Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm pregnant, not sick

Folks here seem to treat pregnancy as a sickness. What is that about? I started playing tennis again this month. I had planned on playing all along but those first few months I was afraid I would throw-up on the court.

When people find out I am playing they look at me like I'm insane, "but you're pregnant!"
Every time I play, our coach says,
"Please make sure this is still OK with your doctor."
"Please get a belly support belt" (yeah, don't need that quite yet!)

I promised my doc not to sacrifice my body to go after a ball too far out of reach and I try as hard as I can to fight the urge! She also made Nate promise not to make it too much of a competition and told him that bragging was not allowed and he has been pretty good following the rules. We are a competitive with each other when it comes to games of any sort! We combined our lessons so we can learn to play together and it makes it a little easier on me.

Our tennis coach beams at Nate, and not because he likes men. He is so proud of his prodigy. I have been playing almost 9 months longer than him, but he is good. I mean he is REALLY good. I hate it. I am so jealous.

Tomorrow we are playing doubles: against each other. There is no mercy.


Holden's school is great! They let the children determine what subjects to study each term and then allow the kids interests and questions lead the lessons. Right now they are studying space. Every day Holden is talking about meteors and astroids, which planet is the coldest, which one has lava and gases and all about telescopes. He has really taken to this subject and it's so fun to see his big eyes as he tells us all about what he knows. He is also solidifying his Chinese. I can't believe how much of it he remembers and tells us about. Colors, animals, numbers and songs in Chinese are a regular occurrence around our house now.

My Life

So...we had to get a new driver. Our previous one was falsifying his time sheet, and you know, that doesn't really fly where I am from. I call it stealing, but whatever!

There is a great board here where leaving expats post staff they have had which avoids having to search from scratch. We had, oh, 8 of them in for interviews, but really, how do you pick a driver from a sit down face-to-face? You can't. So we chose the top 3 and had them each come in to drive a day or so to see how they did. (For those of you reading this in the States, I know how LAME this sounds, but those of you living in Manila can totally relate!)

As we walk into a shopping mall we needed to stop by Nate realizes that he left his phone in the car. His phone, which has the phone number of the "driver of the day." This driver that will wait and wait and wait until he receives a text from us saying that we are ready to be picked up. This driver who will in no way pick up "Sir Nate's" ringing off the hook cell phone in the back seat because that wouldn't be proper.

Thank heavens for friends who you can call any time of the day or night. Who you can trust with your computer passwords, who will look up a file on a message board, who will then search through all the available staff for hire to find the ONE driver who you have employed for the day. Thank you Jeffrey, you saved us once again!

Oh, and if you are wondering about the driver. We didn't hire him. Not because of this situation, it wasn't his fault of course! But we did find someone else who is great....I hope.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

007 Ball

This weekend we went to the British Women's Ball and the theme was James Bond. How fabulous it that? It certainly called for a red dress and a dapper tux so we delivered. Loads of fun with great people, apparently the Brits know how to throw a party. We didn't win the diamonds, but we did score two raffle prizes!

"Mom, you look beautiful, here let me fix your hair before you leave."

Ladies of the night, black and red seemed the color of choice..

Dapper Dan himself.

Watch us grow

I love the Philippines because: I get an ultrasound every appointment. How great it that? I am shocked at how much Deuce has grown in 4 weeks. Last month we were looking at a little tadpole and low and behold this month we saw the picture perfect baby. Deuce is a kicker and a puncher with little hands moving all over the place. Everything looks good and we are on schedule for November 28th. That seems a long way away.

Deuce at 14 weeks

Father's Day

Father's day has always been a difficult day for me. In fact I have always hated it. I hated making the cards and gifts in grade school. I hated the songs. I dreaded it because I felt out of place celebrating something I couldn't understand. I have been blessed with a fiercely protective and fantastic mother who I can share anything and everything with (thanks MOM) and grandparents with whom I never would have survived without, and most importantly a grandfather who was my world. My grandma once told me that one time around Christmas when I was about Holden's age she asked me what I wanted Santa to bring me and my answer was a dad.

I guess I am writing this to get across the point that even though it was a challenge, I am so grateful for the way I was raised. Grateful for the mother who made sacrifices and has been both a mother and a father and blessed to have the opportunity to foster a relationship so dear to my heart with grandparents who are the best examples of perfection to me. I want more than anything for my children to feel the same love, acceptance and whole-hearted adoration that I have been given.

Most importantly on Father's Day, I celebrate Nate. I am so blessed to have him as the father of our legacy. He loves, he adores, he sacrifices. The doctor that delivered Holden said he has never seen a father more active in a newborns life than Nate was. He goes out of his way and does everything humanly possible to make sure he is there for every activity, every school program, every doctor's appointment, every happening in our lives. Holden regularly tells his classmates and teachers that his daddy knows everything and believes that with all his being. He has the most loving and gentle way of teaching and praising Holden. Nate has an answer to every question he asks (we all know 4 year olds can trump you with their odd questions).

Holden beams the second Nate walks through the door, Nate beams the moment he sees Holden, and I beam because of this beautiful relationship they have. Nate already has that same look of adoration every time he talks about the baby. I adore Nate in my own right because of the husband he is, but I am completely smitten with him because of the father he is. I guess I didn't get the best dad in my life, but I sure won the lottery for my kids. Happy Father's Day Nate and Mom...Happy Father's Day to you too!

Father's Day Breakfast, 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

At last, Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a quick jaunt from Manila, less than 2 hours and so we decided to hop over for our memorial weekend vacation. Right after we moved here we met some great people, the Wrights, who live in Hong Kong and thought we would be able to see them, hit Disneyland and fill the rest of our time with the sights of the city. I can happily say we did all of that plus more.

Nate had his cell phone stolen before we even left the Manila aiport, not shocking, but a little frustrating considering all of our hotel and travel info was stored in his little "cannot live without" contraption, but we persevered through that one and were able to remember the street name our hotel was on. Only because it was Leighton and well, you know, we lived in Layton. Lucky us!

Our hotel, a recommendation by numerous people, was in Causeway Bay and fantastic. It was very small but gave the illusion of space with lots of glass and mirrors. We arrived late Friday night and were exhausted. Lucky for us, the hotel had a whole book of restaurants that delivered and being starved for Mexican food in Manila, we found the most authentic TexMex delivery and had it delivered and have craved it every day since. Saturday found us up and at it touring and shopping around where we bought out the local Ikea. We traveled back to the mainland and made our way to Nathan Road to a tailor shop for suits which of course called for a photo op.

pointing out what we wish the law was in Manila, NO public urination.

Showing us how to pray at a Buddhist temple.

Holden was thrilled to ride on the various modes of transportation including the MTR (the line to Disneyland has mickey mouse ear windows and fairy dust), the ferry, the gondala and of course the taxis where the steering wheel is on the wrong side and they so obviously drive on the wrong side of the street...British influence! He, of course, was able to sleep on every mode of transportation taken.

The following day, after we scoured Stanley market for trinkets and finds including a variety of baby clothes, in both pink and blue, we met up with our friends Jon, Eva, Felicity and the newest Wright, Jason and their friends, Michael and Vergie, for a day of extreme hospitality.

They took us to the yacht club where we had the most delicious bbq and the kids, all 5 of them, had a great time playing. Afterwards we went to what we thought was a street fair and some street fair it was, Beerfest! The kids took their turn with the band, Nate Jon and Eva were all in a balloon shaving contest and you would think, being the only bald one who shaves his head Nate would have won that one, but he didn't, Jon with his full head of hair did! It was so great to spend time with them and hope to catch up again next time they make it to the Philippines!

Monday was Holden's day in Hong Kong. But first, we made him join us on the 30 minute Ngong Ping gondola ride up to the Tian Tan Buddha, the worlds largest seated bronze Buddha. The view from the ride was spectacular but we got there so early that the Buddha which was an amazing sight, was still pretty much covered in fog.

Afterwards we headed to Hong Kong Disney! Holden was thrilled and we all believe it is the happiest place on earth. Even through the humidity which readily melts cotton candy on the spot and sporadic heavy rain, there is nothing better than seeing your child so happy he kicks up his heels. We rode Buzz Lightyear a record number of times and stayed through the night fireworks.

We arrived back late to the hotel and packed up or things to head out the next day, or so we thought. We had A LOT to pack after buying so many things at Ikea and the such and were not able to find a box large enough for all of our purchases. Considering the 5 shelves and table I insisted we buy were all pretty large, it's an understandable problem, no? Ah, those nesting urges! Luckily we were able to use 3 rolls of tape and 4 boxes to fashion one large box that fit everything and the dirty clothes! It was quite a sight, but coming from Manila, people with boxes are never given a second glance. As you can imagine, Nate was not completely thrilled, but he knows in the long run it usually works itslf out. What a blessing to have such an agreeable husband!

We made one last stop at the tailor to pick up a shirt that had to be remade and we were off to the airport with no time to spare. We arrived within our limit but were denied access. ARGH! They allowed another man to board, but I think they saw my gerry rigged box and thought NO WAY lady. At first, we were ok with the situation, we could take the train back into the city, shop around a bit and catch the next flight but when we found out the wanted us to pay $100 USD per person for a re-booking I was flaming mad. There was no way I was going to be ok with that considering we were there within the time listed on our tickets. Of course, all of the Philippine airline agents had made their way on break and with no cell phone we were unable to call customer service. We turned on Nate's laptop to check out other flights and it had about 10 minutes worth of battery with no outlets in the entire Hong Kong international airport. Insanity I tell you, we were present day cave dwellers with our box and no access to a phone or internet, it was so pathetic it was laughable.

It was time to think think think. We threw our box and other luggage into an airport locker hoped on the train and tried to remember where the closest Starbucks was, because thank heavens for Starbucks, they always have outlets and wifi. In we flew and while Nate went around the block to find an adaptor for the outlet Holden took a nap with sucker in mouth and passport in hand.

When we finally got enough power in the computer to power it back up, the wifi was down. Hmmm, not our day! We went across the street and schlepped to Shangrila thinking how smart we were to leave our box at the airport, sat in the bar and got online to book another flight home and a hotel for the night.

There is another airline in the Philippines that always has really good deals. I went onto Cebu pacific's website and found 3 tickets home for 2,800 (that's about 63 USD) you may think that is too good to be true, but I am telling you, the rates on this airline are always a good deal, so I didn't think anything of it. Right as I was about to click pay and confirm I realize it is not in Philippine pesos it is in Hong Kong dollars which would have been more like 360 USD! Oh how great that one would have been. Can you see how this is going?

We booked a hotel room, talked to the airline customer service and convinced them to waive at least half of the fees. Spent the evening in retail therapy at H&M and Toys R Us and caught the same flight home the following day.

We were at the airport in plenty of time and guess what....the flight left 30 minutes early. WHEN has a flight you were on EVER left early? Yeah, well, at least we were on this one.

So between the negatives at the beginning and the end, Hong Kong was great but I need another vacation. Maybe to the beach this time?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Cuteness and the such

This cute kid:

Made us a family of rocks:

Can you guess which one I am with the little rock inside. Funny enough at this age Holden is all about being the biggest, the strongest, etc so he is the large rock in the center. Glad that one isn't me!

Updates on our trip to Hong Kong coming this weekend I promise, I am still trying to will see why soon.