Sunday, November 13, 2011

In Puerto Princesa

After the week at our house in Lada we all got on a van for the four hour van ride to Puerto Princesa.  Five of us were supposed to enjoy a flight to Puerto, but bad weather forced us all to take the van.  Those that didn't get a ride in the plane were a little disappointed!

While in Puerto we stayed at the New Tribes guest house...our favorite place to stay when in town.  The kids had fun showing Grandpa and Grandma around to some of their favorite places to eat and see.

Shopping at NCCC is always a must when in town!  Adams, Alyssum, and Kailee bought new hats!  One of our favorite places to eat is at Chicken Inato's where we enjoy bbq chicken on a bamboo skewer and mango shakes.  Mmm, they are the best!

One day we hired a driver with a jeepney to take us around Puerto.  It was great to have our own wheels for the day!  We started by visiting a park/war memorial in the middle of town.  The park had recently been given a new look and we were pleasantly surprised at the pleasantness of the new park.  Turned out to be a great photo spot!

The next stop of the day was the Butterfly Garden.  It is a very small zoo/garden with butterflies and greenery in abundance!  They also feature a variety of insects and reptiles found throughout Palawan.  Some of the kids could spend hours at the Butterfly Garden as they are mesmerized by the beautiful fluttering butterflies

For lunch we visited another favorite spot, Baker's Hill.  It is also a beautiful garden/zoo with a playground for younger kids.  They have a nice restaurant and bakery.

 We didn't give our food much time to settle as we traveled just a few kilometers down the road to Royal Oberoi Hotel for the kids to swim in their wonderful pool.  The adults enjoyed watching the kids play games in the pool!

What a fun day touring around Puerto Princesa!

Dad and Mom visit!

So wonderful to have my parents visit for a couple weeks!  We were anticipating this visit for quite some time. 
Steve, Ann Marie, Ethan, and Tyler met them in Puerto Princesa at the airport.  All except for Steve got to fly down to Lada, right up to our front door, on a New Tribes airplane. Since we live on the New Tribes airstrip, Ethan and Tyler have been dreaming of the day they would get to fly with Josh in his plane.
Grandpa and Grandma decided they wanted to fly down rather than take the four hour bumpy van ride, so the three older kids got to join them.  It was a short sweet flight of only 45 min! They loved seeing Palawan from the air.  The road looked so smooth, from the air!  Nice neat farms with small houses and trails from the main road.  It is amazing from the air how clean and well laid out everything looks...such a different view than on the ground!

We spent the week here at our house in Lada and around Brooke’s Point.  We took them on a “city” tour showing them some of the sights of this small town at the southern end of Palawan.
Brooke's Lighthouse named after Sir James Brooke
A view from the top of the lighthouse
Pom boats at the pier

Christmas in September!
Christmas dinner!
Christmas is just so much more fun with Grandparents so we decided to celebrate Christmas in September!   Steve made a wonderful breakfast on “Christmas” morning and we had hot chocolate and apple cider for this “chilly” rainy morning.  We decorated a small tree with lights brought from Alaska.  Christmas music made the morning complete!  We read Isaiah 53 together, and then opened presents.  Mom had to get quite creative with the gifts she brought since she was trying to not bring too much luggage.  Their suitcases were maxed out for weight, but they managed to fit it all in!  Even a 10lb box of screws and nails for Tyler!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Birthday Boys!

Ethan's birthday was October 2, Adams' birthday is on October 18, and Tyler's birthday was September we had a birthday party for all of them after Grandpa and Grandma arrived. 

Tyler turned 13...we now have three teenagers in the house!  Ethan turned 16 and can't wait to drive!  Adams will be 9...he hopes one day he will "catch up" to his brothers and sisters!
Happy Birthday to all our boys!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New School year

Finally school year 2010-2011 let out for this family!  After a year of so many changes and then interruption after interruption in our school year, it just felt great to be done! 

 When we left the island in February unexpectedly we had to leave behind all of our school books.  We then spent time in Puerto Princesa with family and friends.  Took a two week trip to Manila to finish up our visas and spend more time with family and friends.  Then back to Puerto and a move to a new house.  We loved the vacation away from school and of course, we loved spending time with everyone...wouldn’t trade that for all the school time in the world.  But amazingly it was two months before the kids were reunited with their long lost books!  Now it was mid-April and we were only halfway through our school year!  We sure had a lot of ground to cover.

Lada provided us the perfect place to accomplish that task.  No interruptions and plenty of time to complete assignments.  So from mid-April until the end of August the kids worked hard on completing their school year...and now we can say with much excitement, “We have finished the task set before us and have done well!”  Such a good feeling!

Needless to say though, that didn’t give us much of a break before the next school year had to begin.  In May I spent many hours on-line ordering curriculum for the coming school year.  I had it all sent to my mom in Alaska who packed it all up for us in three large boxes to be sent by slow boat to the Philippines.  It takes two months for these boxes to reach us, but for a set price the rather large boxes can be as heavy as you can manage.  So they get full of school books and various other treasures from family and friends at home.  My mom sent the boxes in June and sure enough by the end of August they arrived!  So much excitement for boxes full of school books!

Ann Marie and I sorted books and organized binders to get ready for the next school year.  And then we were off and running!   School year 2011-2012 has officially begun for the Veldstra family...

Ann Marie is a Senior this year!  A sense of accomplishment is such a great feeling!  She told me that in Sierra Leone she never dreamed she would ever have the opportunity to graduate from high school!

Ethan is in 10th grade and realizing the challenges of High school!  So much school work and not near enough free time, but he works hard to get it all done.

Tyler is now a teenager and in Junior High!  Pre-Algebra and a Drafting class are among his favorites! 

Kailee is in 5th grade.  She is a voracious reader and loves to try out new words all the time!

Alyssum is in 4th grade and loves her new Language Arts book this year! 
Adams is in 2nd grade and has become quite the good reader and story writer.  He has such a great imagination!

Our house is always so busy with plenty of learning through books and life experiences!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Visit from Home

Hard to believe it has been over a month ago since Pastor Jonathan came to visit us.  He surprised Steve one day with a text asking if we had plans for the following week and then asked if he could come on over for a short visit.  Steve at first said, "Sure, we would love to have you!", and then, "Are you serious?"  Knowing Jonathan we knew he was serious!  So we excitedly made plans to meet him in Puerto Princesa and spend our time there with him.

We met him at the airport Wednesday afternoon  and spent a few relaxing days at a hotel.  The hotel has a wonderful pool which the kids spent many hours enjoying!
We really enjoyed Jonathan’s good to talk and laugh with someone from home.  Being able to talk face to face is so valuable.  We have been so discouraged the last few months and lonely that we had kind of lost the right perspective.  It was time to find it again!

We stayed at a nice hotel in Puerto Princesa and felt really spoiled!  What a treat!  It was certainly a great place to relax and be refreshed!  Also, someone paid for all of us to get a few new clothes, so we spent a morning shopping for everyone.  The kids had so much fun picking out new things!  Ethan and Tyler had a great time with Jonathan and getting his opinion!  
We are so thankful for the time he spent with all of us!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Braid Locs

Ann Marie decided to have braid locs put in her hair again.  We did these quite a few years ago when she first came to us from Sierra Leone.  At that time I was unfamiliar with braiding African hair and took too big of sections for each braid so the locs got too big.  We eventually took them out....that was a lot of work!  Since then we have done extensions, straightened her hair, and various other hairstyles.  They all look great, but are difficult to do on your own.  So with leaving home in the very near future Ann Marie decided she needed a hairstyle she could manage herself since she will no longer be living with her hairdresser!  Braid locs need maintenance, but most of the time is a fairly simple style. 

So I braided, braided, and braided some more!  Over two weeks, 28 hours, and 557 braids later...we were done!!  The braids are so tiny this time!  Each braid is about the size of a piece of thin yarn.  Because of the small size of the braid each individual braid does a ringlet at the end. 

As her hair grows every couple months we use a latch hook to loop the braid through the new growth to extend the braid.  So this should make the hair keep growing longer and longer.  We are hoping this is something she will be able to do herself or easily have anyone help her with.  The style looks great on her!  Ann Marie you are so beautiful!!