Sunday, November 30

Prayer Request

Please keep my cousin's sweet wife, Julia, in your prayers. She is almost 30 weeks pregnant with twin girls & the last I heard, she was admitted to the hospital on strict bed rest. (If this is incorrect, I'm sure my aunt or mom can respond with the most current situation.) Either way, I know David & Julia would greatly appreciate prayers for their precious little girls. We are thrilled that our twins will have another set of twins in the family!!

One quick question: Is it normal for a 6-year-old to pop her hip joint at will? Sends chills up my spine every time she does it.

Wednesday, November 26

Happy Thanksgiving

We will start our Thanksgiving celebration in 6 hours!! We have a great group of fellow ex-pat friends coming over to pig out with us at 4:00 for appetizers & staying for dinner at 6:00. There will be about 50 people here, so we have 3 turkeys, 2 hams & a rack of ribs... not to mention the numerous salads, casseroles & desserts everyone is bringing! Ugh... I will need to double my running time next week.

I hope you all have a wonderful celebration as well & enjoy the time spent with your family & loved ones. That time is so valuable!

Just one last bit of profound Thanksgiving trivia sent from my friend, MP:

If the Indians had given the Pilgrim Fathers a donkey instead of a turkey, we would all be having a piece of ass for Thanksgiving!


Car Accident - Follow Up

So, the massive car accident I mentioned in my previous post was a tragic one, as I suspected. Sadly, I learned this afternoon that 4 people died in that accident. Two were military men. And, the other two were parents of students here at Brent school. These children found out about their parents deaths during school this morning. (I believe a relative arrived to deliver the devastating news.) The youngest child is a 7th grade girl & her older brother is in 11th grade.

I cannot begin to imagine the pain those poor children are suffering through at the moment. Please say a special prayer for them. They just lost their mother AND their father! Breaks my heart.

Tuesday, November 25

A slap in the face...

Sam & I have been promising the kids a trip to Hong Kong Disney soon. We postponed it in order to travel to Malaysia during Halloween instead. But, we have a school holiday coming up, which means a long weekend & thus the perfect time for our much anticipated Disney getaway. However, I might have waited a bit too late...

I had all the details ironed out... great flight, perfect hotel & even a promo on the Disney tickets. (Buy a 1 day pass & get the 2nd day for FREE! Can't pass that up!) Sam & I sat down last night to determine our budget & I was given the green light to start making all the necessary purchases.

However, we ran into a snag almost immediately. We discovered that there is now only one airline flying from our destination straight to Hong Kong & that particular airline does not accept American issued credit cards!! I was asked if I had a Philippine issued credit card or if I had a friend that could purchase the airline tickets for me. Ummm... NO! It seems our only other option was to go through a travel agent. So, today, I traveled to Clark to pick up Sam from work so we could go purchase our airline tickets at a travel agency in Angeles. We asked the travel agency to go ahead & book our airline tickets, along with the hotel rooms. Come to find out, the perfect hotel at the perfect price I found online is perfectly booked solid this weekend! Long story short... we have no idea what our long weekend plans will be. The travel agency is exploring other options, but cannot give us any answers until tomorrow. I sulked back to our car, got in, sat down & started crying. Just due to the fact that I had it all planned out so carefully & it still didn't work out like I wanted. Woe is me!

So, on the way home, in the midst of my pouting, we arrive on the scene of a massive car accident. There are 2 SUVs involved, one of which is a camouflaged military truck. Both vehicles are flipped over and crushed beyond repair. We had to stop driving until the policeman could direct our car through the middle of the accident scene and therefore had a very up close & personal view of the destruction. My heart stopped. My breathing stopped. My eyes teared up again. There were bodies dressed in military gear laid out next to their vehicle. There were more bodies crumpled inside the second upside down vehicle on the opposite side of the road. The policeman very solemnly looked at Sam through my passenger window and instructed him to please drive carefully.

In an instant, all my pouting and petty frustrations came to a screeching halt. It was as if God slapped me in the face and once again reminded me of how blessed my life is and how much I have to be thankful for. My "perfect" vacation plans may be altered, but I am alive! I will go home to 3 kids that love me unconditionally! My trivial mourning over a trip is absolutely nothing compared to the mourning I suspect many Filipino families are currently experiencing. Life is just too short...

Monday, November 24

Be forewarned...

My parents are planning to visit us here next month! To say we are excited is quite an understatement. If I had a penny (or peso) for every time I heard the question, "When will Mimi & Papa get here?", I'd have a nice, hefty amount in the kids' college fund.

However, I would like to give Mom & Dad a heads up about what to expect when they arrive in the Philippines. So, here is my puny little list on what to be prepared for when you visit the land of 7,000+ islands:

* As mentioned in previous posts, don't be surprised to see young boys & grown men alike urinating in public... on the street, on a tree, on the side of a building, on the highway, on your shoe...

* Get ready to be stared at! You're white & you're expected to be rich. No matter where you go, you will get stares. And, they're not subtle stares. They are full blown, follow you down the sidewalk stares. You'll get used to it... eventually.

* Just close your eyes while riding in Manila traffic. (Mom, you especially!) You will be scared out of your mind, but you will survive. Amazingly, there are very few wrecks... and very few traffic rules.

* You will hear lots & lots of horn honking! LOTS! That was a hard transition for me when I first arrived. However, honking a horn in the Philippines is not usually considered rude. Horns are very commonly used while driving here & very rarely used aggressively. It definitely takes some getting used to.

* There is no Wal-Mart, no Target, no Home Depot, no Olive Garden & no yummy Mexican restaurants. BUT... Manila has some fabulous malls & even a Chili's!

* You will encounter monkeys on the side of the road here in Subic Bay. They have been in our backyard, though not very often. But, they like to hang out on our street & along the main road going into our neighborhood. Sometimes, they'll even join us when we take the kids to the park.

* Always carry tissue or toilet paper with you when you go out. Public restrooms very rarely provide tissue since many toilets use a bidet system. And, while I'm already there... public toilets very rarely have seats on them at all. So, start practicing your squats now!

* And, of course, the beaches are breathtakingly beautiful! You'll never want to leave...

I'm sure I'll think of more to add later, but these warnings will give you a good start on what to expect when you first arrive. We cannot wait!!!

Sunday, November 23

Philippine Desserts

While reading a fellow ex-pat's blog, I realized how many strange desserts are served in this country. Well, strange in my American opinion.

For instance, probably the most popular dessert served in the Philippines is called halo-halo. I've never tried the stuff & probably never will (unfortunately, ice cream & I don't seem to agree), but here is a list of what is in halo-halo (give or take a few ingredients, depending on your preference):

* Shaved ice
* Milk
* Ice Cream
* BEANS!! (No kidding! Kidney, garbanzos, etc.)
* Fruit
* Sweet Potato
* Corn
* Rice

I fail to see how the combination of all these ingredients can come together to produce a dessert that so many people love. It boggles my mind.

You will also find the strangest ice cream flavors offered here in the Philippines. (Once again, this is only my uneducated opinion. I certainly do not mean to offend anyone... especially my sweet Filipino friends who think I'm crazy for mashing up an avocado, adding garlic, sour cream & tomatoes & calling it "guacamole". YUMMM!!) But, truly, these ice cream flavors are quite unique:

* Cheese Ice Cream (Thanks to my friends, Marga & Julie, I have tasted cheese ice cream.)
* Corn Ice Cream (No thanks.)
* Ube Ice Cream (It's bright purple & pretty... AND A YAM!!)
* Avocado Ice Cream (Now who's crazy?!)
* Durian Ice Cream (The durian fruit is known for his putrid, horrible smell! Just ask Mandy...)

As further proof of it's offensive odor, this sign is posted on Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit forbidding durian fruit to be brought on board:
There is another type of cake that my housekeeper once told me about that sounded oddly disgusting. At the moment, I can't remember the ingredients, but I'll ask her about it when she arrives tomorrow.

In the meantime, I will be staying as far away from these desserts as possible! Which can only help me in the long run, right??

Wednesday, November 19

Sydney Tells It Like It Is...

This morning, the kids woke me up for a change. After I finally got up, they all followed me into the bathroom and watched while I brushed my hair & teeth. While brushing my hair, I noticed for the 2nd time in my life, a couple of strands of gray/white hair. It's not hard to see these... they are short, wiry & stick straight up on the top of my head! I quickly yanked them from my scalp as Sydney watched in horror. She couldn't understand why I was pulling my hair out, literally:

"Mom, why did you pull your hair out?"

Me: "Because these hairs are white and they don't match my brown hair."

Syd: "Well, it's because you're getting old Mom."


I could have made a snide comment about her & her brothers being the reason my hair was turning gray, but I resisted. I'll take the gray hairs for them anyday!

Sunday, November 16

Sam's Boxing Match

Most of you don't know that Sam has been taking boxing lessons in Angeles during his weekday lunch hours. Since he works such long hours, he joined this gym to get some form of exercise in during the day. His trainer starting working with Sam on boxing moves & exercises & Sam quickly realized how much he enjoyed the drills. His trainer has also said how quick Sam is on his feet & that he has a strong, hard hit. So, he asked Sam if he would be interested in sparring one round with a guy who owns a bar & has a boxing ring inside. The trainer thought Sam & this guy were about on the same fitness level, so it would be a fair, even match. Sam agreed & we headed to Angeles on Sunday evening.

Sam waiting his turn

We followed his trainer to this so called "bar", which ended up being a barangay festival!! There were atleast 500 people in attendance. And the 1 round Sam was expecting to box turned into a possible 3 rounds! We found ourselves in the middle of a boxing exhibition with several boxers going up against each other. The entire situation was so hilarious!! And, of course, I was the only foreigner for miles... except for the trainer's Australian friend who lives in Angeles.


But Sam got all suited up, got up in the ring & boxed like a champ! After 2 rounds, his opponent had to call it quits, so Sam won his match! He was treated like a rock star afterwards. It was SO FUNNY!! Good times in the Philippines!!

Sam & his entourage! They all had bets on him.

Getting him ready

This was the hit that did his opponent in.

Celebratory dinner at C's afterwards

More pictures of his boxing debut can be seen here

Friday, November 14

Another Nicholas-ism

The other day, Nick announced he needed to visit the bathroom. (Or, the "Comfort Room" or "CR", as we call in the 'Peens.) He always feels the need to announce this particular occasion, even though he can do the routine by himself. He's all boy!

So... I escorted him to the toilet & waited for him to finish up. After a while, he looks at me and asks, "Mom, does it stink in here?" I answered that yes, as a matter of fact, it most certainly did. And, with exaggerated exasperation, he looks at me and demands, "Well, get out of the bathroom then!"

My pleasure!

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

First off, thank you to everyone who gave me great book suggestions to read to Sydney's classmates. I ended up reading this book & the kids loved it! None of them had heard it before & they were so attentive throughout the full 10 minutes or so that I read. Plus, it was a perfect book to read during "Book Week". I highly recommend it!

Our family recently enjoyed a Malaysian vacation to Kuala Lumpur then to Kota Kinabalu. We spent a few days in each city, but thoroughly enjoyed our lazy days in KK. The resort was beautiful & the numerous pools kept all three kids busy & happy. Here are a few favorite pictures from our time there...

Amberly & Sam enjoying a Happy Hour sunset

Sydney patiently sat for 3 hours to have her hair beaded.

Samuel & Nicholas had a great time playing in the pool.

Sydney loved giving Nicholas piggyback rides from the pool slide to the stairs.

Such a handsome boy!

Mom & Samuel

The rest of the pictures can be viewed here...