Thursday, September 30, 2010

On the streets, La Paz Village, Makati City

These school girls are adorable. I'm only sad I didn't get their names and ages. I'm guessing around 8. They thanked me after I took their photograph. I love that she couldn't bear to wear her school shoes for another minute. Although if it were my daughter...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When I became a Mom, I wish I would have known...

The post has been inspired by the State Department weekly Blog RoundUp theme for the week. I'm submitting this week because I like the idea that a writing topic has been suggested. It's an open ended suggestion which, I like even more. Since I write about what's on my mind, as most bloggers do, my post centralizes around my job. (and the more we live overseas the more I am delightfully discovering that Motherhood is essentially the same job around the world.)

When I became a Mom, I wish I would have known...

That I would spend an exorbitant about of time searching our house for the suddenly not-to-be-lived-without cowboy Lego man/orange pony/pink princess headband (insert any random toy that three seconds prior was just another random toy)

That I would carry more pacifiers in my pockets than ChapStick.

How often
I would be negotiating number of bites for playtime/ice cream.

That I would have a never ending rotation of purple and yellow bruises on my legs from kneeling on/bumping into/getting jumped on.

How many times I would say things like "
Get your hands/fingers/inanimate object out of your mouth/nose/ear/butt." (in any combination)

How little sleep a Mother needs to still be a functioning human being during the day.

How many times I would be praying for my children to sleep.

How excruciating it would be to listen to them cry or be in pain.

That I would never be able to take a pee alone again.

How front and center guilt would be in my psyche at all times.

I could go on and on, as all Moms could, about the things that became part of my daily life that I never, in a million years, ever thought I would be doing, prior to having children. Motherhood is on-the-job-training in the purest form.

In all honesty, there are a loads of things I "know now" but didn't know then (before my girls). And I'm glad I didn't know it all then. The "then" was wonderfully naive of all things Motherhood. Thank goodness. If women knew the guts and gore of Motherhood prior to having their children, possibly, we'd all say "no thank you" and simply choose to donate cash to the latest cloning research project.

No. I'm glad that most of Motherhood is a surprise. A magnificent surprise that I am unsurfacing layer by layer with my girls. How much fun would it have been to already know just how remarkable Motherhood is, or how much love I'd be filled with on a daily basis? About as much fun as unwrapping a gift that you sneaked a peak at prior to its wrapping. Not one bit of fun.

One thing I honestly wish I would have known prior to becoming a Mom is just how much time I would spend reflecting on my own Mother and our relationship through my childhood (good and bad). "I wonder if this is how Mom and I were/how she felt/would have done it?" goes through my head more often than I ever would have imagined. The understanding and connection that Motherhood surfaces between a daughter to her Mother shouldn't be surprising when I think about it. And yet, I had no idea that my own Mother would play such a large role in the way I raise my daughters and in the way I manage all the guts and gore of Motherhood.

Monday, September 27, 2010

sick-round 2

Just when I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of my amoeba/bacteria belly; Arabella gets a runny nose. Justin gets it, then me, then Addie and suddenly my little light is extinguished before I even get a good nights rest. My lack of sleep can now be attributed to a sore throat and sinus pressure instead of a tummy ache. Either way, I'm exhausted and weak. How does one get a common cold while taking Cipro? That stuff treats anthrax for crud's sake, couldn't it just prevent a little cold. My microbiology professors weren't lying when they taught us the difference between virus and bacteria. Humph! Still. Come on!

It kind of sucks being the Mama when the family is sick. Everyone else gets taken care of first. I wouldn't have it any other way, and yet, I always take longer to recover from illnesses because of my role in caring for the girls' colds. Just part of the job description.

Yesterday, after a night of four hours of sleep and lots of frustrating insomnia like hours laying awake in bed stuffed up in the head, I just needed a little TLC. Yaya stepped up and watched the girls for an hour while I tried to take a nap (sort of successful) and then made the most delicious, heart warming, cold zapping soup for dinner.

It was a vegetable and pork soup with beans, potatoes, onions and parsley. It was cozy and the perfect thing to nurse a cold. Justin said it felt like being tucked-in by his Mom. So true and much needed. Soup was the TLC I needed.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

at least somebody gets new boots

After assessing our cold weather clothing supplies for the children, I concluded Addie was in need of some close toed shoes that would be appropriate for NZ in a few weeks. She has a few pairs of Mary Jane's that cover her toes but are probably not too appropriate for walking long distances or protecting her feet from rain.

The girls have very generous grandparents so this was the first time we have purchased clothing for Addie in the Philippines. She got a very practical pair of jeans and adorable pink leather boots. There were very few cold weather choices at the department store. Tons of sandals only two pairs of boots. Tennis shoes would have been fine too, only I'm not paying $60 for little girl Sketchers. No sir. Lucky for us, these little boots were on sale.

Sunday at Legaspi

We walked to the Legaspi market on Sunday to get some Tongs coffee to brew all week and let the girls play at a different playground. While we were there we:

Bought some mini quiches only for me to spill them all over the concrete 10 minutes later (we ate them anyway).

Drank fresh buko (coconut juice).

Fed the girls lemon juice pops.

Heaved our way-too-big-and-unwieldy Sit-N-Stand stroller through the deserted neighborhood.

Sacrificed my Nalgene of water for the dog who was thrilled to be on an outing with us.

Wiped yellow mustard out of Arabella's hair after her Dad accidentally blooped some on her head after reaching with his German sausage holding hand.

Played at the playground that was nuclear hot-for 10 minutes.

Practically had to carry Lucy the last block home since she's become a city dog and her tongue was almost dragging on the sidewalk.

Friday, September 24, 2010

For my Mom

My Mom and Dad sent a care package that lifted all our amoeba filled spirits the other night. The girls dug right it. I can't believe how nice it is to have a little something special to open from home. Grammy lives for buying and spoiling her granddaughters and she always misses the best part of all her efforts...getting to see them open everything up and play with it. These photos are for you Mom! Thank you for everything!

The things in this box were a few of the girls favorite items they played with at Grammy and Grandpa's house. That and some things I just couldn't get in our suitcases back to Manila. Addie was thrilled to be reunited with her baby doll, Lucy, and kitty cat Twirly. Bella immediately asked for her wings on. Yes, those are Dora panties over her diaper because she grabbed them from the clean clothes, sat down, put her feet in and grunted until I understood she wanted me to put them on her. She wore them the entire afternoon, proudly!Bella in her new digs! Yellow is my favorite and yellow polka dots has got to be the cutest thing for a baby to wear. My Mom finds the best second hand little girl clothes! Bella left the little pig tails (her first ever) in until she noticed them. Then she pulled them out. Addie in her new (or new to her) dress and shoes. LOVE at first sight. She wore it the next day to school.

pulling out our coats!

We are planning our trip to New Zealand! I can't believe it works out that we have coats that fit both girls perfectly, right when we need them! Mittens, such a novelty! Addie kept saying "Brrr, it's cold in here Mom" so she could keep her coat on. Until she sweat out!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

the simplest games are the most fun!

I never claimed to play sophisticated games with my kids. This one is a classic in our house. It never fails to elicit giggles.

field trip

Addie's preschool headed to Ark Avalon Zoo yesterday for our first field trip of the year. It's a nice little enclosed zoo. Small enough for a few hours to feed the bunnies, guinea pigs and goats. We also got to see some crocodiles, tigers and other cool animals. Addie was not down with the monkeys. I have no idea where the fear came from but I guess just the idea of a chimp wearing clothes walking around interacting with the kids and posing for photos is kind of creepy in and of itself. Once I promised her I'd keep her safe and we wouldn't have to look at the monkey she was feeling better. It was a long hot morning and a very bumpy bus ride back to school. Addie was exhausted for the rest of the day and I have eleven mosquito bites to show for the trip. That and some good Mommy/daughter time with my eldest!My favorite part was watching her feed the carrots to the animals. She loved it and was not afraid to walk around finding different little groups of bunnies or guinea pigs to feed. Most of the time a group would start nibbling on her carrot and she'd pull the stick away and walk over to the lone little guinea pig off to the side who wasn't eating. She'd say "here you go little one, do you want some?" It made me think of how my sister, Megan, is that way as well. Always looking out for the little lonely one, the underdog, always inclusive, and helping everyone especially the outsider. It was so sweet to see Addie displaying this nurturing characteristic. Instinctively she sought out the little guinea pigs who were alone, not realizing that they probably weren't hungry. It took Addie the longest to finish the carrot but she didn't seem to mind.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the un-glamor of a dip passport

Living abroad sounds all glamor and adventure when I talk about the custom ball gowns, inexpensive four course dinners, Holiday parties with views that sweep across all of Manila and weekends away to some of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world. Yeah, it's awesome in lots of ways. I love living overseas with my family. With all the neat perks it's easy for everyone to overlook that our current home is still a developing country. Third world in fact.

It's not so easy for us to forget this fact. It's actually really easy to remember that the Philippines is still a third world country when I get a call from the medical clinic telling me that I have two nasty bugs in my gut. The bacteria E. coli and the parasite E. histolytica. Both at the same time. Third world country awesomeness at it's finest.

I'm reminded often that I live in a developing country when I see grown adults popping a squat on the side of the road to do their business that surely drains back into the water supplies that are used to wash clothing in the small shanty villages throughout the area. Or as I drive up to large commuter bus I see a man urinating on the side of the bus as it idles at the intersection. He zips up and hops back on. I guess that's his pit stop, right there, in the middle of the street. I am mostly reminded of where I live right now because being handed a paper bag with a stool sample cup for collection is just part of reality. Taking metronidazole and the metallic taste it leaves in my mouth is not new, I was pregnant the last time I had an amoeba. Praying that my youngest child, the one who started this LBM trend last week, is not infected as well is all part of our "normal".

I'm looking forward to absorbing the nutrients from my food again soon. For everyone who is envious of our Yaya, driver, and white sand beach vacations, think again. Those things just placate us in between the stark reminders of how far away from home we really are.

watching my free time float away with this website

Monday, September 20, 2010

back to our regularly scheduled program

Okay, I am back with the babies. I know there were some disinterested grandparents out there after the last two self indulging blog posts!

Are these not the cutest little biscuits you've ever seen in a tiny little pair of Dora undies?

fantasy fashion

Since I am on the topic of online browsing, it's a good time to introduce (admit) my long time Internet hobby. Everyone has their "thing" online that they like to read, or search, or do. For my husband it's Metafilter and football. For me, it's putting together fantasy outfits by browsing my favorite online shops (kind of like the fashion equivalent of fantasy sports). Sometimes I look for the budget fashionista outfit, other times I go all out and put together a ridiculously pricey designer ensemble all the way down to the bangles and earrings. Most of the time it's a mixed bag. I never buy the outfits, but some of them have been pretty darn fabulous.

Anyway, it's a fun game I like to play and figured I'd share some of my creations on the blog. I'll try to post something weekly (we'll see if I get the time). I welcome all critiques on the outfits. Fashion is a personal choice but I love other perspectives. You won't hurt my feelings, I promise.

Sticking with my I-Miss-Fall theme, here's my most recent fantasy outfit:

Jacket: this one if you are on a budget and this one if money is not an issue. Take a guess which is my favorite.
Top you gotta tuck it in
Tights this is a daring pair of tights but I think they can be pulled off by someone equal parts sweetheart and moxie.
Boots: these if you are on a budget. These if you are not. I covet a pair of Frye boots.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I know it's Fall when...

...I can't stop browsing online for boots and cardigans. Fall weather clothing are my favorite. I love the light sweaters, jeans, and boots you can wear without layering on the heavy coats and hats this time of year (back at home).

Sadly, I am spending this Fall, as I have spent my last two Falls, in the same shorts, sundresses and sandals, I wear year-round in the tropical climate of the Philippines. Some would be envious of this tropical weather and the copious amounts of vitamin D I am soaking up, but for me, I wish I could walk outside and hear the leaves crunch under my feet and feel the Autumn breezes blow in my face.

As I thickly apply my daily sunblock and slip on my flip flops I am secretly dreaming of these:

Throw-back boots! Steve Madden Bootie
Naughty Monkey Boot
Give me a neutral cardigan and I'll be happy. This one and this one too.

I'd even take a good football game day party with seven layer bean dip right now. I miss the Fall!

*Photo from

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ethan turns one!

Garry, our driver (and friend!) has generously included us in his youngest son, Ethan's, life since he was born last year. We were sponsors for his baptism and invited to join his first birthday party today. Garry has a beautiful family. His wife, Ellen, and he have four boys. Andre, Kyle, Aldrin, and Ethan are all adorable lively boys. Ethan loved Justin. No surprise there, all kids do.Bella loved all the party action while Addie was terrified of the clowns and loud music. I will admit that it was extremely loud, as all Filipino parties are, so I can't blame her on that one. The balloons were a hit as well as the chocolate cake I made. Bella was a huge fan of the hot dog marshmallow sticks!Here's some great pictures of the festivities.

Three of the boys with the clown!

Friday night ice cream cones

The girls were thrilled to have their very own ice cream cone EACH for dessert on Friday night.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gown making 2010: step 1 the lining

I tried on the inner lining of the red gown today. Fitting number 1 down. Amazing how the lining is the backbone and foundation of a dress. All the red satin will be draped and formed over the lining of the dress. So far, so good. We have a long way to go until the dress will be ready. My friend Allison will be pleased to see that I've done something with the black bridesmaid dress I wore for her wedding back in 2003, I think? Every bride claims that they pick a dress that's simple so you can wear it again and while, it's a nice thought, those dresses usually just gather dust in the back of closets. This dress was the epitome of simple and versatile but it still never got worn. I brought this simple black dress with me knowing that I could have it altered. I added the gathered chiffon halter and long tie in the back of the neck. We added a bit of gather at the bust line but that was it. It's a new dress and definitely wearable again.

must read

I come from a long line of women who have raised daughters. My Great Grandmother raised two daughters, my Grandmother raised four daughters, and my Mother raised three daughters. Now it's my turn and while it may be in my genes to have girls, I don't claim to know the ins and outs of raising girls or children at all for that matter (sometimes I feel like I know nothing at all).

Looking back, I'd have to say Motherhood was really the one thing I can recall claiming that I'd do as a grown-up. I wasn't the girl who knew I'd be a doctor or a lawyer. I didn't have a passion for politics or animals. But I always knew I'd be a Mom. (I'm still searching for that other passion). Here I am fulfilling that vision of myself. While Motherhood has come naturally to me, for the most part, I would like to learn as much as I can. Experts say much of our parenting style comes from how we were parented. Whether we aim to model what our Mothers and Fathers did or we push to do the opposite and strive to be unlike them; it's still an extension of how we were raised. So I'll take some of what was given to me by my parents and I'll also do somethings my own way. My husband's upbringing obviously plays a big role in how we parent as well.

I guess I'm humble enough to say I don't know everything and want to learn more. I want to be the best Mother to my girls that I can be. That's why I picked up a stack of books about raising daughters while I was home in the States. My husband thinks I'm silly for not bringing home fiction. He says I'm a good Mom and that I don't need parenting books. My sister says that just by having such a passion to be a good Mom, I will be because I'll never get complacent. Maybe so, maybe they are both right. But with only one shot at raising my daughters, I'm not leaving anything up to chance, or genetics.

Girls will be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by JoAnn Deak, PH.D, is a stand out book that I could not put down for the past five days. At many points I was taken back to my adolescence while reading (good and bad). The seemingly insurmountable issues that young girls face coupled with the delicate balancing act parents often have to manage to stay connected to their daughters had a dizzying effect on me. I loved everything about this book; from reading the girls perspective to the need for an ever changing parenting strategy based on your individual daughter personality and developmental stage.

I really recommend this book to all parents of daughters and all teachers! As a principal and school physiologist Dr. Deak inserts her decades of experience working at schools and with girls. What an amazing wealth of knowledge she brings to this book.

My favorite passage is in the chapter about mothers and daughters. She sums up the chapter with a very poignant message that struck a cord for me about being a role model for my daughters.

Mothers agonize so much in their daily decision-making mode-"Should I let her go to the mall alone?" "How much should I bug her about her homework?" These are important questions, but in terms of lifelong impact on you daughter, the more important issues that deserve your time and consideration are thoughts about your behavior, your words, your personal decisions, and your values. These are the mirror of your being, where your daughter will, in different ways through the years, discover herself.

My daughters are still young. I'm sure I will be flipping through this book periodically as they grow to refresh my memory about asking questions, listening to their perspective, letting them work through their own problems, interjecting when a family value is at stake, keeping connected and staying close especially when they are pushing family away and always keeping the conversation going. And above all else, never, ever, letting silence replace the dialogue between mother and daughter.

I'm sure it's going to be a bumpy and winding road with plenty of rough patches but hopefully my girls and I will be able to work together to pave their path in life. I know we can.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

check this out

I found the My Mom, The Style Icon blog in my Country Living magazine of all places. It's really cute. Now all I need is an old photo of my Mom to send in. Next time I'm home I'll do some searching.

tummy troubles can't squash this fun

I'm pretty tired of looking at those dead fish every time I open my blog. Bet you are too.

No more dead fish blogs, I promise.

Bella battled a tummy bug Sunday and Monday. I was worried enough to trek to the medical clinic for them to look at her since they no longer analyze samples (in this case-and most cases-stool) without seeing the patient. Ugh! The clinic is very quickly becoming useless to me beyond immunizations. Anyhow, the symptoms have gone away so my guess is that it was a virus, nothing more serious. Another clue is that I feel awful myself. Getting my children's colds and stomach viruses can only be described in a super sarcastic voice as, AWESOME!

I feel like curling up in a stomach cramping ball but the girls are happy little bugs bouncing around all day, cute as can be. Addie wrapped her arms around my neck today and said "I like you Mommy." which made my heart flutter a little bit because I know she loves me but it would be pretty cool if she liked me too. She also exclaimed after completing a task "I am so proud of myself!" which made me doubly proud that I've helped her understand this concept of not just seeking her parents pride but her own.

Bella is speaking new words like crazy. She says: Mommy, Dada, Aiya (for Yaya), Addie, ball, more, eye, head, shoe, nana (for her pacifier), banana, up...a couple more I can't think of. The funny thing is that she's extremely communicative using her voice and sounds. I have no troubles deciphering this language but there are lots of grunts and sounds that I cant' really describe as words yet. She's a grunter for sure.

These moments make me happy even through the tummy troubles.

Bella's new wheels. She loves these little ride-on-push toys that the kids all over the neighborhood have. This is probably one of the first new toys we have bought for our second born daughter. It's a terribly cheap, made in China, toy but that makes it perfect for bumming around Manila. Addie nursing her sick animals back to health. The infant animals are all napping. I adore this elaborate make-believe play she is doing now. I also love that she still requests me to play with her.Addie and Bella monkeying around in the bath tub. We have a hard time getting Arabella to sit in the bath. She's a walking hazard in every aspect of her life!