Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Here's wishing everyone a happy, peaceful and abundant 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yesterday and today are general house-cleaning days for us. We couldn’t accomplish the task in one day because hubby and I were taking turns looking after our little one. (Note: Our all-around helper went home to the province last December 15 and promised to come back first week of January. In her latest text, she said it might take a while before she could return. So there, I’m actually looking for a new helper as I will resume work on January 5.)

Day 1: I dusted everything, swept and mopped the entire house and changed our bed sheet, pillow cases and curtains while I assigned hubby the task of tidying up our electric fans (we have two, but he cleaned only the one in our bedroom; the one in the living room, before New Year, maybe?). Justin was entertaining his dad the whole time by talking nonstop and asking never-ending questions.

Day 2: I scrubbed our toilet, bathroom floor and wall tiles, washed all the soiled rugs and shower curtain and decided to finish off what’s left in our laundry basket. Oh, did I mention my hands have not recuperated yet from the manual washing of clothes I did last Saturday?

Any tips on how to make house-cleaning fun and easy?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Justin received the following gifts this Christmas: (1) a jar of toy animals from Ninang Remie, (2) a police car from Ninang Charm, (3) a Texaco highway hauler from Ninong Resty, (4) cute mini photo frames from Ninang Belen, (5) a xylophone and battery-operated helicopter, Nemo, and giraffe (these last four toys were gifts given to Justin by his godparents/our friends at his previous birthdays which we’ve kept and given him only this Christmas), (6) an OshKosh B’Gosh T-shirt from Ninang/Tita Meann, and (7) a Baby Gap T-shirt from Mamita (Auntie Mameng).

Justin’s Christmas toy presents

T-shirts and mini picture frames

We did not buy Justin anymore toy presents for Christmas since he already has enough to keep him busy. For his clothes, we already bought him a few pairs of pants and shorts and several T-shirts in November. He didn’t seem to mind that mommy and daddy did not get him any Christmas gifts. He’s getting all the love and attention he can get, though.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tatay and Nanay and my family (me, Ed and Justin) decided to spend the night at my sister Meann’s house on December 25 to give all of us the much-needed rest before going home.

Except for Nanay and Tatay who are early-risers, we all woke up late. We still enjoyed our Christmas left-overs.

First, we had to drop off Nanay and Tatay at their house in Dasmarinas, Cavite. Hubby offered to treat all of us to lunch at Max’s Restaurant. We ordered family fried chicken (whole), beef kare-kare, fish fillet in black beans (I’m not too sure I remember this right), and chopsuey. Boy, did we enjoy that meal!

At Max's Restaurant while waiting for our orders

Next, we’re headed for our place in Ortigas, but we had another stop-over at Festival Supermall. Our little boy badly needed a train ride, so hubby, me and Justin rode the Junction Express. Tito Orlan and Justin then had a grand time maneuvering the “big cow” while mom and dad took a restroom break.

At the entrance of Junction Express

Waiting for our turn to board the train

Mommy, Justin and Daddy enjoying our train ride

Oops! Where is Daddy?

Justin with Tito Orlan riding the walking "big cow"

Yesterday was a fun, fun day!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Like last year, we celebrated Christmas Day at my sister Meann’s house in Laguna Bel-Air. It’s becoming quite a tradition to spend the holidays there because they (Orlan and Meann) have ample space in their house, making it convenient for everyone to move around and do all the necessary preparations.

The Gregorio clan isn’t complete this time around. There were only 14 of us present (Tatay and Nanay, Orlan and Meann, Ed, Tetcha and Justin, Ate Cristy with kids Tin-Tin, Ayie, Hazel and Ron, and Auntie Mameng and Ate Beng. My brother Dennis is in Dubai and his wife Meg who stays in Hagonoy, Bulacan weren’t able to make it to our family get-together. My older brother Buboy and my brother-in-law Kuya Jhun weren’t also around to grace the occasion. We still managed to make the celebration fun and exciting, though.

We all shared a hearty feast of pancit bihon, tuna menudo, Purefoods Fiesta Ham, fried chicken, vegeroni salad, buko pandan salad, and cassava cake. I think there were more presents given away this year, and the kids couldn’t have been happier. Yippee! Aside from giving our individual gifts, we also had our Christmas exchange gift.


Justin posing beside all the gifts

Justin with cousins Kuya Ron and Ate Hazel

Family picture minus Tito Orlan who was our photographer

Here’s looking forward to Christmas 2009!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I’m not sure I’ll be able to log in tomorrow, so I’m greeting everyone a very Merry Christmas in advance!

A blessed Christmas to all and here’s to a prosperous 2009!
“Mommy, pode (pwede) computer Justin?” (Mommy, can Justin use the computer?)

These were the first words my two-year-and-five-month-old son Justin uttered when he woke up from his afternoon nap today.

Since my work for December ended on the 20th, I spend less time on the computer these days. The only time I get to use the PC is when my son Justin is asleep.

My son now takes my place in front of the computer watching Thomas & Friends YouTube videos. This is because he only has a handful of Thomas & Friends DVDs (only three, in fact, but he accidentally broke one, leaving him with only two now). He usually spends three to four hours a day video-hopping.

I know, I know. He’s not supposed to be watching too much. But what’s a mom to do?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yesterday was the first time since my son Justin was born that my family (me, my husband, and my son) was alone in the house. That’s because our all-around helper, Manang, left for the province for a much-needed break.

We had company the day she left, my niece Tin-Tin, but only until last Friday, December 19, because she got sick. I’m thinking that has to do with her taking care of my son while I worked. Hehe. So technically, we’re home alone, just the three of us starting yesterday, which felt kind of odd, really. What did we do all day?

We were at Makati Medical Center by 11am for my husband’s appointment with his doctor. Then, we went to the mall. Father and son headed to Tom’s World, my son’s favorite hangout these days, while I did my grocery shopping, which took almost an hour. We were home at around 4pm.

Father and son watched DVDs while snacking on whatever they were able to rummage at home. I decided to make chicken macaroni salad to my husband’s delight. We had a good helping of that salad for dinner, which went well with Purefoods Fiesta Ham. Yummy!

Everything’s looking great. The only downside was that I had lesser time to spend with my son. That’s because household chores were never-ending! The flip side of this was that father and son get to spend more time together. Hubby took care of my son while I saw to household work that needed to be done. I think that more than made up for what I thought I lost.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

One of the perks of working in an office compared with working at home, particularly during the Christmas season, is that you get to receive lots of gifts from colleagues and friends alike. This week, my husband has brought home quite a number of Christmas presents already, including a fruit cake, chocolates, crinkles, brownies, macaroons, a cell phone holder, a towel, liquid hand soap, and a basket of goodies.

This particular gift caught my attention. At first glance, they look like ordinary ceramic figurines.

In reality, they’re actually salt and pepper holders. And they actually look great when they hug each other.

This was actually a gift from my husband’s boss. Cute, aren’t they?

Friday, December 19, 2008

My son Justin is a certified Barney baby. Barney was the first kiddie VCD I made him watch. We got hooked the first time we laid eyes on Barney (with emphasis on “we”). Of course, mommy has to make sure Justin’s watching the right stuff. So what makes Barney an instant hit with kids?

Barney features fun and exciting characters top-billed by Barney himself with friends BJ and Baby Bop who all sing well and dance well. We also get to watch kids of different ages in the show that make watching Barney even more interesting.

I actually became an instant fan of Barney because of the easy-to-learn songs that are set in good music and some danceable tunes, too. I would often sing these songs to Justin, and he would sing with me and imitate the action that went with these songs. Justin even knows Barney’s theme song “I Love You, You Love Me” by heart.

Primarily, I think Barney was conceptualized to teach children a good number of things, such as the letters of the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, zoo animals, etc. The show also imparts good values, namely: loving one’s friends and treating them as family, sharing what one has with others, being considerate of others’ feelings, and accepting others for what they are, among others.

I think these are good enough reasons to convince parents to let their children watch Barney. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Whenever Justin’s dad is watching VCD/DVD, he’s always reminded of how much havoc his son has done on his 6-month-old DVD player. If he is lucky, he’ll be able to watch the movie without a hitch. More often that not, he will not be able to finish the entire film because it will stop in some parts or it will not play at all. That’s because Justin, with his ever-curious mind and busy toddler hands, had toyed with that DVD player so many times in the past months and still does to this day. This DVD player is not the only thing in our house that has experienced Justin’s “gentle” touch.

To date, he’s broken/destroyed the following:
1. A fan blade. He was having a grand time playing with our living room stand fan, and the whole thing actually fell. It was a good thing that it landed not directly on Justin, but on the other side. That’s why the fan blade was broken into bits.
2. Two whistling kettles, one ended up with a broken spout and the other with a broken handle.
3. A Xenon DVD player, our first DVD player, now dysfunctional.
4. Several of his toys: his miniature toy cars are now without windows; his toy guitar is left with only two strings; his microphone is now divided in half.
5. Mommy’s brown pair of shoes, newly purchased at the time Justin’s wide feet landed on them.
6. One of his Thomas & Friends DVD was split into two as he desperately struggled to lift it from its case.
7. Our dining table now has pockmarks because Justin pounded his plastic spoon and fork on it.
8. Our living room sofa bed has scratches on the side because Justin keeps bumping his “big” car against the poor thing.

We know this wrecking rampage is far from over. We’re just consoling ourselves with the thought that this, too, shall pass.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My husband noticed something amiss in my son’s navel last Saturday. It seemed moist and a bit inflamed. This prompted me to text Justin’s pediatrician and relay the problem. It’s a good thing she calways texts back. Dr. O. prescribed an antifungal/corticosteroid cream to be applied to the affected area 3x a day. It seems to be working, although we have to constantly remind Justin and see to it that he does not touch his navel.

This may seem an easy task, but not for someone who finds sticking his finger into his navel and playing with his navel quite relaxing. It’s his sleep-inducer ever since. So, how do we make a 2 year-and-a-five-month-old boy stop this habit?

Reminding him every so often worked, but only for a while. We then had to include a scare factor in our reminders, telling him that if he touches his navel, it will grow bigger along with his tummy. When we’re in bed and he’s about to sleep, I keep telling him to just hold mommy’s hands whenever he feels the urge to touch his navel. He does and he’s able to sleep quite soundly. Thank goodness!
Later today, Manang, Justin’s yaya (nanny) will be going home to the province to spend Christmas with her family and to undergo an operation. My work for December doesn’t end until the 20th, so for next week, I actually requested my 21-year-old niece Tin-tin to baby-sit my son while I work. From the 20th until the end of my Christmas vacation (January 4), the tasks of taking care of my son and manning the household will rest solely on my shoulders. My chores will include:

1. Taking care of my son
2. Cooking
3. Washing the dishes
4. Washing Justin’s clothes and other small stuff every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights
5. Cleaning the house every Saturdays
6. Ironing clothes every Sunday

Whew! I will need super powers to do all these. Will I survive? Hopefully. Well, I wouldn’t really be entirely without help as my husband will look after our son while I do the other chores. Plus, I will ask my sister (Meann) or nieces (Tin-tin and Ayie) to pay us a visit every so often to help lessen my load. Shrewd? You may say so.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hubby and I committed a mortal sin. We binged on food and drinks last night. But we’re not alone in our crime. We had nine co-conspirators, all friends and former officemates, and a special guest, Ana’s pretty teenage daughter Ynah.

We feasted on crossover buffet at Saisaki-Dads-Kamayan, filling our plates to the brim and drowning ourselves in bottomless iced tea. Well, we had to get our money’s worth. After all, we each had to pay Php720.00, tax included.

You think it’s way too much for just one meal? I think so, too. But this is no ordinary night. It was a gathering of friends, of people who has kept in touch with each other for years, people who make it a point to get together before Christmas to celebrate life and friendship. We’ve made it an annual event for three years now, and we don’t intend to break it.

So are we pigging out again next year? I think so, but I hope not. I think it’s about time we start eating healthier stuff. That would be a big change for sure, but definitely one for the better.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I was so tired last Tuesday not because I worked, but because I didn’t work. It turned out that Tuesday was the scheduled day for fogging/misting in our building. Kids are advised not to go outside while spraying is done. This is not a guarantee, however, that the insecticide won’t seep inside the rooms as there’s a tiny gap below each unit’s main door. Per Justin’s pediatrician, Justin should be out of the building for at least three hours, enough time for the fog/mist to subside.

Spraying is scheduled at 2pm. I actually still have time to work in the morning until after we leave our unit before 2pm, but I decided not to because ending my work before the appointed time would just ruin my momentum. To kill time, I read my e-mails, surfed the Net, and read other people’s blogs (Boy! I wish I have more time to do this).

Then off we went to the mall (Justin, Mommy, and Manang). We spent the first two hours at Tom’s World. Justin had a grand time bowling, playing basketball, and whatever games he could lay his hands on. For my part, I played Pharaoh’s Treasure and Jungle Jive. This cost us Php400.00.

Justin was already hungry by 4pm, so we went to the food court. We ordered Arrozcaldo Special and Goto Special with iced tea from Goto King. This totaled Php150.00. I then called Justin’s dad because we’re running out of things to do. He told me we could go to My Playroom Kids Care Center at the upper floor.

My Playroom is a place where your tiny tots could play, read, and sleep (if they want) for a fee. One hour costs Php90.00. Justin and Manang spent two hours at My Playroom, so that’s Php180.00, plus, we have to pay for Manang’s socks priced at Php25.00. Children and their companion/s are required to remove their shoes and wear only socks while inside the play area. Total expenses: Php205.00.

Finally, Justin’s dad, coming all the way from his office, met us at My Playroom’s reception area. It’s dinner time already, so the next best thing to do was to eat again. Ed and I had pork sisig, while Manang had fried fish fillet (I forgot what this was called) at Icebergs. We all had lemonade for our drinks.Our bill amounted to almost Php700.00.

All in all, it cost us approximately Php1,500.00 for having stayed in the mall for 5 hours, plus, I didn’t earn anything that day. And to think that we’ll have to repeat the process in two weeks’ time as fogging/misting in our building is done twice a month. Haay! Well, at least, Justin is safe from inhaling the toxic stuff. And yes, I was dead tired from all the playing, walking, eating, and spending that we had to do.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I overheard this conversation between my son Justin and his yaya (nanny) from inside the bedroom where I work.

Justin: (Doodling on his notebook) "Family." (He’s trying to draw a family. He now knows that a family consists of daddy, mommy, and baby.)

Manang: "Ano ang name ni Mommy?" (What is mommy’s name?)

Justin: "Teresa."

Manang: "Wow, galing!" (Wow, great!) "Eh, ano ang name ni Daddy?" (What is daddy’s name?)

Justin: "Eduardo."

Manang: "Wow! Very good! Ano naman ang name ni Justin?" (What is Justin’s name?)

Justin: "Justin Edward Figuerres." (His last name he pronounced as “Guerres” only.)

Manang: (Clapping her hands with glee) "Very good!"

Justin, now two years and 5 months old, knew how to say his name when he turned a little older than one, but our names (his dad’s and mine), I have only told him a couple of times. I never thought he’d remember. Should I tell him our telephone number next?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I head a small group of online English writing tutors, and I’m also a tutor myself. Teaching ESL (English as Second Language) students can be quite fulfilling, but because I do it everyday, it can become trite and unappealing, especially for someone who’s been doing the job for four years now, well, not exactly four years because the first two years I only performed the work on a part-time basis. I only assumed full-time position in April 2007.

I’m usually a passionate worker, but in the past months, I’ve been dragging myself to work. I think I’ve been bitten by the burnout bug. These past few days, however, I’ve found a renewed enthusiasm for my work, which I attribute to the following:

1. My bosses came up with an incentive scheme for tutors. If we go beyond our expected monthly quota, we are entitled to an incentive pay. This act is much appreciated, especially this holiday season and especially in these times of global economic crisis.

2. My bosses granted my request to release my 13th month pay early because I told them I need to give something to my son’s yaya (nanny) who’ll be undergoing an operation this December.

3. I realize I’m lucky that I have a job. There are many jobless Filipinos out there, and I’m one of those fortunate enough to have a regular source of income. I just hope there’ll be more jobs available in 2009 for everyone.

I guess there’s really no reason why I shouldn’t love my work.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The following are tell-tale signs that I’m quite busy these days:

1. I have 59 messages in my cell phone inbox and 71 messages in my outbox.
2. I haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet.
3. I haven’t plurked for two straight days (or was it three?).
4. I eat lunch in a hurry, spending only 15 minutes to devour my packed lunch.
5. I haven’t replied to my best friend who texted me 10 hours ago.
Justin loves calling his lolo and lola (grandfather and grandmother whom he fondly calls Tatay and Nanay) using my cell phone.

When he’s about to end the conversation, he would say the following repeatedly as his closing spiel: “Bye. Take care. Good night. I love you.”

After saying “I love you,” he would hug the cell phone he’s holding as if embracing the person he’s talking to.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This is my agenda for December as far as my son Justin is concerned.

Potty training – We thought Justin's first time to sit on the toilet last November 9 was a good start. Our rejoicing over that accomplishment was short-lived, however, as he never repeated the act again. Yesterday, I started placing his potty in the living room so he is reminded to plop into it when he needs to.

Bottle weaning – We also started making Justin drink his milk from a cup. The only time we make him drink milk from a feeding bottle is when he’s about to take his nap or at bedtime.

Less TV watching – We’re also cutting back the number of hours Justin can watch TV. Before, the TV set in the living room is on almost the whole day. Now, we’re encouraging more play and less TV. We keep him busy with his toys, his coloring book and crayons, and his notebook and pencil. He goes to the playground, too, to be with other kids.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Justin is quite a friendly toddler. He loves being with people, and he loves talking with people. When he’s inside the elevator, a simple prodding from mommy would make him say good morning to those inside the elevator with us. He would say, “Good morning, ate” or “Good morning, kuya.” (Note: In Filipino, “ate” means “big sister,” and “kuya” means “big brother.”) Justin even greets the lola (an elderly woman) who lives in one of the units in our floor whenever he sees her.

Most of the guards and the utility personnel in the building where we live know Justin. They call him by his first name and even give him a high-five whenever they cross paths with him in the hallways or at the building lobby. Justin also adores babies. When Justin sees kids a little younger or older than him, he wants to touch, kiss, and hug them. Sometimes they hug him back, and sometimes they ignore him. This doesn’t stop him, however, from being cordial with kids and adults alike.

I’m happy that my son is not shy around people. I hope he grows up to be a confident boy and that he doesn’t change his friendly ways.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Justin feared his pediatrician. Whenever we’d pay his doctor a visit, he would cry. The simple act of placing him on the weighing scale terrified him. His cries would worsen when his doctor would physically check on him. And no amount of bribing would assuage his loud wails. He would only stop once we’re out of the doctor’s clinic.

It’s been months since Justin’s last visit to his pediatrician. Days before today’s visit, I was already prepping him on what he could expect from this appointment. I had been telling him that the doctor is his friend and there’s no need to be afraid. I even pretended to be his doctor and asked him to relax while I examined his eyes, ears, mouth, etc.

How did today’s visit turn out? I think it was a success. Initially, Justin was adamant to go to the doctor’s clinic. I told him before we left home that we’re going to the doctor’s clinic first then to the mall. He said, “Mall lang, wala doctor” (Let’s go to the mall only, not to the doctor.) And to which I replied, “We’ll ask your doctor for lollipops.”

At the clinic
First, Justin wanted to see the fish in the aquarium at the clinic’s reception area. Then, he asked the doctor’s secretary for a chocolate lollipop. Later, the secretary asked him to step on the weighing scale. He didn’t oblige at first, but he finally yielded. Hurray! He actually didn’t want to leave the weighing scale after that. He wanted to play with it. He even thought the face of the weighing scale was a clock because of the numbers on it. Funny!

Next, Justin couldn’t wait to get inside the examination area because I told him we’d borrow toys from his doctor. There are lots of toys inside, but he didn’t appreciate those before. But it’s a different story now. When his doctor finally checked on the red spot inside his nappy, that’s when he started crying. It’s not as loud as it was before, however, and he stopped the moment the doctor was done with her examination. I was actually relieved when the doctor told us it was just a simple diaper rash.

When we thought it was all over and when Justin's doctor checked his vaccination record, she told us Justin needed to have his H. Influenzae B booster shot. That’s when the crying started again, but it only lasted a short while. Overall, there was a considerable improvement in Justin’s reaction to seeing his pediatrician. I think that’s something to be happy about.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving gifts on Christmas is a family tradition that was started by my dear Auntie Mameng back when we were still living under one roof. Auntie Mameng is my father's older sister. There were 20 or more of us in my grandmother’s house back then, my father’s siblings with their own families. Each family had its own respective place in that house.

A week or two before Christmas, Auntie Mameng, with the help of whoever came in handy, would be wrapping Christmas gifts to be placed under the Christmas tree in the main house. The older children, that would be me and my siblings, would often sneak to the main house to try to take a glimpse of what we’d be receiving come Christmas time.

We would carefully open our gifts and peep inside and return the wrappers just as neatly as they had been before we touched them. That actually spoiled the surprise that awaited us on Christmas day. But giddy kids that we were, we couldn’t really wait ‘til Christmas.

I remember those times with fondness. The idea of receiving gifts actually added meaning to our Christmases. I have associated Christmas with gifts since then. For me, Christmas isn’t complete without presents. That is why I kept the tradition of giving gifts on Christmas alive.

When I already had a job and started earning my own money, I made it a point to buy gifts for my entire family and for the smaller children (my cousins) living with us at my grandmother’s house at that time, that is, until we all went our separate ways in 1996, the year when the house was finally sold.

Now that I’m earning a little more than I used to, I also increased the number of people I give Christmas gifts to. I don’t only give gifts to my family, but to Auntie Mameng's family as well. I even give to our company’s security guards and janitors if my budget permits.

I just love giving gifts. I don’t buy expensive ones. I go for the practical gifts instead, ones that the recipients can use or have a present need for. Shirts and cologne top my list. I give accessories to my kikay relatives, and it’s either clothes or toys for the kids.

I usually end up not buying anything for myself. But I can’t complain. I’m happy just seeing the smiles on the faces of people I give gifts to. Their happy faces tell me they appreciate that I thought about them on this special day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I would often comment how good-looking my son Justin is whenever I comb his hair. One time after giving him his bath, I started combing his hair and, as a force of habit, told him, “Justin, pogi” (Justin, handsome baby).

"Pogi" is the Filipino masculine term for comely or beautiful.

After I was done fixing his hair, I started combing my hair, too. When Justin saw me doing it, he said, “Mommy, pogi” (Mommy, handsome).
I got tagged by Kaye of Random WAHM Thoughts. She gave me this super cute Power Blog Award. This is my first blog award, and it really makes my day.

The rules are:
1. Each blogger must post these rules.
2. You need to choose ten people to be awarded and list their names.
3. Let them know they’d been tagged.

I just started blogging actively last September, so I don’t really have that much blogger friends yet. I’ll just list here the owners of the sites I frequently visit.
Here's my list: Wenchie, Rachel, Chateau, Cookie, Ibyang, Gigi, Toni, Mitch, Yin and Resty.
The answer is you can’t. You can complain day in and day out. You can rant and rave. Unfortunately, the consumer is always at the losing end of things because, again, you can’t do anything to have your Internet connection back unless the company you’re complaining to is quick enough to respond to your perennial whinings.

One of the disadvantages of an Internet-based job, like mine, is you’re at the mercy of your Internet service provider (ISP). I lost my Internet connection late Monday night, early Tuesday morning, to be exact, so I wasn’t able to work at home last Tuesday and Wednesday. My Internet connection came back Thursday night, so I was able to work the whole day of Friday at home. From Saturday until last night, I had been having intermittent to no connection at all.

I have complained several times already. Our account is very much active as we haven’t been remiss in our monthly payments. The call center agents have been giving us the same answer. First, there was really no problem, so the agent said she’d send off a technician to our place. When I called customer service again, there was now restoration work around our area. I called them up again last night, and there’s no more restoration work going on. So what is the problem?

I really don’t know. Perhaps, it’s about time we change our ISP.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Justin does not particularly like monggo (mung beans). How do I know? Two weeks ago, our lunch consisted of ginisang monggo (mung beans soup) and fried fish. Justin’s nanny mixed some monggo beans with rice for his meal. He only ate two teaspoonfuls of rice and nothing more. This was what he said to his nanny:

Justin: “Kawawa, Justin, kawawa!” (Poor boy, Justin, poor boy!)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A recent post I read ("After Seeing the Two Red Lines...; From Dawn Till Dusk) inspired me to write about my own pregnancy. It took ten years for me to get pregnant (See my post “Justin, Our Miracle Baby.”). I hope that childless couples out there won’t lose hope of having a child of their own someday. Miracles do happen, so always believe.

How I knew I was pregnant
A day or two days before All Saint’s Day of 2005, my husband and I went to Makati Medical Center’s Emergency Room because I was experiencing an unusually heavy feeling on the left lower (or was it the right?) abdominal area. My blood tests showed nothing unusual, so we went home after I was seen by a resident. I then realized I was supposed to have my monthly period days before. I then bought a pregnancy test kit, which confirmed my suspicion. After 10 years of being married, I was finally able to conceive.

How I felt upon learning that I was pregnant
The truth is I was afraid. I had a medical condition known as “pituitary adenoma,” a tumor in the pituitary gland for which I had an operation in January of 2004. Not everything was removed, though, so I had to take medication for it that my neurosurgeon said could be a lifetime thing for me. Getting pregnant means I would have to stop the medication and risk the chance of the tumor getting bigger. I couldn’t stand the thought of having another surgery, not if I could help it.

What I did to allay my fears about my pregnancy
I prayed hard and asked others to pray for me. After my surgery, a former officemate and friend gave me an Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer pamphlet. There was a 9-day novena and apostleship to Our Lady of Guadalupe that I recited repeatedly during the entire nine months that I was pregnant. I also prayed the novena to St. Raymund Nonato, the patron saint for expectant mothers. That one was given by a friend and officemate of my husband.

Prior to getting pregnant, I happened to have been seen by a female doctor at Clinica Manila in Megamall because I needed therapy for my fingers. My medical condition came up in the course of our conversation. She said she’s going to pray for me and that she’d give me prayer cards to help me deal with the situation. She said I could come back for those prayer cards the next day, as she didn’t have copies of them anymore in her bag. She did left a note for me when I came back that I still keep to this day. One of the prayer cards called for the intercession of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. I said that prayer everyday and requested for a safe delivery and for good health for both me and my baby. The doctor’s name was Dr. Calderon. I tried to go back to her clinic, but Clinica Manila moved to a different office, so I wasn’t able to personally thank her.

What my experiences were like being pregnant
I was one of the lucky ones who never experienced nausea and dizziness. Every day was like a normal day, except that I slept a lot and ate a lot. I was also able to work until two weeks before I was due to give birth.
The downsides: There was a time when I actually had to use the stairs all the way to the 9th floor of the building where I worked because the elevators were being fixed, and to think the stairways reeked of paint at that time. I also had bleeding on my 6th month, which scared the wits out of me. The saddest part was I was ugly, my nose was big, I had zits, and my neck and everything else darkened. I actually didn’t keep a picture of me when I was pregnant. Plus, there’s the pain of birth-giving. I delivered via a caesarean section under general anesthesia. Although Justin was quite small, 5.6 lbs only, I could not give birth to him the normal way because I had a previous head surgery. The act of pushing out the baby could put some pressure on my head and could lead to complications. (See my post “To Give Birth or Not to Give Birth.”)

The greatest reward of becoming a mother
Having a baby that gives our (my and my husband’s) lives meaning and purpose. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.
I just finished compiling all pictures of our family for 2008 for printing later. The last time I had pictures from our digital camera printed was last year, and it’s taken me quite a while to arrange those pictures by dates and place them on Justin’s first photo album. What’s taking me so long to have these pictures printed? My son. Work. Home. Plus the fact that we’re not using films anymore. It’s actually convenient to upload these pictures to the computer and have them printed when I feel like it. I’m also having some of Justin’s baby pictures reprinted so I can place them in photo frames that have been lying untouched, forgotten inside a storage bin somewhere. I guess I’m not that competent in this department. Sigh!

Justin’s daddy texted me this afternoon to ask if he could buy Justin a pair of hamsters. I wasn’t really too keen on the idea, so I asked Justin’s pediatrician (Dr. O.) and substitute pediatrician (Dr. D.). Dr. O. said hamsters might bite Justin. Besides, they multiply fast. Gosh! That might pose a problem later on. Dr. D. also advised against it for fear that Justin might catch an allergy from the animals’ fur. She added that Justin’s still too young to be having pets. Ergo, the thought of buying hamsters was foregone in favor of a fish, which was actually suggested by Dr. O.

Justin was all smiles when he saw his daddy holding an aquarium with a small, red fish inside. He even said, “Hi, Fish!” His daddy gave him pellets to feed the fish, and he was too excited to do as he was told. He joyfully watched as the fish ate and spat one of the pellets, and he found that funny. At one point, he hugged the tiny aquarium and said, “I love you.” After Justin’s already had his fill of his new pet, his dad finally placed the aquarium on a high shelf in our living room.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Justin never experienced using a pacifier. That’s because his pediatrician advised against it. Being a first-time mom and wanting to do what’s right for my baby, I followed her advice. But I would often see babies with pacifiers stuck in their mouths, which made me wonder if they’re really a good or a bad thing for the little ones. Here’s what I found out.

Pacifiers help calm babies during fussy or colicky times. Aside from being one of babies’ natural reflexes, sucking (thumb-sucking, finger sucking, or pacifier use) serves various purposes, such as making babies and young children feel secure, happy, and relaxed and helping these children learn about their world.

Pacifiers can also help prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). SIDS is the sudden, unexpected death of an infant under the age of one, characterized by a sudden cessation of breathing and thought to be caused by a defect in the central nervous system. Crib death is another term for SIDS. A California-based study found that babies who died of SIDS were less likely to have had a pacifier during their last sleep, even if they slept in less-than-ideal positions (on their tummies or sides) or settings (soft bedding, for example). This supports the notion that pacifiers help prevent SIDS.

Pacifiers can cause dental problems. Like thumb-sucking and finger sucking, use of pacifiers can cause problems that usually start after the permanent front teeth come in. These problems have to do with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. Sucking and pacifier use can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

Pacifier use can also cause ear infections. Ear infections are one of the most common diseases in children. Children who use pacifiers may be at a higher risk of ear infections because pacifiers can be a vector for the spread of microorganisms.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I started blogging last year and ended up with only 12 articles. That’s because I didn’t really have time to write, let alone switch on the computer when I got home from work. I still reported for work in our Boni, Mandaluyong office back then. Now that I’m working at home, I manage to squeeze in some time for writing and updating my blog. I regret the fact that I wasn’t able to document my son’s first year as much as I wanted to. But I’m making up for those lost times. From time to time, I will write about some of the significant events of that year as I remember them.
One of my favorite pictures of my son Justin was taken when he was just a month old wearing pajamas given by his Uncle Dennis, my brother. His daddy was the one who took this picture. Many of our family members and friends would often say he looks more like his dad, but I daresay he took after me somewhat. The pictures below will prove that.

One-month-old Justin

Three-month-old me (mommy)

Okay, I admit. He’s got “more” nose than I do, but we both have dimples, although not very visible in these pictures. Both of us have thin, brown hair, too. And we smile the same way. Don’t you agree?

A beaming snowman, a glistening Christmas tree, and a miniature Santa Claus

In an attempt to spruce up our small one-bedroom unit, I passed by National Book Store last Sunday to purchase Christmas ornaments. I had a hard time selecting what to buy. We can’t have a “real” Christmas tree because there’s not enough space in our place to accommodate that. And because my son is ever so curious of things in his surroundings, that tree won’t even last until Christmas because, for sure, he’ll be busy playing with all its trimmings, branches, and all. I opted for smaller stuff instead, ones we can place on a high shelf and ones that Justin can’t touch.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I was particularly struck by yesterday’s homily, which focused on the two types of sin: the sin of commission and the sin of omission. According to the priest, the sin of commission is when you commit a wrongdoing. The sin of omission, however, is when you fail to do a good deed that you should have done in the first place.

I think we are all guilty of this sin. How many times have we turned a blind eye to someone else’s need or cry for help on the pretext that we have enough problems of our own? The priest ended his sermon with the lines from Margaret Sangster’s poem “The Sin of Omission,” which captured that point quite succinctly.

Here’s the complete version of that poem. I hope you’d be enlightened as I was to do what is right not just when you feel like it, but all the time.

The Sin of Omission
by Margaret E. Sangster

It isn't the thing you do, dear;
It's the thing you leave undone,
That gives you a bit of heartache
At setting of the sun.

The tender word forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts to-night.

The stone you might have lifted
Out of a brother's way,
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say;

The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle and winsome tone,
Which you had no time nor thought for,
With troubles enough of your own.

Those little acts of kindness,
So easily out of mind;
Those chances to be angels
Which every one may find

They come in night and silence
Each chill, reproachful wraith
When hope is faint and flagging
And a blight has dropped on faith.

For life is all too short, dear,
And sorrow is all too great;
To suffer our slow compassion
That tarries until too late;

And it's not the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone,
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fresh from crying, my son Justin felt the tears in his eyes. He pointed to his tears with his finger, signaling me to wipe them. He actually doesn’t know the correct term for “tears,” but he knows what “drool” is because that’s something mommy usually wipes off his mouth.

Justin: (pointing his finger to his tears) Mommy, laway (Mommy, drool).

Mommy: Not laway, baby, luha (Not drool, baby. They’re called “tears.")
Here’s a song from Barney that brings a happy thought.

Early in the morning when I get dressed
Because I always look my best
The first thing I do so everyone will see
Is put a big, big smile on me.

I put a smile, a smile on my face
I put a smile, I wear it every place
I put a smile and what I see
The whole world smiling back at me.

A smile is pretty, a smile is free
A smile is a gift to you from me
A smile is a present in a special way
‘Cause you still get to keep it when you give it away.

There, I’ve memorized that song after watching this particular Barney CD a number of times with my son. How many times? I lost count already. The moral of the story (err…song) is: Smile and the world will smile back at you. Good morning!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Because I work Mondays to Fridays, I do my grocery shopping once a week so it doesn’t get in the way of my work schedule (See my article “How to Make the Most of Your Grocery Shopping.”) Besides, I work at home, so it becomes quite a chore to dress after work just to buy groceries. I’m usually tired by then, and the only energy I have left is for taking care of my son Justin.

Suffice it to say that I have to prepare the week’s menu ahead of time. Before I head to the nearest supermarket, I make a mental or physical list of all the ingredients of the meals that we’re going to prepare at home for the entire week. Now, there are things I consider when preparing our family menu for the week.

First, I take into consideration each family member’s food preference. My husband likes sinigang or nilaga, so I make it a point to include any of those in our weekly fare. He’s not really a fish person, but when he’s in the mood to eat fish, it’s usually the small types, like tawilis or salay ginto, so again, I make it a point to buy any of those or both if they’re available. My son Justin, on the other hand, likes tomato-based dishes, so it’s imperative that we have one of those in our weekly menu, too. For myself, I prefer fish (bangus, especially) and vegetables.

Of course, I also have to keep in mind my family’s health, but as you can see, we already have a good (healthy) combination of food from our individual preferences. For one week, we usually end up having one or two pork dishes, one or two chicken dishes, and three or more fish/seafood dishes.

Here’s a sample weekly menu for my family:

Monday – Fried tawilis and sautéed ampalaya with shrimp
Tuesday – Chicken tinola
Wednesday – Adobong pusit
Thursday - Menudo
Friday – Sarsiadong tilapia
Saturday – Fried chicken and chopsuey
Sunday - Pork sinigang

You might be wondering why we only have one dish for the entire day. I also planned it that way because Justin’s nanny doesn’t have time anymore to cook new dishes every meal. Besides, I want her eyes only on Justin the entire day. When Justin was smaller, our next day’s meals were prepared the night before (See my post "How to Have Some Semblance of Order in the House When You Have a Baby.") Since I now work at home, I have enough time in the morning to look after my son before my work shift, so the nanny can now do the cooking in the morning.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When you have a baby in the house, your schedule becomes a wee bit crazy. Gone were those days when you only plan for your husband and yourself. Now, everything revolves around the baby. Suffice it to say that you have a new master in the house, so tiny and yet so powerful that everyone is at his beck and call. After I gave birth to my son Justin, I had to come up with a plan to create some semblance of order in our lives.

First, tomorrow’s meals will be prepared the night before. This is so that my son’s nanny is focused on just taking care of Justin the entire day.

Second, washing of Justin’s clothes and other small stuff will be done at night and not everyday, but three times a week only. Hubby and my clothes go to the laundry shop.

Third, general house cleaning is done once a week, usually on a Saturday or Sunday. When this happens, I have to take my son out of the house. It’s either we go to the rooftop of the building where we previously rented a studio apartment or the whole family (daddy, mommy, and Justin) takes a stroll in the mall.

Fourth, baby’s feeding bottles are sterilized everyday. I have to make sure I "fix" these bottles (pair the bottles with their covers and fill the bottles my son will use for the day with distilled water). The purpose of this, again, is to lessen the work that Justin’s nanny will do so her full attention is only on my son.

These simple steps definitely made things a lot easier for the entire household.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Last Sunday afternoon, Justin, mommy, and his nanny went to Pizza Hut to attend his playmate’s (Gabbie’s) birthday party. I met Gabbie’s mommy in our building gym one time, and that’s how we came to know each other. Justin bumped into Gabbie at the playground twice already. Gabbie is now three years old.

Justin particularly enjoyed the spaghetti and ice cream. He actually ate more than one plate of spaghetti. Good thing there was an extra plate served in our table. He didn’t participate in the parlor games, however, because he was too young to understand the mechanics of the games. He would be with the other kids at the start of the games, but he would leave immediately after the game had started. He had better things to do, like use the crayons in the loot bag that he received from Gabbie’s mommy.

Justin happily participated in the singing of the Birthday Song for Gabbie, though, and counted 1 to 10 with the rest of the kids to signal the arrival of Pizza Hut’s mascot, Pizza Pooch. He wanted to blow Gabbie’s birthday candle, too, and one of Pizza Hut’s crew was kind enough to let him do it. She lit the birthday candle again and made Justin blow it, all the while thinking it’s his birthday, too. Below are some pictures from the party.

Gabbie with his mommy Rochelle and Justin

Justin happily looking on at the bigger kids playing parlor games

Pizza Hut's mascot, Pizza Pooch

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Today, Justin finally sat on the toilet bowl for the first time. At first, his nanny made him sit on his own potty that his daddy and I bought several months ago, but he wasn’t comfortable with it. He asked to be transferred to the toilet instead, and voila, he finally did it. I hope he does it again tomorrow.
True to my promise, I have never attempted to cut my son’s hair again since the October 12, 2008 incident (Read my “Panic 101”post.) Yesterday afternoon, we went to Kid’s Hair Salon to have Justin’s hair clipped by an expert. This is his second time to have his hair cut in a salon. The first time was when he was one year old. That wasn’t a very pleasant experience for my son. He cried all the time his head was being shaved. You heard it right. We had his head shaved because Justin had very thin hair at that time. Who was it that said that this is one strategy to make one’s hair thicker? It didn’t work wonders for my son. His hair remained exactly the way it is.

Since his first “formal” haircut was done over a year ago, we never knew what to expect of our son this time around. Would he behave the same way, or will he be more mature this time? At first, he was afraid. But the small TV screen in front of him and the kiddie car he’s riding while in front of the mirror caught his attention. Those, coupled with encouraging words from mommy and daddy and the barber, made the entire process uneventful.



I actually wanted Justin’s hair trimmed in preparation for this afternoon’s celebration. Justin is attending a playmate’s birthday party; that’s why. It’s his first time to attend another kid’s birthday fete. So, mommy is really excited! And mommy has to be sure her son is looking his best.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep. Hubby and I met up with friends last night, dined at Barrio Fiesta, and had coffee at Starbucks. Perhaps, it was the mocha Frappuccino or the myriad things I’ve been thinking or both that kept me from getting that much-needed shut-eye. So what must one do to get a great night’s sleep?

1. Avoid reading a disturbing story, stop worrying, and shut off the lights, TV, and computer inside the room. All of these things stimulate the brain.
2. Avoid heavy eating before bedtime. This keeps your body focused on another activity: digestion. Eat something light instead, like a bowl of cereal with skim milk.
3. Avoid drinking too much wine. You might end up not sleeping at all.
4. Avoid caffeinated beverages, such as soft drink or iced tea. Caffeine is a stimulant that might keep you awake.
5. Take a warm bath. This is a great way to relax your body and soothe you to sleep.
6. Get a massage. This works the tension out of your muscles and helps induce sleep.
7. Listen to soft, soothing music. This is a great sleep inducer.
8. Drink warm milk. This will soothe your nervous system and help you relax.
9. Keep cell phones a good distance away from your bed. According to a new study, people exposed to cell phone radiation requires a longer time to reach deep sleep and spends less time in deep sleep overall.
10. Sleep in a comfortable bedroom. Keeping the thermostat at about 68˚F makes it easier for your body temperature to drop, an essential element to getting good sleep.

Good Housekeeping; September 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My son Justin, 2 years and 4 months old tomorrow, has a hard time pronouncing the letter “h.” Every time he says a word with “h” in it, that letter doesn’t get sounded. For instance, he says “ya-oo” for “yahoo,” “ouse” for “house,” “anger” for “hanger.”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mommy’s photo taken by Justin

One of my son’s favorite pastimes is toying with my cell phone. He usually calls his lolo (Tatay) or Tita Meme and Tito O. using that phone. He also loves to listen to that phone’s various ringing tones. He plays with my phone’s keypads, too, as if he’s texting. And last but not least, he finds great joy using my phone’s camera. He actually knows how to take a picture. Of course, mommy taught him how. Last Saturday night, while he was holding my phone, I posed in front of the camera and asked him to press the “Capture” key. It was Justin’s first lesson in photography.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Christmas is fast approaching, and like a giddy teenager who makes her Christmas wish list ready only to change it a few days before the big day, I, too, have started noting down what I want for Christmas. These three top my list, for now.

Financial blessings – I think we’ve been quite blessed this year, having moved to our new condo unit last May. We still have to pay amortizations for it, though. So, yes, we’re hoping for more financial blessings this year. The same goes for my siblings. I wish Meann’s business will prosper this year. I also wish my brother Dennis finds a high-paying job and one that he likes, so he’ll stay with that company for years. And more financial blessings for Ate Cristy and her family for the future of their growing brood.

Friendship – I appreciate the small group of friends I have, those who tell me straight to my face what I’ve done wrong and still accept me despite my shortcomings, those who comforted me during the most difficult times of my life, those who help me become a better person, and those who consistently inspire me. I’d like to have more of these people in my life. I’d like to reconnect, too, with those I’ve lost contact with for one reason or another. I hope I’d bump into these wonderful people again sometime soon.

Good health – This is the most important gift I’d like to receive this Christmas, not only for me, my husband, and my son, but for the entire Gregorio clan: Tatay, Nanay, my siblings, and their spouses and their children. Medical expenses are quite costly these days, so I hope nobody gets sick in the family. I wish everyone good health and long life.

Despite the global economic crunch, I hope we all have a really blessed Christmas this year.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Last Friday, my son Justin sustained a small cut on his right forehead while playing in the living room. His daddy and nanny were both there, and I was inside the bedroom working (Note: My son doesn’t know I’m working inside our room; he knows I work in the office and that I leave for work everyday. See my post“Working from Home.”)

Justin was picking up his toy blocks when his forehead accidentally brushed against the square metal handle of the wooden cabinet that doubles as TV stand and living room accessory. He was hurt, judging by his loud cry. He had every reason to be. The cut bled slightly, and that part of his forehead that was hurt swelled somewhat. Justin’s dad told his nanny to apply cold pressure on the pained spot, but all that action ever did was make Justin cry even harder.

That night, when all three of us were in the bedroom, I told my husband that perhaps the reason why they (my husband and the nanny) weren’t able to prevent Justin from getting hurt was because both of them were so engrossed watching one of his recently bought DVDs, too hooked to even notice what Justin was doing. I actually said that with an accusing tone, which annoyed him. I got dressed down for that remark, which served me well. Yes, it was wrong for me to accuse when I wasn’t even in the scene when it all happened.

But I was only concerned about my boy. Nothing pains a mother more than to see her child getting hurt or bruised or having to suffer any feelings of discomfort. I would have been a more relaxed mom if I could protect him from all of those.
Eleven days ago, my son Justin could only identify the following letters o, s, and x, although he knows how to sing the Alphabet Song by heart. That was before he started watching the Brainy Baby DVD that teaches the alphabet. He watched it several times since October 23, and today, he can identify letters a, d, l, o, s, v, and x. He can also recite numbers 1 to 20, but he keeps forgetting numbers 15 and 16. And he now recognizes colors red, yellow, orange, and black.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I missed a day of work today. It wasn’t intentional, though. Unknown to me, my husband took a leave from work today and tomorrow, not because he really wanted to, but because he needed to. He has to use his remaining leaves or they will be forfeited. When I learned this morning that he’s not reporting for work today, I told him to just take his son to the mall. I wasn’t supposed to go with them. I was all set to work. But I couldn’t bear not being with them. To be honest, I don’t want to miss out on this great family bonding moment. So I gave in to temptation, but a nice one at that. So all three of us—daddy, mommy, and Justin—headed early to the mall. In fact, we were there 20 minutes before opening time.

Gone were those days when I would prioritize work over family. Yes, I was such a workaholic. There was a time I voluntarily worked two shifts (morning and evening shifts; the second shift was pro bono) because I wanted to improve both the quality and the quantity of my work. I was working for a production-based company at that time. That work attitude eventually got me noticed by management and was later made supervisor. But would I do it again? Not ever. I now realize there are things more important in life than work or money, and that’s family. Nothing compares to the joy I experience being with the people I love. So for the first time today, I don’t regret missing a day at work. Will I do this again? Certainly.
There are a number of things that my son Justin took after his daddy. One of those is his fondness for watching TV and VCDs/DVDs. In fact, the only time the TV set in our living room is off is when Justin is taking his afternoon nap at the sofa bed. Otherwise, it’s on the whole day.

That’s the same with his dad. When he’s not in front of the computer playing chess or watching an international chess tournament, you’ll find him in front of the TV watching his favorite shows or a VCD/DVD of a film he already watched before or he’s yet to see. To date, Justin’s daddy already has around 300 original VCDs. He started collecting when we got married. DVDs are quite expensive, so he only had a few originals. He actually had wooden shelves installed in our living room wall to house his growing collection.

Ed's VCD/DVD library

Justin’s daddy already started buying his son his own DVDs. (Note: There are DVDs for kids that are selling at Php100.00 in selected stores.) Justin’s own VCD/DVD library consists of a few Barneys, 3 Blues Clues, 3 Thomas & Friends, 2 Dora the Explorer, 2 Brainy Baby, 1 Bob the Builder, 1 Bee Smart Baby Vocabulary Builder, and 1 Brilliant Baby Collection. Justin’s daddy did not buy all of these, however. Some are gifts from friends. I now wonder what part of our living room wall will be for Justin’s own collection.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I took my son Justin to the playground last Sunday morning. I had no work that day, and my son’s nanny took the day off. I knew my son would get dirty, so I resisted the urge to give him his bath before going up. Up because the playground is located at the building’s penthouse, 39th floor, that is, the same floor where the building’s swimming pool is located.

One of the things Justin looks forward to is going to the playground after he’s taken his afternoon nap. Oftentimes, he’s the only toddler in the playground when he goes up at around 3pm, but there are also times when he gets lucky and he finds a playmate or two, especially during weekends.

The playground has a kiddie clubhouse complete with a steering wheel, a telescope, a table and a stool, a telephone, which is now missing, by the way, and a slide. The lower part of the kiddie clubhouse functions as a maze. The playground also has a kiddie table where children can read books or have snacks or whatnot. There are also toy animals the kids can ride.

The kiddie clubhouse at the back; the kiddie table in front

Justin on the kiddie clubhouse's steering wheel

Justin riding “Mr. Fish”
I read from Yahoo! News last Sunday that a 67-year-old woman from Fujisawa, Japan experienced numbness on her tongue after consuming Nissin’s Cup Noodle. Japan’s health office discovered the presence of paradichlorobenzene, a chemical found in bug repellent in the said food item, although there was no puncture or other abnormality in the cup.

Because of this, Japan’s Nissin Food Products Co. voluntarily recalled 500,000 cups of instant noodles made on the same factory line on the same day. While Nissin president Susumu Nakagawa apologized for this mishap, he denied the possibility of contamination at their factory, saying it had never used or stored the insecticide inside the factory and had seven security cameras overseeing manufacturing lines.

When we went to the mall that afternoon, there was a newly installed booth beside Tom World’s at Robinsons, Galleria. And what do you know? The people manning the stall are giving free Nissin instant noodles, not the cup noodles, but those in pouches. My initial reaction was to get as far away from the booth as I could, my husband and son in tow. Those noodles might be contaminated, too. Who knows? I wonder what’s safe to eat these days.

Monday, October 27, 2008

When we settled in our condo unit last May, one task gets added to my list of responsibilities—grocery shopping. It makes perfect sense since I was the one who passes by the supermarket everyday on my way home, that is, when I still have to report for work in our Boni, Mandaluyong office. Now that I’m a work-at-home mom, I find it harder to leave the house after I’m done with my work to buy things we need at home, especially when I have to do the grocery shopping several times a week. I need to come up with a plan, and here’s a list of things that works for me:

1. Do the groceries once a week – Before, I used to do it twice or thrice a week, but I realized it was a waste of time, so I decided just a few weeks ago to start buying groceries once a week only. The time I save here is just about the only time I have for blogging. At least, I manage to find time for this. I do my grocery shopping either on Saturdays or Sundays.

2. Have your grocery list ready and stick to it – I usually prepare a list of things to buy in the supermarket the night before I actually head to the nearest grocery. I check whatever supplies we had left or what needs to be replenished. I start with toiletries: Do we still have soap, shampoo, facial wash, toothpaste? How about laundry soap/detergent powder, toilet cleaner/all-purpose cleaner? Then, I check our kitchen cabinet if we still have enough or no more supply of onions, garlic, ginger, coffee, sugar, creamer, cooking oil, salt, flour, tomato sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, etc.. I then proceed to our refrigerator to check for whatever food items we have left out of the previous week’s grocery shopping. Finally, I do an auditing of my son’s milk, vitamins, and snacks for the entire week. Knowing the specific things I need to buy reduces the time I spend in the supermarket. I don’t need to scout every aisle in the grocery to see if there’s something in it that we need at home, plus, I get to resist the urge to buy on impulse.

3. Ask for help – Since I’ll be buying one week’s supply of things we need at home, I can not carry all the grocery bags on my own, no matter how hard I try. More or less, the entire purchase totals eight to ten kilos. So I need someone bigger than me to carry the heaviest bags. This is where my husband comes in handy. He hates doing the groceries, so I’m usually just the one doing the picking while he looks around for other things to do, like buying DVDs or checking out the latest gadgets in the nearby shops. I text or call him when I’m ready to pay my grocery bill.

Following these simple steps makes my grocery shopping a less time-consuming and a more fun activity. Give this list a try. You might benefit from it, too.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I’m so looking forward to the end of my work shift today. It’s Friday, and it’s the end of my work week. I used to work on Saturdays before, but not anymore. I only work on Saturdays now if I really have to, like when I have to orient a trainee or when the submission date of my end-of-the-month report falls on a Saturday. Otherwise, my weekends are for my son Justin alone.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Justin could sing the alphabet song when he turned two years old. (He is now 2 years, 3 months, and 16 days old.) But he can only identify three letters so far: o, s, and x. A month ago, his dad bought him Phonics Flash Cards to help him learn to identify the letters. But it wasn’t any good. Justin is more interested in the objects that were seen with the letters. He didn’t pay much attention to the letters. He actually ignored them. He already had a Brainy Baby book on the alphabet when he was just one year old, and he could identify most, if not all, of the objects in that book, but not the letters.

Last night, while looking for new DVDs to watch, I stumbled upon some of the gifts Justin received on his previous birthdays. There was a Brainy Baby DVD that teaches the alphabet, complete with the sound of the letters and things that start with a particular letter. I think this is a better way to teach him to learn to identify his ABC’s because the moment I played it, he was hooked. In fact, he was just lying on the bed intently watching what was being taught and not minding the rest of us who were in the same room with him. His daddy was able to play uninterrupted chess on the computer. You see, Justin loves playing with the computer keyboard, pretending to type something, so we can’t really use the pc with him around. Last night, though, was a different story.

I intend to make Justin watch that DVD over and over again until he gets to identify all the letters of the alphabet or until he gets tired of it, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I barely slept last night. The baby next door was crying loud and hard. It was probably a bad case of colic. I bet her (or his) mom hardly slept, too. I remember how it was with Justin. I delivered him via a caesarean operation, and we were out of the hospital after two days, or was it three? As difficult and painful as it was to get up from bed several times during the night, I saw to it that I was the one personally tending to my son’s needs when everybody else is ho hum sound asleep.

That was my routine for about two months until I could not do it on my own any longer. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I was tired and unusually cranky, and I was losing weight. That is when I called for help. I asked my husband if we could take turns feeding the baby at night; my son is bottle-fed, by the way, after only a week or less of having breast-fed since I was on medication at that time.

My husband dutifully obliged, and that was actually all that he wanted to hear me say. He thought I was doing okay on my own, that there was no problem, and that everything was fine. On my part, I was waiting for him to get the message and have the initiative to volunteer to do things on his own, but that wasn’t going to happen. Men…they need to be told always. Why do I keep forgetting this?

That’s all water under the bridge. I’ve gone through that phase, and I’ve survived. I hope the mom next door is getting all the help -- and sleep -- she needs.
My son Justin sweats a lot. It’s quite understandable that he perspires when he’s playing or doing physical activities. What I don’t understand is even if he is still, like when he’s about to go to sleep or within the first hour that he dozed off, he keeps sweating even if the air conditioner in our bedroom is on. He actually hates having the blanket on at night. Since we don’t have any appointment with his pedia anytime soon, I did the next best thing. I researched about the topic on the Internet, and here’s what I found out.

According to Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and author of Baby and Child Health: The Essential Guide From Birth to 11 Years, "It's very common for children to sweat while they're in a deep stage of sleep." Shu states further that children are more likely than adults to sweat at night for the following reasons: (1) they spend more time in deep sleep, (2) their temperature regulation systems aren't as developed, and (3) they have a higher proportion of sweat glands compared to their body size (

You can make your child comfortable by not overdressing her when she sleeps or by adjusting the temperature of her room. For Justin, I usually make him wear cotton pajamas at night. Both our air conditioner and electric fan are turned on, too.

Night sweating can also indicate a medical problem, however. For instance, a child with sleep apnea (a temporary suspension of breathing during sleep) may sweat as she works harder to get a breath. Other symptoms to watch out for, according to Shu, are “fever, snoring, gasping, pauses in breathing, and any symptoms of illness.” It’s best to call your doctor right away if you find any of these symptoms in your child (

If your child does not have any of these symptoms, then her night sweating is just a normal thing. There’s really no need to worry as this will decrease over time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hubby and I watched this film last year, I think, in the movie theater, and we highly recommend it. I actually wrote this piece after we watched the movie, but I’ve revised some parts for the purpose of posting it in this blog. Blood Diamond is a movie worth-watching and worth spending your hard-earned bucks on. It’s one of the more sensible films we’ve watched in years.

In a gist, it’s a story of how literally blood is spent for every piece of diamond unearthed in Africa; hence the term “blood diamond.” It is also known as “conflict diamond” for out of greedy desires to acquire one, conflicts arose in a land deprived of its own natural resources among people exploited by their own kind or otherwise and in a nation seemingly resigned to its fate.

Introspectively, it’s a black man’s struggle to reunite his family, a journalist’s advocacy to expose the intricacies surrounding the world diamond trade and the exploitation consequentially suffered by people forced to work in the mines, and finally, it is a white man’s journey to finding himself and the things that really matter, things more precious than the rarest piece of rock any man can find, the gifts of love and friendship.

If only for these things, I hope you find time to watch this film in the comfort of your own home. There’s more to it than meets the eye. It hits you where it hurts. But in the end, you feel there’s hope for love (maybe not always in this lifetime) and peace and happiness in the world -- at least those thoughts come to mind as I try to relive the scenes in my mind. And it opens your eyes to the harsh realities of life. You may not know it, but a life or two may have been risked for a piece of bling-bling you buy. It won’t hurt to ask if it’s conflict diamond or not, don’t you think?

If I may add, Di Caprio is spectacular in this film, fits his role to a T, and so ruggedly handsome at that. I intentionally missed out the movie details here so you’ll hunger for more and grab a DVD copy of this film. You’ll feel sorry if you don’t.

Friday, October 17, 2008

There are mommy duties that I don’t delegate to my son’s nanny, no matter how tired or busy I am with work. I personally give my son Justin his bath, take him to his pedia, cut his nails, and give him his vitamins.

Giving him a bath. When Justin was just a few months old, I would require help from his nanny in giving him his bath. When he got a little older and less fragile, I assumed the sole responsibility of bathing him in the mornings and evenings. This allows mommy and son to be alone together, enjoying each other’s company, singing ,playing, tickling, laughing, getting all wet, and exchanging small talks. I’m also the one brushing his teeth (or helping him brush his teeth), cleaning his nose/ears/navel, and dressing him. When I’m in a hurry, though, I leave the dressing part to Justin’s nanny. But this doesn’t happen quite often.

Taking him to his doctor. When my son is under the weather or when he needs to visit his pedia for his regular checkups or vaccinations, I make it a point to be the one taking him to his doctor. I usually have a lot of questions to ask his pedia regarding his current condition or other things that concern my son’s well-being. so it would really be hard to assign this task to someone else.

Cutting his nails. This may seem a bit trivial, but I find it important that I do this for my son. I want to be the one to attend to his personal needs, big or small, as much as I can. I do this once a week, and it’s usually on a Saturday. We have two baby nail cutters, one for mommy’s use and one for Justin’s. He actually imitates what mommy does to his nails. Both of us are doing the nail-trimming, so to speak. Once, Justin’s nanny took it upon herself to cut my son’s nails without telling me. I discovered just the same and I sort of gave her the message that I alone should do that.

Giving him his vitamins. Before I head to work, I see to it that my son receives his daily dose of vitamins. He has two vitamins right now, one that promotes growth and another one that strengthens his immune system. It’s really easy giving him his vitamins. I only need to tell him what a strong baby he’ll become if he takes his vitamins. And when I do, he shows his muscles for everyone to see.

As a mom who works five days a week, there is not much that my son and I can do together during weekdays. But I hope he appreciates the fact that mommy spends quality time with him.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

These poems were published on May 27, 2000 at the “For or By Kids” section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. How time flies! I was only 28 years old then.

Tin-Tin is my niece, now a college graduate who just recently completed her 6-month on-the-job-training at Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore. She was only 13 years old when I wrote this poem.

By Tetcha G. Figuerres

Tin-Tin is my niece
She loves to eat fish
She likes to dress up
And apply make-up

Tin-Tin loves to dance
To frolic and prance
She hops and wiggles
As she lets out a giggle

When Tin-Tin goes to school
She acts pretty cool
For she studies ahead
Before she goes to bed

She wants to be a teacher
Or perhaps a newscaster
But one thing is sure
She wants to finish school

Tin-Tin loves her lolo
And she tells him so
She sure beams with pride
When Lolo's on her side

She is a doting sibling
To two younger darlings
And she takes care of them
Whenever she can

When she was a baby
And not yet a lady
She sure was a beauty
And a delight to see

Now that she's grown
And learning things on her own
I hope she remembers
All the good things I taught her.

Pogi is my husband’s dog. I say “my husband’s” because I’m not really fond of dogs. I’m actually scared of them. But Pogi is special in his own way. He is a cuddlesome dog who likes to be cuddled in return. He is naturally loving and his sweetness endeared him to the whole family. We lost him to UTI many years ago, but he is well-remembered to this day.

By Tetcha G. Figuerres

Pogi is my dog
Who loves cheese and hotdog
He likes cakes and pastries
And chocolates a-plenty

When he is left alone
He sits on the lawn
And mopes all day long
'Til his master gets home

He is cute and bubbly
And warm and cuddly
But one thing is funny
He sure is lazy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Since we now live in a condo unit with limited space available for storing things and prior to this, we rented a studio-type apartment where we encountered the same problem, I make it a point to dispose of things in the house that I don’t think we have any use for anymore. I usually start with my things, then my husband’s, then my son’s, and then the household stuff.

My Things – I first sort my closet for any piece of clothing that’s been lying there untouched, for, say, three months or so. I do the same for my shoes and bags, which are not that many, I should say. I don’t believe in buying too many because (1) they cause a strain on my budget, and (2) having too many choices complicates things. When you only have one or two to choose from, you really don’t have to spend too much time deciding what bags or shoes to wear for the day. This way, you can devote more time to more important things.

Then I ask myself the following questions: Do I still like this thing or not? Am I saving it for a special occasion? Will I be using this anytime soon? Will it prove handy in the future? If the answer to these questions is no, then it’s about time I get rid of these items.

My Husband’s Things – I usually follow the same steps I adhere to when disposing my personal stuff. The only difference here is that the questions I ask myself are now directed towards my husband. He is now the one who decides which of his things should go and which should remain.

My Son’s Things – There’s only one thing I consider when deciding when to discard some of my son’s things: Does my son still have a need for them? If my son has already outgrown his clothes, shoes, toys, etc. then, by all means, they can be handed down to whomever has a need for them.

Household Items – Final step would be to look for other things in the house that we have no use for like old cooking implements, old newspapers, old kitchen towels/refrigerator covers/curtains, etc.

After all’s been properly disposed of, the entire house looks immaculate and roomy. I then carry out my duties for the day with a light heart. That’s about all the energizing I need.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I was scared to death today. I was cutting my son’s hair, and I was doing the finishing touches on the hair at the back of his head, when I made a wrong move. I accidentally cut the lower part of his right ear. He actually squinted when he felt it, but I don’t think he was hurt. But then blood starting oozing out of the cut, and this sent me into panic mode. I was continuously wiping the blood from his ear and was getting frantic because the bleeding wouldn’t let up. I didn’t really know what to do. I was telling my son non-stop, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, baby!” He just gave me the stare. He didn’t have the slightest idea what mommy was talking about.

When my husband saw the cut and my reaction to it, he actually laughed. “It’s nothing, really, just a small cut,” he said. “Think nothing of it.” How could he feel so calm when I was scared out of my wits! He told me to put ice on the cut and pressed on it really tight. But I couldn’t keep my son in one place. He was constantly on the move. I couldn’t really press hard on his cut for longer than two minutes because he would be up and about in no time, which made mommy all the more edgy.

“We need to take him to the hospital or the clinic downstairs,” I told my husband. I’ll call his doctor now.” But my husband wouldn’t take any of it. He took over seeing to my son’s cut from then on. Feeling helpless and useless to control the situation, I left my son to my husband’s care and I started writing this piece. I couldn’t bear to see any more blood on my son’s ear. And to think it was all my fault. I made a promise to myself. Never again will I cut my son’s hair.

(Note: After writing this piece, I checked on my son’s condition and everything’s okay. I was finally able to heave a sigh of relief.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Today, Justin sings a new song all by himself. I was in the bedroom the whole day working and Justin was playing in the living room. I overheard him sing at the top of his voice (I think he did this on purpose to impress his nanny) the lines of the song “Are You Sleeping?”

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping?
Brother John, Brother John
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing
Ding-dong-ding, ding-dong-ding.

He missed two words in the third line, though, "morning" and “bells.”

Of course, his nanny clapped. And, of course, Mommy was proud.

New pair at the back; old pair in front

I was finally able to replace my four-year-old eyeglasses with a funkier pair. This is actually the fastest it took me to select a style that I like. In the past, I would check every optical shop in the mall to make sure I get to see all the styles that all these shops have to offer. I wouldn’t really want to be in a position where I would later regret what I bought as I am wont to do. So it actually takes forever for me to decide on what to buy, be it a pair of eyeglasses, shoes, bags, or whatnot. So, am I happy with my purchase? Yes, I am.

The frame of my previous eyeglasses is silver in color. Now, it’s brown, which complements the color of my hair. My previous eyeglasses were fully rimmed. For my new pair, the lower parts of the lens are rimless. It’s modish, so to speak. And most importantly, my new eyeglasses make me look a lot younger. Now, that’s one great reason to smile about.
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin