Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm a Bad Mommy

I'm beginning to think I'm not the best mother around. In the past couple of months, we've had some almost tragedies and near misses.

One day, Danae was spending a little too much time in the bathroom. Just as I was entering to check on her, she was running out crying. I asked what's wrong. She said her eyes were burning. What had happened was...she put clear fingernail polish on her eyelids. She was trying to apply makeup like her nanny did earlier that day. I immediately flushed her eyes with water and tragedy was avoided.

A few days later, we were coming back to our apartment from breakfast. We got off the elevator and just as it was about to close, Mr Brayden darted back on. I couldn't stop it in time and the elevator left. The elevators here don't have sensors to stop the doors if you put your hand in. I was frantically trying to press the buttons to open it. I didn't know where to go. We live on the 22nd floor and I had no idea if I should go to the lobby or what. About 30 seconds later, one of the employees came to our floor holding my son. He had gotten off at the 20th floor.

While we were in Pensacola, we went to visit my friend Kim. Her children and Danae were being disobedient and were jumping on her daughter's bed. All of a sudden we heard a loud noise and scream. Danae was crying because she fell off the bed. We checked her out and it didn't seem like anything was broken. She has a problem where her elbow joint sometimes comes out of socket if she plays too rough. Because we were leaving the next day, I thought about taking her to the doctor. My family kept saying we would be at the emergency room all day if we went and would probably miss our flight. During the flight, it seemed to get worse and she could barely move her arm anymore. Once we got to Manila we found out the real problem. So, here's what happened.

Four little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell down and bumped her head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed."

Because she fractured her clavicle and now looks like this.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Missing Home

We've been living in the Philippines for 5 months now. The last couple of months have been hardest because we miss home. You know the saying: "You don't miss the water until the well runs dry." Yeah, we have a very different appreciation for the United States of America. It is, in our opinion, the greatest country in the world.

But, something happened. Last week, I was at home. I didn't want to go for the reason I did but I still went home. I realized something about home. I grew up in Pensacola, Fl. My family lives there. Many friends live there. But, it's not really home any more. It is a wonderful part of my past and now a place I frequently visit.

So, where is home? Houston? Maybe. It is where my children were born. It's where I want to live again in a couple of months. I would love to grow old there and retire. We have so many friends there who we miss dearly. I won't even address how much we miss our church there. Of the places I've lived, Houston is definitely my number one choice.

While I was in Pensacola though, I ached to return home. Where is home? Wherever my husband lives is home. To me, home is that familiar place where I feel most comfortable and safe. If I lived in Houston without him, that wouldn't be home for me. If his next job assignment is in Angola or Cambodia or New Zealand then that will be home too.

In Pensacola, I watched my cousin's wife grieve for her husband. That is unimaginable for me and put things in perspective. I love and miss my family and friends but there is truly no place like home.

Of course, this post doesn't even take into account my heavenly home...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We Made It!!!

The kids and I made it to Florida safely. The flight was no joke but they did as well as I could have ever expected.

It's been wonderful to see all of my family but I really miss Javares. His funeral was today and I said a little something. I wanted to both honor his memory and comfort my family. Several people said I did a good job and they enjoyed what I had to say. So, I guess I can consider it a success. I even made the news! But the highlight of the funeral service was when his 6 year old son, Jayden, reflected on his father. He said: "He loved me, he hugged me every time he saw me and I was just happy to see him. And it looks like it's the last time i'm gonna see him. But I just remember, I'm just gonna see him in heaven." You all know this brought a standing ovation. This little boy showed such poise and maturity. Absolutely awesome! I promised his mother that I would keep in touch with them. Jayden told me he is now my favorite cousin since his father is no longer alive. Is that precious or what?

Jay wanted to be cremated so tomorrow we have to go to the military cemetary for the committal ceremony which includes the 21 gun salute and presentation of the flags.

I'm still somewhat in shock. As we were all gathered at my aunt's house I kept expecting him to walk through the door. I really didn't expect to react so emotionally. This has really shaken me.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

When I hurt I also get busy

Did I tell you all that I'm a student out here? Probably not. I've always wanted to be a good seamstress. I learned how to sew years ago and kept saying I wanted to start again. Dwayne bought me a sewing machine for Christmas 2006 and then I realized my skills kinda need sharpening. I wasn't very good.

So, a couple of months ago I enrolled at the Fashion Institute of the Philippines. I'm learning to sew again and I love it. I'm focusing on ladies wear right now and have to complete 6 projects in order to complete this course. I'm only on the first one. But, I am learning a lot and I'm so happy that I decided to enroll. I've been really working this week to occupy my mind.

On a blog I read all the time, the writer once encouraged all the readers to make moves to do the things you love. Learn something new. Take a step toward completing your goals. This is one of my goals and I'm very happy that I started. Can't wait to show the completed projects.

On another note, the kids and I are going home to Florida on Sunday. We'll be there for about a week. Pray for us on the long flight home because I'm sure it will be crazy with me, a 1 year old, and a 3 year old.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

When I hurt I write...

so please just bear with me. I've been reminiscing a lot the last 24 hours.

I was 3 years old when I first fell in love. In fact, my first real memory is when Javares (Jay) was a newborn baby. I was so amazed at this beautiful baby doll who was actually alive. I begged to hold him but of course the adults were wiser than that. I was given a job though. When they would lay him on the sofa it was my job to sit on the edge and make sure he didn't roll off. I took it very seriously. If he even flinched I was ready to save him. I was his protector.

As I said, he lived with us for several years. We were inseparable. We had matching underoos as kids. He was Superman and I was Wonder Woman. He was Batman, I was Batgirl. For one of my mother's high school reunions they went on a cruise. Jay went too of course. We had so much fun running around that ship and gorging ourselves with all the yummy food. When he lived with us we shared a room. Something happened with my closet door and it was removed. He was afraid of the clothes at night because he thought they were people coming to get him. My mom had to hang a curtain there because he couldn't sleep. I would stay up with him at night because I was his protector.

His mom treated him like crap a lot of the time. She took advantage of his love. He cut hair for the boys in the neighborhood. She stole his money. She chose the love of her husband (his stepfather) over doing the right thing for her children. When we were little children (about 2 and 5), his grandmother was on her death bed. His mom was supposedly more settled then. She would sometimes babysit me when my mom had to work. His mom would leave us in the bed with my sick aunt for hours with one grilled cheese sandwich on the nightstand. She could barely walk so we just played in the bed beside her. We would all have to share the sandwich until someone came. He loved her through it all. There was a time when I hated her because of how she treated Jay but I was powerless. I still wanted to be his protector.

As we grew, our roles changed. If other kids would try to start trouble with me, he would stand up to them. If a boy hurt my heart, he was always there. Before I married, he would always tell me that I had a good man in my life and that he entrusted my care to my husband. When we prepared to move to the Philippines, he reassured me and encouraged me to fully enjoy the opportunity to live in another country. He said it would be wonderful even though I was scared. He became my protector.

I love him so and can't imagine never seeing him again. Never hearing his laugh. Never getting another big bear hug. Never getting another email.

I'm going to speak at his funeral. He deserves a loving tribute but I don't know what to say to comfort others when it's hard for me to stop crying. I just know that he meant the world to me and I'll miss him.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In Memory...

Staff Sergeant Javares Washington was killed in Kuwait. He was my cousin. My cousin died Kuwait...and I'm so very sad. I feel like I can't breathe. My heart is broken. We grew up like siblings. His mom had him at a very young age. She wasn't ready to take care of him. So, he lived with us for years. He was like my brother. And now, I'm in shock. I'm going to miss him so much.

The military has only said he was in a government vehicle on patrol and it flipped over. We don't know what caused the flip or anything. I want to go home.

He was married and had two children. His son, Jayden, is 6 years old and looks just like him. His daughter, Tristin, is 9 months old. My heart is broken.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hong Kong Continued

January 22:
We decided to take a tour of Hong Kong. First we stopped at a Man Mo Temple which is dedicated to the gods of Literature (Man) and Martial Arts (Mo). This temple is notable because of its many brass and pewter incense burners. There was incense everywhere! Hanging from the ceiling and on every table. For the people who came there to worship, they brought food with them, usually apples and oranges, to offer the gods. There was a table for fortune telling. It was way too smoky so we didn't stay long. In the pictures, the coils hanging from the ceiling are incense.

From there we headed to Victoria Peak. We had to ride the world's steepest railway up to the peak of 428 meters where we saw the view of the harbor and the Kowloon Peninsula. It was a bit foggy but I'm sure on a clear day it is spectacular.

The next stop was to the Aberdeen Fishing Village. We rode a sampan through a traditional fishing village. It was pretty interesting as most families have several boats: the fishing boat, the house boat, and then a small boat to ferry the children back and forth to school.

From there we ended up at Dynasty Jewellery Manufacturer. Yes, that's how jewelry was spelled. It was kinda interesting to watch the men cut and polish the diamonds. But, the jewelry there was way expensive and we were there for a very long time with the people trying to convince us to purchase something. A group of Spanish women bought several items. The rest of us just hung out. My kids found a little spot to play.

Of course the tour ended at Stanley Market. Gotta squeeze every dime out of ya. On to the next day.

January 23:
We went over to Macau. We visited the Ruins of St. Paul's. This was once the largest Catholic church in East Asia and was built in the 1600's. In 1835, the church burned down but the front facade remained intact. So, that's what we looked at. It was pretty cool actually. We even made friends. Actually, we don't know them. But the lady with the beige jacket was mesmerized by Danae, especially her hair. She asked to take a picture with us. Her friends jumped in too. Dwayne was laughing because we're all smiling like we're old friends. I was actually laughing at the absurdity of it all.

There was a fort there as well with a ton of canons. Of course, people were selling souvenirs and gawking at the black folks. I have to add Danae's ANTM pose. Dwayne was holding ice on Brayden's head. He decided to try to jump and fell on the concrete. Danae found this place, posed, and said "Mommy, take my picture please." Fierce!

We went to yet another temple with more incense. Actually, Dwayne went in while the kids took a much needed nap. We visited another Catholic church where Danae decided to have a little prayer session and we got a decent family picture.

We walked around Macau a bit. We ended up at a factory outlet which was just a room with a bunch of clothes inside. I bought a Ralph Lauren outfit and Dwayne got a Polo shirt. We didn't really feel like sifting through all the clothes. They were cheaper than in the malls but still not quite what I expected.

We left January 24th and I can now say I've been to Hong Kong. I thoroughly enjoyed myself but probably won't return anytime soon. Why? Because there are way too many other countries to visit.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hong Kong - Jan 20 to 24

We traveled to Hong Kong to celebrate Danae's 3rd birthday. It was a little chilly but we still enjoyed ourselves. Hong Kong is known as a shopping paradise in Asia. You can definitely find things there that you won't see anywhere else, but it is a little pricey. As usual, I'll run through everything we did while there.

Jan 20:
We arrived early evening so we didn't do much. Ate dinner and walked around a bit. We stayed at Marco Polo Gateway at Harbour City Mall in Kowloon.

Jan 21:
My baby turned 3 years old!!! So, we went to Disneyland, of course.

For those of you with children or who plan to have children, can you please take your little black babies to Asia. A lot of the Chinese people we ran into have never seen black children. They wanted to touch their skin and hair. It's crazy! Don't believe me? Here's proof.

This girl and her friends were all over my baby. And, he was eating it up!

Hong Kong Disney is nice! Dwayne says it's about the same size as Disneyland in California. I've only been to the Orlando version and it doesn't compare. We had fun though. The only bad part was all the people staring at us and trying to touch the kids. We've been stared at for 4 months now and we still haven't gotten used to it.

That evening, we went to an Italian restaurant for Danae's birthday dinner. I know what you're thinking. Why did we go to an Italian restaurant in Hong Kong? I don't know really. But the food was excellent and Danae enjoyed herself and that's really all that matters. We actually didn't eat any Chinese food the entire time in Hong Kong. Sad, huh?

Okay, blogger is taking way too long to upload my pictures so I'm going to finish this little recap tomorrow.

Talk to you later...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sticky Rice Gone Too Far

How do you know when sticky rice has gone too far?

When it can be used in place of a hamburger bun.

This picture was taken at Hong Kong Disney. On the menu, it was a chicken sandwich with rice. Danae enjoyed it though. She liked the rice better than the meat.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fire Drill!!

Unfortunately there are no pictures but as Dwayne told me this story I said I have to blog about it. Here goes:

Around 2:00 this afternoon, I was in Starbucks purchasing my daily snack when I heard a fire alarm from my office building. So, I rushed to the building to see what was going on but the security guard said it was just a fire drill. During this conversation, I saw the police blocking off the area in front of the building with yellow police tape. In my peripheral vision I could see smoke directly above me coming from the 4th floor of the building. Needless to say, I dashed across the street to safety. I was thinking that this woman just told me it's a fire drill but I see smoke coming from the building. It can't be a fire drill but things weren't adding up because people were just casually walking from the building and in front of the place. I was one of the few idiots standing across the street witnessing the events unfold and trying to determine if there was a real fire or not. A fire truck then appeared shooting water up to where the smoke was coming from. But the water couldn't reach the area so they called for a larger truck. At this time, they are clearing the people from the patio at Starbucks. The second and larger fire engine showed up and started blasting water at the building soaking the people who were slowly moving out of the building. An ambulance came rushing up to the building with sirens blaring as though someone were severely burnt. I really thought there was a fire then. The husband of the lady who is more African than me (see previous post) told me what was going on. He said there is a machine they use to simulate an actual fire. It uses diesel fuel which adds to the horrible pollution here. Then the floor wardens finally came out to post up signs for the various companies to make sure everyone was accounted for. During the roll call, the firemen actually went through drills. First, a man rappelled down the building as though he was in the middle of a rock climbing exercise. Next, a man rappelled head first like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible on the Hoover Dam. Then, a live person was strapped on a gurney and lowered from the area of the fake fire (about 4 stories high) to the ground. After all this, the crowd starts applauding as though they're watching a movie or something. That's when I left and went to Glorietta Mall to get out of the heat. While leaving I then noticed two huge signs on the side of the building that read "Fire Drill Ongoing".

By the way, the fire drill lasted about 1 hour 15 minutes.

As we were told in our expatriate orientation: THIS IS NOT THE U.S.