Sunday, November 22, 2015

Life Without a Household Help

Around 7 years ago, when my daughter was just about to turn 2, God answered my prayer for a responsible, loving and honest nanny. She was from the province, quite naive, from a really poor family and needs to support her younger sisters who, unlike her, are still in school. We liked her immediately and I love the way she takes care of my daughter. She, of course, wasn't perfect, and if I am the nitpicking employer, I'd be able to list down close to 10 mistakes in a day.

We shouldered her computer classes, then sent her to a regular school, then even sent her to the open highschool program of The Department of Education. All in all, during the 7 years she was with us, she was a working student for 5 years.

However, the past couple of years had been stressful for both of us. Her performance deteriorated and I am easily irked by her mediocre work. She always would just stay in her room and we had to knock on her door to take care of my daughter, wash the dishes, etc. In short, I started to detest her work performance. Seems like the fact that she's becoming busy with school work is really affecting the way she does her responsibilities at home. She'd forget to turn off the gas after cooking! She left for church one Sunday morning and when we came home 5 hours later, we found out she left the bathroom light on!

Also, she was always tired and sickly, which I believe is the effect of her sleeping late--- talking on the cellphone for hours till way past midnight. Actually, her responsibilities here in our household isn't really tiring - most days I no longer know what to ask her to do!

So anyway, last October, after weeks of "push-and-pull" and me reprimanding her for not removing the fish bone from the milkfish which caused my daughter to have a fishbone stuck to her throat, and not being able to go to school because of said fishbone, she said she's had it. Ugh! It's as if she was the victim in the situation! Actually, the fishbone incident was just the last straw of the looong list of kapalpakan she's done recently.

You see, if this happened two years or even a year ago, I'd be crazy not having a househelp. I'd maybe talk to her and make her stay, or maybe even offer higher compensation. But I guess this is the best time for her to go, as I was really ready, and willing to say goodbye to her. Even my daughter wasn't so affected (okay, she cried for a good 10 minutes and that's it).

Now, almost two months since the said helper left, we are THRIVING! The house is clean, we have a laundry woman who comes twice a week for laba and plantsa, we have more than enough cooked viands in the ref, my daughter's room is more organized, we never miss meals. Sure, my husband and I wake up an hour earlier to prepare breakfast and their packed lunch, sure I wash the dishes and my husband throws the garbage at night, my husband cooks and I try to sometimes, but we are not only surviving, we are thriving.

Not having a helper isn't the end of the world. Some, (I say some, not all, okay) helpers feel they are indespensable. That the family they work for will stop functioning once they leave - but that is really not the case. That is why, they are called help. They are precious, they are appreciated, they are blessings, but not having them around isn't that bad after all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Kidzania Manila Mania

Ever since we learned about a Kidzania branch opening in the Philippines, my daughter and I have been looking forward to THE day. And so only a few days since the soft launch, I trekked to a branch of Ticketworld (though you can also purchase tickets online) and bought tickets for us.

I have been "selling" the idea to my husband because he found our experience in Dreamplay quite exhausting - thanks to the couple of hours lining up at the entrance just to buy tickets. I guess I was able to convince him that checking out Kidzania would be more exciting and more worth the money.

To date, my daughter and I have been to Kidzania twice. The first one was with my husband, who had a blast playing photographer to our daughter; and the second one was for the school field trip. We were able to try more activities during the first visit, though because there were less people. During the frield trip of my child's school, I spotted around 4-5 other schools in there! So just imagine the crowd! We spent more time lining up, especially for the Fire station, which was almost always, (okay always always always) full of children on cue!

Here are some of the photos we took during the second visit. We got her a passport the first time we went there and so she earned more Kidzos in the process. My daughter's maturity has indeed levelled up because she chose the establishments were she'd earn and not spend.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Christmas All Year Round at Casa Santa Museum

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. The feel makes me happy. The reason behind the celebration make me want to thank God over and over again. Christmas decorations give me a wonderful feeling, much more being surrounded by them, even in the middle of the year!

This family trip to Santa Clause' house made our recent weekend a memorable one. Let me share some of our photos.

Casa Santa Museum is located in the Jardin de Miramar compound in Brgy Isidro, Antipolo.
Entrance fee is P180 per person minimum of 5 pax. For those who will be dropping by and are less than 5 persons, then you will have to pay for 5 persons just the same.

They are also open for event bookings and their venues are quire spacious and picture-worthy.

They have a facebook page. You might want to leave a PM or post your inquiries before going.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Play Date at Dreamplay by Dreamworks, City of Dreams, Manila

One of the things we've been looking forward was the opening of the newest kiddie attraction in Manila, Dreamplay at the City of Dreams, Manila.

Each time we go visit our relatives in the province, we always pass by Aseana in Pasay that's why we're excited for its opening. And so last Saturday, April 4, my husband and I decided to surprise our daughter with a trip to Dreamplay! Funny how clueless she was that in fact, the night before, she's asking me if Dreamplay has finally opened and what's taking it so long.

Early Saturday, we went to Megamall to take the shuttle to City of Dreams. Our daughter was so giggly upon realizing where we were going! The shuttle was free and we instantly felt we were in a shuttle in Hongkong or Singapore. It left Megamall at exacly 10 am and we were in City of Dreams 30 minutes after.

I'm just gonna post some photos for now and I promise to write a more detailed review soon.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Staycation Ideas for the Holy Week

For those planning on staying at home for the long weekend, here are some suggestions for you to still feel relaxed yet productive at the same time.

1. De-clutter. The feeling of accomplishment I experience every time my closet and other cabinets have been recently decluttered is priceless. My stuff look fresh, my closets are more organized, and I have things to donate.

2. Rotate your kids' stuff. This is the best time to keep those countless books and toys that your children no longer find fun to play with, and the time to bring out the "new" toys you've been putting off letting them use. Rotation indeed does wonders. They find it fun to see old toys in a different light.

3. Movie Marathon. Watch movies online, or download them, or buy/borrow DVDs. Time to catch up on those TV Series your friends have been talking about!

4. Try out new dishes. Either you cook your old specialties, or try out new recipes.

5. Put away your child's books from the previous schoolyear. And donate them to those in need.

6. Clean up your computer. Uninstall those apps you no longer use, declutter your hard drive, and organize those files.

7. Do some gardening. My husband's been wanting to start a pocket garden for the longest time. I wonder if he'd do it this year.

8. Bond with your kids. Play games, bake, have a musical afternoon, read stories, go to the neighborhood playground. The possibilities abound!

9. Catch up on your friends' lives. Either through facebook, or give them a call. Know what's going on in each other's lives.

10. Do a spring cleaning. Or for Filipinos, we call it "general cleaning." Time to clean those electric fans, the aircon filter, change bedsheets and curtains, clean up the attic, throw away those unused shoes and maybe even repair those furnitures!

11. Make some memories. Have those millions of photos printed and face your photo album backlogs. In my case, I bought vouchers online for our family travel pictures.

12. Be techie, make videos for the family. With more time now, you can try your hand at putting up and editing your family travel and events videos. It's fun to share them on social media, too.

13. Most importantly, pray and reflect. Read the Bible and know what God wants to let you know. Start a Gratitude Jar, or a Gratitude Journal and be thankful for what you are blessed with. Have unhurried Devotional Times and bask in the presence of God.

14. Plan your Easter Sunday family party. Or prepare contents for the plastic eggs for your kids' Easter Egg Hunt!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Revisiting Hinulugang Taktak

My mom wanted to go somewhere last Sunday. But because we had little time after the church service and the usual Sunday malling, we decided to go up Antipolo. Hinulugang Taktak was the decided upon destination.

Ever since I was a child, I've been familiar with the song Tayo Na Sa Antipolo, where Hinulugang Taktak was mentioned many times. But honestly, I've never been there. My mom though said they've brought me there as a child, but I really don't remember. Anyway, I've been hearing about how poorly maintained it's been so I wasn't looking forward to visiting. I googled about it, though and learned that it's been declared National Park a few years back and that it's been rehabilitated and managed well again.

Trek to Antipolo we went Sunday afternoon. It's only a few minute-drive from Ortigas, but I don't think public transportation can access this road leading to the famous waterfall.

There is no entrance fee. Guests just need to register at the gate, including name address and age. There are quite a few steep steps that senior citizens might not find comfortable. There's a ramp though but it's quite steep and narrow as well.

For my daughter to see a real waterfall for the first time was momentous. She even asked it it's God-made or man-made.

Now I would say the gushing of the water and the sound of it MUST be wonderful... however, the malansa smell somehow ruins the experience. We did have our photos taken with the waterfall as the background, but we were hurrying to get done with the pictorial because the stench somehow gets into our tummies.

There's an adult and kiddie pool that, I may say looks nice and clean. But because it's open to the public, it can it get too crowded and well, "not clean" right away. There are no vendors inside except for the few chips being sold at the gate. There's an ice cream vendor at the entrance and another lady who sells suman and cashew nuts.

For those who want to stay longer have a picnic, there are a lot of cottages and areas where you can place your mats to relax. All in all, our visit didn't quite last long. It only took us less than an hour for strolling and picture taking.

To complete the experience, we had halo-halo in Antipolo proper and bought suman and roasted cashew nuts.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Celebrating Art in Island

Welcome to the newest art museum in the city! Art in Island in Cubao started operations only on December 25, 2014 yet it's become a popular destination among family and friends. Art in Island is actually a two-storey building along 15th Avenue, Brgy Socorro, Cubao Quezon City. It's right behind Cubao Expo. If you are familiar with Ali Mall, it is only within the vicinity.

Imagine a building loaded with 3d paintings that "come to life." Have your photos taken with these works of art as background and you look like part of the paintings themselves. Okay, I can't give justice to the paintings with my description... so let me just share some of our pictures.

Art in Island is open daily and the entrance fee is P500 for adults and P400 for kids (present student ID). If it is your birthday (not birth month) you get inside for free. Allow at least 2 and a half hours inside to really enjoy the place and pictorial.

Some tips:

By the way, shoes are not allowed inside so I suggest baon a pair of socks. You may go barefoot but the cement floor's kinda cold. try not to bring a huge bag because they can get in the way of the photo session. A slim slingbag will do. But if you really have to, like for mommies of toddlers who have to bring their diaper bags, better leave them in the car, or at the deposit counter at the lobby.

Monopods and tripods are not allowed. Make sure you check out the stickers on the floor that tell you the best angle to take the pictures. There are also sample poses on the walls but it's always better if you get more creative with your originals.

Be conscious of your framing. Avoid the ceilings and the people/bags/paintings around, to achieve more authentic-looking photos.

Try not to pick a fight with other guests as the place can get crowded on weekends and taking photos can be such a challenge for those who, like me, are a bit impatient with those who take so much time before leaving a particular scenery.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

My McDo Party Photos

Birthday parties in McDonald's are almost always for kids. However, for this year's joint celebration of January and February celebrants in my Victory Group, the organizers decided to hold a McDonald's party.

Here are some photos from that memorable and happy event.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Rainforest Park at The Rave in Pasig City

Because we were quite bored of the usual mall stuff week in and week out, and because we don't have enough time to go all the way to Tagaytay last weekend, we decided to try dropping by the Rainforest Park in Pasig City. We've been hearing, seeing and passing by it many times whenever we were in the area but never occurred to us to go inside. Anyway, last weekend we went.

First impression, it was crowded. Well it was a Sunday afternoon so what do we expect. There was no entrance fee so of course it should be crowded. The guys manning the ticketing table for the various attractions weren't as cooperative and approachable as they should. They're the first staff members visitors would encounter and they're just plain uninterested in answering guest queries. Because of that, I felt like we weren't welcome at all. I can only imagine what the impression of balikbayans and foreign tourists could be.

Overall, the place wasn't well-maintained. The play area was dusty and rusty. My 7 year old kid wont even dare touch the monkey bars even if I know she wanted to play. The streets were full of garbage, candy wrappers and chips wrappers all around. Most attractions require a fee (affordable at P10-P20 per person), but it wasn't worth it.

There not much food stalls and the few that were there don't offer much. Anyway, it's just a nice thought to know that people in Pasig and neighboring towns have a place to roam around and relax for free. That's the only nice things about this.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 Ways to Stick To Your Grocery List (and avoid over-spending!)

I must admit, I very often overspend during grocery shopping. I love going through all the shelves and checking out new products and reading labels and comparing and being intrigued with nice packaging.
Groceries, like bookstores and thrift shops are my happy places. I always look forward to going to the supermarket, even if it is only to buy a bottle of banana catsup.

But then, because I love grocery shopping so much, I tend to overstay and therefore, overspend. I try to stick to my budget, and for many months now, I can say that I have succeeded, most of the time. So what are the things I have done differently resulting to my no longer spending more than I have planned?

1. Write a grocery list. If you are already familiar with the lay-out of the supermarket you frequent, try to write down your items according to the supermarket lay-out. I mean, if upon entering the supermarket, the first shelf you’ll see is the canned goods section, list all the canned goods you need to buy first. If the next shelf you’re going to find is the condiments and cooking supplies section, write down the stuff from those shelves that you need. This way, you don’t have to go back and forth and be tempted to loiter in those shelves and alleys you don’t need anything from.

2. Take note of the brands. Frequent grocers like me, most often than not, are already familiar which brands offer quality but are less expensive. Sometimes, though, it does not necessarily mean that if something is less expensive, it is already the better choice. Be discerning of the reputation, pricing and size of the product you are buying. Be wary and discerning of marketing strategies, too. Do not be tempted to try a new product just because its TV ad and jingle are so entertaining.

3. If you only have a few items you intend to buy for that day, opt for the shopping basket instead of the pushcart. This way, you will not be pressured to fill your cart with unnecessary purchases.

4. For those who are trying to make the healthier choice when it comes to grocery shopping, I suggest head for the fresh produce section first. Ever since I have become more conscious with what my family eats, this is what I do. I buy the veggies and the fruits and the chicken and other meat products first. By the time I have rolled my pushcart towards the middle of the grocery, where the dry goods are, either I am already tired, or my mind tells me I have reached the budget limit for that day. So the tendency is I just buy the very essentials in the dry goods, then I head for the counter and pay. This way, I have walked away from the temptation to overspend, plus I have chosen the healthier path for my family, too.

5. During days that I am on a tight budget, I prefer not to bring my daughter along when I go buy our grocery supplies. I am able to discipline myself more when I am not with her, because kids would always want this cookie and that bag of chips, these candies and those mallows… most of which are not important and necessary. I also find grocery shopping with my husband more helpful because I tend to buy only the necessities whenever he’s around. 

5 Ways to Avoid the Morning Rush

Moms of school-age children will agree that the hour… or for some, the less than an hour of preparations before going to school is always the most stressful part of our daily routine. The moment we have to wake our kids up, may I say is one of the most challenging. Who would want to be disturbed from one’s sweet sleep anyways?

In our home, my alarm goes off at 5:45am, but I usually press the snooze button twice. So realistically, I get up at 6:15am. I go downstairs to check the preparations our maid has done, then I fix my daughter’s school lunch and snack, then I go back to the room to wake up my child. I am blessed to have a reliable maid who does most of the work in the morning but I see to it that every night, before I sleep, I write down everything she needs to do. From what to cook for breakfast, to where to find the juice tumbler my daughter prefers to bring for that particular day. I make my child wake up at 6:30 am, and am I glad that it only takes a couple of minutes for her to get out from the bed.

So anyway, coming up with this smooth routine resulted from hits and misses in the past. But I am happy that we’ve been stress-free for some time now.

Before going to sleep the night before, here are the things I do:

1. Make sure all my child’s homework, to-do’s and to-bring’s to school are all ready for the next day.

2. Plan what to wear. School uniform for Monday and Tuesday as well as Thursday, Girl Scouts uniform for Wednesday and PE uniform for Friday. I make sure the maid already knows what shoes, accessories and socks go with those specific uniforms. The Girl Scouts uniform come with badges, pins, a cap, so those should be ready in the living room where my daughter dresses up every morning.

3. Plan what to cook for breakfast, snacks and lunch. As I said earlier, the maid does the leg work, I write the instructions. Some days when the maid goes to school (she attends highschool classes once a week), I instruct her to prepare everything she can before leaving early in the morning, then I do the packing. My husband brings breakfast and lunch to work so those are also in my daily instructions.

4. In our case, we don’t turn on the television during school days. Or at least in the morning before my daughter goes to school. Television stalls her and slows down the way she eats, moves and dresses up. It only took me one morning two years ago when she was only in Kinder and that’s it. I declared a no-TV policy on school mornings.

5. My daughter eats very slowly thus I make her take a bath first before breakfast. This way, she becomes alert and is more awake when it’s time for her first meal. I can even put on her socks and fix her hair while she eats.

There. With this kind of routine that we’ve been doing for the past couple of years already, mornings in our home aren’t as stressful as in other households. I hope you build the perfect routine that’s best for your family, too. 

Happy Mornings!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

DIY Planner

Ever since I can remember, I've always been someone who love lists. Things to do lists, specifically. I dislike wasting my time, I get upset whenever a day passes without me accomplishing anything. As early as when I was in gradeschool, I remember scouring the bookstores for the perfect calendar. A few years later, planners have been invented and I was an instant fan. I love writing down what I needed to do for every single hour, sometimes even every half hour. At night I'd record what happened during the day.

As years, okay decades passed by, my taste for the perfect planner levelled up. And there just wasn't anything available in the stores that fit my needs and my lifestyle perfectly. Either there aren't enough spaces for my records, or the alignment isn't according to my taste, or the color of the cover isn't my style. Ohwell.

So this year, I have decided to make my own planner. For about 3-5 years already, my husband always receives at least two planners for Christmas. And since he's not the type who'd use one, he always end up giving me those. I am a happy wife each time he does, because that saves me a hundred or so pesos to purchase one for myself. But then again, most of these planners have very, and I mean, VERY limited space.

Okay, I digress. As I was saying, this year I am making my own planner. My husband, again gave me around 3 notebooks this year. Two are planners, and one is a hardbound, leather notebook. Because the latter was lightweight and looks nice, it won and is now my 2015 DIY Planner.

I have yet to take pictures of it, but just to give you an idea, here are the portions/segments/corners I have included on a week to week basis:

Dates of the week
Main Focus and Project for the week
Days of the week with space space space for my daily activities
Personal To Do-List
Work To Do-List
God's Word Page (this takes more space as I tend to write a lot depends on what the Holy Spirit tells me to)
Notes/Doodles/Ideas Corner
Highlights of the Week/Gratitude Corner
And for every quarter, I have devoted a special page for Analysis and Progress.

Also, on the first few pages of the planner, I have written down my WORD/THEME for the Year, and my Scripture Verse for the Year.
As well as a Vision Page where I write down how I see myself in:

one year, three years, five years, ten years, twenty years, forty years.

So there, making mental note and including in my list now that I have to take a photo of a sample page to share with you.

In the meantime, here's to all of us LIST LOVERS and PLANNER FANATICS!