Friday, November 30, 2012

I Survived NaBloPoMo!

NaBloPoMo is over and I made it! Woohoo!


Today is my last NaBloPoMo November post and I am so glad I made it! The grand procrastinator that I am, I never, for one second, trusted myself that I can nail this.

For one, I never thought I could think of a post to write every single day in November.  My life is practically boring.  If my life is a reality TV show, it would get cancelled on the first day!

The writing prompts were there to help me out, I guess, but they were so not working.  I tend to freeze up when confronted with intense questions and I guess that was what the prompts were for me. 

It didn’t help that I saw other posts in the NaBloPoMo soup ! Most of them were obviously written by seasoned writers who are doing the NaNoWriMo at the same time!  My posts seemed totally amateurish and thoughtless.

Over all, though, it was fun doing the NaBloPoMo.  There are days I would practically wreck my head thinking of a good post.  Other times, total inspiration would hit me and I could do my post in thirty minutes. 

My favorite posts were from some of my Blessed Sunday Thoughts posts, which you can visit (I beg you!) here, here, here and here!

Will I do this again?  Call me crazy, but I am doing this again!  It will be at my other new blog , though, called Project: Me, Only Better which I hope you can visit!

On second thought, I might include this blog again!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Coca Cola's The OFW Project: Home Is Truly Where The Heart Is

I was supposed to post something about being “Sexier in the Blink of An Eye” / “How To Lose Five Pounds in Five Minutes” (Yes, it is soo doable! I will try to post it tomorrow).  However, as I was going through my Facebook feed (which I do, three or four times a day, I think.  I need a rehab), I came across this Coca Cola project video which made me cry.

This Coca Cola campaign was like a year ago, I think, but what makes it so beautiful and timely is that it captured the pain and realities of being an Overseas Foreign Worker, the unbelievable sacrifice they have to go through and the incredible sadness they feel working away from home and family.

Imagine taking care of of other people's children while missing out on the growing years of your own child...

...and wanting to go home to see your dad who would soon go blind but you can't...

The opening line goes: "More than eleven million Filipinos have left their families to find better opportunities abroad."  I really hope that somehow, in the very near future, as the country's economy continues to improve, we won't need to seek better opportunities outside our country.  Because home is truly where the heart is.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Daughter's Portrait of Mom

For Mom:

(Woohoo! She didn't draw me screaming!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reasons Why It's Not Cool To Spread Online Bad Vibes

I may be guilty of this.  Every time a rant threatens to pour out of me, I always consider sharing it on Facebook or my blog or tweeting it. Who does not?  

I revel in the thought of people sharing in my misery or brilliant quips about people or situations I hate.

However, always keep this in mind.  Google knows everything.  You can delete  your tweets or your posts or customize your Facebook profile to exclude people you don't want to look at your posts, but they stay forever in the internet.  You can check.  Try deleting a post and then googling it.  Chances are, your post is still there.

Although it is so tempting to rant and some people may relate to your rant, the truth is, complaining constantly about your life's little dramas are not cool anymore. People have their own misery to deal with.  And the last thing they want to hear about is other people's misery.  I know I used to whine a lot on my Facebook posts, and I get satisfaction when friends will like my "whine post", but I just realized I get more "likes" when I post something positive.  

Nobody loves whiners, and if you think other people will go along with your hate parade, they might just not.  They probably would be laughing at your misery.  And do you really need that when you are feeling so down?

A week, a month, a year, or an hour from your post, you will probably regret what you wrote.  Someone, somewhere may have absorbed your anger or sadness or hatred (or turned your post into a meme!).

So, the next time you feel like ranting and sharing it, try to censor yourself and bury your negativity. Think of all the positive vibes you can share instead.  You will have more likes and re-tweets, too.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Watching Sports: It's A Man Thing!

ACHR Vikings Football by Bruce A Stockwell
ACHR Vikings Football, a photo by Bruce A Stockwell on Flickr.

To a lot of guys, watching  a football/basketball/baseball game is their soap, their prime time drama, their tele-serye, their realm, their arena. It definitely is, to hubby and my son.

And watching games is like some sacred thing, with No girls allowed! written all over their faces (Plus, “Don’t ever think about touching the remote!”). 

Guys like watching sports with other guys.  They just do.  Throw in a female, especially a clueless mom askingWhat happened? and “Is this game over yet?” every minute, and his friends will probably ban him from joining forever.

Give him space the way he gives you with your soaps.  You could surprise him with Maryland Terrapins football tickets, Miami Hurricanes football tickets, and North Carolina Tar Heels football tickets.    You might just earn his eternal respect.

And if you want to watch the game with him and his buddies, make sure you understand the game. You might just enjoy it (and they might just accept you in their circle as one of the guys!).  Otherwise, get out of the way.  It is war.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Chore Wars

My kids think of the most creative excuses to get off housework!  Like, a school project would suddenly, conveniently be due soon (although it won't be for another two days) or a cut in her finger would get infected ("Mom, they might cut it if it gets gangrene! I know so! I saw it on TV!").

And I also have an ear-splitting scream, with some spit, to let them know that I don't buy their excuses.

Trying to motivate kids to do chores, besides, the ear-splitting-with-spit scream, takes a lot of discipline and psychology (which I didn't get to study in college).  Household chores make children learn to be responsible.Making them do some chores also give them a feeling of importance and a sense of self-accomplishment once they know that they did their jobs well.

Of course, since chores are such a chore to do :),  some kids would always try  not to do them.  They know every trick and every excuses, and sometimes, they do get away with it. Here are some ways they can't:

Post a chore chart

A chore chart posted conspicuously will tell everyone in the family what chore they are supposed to do.  Nobody can claim ignorance as an excuse anymore!  Try to rotate the chores regularly so that the kids won't hate a certain task for doing it over and over again. 

Of course, make them aware that they are responsible for keeping their own rooms clean, too and they don't need a chart to tell them.

Assign a deadline

Be perfectly clear when you expect your kids to finish their chores, or else they would buy more time and would end up not doing anything.  My little boy usually mean well and would usually do his chore, but he would easily get waylaid by little things.  For instance, if I ask him to fix his toys, he will find a coloring book and would end up coloring his book instead of finishing his task.  For younger children, you need to check on them from time to time.  Asking them how much time they will need to finish cleaning up would give them valuable lessons on time and home management as well.

One Word to the Wise

Moms tend to repeat themselves, over and over, that kids get to it and just don't listen.  If you keep repeating every instruction, just stop.  Just say one word -"Now", or "Trash." My kids tend to listen if I don't talk too much.  

Give consequences

Some kids do slack off and don't do their tasks.  If they don't, although you may seem like a cruel step mom to them, take away something that's important to them-like confiscating a "One Direction" DVD from my 14-year old daughter who is a big, big big fan.  

Sometimes, I enforce consequences immediately.  If my girls won't pick up all  the mess in the family room, they can't surf the net or use the computer.

If your kids have exams or school activities coming up, it is perfectly reasonable for kids to be excused on his household obligations.  You can also allow your kids to negotiate among themselves for which chores they should do.  Make sure one child doesn't take advantage of another, though.  I once caught my daughter paying the younger one to do the chores for her.

Set an example

Be a good role model.  You can't expect your kids to be models of neatness and cleanliness if you have a messy room and a dirty car.

Always look at the bigger picture.  Don't stress too much if your kids forget to make their bed every single day.  Like what my little boy would always say:

"It's okay! Children make mistakes.  It's part of growing up."
(He must have heard the line from a cartoon show or something.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Have You Done This When You Were A Kid?

As a child, I used to love talking into the fan and hearing my robot voice!  Have you done this, too???

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Beyond the Silver Lining: Stopping Premature Gray Hair

Gray hair alert!
Today, as I brushed my hair in front of my mirror, I had an epiphany.  A shocking revelation.  Tiny little gray hairs are growing on my hairline! 
When I was younger, older folks swore people with gray hair are wiser. However, I don’t feel any wiser.  I feel a lot older, though. I believe my hair is graying prematurely and I want to stop it.
Research suggests that stopping hair from turning gray prematurely is not entirely hopeless.  You just have to learn and understand what causes it, and act on helping to delay or end it.
Your hair becomes gray when color-producing cells called melanocytes, which are  responsible for hair color and pigmentation, cease to produce pigment. 
A lot of people believe that stress causes your hair to turn gray.  However, scientists claim that this has not been proven in studies yet.  In fact, they still don’t know exactly why some younger people go gray.  They seem to believe that genetics play a big role, which means that if your parents’ hair turned gray early, your hair is more likely to turn gray early, too. 
Hiding and Stopping the Gray
1.    If you want to conceal your gray hair immediately, you can opt to dye your hair.  You can either have a professional do it for you or you can opt for DIY hair colors available in drug stores.
2.    Diet plays a vital role to in hair health.  Try to eat protein rich foods. Vitamin B12 deficiency has also been suggested to be a cause of premature aging.  Eating leafy green vegetables, tomatoes and yogurt is a good way to combat this.  Supplementing with vitamins like Melanplus Gray HairVitamins can also help in your battle against the gray!
3.    You can either buy or order graying hair treatmentHair lotions, oils, shampoo and conditioner have been developed and produced to specifically combat hair aging and improve hair health and vitality.
We will all eventually get gray hair at some point and we will eventually learn how to embrace it.  As they say, your beauty is not determined by your hair color.  Your joy of life is the true measure of what really makes you beautiful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baby Girls: Of Bows and Everything Nice

When my daughter was a tiny, teenie-weenie baby, people would think she was a boy. It didn't help that the baby clothes I bought before she was born were of the neutral colors-yellow and green-and that she only had a tiny patch of hair. 

Of course, they meant well. But it seriously bothered me. I mean, she was all pink and fair and sugar and spice to me. Why would they even think she was a boy? So, I started dressing her in pink and putting a pink headband on her huge baby head. 

My cousin had the same problem, too! After years of waiting for a baby girl after her two big boys, people are also asking if her little girl is a boy! I think all baby girls in our family look like boys... 

 ...that we put all sorts of caps, baby headbands and baby bows to make them look like the little princesses that they are. 

It can be a lot of fun shopping for cute hair accessories for your little girl.  They are so fun to dress up (and make them look like girls!). 

Here are what you should seriously consider when buying hair accessories for your little baby girl: 

Do not sacrifice your baby girl's comfort for cuteness. 

Make sure her baby headbands fit her really well. They should not be too big that they would slide off at any moment or too small that they will make deep indentations on her head. I have seen headbands too small for babies and it really bothers me. A lot. Babies cannot just take them off because they are too young to figure out how to yank them off and they can't tell anyone that the cute headband her mom put on her is giving her an enormous headache and deep dents in her huge head. 

Always Consider the Safety Factor. 

Babies and little children tend to put things in their mouth. Always make sure that the materials and embellishments used for these hair accessories are tested for lead and toxic materials.  Also, make sure that the hair accessory embellishments won't easily come off because they can pose a serious choking hazard. 

Baby, you've got style!

Baby headbands nowadays come in trendy, whimsical designs. It is totally up to you to choose something that will fit your baby girl's personality. I used to love dressing up my little girl in pink and white bows and butterfly designs and cute little hats in different colors to match her dress.

But remember this by heart. Don't sacrifice you baby's comfort and safety level for cuteness. Your baby girl will thank you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Good Boy Board

I have a seven year old boy, Adrian.  He is the youngest and the only boy, giving plenty of opportunities for the older folks to dote on him and spoil him rotten.  

To keep his feet on the ground, encourage good behavior, and the importance of money, I have began using the “Good Boy/Totally Awesome Board.”

Listed on this board are five behaviors he needs to work on. For this week, his list includes:
  • Brush your teeth after every meal.
  •  Say grace before every meal.
  • Do your homework after arriving from school.
  • Always remember to clean up your desk.
  •  Make your bed every morning.
He earns points for doing his list, and these points are equivalent to pesos.  Bonuses are given for behaviors that are done consistently.  For consistent behavior, he gets five points.  For inconsistent behavior, he gets two points.  For a behavior that he totally neglects, he gets zero points. Once a listed behavior has become a habit, done consistently, I change the list on the board.

At month’s end, I let him count the money he has earned and let him buy himself a treat, his choice. It may either be a book, a toy, or an art kit.

This little boy of mine insists on having plenty of points to buy his new Wii game. And he is way, way far from earning those points yet.  However, he has been consistently working hard to master these behaviors and turn them into habits. 

Of course, boys will be boys.  Sometimes, he slacks off, but I gently remind him about the points he will earn if he does the behaviors on his list consistently.  I know it seems like I am bribing him, but if it makes him learn good habits, why not?

He did offer to buy me a burger with his points…

Monday, November 19, 2012

Locked Alone Overnight! Which Place Would You Choose?

NaBloPoMo’s prompt for today: “If you had to get locked in some place (book store, amusement park, etc) overnight alone, where would you choose to be locked in?

Crib by valentinapowers
                                                          Crib, a photo by valentinapowers on Flickr.

First of all, the idea of being locked alone overnight creeps me out. 
It is an adventure I would not even want to have.
I would like to say I would love to be locked in a book store (which was my first answer to this question actually), but on second thought, no way.  Sure, I love books.  I live and breathe books.  However, I am also a nervous kind of person who worries about little (!) things like “What if overnight turns into every night???” and “There will be an earthquake and the bookstore people will not see me buried under a ton of World Book Encyclopedia.” (I read a lot.  I have great imagination) I will be worrying myself sick I won’t even understand a word in the book I intend to read.
wouldn't want to be locked in an amusement park, either.  All those scary movies I have watched involving clowns and magical rides operating on their own with some blood thrown in doesn't sit well with me. (I am still having a big Halloween hang-over, okay?)
Being locked in a mall sounds fun, but only if I have somebody else with me and I am given a shopping privilege to pick up anything I like and keep it.  Which reminds me.  The mall here in our city used to be a hotel that burned down in the mid 1980s, torching alive a lot of old war veterans. (I told you.  I have a big Halloween hang-over!)Nope.  On second thought, I wouldn’t want to be locked in a mall. Not even if I have limitless shopping privileges.
The truth is I wouldn’t want to be locked alone overnight anywhere else.  I wouldn’t even want to be locked in my own home!
How about you?  Do you have in mind a great place where you would want to be locked in? Why?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Multi-Tasking Cinderella Moment (and Why I Don't Do The Sing and Dance Thing While Fixing a Leaking Faucet)

Saturdays are my Cinderella Moments-the scrubbing the floor and doing the laundry part, not the “meeting your prince” part. Cleaning as always is a job I absolutely abhor. It is a tough job, but someone (like “the mom”) has got to do it. 

Unlike other households in the Philippines who have “yayas” (babysitters) and household helpers, we had none. I had a working mom, too, by the way. Growing up, I was expected to make my bed, clean the bathroom and do my own laundry. Going on summer vacations at my grandma’s place was no different. Her place was a regular cleaning boot camp! She had a special way of washing dishes, which I had to follow step by step. I had to wash my own clothes, keep my clothes neatly folded, and share in the household chores. My brother and my boy cousin, of course, shirked their duty, but I never did because I was a wuss I was totally scared of granny. I actually mastered the art of cleaning (actually, the art of dusting, because my older cousin is one mean cleaning machine), but I didn't find it fun. Ever. 

And so, as I tried to fix a leaking faucet today, I wondered why Disney’s Cinderella and Snow White would go into a sing-and-dance routine every time they do the cleaning thing. Housework must be a lot more horrible back then, without washing machines and vacuum cleaners and even laundry detergents. (We are one lucky generation) But then, they did have those little birds and pigeons and mice to help them. Maybe, those little creatures go into “Disney Princess’ slave mode” once they hear the princess singing. 

Fixing a leaking faucet is fairly easy actually. My Disney Princess Training Manual does not have any details on it (don’t even get me started on how Snow White must have calluses from pulling that pail from the well!)and the job does not seem easier even if I do try to whistle, but here’s how: 

  1. Turn off the water supply (Of course). Get down on your knees and find the valve under your sink and turn it off. 
  2. Grab your husband’s tool kit and dismantle the faucet to see where the problem is. Make sure you use the right type and size of pliers and adjustable wrench. 
  3. Try not to scratch the faucet’s soft metal parts by wrapping masking tape around your pliers or wrench. 
  4. Remove your faucet’s worn-out washer and put a new one. 
  5. Remove dirt and sediments on the faucet’s stem. 
  6. Reassemble. 

And if it still leaks, call hubby!

O.M.G.!Oh, My Gum and My Childhood Memories

Kids being Kids by jondoeforty1
Kids being Kids, a photo by jondoeforty1 on Flickr.

Once upon a time, when all of my friends were going crazy over basketball and we were barely four feet tall, I was in love with baseball. I didn’t play it, of course, (I was trapped into my princess moment thing, young as I was).  My dad took me to baseball games over at the International School near our place (I guess my dad has this dream of me playing baseball).

We went to the games with hotdogs and peanuts, and big league chew. Now, I can’t get over this gum.  It comes shredded, unlike regular gums.  I have heard that this gum was made to look like tiny cigarettes to mimic chewing tobacco that baseball players do.  Growing up, though, I was not even aware of it.  I was just proud that chewing this gum was the only baseball-related skill that I had.

Fast forward to a week ago.  I am no longer a baseball fan.  In fact, my passion is not even sports-related anymore. I have grown up. I have forgotten about hotdogs and nachos and this gum.  But then, a friend gave me a package of the original bubblegum variety.

The gum made me feel like a kid so into baseball all over again! It was packed the way I remembered it and the thin strips tasted the way it smelled-sweet, fruity, chewy and “bubble-gummy”.  The powder that came off the tiny strips kind of bothered me, though, since it sure sticks and gets all over my hands and my newly-pressed slacks.

Over all, though, I like that I can grab those tiny strips and chew on it without making me look like I am chewing a big ball.  It makes your breath smell fresh, too.

This is my closest claim to my childhood memories and I sure am waiting for my friend to give me a pack of all the other flavors (I hope she is reading this!)…

Friday, November 16, 2012

Would You Live In A Haunted Dream House?

It is NaBloPoMo Day 16 and I am totally stumped on what to write.  I have consistently avoided using the writing prompts, but I am trying this one out:

Would you buy your dream house if the price was right BUT you also were told it was inhabited by ghosts?

Now, I am a real sucker when it comes to ghost stories.  I love ghost stories. But the idea of sharing your dream house with ghosts? No way.  Not even if the price is right.  Not even when they give it to me for free.  Not even if it is perfect.  Not even if it is my dream house.

Why? I don't want to live in fear, constantly being scared and fearful of what may happen. 

Which reminds me.  In the busy Leonard Wood Road, Baguio City (where I live), you wouldn't miss seeing this house:

Ghost haunting teenagers (which my cousins and I were, decades ago.  Remind me to tell you about our ghost haunting escapades in another post) love passing by this house and hoping to see an apparition of a girl on the front steps.  This house, built in the early 1900's was home to the Laperals.  Accounts say the Laperals are one of the oldest clans in Baguio.  In World War II, this house became some sort of headquarters of the Japanese soldiers and it was told that members of the family along with other Filipinos were brutally murdered in the house. 

The house has remained empty, except for caretakers who live outside the house.  There were tales of apparitions seen, footsteps and moans heard.  

My brother, who happened to pass by the house, along with a cousin swore he saw a woman looking at them by the upstairs window.  

I still have to see any apparition there (not that I crane my neck to look at the window when I pass there), but the place does give me the creeps.

And I definitely would not want to live there.

Would you want to live in a haunted dream house?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Raising A Child Who Loves to Read

Have you ever wondered if you could teach your child something right now that would improve her listening and speaking skills,  kindle her imagination and even help her find a good job with a bigger salary when she grows up? Guess what?  Yes, you can!  You can teach your child to love to read.

It has been a known fact that you, as a parent, have a tremendous influence over your child’s attitude toward reading.  Sure, we love it when our child begins to read.  But not every child who learns how to read becomes a reader- a person who loves and enjoys reading. 

My first child, Paula, was an early reader.  She was reading at four and would read anything she saw on sight. And I do mean anything.  She was carrying hard-bound Harry Potter books to school at age seven and believed so much in the wizard magic that she waited for her owl to arrive when she turned eleven. Today, at sixteen, she still reads a lot.  I have checked her 2012 reading challenge stats and found out  she has read 41 books out of her goal of 60 books.   Sure, she is such a regular teener obsessed with music and gadgets and makeup and clothes, but buying and reading books (yep, she buys the real ones while the mom, that’s me, is fine with the e-books) are one of her top priorities.

To raise a child who loves to read, you, as a parent, need to stimulate and encourage your child’s reading attitude from preschool onwards. Here’s how:

Be a reading role model

Let your child see you reading books, magazines and newspapers.  Busy mom as you are, show her that you still make time to read.  Say, “Check this out!” and read aloud an excerpt or little trivia that is interesting, funny or full of information that is new to you. 

Make sure there’s plenty to read

I always buy children’s books at Book Sale.  For my e-books (and books that are difficult to find in local bookstores), I get them over at Amazon and Kobo.  Our bookshelves are stuffed with books and I also have a stack of magazines and the dailies on the coffee table.   Stow a book or a magazine in the car and in your bag, too (I actually have my Kindle with me the way others have their cell phones with them) and encourage your child to do the same.  That way, whenever and wherever you’re waiting, you can read. Believe me, the waiting game at doctor’s appointments will be much bearable if you have your book with you!

Limit screen time

Television and computer games tend to dampen a child’s imagination and stifle intelligent and meaningful conversation.  Instead, play board games like Twister which my girls and my boy have a lot of fun with, make puzzles, role-play, and make time to read each day. 

Talk as you read

Read aloud to your child.  As you read to her, say things like, “What do you think will happen next?” A child who talks about what she is reading with her parent makes her understand better what she is reading.   As you child grows, try reading the same books that she is reading.  This explains why I had to go through reading the Twilight saga (which I had to buy at Amazon in 2009 because of the infamous Philippines book blockade wherein there were no books entering the country because Customs started taxing supposedly non-taxable items)  and Hunger Games, plus juvenile series like Percy Jackson, The Kane Chronicles and The 39 Clues.  Discuss characters, scenes and settings-not in a way that makes her feel like she is being quizzed if she really understood the book,  but in a way that says, “I found this fascinating, how about you?"

Try not to be judgmental

Encourage any and all reading.  Your goal isn’t that your child read the most difficult books.  Your goal is that she loves to read. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Baguio City: There Is Something About This Dog and The Kids!

If you ever head over at Mines View Park here in Baguio City, you won't get a view of the mines anymore (and nope, I won't even get started on how our city lost its old charm)...

...but you definitely will meet Doglas there!

Adrian With Doglas

Doglas is a friendly St Bernard, and yes, he won't bite or bark! He loves kids!

Khalil with the Big Dawg!

Even Cousin Jericho from Canada wanted to visit Doglas:

There really is something about dogs and kids...

            Spawn of Doglas saying Hi in Adrian's School!

Me? I love dogs, but I wanted to have  a picture with a creature that goes Raaaaarrrr!!!

Looking for a place to stay #WhenInBaguio? Here is my UPDATED LIST (As of 2016) of hotels/inns/bed & baths to stay when in Baguio.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where Were You When "Sway" Was A Hit?

This song, which was shared a while back by a cousin on Facebook, brought back memories.  Not lots of memories about the movie "American Pie", though. Although I swear a lot of people I know who did their growing up in the '90s used to sneak and watch this movie and the next sequel and the next sequel without really admitting to it ;).

I used to sing this to my little boy, Adrian, years after it became a big hit, inside my womb and would sing it to him even more (with Nicole, my second, who has the voice of an angel) when he was born.  The song would always calm him down...

Adrian is now a smart seven year old and he would marvel at how tiny he was when he was born:

"Was That Me, Mama?"

"Why didn't  I have clothes?"
"You had neonatal jaundice and you need to have your morning sun.  It was supposed to treat that jaundice thing."

"Did I sleep a lot."
"Oh, yes, you did.  And you cried a lot, too, if you are hungry or wet or have poop."

"Yuck.Did it smell bad?"

"Nope.  Nicole thinks your poop smelled like caramel donuts."

"She must like me way back then. "

"But, you know what, Mama? I love you so so much."

Where were you when this song was a hit?