M is for Miss Muffet

M is for Miss Muffet.  She is the littlest member of our family and just turned one year old on March 25.  She is such a joy to us.  Let me tell you a few of the reasons why.

She has funny little finger-pointing habits.  She barks when the dogs outside bark.  She furrows her brow and scowls at us whenever she feels like it.  She wrinkles up her nose and sniffs loudly to make us laugh.  She loves to try to walk on our bed and dislikes trying to walk on the regular floor.  She dances to music or even to the sound of silverware clanking against a plate (her sisters are happy to oblige).

She says “Dada,” “Mama,” “lamat” (for salamat= thank you in Tagalog), “De-dah” for Aunt Bee,  and her oldest sister’s name.  Her first word was, “Ready?”  She rarely cries or complains; only when she is really hurting or something is wrong.  She lays her head down on us and says, “Ahhhhhh” when she gives hugs.  She is kissable, huggable, squeezable and generally very, very lovable.  We are so thankful for this little blessing!

Not Real


Every once in awhile I am freshly reminded that we are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Here’s a little story that made me realize again how different cultures see things differently.

We interact with our neighbors daily as we come and go from our house. It all seems fairly normal with a lot of smiling at each other and saying hi and sometimes we try out our Tagalog with them.

Our helper, Rona, loves the baby and likes to take her out in front of our house sometimes in the evenings. But recently Rona told me that the neighbors had been asking her questions about the baby.

Apparently there had been some discussion on the matter and finally the neighbors asked Rona in all seriousness if our baby ever cries. After all she looks just like a doll, they said.

The Secret

Last Sunday the baby and I stayed home and the rest of the clan went to church. They ran into a friend there who was delighted to hear all about their new sister.

The girls talked and talked, but Winnie had one concern that she whispered into her Aunt Bee’s ear: “We won’t tell him about her belly button thing, will we?!?!”

One, two, three… no, four times blessed!

One thing we’ve made very clear to our daughters is that each of them is a precious gift from God, a blessing directly from Him. The older two are especially fond of reminding me, “Mommy! You’ve been blessed THREE times!!!”

Well, we are thrilled to announce that now we’ve been blessed FOUR times!

Miss Muffet Easton entered the world on Friday, March 25, 2011 at 5:16pm.

We’ve had so much fun gazing at this fresh face created so beautifully by God. We are so very thankful for her health and strength after a rather tumultuous pregnancy. She is delightful and sweet.

Shoeless in Manila

This morning I headed out for language helping. I was meeting my teacher at a nearby Jollibee (sort of like a Pilipino McDonald’s) for breakfast and then I had planned to go with her to the palengke (market).

I hopped on a jeepney (that, by the way, didn’t slow down enough for me to get on without lurching, grr) and got off near the Jollibee. I don’t think that particular street corner sees many foreigners because I found myself the center of attention. This is fairly normal and not at all shocking or embarrassing unless… you are like me and somehow manage to trip in front of the crowd on the uneven sidewalk, breaking your flip flop right off your foot. At eight months pregnant. In a bright red shirt. Yes, I think I would stare too.
I aligned the broken sandal with the sole of my foot and shuffled over to the side of a building. Leaning there casually I tried to act like this happens to me everyday. What to do?! Stores here don’t open until 10am and this was before 8am. I texted my language helper/knightess in shining armor and asked her to come across the street and meet me. She came, but now there were two of us who didn’t know what to do. Finally I mentally calculated the risk of infection (“do I have open sores on my foot? No.”) and took the broken shoe off to cross the streets to go to the restaurant. It is amazing how much more aware I was of the little piles of spit, loogies and various trickling streams of liquid of unknown and sketchy origin when barefoot.

We made it to the restaurant and I put my cheeriest smile on to distract the guard at the door from my bare foot. I was afraid he wouldn’t allow me inside without shoes!

Beth (my language helper) rescued me by ordering breakfast and making a quick run down to the palengke to buy me a new pair of flip flops. 🙂 I had her record the whole story in Tagalog for my continued listening pleasure over the next year or so.

After I was happily shod we both went back to the palengke where I bought a little baby bed and grass banig mat for about $4. We have a playpen but I was wanting something smaller I could move around from room to room when the baby is tiny and napping. I’m so happy about this little “duyan,” or baby hammock. It will do the trick and makes me feel like this baby is definitely entering a different culture than Canada. And that is great, because it reminds me of the mix of culture that now defines our lives.

(Disclaimer: I’m sure this wouldn’t pass safety standards in Canada or the U.S. I shall take necessary precautions, don’t fear. However, most baby things sold in Canada and the U.S. eventually don’t pass safety standards either, right? I’m pretty sure I won’t find this basket on a recall list.)

A Pleasant Surprise

This morning I set out on a mission to pay a bill. This was my first time paying and I wasn’t sure how to do it. I went first to a nearby supermarket to a payment center but they couldn’t accept payment for this particular bill there. So I asked where I should go and they mentioned a payment center in a mall not too far from here. But with public transportation it would have taken me about two hours to pay at that location. The guy in front of me in line was still standing there and offered another solution- there was an office nearby that he thought could take the payment.

I walked over to the office with my umbrella up. No, it wasn’t raining- using an umbrella as a sunshade is a common way to combat sunburn and heat exhaustion here. Things have been fairly warm this past week as we get closer to hot season.

When I arrived at the office I found the line for the teller. There were at least 35 people ahead of me and I have heard lots and lots of stories here about people waiting for hours to pay bills. I resigned myself to my punishment because I knew I had left this bill payment to the last minute.

A guard came over and asked me if I was waiting for the cashier. I said yes, and then he asked to see my bill. I was flustered but did what he asked. I thought he was going to tell me I was in the wrong place. He surprised me by taking the bill from my hand and escorted me past all the people to the front of the line. As they gawked at us he explained, “Kasi buntis siya,” which means, “Because she is pregnant.”

I was embarrassed as I paid my bill but so very grateful not to have to stand there and wait for an hour or two.