Tuesday, December 19

More From Fatilua's Visit

We went downtown for a quick visit to the memorials

Vai and Fatilua by the Korean War Memorial

Having fun overlooking the Reflecting Pool

Taking a rest from sightseeing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Maddy feeding the ducks with his lunch

Thursday, December 14

Look Who's in Town

One of my oldest friends Fatilua and his partner Vai came to town on Tuesday night from Albany, NY to visit with us for 3 days. I've known Fatilua for almost 25 years (I must be getting old) since our days in Samoa College. It's been real good catching up with them. I'll see what I can do to convince them to stay for the weekend!

Madison took to his uncle Fati and aunty Vai immediately.

The old guy and the other old guy

Fati in DC doing some kind of ballerina move for the camera

Friday, December 8

Winter is Here

I think winter is finally upon us here in the northern hemisphere. I had to walk through ice on the street on my way to work this morning. Yeah you heard me right. There was ICE on the street today! The cold weather has been on and off lately but I when there's ice on the roads you can pretty much say that winter is here; bring on the snow!

I wonder if we'll have a white Christmas this year? Wouldn't that be nice? I don't remember having a white Christmas since we lived in Alaska over 20+ years ago.

Thursday, December 7

Almost Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and while most families have the lights up and trees in the living room, we're a little behind on getting all of those things. Americans really start thinking about xmas right after Thanksgiving so we've been inundated with the holiday season hype for awhile now. Madison is very much looking forward to Christmas.

Madison would like to thank his Nanna in NZ for all of the mail he has been getting in the mailbox. He's even got mail from his Aunty Carlta, Aunty Susie, Aunty Patsy and Uncle Kenbo. You should see his eyes light up when his Mommy tells him he's got mail!

I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday season.

Wednesday, December 6

Hi Nanna!

Doing a Superman

Last night Maddy brought the step ladder into the room and did
Superman jumps onto his bed.
He is always finding new ways to have fun around the house.

It's good to see him growing and gaining weight.

Look at my wings Daddy!

Friday, November 24


Madison's new favorite comeback line is "blah blah blah". Whenever he's asked to do something he doesn't want to do it's either, "Whatever" or "blah blah blah". I don't know where he gets it from (most probably from the TV) but I think it's funny.

Thanksgiving was nice, it's always nice to have a day off, but it seems utterly ridiculous to have to come in again for work on Friday only to have another 2 days off for the weekend. The metro was empty today and the city is like a ghost town today; it seems like everyone took annual leave today except for me.

Mental note to self: Take annual leave on the day after Thanksgiving next year.

Thursday, November 23

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving here in the US and we're all enjoying a nice relaxing day at home. The weather outside is dreadful; wet and very cold, so being indoors is a good idea.

This is a pic of Madison counting the money in his moneybox in anticipation of Christmas and his XBox. He told us this morning that, "I can't wait to get my XBox!". He had a grand total of $19.95 which is just a little short of the $400 target but there is still time to save up between now and Xmas.

I better get a second job.

Wednesday, November 22

Losing My Samoan

Madison is slowly losing his ability to speak Samoan. I didn't notice at first but a few nights ago I asked him to get me a glass from the kitchen in Samoan and he gave me a puzzled look. I asked him if he understood what I said and he said, "No daddy". So I asked him in English and off he went.

It's interesting because when Papa called last night, he was talking to Madison in Samoan the whole time and Maddy seemed to understand (or he faked it pretty good) but only replied in English.

Last night we went to the supermarket and the checkout lady had a cute conversation with Madison, it went a little something like this:

Madison: (handing the money to the checkout lady) Here you go.

Checkout lady: Oh thank you, you're such a cutie! If I was a little girl I'd fall in love with you. How old are you?

Madison: I'm four.

Checkout lady: Are you in preschool?

Madison: No, I'm not 5 yet.

Checkout lady: I bet you have lots of girlfriends, do you have many girlfriends?

Madison: (straight faced) Yes.

Checkout lady: (Laughing) I bet you do. Thank you darling.

Madison: You're welcome.

Monday, October 23

You're a Good Boy Son

In case Madison reads this in the future, I just wanted him to know what a good boy he has been lately. Rachel and I both agree that he has been behaving exceptionally well, which makes us very happy and proud. He tried so hard to be a big boy, never wanting help if he can do it himself, responding to our instructions without whining or complaining. He is a little hard headed at times but it's all because he tries so hard to prove that he too is smart and that he should participate in the decision making process.

He wanted us to buy him an online game last weekend but I told him it costed money and he needed to find 18 dollars. So off he went to grab his piggy bank and asked Mommy to help him count out "eideen talas". He came up $11.00 short but after giving Mommy his sad puppy dog eyes, Mommy lent him the balance and Maddy got his game and Mommy and Daddy got big thank yous and hugs in return. A pretty good exchange, if you ask me.

Friday, October 20

Maddy Bakes a Cake

Last night Maddy asked me if he could make a chocolate cake.

Of course I said yes, so off we went to the kitchen.

Maddy wanted to put all the ingredients in himself including the eggs,
which he is quite good at cracking open.

We didn't think we made much of a mess, but Mommy thought otherwise!

The cake turned out great and after Madison put the icing on it
we all had a nice piece of Madison's first cake. He's quite the little chef.
Licking the spoon and bowl was his favorite part!

Tuesday, October 17

Snail Mail

"Let's go and check the email" says Maddy. What Maddy is referring to is our mailbox downstairs. He calls it "checking the email" haha. He gets all excited because lately he has received a couple of parcels, cards and postcards in the mail from his Nana Michi.
"Thanks Nana, I Love receiving email."

Monday, October 16

Visitors from New Haven, Connecticut

Uncle Steve and Aunty Lu arrived Friday evening to spend the weekend with us. Unfortunately their visit was cut short, as a family member on Uncle Steve's side passed away. It was fun catching up with them and Madison took to Uncle Steve very quickly. They bought him a playdough set, gumboots and raincoat (so he can splash in puddles), pick up sticks game and oversized playing cards. Maddy loved them all! They also bought some housewarming gifts i.e. placemat set, matching tea towels and a serving dish. Thanks Aunty and Uncle!!!

We spent Saturday downtown DC at the National Museum of the American Indian and took a few photos and bought a few postcards to send to Nana, Papa, Grandma and Grandpa. The building itself was amazing in design and shape and the Kasota stone used to build it was beautiful. Surrounding the building was a cascade flowing over boulders known as Grandfather Rocks which symbolises the Native Americans relationship to the natural world ~ it was just beautiful! The many artefacts on display and exhibitions were breathtaking and I was able to capture a few pictures on our cell.
We ate lunch at the Airspace Museum cafe, stopped off at IMAX theatre to watch a 30 minute film about famous astronauts who walked on the moon, in 3D, and then headed off home to rest, before we ventured out for dinner to celebrate Uncle and Aunty's 33rd wedding anniversary. WOW ... 33 years is a longggggg time! :)

Friday, October 13

Looking for News from Samoa?

If you're looking online for news from Samoa, I'm afraid you won't find much, especially if you're looking for a news source that is updated daily. The Samoa Observer used to have a good site but it hasn't been updated in over a year, which is a pity because it was one of the only ways Samoans living overseas could keep abreast of what was going on back home.

Luckily for those of us living abroad, a few new Samoan news sites have popped up. Edwin Puni's EventPolynesia.com site has a nice little section on news from Samoa. I also found another site called www.wsamoa.ws which also has some regularly updated news from back home.

According to these sites it seems it is never dull in Samoa. The leader of the opposition party SDUP has stepped down after a failed leadership takeover, leaving Samoa without an opposition in Parliament. That can't be good. Also in the news, the Police Commisioner just crashed his car and the first officers on the scene just told him to leave the scene and that noone would know about it. I won't even go into how many parlimentarians have been suing each other and losing their seats to bribery allegations. On a lighter note, the newly crowned Miss Samoa was forced to step down because it was found that she was under age (17).

What's going on back home?

Tuesday, October 10

Madison's Prayer

Every night before Madison goes to bed, we all sit around the bed and say our evening prayers. Madison doesn't have a memorised prayer, he actually varies what he says each night while talking to God, depending on what he did during that particular day. Maddy's prayer from last night went a little something like this:

Tai Iesu, (Faafetai Iesu)

Thank you for my TV and my games. (He loves watching TV and playing games on the laptop.)

Thank you for my walks. (Mommy takes him for walks around the neighborhood each day to get out of the house and get some fresh air and exercise.)

Thank you for my flashlight and my toys. (We bought him a little Superman flashlight while grocery shopping yesterday.)

In your name we pray,


Sunday, September 24

Till The Morning Angels Watch Over You...

Were the last words you said to me via Gmail chat. I still remember our 30 minute conversation, the giggles and laughter, the words of encouragement, the strength and courage that shone through from you was overwhelming and yet still I felt a sadness knowing there was nothing I could do but hope and pray and root for you all the way.

As I sit and type this, which has been very hard to do, I remember how we first met which was at our wedding in 2001, your radiant smile, your strong bubbly personality welcoming me to the family; the fun times we had in Samoa, cooking schnitzel at our humble home in Vaivase-Uta for the first time and you laughing at me because I didn't have a clue at what I was doing; watching tv using a projector, screened on our living room wall; socialising with your friends on that French boat, I'm sure you girls were eyeing up all the sailors or was it they were eyeing up you, all dressed up in your beautiful tatau grey and white halter neck puletasi; reading your article in the new Pacific magazine (forgot title) describing your experiences and the nitelife in Samoa (which I remember you telling me you hoped your Dad wouldn't read) ~ I should of bought a copy for keeps; our brunch at Kaufe Hauz on your last trip to Samoa was time well spent with you; seeing you again at Sachi and Mark's wedding and boogieing hard out on the dance floor at the afterparty; some of the memories I will treasure always.

I dedicate a song to you called "Time To Say Goodbye" by Andre Bocelli and Sarah Brightman as you are laid to rest. We will always remember you the "Divine Miss M", and how much you have touched our hearts. You will never be forgotten. Until we meet again, All Our Love Rachel, Matt and Maddy :)

Thursday, September 7

September Already?

I can't believe it's September already. Before Rachel and Maddy got here time was moving so slowly and now that they're here it seems like time is just flying by.

We've been keeping busy, which is good but unfortunately when we've got lots of stuff to write about, we never have the time to sit down and write about it. Rachel and Madison are adjusting well to the new timezone and place and according to Madison, he never wants to go back to Samoa, he likes it better here. I don't know if it's because of the new digs or what but I think it's just because he likes it when both of his parents are with him at the same time.

That's a photo of me and Maddy standing at the bus stop across the street from our house. We were on our way to see the doctor for his monthly checkup and rheumatic fever injection. I didn't realise that we both had our left hands in our pockets til I saw this photo. Like father like son :)

Our friendly neighbor Cathy from downstairs gave us a nice stroller for Madison. Maddy likes going for walks but lacks the stamina to walk very far, or so he says. I think he just gets lazy (I wonder who he gets that from?) and prefers to be carried or pushed around in his stroller. Thanks Cathy!

Madison has become very adept with the computer. He is very observant and picks up quite a lot from just watching us use the laptop. He can turn it on and off, use the Favorites menu, the Back button and knows how to start games and tab through the different open windows. He is a master with the mouse, I didn't even need to teach him how to use it. I think he's teaching himself intuitively, a process I find to be amazing at his age.

That's the view from our verandah. There isn't any grassy open spaces or playgrounds in our complex but Madison loves riding his bike in the underground parking garage. We're fortunate to live in a safe neighborhood with nice, quiet neighbors.

Labor Day Weekend

Last weekend was Labor Day and we decided to go into DC and see some of the sights.

That's Rachel and Maddy at the Air and Space Museum standing in front of some big rockets.

Daddy and Maddy in the Mall with the Washington Monument in the background.

Maddy loved the Air and Space Museum.

On the Metro on our way into DC. Maddy must have the window seat!

The highlight of Madison's day was riding the dragon on one of DC's oldest merry-go-rounds.

Wednesday, August 16

No Man is an Island

"No man is an island. No man stands alone." - Dennis Brown

We can vouch for that, especially after our move to Washington DC. We simply couldn't have done it on our own. We would like to sincerely thank the following people:

  • God. First and foremost. Traveling half the globe to a foreign land is no easy task, especially with the threat of terrorism, but we all made it here safely with no drama. We sincerely believe that our guardian angels were working overtime keeping us safe and sound so we could be reunited as a family once again.
  • Our families. Their support has been unbelievable, they were always there for us, from caring for Rachel and Madison while they were in NZ, throwing Madison a birthday party, providing moral support, to helping out with our air fares. We are blessed to have such supportive families. Thanks guys!
  • Cindy Streb. Cindy is truly one of a kind and her help from Day 1 was heaven sent. From helping me apply for the position, to letting me stay in her condo rent-free while she was away on travel, Cindy has been a fantastic friend. She even gave us her TV for free. Thank you Cindy!
  • Adam Tremper. Adam was kind enough to pick up groceries and medication for me while I was sick and stuck in the house. I think the measure of a true friend is their willingness to come through when they're really needed. Adam came through when I needed someone the most and I will never forget that kindness.
  • Steve and Lu Nagler. Steve and Lu in Connecticut have always expressed their willingness to help out in any way they can. It's comforting knowing that they are only a phone call away. They are our bigtime safety net!
  • Kathy and Hugh Ngaga. Kathy is our neighbor and lives in our building. I met her by chance on the day I moved in but the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that meeting her was through divine intervention. Through her we have a 2 piece couch set with pull out bed, dining table, 2 coffee tables, a vacuum cleaner, ottoman and a lamp all for FREE. Hugh even helped me drag all the stuff over to our place. We are very fortunate to have made their acquaintance.
  • Candi Bryant. Candi has been a huge help to me since I got here. She has driven me places in her car and has been a wonderful resource, helping me find my feet in a city that can be very confusing to a simple island boy.
  • Mark Bellinger. Mark is a co-worker who was kind enough to help me move a bed I found online to our place with the use of his truck. It was a lot of heavy lifting but Mark never once complained or asked for compensation.
  • HP, Teuila & Maxine. My friends and former co-workers from Samoa. They showed true friendship by checking up on Rachel and Maddy after I had left for the States. Maxine made sure that I got my medicine when I was sick, even though she didn't have to.

As a family we are truly blessed to have so many people who have gone out of their ways to help us. We may not be able to fully thank you ourselves but we hope and pray that God will bless you for the kindness you've shown us. Thank you, thank you all!

Monday, August 14

Island Boy in the City

Rachel, Madison and I went for a walkabout yesterday afternoon to visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to see some dinosaurs. Madison was so excited because he loves dinosaurs, however on our way there we came across a merry-go-round and predictably enough, Madison lost all interest in going to the museum. Thankfully we managed to talk him into going to the museum first, with the promise that we'd go to the merry-go-round afterwards. After going through the dinosaur exhibit of dinosaur fossils, he told us that he was "sad" that all the dinosaurs were dead and wanted to know "what happened" to them. The visit to the museum was kinda rushed because I have a feeling that Maddy was trying to rush us through the museum so we could go to the merry-go-round.

Walking to the station on the way home, Madison decided that his feet were hot so he removed his socks and shoes and went island style through the gravel, grass, pavement and subway system. It was funny seeing him walk the streets of Washington DC barefoot, his mommy wasn't too impressed but I thought it was a hoot.

The Way We Were

This is a photo that a co-worker of mine just handed to me this morning. He was in Samoa back in 2002 on a work trip and thought that I'd like to see a photo he took way back then. I had just started with the Peace Corps then and already this photo can tell that the three of us would be the best of friends. HP looks younger, Teuila and I still look the same, we don't look like we've aged a bit in 5 years (yeah right). I miss those two, the chats we used to share over lunch breaks, early lunch breaks, late breakfast breaks, ice cream breaks and every other excuse for a break we could think up. It's a wonder we ever got any work done!

Saturday, August 12

Reunited At Long Last

Rachel and Madison arrived safely in DC in the early hours of Thursday morning. It was so good to see them again. Madison and I shared a very long hug, it was obvious that he really missed his daddy. Being a family again feels really good. We spent the first day relaxing at home and doing a bit of grocery shopping later in the day.

We went to the National Zoo yesterday. It was a nice day, not too hot but it was a long walk from one end to the other. By the time we got home we all had a nice long nap.

This is a photo taken by Maddy with our cellphone while we were waiting for a taxi after grocery shopping. It was funny shopping with Maddy because he wanted one of everything that remotely looked like a toy.

That's Maddy with a donkey at the zoo. He later bought a stuffed donkey at the Visitor's center even though there was a choice of panda bears, giraffes and elephants.

That's Maddy at the airport smiling now that he's back together with daddy.

Tuesday, August 8

Happy Birthday BatGran!

Today is the 9th in NZ so that means today is Mom's birthday! Happy birthday Mom, hope you have a good one. I'm glad that you'll be able to spend most of it with Rach and Maddy there with you. I wish I was there too! Thanks for everything you've done for us this year Mom, I don't know where we'd be without you. You're the best mom a son could ever ask for. Love you!

2 More Days

Today is Tuesday and on Thursday I will be reunited with my family. To say I'm excited would be an understatement! It's been hard to remain focused at work , all I can think about is how I'll be seeing Rachel and Madison in two days. Two days!

Last night I picked up a king sized bed that I found online on Craigslist.com , which is a really convenient website to find second hand stuff that people in your area want to sell at discount prices. The bed was bought 6 months ago at $1495 but I got it for $600 and it was still in its original plastic wrapping so I think I got a good deal. It's a pillowtop type bed and while it's very comfortable, it sits quite high off the ground, even I have to jump up a little bit to get on. Weird but once you're on it, you can't tell that you're high off the ground, unless of course you fall off it.

Tonight I'll be going to Toys 'R Us to pick out a few toys for Maddy. I won't go crazy but I think he deserves to have a couple of pressies waiting for him at the house when he gets there. I think I'll try and get 3 pressies and not spend more than a hundred bucks. Maybe there'll be a sale on.

Rachel and Maddy fly out of Wellington in approximately 10 hours. I wish them both a safe journey to the States. Hurry home hon!

Monday, August 7

Three More Days

Three more days 'til Rachel and Madison arrive in Washington DC! I've been counting down the days, hours and minutes since I found out that they had bought tickets to depart New Zealand on the 9th of August. I had a nice chat with Rachel on the phone last night and she sounded ready to make the trip over. I think the flight from Wellington to Auckland is like an hour, the flight from Auckland to LA is just under 12 hours and the flight from LA to Washington DC is a little under 5 hours for a total of 18 hours in the air. It isn't an easy trip by any means and I hope Madison behaves himself and helps his mommy out during the layovers in Auckland and LA. If I'm not mistaken, they start their travels tomorrow since tomorrow will be the 9th in NZ. It's a pity they have to leave NZ on BatGran's birthday but due to some quirks in the travel industry, flying out on the 9th saved us all a lot of money (as compared with the 10th, 11th, 12th or 13th).

I have so much to get done before they get here in the wee hours of Thursday morning. I've already paid for an airport shuttle to take me to the airport and we'll probably cab it back home. I was originally going to use the Washington Flyer service which takes us to the West Falls metro station for only 9 bucks each but then that would mean that we'll have to lug all the bags onto the train and then all the way home. Not the best of ideas when you've just spent the last 2 days travelling from the other side of the world!

I know my son is expecting some birthday presents so I'm going to do some shopping for a few pressies after work on Tuesday or Wednesday. I found a bed online and am picking it up tonight with the assistance of a friend from work. I should also try and clean up the place a bit before Rachel gets here although I know she'll still think the place is untidy.

Thursday, August 3


It's funny how family have been emailing me expressing concern about the heatwave we've been going through the past week or so. I didn't really notice we were going through a heatwave until I got a TV 2 days ago and saw it on the news for myself. I thought this was what summers in DC were normally like. I even compared the weather to Samoa, you know, hot and humid. People talk about the weather in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius so when they said it was 100 degrees outside I thought it was the same in Samoa, you know, hot is hot right? Hello? I just did a conversion of today's temperature (107F) and it equals 41C. Oka that's like 10 degrees hotter than Samoa! I crack myself up sometimes.

On a more pleasant note, the 1 week countdown starts today. Seven days 'til Rachel and Maddy arrive wooohooo! I had a bad dream last night that Maddy and Rachel arrived and I had forgotten to buy Maddy a birthday present and he asked me, "Daddy fea la'u pressie?" as soon as he walked in the door. I woke up in a cold sweat. Or maybe it was just hot due to the heatwave, but either way I better remember to go shopping for him before they get here or I'm a dead man! Seven days to go.... yay!

Wednesday, August 2

Happy Birthday Papa

Today is Papa's 64th birthday! Malo lava Dad, I hope you have a wonderful day and I wish I could be there to celebrate it with you. I bet I'll be missing out on the chicken wings, potato salad and rice special too! I miss home!

Tuesday, August 1

One Happy Family

The first thought that came to mind when I saw these photos
was "this looks like one happy family".

Madison is blessed to have a family that loves him to death.

Aunty Sachi and Lagi with Madison

Hangin' with Aunty Ling

Can't quite make out the engagement ring on Aunty Ling's finger from this
photo but this is a good shot of Maddy in what looks like a cool new
shark outfit. I hope he still fits it by the time winter rolls around
in DC in 4 months time.

Blowing Out the Candles

Would you take a look at that cake? Wow, the things they can do with
cake icing these days, unbelievable! I don't know about cutting a cake
with my picture on it though, would anyone like a nose with their ice cream?

Things that make you go hmmm?

Look at Mr. Moneybags here after his birthday. When I asked his mommy
what he got for his birthday there was no mention of any $$$. Reminds me
of that song from way back, "Things that make you go Hmmmm..."

Wednesday, July 26

Happy Birthday Son!

Today is Madison Luke's 4th birthday, happy birthday son! I wish I could be there for his birthday bash on Sunday but alas, I can't. I'm so jealous of everyone who's gonna be there!

I am planning a little birthday celebration for when he gets here on the 15th of August, including hiding a present for him in every room of the house and having him hunt for them (that should be fun).

Now that Rachel and Maddy's visas have been approved we have decided that they will be coming over to join me on the 15th of next month, which should give them time to visit with family while I try and get us some furniture.

It's hard to believe we've had Maddy for four years already, it's gone by so fast!