Sunday, February 26, 2012

Last Weekend in February

Here are some things that happened this past weekend.

So long February.

Brad brought these groovy Patagonia shoes home for me. They're red, so I think they symbolize solidarity and Red Rocks.

We went climbing, to the Zoo, and played outside.

And we thought about Emma, because she's having the Time of Her Life, and we are happy for her.


My usual Sunday ritual after all the early morning shenanigans, is to drop Misa and John-Pio off at Holy Redeemer for their weekly catechism class, and then I head to Espresso Royale or Fair Trade Coffeehouse for some private time. Today, I was actually thinking we would skip catechism in favor of Sunday morning cartoons and maybe I'd get a chance to read my climbing magazines cover-to-cover. But when the kids enthusiastically asked when we're leaving for Sunday school, it's sort of hard to opt out.

So they're there, and I'm here.

I've been thinking about religion, politics, and faith lately since it's Lent and we've always honored the season. In the spirit of Lent, we each announced the thing we'd sacrifice for 40 days - something of an annual ritual for us. Brad gave up beer, Misa decided to write two letters a week to someone she was thinking about, John-Pio gave up asking for toys (which is honorable because his birthday is next week), Emma usually participates but has dispensation since the Conserve School is enlightening in its own right, and me? I gave up bread and pasta. This year, the kids are more aware of the meaning behind Lent, which reminds me that I was that way too, growing up in a household that honored traditional Catholic practices.

These days, it's damn hard for me to be Catholic. Racial justice, gay rights, hate-crime penalties, sex education in schools, abortion, universal health care, voting rights, land protection - all controversial issues that I have strong beliefs in. I formed my most critical values as a cradle Catholic under the guidance and facilitation of my parents, so I feel a strong sense of deference and respect to them and to my culture. Quite frankly though, the church and I haven't seen eye-to-eye since I was a teenager, so I've always towed the line calling myself a Catholic. Yet, I am raising my children to practice its faith because the traditions and rituals of the religion are so deeply a part of my identity, and so integral to my culture and being Chamorro.

And that makes all the difference in the world.

To be a Catholic by culture and tradition is just a bit more tasteful to me than it is to label myself even a Catholic liberal. Although, Catholic liberals are a tough breed, who deserve great respect, especially when their religions leaders betray their best traditions and confirm their detractors' worst insults. As a young adult, I probably considered myself a Catholic liberal, but got to a point when I really didn't know what that meant, so I dropped it altogether. A Chamorro Catholic or a Cultural Catholic might not mean anything to anyone else, either. Yet, I'm sure there are hundreds who consider themselves a Catholic by culture, in an effort to preserve their identity and - in my case - stay connected to my Chamorro tradition out of deference and utmost respect to my parents and beautiful culture.

Someday, I am pretty confident that Misa and John-Pio will find their personal paths as a Catholic - whether it be a Catholic by culture, or a liberal, or they might surprise me and identify themselves as a Catholic in the deepest religious way. Or perhaps they will fit into one of the contemporary boxes of one recovering, pretending, part-timing it, dropping out. Whatever. Who can know that, today? Right now, I see them formulating their paths in much the same way as my parents helped me form mine: with thoughtfulness, acceptance and tolerance, and a spiritual eye towards meaningful practices and rituals that shaped my sense of belonging in our family and Chamorro culture.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Somewhat Serious Training Sesh

Here is Misa's latest movie project, with somewhat serious material. Not really. You'll see. We had fun training at Pat's Gym!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


My students had a choice of three different topics for their "Quick Write" today. While several chose to write about motivation and music, the majority wrote on the topic of Love in the spirit of Valentine's Day. They are wonderful reads. It tells me that eleven and twelve year old's are quite romantic, and that their thoughts about Love vary. To a few, Love might be seasonable and simple, and to others, Love is rather consistent and complicated. It's obvious that from my students point of view, Love is experienced from songs, movies, and dreams, but most of all, Love is what they witness in real life. There is so much at stake to preserve their hopes and dreamy thoughts about Love.

Here is a sample of what sixth graders think when given free reign to write about Love.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Additions to the Family

We succumbed. There are two new animals here in our little condo, and their names are "Secretariat" aka "Big Red," and "Winter." Winter is bright blue with a flapping fin that means he is either agitated or expecting something good. Secretariat is a bland red who seems a bit stand-offish as evident every time Winter tries to egg him on. Both are Beta fish, and both make Misa and John-Pio happy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Big Bag

We weren't actually training - it was more working out, I think. Either way, it was a fun way to do some things hard - like hold 35lb kettle bells to failure, rack up some sit-ups, coordinate a bunch 'o Burpees, and carry a big 'ol amorphous bag of wood chips across the floor. Thanks to Misa who directed and produced this movie (my first-ever), and who confirmed that watching adults have fun doing something hard can be inspiring - She asked if one day she could do a training sesh at Pat's Gym.

A Serious Training Session from Vera Naputi on Vimeo.

We were seriously having fun.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Conserve School

One burning question Emma has shared with some of us for the past few years was, "How can I find the change that I need, in order to be myself?" Such a thoughtful question, and not an unusual one for an inquiring soul like Emma. After almost a year and a half of anticipation, Emma is in a place surrounded by others her age, with seemingly like-minds. Sixty students attending the Conserve School in Land 'o Lakes, Wisconsin, will spend the next 4-1/2 months together trying to make sense of the world, to try to preserve something so beautiful, to ask tough questions, and push the boundaries of their own comfort zones.


If there was one thing that stood out to me, it was Emma's transparent happiness. Falling in love with the campus was one thing. Being immersed in what has always seemed to be an "Emma thing" - nature, woods, science, and seasons - and I'd say she is really in her element.

We left Madison Saturday morning, arriving with plenty of time to go through the registration process, help her move into her room, and mingle with others. I'm not going to understate the emotions I felt driving onto the campus, so honored to be a part of Emma's life, and witness the lay of the land before her.

After taking care of the little things, and saying our goodbyes, I felt like I was also saying goodbye to one version of Emma. Truthfully, she herself will tell you that this experience is meant to bring on a new and different kind of Emma, and I have no doubts that she will successfully uncover parts of herself in her young journey.

Friday, February 3, 2012

So Many Pull-ups

It's been an inconsistent winter season as far as training goes. Consistency is challenging for me. I'm not complaining - life is rich and full, and I take what I can get. The past few weeks have been pretty spotty, but the times when I got in a training session, I was pretty satisfied, even if it was short.

One day, while Katie collected 100 points from sending various boulder problems, I set my goal at 20 points, and then we did a series of crazy pull-ups and push-ups. I have a really bad video of me, Katie, and Jill mocking the whole training process. It's a good thing that I surround myself with all types - I particularly like the attitude of fun, and the fact that training, is just not that serious.

Here's a video of Katie during the last set of our pull-up sets. We had FUN!