Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Making the announcement

For five years I have been looking forward to the day when I would be able to make a pregnancy announcement.  Every time the thought of "maybe this month" went through my mind, with it came the thoughts of how we would tell everyone, what their reactions would be, that feeling of anticipation.  When we got the call and were told we had been chosen, one of the first things I did was think of how to tell our families.  We decided to tell everyone two days after we got the call at Sunday dinner, since we would all be together.  We decided to buy Archie, our dog and only child for the past five years, a t-shirt that said "Most Awesome Big Brother ".

We decided to put it on him before Sunday dinner while everyone was home and have him run out with it on and see what happened.  We were so nervous and so anxious.  Our plan got thrown off a little because we had extra visitors for dinner and we wanted to keep the announcement to just family.  I was SO frustrated because I just wanted to make it happen (no offense to Summer and Damon, we love having them around).  Because we had to wait until after dinner to tell everyone here at home, the first people to hear the news were my brother, Adam, and his wife, Tonna, out in South Carolina.  We skyped with them downstairs in the basement so no one would hear us.  We took a picture of Archie in his shirt and texted it to Adams phone.  It was hilarious to be on skype with them when they got the text. Adam was extra confused.  The first thought was "you are getting another dog?", haha.  It was fun to finally say it out loud "we've been picked, we are getting a baby".  It definitely made it more real.  After that our visitors went home and it was finally time.  We were SO anxious to finally tell everyone!  Everyone was just hanging out in the living room chatting.  I wanted the announcement video taped so Ben was pretending to video tape the girls singing and playing.   It's funny because Archie ran into the room with his t-shirt on and everyone noticed, but no one thought anything of it.  You will notice my sister in law, Tiffany, glance down at him and then look back up and not say anything.  That's when Ben looked at me, both of us kind of unsure how to proceed.  Archie was perfect.  He just laid there with the shirt out for everyone to see.  They figured it out and the moment was everything I had been hoping for. You will want to scroll down and pause the music on my blog before watching the video.  If it's too small (which I think it is) go ahead and click here to view it.

We obviously would have loved to have our entire family there, both those from Ben's family and mine, but we were just excited to share the news in whatever way we could.  We called and skyped with everyone else in our families by the end of the night.  It was so much fun to share our big news and experience their joy!  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tender Mercies

In the April 2005 General Conference of our church Elder David A. Bednar gave one of my favorite talks ever.  This is one of those talks that I think of often and really helped me to understand even more how much the Lord loves each of us.  You can read the full talk here (and I would suggest you do).  Elder Bednar gives his understanding of what tender mercies are which I have included below.

"the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ."

Today I want to share a few more things that I truly consider "tender mercies" that have happened during our  journey to where we are now.  There might be a few of these posts, because life is full of these things if we are just keeping our eyes and heart open to seeing them.

Through our journey with infertility we have had many ups and downs.  I think the biggest down for me (and probably Ben if you asked him) was when our IVF cycle failed.  You can read about that here.  The weekend after IVF failed was Mother's Day.  I got a call that day and was asked  to give a talk in church a few weeks later about cheerfulness.  When I got that call, I literally almost started laughing.  It was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard in my life.  The last thing I was feeling was cheerful.  I was feeling more sadness than I had ever experienced.  But being asked to give that talk was a tender mercy.  Through preparing for that talk I learned about the true meaning of happiness.  I received a true testimony of the Savior and the fact that He has given me everything I need through His atonement.  I could be happy and cheerful because of my Savior.  I cannot even express the difference that talk and what I learned from it has made in my life for the past two plus years.   I have had my days and my moments where I have been frustrated and upset by my struggle with infertility (amongst other things), but it is nothing like it could have been.  Before that talk, I felt anger when I would hear of another friend or family member getting pregnant.  I didn't enjoy Relief Society because I felt like a failure and like I didn't fit in.  It really affected everything in my life.  After our failed IVF that should have been worse, but it wasn't.  It was so much better..  Since then, I can feel true joy and happiness for other peoples good news.  I can be around mothers, fathers, babies and not feel like a failure.  It's hard to explain, but it changed me.  To me, this was a tender mercy.

I mentioned in the last post that we had talked to a birth mom last year before we moved to the Philippines.  She contacted us 11 days after our profile was live.  We talked with her for a few weeks, emailing back and forth and getting to know each other.  We also had a meeting with her at LDS Family Services and went to dinner with them.  She wasn't looking at any other families, so that seemed pretty hopeful for us.  We enjoyed talking to her and getting to know her, but never felt extra confident about anything.  After a few weeks our caseworker let us know that she had contacted another family and was going to be meeting with them and then would be making a decision which family to place her baby girl with.  Obviously we were nervous and hopeful.  During that time I was invited to participate in our Stake Relief Society Conference where we would be acting as women from the bible and church history.  During the practice I had a weird impression.  Ben and I have discussed baby names from the beginning of our marriage.  We had girl names we liked and boy names we liked.  While I was sitting there one of the women got up and was acting as Adah from the Bible.  The name just stood out to me as such a great name for this baby.  I immediately texted Ben and said "What about the name Ada"?.  This was not one of our names.  This was nothing we had even thought of before.  I have a niece named Addy, Ada is very close to that.  It didn't really make sense.  But I went with what I felt.  We were informed within the next few days that this birth mom had chosen the other family to place her baby with.  We were sad.  It was another "failure" for us, but we moved forward.  A couple of months later I emailed this birth mom just to find out how she was doing.  I knew she would have already had the baby and just wanted to check on her.  She wrote me back telling me what was going on with her life, how she was doing, etc.  Toward the end of the email she said "I just visited Ada and she is so cute and doing great.".  I literally had to go back and read that line a few times.  I had never mentioned the name to anyone other than Ben.  I could not believe it.  The adoptive family had named her Ada.  At that moment I KNEW that this baby was with the family she was meant to be with, that was the name she was meant to have, and that the Lord was aware of her and me. Talk about a tender mercy.

I know this post is already very long, but I have one more experience that I want to share.  I will save the others for a later post.  After my last post I realized that I told you S, the birth mom, looked very Filipino but I never mentioned what ethnicity she actually is.  She was born in Hawaii and her mom was born and raised in Hawaii.  S is part Chinese, Caucasian, Hawaiian and Mexican. You have no idea how excited Ben was when he realized his baby boy was going to be Polynesian.  He immediately started looking at Hawaiian names.  Well, in that first week he found THE name he wanted.  He told me and I laughed and said no way!  Haha.  I couldn't even say it right.  Strangely, Ben was really set on that name.  It was the oddest thing because he is normally so laid back.  I kind of just figured he would get over it and moved on. One week after being chosen we were meeting S and her mom face to face.  It was a nerve wracking experience, but so much fun to get to meet them in person, hug them and just get to know each other better.  Her mom totally looks and acts Hawaiian and she and Ben totally hit it off.  S was just so sweet and thoughtful and wise for her young age.  The meeting was going well when S asked us if we had any ideas of names for the baby.  Ben jumped in with how he had been looking at Hawaiian names and how he had found one that means warrior(or something like that).  They asked him the name and he said, "Kekoa".  Let me tell you, that moment will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life.  S (the birth mom) and the caseworker looked at each other in awe and S turned to us and said "That is the name I had written down for his middle name.  It was my cousin's name who passed away".....Obviously, I am not Hawaiian.  I do not know if this is a common Hawaiian name.  What I do know is that we had no reason to pick this name.  Ben had no reason to like that name as much as he did other than he felt drawn to it.  In that moment we knew why.  It was a tender mercy of the Lord for every person at that meeting.

The Lord is so very aware of each of us.  This road has been long and hard.  We have people in our life that are set on focusing on how hard it has been. What we focus on is that without infertility, without this struggle, we would not be where we are.  We would not have had these experiences.  We are where we are supposed to be.  Thank goodness for tender mercies to help us see that.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Story

So, it's been a little over two weeks since our big news and life is moving forward.  It has been an amazing couple of weeks and we have felt so much love and support.  We have always known that we have a lot of people rooting for us, but it's almost overwhelming to really see and feel the excitement of so many people.  One of the things that is hard about infertility is feeling like there are so many other people that are affected by our inability to have children.  It is hard to continually feel not only your own disappointment, but to know that you are also causing sadness and disappointment for others.  Now we are seeing those same people who have hurt with us and mourned with us share in our excitement and joy.  It is an awesome experience!

We have already felt the Lord's hand  in this experience.  Through this whole process of us deciding to come home from the Philippines, to move forward again with adoption, to contact a private agency, and so on and so forth, we have both felt the spirit guiding us.  I know there are people reading this that maybe don't believe in such things, but I do.  I know that the Lord wants each of us to be happy. I know that He guides us when we let Him.  He lets us go through sorrow that we may feel joy.

Eight months ago I had an experience that solidifies this knowledge for me. We had returned  to the Philippines after Christmastime in the States and I was excited to be back in Cebu.  I had been visiting with the poor people in the ward, I was given a calling, and I felt like I was good to move forward with our plan to stay for two years.  But then I got sad.  It was that weird kind of feeling that something was just not exactly right. It had only lasted a few days at this point, but I was really feeling down.  I was sitting on my bed feeling this way while Ben was at work one day and then a thought came to me.  "I want to go home".  It was like a light bulb went on.  I felt happy.  I thought it was crazy.  I had been the one that would not even let such thoughts cross my mind.  We had made a commitment to stay for two years and were going to stick with it.  I was feeling good there, so why would I want to go home?  But, it just felt good.  When Ben got home from work that day I told him "I want to go Utah".  I think he thought I was kidding.  I wasn't really sure what I was thinking, I just knew how I felt.  We talked about it a little bit but he felt like maybe it was just me having a bad day and we didn't need to really entertain the idea.  I started thinking about adoption and the fact that we would be able to move forward if we went home and I felt such excitement at the idea.  I thought to myself "maybe this is that sense of urgency that you hear adoptive parents talk about".  It felt good, but I felt like I should not push the idea with Ben (this is new for me, I ALWAYS push my ideas on Ben).  So, I didn't.  I waited a few days and then one morning he said to me "I feel like this is our chance to move forward with adoption.  I can't get it out of my head."  I knew we felt the same thing.  We started talking about how we felt that if we went home it could happen pretty fast.  We also both had the idea/thought that it would be a boy.  I remember telling my sister in law, Tiffany, that we were thinking about coming home.  I wrote to her on skype, "I feel like if we come home now we will have a baby by the end of the year".  Her response was, "that would be all the confirmation I would need."  I still was worried about moving forward with such a big decision and about the disappointment of not having things happen like we were hoping. We fasted, prayed, and went to the Temple with this in our minds.  I think we both knew we were leaving, but it wasn't until I was in the Temple that I felt a complete sense of confirmation that this was the right thing.  I let my boss know and at the end of May we came home.  It was hard to explain to people why we came home early since it  really was to move forward with adoption. We had already been on that path, why would we have left if we were just to come home and do the same thing?  We had the same questions, but we just felt like it was the right time and that we would have an answer to those questions in time.  For now, we just moved forward with what we felt.

When we got home we proceeded quickly.  We felt that we would adopt through a private agency so we didn't even look at LDS Family Services at first. We met with two private agencies in the first week we were home.  I decided to call LDSFS just to check and the timing of everything was amazing.  We were right on time for their once a month orientation to happen the next week and their once a quarter training weekend just two weeks later. It was like everything was just falling into place.  Of course, it couldn't go fast enough for me.  I just wanted to be done with our paperwork and our home study and get ourselves out there.  We worked with an amazing caseworker who helped us make our profile the best it possibly could be.  There were moments I almost hated her for not just letting us be done, but her expertise and advice were just what we needed.  Finally, on August 31st, our home study was approved and our profile was up online.  We were ready!  The whole adoption process is a scary one.  We had been here before.  We had been approved before.  We had talked to a birth mother before.  She had chosen another family. It is scary to put yourself out there like that and go through the disappointment and discouragement of not being chosen. We had our days when we felt that fear grip us and make us feel like the whole things was hopeless, but we moved forward.  I knew what I had felt, we both did.  I knew that this was our time.  I felt that sense of urgency that I had heard about so many times.  Ben and I discussed and decided we would stick with LDSFS until the first week of November and if nothing happened we would work with private agencies and their outreach programs.  Our drop dead date was November 4th.  Three days after our profile went online we had our first contact from a birth mother.  We emailed back and forth and even met her and her family.  It was exciting and scary all at once.  The situation was a little odd and we didn't feel extra comfortable about some things.  Then she stopped contacting us.  That familiar feeling of frustration and sadness came over us. We didn't tell most people we had even been talking to her.  After that I got inpatient.  I called a few private agencies and just felt frustrated with their lack of helpfulness as well as overwhelmed with the costs.  I had just finished three months of paperwork and processes.  I wasn't sure I could handle anymore, so I never moved forward.  I did go online and search for available adoption situations.  I emailed a few agencies about these and didn't hear back.  Then, at the beginning of October I saw a few situations with an agency in Nevada that looked like they could be good fits for us (and us for them) so I called this agency.  The person who helped me was so sweet and helpful.  She said she would love to present us to these couples and asked us to send over our profile.  They were so easy to work with and we felt excited again.  Then, the couple we really were excited about stopped contacting the agency and never saw our profile.  We were disappointed but knew this was just the world of adoption.  About two weeks after first contacting this agency I emailed them again, just to see if they had ever heard from the first couple.  She let me know they had not, so I asked if they had any other situations available.  She immediately wrote me back with a situation, pictures of a birth mother and asked us if we would want to be considered for this situation.  The girl in the pictures looked completely Filipino.  I kind of laughed and showed Ben and asked him what he thought.  She was due with a baby boy on December 30th.  I thought of that feeling that I had had that we would have a baby by the end of the year.  Wouldn't that be cutting it close?  Also, that it was a boy.  A few of the other situations we had been considered for were for girls and I would think to myself, "maybe the whole boy thing was just me imagining things, it probably wasn't any type of impression".  So, we wrote them back and told them we would love to be presented to this mother.   They let us know the caseworker would be picking up the profiles the next day.  Let's just say I was anxious!  Every time my phone would ring I would think it might be them letting us know what she had decided.  Every time I saw someone else's name on the caller id I would get upset.  haha.  I was definitely not patient.  So, when the caseworkers name came up on my phone that Friday, October 14th I was ecstatic .  I will tell you though, there was that complete doubt that came into my mind that made me think "she is just calling to tell us in person that she chose a different family."  I was preparing myself for bad news so when she said "she really liked your family", I was just waiting for her to say "BUT....", but that never came.  She proceeded to say how she was going to have the birth mom's caseworker contact us to set up a time for a conference call and maybe even a meeting.  I didn't even know what to say.  Tears came to my eyes out of pure excitement.  We still weren't out of the woods, but this was moving in the right direction. She wanted to talk to us, maybe to meet us!  Woohoo!  I had just returned to work from my lunch break when I got the call but I didn't care.  As soon as I hung up the phone I RAN out of the office to the car and drove straight to Cascade golf course (Ben's work) to share the good news.  He was extra busy and I just wanted to yell at him "She LIKED us!  She wants to meet us!".  But, I had to wait my turn.  I quickly shared the good news and Ben was extra excited, but had to get back to work.  I drove directly back to work.  Ten minutes later my phone rang again and it was the birth mothers caseworker.  She was so nice.  She asked me "have your feet touched the ground yet"?  I let her know we were extra excited and starting getting to know her a little.  We found out she is from very near to where I lived growing up in Eastern Canada.  We talked about S (the birth mom) and her situation and then I proceeded to ask "what happens next?  We have been here before  where a birth mom liked us but decided to move forward with another family.  Is she still looking at other profiles?.."  J, the caseworker, kind of stumbled over her words and said "Oh, my gosh, I thought you knew.  No, she is not looking at any other profiles.  She PICKED YOU!!!!", not even sure how to explain the emotions I felt in that moment.  I was in a conference room at work and all I wanted to do was DANCE or SCREAM or something!  I honestly can say I had doubted we would ever hear those words.  Someone was telling me I was going to be a mom!  It was the most amazing feeling!!!  We talked a little bit more and then I got off the phone and tried to call Ben.  No answer.  I response.  He didn't contact me back for hours.I walked around in a daze.  I wanted to tell someone, but it had to be Ben first.  I wanted to yell through the office "WE"VE BEEN PICKED"...but I couldn't.  I was getting texts from the case worker with pictures of S and her pregnant belly.  She was beautiful! It was all completely surreal.  It continues to be completely surreal.  I could not concentrate one bit the rest of the day at work.  I was finally able to tell Ben on our way to dinner that night.  I bought him an early birthday present, THOR on Blu-Ray and gave him a card.  In it said "She didn't just like us, She PICKED us.  You're going to be a daddy".   The tears in his eyes said it all.  This was the moment we had been waiting for.  We are going to be parents!!!!

Throughout this whole experience we have felt the hand of the Lord.  As the last two weeks have gone by, we have had more miracles and small moments of reminders that the Lord is very aware of each of us.  We have been getting to know the birth mom, S, her mother, C, as well as the caseworker, J.  All of them are amazing women that we are so amazed by.  We feel a connection with them.  We have been talking, exchanging phone calls and texts, pictures and so forth.  We are moving forward on our journey to being parents.  I was explaining to my mom that I feel very much like I did when Ben and I got engaged.  I was waiting for this HUGE thing to happen, like I was expecting my single self and my engaged self to be completely different.  I wasn't.  It's the same now.  I think I was expecting fireworks when we were picked and the situation was right.  Instead, it's like it was with Ben.  Everything feels the same, but better.  Things are falling into place.  Instead of fireworks, there is a peaceful contentment and feeling of complete trust that this is the right thing.  We have had a few moments of miracles, where each person involved felt that there was something else at play here letting us know this was the right thing, but mostly it has just felt good, calm and peaceful.  It has felt right.

We know that there are many of you who are feeling fear for us that things may not work out.  S always has the option to change her mind.  We understand those fears.  At moments, we feel them too.  But, we also feel like even through the fear we want to feel the excitement, the anticipation of being parents for the first time!  We deserve that.  We feel good, we feel like the Lord has been leading us to exactly where we are.  We know there is the possibility of loss, but isn't there always?  We are choosing to enjoy the experience, the happiness and the joy of this experience.  So far it has been better than we could have ever expected!

Isn't he beautiful?

Saturday, October 22, 2011


That's right, we got the call!!  On Friday, October 14th at about 1:30 pm, we were informed that we had been chosen by a wonderful, sweet, thoughtful and selfless mother to be the parents of her baby boy (due December 30th, 2011).  It is impossible to even express the emotions that we have felt over the past week, but it has been filled with such excitement and joy. Today we had the opportunity to meet this expectant mother as well as her mother and the connection we felt was immediate and strong.  I want to be able to write an eloquent post sharing the experience of today as well as this whole week, but I just feel like there is nothing I can say that can really live up to what it has felt like.   Thank you for all of your love and support and the prayers said on our behalf.  We love you and will continue to share this journey with all of you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We are approved to adopt!!!

On August 31st, 2011 we were officially approved for adoption. Our profile is approved and online. Please take a look.

We want to make as many people as possible aware that we want to adopt. We returned home from the Philippines because we wanted to start our family and we knew that adoption was the way we would do so. We are both so excited to meet the child that will be a part of our family. If you hear or know of any situation please email us at or contact our caseworker directly.

phone: 801-422-7620

Friday, August 5, 2011


So sorry guys, I have not posted in forever and will not be posting for a while. We are on our way to Hawaii in just three days for my sisters wedding. My camera is FULL of pictures of the past 2 months. We had our trip to Oregon, Ben's High School Reunion, meeting the crazy adoption scammer, the McMurray Family Reunion, Rachelle's bridal shower, my weekend trip to Vegas, and so many other things that have gone on that I need to put on here. The problem is, there is NO TIME! Work has sucked every second of my day for the past month and the last thing I want to do when I get home is get back on the computer. I will do better! We should be approved for adoption in just a few short weeks and life is good...just busy! I will update when we get back and have tonz MORE pictures to post!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We have been home almost four weeks.  I cannot believe it!  I have been horrible at posting, but I cannot believe how  busy we have been.  We have spent tons of time with family and friends.  We had to find and buy a new car, get Ben signed up for school, start looking for a place to live, etc.  I have been back at work for almost three weeks.  Most importantly we have been working on getting our adoption paperwork up and going.  That has included many phone calls, meeting with three different agencies, attending orientation at LDS Family Services, getting fingerprinted, filling out many many different forms, meeting with our case worker for our intake interview, meeting with the Bishop to get his reference letter, and this weekend attending 9 hours of training.  Those things have taken up all of our time.  We are loving being home though!  I had forgotten how completely beautiful Utah is.  The mountains, trees, green grass, the crisp, dry air.  It is so awesome.  Also, since being home I notice myself really feeling gratitude for things that I just took for granted before.  Some of those things are goofy, like the self-checkout at Wal-Mart or fountain drinks and free refills.  Other things are not so goofy.  Anyway, we are glad to be home and I will do better at blogging!

We got to stay in LA for 24 hours and visit with Kristen, Nolan, Aiden and Regan

The day after we got home our nephew, Spencer, graduated from high school.  We were able to attend with a LOT of other people.  He is loved!  

We attended our niece, Hailey's, preschool graduation.  ADORABLE!

I went to breakfast with my best friends from college (and still) and some of their kids.  All in all, 6 adults and 5 kids attended (even though there are actually 8 kids between them).

We got to spend the afternoon at Trafalga Lehi enjoying our recently purchased passes.  Everyone had a blast!
Just over a week after we returned, Ben's very best friend (who is also my boss) and his wife had their ADORABLE baby boy.  We were so excited to be able to visit them just a few hours after he was born and to be able to go visit any time we want.

We are so excited to be home to spend more time with these cuties!

and this one of course!

The view from right outside my office.  Seriously, it is breathtaking!   

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Goodbye Philippines

We leave Cebu in 24 hours and I cannot believe the time has arrived.  We have cut our expected time here short by more than 1/2 and have only been here for about 10 months.  Again, I will explain that at some point in the future when I actually have a chance to sit down and put some coherent thoughts down.  Right now, I just want to sit down and write down the thoughts and feelings I have had over our last few days here in the Philippines.  I just have to say that no matter how hard certain things have been about living here in Cebu, we know we were here for a reason and we are so very grateful for the many, many lessons we have learned in our short time here.  We have met some wonderful people, people it is very hard to say goodbye to.  I have worked with people who have been so great to me and have taught me so much.  We went out to dinner and bowling with my team last night and saying goodbye to them was so difficult.  I hope that I will have the chance to return here in the future and to see these people again, but there is a possiblity that I will never see them in this life again.  When I think of that, I am sad.  We said goodbye to people in our ward today, and I had the same thought.  We have met and gained friendships with these people and thankfully we have the internet, blogs, facebook and will be able to keep in touch.  But, life will move forward and this part of our life is ending and that is sad.
This afternoon we spent time with my coworkers, Grant and Branigan, and their families.  It was a good time with good food and friends.  It was beautfiul outside with the palm trees and the sunshine (although it was VERY hot and humid).  When we left Grants house and walked out the gate, the sunset was amazing and there were people playing basketball outside in the field across from his house.  There were dogs and goats running around and a small hut in the distance.  There were palm trees and the sunset behind them and it was a beautiful scene and I thought "that is like the ultimate Philippines scene" and it made me a little sad.  Then, we took Branigan, Julie and Beau Knowlton home and we laughed and talked through the horrible Mactan traffic, but as we got closer to their house the reality of us leaving really started to hit and we all got just a little quieter.  We got extra big hugs from Beau and said goodbye to the people who have been with us through this whole experience and I was struggling to hold back the tears.  We came out here together with big plans of the things we would do and the adventures we would have together and I cannot help but feel like we are abandoning them a little.  They have been so supportive and they understand why we are going, but we are going to miss their little family more than I can even express.  As we were driving away and I had tears streaming down my face for the first time through all of these goodbyes, Ben told me that watching their family and especially watching Branigan interract with Beau really helped him to solidify even more how much he wants to be a dad.  So, Knowltons, thank you for that!  We know we will see them again back in Utah and we will be friends, but the things we shared in the Philippines are over for us and that is a sad realization for me.  I have a hard time with endings, even if it means new beginnings.  Anyway, I just wanted to share my thoughts, put them down in writing so I remember.
Living in the Philippines has taught me many things.  I have learned more about Ben and his culture and his family.  I have seen real, true poverty and had the chance to really get to know people living in these type of situations and learn from their example.  We have enjoyed seeing beautiful locations, beaches, waterfalls and places that some people will only ever dream of seeing.  We have experienced living in another country with all of it's ups and downs.  So, for now, Goodbye Cebu and Goodbye Philippines....until we meet again! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Our Shangri La Weekend

So,I am not even sure how or where to start this post. First of all, it's been a month since I have posted and that's just way too long. This month has seriously been chuck full of a million things. My boss came into town and we had our Managers Summit which included an assignment for me to present for a full hour. Um.....unlike my husband and my dad, talking in front of a bunch of people is not my thing. It went well, but I spent more time preparing for that thing than I thought possible. Ben knows, he had to listen to me whine for like a month about it.  We did some other fun stuff this month, like celebrated my birthday with another trip to Bohol.  I am sure there were a million other things but right now I can't remember.

Another thing that happened was Ben had a little accident last week at the gym at the Shangri-La. We are members at the resort and workout there on a regular basis. They have these nice big showers with huge glass doors on them. Well, as Ben was getting out of the shower after working out, the door shattered into a billion little pieces around him. He was left standing there, buck naked, with little pieces of glass all over him. He had tiny cuts all over his body, just a few of them were more than tiny scratches. Well, lucky for us, as a way of making it up to us, the management let us stay at the resort for the weekend. We figured it would be a good room, but it was AMAZING! It was totally a suite and huge with a beautiful ocean view and huge balcony. They also gave us free breakfast buffet for the two days as well as a free dinner buffet. OH....and they invited us to their Ocean Club Lounge where we were able to get free drinks, snacks, etc. It was seriously amazing. We agreed that it was the BEST weekend we have had in the Philippines so far. It was so nice and relaxing and beautiful.

The other thing that made the weekend so fun was hanging out with friends. The Knowltons came over and enjoyed the dinner buffet with us on Saturday night. It was so fun to hang out. Although we moved to the Philippines at the same time and Branigan and I work together, we just do not see them enough. Our sleeping schedules are different, plus we live in the city and they live on the island. We LOVE spending time with this little family. They are the thing we will honestly miss the most in the Philippines. Beau is so much fun and just a joy to have around.  On Sunday, the Knowltons as well as our frind Jake Sohn and our new friend TJ came over to watch the Pacquiao v. Mosley fight. I will tell you, Manny Pacquiao makes me proud to be a pseudo-Filipino. He is amazing! Anyway, we all watched the fight, ate a great lunch, drank free sodas from the lounge, hung out, talked and just really enjoyed the day together. It really was so much fun. Oh, and since it was Mother's Day, it was a GREAT way to celebrate. (Mother's Day isn't really my favorite and this totally made up for that)

Monday morning we skyped with our families from the hotel and then went to the breakfast buffet. I ate way too much, but I honestly don't know if I have ever had better french toast than they have at the Shangri La. It really was a completely fun and relaxing weekend and we are SO glad we got to do it even if it meant Ben standing naked covered in glass in front of a bunch of people to make it happen. It was completely worth it.

The front room of the hotel suite

The amazing bedroom with the ocean view

Huge bathroom with a shower AND a bath.  This was the first bath I have taken in the Phils

I even had to show you the huge closet

The balcony and the gorgeous, breathtaking view

The view....oh how I will miss the beach!

Isn't she the cutest mom ever!

We love you Knowltons.  We will miss you when we are gone!

How can you not love that face?  He was in heaven jumping on the bed.

And this is the reason we are coming home.......we want one of our own just like him:)
So, I realize that this is the first I have even mentioned the fact that we are coming back to the States already.   It's a long story and a whole post all on it's own, but just know that we are excited to come home.  We have had so many amazing experiences here and are so grateful for all of the adventures.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Last weekend Ben and I were able to go on a really short, but great trip to a place called Palawan. The Philippines has so many beautiful beaches and natural places to visit it's hard to choose. I actually have to thank my sister Rachelle and her fiance Bret for suggesting this place to us. I think they read about it online or something and told us we should go. The draw is the natural underground river, but it ended up being a lot more than that. So, we booked the trip. It was only 48 hours and if we were going to do it again we would make sure it was longer, but it was a lot of fun and we are glad we got it in.

Look behind's so clean.  Palawan has an anti-littering law that is obviously VERY effective.  In my opinion, the reason it works is the citizen that catches you littering gets 50% of the fine paid to them!  Smart!

The other reason it was SO nice, clean, calm.....NO TAXIS and NO JEEPNIES allowed!!!  SO AMAZING!

We went to this Wild Life conservation place that was mostly crocodiles, but had some other animals as well.  Ben quite enjoyed posing with the baby croc.

I did not love it so much

I look a little more confident in this 

ya, they are pretty dang scary

This place was pretty awesome.  It was this great park, playground, just beautiful place.  

The beach in Sabang.  We got to hang out here for a few hours, it was gorgeous.

At the entrance to the underground river there were monkeys just hanging out, right next to people, it was pretty amazing.

Oh and these huge like 3ft long lizards

Us starting our little trip to the Underground River

The entrance.  It really was gorgeous and such a cool place.  It really is a huge cave with a river through it.

bats and bat droppings (the guide thought it was pretty funny to make bat poo jokes but didn't use the word poo....ya, the tour wasn't really for kids

My goofy husband inside the cave

Another gorgeous beach right by the entrance of the underground river.

We are very grateful for the chance to visit these types of places, seriously...such a blessing.

The Philippines isn't always just sunshine and beaches and I will do my best to share some of both with you in my upcoming posts.

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Late Philippines Friday Post: Cebu-Taoist Temple and Tops

We have our own little "To Do in Cebu" list that we have put together.  We want to take advantage of this city that we live in while we have the chance.  I think in every town or city in the world there are those "must do" things that all the tourists do, but the some times us "locals" miss out on because life gets in the way.  We don't want to miss those things while we are here in Cebu.  So, Monday morning, after spending the entire weekend home sick, we wanted to get out of the house and decided this was the perfect chance to knock two things off of our to-do list.
Our first stop was the Taoist Temple.  This was built in 1972 in the very posh neighborhood of Beverly Hills of Cebu (not the 90210 one).  There was not a lot to do there, but it was fun to hike up the stairs to see the Chinese architecture and decor.  I got a lot of fun pictures too.  (click on image to view larger)

Next on our list was Tops.  This is a "park" located literally at the highest spot you can reach in Cebu.  I felt like we were driving uphill FOREVER.  Anyone who knows me knows I HATE driving up high mountains and on small roads where the sides just drop off.  It makes me so sick to my stomach.  With our awesome 1999 Toyota Corolla  I was seriously worried for our safety.  But, we made it ok.  We originally stopped at the place that I thought was Tops, but it ended up being a cemetary.  Oops.  The view was pretty cool, but when we actually made it to Tops the view was ridiculous.  We were so high above the city it was almost hard to see it.  We got some great pictures and got to overhear quite an entertaining conversation between some old white married guy and his Filipina girlfriend (blog post to come).  It was worth the little trip and we are glad we are out seeing what Cebu has to offer.

Click here to see more pictures of our fun day.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Today, my Philippines Friday isn't really about the Philippines, but I thought it was appropriate because Ben has probably watched this video a MILLION times and laughed the entire way through.  Come on guys, it's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Five Years and Counting

I remember sitting down with Ben when we were first married and talking about our goals and where we would like to be in five years.  I wish I knew where that list was so that I could compare it with reality.  I remember that we wanted to own at least a condo, so we went above and beyond on that one.  I am sure we said something about how many kids we would have, still waiting on that one.  I also am sure we thought Ben would be done with or close to done with his education, also still waiting.  One thing I am 99.9% sure was not on that list was that we would have already lived in 2 states and a foreign country by this time.  No matter how much Ben and I have always discussed the fact that we would some day live in Asia (most likely the Philippines), I know that neither of us thought it would happen this quickly.  What an exciting place to be to celebrate five years of marriage!

I do wish we had those kids and that Ben was done with school, but I would not give up where we are or any of the experiences we have had to get here.  People tell us all the time to take advantage of this time, this time with no kids where it is just the two of us.  Well, we are definitely doing just that! This weekend we took a ferry out to the island of Bohol.  I know some of you are asking why we need to go to another tropical island when we already live on one.  Well, Bohol is like the quaint, quiet, old fashioned, restful, calm, clean, no traffic, no people, no stray dogs, no garbage, better version of Cebu.  We needed a break from this place and Bohol was the perfect place to do it.  We spent time relaxing in a hammock by the ocean, eating great burgers and home made pizzas, climbing the chocolate hills, having lunch on the Loboc River, seeing tiny monkeys and huge pythons, crossing a hanging bridge and just enjoying the history of this place.  We  loved every second of it (maybe not the power outage from 7am to 7pm on Sunday).  We were also mindful of how very blessed we are to be safe and healthy and alive after the horrible disasters in Japan.

I cannot wait to see where we are five years from now!   Happy Anniversary Babe. I LOVE YOU!

The relaxing view

The oldest Christian church in the Philippines (supposedly)


Tarsiers....tiny, awesome little monkeys native to Bohol

I don't like heights and a "hanging bridge" didn't seem really safe, but it was fun anyway

On our floating restaurant

We went to a butterfly sanctuary, I loved it

The Chocolate Hills (this doesn't even do them justice, they were amazing)

Sunset on the beach

Our resort at night (with no electricity which made it even prettier)
For the rest of the fun pictures go to my album on facebook