Outdoor Ed Stuff

20 Feb

For the last month plus plus, most of my time, energy, and prayers were committed to Outdoor Ed! Every year, the middle school goes to an area of the Philippines for education, ministry, and fun! Thankfully, the Philippines has WWII history (so they go to Corregidor one year), it’s in the Ring of Fire (so they visit Taal volcano another year), and they have a jungle/beach, so that’s where we went this year.

I was part of the kitchen crew, so we spent the weeks prior planning the menu, shopping, organizing all the cookware, and getting each venue’s food situation set up. We also did as much cooking ahead of time as possible.


It was my first time cooking for mass quantities for sure!

One of the dishes we precooked was pulled pork. It was amazing. We slow-cooked pork cubes for a long time and then I put them in my mixer, flipped the switch, and thirty seconds later, it was shredded!

We spent a long time in this room, planning for OE! That whiteboard was full of lists and info for a few weeks. Once we were ready to go, it felt good to erase it all! Here is everything packed up and ready to go!


My friend who was the one in charge of the kitchen crew, has a son in between Sim and Caleb’s age, so there were a few times that I took them both to my independent PE class to burn off some energy.


When the day to leave finally came, it felt great to stop planning and start doing! It felt the same as marathon day for me. No more training or anticipating–just doing!

After a 3 hour drive into the province, 5 of us hit the grocery store where we had pre-ordered as much as we could.


Then we had to check it all and pay for it! It took a couple of hours!


By the end, we were fast friends with the cashier, guards, and guys helping!


After that, we drove the 40 minutes of curvy, nausea-inducing roads to our base camp that was to be our home for the next week. We set up our kitchen (that had no refrigerator!), set up our deep freezers, got all the food organized, set up our market delivery and water delivery. Thankfully, the wonderful seniors who served on staff unloaded all the groceries for us!


This was base central. Kim did an excellent job having us prepared, so we just had to check down the list each day. A number of people remarked how chill everything went in the kitchen this year!


That night, the staff went out to dinner together at a Subic favorite, Texas Joes. By the end of the night, we crawled into the bed exhausted, which was a little terrifying since the middle schoolers hadn’t even arrived yet!

The next morning, we woke up at 4:30am to get the staff fed. Then we all worshipped together before heading in our different directions.


After that, the Jungle crew headed out to their venue. We had all their meal prepared for them and we had spent a long time the night before looking for the two packages of penne pasta that knew we had bought for them! We went to bed annoyed that we never found it and had to give them other pasta from the base supply.

In the morning, we discovered that we hadn’t lost our minds! A dog or some other creature had busted into our supply and ate some cookies, coffee creamer, and the penne pasta! (Interesting choices in my opinion…) We found it all sprawled in the back yard.


Monday into Tuesday was our busiest time because that’s when all 245 of us were at base camp! This is another 5am photo–we listened to a lot of music and drank a lot of coffee to keep these smiles going!


During one of our drives into town, we saw and heard and smelled all of these big bats! See the tree beneath them? Those trees are mostly bare. All of those leaf-looking things are hanging bats!


It was so fun when the students arrived on Monday afternoon! The camp was filled with excitement and energy. I was especially happy to see Kenz! She went immediately to the 9-square court.


On Tuesday morning, we had to get everyone fed, get them to pack their lunches, and head to their next destination. One group went to JEST–Jungle Environment Survival Training. The kids hiked 30 minutes into the jungle with all of their gear and were trained by naturalists, wildlife trackers, wilderness skills instructors, and environmental field technicians. They built fires, used machetes to make bamboo water reservoirs, made their own plate and utensils for their dinner, and created their shelter for the night. In their free time, there was a river and waterfall to play in. In the morning, they had to hike out, which I hear was the worst part of the week because it was uphill with their gear. But FA’s theme this year is In Christ We Do Hard Things, so there you go!

Another group went to the Pawikan (tagalog for “turtle”) Conservation Center. Here the kids learned all about turtles and how they come up onto the beach to lay their eggs. The process is thoroughly interesting and someday we’re going to go up there as a family to experience it! The best part of the week for all the kids I’m sure, was that they got to release baby turtles into the ocean!

I didn’t get to go to that site, but someone snapped a pic of Kenzie with her baby turtle. The videos of these little guys hustling to the ocean are precious! On the other hand, its agonizing to watch some of them who don’t want to go to the ocean. Apparently, you can’t take them all the way in, so if they stop, you just have to leave them there, where they will mostly likely become prey. But it’s part of their process to get into the ocean on their own because that’s where they will return to lay their own eggs, so it just a part of the great circle of life. Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba Sithi uhm ingonyama!


The third group stays at base and went to a local school to do ministry.


We kept the base group fed and happy, especially with the frozen watermelon that we walked around with. In the mornings, all the groups would come back to base, shower and repack for their next site, pack their lunch and head out. During this time, one of the middle school girls found this little guy in their bag area. I don’t even want to know if the snake was in their bag or wandered in from outside.


The crazy part was that the group of 7th grade girls who found it were all giggly with it and squealed to me, “look there’s a snake in here!” It’s a good thing I didn’t vocalize what went through my mind, but I went and found a guy to finish him! I still can’t believe that he had to tell the girls to stop playing with it!

Later that day, we found a dog jaw bone in the yard. What in the world?!


I was able to grab Kenzie for a quick pic during one of her transition times. It was fun to be on the kitchen crew because we would sneak our kids and their squads extra treats or the Sweet Baby Ray’s that I brought from home.


Everyone was so sweet and supportive of us! We had a few wrinkles happen, but for the most part, everything went so well and we definitely felt the Lord’s blessing on the entire week! Everyday, we’d have about an hour to go back to our room and rest. It felt like heaven!!! Every night, when we’d climb into bed, we had that exhausted happy feeling that comes with working hard and serving others!


On Thursday night, we had more free time, as our only responsibilities the next day were packing up and feeding breakfast to the base kids. So we drove back into town and had foot massages! It felt so so amazing on our tired legs!


Here we are right before leaving the site. These women were such a blessing to work with! Everyone got along so well and we have so many memories from our week together!


Here’s the before and after of our stock room.


I’m so happy that my first OE is under my belt! I imagine that I’ll be doing this for ummm…another 10+ years, so it’ll be nice to not be a rookie anymore. Although, next year will be on an island, so we won’t be able to scoot into town for forgotten items or foot massages, so it’ll be a little more challenging!


Basketball and Talent Night stuff

18 Feb

I’m not sure why, but I’ve lost a lot of motivation to blog these days, but the other day, Mackenzie sat here and just poured over old posts and pictures, so that rekindled my inspiration!

At the end of January, we had a big weekend for everyone! Josh coached in the big school tournament, Mackenzie played in it, and Bella and Caleb were both in Talent Night in the evening.

Mackenzie’s team did amazing and were the only Faith team to win their championship! It was pretty exciting and so fun for everyone.

These are the other 8th graders who were bumped up to the JV team this season.


The excitement doesn’t end there for Mackenzie in basketball. She was invited to go to Thailand with the girls varsity team this week for the ACSC tournament! She only got one week of practice and three games with them, but she’s learned the offenses and defenses and is thrilled for the opportunity! (I’m thrilled that she can bring mommy home some Thai tea.)

Talent Night was also a huge success! Caleb and his class performed a song, and nothing on this earth is as cute as kindergarteners singing their little hearts out!


Bella and two of her friends came up with a skit that was inspired from a skit they saw on Youtube. They coerced their 5th grade teacher to joined them. It went so well! It’s basically just the teacher asking questions and the girls giving witty and smart alec responses. They nailed every line and I was so proud of them!



And to sign off, here’s a sleepytime pic of Sim


Temp Single-mom stuf

23 Jan

Josh just returned from his yearly trip to Australia for the Baptist Basketball Carnival. We survived! I survived! In some ways, I actually get more accomplished when he’s gone. It’s like I know that I’m the only one who can do the stuff, so I just get it done rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

…and that is the only positive about him being gone!

Before he left, we wanted to do an extra-special date night, so we went to a nearby spa. It was recommended to us, and it was nice, but I felt like we didn’t get to enjoy it to its fullest. For one, we went at night and it was too chilly to enjoy any of the hydrotherapy pools. (It’s hard to believe that the Philippines can ever be chilly!) The cold ones were to cold and the hot tub wasn’t hot enough!


The view during the meal was gorgeous!


After the meal, we had a chocolate body scrub. The therapist scrubbed us down with what smelled like chocolate brownie batter and then wrapped us in warm banana leaves to let it work its magic for 20 minutes. I may or may not have licked my shoulder just to see if it tasted like brownies. It didn’t.

After that, we hit the sauna and explored the spa. It’s all open air and built into the side of a mountain. It’s really beautiful, but just too cold for us to enjoy it all. We did enjoy the fish spa, where the little fish feed on our dead skin–ew.


The best part of the night was the hour long massage, of course. It was the perfect way to finish off our spa night!

Then he left for 10 days, so I was on my own for all the pickups, dropoffs, packing, unpacking, reminding, disciplining, feeding, etc etc etc ETC! Needless to say, I didn’t take the time to snap many photos.

The boys basketball team had a Retro Night fund raiser, so we all spent our Friday night in the gym with the rest of the community. It was a lot of fun and kept my kids entertained!


The next morning was the last day of Saturday soccer. The weather has been gorgeous for the last few weeks! I could sit in my chair in the shade all day long in the weather we’ve been having!

I don’t remember how any of my kids’ teams finished, but like I tell the kids…”Who cares? It’s just soccer.”


When Josh got home, arms full of Aussie goodies, everything felt normal again! We’ve settled back into life and are so happy to be 7 in our house again!

Back to School Stuff

9 Jan

We survived another Christmas break! Now everybody is back to school, only this time, I’M JOINING THEM! Faith was desperate, and I mean desperate, for a HS boys PE teacher. So I am officially on the FA staff now! I’ve never taught a day in my life, so why not start with freshman boys??? Thankfully, Josh coaches a bunch of them in basketball so they know that if they mess with the bull, they’re gonna get the horns!

So far, it’s going well. The first unit is volleyball, which is such a blessing from God because I could teach that in my sleep, and instead I can focus on all the other stuff. Let me tell you, for teaching only one class, there is a lot of “other stuff!” I feel so old because I have to ask my 13 year old to walk me through all the different Google apps! I’m so glad I’m being forced to learn it all though, because I can tell that it’s all around me and I was starting to feel left in the dust!

What ever happened to “If you can climb this rope, you get an A?”! Next week, I have to download something off youtube, pair my phone to the bluetooth speaker, and run an interval workout, then plug all the info into my Google drive?!? Can’t we just do the parachute to the tune of It’s a Small World?

Like I said, I can fool the boys into thinking I have a clue what I’m doing because we’re doing the volleyball unit. The next two units? Badminton and Team Handball. I’d better brush off the old shuttlecock and learn the deets!

Is it Spring Break yet?!

Christmas Stuff (not to sound too Hallmark-y)

3 Jan

I had to take a break from blogging because end-of-odd-years means that I have to turn in my CEU’s, so I’ve been spending all of my computer time watching webinars and doing home studies. I’m proud to say that I can officially go on not practicing, but still being allowed, as an Athletic Trainer!

Now that that is complete, I can catch up on What I Did Over Christmas Break!

Well, I guess I need to backpedal even a bit further with end of school wrap up. The kids did a Christmas program at school and they were awesome. Caleb was Joseph, Bella opened in prayer, and Deacon was part of a rap ensemble.


The day after school got out, Josh and I were supposed to jet down to another island for a wedding. However, a typhoon was making landfall there and no flights were going out. Worse than that, the bride was also stuck in Manila! I felt so badly for her, so I drove into the city and stayed overnight with her and then we had a unexpected bachelorette party the next day. We went to brunch at one of my favorite restaurants, got our nails done, and went shopping. It was so fun and and I was so impressed by her attitude in light of wedding being cancelled!!!



The airports finally opened up on Sunday, so she had her wedding on Monday. However, we weren’t able to go then because we had the FA alumni breakfast that morning.

I sat at the cool 90’s kids table. (It was basically the only 90’s kid table)


Josh and I had a fun date night out with some friends before they jetted off to Barcelona for Christmas Break! We enjoyed multiple cheese platters together, but we discovered that eating cheese alone is such a missed opportunity! My friend brought cheese-pairing jams, and they were phenomenal!



On Christmas morning, everyone was up nice and early!


Time out: look at my favorite ornament!


We had a lot of fun opening stockings together and then eating our traditional Christmas breakfast of french toast, sausage, and OJ.


After breakfast we tore into the tree presents. It’s so fun to shop for the kids because their wish lists are usually very doable on our budget! For example, Bella wanted a Rubik’s cube. Guess who’s been playing with it more than Bella?


We even got Polly a Christmas outfit!


We have some friends who are visiting from Australia, so we had them for Christmas dinner (ew, that sounded Hannibal Lector-ish). I needed the space to prepare, so I sent everyone outside to the pool and to play tennis!

I took a pic of the pre-dinner scene, but I never snapped a photo of all of us together!IMG_8920

I was exhausted by the end of Christmas day! Being a mama on Christmas is hard work!

A couple of days after Christmas, we had to pick a girl up from the airport late at night and then return her to the airport for her domestic flight early the next morning. So rather than fight through the traffic 4x in 8 hours, we decided on a little staycation in the city. I found an Airbnb that looked so fun and didn’t disappoint!

It was a man-made ocean in the middle of the city! We loved it! They had a few quirky, annoying procedures–like we had to register twice a day to get beach passes for an AM wave and a PM wave. Also, while we were walking down the pool, the guard asked us to fold our towels rather than have them around our shoulders! I was a little shocked!

In addition to the beach area with playground, there was also a wave pool! It only ran for 10 min every hour and a half, but it was really fun!

It was so much fun and I loved getting a beach experience without driving a long way or taking a boat or lugging luggage all over the place!

Deacon is especially a great beach player! He plays in the waves all day long and then comes and rolls around in the sand (kind of like a happy golden retriever!). He cracks me up.


We had such a great couple of days together! Of course I needed a fat nap when I got home from vacation, especially because it was Dec 31 and we had a late night ahead of us!



Kenzie’s Stuff

18 Dec

Our 8th grader loves it all! The good, the bad, the fun, the ugly, everything that comes with being 13–she handles it like a champ! Better than I ever did, that’s for sure.


Her middle school Christmas banquet just happened and she looked beautiful. She usually wants to buy something new for banquets, but when two high school girls borrowed dresses of mine for their banquet, Kenz must have decided that shopping in my closet was a-ok!


She’s so lovely. That morning, she knocked out 22 pts in the JV basketball game! They didn’t have enough high-schoolers try out for basketball, so they let four 8th graders play up. She’s realizing that being the closest to rim has a lot of advantages!


Her English class put on a casual performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I may have leaned over and told my friend that I wish this WAS a dream, as that would mean I was napping.

It was challenging for them to memorize their parts, because they didn’t totally know what they were saying. Since they didn’t totally know what they were saying, they didn’t really know how to deliver the lines. On top of that, for some of the kids, English isn’t their first language, and definitely not olde English, so it was challenging for all. But Mackenzie rocked her performance! She was a fairy…..or a vixen….or a witch? I never really figured it out.


She is Simeon’s best friend. Literally, that’s what he calls her. This morning, he came in and said, “Best Friend won’t let me have any toast.” It’s pretty cute and sweet.


I love this girl! I can’t believe that she’s halfway through her 8th grade year and then she’ll be in HIGH SCHOOL!


I’d better go make some Christmas cookies with her stat. Christmas 2021 will here before I know it!

Bella’s Golden Birthday!

11 Dec

I started this blog just after Bella was born, and here we are, 11 years later! On 11/11 at 11:11 am, Bella turned 11!

Since its a big one, she wanted to invite her entire class for a swim party. We brought them over to our local ministry center because that pool has two slides and a couple of ledges to jump off. I was cringing more than usual because I was responsible for the safety of not one, not five, but 16 children!


This is the lower of the two ledges. The other one is over twice as high! a handful of the kids were brave enough to jump from it!


Bella wanted a Darth Vader cake, so I did my best! Since we can’t get black fondant here, I melted chocolate chips and then piped my own Darth Vader helmet. It wasn’t the greatest, but it did the trick, and Bella loved it!


We also ordered pork bbq sticks and rice from one of Bella’s favorite restaurants. Add in some sodas, candy, and chips, and we had a party!


That party was actually on the 10th, so on her real birthday the next day, we let her choose where she wanted to eat supper. My girl chose the DimSum House and Chatime–two of my favorites! I promise, I did not influence her decision at all, but I was more than happy to oblige! We order a bunch of dumplings, fried rice, noodle soups, and some chicken. For dessert, we all got bubble tea from Chatime and headed to the arcade.




A bonus for Bella’s Nov 11 birthday—Everyone celebrates something! While we’re cheering for Bella, the US is celebrating Veteran’s Day, and in Korea, it’s Pepero Day! I bought some for Bella for eat on her day.


We also discovered something on her birthday….