Star Wars Weekends

Two quick photos from Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Last year for Star Wars weekends they made 4 collectable big figs - Jedi Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy.  Then this year they made walk around characters just like the big figs.  How cool!

The first weekend we met Princess Leia (sp?) Minnie.  Then we went back 3 more weekends trying to met Donald and Goofy.  FINALLY, week 4, we were successful.  How cute are they?!?

Like to yak about movies?

Check out my new movie blog: http://www.movieyak.blogspot.com/.

This time it's not just me blabbing on and on about nothing. It's a bunch of my friends writing movie reviews!

If you would to join in, you can write comments about the various movies. Or, better yet, if you would like to be a Movie Yak contributer - let me know!


Who did I steal this from?

1. You have 10 bucks and need to buy snacks at a gas station, what do you get? Hopefully a bagel, or some trail mix ... better yet, Mike 'n Ikes!

2. If you had to be reincarnated as some sort of sea dwelling creature, what would you be? Maybe a shark? That way nothing would want to eat me (except whales or the Japanese).

3. Who's your favorite redhead? My friend Kelly!

4. What do you order when you're at a pancake house? Waffles

5. Last book you read. Some teenage-y Christopher Pike book

6. Have you made out with anyone on your myspace friend's list? I don't really "make out" anymore.

7. Describe your favorite pair of underwear. Old Navy undies w/ apples on them

8. Describe the last time you were injured. I gave blood the other day and have a bruise on my arm. Does that count?

9. Of all your friends, with whom would you want to be stuck in the middle of a jungle? Jonathan's army brother - he's trained for all that craziness.

10. Are there any odd things that make you feel uncomfortable? Not anything "odd". Just the normal snakes, giant bugs, etc ...

11. What is the wallpaper on your cell phone? A photo of my '80s cell phone

12. Pop? Dr. Pepper

13. What type of shirt are you wearing? A hand-me down t-shirt from my friend Hiromi

14. Prescription medication? None (I can't swallow pills)

15. If you could use only one form of transportation for the rest of your life, what would it be? I would love to say "bike", but how realistic is that? I can't go on vacation on a bike only. So I'll say "car".

16. Most recent movie you've watched? Forgetting Sarah Marshall

17. Name 3 things you have with you at all times? I don't like to carry things unless I have to. If I have to: wallet, cell phone, hair thing.

18. What is a saying that you use a lot? ... like ...

19. What is your favorite part of the chicken? The non-dark part

20. Favorite kind of cake? Any!!! Or specifically the red kind (red velvet?)

Coming soon to Orlando!


Sweeeeeeeeeeeet! And a little scary.

I guess I can get over my slight fear of heights in 2010.


"Hi Mom!"

The Tampa Bay Rays are on the AFN today (Sunday).  They've been advertising it all week.

Oops - AFN = Armed Forces Network.

You could e-mail in your greeting for family members in the military, or vice versa.

I figured, "what the heck - I'll say hi to my parents".  You know, they are really roughing it living on their military tropical paradise.

So I wrote in, and the Rays announcers actually read my thing!!!  Too bad they said, "Amber, serving in Kwajalein, would like to say "Hello" to her parents!"  Yeah right - I wish I was 'serving' in the Marshall Islands.

Right after I heard it on TV I called my parents.  It was only 7:30am, but luckily my mom was awake and heard it!  Too bad she misunderstood my last name and heard "Howard".

I'm famous!

I like it hot, hot, hot - NOT!

So yesterday morning, I take 1 hour out of my day to make lasagna from scratch.  It wasn't impossible or hard, but it was a little time consuming and messy.

Then, at 5pm, I turn on the oven to preheat.  The oven knob kind-of hangs there, limp, like a piece of skin that's about to fall off (I couldn't think of a better image - ok, a piece of orange rind that's about to fall off). 

I'm thinking, "this isn't normal".  Then I twist the knob to OFF.  Nothing - the oven is still on.  Now I'm mini-panicing.  I CAN'T TURN THE OVEN OFF.  I rotate the knob 360 degrees, a couple times.  Nothing.

After about 1/2 hour of unscrewing the front panel of the stove/oven, thankfully we located the problem.  It was a tiny loose screw.  We tightened the screw, and then the oven was able to be turned off.

Sounds simple enough huh?  The problem was, THE OVEN WAS ON FULL BLAST THIS ENTIRE TIME.  We were taking the face plate off the oven while being blasted with 400 degree heat.  I had a nice glow about me when we were done.  Thankfully, about 2/3 of the way done, I was able to fidget with the knob to get the oven turned off.  So we could put the oven back together with out being blasted.

Then we went out for pizza.

We'll try to eat the lasagna again tonight ...


Super Special Guest Blogger

Hi, my name is Monica Tanner and I'm Amber's "guest blogger" today. I met Amber almost 4 years ago through our Disney obsession and we have been able to spend time with she & Jonathan when we're in Orlando. I am lucky to have friends who are helping me share our story.

My husband and I have been married for 9 years and we are very excited to be working with an adoption agency to expand our family. We don't have any children yet and can't wait to be Mommy & Daddy. Our agency works with birthmoms throughout the entire United States. We know that often women become pregnant and for various reasons aren't able to become a parent just yet. Those women help the dreams of families wanting to adopt come true all the time.

It will be an open adoption so that the birthmom chooses a family from the agency, hopefully us. There will be ongoing contact so that the birthmom can know how our child, her baby, grows up and happy & healthy with us as parents. Networking is a fantastic way to find a birthmom and that is where you come in.

We have an adoption website that I'd love for you to check out. If you are interested in putting a link on your own blog, myspace or webpage, feel free and thanks: www.andyandmonicaadopt.com

If you have potential contact with birthmoms or know someone who does, please feel free to let Amber or myself know. We also have brochures from our agency, with sticky notes with our information on them. We have "business style cards" with our information and "birthmom" letters. We would love to mail this information to anyone who is interested in helping us network. My e-mail is monicastanner@aol.com and if you'd like to ask a question or comment, be sure to put adoption in the headline so that I open your email.

If you'd like to know more about our agency or open adoption, please go to www.adoptionhelp.org.

Thanks for taking time to read about our journey.


Day trip to Ebeye

Random photos time:

1. Me snorkeling (woo-hoo!)

2. The 1 photo I took during our visit to Ebeye (not to be confused with "Ebay").

Ebeye is where the majority of the Marshallese people live. It's the most heavily populated place on earth (people per square mile). Even more crowded that the 'classic' India or China that most people think of. It's pretty much a dump. Although, there was this pretty little cove thing with cute boats that I took a photo of.



Please take 5 minutes to read my co-workers blog:  www.johninorlando.com

He posts a "Manic Monday" thing every (guess it ...) Monday, and today's post is hilarious!!!!!

After you watch it once, watch it again and only read the bottom stuff.  I'm excited about 'new' Shasta.  LOL!

Kwajalein: Reef Walking

Like I said earlier (you were reading and comprehending my posts right???), all the Marshall Islands are made of coral, and connected underwater by coral.

Well, the island nearest to Kwaj is pretty close. It's only about 3 or 4 hundred yards away. When the tide is lowest you can easily walk in ankle deep water over to the uninhabited island.

So we tried to walk over there, but the tide wasn't super duper low, and the water was kind-of choppy. I guess when it's not choppy you can see starfish and other sea life. So we walked around on the shallow coral reef for a while, I burned the backs of my legs (sun reflecting off the ocean), and took some photos.


Kwajalein: Airport

Here is another You Tube video I made from my trip to Kwajalein.

I turned into a 5 year old boy on this vacation - every time I had the opportunity to watch an airplane take off or land, I was there!

Since the island is so tiny, you could clearly hear the plane land, so it was easy to ride the .5 miles to the airport and watch them take off.

One day, while looking for shells, an Army supply plane just appeared on top of our heads.  It was loud and AWESOME!  So the next day, I found out what time the Continental plan was going to arrive, waited on the beach, and got a video of the plane almost landing on my head.  Awesome!

Check out the Continental plane in the 2nd part of the You Tube video.  The plane's wheels touch down, jump up and then touch down again.  Freaky!

Kwaj - riding bikes

Here are some random photos of my mom, dad and Jonathan riding the ghetto bikes around Kwaj (Kwaj rhymes with "Dodge"). It's hard to tell from the photos, but all the bikes are 80% rust. I guess the ocean air tears them apart.

We went on a quick island tour our first day. With in 15 minutes, my shoulders were getting pretty red and fried-like! Ouch!


Almost there ...

Day 3 (and day 4 b/c of the time change) of traveling.

We left Hawaii around 7am (which sounds early, but since we were kind-of still on Eastern Time Zone, we were up at 4:30am).

The Continental flight (which is a full size plane) flys from Honolulu to Majuro (the capital of the Marshall Islands), Kwajalein, Truck, Ponepei, some other island, then finally gets to Guam. Can you image flying to Guam? You have a 45 minute stop at 5 other islands!!!!! Although, the stop at Ponepei was cancelled, b/c a week ago a plane didn't take off properly and ended up 1/2 on the runway and 1/2 in the ocean. I guess after a week, it still hadn't been moved yet.

Jonathan made me laugh when he said, "oh, we stop at Majuro first? I can get something to eat!" Like there is a Starbucks or McDonalds. I was like, "ummmm ... it doesn't really work that way." How it does work is you get off the plane by walking down some stairs onto the runway, walk into a non-air conditioned holding room, and wait.

Finally, at 11:30am (the "next" day) we arrived at Kwajalein. Here are 2 arial photos. Notice the U shape, and the runway. You can also see about 8-10 other mini islands up near the top. All the Marshall Islands are made of coral, and they are all connected underwater by more coral.


Hawaii - Turtle Bay & Waikiki

Ok - the rest of the random Hawaii photos.

We took the bus out to Turtle Bay resort to see where the movie FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL was filmed.

Then we had to pose with Diamond Head!  It's just the most popular landmark in Oahu.

Up next - flying to Kwajalein!  And sharks!!!  ARG - no spacing again!!!

For more movie talk, visit Movie Yak!


Hawaii - Shave Ice

We watched alot of Travel Channel shows about Hawaii before our trip, and we saw Samantha Brown to go Matsumoto's Shave Ice (not "shaveD ice") shop on Oahu's North Shore.
Since I'm not one to pass up a treat, we took the bus all the way up the coast.  Let me tell you that shave ice is FANTASTIC!!!  It's creamy - but it's ice.  It's some sort of miracle!

I guess Matsumoto's store has been around since the '50's.  Notice the (ghetto) price list.  They sell this stuff with "beans"?  I think it's coffee beans or something, but still ... gross!!!
Notice the huge line to get inside.  The place was a madhouse (I guess it's like that every single day), but the line actually moved really fast.  I would recommend this place to ANY traveler!


Kwajalein: Panoramic Photos

A You Tube video of Panoramic photos from my groovy digital camera (it allows me to take 3 photos, then stitches them together).

Enjoy photos of:
Emon Beach (main beach - faces the lagoon, therefore no big waves)
Boat Dock (where the sharks live)
Military Family Housing (my parents live on the one to the right)
Pacific Ocean (where the winds and the waves live)

I have some other You Tube videos (not from this trip). If you go to http://www.youtube.com/ and search for "ahowald308", you will find them all.

Hawaii - Pearl Harbor

There isn't much to say about Pearl Harbor. We all know it was a horrible day in history.

I had been to Pearl Harbor before, but Jonathan never had, so this was a trip for him. I think he enjoyed it, and heck, I did too.

Notice the oil slick. 60+ years and oil is still leaking from the sunken battleship.

ARG - Blogger is being really annoying with photos. I'm trying to space out the paragraphs and insert photos, but blogger isn't playing along. I give up - the blog will just have to look messy.


Room with a view

Ok - so THANK YOU Eastern Time zone.  I was wide awake at 3am, no thanks to you.  

I forced myself back to sleep, but that only worked until 4am.  Then I had a revalation - it's not often that I'm up at 4am - I can take some photos.

I bought a new digital camera in January.  It bragged that it could take sweet photos, but it proved it here.  I'd like to pat myself on the back for snapping these.

Since we had a corner room at our hotel (free upgrade!), one corner faced the ocean (palm tree photo) and the other corner faced downtown Honolulu (obviously the skyscraper photo).


And now for the photos ...

After flying about 10 or 11 hours (then waiting 2 hours for the airport shuttle!!!) we landed in Hawaii.

I booked the cheapest place around (duh!), but it was super nice!  I mean, not super duper nice, but very Hawaiian and clean.  And it was close to Waikiki.  We were even upgraded to a corner room with a view of the ocean.  Bonus!

I was suprised that I wasn't completely exhausted.  It was 5pm Hawaii time, which calculated to about 10pm Eastern Time, but I was wide awake - and hungry!!!  In Houston we all got Oahu coupon books (something to do while flying for 7 hours), so we found a coupon for $10 'early bird' special at a Surf 'n Turf place on Waikiki.  That early bird special suited us just fine with the time change and all.  We got a sweet table on their patio and a waiter all to ourselves.

After some fish, steak and shrimp, we walked around for about 1/2 hour before we felt the time zone crashing upon us.  We walked back to the hotel and went to bed around 7:30pm.  Sounds pathetic, I know - but that was really like 2:30am (I think).  If you know anything about me, that was really impressive!