Saturday, December 29, 2007

White Christmas (in Germany - not Saipan)

We travelled to Germany to visit family over the Christmas break. We flew from Saipan to Tokyo, spent the night, then had an 11 hour flight from Tokyo to Amsterdam. Casey had a rough trip and couldn't find a comfortable place to sleep. He cried so much on the flight that he eventually lost his voice. The day after we got to Germany, Cole had a stomach virus and was sick for most of a day. We think maybe Casey also had some kind of bug during the flight. Usually he is such a happy baby. He is feeling great now. It snowed a little on Christmas Day, and went for a walk in the forest and enjoyed the snow.

We are staying at Derek's sister's house in the village of Rodenbach, which is near Hanau - which is only about 20 minutes from Frankfurt. Christmas was fun. Casey dressed up. Cole got lots of toys. Aunt T and Cole have had fun playing games and building Legos.
A friend of Maria's from Saipan, Anne, is now living in Prague, and came to Rodenbach to visit for few days. We did a road trip to the walled village of Rothenberg yesterday. No plans yet for today. Maria's brother Raf and family should show up tomorrow. They are also visiting Germany for the holidays.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Chambers Boys

Casey is two and a half months old now. I thought I would post some photos of Casey, Cole and Casey, Maria and Casey, Derek and Casey, etc....

Photos are at:


Cochranes visit Saipan

This year has been the year of visitors to Saipan for us (hopefully it is not over yet Granny & Grandpa)! As Oma and Opa were packing their bags for their return trip to Seattle, the Cochrane’s arrived for a three week vacation from their work site which is located in the village of Bayanga in the country known as Central African Republic or CAR. The Cochranes lived on Saipan when we first moved here three years ago. The Cochranes’ daughter, Charlie, was Cole’s best friend for over a year when they spent many days playing on the beach, collecting crabs and shells, and working on messy art projects. The Cochranes moved to CAR about a year and a half ago, and we missed them so much that we went to visit them last summer. What an adventure that was! Tracking western lowland gorillas through the rain forest with native pygmy guides! (I’ll have to post some photos from that trip later).

We had a great time with the Cochranes during their visit on Saipan and I think they had a good time as well, since they got to see many old friends besides us. We hadn’t been to PIC that often since they used to live here. We may see them back on Saipan soon, since Erica’s contract in CAR will be finished in October, and she hasn’t renewed.

Photos from their visit are posted at:


Cole's First Day of School August 2007

Monday August 13, 2007 was Cole's first day of school for the new school year. We all woke up around our normal time - about 6 am. After Cole ate breakfast he told me that he wished it was already summer again so that he didn't have to go to school. He hadn't even been yet! I went to take my shower, and when I got out, I thought I'd do the responsible parent thing and take a photo of Cole on his first day of school. So I grabbed the camera and went in search of Cole. Little did I know that Maria had already attempted to take Cole's photo (while I was in the shower) with little success. This was the best one of the lot:

Cole did not want his photo taken. He gets that way sometimes. Since I had the camera in hand, I decided I would give it a try. Maria wished me luck as I yelled from the kitchen out to carport where I could here Cole riding his scooter. I asked "Cole, can I take a photo of you for the first day of school." He said, "O.K." Needless to say Maria was a little upset. My results:

Maybe riding the scooter put Cole in a better mood. More likely, he probably forgot that he was previously upset about having his picture taken and just agreed with me without ralizing what he was doing. I don't chalk it up to favoritism on his part. At least we got the photo taken...

~ Derek
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oma & Opa visit Saipan

We knew that the only way to get Maria’s parents to Saipan would be to have a really good reason for them to come. So we used the new addition to our family, Casey, as the excuse. We explained that Casey could not travel because he does not have his passport yet, so if they want to see him, they’ll have to come to Saipan. Then we arranged the flights and got the tickets, so they could not refuse the trip. Oma and Opa arrived on Saipan early in the morning on July 4th, after having left Seattle on July 2nd. They arrived just in time to take in the Liberation Day parade that afternoon.

Their visit has been great. It seems that we have done nothing but eat since they have been here. Even Casey – of course all he does is eat, sleep, and a couple of other bodily functions. It seems like Casey has doubled in size during Oma and Opas visit. We’ve had Sunday brunch at the Hyatt, dinner on the beach at Pacific Islands Club, dinner at the Abyss Fisherman’s restaurant, dinner at Hard Rock CafĂ©, sushi at Sushiland, tacos on Tuesdays at Hamiltons, ribs at Tony Roma’s, BBQ at the World Resort for the traditional dancing show, lunch at Coffee Care, 5 choice for $5 at the street market, drinks at Oleai Beach Restaurant, and several trips to McDonalds. I’m sure that I’ve left out some meals, but they are all starting to run together now.

We have also done the standard sightseeing stuff, like driving up “north” to see Bonzai Cliff, Suicide Cliff, the Grotto, and Bird Island; to the top of Mt Tapachao; shopping at DFS; walks on the beach; flight to Tinian and back (Derek, Cole & Opa) to see the sights there, while Maria and Oma visit the spa at the Marianas Resort. In addition Oma and Opa have gotten to spend a lot of time with Cole and Casey, and even see there daughter in action on the soccer field.

To see photos from their visit click


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cole the Photographer

Since Maria is a teacher, we usually travel somewhere over the Christmas/New Years holiday break, but instead of traveling this year, we stayed on Saipan and my sister came from Germany and spent the two week holiday break with us. Cole loved having his Aunt “T” visit. There was suddenly another person to play board and card games with and read books for him. Also, Aunt T can not resist buying Cole presents.

While Aunt T was here, one of Cole’s favorite things to do was borrow her camera and take about 100 photos at a time. No problem since it is a digital camera and it’s easy to delete undesired snaps. Before Aunt T left Saipan, she told Cole that she would get him his own camera for his birthday, which was about 5 months away. Sure enough a day after his birthday (May 18th) a package from Aunt T arrived with a small digital camera with a 256MB memory card. Cole filled the card up in a couple of days. Most of the photos are of random things around the house or the yard, but a couple of them are surprisingly good or interesting (you just have to remember that they are taken from the perspective of a 52lb six year old that is about 4 feet high).

I have posted some of my favorites to this Picasa web gallery:

Cole says his favorite subject to photograph is his friends. He took a lot of photos of the next door neighbor kids before they moved. This is his favorite photo that he has taken so far.

It is of Amon, one of Cole’s friends. The reason it is his favorite is because he surprised Amon with the camera.

This week Cole discovered the video mode on the camera. He really wanted to get a video of his baby brother crying. I think he succeeded. Check out the videos in the Picasa web album.

He has had the camera a month now, and it is not quite the novelty that is once was, but Cole still loves taking photos, so I’m sure that we’ll have many more to post in the future. ~ Derek

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Secret Origin of Casey

Cole and I have been watching the original 1967 Animated Spider-Man series on DVD lately (via our Netflicks subscription) and the latest episode we watched was titled "The Secret Origin of Spider-Man". Hence the name of this article... Casey's secret origin does not involve radio-active spiders or the planet Krypton, but is still interesting. I thought to tell it because we keep bumping into people on Saipan who ask us whose baby that is, and when we reply that it is ours, they give us a very puzzled look, especially at Maria, and say that they didn't know that she had been pregnant (weren't you playing soccer a few weeks ago?).

Casey's story (for us) started just a couple of months ago. The first week of March, while my college roommate Quinn from Houston was visiting us on Saipan, our housekeeper Mary told us that a friend of hers was pregnant and wanted to know if we wanted to adopt the baby. Maria and I didn't know what to say, but we agreed to meet with the Mary's friend to find out more information (if nothing else, maybe there was something we could do to help out). I was expecting Mary's friend to be a young, immature women, who probably hadn't thought through all the consequences of giving up a child, cutting those relationships, possibly forever. What we found though, when we met her, was a mature women of 40 years old, who had done some very serious thinking about her future and the future of her baby. She is unmarried (with a boyfriend that had recently become unemployed), already has a 16 year old daughter in the Philippenes that she is supporting and sending through school, and cannot start raising another family at this point in her life, especially since she is employed as a housekeeper and is busy raising other peoples' children.

It didn't take much convincing for either Maria or me to decide to pursue the adoption. We had already discussed the possibility of adopting about a year ago and so were somewhat mentally prepared, or a least mentally pre-prepared. We hired a lawyer on Saipan that had done this type of adoption before (with his own kids actually), and we took Mary's friend to her first prenatal doctors's visit. Mary's friend had thought that the baby was probably due sometime in July, but an ultrasound pegged the due date at May 21 (a later ultrasound revised the date to May 29). That wasn't that far off! We had our lawyer draft up all the paperwork, and we continued taking the mother to check-ups every two weeks, then every week once we got closer to the due date.

Over the past three months we have gotten to know the mother much better, and we expect that we will keep in some kind of contact with her, even after the adoption is legally finalized. She is a very intellegent women with a good sense of humor and we can see no harm in Casey meeting his biological mother. Time will tell whether she decides to keep in contact or not.

We still have several steps to go before the adoption is final. We currently have documents signed by the biological parents giving us the "custody agreement and power of attorney" over the baby, and their "consent to the adoption". Next we have to request a court hearing and file a "petition for adoption" with the court.

So that is the story of the Secret Origin of Casey.... ~Derek

For more Casey photos see:

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Casey is 1 week old

Posted by Picasa
Casey was born on Tuesday May 29, 2007 around 10 pm. That is one week ago from this evening, so we celebrated by going out to eat at Hamilton's Restaurant for Tuesday Buck-a-Taco night. We usually go to Taco night at Hamiliton's every Tuesday. In fact, we were at Hamiliton's last week on Tuesday. We had finished eating, Cole was running around playing tag or some other game with all the other children on loose in the Hamilton's courtyard, and Maria had gone off to "book-group" at someone's house, when my cell phone rang (at 7:20pm).
The cell phone is a new technology for me on Saipan. I've had cell phones when I've lived in other places, but Maria and I had refused to get cell phones for the first three years on this tiny island, opting instead to just drive around and and look for each other's car if we really needed to find one another. But this whole pending adoption, including arranging prenatal check-ups, and coordinating car pooling of other kids home from school neccesitated in giving up the "search and find" method of communication for a more immediate form. We've only had the phones for a couple of weeks, so there are very people that have my number, and I rarely get calls, so I was a little startled when the phone rang.
The caller ID indicated that it was the birth mother! Her boyfriend was on the other end of the line and sounded like he was in a hurry. He just told me, "We are on our way to the hospital, see you there." We had been to a prenatal appointment earlier in the day, and knew that today might be the day, but it was still somewhat of a shock to hear those words: "We are on our way to the hospital." Maria and I had a contingency plan for this event. Maria and Mary, our housekeeper and friend to the birth mother, would go to the hospital for the birth while I stayed home with Cole. I immediately phoned Maria so she could go home and get Mary. The phone rang and rang. No answer. I tried again, figuring that maybe she was still enroute driving to "book-group" and could not pick up the phone. Still no answer. I tried a third time. No answer. What should I do? Luckily, I had overheard her at dinner telling someone where "book-group" was going to be held tonight.
I rounded up Cole, and we got in the Jeep. I phoned Mary to let her know that Cole and I were on our way to pick her up to go to the hospital, so get ready. I also asked Mary to try to call Maria while Cole and I were driving home. Cole and I arrived at home 10 minutes later, loaded up Mary, and headed off in search of Maria. We arrived at the "book-group" hostess's house 10 minutes later. I knocked, walked in and called to Maria. She asked if it was time to go to the hospital and when I said yes, she jumped up from her chair and rushed out of the house without even saying goodbye to the other group members. All four of us went to the hospital, since we were so close anyway.
We arrived by 8pm, which is not bad timing considering we had regressed back to the "search and find" method of communication. (By the way, Maria had left her cell phone in the car). Cole and I stayed for a few minutes to make sure everything was going allright, then we went home and had ice cream and went to bed. Maria called about 10pm that night letting us know that the baby had been born and was healthy and crying. Those are the events from last Tuesday night as I recall them. Maybe Maria will post later her version of our trip to the hospital. ~~Derek
To see some photos of Casey, check out our Google/Picasa website: