Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tropical Storm Ondo (Ketsana)

On September 26, 2009 (this past Saturday) the Philippines was hit with the worst flooding it's seen caused by tropical storm Ondoy. This was a stage 1 storm but the rain just didn't stop. Our neighbors took some pictures of the flooding at our building. These pictures were taken at about 10AM that day. It looks like it might as well be midnight. Luckily we weathered the storm in our generator powered high rise condo. I baked, Addie watched movies, Justin prepared for the Hokie game, Bella stayed on her nap schedule. This is not what the majority of Filipinos were experiencing that day. While Makati was hit with flood levels it's probably never experienced before many of the residents in our posh neighborhood were protected by their high rises or other barriers. Single family homes were flooded and are seeing damage but Eastern Luzon was hit much harder. Images of the storm can be found here. The country is still recovering. Power was out for days. The Embassy was closed due to power outages so Justin had an unexpected long weekend. The Philippine Star is still reporting the damages. Right now the death/missing count is 106. A state of emergency has been declared and many efforts to restore food and clean water to displaced families are underway. Suddenly the box of clothes my folks sent for the girls will be finding new homes on the backs of cold, wet, and sick Filipino children. I still can't wrap my head around how lucky we are. Even better news is that Cora and Garry (our driver) and their families are safe and still have their homes and personal belongings.


We have had quite a scare with our Addie Boo this past week. Last Monday she came down with a fever and complained of a headache before lunch. She ended up taking a nap then passing out again on the couch for a few hours complaining of aches and pains, just moaning and groaning. I've never seen her like that. We prepared for the flu. That evening when she woke up the fever had broke and she asked for some "mac n cheese". Amazingly we bypassed the flu but over the next few days we started noticing her balance was off. She gradually got so dizzy and wobbly she couldn't walk well in the morning and after nap. She asked to be carried, grabbed on to the wall for balance, and swayed back and fourth when she was sitting, often catching herself off balance. She was irritable and tired much of the day. As you can imagine we were very worried. Three doctors appointments later (no ear infection) including one with a pediatric neurologist (who dropped the words "brain tumor" on us) we didn't have a diagnosis but a few ideas, and were told to observe her over the weekend. This past weekend Addie's balance improved. She only complains of being wiggly here and there. This evening she was running and dancing and walking in her dress-up high heels (great sign since those things would stump the Philippines' own Imelda Marcos). Our follow up with the neurologist on Monday gave us good news that she wouldn't need an MRI since she was improving. Most likely what she was experiencing was cerebellitis. This is a post-viral inflammation of the cerebellum. It's fairly common is children under 3. Most common after the chicken pox virus (not what Addie had). There is no treatment because the inflammation goes away within a few weeks (luckily in our case it's dissipating quickly). There are no long term effects. We were very nervous parents, it was hard to describe to the doctors that what we were seeing in her was a wobbly gait. They saw a two year old walking a bit clumsily. With some persistence we saw the right doctor and are very pleased to see our baby girl improving. On Monday when she was asleep with the fever I was in tears about the impending flu in our home and the possibility of Bella contracting the nasty virus. We looked at our sweet girl on the couch and commented to each other that we hated seeing her sick, even with a fever, and we hoped to God we would never have to experience anything worse than the common childhood illnesses with either of our girls. Neither of us knew at that moment that the words "cerebellatis and brain tumor" would be apart of our vocab in a few days time. Thankfully our prayers have been answered and she's back to her cheerful, silly, active self.

Addie after the fever broke on Monday evening with her "mac n cheese". Still smiling.
Addie today with her pink smoothie.

Daddy convert

Much of what has been going on here in Manila over the past few days has been no laughing matter (more on that the next few posts). Arabella doesn't know that though. This little jelly bean is a total Daddy convert. She is IN LOVE with her Dad. She has such an adorable deep belly chuckle when she gets going.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Been awhile

Go Hokies!I have been pretty busy with the girls lately. I can't seem to get past that newborn disorientation that consumes Moms when a new baby is born. Here we are almost 5 months later and Bella is still kicking my butt. She's extremely inquisitive and perceptive and smart. She communicates to us as if she was 16 months old. It's amazing! She is so happy and cheerful when she is well rested. Getting her rested is a challenge. It takes much of my daily energy to make sure she gets enough naps at the right times so she doesn't get overtired. She's on the verge of being overtired at all times. It's a fine balance. Plus I feel tethered to the house as well. I'm looking forward getting away from Manila for a weekend as soon as I feel up for the travel with our new family of four.
Ready for the pool last Sunday.
I can't get over this elf-ish grin Bella has on her face. Too cute.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

playtime before naps

I'm trying to get Arabella out of the house a bit before her nap time. Today we hit the pool for a bit before her afternoon nap. The water relaxed her and she took more than an hour nap. Success! She sported a Juicy suit that made her rump adorable in ruffles. The water was cool and refreshing since the sun was beating down pretty hot today. What a relief that the rain has passed. When Addie woke from her nap I traded girls and Addie came down to play in the pool. Not quite as relaxing but tons of fun.
She looks like her Daddy here!

Monday, September 14, 2009


A month or so ago Addie decided she wanted to be Cinderella for Halloween. I searched out a little costume dress maker at the bazaar who makes gorgeous little girl princess costumes. Addie went with me to try them on. Once she had it on she didn't want to take it off. Needless to say, it came home with us. I think I'll complete the costume with a black ribbon for around her neck and some glass slippers. As you can see this costume is going to get some wear and tear before it gets worn for Halloween. Addie wore it until Justin got home so she could show Daddy. She walked around singing to herself and dancing saying, "Cinderella" over and over.

rolling baby

Bella is a wild one! When you lay her down anywhere she's immediately rolling herself on to her belly and then keeps on rolling. She rolls off the blankets we put on the floor. Yesterday she rolled underneath the coffee table. Here, Addie just woke up from her nap and was in a horrid mood-my girls and there short naps!
On another note we've had two good nights out of three with Bella putting herself to sleep. Last night was blissful sleep compared to what we have experienced lately. It's dreadfully hard to listen to her cry at bedtime but we all sleep better when she puts herself to sleep. Hopefully it will get better as the days go on.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


we actually got some last night after Bella successfully soothed herself to sleep. We were almost at the breaking point of exhaustion (so was Bella with dark circles under her eyes), finally we let her cry herself to sleep last night for bed and it only took 30 minutes. She slept wonderfully, waking for her bottles without screaming inconsolably, she went right back to sleep and if she didn't, we let her cry a bit and within a few minutes she was asleep. I like to call last night a breakthrough of sorts. We all got some sleep and when Arabella woke up this morning at 7 AM she looked so rested and happy and cheerful. What a relief. For the past two weeks the cold threw Bella in this terrible cycle of being so tired she couldn't sleep well or nap well, which just made her more tired and hard to console. My knees and ankles hurt from so much bouncing and rocking. I'm hoping last night is the start of a new healthy sleeping era in our house.

This morning Justin was in the mood to play with the girls (especially after a Hokie win against Marshall coupled with a good night's sleep).

Lucy's favorite spot

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

rain, rain, go away

It's been raining here for the last three days straight. Today it rained so hard all the streets were flooded. It took Addie and I an hour and a half to get home from school. I wish I had my camera in the car to show everyone how some of the local kids were literally splashing and playing in the water like it was a pool. The rain was getting to us so when the sun peaked through the clouds this afternoon all of our moods were improved. Bella took a two hour afternoon nap (totally not normal), and we all were feeling pretty good.

Addie's new favorite thing is stamping herself. Thank goodness Grammy bought us a washable stamp pad.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I never get photographed unless I ask Justin to take a picture of me with the girls. Here is Bella and I on Saturday after my haircut. I figured it won't look this nice for awhile again.

Bath time

Bella has moved up to the next position in her bath tub. She grabs her feet the entire time she's in the bath so she teeters on her little bum cheeks. Here she is all bundled in her towel afterwards too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dinner with friends

I've been meaning to get the girls in for professional photos. It's been since Bella was two weeks old. She's clearly a different kid now. I hesitate to go for a number of reasons. 1. It's expensive. 2. Addie most often sits in front of the camera looking anything but smiley and happy. 3. Bella would probably cry. 4. It's stressful. 5. Why when I've got an amazing camera at home. I open up the windows in my room and let them snuggle in my bed. I need a really sunny day to make the light perfect but it worked out OK this afternoon while it was cloudy. I really prefer the natural light over the flash.Our lovely neighbors invited us for dinner since Justin is gone. I sat and ate my meal as if I wasn't the mother of an infant (slowly). By 5:45 PM Bella was screaming to be put to bed so I ran home and got her asleep then came back to get Addie. It was so nice. Addie loves playing with their two boys. In fact she has a little crush on the four year old, Isaac. A week or so ago during a nasty thunder storm in the middle of the night, Justin went to check on Addie in bed. She turned over and sleepily asked "Isaac?". Justin was like "No, it's Daddy!". She's dreaming of boys already!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This Mama needs a vacation!

It's been a rough go of it since Saturday evening when Justin left for Australia for the week. Just the organization and planning that goes into managing both girls at dinner and bedtime is enough stress to frazzle me. It feels like I ran a marathon when they've both been bathed and are asleep. Monday was a sad day because my helper, Cora's, sister passed away from a head trauma from an accident that had occurred a week ago. She headed back to her Provence for two weeks. She left me with a friend of hers to help with the cleaning. Man, I didn't know how good I have it with Cora. Before Cora left I bought a serious amount of frozen crap food to feed myself this week since I knew I would have little time for cooking. I can't believe I'm eating chicken nuggets. (actually, as I type this I am eating two mini cheese (cheese food product) burgers and a big fat brownie). We all came down with a cold. The girls now are the two with stuffy noses. Poor Bella has it the worst. She can't sleep and is just plain miserable. We were experiencing some successes with Ferberizing her for naps and bedtime (she almost wanted me to just put her down and cry it out). Now with a cold I don't have the heart to let her cry. We'll start over after she's better. Lucy has ear mites, the kitchen sink backed up, my driver's about to go on paternity leave, Bella won't tolerate the stand-in yaya (even for a few seconds), Addie's being TWO, I've given up dairy to help eliminate the old-man style farts Bella produces. Just a ton of issues to deal with this week.
A good example of how our days are going is the following: Bella wakes up 25 minutes after falling asleep for a nap. It was just enough time for me to think I was going to get to snooze a bit, only to be disappointed. I hear something in Addie's room and assume she's waking up from her nap too. I open the door to find Addie without her diaper on, rubbing a bar of soap on the hard wood floors. She tore off her wall decals and put them all over her bed. When she saw the look on my face she dropped the bar of soap and ran. She now is grounded from TV. (which I swear is the source of all her evil and she's come to love it WAY too much)
Good news is we are experiencing success with potty training. After the second time Addie took of her diaper today we put on panties. She told Loni (the fill-in yaya) twice she had to pee-pee and ran to the potty to go! I'm so proud of her. It's all clicking now.
I can't wait for Justin to return. It sucks doing all the parenting by myself. It's nice looking forward to 6 o'clock when Daddy gets home. I'm so lucky to have Cora's help during the day and I dearly miss her healthy delicious cooking. I hate having to decide which crying daughter to tend to first, the sick screaming baby or the pleading two year old who just wants me to sing one more song before she goes to sleep. I miss the Daddy!