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.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Because of the rains, hubby and I were not able to take our son Justin to the mall last weekend. Justin actually looks forward to this weekly treat. This was the conversation we had a few days ago when we’re about to go down the building to see his Daddy off to work.

Justin: C’mon, let’s go!

Mommy: Where are we going, baby?

Justin: Mall.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Last Saturday, hubby and I finally got the chance to savor some gastronomic delights at Pho Bac, Robinsons Galleria. It was our first time to relish Vietnamese food, and we both enjoyed it. We had spring rolls for appetizers. Too bad we weren’t able to take a photograph of these. Ed had Cambodian Pho Bo soup noodles afterwards, and I had Chicken with Lemongrass. We capped off our dinner with those dainty pandan puddings. We’ll definitely go back to this place.

Cambodian Pho Bo Soup Noodles

Chicken with Lemongrass

Pandan Pudding

Friday, October 3, 2008

Looking for something new for my son Justin to watch, I chanced upon a Thomas & Friends DVD that one of his godparents gave him on his first birthday. I remember he didn’t really pay attention to Thomas the first time he watched it. I played the DVD again last night to see if he would react to it differently now that he’s almost 2 years and 3 months old.

Initially, he was afraid of Thomas and all the other train and vehicle characters featured in the show. Perhaps, he found it odd that trains or any other vehicle, for that matter, would have exactly the same faces as humans have and with rolling eyes at that. He wouldn’t leave my side while watching. He just clung to me like crazy. But he watched the entire DVD five times before drifting off to sleep.

He watched Thomas & Friends again repeatedly this morning. He isn’t afraid anymore. He even knows some of the characters now. At one point, I overheard him addressing Thomas while watching: “Thomas, dede Justin, gutom Justin” (“Thomas, Justin wants milk. Justin is hungry”) while Manang, Justin’s nanny, was preparing his milk.

What does Justin love about Thomas & Friends? He likes the music. When he hears the soundtrack, he says, “Mommy, dance.” And he is particularly fond of trains and cars, too. In fact, he often builds blocks to form a train here and a car and a bus there. He even invites me or Manang to play with him as he creates things from scratch.

Tonight, I expect Justin to request for Thomas & Friends again. That’s exactly how my son is. If he finds something that interests him, he’ll have that thing played over and over again until a more exciting one comes along, of course.
My son Justin loves taking a bath. He actually looks forward to dipping himself in the tub every chance he gets. Recently, though, it gets a little harder coaxing him to take his bath at the appointed time (that is, before I start working or after dinner time) because of so many distractions. Sometimes, he’s so engrossed watching Barney or Sponge Bob that you can’t make him go to the bathroom, let alone dislodge him from the sofa bed where he usually sits while watching TV. This is when frustration sets in. Justin taking his bath later than usual affects my work schedule. So, I need to quickly come up with solutions to this problem. Below are some of the ways that work for both me and my baby.

Have a toy ready. The idea of having something to play with while bathing is definitely appealing to the little ones. In Justin’s case, he would bring just about anything he fancies at the moment. His choices range from his pail and shovel to his miniature cars to his blocks, and to, just recently, his rubber duckie.

Do some sweet-talking. Raising my voice is usually my initial response when Justin does not budge from his seat when I call him for his bath time. This strategy fails most of the time. The more I raise my voice and show my frustration, the more he insists on having his way, most typical of a two-year old. I usually sweet-talk him into taking his bath by making little promises, which I keep, by the way, like telling him we’ll buy goodies from the convenience store downstairs or that he’ll watch his favorite DVD after he’s had his bath.

Keep distractions at bay. Switch off your TV set 10 to 15 minutes before bath time if you think your baby’s favorite kiddie shows are what’s preventing him from heeding your instruction. You can also keep his favorite VCDs/DVDs out of sight if you plan to give him a bath anytime soon. You’ll find it much easier to make him go to the bathroom. He might even be the one urging you to give him his bath pronto for lack of anything interesting to do.

Following these simple tricks helps put my schedule back on track and it allows both me and my baby to truly enjoy this activity, Justin’s bath time, as one of our best bonding moments.
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