Monday, March 31

Church Visit

We visited a new church on Sunday. It was small, as I'm pretty sure all Christian churches are in this area. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic region, so the non-Catholic churches are few & relatively small in size. (Atleast in this area of the country.) But, we went with a FedEx lady (I wonder if they call us TI ladies?) and I think her invite was just the push we needed to get us off our lazy rears on Sunday morning!

As I said, it was small. Their auditorium was about the size of a large classroom at our church in Richardson. And, they had a band on the stage with large speakers set up on each side. So, it was LOUD! Sydney covered her ears during most of the praise & worship portion. She said it was "too loud". I couldn't blame her.

I had a hard time focusing on the singing during this time because there were about 4 little boys standing 2 rows ahead of us who kept turning their heads to watch us & would laugh uncontrollably. Then, I would look at my own kids, who were standing in a daze with their mouths hanging open. They had never seen such movin' and groovin' in a church service! And, the little boys ahead of us had never seen so many white people in their church. It was pretty comical.

When the music ended, it was time for the kiddos to leave for Bible class. Luckily, all 3 of mine are taught in the same room (ages 3-6 are all together... small church!), but only Nick & Samuel were willing to go. So, the boys attended Bible class together, while Sydney stayed in the auditorium with us & colored. Near the end of class time, Sydney whispered that she wanted to go with Bub & Nick. So, her Daddy took her to their class and she stayed until it was over.

Afterwards, they all came back out to the auditorium to join us for a couple more praise & worship songs. This time, both boys felt the spirit moving and started groovin' right along. It was quite a sight to watch two little white boys dancing out of rhythm! Adorable!

After the service ended, so many sweet & friendly strangers came to welcome us to their church. They invited Sam to a men's Bible study the following day. They invited me to a ladies' fellowship event. And, they invited our entire family to an upcoming sports day. They were so hospitable & loving.

The best part of it all is that Sydney announced that evening that she wanted to go back to church in the morning. She said she liked her Bible class. When shy, timid Sydney declares that she enjoyed a new environment, you know that it was good!

As I told my mom on the phone last night, if we continue to attend this church, my kids are going to think our church services back home in Texas are completely boring! No band... no dancing... boring!! Maybe on our return, we can shake it up a bit at RE!

Thursday, March 27


I love playing tennis. I would have never known had I not given it a chance, though. Actually, I took lessons in middle school, I think it was. (Or elementary. Not exactly sure, but maybe my mom remembers.) But, I didn't like it much back then. In fact, I don't remember anything about the game, except that I went to the high school tennis courts each day. That's it. However, I really enjoy playing now.

Thankfully, it is a popular sport here in the Philippines. Many expat women take lessons because it is so incredibly cheap here. Therefore, it has become an activity that binds us all together. When I lived in Manila, 4 of us ladies met atleast 2, sometimes 3 times a week to play doubles tennis. We would play for atleast 2 hours & had so much fun together. Here in Subic, I've been very blessed to be included in the FedEx ladies tennis games. They meet every Wednesday morning & play for 2.5 hours. It has been so neat to get together with these extraordinary women, play an exciting sport & learn a little more about life in the Philippines through their eyes.

I hope that I will be able to continue playing when I move back to the states. I hope that I can find friends that enjoy the activity as much as I do. And, I hope I make the time to continue doing what I love.

For now, I'm off to bed to rest up for another game of singles tennis tomorrow morning.

Monday, March 24

Got Skype?

If not, GET IT!!

I finally used my Skype account to talk to my sister & nephews last night. It was so neat! I could see them & talk as if we were face to face. And, the best part is, it's completely free! Completely! No hidden costs whatsoever. Unless you want to upgrade to more features & services, then you have to pay. Otherwise, it's a free & easy service that allows you to talk over the Internet.


Mom & Dad - First of all, you need a faster Internet speed. But, if not, maybe you can go somewhere else to use Skype. Like the...
Rice Family - Come on! The kids & I miss you guys! I'd like to see my handsome nephews & beautiful niece soon! And, of course, the kiddos are dying to talk to their cousins.
Aunt Cindy - We could wish you a happy birthday to your face tomorrow! :)
Uncle Jake - You & Sam could catch up in person & of course, the kids would talk your ear off, as usual.
GNO Girls - Download this so I can join you every once in a while on your girls' evenings. I miss you all terribly!
BAD Girls - I can "be" at the next book club meeting! And, all the following meetings.
Christy - We can talk face to face again & I can see baby Cooper when he's born.
Jennifer - I can join you for your early morning coffee time again!

I could go on & on. I am so thankful for amazing technology that helps me stay connected to my family & friends back in Texas. This overseas assignment would be so much more difficult without the conveniences of the Internet!

I miss you all!

Saturday, March 22

Random Late Night Thoughts

* Someone recently found my blog by googling the phrase "european boys in speedos". I bet they were utterly disappointed!

* Nicholas sleeps with his eyes open. Always has. It's a bit unnerving at times.

* This very well might be the first Easter that we have not bought into the commercialism of it all. I think I like it better this way.

* I played tennis with Sam yesterday morning & kicked his butt! He is used to playing racquetball, so he had a hard time keeping the tennis ball inside the lines.

* We just found out that Sam's brother, Uncle Jake, may be getting married soon. We are trying to convince him to get married in the Philippines so we can attend, but I don't think he's going for it.

* Sydney is currently addicted to her High School Musical 2 DVD that she got for her birthday. I think she & Nicholas can sing almost all of the songs on it.

* Even after 6 years, every time I look at my handsome Samuel, I am amazed at his beautiful blue eyes.

* It's time to go stick my traditional Easter pot roast & veggies in the crock-pot. YUMMM... I can't wait for lunch!

* I am really glad we had this opportunity to move overseas. It has been a fun ride!

Friday, March 21

Good Friday

I have encountered quite a bit of culture shock while living in the Philippines, but this recent experience had to take the cake. On our way to the beach, we passed several groups celebrating Holy Thursday by publicly flogging themselves. It was very unsettling to see these men walking the streets, whipping their own backs that were already completely bloody & raw. I found a video that accurately portrays this disturbing ritual we witnessed:

As if that weren't bad enough, it is a Filipino custom to re-enact Christ's crucifixion on Good Friday. So, this is what happened throughout the Philippines yesterday:

I understand that these rituals are steeped in tradition, but I still cannot fathom anyone voluntarily injuring themselves as penitence. I have not read in my Bible where Christ has commanded or even asked that we do that. It seems to have turned into quite an Easter production that draws thousands of tourists to the provinces to watch the spectacle. So senseless!

Noisy Lizards!

Remember this post? The last part described a funny bird sound I was constantly hearing, but could not locate.

I finally discovered what creature was making this peculiar sound... and it's not a bird.

It is a lizard!!

While I still have a hard time believing it, every Filipino I ask gives me the same answer. They call it a "toko", because it makes the sound "to-ko, to-ko". This is the same sound I described as "eh ah". So, I was a little off the mark, but I had the general idea.

I also found this newspaper article about a Frenchman named Guillaume Joseph Hyacinthe Jean Baptiste Le Gentil de la Galasiere (whew... what a name!) attempting to describe the lizard sound in a book he authored titled, A Voyage to the Indian Seas. Towards the end, the news article states:

"Reading Le Gentil, however, often results in amusement, because you see him trying his best to convey to his French readers what he saw and experienced in the Philippines, like the "tuko" [gecko] that he had not seen but heard. He cited a Spanish source who described it as a peculiar lizard with nails so sharp it could actually run on the face of a mirror. He wrote:

“I have never seen these animals, but I have often heard them in Manila. They ordinarily live in houses. One first hears them utter two or three cries in a trembling voice -- something like the cry of an owl, but stronger and quite loud enough to make their presence known throughout the whole house, however big it might be. Then it says quite distinctly, ‘Toco, toco,’ and repeats this sound ordinarily seven times in succession, but sometimes as often as 11, allowing the tones of the voice to drop toward the end of each sound; so that the last cry the creature gives is not so loud as the first, and in a much lower key.

“I have not seen this animal, as I have said, although I have frequently heard it; and I have been given a picture of the creature that looks like the picture of a lizard. Notwithstanding this, however, I have always found it difficult to believe that the creature I heard was a lizard, for I could not believe that there are any lizards that could sing.”

Unlike Le Gentil, all Filipinos know the tuko. Reading about our country and people from a foreigner’s eyes can be very delightful and informative."

So, there you have it! My mystery has been solved. I would have never in a million years guessed that this very loud, distinct call would have come from a lizard. But, I am learning all sorts of interesting and creepy facts about living in the jungle. And, for the most part, I am enjoying it!

Wednesday, March 19

Nicholas Riley

I'm convinced this name means trouble! If trouble is around, this kid will definitely find it!

Here is a recap of 4 days last week:

Day 1 - Samuel accidentally shut the car door on 2 of Nick's fingers. I was already in the driver's seat, so I had to get out & run around to the other side of the car before I realized what had happened. He screamed for a LONG time! I had neighbors all around me asking what was wrong.

Day 2 - On one of those same 2 fingers, Nick gets stung by some sort of wasp looking insect.

Day 3 - Nick, Sydney & Samuel are chasing each other through a circular path in our house. Somehow Nick runs straight into the metal doorplate. Immediately, I could tell this cry was different. I ran right to him only to watch the bump on his forehead develop into a huge goose egg. It was evident where he hit because he had a dark, bruised line right on his forehead in the middle of the swollen area. However, he did not break the skin. It was bleeding under the skin, but thank goodness, there was no open cut.

Day 4 - Nick hits the very same spot on his forehead on the corner of the metal slide at the park! The skin, which is already very taut from the swelling, immediately splits open & blood comes gushing down his face. So, now he has a huge scab on his forehead that several people have told us should have probably required stitches. I think his poor forehead will eventually just be one big scar!

I am praying that he will develop a little more grace & balance before attempting any sports. If not, we will be setting up a medical fund in his name & accepting all donations.

Mid-Week Thoughts

My friend, Kristi, just recently posted about some frustrations she is experiencing. I can relate. It made me think of the conversation Sam & I had just this evening. I tried to explain to him that I was just feeling down & cannot figure out why. There are certain times of the month when my mood & temper & attitude can easily be explained with hormones. This week, however, cannot be attributed to hormones. I don't understand why meaningless, unimportant events seem to set me off & frustrate me. Yesterday, I got mad because Sam asked me to cut the chicken breast a certain way so that it will cook more evenly. Well, I didn't know how to do it properly & I got angry. Not at him. (His cooking skills are far superior to mine & I will happily admit that.) At the chicken! So, I figured while I had the big knife in my hand, I would take it out on this raw chicken breast. And, I did. But, it didn't make me feel any better. However, it did make Sam realize he better take over the dinner preparations before I ruined anymore food. Tonight, I got angry because we don't have any clean beach towels to pack for the beach tomorrow. And, to make a long story short, I cannot get into my laundry room until about 9 am tomorrow morning, when our housekeeper arrives. We are supposed to be leaving for the beach at 10 am, so I have to see if I can quickly wash & dry a load of towels in about 1 hour. I don't think our dryer can do it, but we'll see.

Maybe it's stress. Maybe I need more sleep. Maybe I need to pop a happy pill. But, in hindsight, I realize how silly & petty my frustrations are. I just wish I would realize this as it's happening. As Samuel likes to say, I need to chill out!

Saturday, March 1

Cons of Jungle Living:


I am sorry to my friends & family that have checked this site for almost a month now anxiously awaiting an update. Here is the update I've been promising...

Don't get me wrong, I love living in a quiet, remote, mountainous, jungle area, but I sure wish the Internet service was reliable. I went almost 2 solid weeks without any internet at all!! That was HARD! But, I did get all caught up on my book club reading. So, it wasn't all a waste. And, I did discover how beautiful this area is when explored on foot. And, I also found out that I need to get out & hike more often to use these muscles that have been dormant for a while. Maybe I need to take an Internet break more often...

The kids have been enjoying school. The twins studied Dr. Seuss last week in school & had so much fun! They had a "Wacky Wednesday" where they got to dress up in crazy, mismatched clothes. They were quite a spectacle amongst all their uniformed classmates in chapel that morning! Their teachers also turned their classroom upside down. They loved it! On Thursday, they wore crazy, mismatched socks with their uniforms. Sydney had some fun colored socks, but poor Samuel only had white socks. So, I dug through my box of winter clothes that somehow got shipped to the Philippines where we do not have a winter. I pulled out several of my long, striped winter socks & a couple of warm, fuzzy patterned socks. He put a few of those together & thought it was great fun! My camera battery died, so I don't have pictures of either, but I will get some from their teacher. On Friday, they made green eggs & spam. Their teacher mentioned that some of the kids gobbled it up, some ate only a little & some didn't touch their plates at all. I'm willing to bet my kids were grouped in that last category! I can't even get them to eat "normal" food at home! They had a fun & full week at school.

On Tuesday, I made a special presentation for Nick's class all about America. His class is studying different cultures & apparently, I was the only American (out of 3 in his class) willing to do a special presentation. The Koreans did a fun project, one Canadian put together a nice morning for the kids & the Filipinos went all out with yummy food & stories. I think I represented the Americans well, but it sure would have been nice to have help. The kids had a great time & learned about the American flag, so my job was successful!

Sam & I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on Thursday, 2/28. TEN years?! Seriously?! Come on... we're still just kids ourselves! Time is sure catching up with me. I turned 31 on Valentine's Day, we've been married for 10 years & the twins will be 6 on March 12!! Some days I feel like we've been married forever & some days I think back to our dating years & long for the simplicity of those days. But, never have I ever regretted my life with Sam. I can't imagine my life being any better than it is now! I love all the adventures he has taken me on & I love growing & learning new things with him every day. What a ride these last 10 years have been & I sure hope to have just as much fun the next 10+ years!

If all goes well, we will be moving into our Subic home about the middle to end of this month. I cannot wait! I'm a pretty carefree, happy go lucky, easygoing girl, but it has been a bit hectic not having all our belongings unpacked & within reach. Of course, living in temp housing for 2 months has also taught me how much "junk" we actually have that we do not need to survive. Why do I have SIX mixing bowls?! Why do I need TEN purses when I just use the same one over & over?! I always hope to downsize when I unpack boxes from a move. We'll see how good I do in a few weeks.

I have made so many new friends here in Subic, for which I am so grateful! There are about 70 FedEx pilots & their families stationed here. I have met several of them & they have taken me under their wings. (Not literally... although I wish! Only free flights for immediate family members.) We play tennis every Wednesday morning & meet for lunch every Friday afternoon. They are a fun bunch of ladies & I would literally be lost without them! They have helped me navigate the streets of Subic & it's outlying town, Olongapo. They have helped me locate the best markets, the best spas (ahhhhh...), the best restaurants & so many other great hidden places that I'm sure I would have never found otherwise. I am blessed to have met so many wonderful ladies & their families!

We are attending the International Food Festival tonight at the kids' school. This is their big fundraiser for the year & is a pretty huge deal for the school. Each nationality is responsible for setting up a booth. I am providing chocolate chip cookies & cornbread for the American booth. I volunteered to make chili, but a few other northerners beat me to it. I'm scared. If it tastes like a can of Wolf brand, I will be so mad! I have heard that the Japanese booth has the best food, so I need to get there early to taste it before it's all gone. We'll see...

Have a great weekend! Hopefully, it won't be so long before my next post!

I'll leave you with a few of the latest cute photos:

Each of the kids got to hold a white mouse at the start of the Aeta trail we hiked a couple of weekends ago

The kids loved learning about jungle living, so they came home & pretended to be Indians. Don't know how they made that connection, but it was cute!