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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Deviation

My husband has been wanting a new watch for quite a while, and while some of those citizen watches are not really that expensive, I feel hard pressed to buy him one, because we seem to have different tastes in watches. Also, we put almost all our money in our common family fund, so getting money to buy a gift from him seems like I'm partly spending his money to buy his gift.

That's probably why we don't really buy gifts for each other.  This is quite a deviation from the usual coz we actually bought gifts for ourselves.  :)  Nice feeling.

Thoughts of a pack rat

My husband and I were starting to look at the latest laptops a few months ago. That's because our old one is showing some problems, and we think we might be needing to change it soon. But, practicality set in and we just decided to go with our trusty 5 year old laptop after doing the necessary repairs.

That's how we usually are. We have a difficult time letting go of stuff.  Like our children's stuff, especially from the time they were babies.  And mementos of school.  And toys.  And magazines.  Yes, we're pack rats.

It's sometimes a good trait, but sometimes it's not so good to be holding on to things, especially if they are no longer usable and just adds to the clutter.  While it's good to be sentimental, holding on to things is no longer practical and sometimes you just have to let go.

Now to convince me and my husband to do just that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

On baths

My family is more into showers (or even the balde and tabo method LOL) rather than bathtubs. Maybe that's because we bathe often (1-3 times a day, depending on the weather) and more often than not, we are in a hurry. I can only remember maybe 3 or 4 occasions in my entire life that I actually used a bath tub.

I remember one time we went to this quaint, old fashioned hotel in Yellowstone Park, the Old Faithful Hotel beside the geyser called Old Faithful, which didn't have showers in their ensuite rooms (actually some rooms do not even have bathrooms). My mom didn't want us to take baths in the old fashioned clawfoot tub which looked much older than we are! She imagined that with all the people who have used the tub throughout its existence, we might just get unlucky and catch something. LOL. Good thing it was cold and snowy so nobody really felt like getting wet or taking a bath.

When I gave birth, my mother insisted that I practice ge-lai. It's the period one month from childbirth. Baths were prohibited, there are certain foods to be eaten and we're supposed to just stay in the room with no electric fans. I'm okay with the foods. I'm okay with not having electric fans (A/C's were permitted). But what made me miserable is not taking a bath for a month. I felt so unclean!

Nothing starts or ends the day better knowing you are clean and fresh from the bath.  I can NOT imagine the time when baths were considered luxuries and people get to bath once a month or even once a year!  Oh, that would be so horrid!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Where's the "Christmas weather" I'm used to?

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...especially when you go to the malls, with all the Christmas decors and the Christmas songs blaring with a subliminal "Buuuyyy yyyoour gifts NOW!" message. LOL.

 But the weather is anything but Christmassy. While we won't be able to relate to Bing Crosby's White Christmas and any MSR evo ascent snowshoes we buy on impulse would just add to our clutter, the weather at this time of the year used to require a light sweater. I remember that it was about the time of the year when my classmates and I could somehow liven up the monotony of our school uniforms with different sweater/jacket designs, without having to bring umbrellas. Cool but not rainy, my type of weather!

 Now, the weather is fickle. Sometimes warm as a summer day, sometimes wet and cool as the monsoon season. Nothing about it suggests Christmas. Unless maybe you go to Tagaytay or Baguio, where the pine trees and the cool air reminds me of what sets this season apart. Am so looking forward to another Tagaytay trip!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

7 years with no itch

I was a 28 year old "NBSB" (No Boyfriend Since Birth) when I met the man who would eventually be my husband. I was so ignorant of "rules" like getting birthday presents for boyfriends or having to ask permission from somebody other than my parents when I wanted to go somewhere. I guess the long years of being single (as opposed to friends who were already attached since college or even high school) has somehow made me somewhat independent.

 Now, I still have a difficult time thinking of what to get the hubby for his birthday or for Christmas (with my savings that is, and not having to dip into the family coffers where all our income goes). But I'm pretty used to telling him about my plans for the day.

 In our almost 7 years of marriage, he's still my preferred companion to functions I have to go to. I don't have any big secrets though, so I can't remember anything I have had to keep from him. I'm not perfect, but he has managed to look past my faults and love me for the imperfect person that I am. I am glad that I ended up with him. While he too is not perfect, he tries to be the best husband to me and the best dad to our kids. 

Our life is not perfect, but we are content, and happy. I hope we stay that way.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Career musings

Sometimes I get dismayed with my career and think about shifting gears. I'd get all sorts of what ifs. What if I didn't become a doctor? What if I'd become a nurse or a physical therapist? Or maybe gotten out of anything medical, maybe one of those Travel Guide Jobs which seems very enjoyable, or maybe an entrepreneur where earnings have unlimited potential. But then I could not really think of any other job that would give me as much fulfillment and as much enjoyment. So here I am, still a doctor. Even if I am tired of the politics, the government policies which limit our practices, etc etc. The good with the bad. That's what we have to take when we go on our beloved calling.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A break

Our little family is looking forward to a few days of break this coming long weekend. We're not going far, just nearby Tagaytay where we could enjoy a few days of not working and a change of scenery and, hopefully, a respite from the Manila heat.

I don't think we're going for some swimming, because with the expected cool temperature (keeping fingers crossed), we might need to make sure that the pools there have PoolSupplyUnlimited.com pool heat pumps because we don't want to catch a chill. My children would definitely not want to go into the water if it's cold. I remember my little girl refusing to take a bath the last time we were there, while in Manila, she actually enjoys it.

We're hoping that we'd have time to bond as a family, since work and other things will be set aside, even if it's just for a few days. I am truly looking forward to it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cassettes

My brother has an ipod nano 8Gb which he won in last year's Mooncake Festival dice game and which he used when he went to the gym. Now that he doesn't get the time to go "gymming", it's pretty much unused. When I look at it, I marvel at how far techonology has progressed. I was a kid when the Sony Walkman was THE gadget that people wanted to get their hands on. I used to bring a tape recorder to school to record lectures. Now very few kids of this generation has seen a cassette. And they would probably laugh at how many songs can be stored in it. Well, I still have cassettes at home, and my car can still play tapes aside from CDs. The car is an old model though, so I would not be surprised if the newer cars do not have tape players anymore. Gosh, I feel old!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Family on ATV

I've seen a whole family here ride ATVs here inside our subdivision a few years back. Whenever they do that we are always amazed about the 5 ATVs and the fact that each member of the family rides his/her own vehicle. It's a sight to behold and it's a nice, albeit unique way for the family to bond, methinks. However, we haven't seen those in quite a while. I wonder why. Has the family moved away? Went abroad perhaps? Or maybe the novelty simply wore off and they decided that maintaining those ATVs and looking for ATV Parts can be quite difficult so they sold them? I really do not know. Or maybe they have simply moved those vehicles to a vacation house where they can better utilize them. Your guess is as good as mine. I think it's a splurge, but that's me. If you enjoy doing it, go!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Camping

My dad used to tell us about the time that he and my Uncle W went camping. According to him, it was so cold that they had to close the sleeping bag around their heads. They didn't want a tent because of the weather, and decided to just rent a motorhome (they didn't want to buy because it was a one time thing and they didn't want to bother with motorhome repairs and maintenance. Despite the cold, they enjoyed the trip and my dad never tired of telling the story. They were even able to bring my grandmother to the trip since it's like a small house. I wish we had something similar to these motor homes that we can use to enjoy camping with our kids. However, sadly, we do not have parks where we can safely enjoy the great outdoors with our families. That's why we only got to experience camping when we had our school activities like scouting or the CAT which we really did not enjoy that much. Oh well, I'm at the age when I enjoy my creature comforts, so a hotel room is good enough for me!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

No me time

I hardly have any time for myself lately. There are so many things I want to do which I couldn't. There are so many obligations that I needed to meet but I couldn't . Sigh, double sigh and triple sigh. It's probably the lot of a mom to put other things and other people before herself. I wish I could split myself in two or even three so that I can do all the things I need to do. And the things I WANT to do? I can't even blog regularly nowadays, never mind the conference call free trial I was wanting to avail. Forget it, there's really no time at all. I really long for the day I could get back some "me" time, but for now that seems like a fantasy. Sigh.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Busy tsinay

September is such a busy month so far! Not only is it my E's birth month, it's also the month when we observe my Dad's death anniv. Not to mention the end of the Ghost Month and the Mooncake Festival. I'll be blogging about these when I get the time. Which reminds me that I still have a lot of pending blog entries to do! Bad bad blogger.... I've been so so busy that I will have to skip an event that I would have liked to attend (boo hoo) and forego the Manila Book Fair (another boo hoo) even if I have access to free tickets. I was so looking forward to browsing through the siegel literature displays. If there's something I'm totally addicted to, it's books, although I haven't had the time lately to indulge in my favorite hobby. So maybe it's just as well that I couldn't go shopping for new ones which would probably just clutter up our tiny space for now. But on the positive side, things have been looking much brighter lately. I can only hope that our small family will continue to reaping blessings. Thank you Lord for all the good things that come our way lately.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why I don't want my kids to go into Medicine...unless they really really want to

For an indeterminate number of years, I have heard people telling me that being a good doctor is a great career choice. And I have always thought so. You are respected in the community. You actually fill a need -- healing patients. People look up to you. There's always a need for good doctors. And, the biggest misconception of all -- doctors are rich.

Well, I wish all the above stated reasons are all correct. But now I believe that the situation is no longer the same. People still respect doctors, but not at the same degree. Many people see doctors on a HMO basis and do not anymore care who sees them as long as they do not have to shell out cash for it. What they do not know is HMOs do not always pay properly and on time, that's why sometimes other doctors shun them if their private practice is already packed enough.

Healing patients will always be a thrill and a satisfaction booster, whether or not there is money involved. That's why I'm still here in this career and in this country. I'm sure you know of some good doctors who look for greener pastures, jumping at the chance to get Anesthesiologist Jobs, for example, in the United States and other Western countries where the pay is perceived to be higher.

Which brings me to the last point. Not all doctors are rich. Many doctors are rich because they have successful practices, but for every successful doctor, there are many other community doctors, moonlighters, company physicians and others whose income are probably equivalent or even less than a call center agent's salary.  My husband and I earn enough for our needs, some of our wants, we scrape enough to pay our son's tuition, and that's about it.  Hopefully by next year we can afford to have both kids in school without borrowing money.  And hopefully we can finally have a place we can call our own.

Thank goodness we love our jobs, notwithstanding.  Otherwise, we would have shifted careers already, seeing that it's actually less rewarding, financially and non-financially, than people give it credit for.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Online business

My uncle used to have an online store selling computer supplies like power sources, monitors, computer video cables, and other things I can't even pronounce. :) That was in the nineties, when people were just beginning to explore the wonders of the internet. He was way ahead of his time. Imagine, working from home, using the internet to get a steady income, getting suppliers and buyers online, and everything I want to be doing right now.

He's retired right now, and his site is no longer active.  Sayang, no?  (It's a pity).  I would have loved taking over, if I knew that he wouldn't want to continue with it.  Oh well.  I have my online micro online business right now on multiply, and I'm learning a lot from it.  On second thought, I might not be very successful with his business since I'm not very good with computers.  I know I'll learn, though.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Little Kikay

Many people associate girls with shopping and being "kikay" (I'm not sure about the translation, but I guess the closest would be "vain"). I always thought I was of a different class because I don't really shop on a regular basis and I don't apply makeup all that often. It's only lately that I've started applying some mineral makeup because other people felt I do not look professional enough, but otherwise, I'd rather go bare-faced. Well, it does have the "bonus" of making me look much younger.

Which is why I'm a bit surprised that my little 2 year old daughter is. She really is a girl much more kikay than I am. She loves changing her footwear every so often. She loves brushing or combing her hair, even if her efforts are not very effective in putting order into her hair. And she loves it when people say that she's pretty. I mean, where does she get that? I'm not a good role model for "kikayness"

Or maybe each girl has an innate sense of vanity. I do remember putting on my mom's makeup and spraying my mom's perfume when she's away. My parents, however, did a good job of saying that makeup and perfumes don't suit me. (Too good, in fact, that I'm really not used to either.)

Oh well, there's really nothing wrong with being very aware and being meticulous about how you look. I sometimes hope that I am more conscious about it. Maybe my daughter will be a better groomed person than I am.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Money

Back in the seventies, people who exchanged their pesos to dollars got a good deal, since the value of the dollar has multiplied several times already, when compared to the peso. However, this depends a lot on timing. In the late nineties, there was a sudden increase in the dollar rate as compared to the peso. I think the peak was at around 56 or 57 pesos to the dollar. It was even predicted that this could go higher.

My husband and I bought some at around the 53 peso mark, but since then the value has depreciated. Oh well. I guess "buying dollars" is a bit like gambling too. Come to think of it, any form of investment, whether stocks, bonds, mutual funds, "morgan dollars", foreign exchange, or even investing in a business or saving in a bank, involves risk.

There's also the option of not investing in anything and just keep your money at home.  But this also has risk -- inflation which would make the value of your money decrease over time and disasters like fires and floods.  I remember that after Typhoon Ondoy, I had to go through our drawer, find the money we kept there and carefully dry them one by one so as not to destroy them.

There is no perfect investment and no perfect place to park your money or make it grow. I guess we should just adopt a zen attitude towards the money that we choose to invest in certain instruments, hope for the best but expecting that the worst could happen anytime.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Yao Ming

Yao Ming is the first Chinese to be picked by the NBA (Wang Zhizhi has that distinction) but he is certainly very popular. While he has made Asians proud and probably made a lot more money than his compatriots due to both his salary as a player and his endorsement deals, he has actually made the NBA more popular to the Chinese. More Chinese followed the NBA seasons precisely because of his presence.

This is not the only sign of the Westernization of the Chinese. The donning of the so-called urban clothes is now acceptable within the younger set, unlike in the past decades when these may be frowned upon. Of course, there are many factors that brought this about. Yao Ming's entry into the NBA is part of China's globalization, I would say.

Now Yao Ming has retired a hero to the Chinese and considered a great NBA player.  All good things must come to an end.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Going abroad and starting all over

I just added another friend on facebook.  She's a former batchmate in Medical School who's now based in the United States and practicing OB/GYN. As far as I know, the surgical specialties are the more difficult to get into so I am very happy that she's now doing what many of us only dream of -- practice her medical career in the specialty of her choice in what is still considered as the Land Of Milk and Honey by most Asians, notwithstanding the country's current economic woes.

My brother said that sometimes it's all a matter of being willing to start from the lowest rung, which most people would not dream of doing. Maybe he's right. I feel though, that at the moment I not very willing to go through another round of examinations, but sometimes I envy those who actually had the guts to go and risk everything they have towards a future of uncertainty, but which ultimately turns out to be a good decision.

Maybe, one day, I'll decide to leave the Philippines and my depression over what seems to be permanent state of non-improvements here in order to improve our station in life. But I'm not really sure I can and want to start from the bottom of the Medicine Totem pole. I feel that I can no longer go through all those countless hours of "duty" in the hospitals. Well, we'll see, I might just change my mind. Or I might just look up another job. Who knows, maybe a real estate job with bentleyforbes is what we need to improve our lives.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Yaya clothes

It's been a habit here in the Philippines that yayas (nannies) are dressed up in nurse uniforms. I'm not quite sure when the trend started but when I was little, the nannies, especially the ones who have babies and toddlers as wards, usually wear white uniforms like that of members of the medical profession. Now, the trend is towards scrub suits. Which makes it rather difficult to distinguish the real medical professionals from the children's caregivers.

It's usually a sore point between my mom and me, since I'd prefer not to have those uniforms with my children's nannies. Some people have their nannies wear uniforms to "mark" them as help, but there are others who just prefer the dress code because some nannies and/or househelp dress a bit inappropriately. For example, wearing short shorts to a wedding. Since they usually do not have much money for their wardrobes, I do see the point of providing clothes that would at least look decent.

For my part, though, I'd rather buy them a few pieces of decent clothing that don't look like uniforms at all.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Road sense

One big difference between me and my husband is our sense of direction. He is very good with roads (he often jokes that he was born with a compass in his tummy), and if he has problems, he can easily read a map. Unlike most males, he's ok with asking for directions if ever he gets lost. I'm not very good with roads that I am not familiar with and although I can eventually figure out a map, it's not really easy for me. I'm ok with asking for directions, but sometimes I'm a bit shy.   I'd rather ask my husband to drive if the place that I'm going to is unfamiliar to me.

Maybe it would be a good idea to set up a GPS for my car, but I wonder which truck gps would be best for the roads here in the Philippines.While the technology is there, it hasn't quite become popular here in the Philippines yet, so I have not heard of any feedback yet. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Early gift shopping

I'm currently on the lookout for stuff that I can sell as wholesale gift items because Christmas is closer than you think. For retailers, both online and offline, the Christmas season is truly one big business opportunity, as people scramble to buy gifts for their loved ones. So if you're in the business, you should already be looking for suppliers by now and have your stuff in place about 2-3 months before the Christmas buying spree starts.

Another reason why I like to look around this early is that I will get more ideas for my own gift giving. Every year, I stress about gifts to several people, especially those who already have everything imaginable. I'm thinking that maybe I'll give gift baskets and confections to ninongs/ninangs this year? I really do not like giving useless doodads that I myself don't find myself using.

Well, I guess what I'm doing is both business and pleasure.  After all, I find it fun to do online "window-shopping" and if I earn something from it, it becomes twice the fun! :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Prenatal herbs

Pregnant women have to be especially careful about their health because they are, well, pregnant. The fetus is still very vulnerable to anything that the mom has. I'm sure you've heard of the bad effects of rubella virus. That's why I made sure that I had myself immunized with MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) virus before I got married, because I wasn't sure if I had suffered from the virus when I was young.

Not only is it difficult to get sick, it's also difficult to decide on what medications are safe. Even if paracetamol was considered safe, I would try to just sleep off a headache rather than take a pill. Of course, I'd rather suffer through the headache rather than take a pill that's dangerous to the fetus and later have to get the services of a Topamax Birth Defects Lawyer when I could have prevented it by just not taking any medications.

That's why the Chinese prenatal herbs advised to me something I was pretty wary about, because I am not an expert on herbs.  Many Chinese women take those herbs in order to ensure their health and the health of their baby.  None of my relatives had problems with their babies after taking those herbs.  But I would rather be sure, so I didn't.  I don't like to take a risk on my child.  Sometimes, ignorance is bliss, and more knowledge cause more worry. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

On handwashing, step stools and kids

I am pretty proud that we have inculcated in my kids handwashing during the crucial times (before eating, after going to the toilet, after the hands get dirty, etc.). A lot of disease causing microbes are actually carried by the hands, so if we are not careful, we can easily get sick.

It was during handwashing that I realized how tall my son has grown. We bought a plastic stool for him to step on when he was smaller. He already knows that he should get it, position it in front of the sink and step on it while washing his hands. The plastic stool has since broken, but he no longer requires it, because he's now tall enough to be able to wash his hands without stepping on anything.  It's amazing how tall he already is.  (Mommy senti moment here.)

Now much as I like the chrome step stools with handlebars for my daughter, I don't see it here and it may be overkill if it's just to train a youngster to wash her hands.  (Still looks very nice and very safe though).  My husband was able to buy an aluminum foldable step stool for her, which is probably safer than our old plastic one.  Now my little two year old knows that she has to get this, position this in front of the sink and step on it to wash her hands.  Her hands don't quite reach the faucet though.  But she enjoys having her hands washed.  Pretty soon, she'll grow tall enough not to require the stool. Sigh...They grow up so fast.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Multiligual

Many Tsinoys and Tsinays like me learn to be multilingual at an early age, mainly because we are exposed to so many languages while we were growing up. We learned the following: Fukien (a Chinese dialect from the province of Fujian, China) by parents and grandparents, Filipino (mainly Tagalog) from our nannies, from most people around us (of course!), English from school and from Sesame Street, and Chinese Mandarin from school.

It depends on the family, though. I know a lot of Tsinoys/Tsinays who can't speak fluent Chinese already, much less read and write the characters. I'm hoping that I could educate my children with Chinese, but it's difficult to try to carry on a conversation with them in Chinese without offending my Pinoy husband. Sigh.

I haven't learned other languages, though. I'd need an online translator or a franklin electronic dictionary in order to figure out French or Spanish. It's a good thing for me that these languages are not commonly used in our side of the world.

I'm continually amazed by people who can speak a lot of languages FLUENTLY. I can claim fluency in the 4 languages I mentioned, but I feel stumped sometimes if I have to try to speak in 1 pure language. The tendency for me is to mix languages. Oh well, the downside of growing up with a lot of languages. But I guess the advantages outweigh the disadvantages!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Caught in between

All these trouble regarding the Spratleys make me really really sad, because we Chinese Filipinos would be caught right smack in the center of the problem. It's like being torn between two lovers and being hard pressed to choose one.

It was probably easier when both China and the Philippines had a common enemy. My grandfather was already here in the Philippines during World War II. While I doubt that he ever held even bushnell rifle scopes during the war, he did his part. He was a trader, but at the time he already had a growing business. What he did was hide the men who were fighting the Japanese soldiers in his warehouses. He would never be remembered in history, since his role wasn't really that "dramatic", but I am proud of him for risking not only his business, but also his very life to fight for what he believed in.

Our situation now is very much different. We are of 100% Chinese parentage and we were born and live in the Philippines. To whom do we owe our allegiance? Pinoys would say that we should owe our allegiance to the Philippines, the land where we live, while mainlanders would say that we should owe our allegiance to the land of our ancestors. It really is much easier to say things when you are not in anothers' shoes.

I really hope that the Spratleys situation would improve soon so we wouldn't have to be caught in the crossfire.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Canada

My brother is in Canada. He's now a permanent resident there. He told me that it's a nice place, maybe I should consider moving there with my family. I told him that if I do so, I probably would have to take another round of board exams before I can practice medicine, and I'm really not sure if I want to do that. The thing is, not all occupations can be immediately translatable if you move to another country. I do not think a Philippine attorney could simply be a Texas Work Injury Attorney just because he wants to.

I know that my medical license is good only for the Philippines. If I go elsewhere, I am not considered a licensed doctor. At my age, I am quite tired of taking exams. Told my brother that I'll just become a problogger or something if ever I migrate. Hahaha!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Independence Day

The Philippine Independence Day (June 12) just happens to fall on a Sunday. Unlike in previous years, there's no "holiday economics" anymore, so there would not be a non working day during the weekday (usually Monday) in lieu of the Sunday holiday. Sigh.

I noticed, however, that for most Pinoys, Independence Day celebrations are no longer as celebrated as before. Aside from being, hopefully, a respite from work, there is nothing special in that day. Of course, there's the obligatory government ceremonies and celebration, but at the level of common Pinoy, there really is no feeling of it being a big deal. Unlike in the US, where there are Independence Day parades, fireworks, parties complete with July 4th Invitations, and all that jazz. Which is sad, because it actually shows how little pride the average Pinoy has in his country.

I'd love to be corrected.  So if you think that I'm wrong in saying this, do leave a comment and cite examples of how Pinoys are proud of our country.

Renovations

My mom is in a mini renovating mood again. This time is our clean kitchen. She had the wallpapers removed and painted instead. I kinda miss the wallpapers, though. I found it cute, with its onion and scallions design. Too bad I wasn't able to take a picture of it before they took it down. Well, it's been 17 years since we put up those wallpapers. They've been there since we started living here. They now look a little sad because they look quite dirty already.

A little over two years ago, we had several months of renovation, which included repair of the leaking ceilings, changing of the water pipes, and repair of the broken laminate floor. It was more extensive then, took much more time and much more money.

I guess these are just some of the things that are already a given if and when you have a house -- the repair and maintenance.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Need to recharge

Last week, both the hubby and I got sick. While bonding over our illness, we realized that we may be just a little burned out. Trying to earn a living and trying to be hands on parents (or as hands on as possible) is not an easy balancing act, and I guess something just had to give. Added to that is that our idea of rest is simply sleeping -- with our kiddoes. No massage, none of those fancy premier dead sea scrubs. None. Our idea for a date is waking up when the kids are asleep and watching a DVD while munching on chips and drinking soda. I'm not complaining. We realize that it's a stage that we have to go through, but we also realize that we need to slow down sometimes from the rat race, take time out for ourselves and not just for the kids, and enjoy a movie, dinner or a date once in a while.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hair talk

I don't know if my brothers will be getting male pattern baldness when they get older. There's a chance that they won't, because my dad didn't. Well, he did lose his hair when he had to undergo chemotherapy but when he switched meds, it grew back, even when he didn't use any hair loss product. But some of my uncles did experience receding hairlines, so I don't really know if the gene for that will pass down to my brothers. One of my brothers did have bouts of temporary hair loss due to stress. With the proper medication and with less stress, it got better.

But if you think about it, beyond the ribbing, society in general knows and believes that it's pretty normal and expected for some men to lose their hair at around a certain age.  Not so for women.  Hair is considered a woman's crowning glory and losing or thinning hair in a woman is a bigger issue for the woman rather than the man.

Good thing, I haven't seen my female relatives with hair loss issues so I would like to think that I'm safe from that. I hope so.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hong Kong

I haven't been to Hong Kong in almost 7 years. The last time I went there was for my honeymoon. Before that, our family has been there quite often. It's not surprising, since my mother grew up there and I still have relatives there. My first trip was when I was still an infant, but of course I couldn't remember that. I still have my very first passport, it was signed by my father and the foreign minister was still Carlos Romulo (oops, revealing my age here).

The first trip that I actually remember was when I was 7, I think. I remember being amazed about a lot of things. Like the hotel and the car that brought us to it. The "do not disturb" and "make up room" door hangers. The MTR, double decker buses, tram, star ferry. Ocean Park. McDonald's (my first taste of Mcdo hamburger was in Hong Kong).

We've had several trips to Hong Kong after that trip, and I've enjoyed each and every trip.

The last trip I had there was with my new husband. Although it was a short 3 day 2 night stay, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and traveling with him. Since it was his first time there, I enjoyed showing him the places that I have enjoyed before.

We haven't been back since then. I'm hoping that we could bring our kids in a few years' time. It will be my first time to see Hong Kong Disneyland, so I'll be experiencing something new for the first time with my family. I can't wait for that day!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

SSS woe

With all the flurry of payments -- tuition, credit card bills, rent, I almost forgot that it's almost time for me to pay my second quarter SSS benefits. Good thing I checked on the contributions I have to make. I was surprised coz it seems that I have to pay a it more for the same income bracket. While I'm self employed and could pretty much choose my own income bracket, I'd like the same level of social security benefits that I am entitled to. Oh well, what do I expect?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Still under my mom's roof

Our little nuclear family of four is still living under my mother's roof. Sigh. I know many of you will think that the hubby and I shouldn't have gotten married and started a family when we couldn't afford our own place yet, but then there are different circumstances for everybody, and we decided on what seems to be the best course under the circumstances that we faced/are facing.

The hubby and I are both doctors and were in training up to our early thirties. That means that we were not making any significant income since we what we got as trainees are mere allowances. And even when we started our practice, we weren't earning enough to pay rent/mortgage on top of our other obligations.

We got married at the age of 34 -- my husband was still finishing up his fellowship training at that time.  It was  actually a borderline age for childbearing.  We HAD TO get married if we want to have legitimate kids without having too much risk in our pregnancies (well, hopefully). And we did get blessed immediately! About 10 months later, we had our little boy in our arms -- but he had some health issues. We couldn't leave him alone with just the nanny. What if we had to rush him to the hospital? So living with relatives was the best option at that time, and my mother's place was the best place to be, as it was nearest the hospitals and our work, meaning we could very well rush back if he needs us and we just happened to be away.  Not to mention that there is probably no one I trust more than my mom and mom-in-law when it comes to my children.

We had our second baby just a little under 2 years ago, and we had the same concerns -- where to leave her when we have to go out to work. So mom and her house -- still the best option.

Now my eldest is studying, but with the high cost of tuition AND the high cost of rent and mortgages, we're beginning to wonder when we could move out. For now, the education of our kids is our priority, and it supercedes our longing to have our own place.  If only we could just buy a small RV and park it near my mom's, we'd have some feel of being on our own. However, how to maintain an RV? We don't really have rv towing and repair services here -- at least none that I know of.

Maybe we should simply just take the leap of faith. Anyway, we've been in various financial dire straits before and we've always pulled through, especially with help from family. God is good and He has always provided.  We should just trust that we'll survive somehow.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

No cameras?

The weird thing sometimes about my (extended) family is that we tend to forget to take pictures for posterity. That's from a family that has several cameras, from SLRs (my uncles) to point and shoots, take your pick -- Nikon, Samsung, Canon and casio digital cameras. No to mention cellphones with camera function. There really is no excuse not to record everything, but it's funny that people just plain forget! Like the last get together of the family when my cousin came over -- we don't have a single picture of that!

Oh well, there's always the next occasion! Maybe we'll remember the next time around!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shabu shabu for my brother's birthday

My family are hotpot (shabu shabu) fans. We have a couple of pots bought for that express purpose. We find hot pots in restos to be very expensive, so we usually make our own. It is so much better because we get to eat a lot more for the money that we shell out. Hot pot in restos are generally much more expensive, and we sometimes do not find some items that we want. We can also take time to savor the food, since we are at home and could take as long as we want. I always find that I inadvertently overeat whenever we have a hot pot dinner, so much so that I feel that I might just need a colon cleanser!

While hot summer evenings are not exactly the best time to enjoy such a feast, we just had one last night, in celebration of my brother's ___th birthday, his first with his baby daughter!  Happy birthday, bro!

I think I overate, again! Hahaha

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pregnant looking still but not pregnant

I've been asked again if I am pregnant and I had to say NO, I'm not, I just haven't lost my post partum belly. Sigh. I know I need to do some exercises for my tummy. It's great that my weight is not really an issue because I quickly lost them after a few months (read up on adderall and weight loss but didn't really need it in the end).  What I need is to shape up so my tummy doesn't always look like another baby is on the way.

While on the subject of babies, Baby R may very well be our bunso. I'm turning 41 this year so the chances of me having another one is slim -- but not zero. Let's see. If I get another "blessing" I'd welcome it with all my heart, but if not, I'm happy with my boy and my girl. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Loading Business

I don't know if it's the sign of the times, but even beggars nowadays ARE choosers. They won't accept small coins -- those with values of 25 centavos, for example, or food. I've actually seen some beggars throw the food or small denomination coins that's being given to them.  In disgust I suppose, but then while those amounts may be small, if you add them up, it should be quite substantial.  Tsk tsk tsk.

That's also why some people don't want to go into business when the profit margin is not very high.  They want a "tubong lugaw" sort of thing (meaning:  low capital but very high profits).  But successful business people and entrepreneurs know that small profits add up.  What you want is for customers to get back to you again and again and again.  And while profits per item are small, the small profits added up over several items would make your initial investment grow over time.

Which is why I'm pretty happy with my loading business. It does not earn me much per transaction, but it's pretty easy to do. Customers keep coming back because I do not overcharge them. And the small 8 to 10 percent profit that I get is already enough for me, as long as they go back to me again and again to load more. If you're interested, check out the blog where I talk more about this business. CLICK HERE.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Short getaway

We just went on a trip to Tagaytay. It was a pretty inexpensive trip for us, since we stayed in a relative's house instead of a hotel. That alone translated to more that 10K in savings, when you consider that we stayed for 3 nights (could have stayed longer if only my little girl didn't get sick). The trade off is that we had to clean up the place since it's been a while since it has been occupied.

The place is not that dirty. Just some "unavoidable" dust here and there. Good thing there was no toilet or  basement moisture from the last occupancy which could cause some mildew to grow. It was a relatively easy cleanup, not as bad as we thought.

We did our grocery and cooked our meals, which added to our savings.  A trip to the grocery costing about 1700 pesos fed 4 adults and 2 kids for about 6 meals.  If we had eaten out, that would probably not be enough for even 1 meal for us.

We also enjoyed our relative independence.  It was exciting being in charge of what to do, where to go and what to eat.

My grandma spends most of her time there in Tagaytay, and it's so easy to see why she prefers it there.  The cool climate, the slower pace of life, the fresher air.  It's so relaxing.  We went to visit her, and she seemed pretty happy.

We went to the Picnic Grove.  My son wanted to try the zipline, so my husband went with him.  We also rode the cable car.  E also got to ride a horse.  A short, but enjoyable afternoon.  But, the place was...sad.  It had so much potential, but it didn't live up to it.  The trail was very dirty, with garbage strewn everywhere.   I didn't dare go inside the restrooms, because I felt that it would be dirty, and I was right.  My son went in and went right out, exclaiming that it was dirty.  Sigh.  I hope the government of Tagaytay City would improve the place.  I'm pretty sure we won't be going back there anytime soon.

My kids are pretty simple kids.  What they probably enjoyed most was the playground.  I loved that it was pretty cool and my kids didn't get all hot and sweaty after playing.  It's a pretty good way for them to expend all their energy. 

I think we should have brought a TV though, because there are times when we needed the kids to stay still for a bit and they won't. :P  On second thought, it was ok that they took a break from TV too.

We planned to go to Paradizoo, but since my little girl developed a fever, we decided to head right back to Manila.

We really enjoyed our short break.  We were able to bond with our kids.  Hope we could have another trip soon.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A progressive "Chinese" preschool

I remember when I was a little kid and the rage in school products then were pencil cases with multiple compartments and box type school bags with wheels. Hello Kitty, Little Twin Stars and the other Sanrio characters makes a little girl feel "in", while little boys prefer Voltes V, star rangers and the like.

Now, we've evolved to simpler pencil cases and wheeled backpacks, and while little girls (and their mothers too!), again, go gaga over Hello Kitty, little boys now go for Ben10, Spider-man, Thomas the train, and Cars.

What hasn't changed is the desire for parents for their kids to have a good education. 

It's because of this that I didn't turn down an invitation to join other mommy bloggers in a unique progressive Chinese small school in New Manila.  While I've been happy with my son's previous small school and now, his big school, I am still looking for other options because I'd like my children to learn Chinese.  I'm looking for options for my little girl's small schooling next year.  As for my preschool boy, he's now in a non-Chinese school but I'd still like him to study Chinese.

Will talk more about the school in a while.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Baby acne

My niece (my brother's baby girl) is now almost a month old. The parents and the grandma (my mother) was understandably concerned when they saw that she had some tiny red "pimples" on her little face.

I remembered that both my kids had the same "uncute phase" (well, compared to their other phases) when they about that age, so I told them that they should not be very concerned about it. It's normal at this age, and even without any acne home remedies, these "baby acne" will clear up on its own and you'll even wonder if they ever went through that.

Of course, the acne that crops up at puberty is another story entirely.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Computer games

I think it's kinda ironic that my brothers and I were never really hooked on video games when we always had them when we were younger, despite the fact that it was the Martial Law era.

We "inherited" my uncle's Atari when he got tired of it. It was funny. The "tennis game" had these big pixels. A few pixels joined together was the "player" or racket and you were supposed to move the controls to block the large (square) pixel "ball". It's such a far cry from the PC Games that we have nowadays.

Since my parents go to Hong Kong often, we have a lot of those Nintendo game and watch. One unit is only 1 type of game. We had a lot of fun with them, but of course, if it's only 1 game, you eventually get tired of it.

We didn't go through the Family computer. But we did play some games on the old green monochrome desktop PC which was considered "hi-tech" at the time. My mother also bought a Nintendo Game Boy, probably one of the earliest versions, but we only played the Brick Game. Which was a pity, because later there were stand alone Brick game consoles which cost much less.

Now we really do not get to play those computer games anymore (except maybe for Solitaire :) ) which is just as well.  I didn't even buy a PSP for my son, and he hasn't gotten around to wanting one and asking for one.  I'd rather that he doesn't ask for a while yet. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Family history of cancer

My family has a family history of cancer. More notably lung cancer. Both my grandfathers had this disease. Both were smokers, and heavy smokers at that.

My maternal grandfather passed away from that disease. I never met him in person.

My paternal grandfather chain smoked. He always had an ashtray full of cigarette butts. He then got cancer in the eighties. It was then that he fully stopped smoking. Everytime he craved for a cigarette, he would eat a hard candy. If there was such a thing as an e cigarette before, I guess he would have used that. He was one of the few cancer survivors I know because he lived until around 15 years later. But he suffered from emphysema and chronic bronchitis the rest of his life.

My Dad, on the other hand, was not really a smoker.  Sure, he may have smoked an occasional  stick or two at the egging of friends or companions (if there was a thing called "social smoker", he was it), but he was never the smoker that his father was.  So we never thought that he would have the disease -- and eventually die of it.  We realized, however, that there was heavy smoking among his acquaintances, and he was probably inhaling all their second hand smoke all through the years.

I really wish that people would just stop smoking.  They harm not only themselves but also other people around them.  I wish they would soon realize that.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My techie mom

My mom is very techie for her age. She's more advanced than we are when it comes to the latest gadgets. Imagine, her laptop is a Mac, she has an iphone and an iPad (a gift, actually). I'm glad, because it does give her something to do (I guess it does prevent Alzheimer's since she gets to use her brain more often!

Before she got her IPhone, she was using an HTC touch phone. Here's the catch -- it's in Chinese. So was her old laptop (the one that preceded her Mac) -- the Windows was a Chinese version. Which causes problems when she encounters some technical problem (for example, needing to use a scanning software) because while my brothers and I know Chinese well enough for everyday use and conversations, we're not very good with the Chinese Tech-speak.

So, it's a good thing that her present gadgets are mainly English but Chinese can be used. She needs the Chinese for her work and conversations with friends, but for the tech stuff, English is much better for all of us.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Too close to TV

You remember the threat: Huwag masyadong lumapit sa TV pag nanonood, baka masira mata mo. Sige ka, magsasalamin ka pag ganyan. (Translation: Don't stay too close to the TV screen when watching, you might damage your eyes and require prescription glasses.)  My parents and other caregivers have issued this warning over the years, and many more parents my age are issuing this same warning now to their kids.  I get kids whose parents blame the TV for their childrens' error of refraction.

Actually, it works the other way around.  You should be on the alert when your children have the habit of veering too close to the TV, or a weird head position when watching TV.  I'll tackle this issue in my medical blog.  Watch out for it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vacation injury

Years and years ago, my family was vacationing in Hong Kong. There was a big sale event at one of the major department stores which we frequent whenever we were there.

There were so many people everywhere we look! The escalators were full, everywhere we looked there were people. Then the descending escalator stopped...but only the "stair" part. The "handrail" part kept moving. And my mother just happened to be at the bottom. All the people on the escalator fell on her, she fell and injured her arm. She lost her expensive bracelet too.

She tried claiming from the department store. She consulted a lawyer who assured her that they have a good chance of winning. However, she needed to stay in Hong Kong while the case was being processed, and she didn't want that since she needed to come back home after the scheduled vacation. So she never got compensated for her injuries and the loss of her bracelet.

Is it the same in the USA? If you're a tourist and met some accident in say, Austin, Texas, would an Austin personal injury attorney (like this one: O’Hanlon, McCollom & Demerath – Personal Injury Lawyers – 808 West Avenue, Austin, TX. 78701 – 512-494-9949) be able to file your case for you even if the time came for you to leave?

I felt that my mother had enough hassles incurring the injury. Sure it was an accident. But the department store should have at least offered to help my mom, which they didn't.

While my mom never got to press charges, our family never went to that department store again. We were just too disappointed with it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thinking of a summer getaway

Summer is almost here. The hubby and I want to have a vacation! Preferably just the four of us and maybe the yayas (or maybe not) so that we can really experience being on our own as a nuclear family. We've always lived with our families (with my in-laws for a very brief time and then later, with my folks) -- yes, Westerners would probably laugh at us but it's actually a practice that many Chinese families do. It has its own pros and cons, of course, and for now, the pros outweigh the cons, that's why we're still here, although we tell ourselves that this should not be a permanent thing.

Anyway, since we have a very small budget for the vacation that we want, we would probably not plan something as expensive or elaborate as one in the Outer Banks (although I hope I'd be able to afford that sometime in the future). We're thinking of something a little simpler, reachable by land, travel should not be too long and accommodations should be affordable.

We're really just after a getaway, something to take our minds off our routine, something to remember as a special bonding time with our kids.  We're thinking Tagaytay for now.  Hmmm....

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Waiting for our baby niece

My sister-in-law is due anytime. Her expected date of delivery was last Sunday, but she still does not have any sign of labor. Yesterday, she had a biophysical scoring ultrasound done. Everything's a-ok so far. So my brother and SIL are home, waiting for some sign that their baby is finally ready to make an appearance.

This will the first "nai sun" (grandchild from a son--the one which will carry the family name) of my mom. If it turns out to be a boy, it's as if my mom has fulfilled her obligation to her ancestors to make sure the paternal line is continued. My kids are "gua sun" (grandchild from a daughter -- which won't carry the family  name).  Unfortunately for us girls, Chinese value males more. I think that it's not just for Chinese but for most people around the world. Even in the Western world where there is supposed to be more gender equality, fathers would distribute monte cristo cigars if the child turns out to be a son but not if turns out to be a daughter.

Frankly, I'd just be happy if the baby comes out healthy. From an earlier ultrasound, it looks like a new niece for me, but in the last 2 ultrasounds, the baby just refuses to uncross his/her legs, so even the OB sonologist isn't so sure about the gender. :D

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My little girl is so vain!

My little girl is now into imitating what I do and wear. So kikay talaga! (She's so vain!) And to think she's not even 2 years old yet! She loves slipping her feet into my cloth slippers (or anybody's slippers for that matter). When I leave my shoulder bag lying around, she'll be sure to get it and tote it around like a little lady. And when a comb or brush just happens to be lying around, she'll actually get it to "fix" her hair!

Come to think of it, I did have a stage like that but I believe I was a bit older because I already have memories of getting my mother's high heeled shoes and wearing them when mom is not around! (Thank goodness I never suffered any accidents during that time or else I might have needed ankle braces -- stilletos in the seventies were about as high as the ones in fashion right now!) I also remember locking mom's door when she was away so that I can play with her makeup and perfumes. Mom would then smell me reeking of some designer perfume when she gets home!

Well, now that I'm an adult, I never wear stilettos, which is just as well as my daughter wouldn't be tempted to slip her tiny feet into them. I wear minimal makeup too. Well, maybe the stage will take a long time to wear off. Maybe one day I'll come home to find her smelling of perfume and lips looking just too red for comfort. :D

Sunday, February 27, 2011

As Seen On TV

Believe it or not, I actually enjoy watching infomercials. The ones wherein a "breakthrough" product is introduced, and available only when you dial a certain number and if you dial now, you get a huge discount and freebies!

These offers range from the "best acne treatments", cooking aids, exercise equipment etc. We've actually bought a few "as seen on tv" products, although we never really called the number flashed on the screen. We'd eventually find some of these products in some stores like ACE hardware or another store.

Some of them actually turn out to be good buys, like the Jack Lalaine juicer. I haven't used Proactiv, but this acne remedy is now available everywhere, which attests to its effectiveness, I guess. A friend loves the George Foreman grill. So they actually have some very good products, although some do turn out to be lemons. Well, this applies to most things anyway.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bad sense of direction

I am not very good with directions and I don't like going into unfamiliar places. My husband claims that it is a female trait. I do not if it is true but it certainly applies to me. I like driving only to places that I am familiar with. For those places that I am not familiar with, I'd prefer my husband, who has a much better sense of direction than me.

But what if I have to go to an unfamiliar place and my husband couldn't go with me. I'm no good with map reading and besides it's difficult to read maps when it's dark. I'm seriously researching on the pros of mobile gps. I wonder if these gadgets could detect the one-way streets especially since there are so many especially in Makati.

Don't even let me go to the probinsya without a companion.  I have no confidence that I won't get lost.

For some reason, I get lost more easily here in the Philippines than in Hong Kong!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Balance of foods

When I stepped into puberty and started having some acne, my mom and the other elders blamed my diet. They claimed that the foods that cause the pimples are too "diet" or "heaty".

This stems from a belief in Traditional Chinese Medicine that you have to maintain a balance between "hot" and "cold" (or yin and yang) to maintain health. Having pimples means that I have too much "heat", according to this principle. So, the principe of how to remove pimples means that I have to eat foods that are less "heaty" and more "cool". That means less fried foods, less oily foods, less chocolates and other foods deemed to be "heaty".  More green vegetable and fruits are recommended.

It's different for women who just gave birth.  Since they lost a lot of blood during the birthing process, they are deemed to have lost a lot of heat and thus needs to consume more of the foods deemed heaty and avoid the cool foods.

It's actually quite interesting, and while there are no RCTs to support it, it's one of those things that do not really do any harm, in my opinion.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I don't like "requested" prescriptions

About 10 or so years ago, when Orlistat first came out in the Philippine market (the first brand being Xenical), it was by prescription only. Some of my relatives want me to prescribe for them, and for their friends besides. I'm ok with them coz I see them, what I'm not ok with is prescribing for people I haven't seen at all. Sigh.

Well, Orlistat has since become an OTC drug. Here in the Philippines, the same strength that used to be prescription only no longer needs a prescription. I wonder how the pharmaceuticals managed to do that, but I am glad that I am no longer obligated to provide prescriptions for my relatives and their contacts. I'm very afraid that the medical license I worked so hard for might be in jeopardy for such "requested" prescriptions, so having that out of the way is such a relief.

In the US, I believe they came out with a lower strength orlistat now popularly know by its brand name Alli. This one needs no prescription so I guess it boosted the sales of the pharmaceuticals as many people want to lose weight. Now, is alli effective, especially since it is lower dosed than Xenical? I'm afraid I do not have much data on these, especially since the one marketed in the Philippines is still Xenical and Alli does not seem to be available.

But like I said, I'm glad I'm no longer obligated to give prescriptions for people who want an easy way of losing weight.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kids make life worth living

The past few weeks have been very hectic for our family. It's mainly because my kids got sick, one after the other, for two rounds. Thank goodness all that is over. Now I feel that I'm always hungry. I guess my stress levels are so high that it feels as if I've consumed fat burners.

I guess that's  how it is when you become parents--you are now responsible for other people who are fully dependent upon you - your children.  Now that I have 2 kids, I often wonder how my parents were able to raise us.  Everyday feels like a struggle, trying to make ends meet and trying to be as hands on as possible. 

But would I trade this life for a lighter life of singlehood without having to worry about somebody else?  No, not for the world.  The life that I have now may be hectic, but every smile from my kids, every simple accomplishment makes me feel that everything is so worth it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My kid needs a little fattening

Since I go to a new clinic at Shang Mall, I now get the chance to look at the organic, natural products at Healthy Options. I was looking at the racks carrying vitamin supplements and weight loss products because I was looking for a way to boost my son's protein intake and maybe gain some weight.

Most of the elders in my family, especially my mom, have commented on E's "thin-ness".  Which puts a lot of pressure on me as his mom.  "Thin kid", as far as the elders are concerned, means that the mom is not doing enough.  Sigh!

It's also pretty difficult to get him to eat a lot, and eat fast.  Watching him eat "eats" up a huge chunk of the time for me.  Kinda reminds me of myself when I was a kid like him, so maybe it's karma working against me?  My mom seems to think so.  :)

Adding to my woes, he can't have cow's milk, which would have been an easier way for me for him to up his protein and his calories.

On his last pedia check up, his weight is average for his age, but he's on the upper curve as far as his height is concerned, which probably accounts for the fact that he looks really thin. I try to tell mom that his numbers are pretty good, but she turns the table and shows me that he really looks malnourished.  Double sigh.

So that brings me to Healthy Options and its health food racks.  However, I haven't found anything suitable.  I've started him on one egg a day, mixed into his breakfast oatmeal.  It seems to be working a bit.  I hope so.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tall!

On my son's last Pedia check up, my son is on the 75th percentile of the height chart. So, no problems there. I do not need to check out growth hormone reviews for him since his growth seems to be on the right track and is even in the upper curve. If this trend continues, he'll be taller than my husband and me.  Which would be great, because height is usually an advantage.

Will he be a basketball player? Well, it's what most people think when they see tall people, right? Well, I don't know, but he certainly likes shooting his (small) ball into his (small and low) hoop and idolized his Uncle J. Why not, eh?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Healthway Congress

Last Wednesday, I attended a congress by Healthway. It was a pretty productive day for me. Since I've specialized, I no longer update myself on the new trends in other specialties via formal lectures and congresses like these. It's also good because I found myself relating to these topics both as a doctor and as a patient (or parent of a patient). For example, the lectures on antihistamines and topical spray steroids had me think of my son's chronic allergic problem and made me think of putting him on a low dose maintenance therapy. The dermatologist went through the different approaches to acne treatment. Is there a role of vitamin b for acne? Does diet play a part too? What about stress? All these were tackled. Being somebody who was plagued by acne during my younger years, the lecture is quite an eye-opener for me.

For most of us doctors, the most fun lecture was the least medical.  Former beauty queen and now image consultant Abbygale Arenas showed us the basics of looking more professional and more trustworthy.  It can be summarized in these words:  smile, eye contact, handshake, attire, makeup.


I enjoyed myself.  I even found a new friend.  All in all, it was a morning well spent.  I even enjoyed breakfast and lunch, and there was even free shuttle.  There was only 1 glitch -- we were supposed to end at around 12:30pm.  We ended up at around 3pm.  Which meant that those of us who were supposed to be somewhere ended up late.

Oh well, there's always room for improvement. At least a good thing has been started.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Unromantic Tsinoys

They say that Tsinoys are not romantic -- they'd rather give you something useful like blackberry covers rather than spend for "useless" flowers and chocolates. Of course, that's just a generalization but my grandfather and father were certainly good examples of these.  My mom probably got more designer bags and perfumes than flowers from my dad, even if the designer things are actually more expensive.  Well, I guess that's the "practicality" of the Tsinoys setting in.

That does not mean, though, that Tsinoys don't love the women in their lives.  They do, but they are just not as showy as Pinoys.  And they may not be sweet in the usual Pinoy way, but if they love their women, they would make sure that they take care of their women really well.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kiong Hee

We just had our Chinese New Year's Party and in addition to the usual family members, Cousin L also came with husband R and little S. It was very nice meeting her family for the first time! My family's getting "international", with L and her family based in Shanghai, Uncle W (who was able to come! Hurray!) and his family based mainly in Canada, cousin Z (who was not able to come this time) based in USA. The weather cooperated, and we got a lovely cool breeze instead of the usual humidity that Manila has. My grandmother chose to stay in the backyard instead of the main dining room as she enjoyed the weather.

My gadget-loving family, with their IPads, Galaxies, Sony VAIOs, and digital cameras, were somehow too excited to document the events.  I miss Uncle M, who is the photo enthusiast and has a new toy a DSLR (can't remember if it's Canon or Nikon though) and ends up as the official documenter of these family affairs.

The kids got their ang paos, we had good food, which, 2 days later, we're still enjoying (the leftovers, that is).

Kiong hee huat zai!  I hope the Year of the Rabbit will be a prosperous year for our family and for yours too!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chinese New Year's Eve

Tonight is the eve of Chinese New Year. Of course, my side of the family, being ethnic Chinese, will have a celebration! This year, it's going to be at my mom's house, since my grandma's house is undergoing repairs.

I'm excited to finally see my cousin L who's been away for a long time, gotten married and had a baby. This is going to be the first time I'm meeting her husband and her baby. I'm sure we'll have lots of things to talk about.

It's pretty sad though that we very rarely get the whole clan together. L and her family were not around when my grandmother had her 90th birthday bash. My Uncle W and his family came over, as with a lot of other relatives, but L, and other cousins A and M couldn't make it. Now that L could make it, Uncle W and family, cousin Z and family, cousins A and M couldn't. Sigh. With the wonders of technology, I wonder if we could just hook up one of the computers and possibly make a "Conference call Chinese New Year celebration"?

I guess that's the price of globalization and migration.  It's really very difficult to bring people from different parts of the globe to one place at one time.  There will always be somebody who cannot be around.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gift giving to older people

I'm really not a good gift giver. I mean, what kind of gift do I give someone who's older than I am, more accomplished than I am, and has a lot more money than I do? You cannot give an ang pao to an older person, that's for sure. There goes a surefire, one-size-fits-all, always appreciated gift.

In general, too, unlike kids who are easily made happy by an inexpensive toy, older people tend to know the value of things and would somehow make you guilty if you picked not only the "wrong" gift, but also a gift that's low on the monetary value.  While people will always say that it's the thought that counts, you do not want your father/mother/grandparent/godparent to feel anything but good when they receive your gift. That's why I sometimes try looking at websites like these: redenvelope.com/50th-birthday-gifts-rb50b. After all, while it's the thought that counts, memorable gifts do make the occasion even more memorable for the celebrant.

I am ashamed to say that I can only afford buying simple toiletries for the elders in my family.  But I'm glad to see that they actually do enjoy those gifts and actually use them!  I guess the thought really counts!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My grandfather's generation

They say that Tsinoys are good merchants and good businessmen. Maybe. Or maybe they just had to train themselves to be good in business. Most of the older Tsinoys, like my grandfather, came over to the Philippines in the hope of earning money and maybe giving his family a better life. With limited education, no contacts, no knowledge of either Tagalog or English he stepped onto Philippine shores, and very young to boot (some accounts say he was 16, others had him pegged even younger at 13) -- I can only imagine what he went through to improve his life and that of his family's. 

Nowadays, we have the benefit of computers with business intelligence software, MBA programs, college courses, a better command of Tagalog and English, and still we cannot really match the success attained by that generation.  Or maybe since everybody then was so down in the dumps at the time due to war that there was really nowhere to go but up.  Nevertheless, you had to admire how resourceful they were to be able to make something out of their limited (monetary and otherwise) resources to provide for their families. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brrrrr....

I love the weather we're having right now -- chilly enough for me to wear my long sleeved shirts, chilly enough for me not to sweat and not to feel tired too easily. 

It kinda reminds me of our overnight stay in Tagaytay just after Christmas.  We decided to have a little break and went to Tagaytay.  Of course, there were a lot of people since other people had basically the same idea.  So we weren't really able to move around, but we were enjoying the very cool climate -- so cool you'd think we weren't in the Philippines at all.  My little girl didn't even want to take a bath!  LOL!  And she's usually so excited about baths!  It was definitely jacket/sweater weather! Just the right Christmassy climate that I was missing lately!

Since we stayed at our relatives' house, we didn't really pay for lodging.  We did have to bring our own beddings though.  Good thing the fleece blankets we brought were enough, there was no need for heaters or electric blankets.

Hubby and I are actually contemplating on going back for a quick break, maybe in the summer when E is on his school vacation. My kids are only young once and we want to make memories with them. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Still on tummy bulge

To follow up on my previous post about my (lack of) shape, I should click here for ab workouts as they are almost my only problem area.

I've always been a not-so-active person. And no wonder, since academics are preferred over any sports or extracurricular activities. Which means that sometimes I'm pretty much on the outside looking in, if you get my drift.

Now my husband is suggesting that we run around our little village early in the morning.  I'm all for it except that we need somebody to look after my kids.

Will I ever get my abs to be flat?  Well, I guess the only way to find out is to actually follow instructions.  Good luck!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I'm fat -- or at least my tummy is

The fact that my old clothes no longer seem to look nice on me is due to the fact that I look perpetually pregnant.  I've always wanted to wear a cheongsam but because of my shape, I doubt that it will be anytime soon. It's annoying to be always saying "no, I'm not pregnant, I'm just fat" to people who ask, but hey, it's probably my fault. Sometimes it's a bit tempting to just look for the easy way out and ask other people about diet pills that work. I mean, how hard is it to pop a pill every so often? So much easier than dieting or exercising, right?

However, I do remind myself that I don't really need to lose weight.  What I need is to workup in order to reshape my body into a more pleasing shape so that clothes will fit better and I will feel so much better about ourselves!

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's a girl thing?

My male cousin and I had a conversation which made me realize all the more that the wedding and everything that goes with it -- the ceremony, reception, cake, bridal gown, bridesmaid dresses, decors -- are mainly a girl thing. 

Girls usually have this mental picture of how they would like like during their wedding day.  So when my cousin opined that weddings are quite a waste of money, being so expensive and all, I laughed nervously, saying "it's for the bride" knowing that it is. 

So, I was pretty happy when my husband actually disagreed but kept his thoughts to himself.  Turned out that he still thought our wedding day was beautiful and wouldn't have it any other day.  Awww.... :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My (mom's) phone

While the world is going gaga over Ipads and touch screen phones, I just remembered that I actually have a touch screen phone. It's an HTC, although an older model. Seeing all those htc desire reviews reminded me all about it! It was my mom's. She gave it to me when she acquired an IPhone. The reason why she gave it to me was because it was in Chinese.  (She bought it in Taiwan and she always preferred Chinese, even with her computer programs).  That's the main reason why I haven't gotten around to using it, the other reason being my reluctance to transfer the phonebook.

Well, my more-than-6-year-old business cellphone has more than outlived its usefulness.  It still works like a charm, to be fair.  But I guess I'd better move forward with the times and use my mom's gift while it's not too passe yet. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My handy husband and not-so-handy me

One thing my mom appreciated about my husband is that he is quite the handyman. He could be counted upon to put on his work gloves and do things around the house -- fixing simple plumbing, for example, or doing simple repairs on small appliances. Unfortunately, the males in my family (my dad and brothers) were not very handy around the house.  It was my mom who was the all around handywoman.  My dad would rather hire somebody else to do the job.  Since I did not inherit  my mom's resourcefulness, I am so lucky that my husband more than makes up for this!  I love that we actually do complement each other very well.  I would like to think that I'm a better money manager.  I'm also a better writer, but he's a better photographer!  We also schedule our days in such a way that one of us has time to attend to the kids' activities, while the other is at work.  Ah, (married) life is generally good. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Our Japanese solution

Sometimes we wonder why we bought a crib at all. Or even a bed. Our kids never really liked sleeping in the crib (thankfully it's a pack and play type so that they were used as a playpen when the kids grew and stood up) and preferred to sleep with us. Honestly, we also preferred that. It was so much easier for a breastfeeding mom like me to just be beside my baby.

Now we sleep on the floor. 2 twin sized mattresses put side by side on the floor, to be exact.  That's because we only have 1 bedroom and the 4 of us sleep together.  A bed, even a king sized one, is already too small for us.  The mattresses are perfect because we don't have to worry about any of the kids falling off when we are asleep.  This is what we call our "Japanese solution".  :D

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Not so sweet

I do not know if it's the rule for Tsinoys, but in my family, the men (and women, too, for that matter) are not really that showy of their affections, especially towards their wives and sweethearts. I mean, a Pinoy would have the usual flowers and chocolates for Valentine's, and even in a long distance relationship, the girl may wake up one day to find Chicago flowers delivered to her even if her guy is not around.  Well, to be fair, it is now much easier to arrange these things, but in all my parents' years of marriage, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times that my father sent flowers to my mom.  I suspect that my grandparents had even less of those floral gifts.

But they did strive to be the best providers that they could be.  Unromantic, but ultimately much more practical.  That is why my grandfathers came to the Philippines, to seek a living and to provide more for their families, since the Philippines at that time was considered a land of opportunity for many Chinese (I believe it still is), and endured all the hardships of being separated from their families.  That was the time before email and the internet.  Mail was slow in coming too.  Money remittances were actually sent through the mail too (not advisable in these times).

Now, the times have continually evolved and so have the Tsinoy men and women.  My dad, although, he was not a flower giving sort of man gave other gifts to my mom -- designer bags, jewelry, perfumes -- which are much more expensive but stick around much longer than flowers.  Younger Tsinoys who are more Westernized already also tend to go the flowers route.  I guess they're sweeter though less practical.  :)