Sunday, May 27, 2012

Starbucks in Manila

Starbucks is super popular here, somewhat surprisingly so, given an average per capita income of about $4000/ year. But, I suppose that is country-wide average, and with a higher average in the city it might make more sense. At $3 for a grande ice americano, however, the price isn't that different than the US. Somehow, Starbucks has convinced Filipinos that a frapuccino is a worthwhile item to spend disposable income on.

I'm not complaining, though, since I seem to be craving ice coffee a lot with this baby - and the ubiquitous Starbucks reliably carries decaf coffee (which was impossible to find in HYD).  With three locations within two blocks of the embassy and at least five within a 5 minute drive from Seafront, I have no shortage of options. What frustrates me is a lack of quick-stop Starbucks. Having to pay 40 pesos to park, when I'm not even going to stay 3 minutes, ups the cost of that ice coffee by 25%!

After 15 months, for better or worse, I finally found a Starbucks at the MoA complex where I can "park" on the side of the road and for a quick run in without the security guards having a conniption fit. Since it's removed from the main mall by one block, it's also not crowded - and the salespeople don't feel rushed to figure out how to enter my VAT-exempt number. Score!

This exemplifies, though, why moving every two years is tiring. Something as simple as this took me more than half my time in Manila to figure out. I'll only enjoy it for less than a year, and then we'll be off ... And all the little things will be new again. At least for now, I can enjoy a Sunday ice coffee without too much hassle.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Another half-way point

I realized that we're at another half-way point: twenty weeks gestation of baby number 3 (well, it was 20 when I wrote this, but 22 by the time I'm posting it). Funny how quickly a pregnancy passes when one is not paying particular attention to actually being pregnant. I also realized at work today, that I only have just over three months left before I get shipped back to the US on "maternity medevac." The State Department would also have preferred for me to do for Patrick's birth, but I resisted. This time around though, between not wanting to miss my sister's wedding three weeks before the due date, I'll play it conservative and deliver in DC. As it turns out, a maternity medevac is a logistics nightmare, but I won't bore you with those details.

Two funny stories about this baby, sometimes known as Sponge Bob. 1. Background: Greg and I have been debating names. Unintentionally, we've ended up with an English and Irish named boys. Not particularly caring for the Welsh names, we're leaning toward Scottish for this one. A good Scottswoman (now American citizen) at work came up with a list that we've been batting around. Now to the story: Wm came to lunch at work yesterday. My friend asked him where his brother was. Wm says, "well, actually I have two brothers." My friend says, "oh? I thought just one." Wm replies, "Patch is napping at home. Ian is inside my mom's tummy right here!" (poking at my belly). Apparently, Wm approves of "Ian." Greg and I had kind of been leaning that way, too, so we'll see if it sticks over the second half of the pregnancy and after we meet this boy.

2. Patch was sitting in my lap tonight for bedtime stories. After a few pages he turns to me and asks, "Mama, is your tummy full?" I said, "No, Patch, I haven't had dinner yet - I'm hungry." He replies back, "Yes it is! It is full of the baby. I can feel." He wasn't feeling it move - just feeling that he couldn't really sit in my lap and lean his head back against my shoulder anymore since the belly is a bit in the way now. So, half way there, and so far Wm and Patch are still on board. Hoping they'll be as happy with the September outcome.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

full weekend!

We had a really full weekend - thought I'd jot it down just for a sense of what daily life is like. Friday started off very exciting: Greg had a conference call with DC for work (turns out, trying to get Europe, DC and Manila on the phone at the same time is not easy! Manila time, the call was at 9pm); I headed over to the airport to welcome a new family. At embassies, we all take turns being sponsors - helping a new arrival get settled - which includes being a friendly face at the airport and showing them their house. Saturday morning we had a fundraiser for Patch's school; as treasurer, I stuck around the whole time from 8 to 11:30. Between the yard sale and bake sale, we raised about 14,000 pesos - double last year - so yea! Now we can hire two staff to help with the pre-k graduation, and still have some left over. This is especially nice because the parent board members (ie, me among others) aren't stuck with cleanup duty! Saturday afternoon was at MOA helping the new family get the stuff they needed. Recently married, they don't even have much in their shipment, so they ended up spending a bunch getting basic household goods in addition to groceries. And we learned the hard way that the store can only charge 8000 pesos on a foreign debit card per transaction ... So the check out took some time. I remembered how stressful those first few days are, trying to figure everything out. This family has a slight advantage, though, as the wife is originally from the Philippines. At least no shopping culture shock for her - even if US government transient life style is new to her. Exhausted after being on my feet the entire day, I tucked in around 8:30! Sunday morning was church, with Wm finally starting to behave, even if Patch is still so wiggly! Then Greg took Wm and his best friend to their weekend soccer tournament. The two boys still wanted to play soccer when they got home, despite the heat and having been outside all afternoon. Wm's friend's parents are on a separated tour right now - the dad is in Mexico and the mom here with the three kids in Manila. The mom had organized a pottery class for the general embassy community before the soccer was announced ... So luckily Greg could take the boys so she could attend the class she organized :) here's to keeping our fingers crossed we don't face any unaccompanied tours. It's rough. During soccer and pottery (which I didn't attend), Patch obliged me by taking a 3.5 hour nap, of which I slept for 3. What's the joy in being five months pregnant if I can't indulge every now and then? It's hard work growing a baby while keeping up with two boys! Then, around 4pm, we headed over to the pool to cool down after soccer and chat with three families finished with the pottery class. Kids jumped in, parents ordered pizza, and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening. Wm declared himself ready for home around 6, and Patch followed shortly after. Both were asleep within the hour. But that's not all - off to the grocery store for me, since I had no time to shop earlier. Just now all is unpacked and we can finally rest. Greg zoning out with a Manchester City game, and I'll read a bit of the Game of Thornes. No Downtown Abbey tonight given the importance of this soccer game is determining the winner of the Premier League. Of course, I can't complain about Greg's addiction because it caused him to wake up at 5:30 this morning with the boys so he could watch the Liverpool game on DVR (FA Cup final, not to be confused with the Premier League, which runs at the same time with the same teams, as best I can tell...)