Bella’s a Preteen

19 Nov

Bella celebrated her 12th birthday on 11/11! She had her party the day after her birthday,  but we still celebrated after church with her choice of meals. Thankfully, she chose a family favorite – Din Tai Fung! Facebook reminded me that she chose dumplings for her birthday last year as well!


No matter how old this girl gets, I don’t think she’ll ever outgrow stuffed toys! She has a million on her bed at all times and always wants more. Another great love in her life is fried chicken. As luck would have it, a store here had a stuffed chicken leg. I snatched it right up and she was in love!

The next day, she had a repeat of her last birthday. She and her classmates loved it so much that she wanted everything the same. Same pork bbq sticks, same salt n vinegar Cracklings, Flat tops, and of course, cake.


Oh Bella, how much we love you!


Bff visit

11 Nov

Since our best friends left the field a few months ago, we’ve been counting down the days until they come visit!

It was so great to have Dave and Olivia come for 10 days. I told Dave that we wanted Olivia as much as possible, so she pretty much moved in, which we loved! The girls did all of their usual favorite things – swimming, snacking, tea-partying, plus app surfing, video-watching, and video-making. These girls are growing up!

It was fun to have her here on Halloween, especially because we got the next two days off of school!




Bella wanted to celebrate her birthday early with Liv, so we took the kids to Bella’s heaven on earth–Timezone.


Unfortunately, the birthday girl didn’t have the big moment of the night. That honor goes to Deacon, who hit the 1000 ticket jackpot…..TWICE!

Then Caleb hit the jackpot too! I didn’t get a pic of him though because Kenzie and I were busy on the arcade equivolent of a slot machine.

The next day, I took the girls out for mani/pedi’s. Bella was no match for the hand massage, and fell asleep mid-mani.

Another huge highlight while Liv was here was that she got to play in the middle school Buhay Sports volleyball tournament! Josh made her a uniform and everything!


We couldn’t let the girls have all the fun! Josh, Dave, and I went to our favorite double-date spot. It was so fun, but the empty chair next to Dave made me miss Michele too much!!!



11 Nov

Before I jump to the Malaysia post, I found some more pics of my weekend away with Bella.

First, look at this ice cream flavor! Burnt rice! Of course we had to try it, and it tasted EXACTLY like the the bottom of the rice pot! It was crazy. I know a lot of people who love the burnt rice at the bottom of the pot, but I’m not one of them.


Here are some pictures from the arcade. I’m nervous that Bella is going to be really into slot machines when she gets older, because she LOVES the games with the big possible payouts. It didn’t help that we KEPT HITTING THEM!



After counting our tickets, we realized that we were about 150 tickets short of getting the stuffed animal that she wanted. So I made the executive decision to buy a few more credits and each of us hit our biggest winning games. Hers was the claw machine that picks up rolls of tickets (She picked up 4 rolls of 30 tickets in one grab earlier!) Mine was a game where you drop a ball and hope it falls into the jackpot slot (I hit it on my first try, but not ever again. I did hit the 100 ticket slot a few times!) Anyway, long story even longer, between the both of us, we grabbed those last 150 and she was able to buy the stuffed animal!



Ok, onto Malaysia!

I’ve been looking forward to the tournament being in Malaysia for years! It really is a great trip because its cheap to get there, the hotel is right next to the school, it’s all on the beach, and there is a fantastic Indian restaurant right across the street! However, I must have been nervous during the tournament, because I really didn’t have much of an appetite the entire time we were there!

We had a 6-hour layover in Kuala Lampur, so the time was spent preparing gifts for the other teams, eating, sleeping, and practicing!


My fun seatmates….


We got there too late for the Welcome dinner, partially because our flight landed 30 minutes before the banquet, but also because one of my players left her cell phone in the seat pocket and we had to try to track it down.

The first activity of the tournament was the service project/ministry. This was the most fun we’ve ever had. We went to three different old folks homes and played Bingo with them! It was so much fun!

We started pool play that day and finished the day 2-1. I think the long travel day the day before kept us from looking like our usual selves, but we still played decently.

I slept horribly the entire week, waking up earlier and earlier each day! It was mostly annoying, but I did enjoy watching the sunrise and I used the opportunity to watch our games (as the internet was never good enough to pull up the games during waking hours).

Here is the view from the hotel, which is next door to the school….which means this is the view from the school!


The second day, we finished 1-2, but thanks to some upsets the previous day, we finished #3 seed, which was huge for us!

The next day, we won two critical games that locked us in to a finish of at least 3rd place. That was the most wonderful night of the trip! I’ve been in that position before in this tournament, but only got to enjoy that feeling for a couple of hours before we had to play the next match. This game was won in the early afternoon, so we had all evening and all night to enjoy that winning feeling!

(I had more of an apetite that night!)


That night we went to a nearby restaurant/shopping area. We stuck around Little India, obviously, and had some yummy eats. I also bought some pants (that look more like Thai pants) and my usual tournament earrings.

The next day, we got knocked into the losers bracket by the soon-to-be champions and then dropped our next game to the second place team. It’s always a bummer to lose, but at least we went down fighting hard, and that’s the best outcome you can hope for in a losing situation!

At the awards banquet, we were given our bronze medals and Mackenzie was named to the All-tournament team! She had a great tournament. Her hitting timing was really off the first two days, but she was still able to put away some kills. On the third day, she and our setter got some time to work together and she got her timing back. In addition, she played great defense and consistently served well throughout the tournament.


The best way to ever close out a tournament was when they let us release lanterns on the beach!!! It was so fun and magical.



And of course we all sang the song from Tangled.




October in Review

29 Oct

Volleyball season is over now, so my afternoons have freed up! Perhaps I’ll be able to stay on top of thrillanmanila now!

…but probably not.

Since my last post, little Simmy turned 4!


That picture above was captured from a video clip of Sim singing Hot Cross Buns. He shakes his actual buns back and forth and sings Hoth Croth Bunth. It’s one of the top 10 reasons I love having Sim in our family!

For his birthday, we just celebrated as a family with dinner, movie and cake.



We watched Smallfoot, but it wasn’t captivating for Simmy.


The girls made Simmy’s birthday cake this year!



Bella and I had special weekend away to do Passport 2 Purity together during Fall Break. We had so much fun together and Bella, more than any of my kids, treasures one-on-one time! We got a terrific Airbnb in BGC (the nicest area in Manila). We were within walking distance of everything we wanted to do, eat, and visit!



Our condo had infinity pool!




Bella got to pick everything we did and ate, and thankfully, we share a lot of the same tastes and she picked Din Tai Fung for dinner not once, but twice! In addition, we grabbed some Xiao Long Bao for a take-out snack!

We had a massage at a nice spa planned for a special outing, but Bella overruled that decision when she saw a Timezone across the street. So my massage took a back seat to an arcade! We had so much fun together though. She likes to arcade like me, going for the high-ticket games. We had a lot of jackpot moments and it was so fun.


Other highlights were pedicures, Wild Flour, Starbucks, snacking in bed, Clueless, and the balloon activity gone drastically wrong! (Inside joke!)

When we were done with our girls getaway, Josh and the kids picked us up and we headed to another airbnb near the airport. Why? Because my parents were coming for a visit!

They were here during Canadian Thanksgiving, so we invited some Canuck neighbors over for a feast.


One of the great parts of Grandma and Grandpa coming to visit is that Caleb got to read to someone new!


More pics from their visit to come…

Spirit Week

23 Sep

I had to do a teacher self-evaluation last week, and I gave myself an “approaching standards” or a “meeting standards” on every single category, except for the one that talked about getting involved with student activities. I gave myself a big, fat “exceeding standards” on that, and this is why…


It was Spirit Week last week, and I was all-in, every day! When I say “all-in,” I mean, “ALL-IN” to the point where I crash-dieted (whilst teaching the PE1 girls all about nutrition and how crash-dieting isn’t healthy) for the week before, because when I tried on a dress that I planned to wear the first day, I could barely zip it up!

And while crash-dieting isn’t healthy, it works! (shhhhhhh). I was able to zip it up AND I could sit down in it! The first day was Black and White Day, so Kenz and I mixed and matched all of our stuff.


The second day was Squad Day, so my fellow coaches and I donned our coachiest gear.


The third day was House Performance Day, (that’s the first pic) and our house was doing a Greatest Showman themed performance. We came in second out of 4 on that one, mostly because all the fine arts teachers and star student performers were in another house.

Thankfully, our house has the muscle, so we won the Tug-of-War activity!


The 4th day was Fiction/Fantasy Character Day. Kenzie was dressed as  Professor Trelawny until she came into my room the morning of, and saw that I was Katniss Everdeen. She immediately turned around and changed into Tris clothes and asked me to tattoo her collarbone!


The last day was Era day, and our house thankfully chose 80’s! Once again, ALL-IN….easily.


The kicker…..teachers don’t earn points for dressing up!!! Oh well. It was so fun anyway! AND….Tharseo won Spirit Week! So our house gets a non-uniform day and Korean ice cream, as well as bragging rights for another year.

The week prior to our Spirit Week, the middle school had their similar week called Friendship Week. Bella was all-in on her costumes as well! I didn’t get any pics of her, but one of her teachers posted this on on facebook, so I nabbed it. She was even a costume finalist on Twin Day with one of her friends.


Right now, I’m teaching swimming in PE (aka: Googling “How to do the Butterfly”). In between laps, we have some fun!


Speaking of PE, we had school picture day, and I didn’t want my picture to be in everyday PE garb, so I wore a dress. But I still had to teach PE, so I tucked the dress into my shorts and laced up my sneakers. It was a contradictory outfit!


I’m so sad that we only have a month left of volleyball! This has been a great and interesting season and I’m not ready to be done with these girls!






Trying my best to catch up!

2 Sep

Yikes, I’m averaging about one post a month! Life is pretty busy up in here, but I refuse to let Simeon have the blog version of the baby-of-the-family baby book!


A major highlight of the last month has been coaching Mackenzie! She’s finally on my varsity team and so far, it’s going great! She’s is gracefully navigating through having mom as coach, and for the most part, I am too! IMG_1964

One month in, and we’ve already had a huge highlight in beating a rival school who we haven’t beat in 7 years! It was such a fun night for all of us. (The girls are jumping up and down, which explains the blurriness!)


We were planning to have Caleb’s friends over for a birthday party, but there was massive flooding from a typhoon on his special day, so we ended up cancelling the party and just having close by friends over for a semi-party. He still had cake and presents and friends and games, so he was a happy party guy!

One of his presents was colored hair spray, so on the day of Bella’s cross country meet, Bella’s volleyball game, and Mackenzie’s volleyball game, we sprayed his hair blue. Number 1 fan!

Look at that jack-o-lantern smile!


After church one Sunday, we hit Chili’s for lunch. Deacon wanted to watch the Warriors game, so he brought his mug of soda over to the bar and sat there, nursing his drink and watching the game. It was comical.


Last weekend, I went to the High School Retreat with all of the high schoolers. It was exhausting and fun. Here is my homeroom. It’s so fun hanging out with these girls!


I made my team wake up at 6am for some volleyball practice! (don’t worry, all of the sports teams workout at retreat-its tradition!)

Volleyball-wise, it was a waste of time, but for team fun, it was priceless! This is a great group of girls and I love coaching them!


Achh Ea Double Hockey Sticks Week

12 Aug

If one were to scroll back through all the first week in Aug posts, I’m pretty sure it would either be blank or whiny because it is my busiest week of the year! For 7 years (today!) this week has included two of my kids birthday parties, the first full week of school, volleyball tryouts and chaotic first practices. This year, I’ve added full-time teaching to the mix, so why wouldn’t we schedule Josh’s knee surgery for this week?! It’s a big ol’ eye roll is what it is.

I also have an entire month of life to catch up on, so I was to the point of I-have-so-much-to-do-so-I-just-won’t-do-anything (that’s a real thing, right?) I was just about to fall into a blissful 15 minute power nap when Sim yelled at me to go wipe him, so…..I’m awake and have 15 minutes to spare!

Ready, set, go!

Not long after we got back from the mountains, the three older kids were off to camp for the week. It was exciting for everyone, except the two who didn’t get to go. Caleb was sobbing because he was going to miss Deacon, which made my heart swoon!

The kids had a blast at camp and came home with all kinds of stories and inside jokes. The camp was Narnia-themed, so my kids only know some people by their Narnia name. (BTW, the JV volleyball team is being coached by Aslan!)

We actually didn’t get to see the kids the day they got home because Josh whisked me off to a hotel for our anniversary/my birthday. The highlight of that overnight was that we went to see Celine Dion in concert at Mall of Asia! She was indescribable! She nailed every single note for two straight hours. It was incredible. Hamilton last year, Celine this year….Josh is setting the bar pretty high for the years to come!



Around the same time was the New Staff Orientation for Faith. I wasn’t required to go because I already had a semester under my belt, but I was welcomed to because I didn’t get the NSO info the year before. The funniest thing about the week was that even though I was “new staff,” I was in the Faith promotional video three times–once as a volleyball coach, and twice as a high school student!


Taking on the high school girls PE department meant that I got my own office! I was so so SO excited to go in there and make it my own space. It was in really rough shape….like, really rough. I’m so excited about how things came together. The facilities department painted the floor and installed the chandelier. Our dear friends visiting from the US painted the walls while I was at NSO, and then I worked on the rest. I painted just about everything and turned a file cabinet in to a tufted bench. It was so much fun and I’m so happy when I go in there each day!




The night before school started, we did our annual dinner at the Old Spaghetti House. Fun fact: the same waiter has been there since Mackenzie was a baby!


The next morning, we were all up and ready to go nice and early! That happens like twice a year, usually the first and last day of school.

This year I got to be in the first-day-of-school pic! This was the last day of hair, make-up, and cute clothes. Since then, its been ponytails and shorts and tees!


Since I’m a HS teacher, I got to be in on the “sorting” activities, where the new students were placed in their Houses. Mackenzie, myself, and all future family will all be the house Tharseo. I was skeptical when Faith moved to a house system, because I loved class pride, but now I love it!



A few days later, our little Simmy started preschool! He was so so excited, which made us excited for him. I have to say, I was a little bummed that I never had that drop-the-kids-off-and-go-home-to-a-quiet-house-and-a-cup-of-coffee feeling that I’ve been planning for 14 years, but…I have my office!

Sim loves preschool and doesn’t appreciate fridays, when he doesn’t get to go see his friends there!


And I’ll just wrap this post up with a captionless pic of Sim…