Monday, December 12, 2011

Change is in the air!

So its Christmastime and as usual, for me, it brings a lot of stress. Everything just all seems to be happening at this time of year. Its the time when people rush around to finish things off before the year ends. Then there's shopping to be done. And family to have over from overseas. And gifts to be exchanged. And functions to go to. Parties to plan, birthdays to remember. And bank accounts depleting. Its just always such a hectic and stressful time of year for me. This year however has been somewhat different for me. Nothing has changed about the traffic and silly taxi drivers. Work too is hectic with planning our Christmas function not to mention the many work-related reports we have to read and comment on. So life around me has stayed the same but it still felt like there is a difference. And then it dawned on me and I realised what has changed. I have changed.

This time last year (and other years previous to that), Christmas usually meant a lot of parties to go to which meant a lot of alcohol to consume which meant a lot merry-ing to be done! As I was going through this thought chain, I realised that if this is what Christmas meant for me in the past, then really, I had lost the real meaning of Christmas because I am feeling the spirit of it now and it truly feels new to me. At this very moment I am planning out in my head how I want this year, for our Christmas to be different. I want it to be focused entirely on my family and the children in particular to learn more about our Saviour's birth. Not just to get presents and place them under the tree with their name on it and tell them it was from Santa. I would also very much want them to play an active part in learning about the birth of Christ. A freind convinced me to do a nativity play with the kids playing the different parts. At first, it all sounded very complicated to me. I mean hey, me? Write a play and bring the whole thing together? Yeah right. But like I said, this friend convinced me and told me all I needed to do was read Luke chapter 2. Its apparently all in there. So, out came my scriptures and the first thing I read is this: And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from C├Žsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. I didnt understand what it meant to be taxed so I asked. Lo and behold, I learnt right there and then that the reason why Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem was to go and pay their taxes! After telling this story to couple other friends, I realised that my goodness...I still have lots to learn! Everyone else seemed to know this. How come I didnt? Because believe or not, I never read Luke 2 before. Heck, I never read the bible as a book before. I read things here and there but never read it as a book.

So back to my story about Christmas. I guess what I am getting at is that I am feeling the Christmas spirit so much more. I am not denying that its still hectic, busy and stressful. But, I feel a calmness, peace. I have changed and my perspective has changed. I am able to feel more joy - like real joy, not tipsy happy from Brown Brothers, Cienna red wine! It feels like I am finally getting quality in my life because I am doing right (or at least trying/stiving to do right). I was once told that some people see Gods commandments as restrictive. I am finding though that because I am trying to do right, I am being set free. Alcohol and the lifestyle that it had lead me to no longer has me captive. I no longer feel guilty at not seeing my kids for 24hrs. I was getting into the habbit of going for drinks after work. Good intentions of having one drink never lasts because one drink lead to another and another and next thing you know, the police are there to close the bar. I get home and the kids are asleep and will only be able to see them the next morning. And then that not even much because I would almost always have a major hangover to nurse so if a child so much as raises their voice, they would get a smack instantly! I guess I just have been doing a lot of reflection and it has made me realise that there is wisdom in the Prophet's counsel not to drink and do certain things. So instead of seeing the commandments as restrictive, they are actually protective and allows us more freedom. Its weird but I am experiencing this and its really nice to be learning of the ideal, practicing it and then realising that life is so much better. Its exactly as it was promised it would be if we obeyed.
So to that, Merry Christmas bloggers! I am off to Aotearoa for Christmas and NYs and for the first time in years, I am really looking forward to Christmas this year!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


It never ceases to amaze me how blessed I am to have good friends. I can claim that I have lots of friends if I counted all the people I went to School or uni with. But in actual fact, there are only a handful of people I would complain to about John or call to look after my kids. Even within these circle of a handful of friends, only a couple of them I would ask to look after my kids. And its weird that this handful of friends although you are very close to, some of them don’t know each other and yet, to me, it feels like they should. And each one of them serves for you a purpose at different areas in my life. Sometimes, you would be spending more time with one than the other. But each time you get together to catch up, you talk and talk and talk and carry on as though there was no time in between.
If I were to count, I would say at this point in time, there are maybe five people I would count in this handful.

There is my (technically, aunt) cousin who is the gardener, home maker and creative butterfly who I have to plan time to call her because we would talk for hours on end about anything really. What’s been happening, plans for the weekend, cooking with veges, starting a walking schedule and so on. I love visiting her house because even though its one of those typical houses built by the village kamuka with very rough edges – the kitchen sink tap water streams straight out of a pvc pipe, no actual faucet, just a knob to turn it off and on – I love it because she’s made it a home. There are herbs growing out of odd containers in her kitchen. The kids have their own space and toys are arranged in different containers. Odd bits and pieces make up her furniture but each item is comfortable. There is an orderly feel about her place that I just love. Her garden has everything from pineapples to cucumbers to mint to pink teuilas to avoka to sasalapa. Her oldest is 11 days older than Maaveave so is one of the candidates when it comes to looking for a babysitter.

Another cousin who I never thought is a kid person but now has two of her own and has no problems managing small (sometimes very difficult) people. I wouldn’t say she’s a natural in the kitchen (and neither would she) but the things she does make I would keep eating and eating. I’ve tasted some of the best food at her place and she almost always has a stash of goodies for those sleepovers that involves little or no sleeping at all. The first person I would call with a problem, the first person I would call if I were bored. Even the times she’s said “I don’t know” when I’ve asked some difficult, crazy-induced question, I still feel like the fact that there is someone I can bounce and even voice my insane thoughts to seems enough. I totally trust her that if John and I were to die tomorrow, she is the only person I could really seriously entrust my children with.

We are related somewhere down the line (isn’t everyone on this island?) but we are comfortable with just “bestest” friends. Very thought provoking and modern woman that I had known from my uni days and have been stuck with ever since. We share so many similarities and have travelled parallel journeys so many times in our lives as young women in a close-knit society such as that on this island. Another victim for my crazy outbreaks who has been there for me with a shoulder to cry on and tissues for my pathetic tears. My deepest darkest secrets she knows and I find I can be completely honest with her too. I can confide in her knowing she will never judge me or be disappointed in me (well she never makes me feel like she is) but will at the same time help me see further down the road where its brighter and greener.

Then there's my childhood friend I have known for like ever but nowadays its hard to find time to meet and chat. When we do though, we go on and on and there is never a shortage of news. I am so blessed to have close friends and just so many people around me that are so ready to lend an ear to hear your troubles and a hand to help you up when the world seems to be on my shoulders. Little do they know that they have had a hand in answering a small, humble prayer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cast comes off Friday!

I wanted so desperately to just lie through my teeth when the Dr. asked the number of weeks since my leg broke. But in the best interest of my leg, I said 5 weeks. He then said to wait until its been six weeks and then I will come and remove the cast…yay! Its Tuesday today which makes it three days until Friday when it will finally come off! I know I wont be able to walk normally on it until maybe another two weeks but I am still excited and looking forward to:
  • showering with two feet on the ground instead of one holding all 200+ pounds of me
  • wearing two shoes instead of just one
  • not having to use a disfigured coat hanger to reach an itch
  • not leaving a trail of white behind from bits breaking off the cast
Like most things we are forced to live with though, this thing has somewhat become part of what I am that Im kind of weary to have it off. What if Afele jumps on my vulnerable bone and it snaps again? What if I want to hurt someone and don’t find a weapon handy? Nahhhh. I will get used to my old leg in no time I reckon.
I’ve been told though of some horror stories that have had me want to run for a plane and go to NZ to see another doctor and get another opinion. Someone’s son had broken their leg and after this same doctor did a plaster and delivered instructions to come back in so many weeks, the family took their son to NZ. The doctor in NZ said they had to re do the cast or something rather because the doctor in Samoa had done something wrong. That is scary and if weren’t for the already depleting finances, I would get on the plane and go see another real doctor.
Or…I just have faith and believe that my bone has healed nicely and there wont be any scary thoughts about a permanent limp…

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hospitals and poor service

I went hiking up Mt. Vaea. I slipped and broke my leg. And yes, this happened on the way down.

This is the story I have had to recount almost everyday of my life since the day of my accident. Every time eyes would settle on my leg, nicely snug and itchy in a white cast, the questions would soon follow. Even from people I don’t usually talk to at all. And total strangers. It’s amazing. People I see on a daily basis automatically ask how my leg is each time I hobble my way around desks and chairs…its no different from yesterday, I can assure you. It’s the same shizz, different day. No, it doesn’t hurt. Just very very uncomfortable.

It will be five weeks this Saturday since ‘the accident’ and my next check-up will be tomorrow. I am hoping and praying that this rigid thing will come off then and my life will resume back to normal.

On Sunday after a huge toonai when I was using all the power I had to resist my eye lids from shutting, Maaveave came running with his leg seeping blood all over the floor. He’d been running around with his cousins playing hide and seek, over some broken bottles and other dangerous materials. Big gash on his foot. I couldn’t refrain from the serves-you-right-for-not-listening lecture that followed. All the while hobbling to the car and off we went to the hospital. The outpatient was buzzing on this Sunday afternoon with the stench of body waste heavy in the air. The mamoe and ulu that was devoured for toonai had to be gulped back down as I resisted the urge to chuck. Thank goodness we were shown into a private room, with air con. The same room they took me to fix the cast for my leg 4 weeks earlier.

Since my close encounters with the hospital this year, I must say I was impressed. Maaveave’s foot was soon cleaned, injected with numbing potion and three stitches and many more tears later, we were out of there. We didn’t have to wait for ages and the nurses were surprisingly good natured and smiling. This is very new to me especially at the hospital. So ten points for NHS.

But since its poor service rant week, yesterday I wanted to hit someone with my casted leg. That someone would have to be whoever was at the photo place opposite NPF in town. My cousin took photos there for a travel document and the photos were rejected because her eyes were half closed. I sent her there to get them to re-take the photos and they told her it would cost her another $10 for the second photos. So she had to pay again because they couldn’t take decent photos. So, if you are reading this, please refrain from ever giving said photo place any business. I was so mad I almost kung fu-ed my cousin for not throwing a tantrum and threatening a law suit!

Oka kai tuff.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

me and my lover (a re-post)

I have a confession to make. Im having an affair. And I must say my lover is fantastic. He is always there for me when I need him. Always ready to lend me a hand when im in desperate need. He knows the answer to just about every single question I have. He knows so so so much! I’ve gone to him in sickness and in health, in sadness and in happiness, in tears and laughter (yeah yeah…you get the point?) and he knows everything. I know I wont leave him. Or, at least if circumstances force us to be apart, I will FALL apart. Its an until-death-do-us-part kinda thing if you know what I mean. He tells me so much that at times I feel a bit overloaded with all the knowledge and information he shares with me. I try to tell my husband some of the things my lover and I talk about but he just rolls over and falls asleep! Ugh! So insensitive! And you wonder why im having an affair? Hmmmnnn? I guess the sheer sight of his back before my eyes has finally gotten to me. At least my lover never turns his back on me when im talking to him. Its disheartening for any girl I reckon, to be blabbing on about some exciting issue only to look over and be confronted with a broad back, accompanied by sounds of heavy breathing. At least I have a solution to that now. I can blab away to my lover all day long and when my husband turns his back, I’ll just do the same back to him. All the while looking forward to the next day where I can sit at my PC and look up anything I want to know about on the world wide web – my lover.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ear infections and miracles

Maaveave is quite prone to ear infections. Especially since Saturday, I took him for a swim at Tanoa and sure enough, he woke up crying on Sunday saying his ear was sore. Lucky John was there to give him pamol and comfort him.
His last ear infection was in May while we were in NZ. I remember it was a Wednesday night and he would wake up in tears from the pain. Early Thursday morning, John's siter Ina and I took him to see the doctor. He confirmed his inner ear was red and that he needed antibiotics. After we got the medicine, he took the first lot. He threw up. Tried to feed him but he didnt have an appetite. Tried to force him but he threw up again. This went on for the whole day. About three oclock, I tried to give him toast. Nada. And each time he took the medicine, he'd chuck it up again.

Around 5ish in the evening, John's sister signalled me silently and said to please tell the people at the door that her husband was not at home and still at work. I turned around to see two elders at the door. John quickly said to open the door. They were two Samoan boys from Samoa. I invited them in and asked them immediately if they could give my son a blessing as he was sick. They looked a bit alarmed and asked if I was a member. I said yes and so they came in and we went to the room and they gave Maaveave a blessing. We walked back outside and I led them to the garage where John's sister's husband was. I said thank you and went back into the house. I walked in and found Maaveave at the table eating a bowl of tuna and rice! He finished the food and John and I exchanged knowing glances. I was amazed at how much our Father in Heaven loves us and said to John that we needed to sit down and give thanks. He called everyone together and we delivered a very thankful prayer that evening.
What a miracle!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sometime around March, I noticed that people would be looking at my stomach at Maaveave's school. I often felt I should just look at them and wait for their eyes to meet mine then say, "Yeah, Im fat. And you're ugly. Go jump off a cliff or something." Until the day parents were invited to come in and see children's work at school and I had a nice little chat with Maaveave's teacher. Maaveave apparently tells her that God gave him a baby sister and its in his mummy's tummy. Apparently this he tells everyone. That explains the stares at my stomach. And it doesnt help that there is a healthy amount of lard sitting at my middle.

Discussions around baby 3 have been a frequent. My ovaries literally squeeze me when I see a new baby. I saw one particular cute saiga looking baby on Sunday at church and I wanted to take him hostage. When I think about lugging my swollen body around in that last trimester not caring about the pain of birth but just to get the baby OUT. Then there are the sleepless nights and early early morning calls to John cursing him for being in Savaii and not sharing the pain (the call is to mainly wake him up too so that he suffers along with me). The constant crying and you not knowing what is wrong and feeling helpless and useless. Being constantly attached to another human being and not being able to even go use the toilet before you hear them screaming the roof down. Ahhh..the list goes on. But to top it off - John being in Savaii. I have refused to have this bother me for a while but everytime he so much as breathes the word "baby", I release my venom that is my whole, "when you find a job on this island" speech and he quickly retracts and says to just leave it. And I am standing strong on this.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Chrsitmas Break Part II

Well, not really. Its now June and boy, has there been a load of things happening. There always is.

First thing: I got baptized on 12 February 2011 and am now a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - so dont try and shove alcohol down my throat like my husband does.

Its been great learning about the so many things I thought I knew! Will provide more of that as we go along but lets just talk about this weekend...

Another trip to the bigger island with Papalii C and faletua. We went to Le Lagoto on Saturday. What do you mean we were going to watch John marry a palagi couple and I was in shorts and a t-shirt, Trish in tights and polo shirt while our husbands looked awesome one in a Mena and the other in his spotless white I-am-the-wedder-man shirt. Only felt a little bit uncomfortable until my butt was back, parked confortably in one of their poolside chairs and sipping a ice-cold glass of yummy pineapple juice.

Maaveave enjoyed his two hour dip in the pool under the moon - yes it was dark by the time he woke up from his long nap in the van and thus, swimming in the moonlight. Hello Sunday morning, he woke up and had a frog in his throat. Either way, was a fun night and since everyone else that could drive was under the influence, I had to drive the long 40 minute drive back to Sapapalii.

Sunday was the usual - church in the morning then there was a massive spread of talo, luau, oka poge (my favourite), supo kauau pipi, mamoe kao le umu and puaa from the day before re-cooked in the umu cause it was very rare when they first put it on the table.

Ate too much then onto the boat and we were rocking back and forth to Apia trying very hard to keep the poge from jumping back outta my stomach. Oka se sou!

We are back to reality and am all of a sudden interested in the SWA position advertised in the paper - only they are asking for a Certificate in Management and I dont have one :)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Christmas break - Part I

The Savaii Part

Two days after Christmas, the kids, John and I packed up and headed for the big island. We took our car filled with the smell of fresh bread and pani popo from Siaosi as well as our necessities for the rest of the holidays we were to spend in Sapapalii. I was very much looking forward to going away from Apia. Savaii is clean and I love how there is a feeling of community everywhere. I was convinced I wasn’t going to miss walking barefoot on clean, tiled floors and sleeping on a spring and fluffy mattress with access to as many pillows as my heart and body desired!

And I didn’t....

We got on the 2pm ferry that was chocablock with people, cars, suitcases, plasma tvs and other parcels and goodies that had been sent from thousands of miles for families on the big island. Home at Sapapalii was buzzing with activity. We were met by Nana Liva, Aunty Lagi, Petreliah, Pesa and Toni and of course, a massive feed.

The week went by quite quickly with so much activity happening. On Wednesday 29 Dec, the family rose early for the bestowment of 10 Papalii and 2 Taimalelagi titles to 12 members of the Malietoa Gatuitasina Family. Each was deemed worthy of the title and had been agreed to by the various extended bodies or tino of the aiga. Amongst the ten receiving the Papalii title was John’s eldest brother Camillo who also holds the title Fuimaono from his mother’s family. He also is the Samoan government's Controller and Chief Auditor. Another being bestowed the Papalii title is Charlie Fruean, a true descendant of the family from the line or suli of Taiulavao but some years ago, this side of the family were banished from Sapapalii. The story goes that an accident happened which resulted in the death of a man named Saitumua. Judging from the older men’s stories, this occurred around the early 1900s and Taiulavao’s line have since then been excluded from Sapapalii. So, it was all quite emotional and life changing for Charlie that day.

After the saofa’i ceremony, we all went for a long swim in the fresh water pool of Sapapalii and then we went our separate ways to rest and freshen up for the evening. We planned to go out for dinner with Charlie, his wife and family that had travelled from Apia for the event. Papalii Camillo returned to Apia on the 12pm boat back to his family and Papalii Henny took off to Sataua to another family gathering.

The idea of going out for dinner was overtaken by the prospect of having a barbeque at home after Lepesia and Tuki assured us that their barbeque cooking skills were the best in Savaii. Frozen chicken was defrosted and marinated with John’s special sauce. Jack Daniels broke out of its yellow duty free bag while the rest of the niu vodka got lost amongst the water flavoured by orange sprim. By 9pm, the hot juicy chicken was being devoured and at the same time, a rain cloud hovered and threatened a downpour. Moeimanono was the dj and amongst the selection was some reggae, some slow jams but it was mostly dominated by Eteru and Nifoloa. Company was good, food was delicious, the music was pumpin and sometimes mesmerising. Judging from the laughter that rose, the alcohol was surely working its magic.

Midnight crept up on us and next thing, there was some yelling. Nana Liva was back from bingo and she didnt win. The laughter rising up amidst the vocals from the boombox in the dead of night did not provide comfort for her loss. And neither for the sleeping villagers; according to Nana Liva. Party goers trickled off in a matter of minutes and goodbyes were hushed with the occasional drunk's voice breaking loose, oblivious to Nana Liva's commands to turn that radio off and go home and sleep! Time for my aluga but not to forget the panadol to cater for the hangover. Untidy.

Thursday, Papalii Charlie and family brought breafast and a storm was cooked up at home for all. They were booked on the 12pm ferry and so straight after breakfast, we packed up in the vehicles and made our way to the wharf to see them off. Once again, Salelologa was full of travellers either just arrived from Apia or leaving Savaii. After our farewells were said, we returned home and headed for the vai taele. Cool and refreshing water for a swim, it was bliss for our bodies after a day of sweating in the hot sun.

New Year's Eve finally arrived and by 6am, I was comfortably seated on the Lady Naomi III sipping instant coffee and trying not to breath when the dude next to me would turn his head my way and blow hot stench out of his mouth. He obviously didnt have time to brush and floss and gargle some scope. My mission that day was to head over to Tuaefu, take and record the shop's stock afterwhich I would then catch the 4pm ferry back that evening to spend the very last moments of 2010 with hubby and whanau. All went according to plan. Thanks to Phaedra, my ride to the whart only costed me ST$30 instead of ST$50 by taxi and with all the comforts of her conversation in her small, red and cute swift susuki. We got to the wharf early. I bought me a business class ticket then we headed to Le Vasa for a quick cocktail before boarding the vessel. At 4.10, I was seated in business class (first time riding in business class and fifty tala later) enjoying the Bee movie that was showing on TV.

That evening, I convinced hubby that we should take Nana Liva and Aunty Lagi to the Sogaimiti Restaurant's buffet dinner for New Year's eve.

To be continued...