Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weisser time

We are so thankful for the time we got to spend here in Manila with the Weissers!  Uncle Randy, Aunt Marla, Nathanial, Anna, and Omega have been great hosts and so gracious to share their home with us. They took us shopping, out to the movies, swimming, birding, gave us directions to our appointments, advice on Filipino culture and city life, cooked many meals, laundry, and so much more!  We could not have done this part of our journey without them and we will be forever grateful. 
Swimming at Faith Academy
Dinner time...a full house!
Veldstra and Weisser kids...a crazy bunch!
Thanks so much for the laughter!  We certainly loved being here...our home away from home!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Two weeks and counting

We've been in Manila for two weeks already!  Wow, time flies in the big city!  It has been fun and we have certainly enjoyed some great activities as well as family time with the Weissers.

One of the kids favorite activities has been swimming up at Faith Academy.  They have a wonderful pool up at Faith and the kids swim and play for hours and hours in the sun!  The water is so much fun, but it wears them out and they sleep long nights afterward!

Shopping in the malls, definitely a big city activity!  And there is nothing quite like the malls of Manila...the noise, the people, and so many things to buy.  One should be able to find whatever one wants to buy at whatever price range you can afford.  Yesterday I went shopping with Aunt Marla for our new dishes, some other kitchen items, curtains, and pillow was fun to begin to make our new island house a home. In one of the malls Steve found an inverter and a water filter system for our home...just about anything can be found!

Another fun activity in the mall are cinemas, and each mall has many cinemas!  In Alaska we rarely went to the theater, just so hard to pay the high price of movie tickets for so many of us.  But here it is so much more affordable, only P130 or roughly $3 per person!  We were all treated to a fun!

The traffic in Manila is always an adventure just by itself!  Most of the time we ride along with the Weissers in their van to get to the store, mall, church, or Faith Academy, but Steve is learning his way around the city using public transportation.  Jeepney, train, tricycle, taxi, bus, or FX...which one will get you to where you need to go?  We have had the experience of using each one of these public transportation's in the few weeks we have been here.  We much prefer our own vehicle, but when you need to get somewhere it is nice to have options...just make sure you know how to get where you need to go and how to get back home again!!

Ethan and Tyler were given the opportunity to go bird watching with Uncle Randy last Saturday.  They got up bright and early to beat the heat and to be able to observe as many birds as possible.  Twenty-five different species is alot of variety for only going out once.  Randy is hoping the boys will learn how to identify the different birds on Balabac! 

One Saturday we spent at the RBI office working as painters!  They had just gotten new carpet, but the paint didn't match so a new coat was needed on the lower half of the wall.  We volunteered our expert painting services and picked up paint brushes and rollers to get the job done.  Not quite sure we are experts, but we had fun and made the job take a lot less time!

Today Stacey and the kids spent the day at Mega Mall with Jeanie, while Steve and Dennis went to find bricks for our clay oven and get some paperwork done.  Jeanie and I found more household items that I needed to set up our house while Steve and Dennis found the necessary bricks for the base of our clay oven.  They are some nice looking bricks and will be worth their weight in gold by the time we get them to our home!

We are certainly enjoying our time in this big city, but we will be very ready for the "quiet" of our island home!  Not sure living next to a rain forest is considered quiet! I've heard it is very noisy, only the noise is so much different than that of the city!!  No cars honking, busy traffic, or crowded stores...but more like noisy birds, loud geckos, crunching carabao, and the symphony of insects...certainly makes for a rowdy neighborhood!

Friday, September 10, 2010

We have arrived!

We are all here in the Philippines...together once again as a family! 
Alyssum, Kailee, Adams waiting at the airport
 Kailee, Alyssum, Adams, and I had a great flight over here earlier this week.  We slept for seven out of the nine hour flight from Anchorage to Taipei.  We woke at one point, but all felt slightly sick from all the we went back to sleep.  Finally woke for the last two hours of the flight, we all ate and felt much better.  With only an hour layover in Taipei we had to keep moving in the airport, but we made it to our gate with only 10 minutes to spare.  Aunt Marla met us at the airport in Manila. Thank goodness since our eight heavy totes were more than I could deal with myself.  The heat always surprises us when we arrive and takes awhile to acclimate!

Ethan, Tyler, Jonathan atop the boat
Ed, Ann Marie, Tyler, and Jonathan inside the boat
Tyler and Ethan enjoying the ride and the beauty!
Our totes in the canoe being transported to our home.  Amazing they made it from Homer to this remote island in the Philippines!
Ann Marie, Ethan, and Tyler with more of our "stuff" going to our home

Steve, Jonathan, Ed, Ann Marie, Ethan, and Tyler arrived in Manila from Puerto that same evening.  So good to all be together again and to hear their adventurous stories and see pictures of our new home!  What an adventure and they were only out there for a little over a week!

Our house being torn apart
Framing the walls

So much work has been done on the house and the whole team worked so hard to get our home ready for us!  Amazing transformation on the interior of the house as they tore out old walls and termite damage, and then replaced it with new walls of wood.  I have an amazing kitchen with a double sink and a five burner propane stove top surrounded by shiny tile.  The walls have been painted white in the kitchen and dining room.  The dining room now has a large table big enough for our family.  The bathroom has running water with a flushable toilet, sink, and a shower.  We have a room for the girls with plenty of room for bunk beds and a single bed, and a room for the boys with enough room for three beds and whatever else they collect!  There is a master bedroom, office/school room, and a large pantry.  Looking forward to making our house a home!
Bathroom almost finished
Kitchen being open and bright
Tyler celebrated his 12th birthday on the island.  Tyler loved his gift from Dennis...a local made bolo. 

We are spending several weeks in Manila with visa appointments, shopping to be done, meetings, and time spent with the Weissers.  We started school today to pass the time and time to be on a schedule!  School time is so different, instead of being cold and wearing layers, we sweat and have fans blowing the pages on our books!  Always an adventure!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Philippines here we come!

A lot has happened since I last wrote...past time to catch up!

After we returned from our week on the road, we spent the next week and a half finishing packing up the house and then moving out on August 17.  We moved to Stacey's parents extra apartment over on the homestead on the Anchor River.  What a fun place to spend our last three weeks here in Homer!  The kids have enjoyed driving four-wheelers, playing in the river, riding bikes, and just spending time with family.  Steve and I were very busy with all the last minute details...more details than we thought possible!  We were trying to get the house finished before Steve and the older three kids left, since when they left all my big kids and muscles left too!  We almost got the job completed and I just had a little bit to do after they left.

Steve, Ann Marie, Ethan, and Tyler flew to the Philippines on August 25.  It was an exhausting three day trip and they were very relieved to finally arrive on Balabac!  Three flights, one van ride, and two boat rides later equals many hours of travel time.  A bed surrounded by a mosquito net despite the heat couldn't have looked and felt better! 

Steve and the kids went over earlier than the rest of us so that they could get some work done on our house in the Philippines.  Two others went along as well to make up a team of six.  They have been working long days in the heat to make our home ready for our family.   The exterior of the house had some work done to it recently, like a new roof, rotten decking replaced, posts replaced, and a new paint job.  The team is there to work on the interior of the house.  They have removed a wall in the kitchen and added this island with a stove top to make the living room, dining room and kitchen more open and spacious.  I am told that since this picture they have added shelves to the cupboard and tile to the countertop.  So they are building cupboards and counters for the kitchen, remodeling the bathroom, plumbing the entire house, and doing some wiring as well.  I'm not sure of all that was planned to be worked on, but I know the list was long!

Ann Marie has been working in the kitchen with Jeanie helping to feed the crew.  She got to experience baking in the clay oven yesterday making breads and pizza!  We will also have a clay oven to do our baking.

I have been getting daily emails from Steve although rather short since they have been working such long days!  Here are some excerpts from his emails...
"We did some removal of tenants- a pair of bats, a bee hive."

"Ethan, Tyler and Jonathan went out to the water after lunch, to swim a bit,  I think Ethan was not used to that much sun, and was feeling ill last night and this am.  I am going to have him rest today and hopefully recover soon."

"We have been working at the house from 7 am to 6 pm, taking off about 2 hours for lunch(includes the walk time).  So we have been very busy, and right after dinner, we go to bed.  There is so much to do on the house.  There is not enough wood for all the interior walls and more will cost quite a bit.  Between the kids rooms we may use plywood- it should be fine.  Dennis is flying to Brooks Point for plumbing parts.  Ed has been a great help.  He has done a bit of remodeling houses, so he has some great ideas, and can tell us how to do things."

"The bats are back every morning, so they really are not evicted yet.  The bees are very small less than a 1/4 inch, so their sting is just a little pinch. They keep coming back too.  We also found some more termite homes.  There are only  a few walls we have not torn apart."

"The house is coming along,  sometimes I don't know if we are getting anywhere.  Had to tear out a truss, it was damaged.  I had been going around tapping on wood finding damage, this one was major. Then the question was what to do with the room it was connected to; make it part of the master bedroom?  I think we will leave as is.  The walls won't be too much to take out if we want to later.  For the kids rooms we may not have enough wood for the walls, we may buy plywood from Townsite, or use fabric for a divider."

"Ethan is asking if he can work today- he does not feel feverish this am.  He slept very good last night.  Tyler may go with Dennis today to Townsite to get more epoxy for the tile.  I think you may like the kitchen!  I am excited about it.  Having the dining room, kitchen, and living room as an open L shape seems like a good idea.  Dennis really likes it and says you are going to love him for it.  It seems we will have lots of room.
We are thinking of having a second toilet/shower outside, under the eaves of the existing bathroom.  That will be later if we have time."

"The people noticed, and commented that the kids seem like siblings, they get along well.  They commented that Tyler is full of energy!  Wait till they see Adams!"

"Ethan helped out at the house yesterday, not working that hard, but walking the .58 mile there is a workout in the heat!(12 min walk.) So we walk just over 2 miles a day to get to and from work."

"The rain forest is just off the right side of the deck as you are looking at the house- you can see it in the picture of the house.  I have been watching a flock (5-7birds)of black and white horn-bills flying from tree to tree the last two days.  The butterflies are big, numerous, and varied!  It is incredible.!  Of course with that are the others...lots of large spiders, small and large scorpions!  I found a small 1 inch scorpion in the wood stacked in the house.  Tyler was cleaning up outside today and found a 4inch one!  It rained this am and was cooler-79, but later the sun came out and it was a very muggy 89.  Most days are in the high 80's.
Tell Kailee and Alyssum that I think of them when I see the butterflies.  And Adams will have so much fun playing with our neighbors. They were having fun in the weeds the last couple of days."

"And I think of you as we work- our house is becoming home."