Filipino Philanthropy

Sometimes a trip throws you curve balls. Before we even purchased tickets to the Philippines, the vacation was unexpectedly twisting and spinning into something other than what we expected. The truth is, we kind of ended up there by accident, but thankfully the Philippines in February is a good accident to land.


For Christmas, Chris purchased non-refundable tickets from Nanjing to Hong Kong, planning to buy a cheap connecting flight from Hong Kong to Thailand. However, the Thailand tickets were $800 a pop by the time we tried to make the purchase, so we pulled out our computers and found the cheapest connecting flight to anywhere in Asia and it happened to be the Philippines.

Thankfully, I have very easygoing and supportive parents who were ok meeting us wherever in Asia we ended up. They decided to make the trek across the Pacific for the first time in their lives to spend a week in the Philippines and a week in China.

Our final destination, Coron, was on the little island Busuanga. You can look that one up for yourself–interesting geography lesson.

Sadly, Mom and Dad’s flight got delayed by 3 days, so while they were stranded in Manilla, Chris and I took to exploring the island until they met us there.



Coron is a unique little town that has yet to be discovered by too many tourists, which means it’s maintained much of its Filipino flair. It’s ideally located near hundreds of tiny islands accessible by local boats–island hopping!

Island hopping was our main activity since the country has 7,000 islands, beautiful weather, and remarkable sea life.


Everything in the Philippines was so colorful. The coral, (whether it resembled a fuzzy brain, upside down mushroom cap, or spiny fingers) always looked electric and in motion as the light and water reflected on it. The fish were iridescent and zippy, and the ocean was vibrant turquoise and emerald. Out of the water, the people and the town were as bright and fun as their surroundings.





When we weren’t face-down in the water exploring the sea life, we were discovering the town and falling in love with the locals. Filipinos are literally the nicest, most easy going people on earth. Most of them were remarkably poor, but so much happier than the majority of Americans I know (Americans who live in houses with plumbing and electricity, and not in a shacks that are raised on stilts where human waste drops into a sludgy mud below).

IMG_3311 - Version 2

IMG_3317_2 2Anyhow, I guess the moral of the story is:

1. Happy accidents happen. When they do, roll with it.

2. The Philippines are beautiful. You should go.

3. Gratitude is finding happiness and appreciation in what you have whether it’s great or small


The Big Reveal

Dear Bliggity Blog,

I’m sorry I have been neglecting you, but since I last posted I have been busy MAKING A BABY, and because I don’t multi-task well, you have taken the back burner.

Now, to fill you in on the details for posterity’s sake…

This probably isn’t common Internet knowledge, but for years Chris has been really eager to have kids. If you don’t know my husband well, he is very persistent. And that’s a bit of an understatement. His tactic is to ask, and ask again, then beg, and eventually grovel (trust me, we’re currently going through this–he wants a dog). While these techniques once worked on me (hence our first date), I have since become immune to his schemes.

Anyhow, Chris really wanted a baby, but I was hesitant to get a bun baking in this oven. China was a great excuse—I didn’t want my firstborn to be born there. Who am I to deny my child the opportunity to be president? And of a greater concern, labor… in a Chinese hospital? Not happening.  Ultimately, I didn’t quite feel ready for a baby, so we waited.

Well, needles to say, as we got closer to leaving China—I got pregnant! And here is where Sneaky Tricky Tori comes into the picture. I knew I was pregnant but didn’t tell Chris for almost a month.

This made things quite interesting considering that I had to scour Nanjing to find a pregnancy test, then try and decipher the thing on my own. I used Google Translate to look up “positive/negative, baby/no baby, pregnant/not pregnant” and every other baby-related combination I could think of, but none of them matched the characters on my stick. After about 30 minutes of wondering in frustration why it didn’t just have a stupid plus and minus sign, I finally found a character that matched. The results were in and I was having a baby!

Although I was super excited about this news, I just needed a little time to keep it to myself. Besides, I thought it would be fun to hold out until Valentine’s Day and blow Chris away with the best gift ever. Chris was a bit suspicious that something was up, but a few tampon wrappers in the garbage later (my sneaky trickery), he was back to being bummed about our baby-less state.

We spent February 717th in the Philippines with my parents, and on the day I was planning to tell Chris about our little bean, he was obscenely ill from eating raw fish (as typically happens when you eat uncooked dead things in a 3rd world country).  Since I didn’t want to announce the good news by sliding a pregnancy test to him under the bathroom door, I pocketed my little secret for later.

The day after we got back into China, Britton and Heather told us that they just found out they were pregnant! They stayed late at our apartment that night while Heather and I talked about their baby and Chris kept trying to get everyone out the door so he could get started on making his own. Before they left, I gave Chris my belated Valentine’s Day gift.

Watching Chris unwrap that stupidly confusing stick was one of the sweetest moments of our marriage. Through his tears he kept saying, “I’ve never been so happy in my entire life.”


After the excitement, hugs, love, and tears settled down, I swore Chris to secrecy. I wanted shock and awe when we got home. I had a vision of me strutting off the airplane 5 months pregnant, sporting my new baby bump while everyone’s mouths hung open. However, Chris spilled the beans about our little bean to both of our parents within the first 24 hours.  To his credit, he did pretty well after that.


Chris got creative with telling my parents in Tongli, China. (He carved a big heart with our names and a little heart with “baby” on the side of a building). We apparently have no respect for people’s personal property. We’re off to a good start at this whole “teach through example” parenting thing.


Heather and I went to our first doctor visits together in China. The ultrasound photo is hilariously tiny (maybe it’s to scale)?


Our big reveal once back in America. We still managed some of the shock-and-awe factor.

Since then, our little bean has grown into a healthy 36 week-old baby girl (she’s still baking in the oven).

Chris and I have been so blessed to enjoy the excitement of pregnancy and the anticipation of our little baby. We like to feel her wiggle around and watch while she makes my stomach move as she re-adjusts.We like to speculate about how she enjoys piano music (she does a little jig when she hears it). We love looking at her scary alien ultrasound photos and guessing what she looks like. And I love watching Chris’ excitement through this process and know that he’s going to be the best dad in the world.

I couldn’t be luckier.