2013 was a fantastic year with many blessings and we're always grateful for this Christmas/New Year's holiday in Niseko. It's now Day 12 and we're taking a New Year's rest day. Skiing and snowboarding here in this winter wonderland is full of adventure, thrills and laughter, both on and off the slopes.
Our motley crew of 32 SWAT members gathered on the 27th for the annual White Elephant Gift Exchange. We ended up with unique gifts that we wore on the 28th to lunch at Hanazono. Next year's new rule will be: You have to Bedazzle your wearable gift.
As MC, Russ entertained the crowd. I won the raccoon hat while Kathryn, in the background, won a Hawaiian mumu dress with red bells sewn on.
Russ' new hips are great - he was able to land this cool jump through the trees the other day. The powder snow glides like silk underneath the board and skis.
The focal point on the mountain on a clear day is Mt. Yotei in the foreground. It's just as majestic as ever and we've been able to view it on several occasions.
Today is the first day of the New Year. We look forward to another fantastically blessed year to share memories with our families and friends. May this year be filled with laughter and joy for all of you!
Monday, December 23, 2013
It's been way too long since I blogged. The last 3 months have been filled with projects: the Hell of the Marianas Century Cycle, Marriage Encounter Weekend and Steps, Love Languages programs and home renovation. But, a new chapter began on 12/20/13 with our annual holiday to NISEKO! The contractors finished painting the interior of our home just Wednesday and I erected the Christmas tree on Thursday night. Our dining room now has blue walls and ceiling.
Our entryway is also painted a light blue only on one wall where the flame tree painting rests. This week, I got a tropical arrangement to match.
The upstairs powder room now has bright, sunny yellow walls. It's not quite as evident in this photo.
Here's the dining room in the daytime with the blue ceiling and blue back wall. I like the look!
Here's the kitchen which emphasizes the dark brown Cherry wood cabinets. We also got a new stainless steel refrigerator and moved the old one to the other house.
On Wednesday last week, I took Butty to his annual vet appointment. He didn't like it a bit and wanted to go home right away.
He got blood drawn and still tested positive for erlichia but is doing nicely.
We attended several Christmas parties before we left. This one was at the Hyatt for the Marianas Eye Institute party on Tuesday evening.
Russ and Dr. Khorram in their "matching" Christmas shirts!
This one was taken on Monday night at the Marriage Encounter Christmas Party at PIC.
On Sunday evening at the Marianas Medical Center party at PIC, Russ was the MC and dressed up as Buddy the Elf.
This was from the Marianas Medical Christmas Party.
So many parties... so little time!
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Last weekend, we joined a 60km road bike race. It's the first time we've been on our skinny tire bikes and we both did well as it was a sunny morning with 70 or so participants.
I also got some new bike gear: bike top and helmet! And, I've been riding a lot more these days so have seen some marked improvement.
A couple weekends ago, we celebrated Tina's 40th birthday at a new Russian Coffee Shop called the Coffee Room. The interior was unique and we had a nice time with our long-time friends. I went there again last Friday for lunch and coffee with a friend. It's nice to see some new developments on island, like this one.
Tyce, Russ, Yosh and Chris... they've all been here since the early 90's.
Linda, Angie, Sheila and me
It seems like we've been to a lot of events. After the PIC Palooza (below), we stopped by Jay's house to celebrate he and Joyce's wedding anniversary.
This year's PIC Palooza's theme was "Game Show" and Russ won a "Lunch for Two" and "Weekend Stay for Two" at the "Let's Make a Deal"!
I'll get back to writing more in the next few weeks.
Monday, August 26, 2013
A few weeks ago, we hosted a dinner at our home and welcomed two new Pastors and their families to Saipan. Hailing from Missouri, Pastor Phil, his wife Cindy and their two sons plus Pastor Robbie, wife Laurie and son are now missionaries, serving our church and our island. We enjoyed our evening together with good food, good conversation and fellowship.
Russ is now serving as Board Chairman for the church and school and he looks forward to working with all of these wonderful stewards who offer their love and assistance to others.
|Pastor Jason, Henry and Pastor Phil|
It's great having four pastors at our church and there's renewed energy among the members. We look forward to seeing more people at the church and school in the coming months.
Friday, August 9, 2013
Summer in Saipan often means less crowds at any place as families go on summer holidays, move to Guam, the mainland, or back to China, Japan, Korea, Philippines, etc. Saipan is a transient community but in the summer, you often notice how many people are gone. Aside from the Russian University Games, we've been here on island, keeping ourselves ever so busy with a multitude of activities with friends. We're spinning, swimming, and mountain biking together and while Russ' intensive volleyball coaching came to a sudden halt after his trip, it'll resume again next weekend.
We've had dinners at our home, out to restaurants and our own personal happy hour at Lau Lau Bay with the dogs. There's so much to do and we're blessed with many friends who'll share our experiences with us.
A couple weekends ago, we went to Naked Fish for a "Fight Cancer" fundraiser for one of Angela's classmates. He's been in the Philippines receiving treatment for oral cancer and was able to skype on that evening to see the support he's received from his Saipan friends and family. On that evening, we enjoyed great company, nice food and fun entertainment. Our friend, Ed's nieces and nephews, entertained us on stage to sing a few songs.
Afterwards, Ed and his nieces performed the "Cup Song" from the movie, "Pitch Perfect". The crowd really enjoyed it!
I've been spinning in the gym, working out each week and mountain biking a couple times a week and just last week, I've started golfing again! Last week, I got 5 pars and shot a 90! A couple days ago, I got 7 pars and shot an 85! How did I do it?
Well, it must be a combination of a few things that's changed in my life:
1. Minimal stress. While I keep busy each day with different tasks, especially with the HOM race preparations, I don't let myself stress out like I used to. I do what I can and let it go if I can't finish something in a day.
2. Left shoulder & left knee surgeries in the last two years. As a right handed player, the left side of the body controls the direction of my swing. With less tension and strength, I no longer "push" my body to achieve the swing. I just do it, usually without a practice swing. I'm careful not to swing too much so that I don't irritate my shoulder or knee so the swing feels smoother.
3. Weight reduction. Although I've maintained a steady exercise regimen for many years, I've only really changed my diet this year. First, it was taking six weeks during Lent to eliminate all sweets and processed foods. I also tried a more gluten-free diet. I automatically dropped 8 pounds from that (116lbs to 108lbs).
After feasting in Europe and eating some sweets again, my weight increased to 110lbs and I've been able to maintain that... until the last two weeks.
Russ heard through a friend about the benefits of the "Fast Diet; aka 5:2 Diet" where participants eat normally 5 days a week and reduce their calorie intake to 600 calories (men) or 500 calories (women)http://thefastdiet.co.uk/
Known as intermittent fasting, this supposedly allows the body to reduce its cholesterol, triglyceride levels as well as body fat. The first week, we fasted on Tues and Fri and this week, it was Mon and Thu. Since I keep active, I eat more than 500 calories, but I checked my weight at the gym this morning and I'm at 107 lbs., the lowest I've been in over 2 decades. Am I skinny? No. I'm leaner but you can see in the photo below that I haven't changed much. Muscle does weigh more than fat and I'm definitely stronger. With poor knee joints, staying on the lean side prevents excessive stress on them. Being lighter feels better and I'm able to bike and swim better as well.The improved golf score is an extra bonus.I've never been a fan of dieting before because intrinsically, I know that diets don't work. It has to be a lifestyle change. So far, I'm a fan of the 5:2 eating strategy as I still eat normally 5 days a week and limit my intake on the other two. On those two days, I become very creative in my cooking so that our dinner is only 250 calories. We eat lots of vegetables! Last night, we feasted on cauliflower "fried" rice, sauteed bean sprouts and we each ate a whole artichoke (no mayo/soy dipping sauce).
I'll have to go and get a physical soon with bloodwork to accurately measure my cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin levels and see how much it's improved. Health is something that I can't take for granted. After several surgeries and setbacks, I'm ready to be completely "well" again.
Monday, July 15, 2013
With the volleyball over, it was time to see what Kazan has to offer. Surprisingly, it is a charming city of about 1.4 million people with lots of history. We toured the downtown area and then attended a cultural holiday that was truly impressive.
A beautiful canal in downtown Kazan.
Group photo. (left to right: John, me, Janet, Clay and Tony)
Kazan pretty much splashed the University Games logo on everything.
If you click on the photo and zoom in you can read the menu of an outdoor cafe we spent some time at.
Two wild and Crazy Guys (okay, three)!
Russian pose! Very serious!
Canadian Pose! Not so serious!
A random owl on your shoulder photo
The boys have really grown close over the last few weeks.
This is the Athlete Village on our way home. Kazan did an impressive job on all aspects of these games. Korea is the next destination in 2015. That's right next door to us!
On Saturday, we went to Sabantuy, a multi cultural festival that, again was so impressive. There must have been 5,000 people dressed up in costume representing 10 different prefectures and cultures. Each "mini village" had dances, costumes, food and games specific to their region. It felt like a mini world fair.
The welcoming band of accordions.
Let the battle begin!
Everybody was smiling and enjoying all the work they had put into constructing this 1 day village which was an empty field before all the work. Everything was built there for this holiday.
Russ' angels. I think the lady on the left pinched my butt.
I bought a new hat to keep the sun off my face. Sexy man!
Who said Kazan wasn't built in a day?
The ladies were singing while the dude with the accordion rocked out.
Lot's of costumes...some better than others.
Clay and John letting out some good fun energy.
It was neat to see very traditional costumes and reenactments of life many years ago. The detail to which they went was again impressive.
Fresh honey off the cone. Delicious!
Another village and proud of it.
John and Clay with their fans.
There was a show on this field with over 1,000 performers. The story of a young man and woman falling in love.
This guy was the sauna guy. The room was hot and the branches he had in his hand, he would hit himself with (it is supposed to help blood circulation). I think he was in the hot box too long.
The Kazan Bird Man and Clay.
A couple local men taking a break in the shade.
This was the beach volleyball venue (the tents in the foreground. The blue structure in the back is the diving and swim complex.
The finals of beach volleyball (Poland vs. Germany) Poland won in the 3rd set.