Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 2 Hong Kong (part 1)

We awoke excited about the exploring we had ahead of us. To our excitement the weather forecasted in Hong Kong for our weekend was nice and cool (sunny with highs in the 70s and lows in the high 50s). We happily donned our sweatshirts, jeans, and closed toed shoes. Oh how I missed my Patagonia. The locals were bundled up in full-on winter gear which we had to chuckle about.
First off on our journey was a little bakery around the corner from our hotel which made the most delicious sweet bread raisin twist things. They were hot and buttery and yummy! This bakery became our go-to for the weekend. We decided to explore the streets just surrounding out hotel. We walked the dried seafood street and the ginseng street. Justin navigated us to Western Market which was, of course, closed. We quickly learned that Hong Kong is a city that wakes up late and stays up late (kind of like Paris). Many shops didn't open until 9 or 10 AM. Behind our hotel, a beautiful park with a children's playground was conveniently located. We treated Addie to a little playtime this morning before her nap. Once again she made an international friend, well actually the little boy followed HER around. Addie wanted a little space on her new playground toy but the little boy was pretty excited about our daughter. The park had really neat areas were fan dances were going on and some of the older Chinese men and women were exercising and practicing Tai Chi. The park was clean and the air smelled fresh (luxuries we don't have in Manila). Already, we were in love with Hong Kong. After some fresh air we all went back to our little hotel room and allowed Addie a nap before our big afternoon/evening at Disneyland!

Day 1 of Hong Kong

We're back in Manila and it's safe to say we are all exhausted. We spent every day walking as much as we could and lots of our walking included carrying Addie when she wouldn't sit in the stroller. Our travel to Hong Kong went smoothly. We took a shuttle from the airport to our hotel on Hong Kong Island. Immediately we felt the first world envelop us and it was so nice. Hong Kong was clean, orderly, beautiful, and vibrant. When we reached the hotel we dropped our stuff and headed around the corner to find something to eat for dinner. Our Thanksgiving meal consisted of beef with walnuts, sweet and sour pork, and fried rice. It turned out to be the only real Chinese food we had in Hong Kong the entire trip. We were all tired and needed sustenance so we didn't get to enjoy it as much as we would have liked. Afterwards we proceeded to fall asleep on our twin beds in our European style 200 sq ft hotel room. On to day 2!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving adventure

If we were at home we'd be having the best Thanksgiving ever with family and turkey and a visit from Megan. Maybe we'd ration the passion with Bailey's in our coffee (I guess not me this year...once again. It's either the boobs or the belly!). Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays thanks to our family.

Sadly we are not at home and we were wavering on our plans for Thanksgiving here in Manila so instead we are going to Hong Kong for the weekend! We wanted to have one more adventure around SE Asia before we have a newborn again. Hong Kong is a gorgeous first world city and it's full of fun stuff to do and beautiful sites to see. We are taking Addie to Hong Kong Disneyland which is going to blow her mind. I can see us spending lots of time in Fantasy Land riding Dumbo and It's a Small World. I can't wait. We are staying on Hong Kong Island so we might hit the botanical gardens and do a walking tour of some of the markets. There will be ferry and gondola rides and lots of delicious cheap Chinese food.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and family, while we will miss our traditional Thanksgiving celebrations we are excited for our mini adventure ahead.

Hokie Bird 2 18 weeks

We payed a visit to the OB again today. Amazingly 18 weeks has passed since Hokie Bird 2 was conceived! I forgot how the second trimester flies by. The baby is growing at a faster rate which coincides with my growing appetite. Cheetos and carrots with cream cheese are currently my two favorite snacks. Everything looks good so far. The baby has been moving around quite a bit now and gives me plenty of little gabs to remind me that he/she is in there. There is a strong heart beat and four beautiful chambers to the heart that are wonderfully reassuring. The spine is healthy and strong as well as the rest of the baby. The tummy is measuring a bit larger than the rest but I am not surprised. Addie was a big chubby baby. The doctor said this next month the baby will fill out quite a bit so the stretching will continue. It was very tempting to strain our eyes to see what was or wasn't down between the little legs but we held out. The surprise will be worth it! All in all Hokie Bird 2 is doing great.

Monday, November 24, 2008

minor emergency

Yesterday I was talking on the phone with a friend for a few minutes while Addie was pulling my arm trying to drag me to play, she then moved on to going into my bathroom and closing the door then opening it just enough to play peekaboo with me. She ran out into the hall as I was hanging up the phone and I heard the thunk of the spare bedroom door close. I immediately ran to the door and buried my hands in my face when I realized the door had somehow gotten locked from the inside. Addie was crying already after she noticed I couldn't open the door immediately. Slight panic ensued as I realized we weren't issued keys for the bedroom doors even though they have locks that you can engage from the inside (don't ask me why we weren't given them). Lucy happened to get locked in the room months back and when the locksmith came I had him make a key for Addie's bedroom door but ran out of cash for him to do both doors. Of course, Addie gets locked in the door I have no key for. I gather myself together while my daughter is screaming on the other side of the door. Cora tried to calm her while I get on the phone with the locksmith. Luckily in the emergency situation someone arrived within 10 min and she was sobbing in my arms in another 2 minutes. My poor baby, she was mostly scared but I felt horrible. It was one of those moments as a Mom that you realize that everything falls on your shoulders. Absolutely everything; from her safety, health, well being, everything. I cried from the guilt and then started worrying about the other things I should be preparing for. I was a bit frazzled for the rest of the day but Addie wasn't phased. Before this minor emergency I had Addie's hair in pigtails. I didn't think she could look any cuter but I was wrong. See for yourself.

eight feet

Justin and I were a little impressed/intimidated by our 8 ft Christmas tree once it was up. We spent most of Sunday with our favorite Christmas CD A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio playing. If this music doesn't put you in the holiday spirit you must have not seen A Charlie Brown Christmas as a child. Addie bopped to the music and helped with the ornaments. She loved the beaded garland and the soft kid friendly ornaments that I had. Once again my Mother amazingly thinks ahead and sends me off as an adult with not only gorgeous glass ornaments but also kid friendly ornaments for my then, future babies. I baked a pumpkin pie that afternoon so the house smelled lovely and the tree decorating was fun. We have ten foot ceilings so we were amazed at how big our 8 ft tree stood in the room. Addie was initially impressed with the tree decorating but soon got bored. Justin and I finished off the ornaments after Addie was in bed that night. I think it's a pretty good tree for being made in Thailand!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas windows at Rustan's

Now that Addie is big enough to appreciate Christmas this year I want to do absolutely every Christmas festivity that can be done here in Manila! It's my mission! We started off my mission this Saturday at Rustan's. Rustan's is the upscale department store at the mall here in Makati. It's a cross between a Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's. The Christmas decorations were so beautiful and tasteful. The Children's section had an adorable spot set up for Santa. Justin and I were a tad nauseated by the children's gift registry desk that was open! Rich Filipinos are insane! The best part of our visit to Rustan's was the window displays outside. Addie got a kick out of the mechanical animals and the festive scenes. It was so much fun.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

snuggle time

For whatever reason Addie wanted to be wrapped in a blanket yesterday afternoon. We were playing in her bedroom and she pulled down the blanket Kiki knitted for her and insisted that I wrap it tight all around her. She rolled around and snuggled in this blanket for a good hour carrying it with her as a cape where ever she went. It made for some cute pictures.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

girlie girl

Turns out Addie is quite the girlie girl. On the few occastions that I was required to primp myself heavily in the last few weeks (Marine Ball and family portrait) Addie was absolutely fascinated with the entire process. She sat up on the counter of my bathroom and played with all the little bottles and tubes. Before we left the States I organized my make-up into two bags; one that I use frequently and one that I don't (a.k.a. make-up that I used to wear out with the girls pre-marriage and pre-baby. I can't part with the smokey eye liner and dramatic colors). Anyhow I handed Addie bag number two and I thought she was going to explode with joy. She opens all the pallets and takes out the applicators. She rubs the colors all over her fingers. It was a little upsetting at first to see her ruin perfectly good Lancome and Stella but I guess I gotta let go sometime right? She insisted that I put yummy lotions on her legs just like mine and she ran the comb through her own hair after I was done. Chap stick is her favorite. I think some Lip Smackers are in our future soon. I made the mistake of opening my jewelry box in front of her and I could see her eyes light up with the possibilities of all those sparkly things. Now she loves to sit on the counter with me no matter what I'm doing; washing my hands or brushing my teeth. I think Pandora's box has been opened and there's no turning back...she's a girlie girl.

home bound

Black Beauty (our Jeep) is in the shop this week getting the evaporator replaced. The air conditioning wasn't working and it's something we desperately need here. So Addie and I are home bound this week. It hasn't been too bad since the weather is glorious (comparatively) and we have been walking to the park and playing in the pool. It's given me a bit of time to think about somethings I miss from home:

- air that doesn't smell like the sewer

-walking on the sidewalk without watching your every step in case you step in either (a) a dead cockroach carcass or (b) dog poop.

- Chipotle! I would give my right arm for a Chipotle burrito right now

- Maggie Moos ice cream

- the ability to buy big blocks of cheddar cheese, not these dinky 8 oz things here.

- Nordstrom! (the shoes, cafe, kids clothes, customer service, make-up counters-everything about this store)

- a guarantee that milk will be at the grocery store every time I go in

- using my debit card
So this post isn't completely a complaint here are pics of Addie dancing with the sunscreen

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas in August

Not quite, but it might as well be. Here it is November 19th and Christmas is being celebrated all around us already. The Filipinos are known for celebrating Christmas early. Decorations start coming up in October, Christmas music has been playing in the stores and on the radio since September. All the "ber" months are for Christmas here. It's strange for us especially since it's sunny and hot outside and we are wearing our sunglasses and flip-flops every day. It's very difficult for my mind to register that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming while I'm sweating! I've forced myself to get ready early mostly because I have to ship Christmas gift boxes to the States. I've been shopping and wrapping for awhile now. This is a major feat for me since normally Megan and I kick-off the holiday shopping in style on black Friday at Tyson's Corner. We picked up our "Christmas tree" at the mall last weekend. You can see it still in the box in the spare bedroom waiting to be assembled. This native Evergreen State girl is having a little bit of trouble putting up her first artificial tree for Christmas. Justin is making me wait until this weekend to put it up. Gasp, before Thanksgiving? We've learned from other Americans that the rules of being at home don't apply here in the P.I. Christmas gives you a warm cozy feeling and it's much needed when you are staring your first holiday season in a foreign country in the face. A little feeling of holiday cheer with your familiar holiday decorations is just what the doctor orders. I'm actually excited to decorate and see the excitement in Addie's face. A little traditional Christmas music and a mistletoe candle just might make Manila feel like a cold December day in Arlington. So you can tell we are a little conflicted with our Christmas in the summer!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

another week

Another week seems to have slipped by. Addie's done with her growth spurt now since she's interested in neither food or sleep at the moment. Friday, I spent the entire day Christmas shopping for the boxes that are getting sent home to family in the States. It was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time (especially since it's only mid-November). We "attempted" a family portrait on Sunday but Addie wanted none of it. I think we salvaged at least one decent picture. The weather has been gorgeous and cooler so we spent some time at the playground where Addie climbed up and went down the big slide all by herself! Addie watched "Beauty and the Beast" for the first time in a desperate attempt to get her interested in anything besides Barney (which she loves). She was mildly interested but kept saying "uh oh" when the scary wolves and the Beast were on screen. Luckily there were no nightmares. It was a pretty good weekend. Here are some pictures of Addie from this week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Justin and I started our Veteran's Day celebration by seeing Quantum of Solace last night after Addie went to bed. The last movie we saw in the theater was Juno so this was quite a treat. I sat there willing the movie volume down thinking it would wake the baby, forgetting that we were in the company of adults at the theater not in our living room.

Today we started Veteran's Day with breakfast made by Dad. Yummy flax seed pancakes hot off the griddle. He's really becoming a chef. We lazed around and Justin got to watch the Monday night football game live. He was thrilled (I'm secretly happy that football is not filling our living room all weekend long). After nap time (Addie and me) we headed to the Manila Oceanarium. We promised Addie fish and that's what she got. This was our second trip and she loved it just as much, maybe more that she's a bit older. We caved in the gift shop and she came home with a stuffed Nemo and fish window clings. Right now she's snuggled up watching Barney waiting for dinner. Addie's had a pretty perfect day with her Mom and Dad.

Thank you to all the Veterans we know especially Po, Great Grandpa O'Hara, and Ben.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Marine Corps Ball

We celebrated the U.S. Marine Corps 233rd birthday on Saturday in style at the beautiful Sofitel Hotel on the Manila Bay. This was the first ball Justin and I have been to so we went all out and in typical expat fashion had our ensembles custom made. Justin had a tuxedo made and it was the first time I've seen him in a tux since even our wedding didn't require tuxedos. He looked gorgeous all dressed up to the nines. I had my gown made here with Frankie de Leon who is an amazing couture dress maker. Over the last month he's worked with me on the style, fitting, etc. It turned out perfect. The yellow had the effect I was looking for. More than one person made comments on how daring the choice of yellow was since I was the only one in yellow. Everyone said I pulled it off and it's my favorite color so there you go.

Enough about the clothes. Justin and I had a thoroughly adult time. He drank, I ate, we both danced and shared some Marine Corps birthday cake. The birthday ceremony was patriotic and Ambassador Kinney's speech was moving and appropriate. It was wonderful to be reminded that our military isn't an entity, it's actually made up of ordinary people who make extraordinary sacrifices for the safety of Americans at home and abroad. All in all the evening was a fantastic celebration.
Justin and I were proud that we made it to midnight at the party but then seriously regretted it the next day. Poor Addie had two pooped parents on Sunday. We made up for it last night with a good 10 hours of sleep but realized that we are just too old now to stay up that late more than special occasions.

Friday, November 7, 2008

scrambled eggs

My husband scrambled his first egg this morning. I walked him through it and voila...scrambled egg. Look out Bob and Edith's. He was pretty proud of himself seeing as he's 29 and this is the first egg he's ever cooked in his entire life. I am absolutely convinced that men purposefully stay clueless on how to do things like this so they never have to do it. We're making progress!

who loves Cheetos?

Addie does! This is a new snack for her and she's hooked. Who isn't? We can't get the Baked Cheetos that we really like and don't feel guilty about eating here in Manila. Now we are stuck with the real ones. Darn!