Tuesday, April 20, 2010


As he gets older his cute little sayings are becoming fewer. It makes me sad as it is a sure sign he is growing up. Here are a few of the latest gems:

Coming home from school with an envelope decorated with flowers and sunshine and a long string taped to each side: "Look Mom, I made you a purse because I know you can never have too many, and tomorrow I am going to make dad a Man-Bag." He SO gets his parents. My closet is jam full and Nate has been searching for the perfect man-bag for ages. Bless his little fashionable heart!

Walking home from the swimming pool we were all joking about something and he says, "I see that coy smile mom."

After we got back from our vacation to Bali: "This was the best vacation, it SO helped me."

About a local French bakery here: "If you go into this restaurant it will change your life forever because the food is so good!"

About a band on disney: "These guys have mad skills. They really know how to throw a party."

"Holden you are doing so well" says Dad at t-ball. "No, my team is doing well."

My heart swells with this kid. He is so full of love.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


What started out as a quick get-away for Spring Break ended badly. Very very badly. Truth be told, it didn't even start out well! Before we left Manila, we were all feeling a bit under the weather with minor sniffles and colds. On the way to the airport I had a feeling that maybe we should just skip the trip. I had horrible stomach cramps thanks to no food and a few too many "Berry Nices" at a friends house before we left. After checking in, Nate and the kids grabbed some pizza while I lay down on the floor trying to convince myself to get over the pain and get on the plane! Pain subsiding, we paid our $45 to leave the country (WHERE in the world else do they make you pay to leave?) and headed to the gate. Kids are all well and fine until about 30 minutes into the flight when all hell breaks loose.

We were on a local carrier. The planes have enough leg room for children. It's a late night flight and Finnley is overtired and will not or cannot settle down, he just carried on screaming and crying and kicking until his little body wore out. This is where being on a plane filled with Filipinos is a blessing. They are VERY understanding people. Smiles and nods of understanding as opposed to annoying looks and snide comments so common elsewhere. I kid you not, just as Finnley has fallen asleep out of nowhere Holden....golden child....perfect traveller starts screaming that he has a headache. He is in pain and tears and carrying-on ensue for another 30 minutes. Nate and I look at each other in misery, each with a child stretched out across us. Nervous to even more lest we wake the beasts. Oh good only 3 more hours to go!

We get to our hotel just off of Sukhumvit Road and find out upon check-in that they haven't put a baby cot in our room and they don't know where one is. By now, it is past 1am and regardless of how tired we are there is no way we are all sleeping in one bed. An hour later, they bring up a single bed and we crash hard. Sleeping in was not on Finnley's agenda so we were up early for breakfast and then back to bed for a nap. We had several days so we wanted to make this vacation relaxing. "No rush, plenty of time to see everything!" was our mantra. That day we bummed around the city, and went to the suan lum night market and tried the various street food stalls of green curry and pad thai. Finnley was out of sorts not eating much so I knew something was wrong. The next morning we were up and out to the chatuchak weekend dirt market. As Holden said, "you're a mom that likes to shop." It was hot and stuffy and crowded but nothing that we couldn't normally handle. We cut the visit short because Finnley was still not eating. When we got back to the hotel that afternoon and gave Finn a cool bath to cool him down, but I just knew we needed to go to the hospital. Finnley is go go go, so to see him lethargic is an instant clue that something is wrong. His fingers and toes were blue like he wasn't getting enough oxygen and he had rapid breathing.

This trip was full of so many small mercies one of which was a call to the US embassy to find an English speaking hospital where someone actually answered the phone on a Sunday! (Manila has the WORST embassy ever, they only answer between 2-4 pm and even then are the least helpful people I have ever dealt with) the hospital as someone has described it since, was like a 5 star hotel and happened to be across the street. Yet another miracle with all the protesting in Bangkok, it could have taken hours to get there had it been located elsewhere. We headed to the pediatric wing, signed in and didn't have to wait more than 2 minutes to see the doctor. Find out Finnley had lost a kilo (ended up losing 3 kilos before the week was through) and had a temperature of 40 degrees celcius! After a blood test and a chest xray they determined he had bacterial pneumonia. Poor little guy was admitted to the hospital for 3 days. He was much better once they had him hooked up with fluid and antibiotics in him but was absolutely miserable with that iv in his arm and having to be on a nebulizer every 2 hours. The hospital and doctors and nurses were top notch. It was efficient and organized from the beginning to the end, but not quite the vacation we had hoped for! Holden and Nate came to the hospital in the mornings and spent the day with us and headed back to the hotel at night. We literally were released a half a day before our flight back to Manila, just in time to see a few sights around Bangkok, but thanks to the protesting we couldn't get anywhere else in the city. It was like we went just for medical tourism!

The flight back to Manila was uneventful (thank heavens!) and we have NEVER been more happy to be home. Finnley is back to his ever-going 16 month old self and nothing makes us more happy than to see one of those tantrums!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Two things

Two things have happened in the past week that make me feel we are somehow succeeding in the raising of our boys outside of their native country. They are simple but have quite some depth to me!

The other day while eating dinner Holden said, "Mom, do you like it in the Philippines?" I said, "Of course, what about you?" His answer. "I love it here, I don't think we should ever leave." This means so much because for the first year we were here, Holden really struggled, I mean REALLY struggled. Every time he went to bed or stubbed his toe or didn't get his way he was in tears and wanted to go home to Utah! It hit us really hard, because we adjusted so well and had expectations that he would as well. It almost made us reconsider our decision and was a regular guilt-inducing moment. He has been adjusted for quite some time now, after all it has been 3.5 years but to hear him say that he loves it. Music to my ears. I can't promise him that we will never leave but I know that he is truly happy.

Finnley let us know he is making it ok in the only country he has known as home by insisting on feeding himself. Vigilantly demanding to feed himself is more like it. We had fears that he would become a pampered boy like so many are here with nannies following them around to feed them and sitting in strollers way past the age of 4 but he has proven to be the complete opposite with an independent spirit. Even though the mess is unbearable, he is learning all on his own!

It's hard to gauge parenting, so simple things make all the difference!

Whale Sharks

What an experience! So many of our friends here had done this trip in years past as well as this year and all had expressed how amazing and awe-struck they were by the sheer size of the sharks so we were prepared and in a way I was fearful of the overtold stories in that it wouldn't be as amazing as everyone had described. It lived up to the tales and more!

We hopped on the early morning flight to Legaspi at 6am and were landing a quick 50 minutes later to the view of Mt Mayon. This volcano is active and had threatened to erupt just a few short months ago. It's a beautiful sight.

After a little negotiating at the airport exit we found ourselves a van for 900php (600 less than most people pay, thanks greenhills for teaching me the power of bargaining and thanks to Carol for insisting on an even better deal!) and we were headed to the resort a mere hour of motion-sickness inducing twists and turns and hills away! After arriving at our resort (the Elysia, the only one with a pool) we were informed that there wouldn't be any electrical power from 9-5. Oh lovely, the tropics without aircon is almost unbearable! Finnley stayed at the resort with Carol (our nanny) fanning him with a plank of cardboard as he napped while Nate, Holden and I set off to find some very large fish!

Just up the street we signed away our rights and claimed ourselves Filipino-American speaking
Tagalog all the while to get the local rate once again! Because there was no electricity on the Island we didn't get a chance to watch the safety video but we found ourselves Henry the boatman who, thinking we could understand Tagalog, told us everything we needed to know...in Tagalog. No worries though, there were pictures to explain everything as well!

Out on the boat we cruised. There was Henry who would swim along with us, the captain of the boat, another boat boy and the spotter. The spotter climbs up high on the boat and scans the water for large shadows moving beneath the water and the tada! Whale Shark.

We startedout later in the day (about 930) when ideally 6am would be the better time to see more sharks but luckily came across one quite quickly. There were tons of other people in the water despite the one boat one whale rule. After a few kicks to the head from someone elses flippers we were awestruck by this 4 meter long beast. It was huge. So big you can't get the entire thing in a viewfinder for a photo. Amazed by this but hoping to see one all by ourselves without the multitude of boats around we set off further out to sea. Not 30 minutes later Henry yells, "lets go, lets go!" and we pile to the side of the boat with our gear on. We pushed off and
were right in the path of a 19 foot whale shark coming straight at us.

Because the water is so full of plankton (the reason the whale sharks are there) it is a little cloudy and you don't see the behemoth of a shark until it's right in front of you. Scary indeed.

We let is pass just a few feet beneath us and the swam super fast for about 15 minutes to keep up with it until it went so deep down we couldn't see it. Henry kept up our pace and I couldn't figure out why we kept swimming after it was gone but all of a sudden right underneath us it's giant head re-emerged and we swam again down it's long body for another 15 minutes or so.
I can't continue to re-use the word amazing, but that is what is was. A once in a lifetime experience to see and be so near this whale shark in it's natural habitat. The rest of our day and the next morning was spent lounging in the pool with Carol and Finnley.

I continue to be humbled by so many things we are able to do and see in Asia. Things I would never have even imagined. I hope that I can capture these memories for our boys. Hoping that Holden, at least, will remember them and realize in the future just how lucky he is that we lived here!