Friday, October 13, 2017


It is October the 14th. Yesterday I was snorkeling in the pristine waters off of Tulikud Island, Philippines. 

Hmmmm? Something is just not quite right. Oh yeah, the weather is supposed to be changing as are the colors of the leaves. FALL....the closest I get to Fall here is the red tips on the leaves of the three bushes in front of our home, walks on the path with Freckie that always have leaves to crunch & some pumpkin spice Chai tea that my awesome friend Mars gifted me. 

It is weird. There are so many things I love here, but I must be a creature of habit? I am really feeling it this year. 8 years (wait, a couple of years ago, I traveled home alone to enjoy fall with Mom & Dad, a sweet surprise) of living abroad and not being in Pennsylvania for the Fall... It is one of my favorite times of the year, crisp air, gorgeous foliage, fresh apples, bonfires & the moon on a chilly night.

credits: Faith Matthews. Joe Pond, VT

This is not a complaint or a "woe is me" post, just some reflections. Just realizing why I might feel a bit off these last few days maybe even weeks? Actually today, the sky is not typical. It could pass as a fall sky? This picture was taken at 1;30 PM. We usually have beautiful blue skies with the most amazing clouds evah! But today, I will take this cloudy gray sky & pretend that it is Fall.

I think my feelings are more intense as I have two boys in university talking about all of the changes they are experiencing. Funny, but they are missing bits of living abroad. They are cold. Ha ha. I guess all of our experiences really make us who we are. We are Pennsylvanians born & raised with a bit of NJ, some Niger & a whole lotta Philippines.  I am sure this time next year I will be longing for kinilaw, flip flops, mangoes & the white sand of Tulikud Island!

I must sound confused? Fall or no Fall....something inside me is saying it should be here but that is not the reality. Atleast Pennsylvania Fall. Not sure what that means, but today and right now I guess it means extra pumpkin spice Chai, early walks with the hope to catch a cool breeze, time with my sweet Freckie 

& maybe crank the air con and put on my favorite green sweat shirt for a bit? Also, I LOVE seeing posts on Instagram & FB of all my Fall-loving friends are enjoying. I have no problem enjoying Fall vicariously through you! Thanks, in advance!! Well, tomorrow it will be back to eternal summer...flip flops, shorts, beautiful blue skies with fluffy clouds & wonderful ripe fresh tropical fruit. It is my reality. Fall is truly wonderful, but I do have to say that I am quite happy being here in the Philippines right now sipping my pumpkin spice Chai. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bird Watching

Ahhh, this morning, I struck out bright and early to head on my 1st Bird Watch with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines-Davao. It was wonderful to be in the forest and the group collectively spotted 40 different species....4 being raptors: Brahminy Kite, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Chinese Goshawk & a few people even had the treat of seeing a Peregrine Falcon! 

Philippine Serpent Eagle

There were a few types of King Fisher (one of my favorites, I was able to photograph one and only observed the collared kingfisher through the scope), plenty of sunbirds,  flower peckers, drongo cuckoos, get the idea. I will not list them all and I am not sure I could even identify them?? Makes me want to study! Of course, I enjoy the very colorful birds and I was not disappointed. 

Brown Breasted King fisher

One of the varieties of Sunbirds we saw, sorry can't remember the specific type.

Olive Backed Sunbird

My only regret of the day was not having a super high tech lens to take extra close ups to study now. Other surprises were a Sailfin Lizard, a skink and plenty of Flying Foxes! 

Sailfin lizard

Check out the Sailfin lizard's tail. 


Flying Fox

I was refreshed by the beauty around me and the excellence of the people leading, such a wealth of knowledge!  My brain is on overload, they were able to identify so many birds. The groups leader, Pete Simpson is kind and well equipped. It was fun to watch his excitement as well. He brought along scopes, recorded bird calls and his group was well coordinated with binoculars to share.  I saw some of the BIGGEST camera lenses ever!!  If you live in Davao, this is an enriching activity, well worth the time.  Oh, did I mention the lilies?? Maybe they are worth their own blog?? Stunning....

I think that birds are some quite wonderful!  But, I have to admit, I love finding and photographing other treasures as well. Like this guy.....

  • He looked feathered...check out his feet!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Smiles for Miles

Just a week ago we kicked off our week-long Cleft Camp here at Tebow CURE Hospital. 

A team (2 surgeons, 2 anesthesiologists, a nurse and 2 photographers) from the organization Free to Smile volunteered their time to spend a week here in the Philippines repairing cleft lips & palates! 

That they did!! 30 surgeries...24 boys & 6 girls! It was truly a week of transformation! Our staff worked so hard and it was quite a great week. I just love cleft repairs as they are so dramatic and heal quickly! 

For video updates, you can go to our FB page Tebow CURE Hospital or check them out on you tube.

Of course, I enjoyed blowing lots of bubbles and snapping some candid shots. 

Here is the album that I created. ENJOY! 

Smiles are something very wonderful & I am thrilled for all the families that we got to meet this week!

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!