Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Birth of a Speed Bump

Oh, the soothing sound of a jack hammer on a Saturday morning. Ha ha ha. Not really, this country girl loves a nice quiet morning, but the racket outside got me thinking. Early this week I started blogging in my head here is my attempt at capturing that here! I do not think that I have blogged about traffic in a long while. I think the last one was something about how it is a bit like playing the video game Frogger ( that may have been from our time in Niger?). That is still the case, but traffic is becoming a bit more challenging the longer we live here. Still U Turns galore, drivers backing out into traffic, interesting choices by drivers, rude taxis and well, just lots of issues...more cars on the road and general confusion about basic traffic rules. I am not pointing the finger because I have done all of these things! The longer I am here the more I figure out and go with the flow. Some days I can just shake my head and laugh and other days, it is best for me to stay home. But today, I want to focus on the newest development outside my gate. The Speed Bump or Speed Hump as they call it here (or my as my British neighbor calls it, the silent police).

We live a in a large gated community with nice flat roads. Over the last month, our roads have speed bumps appearing. When I leave my gate to travel to the exit that I use to go to  the hospital, I travel over 13 bumps before making it to the main road! Why so many you ask? Well, it is my theory that the current situation on the roads is soooo frustrating to most people that when they get on to a freed up and flat road, they put the pedal to the metal and rip. You just want to press the gas and go go go. And they do. I was actually happy that we were getting 3 new bumps right close to the house as people speed quite fast past our home. It can be an irritant to be honked at every time I am backing out of my carport. We live on the road that the gym is located on, so there is a good bit of traffic coming and going. The speed limit in our development is 30 kilometers per hour....which to my North American friends is 18.64 mph...SLOW! Kinda like a school zone! That is also the limit on most city roads and depending where you are driving you can go a bit faster, but the limit is not monitored within our development like it can be in the city. So, as the traffic has gotten worse and things have become more congested, I have noticed the rate of speed just in front of our house has increased.

This week, they started constructing the small bump/hump in front of the house. It is quite the project. I was conducting surveillance of the workers from my upstairs bathroom window. Weird? Maybe? But nonetheless, some of you may enjoy this.....

 Such a process. Jack hammer...carve the foundation, mix the cement, measure, pour, dry, barricade and  paint. One side then a few days to dry out then the other. I was a bit happy to see one going in to slow people down. Guess I am showing my age......I want to holler at people and shake my fist telling them that someone is going to get run over!!  Looking at this bump, I am not sure it is big enough  to do any kind of job AND the paint is already peeling off the side they painted! Now people come by, get over the bump, rev their engine and take off again.

Oh well, not sure there is anything very wonderful about this post? Just seemed like a noteworthy happening this week.  I am thankful to live in a beautiful development with people who are trying to keep it a safe environment. People who care are something wonderful.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Malagos Beauty

Yesterday, I was in search of birds, butterflies, orchids & chocolate. 

Boy did I get it! And so much'll have to ask me about the wonderful grilled tuna for lunch! But let's not talk food this time. So nice to get out of town and into nature.  Here I am hanging out on some over-sized chairs in a shady "plant dome". What a gorgeous day.

Malagos is a beautiful place full of interesting flora & fauna. I was thrilled to get the chance to feed African love birds ....

  to smell the sweet smells of Malagos Chocolate.  When we visited the Philippines 1st Chocolate Museum, I was reminded of Hershey Chocolate World (a cherished childhood haunt). 

You know me, I am always up for a butterfly garden..... They were even flying to me & hanging out on my knees & hands, I loved it. Look closely you will see that the second butterfly shot is a bit weird. (Hint, look for some extra white legs). Check out my other photos to see why, hmmmm.

 & snapping pics of an orchid or two or three or more.  

If you would like to check out all of my shots, click here! There are some other treasures in the album!! Oh, I even got up close & personal with  a caribou.

God's amazing creation continues to wow me.....being refreshed by nature is something quite wonderful to me. I am so thankful for new places to explore.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

"I miss being a kid...."

Ben's 1st week of his freshman year of college, one reflection stood out. "I miss being a kid."

Me too. I miss him being a kid not lying, I miss being a kid. Ha ha ha. I have been pondering this.

Recently, I have been puppy sitting for a friend. I was just noticing the other day how it is much like having a toddler around the house...puppy proofing things, cleaning up multiple messes, encouraging him to eat the right things, keeping sticks and stones out of his mouth, constant praise for the little things like peeing outside or bringing me a toy, constant energy, eyes on me at ALL times (private times as well...toilet/shower) and then oh no, when puppy is out of sight I better go and find the little bugger because he is usually up to mischief or pooping in a secret location.

So, I was thinking of the stages of kids growing up. It has been quite a few years since having a toddler around and man are those some special memories. Many times  I will hear kids say that they want to grow up and look forward to future activities that are for "big kids". Looking forward to the next school year and wanting to be taller, wanting to have new and different privileges. But now my kids are  "big kids". This did not happen overnight but sure felt like it did. Each stage has its challenges for sure, but such sweet reward. I just keep on thinking, don't wish any stage or phase of life away. There are new things to experience and be learned. Technically a kid is a child or young person. What is young exactly?

So what was Ben referring to? Does he still want to be a child? It can be nice having the basics of your life cared for by a parent or guardian. Hmmm, I think he was probably referring to the responsibilities: adulting. As prepared as you think you are it  can be overwhelming. Hmmm, that dirty laundry does not magically  escape from the basket only to be returned smelling fresh and neatly folded. Bills need to be paid, realizing how much things cost, making a schedule, getting things done, working, and living with a new community of people. The list goes on. I can understand the overwhelming feeling of feeling the responsibility for it all. I think that is what he was referring to? Because he is still playing....just differently (volleyball, video games) he is still being fed and has clothes to wear.  The difference is that he is making the choices for himself. Although he is no longer finding new friends at the park while playing in the sandbox, he is still finding new friends. So much of how he was a a little kid has remained with him. Really the basics of facing life. Making wise choices, valuing people, learning new things,  even taking risks. He may not be able to see it, but I do.

Moving away home may be one of the most significant milestones in growing up. There are many new responsibilities and I am seeing my boys figure this new role out....but in reality they will always be kids to me. I love how our family really values making each other laugh and enjoy something. We have a group chat going now for  a second year. Funny little videos, little updates on life and just a sense of connectedness. One of my favorite things about my kids, is the little chats here and there. They will come find me or I will find them, so this group chat is how we stay close while far away.

I love that my kids are still childlike and joke, tease, play and have fun. Wow, I am still a kid at heart too. I do not always jump into new situations and often access something as too hard. But when I do, I find quite the reward when I take the chance often times finding treasures beyond what I expect. Sometimes I like to have people make choices for me and take care of me. But there is a satisfaction of having the responsibility and choices of a grown up life. But growing up happens. So to you Ben, still enjoy being a kid...cause you still are, just a bigger one! You will make it and learn all sorts of t hings you never imagined and continue to call me with all of your laundry queries. You are doing marvelous! Kids of all ages (0-110)  are certainly something wonderful.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dragon Boat Festival

It was a nice sunny Sunday here in Davao City. Our neighbors asked if we would like to go check out the Dragon Boat Festival. It is the beginning of the festivities here in Davao for the Kadayawan Festival. The next two weeks will be full of celebration, plenty to eat and some fun things to do and see. It is a time of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Davao City is known as the Fruit Basket of  the Philippines. I LOVE THAT!!

We headed to the Santa Ana Wharf and were pleasantly surprised to find the races well underway. The event was very well organized and it was fun to cheer for the hometown team! 

The boats were sent down from Manila. The teams consisted of men and woman who trained hard. There were all male teams, mixed teams, races with 10 rowers and races with 20. Each boat was equipped with a drum at the helm to help the rowers find and keep an effective rowing rhythm. Hmmm, still not sure about the man standing in the back? Steerer? Coach? I will have to study up on it!

It was fun experiencing something new. Click here if you would like to see more pictures of the day. Some snap shots around the wharf and surrounding area. We are a bit sunburned and ready for bed early! I am grateful for fun neighbors and think new things to discover are something wonderful! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

3's the perfect # for me!

I woke up early this morning and just spent time praying for my kids. Such warm beautiful emotions fill me. They are my favorite people. We had the privilege of all being under one roof this summer.

I love the little things, random hugs, numerous jokes, funny faces, hanging out shooting hoops, movies in the ladder room, skateboards, bikes, guitars, watching the sunset and just those quiet conversations. I love watching them interact with each other and with L. Such unique special relationships. Even though we all seem to going different ways, they will always be a constant  reminder in my life of God's goodness and faithfulness to me. Being their Mom is the best! Looking through pictures I am amazed at the life we have had to this point! From PA, to Jersey and back to PA again...Niger, Philippines and many points in between.

Trip to NZ

Hangin in the park

Blitz in t he Phils


Swimming in the Niger River

Oh, the joy of gingerbread houses!

Jersey kids

Getting  the sheep for the special Nigerien opening!

Watch out, crazy croquet!

Back in PA

Climbing a Baobab tree at Parc W

The good, bad and the ugly. What hardships we have conquered and what interesting things we have seen. The people we have met along the way will forever be part of our story. Such a rich life. And it is just the beginning....talking to my kids I am thrilled to see where life leads. Such optimism, so many dreams! So thankful for these precious gifts! Being a Mom is something truly wonderful!

Thank you for letting me reminisce. It is a new strategy to find JOY in these transitions of family of 5 to 4 now to 3 for the moment....

Monday, June 19, 2017


I am on what does that mean? More TIME to do stuff that I do not usually do. More TIME to see family and friends. More TIME to go places. But what I love the most more TIME to slow up and just do not much of anything...  THINK! So much on my mind and I do not even know where to start thinking? I actually "blog" in my head when I walk, complete with catchy things to say and even considering pictures to use to make things a bit more interesting. Then I get home and well, I forget or have other things to do. I am out of my routine. TIME is different at the moment. I think about  how to really use my time wisely and appreciate the people and things around me. My life seems to be changing very quickly, another child "out of the nest" and well, just realizing that things will never be completely the same again. Not sure what the "same" would look like anyway? I have blogged about seasons and change in the past, so I will not revisit those topics. I guess I just needed to get some thoughts out of my head to stop the blockage?

I am content but I want to plan. Enjoying the moment while learning from the past and having hope for the future. So interesting for me to ponder....TIME marches on.

Sometimes I want time to go quicker when I am looking forward to something. Seems like time just creeps. But then when I am looking at how quickly my kids are maturing, or want to savor a moment, I want it to slow way down and then there is the time you can never get back. Time well spent....what does  that look like?? I think about being intentional ALOT. Whether it is taking a few minutes to connect with someone or 45 minutes to reconnect, it is important to me. I try not to rush around and be busy, yes life is full. But it is possible. I love listening to music and so many times I am just stuck singing a song over and over. The song, "Gone" that Switchfoot sings really resonates with me and on their newest release they sing a song called "Live It Well", sometimes it feels like they are reading my mind!! I am sure that there are many people pondering the same things as me. I just want to be a great guardian of my time, making sure that my days here on earth matter. That impact made will live on and on and has an eternal  investment. Maybe this is just how you think as you age. Honestly I feel like I am still 22!! I am so thankful for this time to reflect and enjoy a change of atmosphere, but am really thinking about the future and want to make sure my TIME is well spent. Time is something quite wonderful and a commodity not to be ignored!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Grad's last days at "home"

Well, it happened. Another one of my children is now a HS graduate. This week has been a mix of emotions. The actual day of graduation, I was a little concerned because at closing ceremonies of Ben's last day in high school,  I was feeling like I would burst out in tears just watching him play his guitar for his last worship set at the last chapel of his high school days. 

Yes, I mean to be redundant in my referring to his last high school days and his last experiences doing certain things. Feels so weird. Final. AND yes, I have been through this before. I pulled it together and busied myself with the work of the day.

The graduation ceremony went off and all went to plan.  I spent a lot of the celebration laughing instead of crying. So not how I thought it would be. Let's looks ahead, right?  He was thrilled & the class with all of their fun quirks were just enjoying the moment. 

Being together. I joined right in. Even enjoyed the photo booth.

The celebration continued into the night as the whole class had an all night game night at a friend's  house. All together, just enjoying each other. Not crying and wondering how it would be, but instead enjoying the now, the moment. The great times spent together. I guess when I think of it, I think of how these kids are all going different ways. They are from all over.....some will return to the states, but different states (so happy a couple will  be in PA), others to Korea, Japan, NZ, and well, I think you get the picture. These kids have grown up enjoying each other's uniqueness. They have not always responded perfectly, but they are all who they are... what a rich experience, why not celebrate!

Ben was not home much yesterday and when he was, he was pretty tired.  We did manage to squeeze some Charlie Bravo's from Army Navy & the final Pirates of the Caribbean movie  in before calling it a day. Last moments being together. I lamented a bit as I was wondering how we were going to spend his last day at "home" where WE are together.  Funny because we will be in the states a bit this summer with him, BUT he will not return with us. It will be different after today! I keep putting that word HOME in quotations. I guess because it seems to change in location but it never loses it's meaning. It has always been where we are together, laughing, crying living life. It is a safe place of love and acceptance. The location is changing again. It has been something a bit different since moving Drew out two years ago, but alas we found a new "normal". Another adjustment. But this summer we will all be together again. 

So that brings us to today..... it started at 3:30 AM. Waaaaay too early. And after a late night power outage, we were extra tired.

We signed up for the Fun Run to benefit the Tebow CURE Hospital. In a moment of weakness B, B and Q agreed to run/walk. Picked Q up at 4 AM and headed to the race. I was the only one ready for Zumba
& loved that the most. So glad no one was taking pictures of that!! So thankful for Marlene's great race pictures so you can get a glimpse of these wonderful people who fill my life with fun.

I just love our staff & partners who joined in! 

 Action shots if my kids?? Well, they were less than enthusiastic this morning. 

Bex sat out due to a trampoline injury and B & Q sporting their blue hair managed to take last place....DEAD last! Their participation did not go as I expected but they are mine and I love them!

Andrew Bray did however finish 2nd for the Men's 5 K! Way to go! Thank  you for the awesome finish! And you even got to have your picture with the weird vitamin guy that looked well, let's just say very happy!

We were pretty tired and lazed around most of the day. Time to pack up! Boy, that did not take as long as I was thinking, although I keep finding things that he forgot to gather. Moving from Africa we purged so many things. So we travel pretty light these days. So weird to think that he packed his life up into one big suitcase with a few things straggling. He will not be the kid starting college with multiple trips from the car to the dorm. 

Last activities included a dinner of Naan & chicken curry while playing Scrabble. Games on Sunday night have continued to be held dear.  I love that about our "normal".  Scheduled fun time together. That will be one thing I miss most, just him being here. BUT He has somewhere else to be.

So tomorrow, we will take Ben to the airport for a fun trip to Oregon (without us). These three will not be back together until, who knows when? 

We will see Ben in a week! Spend June & a bit of July making sure he has all he needs to start on the next leg of his journey. L, B & I will return to the Philippines one more boy short. The 5 of us will not be back  "home" together until Christmas. Just feels so final, and I am not quite sure how I am feeling about that? I just know that there are wonderful things to come & forward motion is good! So thankful for these precious kids that God has entrusted me with. Even as I finish this post up, I can hear Ben & Becca laughing and playing Kirby Air Ride like they have so many times before.  Something quite wonderful!