Sunday, December 30, 2012

Facing a fear

If you're my friend on Facebook, you may have seen some pictures taken yesterday.

John and I decided to take the kids on a day trip. We wanted to get out of the city, and there are great places to go. John thought Tagaytay would be good and looked up ideas on what to do.

After eating brunch at Antonio's, we headed just down the street to Residence Inn. There's a hotel there with an amazing view of the lake and Taal Volcano, but there's also a zoo. It's small, smelly, and the cages are horrible.

However, the kids had a good time, and we got really close to some animals. Really, really close. Petting the tiger wasn't really scary, it was fun actually. I was excited to do it and even bought the photo.

This is taken with my camera by one of their employees. 

After going through the aquarium, we saw a similar encounter with a very different animal. A long, skinny, slithering kind. I guess you'd have to call it a reptile...a snake. A python to be exact. I have a strong fear of snakes. I had a nightmare once about being in a room full of snakes and not getting out before being bitten. The room went black before I woke up. I still shudder when I think of that nightmare.

This snake was rather tame and just laying there. I told John I kind of wanted to hold it, but that I was really scared. He pointed out that I should do it exactly for that reason.

The lady thought we'd want the face to be facing the camera. In all honesty her moving the snake made it worse.

So I payed the P50 ($1.25) and scooted my way down the bench towards the snake. The woman working that stand was just throwing the snake around like it couldn't kill me!

Maybe it didn't want to eat me, but I certainly wasn't thinking that way. But I held it, and John took pictures. And I was terrified. Like...couldn't-stand-straight-for-about-30-seconds-after-I-walked-away terrified.

But I did walk away. And I faced a (strong) fear. And I felt really good about that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


This is a test. I'm posting this from the blogger app on my iPad. And now I'm going to sleep.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Christmas break started on Friday at noon. Malachi’s home for three weeks. I love Malachi so, so much. And I’m happy about the perks of Christmas vacation.
But I think sometimes, Simon values his time at home without him. Or maybe Malachi values his time at school away from the youngins and with kids his own age. Either way, the two have them have been fighting a lot today.
Sunday night a mom from Malachi’s grade texted and asked if Malachi and I could join them for the Hi-5 Holiday concert. And of course we couldn’t pass up free tickets, especially since it was Malachi’s girlfriend that was inviting us.
At home in Manila and Hi-5 021
Mom and Son going out for their second concert.
Malachi really enjoyed it. And besides his girlfriend being there, he met another friend. They had fun dancing and singing. They would even dance in the aisle (we had aisle seats).
I think it was a memory Malachi will hold onto for a while. On a side note, I wonder when Malachi’s taste in concerts will change. Will I enjoy the concerts as much (or little)?
At home in Manila and Hi-5 030
In other news, Coen had quite a fall yesterday. I was trying to rest and there was a knock on my bedroom door. Lucy had Coen and said she was so sorry but that Coen fell (The helpers here are so apologetic when one of the kids falls. I think they fear that they might lose their jobs. It would be so unfair to lose a job if a boy falls.). There was a prominent scratch and a large goose egg on his forehead.
Coen was most upset by the fact that he wasn’t still outside playing. He didn’t want to come to me, and all he wanted to do was go back outside. I told her that if he starts crying and won’t stop, or if he starts walking funny to let me know. Otherwise, he seemed fine. We continued keeping an eye on him that evening. Nothing was wrong with him. He ate fine and acted fine.
I checked on him twice in the night to make sure his color was good and that he was breathing fine. Both times he passed. I was going to the Medical Clinic on the compound today for another reason so I brought him to have him looked at in case there was something that a medical professional could see that I couldn’t. She said we handled the situation perfectly and that his pupils were responding to stimulation. He checked out just fine.
At home in Manila and Hi-5 038
A little out of focus, but happy to smile for the camera.
At home in Manila and Hi-5 041
Good view of the bump and emerging bruise. The bruise isn’t much worse than this, today.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Haunted House in December

When we asked Malachi in October what kind of party we wanted for his birthday he said “Halloween.” It was before Halloween, and neither of us thought he would stick with it after the excitement of the holiday was over.

We were wrong.

It’s what he continued to want, even after winning 1st place in the village costume contest for 6 years and under as Zombie Malachi.

Halloween 2012 017 I think we dreaded doing it, and we put it off. We went on our anniversary trip and when we got back his birthday was in less than ten days and we hadn’t started planning it.

By the time we did start planning it, it was too late to have it in November and send out invitations with an appropriate amount of time before hand.

So we decided on a Saturday in December. And we decided on a morning party so we could avoid making a big food spread, and so we wouldn’t disrupt the littles’ nap schedule.

We started planning and prepping and on Thursday started changing our multipurpose room into a haunted house. We were pretty proud of of what we produced.

Malachi's Birthday Party 124

Malachi's Birthday Party 125

Malachi's Birthday Party 126

Malachi's Birthday Party 128

Malachi's Birthday Party 101

The room was very dark, but we have a good flash. Also, the kids had already been playing in it for a while before John took pictures. The spider piƱata was just a spider hanging out in the big red spider web before we took it down to use.

Malachi and his friends LOVED the haunted house. Loved. It.

It was so much work, but it ended up being worth it. And though we were sad that only about 10 kids were coming, it was a perfect number so that they could all be in the house at the same time.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Weekend of Body Fluids

and introducing our household help

It’s been gross and has involved all three children. Let’s leave it at that. The title is catching, though, isn’t it?

I like to think that I’m a good employer. I really hope that I am. I have an amazing live-in helper, Lucy. She was referred from a friend at John’s work who hired her to help over the summer. When the summer was over, they didn’t need her anymore and we snatched her up.

I couldn’t have asked for a better match. She’s been here for over three months now and she’s definitely part of our family. My children love her, and she loves them. I feel completely comfortable leaving all three of them with her because I know that she’s more than competent at taking care of them. We were even comfortable leaving them with her while we hopped over to another island for our anniversary.

We have a driver, as well. We’re his first Embassy family, and he’s fitting in well. He got his clearance from the Embassy and now has a badge, which makes entering both compounds much quicker. Manila’s roads and the drivers are unpredictable and to put it bluntly, crazy. They’re drivable, but out of the three drivers in our family our driver does it best. We ran into horrible traffic one day on the way to a movie. We left with only 20 minutes until the start time (a very bad idea, normally), and we got there in time to see the whole movie. He can be pretty amazing. There’s only one tiny scratch on our car, and it’s from our gate, so we’ve as of yet had to deal with an accident. It’s so common that most people I know have been in at least one, sometimes two incidents. Most are small and usually involve a public transportation vehicle.

We have a part time helper that comes in three days a week. We hired her a couple of months ago, and she was told by her son she couldn’t work for us anymore. She came to help out during our anniversary trip and I asked if she could come work part time for us. Her son doesn’t know, and we’re not telling him! It’s nice when she’s here to help with the ironing and floors and bathrooms. The days she’s here are great for shopping or sending out Lucy to do something. She doesn’t live far, but she doesn’t like traveling in traffic, so she stays at our house two nights a week.

We have a pool guy that come MWF between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. He’s only here for about an hour, but he cleans the pool and surrounding area and balances the chemicals. We had an issue with the pH balance and he was able to fix it right up. We were very happy to not have to call a “professional” service.

Our gardener comes on Mondays and sometimes he’ll come on other days to water the gardens or help out with other outdoors projects, like hanging Christmas lights. His other two employers are across the street and down on the corner, so he’s never very far. 

It’s a lot to manage, but Lucy is great at helping me out with that. The driver gets managed mostly by John because I feel that’s more appropriate. Though, we really don’t have many problems with him. Sometimes I can tell that I’ve texted him to pick me up from a shop or mall or the school mid-cigarette because he and the car smell like smoke. I very much dislike those moments but they’re not so common that I’ve had to say something. And I don’t feel like I can tell him that he’s not allowed to smoke the whole day he’s working.

I hope they think of me as a good employer. I try to be. I would be totally lost without Lucy. She’s absolutely precious to me and I’m so happy we have her in our family.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Kids are Great

I’ve been quiet. I feel like there isn’t much to blog about. But that’s not true. There’s plenty to blog about. But I haven’t been very happy lately. Things at Post are different than expected. Harder than expected. Life is not bad, it’s in fact quite good. However, the fact that it’s taking me a lot longer to start work than I thought it would is holding up some kind of ability to be happy.

I realize that I shouldn’t rely on working outside of the house to be happy. But it’s provided happiness for me for the last five years. I like being a part of providing finances, and I like going out and doing something I think is meaningful (finger scanning (like printing but with scans) might not sound meaningful, but scanners help keep out terrorists, too).

Anyway, I realized that writing has been therapeutic in the past. So, I thought I would begin writing again. Also, it helps keep the family members informed. Especially the family members that aren’t on facebook.

So. What can I write about? Well, as I said…lots.

***Warning: Not Sexy (read: gross) Potty Training Talk***

Simon is potty training! We started this what feels like ages ago. He’s mastered peeing in the potty, and he’s doing really well going out in public which took a bit longer. But #2 has been more of an issue. We feel so bad for him that he’s scared to do it. He wouldn’t go in the toilet. He wouldn’t go in his special nighttime underwear (pull-ups). He goes for days (read: four to six days) holding it in and then it’s just painful for him. Then when he could hold it no longer he would go in his regular underwear. Today he finally did it in the nighttime underwear while he was playing in his room with Coen. I wondered if there was something about his being around us that made it scary. Maybe it’s embarrassing and he just doesn’t know the difference between the two feelings yet. Anyway. I hope we figure out a way to help him go more regularly. I hope we figure it out soon because this is no fun!

 Random 019

***Potty Training Talk Done***

Other than potty training he’s doing well. Simon’s in the 3T clothes now, which our nanny and I dug out of the closet. He’s working on saying those L’s in his words and improving! No more hearing “sweeping” when he means sleeping, please! He’s so jealous of Malachi going to school. We’ve heard good things about AmeriKids (daycare/preschool at the Embassy). So we’re going to look into putting him in once I get settled at work. He’ll love going to school with a backpack just like Malachi. If only he got to ride a bus, then he would be in toddler heaven.

Malachi is doing well. His after school activities this semester were Cartooning and Chinese. He’s decided he’s not much a fan of either and wants to do something else. So we signed up for Tae Kwon Do and Aquatics for the next semester. We’ll find out on Monday if we got in. I hope so, because he loves these activities (he did Tae Kwon Do in Costa Rica). His swimming has improved a ton since we started living in a house with a pool. Nonetheless, he wants to do swimming at school. Since they call it Aquatics instead of swimming (there’s no swimming alternative), I wonder what it will look like. 

I went to Malachi’s first ever choir concert. It was so fun to go and brought back memories of having my own choir concerts when I was young. He played his part very well, and I have a video to prove he can walk in circles acting like an elephant. It’s one I might use to embarrass him later in life. He’ll be on winter break soon. I have no idea what to do with him for a month. We’ll have to figure out how to fill the time.

At home in Manila 003

Coen is doing quite well. They all are, I guess. He’s growing so big and practically skipped the 18 mo. clothing stage and wears the 24 month clothes that Simon was just in (or at least it feels that way). His vocabulary is huge, like Malachi at this age. We’ve been compiling a list of his words. They include (but are not limited to): shoes, moon, fox (his favorite animal, a stuffed one from Great Aunt Janice), bye bye, mommy, daddy, hot, bite, oh oh (“yes” in Tagalog, which he’s possibly saying other words in and we just don’t know it), please, and apple juice.

He’s starting to run and is doing ok at keeping up with his brothers. He especially likes to pillow fight with the other boys. Today he even picked up a pillow and hit his daddy. It was awesome. He loves to be outside. Anytime a door going out is open he runs for it. If he doesn’t get to stay out, or has to come in before he’s ready, then he lets you know he’s not happy.

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So, as the title says, the kids are all great. We all are really. If only I could start working…like…now!