Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

We hosted a Halloween party this afternoon for our friends and neighbors. Our party was a hit thanks to Megan sending the decorations and cookie making kit along with the cake mix and frosting. All the kids decorated cookies with colored frosting and ate cupcakes covered in sprinkles and candy of their liking. The Moms chatted and oversaw the decorating and then the kids played and thoroughly messed up the house. There was lots of laughing, squealing, and other kid noises. It was wonderful to have the house full of friends. Grandma and Grandpa sent Addie a black cat costume so she wore this one today. She kept saying "meow" over and over. Addie had been eyeing the chocolate cupcakes all morning and it was quite a chore steering her away from them at snack time. When it was time for the kids to sit down and decorate she eagerly waited for me to place the cupcake in front of her. She cupped it in her two hands and ate it frosting first. She kept lifting her hands full of cupcake to her face for bite after bite. I didn't intervene but instead took lots of pictures of her enjoying the chocolate. She was smeared in cupcake and frosting by the time she was done but the experience made her giddy. It took three of four kitchen towels to clean off all the kids. What fun!


The Embassy's Community Liaison Office threw a Halloween party last night for the children. We had such a blast watching Addie. She got all dressed up in her Minnie Mouse costume and couldn't stop staring at all the other kids in their costumes. The pizza party was thrown in a room decorated with spooky Halloween decor, scary music and a strobe light! She was terrified so we decided to eat our pizza outside. Addie really enjoyed the costume parade where she got to hold her pumpkin bag and walk with the other kids. She lost her footing numerous times because she couldn't take her eyes off the other kids. The big hit of the night was trick-or-treating. When the first piece of candy hit her bag it all clicked and she was so excited. Every house we went to she said "please" and "thank you". We tried to teach her trick-or-treat but it didn't fly. Addie held on to her ever growing stash of candy with a death grip and could say "candy" by the end of the night. Justin and I got so much joy watching how happy she was. The whole night was so fun. Addie had her first chocolate bar on the ride home and then proceeded to fall asleep in her car seat. It was a big evening for our little girl.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What's rule #1?

Rule #1 for Justin growing up was, manners. Rule #2 was, have fun! This simple and effective way to get kids to be polite will be central in our parenting. So far I'm extremely proud to say that Adelaide not only says "please" but "thank you" as well. When she is asking for something all I have to say is, "How do you ask?" or "What do you say?" and she comes back with the sweetest, most darling pleading "please" you have ever heard. Then she follows it up with a "thank you". So far it's my proudest achievement as a parent of a toddler. There is one problem though. Now that she knows "please" she uses it for things like watching TV or continuing a game that has been exhausted. When she says please it's almost impossible to say no to her and I think she's starting to pick up on that. At least we are starting on rule #1.

cool shoes

We received some hand-me-down shoes from our friend Stella. Lucky us that Addie has small feet! They are really rugged and have black soles (a must for Manila so you don't see the filth). Addie insisted on wearing them in the house today.

Mama's little helper

Adelaide had her first cooking lesson this week. Cora made an extra batch of dough practicing for the pizza she was making so I decided we should make a batch of cinnamon rolls. Addie sat on the counter and helped me stir my cream cheese frosting with the whisk. After I was finished I let her lick the whisk. My smart girl finished the frosting on the whisk and immediately stuck it back in the bowl for more! I think she enjoyed her first lesson: hang around while Mom's cooking and you'll get to lick the spoon! A lesson I learned early too.

Halloween loot

Once again my parents sent a wonderful care package for Halloween complete with a pumpkin full of delicious candy from the U.S. and Halloween goodies for Addie. The first thing I did was stick my nose in the pumpkin and sniff that wonderful Halloween candy smell; the mixture of chocolate, sweet tarts, bubble gum, and tootsie rolls all mingling. It took me back to my loot after a good night of trick-or-treating as a child. I never knew how much I missed that. We've decided being away from home makes us appreciate all those things that we took for granted at home. Including a cheap bag of bite-size Snickers. Justin and I sat the pumpkin down in front of us that evening and ate piece after glorious piece. The pile of wrappers we threw away was embarrassing but worth it. I'm saving the Dum-Dums for Addie...maybe!

Hokie Bird 2 update

I had another doctor's appointment today. I am finding that all the appointments include a sonogram which is so much fun. I love getting to see the baby's growth. Although I don't need a scan to tell me the baby's getting bigger, my belly is a tell-tale sign of that. Anyway, the heart beat is nice and strong. I saw two hands complete with fingers, two legs moving and stretching and two feet with toes! The head is nice and big (but not too big). I saw the stomach, liver, spine, and heart. It was really neat to see the baby move as I did and just wiggle around. Right now we are 13 weeks so hopefully soon I will start to feel all the kicks and punches. My doctor said she can sometimes make a guess at the sex but I stopped her and reminded her it's going to be a surprise. So far the baby is getting big and strong. It was very good news.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pros and Cons

We get lots of questions from friends and family about having a full-time housekeeper/cook/yaya live with us. It's funny how I couldn't have imagined having a stranger live with us before we got here and now I almost can't imagine not having Cora with us. Having household help is the strangest part of living in the Philippines. There are enormous benefits and also many things that I could not have foreseen being a problem with this arrangement. So to answer some of everyone's burning questions:
Your own home is never completely yours in the sense that Cora knows where to find Addie's missing swim suit or whether or not we need more laundry detergent. She makes our bed even if I want it messy and never leaves the toothpaste splattered on the mirrors. Sometimes a little mess if comforting ( I guess it feels like home). Cora (as a result of her Filipino upbringing) keeps fruits and vegetables long after they are edible. The vacuum cleaner accidentally got plugged into the 220 volt socket and almost blew it's fuse. Our canola oil gets recycled (kind of gross to me). Once in awhile like this past weekend, the house begins to smell and we finally figure out that a bag of old rotten chicken bones were accidentally left in the laundry room (what the?). These things are rather minor compared to some stories we've heard but still cause a bit of strife sometimes. By the time Friday rolls around I'm ready to have my house to myself.

On the other hand the Pros are almost immeasurable.

Cora keeps the house spotless and is a wonderful cook. As a result of her upbringing she's good about stretching our resources as far as they can go. She saves us lots of money on groceries by doing the shopping herself. Justin's clothes are always pressed. Addie loves Cora and they play well together. I get to eat my lunch and dinner in peace because Cora will play with Addie after she's finished eating and allows me to finish alone. Lucy is walked frequently and I no longer have to bathe her! Cora literally takes care of all the household chores and lets Addie and I just play. Justin and I have a built in babysitter for the weekday nights if we want. I could go on and on praising Cora.

Addie has taken to helping Cora sweep the floors (which I know she wouldn't have picked up from me since I didn't do that much!). Cora brought Addie her own broom so now she gets to do her own cleaning whenever she feels like it.

Sticker Masterpiece

Aunt Megan sent some awesome Halloween decorations that have Justin and I in the Halloween spirit. Addie's favorite are the Halloween window clings that she helped me put all over our sliding glass doors in the living room. She loves them so much that every day she takes them down and puts them back up in different spots. Only now she thinks that all stickers are meant for the windows. Justin picked up Maisy's Spooky Halloween Sticker book this weekend and she screamed every time I tried to show her the stickers are meant for the pages of the book, not the window. After a big unnecessary fight over the sticker placement I gave in. As you can see Addie created a masterpiece on the windows. Lesson learned-as a Mom you have to pick your battles.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Addie adores Finding Nemo the movie and we watch it at least once a weekend. This past weekend she pointed to the DVD player then the TV and handed Justin the Finding Nemo DVD. Does she need to be any clearer? I'm not sure whether to be proud or disturbed that she already knows what the DVD player is used for. Anyway, she loves watching the fish in the movie and I had a bit of a tantrum on my hands this morning when I had to "explain" that Nemo was only for the weekends and that we don't watch movies during the week. It didn't go over so well but we got through it. Here is Addie sitting on top of the coffee table with her goldfish crackers and Nemo on the TV. She's slightly absorbed.

Daddy time

I'm so lucky that I get to spend so much quality time with my daughter every day. I'm even luckier that my husband gladly takes over play-time on the weekends. It's a good thing too because usually by Friday night I'm ready for a little break. Justin gets up early with Addie in the mornings and plays with her during the day. We usually do family things together but sometimes, like Saturday, they have some special Daddy-daughter time. Justin took Addie to the book store which keeps both parties happy. Addie brings home new books and so does her Dad. Books are the one thing Justin will always give the green light to purchase for Addie. They had a great time together and it gives me a few moments to myself. Here are some pics of them together this weekend.

Pool party

Saturday we celebrated a friends first birthday at the swimming pool on the US compound. Addie enjoyed the cake, ice cream, and swimming with the big kids. She watched all the other kids jumping off the edge into their dad's arms. Next thing we knew she was doing it too.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Manila and Rizal Park

Today we took out our Philippines guide book and decided to check out Rizal Park in Intramuros not far from the Manila Bay. Rizal Park is Manila's Central Park (only a bad version). I was mostly excited about the Orchidarium and Butterfly House as well as the National Museum open to the public. On the way to Rizal Park I snapped some pictures of Manila. I've been wanting to capture more of what Manila is really like. Much of where we go and what we do as expatriates is a bad representation of what the majority of Manila looks like. So you can see some of the things we experience on a daily basis. This is still not a great representation of the Manila that most Filipinos know.
Rizal Park turned out to be fairly crowded and chintzy. There were nice park benches and ponds but the music blaring on the loud speakers and the beggars and peddlers kind of ruined the mood. Unfortunately the Orchidarium and Butterfly House was closed. We did make it to the National Museum where we spent most of our time wandering through exhibits of ancient treasures found in archaeological sites from shipwrecks. The museum was fairly well done and we really enjoyed it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

real grass to play on

Addie loved running in the grass and collecting all the leaves she could find at the American Cemetery and Memorial. She ran back and forth from us to the trees over and over.


We visited the American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila yesterday. It's an American run site so the grounds were beautiful and green. The Memorial was stunning and overwhelming. Thousands and thousands of soldiers names lined the walls honoring the men who were not found to place in proper graves. It was mind boggling thinking of all the men who lost their lives in World War II. The memorial also had gorgeous mosaic tiled maps of the battles and maneuverings of the war. The only word we could think to describe the place was serene. It was quiet and Addie walked around without holding our hands. We eventually sat down and let her play in the grass and gather leaves (one of her favorite games-too bad she won't experience the fall in Virginia). The chapel bells rang once in awhile and it took us back to our picnics at the Iwo-Jima Memorial and Bell tower in Arlington. We miss home very much but being at the cemetery somehow put us in friendly company, even if they were graves and names. They're still Americans.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

don't want to speak too soon-(I spoke too soon)

So this is day two of feeling like normal (albeit pregnant) Sara. No nausea or food aversions. Still sleepy but I do have a 16 month old so it's hard to know what's from pregnancy or from keeping up with Addie all day. I'm about 11 weeks now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed I've passed the worst of it. Please oh please!

Update as of Oct 12: the crumminess came back. I definitely spoke too soon.

busy being a big girl

I am constantly amazed at the speed at which Addie is learning new things. She loves to mimic her Mommy no matter what I am doing. Today we sat and flipped through magazines looking for pictures of dogs and cats. She squeals when she finds one! She got into my wallet coin purse and took all the coins out and one by one put them back in while counting them (although every number sounded like "two"). We had a picnic for snack time complete with a blanket and puppy. I had some mail to address so I sat down at the table and Addie insisted that she get a chair next to me and a pen and paper as well. She sat "working" with me for a good hour. By the end as you can see she had her own wallet and cards to play with. I guess someone can get use out of all my old Metro cards. After that we got out books. In one book of first words she pointed at the clock on the page then up to the clock on our wall. She's taken to hiding things. The cookies get under the couch, her milk behind the cushions, Lucy's ball hides under almost anything. At dinner she ate her pancit and lumpia (traditional Filipino cuisine) with a fork. And that was all in one day. It's amazing and I wonder why I'm tired at the end of the day. She's non-stop!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

second time around

Not only do you get a naked bum pic of Addie, you also get to spy the baby bump that has shown up! The second time around the nausea has been way worse and the bump has shown up faster. I think it took me 4 months to look like this with Addie not two months like this time around. I've already pulled out the belly bands. The worst part is having to eat like someone who doesn't care about food. I can only stomach a limited selection and have no desire to prepare interesting meals or even go out to eat at restaurants. Friday night I just ate the macaroni and cheese with broccoli I made for Addie (Cora had the day off!). I've been eating fruit, salad, cereal, and anything else cold three meals a day all week. It's getting boring! I even took out a box of my favorite brownie mix from Trader Joe's to make for a treat and couldn't bring myself to make it after the thought of brownies grossed me out. What the? It's terrible.
All I can hope is that the second trimester will work it's miracles on me and my stomach. A bit more energy would be appreciated as well.