Friday, May 24, 2013

you guessed it

Yep, you guessed it.
A mouse.

He was just as startled as we were
when we caught him sneaking around behind the
drainboard after dinner.

Our cat was no help,
asleep on the windowsill outside.

But my hero Mark set a trap,
and that's the end of the story.

Monday, May 20, 2013

save it for a rainy day

Last Monday was election day in the Philippines.
It was a peaceful, quiet election...always a good thing.

 In the weeks prior to the election,
countless politicial ads were posted all around town,
as in previous years,
anywhere there happened to be an open spot.

 We thought these kids out playing on a rainy day
had one of the best uses yet for the political posters.

Check out the white cat watching the action from the window.  :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

richest mom in the world

How rich I am
to be a mother.
And not just any mother,
but the mother of these precious three...
Three who rose early to love me by making a delicious Mother's Day breakfast.

Later in the day Mark whipped up his famous bean burritos 
while Elise and Amy baked and decorated chocolate delicousness.
(Michael was off winning the battle on the Ultimate Frisbee field.)

And because there must be some license to brag just a little on Mother's Day,
here's a quick glimpse at what these three of ours have been up to lately...

Reading, writing, playing flute, digital drawing,
baking, crafting, but mostly water-color painting!

 Photo shoots, poster design, power-point design, 
note card and newsletter design...all to serve others.
And to unwind?  
Piano, cooking, reading and college researching...

Hundreds of daily push ups, sit ups and dozens of chin ups, 
Ultimate Frisbee,
maintaining and flying an r/c plane with his dad, 
hanging out with friends, sound man for the school musical.

 You've come a long way guys.
Thanks for making me
the richest mom in the world.

Friday, May 10, 2013

once upon a time it all came true...

Once upon a time...
there was a little six-year old girl
in a loving Filipino family who wanted to go to school.

Far away, on the other side of the world, 
there was a young American family 
of a daddy, a mommy, and two 3-year old girls.

They wanted to share God's love.

that little Filipino girl's dream
and that little family's love
came together,
and Abegail started school.

One day, ten years later,
God sent that very same family,
now with two 13-year old girls
and a 9-year old boy,

across the world to work
at the opposite end of the very same country 
where 16-year old Abegail still went to school.

After many years of hard work,
dedicated study, and God's goodness,
Abegail graduated this month from college, 
with a 2-year degree in Information and Communication Technology.

And today we met for the very first time,
 this very same family, and this very same Abegail,
to celebrate God's love
that made all of this
come true.

at the airport with Abegail, her father, and the Compassion program director
We headed to the beach, a quiet spot to get to know one another.
Three beautiful young ladies
The trip was a series of firsts for Abegail;
her first time to fly in an airplane,
 first time to take a boat ride,
first time to hold a starfish,
and first time to meet Americans.

Abegail's first time to snorkel

Abegail is beautiful, inside and out.
When she expressed thanks to us for partnering with her
to get an education, she gave the credit to God -
right where it all belongs.

Compassion International has not only worked to minister to Abegail's material needs,
but more importantly to her spirit,
guiding her toward a knowledge of God and His Word,
and she's quick to acknowledge His goodness in her life.

lunch together on the beach
What a fun and wonderful day it was! Thanks be to God for such an incredible privilege.
 God bless and keep you, Abegail,
all the days of your life.
at dinner together at the end of our day, when Abegail presented us with a box of photos of her and her family
Would you like to have an amazing true story of your own?
Consider partnering with Compassion to sponsor
a little child who has the potential to become a young woman or man of God...
you never know how God might work!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


As I set out for the grocery store today, I found myself more aware of how different all this is from what I used to do.  Somewhere, in my distant past, I’d get up early, like at 5:30 or 6, push my garage door opener, hop in our minivan, and drive five minutes to our local Walmart so that I could get the grocery shopping done before breakfast.

Not here.  Instead I wait until afternoon.  The shops don’t open until 10 a.m., and by then we’re deep into our homeschool day.  So I wait until I’m not needed around home as a teacher.  Then I walk through the hot midday sun a couple of blocks up the dusty street where I wait for an available taxi.  The taxi I took today was a nice minivan-ish sort of vehicle. 

 It’s a ten-minute ride to the store, and eight minutes into the ride, the driver mumbled something I didn’t fully understand and pulled to the side of the road.  He then said another phrase, and I finally understood.  It was time for a pit-stop.  “Okay-lang!” I said.  There’s no way that I’m going to put up a fuss about the call of nature.  He hopped out, and walked somewhere behind the taxi, off to the side of the road, I presume, to do his business.  Not that I was watching.  That’s just the normal taxi-driver routine ‘round these parts.  I restrained a chuckle when he climbed back in the taxi and pulled a filthy rag out of the glove compartment with which he meticulously wiped his hands.

Back in the US, I’d pull into the quiet Walmart parking lot, hop out of my van, dart through the doors and grab a huge cart.  Not here.  Instead I hop out of the taxi at a busy mall.  Yes, a mall.  That’s where all the grocery stores are.  I run up the stairs while I zip open my purse for the guard at the door to peek inside, and I pause for her to pat my backside, presumably checking to see that I’m not armed.    Then I wend my way through the mall, down a narrow stair case and through vendor’s stalls where the mixed pungency of lots of people, durian, and fried squid greets me, until I reach the grocery area.  

A guard stands at this entrance too, making sure I don’t bring any other packages into the store, like the computer paper I stopped to buy at the mall’s bookstore on the way in.  He sends me to take that package of paper back outside to a package holding area before going through another guard check to get back in the mall to go to the grocery store.  That done, I grab a small-ish cart and begin my shopping.

In the US, I’d sail down the wide aisles of Walmart, finding every item on my list, shopping all the sales.  Not here.  Sales are virtually unknown.  Except for the one rack of imported goods that have reached their expiration date.  But who cares about expiration dates?  I can find some great deals there…like a rare box of crackers for 80 cents, and diet lemonade mix for 50 cents, and here’s a box of granola for two dollars!  Yay!  Availability is always hit or miss.  Today there’s no packaged meat that I recognize.  There’s also no vanilla flavoring, no cream cheese, and no dried legumes besides lentils.  I haven’t seen cheese for weeks.  Oh!  But look!  They have IBC ROOTBEER!!!  Amazing!  One precious bottle goes in the cart as a surprise gift for Mark on Father’s Day.  (Don’t tell!)

Sigh.  No carrots in the produce section today, and no red tomatoes.  I’m so spoiled to even expect those things.  But the red papaya looks great!  I check the pasta bag for bugs, side step the cockroach in the aisle, and pretend not to see the mouse that just darted under the produce shelf.

It’s time to check out.  At Walmart I’d load the groceries onto the automatic belt, swipe my debit card and walk away in a few minutes with bagged groceries, extra cash, and all with the help of just one employee.  Not here.  

I load the groceries onto the belt, but it may or may not work.  So I push food up toward the checker as she tallies my items.  I hand her my Visa card, and she carries it off to the next register, where there’s a card machine.  After a few minutes she comes back to hand me a receipt in duplicate to sign.  Then she writes down my Visa number on a recycled piece of paper that is at the checkout presumably for that purpose. That feels just a little sinister, but we haven’t had any Visa problems as a result…yet.    

Meanwhile at least one, sometimes up to four other employees help to bag my groceries.  One saunters off to get a cart for my bags (the cart I used for shopping doesn’t fit through the narrow checkout lane to the other side) while another leaves to check a price for the cashier.  Two more are loading my purchases into sturdy bags, talking and laughing together about the strange items I’ve bought.  I’m glad I can bring some smiles to their day.

It’s finally time to go.  Back at Walmart I might have stopped at McDonald’s for a coffee on my way out the door, then smoothly pushed my cart straight to my van, where I’d load the bags in the roomy trunk, ditch the cart in its corral, and be home in another five minutes.

Not here.  Here I have another couple of stops to make.  I need bacon, so I go down the mall a couple of doors to the bakery.  Yes, this is where I can find bacon.  And sometimes deli ham, too.  I also grab a loaf or two of French bread.  I check out, and the cashier doesn’t have change for a 500 peso bill (worth just over $10), so I give her the last 3 hundreds I have, first making sure that I have enough small bills for taxi fare home.  Then I head back down the mall to the meat store, since I couldn’t find meat in the grocery.   Only to find that the meat store is closed for renovation.  Wasn’t it closed last year at this time for renovation?!?  No meat.  Oh well.  Meat’s over-rated anyway.

Before I head out the door I grab a 10 peso coin from my wallet – I want to be prepared to tip the porter who always loads my groceries into the taxi.  He looks like he could really use the extra money.  I head toward the exit where yet another guard checks my receipt.  The porter hurries over to usher my cart toward a cab, where he pops open the front door and loads my bags inside.  I slip him the tip, hop in, and I’m on my way home.  In the taxi, I text a family member to let them know I’m coming, since I’ll need help when I arrive to unload the groceries at the gate so the taxi can be on its way.

 Yes, this is a little different than what I used to do.  But I have it so very good.  Plenty of food, provision from God to feed our family.  I have fully stocked shelves with more than we need.  How many people are praying each day for their daily food, and mine is so easily obtained?  May I not forget God’s goodness in all of my plenty.

Monday, May 6, 2013

not your average kitchen ware

 I went looking the other day for a new dish rack,
since ours is beginning to rust.
I think dish racks must not be common commodities in the average Filipino home.

I found this green one for about $25.
Only I couldn't figure out how to make it stay upright.

 My other choice was this very creative pink house version.

I think I'll live with the rust for a while...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

the rest of the story

Maybe you remember the recent antics of the ants,
and how we just couldn't keep them away from our bulletin board?

Well their determination finally exceeded  my tolerance level,
so I stripped off all of your lovely Christmas cards and photos 
and the background paper, and this is what was left:
 Can you see all the paper dust on the board and on the stairs below?
And the board was littered with ants busily running out of one tack hole into another.

So we took our handy vacuum and sucked up all the white dust,
and any moving ant in the vicinity.
Then I sprayed it down with a body spray.
(Seriously, folks, ants really don't like the stuff.)

The next day, I saw Amy paused next to the board on her way upstairs.
"Can you hear them, Mom?"
It was unbelievable.  
With my ear an inch or two away, it sounded like the board was alive.

There was scurrying and rustling, and we realized,
we are hosting a nest of ants.

Several vacuumings
and even more dousings of body spray later,
it's now eerily quiet inside our bulletin board.

I think...
the ants might be gone...

Or maybe they've just moved back to the kitchen...