Friday, August 29

Dinner Menu

This should be so easy for me, but truly, it is not! Our household helper, Rosalie, has asked me to come up with a weekly dinner menu that she can follow. Obviously, it would make grocery shopping easier & would solve the 4 o'clock dilemma of wondering what in the world we are having for dinner every evening.

I actually used to follow a very simple dinner menu back in Texas. The only problem is that so many convenience items on that menu cannot be found here in the Philippines:

* Breaded Fish Fillets or Fish Sticks - Not here! You can find the real deal here anywhere you look, but we like the masked taste of fish that you find with Gorton's breaded stuff.

* Frozen Raviolis - There is not a large freezer selection of foods here like in the states. Apparently, it is difficult to keep frozen & refrigerated items here... well... frozen & refrigerated. So, they don't even attempt it.

* Pork Chops - We've decided we're not big on pork in our family. Except bacon. My kids could probably eat a whole pig if it was fried up like bacon!

* Popcorn Shrimp - Not available. Huge shrimp that you have to clean & peel & de-vein & get all slimy, they do have. Little cute breaded shrimp pieces that you buy frozen in a Gorton's box, they don't have.

Okay, after looking at the entire menu again, I realize that most of the items are available after all. With a little tweaking here & there, I can make it work.

But, I still would love to have some new, fresh dinner ideas from all of you. Keep in mind we can't find the following items here in Subic:

* Refrigerated biscuits/croissants/pie crusts of any kind (I miss Sunday morning cinnamon rolls & my sister's chicken pot pie recipe)

* Water chestnuts (Which I have surprisingly needed a lot of lately. Mom, I was gonna talk to you about that...)

* Sausage rolls, like Jimmy Dean's stuff (Kelley, I really, really miss your delicious sausage & artichoke stew!! Mmmmm...)

* Any canned items that differ from the norm - Mexican/Italian style stewed tomatoes, etc. (It's a hit or miss issue. Sometimes you can find it. Most times not.)

* Fresh salmon (Which is a shame because we love salmon!)

So, if you had someone willing to cook dinner for your family during the weeknights, what sorts of meals would you include on your menu? That 3 & 6 years olds would also enjoy? (Just narrowed down the selection quite a bit, didn't I?) Let me know because I am definitely looking for some yummy ideas!

Thursday, August 28

LASIK Rocks!

On the morning of July 26, Sam & I finally had the chance to give each other our 10 year anniversary gift - LASIK surgery at the American Eye Center in Manila. I have been requesting this surgery since I was in high school! My opthamologist suggested I wait until my vision stopped changing for atleast 3 years. That didn't happen until recently. And, thankfully, since we are overseas, we are able to get quality healthcare for about half the cost! Our LASIK surgery literally cost less than half of what we had priced back in Dallas. So, with that in mind, Sam decided we could both afford to have to surgery done. We made a little weekend date out of it, while our fabulous helper, Rosalie, stayed with the kids for a few days. We also owe a huge thanks to our great friends, the Davises, Tamra Gulley & MP Powers, for arranging playdates with our kiddos during the day. I don't think Sydney, Samuel or Nicholas even realized we were gone!

Here is our last picture together with our glasses on:
(These self-portrait shots are never flattering, in my opinion!)

The last time we'll need these things!

And, my favorite photo! I couldn't resist snapping this one in the doctor's office.

Robotic Sam
It has now been one month since the surgery & we both are seeing 20/20! It's amazing! My eyeglass prescription was a -6 & -6.5. Sam's eyeglass prescription was a -5.5 & -5.75. And, we are both seeing perfectly! Sometimes I'll still reach for my glasses in the middle of the night. Sometimes I'll lay down & think, "Oh, I need to take off my contacts." Sometimes it just feels like I'm still wearing my contacts all day long. After wearing glasses & contacts for 22 years, it's still so surreal that I don't have to mess with that any longer. I love it! And, Sam does also. We couldn't be happier with our results!

Tuesday, August 26


As many of you know, I despise cats! Really, I do! I've never been fond of them... ever.

So, I shocked even myself (and especially Sam) when I took the time to care for 3 abandoned kittens the kids found in our backyard. Those kittens were pathetic sounding... mewing & crying for some love & attention. And, they got plenty of both from Sydney, Samuel & Nick. Seeing my 3 sweet kiddos treat these tiny animals so lovingly softened my heart a bit. I found a box & an old towel & created a cozy, warm home away from the torrential rain. We diligently put out warm milk & a plate of crushed up tuna for a couple of days. The kids would wake up & immediately go sit on the back porch to hold the kittens. They stayed out there practically all day long petting them & playing with them. As hard as it was, I explained that we needed to take the kittens to a rescue shelter so that they could receive better care. Sydney accompanied me on that trip & made sure they were going into good hands. My friend, Heather, reports that the kittens are now almost 6 weeks old & very healthy! She is trying to convince me to take one (or two), but I haven't softened that much...

The kids named them Tinkerbell, Peter Pan & Spongebob. Thought we were going for a theme, but Nick threw us for a loop with his name! :)

Love that tuna!

Monday, August 25

First Grade & Pre-K

While all of my friends are busy sending their kiddos off to their first day of school in Texas, we are well underway here in the Philippines. (We've already had 2 days off for Filipino holidays! Holidays are a serious business around here!)

The kids started back to school on August 7th this year & so far, they have had a great few weeks! Nicholas moved up into the pre-kindergarten class with Teacher Malen, who is extremely calm & gentle with the kids. We are hoping some of her calmness will rub off on Nick! Sydney & Samuel are separated again this year, but they are perfectly content. Sydney was blessed with a sweet, easygoing veteran teacher, Miss Anna Gomez. Samuel has Mrs. Melissa Quattlebaum. This is her first year teaching, so the hope is that she'll have enough energy & patience to handle my rowdy boy. Samuel likes his teacher & likes saying her last name even more so I think it's a good match!

I hope all of our first-time school friends out there have had a great start so far. I want to hear from all of you... Rebecca, Ava, Jackson and Matalee. Send pictures!

Tuesday, August 5

Lemon Pepper Nostalgia

It's funny what can trigger a special memory from my childhood. This week, for instance, it was a certain seasoning. Lemon pepper. And not just any old lemon pepper, but only Adam's Lemon Pepper Seasoning. I'm not even convinced that was the seasoning we used growing up, but it's the only one that tastes familiar to me & takes me back to my childhood. Not Lawry's. Not McCormick. Only Adam's.

My grandmother, it seems, used to season anything & everything with lemon pepper. I loved it! It was kept on the dinner table, right along with the salt & pepper shakers. Last week, I steamed some zucchini, arranged the slices in a baking dish, sprinkled on the lemon pepper and covered it all with grated cheese... just like Grandmother does it. Perfection! I kept offering bites to my kids, who looked at me as if I were offering them liver. Not a one decided to take that trip down memory lane with me. I was all alone. I savored every single bite of lemony pepper cheesy zucchini solo & it was great!

My dad also used to make me egg sandwiches seasoned with lemon pepper. Mmmm! To this day, I cannot eat an egg sandwich without lemon pepper sprinkled on the egg. It just doesn't taste as good as Dad's without it! Toast, mayonnaise, lemon pepper & a fried egg. An excellent midnight snack!

I'm grateful that I have been able to find Adam's Lemon Pepper Seasoning in the Philippines. Any little thing to make my home here feel like home is treasured beyond words!