Monday, January 31, 2011

food satisfaction

In some kind of great universe mix-up the girls and I have colds again. Only it started with a rattly wet chest cough. The girls noses are running like faucets so Addie stayed home from school today. There energy wasn't affected so we decided to do some baking. I've reached my breaking point with store bought snack items and decided I will not be buying them for a while since it tends to be the only thing the girls want for snacks. Suddenly an apple is not considered a snack. I'm so tired of snack time and meal time for that matter.
Today we made cheese crackers with sunflower seeds for snack time. They are supper fun and easy to make. The recipe is from The Sneaky Chef (the original Deceptively Delicious). We used sharp cheddar cheese.I've been craving a good bagel with cream cheese lately so I broke down and made homemade bagels today. The recipe wasn't too difficult. The boiling step was surprisingly easy. Holy cow these bagels are wonderful. The inside is chewy, soft, and perfectly elastic. The outside has a nice outer crust. I made a few with sesame seeds just to test out how the toppings would bake. It's better for me to leave things plain to satisfy the girls taste buds. Addie and I both devoured a bagel straight from the oven with cream cheese smeared on it. Bella licked the cream cheese off and left the bagel.Lunch was a zen like experience today for me. Oh, how I have missed bagels. Once again, I might never buy bagels at the store. The homemade version is just so much better. I'm going to try whole wheat bagels next.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


On Saturday we drove south of Manila to Batangas to celebrate with our driver, Garry, and his family. This city was the capital of the Philippines in 1572. We were welcomed warmly when we arrived and enjoyed seeing Ethan our God son and watching him slowly become comfortable with us over the afternoon. By the end of the day Justin was throwing him over is head to make him giggle. The entire neighborhood is Garry and his wife, Ellen's extended family. The party preparations were well under way when we arrived. We ate lunch, visited the biggest Catholic Church in Asia and played with the kids. It was a gorgeous breezy day in Batangas and a nice way to spend time with Garry and his family whom we have come to enjoy as good friends.
Ethan our God son and Garry's youngest son of four boys.Garry and the kids. He showed us around the city and introduced Justin to Quatro Ginebra (the local gin)Party preparations. All the cooking was done over open fire in the back yard. The amounts of food being made was staggering. They were expecting the entire barangay that evening for his sister and her family's farewell to Canada party.The biggest Catholic Church in Asia. It was gorgeous. Garry and Ellen were married here 11 years ago. He said the aisle was so long it took forever to walk to the alter.
The original church was build in 1575 and then the current structure was built in 1890. The littlest diplomats. Addie and Garry's third son Aldrin. He'll be turning 7 this May. Definitely the most adorable little boy in the Philippines. The day was great. Experiences like these force me to reflect on life in the Philippines. Garry and his family are warm, hospitable, and friendly people. They always open their home to us and we are so grateful for that.

It's almost completely impossible for us to get a genuinely authentic Filipino experience here because inevitably we are treated differently by their efforts to make us comfortable. We also find ourselves completely unfamiliar with real life in the Philippines. We make all sorts of mistakes like wearing our outdoor shoes inside the home and our children are clueless with the safety precautions required around fireside cooking. Addie stepped right in the pig waste trough. It's these little things that make it clear that we are ridiculously unequipped. We try to blend in but the extra attention and hospitality they show us (like dismissing our mistakes as no big deal over and over) seems to highlight our glaring differences. We don't want the extra attention. I'd prefer to sit with the other ladies and watch the children while business went on as normal but, we get the sense that it's as much of an out of the ordinary experience for them to have us in their home, as it is for us to be there.

These, as-close-to-authentic-as-we-are-going-to-get, Filipino experiences are what I am most grateful for during our time in this country. I've opened my heart and mind to the wonderfully happy people in this country this year and every time I do I am reminded how very lucky we are to have Garry (and Cora) in our lives. On the surface we may be as different as night and day but deep down our cores are the same. As Addie would say, we're all "just livin and livin".

Monday, January 24, 2011

to all my Mommy-to-be friends

I am completely thrilled to have so many friends expecting their first babies this year! With news of every new baby my desire to give new Mom advice grows exponentially. Pregnant with Adelaide, I got tons and tons of unsolicited "expert" advice about pregnancy and child rearing. It's just natural for parents to want to share their experiences. Justin and I are no different. We were having dinner with an expectant couple last Friday and the two of us couldn't shut up about our girls. Story after story. Most of the punch lines are universally comical but sometimes he and I are really the only ones who could appreciate the memory. Um, 'cause they're OUR kids.

No two babies are the same and no two parents are the same so it's safe to say that all our friends' children will be nothing like our own; and still we like to give advice. Every Mom is the expert of her own children!

This year I am going to become the Aunt to my third little niece! (My sister-in-law is an awesome mom and definitely doesn't need baby advice from me as it is her third child-she could help me write this blog post). My dearest and oldest friend is expecting her first patiently awaited baby this summer along with three other friends and one cousin. That's 6 babies! I'm sure there will be more. I can barely contain myself with all the excitement...and advice.

I've been drafting a baby gear post in my head for the past few months. In no way am I claiming to be an expert on this topic but after two kids of my own and having to plan ahead and pack for overseas living with infants and toddlers I think I have some good information to share on some stuff we've used with our kids. 'Cause I am the expert of my own two children. I won't be the expert on your kids but heck, you could learn a thing or two about something you never thought you might need.

On a nursery (in general). I realize now that my girls are not babies any longer how ridiculous it is to spend a ton of money on an elaborate coordinating nursery. I advocate buying gender neutral bedding and decor if you plan on having more than one child even if you know what sex you are having the first time around. My baby bedding has a lot of sentimental value since both girls used it and if I ever have a son (no pressure Justin) some day he'll use the same stuff. It's cheaper and whenever I can recycle or reuse something I like to. The nursery for us has become a good workspace for dressing and changing the baby. It's a sleeping oasis for the baby. That's it. All of our playtime happens elsewhere. The baby is really only a "baby" until maybe 2 when they move to a toddler bed so try to keep in mind what kind of child's room you'd like to create when choosing baby room stuff. You'll be surprised how fast they move out of the baby phase. When in doubt skip the curtains and the matching throw blanket. I don't know anyone who feels like those items were good investments.

On a chair. You will spend a lot of time holding and sleeping with your newborn. If you breastfeed it's crucial to have a comfortable chair for this purpose. With all the cute rocking recliner type chairs now marketed for nurseries, it's hard not to choose on aesthetics alone. Please don't do this. Choose one that is high backed, soft and wide with space for you and baby and Boppy. Keep in mind your husband's size as well for when he takes a turn sleeping upright with a sick baby. An ottoman is pretty necessary too. You may have grand plans of being very strict about not co-sleeping in bed but inevitably there are nights when the baby is sick or teething and will not sleep unless he/she is upright on your chest (or your newborn could be like Arabella and not sleep away from me for the first two weeks and then not sleep through the night until 15 months). You need a good chair. Period.

On a nightlight
. Getting up in the middle of the night to change diapers, nurse or rock the baby is a given. We found early on that turning on the lights in our bedroom or in the nursery was not helpful in trying the keep the baby in a sleepy state. We became experts at changing diapers in the dark. Diapers are fine by twilight, but for a beginning nurser I liked to have a tabletop tap-on nightlight. In the beginning, positioning and latching is everything and I needed to see what was going on. Even when I switched to pumping and giving the milk from a bottle, there is always a moment of disorientation when waking in the middle of the night that a nightlight can help with. Get a rechargeable one. They have some great LED nightlights now that you can tap on and off and take where ever. We use this one. We only charge it every few weeks now. We bring this nightlight with us when we travel too. So much better than having to find a good outlet to plug in a traditional bulb nightlight.

On white noise. I hope all my friends have babies who sleep long and hard and never wake easily from the noises around them. We were not so lucky. A white noise machine was the best purchase I ever made with Arabella (along with a book. See below). Both girls are light sleepers and the soothing hum of a fan, humidifier, or white noise machine helps avoid them waking from exterior noises. We live in a noisy third world city so having a white noise machine in Manila is a must. Bella can sleep through all our air con maintenance crews in the house. We love this little SleepMate white noise machine. It's so small we put it in our suitcase. It's a huge help in hotel rooms and we don't stay anywhere overnight without it. We use this on the loudest setting for Arabella. It's not at all too loud. I have a friend who ran a hairdryer on the loudest most annoying setting for her infant to sleep. She probably would have found the SleepMate too quiet but it's just right for us. Note: fans are good for this purpose, as are humidifiers that hum but my experience is that you can't really travel with either of those. Fans get dusty and humidifiers get moldy with everyday use.

On humidifiers. I don't use a humidifier for white noise, but our little Vick's vaporizer has been so helpful when the girls are sick. We use it every time one of them has sinus congestion or a cough. Since you can't give babies decongestant medications the humidifier is the equivalent of sitting in a hot shower with the baby. Only with a humidifier everyone can be asleep in bed. Genius machine.

On pacifiers. Who knows if your baby will like a pacifier. One of ours is a finger sucker the other LIVES FOR her "nana". Chances are your baby will become addicted to whatever brand the hospital gives you after the birth. If the baby doesn't like that one it doesn't hurt to try other brands of pacifiers just to give your poor nipples a break in those first few months. (I know some people preach about nipple confusion but seriously both my girls had no troubles doing both right away. I actually requested a pacifier at the hospital because Arabella would have been perfectly happy suckling away at me 24/7. Great for my milk supply, not so great for my nipples.) Anyway, every baby and nursing Mom is different. Like freakin snowflakes.

On creams and other gooey stuff. Without boring you I'll just say we use a lot of aquaphor, Lansinoh lanolin, and Mylicon drops. Not a bad idea to just have around. Bring the Lansinoh to the hospital with you. You won't regret it.

On breast feeding stuff. I can't say enough good things about Medela's Pump In Style Advanced backpack. This little mechanical miracle allowed me to pump full time at the office for Addie and full time at home for Bella. I spent many wee early morning hours with this thing hooked up to me and while it was tedious at the time I don't regret giving my girls 13 months of breast milk. There are a few things you need if you are planning to pump. Get a portable cooler to hold your milk in the refrigerator at your office so creepy men don't start making jokes about accidentally using your breast milk in their coffee. Sadly, this is likely. I also recommend getting a Fridge-to-go. This little cooler is small enough to fit in the diaper bag and keeps breast milk nice and cold for at least a couple hours. Invest in a good supply of breast milk freezer storage bags so you can freeze the breast milk the baby doesn't drink. It's a great way to stock up milk. If you every plan on living in a country where you could be on parasite meds that cause you to pump and dump for a week it's awesome to have this big frozen supply of milk. I also recommend not buying a large supply of bottles until you determine which your baby likes. Just buy a few brands to try out. The ease of switching from the boob to bottle is definitely determined by the baby (Bella couldn't wait to get to the bottle but some/most babies would rather linger on the breast). You can try to help things along by having multiple styles and flows of nipples. We really liked the Dr. Brown's wide necked bottles (my sister deemed these the Nalgene of baby bottles). The special valve system really helped Bella since she was gassy. These bottles lived up to all the hype.

Also, don't discount buying a used breast pump. I purchased my backpack pump in style from Craigslist. It was used only once or twice by a new mom who ended up not needing it. So many women use the expensive pump for a few months and then don't need it. Buying used it a great option. I got it half price and then purchased new tubing and breast shields at the lactation center at the hospital. It saved a ton of money!

On baby carriers.
We started with a Baby Bijorn and really liked it for the first 8 months for both girls. They both loved being carried this way. The classic Bijorn is not good for heavy babies and I found it hard on my back. I bought the ERGObaby carrier when Bella was one because she still loved to be carried and strollers are hard to use in SE Asia. When comparing the two the ERGO is far and above in design and comfort. I can still carry Bella in the ERGO now and the weight is distributed so nicely it's not uncomfortable.

On strollers. I wish I would have done strollers a little differently. It's really hard to know what you are going to need at different stages in the child's life. There are tons of awesome looking SUV type strollers that are so enticing to buy it's like choosing between a Honda Civic over a Range Rover. Americans can't help themselves. Hind sight is 20/20. After the fact, I understand that keeping it small and simple is my top priority (especially as we are travelers) For newborns, I recommend purchasing a car seat frame to push the baby in. I'm not sure why you'd need anything more. Once the baby is big enough you can move to a stroller. Keep it compact. The single best purchase we made was a simple umbrella stroller that has gotten more use than any of the other strollers we've purchased. We love this one. It is perfection for traveling, navigating a big city or shopping. The biggest waste of money I spent was on the Sit-N-Stand double stroller when Bella was born. We've used this thing only a few times. It was a savior when traveling with the girls alone across the world but I can't say that justified the purchase. Using this in Manila is almost laughable. We push this on the streets on Sundays when the city is empty but other than that it's worthless. We choose to bring the Chicco stroller and the ERGObaby carrier instead. My only other piece of advice would be to look for gently used strollers on Cragislist. You will go through a few until you find your style. Don't waste your money on full price strollers (unless it's the Chicco. Then I say go for it. It was the best $80 we spent on R&R in 2009).

On diaper bags. This is a category that the fashion side of me conflicts with my practical mom side. We used this diaper bag for 3 years (and it's still in good shape for any other kids we decide to have). It's durable and gender neutral so Justin carried it without feeling funny. I love the diaper bags that you can wipe off easily. Now that Bella is older and I no longer have to carry around breast milk or tons of extra diapers and clothing, I use a nice big Coach bag for all my stuff. After carrying around that L.L. Bean black thing for years I treated myself to my first real Coach bag (outlet mall-hello!). Design Mom likes these ones and I have to agree that the bottom compartment/drawer is so convenient. Whatever you do, choose something practical and big! You will be shocked at how much stuff you will carry around with you. Oh, and a nice long strap that can hang on the stroller handles is a must too.

On feeding supplies. I think it's ridiculous that companies are marketing "baby food makers" to Moms. Skip all the baby food processing units and buy yourself a Cuisinart food processor. It's powerful and you can use it for a million other things than baby food.If you don't want to spend a cent you can mash the food with a fork or a mortal and pestle. I would recommend buying good baby food freezer storage. I received this one as a gift and loved it because the rubber is soft and the cubes pop out easily.

On parenting books. The one book I compel each new mother to read is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. On a number of occasions this has been my baby shower gift to friends. This book is extremely informative for parents of a child who is a tough sleeper. Very informative for parents who have amazing sleeping babies as well. It's a reference I go back to time and time again. "Sleep begets sleep" is my favorite line from this book. It helped us move from what we thought was chollic or early teething to a happier well rested baby. Actually, I would say it has helped us in the baby, toddler, and child phases for sleeping. Everything from instructing brand new parents to get in habit of putting newborns down for a nap one hour after waking in the morning to how to deal with a scared 3 year old at bedtime. My all time favorite parenting book. I still thank my friend Jenny for lending this to me when I was at the verge of a nervous breakdown when Bella was 3 months old. She was simply overtired (so was I).

I'm sure lots of my mom friends will have their own opinions on the stuff they've loved and the stuff the shouldn't have wasted their money or time on. I'm just giving you my two cents.

another schoolgirl

Arabella was pretty disappointed on Monday morning when she found out she wasn't going to school with her big sister. "But Mom, I'm ready!"

not awesome

So my Sunday wasn't totally awesome. I had a bad Manila day. Justin and I allow ourselves a day here and there where everything about Manila and the Philippines and third world living gets on our nerves and makes me want to scream. Luckily, we have our bad days on separate days so we can support one another. I guess I'm just saying, I'm allowed to have a "I hate Manila" day now and then.

Some things that made me crazy:

The "traffic" guy tapping our car and directing us how to parallel park the Jeep. I wanted to scream at him. "This is our car you idiot. We know how to park the damn thing!"

The 57 dead cockroaches I had to dart on the walk from the elevator to the Jeep in our building's parking garage.

The three inch long cockroach that darted across the floor as we walked and Justin kicked as hard as he could.

The disgusting trash smell, everywhere.

The polluted gray sky.

The barely working air conditioners in our apartment

The mystery bug bites on Arabella's hands that I have to put steroid cream on. The nurse at the clinic thought they were from "blood suckers". Lovely.

Anytime anyone in the family has any stomach issues, we immediately pull out our lab sample cups in fear of more parasites.

When I enter any room in the house, I always turn on a light and look around first to make sure there isn't a bug (most likely a cockroach) on the floor somewhere.

People who touch my daughters' hair without asking.

There was monsoon like rain on Friday night and by Sunday morning the sidewalks are dotted with dog crap again.

Ultra pasteurized milk.

The icing on the proverbial crap cake for me was standing in church and feeling something on my foot and looking down to see a rat scurry across the floor. Addie and I freaked out since we were the only ones to see/feel it. It was a rat-on-your-foot kind of day.

Motherly instincts cross species lines. Lucy wasn't acting like her self on Friday. I am sad to admit that I noticed she wasn't feeling well because she wasn't annoyingly underfoot the entire day. She's always on top of us during bath and bedtime and when she chose to sit out in the hallway during all the family fun I knew something was up. When we threw the ball and she ran to it but just sat down I was worried.

Lucy was diagnosed with ehrlichiosis on Saturday and stayed in the veterinary hospital on Saturday night. I suggested that we bring her ball and one of Justin's slept-in t-shirts to the hospital so Lucy wouldn't feel so lonely all alone that night. Really, I was just making an excuse to go check on her.

When I brought her in she was severely anemic and hypoglycemic. She was vomiting and lethargic. After a few tests they confirmed a tick related disease. An undetected tick bite must have happened in the last few weeks giving her a nasty parasite causing ehrlichiosis. My Google searches had me freaking out but luckily we caught in the early acute stage which is treatable. She came home on Sunday night and was frisky as ever. The girls were so thrilled to see Lucy. It broke our hearts when Bella called out for Lucy when she wasn't there. Bath and bedtime on Saturday night were just too strange without our little mutt. She's on a month long regiment of doxycycline, blood cleanser, vitamins, and liverolin. We will have to get her blood tested periodically to make sure we got rid of the parasite but other than that she should be just fine.

Having crazy tropical tick bites on our dog is another sucky thing about Manila.

Friday, January 21, 2011

ballet class

Addie recently expressed interest in taking a ballet class. Technically, she's been interested in ballet for quite a while but it was just recently that she's felt brave enough to actually join a real dance class.

Today was her first day at Steps Dance Studio. On the car ride to the studio she was bouncing out of her seat with excitement. I've never seen Addie so ecstatic. I had planned to just observe the class today, but when we arrived and she showed no hesitation to put on her ballet gear and join the other little girls without me; I encouraged her to go on in. She listened very intently and followed her teacher, Miss Alice's, instructions. It was sweet to see how focused she was on getting it right.Since the class was a success, we signed up to go once a week and got a yellow leotard and white skirt to match the other little girls. We already got the ballet hair style down! Addie is thrilled although she did express a little disappointment that they didn't really do any dancing today. I explained to her the importance of learning the basic steps of ballet before you can be a ballerina. I'm not sure she completely understands but I doubt she cares. My favorite moment was when each of the little girls had the opportunity to slide across the floor on tip toe with their hands on their hips. Miss Alice worked with each girl to get it right. I could even tell through the window that Miss Alice reminded Addie to smile. She had her game face on the entire class.

Moms are not allowed inside the class room so I had to sneak a few shots through the blinds.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

roasted garlic and potato soup

I love soup. It's my comfort food. I love the way it warms my heart when I'm sick or feeling a little extra weak-hungry (Ask my husband I get weak-hungry a lot. Although I think he'd call it crazy-hungry). My girls love soup too. It's the one food that always seems to be a winner for them (as long as it's luke warm). We tried a new soup recipe tonight that I thought I'd share.

I'm in love with my February issue of Country Living. It's all about white and gorgeous. Plus it has the roasted garlic and potato soup with homemade croutons recipe. It's creamy and flavorful and perfect. We didn't have red potatoes so we just used the white ones we can find here. Amazingly we had some fontina cheese in the freezer. The fontina really added an additional layer of flavor to the soup. Yaya made her herb dinner roll loaf (she used to make it into rolls but tried baking it as a loaf once and we've never gone back to the rolls).

The homemade croutons are awesome. We made them because we can't find croutons here. Just another thing we've had to make at home during our stay in the Philippines and I'm not sure we'll ever buy croutons in the store again.

Anyway, this dinner happened to be the perfect thing for a rainy day in Manila.


It was one of those evenings when the girls are hungry before the food has cooled. They clamber up to the table only to whine about how hot everything is. It was 4:30 PM. Bella gets one bite of steaming hot soup and freaks out so much that she refuses to eat another bit of dinner. She's starving and cranky and completely uninterested in sitting to eat her meal. She writes off the entire ordeal because of one hot bite. She's not stubborn at all.

An hour later she's jumping and tumbling and bumps her head on the leg of the coffee table. I grab a bag of old frozen peas and carrots to put on her head (which she refuses). Somehow the girls get together and open the injury bag, Addie starts feeding her sister the frozen peas and Bella asks for more.

It was one of those nights that I simply said "whatever".I kind of agree with Addie though.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

tough Cake

Cake, the stuffed pug, put on his tough guy look for the princess party today.
Other than that, here is what's happening at our house.
Arabella is jumping into big girl status quicker than I had imagined. She's potty training herself (she's 20 months) and I'm pretty proud of her. She's going number 1 and 2 on the potty. We have plenty of accidents when she's in panties but the other night she stood up in the bath, asked to sit on the potty, and went tinkle. Pretty impressive. I wish I could claim to have a miracle plan that is working on my second child but I don't. I think having a big sister to watch and being a different kind of kid is her claim to early potty using success. (I'm also thinking maybe the universe is giving me my due break with my second child since she hasn't been known to be easy). I'm now wishing I wouldn't have purchased so many diapers but pull-ups instead.

Bella is currently obsessed with airplanes, ketchup, Elmo books, and running. This weekend Justin calmed a tantrum by replaying a YouTube video of a 747 taking off and landing over and over.

Both girls are packing on a few pre-growth spurt pounds. I am guessing they will both grown an inch in the next month or so.

Adelaide is sounding out and writing short words. I love that the world of words and reading is opening up to her. She notices words and letters on everything. Yesterday on the ride home from school she saw letters in every one of her broken pretzels she was eating. There were a lot of Js.
We are gearing up for our departure from the Philippines. It feels good to get organized. I am currently obsessed with plastic bins. If something is in a bin, it makes me feel better about myself. While going through our paperwork I was surprised to find my UAB (unaccompanied air baggage-the small shipment we are allowed prior to the arrival of our HHE or our Household Effects) list for our move to Manila back in April of 2008. I am holding on to it so I can plan our UAB back to the States this June. I love lists and love it even more when I can look back over old lists I've made. I'm pretty impressed with my insight to what we needed back in 2008 not ever having moved overseas.

I also found the paperwork from the moving company who packed up our house in Virginia. Looking through the list of items we put in long term storage I had to laugh that we actually saved the old 20 inch Sanyo glass bubble screen TV. That will be useful in 2013 when we see it again.

We are starting to feel wistful about our last few months in the Philippines. We will miss so much about this country and our life here (especially the people in our life here; namely Cora and Garry). We are also so very excited to spend a few months back in the States introducing our children to life in America (not just vacation life). The idea that Americans live in America is foreign to Adelaide. She doesn't understand why America ultimately is our home. She truly lives in a global community.
Lots of good conversations are being had with Addie about the transitions we will experience in the coming months. She knows we are leaving our home here and has on a number of occasions made Yaya's eyes misty with big hugs and exclamations of how much she will miss her. The sentiment is definitely mutual. Addie is excited that her Daddy will be coming on our adventure back to American this summer as many of our months in the States the past few years has been sans Dad.

When we ask her where we are going after America she says "Africa". I think we've convinced her that a new school in a new place will be exciting and there might even be more little girls for her to play with. She asked me if "we'll be all done" after Africa. By "done" I'm pretty sure she means done with our time away from the Philippines. Since this is the only place she has known as home, I'm certain she doesn't understand that we will not be returning. My heart breaks a little for her every time I think about it.

Monday fish

We celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. day on Monday. The rest of the Philippines did not so it was good timing to go to the aquarium. It was empty and the girls took their time looking through the fish, petting the starfish, and staring at the sting rays during feeding time. Pretty cool stuff.

My favorites were the turtles and the sea anemones. I could stare at the anemones waving in the current all day.She's a poser. I'm trying to un kink her head but no luck so far.I love this Dad shot of Justin trying to juggle both girls. He's a hot commodity on the weekends.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

then came the weekend

As you can tell by my last two blog entries, I'm feeling a little uninspired lately. Even after a phenomenal weekend that ran right into Monday. I guess I don't have a ton to say about our awesome long weekend. It was pretty awesome though. We took pictures. Here they are...

After the park and the market on Saturday, Bella went home to take a nap with Daddy while Adelaide and I paid way too much to have her hair trimmed. She loved the pampering though. She's getting so stinkin big!That rainy evening we took the girls to our favorite restaurant, Chelsea, in Fort Bonifacio. This place gets it right from the mix of relaxed and formal decor to the exceptional food and plating. Plus they had Justin's favorite Arrogant Bastard Ale. He shed a little tear of joy when it came to the table.We were thrilled to see a new gelato shop open by Chelsea. We all tasted a ton of flavors and then ordered three cones. Addie got lucky that her Dad doesn't like chocolate ice cream (what the!?) so she doesn't have to share with him. Bella wouldn't let me stretch our cone away from her mouth so it took some maneuvering for me to get a lick in here and there.After our ice cream Addie discovered puddle stomping in her new "runners" was awesome. Both girls were soaked with Manila puddle water. Fantastic!Sunday morning we went to church because Justin said he needed to be reminded of what really matters in life after a heartbreaking Raven's loss. We were early to Mass, which is probably the first time we have been early for anything. Especially church!Justin and I have been craving sushi since Friday night when our plans for a sushi date night were foiled by traffic (instead we went to our usual Thai place). We got our sushi fix Sunday when we took the girls with us for lunch. Amazingly both girls scarfed the sashimi. Bella downed some tuna and Addie devoured the octopus. She was kind of surprised after we told her what she'd just ate a plate of. Bella grabbed the blob of wasabi on the plate and I had to intercept that taste testing.Sunday evening we went to the park so the girls could run around. I love that Addie now analyzes all sidewalks for their scooter riding potential. She cruised around the park like she's been scooting her entire life. I love how confident she looks riding her scooter. She's proud of her skills. Bella kicked the ball around. The girls slept hard both nights after our busy days. I love wearing them out but in doing so the adults were seriously worn out too.

We had an awesome weekend. It's so nice to be able to get out and do things for a large chunk of the morning before Bella needs a nap after lunch. I think when Addie was Bella's age we were feeling this sort of freedom again too. We are definitely feeling the count down until we leave Manila and that helps us to stay motivated to do all our favorite things while we are still living in the Philippines.