28 June 2003 – Having a reliable car here is extremely important. Trouble on a highway in the States is dangerous and annoying. Here it can be disastrous so we’re trying to avoid such a catastrophe, especially now that I am driving the kids to Seafront and other spots around Manila. The last thing I need with 4 kids in the car (or even without) is to have the car stall in the middle of EDSA, or not start up again after going to the store.
Hey, back up, did you hear that?? I’m driving! Yes, it seems like I took a 12-step program to do so, but here I am, weaving my way around buses and jeepneys and people who all seem to be trying to get themselves hit. Thank goodness on EDSA you can’t gather any speed, unlike Roxas where folks tend to stick a bit more to their lanes but when they make a sudden move, they’re doing it at 40mph instead of 15mph. It’s much more nerve-wracking going to the Embassy than anywhere around Makati. Jonathon and I did have lunch with Ian on Thursday but it’s just not as easy a drive for me.
One of my early expeditions out into the hairy Manila streets was to search for the nearby flight school which is (duh) right next to the airport. It was an uneventful drive and a good learning experience. But perhaps you’re wondering why we were looking for the flight school. Every place we’ve lived, Ian has searched for the closest strip with an instructor. It has all been a dream of his. Until now. He’s found the instructors, he knows where the school is, he knows the cost, the time involved and I don’t think there’s anything I can say to dissuade him as he’s already discussing how easy it would get to Banaue (11-15 hour drive) or other such spots. By the time we leave here, there’s a real probability that he will have a small craft license. Oh yeah, it was Father’s Day.
Anyhow, after having the starter solenoid cleaned, the car is still having issues, so it looks like we’ll need to replace the solenoid. Of course, they don’t have one in this country, so we looked on-line and the parts available are refurbished and are complete starters. It bugs me to purchase a used car part, but we’ll do what must be done and hopefully the car won’t give out entirely between now and the time we get it replaced. It does start, but often after multiple attempts. We’ve already replaced the battery so we know it’s not that, and the mechanics said the rest of the engine looked fine… of course they did mention it’s a new car, being a ’97 and all. Ian was nice enough to take the day off from work to deal with the garage and since we then had no transportation, we hired a car and driver for the day so we could take the kids to camp and wait to hear the verdict on the starter. After dropping off the kids, Jonathon fell asleep so we dropped him off at home where the housekeeper had already arrived and actually went out, just the two of us, for a little shopping and a lunch at The Seafood Club. I finally tried a buko drink (pass on it if you don’t like cloudy water with a hint of something you just can’t put your finger on) and we had the buffet (next time we’ll order from the menu since everything but the fried bananas with chocolate sauce should be given 2 out of 5 stars) since time was short before the kids needed to get picked up. It was so nice to be able to go out alone to peruse the bookstore and CD store, even just for a couple hours. When we returned home, Jonathon had awoken and was helping the housekeeper fold towels. I guess he did just fine.
Onto the kids. Katherine has lost 3 top teeth now. All in a row and only the middle one shows signs of coming in soon. She is going to look really strange in a few weeks. She’s been doing really well with reading longer and longer books and I purchased a new stack of short chapter books for her to work through over the coming weeks. Part of her allowance each week requires her to either write (a letter or e-mail) or read (quietly, on her own) each day. Most of the books are classics so I’ve told her that if she really enjoys one of the stories, these are abbreviated versions and we can get longer ones. She has worked a lot on her cursive writing and has done an excellent job.
Jonathon has reached a plateau with his pottying. At home he runs naked and does great, with a diaper on he’s hit or miss with a lot of miss. Though I’m very happy with how many fewer dirty diapers I have to change now. He’s fairly reliable in letting someone know he has to go. His speech is coming along with 4 or 5 words strung together. They don’t really make a sentence, but when he wants something in particular we’ll hear “open, key, door.”
Rebecca has not been feeling well, with bouts of headaches, fever and last night an ear ache. Back home in Virginia, she’d had a bad night of ear ache as well and while this one wasn’t as bad, it’s odd to have it come back again. She can do the monkey bars all alone now, which is a great achievement for my “physical activity phobe.” Next is to take the training wheels off her bike though she is resisting. She resists everything, but is getting much better about trying new foods. Especially if it’s something she thinks Katherine might hate.
Nicholas’s speech has been getting better with our current focus on replacing the “me yes” at the beginning of phrases with an “I”. “Me yes do dat!” “Me yes put my ‘oe on!” He's not eating much these days but I guess it's just a phase. He's enjoying summer camp with the big kids, even though he's decided he'd rather just sit on the side of the pool for swimtime. The first time he said it was because I'd forgotten to pack his goggles. So the next time I remembered but he still wouldn't go in. Oh well.
We’ve decided to get Katherine a new bike (one where her knees do not bump the handlebars, and move Nicholas up to her old bike (with training wheels of course). Nicholas is always borrowing Rebecca’s bike which drives Becca a little nutty, so this will fix part of the problem. Then of course, Jonathon will get the trike and we’ll have to get Rebecca off trainers. Of course, now that we’ve made the decision, we can’t seem to find a decent bike to get for her in Makati. All that we’ve found are straight handlebar, hand brake, multi-gear contraptions. Not ideal for a 7 year old. I’m sure she’d do fine with one, but they are more a serious traveling machine than something to tool around on at the playground. Instead we headed out to Coolocan City where we saw a listing for a BMX bike shop. Well, I wanted to get some driving in and after 2 ½ hours of packed streets, jeepney jams and too many buses, we’re home with a new bike for Katherine. And the driving was only half of it. The address in the phone book is 23B Rizal Extension. We found Rizal Extension after making a wrong couple of turns and once there, the numbers on one side started in the 3000s and the other was in the 100s. Hmm. So we drove along and noticed at least on our side that the numbers got progressively smaller and stayed even. OK, we knew we had to get onto the other side of the road at least, but couldn’t until the very end of the street where there was a circle, even though there are a multitude of openings in the median. All labeled with No U-Turn signs. Made it to the other side, and noticed that the number system made less sense on this side of the street. We figured we’d give up the search, scan the building signs for possibilities, but just head home. And there it was, 23B, followed by 3330. Whatever. A little hole in the wall business packed with bikes of all sizes and a style that would finally work for our kid. Two and half hours later and P1300 poorer, she has new wheels.