Thursday, August 30

Love those stinky fingers!

Nick woke up late tonight needing to go potty. After I took him, he asked me to lay down in his bed with him. And, of course, I obeyed. As I was laying there, watching him doze back into dreamland, it dawned on me just how big my baby is getting. He will be 3 in September. THREE!!!! My baby, my last, my youngest, my final offspring will be 3! So, as he drifted into sleep, he slowly let his first two fingers, which he religiously sucks while sleeping, slip out of his mouth & fall onto his pillow. I was struck with an overwhelming desire to kiss his sweet little hand before sneaking out of his bed. And, I realized as I kissed that chubby hand, that I actually enjoyed the smell of those two stinky fingers, instead of holding my nose in disgust, like I normally do. I took a deep whiff & savored the smell of Nick's saliva soaked skin. And, I loved it! (Seriously, this is totally not normal behavior for me, which is why I am making a point to document this event.)

I know that he won't be this little for very long & I know that he won't suck those two fingers forever & I know that when that day comes, I won't ever get to smell that particular smell again. So, in the meantime, I am going to relish that scent, instead of recoiling from it. I want to remember these days forever!

Wednesday, August 29

A Sad Reality

I just have to start off with saying that Sammy has been playing the same song on Guitar Hero now for so long. And, it's driving me CRAZY!!! I'm sick & tired of hearing the constant clicking of his electric guitar! We may not have packed all our clothes or our kitchen items in our sea shipment, but deadgum... we packed the PlayStation & the Guitar Hero!!

But, that's not even the sad reality...

We live a very different lifestyle here in the Philippines. Almost all ex-pat or other well-to-do families (which would be almost any family from a non-third world country) in the Philippines have hired help. A driver, a cook, a ya-ya (nanny), maid, etc. It is very common because it is very inexpensive. So, there are several children whose parents I never meet, because either the driver or the ya-ya is responsible for dropping off & picking up the children. I would say the hired help waiting for children at school WAY outnumber the parents waiting for their kids.

This morning, as I was waiting for our driver to pick me up after dropping off the twins, another little girl was getting dropped off. Her ya-ya got out of the car & opened the back door to let the girl out. The girl quickly got out of the car, crying. She did not want anything to do with her ya-ya & did not want to go into her Kindergarten class. She wanted her mommy. Anytime her ya-ya tried to get near her, the little girl would scream & cry & yell at the lady to "get away from me". However, she also did not want to walk into her school building by herself. I contemplated whether I should have asked the girl if I could take her to her class, but didn't want to offend her ya-ya. It ended up that the ya-ya finally got back into the car & drove away leaving the little girl standing outside all by herself. My heart broke for this child who was crying for her mom. Another mother made sure the little girl made it to her class safely, but we were both saddened by the reality of this event.

It reminded me of several scenes I read in The Nanny Diaries a few years ago. I was reading a fictional book, based on reality, but could never fully grasp that this truly does occur in the world. Today, unfortunately, I saw it with my own eyes. And, like I said, it just broke my heart!

We just recently hired a helper to cook for us & stay home with the children when we wanted to go out on a date. She is wonderful! When we interviewed her, she told us at her previous job, she woke the children, got them dressed & ready for school, took them to school & picked them up in the afternoons. I assured her that she would not need to do that with my children. One of my very favorite times of the day is when I get to pick my kids up from school. I love the excitement on their faces when they see me. I love to hear all about what they did during the day. I love to listen to them chatter away on the drive home. I wouldn't want to miss that for the world!

Monday, August 27

Tales from a Jeepney

While in Baguio, we experienced our first ride in a Jeepney. (Dana, Richard would totally love these... or not!) Basically, it's an old Jeep converted into a Jeep limo type thing. They use them as public transportation vehicles in the Philippines. My Dad had told me about these & I assumed we wouldn't see very many of them nowadays. But, I was completely wrong! They are as prevalent as ever & are used all over the city. They are a very common sight throughout the entire country.

I assumed I would never have the opportunity to ride in a Jeepney, because I really don't understand the public transportation system. It's very confusing to me. So, instead, we were able to rent one all to ourselves while in Baguio to take us to dinner and to an outdoor flea market area. It was cheaper than renting 3 vans for our group and was a fun experience. All 21 of us piled into this vehicle & safely arrived at our destination each time. We were crowded, but it made for good memories!

The boys favorite thing to do was stick their heads out the window while we drove. Which, of course, made mom a nervous wreck! (And, Mrs. F sitting next to them, as you can see by the look on her face!)

Sunday, August 26

Church Update

Church this morning was nice. We went to the 8:45 Contemporary servie. They had a Praise Team (which is familiar to us) and a band (which is new to us). The only song we knew was the very last song that was sung, Blest Be The Tie That Binds. Sammy & I wanted to cross our arms over our chest & hold hands singing it!!! :) (All you Camp Bandina-ers know what I'm talking about!) We were wondering what the difference was in the 10:30 Traditional service, and as we left the sanctuary, I saw some people in choir robes walking towards the front. So, that's atleast one difference.

The kids liked their Bible classes, which is always a good thing! Nick actually celebrated a birthday in his class, so he had a party, complete with cupcakes, balloons & goody bags. I'm afraid he might expect that every time he attends class now. But, the twins had so much fun that even when I came to pick them up, they wanted to finish their paperwork before getting up to go. We actually waited about 10 minutes for them before finally heading home. That's a good sign!

Sammy & I enjoyed the sermon & the friendly faces that greeted us. It was awesome to worship with people from around the world... Japan, China, England, Australia, Africa, India & more. It was awesome to sing with an international Praise Team.

Every day we feel blessed to have this opportunity to live overseas & experience a different culture across the world. Today was another reminder of that!

Saturday, August 25

First Philippine Church Visit

Well, we finally decided it was time to stop pretending like we're tourists here & start acting like residents. So, we are attending our first church service in the morning. Actually, we've just been very lazy about finding a congregation to visit. There are plenty available, but it's a little difficult since we can't just get in our car & drive. We either have to coordinate it with our driver (who is really great, by the way) or take a taxi (which is a huge pain!) or arrange for the condominium driver to take us (which is pretty expensive). But, we decided to just do it!

So, tomorrow morning, we will be visiting the Union Church of Manila.

It's close, it's international & most importantly, they speak English. We figured that would be a good place to start. Plus, they have a children's ministry and one of my favorite features, a public library! Apparently, it is the only public lending library in Makati, where we live. So, I am really looking forward to browsing there!

I am sure we will have a good worship experience there. I'm excited!

Saturday, August 18

Mr. Handsome

And, here is my absolute favorite picture from our weekend in Baguio:

Samuel relaxing at Tam-Awan Village

Trip to Baguio

A couple of weeks ago, our Texas Instruments team drove to Baguio City, up in the mountains. The guys had some work to do at the TI facility there, while the girls shopped. It was such a beautiful & fun trip! We had a great time!

On our way, we stopped to eat lunch at an outdoor restaurant surrounded by goldfish ponds. It was very scenic!

Sammy & Boys

Amberly & Sydney

Our Lunch Entertainment

Sammy filming me taking a picture of him
(With a LARGE rear behind him!!)

Sydney swinging

Fish Decor

After our fun lunch, we headed on to Baguio. Here are just a few pictures from our weekend there:

Village along mountain side

Kids at bottom of a hill in a beautiful park
in Camp John Hay

Sammy & Kids at Camp John Hay park

Twins standing by a very large tree with equally large leaves!

Posing on the porch at The Waffle House
(First waffles we've had since moving here! A HUGE deal!!)

Sydney trying her hand at driving

Sweet sibling picture at Tam-Awan Village

Nick & Samuel in mountains

Tuesday, August 14

Plagued by Allergies

I wasn't actually looking forward to leaving Texas when we moved to the Philippines, but I was looking forward to leaving the Texas allergies that have caused me so much misery these 9+ years in Dallas. I was excited to start over in a new climate! So, for a month, I have been breathing easy. It was wonderful! WAS wonderful. Yesterday, they came back with a vengeance! And, today, I have not been able to breathe through my nose. I HATE it!! And, of course, all my allergy medication is in our sea shipment, which is being held in Customs right now. I'm not sure when we'll get it, but I'd love to call with my nasally voice and beg some Customs officer to please, please let me retrieve my prescriptions. I seriously doubt it will do any good. So, for the meantime, I'm living on Vicks. Thank goodness for Vicks!!

Thursday, August 9

Filipino News - Livid?

This is the kind of news that makes headlines here:

"Escudero wants to know what ‘livid’ means
By Aurea Calica
Thursday, August 9, 2007

Senators’ quarrel over committee chairmanships turned into a comedy yesterday when one of them asked what “livid” meant.

Senate reporters were asking the senators to comment on the reported dissatisfaction of some of their colleagues in the way committee chairmanships were distributed by Senate President Manuel Villar Jr.

The STAR reported that the Senate minority bloc was livid because Villar allegedly preempted their unification by announcing the committee chairmanships on Monday even if senators from both the majority and the minority were seeking a deferment.

“Forgive me but what is meant by livid?” Sen. Francis Escudero asked in a text message to a radio reporter who sought his reaction to the statements of minority Senators Panfilo Lacson and Jamby Madrigal.

Reporters in the press office googled the word livid. One radio reporter took a handy electronic dictionary and said livid was defined as “sexual desire,” to the laughter of his colleagues. The radio reporter mistook the word livid for libido.

When reporters told Escudero they also did not know what the word meant, the young senator said he was serious. Livid is defined as “discolored, as from a bruise; black-and-blue; ashen or pallid; extremely angry or furious.”

On a serious note, Escudero expressed hopes that the bickering among senators with regard to the committees would soon end so they could buckle down to work..."

Wednesday, August 8

"First Day of School... First Day of School... "

Remember Nemo shouting that to his dad in the beginning of Finding Nemo? (Or, "Memo", as Sydney used to call him?) That's exactly what Samuel shouted this morning, when he came running into our room to wake us up at 6 am. (Yes, you read that right... my son woke us up at 6 am!! If you know my kids, you know this is probably a first!! We Espinosas are LATE sleepers!!!!)

Samuel & Sydney were both so excited to start school today! They each met their teachers yesterday afternoon, which really helped to build the excitement. Their teachers are so wonderful! Samuel's teacher, Miss Higgins, is from Australia. She is 26 & this is her first year teaching. She's vibrant & energetic & excited to be teaching! Sydney's teacher, Miss Nat (Natalya), is from England. She is also young & has a 9-month-old baby girl. Sydney thinks that Miss Nat should bring her daughter, Sophie, to school with her. She is dying to get her little hands on that sweet baby! I couldn't have asked for better teachers for the kiddos!

With the advice of their guidance counselor, I decided to put them in different classes. I'm easily swayed! I was so dead set against separating them, but after today, I am glad I was persuaded to make that decision. I think it will really help Sydney gain some independence and ease some of her timidity. I'm hoping she'll come out of her shell during this time in school.

When I picked them up this afternoon, the very first thing Sydney told me was that she loved her new school & she couldn't wait to come back tomorrow. And, the first thing Samuel told me was that he was sad because he didn't get to see Sydney very much at school. (He is most definitely my sensitive child.) It was completely opposite of what I had anticipated! But, never one to shy away, Samuel already made a new friend & we went to his house this afternoon for a playdate.

I am thrilled that they have this opportunity to meet new friends and classmates who are so different from them. I am grateful that they will be attending school with children from all around the world... China, Australia, India, Japan, Ireland, etc., just to name a few. They will be exposed to so much culture! It will be wonderful!

Tuesday, August 7

What I've Learned So Far...

* You absolutely cannot be a germaphobe in the Philippines. You just can't! The smog is terrible & leaves a black film on almost everything. It's disgusting, but what are you gonna do? You have to breathe. And, Nick is always going to put his fingers in his mouth after touching something dirty outside. Always. It never fails! I'm just hoping we are building up our immune system & it will be super strong when we return to the States.

* It rains every day here. Not always a lot of rain. (Although, it was a lot yesterdsay & today.) But, it rains some every day. That's why it's called the wet season. There are 2 seasons in the Philippines... wet & dry. The wet season runs through November. I'm just waiting for the typhoon. I hear it's coming...

* You cannot get your money back on returned items. Not even if you return it the very same day, with the tags still on & all the receipts in hand. All you can do is exchange it for another item. I bought a couple of jeans for Sydney last week, came home to let her try them on & discovered they were way too big for her. (Which reminds me of my next item...) So, a few days later (I was still within the 7 day return policy period), I attempted to take them back quickly to get my money back. No way, no how. Their policy is not to give the money back, but to exchange the item right then & there. I was furious! Nick was cranky & tired & I just wanted to get this done & get home. I argued with them & pointed out that this policy was not written or stated anywhere in the store or on the receipt. They didn't budge. The saleslady kept trying to offer me different jeans for Sydney, to which I loudly proclaimed that I thought this policy was ridiculous & I did not want to purchase clothing from their store anymore. And, then I caved. I didn't have a choice but to exchange her jeans. It took a good half hour to complete the exchange. Thank goodness Sammy was there with me so he could take Nicholas home. (Actually, after I threw my little tantrum & made a scene, I think he was very embarrassed & wanted to get as far away from me as possible.)

* The sizes here run WAY smaller than they do in the States. WAY smaller! It's very humiliating trying to shop here. I won't even tell you what size pants I finally bought tonight, but it wasn't pretty. I'll just tell you this... a size 10 in the States is considered Plus Size here!

The kids start school in the morning & after meeting their teachers today, they are VERY excited... and so am I! I really love this school & I'm thrilled that they will get the opportunity to attend here. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, August 3

Bike Ride Adventure

Well, I talked a little about our attempted bike ride in the previous post. We decided to get some use out of our bikes that somehow made it in the air shipment, while the important stuff was left out... all our clothes, our kitchen items, pillows & blankets, etc. But, dead gummit, we got our bikes!! So, in an effort to get out, get some fresh air & get some exercise, we decided to ride our bikes across the street from our condo at a little grassy park area with a dolphin fountain.

So, the kids got on their bikes, rode them into the elevator & when we got to the lobby, they rode across the large lobby all the way to the exit doors. As if I already wasn't disturbed by the amount of stares we get on a daily basis, this was ten times worse! A police officer kindly stopped the busy traffic for us so we could cross the street & helped Sydney push her bike across. Once we all finally got to the park, the kids enjoyed riding for probably a total of 5 minutes! The remainder of our time there was spent running around & admiring the dolphin statues. But, either way, I accomplished my goal of getting some fresh air & exercise.