Sunday, December 29, 2013

Enjoying Non-Fiction

It’s been super, super quiet around here since we got home from vacation.

I actually don’t know what to blog about.

Oh! I’ll tell you what book I’ve been reading!

I’m not usually into non-fiction, but I have a friend here who’s going through a list of books that everyone needs to read. One that was on the list that she had completed is called Elizabeth The Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith.

I was at first daunted by the 672 page (including the blank last pages) book, but after I started reading it I was hooked.

I’m only 142 pages through, but it’s possibly the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read. I’ve never known much about the Queen. She’s been something of an enigma to me. It’s great to hear through personal accounts of what she is like both professionally and personally.

I had no idea how much work she had to do. She works every day but Christmas and Easter. Every. Single. Day. If nothing else she reads the news papers and her confidential papers. Those two things never go undone. It’s so amazing.

Another thing that has struck me is how sad it must have been to grow up as one of her children. It was not uncommon for the Queen and her husband (whose title has changed over the years, he hasn’t always been Prince Philip) to be gone for months at a time. Also, protocol always had to be observed. When she arrived home after a very long visit, she would have to greet officials before her children. There were no smiling, running, hugging greetings that her sensitive Prince Charles would have loved. Though after the official greetings were done, there was private family time, it was damaging for Prince Charles to be told “No, not you dear.” Poor kid.

It makes me wonder if it will be different in more modern generations. If, for instance, William is King while he has young children. Will they stick to such antiquated policies? I hope not. He and his wife seem to be of a different breed, so far.

When I enjoy a book, I become quite a voracious reader. Usually it’s what I’ve started calling “fluffy crap” but I’ve really enjoyed this. And it’s non-fiction. That’s a big deal to me.

Maybe next I’ll read her biography on Princess Diana. I’ve always loved Princess Di.

Friday, December 27, 2013

R&R of Awesomeness in numbers

2 and then 3 Adults (we flew our helper to Hong Kong to help at Disney)

3 Children

2 weeks

2.5 days

4 Countries: Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, China

5 islands: Phuket, Singapore, Sentosa, Java, Hong Kong

7 airplanes: Manila – Bangkok – Phuket – Bangkok – Singapore – Surabaya – Hong Kong – Manila (plus 2: Manila – Hong Kong – Manila for our helper)

10 passports

35 Boarding Passes (25 for travel voucher)

3 hotels

2 home stays with friends

4 massages for Sara

7 massages (one foot) for John

2 cameras

1,522 photos

2 elephants ridden

1 Disneyland

3 scenic view points

Unknown: laughs, smiles, squeals of delight

Thursday, December 26, 2013

R&R of Awesomeness

We were on R&R for almost two and a half weeks this December. If you’re a friend or follower on facebook, then you’ve seen lots of pictures.

As I’ve mentioned before my husband is an amazing trip planner. Our R&R point from Manila is Australia, but for less money we went to Thailand, Singapore, Surabaya, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. We ended up saving the tax payers money – you’re welcome.

The turmoil in Bangkok changed our plans a bit. Originally we were going to spend five days in the city with our friend who’s posted there. With the riots, and what not, the malls and schools were closed as well as many other things. We didn’t feel like spending five days in our friend’s apartment while she worked, so we bought our own tickets to Phuket (pronounced poo-ket) that had us not leaving the airport in Bangkok at all. We liked Phuket a lot, and I would return again.

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The big Buddha of Phuket

Elephant trekking! Everyone loved it.

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Playing at Patong Beach. Everyone enjoyed it, even Simon, who hated beaches until recently.  

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We stayed at Centara Grand West Sands Resort & Villas Phukets by the airport, for a couple of days. They have a water park!

For the full online photo album check it out on facebook (it’s not necessary to have an account) here  

We went from Thailand to Singapore, and I loved it. Singapore, was a clean, organized, and overall amazing city. It was crazy expensive, but if we ever get posted there (and I would love to be posted there), we’d get COLA (Cost Of Living Allowance), and there’s a Naval base to shop at with prices at or lower than those in the States. We stayed with a friend and had a good time hanging out with her.

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We went to the SEA Aquarium at Resorts World Singapore. The kids love looking at fish.

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We went to the Night Safari and saw almost every animal they had there. It was so cool.

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Drinking a Singapore Sling in the bar that it was invented in (The Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel). Yummy.

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Yes, they’re serious. They really want to know. 

For the Singapore photo album go here.

After Singapore we spent five days hanging out with friends in Surabaya. Surabaya doesn’t offer much for sightseeing, and the weather wasn’t always cooperative. But the food was great, and the hosts were gracious and fun. They have a son that’s between Malachi and Simon in age, and they had such a good time. After the busy touristy stuff that we did in Thailand and Singapore, it was nice to have a reprieve.

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We visited old temple ruins. 

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We played in an old submarine.

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They played with a friend.  

For the full Surabaya album go here

From Indonesia we went to Hong Kong. This was our longest flight, at just over four hours (those posted in Asia know, that an R&R flight from Asia is usually loooong. Our 1-4 hour flights are nothing compared to the 15 hour flights to the States). When we got there we were shocked by how cold it was. It was 11 degrees Celsius when we arrived (that’s not yet, but almost 52 degrees fahrenheit)! After living in Costa Rica for two years and then here for a year and a half that was super cold to us! Our helper met us in Hong Kong, and she’d never left the Philippines. She must have just been freezing. Despite the cold we made it to Disneyland Hong Kong and to The Peak. I would love to visit Hong Kong again.

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We enjoyed public transportation!

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We jumped for joy at Disneyland Hong Kong.

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We went to an American style diner with good food!  

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We went to The Peak and saw Hong Kong from an amazing view point.

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We enjoyed a large Christmas display on our last morning (as well as our new fleeces). 

For the whole Hong Kong album go here

We returned ready to be home and ready for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Why I love Christmas

Tim Minchin wrote a song about why he loves Christmas, and it hits home for me.

The meaning of Christmas has changed for me over the last few years. I used to be a Christian and had the traditional views of the holiday. I loved Christmas as a way to celebrate my religion and it’s savior. The Christmas Eve candlelight services at our church in Dallas were my favorite.

My first Christmas as a non-Christian (before I had fully transitioned to Atheism) was difficult. I was in a difficult time, I guess, but Christmas was particularly hard that year. I wondered what the point was.

Since then, I have come to love Christmas as much as before.

I have always loved tradition. I don’t know if it’s because I was in Fiddler On The Roof when I was in 8th grade, or if it’s because my family loves tradition. We have Christmas traditions in my family (hot chocolate and orange rolls!), and we’ve brought them to our family as much as possible (the kids didn’t drink nearly as much hot chocolate, yesterday, as I thought they would). Orange rolls aren’t available so we’ve made homemade sweets. Cinnamon rolls, or blueberry cream cheese puffs, or something. John had traditions growing up too that we’ve started doing. Our kids get a pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve to wear that night. 

And, come on. My whole life, the best part of Christmas has been the presents! With three boys I get to give a lot of presents! I love to give as much as I love to receive. Except to John, I always have a fear I’m getting the wrong thing. Despite being together over 16 years, I still suck at getting him the right things.

I digress.

Yesterday I enjoyed Christmas the most I have in years. The children loved their presents. John made a super delicious breakfast feast with the aforementioned puffs, homemade biscuits and gravy (no packets in this family), and scrambled eggs. We spent the day watching movies, playing with new toys (including my run in my new running clothes), swimming in our pool, and on a Christmas drive (which was supposed to be easy and stress free but was actually stressful. Manila never ceases to surprise). Lunch and dinner were leftovers, sandwiches, or snacks and the children (and possibly adults) indulged in a ton of sugar throughout the day.

The kids went to bed with a new toy and were perfectly happy and tired from their big day of playing. We hung out for a few hours and I went to bed happy. I was so happy yesterday.

I love Christmas and I’m so happy to pass on the traditions from our families to our kids.

Merry Christmas, from the Roy Family!

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It’s Quiet Here

I wrote this yesterday and the writing program crashed and I lost it. So this might be abbreviated.

As I previously mentioned we had guests in the house. When the helpers were here there were six adults and five kids in the house. It was loud. Especially when four of them are 3 and under.

I was sad to see them go yesterday. As I hugged my niece and nephew I was sad to realize that I won’t see them for seven-ish months and they’ll be so much bigger by then.

Now there are three kids and three adults in the house – and it feels so quiet. Even if my littles are screaming. It’s gone from four littles screaming to two – the difference is amazing.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What the what?!

In an introductory email to the children’s future school, I wrote the following:

“We have three sons, one who will enter 3rd grade immediately and one who will enter Kindergarten our second year. Our third will enter Kindergarten our last year there.”

After I wrote this, I dropped my head in my hands and realized how crazy it is. My last child will be entering school at our next post. He was born at our last post and he’ll start school at our next one.

It’s true what they say…the years really do go by too quickly.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Not as easy as we thought

John’s brother and his family are in town. My kids have two cousins. Adelyn, who’s close in age to Simon, and Odin, who is 18 months.

We were excited for the cousins to reconnect and play together.

Unfortunately they haven’t gotten along as well as we’d hoped they would. There are many times through the day where separation is required.

That being said, there are some amazingly cute moments. Mostly they’re quick and the camera doesn’t make it out in time. This morning, Simon wanted Adelyn to wake up and play and he was so excited when she finally did. The happy-play-time only lasted about 30 minutes until something happened.

Oh well. The adults are all happily enjoying each other’s company. We’re just learning how to manage the kids’ time to make sure relations don’t get bad.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My first baby

If you remember, I was on bed rest and waiting for my last baby to develop just enough for him to be safe.

Wednesday pulls around. I am 35 weeks and 2 days into gestation. I’ve been told that I will start the pitocin at 7:00 a.m. which means that at 6:30 I’ll have to start the process of moving to the delivery room and getting the IV placed.

6:30 came and I impatiently waited about ten more minutes for the nurses to come and help me. I was so excited that this was the day I finally got to meet my baby.

The IV went in, and the pitocin started. And I laid there and started labor.

malachi birth blog

I think my nurse hated pregnant women. She started me on such a high dose of pitocin that I was in full-on labor in less than an hour. In two and a half hours I couldn’t move without assistance because of the pain. Even though I was only at a 2 they decided to give me the epidural.

I thought anesthesiologists were my best friends after that. I was pain free and it was amazing. For the next few hours I laid there and let my body do the work while my brain had no idea the trauma that was going on.


At about 7:00 that night they decided it was time to push. Though the work wasn’t very painful, it was hard work. I wasn’t in great shape and wished I had done more to build stamina.

After a fairly short (50 minute) push time, he joined us in this world. He was amazing. He looked like his father.

He was whisked away.

He struggled breathing a bit.

He didn’t have a name.

I was prepared for this possibility. I was sad, but not crying. I knew they would take care of my baby.

After everyone had gone, and John and I were alone. We named him.

We visited him in the NICU and saw him.


He was so small.

It seemed he had cords and tubes on every surface. I couldn’t hold him, only touch him.


I went to bed.

I had a baby.

My life was forever changed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Next Year

We’ll be moving again.

Our next assignment is…

Kingston, Jamaica!

We have mixed feelings about this. It wasn’t on our original bid list and wasn’t high on our secondary bid list. But we think it has great potential.

We’ll be accepting visitors starting in September or October, 2014! Book your slots now – they’ll fill up fast!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bed Rest

Two days after we celebrated our 4th anniversary I was 33 weeks pregnant with our first child. A little boy, that we were so excited about.

I went to the hospital. There was a possible complication. That day, I worked an eight hour shift by myself at the front desk of a hotel. When I called the Dr’s office the nurse gave me a couple of at home tests. One we passed…one we failed. So we went. And we stayed. For two weeks.

I spent the first two days in and out of consciousness. I was in pre-term labor (I didn’t even feel the contractions) and to stop it they shot me up with Magnesium. Magnesium hurts…a lot. The pain knocked me out. I sort of remember a bad dream that the nurse that admitted me was stealing my baby. John told me when I gained full consciousness a couple of days later that I was crying out about it.

hospital blog1

The rest of the two weeks was fairly boring. I sat in bed with an IV for four more days and then was cordless for the rest of the time. I was on (fairly) strict bed rest. There was a shower scheduled for me with my awesome Dallas peeps.

To hedge the boredom, it was moved to the hospital. The Dr was nice enough to let me go to one of the waiting rooms in a wheel chair so that I could have it there. Though, a nurse did come tell me that it was going too long and we had to move one of the games to my room. My friends were so sweet to bring it to me. It was the perfect way to break up the tedium in the hospital.

hospital blog2 

John would work and go to school and otherwise spend the night with me. After a few days of this I sent him home for bed. He wasn’t getting any rest on that horrible excuse for a bed in my room. My mom and sister came down to visit and help at home, doing laundry and preparing for the arrival of our little one.


The plan was set on day three of my stay. Specialists came to my room and assessed the situation. They said that there was a small leak in my amniotic sac. It was risky for both of us. But him being born at 33 weeks was too risky. Hence – stopping the labor when I arrived. However, the risk of infection for both of us was too high to keep him in longer than necessary.

So they set the induction for 35 weeks and 2 days.

To Be Continued…

A day to celebrate

We didn’t know how to celebrate our anniversary this year.

We have traveled the last few years, but felt like staying close to home this year because we wanted to go to the Marine Ball (scheduled for the night before our anniversary). We had a blast at the ball and are so happy we went. We spent the night at the hotel (such a good idea) and slept in. I took a bath and read in a real bath tub! Johnathan surprised me by hiring our old driver for the day. It was so nice that we didn’t have to worry about driving (and parking).


at the ball

We wanted to do something fun. Dinner and a movie sounded lame. So it was decided that we would combine two activities. One that he would plan (the bag of fun) and one that I would plan (scavenger hunt). The week before our anniversary, I went to Greenbelt mall a couple of times and found different things that I could use: menu item, store signs, specific baby shoes, a dirty expat with a much younger Filipina (which was the easiest and quickest, btw. He read the card looked up, turned, and said “there’s one!”), etc.

We spent three hours at the mall with him figuring out clues and me doing crazy stuff to embarrass myself. The bag of fun included activities like: pretend sword fighting every time he said “en guard,” freezing in place every time he said “freeze,” finding a stranger and posing like a model in a photo with them, going into a store and speaking a language not from earth while buying something, etc.


posing like a model with a stranger

We were tired from walking for almost three hours, but at the end we were so happy. We had so much fun.  He then told me that we had something after that and told me what outfit to bring for it. We went to a older office building in Makati (on a Sunday, so not only is it old…it was practically abandoned), and up to the 8th floor. We walked into a photo studio and I was really touched, John hates (hates!) portraits. I knew that he was really sacrificing for me to do a photo shoot.

I was wrong…he wasn’t sacrificing at all.

He had brought along a huge popcorn bowl, a large bag of popped popcorn and plain white paper cups and straws for them. As we were getting acquainted with the photographer John asked him to show me his work. He makes surreal photos. He takes the person’s (usually just one) photo and photoshops them into the requested scene. He’s done a lot of athletes, but some non-athletes as well. When he’s done with the photo it has a elegant comic book-like look to it.

Here’s what idea they thought of for our photo, in a nut shell: we’re sitting in a movie theater and John is trying to steal my popcorn. After shooting for about 40 minutes with different ideas on how to convey it, we came up with the one that works the best and settled on our favorite shot. He reserved the studio for two hours, so he also took portraits of each of us separately and just some regular ones of us. He also wanted to get in on a few, so he asked the guy from the studio to grab a couple of shots.

We had such a good time. It was a creative idea and I can’t wait to see the final photo. The amount that we paid includes a framed print that he’ll order for us and then we’ll also get all the other shots that haven’t been touched up.

We left there and John told the driver where to go next. Unfortunately where to go next wasn’t open on Sundays. He wanted to take me to a speakeasy we haven’t been to yet. Since that one wasn’t open, we went to the one that we’re regulars at and sat and had a cocktail and shared arancinis.

After our pre-dinner drinks we went to Sala. It’s a fine dining restaurant that we’ve been eying since we got here. I had an amazing steak and John quite enjoyed his pigeon. We had a celebratory glass of champagne with dinner and with the two drinks and our busy day I was practically falling asleep at the table.

After our yummy dinner our driver took us home. And I was happy. Really, really happy. I told John at dinner that it was anniversary #2 for me as far as enjoyment. It was such a fun day. Hm…how are we going to top it next year?!

Monday, November 18, 2013

About 12 year ago


anniversary blog 1

I said “I do.” Not I will. I definitely didn’t like the trend of saying I will. I wanted to do the traditional vows and to say, I do. And I did.

anniversary blog 2

And it’s been good, and bad, and great, and horrible. We’ve had our highs and our lows. We’ve thrown around the word divorce a few times but we’ve said we couldn’t live without each other much, much more. We’ve been together for longer than we’ve been alive and we know no other way to live than with each other.

In the past twelve years we have moved six times, lived in Minnesota, Texas, Virginia, Costa Rica, and Philippines. We had three children, each in a different place. We have done school (one of us much more than the other) and started building a career and a half (being a Foreign Service spouse is practically a career).

We’ve survived grandparents passing, and missed a ton of cousin weddings. We’ve watched our friends marry and start their own families (because let’s be honest – not many people are crazy enough to get married at 20). We’ve made friends that we love and we’ve seen marriages disintegrate. We’ve watched life happen together, and that’s how we like it.

We had an amazing anniversary this year (my 2nd favorite). I’ll have to tell you about it…next time.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Some things that have happened


Simon went to the ER


Malachi and Simon went to summer camp


Malachi had an EEG (that showed continued seizure activity)

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Malachi and John went to Taipei


Malachi started 2nd Grade


We played in the pool


I got my FS Swap box! 


I went to Pampanga with my friend

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I went to Hawaii with another friend

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We went to Batangas on a day trip


And now you’re pretty much caught up.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

This is what I do

I do something well and consistently. Then I peter out.

I’ve been doing this for years. There are a a couple of exceptions of course.

Blogging is one thing that falls into this category though. I’ll post entries consistently for a week or two and then be silent.

It’s not because I’ve stopped experiencing blogable things in my life. It’s because I’m lazy. That’s the only reason. I’ll tell John that it’s because I’m busy (which is sometimes true), but it shouldn’t take that long to throw something small and informational together for the families to enjoy.

For instance, I bet the grandparent and great-grandparent readers would love to see first day of school photos. Or camp photos. Or hear stories from the last half of summer.

I may get around to posting about those things. I may not. I should for posterity sake. But I never promise to be a good or consistent blogger. I promise the opposite of that.

And I always keep that promise.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I tend to not have too many regrets in life.

I have a “my choices have made me who I am” view of life.

I do, however, often regret not recording down the hilarious things my children say. Mom’s have devoted whole blogs to the hilarity that comes out of their kid’s mouths. I’ve considered doing that.

I usually just forget the things quickly.

For instance, tonight Malachi said something funny and then about 20 seconds later Simon said something funny. Both of them would’ve gotten their shares of “likes” on facebook, and I wanted to put them up. But I was busy, and I forgot what they were about 30 seconds after they were said.

Maybe I just need to carry around a digital recording device that’s on all the time – maybe one with a neck strap on each kid.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Art of Doing Nothing a.k.a. how to take a whole day grocery shopping

I’m not an expert at much, but sometimes I think I’m an expert at doing nothing.

Somehow in Manila it’s much easier to be busy doing nothing. One errand can take up a “whole day.” Take, grocery shopping, for example. Let’s say you want to go on a big shopping trip. You have a long list of things you want including local and imported ingredients.

You obviously don’t want to have perishable items sitting in the car for a long time, so you are going to hit up one of the regular grocery stores first. You can try Landmark Makati, Rustan’s Fresh Makati, or SM Aura. Those are my favorite grocery stores here. You’ll spend probably sixty to ninety minutes gathering things.

It takes a long time to shop here because even after you’ve been here for a year you still have to look at all your options and make sure a couple of things: 1. you’re getting the product you actually want 2. you’re not paying too much money for it.

Then you’ll spend twenty to thirty minutes in the check out lane. Once all the groceries are packed in the car (if you have a driver this is an easier task, I do not have a driver), you can head out in traffic to the next stop.

The next stop is S&R. This is the warehouse shopping that we have in the Philippines. It feels just like home, and I love shopping here (I do all of my “basic” stuff here). You can also get fairly decent perishable items. The pricing is only a little higher than the other stores, if at all (that isn’t to speak of how most of the stuff costs vs. the U.S., the stuff is much more expensive here). Just avoid the meat at S&R. Every time we bought chicken there it was bad in a day or two. We now buy meat at the other places.

I get my sour cream, cheese, fresh orange juice (expensively imported from Australia), eggs, bread, cereal, some produce (it’s sometimes cheaper here than the other places), charcoal, toilet paper, paper towels, crackers, chips, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, and more here. If you’re lucky (and you get there early in the day) then you might not have to wait in line, or your wait will be short. I’ve waited thirty minutes in line, though.

By the time you’ve left and get home you’ve been grocery shopping for four and a half hours (including travel time – about 30 minutes to/from each place). That’s more than your whole morning, because the first grocery store didn’t open until 10:00 a.m.

You’re exhausted from walking around for hours, plus the extended periods of head math for conversion (this is especially exhausting if you’re bad at math…ahem.), the stress of traffic and parking, and not being able to find the key ingredients for two of the meals you were planning.

You decide to take your lunch in your room and nap the afternoon away.

When your husband asks what you did that day you shrug and reply “not much.”

Monday, July 1, 2013

Feminism and Feeling Beautiful

I love feeling beautiful.

feeling beautiful

I love being a feminist.

photo courtesy of


I love being told that I’m beautiful.

Why is it that it’s so awful to tell little girls that they’re pretty?

I understand that we don’t want to focus solely on looks. We want to make sure they know that they have worth inside and out. I will tell little girls they’re smart as well as beautiful.

But don’t tell me I shouldn’t tell them the former. Telling little girls they’re pretty can lift their spirits. It can give them some healthy self-confidence. And dammit it can make them feel pretty! There’s nothing wrong with feeling pretty.

Little girls turn into adolescents who turn into young women who turn into not young women who turn into middle-aged women who turn into old women. Every stage of woman wants to hear they’re beautiful.

I know I do.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Durian flavored Guacamole

There’s a fruit that’s simultaneously famous and infamous. Some people love it, some people hate it. It’s called durian.


It’s popular here in the Philippines, and it reeks. It has such a pungent odor that it fills the stores that cut them up. Even though the fruits are wrapped after being cut, you can still smell it. Even in the warehouse store where the ceilings are sky high and air movement is great, you can still smell them when they’re near.

Yesterday someone gave me some durian candy to try. Even though the smell is horrible, many people love the taste. I’ve been avoiding durian for over eleven months, but I thought, “if there’s a way to try it, this is it.” So I took a small bite of the candy; just enough to taste it. And I didn’t like it. I thought it tasted a bit oniony, and like that horrible smell in the grocery stores that used to make me gag.

I was happy that I was done tasting durian. I felt satisfied that I’d done it, but I had no desire to taste it, in any form, again.

I’m currently in the process of making dinner for tonight. I’m making chicken tortilla soup, and I was going to make a salad (which I can’t make because the store didn’t have enough beans for the soup, let alone a salad on the side), and guacamole. I also bought mangos for John and our friend to enjoy (I don’t like mangos either).

I bought local avocados at S&R to save on cost. We had tomatoes and I had my helper go out later and buy red onions and look for jalapenos (no dice – they’re rare here). After my soup looked deliciously glorious and was simmering I started in on the guacamole. I did the tomatoes and the onions in the little food processor and mashed the guacamole (2 out of 3 avocados were good – woot!), mixed them together, added salt and lemon juice (also – limes aren’t common here, sigh. it’s not a great post for making Tex-Mex) and tried it on a home made corn tortilla (found only at the restaurant El Chupicabra near Makati Ave and Kalayaan) chip that I just had finished for the soup.

And it didn’t taste right. It tasted rather funny. I thought, maybe it needed more onion. I couldn’t taste it at all. There was a powerful taste that I couldn’t place that I thought must be the avocado because I hadn’t had local avocados here before and every other ingredient tastes “normal” to me when I cook with them. I added more red onion, salt and lemon and tasted it again.

And then it hit me. It tasted like durian. And I was sad. Not to the point of tears, but close. If my kitchen hadn’t been full with three helpers and four kids, I might have cried. I’d been looking forward to guacamole all day. I love guacamole. I love Tex-Mex in general, but I especially love guacamole. The fact that I haven’t had it in almost a year is depressing.

I hope that it’s the local avocados. I hope that if I want to splurge on the imported ones from America I will find the taste I’m looking for. I really, really, really hope that I can have some good guacamole soon. Because this durian flavored guacamole will not fly in this house. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I had the privilege of going last night to the annual reception for LGBT Pride Month at the Ambassador’s Residence.

I met some wonderful people and was able to discuss with them the difficulties of growing up or being Transgender and Lesbian in the Philippines. Unfortunately I didn’t speak with many gay men last night. Though I think I’ve gleaned that it’s easiest for them in the Philippines. From my perspective, I think that’s probably true in the U.S. as well. 

I also spoke to a Dutch man and his partner who are here through work. They said that they are safer in Asia than at home. The violence toward LGBT from Muslims (especially adolescent Muslim boys) is worsening. In Holland! I had such a hard time picturing anywhere in Europe being hostile to LGBT. It was eye opening for me.

I have had very little exposure to Transgender people, so it was nice to spend some time with Trans Women (born men – this was one of my confusions until last night). To hear stories of the difficulties in being accepted growing up was so sad. Happily there were stories also of women whose parents were accepting. I had thought that wouldn’t happen in a country where there are still so many prejudices against the LGBT community. Granted, there’s not as much violence as in other countries. Granted, it was the first country in SEA to celebrate Pride. None the less, the happy stories were to nice to hear.

I was talking to John this morning, and though our kids are young, I still worry about their future. I told him that while I will celebrate my children no matter who they are, part of me wants them to be just…normal (I use that word loosely since normal is so different than it used to be). I fear the bullying and teasing they would go through for being different. I’m encouraged that LGBT’s are accepted now and I think that it will only get better.

However, I know that there’s still hate. There’s still fear of people who are different. There’s still an alarming rate of teen suicides in the U.S. because of bullying and teasing. I want to put my kids in bubble wrap and keep them safe from harm. Unfortunately, I can’t do that.

Instead, I hope to raise them as strong, confident people. Also, kind and caring for their peers. Someone who will stick up for their friends, and show others who a real person is.

This…I think, is not too much to hope for. This…is something I can accomplish. This…I have hope for.

Monday, June 24, 2013

I believe…and so could you.

Some people don’t believe in therapy. They think that you should just deal with your problem and move on.

Some people weren’t taught how to do that. I didn’t live in circles that taught you just had to suck it up and live with what ever situation is your life. I some times have a hard time processing every emotion that I’m going through, and I seem to go through a lot of emotions most of the time.

I also get angry and impatient easily, as part of my personality. I blame it on the English in me, but I also have German in me. Maybe it’s both, maybe it’s neither. 

I don’t think it’s right to dump all my problems on my husband or friends, and I enjoy having an objective third party who is there specifically for me to “dump” on. It’s also great to have someone who’s understanding of the fact that I’m going through things.

So today I went to therapy. For the first time in almost two years.

There’s no judgment by my counselor of the fact that I want to change how I react and need help in doing so. In fact, there’s praise for being self aware and taking the proper steps to ensure my own mental and emotional health and that of my children as well (because I sure as hell don’t want to teach them that it’s ok to react so angrily).

During my time of transition here in the Philippines I was in survival mode and had lost the tools I learned from my last stint in therapy. I was a bit nervous, but it was all very encouraging.

I know that I will need to follow through with my assignments and participate at all times instead of just the sessions. This is not something I have a history of being great at, but it will make my money even more worth it and I’ll gain so much more out of my sessions.

I’m taking a healthy approach to a problem that I have. I want to encourage you out there to do it to. You don’t have to be open about it, like I am. It’s scary telling everyone that I’m doing this. But I hope to give encouragement to people who might be nervous about going to therapy. Or don’t want to go because they’ll be judged or ridiculed. While that’s possible, you must realize that it’s more important for you to get the help you need. The people that are mean to you about it, should be forgiven. Maybe they’re in need of therapy and are scared. Or maybe they’re a$$holes. Either way, please know that therapy works. It’s liberating, and so helpful.

If you’re in the Foreign Service, and know you want to get help MED can help you. They’ll refer you to someone in your area. If there isn’t anyone in your area, they’ll refer you to the RMOP who can help you or help you decide how badly you need help. I may be wrong, but medevac might be an option.

Evolution of a Chocolate Smile


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Friday, June 21, 2013


I have a girlfriend who has a blog with a purpose. She loves to travel, and she loves to do it often. She likes to stay at nice places and do nice things. She likes to do those things and stay at those places and not always pay those prices. So she tries to do those things and stay at those places and not pay those prices and then blogs about it. She’s a good writer, and I enjoy her blog.

We were discussing blogs one night over tacos and margaritas. She asked what the purpose was of my blog. I couldn’t give her much of a straight answer. Finally I told her that it started as a way to give updates and pictures to family and friends (which I found out was not true. To quote my first blog entry, “I'm really just doing it so I can stop posting as anonymous on other people's blogs.”) about six years ago when we lived in Dallas. Then when John passed the Foreign Service Exam it also became about our adventure getting into the FS. And now it’s just about what ever I want it to be about.

I do wish that I had a fancy blog, that I updated daily, and had a big following. Things get in the way of that though…my laziness being the biggest thing. In the morning I’ll think, “maybe I’ll blog today!” Then later I’m all:

I’ve thought about carving out an hour a day to sit down and write. I did do a year of school last year, and one semester I did English. There were some good ideas in class about writing, and how to get topics to write about. Sure, they were talking about academic papers, but I don’t see why I couldn’t use those ideas to figure out what to write about. I digress.

I look at some of the fancy blogs that I know and love and wonder what it’s like to be known for your blog (quoted in the big papers, famous in the Foreign Service blogosphere, etc). I’ve always wanted to be famous, this could be a way to fame for me, right?

Well, sure! If I had a fancy blog that I updated more and some kind of niche to fill.

I got an invitation in my email this morning for Bloggy Conference this September. It would be the perfect conference to find out how to make my blog a hit blog. How to make myself famous! The tickets are only $73 for the whole conference! Alas, it’s in Sandusky, OH. Just a quick check on Expedia shows that the cheapest plane ticket right now is $1,345, raising the cost from $73 to way more than I’m willing to pay, and that isn’t including hotel and food and all the shopping that I would do if I was in the States.

So maybe I’ll start updating more often (not likely), and maybe I’ll fancy up my blog (probably not), but I’ll be happy with what I have right now. Because it’s better than nothing.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I forgot

some important information about Coen being 2.

For instance, he knows some colors. Well…he knows the colors of his plates and cups. He is also starting to become opinionated in which color he wants at a certain time. Yesterday at one meal he climbed onto the table and switched with one of his brothers. Luckily the brothers weren’t in the room yet, so there wasn’t a fight over plates.

I realized that his color knowledge is limited to his plates when he took the red crayon yesterday and called it orange.

He counts to 10 and then goes beyond, although I think 14 makes it in about 5 times between 10 and 20.

He loves to sing the ABC’s. He sings about 60% of the song clearly. He loves it so much and he gets so excited to sing it, it’s hard to not join in with him. He loves to sing about any song, really. He also loves to dance. I’ve gotten videos of him dancing lately and will have to make a compilation because he’ll dance for a couple of seconds to a song and then stop.

I’ve been more relaxed teaching the “academic” things to Coen. Probably because there isn’t as much time for he and I to sit down and read the books that Malachi and I could with the colors, and shapes, etc. But our helpers do teach them that stuff. John and I have such fun discovering them knowing things we didn’t teach them.

Sometimes, I get a little jealous that they’re not learning it from me, but mostly I’m just happy that I have awesome helpers.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My baby isn’t a baby

Coen recently turned 2.


It occurred to me the other day, that I don’t have any more babies. That’s weird to me, but at the same time liberating. By this time next year, we should (hopefully) be done with diapers (he actually started sitting on the toilet a couple of months ago and now recognizes when he needs to go potty) – and then life enters a whole new stage.


But for now he’s still in diapers, and I can hang on to his baby-ness for just a little bit longer.  He doesn’t make it easy though, because he’s developing at such a fast rate.


He has a vocabulary that I haven’t seen in any 2 year old. My favorite thing that he was recently saying was “Pachai” for Malachi. He took a while to say his own name, but he’s getting a hang of it. Simon is being said with more accuracy, too. He uses so many words, that I’m having a hard time actually thinking of the ones he uses.


He loves decorating my floors and furniture and interior doors with his and his brother’s stickers. It might be time to put them up out of reach.


He still eats almost anything you put in front of him, but his favorite foods is bananas. He’d eat three a day if we allowed it.


He loves to be with his nanny, Lucy. He’s such a lucky boy to have three adults in the house that love him so much. He’s always sad when she’s not in the house, and he asks for her on her days off.


He loves the pool! He’s wearing floaties and swimming around on his own. He “jumps (it’s more like throwing himself forward)” off the stairs, and sometimes off the side of the pool. He points at the pool and says “our pool” and asks for his “swim suit.” He doesn’t mind going under water, and sometimes even likes it. Whenever one of his brothers starts asking to go in the pool he starts saying “our pool? our pool?”


Not everything is super sunshiny in Coen’s world. His brothers really get on his nerves sometimes. The strength of his dislike for them equals the strength of his love at times. I think he’s teething his 2 year molars (early stages of teething). He gets frustrated with the inability to do things independently that his brothers can do.


But more so than not, he’s enjoying his world. He loves his family, the outdoors, swimming, food, dancing, singing, T.V., movies, music videos, and life in general. He’s a very happy boy.


I hope he’s ok with it, he’ll always be my baby.