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2017 Year Review

January 28th, 2018 No comments

As a new year begins and I reflect on the past year that just ended I find that I forget the good and bad things that we experienced. The purpose of this blog is to act as a family journal for posterity, and also share family updates with close friends and relatives. So here is a quick look at our 2017!

We bought a new home and moved into it on March 31

In April, I got to go to Utah for one of my mission companion’s wedding.

The beginning of May, Matt’s sister got married in California.

Towards the end of May, Matt & Tia flew to Utah for the sealing of close friends we met in the Philippines.

There was a really good airfare deal, so a lot of our family came to visit us. We made a trip to Waco to visit the Magnolia Silos.

In June we had a family reunion for the Limary side of the family in Las Vegas. Nearly all of the siblings and grandkids attended.

While in Vegas, we were able to attend the wedding of my brother Robbie.

Right after we got back from Vegas, Kalani and I went to a church girls camp for a week.

Beginning of August, my 17 year old brother passed away. All of the siblings and spouses were able to attend the funeral in California.

The end of August, Matt & I took a trip to Florida to scuba dive and visit with close friends that we had met in the Philippines.

We got hit with Hurricane Harvey in August. So most weekends in September were spent “mucking” homes as we raced to tear out sheet rock, carpet, cabinets, etc, before mold could set in.

Halloween was a wet evening, but the cousins got together to trick-or-treat (despite the downpour) and got a lot of candy.

Mom & Dad Farley visited us in November.

We had a full house for Thanksgiving that we hosted.

Kalani was in a lot of plays this year. Fiddler on the Roof, Little Women, Cinderella & Macbeth to name a few.

When it snows in Texas it is worth staying up until midnight for a snowball fight.

And finally, we spent 3 1/2 weeks in the Philippines to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year.

 

Christmas in Siquijor…4th time in a row

February 28th, 2016 No comments

Our long lost relatives live on the beautiful island of Siquijor, and we have been spending Christmas with them every year since 2012. So this year was no different. Again we stayed at our “home away from home”, Coco Grove Beach Resort. We love the staff there who know us by name. (Having a staff member be Blake’s nanny while we are there really means everyone knows Blake and we are just his family) And word has spread throughout the International School of Manila about Coco Grove Beach Resort, so our kids saw their friends and teachers at the resort. Our agenda is more or less the same thing every year with what we do around the island. This year was a little different in that we are now scuba certified, so we had a day trip to Apo island where we ate lunch, did some snorkeling with turtles, and had two dives around the island (Apo is one of the top dive sites in the country).

Our flight was delayed leaving Manila so we didn't get to see our Welcome sign until the next day. Being at Coco Grove Beach Resort really does feel like we are coming home.

Our flight was delayed leaving Manila so we didn’t get to see our welcome sign until the next day. Being at Coco Grove really does feel like we are coming home.

SIx year old Mason doing a flip off a rock at Cambugahay Falls

Six year old Mason doing a flip off a rock at Cambugahay Falls

Lugnason Falls got a major make-over from the last time we visited his place two years ago.

Lugnason Falls got a major make-over from the last time we visited two years ago.

Our kids love to ride on the motorcycle with their cousin Sherwin.

Our kids love to ride on the motorcycle with their cousin Sherwin.

We had lunch at our cousin's home and then sat around chatting and some people took naps.

We had lunch at our cousin’s home and then sat around chatting and some people took naps.

We had dinner at our other cousin's home.

We had dinner at another cousin’s home.

On the way back to the resort from our cousin's home we saw the moon shining over the ocean.

On the way back to the resort from our cousin’s home we saw the moon shining over the ocean.

Christmas Eve dinner party at Coco Grove we got to listen to these sisters sing.

Christmas Eve dinner party at Coco Grove we got to listen to these sisters sing.

Coco Grove fire dancers also performed.

Coco Grove fire dancers also performed.

Island Melody Band were the final number for the Christmas Eve party.

Island Melody Band were the final number for the Christmas Eve party. (we’ve seen them perform 4-5 times now and they’re always great)

Christmas Day we got on a boat and headed towards Apo Island. Our kids wanted to be in the front.

Christmas Day we got on a boat and headed towards Apo Island. Our kids wanted to be in the front.

Apo Island is in sight.

Apo Island is in sight after an hour boat ride from the resort.

We had lunch here and also went to the turtle sanctuary nearby to snorkel with some turtles.

We had lunch here and also went to the turtle sanctuary nearby to snorkel with some turtles.

Mason and Tia snorkeling while a turtle eats grass.

Mason and Tia snorkeling while a turtle eats grass.

Apo Island has some beautiful coral.

Apo Island has some beautiful coral.

We saw a sleeping turtle while scuba diving.

We saw a sleeping turtle while scuba diving.

Christmas dinner we had about 30 family members over and 4 missionaries from our LDS church. Dinner was delicious, the company was great and the entertainment was memorable.

Christmas dinner we had about 25 family members over and four missionaries from the LDS Church. Dinner was delicious, the company was great and the entertainment was memorable.

Missionaries shared a message about our Savior Jesus Christ to our family members on this Christmas night.

Missionaries shared a message about our Savior Jesus Christ to our family members on this Christmas night.

Nearly 30 decedents from grandpa Limary/Limatoc together for Christmas in Siquijor.

Nearly 30 descendents from grandpa Limary/Limatoc together for Christmas in Siquijor.

Wacky photo with everyone who was participating in our Christmas celebration...family members, missionaries, and resort staff.

Wacky photo with everyone who was participating in our Christmas celebration…family members, missionaries, and resort staff.

We love Siquijor and the beautiful people and scenery that fills our days there.

We love Siquijor and the beautiful people and scenery that fills our days there. (photo from our balcony at Coco Grove)

… and don’t miss this compilation video Matt put together!

More photos of Siquijor here.

Bohol Island Get-a-Way at Eskaya Resort

February 27th, 2016 No comments

In October we had a date night to attend the American Women’s Club of the Philippines annual Hoedown. There we won a free two-night stay at the resort Eskaya. Since we knew that we were relocating the beginning of January, we only had one weekend when we could use this vacation. Our kids skipped the last day of school, which was just a half day, so we could catch a flight to head to the island of Bohol and use our voucher at the resort. The shuttle ride from the airport was about 20 minutes and the resort was nice. Each villa had it’s own private pool, plus the main pool and the beach front. This was the third time that we were at Bohol, so we didn’t do the normal tourist sight-seeing things. Instead we hung out at the resort one day and went scuba diving the second day. On the third day we went to Church and then flew home. We don’t have many photos of this vacation since we were using our GoPro…and on our last dive the GoPro broke off the stick and fell to the bottom of the ocean. Good times.

Boarding the plane looked like this since they had the AirCon blasting, but it was hot and humid outside.

Boarding the plane looked like this since they had the AirCon blasting, but it was hot and humid outside.

Getting ready to land in Bohol.

Getting ready to land in Bohol.

Eskaya Resort is on Panglao island of Bohol.

Eskaya Resort is on Panglao island of Bohol.

Blake liked the golf carts that we came across often and had to sit in them and "drive" for a while.

Blake liked the golf carts that we came across often and had to sit in them and “drive” for a while.

The main pool at Eskaya had a kiddie pool in front of the main pool. Basically our family was the only one using it during our stay.

The main pool at Eskaya had a kiddie pool in front of the main pool. Basically our family was the only one using it during our stay.

Our private pool that was just outside of our villa.

If we didn’t want to be in the main pool, we could use our private pool that was just outside of our villa.

Mosquitos were a problem at the resort. We all slept under mosquito nets and the resort burned mosquito coils for all of the villas.

Mosquitos were a problem at the resort. We all slept under mosquito nets and the resort burned mosquito coils for all of the villas.

Before leaving the island, we found a local LDS church and attended their sacrament meeting, which happened to be the Children's Primary Program, which was fantastic.

Before leaving the island, we found a local LDS church and attended their sacrament meeting, which happened to be the Children’s Primary Program, which was fantastic.

Letter of Recommendation: Helen & Marilyn

December 21st, 2015 No comments

For the past three years we have employed Helen & Marliyn as our live-in household kasambahay and would like to now advertise a very strong recommendation for their services.

Why should you hire them?

  • 100% Trustworthy – in 38 months we have never once experienced an issue with honesty. After the first year we were comfortable leaving our kids with them overnight. You could even say they’ve played a large role in raising our 18 month old baby.
  • Safety – they have always kept our kids safe and exhibit a strong sense of safety.
  • Work Ethic – both H&M have a very strong work ethic and do not shy away from hard labor; they’ve kept our condo spotless. When we wakeup Monday morning after they’ve been off over the weekend, the condo is already clean. They’re also very willing to go above and beyond their job description with miscellaneous tasks we delegate their way.
  • Temperament – we’ve often heard of “maids with mood-swings”, but can honestly say we’ve never seen anything but a steady positive attitude from these two.
  • Local Knowledge – if you’re new to the Philippines, they know the ropes so you don’t have to. One has handymen brothers who can help out as well.
  • Stability – I haven’t met any other expats who have kept the same house help for 38 consecutive months. That says a lot about H&M.
  • Self-Starters – We never have to tell either one of them what to do around the house.

 
Why should you hire Marilyn specifically?

  • Marilyn’s primary responsibility is cooking and cleaning. She backs up Helen in regards to taking care of the kids as a secondary responsibility.
  • Her cooking is amazing. See photos below. We’re often disappointed when we eat out because the food isn’t as good as what Marilyn cooks at home.
  • She is 100% self-led in the kitchen: we never tell her what to make or how to make it. We’re just treated to a delightfully surprising variety of dishes every time we sit down to eat.
  • She teaches herself new dishes on a regular basis. She watches YouTube videos and gets recipes on the internet and tries them out. Nine times out of ten they turn out great.
  • Parties parties parties. We’re fond of hosting dinner parties with 10..15..20..+ guests of varying nationalities and tastes. All we have to do is give Marilyn a headcount and she does the rest. Photos of some of the spreads she’s put on are below. With Helen’s help, the two of them can facilitate an entire dinner party and we don’t lift a finger or manage anything.
  • Weekly grocery shopping is done with little supervision from my wife. Marilyn finds the ingredients we need, and my wife just meets her at the cash register to pay the bill. (Warning: having a restaurant-quality chef in your kitchen can lead to restaurant-level food bills, but it’s worth it)
  • Again, Marilyn is a very hard worker and does a great job cleaning and doing laundry in addition to cooking.

 
Why should you hire Helen specifically?

  • Helen’s primary responsibility is childcare and cleaning. She will backup Marilyn in the kitchen as a secondary responsibility.
  • Helen takes excellent care of our three children. Catering to the needs of an 11 year old, 6 year old, and 18 month old.
  • She is familiar with the International School of Manila and helps make sure the kids are prepared each day and get to / from school.
  • She takes great care of the baby, and has done so since he was born. Her level of safety and rigor is so high we do not worry in the least bit when she’s out with him. And as mentioned earlier, we’ve left all three kids with them for 2-3 consecutive nights.
  • She is always present when workers are in our condo, and because of that we have never had any issues of damage goods or money stolen.
  • Like Marilyn, Helen keeps the condo clean and tidy when the kids don’t need her. Zero hesitation when it comes to hard chores.

 
Other FYI’s:

  • Their preference is to stay together at their next job, they work really well with one another.
  • They both live with us, and probably prefer live-in jobs, but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker. Marilyn lives in Cavite, Helen in Pasig.
  • Their schedule with us is Monday morning through Saturday afternoon.
  • We started them at 12,000 PHP each / month, and have increased it 1000 each year. So 2016 would have been to 15,000 (includes SSS, Pag-Ibig, Phil-Health for their portion and our portion).
  • We give them the standard Filipino non-working holidays.
  • English skills are adequate, but not above average

 
We will be out of town Dec 23-Dec 27, so they will both be available for interviews during that window. Otherwise, we leave Jan 8 and they’ll be available to work full-time after that.

Helen can be reached at: 0905 678 1494

and Marilyn: 0915 670 4453

 

One of Marilyn's more "simple" dinner spreads

One of Marilyn’s more “simple” dinner spreads

Helen taking good care of Baby Blake

Helen taking good care of our baby

Helen playing with the baby

Helen playing with the baby

Helen playing video games with Mason

Helen playing video games with our middle child

Marilyn front-row left, Helen far right

Marilyn front-row left, Helen far right

Marilyn learned how to bake on her own and these cookies are good I told her to make me a batch every Saturday! They're a hit with my friends too.

Marilyn learned how to bake on her own and these cookies are good I told her to make me a batch every Saturday! They’re a hit with my friends too.


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Malapascua, Philippines

November 23rd, 2015 1 comment

In late September we had a couple’s get-away to Malapascua in the Philippines to do some scuba diving. We had obtained regular certification about six weeks previous to this trip and are trying to cram in as much diving as we can while still in the Philippines since the diving is so great here. Matt really wanted to go to Malapascua to see the thresher shark. Not only did we see the threshers, but we also saw some white tip reef sharks, sea snakes, eagle ray, octopus, cuttlefish, lion fish, nudibranch, eels, etc. We completed our Advanced Open Water and Nitrox Air certification and did seven dives in two days. (It was our first time to use a GoPro while diving and now have bought a red filter so our future photos should look better)

Link: Video of Thresher Shark Encounter

Within a couple of hours of arriving at the resort we were already in the water doing our first night dive where we saw this octopus and other sea creatures.

We woke up at 5am two days in a row to see the rare thresher shark.

We woke up at 5am two days in a row to see the rare thresher shark.

We took a boat to Groto Island and found some white tip reef sharks.

We took a boat to Gato Island and found some white tip reef sharks.

We watched this really long sea snake rise from the bottom of the ocean floor.

We watched this really long sea snake rise from the bottom of the ocean floor.

We saw various sizes of cuttlefish.

We saw various sizes of cuttlefish.

After seven dives in less than 48 hours we are now certified to dive down to 30 meters 100 feet).

After seven dives in less than 48 hours we are now certified to dive down to 30 meters (100 feet) and to use Nitrox air which allows us to stay under water longer.

We rented a motor bike and drove around the island of Malapascua. Not many roads are paved.

We rented a motor bike and drove around the island of Malapascua. Not many roads are paved.

We found this make-shift basketball hoop nailed to a coconut tree.

We found this make-shift basketball hoop nailed to a coconut tree.

Even on a small island in the Philippines, basketball games are still played.

Even on a small island in the Philippines, basketball games are still played, with or without shoes.

We wanted to get to the lighthouse, but were not certain how to actually get there since there was no visible road when we got near.

We wanted to get to the lighthouse, but were not certain how to actually get there since there was no visible road when we got near.

These kids became our guides and showed us how to get up to the lighthouse through some foliage and brush.

These kids became our guides and showed us how to get up to the lighthouse through some foliage and brush.

These plant was growing all around the light house. The red color on the leaves make it look like it is a flower from a distance.

These plant was growing all around the light house. The red color on the leaves make it look like it is a flower from a distance.

It was long weekend to be able to spend time together as a couple and enjoy a new hobby of scuba diving together.

It was long weekend to be able to spend time together as a couple and enjoy a new hobby of scuba diving together.

More photos of Malapascua here.