaimed, "I love Chicago and I love San Diego because that is where all of my best family lives!"

Life has been pretty low key Saturday and Sunday. I climbed and ran a little, got some housework done, and slept in. Getting more than six hours of sleep a night makes my body feel healed and repaired, good enough to get back after the things I love this week: Work, Parenting, and Play!

Here are some pictures from our weekend, including a few shots of the Thankful Feast. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Snapshot of Misa

If there is one cliche that rings true today, it's this: "Capture the moments, because time goes so fast." Today Isabel Marie Naputi-Werntz, otherwise known as Misa, turned 8 years old. Yes, it went fast, and yes, I continually try to savor the moments.

Although I remember her birth-day vividly, I remember my pregnancy with her even more clearly. I've written about it from time to time, recalling what it took to stay in shape and in touch with myself. Misa's birth naturally changed my life, and every day, I find myself enamored by her personality and love of life.

She makes me laugh about the silliest things, and challenges me by asking questions I have to seek answers to. She is aware of people's feelings - especially mine. I know this because of our conversation as we were walking to the park the other day.

Me: Were you able to give out all your birthday invitations?
Misa: Yes, but Mama, you forgot to put what the party is *for* on all the invitations.
Me: Oooooh. Dang, so what did you do and how did you discover it?
Misa: Well, my teacher did, so during Choice Time, I wrote on all 20 invitations that it is for my birthday.
Me: It sounds like you solved it, I'm sorry I forgot the most important detail!!!
Misa: It's okay, and I told my teacher that you probably forgot because you did it just this morning. I didn't say, 'She was soooo busy that she completely forgot' because that would make you look like a careless mom."
Me: [Laughing] Thanks, Misa - you're such a great daughter!

I love to remember the snippets of conversations the two of us have from time to time. I try to record the true gems, like this one was in my mind, not only because I like remembering, but because Time really does go by fast.

In the picture below of Emma and Misa, I am reminded that Emma was 8 years old when Misa was born!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Making Lemonade

Injuries affect people differently. Thankfully, I haven't been injured in a long, long time and I'm always grateful for this. On the other hand, I feel for Brad who has been injured all summer, and has battled various injuries from time to time. If I ever get injured, I want to take it as gracefully as Brad has. I hope I'm as giving as he is, too, because this entire summer, he has followed me up and down the crags spotting, belaying, and moving pads for me. He's been there to keep the kids company, distract them as I work out moves on a project, and support me even though he hasn't been able to climb.

In too many wonderful ways to list, Brad is - hands down - the BEST climbing partner.


(And he is NOT a Leo . . .)

Here is a video of me when we went hiking around carrying our pads from boulder to boulder. We didn't find the boulder we were looking for, and we were on a tight time schedule. So instead of going back to the car completely empty-handed, I found this little boulder and made the best of our random hiking around. We called it, "Making Lemonade."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Boulder Pad Shenanigans

We hiked the west bluff of the talus field at Devils Lake in hopes of finding Massive Vertigo.  Instead, we walked around in the general area, never quite making it to Massive Vertigo.  At one point, I dropped my pad to go on a scouting mission and I didn't even have to go up to retrieve it.  Brad is so nice to have done this for me . . .

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mental Goodness

Just 4 weeks into the school year, and I am taking a day off tomorrow.  Mental Goodness Day.  My plan was to climb outside, but with 60% chance of precipitation, I am rained out.  Too bad.  So now it'll be a Boulders day, which is just as well.

It's not that I'm burned out, or tired, or need a break from work or a break from the students.  In fact, I am still on a roll looking forward to every day I get to work with two of my closest friends.  Those two - Ms.Matson and Ms. Jorgensen, still make my teaching days dynamic and special.  We are down to 50 eleven-year-olds now, which doesn't mean anything with a class of 50 anyway.  And you would think that after our field trip on Friday, I would need a day off, but as I said earlier, I don't.  I'm taking a preventive day off to maintain my Mental Goodness.

The field trip I referenced was a trip to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the Science Festival in the amazing Discovery Building - a state of the art building in every way.  It was well-organized with engaging activities and I know our students had a good time there.  But a field trip on the Metro with 50 students (split between two buses), is just hard on everyone.  Kids in mobs on a city bus just don't seem to have the manners to ride in public - at least not yet.  I told my friend, James Mills, about the trip and with an expression of both respect and incredulity, he said, "I can't even fathom that - I really can't.  And I appreciate you for doing that.  I mean that sincerely."  He did mean it, and in the midst of receiving that public appreciation, I actually felt important.

As part of the teaching profession, I feel the disdain and disappointment and judgement from the public.  It's a difficult thing to feel, especially when there is such good teaching and strong students coming out of our classrooms all the time.  It can be a hard thing to repel, so in consideration of the profession I love, and in the spirit of student learning, I firmly support days off to build up capacity for continued Mental Goodness.

I'll be doing what I love - this time climbing indoors, and hopefully next month, climbing outdoors.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fill the Desks

At the beginning of the school year - just two weeks ago - I was unfazed by our class list of 51 sixth graders.  On one hand, it is not unlikely that the numbers will change.  But like any parent, teacher, or administrator, I hope the number goes down.  On another hand, 51 students in one class is not unlike my early experiences as a teacher in the Salt Lake City School District.

I taught a class called, "Teen Living," at Northwest Intermediate School and it topped out at 58.  FIFTY-EIGHT!  Students were sitting on the heater, six students shared one common table that really only had space for four people, and one student was actually assigned my desk chair.  I made it work, although I doubt those students remember anything they learned.  Still, picture all those bodies and little 'ol 26-year-old me, with a spill-over of 58 students in a room.

Just the boys while the girls are in a separate location for science.
Today, I feel unfazed by 51 students in a class because the model at Sherman Middle School makes it doable.  And not just doable, but pleasurable.  I am in the most fortunate position of teaching with two of the smartest, wisest, and strictest women these little sixth graders will probably ever encounter in their middle school tenure.  Perhaps another blog will go at this in more detail, but lets just say that "strict" and "traditional" is what makes this large class work for us.

I envision a year of hard work.  It is proving already to be challenging since just about every day I've been back in the workplace, the weather has been perfect for climbing.  I look out at the eager faces of 11 year olds and wonder how many are thinking of places they'd rather be, or what they'd be doing if they were not in school.  I don't really have that kind of mental space to set aside during the day, but I do know that when 2:37pm comes and the bell rings, all I can think of is either climbing or running.

From filled desks at 7:37am to empty ones at 2:37pm, I am feeling pretty good about this school year and hope the goodness translates to energy for climbing and running.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pay Back

My life was changed forever when Misa and John-Pio were born.  I wasn't sure how I would manage to continue climbing at the same pace and intensity.  Yet somehow I managed - but not without the support of Brad and my friends.

Today's climbing at Devils Lake brought back memories of times when the kids were young.  Stacey and Pat came up with Zoey.  It seemed like the most natural thing in the world to have kids up at the crag, and with Zoey, it was all the more special.  I was reminded of the hundreds of days when some of my best friends kept the kids at bay while Brad or I took a turn on rope, or a boulder problem.  Some days were better than others, but everyone seemed to be doing more than just tolerating the kids - they were and continue to be so present to them.

With Zoey's good natured little self, it was a joy to watch Brad make her laugh while Patrick and Stacey got in some routes.  Here's to paying it back.  Thanks friends!

Monday, September 5, 2011

One of My Favorite Days

I have been having so many favorite days lately.  Today was one of them.  Brad and I were married August 31 in a civil ceremony, and then again September 1, in a community setting.  So we claim the Sunday of Labor Day weekend as our annual day of celebration.   It always seems to turn out as another one of my favorite days.

We started with a bike ride to the Arboretum, kids in tow.  After a mid-day hike and glass of wine, we dropped off the kids with Auntie Ruth, and went out to Sardines Restaurant.  The inscription on Brad's card to me sums up his sentiments, and it is one I share, too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On My To-Do List

I've been wanting to write a personal blog for the past two years.  

So, finally!

I can check off one more thing on my To-Do list for 2011.  It's taken me a long time to commit to goals I set for myself seemingly every January.  I write them down at that time of year, yet many resolutions have been left un-checked.  Along with a few others, this work in progress can be marked as "started."

Stay tuned for future posts about Culture, Climbing, and Cheese!