Friday, November 30

At the beach...

This is so cool! I am sitting at the most beautiful beach, eating breakfast, surfing the web. (Only because I stole Sam's computer who is trying to do some work. It can wait.)

So much has happened in Manila lately that I have not had the chance to blog about. Someday soon. But for now, we have exprienced the following where we live:

* Typhoons
* Mall bombing/explosion (They cannot agree whether it was a natural gas explosion or a terrorist bomb.)
* More typhoons
* Earthquake (This was interesting...)
* Military coup takeover

The Philippines have been fun & wonderful, but I am constantly on my guard living here. You just never know what's going to happen.

But, come visit anyway... we'd love to have you! It's beautiful & you can come to the beach! I promise it's worth it!

Back to breakfast...

Monday, November 26

Thanksgiving Celebration

Although it was quite a different celebration, we did enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal this past Saturday. It took a lot of planning & a lot of shopping, but we pulled of a feast almost identical to what I'm used to eating with my family each Thanksgiving. We pigged out on the following tasty dishes:

* Turkey, of course! Sam always makes our yummy turkey every year. Each time, he tries a different recipe from and so far, they have all turned out wonderful. This year was no exception.
* Stove Top Stuffing. So excited we found it in the store.
* My Dad's delicious sweet potato casserole. However, we could not find solid white marshmallows to melt on top, so we had to use pastel, multi-colored marshmallows. Tasted the same, just looked strange.
* My Grandmother's wonderful Veg-All Casserole. Again, I was very excited to find an authentic can of Veg-All!
* Creamed Corn Casserole. It took a lot of searching, but I finally found ONE box of cornbread mix! Just one!
* Green Bean Casserole. However, we could not find French's Fried Onions anywhere, so we improvised using Stove Top Stuffing instead.
* Fresh Asparagus
* Strawberry Jello Pretzel Salad
* Peanut Butter Pie
* Peach Cobbler with Cool Whip
* Chocolate Chip Cake

It was all so good! We invited our friends to join us for dinner and played Scene It afterwards. Good times.

We missed being with our families, but are so very thankful to spend Thanksgiving in the Philippines making new memories and new traditions.

On Friday night, we tried a newly opened restaurant called Texas Roadhouse. I've heard they are all over Texas, but I have never been to one. So, we were excited to try some authentic Texas food. WRONG! It just wasn't authentic. Sam was upset because they didn't even have a Chicken Fried Steak on the menu. And, I am always searching for some good brisket. We are going to have to keep looking.

After dinner, we stopped in at a local video game arcade and chilled out in a videoke room for a while. Believe it or not, Sam is building a reputation as being a microphone hog! Now, if you know my husband, you know this is a completely different side of him. My shy, quiet, recluse husband loves to sing karaoke!! Who would have thought?!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration also! Now, on to Christmas...

Thursday, November 22

Israel... not jail

Sydney's friend, Dana, is spending about a month visiting family and friends back home in Israel. The other day, Sydney mentioned that she missed Dana and asked where she was:

Syd: "Mom, where is Dana?"
Me: "She's in Israel."
Syd (completely panicked): "WHAT? Why is she in jail?"

Thursday, November 15

100 Things

My friend, Jenny, posted a "100 Things" list on her blog and I am stealing her idea. So, here are 100 things you may or may not care to know. Most are about me. Some are not:

1. I will celebrate my 10 year wedding anniversary in February.
2. I don't feel like I'm old enough to be married 10 years.
3. I am scared of cats.
4. Unfortunately, I think Sydney has inherited this same fear.
5. I did not find out I was pregnant with twins until my first sonogram at 20 weeks.
6. A friend predicted I was pregnant with twins the first time I announced my pregnancy.
7. She also predicted the birth date and was exactly right.
8. I should have asked her to pick my lottery ticket numbers.
9. I loved working at Publicis before the twins were born.
10. I thought I would love working at Zig Ziglar, but I ended up leaving after a year there because I hated the hypocrisy of his company.
11. My sister, Jonetta, was the first one to know about our possible move to the Philippines.
12. I was dead set against this job until I talked to her.
13. She opened my eyes to the experiences that this job would afford our family.
14. Had I not confided in her, I might not be here today.
15. I am really glad we have this opportunity to live overseas.
16. If Sam wasn't offered this job, I'm not sure that we would have ever traveled overseas.
17. This job is really helping us pay down our debt.
18. Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the Philippines.
19. Thankfully, we have found a grocery store that sells Butterball turkeys and all the traditional Thanksgiving necessities.
20. What I will miss most is being with family this Thanksgiving.
21. I had a bad dream last night about not being with my family for the holidays.
22. We listened to a Filipino Christmas concert last night and did not recognize one single Christmas song.
23. The Christmas lights were beautiful, though.
24. Samuel made a painting of outer space for his Show & Tell time tomorrow.
25. He loves all things outer space.
26. He took an alien ball to school today and got it taken away during music class.
27. He was upset about that when he got home today.
28. I wonder if the music teacher has a stash of toys that she keeps in her desk like the teacher in A Christmas Story.
29. I wonder if my husband will ever grow out of his video game phase.
30. I am thankful that my son is not addicted to video games... yet.
31. I started a new workout at the gym this week and my ankles are really hurting right now.
32. I went to Abilene Christian University my first year of college.
33. I was pretty homesick that first year.
34. I transferred back home to Texas A&M University - Kingsville my sophomore year of college.
35. After my transfer, I realized how much I missed ACU.
36. I have vivid memories of my Kindergarten year.
37. I can't remember anything that happened in 2nd grade.
38. When I was in 5th grade, my elementary school burned down.
39. Our class wrote essays about how we felt about the fire.
40. I got to read my essay in front of a television news camera at our temporary school.
41. It was shown on the news that evening and I remember that my parents were not too thrilled about what I wrote.
42. Looking back, I was also embarrassed about what I wrote.
43. I transferred to a new school my 8th grade year.
44. It was one of the worst decisions I have ever made.
45. Before my transfer, I would willingly speak in front of large groups.
46. After my transfer, I encountered terrible stage fright.
47. I used to make up all sorts of excuses not to read out loud in front of the class.
48. My throat used to physically close up and my voice would start quivering.
49. I have never overcome this fear.
50. Sometimes in Bible class, if we are assigned a verse to read, I will ask Sammy to read it for me.
51. I really hate this about myself.
52. It makes me feel weak and I don't like to feel weak.
53. I have so many wonderful groups of girlfriends!
54. I dearly love my GNO girls!
55. (Sherry, if you are reading this, I am trying to find a good time to return your call.)
56. I also treasure my book club friends.
57. I look forward to reading different books every month.
58. I also have a great group of girlfriends that live in Wylie.
59. I met them through a Wylie Moms group on
60. We have a blast at our Mom's Nights In!
61. I also have so many wonderful girlfriends from school, summer camp, work and wives of Sam's friends.
62. I suddenly feel extremely blessed now that I took the time to type that out.
63. Sometimes I worry whether I will fall back into place with my friends when I move back to Texas.
64. I also have 2 beautiful sisters.
65. And 4 cool nephews.
66. And 1 pretty princess niece.
67. Oops! I have 3 nieces on Sam's side also who I hardly know.
68. Sam's sister lives in Las Vegas and we rarely see her or her daughters.
69. In fact, I've never met my youngest niece who is atleast 2 by now.
70. My kids think their Uncle Jakey is the coolest guy around.
71. It was hard for me to say goodbye to Jake because I knew how much my kids would miss him.
72. It was harder for me to say goodbye to my oldest nephews because I realized how much older and more mature they would be when we returned in 2 years.
73. I love to go camping!
74. There is nowhere to go camping in the Philippines.
75. Sam's sister looks very much like Angelina Jolie.
76. I cried two nights ago because I wanted some Taco Bueno.
77. I was hormonal.
78. I also cried because Sam didn't put enough strawberry jelly on my PBJ sandwich.
79. When I am hormonal, Sam cannot do anything right. He usually tries to stay out of my way.
80. I would love to participate on The Amazing Race someday.
81. My dad said he would also like to participate with me.
82. My dad has vertigo.
83. I don't think we would stand a chance.
84. But I would do it with him just for the opportunity to travel around the world with him!
85. I can't wait for my parents to come visit us in the Philippines.
86. I have so many fun things I want to do when they come, like visit a beautiful beach.
87. My parents are so wonderful and we all miss them terribly.
88. My sister, Erin, has started making beautiful jewelry.
89. I hope that wasn't a secret, Erin.
90. I love the way Nicholas runs and hugs me when I pick him up from school.
91. He gives me the best bear hugs!
92. Sydney still cannot say her r's properly.
93. I think Sydney has the most beautiful skin.
94. I wish my doctor would have performed a tummy tuck on me when I had my last c-section.
95. I wish my body would magically shrink back down to its pre-pregnancy size.
96. I am so proud of my husband for all the hard work he has done on this project.
97. I need to make it a priority to write my Grandmother a letter.
98. I wish my Grandmother had email.
99. I really miss my dog, Dallas.
100. I spend way too much time on the computer!

Tuesday, November 13

Lesson Learned

The kids hear the phrase "Oh my god" a lot in the Philippines. All of their classmates, teachers, coaches, etc. say it. (I am sure they have never heard it from me. Oh absolutely not. And, they never heard me say "What the hell?" either. I have no idea where Samuel picked up that phrase. Anyway...) So, one afternoon, I was not surprised to overhear the boys talking to each other & using those words: "Oh my god..." I rounded the corner to face Samuel who knew immediately the error of his ways. I realized he knew what he was not supposed to say, but I wasn't sure if he knew why he was not supposed to say it. So, I gathered all three kids and calmly explained to them why we do not say "Oh my god" unless we are talking to God in prayer. I went on to explain that it hurts God's feelings when we take His name in vain. And, we all came up with alternate suggestions:

Oh man
Oh my goodness
Oh no
Oh wow

Now, periodically, Nick will inform me and whoever is around to listen, "Mom, we don't say 'Oh my god' because it hurts God's feelings. We can say 'Oh man' though." He is very adamant about this!

So, on Friday evening, we were sitting down at the dinner table listening to Samuel tell a wild story about a volcano, dragon and lots of lava. Febe, Sydney, Nick & I were all adding to his story, making it more & more outrageous. At one climactic point in the story, Febe said, "Oh my god. Are you serious?" Three little heads immediately whipped around to face me with anxious expressions on them. Sydney quietly asked, "Mom, are we allowed to say 'Oh my god'?" And, Nick answered, "No. But, we can say 'Oh man'."

I know that was Sydney's innocent way of tattling on Febe, but I am relieved to know that atleast that is one lesson I have taught them that has stuck! We have many, many more to go.

Glimpses of Heaven

We visited the Union Church of Manila again this past Sunday. We have started visiting there regularly for the past few weeks. The kids love their Bible classes. Sam & I enjoy listening to the minister. And, if we happen to miss the early service, we can always attend the 2nd service. (And, if you know us, you know how we tend to be overly late sometimes! I'm sure we'll be taking advantage of that 2nd service more often than not.)

I know I posted about this previously, but it hit me again Sunday how awesome it was to worship with fellow Christians from literally ALL OVER THE WORLD!! I became so used to fellowshipping with people just like me... white, middle-class Americans. Unfortunately, there is little variation within the Church of Christ population. Which is sad. So, attending church here actually seems like I'm getting a little glimpse of what heaven might be like... people from all walks of life and from all seven continents of the world. This is how it should be!

We also sang Our God Is An Awesome God before the minister began his sermon. I've sung that song a million and one times since I was in high school. Maybe even junior high. However, when I sung it on Sunday with the band playing on the stage (yes, you read that right... a band! GASP!), it actually moved me to tears. Now, I am not one that is prone to crying easily. (Okay, don't ask my husband because he will disagree.) I get emotional, but I just usually don't cry at stuff like this. So, I was shocked at myself when I got goosebumps & my eyes watered up. I couldn't finish the song. The thing that did it was the crescendo from the drums building up to an awesome final few verses of the song. The accompanying instruments are what really helped me focus on the words. They would get a little bit louder with each verse until the praise team on stage was singing their hearts out that our God is an awesome God! I'm sorry, but you just can't get that same effect with a cappella music! I love my a cappella heritage and tradition, but these drums really drove it home on Sunday. It was awesome!

This is how I think Heaven will be! Drums and all...

Friday, November 9

Caribbean Night

Our condo unit invited all the residents and guest to "Caribbean Night" in the dining hall. Sam is out of town on business, so I went with a few other girlfriends and made a girls' night out of it. We had a great time singing, dancing and eating, of course! The food was delicious!

Mom & Sydney
(I let Sydney come with me for a couple of hours before it was her bedtime.)
Sydney & Malay
(Sydney pretty much thinks Malay has hung the moon!)
Julie, Malay, Cynthia, Liza & Amberly
Julie & Amberly
Liza & Malay
Liza doing the tequila limbo

Friday Night & Grocery Shopping

It is 10:30 Friday night & I am laying in my bed watching another beautiful fireworks display out my bedroom window. They put on displays quite often during the Christmas season here, but it never gets old to me. I love fireworks!

I am also stuffing my face with my newfound love... pomelo. I have never, ever liked grapefruit. Never! And, this fruit looks very similar to grapefruit when cut open. However, when a Japanese friend of mine served this at Nick's school one day, I did not want to be rude and refuse her offer. So, I took a couple of sections, then nibbled on a very small portion of one. And, I really enjoyed it! After I finished those two pieces, I went back for more! Ever since then, I have kept it stocked in my refrigerator. Very delicious! Is this sold in the stores in Texas? I've never noticed it, but then again, I never had a reason to look.

Before moving overseas, we assumed that living in a third world country would mean that the cost of living would be significantly less. Including groceries. In the four months that we have been here (can you believe that?!), we have come to realize that is not the case. It all depends on what items you buy in the store, but for the most part, the foods that we eat are imported from the United States, which means they cost more. Excluding, of course, fruits & vegetables. Otherwise, pretty much everything else is imported... beef, chicken, milk, and everything else in between. We set up our monthly grocery budget when we first moved here, but have found ourselves consistently exceeding that amount. On Tuesday, I was at the grocery store & texted Sam to let him know that my bill would exceed our current budget. He replied wondering why we can't stick to the budget that we allotted. I replied back that first of all, we do not have coupons in the Philippines. (If there are, I have not seen them & neither has anyone else I have asked.) We did The Grocery Game back in Texas for quite a while & saved a significant amount on our bill at each store visit. It was fun! And, cheap! I don't have the option of doing that here. No coupons whatsoever. I also mentioned in my text to him that if we wanted to eat what the locals eat, then I am sure we could save bundles on our grocery bill. Fish & rice. He never sent a reply after that last message. I am going to assume I made my point.

(By the way, it's not that we don't like fish, because we really do. But, we have learned that you should never, ever cook fish in an enclosed condo unit with no ventilation! It's just not right!)

And, speaking of grocery shopping, I was just thinking of our early married years when it was so much fun for Sam & I to go to the grocery store together. I remember that feeling of picking out foods together & discovering what Sam did or did not like. And, knowing that you were going to go back to your house together to put everything away in your refrigerator or pantry together and prepare these foods for each other together in your new life together. Those were the days! Nowdays, I think the planets and sun and moons have to all be aligned in perfect order to get Sam & I to the grocery store together. It's an impossible feat. We both hate to grocery shop! Times change...

But, one thing that doesn't change is how much I miss him when he is gone. He will be home tomorrow morning from a business trip to Taiwan and we are all so excited to see him. It will be a fun Saturday!

Wednesday, November 7


We have been talking about germs a lot lately in our household. Ever since all the illness struck our family, we have tried to reiterate how important it is to wash hands, turn your head away when you cough, etc.

So, today, Nick was licking some food off his fingers & suddenly stopped. He looked at his fingers disgustingly & said, "Ewww! Mom, when everybody puts their fingers in their mouth, all the germs get all over it and come out. That's gross."

Smart kid!

Monday, November 5


Thank goodness Monday is over!!

So, after a full week of fall break, the kids & I were all pumped to go to school this morning! We woke up at 6 am. Everybody was happy. We left on time for a change. We got to school 10 minutes early. (If you know me, this is a big deal!) And, the gate was closed. So, my driver pulled up to the gate, spoke to the security guard in Tagalog & told me we had to enter through a different gate. I noticed that there was absolutely nobody else entering the school & thought that was very odd. So, I politely asked the security guard, "Are there classes today?" He replied, "No ma'am. Today is a teacher workday. Classes will resume tomorrow." Oops! So, we headed back home, the kids in school uniforms, carrying their lunch boxes back into the condo unit. I was so embarrassed!

Since there was no school today, I decided to take the kids someplace fun. So, we tried a new playhouse area called Active Fun. The kids had a blast! It was a very nice indoor play area, similar to a Chuck E. Cheese tube/tunnel/ball pit/slide area. We spent almost 4 hours there! When we left, we lingered outside for a while in the courtyard. It has a carousel & mini ferris wheel. The kids rode those rides, then stopped at one of the many knick knack booths to get glitter tattoos. Here are some pictures of their cool tats:

Samuel's Dragon

Nick's Scorpion

Sydney's Dolphins & Rebekah's Flower

Older Kiddos Tattoos
(Notice Sydney's hairy arms! It's that Latin blood in her!) :)

And speaking of hair, Sydney had an impromptu haircut today. Sometime mid-morning, after she had taken her cute ponytail out since there was no school, she came to me with a fistful of hair glued together by a wad of gum. I tried my best to get it out, but I was doing more damage than good. So, we just cut it out. Luckily, it was on the underside of her hair, so you really can't see the jagged cut unless you are looking closely. But, this was a first for us. And not one she was too thrilled about since she is adamant about NOT cutting her hair! (I have to convince her that it keeps her hair healthy to get a trim periodically. Otherwise, she'd never allow it.) However, after me yanking & trying to pull strands free from the gum, she happily obliged to taking a pair of scissors to the area.

I am desperately trying to finish a wonderful book, but I keep falling asleep and it is driving me crazy!! I so badly want to finish this book to see how the story ends. But, for some reason, every time I sit or lay down to read, I nod off. I think I get that from my Grandmother... or my Dad... or my Mom...

This evening in the shower, Sydney asked me if she had soap in her eyes. Every time any of the kids ask me this, I always start singing, "Soap gets in your eyes..." to the tune of The Platters song Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. And, then I laugh. My sisters know what I'm talking about! So do my parents... especially my Dad! :) So, Dad, get a tissue because this is for you:

I love you, Dad!

Saturday, November 3

Magnificent Sunset

This evening, I watched a beautiful Manila sun set over the bay. It was really gorgeous! I have the opportunity to watch the sun set over the bay every evening from my view on the 25th floor. It's something I have to constantly remind myself not to take for granted!

Friday, November 2

Happy (late) Halloween

Here are some pictures from the Halloween party we attended on Tuesday evening. The kids were not feeling their best and the pictures show that. But, at this point, it's better than nothing!

Samuel as Darth Vader

Sydney Princess

Witchy Mom with Darth Vader & Spiderman

A little bit of face paint can turn a nice Spidey into the evil, black Spidey!
(Or so Nick thinks...)

My boys posing with the Ascott ladies

Nicholas posing with more employees

Fall Break

This week has been the kids' fall break from school. November 1st (All Saints Day) and November 2nd (All Souls Day) are national holidays in the Philippines, so the school system decided to declare the week corresponding to those holidays "fall break". We were looking forward to doing so many fun things on our fall break. We were invited to go to a friends' beach house in Batangas for a few days. We RSVPd for a Halloween party scheduled on the 30th. And we had plans to go trick-or-treating with a friend on Halloween night. In between those times, I was going to take the kids to some fun places to fill up our week.

We ended up doing ONE of the activities I had planned... the Halloween party! (And, even at that, we didn't last very long.)

Samuel became so ill with that nasty stomach virus & it completely attacked his immune system. Just when we thought he was over the worst of it, it came back with a vengeance! For about 2 1/2 days straight, he laid on the couch & did nothing but sip Gatorade & watch movies. Wednesday evening, we finally called the doctor on call to come check on him. We never visit the doctor for a simple stomach virus, but at one point, I went to check on him & his face & lips were extremely pale white. (He could have been a ghost for Halloween... without any makeup!) So, I made up my mind to call in a professional. By the time she got here at 10 pm, he was fast asleep & did not want to be bothered. She gave us a prescription for nausea & vomiting, but he has not had any problems since that evening. Thursday morning, he woke up feeling a little better. And, by Thursday evening, he had some energy to burn. He still has not regained his appetite, but I'm sure that will come in time. This morning, he ate almost half a slice of toast with butter & strawberry jelly. That was the most he has eaten in 3 days! And, I'm thankful for that.

So, although our fall break was a bust, I am just so thankful for all my children's health. I am always reminded that it could be worse & that for many, it is. Our temporary health setbacks here & there are so minor compared to what many people face on a daily basis. Put into that perspective, I realize how truly blessed I am! And, for that, I thank God!