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Showing posts from 2007

My Favorite Son...

Wanna hear something sweet?

A few days ago, Brayden crawled into my lap, kissed me, and then said "tan chew" which means thank you in his language. Then, he laid his head on my chest. Is that not one of the sweetest things you've ever heard. It makes me smile every time I think about it. I love my baby boy!

The Sweetest Thing...

At church today, they had a Christmas Cantata to celebrate the current holiday season. It was wonderful. The singing was wonderful and melodic. The nicest part though was that they had invited a lot of poor people from the area. Probably around 100 or so of them. At the end of the program, they invited the children on stage to get a gift. It was so touching that a tear came to my eye. Those kids will never forget that. And, it wasn't like a pity party or anything. No one was gawking. There were a lot of other people on stage singing and acting and stuff. It was very nice y'all.

On another note, if I could I would be driving a Range Rover and sailing on a yacht. Not at the same time of course. I know at least one person is thinking "Is this the same girl who wrote that other post about the poor folks and not buying expensive things?" Yes, it's me. Here's the thing. It's not that I don't like things that cost a bit. It's not that I don't sometime…

Danae's New Pet

We have a pet monkey. I wish I had a picture to show you all but I don't. Honestly, I don't even know what he looks like because he exists in Danae's imagination. She only says "he's brown and little but he's kind of big too." But, he definitely lives with us and stays in her room all day. I don't think they have a very good relationship because she's always saying "the monkey's gonna get me" and she slams the door to her room to make sure he doesn't get out.

Dwayne says he never had any imaginary friends. I guess that's because he had brothers. I definitely had an imaginary. He was a boy named May-May. I don't know where that name came from but he was very REAL...just like Danae's monkey.

Coup D'etat

Yesterday, two men attempted a coup on the Philippine government. President Arroyo has been under fire for years now because of alleged corruption in her government. Of course, I don't know enough information to form my own opinion. But, it does seem that many Filipinos don't trust her or the government. Anyway, yesterday morning I got a call from Dwayne advising me to stay inside because something was going.

Four years ago, a man named Senator Trillanes attempted a coup. He and his supporters from the Philippine military laid siege to a hotel called The Oakwood. This hotel has been renamed and is the place where we currently reside. This was a tidbit of information they forgot to include in our expat counseling sessions. Anyway, he took over the hotel for a day and thankfully no one was hurt. He ended up surrendering and being arrested. Yesterday, Trillanes was on trial for this coup attempt when he and Brigadier General Lim (a witness at this trial) walked out of court with d…

Filipino Workers

The other day I was in SM Department Store which is around the corner from my house. They are trying to hire more employees and I decided to look at the ad. They are hiring cashiers, checkers, stock clerks, and sales clerks. To be a cashier or checker, you must be a college graduate. Checkers sit with the cashier and check their work to make sure the checker doesn't steal any merchandise or money. All candidates must be between 18 and 25 years old, at least 5'2" for females and 5'6" for males. To apply for a job, they must take their resume and a photo.

There is a lot of discrimination here. Most jobs require that you are physically attractive. Most people don't look like supermodels but you don't see overweight, disabled, or older people working in most of the service-industry jobs. The family structure here is one where the younger folks really take care of the older folks. For the uneducated people here who are older than 30, there aren't many oppor…

Feeling the ground move

When we moved to California, my only real fear was of an earthquake. Yesterday, while sitting in my apartment, I felt the ground move. There was an earthquake in the Philippines. The epicenter was miles away so the experience wasn't frightening. It was weird though. I felt a little movement but it made me feel like maybe I was just lightheaded. Then, the building swayed. The light fixture over the dining table shook. The nanny came to me saying "ma'am it's an earthquake". And then, just as quickly as it began, it was over. Hopefully, I won't experience any more that what I felt yesterday. The only thing that made me nervous is that I didn't know if that was the precursor to the real thing. We live on the 22nd floor so I didn't know if I should go downstairs or stay in my room. Should I take the elevator or stairs. I decided to stay here which was a good decision because we didn't feel anything else. But, I can now say I have felt an earthquake...s…

The Poor Man's Blues

I grew up poor. I used to be ashamed but I grew up to realize that it is what it is. My parents barely made it from check to check. I wore hand-me-down clothes. My aunt (a thrift store/flea market addict) would bring home clothes from, well, whatever thrift store she could find. They were often ugly. I remember this particular coat that was a fake fur. It was gray. It was ugly...so ugly in fact that I would often go to school freezing cold to avoid wearing that darn jacket. Or, I would go very early so I could hide it in my locker before my friends got there. I knew enough to always be grateful for those ugly things and to never complain. My parents had an ugly orange station wagon that I also hated. It was so raggedy that there was a hole in the floor in the backseat. You could see the road as we drove. Only one of my friends ever rode in that car. We had to live with my aunt for an extended period of time because my parents couldn't afford the rent on the house where we lived. I…

Thanksgiving

I just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who choose to take time from your own lives to read my crazy ramblings.

Instead of turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, yams, sweet potato pie, and everything else y'all are eating.....we are eating, excuse me, drinking orange juice with plans to have a little soup this evening. Dwayne and I are transitioning back to eating food again after fasting for 10 days.

We decided to fast to detoxify our bodies and give our digestive systems a break. We also used this time to focus more on our personal relationships with Jesus and to especially pray for a very close relative who is faced with a serious medical issue. We have benefited tremendously from this fast, but most of all, we are waiting to hear from that family member that God has performed a miracle in his behalf. And, if that doesn't happen, we still praise the name of the Lord for all of His goodness towards us.

Anyway, I decided to post the things that I am thankful for…

Vacation in Cebu Continued...

Okay, so where did I leave off? I covered Day 1 so on to Day 2, November 2nd.

This was All Souls Day. On both All Saints Day and All Souls Day, Filipinos have a family reunion at the graves of their loved ones. They spend most of the day there eating food, cleaning off the graves, and socializing. It's so serious that several streets around the cemeteries are cordoned off to help control the amount of people there. This is a serious religious event and we gave our yaya the day off so she could spend the time with her family as well.

We went to Bohol for the day. This is on an island near Cebu. We took the hour long ferry over. Again, we took a tour. The Cebu tour was private so it was only us and the guide. The Bohol tour was with a group. So, the ferry dropped us off in Tagbilaran, Bohol. We boarded a bus and went off. Our first activity was the Loboc River Cruise. We floated down the river eating lunch and listening to music. There was a man on board playing his guitar and singing…

Vacation in Cebu

This post is a little late. For some reason, I just haven't felt like blogging. I have a lot to write about but just not motivated to do so. I'm going to try to get back in the swing of things.

We took a trip November 1-4 to Cebu. This City is about an hour's flight away. It's south of Manila in the Visayas Region. Manila is divided into three regions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. We live in Luzon. Mindanao is where a lot of terrorist regimes thrive and do their damage. Actually, it's only a small part of Mindanao. Anyway, we went to Cebu. This was a holiday weekend. November 1st is All Saints Day and November 2nd is All Souls Day. So, Dwayne had those days off from work. As I may have stated before, about 85% of Filipinos are Catholic. There is no separation of church and state here so a lot of religious days are considered national holidays.

In Cebu, we stayed at the Plantation Bay Resort. A few pictures:




On November 1st, we took a tour of Cebu. We visited Allegre,…

Yes, we found a church

It's so nice to have so many friends concerned about our spiritual life here. Yes, we do attend church on Sabbath. The Seventh Day Adventist movement is really picking up momentum here. I've read that the Philippines is the second fastest growing country in the Adventist church. We did not attend church our first sabbath here because we had just arrived at about 10 pm the night before and jet lag ain't nothing nice. But, since then we have attended church.

There are only two English speaking churches in this area. Our first visit was to the church connected with the Manila Adventist Medical Center. The church is actually called MAMC. The children's sabbath school was really good. But, they don't have air conditioning in the sanctuary so it was rather hot in there. There is a small room with a window unit for families with small children. This room was so packed and noisy that Dwayne left us in there and stood in the back of the sanctuary to hear the service. I would…

Pamper Me

I finally decided to pamper myself today. I've gone to the steam room in our fitness area already. To me, that is very relaxing and just makes me feel good. But today, I thought I would splurge a little. I went to The Lotus and got a 1 hour combination of Swedish and Shiatsu massages. That was the best massage I have ever received. Not that I've had many but it was still the best. That lady covered every inch of my body from the top of my head to the sole of my feet. Well, almost every inch. She did skip a couple of spots. It was good though, y'all. And it only cost a whopping 350 pesos plus her 50 peso tip. 400 pesos equals $8.96. Not bad, huh? Before the massage I went to Fresh Air Salon and got a pedicure for 100 pesos or $2.24. Okay, you can stop hating on me right about now. The pedi was not the best I've had but it was good for the price. I'm trying to catch up with my husband who has had 2 massages and a manicure already. Between the two of us, we're goi…

Crazy Conversations

Conversation yesterday with Alex, the driver:
Alex: Ma'am do you know Saddam Hussein?
Me: No, not personally but I know of him.
Alex: I don't understand what you mean. You don't know Saddam Hussein?
Me: Yes, I know who you're talking about.
Alex: Do you know his cousin?
Me: No
Alex: He's a very rich man and he's staying in your building. My co-driver drives for him.
Me: Really. Are you sure?
Alex: Yes ma'am, he has a penthouse on the 26th floor. Have you seen him?
Me: No, I don't know who he is.
Alex: Okay, ma'am.

We took a day trip to Tagaytay which is about an hour and a half. They are known for having the world's smallest active volcano. It's in Taal Lake. While there, Dwayne and Danae rode on a horse. Because Danae is so small, a young man helped lead the horse to ensure there were no accidents. The following is a conversation between Dwayne and that boy:
Horse Boy: What is your name sir?
Dwayne: My name is Dwyane.
Horse Boy: Dwayne?
Dwayne: Yeah like …

Wild Children and Other Stuff...

Well, the death toll from the explosion at Glorietta mall is now 11 and over 100 people were injured. The authorities haven't figured out the cause yet. The three theories are:
an LPG tank explodedterrorist attackthis is the funniest theory to me and Dwayne. They said the septic tanks weren't working properly and haven't been maintained well. So, the explosion could have been caused by a combination of diesel fuel (from delivery trucks below the mall) and poop.
I guess we'll just wait and see what the final verdict is. The mall was open Saturday through Tuesday. Then, the authorities closed it today (Wednesday) so they can investigate the structure and ensure that it's safe for people to walk in. Um, shouldn't that have taken place before the place opened again? Whatever...

In Manila, there are always people selling stuff on the streets, between cars, wherever they can fit. Today I saw a man selling odd things. He had about 5 bicycle tires, some headlights, and on…

Makati Mall Blast Kills 3...

So, I got a phone call today from Dwayne asking if I felt the ground shake. I didn't but then asked if it was an earthquake. He said there was an explosion or something in Glorietta Mall. This is the mall that's connected to our building. The mall he walks through every day to come home from work. The mall we stood in last night to watch Anna Wintour's Mango fashion show. The mall the kids and I go in a few times a week because it leads to grocery stores and a play area. The mall we've enjoyed dinner in at Hard Rock and T.G.I.Friday's and a few other restaurants.

Sadly, at least 3 people lost their lives. Here's an excerpt from GMA News

(Updated 2:30 p.m.) At least three people were killed while several others were hospitalized after an explosion of still undetermined origin rocked a Makati City shopping mall on Friday afternoon, initial reports said.

Police Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said initial in…

What can you do for less than $250 a month...

Okay everyone, say "Hi Miss Lucy". She's sitting by Brayden. Miss Lucy is the kids' yaya (nanny). She's been working for us for a week. She doesn't live with us though. She works from 8 to 5 Monday - Friday and is available other times if needed.

What does she do? Glad you asked. Her primary responsibility is to assist me in caring for the kids. She prepares lunch for all of us and sometimes dinner too. She irons our clothes (including undies) which is Dwayne's favorite thing. Basically she does anything needed around the house. In my opinion, she babies Brayden too much. He is very independent and doesn't really want to be held and protected but she does it anyway. So, he's somewhat annoyed with her most of the time. She's learning to leave him alone though. She's also somewhat of a tour guide for us in this area of Metro Manila. She's introduced us to very nice, and not very crowded, parks. She also clues me in on where to buy the be…

Desperate Housewives...

don't know nothing 'bout healthcare in the Philippines. At least, I hope not because we had to take Danae to the doctor yesterday. Why? Because she woke up with rashes and blisters on her arms and legs. We had absolutely no idea of what was going on. The only thing we could think was bug bites. Only, the rest of us were untouched. But then we remembered. On Friday, we went to a couple of preschools to find something for Danae to do. She ran off playing with the other kids. Had to happen there. We still took her to the doctor though because Dengue Fever is common 'round these parts. And, we've only been here a week and she kept complaining that her legs were hurting and acting like she couldn't walk. So, to the doctor we went.

The doctor we were referred to by ARM (Asian Relocation Management) is actually an American woman named Carolyn Butler. She practiced in NY and NJ and went to school in the US. She's a blond white woman. Only, she says she was born and rais…

Hair and Yayas

Yesterday, the kids and I ventured out a bit. We went to the grocery store where three ladies stared at our hair and kept talking to one another in Tagalog. Finally, the older lady asked if she could touch my hair. I said yes but she couldn't reach me because the stroller was in the way and I wasn't trying to move it. Then, she asked Danae if she could touch hers. Danae said "no, you cannot touch my hair". That was too funny but I told the lady she could if she wanted to. The lady said "no ma'am she doesn't want me to". Then she asked if she could touch Brayden's hair and I said yes. So she started massaging my baby's head until he knocked her hand down. I had heard before I came here that people would do that because they've never seen black folks hair before.

We ate lunch at Wendy's. They have about 4 of the same meals as the US. But, they also sell shrimp sandwiches, fried chicken, and rice of course. The kids ate fried chicken and…

Duck Embryo, Anyone?

We have seen exactly 5 black people since arriving in Manila. We didn't expect to see a gang of black folks so it's not a big deal. But because there are so few people of color around these parts, every time we go out we're treated like celebrities. People stare at us and point us out to their unsuspecting friends. We're allowed in the mall without our bags being searched. We never have to open our own doors or anything. We just have to deal with being stared at...intently. Because we do get MTV our here and have to listen to 50 Cent in between the Christmas songs at the store, even the Filipinos have stereotyped black folks. For instance, the waiter in our building asked Brayden where his bling-bling was. We didn't even know how to respond. A waiter at Hard Rock Cafe proceeded to tell us he visited Miami before and the black people were so nice much to his surprise. Crazy!

A few interesting things about Filipinos:
They will get all in your business. It's not unc…

Christmas in September?

Apparently, living in Manila is going to provide plenty of material for me to write about. Here goes:

We have been provided several books to help us adapt to life in the Philippines. Something we read was very beneficial for us yesterday. We went to SM which is a department store, furniture store, grocery store, and several restaurants all in one. Danae had to use the bathroom and guess what? There was no toilet tissue. No, they didn't run out. They don't put tissue in the bathrooms at all. No empty tissue holder or anything. Because I read about that, I had a little tissue stowed in my bag to use.

In the grocery store, the most overwhelming shock was the stench. The entire back of the store is basically a butcher shop. Surprisingly, there were no flies or anything. But, the smell was gross. Danae held her nose while we looked around in there. I wasn't bold enough to purchase any meat yet. One day, maybe. Or, we'll just become vegetarians while we're here.

In the clot…

Manila

We have survived our first 24 hours in Manila. I don't have much to tell though because we slept a lot of it away. We ate breakfast in our hotel and it was pretty good. We ate dinner at Outback Steakhouse. Yeah, we needed a little American food before we experiment on our digestive systems. Everyone is wide awake right now and it's after midnight here. Of course it's midday in the US. We stick out here like a sore thumb and everyone stares at us as we pass them. Tomorrow we're going exploring in this area. Just downstairs is a shopping mall and a lot of restaurants. It seems that a lot is within walking distance so the location is nice. We're in a 2 bedroom apartment in the Ascott Makati and it's really nice. These people here are serious about their customer service.

I'll write more when I have more to tell. I'm going to try to go to sleep for a bit.

Later...

Almost There

At this moment, we're sitting in the Narita airport in Tokyo, Japan. We are dead tired because we didn't sleep much on the flight here. We left Houston at 10:50 am on Thursday and arrived in Tokyo at 2:15 pm on Friday. But, it was about 12:15 am in Houston so right when we got tired on the plane it was time to land. Now we're sitting in an unfamiliar place fighting sleep until our flight to Manila at 7:15 pm or something like that.

I feel like I'm in a dream. Surely I'm not really in Japan. Although, all the signs written in Japanese and the people walking around speaking Japanese keeps reminding me that I am. I've seen 2 black people so far. I know that's not really news but it was still something noticeable.

What else? Oh, we went to the bathroom. And, of course, they have the whole in the ground toilets. But they also have regular toilets too. The funny thing here is that they have 4 controls on the toilet. 1) music to play while you're doing the do 2)…

Oh My Goodness...We're Moving

For real, y'all...

I knew we were moving. Didn't come as much of a surprise. I mean, I had to get gazillion shots (actually 6, I think). We've all gotten complete physicals, passports, made living arrangements, and everything else that goes along with a move. But today, as the movers are here packing up our stuff, it's finally real. We're moving to the other side of the world.........Manila.

In our expatriate orientation classes last week we learned what to expect, about culture differences, how to act and dress, about safety issues, and most importantly about the profile of adaptation. This was most beneficial as I realized there is a name for the highs and lows of moving to another place, another culture, a new set of friends.

When I left home for college, I don't remember feeling sad or anything. Maybe it's because I was only a 2 1/2 hour drive away. The only thing that bothered me was that my family just dropped me off and left. Didn't even take me out…

Viva Las Vegas...The Recap

Las Vegas was great! We stayed with Dwayne's aunt and uncle. They live about 10 minutes away from the strip which was perfect. Dwayne's dad also came out so we were able to leave the kids and enjoy time alone. Here's what we did:

Sunday - arrived in Vegas around 10 pm.
Monday - went to Silverton Casino. They have a small aquarium and Danae got to see them feed the stingrays and sharks. We also rode down the Strip and past Fremont Street. Also went to the Fashion Show Mall. Dwayne's dad arrived Monday evening.
Tuesday - went to Mandalay Bay and enjoyed their aquarium. It was very, very nice. We saw all kinds of animals...except the turtles because they were removed for their feeding. The kids had a blast! We ate at Green Valley Ranch Casino. Dwayne and I watch "Hell's Kitchen". This year's winner, Rock, got a job there. But, we went to the wrong side and his dad really wanted to eat at the buffet instead. Plus, the buffet was cheaper and you get more food…

My little baby is walking

This is both good and bad. Good because he's a little more independent and won't have to be carried around. He can follow his sis around the house easier. Bad because he already gets into everything so now it's only going to be worse.

Happy Anniversary...

...to my and my husband. We made it to 7 years today. What are we doing today to celebrate? Nothing. He's out of town on a business trip.

When we got married, we decided that instead of giving gifts, we would go on a trip every year to celebrate another year of survival as Mr and Mrs. Here's what we've done so far:

Honeymoon - The Poconos in Pennsylvania. We had a fabulous time there and said we would go back for our 5th...butta...we didn't.

1st Anniv - Orlando, Fl. We went to Wet n' Wild and Universal Studios. My husband and I love water parks so this was perfect. We stayed in a resort for a week and had a ball.

2nd Anniv - We had just moved to Texas so we went to San Antonio for an extended weekend. We took the riverboat cruise, went to Natural Bridge Caverns and a wildlife park. We fell in love with San Antonio during that time.

3rd Anniv - We went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico a couple of weeks before the big day with friends so that served as our trip that year. On ou…

Fun Times

The Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose is the best children's museum I've ever been to. Now, I don't have a whole lot of experience here but I enjoyed it. My daughter and I had a girls day out on Sunday and that's where we went. It was wonderful.

I already knew this but my daughter is a trip. In one area, she was playing with a little girl. That girl's mom was amazed at how well Danae talks and that she's potty trained (I guess she could see her panties to tell that). So, the lady kept asking us both questions. My girl said "can you stop asking questions". I was a little embarrassed and reprimanded her for talking that way to an adult. But, the Lord knows I was thinking the same thing. Later, in the bubble area, a little Asian boy tried to take the bubble wand that she was playing with. Actually, he did snatch it out of her hand but she grabbed his arm and squeezed it until he let go. At the same time, she said "don't take it from me…

We're moving...

I knew our stay in Cali was going to be brief. I knew we would endure another life-changing move. We found out on Friday that we'll be heading to Manila, Philippines in mid-September or a little later. I am trying to find out everything I can about this place. We are very excited!!! Now, we can visit so many places close to the Philippines like China, Japan, Australia, Thailand.

I'm a big kid now...

Guess who's wearing panties now???


That's right. My baby girl is now completely out of diapers or pull ups or anything else. She has completed her second week and I'm so excited!

Why does she wear a 4T panty? Because she has a "big ole dooby". Those are her words to describe her rear end. The 2T/3T panties are always getting sucked in. Okay, okay...TMI. But seriously, why do they have "low-rise" and "bikini cut" panties for a toddler? For real...