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Monday, December 17, 2012

Getting Geared for Stock Trading

The stock market has been on a steady incline since the third quarter of this year, mostly attributed to the country's economic growth. I hold before some shares from Ayala Land which took a dip a month after a bought it in 2009. I had to wait for a year or so before it bounced back and I sold it immediately at almost the same price when I bought them. In my mind, it is best to break even than to lose.
I used to be very active in the stock market despite my measly investments. I owned few blocks from a popular network, a manufacturing company and a beverage company. Then, the stock market somehow lost its luster and so was my interest. I mean, who would want to trade when you see red and an arrow down sign day in and out?
Recently, I’ve been seeing some good news (read: gainers outnumber the losers) in the stock market and I am slowly getting convinced it's time to go back to trading. Admittedly, I am not much of a risk taker so I limit my investments to only what I can afford to lose. I am not someone who will risk my children’s savings.
Anyway, so I checked if my account with an online trading/broker is still active (thankfully, it still is!) and began browsing. But the bad news is since I have not traded for a couple of months, I have somehow unlearned how to do it.
Just like a soldier going to war, one needs to arm herself before heading somewhere unfamiliar (or in my case, forgotten). I decided to try some stock market simulator first so I can do some practice trading. The great thing with stock market simulator is that you deal with real stocks of real company on a real trading scenario. (Jeez, I think I’ve never used the word ‘real’ that often). Somehow it will refresh my memory with the stock terms, understand the procedure again and help rebuild my confidence in trading.
I am on my 2nd week now on the simulator and I am getting the hang of it. Let’ see, maybe next month I can begin trading again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oooops! Mommy Forgot My Homework!

We got Eone's report card for the second grading from her school last week. I was satisfied with the result, her general average being an A. She got an A in Math which made me happy as she only has a B in that subject from the previous grading period.
When my mom saw Eone's grades, she was happy too, but commented that had the little girl could have better grades had I been diligent in mentoring her with her homeworks and reviewing her before her mastery exams.
Although a bit annoyed with my mom's comment, I find a pinch of truth in it. The Hubby and I have been lenient with our first grader in terms of study habits. Probably because we find her to be very independent and studious even when she's a pre-schooler. But I realized that sooner or later we really need to focus on helping her with her studies especially after seeing her curriculum. Like in Math, I was stunned to see they are no studying fractions? Seriously? When I was a first grader, I think we only learned addition and subtraction!
Anyway, the problem now is how in the world will I manage work and mommy duties to three children and still find the much-need time to mentor Eone. As much as I want to wear a cape labelled as Supermom, I don't even have the extra time to wear buy a cape!
So now may be the right time to get Eone a tutor; someone who will religiously assist her with her homeworks and help her review for her quizzes and exams. I've actually asked around and got referred to private tutors with no company affiliation (or freelancers). To widen options, I also looked at various websites and found tutors everywhere, including New Jersey tutors. I guess it wouldn't hurt to go (and search) an extra mile - literally!
A friend from far way who is a busy mom like me advised that it's often better to hire someone from a tutoring house or company as they are more equipped with the tools to help your child with her school work. She talked about VarsityTutors as an example, which uses additional materials to help your child learn better. Normally these are books, worksheets, practice exams and guides and even visual tools for grade schoolers.
Well, now it's not anymore a question whether go get a tutor or not but simply whether to get a freelancer or from a tutoring company. I am sure the price will help us decide.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Show Me The Money

I came across a new daily show at ANC, On the Money, that tackles mostly finance management. Their topic that night was stock market trading with a very inspiring guest - a mother and housewife who makes a lot of money, way better than her previous day job, from stock market trading.

I used to monitor the stock market and have traded a few times. I did earn a few thousands but my hectic office schedule and constant traveling prevented me from regularly checking the health of my investments. It got to a point where I've completely forgotten I own shares of stocks and missed a great income opportunity.

So I stopped. In fact, it's been a couple of months since I last accessed my account at Citiseconline and I am seriously contemplating on going back to investing in stock market now that I am traveling less. I can do it online and the trading hours are only in the morning 'til lunch but I need to set a schedule, say 3 minutes every hour, so it doesn't interfere with work especially that my meetings are mostly in the morning.

I am sure there are techniques to be able to successfully trade stocks without giving up my day job and without sacrificing precious time allotted for my children. There's a couple of timothysykes videos I've watched and I must admit that they are somehow propelling me to try again. But before I start again, I'll do a quick review of our family budget and see how much we can use for stock trading. This involves risk and The Hubby and I both agree that we could only invest what we can afford to lose. For now I say only a little.

So...shall I start buying? Who's going to show me the money?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

And the winner is...J.Co Donuts!

Gone are the  days when donut choices were only limited to sugar-coated, Bavarian filled or chocolate candy sprinkled. Now when we say donut, it is usually followed by a litany of varieties and flavors we never even thought could be made into a donut. (Well, it never crossed my mind that the chocolate Snickers could be a donut topping!)

I remember maybe around 9 years ago when Go-Nuts Donuts first came into the market, my good friend Lily would ask their company driver to buy donuts for us. The poor driver would fall in line for 2 hours before he could snag our boxes of freshly-baked donuts.

Then an American brand of 'doughnut' came to Manila and we had the same story of waiting in line for a donut. The commotion died down slowly over a period of around six months after every middle class Juan have tasted the latest craze that was Krispy Kreme.

Everything seems quiet for awhile in the donut arena until J.Co Donuts and Coffee arrived in Manila. J.Co is originally from Indonesia and boasts of unique donut flavours.

A few friends commented that J.Co is just another hype or fad similar to Krispy Kreme or even the most recent Magnum Ice Cream. But I am a certified donut lover so I actually don't care if this is just one of those fads or hypes.

The J.Co store closest to me is in Megamall so I trooped there to see for myself what's so special about this donut. As expected there were dozens of people waiting in line and from the way they look, I don't think anybody minds the queue.

I should say the queuing time of approximately 45 minutes on a weekday eve is already short. I have friends who reportedly waited for over an hour before they got to lay their hands on these delicious, colorful, melt-in-your-mouth babies. Honestly, I found the time quite useful for ogling the donuts and deciding which ones to include in my dozen (damn, I say ALL!).

Taste-wise, I like these better than Krispy Kreme. J.Co donuts are less sweeter than KK and the variety of flavors are just overwhelming. I also appreciate that the donuts are priced less if a customer buys by the dozen (each donut costs Php42, but a dozen is only Php350 or Php29.30 each).

If there's such a thing called Donut Wars, I'd give J.Co the upper hand.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Out of the Picture

Every time my little girl shows me a new drawing, I would always end up smiling if not at all laughing. Her ideas are really funny and normally depicts her daily activities or what have just transpired in her life. She would often draw princesses, an image of herself or even food that she wants to serve on her birthday parties.
So imagine my surprise when her nanny showed me Eone's drawing yesterday after she had just been reprimanded by her Dad. We caught her hitting her little brother and also had been very naughty all throughout the day. She also refused to take her afternoon nap.

I cried when I saw this picture made by her. Simple as it is but it showed how much she's been 'hurt' when her Dad imposed discipline on her that she felt she's no longer part of our family.

I do remind The Hubby to explain to our daughter why we are upset with what she did, hence, the punishment. I know her sensitive mind and heart would not comprehend the logic; what overpowers her at that moment is the feeling of being unloved, and the pain of  Mommy's betrayal when I ignored her hand when she reached out to me for help.
I never realized 'til now how hard it is to balance discipline and affection with our children. I don't want my kids to feel unloved even for a brief moment but neither do I look forward to having spoiled brats in the house who would have us follow their every whim.

Parenthood. It's never easy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review, review, zzzz....

I've been down with a terrible migraine and colds for the last 3 days. I stayed home on Monday and Tuesday but had to force my sorry butt to the office on yesterday as I am sure my pending tasks are not going to wait 'til I get well.
However, apart from work, there are other matters that slipped me during the last 3 days. Sadly, those are Eone's homework and quizzes. It's unacceptable and I am disappointed with myself that I did not check my daughter's handbook on Tuesday as I was practically asleep all day! Because of that, she missed bringing cut out pictures required for her performance test in Social Studies. This mommy needs some spanking! Good thing I am not embarrassed to write to the teacher, tell her the truth (that Mommy failed!) and request for a special exams.
When I was still in school, it was my Dad who assisted us with our assignments and reviewed with us for our exams, especially me as I also took up Engineering like him. He patiently tutored me in geometry, physics and brain-draining calculus. I could have not finished Engineering on time if not for my father's patience.
And so I want to do the same with my children. I want them to remember me as someone instrumental to their success in education, not just someone who paid for their tuition fees (because their father did :)). So from hereon until they are all grown up, from their nursery until their gmat prep, I wish to be there for them to guide and assist them - create practice quizzes, mock exams and review questions for each of them just like what a professional tutor will do.
But I wonder how long I will be able to manage juggling career, home-managing and motherhood. I dread the coming years when all three of them are in school because for sure homework and exams will come in threes. Either I quit my job to focus on just being a mom or get myself a clone. Which one is better?

I hope ten years from now, schools and universities are able to send exams reminders and updates to students (and parents too) just like VeritasPrep updates. It will be great receiving information, reminders and updates using social media like twitter or even Facebook. Heck, I know review groups now meet online and hold sessions via web...maybe, maybe then I can even tutor them while having my nails done at the salon.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Most Beautiful Woman In My Heart

Memories of my happy childhood were not with other kids. I don't have that many moments with playmates to reminisce but more with bullies in school who tried their luck with me but failed. But if one can call word war and tarayan as things to remember of ones childhood, okay, I'd recant my earlier statement and say I have a book of those moments to tell. But let's leave my bratty days for another time. Instead, the happiest days of my childhood were those spent with my maternal grandmother and my aunts.
I was barely a month old when Mama started taking care of me and from then on were inseparable for 8 years.

I stayed with my grandparents on weekdays when my parents need to work and then I get fetched on Fridays to spend the weekend with them in Quezon City. I felt like a ping pong then, but in a very nice way as I got spoiled rotten in the process.

Since my grandparents live in Malabon during my early years, I had my share of experiences with flood. It floods after heavy rains, during high tide and worst, when it rains while it's high tide! The 'abundance' of water didn't make me miserable, but in fact the exact opposite. I had grand times swimming inside the house (eeewww? yeah, it's eeewww), sailing around the living room aboard a giant styro, or wading in panic pretending a shark is after me.

I didn't play with other kids in the neighborhood. I didn't need to because I've got my aunts, all three of them, to keep me amused. I can't recall much of the toys I played with but can narrate in detail how my Tita Maris, my mom's youngest sibling who is only 7 years my senior, and I played 'market-market'. We'd take leaves of various plants from our backyard and pretend they were fishes. I would then buy those fishes with paper money cut out of old newspapers.

I knew all my aunts' crushes and their suitors who would bribe me with chips and Coke so I'd pass their love notes and messages. I was also witness to their strength of characters - hair pulling sessions and shouting matches during their adolescent years. All these sealed my bond with my aunts for good and for life.

When Mama suffered a stroke when I was 8, she had no excuse anymore not to allow me to live with my Mom and Dad. I transferred school and the weekly routine got reversed. I stayed with Mom and Dad on weekdays and with Mama on weekends. Alternately my uncles and aunts would fetch me from Quezon City every Friday. They would take me to shopping first before going home or to Jollibee.

I am not sure when they stopped doing the ping pong arrangement with me, all I know was after a year or two, the weekend visits gradually came to a halt and I found Mama staying more and more frequent with us due to our home's proximity to the hospital where she's having her therapy. As the years passed by, my aunts got married and built their own families. Our Mama then moved from home to home to spend time with her other grandchildren.

One of my fondest memories was when she asked me to wear to church a brown dress custom-made by our neighbor/seamstress. It was the feast of St. Anthony and boy, oh boy, my dress was exactly the same as the rebulto's robe!

She loved us all but I will not deny (because no one will believe me, anyway) that she loved me the most. I was her superstar, the center of her universe, the incomparable one. Whenever I come over to spend the weekend with her, she would pamper me like a queen; cook all the dishes that I like, brush my hair, hug me and kiss me (and hug me and kiss me some more).
When I watch my children now with my mom or my mother in law, I am reminded of Mama and how she was to me then. I thank God that my kids are given a chance to be cared for, loved and sometimes disciplined by their grannies. It's a necessary and wonderful part of a person's life - to enjoy the presence of grandparents. In my heart I know that I will not be who I am today if not for the overwhelming love my grandmother have showered me with.

Today is my Mama's 12th angel birthday and as I pray for the eternal repose of her soul, I also reminisce and celebrate her beautiful memories.
I love you, Mama.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Zoocobia, Children's Fun Zoo

Tucked in the corner of Clarkfield, Pampanga is a small zoo that is perfect for both children and adults, especially those who prefer to interact with the animals rather than watch them from a cage.

Aptly named Zoocobia Fun Zoo, it is located within Paradise Ranch Nature and Conservation Park near Clark Expo. I wouldn't have known this zoo existed if not for my colleague who lives in Mabalacat. Zoocobia is part of the Zoomanity Group that operates Zoobic Safari, Residence Inn and Paradizoo Park.

The zoo itself is relatively small and the number of animals are quite limited. Nevertheless, the visit was worthwhile as there are other attractions other than the zoo.

Guests can start with fishing in this small pond. Bamboo or stick fishing rods are sold at the souvenir shop (sorry I didn't get the cost) and baits sell for Php20.

They can also have their photos taken with the huge tiger stuffed toys. My 2 yr old son thought they are real at first and was hesitant to pose near them.

Inside the zoo...

Visitors are allowed to enter the huge bird enclosure where they can feed the birds and pet them. Bird feeds are sold at Php20 per pack.

Everyone can take photos with the animals or even touch them. Our tour guide was kind enough to assist us in taking photos with the birds.

from Harry Potter?
For an extra fee of Php50, you can have your photos taken with an albino Burmese python. It was a bit scary at first but once the cold, slithering animal settled around your neck, it becomes comfortable (eeewww!)
This bearcat freely moves around his 'territory' overhead of all visitors. For a closer encounter, guests can buy Php20 worth of banana to feed the bearcat.

Another animal encounter that kids will definitely enjoy is the bottle feeding of baby goats (kids). For Php20 a bottle, my kids had a grand fun time giving milk to 5 hungry babies. Made me wonder with all the tourists coming in, aren't they getting overfed?

If you didn't enjoy the animals, the Zooc ride will definitely take your fancy. It's like the luge ride at Sentosa, Singapore. The zoocs operate only on gravity so expect the track to be sloped and narrow. The fee per head for the short ride is Php75.

Still not satisfied with animal encounters, Zooc ride and fishing? There's a playground (near the ostrich enclosure) in the middle of the zoo where chickens, goose and other fowls roam around too, as if happy to join the kids.

And who can miss this giant slide which can take the guests from the Restaurant down to the zoo proper by the entrance to The Barn (where the goats, horses, camel etc are housed).

Other areas I did not take photos of are the Garden Maze (it's small and lonely and doesn't make sense at all), The Barn where animal shows are held daily on schedule and the small Bone Museum.
For souvenirs, the gift shop by the entrance sells stuff toys and other thingamajig.

Entrance fee to the zoo costs Php250. Please note that is only for Zoocobia as there may be different fees if you want to go futher and explore Paradise Ranch. In fact, visitors can purchase a day tour package for Paradise Ranch which includes entrance to Zoocobia, use of swimming pool, lunch and guided tour. Visit Paradise Ranch website for more details.
Tip for the wise and budget conscious: If you are keen and decided to go, you may purchase your ticket in advance through Zoomanity website. The tickets normally are with a discount :)
Have fun!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Martial Law Baby

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by then president Ferdinand Marcos. Many (victims) refer to that period as the longest and darkest 9 years of their lives.

photo from

The horrible stories of unwarranted arrests, harassment and torture of political enemies send shivers down my spine. I was actually born during this period? Unbelievable! How did my parents date, marry and want an offspring during this time when the future seem so dim? They said there was a curfew then and I wondered how my parents managed to drop me off my grandma's house during those nights I threw tantrums and wanted my Lola. And media was regulated? I was told nobody could utter anything against the administration, but how come my Lolo often cursed Marcos from head to foot?

I am a Martial Law baby but I have no recollection of what it was like then (I should thank God for that). In fact, the first time Marcos made a dent in my memory was when I heard from my cousin (who was then in HS) that Ninoy has been assassinated and that Marcos was to blame. Well I was only 8 then and how to perfect putting a pair of barrettes on my hair mattered more.

So today, as many Filipinos look back in 1972, my prayer goes to mothers whose sons and daughters were never found, to children whose parents are still out there buried somewhere, and to those who survived but are haunted by the painful memories.

God bless you all.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bonoyaki: Avoid by all means!

It was supposed to be a despedida dinner for my mommy-in-law but it turned out to be a goodbye dinner for the restaurant we dined in as I vow to NEVER eat there again, even if it's for free.
Yakiniku-type  Japanese buffet are popular now in the Metro so we're trying them out one by one. We've been to Sambokojin with my in-laws when they went home last year and the meal turned out good despite the horrible waiting time. The next we tried (3x) was Yakimix which is the most popular in this type of buffet offering. On all times we dined at Yakimix (and at different branches), we went home with filled stomach and happy faces.
I've seen Bonoyaki almost a hundred times since we regularly pass by Libis area. To make the long story short, I suggested that we try it out that evening.
I was already disappointed upon entering the restaurant. It was pale and unattractive compared to the upbeat and festive decor of Yakimix. I thought I could forgive that because, well, Bonoyaki is a little cheaper. However, their rate maybe low but the meat for grilling are limited and for seafood, customers need to order from ala carte (so if we do the math, they are actually MORE expensive!).

At the cooked food station, there were hardly anything good to choose from. I could have found consolation that there's a Kalbijim (korean beef stew) but the chafing dish was almost empty. By the way, it's only 7:30 in the evening when we arrived.
I asked the server/s if they would still refill and they said 'in a while' but we're almost done with our grilling and still, the chafing dishes were left empty. So, I asked again in the best manner I could muster (and that's really a big effort). I was told to just inform the waiters what I want from the buffet so they could serve on our table.

At the salad station - there's no salad! Again, I asked why and was told there were many diners who came earlier and they've ran out of ingredients. WTF! They should have just closed their restaurant for the day!

It's hard to decide what's for dessert when there's NOTHING to choose from!

This is their PATHETIC dessert which they tried to hype up by putting in individual saucers. Puto at kutsinta, WTF!

Their logo and ad materials say "Premium Seafood Family Restaurant" but ironically they only sell prawns for grilling (additional price from the buffet) or diners can order tempura. My daughter ordered tempura and even at a tender age of 6, she knows how a tempura should look and taste like. Bono Yaki's tempura is one of the most disappointing tempura I've come across.

As with the prawn for grilling which I tried to order, well, I was told they don't have any good ones anymore. Well, at least they didn't want to dig their grave any deeper by selling rotten prawns to their customers.

They should rename their restaurant as Bono-Yucky!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Let's Get Real, Pass the RH Bill!

The issue has been dragging for months now. The RH Bill that is. And many other 'hot topics' have sprung out from this proposed bill that's long been delayed both in the Lower and Upper House. These damn politicians are all playing safe in view of the upcoming mid-term elections.
Frankly, I am getting tired of hearing and watching the news about the RH bill. I support the passing of this bill if only for the inclusions of reproductive health benefits for women and I constantly go into battle for my opinion on this with my mother and some friends.
Those who oppose the bill often point out the section where funds are to be allotted to make contraceptives available for free in health care centers. I don't like this provision too, but do we throw away the entire pig because we don't like its tail?
I heard the Catholic Church is not willing to negotiate and revise the Bill. Same with some hypocrites from the government who keep saying the Bill is against their conscience. Funny, funny, funny! I hate it when thieves (and plagiarists) talk about conscience as if they have one.
Mind you, I, too, have read all the provisions, examined my conscience and then took my side. So why can't others do the same. Just vote Yes or No and then get it over and done with. Stop using this issue for grandstanding purposes.

After all that's been said for and against the RH bill, my take on it is plain and simple: It's not fair to let a poor child suffer for your 5 minutes of glory (only that short? wahaha, what a loser!). If you're not ready to care for another human being who will require time, energy, affection, patience, unconditional love, then keep those legs together. If you can't even afford a rubber, you can't also afford a weekly supply of infant formula, food, shelter, and tuition fee. Therefore, use the head above your shoulders not the one below your belt.
Sadly, very few will heed these simple 'rules' and leave it up to fate to decide if their egg and sperm meet. And more sadly, it is those already living below poverty line who will keep producing offspring as if just taking out cupcakes from the oven.
So bahala nalang si Batman? Batman is mega rich and can afford a condom. He is also just fiction. Poverty and overpopulation are glaring realities.
We need the RH Bill. Now.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Gone But Not Forgotten

Dear Daddy,

Happy 67th.

Contrary to your normal wish that we dont hold any celebration during your birthdays, we did get together on your natal day. We know naman you really want to be treated special, chuma-charing ka lang. Anyway, it's just a simple all-day eating spree, as you know that's what our family (and mom's clan) is famous for.

Mommy cooked, err, hmmm I forgot what mommy cooked (!) while I bought roasted chickens, cake, vegetable spring rolls and made macaroni salad. As usual Ate Tet brought one huge bilao of Pancit Malabon. It was supposed to be a simple lunch/dinner until Jam ordered one whole lechon! All these food to celebrate your beautiful life!

The house was filled with laughter once again and all your grandchildren had a blast running around playing. Only Eana was behaved today.

I need to ask you something, and it's okay if you will not answer. Are you the one Gelai saw standing beside the piano? The kid said she saw someone watching the celebration.

In my heart I wish you are still with us today, but I know you are in a better place now where pain and suffering does not exist. I may be consoled by that thought but it doesn't stop me from missing you.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. I love you.

Your Kikay.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Let's (Not) Drink To That

When I was on my way home the other day, I saw 2 men trying to cross the street while the lights are still green. A car slowed down and the driver shouted vindictive to the two daredevils but both just continued to walk painfully slow while holding onto each other's shoulder for support. Ah! These men were too drunk to even think of their dear life.

I hate that. Particularly, I hate seeing men who are too intoxicated to fend for themselves (although I do know a lot of men who cant fend for themselves even if they are perfectly normal, but let's save that for another blog). I cringe at the sight of men and most especially women who create a scene by being too happy, too dramatic or too violent when under the influence of alcohol. Throwing up in public or being dragged home by your hair aren't very appealing too, right?

I am not a drinker. The last time I drank beer was maybe two years ago and I am certain I didn't even finish half the bottle. Aside from the fact that I despise the taste of beer, it is the smell (of both the beverage and the drinker) that repulses me to my stomach.

Maybe it has something to do with my grandfather who was a certified alcohol dependent. There was not a day when he didn't drink except when he was already sick or almost at the brink of death. I recall when I was still small, my granny sometimes become too drunk to even make it to the urinal. Such a disgusting sight! But in my opinion that is not the worst part. Nothing could ever be more annoying than NOT remember what happened during your moment of weakness and stupidity to drink beyond your alcohol capacity. For me that is the part when tips at TheSobrietySolution  becomes handy or better yet, seek professional help.

I am very lucky to have found a husband who doesn't fancy alcohol too. He'd rather eat than indulge in cocktails, beer or any other alcoholic beverage. He does drink when there are social gatherings, but even during those times, he regulates his intake. Thank God, thank God! I don't have to worry about his liver health, and the smell of a drunk man sharing my bed.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chewing Their Way to Health

The kids are up for a pedia visit tomorrow, all three of them. I am already computing in my head how much I need to shell out for the vaccines and I feel my knees wobble. Expensive as hell but I am not going to compromise my children's health so the vaccines take center stage of my health care budget for this month.

I remember almost two years ago when we noticed a small blister on Eone's face. We had it checked only be surprised that she has chicken pox. She's got vaccines and in fact just got her booster shots a couple of months prior. Anyway, we were assured by the doctors that her chicken pox will be very very mild. And it was. She was fever-free all through out and had only about 10 blisters all over her body. No one could even tell that she's got chicken pox that time.

That event taught me two things: the importance of a vaccine and that vaccines are not a sure ball guarantee you won't catch the disease. It was both good and bad, but the positive surely outweighs the negative. I was told the body's natural resistance against diseases are dramatically increased with vitamins which helps vaccines do its work. So I wondered what was Eone and Enoe's vitamins during that time. Ah vitamin C! 

I am proud to say my children are well provided with vitamins. Picky eaters that they are, daily supplement of vitamins helps with their nutrition. However, getting them to take vitamins on the dot every single day has become a tiring charade. Not that they are dislike the taking the supplements, but rather the routine and taste make them lose interest.

I've been in the look out for chewables which I think will entice them into taking their daily dose eagerly. They are available in most health stores now and I just need more time browsing through the 'net for various brands like vitamins for kids from Smarty Pants that offer vitamins in gummy forms and carry appealing flavors.

Just now Eone is already prodding me to get her the gummies she saw online. When I get them these chewies, my next worry is probably how to limit their intake.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

We should just change house, you know?

Since my MIL (Mother in Law) arrived for a 2-week vacation, we've been visiting (shopping) in hardware, furniture shops, home improvement warehouses and appliance centers more than we have done in the last 12 months.

We've changed cabinets, cupboard doors, carpets, and lighting fixtures. Heck, even the innocent toilet in the bathroom at the ground floor suddenly found itself being pulled out and replaced (much to the amazement and gratefulness of our pet caretaker who became its instant owner) and that's only a fraction of what's actually planned.  We have yet to install the roman blinds, still waiting for the fully automatic washing machine from Hong Kong and the quote for the kitchen renovation. Those may be completed in the next couple of weeks which means I need to arm myself with plenty of patience and extra time to supervise because MIL is leaving in 2 days (and the kids will be back to their normal naughty ways without their grandma to discipline them).

We're having a lot of things replaced and improved even if there's nothing wrong with them that my six-year old daughter already made a comment, "We should just change house, you know". Smart little rascal, isn't she?

It's a stressful exercise, refurbishing or renovating, but I must admit I am having a great time especially that I am not the one spending, hehe, at least for the big ticket like the kitchen.

I plan to include the improvement of our little garden/lawn. It looks pathetic with it's patches of Bermuda grass, a mixture of flower plants and a fast-growing Money Tree. The Hubby and I are not very artistic so perhaps a contractor like InstallItDirect could do a terrific job in a blink. If the budget allows, we can throw in some new tiles or design for our pavement.

Can't wait for everything to be finished. I am excited especially with how the new kitchen will turn out. I'm going to post pictures of the designer's proposal when I get them.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spectacular Spectacles

My son is showing a cute fascination with eyeglasses. I don't know why he seems so attracted but I am giving in to his amusement by taking lots of photos of him as he models around various styles of eyeglasses whenever we hit the mall.

His fondness with eyewear started very early at around 6 months when he would snatch from my mom her spectacles. Maybe he was curious with what seem to be a second pair of eyes staring back at him. And when we say how curiosity killed the cat, I'd say Enoe's curiosity broke many eyeglasses of my mom, and even the nanny in the last 2 years. A few pairs of sunglasses of The Hubby also fell victim to my son’s uncanny inking with stylish eyewear.

even the 3D glasses were not spared :)

I used to wonder where he is taking after his ‘sense of fashion’. I spend more time with him compared to The Hubby and I am not into shades or any form of eyewear. I have very good eye sight (20/20) so I don’t wear any lenses yet and I am also not happy wearing shades when I drive (the color distracts me and I get a weird illusion of being too near the windshield) so it’s definitely not from me. The Hubby, on the other hand, considers his shades as part of his clothing.

I came across an article in a fashion magazine citing how a good pair of eyeglasses can transform a rather plain and boring outfit into a hit. In the early days, spectacles are worn only when absolutely necessary, like to correct a visual impairment. Fast forward to the late 90s, eyeglasses (clear lenses) have become a fashion accessory and more and more people are wearing glasses even if they have perfect eye sights. Pick a fashion magazine and I bet a photo of a model or showbiz personality sporting an (expensive) shades or glasses is posted there somewhere.

Maybe when my son grows up, eyeglasses would probably have evolved into something else again, say, a crime-busting tool.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Bully and Me

My little girl went home again with a bump on her head caused by her classmate, The Bully. I asked her what happened and she narrated that The Bully was shaking her roughly (she said they were playing), they lost their balance and fell. Eone hit her head on a chair.

acting scary :)

I would have just let it pass but it was The Bully who had hurt again my daughter. Although I am not the type of mother who would storm to the school holding a chainsaw, incidents like this should never be ignored. So, yes, I told Eone to tell her teachers about what happened. I also went to her school to talk to her teachers and the Assistant Principal (incidently, it was also Eone's birthday celebration in school).

The grannies, The Hubby and my sisters were more 'aggressive' when I told them the incident, especially that they know The Bully and Eone's history. They were surprised that I am taking it so calmly.

It's not that I am not upset with The Bully, but, I'd rather deal with the incident with a level head and let the school authorities handle the situation. I'd put myself in the shoes of his parents. Certainly, I would not be happy if another parent screams, reprimands or scolds my child. That's also tantamount to bullying.

Truth to be told, I am scared that the ghosts of my past are now coming back to haunt me and unfortunately, in the guise of The Bully at my daughter's school.

I confess I was very naughty when I was little. But I was just a child then - wicked and immature; a spoiled brat who thought she's the Goddess of Naughtyland. But now that I have grown up, I try to make amends by doing random acts of kindness to show that I am sorry for all the ridiculous, hideous, evil things I have done to my classmates and playmates.

To the child of our school janitor, please forgive me for hitting you with a wooden ruler while 'helping' you answer our seat work. I made you pee on your seat, but that's unintentional and just a consequence of you being scared of me.

To my 'favorite' classmates in elementary, forgive me for putting your names in the Noisy List even if you were not. Sorry for naming my troll dolls after you and for putting fangs on your pictures.

Sorry, my Darling Sister, for trimming your eyelashes after convincing you they will grow back longer and more curly. Remember you gave me permission so this was actually NOT entirely my fault.

To the poor cat that ended up with a burnt tail after I tied a thin cloth soaked in kerosene and lit it, I am now a pet lover as proof of my apologies. I take it that my Little Sister is the one making it up to you on by behalf by adopting every homeless kitten she sees on the street.

I pray, Dear God, that my children doesn't do the naughty things I did. And most of all, I pray that they won't have any classmates or playmates who are bullies.

I repent and promise to do charity work each year for as long as I live. Just please keep my children away from naughty, spoiled brats like me.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Slide and Glide

I've been thinking of changing the layout of my blog as I want a more upbeat look. But unlike other bloggers who can whip an awesome web page layout with a magic wand, I struggle to come up even with a color scheme. I don't know if I lack imagination or the artist blood which is supposed to run in my veins (I have a grandpa who is a painter) got lost somewhere along the way and ended up in my bladder.

Anyway, a fellow blogger and good friend suggested that I switch to WordPress as it is easier to layout. Curious and eager, I checked various blogs that are on WordPress and turned green with envy. Some blogs already has a wordpress slider plugin which allows them to display beautiful photos and videos of their topics without flooding a whole page (and causing readers to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome with those endless page scroll down with the mouse). It's like a presentation of photographs in a PowerPoint slide show. If you still don't get what I am talking about, try viewing a set of photos in an album in Facebook and you'll see that I mean.

I want that plugin too!
I want to post a lot pictures when I write, especially if my blog is about my kids. Sometimes the photos can speak for themselves and I don't have to write anything at all. And definitely one photo is almost always not enough for a blog about that much awaited travel, or the baby's christening or first birthday.

I want, I want, I want! But how do I switch to WordPress? Can I move all my previous post there? Hmmm.

Shall I do the big leap? Yes? No?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tooth Fairy, Bring It On!

I can't remember my first ever visit to the dentist. My vivid recollection of a tooth extraction was when I was in first year high school before I wore those nasty wires to correct my bite and align my teeth. Having said that, I didn't know how it feels like for a child to sit on a dental chair for the first time to have a tooth extracted.

So it's understandable why I was a bit hesitant to take Eone to the dentist for her first ever tooth extraction. I wanted to delay the procedure but her lower incisors were already loose and shaking, thus, making her very uncomfortable. She also complained of something hard behind her loose tooth and when I checked, there is  already a permanent tooth cutting through her gums.

Believe it or not, she's the one who was bugging me about having her shaking tooth removed. I don't know, but perhaps it helped that we brought her to Dr. Alex, The Hubby's dentist for 20 years for a check up a few weeks ago and when my Mom had her dentures fixed.

let's get ready to rumble!

To make the long story short, the dentist pulled out 2 teeth without Eone shedding a tear or complaining of any pain. She's even brave enough to ask Dr. Alex for a mirror so she can see the newly formed space on the front of her mouth.

My girl never fail to amaze me. I had expected she'd be scared, cry and make it difficult for me and the dentist. But shame on me for underestimating my daughter.

On the other hand, the credit should also go to Dr. Alex, who was really good with children. He used a few strategies to make the procedure child-friendly (because he is not a pedia dentist). First, he asked Eone to bite a cotton ball laced with topical anaesthesia. After a few minutes, he asked the little miss to close her eyes because the meds he will put next might get into her eyes. That's when he injected the local anaesthetic. Few minutes later, we have 2 teeth on a tissue paper ready to be offered to the Tooth Fairy.

I am glad this first experience with tooth pulling went very well. It hope the next visits to the dentist will be as uneventful as this one. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Heavenly Yummy Yema Cake

Our good friends, Nins and Clauds, sent me a box of cake they bought from their recent trip in Tayabas, Quezon. I frowned when I read the name on the box - Yema Cake by Rodillas (I later learned that they sell the best tasting yema cake in town). I know yema as a candy but never a cake.

Anyway, as I called to say thanks Nins reminded me to try to leave a slice for The Hubby. I was intrigued. Is the cake that good for the giver to forewarn me to go easy on it?

Next time I am in Tayabas, I am definitely going to buy boxes of this!

Well, it only took one bite for me to realize the warning was valid. The melt-in-your-mouth custard filling is deliciously good, and the cheese topping adds a wonderful salty kick. It's impossible to resist another slice. Thankfully, I managed to stop myself and take half of it home where the kids devoured it to the last crumb. Sorry, The Hubby didn't even see the box.

Thanks Ohnins and Clauds for sharing with us the pride of Tayabas. Ang sarap!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Make Me Smile-y

If I were to use symbols for all the moods I had in the last 5 days, I would use up all the emoticons in Facebook, Skype and YM, not to mention all the keys on my keyboard. Heck, I'd probably need to download emoticons from the internet just to update my list.

See, it's been quite a roller coaster ride at work and at home that all I could muster was an emoticon to describe how my day went. I tell you, there was hardly a happy face =) or a huge dazzling grin *^_^*

First, both my little girl and toddler son were sick. Eone got fever on Sunday which made us scrap our plan for an out-of-town day trip. Come Monday, she's already fever free but we decided to make her skip school so she can rest. Then on Tuesday morning, I felt Enoe's warm skin before I went to work. I took his temperature and he's got fever too. Thankfully, he was well the following morning but to my dismay, Eone was running a fever again. Arrgggh! They're like playing fever pingpong and I hate it :-Z

And then there was work and the many things in between that just can't seem to wait; as if the world will end if I don't play Supergirl. Projects, meetings, admin work and the most awaited new office move are eating every minute of my executive time. And speaking of eating, I am annoyed that lunch for me the past couple of days was just a bowl of cornflakes taken in a hurry while checking my mails. Not that I mind eating in front of the computer, but I've always valued meal time as ME time - devoid of complicated thoughts such as work.

I know like the stock market, work has it's high and low, a peak and low season. Sadly, I am having the busiest, peak-est season ever! So busy that I could not even tweet that I am busy :-t

Good thing I have kids to go home to; three pairs of arms to hug me and three little lips to kiss me on the cheek  :-*  otherwise, I would go insane!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Pear from a Mango Tree

I had a professor in college who gave an unsolicited advice to the ladies in our class. She said, "Ladies, be careful in choosing who you end up with. Do not marry a guy who came from a broken family." 

We had different reactions: a few just shrugged off the suggestion, a couple of classmates raised their brows, and some felt it was unfair for our prof to judge people by what their parents did or did not do. But there's this one guy in our class who was actually hurt by that comment. He was offended by the generalization; angry that he's been judged at how he will fare as a father when in fact he has made a promise to himself that he will be a great father, if not the best, in the future.

There is an old Filipino idiom, 'Kung ano ang puno, sya ang bunga' that roughly translates, 'whatever the tree, so is the fruit' . I think it's crap! Whilst it is true a mango tree cannot yield a pear, fruits from the same tree can either be sweet or sour. The same goes for sons from a broken home who can turn out exactly like their father and/or mother or the world's greatest dad.

A good example is my dad who made sure he turns out to be the exact opposite of his father. My Lolo, an attractive man who owned vast lands in the North, had more than 3 dozen children from different women. My dad would often recall how he and all his other siblings (legitimate or otherwise) would all gather for Christmas under one roof, some of them he met only once or twice. My grandfather surely have supported each one financially, but money could never erase the stigma of being an illegitimate child especially during the early days.

Anyway, fast forward to today, my classmate is now happily married to a loving, beautiful, and intelligent woman (*wink) and has three children. And true to his word, he has been successful in keeping his vow to be a good father someday. He showers his children with love and affection and provides for them well materially - something he never experienced from his father. It's quite amazing how he is able to the job when he didn't have anyone to look up to, no father figure to take after.

Actually, the credit should go to his mom who wore the hat of both a father and a mother, who worked hard to ensure he gets a bright future and who loves him unconditionally. Ironic as it seems, he learned to be a good father through his mother.

He is the sweet fruit from that sour fruit-bearing tree. I am sure if our old professor could see him now, she's going to eat her words. Hell, she can also eat her (very very long) hair.

Happy Father's Day to my former classmate and Daddy of my children. Congratulations for a job well done. Keep it up.

We love you heaps!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Missing the pedicab driver...

He was often asked if he wished he had a son, and my dad have always replied, 'I've got 3 girls, I couldn't ask for more'.

Yeah, right. That explains the robots, remote controlled cars & toy guns he bought for us when we were growing up, haha!

I love you Daddy. I miss you. Happy Father's Day (in heaven).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tax Me Not

I was able to claim Eana's birth certificate from the hospital the other day. I have been eagerly awaiting its release as I want to start processing The Hubby and I's documents to add her as our dependent, specifically in our social security, Philhealth and of course, tax exemptions. Although we still have to get the authenticated copy from both the City Hall and NSO, the hospital copy already has a confirmation number that Eana's birth has already been registered.

When Enoe was born, The Hubby didn't immediately process the required documents to add him as dependent and as a result, he failed to get the corresponding tax exemptions (and deductions). This really annoyed me from my toes to my split ends not only because the tax deducted from The Hubby's salary was quite hefty, but also due to the fact that we really don't see nor feel where our taxes are going.

I could rant for hours about the many inefficiencies in our government (mostly as a result of graft and corruption) but I bet everyone already knows them! Tax extension do not happen in our side of the world so I had to live with the fact that our government took more than what it should from our pot.

Since we tied the knot, I've have been tasked to oversee both my personal finance and that of our household so I am very conscious of what goes in and out. It's more than just the OC in me. Frankly, I don't enjoy looking at payslips and get slapped with how much tax has been taken from my pay. Neither do I rejoice reviewing my electricity bill and find out that I am actually paying Php1800 on VAT alone. Actually, I hate looking closely on all receipts because I know for certain there is a tax line somewhere. Come to think of it, we are being taxed with our every move so no one can blame me for wanting to ensure we get Eana listed as soon as possible as additional dependent. Heck, the difference may only just be a couple of hundreds if we're lucky and still isn't enough to buy a can of milk.

(Hmm, I should have mental note to remind me NOT to vote for Ralph Recto in the next election every election until he gets tired of running).

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Your Hand in Mine

Dear Daddy,

I took a picture of my little Eana's hand while I held it in mine as I am starting to put together photos of her that I can use for her christening invitations. As I look at the photo, I can't help but get flooded by memories of you while you were at the hospital and about to embark your journey to heaven.

The pain management drugs were doing their job so well that you were hardly ever awake, and if ever you were, only incoherent words came out of your mouth. Due to your inability to verbally communicate to us anymore, we instead resorted to holding your hand while we talk to you and wait for a squeeze as your form of reply.

And so there was a hand holding yours every day. Oftentimes it was Mom as she kept by your side every single day and night; other times it was either me or Darling Sister or Little Sister.

I remember when doctors had to insert a tube on your neck to commence your dialysis and no one in the family was brave enough to stay beside you while the doctors do the procedure. No one except me. The picture of you, in pain but trying to be strong, invades my memory to this very day. I didn't know what to do then except to hold your hand and assure you it will be over soon and you'll be fine. Of course I was lying through my teeth because I knew in my heart we were just prolonging your agony.

I guess holding your hand through that ordeal was my way of reciprocating the many times you held mine through the years. Those hands surely tapped me gently to sleep when I was baby, guided me while I learned to walk, supported me on my first ever bike ride, and squeezed fruits for my dose of fresh juices. Never did those pair of hands touch my skin in anger to physically hurt me.

It's been three years today since you went with the angels and all I could wish is another chance, even for a brief moment, to once again put your hand in mine.

I miss you Dad and I love you.

Your Kikay

Friday, June 01, 2012

A Penny for Your Thoughts

I had my passbook updated 2 weeks ago and noticed that the interest on my money has been again reduced to a mere 1/3 of a percent.A few years ago, interest on deposits was at least 1% but the recent economic and finance sectors' condition brought down the rates now to this very discouraging fraction. I mean, why would I retain my money in the bank with this very low interest rate, not to mention whatever my money will earn will be subjected to withholding tax?

I worked in a bank for over 3 years writing policies and procedures but until now, I still could not understand why they have to penalize depositors for failing to meet the required maintaining balance, or deduct a fee every month (until you ran out of funds and the account eventually close out) for non-movement (dormant accounts). Whether or not there is movement, the money stays in the bank and bank uses the money for other investments. So why?

I guess this is why in the last couple of years, I have learned to put our hour hard-earned cash in more profitable investments like stock market and mutual fund. There are risks involved but the chance of growing funds is relatively higher compared to letting it sleep in the bank. For example, in stock market, if you play it right and not get greedy, the money could flow in in as short as one day. In case of loss, I'd like to take it as only a paper loss unless I formally sell our stocks at a price lower than our purchase cost.

There is a misconception that stock market trading is not only for those with lots of funds to spare. Not really. It's for everyone who are financially wise and are willing to take reasonable risks. I'd say for beginners, it's good to start with a few thousands. You don't even have to buy blue chips and instead start with a top penny stock and could bring good results as well as small doesn't always mean that the potential is also minimal.

So how do a neophyte in stock trading begin? I suggest attending a free seminar being offered by stock trading corporations. They usually schedule trainings and orientations on a regular basis and they are also free. It's also good to start reading or watching the news, and NOT the entertainment and showbiz section. Start browsing their business section and arm yourself with information particularly on the industry/stocks you are eyeing to purchase. This will help you in making your decision whether to buy or sell.

If one is really intent on making a living on stock trading, maybe it's better to get the help of a seasoned stocks broker. They know the ins and outs of the business and can offer sound advice when everything seems to be falling apart. Of course, there is a fee involved in a form of a commission.

Pata, Pata, Paano Ka Tumaba?

Barely a day after my C-section with Eana, The Hubby asked my OB if I could already undergo liposuction. Of course he was just kidding and we all laughed (while I mumbled between my teeth 'humanda ka sa akin pag bangon ko dito!')

I couldn't really blame The Hubby for wanting back my old body. I want it back too, but I just couldn't find the time and motivation to start shedding all these unwanted, post-maternity deposits that all went into wrong bank accounts (hips, thighs and tummy).

me, before I ate her. haha!

Back in college twenty pounds years ago, I wore medium-sized clothes. My waist line was a mere 25-inch and wearing tight jeans looked good on me. I don't know what happened but soon after I started working that I began gaining weight, a little here and little there, but fast forward to today, it now seem I have already eaten the old me, whole and unpeeled.

I recall when we were just newly weds, The Hubby wanted to encourage me to exercise by accompanying me to walking/strolling sessions. Excited by the activity, I wore my complete 'workout' outfit, like I was an athlete of sorts. We walked around the neighborhood and as far as our feet could take us. On our way back, we passed by stalls after stalls of food establishment and you guessed it right, we literally ate our way back.

I find it so hard to lose weight unless I take refuge to slimming pills or teas - those kind that make the toilet your best friend, hehe. The sauna is the only thing that entices me to go to the gym and aside from that, all visits ended in what seem like a comedy flick. Like how I stayed on the stationary bike for 1 whole hour, completely not moving (hey, I'm supposed to be stationary, right?!) and just watching a movie while drinking unlimited iced tea. On another visit, the nachos stall right outside the entrance of Fitness First won over the thread mill. See, there are more temptations in the gym than elsewhere.

So how do I lose weight when my love for food always prevail over the need to be slim? How do I reclaim my 25-inch waistline without surrendering chocolates, cakes and donuts? I probably need a magician (her name is Vicky Belo) or some sort of voodoo to instantly reduce me again to a size 6. I came across a book, The 4-Hour Body, by Timothy Ferriss and my mom said I need to buy and give it a try at least for the sake of my children. Whoa! Emotional blackmail, tsk, tsk.

Well, seriously, I really think it's time to bring back the old me - the one with a figure of an 8 and not a 0.  How will I do it? Hmm. Let me finish first this ice cream...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Online Malling, Anyone?

A few colleagues are currently in Sydney on business trip and as usual, I am browsing through various online shops in Australia so they can bring home the goodies I want from Down Under. I am particularly looking for baby products (those brands that are normally from the US but I don't have anyone coming from US soon) since the popular and good brands are not even available in Rustan's and even if they are, the prices are prohibitive.

My colleague had suggested I just send a list of what I want and he'll buy them for me but I prefer doing my own shopping, especially online. Almost everything can be purchased through the web now - diapers, make up, clothes, shoes, automobile accessories, cakes and even pets! Sooner or later I'd be able to buy even a cabbage online.
It's easy to get hooked with online shopping, especially if you are the type who both likes shopping and surfing the net. It gives you more time to browse and choose the products you want to buy without having a saleslady follow you around like you are about to secretly put the item in your bag.  You can spend hours window shopping online without suffering the consequences of an achy feet after, enduring traffic, paying for parking fees and tagging the kids along.

No wonder online shops have proliferated even in social networking sites. Multiply used to have a clause in their TOS (Terms of Service) that the site can't be used for selling goods or services but entrepreneurs are unstoppable and so are the buyers. Eventually, Multiply opened their doors to online business and has become the easiest tool to peddle products online. Now Facebook has Marketplace specifically for this purpose too.

Actually, I have an online shop too, for imported diapers. After I discovered an importer/distributor of imported (but cheaper) diapers, I figured since I am buying in bulk for my kids, I might as well make the trip every time I will get fresh stocks worthwhile buy selling too (at least to my sisters and friends at first). Then I decided to post pictures and prices online and after less than a month (to my delight), I started receiving orders from internet-savvy mothers as well. I've been doing it for 2 years and I must say there are highs and lows, especially that I am also working full time. Stocks availability (since they come from overseas) and consistency are always a problem but nevertheless, it's a thriving business. It also gave me a chance to meet other great mommies and I have actually become friends to many!

Being an online entrepreneur made me realize the popularity of online shopping actually works both ways - for buyers like me who prefers to shop anytime of the day without the hassle of going to the mall and for small entrepreneurs too who doesn't have enough capital to enable them to rent stalls. I've met a few moms who quit from the workforce and stayed home doing buy and sell through the internet. Some even availed of small business loans to beef up their inventory and enable them to expand. Amazing and inspiring, right?

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