CLICK HERE FOR THOUSANDS OF FREE BLOGGER TEMPLATES »

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everybody! How did you spend your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?

Like most married couples with kids, we tried to show up at the holiday dinners of both families. My side of the family usually prioritizes the New Year's Eve celebration while my husband's side prioritizes Christmas Eve and Noche Buena. That being the case, early in our marriage we agreed that we go to my mother-in-law's house for Christmas Eve and my grandmother's house for New Year's Eve. It's a happy compromise for us, and our kids get to spend the holidays with both sides of the family.

For the past few days, we've been very busy with preparing gifts for the various people in our lives. I'm the sort to give out "practical gifts" meaning, I'd like people to actually USE the gift. For example, I gave my mother a face cream that she actually uses. That's why I'm a bit partial to toiletries. Unusual things like neos overshoes are reserved for people who actually put them on their wishlist, because these are not exactly cheap and would just be wasted if I gave them to somebody who does not use them at all.  Anyway, it's a lot of fun matching items to recipients.  What's not fun is paying for them!  Hahaha!

As always, the holidays are a lot of fun...but it's kinda tiring too.  I do wish to impart to my kids that this is the season of Christ's birth, a season of hope, of giving and of family.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My mom is more techie than me

My mom is more "techie" than me! She's also a recent convert to Apple. Her laptop is a Mac, she's using an iPhone and she now has an iPad, courtesy of my uncle!  She used to like buying digital cams (the point and shoot type only, her choice is Sony) but not lately.

Me?  I'm just a techie wannabe.  I'm still using my 4 year old Acer laptop. My Nokia N90 is already 5 years old, and my other phone is even older (I guess a snatcher wouldn't even notice it). I do not even have an ipod touch.  I'd love to have those other gadgets but the kuripot in me always whispers that I still have something that serves my purposes.  I mean, my laptop still works fine (okay, it's hard drive gave way a few months ago taking away some precious files and data recovery attempts are underway) and gets me through web surfing, data and word processing and those other things that I need to do.  I do not need a more hi tech (and more expensive) gadget for those things I do.  (Well, I'm still trying to convince myself. :) )

Maybe some kind soul would donate a gadget for this Tsinay?  Now that's what I call wishful thinking!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Black Friday Sale still on in the US!

I am very, very tempted with Black Friday deals!  There are so many deep discounts still available.  I'd love to give some of them as gifts (some of them to myself, hehehe).  My only problem is shipping to the Philippines.  While there are shipping companies, I'm sure they are expensive and might just cancel out any discount I get.  The best way would be to ship it to a friend or relative...but I do not know who to send it to and when they will be home.  Balikbayan boxes are also an option, but I don't think a box will arrive in time for Christmas, or if it does, it will probably get held up in customs since there are so many shipments arriving now.  Oh well.  Maybe I can still choose some deals and have them shipped after Christmas.  But that means that I'll only be getting personal purchases and not so much for gifts.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Still breastfeeding

I've been breastfeeding my little girl for 1 year and almost 6 months by now. I'm not using my breast pump anymore because my little girl wants her milk to be straight from mommy. She doesn't like the refrigerated or frozen variety so I stopped with the pumping. Anyway, she already takes in solids and some milk too, so her hunger is not much of an issue. That's good for me, because I don't have to be paranoid about my breastmilk supply. Earlier this year, I was panicking when one of the typhoons caused a long electrical outage which made me wish that we had honda generator. That also happened with my son (breastfed for almost 2 years) when we went through Typhoon Milenyo years ago. Three days of electrical outage = discarded breastmilk.  It's more than enough to make a breastfeeding momma cry.

I've been blessed that I was able to breastfeed both my babies.  It really still is the best food for babies.  While milk formulas are getting better, it really is no comparison to what nature has provided.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Condo still not ready

The teeny tiny condo unit we bought is still not ok for occupancy and I'm getting a little bit frustrated. The workers made a mistake in installing the A/C unit. They're supposed to transfer it but they haven't. The tiles in the kitchenette area are broken and I do not know why since it was ok when we visited earlier. Our bathroom and kitchen fixtures are not installed yet. The door hardware seemed to be improperly placed and could be opened even without a key. My husband adjusted it so that it closed much better, but we want to change the knobs and maybe the door itself when the works in the room are already done. We've already put in a sofa set, but we're still hesitant about putting other stuff since workers still have to go in the unit -- we're afraid of losing things, besides they will only get dirty or dusty.

I am hoping that everything will be ready by January so that we can put the unit up for rent!  Sigh....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fireworks!

It's the Christmas season and for spouses, there's usually an agreement on where to spend what.

In our case, we usually spend Christmas Eve with my in-laws and New Year's Eve with my folks. Usually it's the evenings that we look forward to. The actual days are usually holidays for recovering from the merrymaking and for lazing around.

Our family no longer lights firecrackers for New Year's. We find it a waste of good money. And since hubby and I are doctors and we have seen the different injuries that might occur with firecrackers, well, we'd rather not risk it anymore. Anyway, there are good fireworks shows around. There's even one that's visible from our bedroom window. We just close the windows, turn on the A/C, lift the blinds and turn off the lights to enjoy a fireworks show, no need for binoculars at all! Free and safe, and without having to inhale all that smoke and soot.  I'm sure we'll get treated to the same thing this year.  It will be a great treat for my little girl, who is already at the age when she could appreciate such things, and my son, who loves such light shows.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tutoring E

Hubby and I realized that tutoring a 5 year old for his first ever long EXAMS is TIRING! It feels even more tiring than working. I suspect it is probably more slimming than the most effective diet pills! Whew! I couldn't believe the stuff that kindergarten kids are supposed to know nowadays. Sure, I had Chinese when I was in kinder and my son doesn't, but I didn't have Religion or Computer classes (what computer?  I learned about computers in High School!)

We're hoping our efforts will pay off.  So far our little boy is passing his subjects.  Not at the top of his class, but not pasang awa either.   We're hoping he is LEARNING and retaining everything that he has learned.

Only 1 more subject to go, and we take a break from tutoring duties!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pregnancy woes

Pregnancy wreaks havoc on one's hormones. I know some women who haven't had skin problems when they were in their teens but when they became pregnant...boom! The breakouts would appear! And since they were pregnant, they couldn't use adult acne treatments yet especially those containing tretinoin or other potentially teratogenic products. 

I am so glad that I didn't have acne problems when I was pregnant.  I used to have really bad acne when I was still in medical school and most especially when I was in 4th year (clerkship) due to hormonal imbalance.  I know so because they were finally controlled by birth control pills.  Sigh.  I wish it was controlled before deep seated scars were left on my skin.  I am painfully embarrassed about my much-less-than-perfect skin.  That's why I'm so happy that pregnancy did not give me pimples at all!  Yey!  Stretch marks, nausea, vomiting, constipation --- yes, but no acne!

The saving grace for most pregnancy symptoms and conditions are that they are self-limiting.  Once the hormones settle down, you normalize.  And, of course, the anticipation of having a baby definitely makes all these temporary "setbacks" and discomforts so worth it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mama!

It's my mother's birthday today. I am so amazed. The biggest female influence in my life, the woman who give birth to me, raised me, nagged me to be a better person is now celebrating her ____th birthday. She remains as lovely as ever.

I still do not know what to give her for her birthday. She has better taste than me and I really do not have a big budget. I mean, I would buy gold for her if I could afford it, but I would have to save up for months in order to be able to set aside enough money, what with so many different expenses that we cannot give up right now, like my son's tuition expenses! (I'd still shop for the gold, since it's a great investment option either for me and also for her, and with online merchants like the US Gold Bureau, it's so much easier to buy...but I won't be able to buy it right now -- maybe in a few months' time.)

But I know that whatever I give her, she will (hopefully) still be happy that we thought about her.

I know we've had a lot of differences in opinion and some quarrels. But there is no other person in the world that loves me the way she loves me, even if she's not showy about it. And while I may seem like a pasaway daughter some of the time, deep in my heart, she is always the mom that I admire and love with all my heart.

Happy birthday, Mama!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Eat all you can vegetarian feast at IBPS

Earlier, we had lunch at the Mabuhay IBPS Buddhist Temple in P. Ocampo St., Manila. The event: an eat-all-you-can vegetarian feast. All for only 300 pesos! The tickets were sold old days before, and my mom, who was one of the volunteers, had some difficulty is getting some for us.

So, was the price of the ticket worth it? Yes! There were about 60 different dishes served. It was a pity that I did not get to take pictures. The venue was spacious despite the number of people and the aircons were strong enough to ensure that the patrons were comfortable. Of course, my mom did say that the devotees and volunteers actually subsidized the cost of the food as some of the ingredients were quite expensive. Anyway, for IBPS, it was a way for them to introduce vegetarian dishes to the general public. Most people do not know that vegetarian dishes can be actually good tasting, even without any meat or seafood products and without some spices like garlic and onion which Buddhist devotees go without. Some even think that such a meal may serve as a colon cleansing detox. And of course, it shows the Buddhist principle of showing compassion to animals by refusing to kill them and eat them.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Aku!

It's my brother's birthday today and I still haven't gotten anything for my kid's sometimes-surrogate-dad (when we're out, that is)! Well, we did buy some drinks for his birthday dinner but that's it. I don't know what I can buy him that he either needs or wants which falls within my budget. Sigh.

Since he's into steaks, I'm thinking of buying online coupons from buyanihan for 2 orders of steak at Slice and Dice as a birthday present. He'd probably enjoy it, and it's pretty cheap for me.  Too bad the coupons are redeemable only at their Cubao branch. I wish they could also be used at the Granada branch, since this is nearer to us. I think he'd appreciate it, nonetheless.

If you happen to be interested in the Buy 1 Take 1 deal of Slice and Dice, click here and you may be able to buy 2 steaks for only 99 pesos!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lotto pot for charity?

There's this congressman who's proposing capping lotto winnings and contributing the excess to charity. He's saying that lotto with large pots like the current 6/55 pot of almost 700million pesos contributes to a culture of gambling, making people lazy and relying on the elusive luck to pull them out of poverty and even gambling away their food money.

While it may be true that some people do that, it applies to any pot, be it big and small (relatively). There will always be people who gamble, whether legally or illegally. But you don't really see people actually giving up their jobs or their investments on the off chance that they will be "saved" by winning in the lotto. People continue to invest in the usual things, like real estate, stocks, bonds, some buy gold bullions, and others invest in a business of some sort. These do not change just because he/she was tempted to put in a bet at the lotto. People still have sense, ya know.

Truth be told, I'm wary of "having the money contributed to charity". As far as I know, the lotto already has a portion set aside for charity. And, sorry, but I do not have faith in politicians when it comes to money. It is difficult to make a check and balance for "charity", especially when there are people in power who are behind it.

If I do become lucky enough to win, I will give to charity...anonymously. I won't upgrade my lifestyle too much. Maybe just buy a modest house. But I'll still continue to do the work that I am doing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ipad still out of touch

I've been salivating over the IPad for a while, but the price tag is making me hold back. I even stayed for the fellowship night in our convention (I usually do not do so) because of the slight chance that I might be the lucky winner of the year's most coveted gadget. No dice. Somebody else was lucky enough to win. Sigh.

If a relative or friend would be coming home from the States, I might consider doing shopping online on Cyber Monday and having them handcarry the ipad. But I do not know of any. Sigh again.

Maybe I'll just go out and buy one of the lookalikes/imitations. Most of them are made in China that's why their price tag is so much lower. I've heard some of them are pretty good. But it's a touch and go thing. You may get a good deal, or you may end up with a lemon of a gadget. But at 1/4 of the price of the real ipad. Hmmmm....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mommy tummy

I do not see a lot of *really* big and fat people in our family, although a few of us do need to lose some weight. Me included. I'm need to lose about 9 pounds BUT more than that I need to lose the stubborn tummy that looks still looks pregnant more than a year after my Cesarean section. Sigh. For me, the question is not "do diet pills work" in losing the weight but do they work in giving me a better shape. I still think it should be good old fashioned exercise. And maybe less carbs. Good luck to me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas is almost here!

Time flies! We're now on the second half of November. You can't help but notice Christmas peeking around the corner especially with all the Christmas decors and lights around (which reminds me -- we haven't put up our Christmas tree yet!)

I haven't gotten around to making up my Christmas gift list but I suppose I should -- VERY SOON! I might just give *some* youngsters ang pao especially if it's difficult to think of gifts. Key word being "might". I'm also thinking of Red Envelpe gifts for mom on christmas, not the literal ang pao (red envelope) but gift suggestions for women who seem to have everything. Maybe I'm missing something nice that she might enjoy.

Anybody care to give me suggestions? Gifts that won't break the bank please!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

SSS

Many older Chinese do not really know about social security benefits. My grandfather never collected his retirement benefits from SSS, even if he had contributed for several decades. I am not sure if my grandmother ever collected. I was told that she was entitled to get her benefits AND my grandfather's benefits as well...including interest. It would be substantial, since my grandmother is already 90, which means she has 25 (or 30 years, if you start counting from 60 years old) years of unclaimed retirement benefits. My grandfather passed away 9 years ago at 87, so that's 22 years of unclaimed retirement benefits, not to mention funeral claims and death claims, which my grandmother is entitled to. I don't know if my uncles have helped her with it. Maybe I should ask him.

Even my mom hasn't gotten around to claiming benefits for her own retirement AND my dad's death and funeral claims. I (or one of my brothers) should find time to accompany her to SSS so that she can process her papers. Sayang din yun. I hope it would not be difficult to file her claim. She also has to have her picture taken for her SSS ID since she doesn't have the credit card type ID yet. Hmmm, have to prioritize this.

As for me, I've used mine for my maternity benefits -- once for my H. mole, then when I gave birth to R. Sayang nga I wasn't able to claim when I gave birth to E, because I didn't know about SSS maternity benefits then and unfortunately my brother forgot to put in my contributions that's why I was no longer entitled by that time (grumble). Anyway it was a learning experience so I knew better the next time around.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cancer

The secretary in our office just informed me that her uncle, who was suffering from cancer for quite a while, passed away this morning.

This made me think of my dad, who passed away 10 years ago, at the age of 58, from lung cancer. While he was a nonsmoker, his friends do. We all believe that he was a victim of second hand smoking.

My grandfather was also a lung cancer victim but he survived for more than fifteen years before succumbing to another disease at age 87. He was a chain smoker, so it was not really unexpected. He only quit when his cancer was diagnosed and turned to hard candies for his oral cravings.

I don't really know if the electronic cigarette katherine heigl smoked on the Letterman show would have been a better alternative to the usual tobacco products. Some people say they do, but I need to see more proof.

Seeing how my dad suffered through his illness, I wouldn't wish anyone else to get this disease. It doesn't kill you immediately but makes you suffer little by little in which there is little hope for escape.

I know I have to watch out as genetics plays a big part, but I should also do my part in minimizing the chances of me or my family members getting it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A pension house in Hong Kong

The last time I went to Hong Kong was almost 6 years ago, during my honeymoon. It's funny, really, how we ended up honeymooning in Hong Kong when we had wanted to go to Bohol. We were able to book a flight but were not able to get a hotel. After our wedding, we still didn't have a place to honeymoon! It was a last minute decision. Since it was going to be my husband's first overseas trip, we had to get a passport for him ASAP. Good thing the rush processing at that time took only 3 days. But we experienced an unexpected delay while going to the Department of Foreign Affairs -- the car broke down. Sigh, more delays.

Anyway, when we got his passport and booked our tickets, we only had 3 days for the honeymoon! Not only was it last minute, it was also very short! We weren't able to book a hotel (for some reason, hotel bookings were different to come by during that time) but the travel agency handed me a business card of a pension house where we can stay in. I was able to call the owner/caretaker and had a room reserved for us. It was much cheaper than hotels, only HKD 250 per night, I believe. And located in Causeway Bay, which is a good location.

When we got off our plane, we rode the airport bus to the stop that the pension house owner/caretaker specified. We weren't sure how to get to the place so we called him up again. He got out and met us near the bus stop and led us to our home for the next 3 days.

It's actually a typical condominium building. Unlike here in the Philippines, there was no security guard or receptionist when you enter the building, just a caretaker who looks at everyone who enters then resumes looking at the monitor showing images of the different security cameras positioned all throughout the building. We rode the elevator and when we got off, we saw more security cameras along the hallway.

We were brought to one of the condo units. This was not a large unit, but it has 4 bedrooms. There is a small common area with a refrigerator, a telephone and a water dispenser. Of the 4 rooms, 3 are for rent, 1 is for the caretaker. We were given a room with a queen sized bed. It's not bad. All the amenities that I would be looking for are there: A/C, TV, a comfortable bed with clean sheets, bathroom with clean towels and basic toiletries, also hot and cold shower. It's smaller than the usual hotel room, but it serves its purpose of providing us a place to sleep. Anyway, we were out most of the time anyway. And it's near a grocery, food places, the MTR station and a bus stop. So convenient. Payment is in cash and in Hong Kong dollars. We paid just before we left for the airport.

It would have been ok for me to go there again if I go back to Hong Kong and if I could not find a hotel. Unfortunately, I gave the calling card to my brother and I think he already lost it sometime ago. It is not in most travel websites or mags because I think it's just a small time operation -- just 3 rooms for rent! But now I know that aside from hotels, there are other options for lodging in Hong Kong, especially if one is on a budget.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Saint's Day -- Tsinoy version

We followed the Pinoy tradition of visiting our dearly departed at the cemetery yesterday. While we had similar traditions with the usual Pinoys like the lighting of candles and offering of flowers, we also had offering of food. Following Chinese tradition, we also lighted incense and burned "paper money", which are specially made paper marked with gold paint and folded to look like ancient Chinese gold bars.

The traditional Chinese belief is that our dearly departed will come feast on the food. Food is quite plentiful, 6 different kinds of viands, 5 different kinds of fruits, and oftentimes some other extras. I don't know about other families, but we do not leave the foods in the cemetery -- we usually eat or give out the "leftovers".

The candles have to be lighted in pairs. That's why the number of candles are always even and there are plenty of them. Also, the colors of the candles represent how long the person has been dead. White candles mean that the person has been dead for less than a year, yellow candles if between 1-2 years, red candles for more than 2 years.

The "paper money" is believed to be used by the dearly departed in the afterlife. We burn some of these during anniversaries and feasts for the dead, but there are a lot more during November 1 since most relatives go to the cemetery at around this time and give some of these as part of their offerings.

We do not stay overnight like most Pinoys do.

I guess Pinoys would find some of our practices weird, but I find them meaningful, even symbolically. We all have different ways of showing our love and respect for the people who have gone before us. This is how our Tsinoy family does it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The years go by so fast

When I look at hubby's niece, I couldn't believe how much time has passed. I knew her when she was still in elementary and we were still in ophthalmology training. When we got married, she was still in her beginning teens, I believe? Not even needing acne medicine yet and preferring a sleeved design for her junior bridesmaid's gown.

Now, she's a pretty college student who looks very good in shorts and sleeveless blouses and wears them with a lot of confidence. Stilettos look great on her too! I can only look in envy. Sigh. Unless I find the time to work out, I am pretty much stuck with my mommy tummy. I'm also starting to get fine lines on my face too. Double sigh.

While I miss the years that I could get away with eating almost anything and not having to pay for it with extra poundage, I have to accept the fact that I am forty. I am a wife. I am a mother of two. I love my family. I am happy where I am now and I feel blessed to have them in my life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Should we go for another baby?

Stress can work either way, by being the best fat burner ever, or by making you even more prone to eat more.

My husband and I were very stressed during the period immediately following the births of our children, more than the usual parent who only had to deal with sleepless nights. Our babies had benign neonatal seizures, although we didn't know what it was during that time. It was very difficult for us to see our small baby having uncontrollable fits. Thankfully, they were benign and had no lasting effects. But my husband lost 30 pounds without meaning to during the first 3 months of our firstborn's life.

Now, are we willing to potentially go through that again? We're thinking of whether or not we should have a Baby number three before "the factory closes down", but should we? Can we afford to support another child?

We're still thinking about it. At least we now have two. Maybe we'll be "given" another child. Maybe not. We'll leave up to the Greater Power to decide if we should have another one.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A little bit of shopping

Yesterday was a clinic day but the patient load was much much lighter than the past few weeks. I'm guessing it's because of the long weekend and the fact that there are less sore eyes cases nowadays.

It's a good thing my clinic yesterday was in a mall. I was able to do some shopping in between patients, since there were lull moments. Just a few stuff that I had been planning to buy for a while but just haven't gotten around to. I bought jogging pants, T shirts and underwear for my little boy, and some soybeans to make our homemade soymilk. I contemplated whether I should buy wrinkle cream for myself, but I realized I still had some Olay total effects so I just bought pressed powder since I didn't like the current one that I am using.

Believe it or not, I'm not really very fond of shopping unlike most of my female (and male) friends. I do hate to spend! But I do enjoy some retail therapy once in a while. And while I had to go back to the clinic to see patients again, I did enjoy a break from the routine of work.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Busy nowadays

What kept me busy during the past few months? Basically it's still the usual things --work, being mommy, TRYING to maintain my sideline, studying for my Masters. It's just the same but busier. I now get the older doctors when they say that there's a point that you won't wish for too many patients because sometimes you just want to go home and rest. I'm not at that stage yet. :P

That's why I'm glad I have more patients nowadays. Because that means I'm probably an "effective" doctor and people do get well under me. And the additional earnings are good too, as our little family has more and more expenses, like tuition.

The bonus is that I don't need anything like apidexin to lose weight, since being very busy means I probably burn a lot of fat naturally. I just wish I could find a way to lose my post partum belly which makes me look perpetually pregnant. :P

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sore eyes

The past few months, I'm getting a lot of "sore eyes" patients in my clinic. I'm glad more and more people are seeing me for that instead of simply self medicating, which I find is a common thing thereabouts. Oh well. It's because there's a few viruses going around, and people do not exactly have the habit of washing their hands. They do have the habit of rubbing their eyes though. Now do you get the idea how we get the infection?

While a daily multivitamin might help with overall health and would probably lessen the effect of stress, the most effective way of not getting sore eyes is simply not touching your eyes at all unless you have washed your hands.

You do not get sore eyes from staring at somebody with sore eyes. Sore eyes is not airborne. If you got sore eyes, your hands probably had some viruses which it picked up from an object handled by somebody who had sore eyes and didn't wash their hands.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New "old" ideas

Some things our mothers did just made comebacks because they actually make more sense, especially on the issue of being eco-friendly.

For example, I do remember that my mom used to bring along bayongs (woven bags) to the market. Other moms use baskets instead. I do not think that they were thinking "green shopping", that's just the way things were done at the time. Eventually the bayongs and baskets gave way to disposable plastic bags. But now, with the emergence of environmental awareness, plastic bags are becoming less popular and "greener" consumers are now using reusable bags, not necessarily the old bayong but bags that may be used repeatedly a number of times. This is in an attempt to somehow lessen the carbon footprint.


Breastfeeding is another thing that came back into vogue, thankfully. My grandmother breastfed her kids. But my mother is from the seventies. The thinking that time is that formulas for infants are better and the modern way. While it didn't do harm for us in the long term, breastfeeding just makes more sense, especially nowadays when we have more knowledge about its benefits.

I guess what I'm saying is that we should always keep an open mind. What seems to be old ideas may actually be right. Not all, perhaps, but maybe there's some wisdom in them. So don't discount them. But, we should work with whatever facts we have on hand. Some old ideas may not be good too. We should always be discerning, not carried away by some idea just because someone said that. Consider everything -- studies, evidences -- and just do things the best way that we can.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Not a domestic goddess

I remember a few days ago when my mom and some of her visitors had a conversation about education. I was there and we talked about how education has changed through the years. There was a time when girls were required to take up things like sewing, embroidery. Although admittedly these are useful skills and we do need to know about them, I did remember that I was so much better and so much more interested in other things. Give me a computer rather than beading supplies anyday and I'd be much more productive.

I guess that would be due to our differences in personalities. I'm really not the type to stay at home and do the home economics things. But other women (or men) have personalities better suited to these.

I'm glad I'm born in an age when women can actually choose to work or to stay at home. I do not know if I can handle being forced to stay home. I mean, it's different if you have a choice and you just choose to do so, and different if you are not being given a choice at all and simply told that that's your lot and you cannot do anything about it.

But that doesn't mean that I am hopeless in that department. I do know how to cook, to do basic sewing (but I'm not good at it), etc. I can even knit and crochet and embroider, although it's been ages since I've done any of the last three and doubt I'll be doing anything with those skills for quite a while.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Choose a career, not a job

I always feel that we should really choose the college course that we really have the passion for. While looking for a practical (read: easily hired, high paying) course is something most students will be advised to do, the fact is that demands for the different occupations change throughout time.

A few years ago, IT Jobs were the in thing, and people who are in IT could be sure to get a good paying job. But with positions filled up, new graduates may find that finding a job is not as easy. Nurses were snapped up by foreign employers, and if you happen to be a nurse and a good one at that, there's a good chance that you would be hired by a foreign hospital with a great salary and benefits to boot. Now there's a decline in hiring, due to a lot of factors.

Now, if you chose those courses because you really like them, you would still be able to enjoy them, even if you didn't land a job as well paying as you thought you would. But if you find yourself stuck in a hiring downturn with a degree in something you didn't even like in the first place...I guess you get the picture.

So I always tell people, choose a course based on what you really really want. Don't just choose a course on the basis on what the job market is right now. Four years from now, the picture of the job market may be so vastly different.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Breather please

While hubby and I feel that it would probably be a long long time before we get to enjoy a Royal Caribbean cruise, we do wish sometimes that we could get away for a while. I was kidding him that maybe we should check in at a hotel. But for what?

Last month, our clinic had a team building activity in Antipolo which we felt would be somehow a night away from kids and family, but it didn't turn out the way we wanted. The kids got sick. Initially, my mom refused to let me go especially since kids are sick but in the end we kinda got our way. However, we were so worried that we didn't fully enjoy the activities. We did, but I suspect we would have enjoyed them even more if only we weren't so worried.

Barangay elections will be on October 25 and we're thinking of going away, maybe Subic, for an overnight stay, since we are not planning on voting anyway (I know it's bad, but I really do not know any of the candidates so who am I supposed to vote for?). I hope it pushes through. A change of scenery would be really nice. And it would be a treat for the kids too.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ting hun

I didn't go through a traditional Chinese engagement ceremony (ting hun) and neither did my brother. In fact, I believe that among my first degree cousins who are now married, none of us went through the traditional ceremony. This is no doubt huge savings on the part of our parents, since the stuff that have to be prepared are quite many and valuable. There are sets of jewelry prepared by both the groom-to-be's and bride-to-be's families. Watches, mostly luxury brands like Omega or Patek are given by the prospective parents-in-law to their child's spouse. Not only given, but there's a ceremony that the elder actually puts the watch on. The girl's father puts a gold watch on his future son-in-law's wrist and the boy's parents does the same to the girl.

It's the time when the couple is introduced as a soon to be married couple. It's a quaint custom and while I do not regret not going through it, I do enjoy seeing others going through the customs that make all these seem much more interesting.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm not a concert person

I am generally a homebody and would prefer staying at home watching my DVDs and reading my books rather than purchasing concert tickets and brave the crowds to watch a live performance. I know people will say that it's really not the same, purchasing lady gaga tickets and being there and seeing her in the flesh, performing live in front of your very eyes, versus simply watching her on TV or purchasing her CD and listening to it over the radio.

I get them. I truly do. It's just not my cup of tea. I don't really have an overwhelming need to see my favorite artists perform live, so even if I do not "experience" such concerts, it really does not feel like a loss to me. For other people, they really do enjoy the whole experience, so I guess that would be money and time well spent -- for them. For me, it would not be money well spent, since I do not foresee myself enjoying myself more than if I just stayed home.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My son got his report card for the first time

My son had his first ever report card. We got it last Friday. While we were quite nervous about the results, he actually did much better than we anticipated. Although his grades were not outstanding, I'm gratified that he actually passed all his subjects! His teacher also noted that he generally did a lot better this trimester compared to last trimester. And she's not just talking about academics, which we actually noticed since we also noted via the testpapers and worksheets that were returned.

More significantly, he is improving both socially and emotionally. He no longer roams around the classroom as often as he used to. He actually has friends. He's pretty excited about their outdoor play period, wherein they get to play with the slides, wood swing set and the rest of the playground equipment with his friends. He is also volunteering to recite in class, which he doesn't do before. I guess my little boy is maturing and finding a world beyond the home.

I'm so happy that he's happy with his school. Never mind that it was not my first choice (my main reason would be the lack of Chinese subjects but I've since learned that it's just a temporary thing). I guess my belief that life eventually places you where you have to be is true in this case.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stress the past few days

The stress and the work during the past few days have made me lose quite a bit of weight so I do not need any so-called best weight loss supplement anymore. But I'm glad I've been productive. I'd rather be busy and having an income to answer for our needs rather than idle and not knowing how we'd able to make ends meet. I'm hoping I'd be able to finally, finally complete my Master's education so I can earn a degree and finally get it behind me.

Tagaytay

My ama now spends most of her time in Tagaytay. That's because the air there is fresher, it's quieter, and it's cooler, so much so that oftentimes, you do not need an AC to reach a comfortable temperature. In fact, there would be times when you'd think you need outdoor fireplaces as it was so chilly the ubiquitous bulalo becomes full of sebo a few minutes after being served. It's a very relaxing place, and not too much aloe,

The drawback of Tagaytay, in my opinion, is that there is not too much health care facilities to be had. And not too many schools to choose from either.

So even if Tagaytay charms me with its quaintness, I do not see myself living there, especially with 2 active kids. Maybe when there are more facilities in place. Or maybe when the kids have grown.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ama

My grandmother is already 90 years old. She was a very healthy woman despite her age and despite the fact that she had both diabetes and hypertension. She practices tai chi. She walks around the village. I remember when she was in her 70s and 80s and wakes up early to walk around the village. I tried to accompany her but I find that I am actually no match for her! She is a non-smoker, and she drinks only 1 serving of red wine at night for its purported health benefits and also to help her sleep. She had a good appetite, and her food choices are generally very simple. Because of religious reasons, she does not eat beef.

That's why it's difficult for us to see her appetite all gone. She's now very thin, looking like someone who took Diet pills appetite suppressants for a long period of time. We don't really know why. Her attending physician had some diagnostic tests done, but so far, there are no indications on what is wrong with her. Not all the test results have been released, however.

I hope we find the problem soon so that we know how to deal with it. It's heartbreaking to see such a strong woman...well, not so strong anymore. She now looks so weak and vulnerable. She's old, older than most people can hope to be, but I want Ama to be enjoying her 9th decade as healthily and happily as possible, and not felled by something we cannot really understand.

Do get well soon, ama.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Naive about car repairs

Earlier today, my brother texted me to ask if we had jumper cables. I said yes, I think so and he asked where it is, whether it's in my car or in my husband's car. I replied again that I do not know, that he has to ask my husband.

I realize that I am pathetic when it comes to car repairs and such. I probably should only drive within city limits, as I would not now what to do if I do not have a roadside assistance plan. Unlike my husband who knows the basics of car repairs and could do some minor ones without having to look for assistance.

Oh well, this has never been one of my interests anyway. But I'm glad it's something my husband knows about and enjoys to a certain extent. It would not do if we are both clueless regarding such matters.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Addressing Chinese invites

Anyone of you ever seen a Fil-Chi type of wedding invitation?

When I was preparing for my wedding, I had some difficulty with the Chinese address labels. I was using the computer rather than doing calligraphy, since I can't do decent, nice looking Chinese writing anyway and I was too cheap to hire somebody else to do it for me. It was so much more difficult than I thought. The Chinese characters have to be from top to bottom so I had to adjust my word template so that it would orient that way. Then the words for Mr and Mrs are written at the bottom, with a prescribed spacing each half a character length, Mr to the left and Mrs to the write. And if you're inviting the whole family, the characters signifying "and family" should be written in the below Mr and Mrs, a straight line from the name of the head of the family.


It's pretty difficult to describe. I'll search for a picture so that I can post it here.

Anyway, needless to say, I had a lot of revisions because my mom wouldn't accept compromises about the wording or the spacing. I wish there was a program that would make addressing invites, the Chinese style, easier. Wait, I believe that there are programs available, but I do not think it's available here in the Philippines. Hmmm, maybe in Taiwan?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thoughts on mooncake festival

Today is the mooncake festival but we're celebrating it with the family tomorrow.

We are supposed to be as complete as possible as a family -- eating dinner and playing the dice game. Every family is supposed to contribute some dish (so some of us may search for weight loss pills that work afterwards). My mom is gonna contribute barbecue and a fish dish. I'm guessing there would be paella.


This is an occasion that the kids usually look forward to because there are actually prizes at stake, not just mooncakes. Since my Ama is now 90 years old, every celebration becomes even more important for us.

Which makes me realize even more that the previous generation is actually the glue that brings the family together. Ama (and Angkong, when he was still alive) is the main reason we come together in such occasions like Chinese New Year, mooncake festival and New Year's Eve. While I believe that my cousins are I are still fairly close, I could not really say the same thing about my second and third degree cousins. I mean, I see them in big family functions such as Ama's big birthday bash, but not for the smaller affairs like what we're having for mooncake. So by the time my children get older, I do not know if they will still know the kids of my cousins the way I know my cousins.

I guess each generation, which expanding the base of the family tree, also makes the branches grow further and further apart. Sigh.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Busy bee

September turned out to be another busy, busy month for me. With my school obligations, my clinic skeds, my mommy obligations, cooking for the household, 24 hours in a day does not seem enough at all. You can bet that when it comes to bedtime, I do not need any natural sleep aid at all, because I'm usually so exhausted that I just nod off to sleep.

What I need right now is a little break. But I'm afraid I won't be getting that anytime soon. Oh well, I'd have to keep in mind that being busy is actually good. Better than doing nothing at all.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Not a pretty doctora

Unlike most of my peers, I got acne in my twenties rather than in my teens. The stress of medical school manifested itself in my skin condition, I guess. That was a double whammy for me. Not only did I have bad skin, I also didn't have the time to care for it! Well, since I was in UST, I go to the dermatologist when I have the time -- which is not that often! I also lacked sleep and developed some sort of hormone imbalance. Sometimes, if only for the fact that I felt uglier after, medical school seems to be so not worth it. But I guess it did pay off in the end, because I do love my career, even if it is oftentimes frustrating and not as profitable as we thought.

On the lighter side, I wish I had the beauty and the skin of Maricar Reyes, who's both a doctor and an actress. I guess better adult acne treatments came along, or maybe she was really born with skin better than mine which didn't break out when faced with stress.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not my fault after all

A couple of months ago, I was in a minor car accident. I really couldn't understand how I hit the other car, but I took the blame since the evidence seems to be against me. And I figured that since I had insurance anyway (not really a cheap auto insurance or the mandatory third party liability but one with a well known company).

It was weeks later, after repeatedly mulling over the incident and going over it in my head that I realized that I've been had. I was not the one at fault. It was the other car's fault.

Lesson learned: It's NOT always my fault when something goes wrong. Don't let other people bully me into thinking it is.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Good fortune!

My grandmother's 90th birthday featured an 8 layer Penk Ching fondant cake in red, the usual color for such celebrations. It had the Chinese character for (roughly translated) happy birthday on the sides. It was delicious too, a banana walnut flavor. Since P Noy was inaugurated on the same day as my grandma's grand birthday celebration and his cake was supposed to be the same flavor, we were kidding that the cake maker probably made both cakes as one batch.

What we kinda missed was the feature of chocolate gold coins on the cake, which is a usual feature of Ama's previous cakes. Obviously, it's a sign of good fortune and wealth, which is always a good thing to wish for (aside from good health and a peaceful life, of course). As kids, we used to look forward to such extra treats on the cakes. They are usually locally made chocolates, but the shiny gold covering made it seem even more delicious than it actually is.

While we still love the chocolate gold coins, as adults, we'd love to have more of the "real thing". LOL. Let's not be hypocrites here. Giving somebody a cake with gold coins and wishing them wealth and good fortune IS a good wish. Wealth in material things means having enough to eat/drink, a (nice, non-leaky) roof over our heads, clothes to protect us from the elements, etc etc. That's one of the main driving forces behind looking for a job, having a business and investing. Sure, you have to love your work or your business, but you'd want to invest too so that you still get money even if you slow down in actively earning.

That's why I'm actually looking at the gold coins in the US Gold Bureau, which looks like a reputable online site for people who would want to invest in gold. Having a good investment in never a bad idea, and investing in gold is a particularly good idea...a centuries old idea, in fact.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My school

Just the other day, my brother and I were reminiscing about the school we all went when we were young -- Saint Jude Catholic School. We agreed that things probably were not the same as the time we were there.

The priests who used to run the school have already passed away, so other SVD priests are now at the helm. I do not know if their style of running the school is better or not, but it's really bound to be different.

There are a lot of improvements in the school itself. Before, the washrooms were dirty. Sometimes only one or two faucets were working out of the numerous ones. And there were no soaps, hand dryers or toilet paper available. We had to bring our own. Now, the washroom I used when I was there for the parent's orientation looked much cleaner, with liquid soap dispensers and toilet paper in the cubicles. There was an additional building which housed administration offices. However, I did feel that it became darker since the new building kinda encroached on the open space. But then, I guess with the limited space, that's the best that could be done.

Classrooms are now airconditioned. The canteen is also much bigger. I think the auditorium is almost the same size, although it has been upgraded. There are now airconditioners and the seats have improved. Of course, they have had to repair these because a fire that happened years ago destroyed the old auditorium.

Are they still as strict as they used to be? Do their students excel later? Do their students get a good command of the Chinese language? Do their students get a firm grip on what is right and what is wrong? I can only hear from other people's accounts.

I had wanted my children to study in here, my alma mater.

But I guess fate has other plans. My son is now studying at La Salle Greenhills, and it looks like this is the school for him. I'm planning to enroll him in their Chinese program when he hits grade 1. As for my daughter, I do not think that I can enroll her in a school so far away from where her Ahia is studying. I'm eyeing ICA, but I still have about 3-4 years to decide. Wherever they go to, I hope that they will be able to LEARN and be the best that they could be.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Healthcare here and there

My cousin's wife M is leaving for Canada in October, with her baby boy in tow. That's because she needs to fulfill residency requirements. Her baby is considered a Canadian citizen by virtue of being born there, so he technically does not need to go, but where mommy goes, he goes too!

M is planning to stay there until December or January. Since Canada has a great health system in place and she's considered a permanent resident, her and baby B's health care needs are more or less covered. If it were the USA rather than Canada, she might have to look into something like an NC short term health insurance, otherwise it would be expensive if any health care needs do arise.

I wish we had a better health care system in place here in the Philippines. Being in the medical field, I feel very frustrated that in order to get medical care, we need to shell out our own money. If you try looking into the government hospitals, you'd be frustrated too with the lack of facilities, medicines and even personnel.

Sigh. I hope the new Secretary of Health would be able to do something about this. I'd be happy if we have a health care system similar to that in Canada, but I do think it's wishful thinking.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hostage drama in real life

Yesterday was an especially busy day for me and my personal internal news antenna was down. I was in the clinic as usual but I had classes in the afternoon. Then I went back to the clinic to see another patient. The TV in our waiting area was turned on, but I really did not notice what channel it was on.

I had to rush to pick up my son from his therapy session. That's why I was not able to be online even if I had to do antenna reviews. That's why I didn't know that a hostage drama was actually taking place at that very moment, not far from where I was.

I only first heard about it when I was already in my car. As was my usual practice, I turned on my radio and set it to DZMM, an AM station. There, after my radio antenna unfurled and the signal became clear, I first heard about the drama that was unfolding, with a disgruntled, dismissed former police officer staging a hostage situation, and his former colleagues unable to convince him to drop his plans. At that time, though, things were proceeding very slowly. There were some hostages released and no one was killed...yet. I was not prepared for what was to be a bloody aftermath.

It was after I picked up my son and headed home that I was able to take glimpses of what was happening as my husband was watching the news on TV and following the incident.

Should there have been a media blackout during that time? It was a "circus", with reporters, media trucks with antennas for the live broadcast, and even "tambays". I do not know if the full media coverage helped or made the situation worse. They say that he actually watched the TV and listened to the radio in the tourist bus, which was apparently well equipped for the enjoyment of the tourists. Apparently, he went amuck when his brother was arrested, allegedly for being an accessory. That's when the shooting started.

We all know what happened in the end. Eight tourists dead. Others injured, some being treated in the hospital where I just came from. What went wrong? You tell me.

I am so embarrassed about the whole situation, even if I was not personally IN it. It is a big blow to our national pride.

I am so sorry for the whole thing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

No smoking

My family has to watch out because we are at higher risk of getting lung cancer.

My grandfather was a lung cancer survivor. He was a chain smoker and only quit when he was diagnosed with lung cancer back in the eighties. He was one of the few people I know who actually survived cancer. He lived for 17 more years, I think, after he underwent both chemotherapy and radiotherapy and was thereafter declared cancer free, and passed away 9 years ago at age 87 of other causes. But what he wasn't able to get rid of was his COPD. He had a chronic cough which gave him coughing spells all throughout the day. He underwent tests with spirometers and while medications were given for his condition, he was often troubled by his cough that won't really go away.

My father, was not really a smoker himself. We attributed his cancer to the fact that he goes to places where smoking is more of the rule. Thus, he got cancer from second hand sources. He passed away 10 years ago due to lung cancer, after fighting it for more than a year.

I never met my father-in-law, who passed away before my husband entered residency training. He too was a lung cancer victim.

I have always thought that smoking kills. In a slow, agonizing way. Not only for the smoker himself, but also for his family. It took away members of my family. I do hope my kids won't ever take up the habit.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

China house

When my grandparents brought us to China to visit my great grandmother, I was fascinated by their quaint house. It was made of stone, had no running water, limited electric lights, and traditional looking furniture like the matrimonial beds interspersed with some modern furniture like Western looking chairs and tables. There were no bathrooms in the house, instead there were outhouses. Water was drawn from a well. No refrigerators around. No airconditioners too, but I don't think they needed them because the stone walls provided great ventilation and kept the interiors cool.

It was a trip for a lifetime. I hardly think I will get the chance to go back, since my great grandmother already passed away, my grandmother does not travel much anymore and the other relatives have moved on elsewhere, mostly here in the Philippines.

I'm still hoping I'll get to bring my kids someday for a glimpse of our culture. When? It remains to be seen.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

All occasion

Before we actually went out and had a suit especially tailored for my husband, I didn't know that men's suits cost much more than a barong. Well, at least the well-made ones, because there are some not-so-good ones that cost much less but do not look as good. We figured that suit would be like an investment even if it's quite expensive, because men only need 1 or 2 of them (if they don't become bigger, that is) for functions and they're ok. Just change the ties to fit the occasion. Since my husband's suit was a formal, dark blue suit, it would go well with any light colored shirt and almost any tie -- be it pink ties or ties with print. A good barong in his wardrobe completes his set f go -to clothes for any occasion.

Sigh. We ladies aren't as lucky to be able to wear 1 outfit for all the occasions that we attend. We may be able to get away with a few occasions with our different circles of acquaintances, but even that is limited. But who am I kidding? Women generally like having an excuse to buy new dresses. But it's just so taxing on the budget! Why oh why don't we have a reliable gown rental place where we can just rent an outfit for a few hours?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My dad's car

As a wedding gift to me, my mother gave me my Dad's Toyota Camry. It's a 1998 model, and it's still a beautiful car, despite the fact that it's quite old already. Its exterior is also quite strong. It has been hit by an armored car but is still quite intact except for minor damages (which reminds me -- we have to follow up on the other party's insurance). And it's big enough to seat the whole family comfortably.

But since it is already quite old, it's starting to show some problems due to the wear and tear of its parts. It's a good thing that unlike Ferrari parts, it's much easier to find Toyota parts here. The drawback is that the Camry is considered a luxury car and the prices of some of those parts are higher than the regular Altis.

I am realizing that having and maintaining a car is really quite expensive. But it's really more convenient, especially with kids.

Today, I'll be carless. I will ride the MRT and LRT to get to the clinic because my husband does not feel that my dad's car is in the right shape as yet.

I wonder when we can have our car finally repaired.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our family bed

When I was small, we used to sleep in cribs, then we had our own kiddie beds when we grew bigger. We get to sleep with Dad and Mom when we're not feeling well, so that they could monitor our condition. I thought that was the way of things, because everybody else did the same thing then, back in the seventies.

So when I got to visit my great grandmother in China back in the eighties, I was surprised that my aunt had only one bed for her and her two sons. Granted, her husband was not there -- he was here in the Philippines trying to earn enough for his family. But they told me that even if the father was there, they would also have the same sleeping arrangements.

It was years later, when I became a mom myself, that I learned that "co-sleeping" is something that is quite common among Asian families, and that using the crib is more of a Western thing that we have adopted.

We are actually doing it now. The four of us (hubby, me and my 2 kids) all sleep on two mattresses put side by side on the floor. We feel more bonded that way, we get to check on the kids when we feel like it, and we don't worry that one of them will fall.

Of course, it's an arrangement that won't work for everybody, but for us, it's working very well. We intend to continue with this until such time that our kids will ask for their own beds and their own rooms (and we get our own house!) Such time would come, and while my kids still prefer mommy and daddy, we'd love to be there for them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Month of ghosts

It's the Ghost Month, according to the Chinese calendar. For the year 2010, it started last August 9. The Hungry Ghost Festival itself is on August 24, 2010. It's supposed to be the time when the gates to the underworld open, thus the ghosts come back to visit the living.

This is the time that wedding and wedding planning are put on hold, major operations are postponed even if you have health savings account, moving houses or even moving furniture around is frowned upon. No opening of new businesses either.

It's because this is the month where it is considered to be bad luck to do any of the above.

Usually, the Asian stock market does not have much liquidity because there is little trading activity as Chinese who believe in the Ghost Month try not to spend at this time.

Prayers and offerings, burning joss sticks and paper money (not real paper money but those made for offerings) are done at this time. Food offerings are also done to feed the ghosts who might visit.

Does our family observe this? We have to--it's tradition.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Browsing buy.com

Ever since our laptop broke down, we haven't been able to have it repaired. Sigh. No time! As of the moment, I am typing away at my mom's laptop. But of course it is different. Firstly, I can't work when she needs it. Secondly, I cannot store data on the hard drive since this is not mine.

I am very much tempted to look through the specials at buy.com and get a new laptop for myself. There's a Sony Vaio notebook there for a special price of $699.99. With free shipping too! Well, I guess the free shipping does not include international shipping but since my cousin's supposed to come here soon, I wonder if it would be okay for her to bring it home to me if I have it shipped to her?

In any case, we still hope to have our laptop seen by an expert, so that we'll know if we could still use it. What I regret most are the stuff inside our hard drive. Some are quite important, others are sentimental. I am hoping that we could somehow recover the data that's on it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The problem with hi tech

When you are too dependent on electricity and computer works, everything goes into disarray when something goes wrong with the gadget.

About 2 months ago, the hard drive of my computer failed. I haven't recovered the data from there yet. Some of them are quite important. I knew I should have made hard copies but then my problem with that is where to store them. Sigh.

When Typhoon Basyang struck and left Manila with long hours of electric outage, our clinic had to close. It was useless to keep operating. Yes, we had generators for lights and some equipment, and we're not dependent on receipt printers, but all our patient files are in the computers and all the ophthalmic diagnostic equipment (well, almost all of it anyway) were dependent on electricity. So our medical director deemed it wiser to just shut down the whole clinic.

We've bought ice since we were also afraid that my refrigerated breastmilk, among other things in the refrigerator, would go bad. Typhoon Milenyo which occurred about 3 years ago left us with a lot of thawed meats that we had to cook or risk spoiling.

ahhh, the problems of the modern, hi-tech world!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ama and Lola

My son calls my mother "ama" and my mother-in-law "lola". They both mean "grandma" but ama is Chinese (Fukien to be exact) so my Chinese mom is ama and my Pinay mom-in-law naman is lola. To be more specific, my mom should have been "guama" because that means "maternal grandmother" while "ama" should have been "paternal grandmother". But since "ama" is easier to pronounce and my son doesn't use that with his paternal grandmother anyway, my mother claimed that title for herself. :)

My children enjoy their grandmas in different ways. Ama babysits them when daddy and mommy are away at work. Lola prepares the wooden swing set for them to play with when they visit. Ama teaches them to wash their hands and always be clean. Lola allows them to get dirty with play. Ama wants them in sleeved clothes when it's chilly while Lola wants them in sleeveless clothes when it's hot.

I am so glad my kids have grandmas to love them in the way that only grandmas can.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Family home

During my grandmother's 90th birthday celebration, an AVP showing my grandmother's life was shown. I was surprised about things I didn't know, like the fact that my grandparents got separated by the war for 10 years. I mean, I know they had a long separation (kinda like today's OFWs, but I didn't know that it was 10 years!

Their sacrifices paid off though. My grandfather, grandmother, dad (born in China) and uncle (born in Hong Kong where they had a five year layover) were able to finally settle in the Philippines. My father's 3 siblings were born here. My grandparents were able to buy a lot and had a house built. Not only a house, but also a small complex of 4 apartments which were supposed to be beginning homes for their sons and their families. Each unit has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. They have standard kitchen and bathroom fittings, nothing fancy like jacuzzi tubs but complete. We lived there until my parents were able to buy a house when I was 24 years old. I hope I would be able to do something like that for my children, provide a place for them to stay when they are just starting their families. Now that I have kids, I realize that parents would do a lot of sacrifices in order to ensure that their kids get the best.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On tape

When we were newly married, my husband insisted on buying a new camcorder. I have argued with him over this, but he won the argument. I have since realized the wisdom of having one. We've recorded our children's births, their birthdays, my son's school activities, and so forth.

What we haven't figured out is how to transfer the contents from the miniDV to a DVD. It's not simple and we have simply just let the contents stay in the miniDV. We just buy new ones when we anticipate an occasion.

But lately, there are already portable camcorders which use hard drives instead of tapes. We are thinking of buying one in the near future. There are still a lot of growing up for my kids to do, and every milestone deserves to be recorded for posterity's sake!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Getting ready for the rainy (and typhoon) season

It's that time of year again, when the rains and storms start coming. We've been traumatized the past few years, with Milenyo and Frank, Ondoy and Pepeng to mention a few. Basyang just visited and wreaked havoc, not to mention caused a power outage that affected Metro Manila and a large part of Luzon.

We have to be prepared for a typhoon. There's no telling when another might strike and how much damage it would cost. Good thing we already have a comprehensive insurance on my car which now includes a clause for acts of God. I'm thinking if we should also have window visors installed on our cars in case of strong winds. How about protection in case the car goes under water? I've heard of horror stories of people drowning inside their cars during Ondoy. Or maybe in cases like these, it's best just to leave the cars and hope they are still salvageable when you come back for them. Your priority to save lives, your own, your family's and anybody else's. Strictly speaking, a car is simply a material possession.

Other preparations that we have: We also have rechargeable lamps on standby. I'm thinking of having rechargeable fans too. We also know where the ice plant is, so that in case of a prolonged power outage, we could buy ice for my refrigerated breast milk.

Hmm, what else? Maybe we should stock up on ready to eat foods like canned goods and instant noodles, and maybe some bottled water, just to be sure.

And whenever we go out, probably we should bring an emergency kit -- food, bottled water, change of clothes, extra money...so that no matter where we end up, we could still have the basic necessities.

Disaster -- it's not avoidable. But we can at least be prepared and hopefully suffer minimal damage.

Here's hoping that there won't be too many disasters looming.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Traditional Chinese Medicine

I grew up with both mainstream Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine remedies. While I am now mainly a practitioner of Western medicine (usually called conventional medicine), I do not totally shun TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) because I have personally experienced its benefits.

The TCM practitioners do not practice medicine the same way as conventional practitioners. The idea for TCM is by maintaining a fine balance-- between yin and yang, between "hotness" and "coldness". That's why TCM doctors don't really give multiple vitamins, but instead choose foods and herbs that are supposed to "bring back the balance", so to speak. If the patient suffers from a problem that is supposed to be due to "too much heatiness", food which are considered "cool" are recommended and herbs thought to bring down the "heatiness" are being given.

It's interesting, really. And, with a rich history of medicine, Chinese medicine is really nothing to scoff at. It is a pity that I cannot really recommend any practice or any herb because I am not formally trained in such. Maybe I should consider having additional education in such.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bienvenida-despedida

Yesterday evening, we had yet another dinner at my grandma's house, since my cousin M happened to be in town. Another visitor, my aunt V's mom, also came to the Philippines. My other cousin Z also happened to be leaving early this morning with her husband and baby. So, it was a mixed bienvenida-despedida party.

Most of us were able to make it this time. The past 2 gatherings, my husband and I were not able to attend because of various circumstances. It's a good thing that the power already came back on in our village. It would have been less enjoyable if we had to grope around in the dark, not to mention that it was quite humid after the winds and the rains that came with typhoon Basyang.

My sister-in-law couldn't make it though. Her obstetrician ordered her to be on total best rest since Saturday because she suffered some spotting. She's ok so far with no further incident but she wanted to make sure everything's ok and wouldn't dare defy her OB's orders. Everybody understood. After all, an expectant mom would do everything to ensure that her baby's ok, take the best prenatal vitamins possible, do periodic check ups with the obstetrician, and yes, lie down all the time if that's the way to ensure the baby's well being.

Every baby is a new blessing, and I would like to believe that our family is now blessed with the coming of babies, almost one after the other. Can't wait for my kids to finally have playmates other than each other within the family.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Earning opportunity?

Raising two growing children in the Philippines is expensive, especially if you're after more than the basics. Food is plentiful, but you have to spend for better quality foods that would ensure that they have all the right nutrients. Public helath services are available but not that easy to avail of. If you want to have better medical services, you will have to spend for it too. Education is available in public schools, but in most cases, private schools (which cost a lot of money) gives a better quality education.

That's why my husband and I are continuously looking out for income opportunities. For our practice, we've tried to maximize our clinic time while at the same time leaving some time for our kids -- to send our eldest to and from school, both of them to the pediatrician when needed, to help our eldest with his homework, and of course to simply spend some quality time with them. We really need additional sources of income that would not take up too much man hours from either of us, simply because we've almost maximized them.

That's why we also have a small online store in which we sell things like diapers. We have to think of something else, though. Something else unique that other people don't have. There are already many other diaper sellers. And I don't think I'm ready to take on the challenge of importing diapers, even if I do have some grasp of the business already.

With so many people in business online, I wonder if a business whose purpose is to sell merchant accounts would be profitable? I found an online site which offers reseller packages. I will do more research on it, but it certainly sounds interesting.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Babies

I think every family "renews" itself once every so often. We've lost some loved ones during the past decade, but this time, we've seen that our generation has gotten married and given birth to another whole new generation.

Now we're getting more babies this year. I have 2 sisters-in-law who are pregnant right now, from both my side and my husband's side. That means we'll be seeing new babies soon!

Understandably, the new moms-to-be are (and should be) more careful with whatever they take in. This is certainly not the time to diet. I would believe no diet supplement review would state that this could be taken during pregnancy. I always tell them to avoid getting sick, because it's more difficult for them as there are a limited number of medications that they can take while they are pregnant.

This makes me long for another baby. Problem is, I really do not know if we should still aim for another one, or if we should be satisfied with the two kids that we have. We love them to bits, and another one would surely add to our joy, but we don't know if we have the capacity to raise them the way we want to.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Aging with grace

One of the great things that happened because of Ama's birthday celebration was that it brought the family closer together. My relatives from US and Canada all came over. It was a rare chance for a family pictorial, because we don't really get a lot of these moments when all the family is together.

You can see that my grandmother was positively delighted that all her four surviving children and 5 children-in-law are present, as well as most of her grandchildren (sadly 3 of the 15 were not able to make it). 4 of her 5 great grandchildren (which include my E and R) were also there. It was a sea of red (clothes).

My grandmother looked beautiful, she didn't look like a 90 year old but looks 20-30 years younger, more so that evening that's done especially to honor her. I don't know if she uses any anti aging face face creams but I know she still walks and does tai chi for exercise. Sadly, her eyesight is not good anymore because of age related macular degeneration but otherwise she's pretty healthy. She typifies the image I have in mind of growing old gracefully.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Slimming down -- yey!

I haven't weighed myself in a long while but I'm getting a lot of compliments about being slimmer nowadays. People also ask me what my secret is, whether I'm on a specific diet or exercise program or I'm taking in natural slimming pills or something.

I don't do any of those. I've been too busy to find time for an exercise program (as with any parent who's doing a juggling act of career and family), I'm almost always too hungry to diet (and food is one of the things I'm enjoying and I'm not ready to give that up yet), and I'm wary of supplements especially since I breastfeed.

So how did I lose weight? I would say breastfeeding. And stress. The past few months have been very stressful. But I'm really not that happy yet with my shape. I still look pregnant -- which shows how out of shape I really am. I guess I do need to hit the gym -- if I get the time.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ama's 90th

We just had Grandma's grand 90th celebration. I still have to blog about the whole experience. Give me some time. June has been so full of happenings that I had hardly found time to put down everything that went on.

Grandma wanted the affair to be nice. With the right touch of elegance but not too much that people are stiff and formal. Hence, the invitation states "come as you are" instead of "formal", "semi formal" or some other strict dress code. Of course, the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren all dressed in red (which made a striking contrast against Ama's bright blue dress). Other relatives also came in red even if they were not required to, as a sign of respect for our family matriarch. However, if you are on the guest list, you can come in whatever you are comfortable in, no need to dress all out.

And since Ama is 90 and is at the age of leaving a legacy rather than receiving gifts (to be truthful, it's pretty difficult to find gifts for men and women at that age, don't you think?) There is a notation on the invitation saying "Please dispense with gift". I think most people appreciate that, but some people just want to give something, so there were still a few gifts.

More details later. On the whole, I think Ama enjoyed her day. :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Big school

We were able to see our little boy's classroom only once -- on his first day of BIG school. The classroom certainly looks much more modern than the classrooms that I have tucked away in my own memory bank. Of course, there were tables and chairs for each of the student, and cubbyholes for them to put their stuff in.

But they now have modern equipment like TVs with mounts, a computer, and airconditioning. Well, that's from the 10 minutes or so (?) that I was in the room with E. I guess that's why the tuition is so much higher than what my parents paid for when I was at that age! I won't be minding paying a huge tuition if my son would be able to learn what he is supposed to. I do wish that he would fit in and find friends too.

Here's wishing that he'll have a great experience in school.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

R's McDo Party

My little girl had her "grand" first birthday celebration at McDonald's, the same branch where her Ahia also had his first birthday celebration almost four years ago. It was E's choice. :)

I feel a bit guilty that I'm less detail oriented this time around. While I did prepare a layout for the invitation, I didn't get around to actually printing the invites and just sent facebook and text invitations.

I also didn't prepare personalized lootbags like what I did with E. I just the ones from McDo.

I did make nametags with the easiest business card printing that I know, the Microsoft publisher. This I didn't do with E, but since I didn't like the party hats and I preferred another theme, I came up with my own.

I was able to make guestbooks on both birthdays.

Sigh. It's different when there are already 2 kids and a heavier work schedule. Not to mention more budget constraints.

Will post a more detailed birthday kwento when I find the time to do so.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

First Birthday!

My little girl just turned one yesterday! Her McDo party is tomorrow, but we celebrated with a simple dinner, misua and a birthday cake.

My mom was telling me that first birthdays should be celebrated on the day itself and may be anticipated, or celebrated in advance. But for subsequent birthdays, celebrations may be done later. My mother-in-law, however, does not like advance celebrations for birthdays, even first birthdays, since Pinoys frown on this and would rather celebrate later. Cultural clash here! We solved this by having a small, family-only celebration on the birthday itself and the kiddie party afterwards.

When the kids are older, maybe we can think of some other activity like an out-of-town trip. Disney vacations would be nice too, especially since there's one in Hong Kong already, so we could probably have a short weekend getaway now and then. Not this year, though. It's pretty difficult to handle both kids without help at this point. And we'd like them to be able to remember those trips.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ama!

One of the things that are making our side of the family excited these days is the upcoming 90th birthday celebration of my grandmother. Her real birthday was yesterday though, so we went to have misua at her house. We also lighted a couple of red candles to mark the occasion.

Ama's grand birthday celebration will be held in a hotel. Guests are not really required to conform to a dress code. The invitation says "come as you are" -- you could anything from business attire to school uniforms to hip hop clothes and you'd still be welcome, if you are an invited guest. Guests are also asked NOT to bring any gifts since this is simply a celebration of our Ama's long life. Of course, we, the family have to adhere to our own dress code, which is to show up in RED attire as a sign of our respect and celebration.

A few of us grandchildren are also going to perform. Me and my cousins are going to sing a Chinese song and we've been practicing the past few weeks. While we are somehow pressured, these practice sessions did turn out to be a great bonding time for us cousins. Somehow, since life has been much busier for all of us with work and family concerns, we don't really get to do things together, and the fact that we had to come up with a performance gave us an excuse to renew ties with each other.

I hope Ama will enjoy it. I know my uncles and aunts have spent and prepared for this. I am excited for her. It's going to be the first time that she would be having a grand birthday celebration honoring her alone (her past birthdays were overshadowed by my grandpa's when he was alive. I'm not really sure why they didn't put too much importance on her birthday then).

Happy birthday, Ama!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

R's Mulan birthday party updates

I've just noticed that most of my previous posts were kind of depressing -- me being stressed and me ranting and complaining somewhat. Oh well, life does hand out lemons once in a while. It's up to us to make lemonade out of those lemons.

Ok, on to a happier topic.

I'm in the thick of preparations for my daughter's first birthday party. As I've mentioned before, the theme of her party is Mulan. It's a pretty unique theme. The problem with unique that it's difficult to look for things to fit the theme. I'm actually simplifying it to include elements that are Chinese. I've gotten her a cheongsam, I've bought brocade coin purses for prizes, and I'm deciding between getting chocolate gold coins in paper shoes or fortune cookies as giveaways.

I'm still thinking of what to do to make the party more in theme and more festive. Maybe some paper lanterns, if I can find any. And maybe some calligraphy, which I could probably do myself, IF I get the time.

At least the party planning is always fun. I hope this party will turn out ok, even if I do not really have a big budget for this.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It's the hard drive

Remember the laptop problem I'm having?

It seems like the problem lies with the hard drive. It seems like the hard drive has given up after about 4 years of usage. My Windows OS is gone. We've tried using the recovery disk to reinstall the OS but nothing.

The good news is that a new hard drive is not that expensive at all. Definitely much cheaper than a new laptop. The bad news is that we have not accounted for all the files that we have lost. There are lots of pictures, softcopies of homework, blog articles like the one I'm doing for apidexin, etc. Some are backed up or easy to reproduce, but there are others that may be more difficult. Sigh. We have to accept that some data or files may be gone forever.

Another reminder to keep backing up important data.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Laptop conked out

What does it mean when the computer shows a blue screen, gives off a weird sound, and finally gives up?

That's what happened to me yesterday. I left my laptop running while I went down to greet the visitors -- my cousins and my brother's mother-in-law who came over to practice a little something for my grandma's upcoing grand birthday celebration. Prior to that, I was doing some work and surreptitiously doing some fat burner reviews. Nothing really unusual at all. My husband was the one who actually saw the screen become blue, and then weird sounds came from the computer, then it no longer booted up to the windows OS.

We are not quite sure what the problem is. I hope it's still something we can salvage. In the meantime, I am borrowing my husband's netbook to do some work.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stressed

I've been very stressed the past few weeks. It seems like problems keep cropping up. I try to be as optimistic as possible, but sometimes it takes some effort to keep up the effort. I think I've been losing a lot of weight lately. People who only saw me last week keep saying that I've slimmed down and were wondering if I am on a top diet pill -- I'm not.

I'd like to think that it's only a slump. I should be back to normal after a short while. I do believe that sometimes life does give out more than a few challenges, but we should be more than equipped to handle all those. After all, life is anything but boring.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hectic

This week is VERY hectic. I work more hours in the clinic, I have to enroll my son, I have to enroll myself, I have to prepare for my daughter's first birthday and we have to practice our presentation for my grandmother's birthday party. Hardly enough time for me to play with my kids, do my writing jobs, blog, do pronexin reviews and update my online store.

I sometimes wish I could just go on a vacation, take things easy. But that won't be possible right now. Oh well, I can't really complain. At least nothing's amiss, everybody's healthy and happy. I could use a little bit more of money right now, but we get blessed with just enough to get by.

I should count my blessings. :)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Stressed but quite excited

The past few days have been so H-E-C-T-I-C that I'm afraid I've pushed some important things to the backburner. :( Things like my article deadlines, my daughter's first birthday party, even the payment of some bills (thankfully not the important ones). These are also very stressful times. I haven't checked but I believe I've lost some weight without needing to consult http://www.fastweightloss.net. Thing is, I also look stressed and haggard lately. Sigh and double sigh.

But the good news is that my son will be going to big school soon! I'm excited and at the time apprehensive. No, he's not going to a Chinese school. But learning Chinese has been pushed as a later priority too. Maybe in Grade School because La Salle Greenhills offers optional Chinese by then. Oh well. Another sigh. I'm happy enough that he got accepted. I really really hope he will fit right in.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My mom's several pairs of glasses

My mom needs her reading glasses. Not surprising, considering her age. But she also keeps on misplacing them. And she gets annoyed when she has to read something and cannot find it in a pinch.

Now since I'm an ophthalmologist and I could supply her with discount prescription glasses, what she did is order several of these, which she puts around the house. She has a pair in her bedroom, a pair in our dining area, a pair in her handbag...you get the drift. That way, she always has a ready pair nearby, so less frustration for her!

I think that's a great idea!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's so hot!

I wonder when the heat will let up. PAGASA says that it won't abate for quite a while yet. With temperatures going up to the high thirties (Celsius), it always feels like we are slowly being roasted on outdoor fireplaces.

While using the A/C is the most immediate solution, our startlingly high electricity bills do not really justify using it for long periods of time. We're stuck to using electric fans which only offer a little respite from the heat.

Which led me to thinking that maybe giving away fans during my daughter's first birthday party would be a great idea. It fits the Chinese/Mulan theme too. But I could not find a supplier near our home (I know Divi has a lot, but I don't really have the time to go there), so I didn't push through with this plan.

Oh, well. All things do come to an end. Before we know it, the rainy season will be here and we'll have something new to complain about!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vesak day 2010

Yesterday, we went to Mall of Asia to observe Vesak Day, or what is traditionally known as Buddha's birthday.

Align Center

My mother is a Buddhist while we basically just go along with her. We agree, however, with the teachings of Buddha because they basically echo the teachings that we receive from our Catholic school.

After the opening ceremonies and prayers, we bathed the statue of Buddha. Bamboo dippers were provided and we were instructed to pour water on the shoulders and the back of the statue, vowing to speak good words, do good deeds and have a good heart. The significance of Vesak Day is aptly explained here.

There were representatives of the CBCP (Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines), from the Muslim community, from the Hindus, and some other religions. The Ambassador from Sri Lanka also attended. It is heartwarming to know that there is effort in bridging the gap between faiths and making the effort for mutual understanding. For we all know that basically we all want the same things -- that good triumph.

In case you're interested in praying, making a small wish and bathing the Buddha for purification, or simply just want to see a Buddhist festival, do drop by the Mall of Asia today.

Photo: “Bathing Buddhas - Federation Square” by Alpha, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tired

I'm feeling very tired the past few days. I think stress has crept up on me and made me exhausted. The heat is not helping either. I'm always tired, lazy and uninspired to do a lot of writing.

The past few months have been a flurry of spending. Expenses for tuition, hospitalization, clinic rent and what not. I'm not spending yet for electricity but my brother is asking for help because the bill for this month is way beyond his capacity. We'll have to find ways to save, but how? We are not spending much more than necessary. There are also things we won't compromise on, and they're not even considered wants, but needs. Like my son's tuition. I want him in a good school. Or health. We can probably go with discount auto insurance, but definitely it's better to have insurance. Car repairs also crept in during the past few months because our cars are old.

Sometimes it's just so tiring when we always have to go around "chasing money" to live. The problem is that we don't have regular paychecks so we do not really know how much money we can expect at any given time, so it's not easy to do a budget when you don't know when and how much money is coming in.

Sigh...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cheongsam for my little girl

I'm pretty excited about possibly finding a red cheongsam for my baby girl. I'm thinking of having a Mulan theme for her first birthday. Although the cheongsam does not fit the period, I'd rather get something a little practical, so since it's Chinese themed, it would have to do. Also, my ama's 90th birthday party is coming up, so she could use it there too.

I've always loved the Chinese theme and the color red. During my wedding, I had thought of a Chinese theme. I envisioned my attendants in cheongsams. But then I wanted them to get a design that fits their personality. My cousin chose a spaghetti strapped design. Oh well, I just changed it a bit to Chinese inspired. I didn't want my attendants to be unhappy about their clothes, so I let it go. I do not want to be one of those bridezillas who want to impose their will on everyone. And I guess I made the right decision, because while my entire wedding was not entirely the original way I envisioned it to be, I was happy about how it ended up.

It's pretty difficult to find a cheongsam that's small enough to fit my baby though. But I was able to find one online. And it's not that expensive too! (Don't you just love the internet, where you can search for everything, including lipozene reviews?) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my little girl will be the cutest little Chinese girl on her birthday party!

Monday, May 10, 2010

We voted!

My husband and I didn't bother to change our election precincts, so we have to vote in different cities. Anyway, we can't vote at the same time anyway, since somebody has to stay home with the kids.

He texted me earlier this morning saying that it's chaotic out there. So many people, no organization at all. He almost gave up voting.

My brother and I went to our precinct around lunch time. We were initially very confused as to where we would line up, but once we figured everything out, it was pretty smooth sailing. No need for wrinkle creams for us, LOL. It took us about 1 hour, from start to finish, which is not bad, I reckon.

I guess it has something to do with the other people. I have to admit that the voters in my precinct are mostly in the upper and middle class, mostly educated people. Which would probably account for the orderliness of the whole process in our place.

Next thing to hope for is that there would be no problems with the counting. Oh Lord, please make this election as smooth as possible.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day today!

It's mother's day today.

While traditionally, men are the ones that are given more importance in the Chinese society, most Chinese mothers are honored by their children, so the modern Chinese also celebrate Mother's Day.

While my kids are still small (I still need a good belly fat burner in order to get back into shape since my daughter's still 10 months old), I don't expect them to greet me a Happy Mother's Day yet. Since it's summer vacation, I won't be getting any card either, unlike Father's Day when the school initiates a card making activity (grumble grumble).

But when I look at my kids, I thank God for them. They are my treasures, I love them very much and I would not trade them for anything else.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, my grandma, my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, and all the moms out ther.