Tuesday, August 31, 2010


So, as part of Ben's new job he has been provided a Blackberry with 24 hour access to his email. This is new to him and he is just getting used to having to be ready to send a coherent and professional email at any time, day or night. The below email was sent at 2 AM after his second full night at work.....let's just say he is going to need some practice and we are hoping he doesn't get fired for sexual harrassment...

From: ben@>>>>>>>>>>.com
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 02:09:49
Subject: SUSIE*

Thanks ANNA*. I will keep her in pool of people to mentor and train. So far it is her, Che, and Sean. SUSIE* definitely has a strong upside I look forward into tapping that and turning her into an asset instead of a headache.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld

*names have been changed

I could NOT stop laughing when I read this. It is a good thing he is working with Filipinos who may speak English, but do not speak American slang and are not familiar with what it means to "tap that"...


Friday, August 27, 2010


My title to this post might be a little obvious, but anyone who knows me know that sleeping and driving AT THE SAME TIME have been an issue for me in the past, haha

So, what do I mean? Well, let's just say that yesterday/today (all sorts of confusing when I am in a totally different day than most of you reading this and also confusing when I am working in the middle of the night and can't keep my days straight) was my first time really driving and really sleeping since we have been here.

Traffic and the way people drive here in the Philippines is DRASTICALLY different than at home. There are rules and people have to take a test when they get their license, but I am pretty sure that all goes out the window as soon as you get behind the wheel. I was actually just told by one of my co-workers that his wife BOUGHT her license and doesnt actually know how to drive, haha, ya! There aren't really any traffic lights and even when there are, they aren't really paid attention to. People pass each other in the same lane and then into on coming traffic. There are dogs EVERYWHERE on the road and on the sides of the roads. There are even goats and cows on the sides of the roads or in the middle of the road sometimes. People cross in the middle of oncoming traffic. Little children play on the sides of the road (no sidewalk, just inches away from passing vehicles). It is just different. Therefore, I didn't want to drive. I really had no desire to get behind the wheel of a car and try to figure out how to NOT hit another car, or more importantly not hit a dog or a CHILD. Yikes! So, Ben has been driving everywhere and I have been at the mercy of his schedule, etc. So yesterday when I realized that unless I drove him to work, I was going to be stuck at the house with no way to get anywhere I decided I just had to bite the bullet and get behind the wheel. So, I did! Let me tell you....I forgot the freedom that driving provides. I dropped Ben off and realized I could go wherever I wanted. I am starting to know my way around and I could get anywhere I needed to go now. What a crazy feeling! Also more than feeling freedom, driving made me feel like I actually live here, this is home. It was a GREAT feeling. I may sound like such a dork, but it just made everything better.

Ben's first time driving (the first day here, he's a little braver than me). I tried to post a video, but it didn't work. I am not that skilled.

The other part of this post is the other thing that is making me happy today. I actually got some sleep. I am working nights, about 11pm-8am every day. Since we are support for the US office, we work during US work hours. It has been a hard adjustment. The biggest part of the issue has been not having a home to go to during the day and sleep. There is literally karaoke going all hours of the day and night. Also, we have had workers in our house all day almost every day. We have just gotten sleep here and there when we can. Two days ago, when I last blogged, I was going on about 5 hours of sleep in 48 hours and I was dying. My team was nice enough to allow me to leave work at 2am last night to go home and sleep. I slept from 6am-8am which was nice. Then, yesterday evening after dropping Ben off for work, I went home and slept from 5pm-11pm and there was VERY LITTLE karaoke! I woke up feeling rested and ready for the day. What a difference sleep makes!

So, I feel good. I hope it lasts! We are still looking for another place to live, but if we can get some hours of uninterrupted sleep each day we might even be able to stay in our house. It is big and has that gorgeous view so it might be worth it. We will see!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


We arrived in Cebu on Saturday, August 14th at about noon. We were greeted by my co-workers with signs that said "CARMEN" with our company name right below. We felt special. They had brought a van to take all of our stuff as well as the company car that we would be using until we buy our own. All was going well. We drove straight to our house, the one on the beach, with the amazing view. Ya, pretty awesome! Well, once we arrived at the house, things kind of weren't as awesome. There were things that the owner had confirmed that had been done...such as getting rid of the termite infestation, fixing the locks on the doors so we were safe, and a few other important things, had not been done. Also, I think we forgot to realize that moving into our house we would need a few things that we just didn't have.....bedding, towels, water to drink, etc etc. We were also completed warn out from the flight and traveling so we decided to go to a hotel which was a great idea and exactly what we needed to at least get our bearings and get some rest. We checked into the Marriott and stayed there for 2 nights. We were able to get a good night's sleep and attend church in the new chapel behind the new Cebu Temple. Church is always a great experience in a foreign country because it feels so familiar. It's a little piece of home away from home.
So, things started to get taken care of with the house, but slowly. I am not sure the termites will ever really be taken care of. What I had not accounted for was the fact that everything just seems to take longer in the Philippines. And when I say longer, I mean that it has now been almost 2 weeks and we still have fix it guys in our house almost daily trying to get everything ready. Seeing as my schedule is to work at night and sleep during the day, you can imagine my frustration with having people in my house all day. Ya...it isn't working very well. The other thing that is preventing us from sleeping......we are surrounded by Karaoke bars. It is kind of a funny thing to realize that we have this beautiful house with a beautiful view and no way to really enjoy it. We literally have been woken up at times from 6am-midnight-2am to people singing karaoke. It is going non-stop all day and all night long. So, getting over jet lag and getting in to a good sleeping schedule has just not happened. Today I actually went to the Shangri La resort (that place is going to SAVE me) and slept on a beach chair for as long as I could so that I would have some sleep before coming to work. I feel like a homeless person.
TheMy co-worker and his wife, we will call them Juligan, and their little boy arrived which is so great! We were so happy to see them and really so grateful to have them here with us. We see them on almost a daily basis and it's just so nice to have people here to relate to what we are dealing with, plus they have let Ben crash in the spare bedroom since they dont have to deal with Karaoke in their neighborhood. We know it has not even been two weeks, and we are trying to be patient, but things have definitely been harder than we expected. We are actually doing our best to get out of the lease from our house. It's really frustrating to know that we have paid the landlord 3 months worth of rent and have not even been able to live there. We are looking for a new place, praying that we will find something in Juligan's neighborhood. It would be nice to carpool to work and just to be closer to each other. We need somewhere quiet, closer to work and not filled with problems. That house is kind of like the money pit and even the view just isn't worth it (and the view is amazing!).
For the good stuff, Ben got a great job just a few days after we arrived here, which is HUGE! He actually just started today. We are excited for that and I am proud of him for getting out there and making it happen. We are going to be on the same schedule at some point which is a huge blessing, but for the next 30 days he is working from 4pm-1am. My schedule is 11pm-8am so I am not sure how we are going to get around it. But, we will! We went to the Temple on Tuesday and are hopefully going to get the chance to be Temple workers. We are excited for that. We have a great ward. The bishop served in Ben's mission with him and seems to be really on top of things. We have friends here and plenty of things to keep us entertained.
Some things that keep the Philippines exciting:
1. Jeepnies everywhere
2. Trikes everywhere
4. Goats everywhere
5. Garbage everywhere
6. Malls....big malls everywhere
7. Bugs everywhere
8. Men that dress like women....everywhere

Actually, on that note I will tell you one funny story and then let you go. Last week on Thursday I was have a VERY bad day. Up until that point I felt I had been pretty patient with the house and the lack of sleep and such but I kind of just lost it that day. I just felt like nothing was getting done and I had a little breakdown. I told Ben we needed to leave and go to a movie or something. As we are driving down the main street I am crying and complained and expressing my frustration and all the sudden I look out the window and bust up laughing. What did I see you ask? Well, I saw a "woman" wearing a kind of frumpy sundress a headband in her hair and what do you know but "she" has a 5 o'clock shadow! I could not help but laugh and laugh and laugh. You would think that if you want to look feminine the shaving of the beard would come first before the dressing and doing your hair like a woman. Anyway, it was pretty amusing.

I really don't mean to be negative and I will spend the next 2 years blogging about both good and bad things about this experience, but I didn't want to fluff it up either. It's been a hard few weeks but we know it will only get better.

We miss home and most especially we miss our family and friends. We miss seeing the kids. We miss Sunday dinner. We miss our house. Ben REALLY misses his TV and his PS3.

We are trying to keep in touch with everyone through calling and facebook. Please keep in touch with us as well, loved ones make a big difference.

Our last picture taken in the U.S.A:)

The malls here are huge. SM in Cebu has a bowling alley and movie theater on the top floor

Ben drinking a "LARGE" soda....ya, not really my 44oz Diet Mt. Dew (which I also really miss!)

A Jeepny! Jess...take a look at the sign the guy is making....look familiar? I guess Ben wasn't lying!

Ben looking hot getting ready to go out into the rain. It is "rainy season" and let me just say that when it rains it POURS. The first night we slept at our house we woke up because the rain was so loud.

Some of the EXTREMELY odd offerings at Pizza Hut...yes people, the crust is stuffed with a "3 foot long juicy and delicious sausage"....um..what?

Another example of a "large drink"

Ben ate this hot dog...I couldn't bring myself to do it...it's bright red on the outside.

Ah, just taking a nap while riding on the back of a motorcycle with mom.

The newly built and opened Cebu Temple. So happy to have this building here!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Our last day in New York City was the only day there was even a smidge of rain. The best part was, it only started raining when we were leaving so it didn't ruin any of our plans. On Friday morning we got up and went to see the Manhatten Temple. We didn't do a session because Ben forgot to bring church clothes, haha. Nice. It is a gorgeous building.

Ben HAD to go to Madison Square Garden but we missed the tour, too bad:(.

The Shake Shack was another food place that we were told, by my good friend Becca, to go to. Um, ya....SO yummy! Glad we didn't decide to skip the line. We did have to run home through the rain but it was worth it!

Off we went to the airport. Our 3 City trip was over and we were on our way home knowing we would be leaving for Cebu in less than 3 weeks. Wow! Well, this trip was the perfect send off! We love the U.S.A!

Friday, August 20, 2010


My little brother Adam and his wife Tonna always know the good places to eat and they did not fail us here. On our third day in Manhatten we took the subway and found Doughnut Plant which came highly recommended. Let me tell you, they were not wrong. These donuts were amazing! If you go to NYC, do not miss out on this place.

As you can see from my face, I quite enjoyed it. The one that I like the best was actually a jelly filled square donut called Peanut Butter and Jelly. Um, I hate peanut butter, but this was nothing like anything I have ever tasted before. So yummy!

I promise our whole day was not about food, but we had just heard of some places that you can't miss. The next of these was Carnegie Deli. I actually didn't order anything cause I wasn't that hungry (see picture above) and because it was pretty dang expensive for a sandwich. Well, there is a reason for that (see picture below). I have NEVER seen more meat on a sandwich in my life. Crazy! But, Ben loved it! I did end up losing a $20.00 bill at the deli too, which was a little disappointing since I could have just bought a sandwich and at least got something for my money.

After lunch we walked through Central Park. I wish we could have seen more, but that is one big park:)

Then we walked to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I would have liked to spend more time there, but for anyone who is thinking about going to NYC go to the museums first. By this time in our trip my feet were killing me, I could barely stand, let alone walk around a huge museum. But, we did walk around some and enjoyed it.

That night we went to Mary Poppins on Broadway. I was really wanting to go see WICKED but you can't get discount tickets so we bought these instead. Um, can I say AMAZING! It was such a fun show to watch. WE both loved it.

Another busy day on our vacation, but just so much fun!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


This was a crazy busy day. We got up REALLY late by accident. I guess the hotel did a good job of keeping it dark in the room because we didn't get up until 11 AM. So, we had to hurry and get going.

The first thing on our list to do was to go see the Statue of Liberty. On the way to get there we stopped at Grand Central Station, so cool!

The heat and humidity were not our friend this day. The line for lady liberty was longer than ANY line I have ever seen in my life. But, it actually went pretty quickly, only one hour. The ferry holds a lot of people and there are quite a few going back and forth, so that helped.

She was totally worth the wait.

On the way back, the ferry stops at Ellis Island. I know a lot of people skip this part because the Statue of Liberty is the real draw. But, I had been told by people (thanks Jess) that if they were to go again, they would definitely do Ellis Island. So we did, and definitely did not regret it. What an amazing place. The idea of all those immigrants coming to this country, walking through those doors and registering in the room we were standing in is amazing. They have a lot of exhibits and areas you can walk through to show you exactly what the process was for those people. They even had a room where they had removed the paint and layers of plaster/cement and it had exposed writing from people who went through Ellis Island. That was crazy to me. There was the handwriting of these people from 100 years ago, people who had just landed from a long and strenuous trip to arrive in this country. Really awe-inspiring! It sounds strange, but there was truly a special spirit to that building. It was almost as if all those people were there with you. You can't really depict it in pictures, but I wanted to put one on here anyway.

This is the registration room, where every person coming through this harbor during that time had to stand and wait to find out whether they would be allowed to stay or have to go home.

After we got off the ferry, we had actually been on the subway on our way to Brooklyn for some yummy pizza and we were sidelined when there was a fire in the subway tunnel. We had to get off and when we came up we started walking the wrong direction. We had already been at the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Ilsand endeavor for about five hours at this time, all out in the swealtering heat, so having to walk and then going the wrong way was pretty upsetting (you might be able to tell how happy we were in the below picture). But, as a result we ran into Wall Street and were able to go to Ground Zero as well.

When we finally started walking back the right direction, we were able to get on the subway and get over to Brooklyn where we ate at Grimaldi's Pizza. Ben's little brother, Archie, served his mission in New York and told us about this place. When we got there and saw the line, we weren't sure it could possibly be worth it.

But then we saw this:) The pizza was thin crust (which I usually hate) with huge fresh mozzerella slices, diced tomatoes and the toppings of your choice. It was SO ymmy. I do wonder if any of that is because by the time you have waited in line an hour you're so starving that anything would taste good. Either way, we definitely enjoyed it. We also made some friends while standing in line.

Grimaldi's Pizza is literally right under the Brooklyn Bridge. Before we had found it and before we had eaten, we were definitely thinking we would have to just look at the bridge from afar because there was no way we were up for walking it. But, then we ate....and had some good company in a cute Texan couple we met, so we made the beautiful trek across the Brooklyn Bridge. I am so glad we changed our minds. It was a beautiful night.

It was a long, tiring, hot and humid day. But, let me tell you...if we were looking for a vacation before going to the Philippines that would really make us feel patriotic...this was it! It was so much fun to see these historic places that are so important and vital in our country's history.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


When we finally arrived in New York City we went straight to our hotel. It was in an aweseome location. We dropped our stuff and went out to see the city. Honestly, my blackberry was our best buddy on this trip. I just went to my trusty google maps and put in where I wanted to go and it gave us walking or subway directions. It was awesome! I actually used my blackberry the last time I was in NYC and felt the same way, which would probably explain how I had a dream a few weeks back that I was walking through NYC by myself and my blackberry died....and I was panicked, haha! What did we do before these new trinkets?

The first place we endeavored to see was the Empire State Building. The problem was that we ran into a homeless man, sprawled on the sidewalk, not moving. He had a sign and cup looking as though it had been dropped right next to him. I wish I had my camera, but I didn't. There were people just walking by, hanging out right around there and paying no attention to him. Mind you, this guy was not off to the side, he was in the MIDDLE of the sidewalk. Well, Ben, being the nice guy that he is, stopped and tried to wake the guy up. He clapped, yelled a little and when he got no response he shook him...with no response. He checked his pulse...still alive! So, he kept shaking him. Finally, someone called the NYPD and they came to check on him. Ya...kind of crazy. Maybe it was the heat!

So, thanks to our little distraction, we literally walked right by the Empire State Building. The funny thing is the guy at the information desk said it happens all the time, haha. I guess if you don't look up, it just looks like another building. But, because we missed it, we ran right into the Macy's Department Store on 34th St. We then walked up to Times Square and looked around, ate at the McDonalds in Times Square and just had fun being in such a famous place.
I know you think it's weird that we were in NYC and went to McDonald's, but this one is different.

Later that night we went back to the Empire State Building to actually go up to the observation deck and take some pictures since my camera was finally charged. Here are a few pictures.

This is one of my favorites because we were in line in front of a group of Japanese young adults. I was dying because they were standing RIGHT behind me, like when I would one inch, they would move one inch. It was like they had to be touching me at all times. So, I made Ben move over there so I could take a picture of how close they really were:)


We then had to take the subway over to something else famous...so we went and ate Gray's Papaya hot dogs. I had seen them on movies and such so I though they must be good....I wasn't that impressed. People might think I am crazy, but I would take a Costco hotdog over this any day!

A not so pretty picture of me waiting for the subway. Can you tell I am hot?

And we had to return to Times Square with the camera and at night! Sorry for all the pictures, but they are really for me:)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


We have arrived in the Philippines and I want to tell you all about it, but first I REALLY need to finish blogging/journaling about our East Coast trip. This is especially important now that I left my journal on the Cathay Pacific flight from LA to HK, meaning I will most likely never see it again:(

Our arrival to New York City was quite eventful. Our flight from Maine was delayed by hours, so we didn't end up arriving at JFK until about 1 AM on Tuesday morning. We were both just ready to lay down and sleep. But, we had to go to our awesome hotel first. Let's just say that Jamaica New York is not the nicest place in the world (sorry to anyone who is from there). We knew this when booking our hotel, but we figured it was only one night so how bad could it be? Well, let's just say that I ended up leaving a not so nice review of the hotel on hotwire. It was pretty ridiculous.
-First thing was the driver for the "complimentary" shuttle picked us up and kept calling me "mommy" and "wifey"....uh, anyone who knows me pretty much knows that does not go over well especially at 1 AM. The next best thing about our driver was that he thought we would love it if he got us to the hotel fast...not safely. He literally blew through like 3 red lights, flew around corners causing me to hit my head on the window and never braking for anyone. It was quite the ride. The last thing that I loved about our "complimentary" shuttle to the hotel from the airport was that our driver was holding a wad of big bills in his hand. To me, he was saying "make sure you tip me"....and all I wanted to do was punch him. So, when we got out of the car I walked in to the hotel to check in while allowing Ben to get the bags. Part of my reasoning for this was that I didn't want to tip the guy and I knew that Ben didn't have any cash. Well, that didn't deter our little buddy. He FOLLOWED Ben into the lobby to get his tip. I about died. Last time I checked, it is my option to tip or not to tip. But, I was tired so I asked if I could get change for a 20 from the desk. They didn't have it...guess who did?....our wonderful driver. So, Ben gave him the $20 bill and waited for change. He handed him $15 back. It is also my choice on how much I am going to tip someone so Ben said, "uh, I need the full $20 back". The guy huffed and gave it to him, and Ben gave him $2. He said outloud, "wow, thanks"! Ya, I was NOT impressed. So, then we checked into our hotel. We got onto the elevator and we were already concerned for the quality of the place. We got to our room and there were so many stains and such on the floor that I didn't even feel comfortable taking off my shoes. People, I really am not usually a snob. Uh...I am living in the Philippines, I am ok with dirtiness, but this was just gross. Let's just say we were glad this was just a one night thing.
-To finish off our awesome hotel experience, in the morning we got up pretty late. We knew that there was a hotel shuttle every 1/2 hour from a sign they had in the room. It was almost 11 and we weren't quite ready, so I called down to the front desk to make sure they would have a shuttle at 11:30. She informed me that the next shuttle would not be until noon. Well, lets just say I had no desire to stay at that place for another hour. We were taking the shuttle back to the airport in order to get on the airtrain and then the subway into Manhatten. Anyway, I decided I would run downstairs and let Ben finish up. That way they would know I wanted to take the shuttle. Anyway, I got downstairs and walked out to the shuttle. The driver was helping people on so I just walked over and asked "this shuttle leaves at 11:00 AM, right?" His answer, "I leave when I am full" said quite curtly. So, I then asked "oh, so then when will you be back for the next one"...again, a curt reply of "I won't be back, I am off and I will be going home"....uh, ok, not really the meaning of my question. I just wanted to know when the next shuttle would be. He just said he didn't know. Then, even though the bus wasn't full and it wasn't 11 AM yet, he started to shut the doors. I said "are you full" and he said "we are leaving".. Ya, I was pissed. So, I then said not so nicely "well, thanks for all of your help.." and started to walk away. So, guess what the friendly bus driver did? Did he get in his drivers seat and drive away with his guests waiting for him? Nope. He proceeded to follow me into the hotel yelling profanities at me and telling me I couldn't treat him that way. I tried to ignore him, but as he was yelling through the lobby I turned to him and said "My experience at this hotel and with your shuttles has been horrible. Your job is customer service..." and then he totally exploded. He was within inches of my face yelling at me "Don't you tell me what my *#$%ing job is" over and over again. Uh, ya...so awesome. Finally, the hotel manager had to come over and break it up. She asked what had happened so I explained both the awesome driver from the night before and my wonderful experience with that driver. She proceeded to arrange a separate bus for us to get to the airport immediately. Boy was I glad to get out of that place.

So, that was our "welcome to New York". I will blog about the rest of day 1 later tonight.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Sorry that it has taken me so long to post the rest of our trip. It has been crazy busy. We will blog about that later though. Let me tell you more about our trip for now. BTW, thanks for all the comments, I feel the love:)
On our last day in Maine, Tonna had to go back to work so it was just Adam, Ben and myself. We went to eat lunch at a great little sandwich place where Adam and Ben got the biggest Pastrami and Corned Beef sandwiches I have ever seen (this was before New York, so that did change). After that, we headed out to the beach. It was great, but the really ironic thing was that this was the only day of our trip that was overcast and a little cool. Every other day was so very hot and humid. Funny how that works!

It really was the perfect weather for a nap on the beach...oh, and reading my kindle (well, my mom's). It was a great end to our perfect Maine trip.

After the beach we were back to pack and to the airport. Our flight was very delayed to NYC, but we weren't even upset about that. We talked that night about the fact that we had already had such a great time and if that was the end of the trip we would be perfectly happy.

New York City was quite the adventure! I will tell you all about it tomorrow.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I am worried that no one reads my blog anymore. Although I did say that this is mostly for journaling purposes, which it is, it makes me a little sad that no one comments or lets me know they care:). Haha!

The second day we were in Maine was a Sunday so the first thing we did was attend church with Adam and Tonna. We actually went to all three meetings, Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society. I went to Young Women with Tonna, which was fun. It's been a while. We really enjoyed their ward and the people in it. Sunday School was especially fun:) One thing about Maine is that the people are very proud of where they are from. True Mainers...

After church we went to see the Portland Head light. This light house is one of those places you see in pictures all over the place. It is gorgeous.

I also thought this was so awesome, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow walked where we were walking and sat right here. It was inspiration for one of his poems...so cool!

After seeing the Portland Head light we went to Two Lights, where you can supposedly see two more Light houses. We only saw one, but loved it any way. We were able to go down and put our feet in the water and although it was SO cold, it felt great since it was so hot. We were in the East during some of the hottest months ever, so the cold water was just what we needed (oh, and all the home made ice cream, yum!)

One thing Portland, Maine is known for is it's food. They have practically no chain restaurants, which opens the doors for many small, local restaurants. We had some great food while we were there. Sunday night we went for sushi and it was Yummy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Maine Day 1

Maine was definitely the most relaxing part of our vacation. It was full of seeing beautiful places, eating great food and spending time with family! Adam and Tonna have been living in Portland, Maine for the past year and have learned the great places to go.

This was the first place we ate in Maine and it was everything you would expect. Red's Eats with their 1lb lobster rolls, amazing onion rings, haddock sandwiches and crab cakes. It was definitely worth the 1 hour wait.
Later that same afternoon we drove up to Camden Maine to an overlook. It was so beautiful! Adam and Tonna were great tour guides.

Looking over the beautiful shoreline.

It was so much fun to hang out and spend time with Adam and Tonna. Aren't they cute?

Adam, Ben and myself waiting to see Inception. If you haven't seen it, you should. Literally boggled my mind...in a good way.

Maine is a beautiful place and we are so glad we got the chance to go. We figured we wouldn't be going back there any time soon and this was the perfect opportunity. We are glad we followed our instincts.