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Lei visits the Philippines

October 21st, 2014 No comments

My sister Lei came out to visit us in June. Her husband and 2 year old twin boys stayed home so she was able to relax and just be a sister to me, an auntie to the kids, while pampering herself with regular visits to the spa. Of course we took her to our favorite restaurants and introduced her to our long lost cousins and other friends. She even attended my doctor appointments, but unfortunately missed Blake being born 10 minutes after she left for the airport.

We spent time doing puzzles at home since we both enjoy them

We spent time doing puzzles at home since we both enjoy them

Getting fake eyelashes

Getting fake eyelashes

Trying on jeans at Greenhills

Trying on jeans at Greenhills

Bowling with Mason

Bowling with Mason

Evening out with Kalani to watch the performance STOMP

Evening out with Kalani to watch the performance STOMP

Fabric shopping at the place where the stores come to get their fabric = cheap fabric

Fabric shopping at the place where stores come to get their fabric

Lei got to meet our cousin Marites in Manila

Meeting our cousin Marites in Manila

We went to the Mall of Asia to watch the fireworks

We went to the Mall of Asia to watch the fireworks

We got out of Manila and went to Tagaytay and rode the Ferris wheel at Sky Ranch

We got out of Manila and went to Tagaytay and rode the Ferris wheel at Sky Ranch

We took her to watch a PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) game with a friend who recently received her mission call to Temple Square

We took her to watch a PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) game with a friend who recently received her mission call to Temple Square

We watched Matt play basketball a coupe of times as well

We watched Matt play basketball a couple of times as well

The night before she left we watched the Transformer premier at the Director's Club movie theater

The night before she left we watched the Transformer premier at the Director’s Club movie theater

And she took me to the hospital before she left for her flight.  She missed Blake being born by 10 minutes!

And she took me to the hospital before she left for her flight. She missed Blake being born by 10 minutes!

We really loved having her visit with us. And I think she really liked having Mason ask her every day: “Do you like being a pretty married lady?”

Categories: Family Tags: , , , , , ,

Northern Luzon Roadtrip

October 11th, 2014 No comments

The kids had a 5-day weekend in August so we took advantage of that and went on a road-trip. I must confess that I was a bit apprehensive since Blake was only 8 weeks old and was colicky. But, Matt did a wonderful job planning this road-trip and all of the kids did great. I really like spending time with my little family and exploring more of this country.

The route we traveled in northern Luzon in 5 days. We discovered once again how beautiful this country is outside of the big city

The route we traveled in northern Luzon in 5 days. We discovered once again how beautiful this country is outside of the big city.

Our first stop was to Baler where we stayed at Coasta Pacifica. We stayed here for 2 nights and enjoyed the swimming pool, beach, having a tour of the area and getting out of the car. There were 2 routes to get to Baler and we took the route that goes through the mountain which tacked on 3 extra hours...thanks Google Maps for the recommendation

Our first stop was to Baler where we stayed at Coasta Pacifica. We stayed here for 2 nights and enjoyed the swimming pool, beach, having a tour of the area and getting out of the car. There were 2 routes to get to Baler and google maps recommended we take the route that goes through the mountain which tacked on 3 extra hours.

All of the kids on a surf board. This was Blake's first time in the ocean/pool & Kalani's first time back in the ocean after being stung by a jelly-fish

All of the kids on a surf board. This was Blake’s first time in the ocean/pool & Kalani’s first time back in the ocean after being stung by a jellyfish

Our "city tour" took us to Cunayan Falls. The kids were a bit disappointed that they didn't have their swimsuits, but we told them they could swim in their clothes like the locals and that made them happy

Our “city tour” took us to Cunayan Falls. The kids were a bit disappointed that they didn’t have their swimsuits, but we told them they could swim in their clothes like the locals and that made them happy

We got to explore the "Millennium Balete Tree" where you can walk through it since there is a path "carved out". And the kids could have stayed here for a couple of hours climbing all over it

We got to explore the “Millennium Balete Tree” where you can walk through it since there is a path “carved out”. And the kids could have stayed here for a couple of hours climbing all over it

We left Baler and the only road to get to Tuguegarao was a bit scary at times with it only being dirt roads and even some roads were washed away

We left Baler and the only road to get to Tuguegarao was a bit scary at times with it only being dirt roads, land slides and washed away in some places

On this road to Tuguegarao we saw some of the descendants of the very first people in the Philippines called "aeta"

On this road to Tuguegarao we saw some of the descendants of the very first people in the Philippines called “aeta

After a few hours in the car we made it to Tuguegarao and met up with our friend Mavis. She and our driver Juan joined us exploring the C caves

After a few hours in the car we made it to Tuguegarao and met up with our good friend Mavis. She and our driver Juan joined us exploring the Callao caves

There are 7 "openings" at Callao caves and in the 2nd opening is a "church" that holds services once or twice a month

There are 7 “openings” at Callao caves and in the 2nd opening is a “church” that holds services once or twice a month

We said our good-byes to Mavis and continued driving north to reach Cagayan Resort. This is the place that Survivor 2012 was located

We said our good-byes to Mavis and continued driving north to reach Cagayan Holiday & Leisure Resort. This is where the Survivor Cagayan crew stayed

Cagayan Holiday & Leisure Resort has a bunch of homes (5 bedrooms & private pool) to rent out, a casino & private airstrip...mostly caters to Chinese clients

Cagayan Holiday & Leisure Resort has a bunch of homes (our had 5 bedrooms & private pool) to rent out, a casino & private airstrip…mostly caters to Chinese clients who like to gamble

On our way to our next destination we came across the "Filipino Family Vehicle"

On our way to our next destination we came across the “Filipino Family Vehicle”

We stopped at Padgudpud beach and enjoyed the powder white sand and beautiful scenery

We stopped at Pagudpud beach and enjoyed the powder white sand and beautiful scenery. They call this place the Boracay of the north.

Our hotel on the north/west of Luzon was at Fort Ilocandia and it was wonderful. There was so much to do/see at the resort

Our hotel on the north/west of Luzon was at Fort Ilocandia and it was wonderful. There was so much to do/see at the resort that we will most likely go back since we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to

We got in this jeep and went on some sand dunes as a family

We got in this jeep and went on some sand dunes as a family

Mason really liked sliding down the sand dunes

Mason really liked sliding down the sand dunes

Kalani went horseback riding around the resort and on the beach

Kalani went horseback riding around the resort and on the beach

She also tried out archery for the first time

She also tried out archery for the first time

After staying at 3 wonderful hotels, our last hotel, in La Union, would be considered a dive. But, we enjoyed a walk on the beach and were now only 6-7 hours away from home

After staying at 3 wonderful resorts, our last hotel in La Union would be considered a dive in comparison. But, we enjoyed a walk on the beach and were now only 6-7 hours away from home.

We enjoyed the beautiful countryside on the north

We enjoyed the beautiful countryside of Norhern Luzon

More photos from our road trip here.

Brothers and Sister-in-law visit

October 11th, 2014 No comments

In 2013 we missed the yearly festivals where our family in the Philippines live by a week. So, Matt really wanted to be sure to attend in 2014. However, I was about 35 weeks pregnant didn’t want to risk having a baby in the province. So Matt started contacting our brothers to see if anyone would be willing to come out to visit us and then go to Siquijor for the celebrations. One thing led to another and in the end we had 3 of my brothers and a sister-in-law coming out to see us! The boys stayed for 1 week since they had to return to school and work. My sister-in-law stayed for 11 days and we were able to have some girl pampering time together.

They arrived early Sunday morning and were jet-lagged the whole week they were with us. But, luckily they can sleep anywhere, like at the movie theater, restaurant & lounge (which my 17 year old brother did)

They arrived early Sunday morning and were jet-lagged the whole week they were with us. But, luckily they can sleep anywhere, like at the movie theater, restaurant & lounge

A morning of shopping at Greenhills where we bought knock-off purses and other souvenirs. And of course they got to see "lady-boys"

A morning of shopping at Greenhills where we bought knock-off purses and other souvenirs. And of course they got to see “lady-boys”

We had a nice dinner at The Peninsula and then went to the lounge to watch/listen to a live band

We had a nice dinner at The Peninsula and then went to the lounge to watch/listen to a live band

These guys flew to Dumaguete from Manila, and then took the hour long ferry boat to get to Siquijor

These guys flew to Dumaguete from Manila, and then took the hour long ferry boat to get to Siquijor

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Getting ready to take our cousin’s boat to Salagdoong Beach (on the way they snorkeled from the bamboo arms)

3-man jump from the platform at Salagdoong

3-man jump from the platform at Salagdoong

My 17 year old brother about to jump off the platform in the tree at Cambugahay Falls

My 17 year old brother about to jump off the platform in the tree at Cambugahay Falls

They enjoyed their time at Cambugahay Falls and made friends with the locals that were also spending the day there

They enjoyed their time at Cambugahay Falls and made friends with the locals that were also spending the day there

They played some basketball with cousins

They played some basketball with cousins

They enjoyed the decorations for the "Coconut festival"

They enjoyed the decorations for the “Coconut festival”

And they danced the night away with cousins and new friends

And they danced the night away with cousins and new friends at the village disco

Photo of cousins at the disco

Photo of cousins at the disco

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is now on the island of Siquijor and they were able to attend worship service and classes before heading on the ferry and plane back to Manila

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is now on the island of Siquijor and they were able to attend worship service and classes before heading on the ferry and plane back to Manila

Our siblings enjoyed our club pool and gym that we have at our condo

Our siblings enjoyed the pool and gym at our condo

After the boys left, my sister-in-law and I did some girl things...like attending a baby shower that they ladies from church threw for me

After the boys left, my sister-in-law and I did some girl things…like attending a baby shower that the ladies from church threw for me

And I threw a "Pamper Me" Party at our condo and had some friends over and each person had their own massage therapist for an hour

And I threw a “Pamper Me” Party at our condo and had some friends over and each person had their own massage therapist for an hour

My brother Robbie was also here, but had to stay in Manila with me since his online Master's Program started that week. But the kids were happy to spend more time with him

My brother Robbie was also here, but had to stay in Manila with me since his online Master’s Program started that week. But the kids were happy to spend more time with him.

We love spoiling our family when they come to visit us and to show them life in the Philippines. And they took full advantage of this opportunity to meet our extended relatives and see how ex-pats and locals live in this 3rd world country

We love spoiling our family when they come to visit us. And they took full advantage to meet our extended relatives and see life in a 3rd world country

A favorite phrase from my 17 year old brother: "I can't, I'm only 17!" And he posted this photo that lets us know he had a good time with us...now he just needs to learn how to spell Philippines, or at least use spell-check!

My 17 year old brother wrote this on a photo he took to let us know that he had a good time… now he just needs to learn how to spell Philippines, or at least use spell-check!

Hong Kong get-away

October 5th, 2014 1 comment

I have been to Hong Kong twice for a church conference, but wasn’t able to do a ton of sight-seeing. And since Matt had not been to Hong Kong yet, we decided to take a little “Baby-moon” to Hong Kong before I got too far along in my pregnancy and the airlines wouldn’t let me fly. We took advantage of the May 1st Labor Day holiday and spent a long weekend with just the two of us while Kalani and Mason stayed in the Philippines with Helen and Marilyn (our house help). As always, we booked a tour guide through Viator and found Frank Law. We felt like he showed us all of Hong Kong and gave us good information on the things and places that we were visiting. He was fun, enthusiastic, and tailored the tour to meet the needs of a very pregnant lady.

Day 1

We booked a room at the Intercontinental Hotel and had a spectacular view of the Victoria Harbor

This is our room at the Intercontinental Hotel, which had this spectacular view of Victoria Harbor

We took a tram up to Victoria Peak

We took a tram up to Victoria Peak

BIG groups of Filipinos were gathered at parks since they all had the day off

BIG groups of Filipinos were gathered at parks playing games since they all had the day off

A local market in Hong Kong

On our tour of Hong Kong Island we stopped at a local market

Over 1,000 people live in this apartment building. There are many of these apartment buildings all over Hong Kong

Over 1,000 people live in this apartment building. There are many of these apartment buildings all over Hong Kong

A nice quiet area on Hong Kong Island

A nice quiet area on Hong Kong Island

Heading back to our hotel, we passed this "ship" that is really a department store inside

Heading back to our hotel, we passed this “ship” that is really a department store inside

Day 2

We took the metro to head to Lantau Island. We were headed to the Big Buddha, but these girls were going to Hong Kong Disney

We took the metro to head to Lantau Island. We were headed to the Big Buddha, but these girls were going to Hong Kong Disney

Heading up to the Big Buddha by cable car

Heading up to the Big Buddha by cable car

Our tour guide arranged for us to have a glass bottom cable car going up to Big Buddha

Our tour guide arranged for us to have a glass bottom cable car going up to Big Buddha

From the cable car we could see construction of a bridge that will give another access to mainland China

From the cable car we could see construction of a bridge that will give another access to mainland China

Off the cable car and we see Buddha in the distance and a bunch of western type of shops for the tourists

Off the cable car and we see Buddha in the distance and western types of shops for the tourists

Buddha (34 meters high) is blessing us as we climbed the 268 steps to reach the statue

Buddha (34 meters high) is blessing us as we climbed the 268 steps to reach the statue

Across from the Big Buddha is the Po Lin Monastery. Here are statues of Buddha as Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Across from the Big Buddha is the Po Lin Monastery. Here are statues of Buddha as Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

We hit up the "Ladies Market" to buy some cheap gifts for the kids

We hit up the “Ladies Market” to buy some cheap gifts for the kids

We also went to the Night Market to have a look, but they basically have the same things as the Ladies Market

We also went to the Night Market to have a look, but they basically have the same things as the Ladies Market

Day 3

Our last day we started out visiting the beautiful Nan Lian Garden

Our last day we started out visiting the beautiful Nan Lian Garden which is right in the middle of the city

Chi Lin Nunnery was just across the bridge of the Nan Lian Garden

Chi Lin Nunnery was just across the bridge of the Nan Lian Garden

Guardians of Buddha

Guardians of Buddha

People get fortune sticks at the temple and then go to these fortune tellers to find out their future.  There are at least 2 dozen of these fortune tellers on site

People get fortune sticks at the temple and then go to these fortune tellers to find out their future. There are at least 2 dozen of these fortune tellers on site

We had a wonderful time spending time together as a couple and really enjoyed our tour guide and driver

It was wonerful to spend time together as a couple and we really enjoyed our tour guide and driver

We actually saw and did more than I showed in this post, but the rest of our photos can be found here.

Categories: Family, Travel Tags: , , , ,

2014-2015 School Year Begins

August 6th, 2014 No comments

The kids woke up at 6am and got ready for their first day of school!  They were both very excited to see friends at school and anxious to see what this school year brings.

First day of Middle School in 5th grade

First day of Middle School in 5th grade

Ready for Kindergarten

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