Whenever I am in Manila area I always go to Victory Christian Fellowship in Ortigas for church. You're may be suspecting it's all because of Piolo Pascual. Well, can you blame me? LOL! Honestly, as much as I want to see Piolo and other famous Filipino celebrities at Victory, it's really Pastor Rey Corpus who I really want to see. He preaches at this church from time to time. Pastor Rey is one of the exceptional Filipino preachers who I admire most.
I feel so blessed to have met and known Paul's grandma, on her mother side, when I got to the US for almost three years now. I had a chance to get to know her well for a little over a year. When she died last year, I made sure we would have something to remind us of her every single day- this flower. We brought this plant from her place after her burial and put it by the window right in front of our kitchen sink. It hasn't stopped blooming since then! It's amazingly healthy even when I forget to water it for many days. It's always got these very pretty pinkish lavender blooms.
We said our final good bye to our dear Kitty today. She died peacefully. When we got home from church tonight, we looked for her and found her lying dead on the ground by the right side of our house. Her body was stiff. Her eyes were open. And flies kept her company. Paul had her for some 7 years. I got to enjoy her for two and a half years. We were sad! We told Isabelle that she won't see her Kitty ever again but didn't let her see us bury the cat. We had a little burial ceremony. We prayed. We thank God for Kitty.
Oh, how we miss Kitty. She was a very sweet cat. She provided Paul company for many years. She gave Izzy a short but sweet cuddly and crabby playmate. I loved her too until she started acting like she had lost her mind. The last few weeks, she was up on the second floor with us at all times- bugging us to the max by her constant climbing on the table and the counters. She had also been licking our faucets and peeing and pooping in Paul's office instead of doing it in her own bathroom. That was terrible. But now that she is gone, we miss her.
For the first four days of the Summer, we thought the East would be perfect. We really prepared for this trip. Isabelle and I had manicure and pedicure the day before our flight. We also had little Izzy seen by her doctor before we flew to make sure she didn't have an ear infection that would bug her to the max in the plane especially on landing. Her doctor said she didn't have it. But when we were landing, baby was just getting crazy- squirming and screaming in pain. She kept saying, "ouwee, eew!" That gave us an idea that the pressure in the plane gave her ear so much pain and that she really did have an ear infection. But her suffering ended as we got out of the plane. Driving Around
We rented a jeep SUV at National and drove from Reagan airport to Washington, DC. It's our first time in DC and we can't help but be amazed at the beautiful and unique architecture around. My favorite one is the Executive building. I was so in awe that I even forgot to take a photo of it. Funny. But anyway, this one I captured while we were driving on one of the major roads. Driving around the city was crazy. Also, they use the shoulder of the road for parking. Parking space was so hard to find. You basically have to drive for hours before you could find one. Plus, the city seems to do a bad job in putting signs. Another thing that keeps the traffic flow very slow is that there are traffic lights every few meters. There's just a big crowd walking around for sightseeing. Before we really got into sightseeing and passed out in hunger, we stopped at a park between the White House and the Monument. We had lunch that I packed from home. Izzy got to walk around the park and chased the ducks and the birds around the fountain.
We stayed at The Virginian Suites. We like the hotel mainly for its accessibility. It is just 10 minutes away from DC. It also has got basically what we need at home. It's got a fully-furnished kitchen, dining, entertainment area, walk-in closet, bathroom, a little room with a safe and a big nice bed. And yes, not to forget the swimming pool and the beautiful lobby.
What is a vacation without dining out! And for me, it's impossible without my vanilla latte! Even before flying to DC, my mouth was already watering thinking of the fresh tuna and other seafood we could get in the east coast. So on our first night, we looked for a really nice restaurant in Georgetown just across our hotel. We found Grillfish after driving for at least an hour. I had the best grilled tuna ever! Paul had his favorite grilled salmon! And Izzy had her famous RICE!
This is the food we had on our dinner cruise.
On Sunday morning, we went to a baptist church. We really loved the church. It's the first church in America that I've been to that gives so much importance to praying together as a body of believers. We also loved the inductive preaching they had. We were so blessed.
Our Lunch Cruise
Paul and I love dinner cruises. The one we had in DC was superb! The boat was beautiful. It tours through the Potomic River so we got to see the beauty of Washington DC and part of Virginia. Most of the dinner-passengers were African-American so we had a chance to experience the southern hospitality. Man, they're super warm and friendly. They love to dance, sing, laugh and most of all, they love to dress up. I felt elated when a few of them thought I dressed up so well- wearing shoes that matched well with my dress. LOL! (Laugh out loud!)
While all the rest of the crowd at the National Monument basked in heat straight from the sun, I enjoyed the shade my umbrella provided for me. Being a tropical Filipino doesn't automatically gave me the privilege to be free from the harmful rays of the sun. There you go... MY UMBRELLA!
Plenty of Walking
Walking to the Reflection Pool between the Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, Isabelle was busy greeting people, "Hi!" she said. She even greeted every bird and every duck she saw. And take note, she also greeted the most tamed squirrel we've ever met! There are times that walking is no longer my idea of fun! So we had to sit and relax for a minute and then we would walk more. Ice cream helped Izzy to calm down in a very hot weather.
The Reflection Pool
The Lincoln Memorial
The White House
We were hoping we could see President Bush at the White House but he was a little busy with the other guests. I'm kidding. We really wanted to tour around the White House but we were not able to make an appointment for that beforehand. They need an appointment made a month earlier for that. So we were just contented to see the front and back of the house. When we got there after walking from the restaurant, where I had the best crab cakes ever, Isabelle was sleeping. We took pictures with her napping. But when we got to the other side of the house, she woke up. She didn't want to leave DC without seeing the White House, that's what her mommy thought at least.
The US National Capital
Exactly what were Paul and Isabelle doing here? Simple, they were fighting over MY UMBRELLA!
Isabelle was only 9 months old when she started to walk and talk. "Momma" was her very first word. That day when she first said "momma", I jumped and screamed, "Honey, Izzy called me momma." The feeling of being so proud of my little one being able to pronounce her first word perfectly overwhelmed me. After a few days, she started calling Paul, "Dadda". Oh, Daddy didn't know what to do, he was just so excited that finally she recognized him as Dadda. A couple months latter, Izzy started calling us "Mommy and Daddy" with perfect pronunciation. We enjoyed being called "mommy and daddy" but just for less than a year. Guess what? A few weeks ago, she decided that calling us "Mom and Dad" was cool! When I heard her call me "mom" the first time, I jumped again, I didn't scream this time. Surprise, surprise! I couldn't believe my ears! I definitely do not wish my little Isabelle to grow up that fast. I want her to call me mommy until at least she turns 10. But I guess I can't help it. I'll just have to accept the fact that my baby is now a lady.
Paul has a wonderful DAD... And is a wonderful DAD!
It was great celebrating this year's Father's Day with Mom and Dad Martens in Winona, MN. We all went to Pleasant Valley Church in the morning. One of my favorite songs was sang at the service, He knows my name by Tommy Walker. Here is the stanza of the song that I really like...
I have a Father He calls me His own He'll never leave me No matter where I go
Anyway, after church, we thought we would give Dad and Paul a treat. So we went to a new grill and bar in town. We had the best sirloin steaks ever! Isabelle and I prepared gifts for her daddy and her grandpa. For her daddy, we gave him a charcoal colored dress pants and Gummi Bears gourmet candies. We also gave him a handmade card with Belle's scribble that says, "I love you, Daddy!" For her Grandpa, we gave him a handmade card and a coffee mug that says, "Actually, Grandpa knows best."
For Paul, spring and summer are not really fun without golfing. So when we got a chance in Winona over the weekend, we went for it! We got to the area a little bit late for T time so we were given a few holes for free. So that was nice!
We didn't get an eagle or a birdie but Paul got lots of "par". You can maybe guess what I got... "triple bogey"! Embarrassing! Well, I'm not really a fan of golf. I only like it because I think a golf course is an neat thing!
I admit I've never learned to love doing the dishes even after many years of intensive training under my great dish-washing coach- my mom. Marrying my husband didn't help either. He made sure there's a dishwasher at our house before we got married. I may not have or will never learn to love this particular domestic task, but I kind of miss it from time to time. My parents-in-law do not have a dishwasher. They want to have one but there's just no room for it in their kitchen right now. Every time we are visiting with them, like last weekend, I try to do the dishes. I still don't love it but I don't hate it.
I STILL DON'T LOVE IT BUT I DON'T HATE IT. Excuse me, please disregard the context story. I want to focus on that line... Isn't that true to some of our sins? We don't love them but we don't hate them enough to repent of them and be completely free from their hold in our lives. Psalms 97:10 "O ye that love Jehovah, hate evil."
Yesterday, someone asked me what ministry I am involved in here in the US. I told him I am now in a great Wiping ministry. I wipe counters, floors, furniture and appliances, my daughter's nose and bottom, my husband's sweat, and my friends' tears! What could be more important job than that? Sometimes, people are caught up in a crooked principle that some ministries are more important than others. But as for me, the value of what we do depends on how the Lord sees it. We are only doing an important work when we follow this, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;" Colossians 3:23
With great joy, I'd like to introduce to you the new member of my Wiping ministry...
I've been blessed to be able to watch a very bright 5-year-old girl a few times a week the past few months. Her name is Esther. She is the daughter of one of our friends from church. Esther's family moved from Vietnam to live here many years ago. She was born here. Her mom is a psychiatrist and is working at the hospital like crazy on odd hours shifts. One morning, she told me that her dad quit. When asked what it means, she would say, "Well, daddy yelled at my mom a lot and one day he quit." I asked her if she misses him, she said "Oh, yes I miss daddy but mommy is enough for now."
Esther speaks two languages and is fluent in both. She is a very good girl. She follows every instruction I give her. She eats everything I provide for her. She never complains. She is such a great influence to little Izzy. She also provides a very fun playmate for her. They get along very well. With Esther at our house, I discover a lot of sweetness in Izzy's personality. It is such a breath of fresh air watching little Izzy give Esther hugs and kisses from time to time. Her sweetest personality shows when she comes very close to Esther and looks at her eyes and speaks words that cannot be understood but you would know she adores her.
We will miss her. She won't be coming to our house a lot this summer because her big sister will be home to watch her now that she has a vacation from school. But Belle and I are looking forward to see her at church every Sunday morning. Oh, by the way, we've been calling Isabelle Belle more the past few months. Paul says, Belle flower a lot. I like the name Belle because it means "beautiful" in French.