Day out with Dad

Well, I have begun my official vacation. How am I spending it? With the kids of course. B is in town proctering an exam, and I am hauling the kids around running errands and paying bills. It is not so bad. We are using a friends car as today is their no-drive-day, and they have ours in town. They happen to have a car with a much more powerful AC (Air Conditioner), and more comfortable seats. I feel a bit bad for them because they have traffic to fight in the afternoon, and a puny-weak-lukewark AC to accompany them. Like I said, the errands are not so bad. We headed out at about 9:15 to go to the bank only to find that our bank is “off-line”. Found another one and did our business, and then went to yet another bank to deposit our rent. As I was getting out of the car to go in to pay the rent I got a text (SMS), but I did not look at it till I returned. It was from our landlord, asking about our rent. That is not so strange, except that we only hear from him every 6 months or so. Also strange because I was right in the middle of actually paying rent. Anyway… I then realized that I had forgotten the phone bill that is due. We drove home and I decided to pay our association dues first. Henry, who runs the association, is also a former guard of the Faith Academy dorms, and now a friend. I don’t see much of him any more because our neighborhood Bible study has dissolved. We chatted a bit, I payed my dues, and then we were off again. I payed the phone bill, and by then it was getting close to lunch time so we drove through BK and spent less than 180 pesos (about $3) on a whopper jr. w/cheese meal and 2 BK Savers ham and cheese meals. Then we stopped at a coffee shop and I had a 50 peso ‘long black’ (americano), before heading home. Now we will probably watch a VCD and turn on the AC. According to it is 91 but feels like 100.

Ethan the “Jiggler”

“I wish we could jiggle when we are laying down!” Huh? Living with a four year old is often very amusing. Not knowing exactly what Ethan was referring to Daniel responded with, “Some people can!” to which Ethan stated matter-of-factly, “Yes, but not us!” We finally figured out that he meant “juggle” which is what he has been trying to do this evening with ONE wadded up napkin. He isn’t doing too well. It will be a while before he can “jiggle” lying down.

My new weight loss scheme!

In the last few days I have had the misfortune, during meals, of crunching down hard on itty-bitty rocks in my rice. They are beastly hard to find since they blend in with the hundreds of thousands of grains of rice in the pot and picking them out before cooking is usually met with limited success. I have wondered why Filipinos don’t generally find this a frustration like I do as the best Filipino food I have tasted commonly has bits of rocks, bones or other small items I wouldn’t normally classify as food. I have noticed, finally, that some of my friends have an ingenious way of chewing their food without really putting their teeth together. Viola! No hideous crunching! One friend says that she is shocked when she watches her husband put a huge bite of bangus (fish with tons of tiny bones that English speakers usually call milk-fish) into his mouth and “chew” it by rolling it around until he has used his tongue and teeth to expertly separate out all those tiny bones, and without crunching or choking on them! So now I know there is a method, but I can’t shake this annoying American habit of putting my teeth together when I chew. So of course, I CRUNCH! And then I can’t swallow that bite that is still in my mouth because no matter how hungry I was just seconds earlier, I experience a sudden and total loss of appetite. So here is my weight loss plan to be used in the future if I need to lose a few pounds:

1. Find some relatively clean sand.

2. Wash it a few times and maybe boil it for a half an hour, so that it is completely germ free… cause we don’t really want to lose weight from an illness like amoeba!

3. Put this clean sand in a salt shaker and keep on the table with the salt and pepper. Warn other family members who do not need to lose any weight that they should avoid the sand shaker since… Hey, it adds NOTHING to the flavor!

4. After you dish up your food at meals, sprinkle with a few grains of sand.

5. Bon Appetite! If you mix it in good you might actually get a small portion of food consumed before that hideous crunch and complete loss of appetite.

Well, In the meantime, I think I will still work on perfecting that technique of chewing without my teeth actually touching…. cause I still LOVE the food in this country!

Look, Kids!

I realized that we have not posted pictures of the kids in a while, and while they don’t seem to care, the relatives do.

I thought I would make a goatee and mustache for Ethan out of paper one rainy day. He enjoyed it and began honing his dramatic skills. I asked him for an angry face, but the first attempt seemed weak. I told him to put his eyebrows into it and viola!

I then asked for surprised. I think he is off to a good start…

Ariana did have a birthday at the end of May, and she did have a party. We decided to take her and her friends out to a restaurant and let them pick from the kids menu. We also took them to a coffee shop and they ordered tea.

They were very excited about the tea. Not because they like tea, but because it came in great bug catchers (yes, paper cups with lids). They were all sweaty because they had PE just before they come for the party, and then our AC (air conditioner) did not hold up well in traffic. At some point kids depart from kiddom and become guys and girls. Then they will notice that they stink, won’t be more interested in bugs than clothes, and may even like tea. But I can wait. Kids are fun!

What a load of craft!

It is summer vacation. The kids are home ALL DAY and our pre-summer peaceful existence is over! In my desperate attempt to find activities for them to do so they will stop fighting with each other I pulled out a book of crafts. Each page has pictures printed on card stock that can be punched out, folded, and glued into something semi-3-dimensional. Somewhere in my telling the kids about this craft book, Ethan translated “craft” into “crap”. I can’t bear to correct him since it has provided me with days of amusement listening to him say things like, “Mom, look at my crap!” and “Can you help me with this crap?” and “Can I make another crap?” Since the finished crafts only last a few minutes until they fall apart, I guess he has made an accurate assessment!

Did I win?

Last week I received an email form my grandpa, and among other things he mentioned an A&W writing contest to win a getaway home, commenting that it would be the sort of thing we could do well. This week we receive the details. He sent us the junk-mail that includes a spattering of details. So we thought “Why not?” The piece asks for a memory making experience in your (future) new home, in 50 words or less. So I started working on it. I wrote a short little thing that I thought sounded good and conveyed a great future memory. I counted the words. Close to 100. Hmmm… I start honing it down. After 20 minutes of work I realize this is a very hard thing to do. I call in B and she helps me take out extraneous pronouns etc. This is what I had:

The summer evening cools. Pushing away from the table we lounge, conversations continue, and kids run in and out laughing and squealing with joy. Someone calls from the kitchen “Anyone for a root beer float?” My brother next to me immediately responds, “Is it A&W?” “Of course!”

Enough to give setting, atmosphere, and include the A&W plug. We had to wait till the next day because we were not online at home. When I got to work I looked up the details. Apparently a “getaway” house is a second home within 300 miles of the home you already own. Not sure what we would find within 300 miles of La Habra for $200,000, and we do not even own a porta-potty. Also found out that 10 entries are picked, given a year supply of root beer, a DV camera and are expected to record and submit a video of the future memory. These are then voted on by the general public and the winner gets the home. If you win, you are then expected to become A&W’s employee for a year, traveling around the US promoting that unhealthy sugar water that only tastes good with that unhealthy sweet creamed foam we call ice cream. I guess the pay is not too bad: $88,000.

I can’t believe I wasted 30 minutes on those 50 words, and another 20 finding out that you have to own a home, live close to family, reside within the US, and be willing to be A&W spokesperson for a year. I don’t blame you grandpa, just the junk mail that was very slim on details. I did wonder what happened to the coupon it said was inside…

If anyone wants to use the above entry, I give up all my copyrights to it, on the condition that you give me the camera if you win the house.


Having made it enough times that I am pretty sure I know how to do it, I made hummus without a recipe. Normally when making something I will try to get all the stuff ready and then begin the making part. But when I made hummus last night, I just started. I began by toasting the sesame seeds because I thought it would taste better (which it did). Tahini is very expensive here so we just use sesame seeds and try to grind them first. Sesame seeds do not grind very well. They just sort of fly around in the food processor. If you add oil or water to keep them down, they then just stick all over the inside of the food processor. So use a mortar and pestle like I did not do. Adding in the chickpeas, olive oil and water was trouble-free, but we had run out of lemon/kalamansi juice, and the garlic was kind of old and shriveled. I used the garlic any way, but was not about to substitute vinegar for lemon. B found some lemon pepper seasoning that was given to us when a coworker left the country. I hesitated, tasted the hummus, smelled the seasoning, tasted the seasoning, and then dumped some in. There were black specks in the hummus now from the pepper, but it tasted more or less OK. Actually, the toasting of the sesame made it taste great, and in a pinch I would grab the lemon pepper without even thinking about it.