Author Archives: Sarah

Villianous Shenanigans – Halloween 2018

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This year for Halloween we decided to be Disney villains. We decided way back in May, thinking there’d be all this time to make awesome costumes. When did I start working on costumes? Oh, part way through September. But with a little help from some friends and family, we made it. Even a villain needs help sometimes, guys.

The Criminal Crew

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King Candy, Dr. Facilier, Mother Gothel, Gaston, Hades, Yzma

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“We’re bad, and that’s good. We’ll never be good, and that’s not bad.”

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The Nefarious Characters

“The Name’s Hades, Lord of the Dead”

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Two thumbs way, way up for this guy

 

“You Want Me to be the Bad Guy? Fine! Now I’m the Bad Guy!”

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“Skip the drama, stick with Mama!”

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“I’ve Been Nothing But Loyal to the Empire for Many, Many Years”

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Somebody was nearing the end of a book and was not happy to be taking pictures.

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“…And then I’ll SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER!”

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“Or, to save on postage, I’ll poison him with this.”

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“Whoa. Look at these wrinkles. What is holding this woman together?”

“Have Some Candy!”

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“I’ve Got Friends on the Other Side”

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“The cards, the cards, the cards will tell…”

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This kid was hamming it up big time.

 

“Here in Town There’s Only She, Who is Beautiful as Me”

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Grocery Store Shenanigans

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“If I see you here again, I’ll put you in my fungeon!”

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“When I was a lad, I ate 4 dozen eggs every morning to help me get large.”

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“You’re in my world now, not your world.”

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“Is there anything on this menu that isn’t swimming in gravy?!

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“Mother knows best!”

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“You know – a little dark, a little gloomy, and as always, hey, full of dead people. What’re you gonna do?”

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Now…what could a pile of villains possibly need a pile of TP for? Hmmm….

More Shenanigans

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Putting that TP to good use!

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Step right up and try your luck!

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Oh, was I speeding, officer?

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Arrested for speeding, who would believe it?

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Have you ever done a family theme for Halloween costumes? Do you buy costumes or make them yourself? What’s your favorite family Halloween costumes you’ve ever done or seen someone do? Share with us in the comments!

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Refinished Kitchen Chairs…finally

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I did something out of character this month – I finished a project! It only took me almost 2 years. Two years of sitting on folding chairs at our kitchen table because I was refinishing the kitchen chairs. My husband was super happy about that.

Let’s take a look at what I started with, shall we?

Chairs Before

Dirty fabric, peeling paint layers, ripping plastic covering, bleh colors – in dire need of a makeover

I bought these chairs from a local yard sale site with the intention of refinishing them, but they sat around fooooooreeeeeveeerrr (as in years) before I ever started. I knew I wanted something brighter and more fun, but I never found a fabric I really liked. I had this picture sitting around on my phone as inspiration for a while:

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I love the bright colors and clean white look and the lines of the chairs. But again…what to do about fabric. I still hadn’t found any I loved at a price point I also loved. And then one day it struck me – why not forgo the fabric and have hard chairs and doodle on the seats myself? I realized that I didn’t even really want to use fabric because people live here and sit and eat and stand on these chairs, so what’s the point? I hate plastic over fabric and I hate dirty fabric and mostly I hate cleaning fabric (or anything for that matter – let’s be real). So, with my friend’s own project providing the catalyst for me, the folding chairs moved into the kitchen, the kitchen chairs moved into the garage, and I started tearing my chairs apart.

Y’all.

Whomever last upholstered these chairs was. not. fooling. around. The staple situation was out of control. A representative sampling of about 2-3 inches below:

Upholstery Staples

That’s after the plastic layer had already been removed. Each chair had 2 layers like this on the seat and like a million on the backs. At least I’m pretty sure it was like a million. I lost count.When I got all of the staples out, and ripped the padding off, I found seats that were in pretty decent shape and decided I’d use them for doodling instead of adding another layer of fresh wood on top. Just had to clean off the glue and do a little sanding.

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

That glue never did cooperate. In fact, It’s still wreaking havoc on the paint job. And believe me, I tried everything I, and the home improvement store guys, and the internet could think of. I thought I had it pretty much under control until I put a base layer of paint on the seats. And by that point, I didn’t care anymore. So apparently the solution was apathy all along. But I digress.

Staples removed, seats cleaned (and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned) and cracks filled in and sanded. Next step was striping paint.

There were so many layers of paint on these chairs that I didn’t want to just add another, so I decided to strip them. Also took ages. Some layers were water based and some were oil based, and between them, the resulting sludge was…nasty and difficult. Eventually I prevailed. Or at least reached a point of “good enough, I don’t care anymore, let’s move on.”

Stripping the paint

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One stripped – Five to go!

Next I worked on painting a base layer and then hand drawing the designs on the seats. I just used sharpies and it was enjoyable, though time consuming. You can’t really tell in the pic, but the designs fade where the glue was still causing problems through the paint.

I hate that glue.

Seats Done

I got a little OCD and … well, can YOU see how I got OCD?

I put a few finishing coats of sealant on the chairs – first a spray sealant to keep brush strokes from smearing the design, and then a more durable brush on sealant. They’ve probably got 8-12 layers of sealant of some kind. And I bet my kids will still ruin them.

With the seats done, I had to figure out the chair backs. I had made some mock-ups with cardboard.

Chair Backs

Part of the trouble was knowing how to get the slight bend of the existing back frame into the new pieces. Also, I didn’t have any means or know-how for cutting them out myself. After several failed attempts at getting someone else to do it for me, I decided to just buy a scroll saw and do it myself. And I did. (And now I have a scroll saw – mwahahahaha!)

I cut them out and sanded them down and turned my kids’ bathroom into a steam room to get them all steamy and moist and then clamped them onto the frames, hoping they’d form to the very slight bend. And they did. Mostly. I mean, in a good-enough-for-who-it’s-for kind of way.

New Backs Clamped

Used some Gorilla Glue epoxy and a nail gun to attach them and we were (FINALLY) ready to paint.

Watching Paint Dry

After all the time I had spent, waiting for the paint to dry was much harder than it should have been. You can see here that I should have put some kind of filler in the cracks where the new backs attached, but I didn’t. So there’s that. Also, the paint was kind enough to point out all of the places where I didn’t sand well enough. So there’s also that. But if you just pretend not to notice, then we can still be friends.

Put new feet protector thingies on, re-attached the seats (seriously should have been the easiest part and was a PAIN), and voila – Finished Chairs!

 

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They’re certainly not perfect, but they’re good enough if you don’t look too closely. (Do you sense a theme here?) We were sure happy to retire the folding chairs, and now I get to spend the day getting mad at my kids for spilling on them and stuff. It’s super fun.

One last look:

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Next step – the table.

Check back in a couple of years on that.

A Little Bit of Steampunk – Halloween 2017

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Y’all, I haven’t blogged in almost 2 years.But it’s Halloweentime, so Imma put up some pics. This year we decided to go steampunk. If you don’t know what steampunk is {I’ve learned a lot of people don’t know what steampunk is}, think Victorian era fashion meets utility and gadgetry. Or something like that. There’s probably a wikipedia page if you want to know more.

So we started with just “steampunk” and then Boy Numero Dos wanted to be a chemist, and then we all ended up with some kind of a caricature to draw inspiration from for our costumes. So here we are, in all our gears and glory {trying out the slideshow feature for the first time}.

THE FAMILY

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THE {cheesy} PARENTS

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THE CHILDREN

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THE RAILROAD ENGINEER

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THE EXPLORER

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THE KEEPER OF THE KEYS

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THE MECHANIC

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THE CHEMIST

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THE PICKLEMAN
{from a book series}

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We had a lot of fun {and put in a lot of time} coming up with these costumes! They look simple but all of the little details really add up. Steampunk might end up being one of our favorite costume themes. We’re trying to figure out where else we can wear them because it’s so much fun! Do you do couple/family/group costumes for Halloween? What has been your favorite? Share in the comments!

Green Eggs & Ham? Yes, please!

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Long and long ago, I stumbled upon a doodling technique that I kind of became obsessed with. I would absentmindedly fill random pages with these doodles. One particular day, I filled in the doodles with red and white:

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“Hmmmm,”I said to myself, “I like that. It’s very Dr. Seussy.” (And, in case you didn’t know, I love me some Dr. Seuss.) And then Crazy Me piped up and said, “Hey, what if I painted a whole wall like this?! That would be amazeballs!” Plus, I always wanted to turn our playroom into a Dr. Seuss room. So when I brought this earth shattering idea to my husband, he wisely agreed to let me do what I want. (He is a wise man.) But he also wisely suggested I do it on the shorter wall in the playroom, rather than the biggest one (which was my original plan). I promptly poo-pooed that idea. Because BIGGER IS BETTER!

But really, it was a wise suggestion, which I eventually adopted after enough time had elapsed to pretend it was my idea. And it’s a good freakin’ thing I did because these kinds of projects always turn out harder and more time consuming than you think they will, right? Of course right.

So painting one wall turned into painting all of the walls and the shelves and purging the toys and replacing the honkin’ big falling apart wardrobes where games and toys lived and replacing the light fixture and…well…you know how it is…

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So blah, blah, blah and yadda, yadda, yadda, here are the pics you came for. I will try to keep the commentary to a minimum and in the captions. Enjoy.

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The view from the doorway

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Facing the Nothing-Exciting-Here wall, where we will eventually hang a flat screen television, but it just gets to be boring for now.

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Storage bins for seating and toy storage. Let’s take a closer look at that Mom’s-Gone-Crazy wall, shall we?

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Whoop! There it is! Don’t ask me how long it took. It was basically eons. And I eventually recruited help from an amazing friend who doesn’t hate me for being psycho.

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And above the Mom’s-Gone-Crazy wall, we have the movies…

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…And some books. (So I forgot to go hunt down all of the Harry Potter books before getting this picture. Obviously, they’re being read. As they should be.) And also…

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Because Dr. Seuss.

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Facing the back wall.

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Another one of my crazy ideas. I actually made this shelf long before deciding to mega-doodle on the wall. FYI – Michael’s crates are super flimsy and probably not the best choice for creating precariously balanced bookshelves. You’re welcome.

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Facing the corner.

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Can we just take a moment to ogle this light fixture? It was my birthday present. How can you not love a light like that?!

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You can only play with us if you have a star on your belly. Just kidding. You can’t play with us.

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Facing the gallery wall. Let’s look a little closer at a few things…

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Green Eggs and Ham? Yes please!

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Personalized family string art. Go ahead and look up ribald. We won’t judge.

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And last but not least, our growth chart rulers. Let’s not discuss the photo of our youngest child, mmmkay?

So there it is. For the record, this is the first time (and probably the last) that the playroom has ever been this clean, which lasted just long enough for me to take pictures (because I banished the children) and then it was trashed again. I actually took a picture of what it usually looks like. But it was so bad, my camera ate it rather than let it become public.

Have any questions about what you see? Feel free to ask! I’d tell you that tutorials for several things will be coming…but let’s be honest. I have no plans to tutorialize anything here. I mean, it took me 6 months just to add the last few touches and get these pics up. I would love to answer some individual questions if you have em, though!

Wanderlust Wednesday:Philippine Adventure

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Hello again! My husband and I recently had the amazing opportunity to visit the Philippines, where I learned to love fish and to sleep with the constant sound of car horns blaring. It was a wonderful adventure almost a year in the planning (for me) and I’d love to share a few of the things I learned about this beautiful country while I was there (accompanied by random pictures).

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But first, for the curious, a little background. WHY the Philippines, do you ask? Well, about 17 years ago, Mr. LPMD served a mission for our church there. He mostly served in Manila and some of the nearby areas. He loved the country and the people, but thought he would never get to go back. And then a bit less than a year ago I got this crazy hair-brained idea that I could surprise him with a trip back. Unbeknownst to him, I spent the next several months secretly saving my dollahs and feverishly typing up his journal from the time he was there (whenever he wasn’t home). A couple of months ago I let him in on the surprise and he got as excited as he gets. Which pretty much equates to a smile and a little bit of shock. And that was that.

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On our trip, we spent 5 days in the general Manila area and then flew over to Puerto Princesa on Palawan and spent 5 days staying in a lovely little place in Buenovista. Can we just enjoy a bit of the beauty of that place for a minute?

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Facing the house and cabins

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Facing the ocean

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Not a terrible place for some morning yoga, eh?

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Teeny tiny shells and coral covered the beach

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All of our accommodations were found through AirBnB.com and they all turned out to be great places to stay.

So…what did I learn from our trip to the land of over 7,000 islands (though we barely even scratched the surface)? Well…

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1 – Driving rules are rather like the Pirate Code.
cc9e1cf6aebe92588ca7586f89959de7The honking made me crazy at first, but eventually, I just found it rather amusing. If you’re driving in the Philippines, especially in the cities, you might honk if: you’re about to pass someone, you’re letting someone know you’re there, you’re in a bigger vehicle than someone else, you’re a bus, jeepney, or trike that can or can’t pick someone up on the side of the road, you’re coming around a corner, you exist, you want to see if your horn works, it strikes your fancy. There’s a plethora of reasons, really. The place we stayed in Manila (Mandaluyong, actually), was right next to a light rail station, so a whole lot of transportationess was going on outside our window. I realized one morning while I was lying awake from jet lag, that the muted sound of horns in the distance had become rather like listening to quiet classical music as I fell asleep. It was almost peaceful.

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Early morning, before the traffic set in.

Aside from the constant honking, I’m not sure why there are lines painted on the roads. Because it’s not like people stay in any kind of lanes. Three lanes could actually be 4. Or 5. Depends on if you can squeeze in there or not. Standard mode of driving is, if there is a space in front of you, you speed up and continue speeding up until there isn’t space in front of you anymore, then you stop, with probably 2 inches between you and any vehicles in front of or next to you. Motorcycle? Well, as long as you fit between or on the side of the other cars, you’re good to go. But watch out for the busses, because they’re bigger than you, and frankly, bigger has the right of way.

2 – Fish can be delicious.
I went into this trip a little hesitant about possibly starving because, frankly, I don’t like seafood. Hey, I have an idea – let’s go spend 2 weeks in an island country where the most common meat is fish! What a great idea! {Can you feel that sarcasm? Because it’s dripping.} My husband assured me that I wouldn’t starve because there would always be rice (which, there definitely was) and I promised him that I would at least try some fish. And miracle of miracles, I can honestly say that I tried all the fish I was served and ENJOYED it! Something about fresh sea fish is sooooo much better than the stuff we get here in our little landlocked state, that’s for sure. I also tried some fried calamari (didn’t like it) and clams. Well…one clam. Ew.

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3 – “House spiders” are no joke.
I can’t. I just can’t.

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Here’s The Man trying to catch one because there’s no way no how I’m peeing in a teeny tiny bathroom with that thing on the wall a foot away from me. (That’s an extra big prescription bottle he’s using, and it was too small to get the stupid thing.)

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And, as Mr. LPMD lamented, I unfortunately “didn’t even get to see any of the big spiders.” Oy!

4 – In a public restroom, look for the toilet paper dispenser before you go into a stall.
Because it’s probably outside of the stall. But there might not be any. But if there is, don’t flush it. And maybe be prepared to squat.

5 – Taal Volcano: you won’t get lost.

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View of Taal Lake from the balcony of our apartment in Tagaytay

Luckily for us, I read some reviews of the hike up the side of this volcano before our trip and knew we’d get hounded by a “guide” to lead us up the trail. So when a very nice guy began to walk us from the registration desk, I mentioned to my husband that he needed to shake the guy off or he’d act as our “guide” and then demand money at the end. Holy Hannahballs, was he hard to get rid of! He kept saying that we needed him or we’d get lost. We finally convinced him we’d be fine and off we went. Hint: Follow the horses. Extra hint: You CAN’T get lost. For real. It’s like a straight shot on a very well worn path up the side of the hill.

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The trail on which you’re sure to get lost without a guide. ;)

But if you’re around Tagaytay, or have a chance to take a trip down from Manila for the day, it’s a very nice (though a bit overly tourist-ified) hike. I loved the (somewhat expensive) boat ride across the lake and the view from the top was awesome.

 

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Crossing Taal Lake

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My favorite flower

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View of the volcano lake from the top

Granted, you’ll be met at the top by the standard vendors for tourists, but still totally worth it.

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The other view from the top

6 – Rural driving is quite like the city driving, but without the traffic.
A thought I had while riding one of the local busses on Palawan from Sabang to Buena Vista: This reminds me of an amusement park “jungle tour” kind of ride, only it’s real. Lush green scenery, steep hills, sharp curves, never know when you’re going to stop to pick someone up or so some bus passenger can exchange money or goods with someone waiting for them on the side of the road. Lanes don’t really matter, especially on curves. It’s all just a bit of a thrill ride. And you know what? I loved it all.

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Loved these bright masks

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Drinking buko

7 – The Underground River: go early or be prepared to wait…
…for hours. And by early, I mean, be there at 8am when the office opens.

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Beach by the Underground River waiting area

We did not arrive early (probably around 9:30-10?), but it was the only thing we had planned for the day, so it wasn’t a big deal. It is a cool experience to see, but patience is key. There’s a lot of paperwork to fill out. And also, keep your own ticket! We were not with a tour group, so rather than pay for a boat all to ourselves, we decided to share a boat with a group that had a couple of extra spots. The tour guide had Mr. LPMD give him our registration paper thing, and then they went off to do some mangrove tour during the anticipated 90 minute wait for a boat. We opted not to go with them, so we set up a meeting spot. We spent the next bit wandering among the little shops where we bought some $3 “Prada” sunglasses and had delicious fruit smoothies, and when the time came to meet up, the group never showed. Our boat number was called and no one was there. Luckily, another tour guide had us join her group to ride over and told us we could meet the first guide on the other side to get our papers. (Little did we realize that there is another long wait once you get across the ocean to the entrance to the cave as well.)

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Our boat

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Super Goobers!

So we waited and waited and it was time for our second group to go into the cave and STILL no signs of the first guy. The awesome second tour guide got us through, though, so it was all good in the end, but hold onto your paperwork, even if you’re sharing a boat!

We truly enjoyed the adventure to and through the underground river. The recorded tour audio is a little hokey (at least in english), but it was still quite enjoyable.

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8 – You can say a lot with your eyebrows.
Yes, for instance. Or hello. Add a little “mm” if you feel the need to verbalize.

9 – Andok’s.
Skip Jollibee (that might be sacrilege to say in the Philippines) and go to Andok’s. Oh my delicious chicken. They make what is quite possibly the BEST chicken I have ever had. It’s cooked on a rotisserie and when you buy it, they wrap it up in a banana leaf and holy moly it’s delicious. Mr. LPMD laughed at me while I devoured half a chicken in no time flat. But I was hungry and it was so good!

And also, get some Spanish bread from a little street bakery. Mmmmm. Great way to spend a few pesos.

10 – You are beautiful.
Here in the US of A, we are bombarded with the message that dark, tan skin is beautiful and tanning products abound. So I was a bit surprised in the stores to see so many products boasting “skin lightening” powers. My husband explained to me that in the Philippines, light skin is considered beautiful (whereas I am so use to hearing the opposite). And then it hit me pretty strongly that the beauty industry the whole world over isn’t trying to sell beauty – they’re selling self doubt. They tell us, “You’re not good enough, but if you use our product, you will be.” But you know what, they’re wrong. You are good enough. And you’re beautiful too. Your beauty and my beauty and that kid down the street’s beauty isn’t about the color of your skin or your hair or what kind of makeup you wear or how tall or short you are. It’s about who you are as a person. It’s how you treat the people around you. It’s about the love and joy you spread, the light you exude. You don’t need to lighten your skin and you don’t need to darken your skin. You just need to be you. And in that vain…

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11 – The Filipino people are beautiful.
I loved all of the people I was able to meet on our trip. Everyone was kind, genuine, and helpful to us. The people there are humble and happy. For many, life is simple and sweet. One man told us that “Filipinos, we are always smiling. There is trouble – we smile; we have a problem – we smile; something does not go right for us – we smile; and because we smile, we can be happy, even when things are hard.” I loved this, and, for my brief visit, I found it to be true. I hope I can follow his example and be better at smiling, even when things are hard.

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So there you have it, 11 random things I learned in the Philippines. It was a wonderful trip and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to return again some day and see even more of what this country has to offer.

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So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good bye, & hanggang makikita tayo muli

Have you ever been to the Philippines? What did you learn and what did you love? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!