Tuesday, June 30


I had one other realization about life in the US vs. life in the Philippines...

11. Portion sizes at restaurants in the States are HUGE! Or maybe it's just Texas. Ha! But, the amount of food served on one plate is enormous compared to portions in Asia. I have only been able to finish half of my orders anytime we go out to eat... which is definitely not a bad thing!

One last comment about restaurants here... it's nice to be back in the land of convenience. Picking up a quick lunch or dinner at a drive thru fast food place is great! We are totally taking advantage of this!

Top 10 Moving Back Realizations

Our Top 10 list of realizations after moving back to the United States from the Philippines...

10. Daylight Savings Time! We are not used to the sun being out until 9 pm. We are used to it getting dark at 6 pm in the Philippines. Needless to say, my kids have not been in bed anytime before 10 pm since we've been back to the States.

9. People are in such a hurry in the US. Life is way more laid back & leisurely in the Philippines. It is completely the opposite here in the States.

8. So MANY choices in the grocery stores! So many different kinds of cereal... salad dressings... Pop Tarts... toilet paper... makeup... It's completely overwhelming to go shopping!

7. Our family has a TON of laundry! Okay, so I knew this before we moved to the Philippines, but I'm sadly getting reacquainted with this fact. I can't keep up.

6. So many new rules/laws to learn. For instance, they changed the booster seat law, so my 7-year-old twins now need to sit in a booster seat until they are 8. I also learned last night that all riders in the backseat are required to wear seat belts, regardless of age. What else is new??

5. Traffic is much more manageable in the States! Drivers follow the rules here, use turn signals & stay in their own lanes! I still have moments when I want to pass a car illegally or use my horn at any given time & I have to constantly remind myself that these actions are either not allowed or highly frowned upon in the States. In the meantime, keep an eye out for me...

4. I don't have to ask for a check at a restaurant. Which kinda goes back to the fact that things are so rushed in the States... waiters/waitresses are in a hurry to get customers in & out of their restaurant. Before you are finished with dinner, your bill is already waiting to be paid. We haven't had to hold up our hands to make the common Filipino signal for "check" at a restaurant yet... although we've been tempted to try just to see what would happen.

3. The heat!! It is so unbearably hot in Central Texas! It was hot in the Philippines, but the humidity helped, in my opinion. This dry heat is scorching. I want to go to the beach!!

2. I'm in shoe heaven!! I can find shoes that fit my size 8 feet! And, I'm not looked at like a freak when I ask for my size. (Well, except from my petite sisters who have dainty little feet.) It's great to feel (somewhat) normal again. :-)

1. Sticker shock! Wow... we are paying a LOT for things that were so incredibly cheap in the Philippines! I miss inexpensive (but delicious) mangoes, foot scrubs & pedicures and fresh fruit shakes/cocktails, to name a few. We were definitely spoiled in the beautiful Philippines!

Monday, June 29


Sam & I just returned from a fun weekend getaway to Chicago. His brother, Jacob, got married on Friday evening & we enjoyed helping him celebrate the start of his new life with his new wife! (It was nice to finally meet our new sister-in-law before Jacob moves her away to Hawaii!)

We tried to make the most of our short visit & enjoyed a sampling of many tourist attractions. But as in all our travels, we realize there was so much we didn't see & do. We'd love to visit again someday to see all the wonderful museums & parks that we missed on this visit.

On Thursday, we arrived at Violeta's (new sis-in-law) house to meet her family. Afterwards, we checked in at our hotel in the charming little community of Oak Brook. It was a beautiful town with beautiful old homes! Our hotel was on the grounds of the McDonald's headquarters, but little did we realize we were staying right next to Hamburger University! No lie...

That evening, we met Sam's family & the wedding party at the church to participate in the wedding rehearsal. Unfortunately, the air conditioner in the church building was not working, so it was beastly hot during the entire rehearsal! We could NOT wait for the rehearsal to be over so we could enjoy the cooler air outside!

These cute kiddos did their best to keep their minds off the stifling heat inside the church building:

Friday, Sam & I slept in late, then enjoyed shopping & exploring around the small town of Oak Brook. We spent most of our time inside a Borders Bookstore... something we didn't have in the Philippines. I browsed for a gift for the soon to be married couple, while Sam enjoyed the cafe upstairs. We then headed to the wedding, only to find out that the air conditioner STILL was not working! (Those poor men in their suits!) Other than that minor glitch, the wedding proceeded beautifully! The groom was beaming & the bride was glowing. And, the rest of us were sweating profusely! But, it wasn't about us... so we sucked it up & celebrated the start of Jacob & Violeta's marriage. They made a beautiful bride & groom! Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of them, but got a nice one of Sam & I after the wedding:

On Saturday, we checked out of our McDonald's hotel & checked into a neat little historical hotel in downtown Chicago... Hotel Blake. This hotel is located in the old Morton Salt building & was renovated into a great little contemporary inn. We loved our overnight stay here!

After checking in, we met up with friends for lunch at the Chicago House of Blues. The hostess gave us a tour of the concert hall after we finished eating & was full of fun information about the House of Blues. We really enjoyed our time there!

We then ventured over to Sears Tower, which is now officially renamed Willis Tower. Since the new glass Skydeck was being remodeled, we could only go up to the 99th floor. But, that was enough for some amazing views of the beautiful city of Chicago:

When we returned to solid ground, we took off towards Navy Pier & Grant Park to enjoy the 2009 Taste of Chicago. We enjoyed a leisurely ride on the ferris wheel & snacked on ice cream, cotton candy & popcorn at the Pier. After chilling out for a bit & resting our tired feet, we ventured on an hour long river boat tour. We chose the architectural tour & enjoyed listening to the guide tell us all about the rich history of the buildings in downtown Chicago. It was truly fascinating! We then trekked over to the Taste of Chicago to listen to the Counting Crows free outdoor concert. We arrived just in time to hear their last song & watch Adam Duritz's famous dreadlocks walk off the stage. Huge bummer! We spent a bit of time sampling some yummy local food before heading to Millenium Park. Afterwards we walked back to the Pier to meet up with Sam's family for the Saturday evening fireworks show. It was a jam packed day full of Chicago fun!

View from top of ferris wheel:
Some interesting buildings along our architectural tour:

Millenium Park
A huge thanks to my parents & my sister for keeping the kiddos busy & happy while we were gone. It's so wonderful to be back in Texas with family nearby! We are blessed to be home!

Friday, June 12

Back in the US

Well, we have been back in the States now for 6 days. We have done the following so far:

* Ate Sonic - YUM!!! I downed my Cherry Limeaid like it was gold!
* Ate Taco Bell - Not as good as I was hoping. Not sure why I expected much...
* Ate Papa John's Pizza - Sam was on Cloud 9!
* Okay, we have eaten a lot! I can't really list them all here. That's what happens on vacation, right?
* Shopped at a grocery store with tons of different options & choices in food... and all of it IN STOCK!!

We have NOT done the following:

* Shopped at Target! Why have I not done that yet?! I passed by one yesterday (on my way to Sonic) and didn't stop! It took all the willpower I had in me not to grab the steering wheel out of Sam's hand & turn the car into the Target lot. That is on my "to do" list today!

It's been great being back in the States so far. We are looking at everything with wonder again... through new eyes. And, we are appreciating it all!