Tag Archives: Mackenzie

The August Bdays

5 Sep

Even though we’re in the land of easy celebration-planning, I found myself stressed out about celebrating Mackenzie’s 12th and Caleb’s 5th birthdays just a few days after settling in KS.

Enter Groupon.

The light bulb went off in my head to check out Groupon for any fun deals that would take the party planning off my hands. The first one to pop up? Worlds of Fun! They had a great offer so we jumped on it!

So we woke the kids up early and told them that we needed to run some errands. They obediently, yet unexcitedly, piled into the car and onto the road we went. 40 min later, we turned the corner on 435 and the kids saw the Mamba and Detonator towering over the park and they were all excited just to see the place. It wasn’t until we were in the parking line that they realized that we were spending the day there! Then they really exploded with glee. It was so fun to watch the wheels turn in their heads.

We had spectacular day! It was hot in the sun, but cool in the shade, and that we enough to keep the crowds away. We really didn’t have long waits on any of the rides. It was so reasonable that we often would have Josh ride with the older kids, then the kids would get back in line to ride it again with me.


Of course we made our way to Camp Snoopy for some kiddie rides. They all really loved it and Sim even rode a little roller coaster!


A nice break in the day was the sing-along time in the the air-conditioned theater. Sim even got up on stage and joined in the singing and dancing.



A must-do at WOF is the log ride. It was one of the first rides that opened there, and you can tell! It’s so rickety, but still a blast.


Speaking of rickety, I didn’t dare go near the wooden roller coasters! I went on one during our wedding party excursion there before we got married and I remember coming off of it thinking that I should bring a chiropractor with us on our honeymoon.

Caleb really wanted to go on the train, so we made sure to do what the birthday-boy wanted.


Mackenzie really wanted to do one of the games too, so she did the “Guess my age” booth. We figured that it would be an instant win, since her height makes her seem a lot older than she was. Bingo! He guessed that she was 15, so she won a stuffed puppy!

We were supposed to leave around 4pm to be back for Deacon’s open house at school. But we were having such a fun day together that we scrapped it! #parentsoftheyear So we stayed from opening until the very last minute and had a blast the entire time. Bella and I rode the Patriot 3 times in a row, just running from the exit back to the entrance with very little wait. I was a little dizzy by the third time, but it was worth it. We calculated that the kids rode the rides 40 times throughout the day. That, and the red velvet funnel cakes, made the day a complete success!

We finished the fun day with a trip to Red Robin, which still hadn’t been checked off of our must-eat list. They even brought the birthday kiddos special hot fudge sundaes.IMG_2122

It was the perfect day and the perfect way to finish up the summer and celebrate the birth of our super-special Kenzie and Caleb!


My Kind of FA Day!

14 May

Basketball games in the morning, Banquet at night – reminds me of my Faith days!

Mackenzie’s (and Josh’s) team made it to the championship game this morning! We’re pretty impressed considering that they started the season 1-5! They didn’t win, but were still happy with just being in the finals.


(Last week, Bella’s team also made it the championship, and also took 2nd. Deacon’s team won their championship!)

After the games, postgame Slurpees, and a quick nap, Kenzie and I headed to the mall for some hair and nail therapy, combined with a flat white (me) and a chai latte (Kenz). It was fun, but took a long time, so we had to rush home just in time to put on her dress, jewelry, and a little fun make-up.


Josh bought her a corsage to let her know who her #1 guy is! I wanted a picture of the two of them together, but Josh was shirtless and sweating over the hot stove, so….the mental picture is plenty.



I can’t wait to pick her up and hear all about her evening!

Ole, ole, ole, ole….soccer’s done, soccer’s done!

14 Dec

We survived another soccer season with 4 kids on 3 teams! I feel like I deserve a trophy for pushing the stroller up and down the hill from one field to another. Actually, I’m happy to take my reward in the form of solid glutes from those hills, thankyouverymuch. (still waiting)

Deacon and Bella’s team was 10-0 in the season, but choked in the playoffs, losing both games for a 4th place finish! Nothing a big ol’ pizza party can’t fix though! They had a fun time. Deacon really developed this season, so that was fun to watch him connect his thoughts with his body. Bella had fun with her friends, but still ranks volleyball higher than soccer (or any other sport), which is A-OK with me!

Caleb’s team didn’t do so well in the season, but won their playoff game! That was exciting for all of them, although not as exciting as the animal crackers, Gatorade, and playground time that followed the win.

Kenzie had the most exciting day though. They finished the season somewhere in the middle, but won their first playoff game (despite an accidental kick into their own goal by Mackenzie!)  The championship was 0-0 after the regulation time, so it went into a shootout. The other team shot first, and our goalie batted it away beautifully. Josh goes, “Our goalie has gloves, so he knows what he’s doing.” As if gear EVER means that. (See: The Cable Guy). But in this case, it was true. He did a fabulous job!

Then we had a great attempt next, but their goalie also had a great save. The next attempt by the other team was kind of a mis-kick, so our goalie easily stopped it.  I didn’t expect Kenzie to be one of the kickers in the shootout, so it was all I could do to get my camera ready when I saw her get up to shoot. I’m so annoyed that I didn’t video it! Especially since I could’ve grabbed stills from the video. Soccer mom fail. I haven’t earned my elastic jean pants yet.

Anyway, she had a great kick! The goalie got a piece of it, but she kicked it pretty hard, so it went by his hands. She was pretty excited. The other team shot a 3rd time, with their best kicker, but he kicked it over the goal. The kids kind of celebrated, but then Kenzie goes, “Did you see that?! We WON!” Then the celebration really took off!

I don’t know much about soccer, but it looks like she really knows what she’s doing! If only she had real soccer gear, instead of wearing Dad’s dress socks and Mom’s old running shoes. Josh’s first reaction: “Great. Now she’ll REALLY love soccer.”



This is why we survived soccer season: Sim had constant entertainment!


Onto the next activity! My parents got Mackenzie figure skating lessons for her birthday, so that’s where we’ll head after school. It’s 9 miles away, but with the Christmas traffic up in here, it’ll take 1.5 hours to get there, I’m guessing. Blech. She’d better have a double axel perfected by the end of these 6 lessons…

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!

MS Friendship Week!

8 Sep

Friendship Week is in full swing in the middle school! It’s Spirit Week for the pre-teens. I remember a few awesome and a few tragic Friendship Week costumes in my day…

Anyway, the first day was Food Day, so Mackenzie decided to be a s’more. This is what it looks like, as I’ve come to realize that folks outside of North America don’t usually know what a s’more is. What a sad, sad, existence.


Here’s the human version. She said that people thought she was an ice cream sandwich. Both winners in my book!


Today is 80’s day. Era-costumes don’t get much more fun than the 80’s. Nowadays, they don’t get much easier either! There are is much neon clothing going around, and that’s just in MY closet! We dusted off the old bottle of hairspray and went to town. She wore my blue eye shadow, and my biggest pair of earrings. As I was putting orange color chalk in her hair, she asked, “Did you wear all of this in the 80’s?” I laughed and said, “No, I was in elementary school!” But then thought to myself, “But I would’ve LOVED to wear all this in the 80’s!” She bought a colorful pair of Nike hightops in Australia last year, so they were perfect, along with her pink leg warmers. Finally, she wore a pair of (Jones New York) neon yellow shorts that we just bought a few months ago. She was one pair of fingerless gloves short of being perfectly dressed as a back-up singer for Tiffany! (PS: I saw fingerless gloves at the Japanese “dollar store” a few days ago….regret.)


Stay tuned for the rest of her costumes!


Caleb has found his special spot to work on his Phonics apps. He tucks himself in between pillows and calls it his desk.


Over the weekend…

I didn’t have any vb games, but Josh had to coach the ms team and the JV team. So we all went to cheer them on. The varsity boys team was also playing, so the kids and I sat in between courts so we could cheer them all on. Bella gave me all kinds of lovely hairstyles while we watched.


The next day, I was out at the pool while the kids swam. At one point, I laid my head back and looked up to see one of my favorite views in the world. A green palm tree on a bright blue sky. Sometimes, it’s difficult to live here, but sometimes, it’s oh-so-easy. I just have to remember to look up! Palm trees = paradise and I have a bunch in my backyard!


Mackenzie’s (almost) 11!!

3 Aug

This is always the busiest week of my year, with school starting, volleyball tryouts, and not one, but two kids birthdays! Mackenzie was all for celebrating her birthday early, so we had some girls over for a sleepover last week.

We took them all to a local arcade and gave them tokens and tickets galore! They all spent most of their tokens on the claw games, and two of them actually won stuffed animals!


We also did bumper cars and the indoor mini roller coaster.


The highlight of the day was Josh winning 3,200 tickets!!! He found a game where all he had to do was knock the jackpot football into the goal. He did it 9 times, and had a crowd of people watching him collect the winnings. He gave the birthday girl all the tickets and she traded them in for a Lalaloopsy doll.

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Meanwhile, I took Caleb on some rides. #deltoidenvy!

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After all of our tokens were spent and the tickets traded in for prizes, we headed home and ordered pizza for the girls. They took it all down to the pool and dined poolside while they swam. It was so blissfully quiet up in our condo!

While Mackenzie and I were brainstorming what to make for a birthday cake, we collaborated on a great idea! Mackenzie and her friend made chocolate chip cookie dough the day before, and we put giant scoops of it into our Aussie meat pie pans. Then the girls mixed in their favorite candies, and we baked them. After cooling for just a few minutes, the girls each ate their warm, loaded, cookie pies topped with vanilla ice cream. They were amazing and so easy!

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They followed up with a Just Dance dance-off. I’ve heard those songs so many times that when I hear them in the mall or on the radio, my body just wants to start doing the dance moves from the game!


After that, they snuggled onto mattresses in the living room for movies. They started with McKenna’s American Girl movie, then Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (a sleepover essential from my childhood), Kit’s AG movie, and Molly’s AG movie. They all outlasted me in the sleep department, but were already up when I left at 6:45am for a run!

Mackenzie had a blast and wants to do it all over again next year! I can’t believe my little girl is almost 11. My first 11 years seemed to last forever, but hers have flown by for me! Josh and I still use inside jokes of things she said when she was 2 years old. We are completely and overwhelmingly smitten with our girl!


Girls Only!

2 Aug

Mackenzie is about to turn 11, so pre-teendom is right around the corner! We took the opportunity to get away together before school starts and do Passport2Purity, a 5-session CD program that covers all of the info that a preteen needs to know, as well as sets them up for healthy teenage years, and encourages and advises them how to protect their innocence and purity until they’re married.

It is set up for a mom to do with her daughter or a dad to do with his son, so I’ve been having fun planning a getaway for Mackenzie and I! Mackenzie loves going to hotels and buffets, so I booked 2 nights at a hotel in the new, bustling part of Manila that included a breakfast buffet. I shopped for the projects that we had to do, I bought lots of snacks,  planned all of our meals and activities, and prayed a lot about our time together, the things she’d learn, and decisions she’d make. Oh yes, and I pumped like crazy to set Simeon up for two days.


We left around 1:15pm last Monday and listened to the first session on the way to the hotel.


As soon as we arrived at the hotel, we went up to our room.

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Mackenzie immediately wanted to go swimming (even though she had just spent 4 hours swimming with her friend that morning!). I love to see her enjoy still being a little girl (doing handstands, staying under as long as she can, pretending to be a mermaid, etc) even though this getaway was emphasizing that she’s definitely growing up!


After swimming, we had to do our session 1 project. We both had 5 minutes to do different puzzles, only I got to have the box top and she had to do it without any reference. It stresses the importance of having and using the Bible to guide us through life. This is what our puzzles looked like after 5 minutes!

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Lesson learned, now let’s finish the puzzles!


After the project, I took her to my favorite girls night out spot. It’s a little corner restaurant in the middle of the city called Wild Flour. We got that same thing that my friends and I always chat for hours over. A garlic knot, the croque madame, and a big ol’ slice of the salted chocolate cake!

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After dinner, we walked back to the hotel, with a detour at Gourdos. It’s a fun cooking/scrapbooking specialty store that actually has great sales, which is hard to find here! Mackenzie, just like me, loves to look at all the kitchen gadgets.

We did one more session before bed. It was all about friendships and the influence that they have on our lives. We spent a lonnnggg time on the project for that one! It was a playdough project.

There’s something so beautiful and satisfying about a brand-new container of playdough!


Mackenzie had to make 2 playdough people. The yellow one represents her, the blue one represents a good, positive friend.


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Then she had to mix the two and create a new person, which became a lovely green, the color of growth.


Meanwhile, I was making a red person, who was to represent a negative friend. I don’t think she looks so mean…


So when we mixed the red friend with the green friend, it became a  dirty shade of…yuck.

I just have to interject and say that mixing playdough colors goes against everything I believe in! This project stretched me in ways I can’t describe.

Then we both tucked into bed and fell asleep to George of the Jungle. I think Kenzie stayed up later than I did!

In the morning, we headed to the breakfast buffet. Mackenzie would make a good Brit with her double helpings of baked beans for breakfast!


I told her that she could have coffee for breakfast if she wanted. I think she didn’t love it, but she loved getting to be a “grown-up!” She was terrified that it would stunt her growth.

We did the 3rd session, the birds and the bees, (“Ok, I’m never getting married” – Mackenzie) and then headed out for our fun activity. We both wanted to go ice skating, so we grabbed a taxi and headed to the Mall of Asia. I would’ve loved to take some pics out on the ice, but I didn’t trust myself to not fall on my phone and shatter it all over the ice!


So, on the ice, there were two people having lessons, so they were jumping and spinning all over the place. Then there was Kenzie and I, just doing our laps, with an occasional “trick.” Then, there were about 75 people just standing on the ice, taking selfies. “How sad that we can’t actually ice skate while sharing with the world how much we love ice skating!”

It was an all-day pass, so we skating for about an hour, then broke for some shopping and lunch, then went back for another hour or so. I hung in there until I finally fell, which finished the day for me, making me feel all of my 35 years. I fell right on my wrist and almost a week later, it’s still hurting!

Mackenzie discovered these dessert siopao at Chowking, and wanted me to try them, so we got some for the taxi ride home. I was shocked at how delicious they were! It’s basically just a steamed bun filled with yummy molten chocolate.


When we got back to the hotel, I would’ve paid money to grab a nap, but my energetic pre-teen wanted to swim some more, so I sucked it up and we jumped around the pool for a while. Then we walked over to IHOP for dinner. It’s a fancier restaurant here than it is in the US, and Mackenzie and I love it!


On the walk home, we stopped at Starbucks for chai tea lattes. We both really love being in the busy city, and loved walking around with our drinks together!

We finished up the day with our 4th session and project. This one started off with a nice, full water balloon, representing one’s purity. Then I stuck a pin in it, which didn’t make it explode, but just let the water trickle out. Then I stuck more and more holes in it. It was all to represent what can happen in a dating life, if one is giving out bits and pieces of themselves and their purity. It doesn’t seem like they mean much, but when you finally meet your spouse, all you can give is the sad, deflated and empty balloon!


In the morning, we had made a last-minute plan to walk over to the Mind Museum. However, it sold out before we could get there! We both decided that was ok though, because we didn’t want to be there if it was that crowded anyway. So we went to S&R across the street. It’s the closest thing we have to Sam’s Club or Costco here. They have lots of imported items and of course, samples. We didn’t buy much, but just enjoyed the wide, quiet aisles, and samples!

Finally, we finished up with our last session. I forgot to take pictures because I was busy giving Mackenzie a pedicure while she took notes. George of the Jungle was on again, and since we both fell asleep in the middle of it, we were able to watch the end of it.

We finished up the getaway with a special lunch. It was at a rotating restaurant, high above the city. Josh met us there, which made it extra special. All the talk about dating and “the one” made me extra excited to see him! I have no idea why I didn’t take any pictures here!!! It was definitely a highlight! Mackenzie loved the rotating restaurant. She and I weren’t too hungry, so we just shared a cheese souffle, a chocolate souffle, and a lemon souffle. Yeah. They make excellent souffles. Josh had a fish that began with “s,” either swordfish or seabass.

Josh also gave her a ring to signify the importance of everything she learned during our time away. Would’ve been an excellent photo op, right? What in the world?! Maybe I was more smitten than I thought, and my mind turned to mush with Josh around!

I’m so glad that we got to do this together! It was a super special mom-daughter time, and I’m praying that it laid the groundwork for a happy and successful teenage life for Mackenzie…and for me!