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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

We're in Kuala Lumpur getting ready for our flight to Auckland tonight on Christmas Eve. We arrived here two days ago and yesterday we spend in Bukit Jadang shopping and just enjoying/getting squashed in the Christmas rush here. The Christmas spirit is very obvious here which is lovely but I guess it's commercialism at it's best. After three hours of walking and more walking my legs had it and so did Master Four. So we hopped back on the monorail which is only 3 stops to our hotel. We went for a quick swim before enjoying snacks at the Club floor which was yummy. Later we went to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant nearby which a friend recommended and it wasn't great. It's a challenge to find local eateries in this area which is a bummer.
Now at KL Airport awaiting our Malaysian Air flight to Auckland. One night in AUckland andnthen off to Samoa on Boxing day.
Merry Christmas, Manuia le Kerisimasi, Frohe Weinachten from us.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cyclone Evan

Cyclone Evan has been and gone from Samoa but it left a lot of destruction on the island of Upolu especially in the capital Apia. Many families have lost their homes due to flash floods from heavy rain. About three people died and many families are still at evacuation sites. Just a terrible thing to happen to our beloved country once more. But we have done it before from Cyclones Val and Ofa and we'll do it again, rebuilding and starting from scratch. Samoans are resilient people and they will bounce back once the sun dries up the mud and it's easier to shift all that debris and rebuild their homes. The economic costs to families and the country is going to be immense but they can only move forward from here. Now the awful Cyclone Evan has just reached Fiji and I pray it dissipates soon and not cause so much destruction as it did in Samoa though they now class it as a CAT 4 Cyclone which is just awful. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Creeps on Facebook/ Facepoo

It's that time again when I'm totally off facebook. I've deactivated my profile for now. I got a friend request from a someone I didn't know but listed as a friend of one of my FB friends. So as you do you click on their page to see who it is and whether you remember them...to my utmost disgust and irritation there on his page are my photos! He had gone and shared my pics on his page. Him because that was his profile, and that he was from Am Samoa! Yikes and yuck. I messaged them that it was very creepy that he copied my photos when we didn't even know each other. What pissed me off more is how blimin' facebook allows this sort of thing. When I went to check the said photos on my profile settings they were set on 'public' which means any weirdo can see and copy then. You have to choose the setting EVERY time you change your profile picture and apparently cover photos are automatically 'public' and you can't do otherwise! Well that put me right off because I thought I was being good at being private on FB from strangers!!! I reported the creep's pics as abusive to me and blocked him from my page. If I do go back on FB I will clean out a lot of people I'm friends with on there. The novelty of finding old friends has worn off. Especially after a year and you've hardly said two words to one another aside from the initial catch up! Ia enough ranting about facebook. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

15 Days to Christmas

I've been busy shopping for the Christmas party and presents for people and have been enjoying it. Yesterday I did a very domesticated thing. One of my friends came over with her son so they boys played while we baked gingerbread cookies and jam cookies(Linzer cookies). Just love the internet and the recipes for all sorts of things. I had Christmas music on full blast while we toiled away in the kitchen. I just can't believe it myself but it was fun, tiring but fun. Let's just say it's a good thing Christmas comes around once! Anyway now we have lots of fun cookies for the kids and ourselves to eat and looking forward to Christmas dinner with a few friends this week-end. Yippeee. Merry Christmas:)

Saturday, December 08, 2012

17 Days to Christmas

So exciting. Not long to go before Christmas. I just love this season. I really miss the Christmas spirit in other countries though. There's a few that get into the hype of things here but not many do it so it's lacking a bit. However amongst ourselves we're really excited about it all. I downloaded Christmas Music App so I can have some seasonal songs on whenever I feel like it. I can't wait for our trip home to see the family and enjoy the Christmas spirit on the way. We're having a Christmas party this Thursday with a few of our friends and yep really looking forward to it now. Yippee

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Perfect Sky

Beautiful sky in Muscat after rainy days. Very refreshing and clean. The dust has been pushed to the ground so it's clear skies all day. Just beautiful.

Samoa Wins the Dubai Rugby Sevens for the first time

So this is how it went. Samoa were in Pool C which was a tough one with England who always shine in Dubai and last year's winners, South Africa and Portugal. Samoa narrowly beat both Portugal and South Africa but lost to Portugal. Portugal managed to beat both England and SA kicking both those powerhouses out of the Cup race. Samoa then faced Wales and beat them nicely in the quarter finals. They faced France in the semi-finals and beat them too to make it into the cup finals to face New Zealand. The final was amazing. Paul Perez scored a try within 10 seconds from kick off. It was just beautiful. Lolo scored another, then Perez again. Another went to Tulolo I believe. Perez was on fire and he really stood out during this tournament. He was the player of the match deservingly. He was everywhere tackling the boys in black and was there when he was need to run the ball. The whole Samoan team played like champs and didn't give NZ a chance to get through this time. It was an awesome game to watch and for the first time Samoa has won in Dubai. My son and I went to watch on the first day but the weather was stormy and didn't want to risk getting sick along with my son so we went home and came back to Muscat the next day to catch the games on TV. 

We had a nice faiga lotu(prayer) with the team on Wednesday night in Dubai with our Aiga Samoa from around the Middle East but mostly those in the UAE. It was fun preparing food for the team as each brought a dish. Needless to say there was more than enough food and drinks and the get-together was just fab. Nice to see everyone else especially meet some of the new and old faces in the team. Great effort by our aiga Samoa once again. One Dubai 7s done and this supporter's liver was spared! heh:) Go the Manu...real champs. South Africa 7s this week-end. 

Monday, December 03, 2012

Weird

A car drove out and I took it's place in the parking lot. I went in to nearby shops to pick stuff up I ordered and came back within 20 minutes to my car and was horrified when I saw I had blocked a car in!!! I didn't realise the parking lane I was in wasn't parking but a whole line of cars blocking others in. I saw the car in front of me's driver in it so I waved at her that I was going and sorry. She came out of the car yelling 'rightfully so I thought' at me for blocking her in. I apologised profusely and said it was an honest mistake. I really didn't see there was no exit in front of her car as I had reversed parked. Anyway the lady was livid and said she'd called the police and I shouldn't do that kind of thing. Again I said I knew exactly how she felt but I was really really sorry for delaying her. She continued on saying I shouldn't do that to other people to which I said "I never do that, it was by accident as I just said I didn't mean to." She continued on now lecturing me about being responsible to others. Once again I said, "listen lady, I didn't do this on purpose and as I said I'm really sorry but don't go accusing me of doing this all the time." She said "I think you do it all the time" I said.."Excuse me, you have no idea who I am and you're standing there telling me I do this all the time, I'm apologising to you accepting full responsibility for my actions and you're still accusing me and not accepting my apology. Do you want me to get on my knees and beg your forgiveness? Well I'm not going to do that and if you're not willing to listen and accept my apology screw you and I'm done talking to you, you crazy bitch" At that point I was pissed off  to which she just wouldn't stop talking not even listen to what I had to say but kept on accusing me as I walked off to my car and drove off. Lucky my hormones were in check and I didn't run over her little sedan with my SUV, farken nutcase!!! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Manu Samoa vs France 2012 - Before

Every Manu Samoa fan in every corner of the world at this very moment is most likely on the edge of their seat, biting nails, restless and just waiting with anticipation this next game that will start in an hour and half in Paris. After Samoa's last two wins against Canada and Wales this is a defining moment. They beat Australia last year and then went to lose to Wales at the World Cup in NZ which was heart wrenching for all Samoans. 
To me this will change Samoa's place in the rugby world if they beat France tonight after annihilating Wales last week in their homeground Cardiff! If they don't then we're once again a one hit wonder that win once in awhile. Last week we saw our team really have the goods to deliver. Having said that France are also at the top of their game. They beat Argentina last week beautifully so it's Manu Samoa has a huge task ahead of them.
Well I just want to wish our team the best of luck. O tou mama na. Whatever the outcome I'm a proud Manu Samoa supporter and really believe the team is on it's way up with the change in management and exposure of the corruption thanks to Mahonri Schwalger and the other selfless players that put themselves on the line for the betterment of rugby in Samoa. I'm saddened that they haven't been recalled but it's given the others a chance to shine which is a good thing. Manuia le alo atu i tou Faiva Manu Samoa

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Samoa beat Wales 2012

In what was an exhilirating game to watch between Samoa and Wales last night in Cardiff, Samoa came out victorious with 26 points to Wales 19. Samoa scored 3 tries to Wales' one try. Fa'atoina Autagavaia, George Pisi, and Johnny Leota scored the three tries. Autagavaia's try came just after the first minute of the game which set the game for Samoa. They were fit and they were persistent. Pisi's try in the second half was another beauty as he touched down the ball in mid-air after jumping away to avoid the Welsh tackler. I think it was the best try of the match. They played like a world class team and I was just proud to watch them consistently going through their set pieces and not breaking down or making silly mistakes. The Manu Samoa I watched last night were a far cry from the one a few years ago when I would watch for the heck of it and feel my heart sink as the boys struggle through the second half from lack of fitness. This time they were fit and up to the challenge. They were good in the scrum and at the line-outs. I hope they get better from here and well done to coach Stephen Betham for such a beautiful and well-deserved win. 


Tusi Pisi scoring his gymnast try: Getty images


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fun at the Park

A nice Thursday afternoon at Al Ilam Park after yummy salad and cheese toasty at Cafe G.


Ayana Spa Rocks in Muscat

This morning a couple of friends and myself decided to go for a pampering morning at Ayana Day Spa here in Muscat. It is currently my favourite spa for their treatments, professionalism, atmosphere and cleanliness. Mum and sister enjoyed lots of days there in the past weeks so today was my turn. I had a relaxing massage that was just blissful followed by a manicure. Gosh I wonder why I don't do that more often! Before that I dropped my son off at school then walked on the beach with my bestie which is just so beautiful early in the morning. We enjoyed a nice simple breakfast at D'Arcy's on Shatti Beach before we made our way to the spa. Talk about a real pampered expat wife day! But you know what, we deserve it and 'yes we can'. Ia ua lelei. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Update

Wow is my page just boring or what? I've hardly blogged in the past months. Just weird how fast time flies since the last entry. Well a lot has happened. We have been blessed for the second time and have a few months to go until the arrival of our new family member. I'm grateful to God for blessing us again and praying that all goes well. Well I've been lucky with no nausea and whatever else happens to other people...but  have just been tired in the afternoons but then again that's normal for me so it's all good so far thank goodness. I'm starting to feel the little one's movements now which is very exciting and making it very real. The bump is growing fast now and so has my appetite. I'm enjoying my food that's for sure and the koko Samoa I have in the freezer for rainy days has never tasted better:) Coincidentally a lot of friends and family around the world are also blessed right at this time. My sister for one is 3 months ahead of  me which is very exciting as it's her first. So it's baby boom time again next year. And in the same breathe I pray for my friends and relatives that are trying to have babies and hope they get blessed soon too. 
My mum and sis left last Tuesday and well it's been strange not having them around once more. It was so nice having mum around for us to take care of and pamper. It was Eid here so their first week was very relaxing and quiet with the empty roads as local residents had travelled abroad to spend their holidays. 
Next month we'll be seeing Mum and our families again in Samoa and New Zealand as it'll be my mum's birthday. I can't wait to see our families then. Bring on the headaches and the laughter, I'm ready for it...I just feel sorry for the first person I'm going to explode at due to the hormonal upheaval! That's my excuse for now but really hope no such thing happens. 
On other news facebook has become utterly boring. I think the novelty has worn off and I wonder what other social network is next!!! 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Time with Mother/Grandma

We've had the privilege of having Mum visit us in our home in Oman. It's Mum's first visit in my son's 4 years and it is just surreal it's wonderful. The last time was when I was pregnant with my son. It's so unusual but such a rare treat that I'm enjoying every moment with my mother. My son has warmed to his grandma and they have fun together now. I'm loving having my mother in our home and the fact that I can take care of her and make sure she gets alot of rest from the busy life she leads. I envy my family back home who have the pleasure of having grandma visit their kids all the time and it's moments like these that I wish we lived closer to our son's grandparents. 

Mum has a few more days and I'm dreading the quiet house after she and my sis from Europe leave. I'm going to miss them terribly when they go and will enjoy the last days we have together:)
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman

My friend Millie and I made it to see Aida last month at the newly opened Opera house in Muscat. Well it opened last year but I finally managed to make a show. Last year almost all the shows were sold out as they brought in sought after acts for the first year of the Opera house. They had Domingo, Andreas Bocelli, The Russian Ballet, Japanese drums and if you snoozed you lost out. I was over the moon when my opera going friend called to say she had a spare ticket for me to see Aida by Verdi. It was performed by the Warsaw National Theatre and it was beautiful. The colours on stage and the beautiful performances and voices were just magical. I enjoyed every minute of it. Last night we went to see Jessye Norman an American Opera singer. It was an enjoyable performance and the lady had a mesmerizing voice but I found it weird to listen to opera in English! Not that I understand Latin or Italian but somehow it sounds more intriguing than in English. Nevertheless Ms Norman had a very alluring voice and I think she must be nearing 70 and looks and sounded amazing. 

Needless to say the Opera house is just grandeur. The interior is decorated in everything Omani and just very tasteful. A surprise awaited when the show started each seat had a little screen in front of it so that it had subtitles in either English or Arabic so one could understand the language used in the act! That was crazy but awesome, and then above the stage itself they had another screen with the subtitles as well. It's so well positioned that it doesn't take your attention away from the show itself! 

The staff at the opera house were also the best. They were mostly local men and women and were attentive to the opera goers. From the two times I've been to this opera house, it's probably the best service offered in this city. The attendants were polite and cordial. The refreshments staff were quick and friendly enough oh and every act was on time! It really made the experience that good and felt like you could be in Europe in any old opera there. Needless to say this girl is hooked and looking to make shows I'm around for! 
***** Five stars for the Oman Royal Opera House

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kate Middleton and Prince William in Tav

Duchess Kate and Duke William looking smart in Tav.
So we from the Pacific love this label Tav. It is owned by Cook Islander Elena Taveoni and she's been selling it in Raro and Samoa in Janet's Boutique store. The latests store opened in Auckland and I must admit I've visited this new store every time I was in town browsing the sale rack:) They are not cheap but the quality and the workmanship on the clothing is well-worth the buy. And if you're my friend on facebook you would see I wear my beloved Tavs all the time. So it's lovely to see the Duchess looking comfortable and fabulous in what we Pacific women love to wear. Great day for the Tav Stores across the Pacific. I hope it won't make the prices go higher as they're hefty as it is!

News in the ME

I said to the hubby that we should have a party next month as it's been a bit quiet lately since the last party. He said we shouldn't and we should keep a low profile for awhile in light of what's happening.
 I asked what's happening? And he informed me of the protests going on around the ME to do with that anti-Muslim movie some idiotic people filmed in the US. I quickly switched to the news channel and read online and yep was I in the dark about it all!!! And then I understood why I'd been getting messages from people concerned about us. I've been so busy with my son starting at a new school and getting stuff together that I hadn't really paid attention to the news! Well having said that, nothing shocking is happening around us thus far and hope it stays that way.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

My Birthday

I woke up to a text from one of my friends to meet her for coffee after kids drop off. School started this week so having free hours in the morning is all a novelty once more for me. I texted back yes. Hubby got up to say happy birthday and went back to bed as he worked late the night before.
I met my friend at a cafe where I could have breakfast. I had decided my birthday was going to be a non-event as the surprise party was my focus. I texted my bestie that we were at our favourite cafe if they wanted to join us for coffee. They showed up with big smiles wishing me a happy birthday. I felt so bad when the friend I was having coffee with looked up in shock and embarrassment that I hadn't informed her about it. Well what was I gonna say guess what "it's my birthday!!! We had a nice breakfast and then I offered to take my friend's sister to the souk. The souk is the beautiful market place in Muttrah the old capital of Oman which is in Muscat. I hadn't been there is such a long time so I was really pleased to go back there. I love the colours of the souk and we managed to find some gorgeous shawls and silver jewellery. I was just the tour guide but the charm of the souk got me once more.
We came back in time to pick up my son from kindy. We came home to yummy choco cake that hubby got from Cafe G that we had breakfast at earlier. My mom remembered my birthday along with my siblings thanks to FB, so it was nice to get all the messages on email, ph and facebook. Did I say I was a sucker for those?
My friend's sister was leaving so we decided to take her out to dinner and might as well be a combined one with my birthday. We sent the text around to our group of friends and unusual as it was most were not working except for my poor hubby who had to work that evening. We went to O'Malley's and Irish pub in town that was having a Ladies night. Had yummy fish and chips and by midnight everyone was itching to go dancing. Off we went to Club Zouk which is this nice club under Crowne Plaza hotel. There was hardly anyone there but when we walked in the DJ started playing all the good ol' party sounds from our outing days. It was AWESOME. I think we danced and danced until my feet were about to go on strike so I came home! I had to wake up 4 hours later to take my son to kindy. Needless to say my eyes were popping out of my head so I came straight home and went back to bed. But I had an awesome birthday. I had decided it was a non-event and so whatever happened it was a plus. I should think like that every year so I don't get disappointed:)

Surprise Party

My bestie has had her last chemo-treatment and has been given the all clear of breast cancer to our utter relief, however she still has a year of a herceptin to go. The worst is over thank God for that. So to celebrate her surviving this ordeal and her birthday in one go we decided to organise a surprise party for her. Her hubby was in on it and he wanted to do it at their house as he had just installed an outdoor bar for entertaining. And so we planned. We finalised a date that most people were available on which is flaming hard when most people are on rosters... but the final and most difficult task was getting her out of her own house and then to sneak her kids to mine for the night. 
In the end another friend invited them over for drinks before going out to dinner. Her sister was visiting also so they went off and we took the kids home with the sitter. It was crazy. Once she left the house, friends and I rushed over there and set up the house and garden for the party with her hubby. Chairs came left right and center and table. It was hectic as guests were arriving within an hour and a half but we managed to get it ready in time! It was a transformed place within an hour. We had fairy lights up over the bar around the garden, balloons the bar set up. We had the alcoholic fountain up and running. It was just our paradise...yep partee.
Finally we gave the all clear to the friend doing the entertaining to bring her home and did she get a surprise when she walked in and we were all there. And amazingly we managed to keep it from her all that time. I actually had to avoid her for 3 days as I just knew I would slip up. Closer to the party I couldn't sleep organising it in my head bahaha. Anyway there was loads of food and drink. The music was awesome, people were dancing, laughing and she just had a fabulous time. I did too until 2 in the morning!! 

Saturday, September 01, 2012

1 September

First day of my birth month! Just gets me excited lol. I've received my electronic present already from hubby so I'm a happy b'day girl. However I still expect a little love on my birthday. Weird much? maybe but I'm sure millions of people are like that. Thank goodness for facebook that make people feel extra special with the birthday reminders that make people receive so many birthday wishes. I have to admit I'm one of those suckers that just love those messages from family, close friends and not-so-close friends. Ia lava ga kuluku.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Update

My dear friend has completed her chemo therapy treatment for breast cancer and has been cleared to our joyful relief. Her hair is slowly growing back but sparse at the moment. She has a monthly injection called herceptin she has to take to be rid of a cancerous gene she has for the 11 more months otherwise life goes on and we're thankful that she survived this.

Our other loved one has just completed her first round of chemo and radiotherapy and now having a break. They will conduct tests to see what effect it had on the tumor and we're all praying and hoping for the best results. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fifty Shades of .....

If you want some entertainment read this brilliant version of Fifty Shades of Savai'i by my talented sister. Just brilliant.

Austria

Enjoying a beautiful summer day on Mondsee Lake with son driving the boat

Lake Mondsee

Soga'imiti enjoying the ride

Hubby went for a hike and took this lovely shot from the mountain of the lake

This view always makes my heart miss a beat. Sheer beauty and the boys cooking up Pork ribs add to the mystique lol

Bike riding again tandem with my son..hard work

Having fun at the moonlight party

Tau having a ball at the Lake Festival

Tau with Nadia enjoying all the sugary treats

Daddy having a good time at the beer fest

Us 3 after the concert...it was packed.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

'My life as a dog'

Dramatics I meant 'with a dog'. Yes literally, we brought home a three month old Labrador cross last week. Two sleepless nights and days later I was absolutely mortified. I could not believe we had done that. I, since I was a child had never owned a dog. Same goes with the hubby. We were both debating how to pass it along. However the Apple of my son's eye is so cute that we're SLOWLY warming to it. Oh yes everyday hubby and I deliberate how to get rid of it but my son's growing affection for it has stopped us from doing so. I think it'll be one of those things that traumatises a child. "I'll never forget the day my mum and dad gave away my dog" choo hooo and so the dog stays. 

But having said all that, not-so-little Apple is a fast learner and a smart dog to our relief. Some dog lover friends had said Labs were stupid, personally I cannot tell the differences in intelligence from one dog to another but I do appreciate it when they learn what we teach it to do! After a couple of accidents in the house we're making sure it is outside of the house at reasonable times to do it's business to avoid any further mishaps.

My idea of owning a dog, is that of what I grew up with in Samoa. The dog slept outside or on a porch or in the faleka'avale but just not in our sleeping house. I loved to play with it, make sure it's fed but our home being a huge open fagua/land there was plenty of space for it to do their dirty business so that wasn't much trouble. And then like any other dog owner I was utterly shattered when each of them died, at one time due to an asshole named I'u in our village who was armed with a sapelu/machete. Just about sliced our dog Cindy's head off. I never could look at that guy the same anymore...he was a murderer forever in my eyes. Cindy was a beautiful reddish dog that was part dingo. A tourist arrived with it in a basket and just left it with us. We loved that dog, she was part of our family. 

Back to our dog Apple; whom my son, thanks to his aunty C's prompting, named it after his favourite fruit. Her's is Strawberry. Yep we're getting all the jokes from friends about it... Well it's like we have a new baby in some ways but we're getting used to having it around the house. At the moment now that it's not very hot anymore we're trying to teach it to stay outdoors. That is training in progress, at the moment it scratches the doors and tries to open the door handle to come back in! 
To be continued...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Heilbronn 2012

Father and son walking through the fields

Cathedral in Heilbronn centre

Vineyards on the hillside in Heinsheim

Hubby and son setting off for another ride.

Castle on the hill

Heilbronn

The next day we headed into Heilbronn to have a look around. It was a lovely little city. Heilbronn is where hubby's forebearers came from and why they have that last name. One of the great grandpas dropped a couple of letters from the name to their current name. It was a beautiful sunny day so everyone was out and about, the cafes were busy. We walked around the town centre and went to the Experimenta Museum, a science museum for all ages in which our son had a ball. We were there all morning before we grabbed lunch and headed back to our hotel.

Our bikes were ready except Tau's one which was too big. The helpful receptionist called the bike guy who showed up with another bike which was still too big and then had us follow him to his workshop. He was mighty helpful and very lovely. 15 minutes later we were armed with the right sized bike and helmet for our little one and two good ones for us. Off we went bike riding down along the river. It was just so beautiful. I dreamt of doing that in European summer and well it's as good as the dream! In beautiful summer weather with greenfields all around and the river bordered by hills and castle tops in sight! I was in my happy place that half the time I didn't realise hubby and son had stopped a few times due to my son getting too tired from pedalling his little bike.  
We turned around at the end of one long stretch. I told my son there was a pub at the other end for an ice-cream and to the hubby a beer. We all happily pedalled back towards the sports club to which we enjoyed a few drinks before continuing on and then calling it a day. 
We had dinner at the hotel restaurant that evening which was just delicious. I ordered duck and it was just beautifully prepared. We went to bed happy that night.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Ele Opeloge update

On 5th August Ele Opeloge competed and ranked 6th in the Women's +75kgs Group with a mark of 267kgs! She did awesomely and this fan is so so proud of this Samoan Competitor and what she has achieved. Zhou Lulu of China went on to win gold with and Olympic record lift of 333kgs. 

Ele Opeloge flag bearer for Samoa at London 2012 Olympics Parade

Ele Competing on 5 August 2012.
Photos from www.zimbio.com

Schloss Heinsheim

We landed at Munich Airport at 7.30am after a 7 hour flight from Muscat. We had a good rest on the flight and went straight to Thrifty to pick up our car. I love how small Munich arrival is, each terminal allow for a few flights so from my experience we've never had to queue up to customs which is convenient. We programmed the GPS for Heilbronn and off we went. Hubby driving and me being a live GPS just incase. Of course 1 hour into the drive I was knocked out! See being Samoan we can sleep anywhere, whether we've just woken up or not! Travel and sleeping go hand in hand. 
I woke up about 30 minutes to destination. Driving on the outskirts of Heilbronn town itself was just beautiful. It's wine country and there were vineyards everywhere and corn fields for miles. Hubby found us an idyllic hotel in Heinsheim near Bad Rappenau 15 mins from Heilbronn city but country enough for us to enjoy the weather and fresh air. We passed Bad Rappenau and after a windy road we drove along the river and came upon Hotel Schloss Heinsheim. It's a hotel in an old castle and it was just that. Huge grounds with beautiful trees and the rooms were in one of the main buildings. They had kept the old staircases to the upper floors to which I'm sure many a lord and lady had ascended in their time. The hallway was huge. They had a pool out front which was full of laughing kids when we arrived. My son and I decided to have a swim only to find that European summer warm is very different from our 'warm'. I finally got in and enjoyed the cold before running out to have a hot shower! Later we went for a walk to discover the village...it's just that a very small village. We found a spacious playground and walked along the river until we came to the village sports grounds with a pub. We saw it was a popular stop for cyclers.
We went to dinner in Bad Rappenau that evening.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ele Opeloge for the Olympics 2012

Ele Opeloge is ready for the 2012 Olympics. However she's just recovered from chicken pox 3 weeks ago according to a Samoa Observer interview. I hope it doesn't mess up her chances for a medal this time around as she seems hungry for it now. All the best Ms Opeloge. I love this picture with her malu(Samoan female tattoo) on display. Shows the power and the heart of the woman in one shot. And that's what little Samoan Girls are Made of.
Ele Opeloge at 2008 Olympics. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Home in Muscat

We drove back on Saturday which is when Ramadan started here in Oman. It started the day before in Dubai. No cafes or restaurants are open in all the malls except some hotels that keep the restaurants open for guests but shut away from public eye. It's really weird because the malls have lots of cafes and so it's very quiet in the malls and just strange not to have the option of having a coffee. This is my 8th Ramadan and it's still a shock. We just have to stay put and not spend much money during this month which is a good thing. I feel for those fasting because 1. It's VERY hot at the moment it's the height of summer and without water! 2. The days are loooong. It doesn't get dark until just after 7pm!! So Iftar isn't till then! All the best to those fasting I say and more coffee mornings at each others houses for us non-fasters!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

New do to support loved ones undergoing chemo

Haven't had short hair since I was a child! At Al Sondos Hotel in Deira Dubai. They cool the pool so one can swim in the morning before the sun gets too hot at over 40 degree Celsius

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hurricanes vs Chiefs

We went to the Cake Tin to watch the Canes play the Chiefs last night with family. The Hurricanes had to win though they weren't the favorites to win. It was a lively game and the final minute was just amazing as the Canes went through many phases to score their winning try. Sonny Bill W was on the receiving end of a spear tackle. Luckily it wasn't fully executed but the player was sent off with a yellow card. Sadly I think it was symbolic of the general feeling towards SBW with his recent decision to leave! Great game indeed.

The awesome Cake Tin

Game in full throttle




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cancer Confuses

Today my son and I went to see our loved one undergoing chemotherapy at the Wellington hospital. We come upon a room with six cubicles and at the end on one side is our loved one. We sat by her and chatted while the machine dispensing the chemo drug beeped away. There were 5 others in the other seats with the tubes in their arms while the machines bumped away. The hospital obviously tried to make it as user friendly as possible but the reason why we were there doesn't get away from any of us. My son was a bit confused and stayed away. After awhile we went to leave, our loved one had been there since 8.30am and now it was 1.30pm and she still had radio therapy to go after another hour of chemo. It's been a long day for her. I wish I had powers to just heal her and make this shitty cancer go away but alas here we are.


As my son and I were leaving we heard the organ playing in the lobby. We came down the escalator and walked towards the music. We came upon a young lad playing classical music on a big white grand piano and I walked my son around to watch his fingers at work. Instead my son lets go of my hand and started to dance to the music in his slow coordinated movements. I watched him and felt my sadness surface. I just wanted to find a corner to curl up and cry my heart out, feeling so sad for our loved ones battling this awful disease cancer. As I watched him, it reminded me of my youngest sister at one and a half years and how she danced at my dad's funeral when I was five and a half. I quickly grabbed my son's hand and walked out of the hospital leaving the sad music behind. 
I pray for your strength of body, spirit and mind and that you'll get through this. We love you.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

The gift of a Child

This week I met a friend of a friend who is a few months pregnant and looked fabulous. I congratulated her and she gave me an unimpressed smile. I'm then made aware that this pregnancy was an accident and by no means were they really accepting of it due to their circumstances. The couple already have 7 children between the ages of 20 and 12 and to them they're just about to see the last of their kids through school and it's really hard to make ends meet and then here they were about to raise a new baby. I remembered close friends in NZ that really want a child due to their lack of reproductive success. They had undergone IVF to no avail late last year and are now really open to adoption. So I told the pregnant woman about our friends with no kids in NZ and she said she is very keen to let them adopt her baby. I suggested for her to sleep on it and talk to her family and see what they say while I contact our friends and see what happens. Today I called a lawyer and discussed the possibilities and she said it is a lengthy process but possible. I called our friends in NZ and they were so excited on the phone it was touching and I felt like crying at the possibility of this couple getting a much needed child and marvelled at how tricky life can be: from a couple with seven children who don't want anymore and a couple with no children who are trying very hard to have ONE!  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

When Water Burns by Lani Wendt Young


Lani Wendt Young's second book in the Telesa Trilogy, 'When Water Burns' is now available for worldwide purchase from Amazon. This fiery young adult fantasy adventure combines Pacific mythology with contemporary romance.

Release Date Announcement: Print Copies of 'When Water Burns' -

* NZ/Australia/Pacific: June 25th, 2012.               $24.95 NZD      (plus postage)  

* USA/UK/World: June 13th, 2012.                       $15.95 USD    


Seki a Samoa

My son and I landed safely in Samoa in the early hours of Saturday morning. We had a good nights sleep and woke up to a beautiful sunny day. I was greeted by the welcoming crowing of roosters, chirping of birds and the sounds of the neighbours. Just blissful sounds of home to me. I looked out through the practical modern Samoan window of louvres and was rewarded by the breathtaking multi-colours but predominantly rich green of the plants and trees. To me this is a sign I am HOME. My sister and hubby have moved to a new place and on one side is a cliff where one can hear the distant sound of a waterfall. I woke up and just took in everything around the house and was just happy and content. I am home once more and am grateful that I can come home more often than not. Had a lovely time catching up with my family and my Mum. 


Rugby
At 3pm we made our way to the games to watch Manu Samoa take on Scotland. It was not a very exciting game with Scotland scoring a try in the first 5 minutes and Samoa playing catch up until towards the end when Samoa  was leading until Scotland scored a try in the last minute to win the game. Needless to say everyone immediately left the stadium with heads down! The Scots were naturally really happy. Apia Park was packed and just about everyone wore wore blue! What disappointed me though was how quiet people were. OK we sat near the VIP section who I guess are normally boring but the cheaper seats looked like they were having a grand time and here we were in a section where when one shouted you stood out like a mad person!
Only in Samoa where within the seating area you're at, you just about know at least two people in each row! Just hilarious but one of the things that make this place home. Small, warm, incestuous but just Fabulous. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

5 Days Post-op Wisdom Teeth

Today the swelling on my face is much better, the feeling in my tongue is back and the scabs that were around my mouth have just about all cleared. There is still a numbness on the bottom right side of my lip and the pain is almost all gone when I'm due for my medicine. My right ear is still block until I hold my nose and blow or I move my head to the side. Today I finish the antibiotic course I was prescribed. I got another anti-inflammatory tablet that really brought the swelling down and really was pain numbing which was great.
Last night however I started to freak out about it all. I wondered if the feeling on my lip and chin will come back and whether I will go back to normal. I mean I thought up every possible worst scenario and I just got scared. I regretted having the surgery done and all the bad thoughts went through my head. Poor hubby who was away on a work trip walked in and was met with a freaking out almost chipmunk! I chatted to nurse sister and she reassured me and hubby put my bad thoughts to rest. Today I feel better and a bit more positive. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Post Op: Oral Surgery 3 days later

I took panadol, antibiotics but refused the anti-inflammatory prescribed as it causes swelling around my eyes. So there's a lot of discomfort and I certainly look like a chipmunk. Huge chin plus scabs around my lips where they must have held my mouth open. Every time I imagine what they did I cringe. The doctor called a few hours later with further instructions for after care, to put ice on my jaw and even drink cool water or eat ice cream to help with the healing of the wounds.
The next morning I was very swollen and tender in the mouth area and my jaw was just huge. My son was bored and wanted to go to school so I covered my mouth like a bandit and drove him to school. It was very uncomfortable but made it to pick him up again later. I covered my face more to save others from a sight for sore eyes. When I showed some of the ladies my swollen chin the look on their faces said it all! And back to bandit style I went. Today however I finally feel a lot better like I'm definitely healing. My right ear is blocked though and only when I move it to the side it clears. I think the dentist must have dug so hard on the impacted tooth that he touched the nerve. I can't wait for the follow up appointment to hear what happened and how it all went. We're due to travel this Thursday by air but I've been informed I cannot fly within 10 days of going under! So looks like I'll have to wait till I get better however there's no way I'd voluntarily fly in this delicate condition. I'm over it now and just hope I get all feeling back as soon as. I made a big pot of chicken soup the day after surgery and my son and I have been living off that the past few days for dinners. He gets the normal one and I puree mine and porridge for breakfast. I miss my eggs and toast! 

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Wisdom Toothless

Yesterday I went in to have my 3 wisdom teeth removed. It had taken me a long time to have the courage to go get this done. So earlier last month we met a dentist and was encouraged to go see him to have my bothersome teeth removed. He did the X-ray and then made the appointment for the surgery. One of my  the wisdom teeth was horizontally impacted and another was fairly deep. Well I went in a little nervous but my mind was at ease it'll be okay. I changed into the hospital gown with the gap at the back luckily it overlapped! The nurse showed me the way to the surgery and once I was on the table the anaesthetist came in and well it wasn't long before I was out to the count.
I woke up in the recovery room not feeling my mouth! I fell asleep again. When I woke up the dentist came to see me and said that it was a difficult procedure as one of the teeth was deeply embedded in the bone. They wheeled me to my private room where I was just happy to sleep and sleep. Finally they gave me a mirror and boy was I shocked. I looked like I got a beaten on my face ok more like around my mouth a jaw! I had bruises around the left and ride side of my mouth. The right side was totally numb and bruised. I discharged myself in the evening. The motion in the car made me feel sick. When I got home I hugged the toilet and spewed the milk and juice I drank earlier. Luckily hubby had arrived home and made me some soup to replenish my system.
Today I'm still a little bit groggy but not in a state to drive or go anywhere. My mouth is still a bit numb but swollen and my lips are wounded from them probably holding my mouth open for the procedure.. yuck what an awful ordeal, I'm just glad I was asleep through it all. Off to sleep some more. 

Friday, June 01, 2012

Happy Birthday Samoa

Big party in Samoa today for the Diamond Anniversary. Manuia le 50 Tausaga Samoa. Facebook is hot with overseas Samoans yearning to be home on this very special day for our country. As for us, we were at an Australia/New Zealand Moulin Rouge themed ball last night and the lovely band upon request did a shout out for Samoa at midnight which we really appreciated. 50 years of FREEDOM. Woo hooo I wish I was watching the fautasi races this week. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Counting Our Blessings.

Throughout this awesome trip we did in Europe, our 3 year old was safely in the care of my husband's parents. We all went to Austria together for a week and then we parted ways in Munich, where we saw them off at the airport to come back to Muscat on their own. Hubby's parents were looking after our son in our house while we were away galavanting through Europe. Here I say I am truly blessed to have them in my life. Not many grandparents can do that for their kids so we're very lucky. So to avoid them going stir crazy in Muscat, hubby arranged that they go to Kathmandu, Nepal for 3 days for a tour around there with our three year old in tow! Mind you this will be 3 Year Old's second time there.
A friend couldn't believe that this was happening, and pointed out that we were sending our son with his grandparents on their own to Oman in the Middle East and then on to Nepal, both "third world countries", were we crazy? Well that's looking at it in a way we'd never considered...because 1. We live in the Middle East and Oman is one of the safest countries we'd lived in. 2. Kathmandu is not a poverty stricken place that you see on TV. It's a fairly developed city with hotels and good transport system and shops with food and water everywhere. We happened to have a good friend there too who was arranging a tour for the family and looking out for them.
It hit me that others of course would really think we were crazy for doing that because they just don't know. After all we are from a Least Developed Nation called Samoa, where rule of law still does apply.
Tau on his papa's shoulders again while his nana looks on in Kuala Lumpur.
Anyway the gist of this post is my son has amazing grandparents and am thankful for their devotion and time for their grandchild and for enabling us do what we did. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Venezia - Last and Sad day

We slept in. We got ready, checked out of the hotel and dragged our bags through the street to the boat. We decided to go to the train station to check the train times, leave our bags in the baggage storage and make our way to a Salvador Dali exhibition and see the museum of costumes before catching a later train to Milan for our flight in the evening. As we stood on the boat enjoying the sights of Venice I reached for my phone to take some last photos, when I did I noticed I had messages. One of them was from my dear friend who has been like a sister to me since we met four years ago. In the text she tells me that her test results came back and that she had breast cancer and she will have a mastectomy this week-end. I looked up to find my husband for support and it's as if Venice had gone black, had lost it's glamour in that one moment. All I wanted was to get home to hug my son and then go see my friend and hold her hand and just be there for her through this terrible journey that she's about to embark on. Life is good generally, but then it has it's ways of shattering that fragile glass that it seems to be at times.
I lost interest in seeing anything any more after the text so we just bought our train tickets for Milan for our flight in the evening and sat in a cafe in gloom. 
I would have liked to have seen a Salvador Dali exhibition that was on and the Gugenheim museum. Maybe next time if there is one.
We're sitting on the train to Malpensa Milan airport. What an amazing time we've had but it almost tastes sour due to the news we received, I can't wait to get home to our little boy.
Freezing cold day in Venice with keen buskers

Tourists galore, hubby trying to cross the over-crowded bridge

Venice on a Sunday (yikes)

San Marco magnificent

Monday, May 28, 2012

Venezia: Day 2 Morano Glass

Venice day 2
We took up the free ride offer from the hotel to go see how glass is made on the island of Morano. It was a very cold day and windy over the water. They took us and four others in a water taxi which was quite comfortable. We saw the glass master heat the particles in extreme heat and mould it into a vase then another into an horse. His skill was fascinating to watch and they are apprentices for many years before they can be masters. Afterwards we were shown through to their immense shop with the hope that we'd buy some products. As much as I wanted one I was just imagining arriving home to Muscat and finding a shattered expensive ornament in our backpacks! So no grazie to the pricey glassware. 



Venezia through a Venetian mask


Taken from a bridge in the evening

Morano Glass maker at work

moulding a vase

Colonna






We walked through the small island to the town centre Colonna, had coffee and jumped on the boat to San Marco square to make the most of the day. It was a bright cold day but we arrived to hordes of tourists all over the place. There was a long queue into the Doges palace which we had luckily seen the day before without standing in any lines. We worked our way through the square to the Correr Museum with Venezian artifacts, sculptures and paintings from over the centuries. There were some interesting sculptures that depicted Venetians out of the ordinary sexuality. However the attention to detail on the bodies and facial expressions of the people were just exquisite. We strolled around went back to Lido to the hotel and had a good sleep. In the evening we went out into the town again and had a nice evening of walking, food and wine tasting. We found in one bar the gondola drivers drinking taking turns dancing on the bar stools. We settled there and chatted with a nice Welsh couple who were in Venice for the week-end as well.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Venezia

Venice day 1
We took a train from Verona to Venezia/Venice that took one hour with beautiful views. We pulled into the Venice train station and outside the main entrance we bought public transport tickets for 48 hours 28euro each plus Venezia Tourist Cards(highly recommended) that get us into many attractions with minimum payment or no extra fee, meaning you avoid the long queues too. We caught the boat to Lido Island where our hotel was located. The boat took about 40 mins but the views were just beautiful. We learned later that you can take a boat that makes fewer stops which cuts travelling time. 
My personal travel agent at the Venice Train Station(travelling light)
The Main Canal

The sun peeks through on the way to Lido Is

Our hotel was an old beautiful building and was not far from the dock so after check in we made our way to San Marco Piazza. What a sight. It was just breathe-taking and I was so humbled to be standing there in San Marco Square that I've read about and seen in movies so many times. And to stand on the same pavements that older civilization, culture and rich history existed was just magnificent. We went straight into the Doge palace using our Venezia cards and oohed and aahed at the amazing paintings on the walls and ceiling in different rooms. This used to house the Venetian Parliament. We strolled around the piazza and just kept walking around the island. We watched the gondolas and water taxis maneuver their way around the corners in the narrow canals marveling at their skill. We found a nice eatery and had some yummy pizza. There are many places to eat and if you keep going you come across some cheaper than others. We've learned to walk away from the busy Street areas and find where the locals are, where we end up having more fun and paying cheaper prices. We walked some more and came across a piazza full of locals spilling out into the streets chatting and enjoying their drinks. We settled on a lively little joint and had a few drinks and enjoyed the atmosphere in the street before we made our way back to a dock to catch the ferry to our hotel. Beautiful day in a magical place.
The infamous Bridge of Sighs
The Doge Palace at San Marco
This happy traveler is overwhelmed