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Charlie is a ball of energy – full of life and adventure. He can most-often be foundphoto-3 behind the couch, digging in my flower beds, climbing on the table, exploring one of the fields that surround our house, or splashing in the toilet. When he takes a tumble and hits his head, his most common response is to look at me with a grin and say “dee?” (which is “Charlie language” for “again?”) If I smile back or nod my head, he will do his best reenactment of the incident.

When he hears an airplane fly overhead, play stops for a moment – – he stands up, lifts his face to the sky, finds the airplane with his finger and shouts “see? see?” (He thinks that’s what they’re called… because apparently I point and say “see it?” instead of “airplane”. Someday we’ll iron that one out)

IMG_6127A man after his father’s heart, his favorite toy to take in his diaper bag to church is his “pa” (that’s how he says “hammer”.)  He smuggles rocks into his bed, bread crusts into his dad’s work boots, and his blankie into as many places as possible without being caught.  It is rare that his knees are not skinned or his face has not been bitten by bugs. He has a farmers tan to rival most and his hair has bleached out to almost blonde.

He is a country boy through and through.

He loves to be outdoors – exploring, splashing, digging, discovering. As soon as he sees his dad driving home from work, he stops all play and runs hilter-skilter to Gary’s van, arms outstretched. The door swings open, Charlie struggles to climb in the driver-side door and Gary lifts him into his lap. The door closes, and Charlie’s left hand shoots out the window to wave “goodbye” to me. It’s his responsibility to drive the van back to the garage – a task he does not take lightly.

Charles stops playing for few things:photo-4

  1. Grapes
  2. Lawn Mowers
  3. Puddles
  4. Reading stories

It’s the stories that surprise me. He will plop a pile of 10 books on the couch, scramble up from the floor, snuggle up to my side, and nestle his head under my arm. He sits patiently as we read (mostly recite) the entire stack – leaning in for kisses or hugs when the books call for them, and stopping to point out all of the dogs “da”, cats “keeee”, cows “moo”, birds “bu”, deer “deee”, and tractors “mow! mow!”

When the stories are done, I ask him for a hug. He spreads his arms out wide and buries his face in my neck.

For one second, the world is still.





“Charlie, what’s your sister’s name?”

“Ellll-See!” he replies proudly, patting my ever-growing belly.

My 18-month-old son, who is too busy climbing and adventuring to learn many other words, knows one name quite well. Hearing him say it makes my face hurt from grinning and my heart fit to burst.

He may not realize how much his world is about to change.  He may not be aware how often she will take my attention from him, or how little and fragile she will be at the beginning. I’m sure he doesn’t realize how quickly she’s going to capture his heart and become his best friend… But he knows her name, and he loves her already.

photo 4_2

That’s right – in case you haven’t heard, Stauffer Baby #2 is on her way! By the end of this month, we should be holding our precious little girl and protecting her from her affectionate big brother.



Wow. So different from The Philippines. I’m glad we did Manila first-it eased me into this whole “Asia” thing.

Even though I’d never been to the Philippines, my time in Mexico (along with the fact that everyone speaks English) made it feel somehow familiar.

Not so in Thailand. Very little English, and a very different culture. Spirit Houses, temples, and Monks serve as constant reminders of the spiritual darkness in this country.


We started our Thai adventure by spending a couple days with Bob, Stacy and their kids. It was great to experience their Thailand lives firsthand. Visited their grocery store, went to their church, and saw the school they serve (and practically live) at.

Next, two days of food! Thai cooking school (a MUST if you are in Chiang Mai) and a “Foodie Tour” (great cultural and Buddhist background information. Also fantastic street food).

Wednesday we spent the entire day riding, feeding, admiring, and (YES) swimming with real Thai elephants. Best parts: getting picked up and shaken by the elephants trunk, getting a sloppy elephant kiss, and getting up close and personal with a baby elephant (who also, coincidentally, stepped on Gary’s foot – destroying Gary’s sandal (instead of his foot!) in the process)




As if we hadn’t had a full enough week already, we boarded a bus Thursday and went North to Chiang Rai. We saw some temples (spectacular, but heartbreaking), played in a waterfall (fa-reeeeezing!!), went into the mountains to see some hill tribes, and visited an amazing tea plantation in the mountains.


For those of you who have ever made the trek from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai… yes. We did stop at the “pie place”… And, yes. It was the best (albeit, it is the only) pie I’ve eaten in Thailand.

Last night, back in Chiang Mai, we braved the night market and ate way too much. We managed to find everything on our “Thailand shopping list” and are now resting up for the next few days of travel.


Tomorrow we start our journey back- first, back to Manila… And Friday we hit the skies again to return to the US of A.
This has been a fantastic trip, and I will miss having daily “cultural adventures”, fresh fruit, amazing food, and the warm weather. However, I am feeling ready to be home- for predictable schedule, my own bed, family nearby and a big bowl of cereal for breakfast :)

4 more days.

See you all soon!

If you ever plan to visit the Philippines, there is something you should know now: getting your electronic devises fixed, while costing much less than the states, involves, on average, two (or more) trips per transaction for the desired outcome.
And that is why I have not blogged for so long. (It’s not that great of a story… but everything is back up & functioning)

Here is a short version of our adventures:

Banaue Rice Terraces:
9 hour overnight bus ride, arrived at 7 a.m. At 8:30 (yes, 90 minutes later) we ventured out on a “short visit to see the terraces up close”. Apparently that means different things in different places. Our “short visit” took up the whole morning & early afternoon. We all got sunburned and Charlie was in the same diaper for the whole thing (sorry bud!) BUT… We did get an amazing experience walking along the rice terraces.
(And Gary got worms… Hehehe)



Traditionally know as the “Summer Capitol of the Philippines”, we found things (like streets) very inadequately labeled, and hot in the sun, but cool in the shade. We arrived, after the most stressful 6 hour bus ride of my life, at 11 p.m. Since we were not provided the address or phone number for our reserved accommodations, nor did the taxi drivers have any idea where it was, nor did our phones/various devices have battery or wifi coverage, Gary made the call to purchase a hotel for the night instead of sticking it out at Jollibee’s 24 hour restaurant until morning. (A call mama chase would applaud. Nice one, Stauffer!)
Most of the city was underwhelming… Except for the market. Paula was too overwhelmed by the sights and smells to make any decisions to buy anything… Besides some delicious local fruit. Sorry folks, but no gifts from Baguio. (No barrel men… No anatomically graphic ash trays)

A mega church (auditorium holds 8,000) in Manila was where we spent our Sunday morning. I have many thoughts about the worship experience, but they can wait. The preaching was fabulous.

We took a bus ride, a boat ride, and than a horse ride to get to this famous location. From where we were, we could see an island inside a lake inside a volcano inside a lake inside an island inside the ocean. Perfectly blue water, which was hot and boiling in places, surrounded by gorgeous scenery which boasted steam vents (reminding us that it is still an active volcano) Totally worth the extra money to go into the crater lake and get to touch the sulfur water (instead of just going to an overlook). Once in a lifetime experience.




Puerto Gallera:
The beach. Pristine white sand, the sound of the ocean lulling us to sleep… I’m sorry, did you say you just got a foot of snow? I’ll stop. It was here that I met my first monkey (who went through my pockets, shirt, purse, and down the waistband of my pants). Hilarious, and semi violating.



We only spent one full day there (boo!) and have now returned to the city to run laundry, sleep, and pack for our departure tomorrow for THAILAND!!!

Thank for praying with and for us.

Love and kisses!

-The Stauffers


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