Monday, January 30, 2012

Knots and Ropes!

After two weeks of Brad traveling, it felt good to have a little respite. Two adults in charge make kid requests and their bundles of energy easier and definitely more fun. Anne climbed with us, too, so that meant three adults, which most definitely made it more fun!

We spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday at Boulders - not just to climb, but to also admire the facility upgrades and watch the crowd of people climb and boulder. There's a new wave of boulder problems to get after, and only a few routes that I have left to send. Misa created a boulder problem that she made progress on, and climbed on rope more than I've seen her do in a while. She demoed her 8-knot skill, and ran around with John-Pio creating games together and challenging each other to perform various gymnastics feats. Here she is showing her new level of competency with the classic 8-knot.

Here is a video of Anne floating a 5.10 on lead. It's always good to lead, and always fun leading pleasant climbs like this one. Well-done!

5.10 float

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Midwinter Meltdown

It was great fun to cheer on Anne during her rowing competition at the Midwinter Meltdown this weekend, where she posted a good showing. She got after it in a large way, making all her training come together to continue to question and find new ways to learn about her performance. She's inspiring! I got her on video at the event - she is trying hard here at about 7 minutes into it. This was my second year cheering her on, and I'm psyched to come back next year to watch her amazing effort!

Anne Rowing from Vera Naputi on Vimeo.

Midwinter Meltdown!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's New?

Time and presence of mind can really limit a conversation, so I noticed the other day when I was trying to get in a quick climb after school and before picking up kids. I ran into a friend who asked, "Hey, what's new with you?" Not really a loaded question, I know. It's actually a courtesy question in passing, right? So my pat response is typically, "Oh, nothing much. Status quo, you know: parenting, teaching, running, climbing - that's it."

But that wasn't good enough. He actually was sincere and pressed me with, "Seriously? NOTHING is new with you? NOTHING?" He really wanted to know what was happening in my Life. So one thought led to another and I came up with all sorts of cool things that answers the question with more sincerity. Here's what's new . . .

New Commitment: I decided to devote one day a week to climb with my teaching partner and friend, Kate. She's relatively new to climbing, and I so prefer spending time mentoring a friend in my favorite sport, than teaching a class at this point in my life.

New Music: K'Naan released a new album More Beautiful Than Silence.

New Stressor: Furiously grading student essays and tests in order to calculate grades by Friday.

New Understanding: Dying isn't the end of the story. It changes the people left behind. When Grandma Betty died, I intentionally rearranged my thoughts and ideas, making room to express my life in different ways.

New Training Option: Moon Wall!

New Way to Wake Up in the Morning: Misa dancing with me every single morning this week, literally right out of bed. It is the sweetest way to start my day.

New Gift: A red purse that I've always wanted!

So yeah, when pressed to be sincere by a sincere person's question, there's more to "What's New" in my life than the same 'ol. It's easy to perceive common greetings as superficial, and answer in kind. It's just that this time was different. I was being held accountable for thinking my way into a sincere and thoughtful response, and given a chance to shake off a seemingly black-and-white picture of my life. At the end of the day, I was reminded that people can and often do bring out the best thoughts in others.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book Favorite

I hadn't thought to ask Misa what her top 5 favorite books are, until yesterday when she finished reading The Watsons Go to Burmingham: 1963. She had been sifting through this book for the past month, and finished it as a homework assignment yesterday. It was obvious the text had an impact, as I observed her re-reading the final two chapters, and then listening to the epilogue twice, right at bedtime. By the time she closed the book, she was teary eyed.

I remember reading this book when it first came out, and I was fortunate to be in the audience when the author, Christopher Paul Curtis, came to speak in front of the student body. Since 1997 or around that time, it has been on just about every reading book list for both elementary and middle schoolers. And it should be. Historical fiction genres like this one, can capture the kid who favors narratives, and turn them into devotees of "real world events" genre fans. I have the book on audiotape and I have to say, listening to the author's voice brought the content and sincerity close to our hearts and minds. And not only that, but John-Pio got caught up in it as well, insisting that he get to listen to the book in its entirety, so it'll now will be part of his nightly ritual.

Misa's completion of the book, and the pique of John-Pio's interest comes on the heels of our on-going discussion about Civil Rights. We got stuck talking about The Watsons Go to Burmingham: 1963, so I'll have to check back to see her other 4. Stay tuned, and until then, here's Christopher Paul Curtis' interview.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More Than a Federal Holiday

Since I'm in San Diego this weekend, my nephew, Chris has been in charge of Misa and John-Pio in Madison. He has been dutifully checking off the various things I left on the weekend itinerary, and right now, he is making our annual birthday cake to honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Chris said that it was the first thing the kids requested that they do together when they woke up this morning.

Thanks to my ever-so-resourceful and thoughtful teaching partners, Ms. Jorgensen and Ms. Matson, I had my own itinerary on Friday with our students. Both were absent so I flew solo that day, challenged to present and discuss the following poem, music video, and naturally, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. In the same way, Misa and John-Pio will also benefit from these selections today, too. The shared material here is a firm reminder to make this federal holiday a meaningful one.

A Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes homepage

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

My Sister


Geri's my big sister and I'm her GREATEST fan - happily the sister who always gets the better end of the deal in our very special relationship.

Until last night at her 50th birthday party, I believed I was the Geri fan. It was obvious though, that EVERYONE who came to honor and celebrate her 50 years of living was clearly her greatest fan, too. I am not alone!





Beautiful . . .

Those were just a few of the wonderful words used to describe her by the 80+ family and friends who I had the privilege of talking to at the party. All of Geri's family - Dan, Erin, Timmy, and Jenna - conspired to put together a party that truly reflected the special things that make her unique. They did an amazing job with the spread of our traditional Chamorro food - red rice, chicken kelaguen, eskebeche, barbequed chicken and ribs, potato salad, lumpia, latiza for dessert, and of course birthday cake. And the Motown music by "Mojo Sessions," definitely brought all of us onto the floor sprinkling the entire space with lingering happiness. But what really stood out last night, and what will be obvious in the slideshow below, was that we all came to celebrate a vibrant, beautiful, most kind and gracious woman - What a memorable party!

Happy Birthday big sister, Geri - I am still your GREATEST fan!

Enjoy the slideshow! I am still working on posting a few videos of the band. I loved, loved seeing my dad, nieces and nephews, cousins, old friends from National City (Little Gerry, Mary, Martha, Marcus, to name a few), Geri's colleagues, and of course extended family and friends. It was the kind of event that will stay with me for a long time.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Winter Break

For the first time - maybe ever - I am done with winter break. Two weeks in Wisconsin, without snow and with just a slight feeling of "winter," I'm ready to move on. Spring break now feels like it's around the corner, summer plans are shaping up, and in-between the waiting, I am willing to live in the moment. I'm ready to move on and accept that teaching awaits me, and that perhaps my students feel as done with winter break as I do. I know Misa and John-Pio are ready for school again. But first I have to look back at these long two weeks of freedom.

The best things about winter break: wearing jeans every single day, Papa Joe's visit, sleeping in, no rushing, climbing, skiing, running, celebrating with family and friends, reading 3 good books, relaxing every single day and evening with the kids and the Love of My Life.

And unless I consider John-Pio's requests in various forms -







to be negative, I only have healthy and positive things to say about winter break.

In fact, I know I will miss the unlimited and unstructured time I got to spend with John-Pio, and the sweet, hilarious, thoughtful, and often loud and relentless time with Emma and Misa. Together, the three siblings are excellent models for how I should live my life going forward: Sweetly, kindly, lovingly, and always with thought and a bit of hilarity. Here's a recap of winter break, with a slideshow of pictures, and a few videos that bring our two weeks to life.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


That was the theme of my New Years Resolutions last year. Less simple sugars, less distractions, less excuses for failing, less judging - less of everything negative. Translated, these turned out to be more of a change in attitude than they were real specific changes or improvements, but I tried my hardest to live by the theme. I took stock of the things I meant to change or improve, and I celebrated the few things I actually accomplished, while putting some time into reflecting on what made them worthwhile. I admit that I have a few that will carry-over to my resolutions for 2012, and I also admit that until a few years ago (maybe when I hit 40), I rarely thought about the traditional New Years Resolutions.

I mean, I've always set goals, but I didn't really arrange them so they would come up for evaluation on a yearly basis. In the many roles I play - wife, parent, friend, daughter, sister, educator, I'd say physical and mental fitness, in addition to a meaningful spiritual life are integral to all of these roles. And when things get rough or when I'm at my limit and particular goals seem difficult, I remind myself of this: Nothing Less than what I can give at that moment. And somehow, that attitude turns that moment into something positive and achievable.

So what have I got to say for myself when it comes to 2011's resolutions? Well. I vowed to write a thank-you note once a week to someone. I did that, and I'll continue to do it. I said I would get fitter than I've been in a long time, and I am. I wanted to increase the kids' savings accounts, which was a struggle, but I managed that. I backed up all my pictures and videos, thanks to Brad. I was helpful in leading a service-learning trip for 40 students to New Orleans. I trained for running and climbing, which I noticed measurable improvement given some of my projects and on-going Birthday Challenges. And I started writing this blog, as well as started selling personal stuff on ebay - these two things went down to the wire, having started the blog in September, and setting up ebay on December 31.

I'm happy with the big and small tasks I accomplished, and I'm even more satisfied with the attitudes behind my goals.

What's in store for me this year has a lot to do with being physically, mentally, and spiritually fit. With each passing year, I feel more and more like me - like I am finally growing into my own self, not the person someone else imagined me to be, or the person someone else had hoped I'd become. Focusing on this kind of fitness - the kind that instructs and inspires me to act - is how I would like to play out my year.