Halloween Honk

21 Nov

The same weekend, nay, the same DAY as the Buhay Sports volleyball tournament, we also had the third night of Mackenzie’s play, HONK!, and the Trunk or Treat.

Mackenzie and her crew did awesome in the play! It was so cute and creative. Mackenzie was Grace, the Queen of the barn. She was funny, she was dramatic, she was everything you could ask for in a Queen.



I had gone to the show on Thursday and Friday, so Josh went on Saturday while I took the others to Trunk or Treat.


I bought their costumes after Halloween last year, so we were excited to wear them. However, we always forget to account for the 85* weather that the costumes must be worn in! Those Spiderman muscles are insulating!



One of the PE teachers had a “trunk” where the kids could only get candy if they did 3-5 pushups. They could come back and get more candy as many times as they wanted, but the pushup count increased every time they went back. (It was the good imported candy, though, so TOTALLY worth the effort!)

Alas, Sim didn’t know how to do a pushup, so they helped him get it done.


The next day was our last day with our very best friends here! They left for the US to get some much-needed rest and resetting. We wanted to soak up as much time with them as possible, so we did church together at their house and then us girls carved some time out of the busy packing to get our nails done.



The next day was a holiday where people basically honor the folks who have gone on before them, so it was fitting that we were all bummed out that day! Thankfully, there are apps and cameras and internet to keep us all in touch until we see each other again (of course, I’m talking about our friends, not the dead folks that other people are honoring….)




Buhay Sports MS volleyball tournament!

13 Nov

Since we took over the middle school volleyball program (I feel like there should be Joey quotations around “program”), we’ve hosted an end-of-season tournament. It’s always fun because it’s at home and it’s with fun, competitive teams.


We were seeded second in pool play, but we ended up rocking it in elimination and won the entire thing! It was so exciting.

At some point during the day, I realized that Mackenzie and Bella won’t play on the same team again until maybe Mackenzie’s senior year when Bella is a freshman!!! That made me a little sad, but thankful that Bella got to play this year even though she’s only in 5th grade!

She’s been working on her overhand serve all season and it really kicked in by the last tournament.


I missed the actual moment of their last point celebration, so I asked them to reenact it for me. Thanks Bella!



My baby girl took home the MVP trophy! Josh made the officials select the MVP so that it was an objective decision, because let’s be honest, our kids are ALWAYS the most valuable player to us, right? She really played well and I’m so excited (and a little nervous) to coach her in high school next year!


Hong Kong

9 Nov

Our end of the season ACSC tournament was in HK this season. I was so excited to go back there and even more excited to go back there for a volleyball tournament!

The trip started oh-so-dramatically when there was a transportation strike closing all government offices. One of my players was supposed to pick up her passport from immigration on Monday morning, with plenty of time for us to leave on Tuesday afternoon. But, that wasn’t possible because of the strike. The first thing I woke up to on Tuesday morning was a text from her dad saying, “The strike is still on. I don’t know how we’re going to get the passport today.”

So we all did a lot of praying! While I was packing, I prayed. While I drank my coffee, I prayed. While I showered, I prayed. As I headed up to school 15 min before we needed to leave, there was still no way of getting the passport. Since I drove up by myself, I was very audibly and fervently asking God to reveal Himself in a huge way in the next 15 minutes. I remember shouting, “Man has made it so we absolutely cannot get this passport, but with you, ALL things are possible. I don’t know how, but please get us her passport before we leave for the airport!”

When I got there, Rosie was really solemn as she watched her teammates load up their suitcases. We were literally climbing into the van to leave when her dad got off the phone with his immigration lawyer, looked at me and quietly said, “I got it.”

I, of course, burst into tears and started hugging everyone! It was so exciting to see such a miraculous answer to a very specific prayer! Needless to say, we were all pumped as we started this special trip!



We arrived in HK and rode the bus to ICS-HK with two other teams. It was so fun to see their coaches again, as we’ve all been coaching at this tournament for 5 years now (except me, when I go on furlough!)

We got to stay at a nice hotel just a five minute walk from the school, so that was amazing! IMG_7207

After a welcome banquet, coaches meeting, and fun games for the girls, we tucked into our hotel rooms for the night and got pumped for three matches the next day!

This was taken in the morning before our first game. They looked like they were still sleepy, so I was a little nervous how they would play, but I needn’t have worried! They were awesome and we finished the first day undefeated!


I thought this was funny. I took a pic of the girls before their first game and posted it. Then I saw that one of my players mom had also taking a pic and posted it. So we can see each other in the other’s picture.


Of course you celebrate an undefeated day with dumplings, milk tea, and bubble waffles! I took my assistant coach to the same place that Josh took our family to after he had been there for a basketball tournament. You can get 10 dumplings and a milk tea for $5! I think we ate there three more times after that!


The next day we played three more matches and I was pretty sure that we’d go 1-2 or 2-1. We ended up going 1-2, but not with the teams that we thought! We beat the #1 seed and lost to the #5! We also lost to the team who won the tournament (#2), but we took them to three sets.

One of my girls parents brought us milk tea on the bench, so it was comical when I went to yell something at the girls, but couldn’t get it out because my mouth was full of pearls (big tapioca balls that you suck up through a straw.)




The next day was our ministry day. All the teams were shuttled to a beach to clean it up. They really ran it well, giving us lots of facts and figures about the trash we go through and how it is affecting our oceans.

I was ready to give a good effort in picking up trash, but once they told us, “We’re going to see which team picks up the most after we weigh it all.” Game. On.

Our team worked HARD and brought in 74 kg of trash! I know 18 of that was the refrigerator door that I hauled down the beach!


So we got 74, but the winning team got 76!!! To put it in perspective, the losing team got 8kg. There had been a broken surfboard…..I should’ve grabbed it! But get this, the winning team (who also won the entire tournament) had 15 people on their team and we only had 10, so…….it doesn’t change anything.  But still…

That night, we went back to the dumpling place with a family who used to work at Faith. Their daughter was one of Bella’s friends, so I would’ve loved to have brought Bella!


Here are some sights from the mall….i don’t know.

Evening stretching and giggling.

On the last day of the tournament, we ate breakfast at McDonalds. They have a little kiosk set up where you order all your food and then go pay at the counter and wait for your food. It’s really nice for us non-Cantonese/Mandarin speakers! FYI–HK McDonalds has  Borsht and a Tobasco Hot Fudge Sundae!


We ended up #4 seed going into elimination and finished the tournament in 4th place, so it worked exactly as it should’ve I guess! We were disappointed, but focused on the experience rather than the outcome.


That night, after the awards and banquet, some of the local girls took us on the train to a nearby shopping area.

The train is so awesome and so safe that kids start riding it by themselves at 6 years old!!!


Dee and I were so excited to finally get to try Hot Star, a Tiawanese chicken that was recommended to us. It was so delicious and we thought we were catching a unique cuisine until one of the dad’s told us that we have that same restaurant near to us in Manila!


All this other questionable stuff was at my bubble waffle stand. Why?!


It was such a great trip! I found out that next years tournament is in Malaysia!!! I’ve been dying to go there (outside of the KL airport!) for years. Josh thinks we should bring the entire family. (HOPING!)







Sim’s 3rd Birthday

4 Nov

Simeon loves all things Peppa Pig these days, so naturally that’s what he wanted for his birthday! I was more than happy to oblige because Peppa isn’t the most detailed cartoon to recreate!


Then we headed to the Emoji Movie, via the arcade for some rides.


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Sim is pretty stoked to be 3 now! My favorite of his mispronunciations right now….

ME: “You’re aren’t 3!”

SIM: “Yes, my are!”

I love it! I love him!


Misc Phone Dump

4 Nov

Poor little Sim is sick, so while the other 5 in our family are playing soccer this Saturday morning, he and I are at home . The internet isn’t horrible, so I’m going to post as much as I can. This is the third post in an hour! (PS: there is a rumor that the internet company is purposely hindering our internet, then calling the customers and offering the sale of an upgrade  to make it better. (eyeroll emoji)

Anyway, here are some more pics of our adorable little lady.


Simmy was playing by himself and I heard him say Grandpa and Grandma, so I asked him about it. He held up these two and introduced the Joker as Grandma and Batman as Grandpa. Sorry Grandma.


Mackenzie had a concert after school, so I sneaked (is snuck seriously not a word? Spell check says, “no”) out of volleyball practice to go cheer her on….or, applaud, I guess is the right word for a concert. She’s the tall one on the end…back row, of course!


Bella and her class also had a performance. During class, they performed little Greek Theater plays. Bella was Arachne, a weaver who challenged Athena and was consequently transformed into a spider.


Our volleyball team always puts on a 4 v 4 fund raiser tournament. It’s fun and everyone always looks forward to it each year. Josh and I always play together, but this year and probably every year from now on, we made it a family affair.

We, of course, had jerseys made! Our team was called The Empire Spikes Back and each of us has Star Wars volleyball names. Mackenzie was Darth SETious, I was ACE Windu, Josh was ChewBLOCKa, and Bella was R2-Beat U.

It was a lot of fun! Bella and I controlled the back court, Kenzie set, and Josh dominated the net. It got us all the way to the finals, but we lost to one of my players and her team. I hate to lose, but it softens the blow if its to one of my varsity players!




Deacon’s Spy Birthday

4 Nov

This year was Deacon’s golden birthday, so we wanted to make extra sure that it was super special. He wanted a Spy Party with all the boys in his grade (oye!), so we did our best to oblige.

It was actually pretty fun to plan. The best part was, it was pretty inexpensive, as long as you don’t mind trading the cost for labor!

The invitations were delivered in a TOP SECRET brown envelope. It was a form letter from the Department of Covert Missions (DCM – Deacon’s initials) reading,

Dear Sir, 

The security of DCM has been compromised and it is imperative that DCM train new, uncorrupted agents immediately,

After careful consideration, you have been selected for this intense and elite training mission. Should you choose to accept, please arrive promptly at the DCM training facility on Sunday, Sept 10, 2017 at 1600 hours. The training will be completed by 1800 hours, at which time your handler will arrive to transport you to your next mission.

This covert and confidential mission is operating under the code name, “Deacon’s Birthday Party” and should you choose to accept this mission, please reply to Valerie, Head of Special Training – Philippines Division. 

Thank you and good luck!

When the boys arrived, the first thing they had to do was decode their top secret code names. They were names like Cobra, Viper, Starlord, etc.  There were four different decoders to work from (Morse, numbers, opposite alphabet, and one-letter-off), so some of them were simple and others were more difficult.

The next activity was laser avoidance training. Mackenzie and her friend helped with this one by stringing up “lasers” through the hallway. The boys were timed as they climbed through the lasers, retrieved a piece of candy, and exited into our living room. They all loved it, but let’s be honest, if they were real lasers, I’d still be cleaning up the remains of a lot of little boys!

Next, the boys split up into two teams, Alpha and Bravo. Deacon was one team leader and his friend, Seth, was the other. I had planted separate team messages and tools all over the condominium building and even recruited other tenants to read messages to the boys.


This was the first message, then they had to decode their next instructions with the decoders.IMG_6918

Mackenzie, Bella, and their friends were the double agents and they were waiting down by the pool for the two teams to arrive. When they did, the girls bombarded them with water balloons.

After about 4-5 steps in their mission, involving batteries, screw drivers, corrupted agents, and locked rooms, the two teams met up and completed the mission, resulting in the retrieval of the package, which was Deacon’s first present. IMG_6910

Then we ate pizza, junk food, and of course, cake. Easiest cake ever!  I just wrote Happy Birthday Deacon in morse code, so it was all dots and dashes!


It was a really fun party and we all had a loud, sweaty, tiring time!

Miss Polly

4 Nov

As soon as our much-loved Mr. Bojangles died just days before we returned to the Philippines, the 7 of us started discussing the next addition to our family.  Mackenzie wanted a pug, Bella and I wanted a beagle, Deacon wanted a chihuahua, and Josh wanted a dachshund. But we decided we wouldn’t get any dogs until volleyball season was over.

But then we saw Polly.

She and her brothers and sisters were advertised online and their birthday was our anniversary!!! How could we not drive an hour and a half to check them out?!

We fell in love with her right away. They were all adorable, but Polly had two identical white toes on her hind legs and she was a gorgeous color. We snatched her right up.



We hadn’t told the kids what we were doing that night, so it was one of our greatest family memories when we walked in at midnight and woke the kids up with a brand new puppy!

It took us a couple of days to give her a name. When we got Bo, we knew we wanted our next dog to be called Oligopoly (def. – the market condition that exists when there are few sellers, as a result of which they can greatly influence price and other market factors.) I read it in AP US History in high school and always thought it would be a cute dog name. Only in my mind, I pronounced it Ollie-GO-Polly instead of Ol-i-gop-ul-lee.

We also were drawn to Hamilton names, but the female names in that musical are dull. If we got a boy, he could be Hercules Mulligan or Marquis de Lafayette, but as a girl, we were limited to Eliza, Peggy, Angelica, or Maria. But we did like the sisters’ last name, Schuyler (pronounced Skylar), so those are the two that we debated, and even took a FB poll. Polly won!


She’s been so great! I read Cesar Milan’s book and ohmygosh, realized SO many errors that we made with Bo! It’s going much much better with Polly! She’s super cool with soiling her kennel, so that’s been a challenge, but I think we’re at the end of that.

The kids just love her. She sleeps in her kennel next to Bella and Simeon loves running around with her outside.



I’m posting this over a month after we got her and I can’t believe how much she’s grown! She isn’t the tiny little girl who fits in Josh’s shoe anymore. But she also isn’t crying at night or peeing in her cage, so I’m good with the growth!