Friday, February 20

Nick's Idea of Family

Nick has lived a year & a half of his short life in the Philippines, so a lot of his ideas about everything are based upon what he has observed living here. Just a moment ago, Nicholas, Sydney & I were watching a Saturday morning movie. Two kids in the movie were taking a stray dog house to house, looking for its owner. As they visited the first house, a man was outside watering the lawn:

Nick: "Is that the gardener?"
Me: "No, it's the dad."
Nick: "Where's the gardener?"
Me: "They don't have a gardener. The dad takes care of the grass."

The two kids in the movie then walked to the next house, still looking for the dog's rightful owner. A woman answered the door:

Nick: "Is that the yaya?"
Me: "No."
Nick: "Is it the mom?"
Me: "Yes."
Nick: "Where's the yaya?"
Me: "They don't have a yaya."
Nick: "Why not? Why don't they have a yaya?"

Poor guy seriously could not comprehend it. We are all going to have a big adjustment moving back to the States!

Wednesday, February 18

Halls: Medicine vs. Candy

I had a debate with my housekeeper this morning about Halls products - she says they are candy... I say they are medicated cough drops/throat lozenges. Because, I seriously cannot think of anything worse to eat as "candy" than menthol or honey/lemon lozenges! Gag.

Sydney has been a bit congested lately, so I kept her home from school today. As I was heading out the door to tennis this morning, I told our wonderful helper, Rosalie, "If Sydney starts coughing, you can give her one of these cough drops." I then handed her 3 different bags of Halls products - 1 bag of cooling menthol lozenges, 1 bag of honey lemon lozenges & 1 bag of raspberry flavored lozenges (which actually did look more like candy). She looked at me & remarked, "You buy too much candy, ma'am." (Ummm... blaming that comment on the gigantic bag of "kisses" from Mimi & Papa that were brought over in their suitcase!) I replied that they were not candy, but cough drops. She corrected me, saying that they were indeed candy. I looked on the package & sure enough, the description on the front said "Mentho-Lyptus Candy" and "Honey-Lemon Candy", just like what is shown in this picture. I asked Rosalie if she really eats these as candy & she was adamant that all Filipinos eat Halls as candy, not as cough drops or throat lozenges. I prodded further:

Me: "Even the menthol flavor?"
R: "Oh yes. That's my favorite!"
Me: "As candy?"
R: "Yes, ma'am. It makes my breath fresh."
Me: "So, it's more like a breath mint then?"
R: "No, ma'am. We eat them as candy."

(This explains why Halls menthol "candy" is handed out at birthday parties & stuffed in every goody bag my kids have ever received here in the Philippines! I never understood why the parents were handing out cough drops to little kids at parties!?)

I couldn't fathom it. Even as our 2-year stint here is coming to a close, I'm realizing there are still so many cultural differences I have yet to learn. Rosalie & I have conversations like this almost daily about so many different things, but mostly food. I've introduced her to kiwi & alfalfa sprouts (just today!). And, she has introduced me to calamansi & toyo. I will most definitely miss being immersed in a completely different culture when we move back home. It is a life changing experience that I am eternally grateful for!


On a related note, Rosalie fixed a dinner for me that I regularly request when Sam is out of town... stuffed bell peppers! YUM YUM! Sam cannot stand anything having to do with a bell pepper, so this is my guilty pleasure when he is away. And, I have leftovers to eat the rest of the week. One of my favorite meals!

I am really, really going to miss Rosalie...

Soccer Twins

Sam & I were thrilled to watch Sydney & Samuel play in their first soccer game last week. They traveled to Angeles City with their Babybacks soccer team from Brent Subic & had a great time playing with so many wonderful little soccer players.

Samuel & his buddy, Ramon, guard the goal

Sydney practicing her kick

Sydney also discovered her first loose tooth on the same day, so she had a really hard time keeping her hands out of her mouth. She wiggled her bottom tooth almost the entire time she was on the field playing. She has her priorities...

I happened to mention to Sydney's teacher, who also helps to coach the Babybacks, that Sam asked me to purchase school shirts at the bookstore. He wanted us to show up at their game wearing our full support for the team. I must have caught her at just the right moment because she offered to have a few extra shirts made for Sam, Nick & I... at our expense, of course. So, I jumped on that opportunity & she helped me create our customized tees...

LinkWe really enjoyed standing in the hot sun & watching our sweet twins play their little hearts out! They won their game, but most importantly, they had so much fun playing! We can't wait to watch more games in the future!

You can see all the pictures from their game here.

Monday, February 16


I've always had the desire, but never the talent (nor funds) needed to decorate my home the way I'd like. However, living overseas has given me the opportunity to do just that with beautiful, unique pieces on a budget. I am thankful to our friends, Tracy & Susan, for exposing me to some lovely artwork. And, especially thankful to Tracy for hauling it back from Vietnam! I can't wait to bring a little of Asia back to my Texas home!

Here are our recent purchases, framed at a fraction of the cost you would pay in the states...

Vietnam Ladies

Abstract Painting

Vietnam Scene

Red Tree (my favorite!)

I can't wait to add more to my collection!

Valentine Birthday

On Saturday, Sam surprised me with an exciting evening away in Manila. He had big plans for us that got sidetracked by a sick little boy. We contemplated canceling our reservations, but were reassured by our wonderful helper, Rosalie. She has raised 5 children of her own & is a 2nd mother to our 3 when we are away. So, with the promise to keep in touch via texting, we left for Manila Saturday evening in order to make an 8:00 pm surprise appointment.

We quickly checked into our hotel & I was thrilled to discover a few gifts awaiting me...

A dozen beautiful red roses!

Delicious molten chocolate birthday cake!

Sam made arrangements with the hotel to have the roses & chocolate cake waiting in our room upon our arrival. They got a little concerned when we didn't arrive on time & called Sam to check in on us. I assumed they were being overly hospitable, but when we arrived to beautiful, fresh flowers & warm chocolate cake, I realized they were in on the plan the entire time!

Sam then quickly ushered me back into our car so we would arrive on time to my big surprise of the evening. We ended up at Araneta Coliseum for a romantic evening with Peter Cetera. I love Chicago & Peter Cetera! (I can thank my older sisters for listening to great music while I was young & introducing me to some good tunes!) We enjoyed a fun few hours of singing along to our favorite hits.

He looks MUCH older than the Karate Kid video I used to have memorized, but he sounds just the same. Great voice!!

After the concert, we made it to one of our favorite Manila restaurants before they closed for the evening, People's Palace. We enjoyed delicious Thai food in a fun, outdoor atmosphere. The waiter then brought over a yummy mango dessert & wished me happy birthday. My sneaky husband did it again...

Although we didn't get to stay in Manila as long as we had hoped, we thoroughly enjoyed the few hours we did have together. We came home Sunday afternoon to a tired, but much healthier little boy & 2 other kiddos who were thrilled to have us back. Despite the constant worry that seems to plague every mom, I was glad to have a small break from the virus that has been attacking my kids lately. And, it was good practice for our upcoming anniversary trip in March!!

Sam, thank you so much for planning a wonderful getaway for our Valentine's Day! I love you!

Thursday, February 5

Nick's Billboard

Here is another billboard with Nick's famous smile. This one is located in Olongapo, a town right outside of Subic Bay. He has definitely left his mark here in the Philippines!

Sydney's Point of View...

One day Sydney will show her photos in an art gallery in Paris & I can say it all started with these "artsy" shots...

"Inside a Junk Drawer" by Sydney

"Spree Candy Box" by Sydney

"Brent Uniform Shoes" by Sydney

"Family Trash" by Sydney

"Moms Gone Crazy" by Sydney

"Elephant Bookend" by Sydney

"What the..." by Sydney

Wednesday, February 4


Another momma cat decided to give birth next to our back porch... again! What is it about our back porch that these stray cats are drawn to?

However, unlike our last kitten invasion, this momma is sticking around & taking care of her newborn kitten. The little thing is about the size of a rat. (But, much cuter & much less trouble!) It's eyes are not even open yet.

The kids discovered it on the day it was born & of course, are already very attached to it. We are feeding the momma cat tuna with rice & milk. And, she is diligently protecting her baby from the monstrous 3 kids that come check on it every chance they get!

Real Men Do Pilates...