Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Doulos Photos

At the Manila Hotel; yes, we all look thrilled don't we?
The one and only largest floating book fair...the Doulos!

Holden & Divina checking out the water

Holden and his YaYo Ico!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The World's Oldest...active ocean-going passenger ship

Have you ever been to a floating book fair? Yeah, me neither until this weekend when we ventured out again into the wide world of Manila. This time to the docks, to see none other than the world's largest floating book fair in the world. Yes, the Doulos not only the world's oldest ocean-going passenger ship still active but it is also just 2 years younger than the Titanic!
http://www.doulos.org Now, for the worlds largest floating book fair, you would think...wow, that must be huge, because when you hear "worlds largest" you think LARGE. Really, we should have known better since there probably aren't any other floating book fairs, anywhere. Technically the Doulos could be floating around with 100 books and still be the largest. We drive, and drive and drive and walk and walk and walk in the HOT HOT sun, we wait in line, we pay out PHP 10 to get on the boat, and there is literally one room of books. One very crowded room of bibles and childrens books with a few scatterings of do-it-yourself home books and dictionarys.

The doulos does some great service projects in the regions they visit, the entire staff is made of volunteers from all over the world and the boat was great. The book fair though, we could have done without that part! We left with a blow up beach ball of the world, 8 childrens books and one English-French dictionary. Yes, I am sure we could have bought it all in one of the many luxurious airconditioned malls close to home, but we did not drive, walk, wait and burn all that way for nothing, we were going to buy something!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ahhh....the no more list

Yes, Holden has grown, but not that much! This is how short our fridge is, he can get in the freezer!

This is Divina, our lifesaver here! You can tell Holden adores her, and this is dinner the other night courtesy of Divina, yes, the girl can cook!

No more:
Cleaning Dishes (there are no dishwashers here)
Putting dishes away
Cleaning: floors, windows, bathtubs, toilets, sinks
Preparing food for cooking (come on, you know how much better food tastes when you don't have to do the prep and cooking!)
Sorting laundry
Doing laundry
Folding and putting laundry away
Grocery shopping
Putting groceries away
Packaging up leftovers

In exchange for the "no mores" all we have to do is live in a foreign, sometimes frustrating, country with none of the comforts of home as we know it, away from all we have ever known without our dear friends and family.
I guess there are tradeoffs for everything. We miss you all, but we still really like our "no more" list!

The Letter A

Nate and I have truly tried not to give into the pressures that inevitably come along with having kids. For example: "My son was potty trained at 1," "Our daughter could sing the alphabet at 1 1/2," "Our 3 year old knows how to read write and do arithmetic at 3!" Back in the States this is they way it is and it certainly is no different here when it comes to the expat community here. Children that are from wealthy or expat homes here start school around 18 months old and if not then, then certainly by their 3rd birthday. From what we have heard, the private schools and academies are very good here, and we are excited that Holden will have the opportunity to attend one of these.

We know our son, and no matter how hard we try to teach him something, he is going to learn it on his own terms. The child was cursed with two stubborn and independent parents, so really, what did we expect? We have always sung the alphabet to him, he can sing it too, but prefers not to of course. We point out letters, "Look there is the letter H, Holden starts with the letter H." This is always met with "Ugh, Mom I already know that!" Sometimes we try with "Holden! What letter is that on the sign?" This is of course met with an exasperated "How many times do I have to tell you, I don't want to talk about that!" I tell you this background because no matter what we try, if it sounds, smells or tastes like we are trying to teach him something he backs away like it is the plague!

Recently something new happened. A few weeks ago we were out to dinner and the restaurant had the paper table cloth to write on. We were all drawing and I was writing letters in hopes that Holden would express interest.
It happened this fast:
Wrote the letter K. "Holden, what letter is this?"
"Kuh" he said, as in the sound the letter K makes, not the letter.
Wrote the letter M"How about this one?"
Wrote the letter A"And this?"
On and on we met, a few wrong ones, a few I don't knows, but most of them RIGHT! Nate and I looked at each other with shock and disbelief.
"Did you teach him that?"
"No, did you?"
So, looks like our son, who does things on his own terms, knows most of the sounds of the alphabet. I don't know why we are shocked, the kid has always determined his own time-frame; nursing, sleeping in his own bed, potty training, and now learning the alphabet. We really need to remember this the next time we panic over nothing due to the parent pressure of creating a super-child! We are so blessed to have such a happy, healthy, beautiful child and that is constant and true no matter what other peoples children can do! I hope all parents can see that in their own children.

Holden is big time into arts right now, he could spend the day coloring, cutting, pasting and painting. Here is some of the art along with the letter of the week, "A." That's right, now he is writing the letters himself!

Like Papa

Holden puts this mustache on and says, "I'm Papa!" That's Nate's Dad, Dale, for some of you who don't know. I think it even looks a little like him with the twinkle in the eye. Too cute!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Of course they are real!

Suggestions of what to do with your kid when you're all bored: get him some tatoos, slap some goggles on him and play super heros! Yeah, we really are good parents!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

We should have moved here sooner

Don't take this post the wrong way. We miss all of you dearly. It's just that, had I known how great it would be to have household help, we would have signed up MUCH sooner! Divina started working for us last weekend and while conditions are certainly not "ideal"with us in a hotel suite, she has made our lives SO SO SO much easier! I believe children are a pretty good judge of character when it comes to people, and Holden really has bonded with Divina. The other day I was putting him down for a nap and I asked him to tell Divina goodbye. He got really sad and said; "I don't want her to leave mommy!" Also, since she is only here 3 days a week until we move, every morning he asks "Where's the girl?"
Holden falling asleep holding onto pictures of his friends back home! (thanks Dani!)

I went to the first American Women Abroad activity the other day. It was at the Manila Golf and Country Club where a membership will run you a cool $30,000.00 USD! I don't think I knew I was homesick until they played the National Anthem. I have always be aware of the things we take for granted in America, but it is never more apparent than when you are living abroad. Sometimes it just hits you that although most people are speaking English, you aren't really ever being understood nor are you completely understanding the other person. We are very aware of the different culture that we now reside in and try not to let the "Manila Moments"(these are many of the cons I listed earlier) get in the way of enjoying our new experience, but then again, those moments are part of the experience so we laugh at them and MOVE ON!! The organization does a lot of service projects around the area as well as activities ranging from tours around the region and galas and balls. I am excited to get more involved. I don't think I could ever replace my fabulous girlfriends back in Utah, and you know who you are, but hope we can meet some people we have things in common with. It seems like most of the ladies are either older, or have children that are in high school. I am searching out the ones with 3 year olds and husbands that work nights!!!

The playgroup we are in with Holden is multi-cultural, so he now has friends from Japan, Hong Kong, South Africa, Malaysia, India, etc. It's great to see children from all different backgrounds playing together, there are no cultural barriers. Our Holden, who gets called "Hey boy!" and "Baby" here now responds to people when they ask his name with, "My name is boy." Still hates it when people touch him and pay him too much attention.

Onto the living arrangements: Oh boy, this has been the biggest trouble spot since moving! We have signed a contract and paid an entire year up front and are now waiting for them to finish the condo. We keep getting different answers on the move-in date, but I believe they are sensing our utter frustration and will move quickly! Once the aircon is installed we should be good as gold! In the mean time, I have been spending time and money on shopping trips around the city collecting basics for the house; towels, bedding, kitchen supplies, etc. It's like starting over in your first place. We don't want to spend too much $ because that was the whole point in not moving everything over, but we don't want to buy crap that won't last 3 years either. I'm trying to bridge the gap. Live and Learn!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The New Year and Golfing

In Manila, it is widely known that New Years Eve is a busy time in the ER. There are not many strict laws on fireworks or firearms for that matter. In the days leading up to the new year, we have read countless news stories on deaths from firework catastrophes as well as from stray bullets being shot off in celebration. So...we decided to keep it low key this year and stay in. The hotel we are at had a rooftop celebration. We overlooked the city as millions of fireworks from all over the city were ringing in the new year. It was spectacular and from where we stood, safe.

It has taken a while, but we have finally made it out for a day at the driving range. We were a little concerned with how our "skills" might have atrophied over the months, but we were surprisingly "on" that day. Here is the run-down:

The cost: PHP 400 ($8 USD) for unlimited balls and unlimited time at the range.

The benefits: A ball girl who carries the bags and shoes up the stairs, get the balls and sits on a little bench in front of you placing the balls on the tee. (I know, the first time I heard that was the deal, I laughed too, but it is nice!) I wonder how often they get hit?

The good: Holden brought his clubs and hit quite a few balls, he was proud of himself! My accuracy and Nate's distance.

The bad: There were fans blowing on us, and cold rags to wipe our brows, but it was HOT!

The ugly: Nate almost had to buy the entire range when one of his balls hit a stone hedge only to ricochet back just missing a golfer's head and the glass windows of the golf shop behind us! The blisters! Oh the blisters!