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Spring Break Surprise

7 May

Just a few days after we returned from the beach, the girls and I hopped on a plane and 30 hours later, we touched down in NYC to surprise my mom for her birthday!

Check-in around 4am!


The first stop once we got through checkin, immigration, and security. Latte for me, chai tea latter for Bella, and hibiscus tea for kenzie, plus a cinnamon roll to share.


Our first flight was a 3-ish hour flight to Shanghai. These little stuffed animal/pillows are amazing! They come with a blanket and a hole to stick your arms through if you want. Mackenzie got hers as a gift from her banquet date, and Bella and I liked them so much that we asked his mom to pick up two more for us!


The worst part of the trip was a 10-hour layover in Shanghai. Don’t feel too badly, we had a 14 hour layover on the way back! As soon as we landed, we went in search of dumplings. Unfortunately, we were in the smaller of the terminals and the one place that has dumplings was out of stock. Thankfully, we had a big bowl of comfort food!


The rest of our layover was spent watching Netflix (pre-downloaded, of course, because you can’t access Netflix in China. Or facebook. Or Insta), playing games, and sleeping.


Pre-flight stretching


Finally, we boarded around 7pm! We were tucked into a row by ourselves, and as soon as we could, we settled into our movies. I don’t ever sleep more than 15 minutes at a time on a plane. But this time, I took a sleep aid right after my meal. Now that I have kids who are more independent travelers, I can sleep away the hours.¬† Then I laid my head against the window, and when I woke up, I reminded myself not to be discouraged when I realized that I only dozed. I pulled up the screen with our flight path on it, and we were already in Canada!!! I had slept for 9 straight hours. It was a first for me, and definitely a highlight. Since then, when I’m daydreaming, I think about that memory! (Shhh…don’t tell.)

We landed in NYC around midnight, and my brother and sister were there waiting for us! We were freezing when we waited outside for my brother to pull the car around! None of us had warm clothes, so we wrapped up in our blankets. I’m sure we looked like weirdos standing in the middle of NYC in March with no warm clothes!

We went straight to bed and when we woke up, we got to see cousins!! Everyone was so happy to be together.


The surprise plan for my mom’s birthday was to set up the church basement with party stuff during the church service that my mom was in. Afterwards, we all walked in one at a time for one surprise after another!


I think this blurry thing is the only photo I have with my mom at the party!


I did, however, make sure to get a pic of the amazing Italian lunch that my dad catered!


We couldn’t get enough of Eva that week! She was so so much fun. I know all of my nieces and nephews have been so adorable at this age, but I think I missed most of it because I had my own toddlers to take care of! With Eva, we could just play play play with her!


The rest of our week was spent enjoying the family, enjoying the weather, enjoying the food, and enjoying the shopping!








And then…less than a week later, it was time to jump back on the plane and head home! We left at midnight, and this time, we were armed with all of our favorite snacks.


After our 14 hour flight, we settled into just as long of a layover! Again, since we had great snacks and new shows to watch, the time actually kind of flew by!



We got home early Monday morning, and after a short sleep, I had an entire day of inservice to get to! It was hard to make it through, but it helped to have my sweet boys waiting for me to get home for a swim!




7 May


Since Michele and Abby came to visit, we decided to make the trip extra special by taking a few days to get away to the beach. I got a sub for my classes and we took Mackenzie out of school, and we headed out early on a Thursday morning.


I love love LOVE this pic of Mackenzie and Abby! They spent the entire 1.5 hour trip at the bow of the boat. Perfect for catching up, not so great for not getting sunburned!


We were pretty comfortable ourselves!



As soon as we got there, we changed into swimsuits and hit the beach. The girls got busy snorkeling and us mom’s camped out under the thatched roof hut.


For dinner, we walked down the beach to an amazing Italian restaurant! It’s authentic italian food and I could’ve eaten there everyday!

I woke up the next morning to our beautiful view outside our 3rd floor room.



Every morning started the same way – banana pancakes. It has been my favorite beach breakfast from when I was little. When we would come to this island (back when it was much more remote), I remember that my parents let me order banana pancakes for every single meal. For like a week!


I’m not much of a snorkerler, but I’m always with people who love it, so we hired a boat and hit the reefs. I always give it a shot, just to make sure I still don’t like it much, and I don’t.


The girls pulled up some starfish for a few photo ops.


This guy smelled exactly how you would think a starfish would smell…




We found that the girls can go parasailing fairly inexpensively (let’s hope the discount isn’t because of quality control!)



We were there on my mom’s birthday, so Mackenzie and I jumped at the opportunity to wish her a beachy happy birthday!



It’s always sad when the sun sets on our last night in paradise!


Oh, but the $4 seaside massage makes it a little more bearable!



I’m so thankful that we were able to get away together! We miss our best friends over here so much, and any chance we get to hang out with them is a huge blessing!




Finishing out February….in April

23 Apr

One of our good friends left the PI to chase love in Canada, so to see him off in style, we gave him an official McDonalds party! To make it even more special, it was a Barbie party!



We took Polly for a little car ride and she loved every single minute!


She especially loved her vanilla cone!


Michele and Abby came to visit! More on that later…

Mackenzie picked out this gigantic pink swan for Christmas, so we had it shipped to Abby so that the two of them could catch up in the most comfortable way ever!


Michele arrived on her birthday, so we rounded up the crew for a fun girls night at our favorite restaurant.


Outdoor Ed

8 Apr

This was my second year on the kitchen crew for Outdoor Ed. This year, the middle school spent a week in Bataan, one of the turning point battle grounds of WWII in the Pacific. The kids always have a great time exploring the guns and caves that still give us a hint of life during the war.

I didn’t get to stay the entire week this time, because it was the very same week as the girls ACSC basketball tournament, which not only were Josh and Mackenzie participating in, but we were also hosting at our school, so I needed to get back for that.

The week started terrific with little traffic as we left the city. But that’s where the easy breeze ended, as my engine light popped on an hour away from our destination! Thankfully, God took great care of us by making sure that literally the two most mechanically inclined fellow OE staff came behind us about 15 minutes after we pulled off the highway! They followed me to the closest town and went in search of a mechanic while my friend and I camped out at a gas station. A few hours later, the car was in the hands of someone else, we had made it to base camp, and jumped right into OE prep activities! It was definitely a HUGE wrench thrown into our day, but I’m so thankful for the guys help, for my friend who stayed with me the entire time, and that we still got everything done, albeit many many hours later than we’d hoped!

This was what I took off of my face that night…ew.


The grounds were beautiful!





Our accommodations….not as nice as the grounds. I never¬† like when the shower isn’t separated from the rest of the bathroom. The toilet is always wet, the floor is always wet, everything is always wet!


I love our kitchen crew t-shirts. “Don’t hate me just cause I’m a little cooler.” Coolers are our saving grace during OE!


We have two days of prep and then the best part is when the kids first arrive!



My favorite camper!


My first time trying cashew fruit! I can’t believe each cashew tiny nut comes from just one of these fruits! It was delicious, and was accompanied with some fun facts, but I cant remember what they are, which is why I need to be up-to-date on this blog!


OE isn’t just educational for the kids. We learned how to get a charcoal grill going full-force in just minutes, thanks to using a handy dandy hairdryer! It works way better than blowing on the coals!


As always, OE kitchen crew is exhausting, but so rewarding! While it was a pain that my car was in the shop, God worked it out perfectly for it to be ready to go the morning that I needed to get back to Manila. In addition, there was a student joining OE who had been sick when the rest of the school rolled in, and her driver brought us back to the town where my car needed to be picked up. On top of that, he was also a mechanic, so he double-checked it all for me! The car wasn’t back to tip-top shape, but it got us back to Manila with enough time for me to shower and grab a quick nap before our first game of the tournament!




Sadie Hawkins

8 Apr

Mackenzie was excited to do the asking for the Sadie Hawkins banquet this year! She and I made a poster that she gave to him, along with a basketball gift, a lunch one day.




They went with their group of friends and had a great time together!


Our beautiful girl with our favorite guy!


Josh and Kenzie and Basketball

8 Apr

We had a really fun basketball season this year! They finished 26-9, so yeah, it’s always fun to cheer for the team that usually wins! (Patriots fans know what I’m talking about.)

One highlight from the season was the Hardeman Tournament, where, in the championship, we played a team that we had lost to once in the season and once in pool play. It was our third game of the day, but Josh figured out a way to beat them and the girls just got it done, one play at a time! IMG_4213

I love Kenzie’s reaction to the win compared to the rest of her team.


She earned an All-Tournament selection!


That game filled the stands, which Kenzie loves, so it motivated me to generate some awesome school spirit for the upcoming ACSC tournament, the big tournament that we got to host this year.

I hate public speaking, but I put together a short presentation about school spirit and delivered it in chapel the week before the tournament. It ended up being so so so much fun with all the students there! Because we’re on staff now and Josh was running the tournament, it was easy to get the strings pulled that needed pulling.

I even created a t-shirt sling shot that was so fun to do during time-outs. I also gave out free drinks and meals at the V (our caf).

During our game that happened over lunch time, I threw out candy (the good stuff from the US) every time a Faith basket was scored.

There’s me on the far left, totally loving being in charge of everyone’s happiness!


That was the game where Kenzie went up against a 6’4″ girl, so our baskets were few and far between, but that was good because it helped me keep the game going all through lunch. Here are the twin towers.


The Friday night game was School Spirit night, where everyone who came to the game in Faith gear was entered for raffle prizes. It was so much fun! I got to live my childhood dream of being a Faith cheerleader!!!

Again, being on staff meant that I had access to the costume closet, so I dug this uniform out and brought all of the old pom poms to the game. On top of that, I taught all the students the old Faith cheers. The best part of being in charge of all of this??? It kept me from yelling at the refs!!! Three cheers!

I saved some pics that a visiting mom took.


This pic cracks me up because this team really had a rough time accepting our referees! Clearly they get away with more hand checks in their country!




The girls had a great tournament, losing only to the champion! The 3-peat champion team is amazing, so it was almost a battle for second amongst the other teams. A fun moment during that tournament was that we beat the champion team in pool play! The cherry on top was that it was tied with seconds left in the game, and my baby girl nailed two free throws to seal the win!

I think we gave out pretty fun trophies in our international tournament! Since we compete against teams from Guam, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, HK, and Malaysia, its fun to throw some Filipino culture into the trophies.


She earned All-Tournament honors at that tournament, as well as the Top Rebounder award. She was just 5 pts away from winning the Top Scorer award too!

She had a really successful season and I think Josh really enjoyed coaching her. I’m gradually coming to terms with the fact that basketball might be more in her future than volleyball. (sniff). I told her, “It’s fine with me. Just get Mommy a championship and then you can pursue basketball.”



Holiday Getaway

28 Feb

We were surprised to find out that our favorite hotel here really upped their pool game by adding playgrounds and slides! We went there for two nights over Christmas Break, thanks to a 50% off Black Friday deal!



One reason that we were excited to go there was because a Red Lobster has just opened at the nearby Mall of Asia. We hit it pretty hard, to the point where they said if we wanted more Cheddar Bay Biscuits, we’d have to pay for them!

After dinner, we strolled around the mall and happened upon a virtual reality activity place. Josh and Mackenzie did a scary zombie one, and the rest of us did a fun family one. It was hysterical watching Josh and Mackenzie react to….nothing….creeping up beside them.



Deacon really gets into hotel life.


It was really beautiful outside the pool, but pretty chilly inside the pool! We’ve had a surprisingly cool “winter!” It’s been dreamy in the mornings and evenings! We know hot season is just around the corner, but we are soaking up as much mid-70’s temps as we can!



The next night, we split up and Josh took his girls on a date to the hotel buffet and I took the boys to dinner and an Active Fun place. The mall was crawling with people, but we still had lots of fun together!


Josh won a gift certificate to a derm clinic, so he sent me to go get my first facial! I could get used to a regular regimen!



Finally, we took a spin on the big Ferris Wheel on Manila Bay. Josh stayed on safe ground, Deacon wished he stayed on safe ground, and the rest of us loved it!