Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shopping in Manila

I've been chomping at the bit to do some serious shopping in Manila. There are so many untapped resources for cute clothes and there are so many stores that I've never seen. Lot's and lots of Asian stores selling trendy women's clothes. I'm lucky that I'm small enough (even if I'm a bit tall) to fit in the clothes (even if I have to buy a size up). The other interesting thing about shopping here is that there is a huge variety in the stores, everything from fancy department stores like Rustan's and Marks and Spencer to little boutiques and even little stall or vendor stores that sell locally made or knock-off clothes. I love to shop and I love a bargain so I couldn't wait to check it out. The few times I've been to Glorietta (the large mall close to us) I've been overwhelmed my the crowds and number of stores and wings to this mall. Plus I get bombarded by sales clerks the moment I enter a store. I've been so worried about finding my way back to where I started that I barely make it out of Rustan's before I panic and head back in.

Saturday, I left Justin and Addie at home and took a taxi to the mall alone. was so nice. I felt a little more confidant so I actually spent some time looking at Rustan's and happened across a local Filipino designer, U that had a great selection of colorful and fun tops, skirts, and dresses. Every piece was feminine and flirty with ruffles, pleats, puckered sleeves, buttons, and flowery appliques. I brought home two tops; one tunic length electric blue with bright pink buttons, and another light green collared button down with pleated ruffles down the front. The sleeves have cute button details.

The next store I discovered is British India which is a Filipino store just recently franchised in Malaysia. They have great handmade clothes, all with a very Indian/Tommy Bahama feel (without the Tommy Bahama prices). I picked up two knit tops with crochet detailing. On Sunday I showed Justin British India and he loved it too. The men's clothes were casual and beautifully made. Everything has a tropical island feel. Perfect for the Philippines. There are so many untapped resources here!

Jabba the Hut

Justin gave Addie his Jabba the Hut figurine to play with (i.e. chew on). Before a few days ago I didn't know who Salacious Crum was. Turns out it's Jabba the Hut's pet and I'm really not sure I'm better off knowing that factoid. Anyway, Addie chewed off Salacious Crum's head and most likely swallowed it. The real Jabba the Hut is now under debate.

our new dog walker

We have a new dog walker for Lucy. Her name is Adelaide Rose.


Sunday turned out to be a gray rainy day so we decided to check out SM Mall of Asia on the Manila Bay. We treated Addie to a little Piglet Mylar balloon. She held on to it with a death grip. Addie screamed when we pried the balloon from her hands so the check-out lady a the toy store could scan the bar code. We grabbed some Thai food for lunch and later found out that the green curry is a bit too spicy for our girl. 20 minutes of screaming after her afternoon nap caused us much worry. We learned our lesson on that one. Addie got another treat at the mall with her first ride on the merry-go-round. She thoroughly enjoyed it. I can see the merry-go-round being part of our mall routine.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ribbons and strings

Addie's current obsession is anything that has a ribbon or string on it. Balloons with stick handles, her Fisher Price telephone (as you can see in the picture), books with ribbons for marking your page, anything. To indulge her I've tied string to a balloon that instantly makes it more interesting and an old cord to the hand of her stuffed monkey. Now she loves dragging the monkey around. It's pretty cute.

3 years of wedding bliss

June 26 we celebrated our third wedding anniversary. Aida watched Addie so we could get dressed up and go out to dinner. Apartment 1B is my new favorite restaurant within walking distance from the house. I had the poached salmon and Justin had the herb-crusted tuna. I'm enjoying wine again now that our baby girl is drinking whole milk (I'm free!). It's so wonderful to drink a glass of wine with dinner, although one glass was all it took for me to feel loopy. We finished the meal off with a vanilla cream filled crepe. It was nice going out alone. We walked back home, ran through Addie's bedtime routine, then snuck off to Blue Mountain for a couples spa package and left Aida instructions to listen for Addie. Justin and I were like teenagers who's parents have finally let them use the car. We couldn't help but feel giddy about spending some quality time alone. Quality time it was. We spent two and a half hours at the spa: in the sauna, jacuzzi, getting a body scrub, and then an hour Swedish Aromassage. It was so relaxing. We are definitely going back. The spa will be our anniversary special and maybe any other holiday like birthday's, St. Patrick's Day, Earth Day. I can't get enough of the spa, it's heaven.
I had to reminice about our wedding in Kauai especially since my best friend, Talina is getting married tomorrow at home and I'm going to miss it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

making friends

As you can see from the pictures posted, Addie is making fast friends with the neighbor boys Isaac and Lincoln. It's cute to see the friendship develop. Lincoln is closer to Addie's age and today Jenny and I watched Addie and Lincoln touch foreheads and noses and smile at one another. Maybe there is some chemistry there or it's just the way toddlers say "let's be friends", either way it was pretty darn cute. We have frequent play dates with the boys since they live upstairs in our building. Addie loves playing with their "new" toys and the boys can't get enough of the ball pit. It's a wonderful arrangement.

Yesterday, Addie and I went to our first MADS (mothers and darlings) play group. Group B (1-2 yrs) meets twice a week rotating among the Mom's homes. It was really fun meeting a whole group of new kids and Moms. We were the only Americans there so it was even cooler to meet some British, Australian, German, and Italian friends. I know it sounds silly but I was fascinated just listening to all the different accents and hearing all their stories. "Bugger" was said quite often as well as "telly", "nein", "lolly", and "mummy". Some of the kids names were Hugo, Reef, Poppy, and Joelle. It was so fun. Addie had a blast with the other kids while the Mom's chatted about Sex and the City and fancy medical spa's (Sex and the City is a world wide hit-I only just finished watching the entire series, seasons 1-7 last week. I watched it non-stop for the past few weeks. I was literally dreaming about Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte. What a great show and I got the whole series for 70 pesos. But I digress). The gorgeous German mom (she could be Heidi Klum's sister) works at a medical spa (she's an emergency room ER back in Germany). She described for us what a wheat grass rectal implant was. You don't want to know. Some of the ladies are planning a Botox party (I'll pass)The whole experience was very European and I loved it. Even the finger food for the kids was cool (papaya and vegetable samosas) I can't wait for the next play group. Sorry there are no pictures from the play group. I didn't want to be the crazy mom with the least not yet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

quiet moment

I couldn't help but capture this quiet moment on Sunday night when Daddy and daughter were both quietly reading (never mind that Addie was "reading" the insert for our Lost series DVD) on the couch (please turn your eyes away from the hideous couch...I am getting slipcovers made...these things take time).


I have a ridiculously clean house right now. I cannot take any credit for the sparkle of the floors or the clean fresh sheets on my bed. It's all due to Aida. I should call her St. Aida, Patron Saint of Lysol but instead we call her Nanny Aida or Yaya Aida (photo below). As you've guessed and I've hinted at earlier, we have a full-time live-in housekeeper, it's only her second week and already we love her and the results of her efforts.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a perfectionist when it comes to the cleanliness of my house. I do the minimum but I have never once washed my windows and I rarely dust. I will scrub the bathtub but only when you can really see the scum ring with your naked eye. So this is the first time that I have a super clean house and it feels amazing. I no longer feel guilty, stressed, or lacking in the area of homemaking. Our beds are made, the laundry is ironed, the windows are washed, and we even get to sample Aida's cooking. Tonight she's making chicken and spinach lasagna (I find lasagna too laborious...not for Aida). I had to run errands this morning and when I came home Addie had been fed her lunch and was smiling! My piece of mind is priceless. I find there is so much more time for other things like playing and reading with Addie. I get to cook interesting meals without Addie screaming at my heels for my attention. The other plus is that Justin comes home to a happy wife! I am sure he can't put a price tag on that.

Yes, that is a Cheerio on our toilet seat. And no I wouldn't have freaked if Addie ate it since the seats are cleaned DAILY!!! (Don't worry I threw it away so no one will be eating it...I was just trying to get my point across).
I admit I am not currently living in an American reality with all this glorious help. Yes, I am spoiled. Yes, I will flail when we return to the States but for right now I am going to enjoy it. Aida is one of the perks of living overseas.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Our stuff is here!

All our household effects (HHE) arrived on Tuesday. Everything smelled good and musty after sitting in crates on a ship for two months. The house is finally feeling like home. It's was hard not to feel like ignorant Americans as the moving crew brought box after box after box into the house. We lived in a small 1,000 sq ft townhouse in VA and we still have so much stuff. Seriously, does a family of two adults and a baby really need more than two dozen bath towels? Justin has probably three drawers full of t-shirts, of every color imaginable (mostly maroon and orange!). How do we accumulate so much stuff? When I see so many Filipinos with so little it makes me feel bad for having so much. As our lovely housekeeper, Aida's a blessing. She's right, we are blessed. More than we know.

Typhoon Frank

We are experiencing our first Typhoon. It's Typhoon Fengshen (Frank 07W) and it hit landfall in the Philippines at 7:32 AM local time June 22. We are 12 hours ahead of EST in the U.S. You can track the storm with us at We were awoken at 4:30 AM to the power going out and the sound of the massive generators turning on. Our building is luckily run on back-up generators during storms like these. In fact most of the area is run on generators and it's quite noisy. We can't complain though, we've watched movies (Finding Nemo), taken hot showers, and played all day inside while we watch the storm from our 17th floor apartment. The rain is torrential and the wind is whipping through the buildings. We are very lucky to be where we are right now and not in the southern islands of the P.I. Good thing we were in Boracay last weekend not this one. Since we are officially in the rainy season (which stays until August-ish) this won't be the last tropical storm we see. No need to worry, we are just fine!


Halo-Halo is an ice cream treat in the Philippines and literally means "everything". The resort offered a Halo-Halo surprise and we decided that there was no better time to try this strange dessert. I say strange because literally everything is in this dish: chocolate ice cream, ice, milk, corn kernels, beans, corn flakes, rice puffs, sugar, jack fruit, buko, coconut, sweet Poi, caramelized flan, and a few other colorful things that the waitress didn't know the English word for. Bottoms up! We tried it once and while it wasn't terrible; even good for a few minutes, we decided we didn't need to have Halo-Halo ever again.

She's one of us

One of the first things my Mother asked me when I told her we were going to the beach was if there were shells in Boracay. I can now say Yes, there are and lots of beautiful coral. I wasn't surprised by my Mom's question because growing up we combed the beaches of the Oregon Coast for shells and rocks, agates, and other treasures. In fact it's a serious hobby of my Mom and my Aunt. Whenever we were at the beach (this was often from the time I was born until I went away to college) we'd get up in the morning early, bundle up in our coats and roll up our jeans and walk the beach searching the shore line for the treasures that had washed up over night. My sisters and I would fill our buckets with shells and rocks and proudly clean and dry them and display them on the patio of the beach house. Our finds would eventually make it home to Vancouver, WA and end up in the yard under the faucets or in the bird baths. My Mom and Aunt have been known to find a big cool rock and lug it home for the garden. More than once the cars were weighed down with huge rocks. It's sort of a family tradition and quite laughable.

Anyway, I'm proud to say that Addie got the rock finding gene. Here she is finding treasures on the shore of Boracay. I know her Grandma will be proud.

Father's Day

We hadn't originally intended to be in Boracay for Father's Day, it was just a really nice coincidence. Justin said all he needed was his two girls in paradise that day. We played at the beach and sat and had San Miguel. Justin got an hour long massage on the beach for 350 Ph pesos. If you are ever in Boracay and want a massage Justin says to ask for Lorna. On our walk we found a little spot that was just our speed for drinks. We sat at a little table in the sand and had three San Miguel's for 150 Ph pesos. That's way cheaper than my bottled water. If Addie could talk she'd tell her Daddy that she loves him with all her heart. She'd say thank you for reading her a bedtime story every night. Thank you Justin for being such a wonderful father. You really are the best.

Boracay continued

Sorry for the hiatus, all our HHE (household effects) have arrived finally! I've been busy putting the house together...more on that later.
One of the interesting things about the Philippines is the Sari Sari store. It's essentially a little mini-mart (slightly more rustic). They are privately owned by families and carry everything from laundry detergent to soft drinks. All the items are sold in singles. Your can buy a stick of gum, one tablet of Tylenol, a single packet of Tide, etc. This is actually how lots of stores sell things in the Philippines, even the large grocery stores. It blows my mind that you can buy a single serving of instant coffee and one Band Aid. Americans are into buying in bulk, not here. The sad things is that families here can only afford to buy what's immediately necessary. There is no "stocking up" done in the P.I. Anyway, the Sari Sari stores have been around forever and have changed with the times. I captured a picture of a very nice Sari Sari in Boracay just to show Mr. Kevin.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nigi Nigi Nu Noos

Along the beach front of White Beach is a 4 km stretch of a sandy pedestrian road lined with the sparkling ocean and palm trees on one side and eateries, massage parlors, resorts, and shops on the other. Besides getting accosted by vendors every ten paces trying to sell us bad knock-off Breightling watches and Chanel sunglasses the walk up and down the beach is quite pleasant. The first night we arrived we happened upon Nigi Nigi Nu Noos for dinner. The spot was perfect and we watched the sunset on the water while we ate fresh caught mango stuffed calamari, prawns, and grilled Blue Marlin. We finished the meal with a fruit crepe with ice cream. All of the food was delicious. We were intoxicated by the view and the romance of the island. It all felt like a dream. Justin and I could have sat there for hours just drinking and watching the water and people passing by, but alas our little girl was ready for bed long before we were. Nigi Nigi Nu Noos gets 5 stars from me, we liked it so much we returned for dinner the next night.

beach babe

Addie has a love-hate relationship with the beach. She likes playing in the sand with her beach toys and even sitting at the water's edge feeling the waves lap up onto her legs. She occasionally would let us take her out into the deeper water but mostly wanted to stay in the sand. Inevitably she'd rub her eyes with her sandy hand or go to suck her beloved finger and the gig was up and suddenly the beach was her enemy. The first day we arrived a little Taiwanese boy (with a name I can't spell or pronounce) was next to us with his family and they shared beach toys. She's already making international friends. As the weekend went on we played at the beach but also in the many swimming pools the resort had to offer. For her first trip to a beach she couldn't have had a more prime place to explore. Some day she'll look back on these pictures as her first real taste of the beach. And taste she did...of both the sand and the salt water on more than one occasion.