Tag Archives: Christmas

Oh right, I have a blog.

5 Jan

Since we didn’t do any traveling for Christmas break, we’ve been having fun locally! There’s always something fun to do in Manila. (Except mini-golf. They don’t have it and I wish they did!) Seriously, in the 10 years that we’ve been here,  Manila has developed SO much! Folks, we have Pottery Barn! It’s insanely expensive, and all the pristine white furniture is no match for the pollution and hot, humid, mold-friendly climate, but it’s still fun to pretend! We also have Tiffany’s, but that’s a whole other level of pretend.

When we first got here, it was hard to find a decent burger, but now we have at top 10 list that never fails! Manila is one of the main cities in Asia, so we’re a hotspot for new restaurants.

Enter DinTaiFung.

This restaurant started in Taiwan, and is considered one of the top gourmet restaurants in the world! We went there in Taiwan when I was there for volleyball in October. I was mesmerized by the xiao long bao – making that we could watch through a window to the kitchen. They opened in early December, which is also the worst traffic time, so we held off going there until after Christmas. We spent New Years Eve at Megamall having a super-duper family fun day!

We started with lunch at Din Tai Fung. Everything we ordered was perfect! We got lots of xiao long bao (dumplings filled with soup and ground meat), potstickers, sweet and sour chicken, a house special noodle dish, and shrimp-fried rice. Great, I’m drooling again…


After eating, we set out to do some ice-skating! Josh squeezed his feet into their biggest skates and went with the four eldest. Simmy and I watched them for a while, but then we did some shopping. (We also have H&M!)

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“Yeah, I can talk. I’m just ice skating…”


They skated for a couple of hours, and then on our way out, we saw the bowling alley, so we stopped in for a game. All the kids loved it except for Mackenzie. She’s growing so quickly that she has a hard time putting it all together for bowling. She kept getting gutter balls and it brought her to tears a number of times. (Well, the gutter balls AND the influx of pre-teen hormones!) However, after using the first 8 frames to “warm-up,” she finally sent the last 4 throws down the middle, so she finished on a happy note.

The others had a blast. Caleb needed a little help getting the ball down the alley in fewer than 4730 seconds.

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At the snack bar, they sell personal little fountains that you can bring to the table. The kids LOVED it!


Star Wars was also playing at the IMAX theater, but we didn’t go for that. But we made sure to get a pic with one of its stars, BB8


That night, we had the annual alumni basketball and volleyball games at Faith. I wasn’t going to play in the basketball game, because I have some kind of back injury. However, they only had 4 people to play, so I felt like I should play. ( The other 5 or so basketball alumni that I saw in the stands did not feel such guilt.) So I ended up playing, and had a lot of fun! My back actually felt great during the game, but ohmygoodness, I’ve been paying for it in the following days.

After the games, it was already 10:00, but our night was still going. After all, it was New Years Eve! So we headed to a friends house who have a fantastic roof deck, perfect for watching fireworks! Unfortunately, it started to rain around midnight, so we couldn’t see much. It was the first year that they kids have gotten to stay up to ring in the new year, so they loved it. We had some of our own fireworks that they got to set off on the roof. Simmy slept through it all!

Happy New Year!



Merry Little Christmas!

29 Dec

I’m loving our Christmas break! When Josh and the team got back from Tacloban, we took the team to Greenhills for some shopping. Being the week of Christmas, it was very annoyingly busy, but we were all happy to be together again. Caleb especially loved having his favorite playmate around again. He didn’t leave his side all day and fell asleep in his arms in the van!


The next day, Josh took some of the kids to the store to buy presents and groceries for 4 pastors and their families that he works with. He said it was so fun to bless them with things that they can’t get during the rest of the year!

On Christmas Eve, we made our traditional fondue meal. It was delicious. Deacon may be on to something, turning that fondue fork into a kebab!


Another tradition: the kids like to sleep next to the tree on Christmas Eve.


Christmas morning started around 8:00am. We had to wake up Josh and Simeon, but once the festivities got going, everyone was excited.

We started off with stockings. The kids got all kinds of fun little trinkets, toys, and earrings. Their favorite toy were these water-filled balls that we got in Thailand. Unfortunately, all of them were leaking within hours!


After stockings, we had our french toast and sausage Christmas breakfast. Josh treated us to some orange juice too! After a yummy breakfast, we opened the presents under the tree. It so fun to see their happy little faces with each gift!

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After that, I went into the kitchen and didn’t really leave until 7pm! We had 5 Aussies over a lamb Christmas dinner. Josh was in charge of the lamb, and he did an amazing job! It was so delicious. We also had mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, Swiss veggie medley, rolls, green beans, and for dessert, French Silk Pie, fudge, and lemon bars.

The excitement of the day proved too much for Caleb. He dozed off at the dinner table!


We were just minutes into the day after Christmas when I got to work fixing this…


Ever. Year.

Just the 5 of us

20 Dec

Josh and Caleb have been gone all week to Tacloban with a ministry basketball team from Australia. Meanwhile, the kids and I have been wrapping up at school. I have been baking up a storm for the Christmas parties and to make assorted treat boxes for all of the kids teachers. Now that Mackenzie is in middle school, we have twice as many teachers to whom we owe our sanity.

We made them fudge, sugar cookies, pecan tarts, peppermint patties, and cranberry white chocolate cookies. The kids helped with the sugar cookies. I was not very fun at all, what with my quality control standards etc. I kind of blacked out, but I vaguely remember scolding Deacon for putting too many berries on the holly leaf?


Traffic here is horrific all year, but the weeks leading up to Christmas are especially mind blowing. I took Mackenzie and her friends to their first figure skating lesson on Monday. I actually made the 9 mile drive in a smooth 40 minutes. However, when I got to Mega Mall, I had to drive around for 30 minutes looking for a parking spot. It was infuriating! I finally just sent the girls up to the skating rink while I drove around and around and around. When I finally got up there, the girls were still waiting to get into the rink, and were being asked what country are they representing! Apparently, there was a speed skating competition coming up and people thought these three American girls were part of the competition. I think that assumption was squashed about .3 seconds after they wobbled onto the ice.

The lesson went great. It was only 30 minutes, so they didn’t learn a whole lot, but they are allowed to skate as long as they want after the lesson, so they practiced and played for another hour or so.

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Meanwhile, the speed skating team from Taiwan was having their pre-competition shake out skate. They were skating so fast around the rink! I was sure that one of our girls would accidentally trip one and take out the entire team!


It took us about an hour and a half to fight the traffic home. Blech.

A couple of nights later, Mackenzie and the middle school choirs performed at a local mall. Shockingly, it took me only 8 minutes to get there. However, once again, all the parking lots were full, so I just had to drive around and around and around until I found a spot. We ended up missing the 6th grade performance, but caught the all-choir finale! I made the decision to steer clear of malls until 2016! (except we are taking the ministry team to Greenhills on Monday, the week of Christmas!)


Deacon and Bella had their elementary Christmas program on Friday. They did such a good job!


Deacon even had a little solo! At the beginning of the week, he was asking if he could back out of it. I think once they started rehearsing on the big stage, he got spooked. But after a few days of practice, he said he was good to go! He did such a great job! However, the mic was not working properly, so we only got to hear a couple of words of his, “This fruitcake, it weighs a TON!”


After the program, I took the kids to celebrate the end of the semester with a Star Wars matinee. It was so fun! I’m not a Star Wars freak or anything, but I have to say that I got chills when the words started crawling across the screen. I may have even “Woooo”-ed when Han Solo and Chewie came on the screen.


Now the Christmas countdown is on!

My Middle Schooler

8 Dec

Mackenzie has become a busy little middle schooler! She has a different activity EVERYDAY after school! At the moment, it’s swimming, basketball, PHAT, and talent night rehearsals. She’s even busier during school! But all of that hard work was rewarded with a wonderful concert last week.

She performed on the violin with the 6th grade strings.

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Then she performed with the 6th grade choir. The did a great job! They even performed a song with hand bells. She hit the “Christ-mas” beats of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” like a champ!


Afterwards, when I went to congratulate her on a job well done, she goes, “Mom, was I standing straight enough?” I was excited because I actually HAD noticed! I’ve been getting on her about standing up straight, but any time she would strike that shoulders-back/stomach in pose, she looked a little electrocuted. But she looked nice and natural up on stage!

Another reason that she needs to start standing up straight is that she’s wearing adult size clothing now! She is working on 5’7″ so she’s about at the tallest of the average women’s height here in the PI, making clothes-finding more difficult. I’ve been living at this altitude for about 20 years, so I know the feeling!

Anyway, when it came time for the middle school Christmas party, she was exquisite! She felt like a grown-up in her dress, but also because she got to wear mascara, lip gloss, and blush, as well as dangly earrings.


I know, super dark. They had all the lights off in the lobby of our condo so that the Christmas lights would twinkle better.

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She had a blast at her party. She brought home a camera full of selfies with her friends and a stomach ache from all of the desserts she ate!

Christmas Break Fun

30 Dec

All it took for Mackenzie to stop biting her nails was her little sister beating her to it and getting her ears pierced! Kenz immediately stopped and once we saw a good amount of growth on her nails, we took her to the mall to get hers done. There was a sale this time, so Kenz’s only cost P120 ($3)!


She was excited but nervous!


We don’t know if it was an allergy or a bug bite, but she had a swollen eyelid for a few days. Josh even bought her a pirate eye patch when we were at the toy store as a joke.


A couple of days after getting her ears pierced, she was cleaning them and one of the earrings fell off and down the drain! I sterilized one of my studs, but they weren’t silver, so I think it started to get infected. Josh and I have both been sick the last couple of days, but he powered through and went out to buy her some more. Thank goodness they are only $3!


Keeping up with the fun outings, we all got dentist check-ups. Bella, Deacon, and I were cavity-free – woo hoo! Mackenzie and Caleb both had tiny ones. Caleb looks so adorable in the dentist chair! Our dentist is so great at making them feel comfortable. Caleb was all about the experience and loved spitting in the sink.

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Just recently, I’ve made friends with some other mom’s from Faith. One of them owns the largest make-up company in Manila and lives just down the road from us. She invited us to her daughters birthday party a few weeks ago. It was so fun for all of us! I didn’t want to walk around the house taking pictures as if I was on a White House tour, but it was spectacular, and I couldn’t resist taking one when we were out by the pool.


I wish it was a clear day, so the city would be really visible. My friend just invited us to her New Years Eve party, so this view will be flooded with fireworks tomorrow night! Like I said, Josh and I have both been sick, so I don’t know if we can make it, but I really, really, want to!

Speaking of parties, we got invited to the penthouse of our condominium building for a Fire & Ice themed party the other night.


Everyone had to wear red, black, or white. It was beautiful! Again, I didn’t want to be a tourist, but I quickly snapped a couple photos.

The inside  was the ice room and had an ice sculpture and was decorated completely in white, with snowflakes and lots of lights. It was beautiful! I know this picture isn’t even worth posting, but it will help me remember the night anyway!


Outside on the perfectly-party-appropriate porch was the fire area. They even had fire dancers as party of the entertainment!


So that’s how we’ve been spending our Christmas Break. Josh and the girls leave for Australia next week…on Malaysian Air. After the first airline catastrophe, and even after the second one, I wasn’t nervous about my family flying. But now, after another airline catastrophe in less than a year, all from Malaysia-based airlines, I’m trying hard not to be nervous!

Merry Christmas! Maligayang Pasko!

25 Dec

It’s Christmas afternoon and the kids are all engrossed in their new Christmas presents, so I have a few minutes to blog before getting our lamb dinner going.

It’s been a fun few days getting ready for Christmas. The kids have been shopping and wrapping presents for each other. They drew names for each other so they could buy one great present for one sib. Tell me why my kids can’t remember to close their closet doors or turn off their light, but for weeks they have known exactly who is buying for whom and can recite the list without skipping a beat!

So on the 22nd, we headed out to Greenhills to do our family shopping. Traffic is quite horrific here all the time, but even more so around the holidays. So instead of making the trip twice in a day, we decided to make a special night of it and stay at a small hotel in Greenhills. It made it a lot easier to have a base camp, especially an air-conditioned one!

When the kids were all snuggled on the bed together, I remembered a pic that I had seen on Pinterest or something, and did my best to position all the tootsies for their best “smile.”


Here is the view of Greenhills from our 19th floor room. I wish I could always have this view before driving somewhere so I could check the traffic!



I think we unintentionally made the 23rd a tradition of pranking each other day. On the drive home, the kids kept talking trash to Josh about all the pranks they were going to pull on him. He just egged them on. We had to clarify the rules of pranking to Bella, because she kept throwing out crazy suggestions like, “Let’s get Daddy’s wallet and take all the money out!” Also, “Let’s get a hammer and put dents in the car!”

That night, they were successful in ringing the doorbell when no one was there and putting toothpaste on the doorknob, and unsuccessful in salting Josh’s drink, making him think that Bella was hurt, and putting underwear on his head while he was sleeping. Josh put ginger powder on Mackenzie’s bubblegum, and then in the middle of the night, he put a gross combo of honey, chili, and peppers in their mouths while they were sleeping. He got Bella and Deacon, but not Kenzie.

We woke up to our very own white Christmas! It was rainy and foggy out, which made for perfect snuggle in bed and watch movies together weather! We watched Home Alone and Harry Potter


We also made a gingerbread house that Josh and I found 70% at the hardware store. (?)  It was from Wonka, so the candies inside were Bottlecaps, Runts, Sweettarts, and they said Nerds, but just doubled up on the Bottlecaps. Maybe that was reason for the sale??? Either way, it was way more fun to nibble on those than the generic gingerbread kit candy.

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In the evening, we made cheese fondue, which I vote should be a weekly tradition, not just Christmas Eve!

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Probably the highlight of Christmas Eve was that Simeon rolled from his tummy to his back!


This morning, Sim let me sleep until 7:30 before wanting to eat. So the other kids waited not-so-patiently until he was finished to open stockings.


Deacon continues to have priceless reactions to his gifts!

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Bella wanted to give Bo a Christmas gift, so she wrapped a raw hide bone for him. He was all about ripping the present open too, and the kids loved it!


After stockings, we had our traditional overnight French toast, sausage, and OJ meal. The best part? The orange juice was 50% off at Greenhills! Instead of $6 each, it was only $3, so we each got to get the kind we like. It was going to expire on the 29th, hence the sale. Please, like it’ll last until the 29th.


After breakfast, we opened the rest of the gifts. I was really excited for them to get their gifts because I knew they were getting something that they really wanted. I was especially excited for Kenz to open hers, because it was something she saw a long time ago and had no idea that she was getting it.

I knew she wanted boots, and since we’re the same size now, I was more than happy to buy some that I could borrow. So I got online and told her that I was going to pick some out for my Christmas present and I needed her help. She liked a lot of the ones we looked at, but she went crazy when she saw these…


So, Josh and I rolled our eyes at each other and bought them for her. Needless to say, I don’t think there will be any opportunities for me to borrow them, which is A-ok with me! Anyway, she was so extremely excited when she opened them this morning! I wish I had got it on video. She’s so excited to wear them.

The kids all had something little for Simeon, so they helped him open their gifts….and then he fell asleep for he rest of the festivities.


I was exhausted by 10 am! So while the kids all played with their new, fun gifts, I snuck in a 30 min nap. Now it’s time to get our Christmas dinner going. We’re cooking up a mint-marinated lamb roast that came from Aus a year ago!


Christmas Questions

20 Dec

I thought that this was something I do every Christmas, but when I hit the archives, I haven’t done it for a few years. So here goes!


Mackenzie: 10

Bella: 8

Deacon: 6

Caleb: 3

Simeon: 3 mon. – thus will not be answering any questions this year!

Colored lights or white lights?

For what? Did you just type in, “For what?” “Are you typing everything that I say?” “Backspace everything you just typed!” “For a Christmas tree? Colored.”

White lights

Colored lights

uhhhh…white Christmas lights


Real tree or fake tree?


Fake tree


Fake tree


What is your least favorite thing about the holidays?


I think, nothing.

Presents. Wait, what’s least? What does it mean? ……….I don’t know. When it’s time to open presents and I have to leave. (I asked, “When has that ever happened” and he said, “Never.”???)

ummmm…pink. I like pink

What is your most favorite thing about the holidays?

Christmas Day!


Opening presents.



What is something that you’d like to see under the tree?

A hamster

You mean, my presents? Make-your-own-case!


The small one.


What is your favorite thing to do/build in the snow?

Make a snow fort and have a snowball fight


Make snowmans

Make a snowman!


What is your favorite holiday drink?

Hot apple cider

Apple juice

Get snow and eat it, with sugar in it.

Captain America cup


What is your favorite holiday smell?

Baked goodies



This one.


Who is your favorite reindeer?




Raining snowing


What is your favorite Christmas Eve tradition?

Candlelighting ceremony at church

Watch Elf


The big one.


Are you a Friday-After-Thanksgiving shopper?

For Black Friday? I’ve never done it before.

I don’t know.




What is your favorite holiday food?

Christmas dinner and Thanksgiving dinner


Putting sugar in the snow and eating it.



Who do you want to be with under the mistletoe?

No one!

No one!

What? No!!!!

I want to be a big one’s Christmas


Have you bought all of your Christmas presents yet?






Do you spend Christmas with a lot of family?

Every three years.





Do you still make snow angels?

When I’m in the States, where there is snow





What is your favorite Christmas movie?

All 3 Home Alones, Elf, and Christmas With the Kranks.


Mr. Poppers Penguins (When I explained that that isn’t a Christms movie, he said, “Yes. It has penguins and penguins like snow. And snow is Christmas”)

Star Wars


What do you plan to do on New Years Eve?

Stay up ’till midnight, throw confetti, and watch fireworks

Open presents

What do we usually do? Watch fireworks.

The bomb


What is the most expensive gift that you’ve ever received for Christmas?

American Girl – Saige.

You tell me not to ask how much stuff is, so I don’t know.

I don’t know

The big one.


How early do you wake up on Christmas morning?

Not early


Maybe 1:00?

These presents


What do you usually get in your stocking?

Candy and little toys and at Nana’s house, oranges and apples

Candy and toys


What’s a stocking?


What is your favorite Christmas song about Jesus?

Light of the Stable


Have No Fear

Star Wars

What is your favorite Christmas song that isn’t about Jesus?

White Christmas and White Winter Hymnal

Santa Baby

Jingle Bells

The sticks


What is your favorite Christmas ornament?

Frosty Falls

The penguin with the skis.

Christmas ornament  – the one with the jewels that fell off. The blue one and two red ones.



What are you doing for Christmas this year?

Just the normal stuff that we usually do.

Staying home

What do we usually do?

Gonna get McQueen


What is your best memory of Christmas?

At Grandma and Nana’s houses.

In Australia, when we found our goodie bags.

When we went to the beach on Christmas in Australia

Gonna get McQueen





Wrapping up 2014

15 Dec

Soccer finished on Saturday (thank goodness!) Josh usually has basketball games on Saturday morning, so I have all 5 kiddos by myself. Mackenzie and Bella play on one field, Deacon plays on a different field on the other side of campus. Caleb hangs out on the playground adjacent to Deacon’s field, and Sim thankfully stays put, just needing a cuddle and feeding from time to time.

Anyway, Deacon’s team came in dead last! However, he scored 5 goals during the season, so that was pretty exciting. Mackenzie and Bella’s teams both came in 5th, finishing the season on a win! The highlight of the season for me was watching the Beginners division finish a game with a shootout. I looked over and they were setting the 6-year old’s up for the shoot out. That alone took about 10 minutes. Then they took shots one at a time. The funniest part was that there was no goalkeeper, and they were kicking on a slightly downhill slope, and they STILL MISSED! It was so cute.

Here are a couple photos of Bella in action.

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We’ve been spending every spare moment with our besties, because they are going to the US for 7 months. =( I hate furloughs, except for our own, of course!


Because of our furlough schedules, my girls night regulars and I won’t be able to hang out all together for 2 and 1/2 more years! It’s so sad. I’ll be 37 when we go out again- yeesh.

Sunday was the Christmas program at church. It was a great service!! I wasn’t looking forward to sitting through two identical services, but it ended up being perfect because I could take pictures in one service and take video in the other!

Deacon was mid-“baa” in this photo.


Bella and her friend were both angels (who LOVED swishing their shiny, white robes around!)


The Mary’s. Mackenzie was Mary for one song, and her friend was Mary for another.




One of my friends tapped me on the shoulder and said, “That’s the tallest Mary I’ve ever seen!”


This big boy is into his 3-6 month wardrobe!


Therefore, Sim couldn’t pass for a newborn baby Jesus. Plus, the scriptures don’t mention corduroy overalls…



This is what Simeon looks like right now, sleeping next to me on the bed. I love the frog-leg position that babies naturally go to when they sleep! We work so hard as adults to be half this flexible…



17 Nov

Did you ever wonder where Pier 1 Imports imports from??? Would you ever guess that each of those adorable Christmas decorations are handcrafted in a tiny market area 5 miles from my house?!


It’s just off the main road, so it would be easy to miss, but someone in my Mom2Mom group found it, so a few of us went there today. (Although I’m stealing these pics from one of the other girls in M2M).


The stuff was all insanely cheap! The ornaments were 6 for P100 – that’s less than $.20! Look at the Michaels price tag that it was sporting.


I wish I could’ve bought it all and decide what to do with it all later!

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It’s crazy to walk through my favorite stores in the US and think about where all those fantastic decorations originated!



Christmas Program-Palooza

20 Dec

We are getting our vehicle tonight, so being homebound,  I had a lot of downtime today to upload the Christmas program videos!

First thing in the morning was Deacon’s preschool program. People, it doesn’t get much cuter than preschoolers being animals!


After the program, we had merienda with the kids. Krispy Kreme’s and coffee made for happy little kids and parents! Shhhh…I had my eyes open during the prayer.


After Deacon’s party, we headed to the theater for the elementary program. Psalty’s Christmas Calamity. We had that cassette tape when I was a kid and listened to it every year! I’m sure we had sides A and B memorized perfectly! And it all came back to me 25+ years later!


Mackenzie had auditioned for a solo a few weeks back, so she was thrilled to land the “Away in a Manger” solo! It was part of a medley that was the first song in the program.


It was a good thing that Josh was the videographer because I was so nervous, my footage would’ve looked like the middle of an earthquake.

Girlfriend nailed it! I’m so impressed and amazed when my little kids do things that I can’t do, won’t do, or don’t do well. It’s just fantastic to see those unique features that God gave our children to make them into exactly what He planned.

The rest of the elementary school did a fantastic job also! Every year, I feel like the FA school productions are great quality, and I’m pretty sure its because of great teachers and great kids! Here is one clip of when they discover that Psalty’s pages have been messed up. (Bella’s bestie is the blond angel)

Just in case you didn’t see Miss Bellers, here is a still that shows her adorable little pig-tailed head. She is just over the left shoulder of the girl in the yellow shirt.


So, I had to do it. On the way to the airport, I asked the kids….”So, which do you prefer – Psalty or Patch the Pirate?” Josh was raised on the latter, I was raised on the former, so the competition has always been there. However, it is a competition no longer, as Psalty was the unanimous winner! Caleb even threw in a vote, although he always just shouts out what everyone else is saying.

Speaking of Caleb, I couldn’t leave him out of the song videos. He was singing on the way to the airport, so I nabbed a quick clip. He is singing, “Snowflake, snowflake.”