Monday, May 02, 2011

This one isn't easy

Being a parent is no fun when you have to explain "adult things" to your children.

I remember as a child there was a serial killer in our area. He had murdered several people within an 50 mile radius of where we lived and it was all over the news. One of the young women murdered was a teacher, another was the older sister of a friend, and the attorney that prosecuted the case was a family friend. It was all very close to home.

There was also the earthquake in San Francisco in 1989, I was almost 11. My grandparents had large exposed beams in their family room, and ever since I remember making sure that I was always lying between the beams so that if there was an earthquake I wouldn't be trapped beneath the huge pieces of wood.

There was also a stabbing, fires and attempted kidnappings that I vividly remember hearing about. All of these memories have made me very aware of keeping the nightly news of doom and gloom at a minimum when the kids are around. As a parent, you want to protect your kids from scary things, from the boogie man, you want them to feel safe and secure but how can you avoid the evil and the natural disasters that happen daily? You simply cannot.

In Holden's world, especially in Asia there has been some pretty scary things that we have had to explain. Tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, more tsunamis and nuclear fallout; and that's just the "natural" disasters!

So when this day of reckoning came. When the news broke that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, that justice had been served and he would meet his Maker, we yet again had some explaining to do. "Who was this man, what did he do, why are people so happy he is dead?"

I will never forget "that day," really, no one will. I was paralyzed that early morning in Boise when my roommate and I sat on our blue faded sofa and watched things unfold live. I was still an idealistic college student and until that day, all the world seemed safe. American soil seemed safe, we didn't know any other reality. I couldn't go to class that day, or the next, or even the one after that. I had just moved home from Washington DC and it felt too close to home. I am still moved to tears thinking about the images of that day that changed America. Of the plane hitting the second tower, of the people jumping from the flaming windows to their death, of the towers crashing down and the thick cloud of smoke that chased people down as they ran to escape.

Explaing something so traumatic that so wholly changed the world to my seven year old child is not easy. So with tears in my eyes I just told him that a few years before he was born there was a very bad man who hurt a lot of people and for all these years (almost 10 now) the US military has been looking for him, and they finally found him so there are a lot of happy people now knowing that he won't be around to hurt anyone else. But in truth, I know there will be more people hurt, I know that this is not the end of terrorism, in fact it may just be the beginning and bad things happen every day. Soon enough he will have his own moment of change when he knows things will never be the same. He will conjure up images of the horrible things that have happened in his lifetime but for now I just want to keep him safe and secure in his blissful bubble of childhood. I wonder, what will be his reality of "lying between the beams?"

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A lot of things

There were a lot of things I could have done today.

There were a lot of things I wanted to do today and a lot of things I needed to do today.

But, all of those "things" took a back seat today for one important thing I did do today...

We took these children:

Who come from this most horrifying depth of poverty:

And hosted a swim party for them:

And I have NEVER seen such big smiles or so much pure unadulterated joy:

I know these children, I consider them part of me and every week I look forward to seeing their beautiful faces, feeling their love, and giving to them the love, attention and respect that every child should get no matter what their circumstances are. If you want to help visit I promise, the small amount that is takes to give gift of education will not go to waste.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

and then they went to Hong Kong...again

Ah, back to civilzation. That's what Hong Kong feels like. Only a 2 hour flight and I wonder why we don't go more often. Ususally because we are spending too much time at the beach! We had been looking forward to getting back to Hong Kong for a while and it finally worked out over Easter break.

In the Philippines (which is about 80% Catholic) they take holy week pretty darn serious. In fact, so serious that in our building they shut the power and the water off. Ok, that has nothing to do with the church but because EVERYTHING is closed they use those days to make major repairs hence the no water, no power.

We skedaddled to the local Shangrila and "pre-vacationed" at the pool for a couple of days before we headed North for cooler temperatures, better food and most important fantastic shopping. Oh, we threw in a trip to Disneyland of course and even let the Easter Bunny visit. I must say the funniest part of the trip was when Holden had a melt down in Tiffany's. "MOM! the only things girls want are diamonds and looking at jewelery is NOT fun." "Really Holden, looking at jewelery IS fun and girls want more than just diamonds silly, they also like bags and shoes and pearls." He seriously had a melt down with phrases like "this is suppose to be a FAMILY vacation, we are suppose to do things that the whole family likes, this is stuff you can do in Manila." Honestly, where did I go wrong with this kid? Needless to say, this cut my shopping trip down to size and we headed to do things the WHOLE family know, like Disneyland. HA!

Disneyland was a treat as always. We went on Easter Sunday. Still trying to figure out if that was a good idea! It was crowded but mostly with just adults. The ratio of adults to children had to have been about 6:1. It made me wish there was an express line for people WITH children in tow.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: traaveling with kids is hard work. Especially at Finnley's age and with their food preferences, or shall we say pickiness. There was one moment at lunch where Nate looked at me and said, "how do people back home do this alone?" and every night we fell into bed absolutely exhausted. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up, we can't move home.

For it's size Hong Kong is suprisingly efficient. We made it places in record time and for as many times as we have been now, it just seems easy. But it is crowded and there isn't anyone to lend a helping hand. Yet another reason Manila was calling my name to come home.

Monday, April 04, 2011


What started off as a trip to Turkey then turned into a holiday to Cambodia eventually landed us back in Boracay. And why wouldn't it?

Turkey was going to be the Spring Break to remember! The plan was to catch up with Nate's parents in Istanbul but after the timing didn't work out for them we started going through our lists of places to visit. Cambodia has been a top spot for both of us, but due to the lack of direct flights it was a bit of a challenge without a decent chunk of time. The week off of school seemed the perfect fit but after our amazing vacation in Boracay 3 weeks earlier, neither of us could bear the thought of traipsing around the hot city taking the boys to temple after temple when we could just as easily (easier in fact) head back to Bora. Adventurous, no. Smart, yes!

Our holidays before Finnley came around were a bit more adventurous. Holden proved to be a laid back and easy travel companion.. But, when I think of all the vacations we have had since Finn blessed us with his red headed spirit the big long haul city trips have been; lets say, a bit challenging. There has been invitations to leave restaurants (Osaka), admittances to hospitals (Bangkok), stripping clothes off in the middle of winter (Paris) and vomit in taxis (Hanoi). Now, I'm not saying Finn isn't a little trooper in his own right, he just clearly prefers laid back beach vacations and right now I am totally okay with that.

Now, the problem with going to the same place twice within a 3 week period is that you can't fork out the dough for a villa with a private pool the first time and then stay in a hotel room the second time. Oh no, it doesn't work that way...for any of us. You have already broken the seal, let the genie out of the bottle. This is also why you should never let your kids fly first class. Trying to get them to think coach is all fine and dandy again is NEVER going to happen.

Now, I'm not saying my kids make demands, but they certainly do let their opinions known. As we are boarding the tiny thirty seat prop plane Holden says "We are in first class, right?" Um yeah Hold, the entire plane is. Can't you tell?
Then, as we are swept from the speed boat into the golf cart and escorted directly past check-in to a hotel room where we can freshen up and wait for the villa to be prepared Holden says, "This is okay, but I really preferred the place we stayed last time." The talk of this life of luxury so accessible to him in the Philippines makes for some very useful conversations about the need for an education so he can continue this all on his own dime!

Once again, the week proved to be magical. Books were read, children were water-logged, parents were tanned, sandcastles erected and music was danced to. Turkey and Cambodia will come in good time, but today, we live for Boracay.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

8 years and counting

The thing about being married eight years is that you really begin to forget how life was before marriage. It's foggy. I can remember parts but they seem so distant and fuzzy. I never could have dreamt a few short years ago that I would be HERE, living this life, with two wavy haired boys and one hunk of a bald man exploring the world together. These boys who make up our lives, literally, have such distinct traits of their parents; their looks and personalities are so us. Sometimes its like looking in a mirror at the mishmash of Nate and I as one. We worry about certain traits, we commiserate about others, we live in joy at how vividly we see each other in our boys. Is there really a greater gift in a marriage?

For our anniversary this year, we revisited one of our favorite locations: Boracay. Just a hop skip and a jump (and a 45 minute flight) from Manila is where the powdery white sand meets the clear blue ocean which blends into the crisp blue sky. It's truly heaven. We spent 5 days in this blissful location with our little family and some help from our friends (Yaya Carol) at an amazing villa at the Shangrila.

Happy 8 years to the man who makes my heart beat a little bit faster when he enters the room, the amazing father to our beautiful boys and the one who makes this amazing life that we live possible.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Grateful: tres

You know those moments in life where you experience something, live something, see something that will forever change you? Those times where you know you aren't the same person walking out as walked in? Those moments are kind of scary. Sad-scary, funny-scary, exciting-scary.

I remember so many of them. The day I gave up a belief. The second I saw him laying there and started CPR but already knew it was too late. The day I said "yes." The loud beating of my heart after the slam of the phone. The day I walked off that plane. The moment I decided to not feel guilt about my decision.

They are branded in your memory. They change you.

This weekend I had a changing moment as I spent time with these beautiful children who have nothing. Not "nothing" by our standards, but nothing by any standards. They don't have food on a regular basis or clean clothes or clean water. Most certainly they don't have education which is a fundamental solution to poverty. Not everyone who has a job is rich, but everyone who has an education has the opportunity for a job.

But what they do have is heart, and a need to be loved, and cared for and felt as if they matter to someone and to me and many other volunteers who give their time and money and heart and soul, they do matter.
Today I am not the same person as I was last week.
How could I be?
And grateful?
How could I not be?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grateful; deux

When I watch photos scroll through the apple tv, or across my computer screen I am taken aback by the emotions some of them evoke. Photography has such amazing power over emotions. So, today I am grateful for my eye, for my camera and ability to capture moments that move me and hopefully move others as well.

In December I was invited to take photos of the girls at one of the orphanages here in the city as part of their Christmas suprise. The girls were so shy and yet so excited! Some a really hard time getting up the confidence to "work it" for me and my camera. To be able to show them just how gorgeous they are and how beautiful their spirits are was very rewarding for me.