Monday, December 31, 2012

So Near To New Year!

Hours waiting for New Year to seriously happen, and I feel kind of sad..Baguio City used to be my Manila-based cousins', brother's and nephew's destination every single Christmas season.

This year, they let go of Baguio...

Baguio Country Club Christmas Village (with the fake snow)

...left me, actually (sniff...)

...and spent the holidays halfway across the world, in Vancouver, where there is real snow...

My kids feel lonely not having guests over.  They have been used to all the chaos, the gifts, the night-outs, actually being allowed to have coffee at Starbucks and eat all the junk food.

I feel kind of lonely, too.  I have been so busy this year that we have never really done some travelling (plus, of course, expenses are getting so high it is so hard to save!) and I won't even have a chance to complete my stickers for my Starbucks planner, too.  So few people who drink coffee (it is actually only me, actually).

But, I have plenty of things to be thankful, too.  I am just feeling a little melancholic today, without the usual guests around...

Next year, I am wishing...

Wishes by Flicker
...for all good things to happen, for greater opportunities to unfold, love, luck, joy and good health to come knocking on our doors (and never leave!) and...

...a chance to travel with the family, too...(winning the lottery will really help *giggles* and looks up to the sky)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Have A Great Christmas Everyone!

Hours to Christmas Eve and I saw this letter inside Adrian's school bag.  I never let on that I read his letter, though.

Me:  Adrian, what did you ask Santa in the letter you made last month?

Adrian:  It is supposed to be a secret.  I don't even think it reached him because the letter was just in my bag, but he told me in his message (which you can view here, by the way) that he knows exactly what he will give me.

Me:  Would that happen to be a Star Wars Lego which you did write in a letter to Santa last month which you submitted to your teacher?  (crossing fingers)

Adrian:  I'm so over Star Wars now.  I really like a Batman...oops, I am not supposed to tell...

Me:  But what if Santa read that first letter and got you Star Wars Lego?

Adrian:  No, ah!  He knows everything eh.

Me:  He could have gotten the Star Wars Lego at the store before he found  out you like Batman instead. Besides, the Batman Cave must be expensive.

Adrian:  Santa has a workshop and he makes toys. How come you said it is expensive? His elves make the toys for him.

Me:  Okay...But I do really wish you get the Star Wars Lego.  I love Star Wars.

Adrian:  I really like the Bat Cave and Batman, though, mom.

Me:  Whatever you get, Adrian, be thankful.  Santa is really old and he tends to mix things up, like Lolo (Filipino word for Grandpa).

Adrian:  I don't know and I don't think it will happen. (dang, he used to be so easy to please.  He has less discriminating taste when he was younger)If I ever get Star Wars though, it should be with Anakin and Princess Leia and Yoda and the storm troopers and ...

(Oops, I don't even think Santa bothered to see if Anakin and Leia are in there heehee)

I know my not-so-little boy though. He wouldn't mind if he gets the Star Wars Lego.  I hope...(and he should!  I had to order it online!) Besides, I am so lucky he didn't ask for this:

Have a Great Christmas Everyone!!!

Update:  The boy didn't mind if he got a Star Wars Lego instead of a Batman Lego.  He was thankful he got a Lego!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gift-Wrapping Panic

So, I was not one of those people who put off buying Christmas gifts just because the Mayan calendar stopped on December 21, 2012.  World-class procrastinator that I am, though, I completed my gift list just a day ago, braving the horrible traffic and huge crowds and ending up catching the flu virus. Again.
I woke up today with incredible pain, with a wish that I would be okay this Christmas plus a promise to myself that I will never stress myself yet again by doing my Christmas 2013 shopping as early as September next year.
So, there I was, so into my gift-wrapping rhythm after taking some medicine, when I realized I ran out of gift wrappers!  Typical.  Since I was not in the mood to go out and buy some gift wrapper which the kids will tear away, anyway, I decided instead to use:
Old paper bags
I am such a pack rat and I tend to keep those brown paper bags from groceries, home deliveries and department stores.  Aside from “saving-the-earth” vibes by recycling these as gift wrappers, I was able to unleash my inner frantic artist by scribbling colorful Christmassy stuff on them and tying them up with colorful red and green ribbons. Finally, I personalized them with wonderful gift tags like those you can find at Stuck OnYou Australia.  Believe me, the kids are loving how these gifts wrapped in old paper bags look like underneath the Christmas tree. 

Old Magazines/Newspapers

Gift wrap
A photo from flicker

I never run out of my glossy magazines.  What better way to reducing my carbon footprint by using them as gift-wrapping paper.  I choose pages that are colorful. I glue them together, wrap the gift and tie the gift up with colorful ribbons or cords.
I also use newspapers.  I use colorful tapes, ribbons and cords and my gifts wrapped in old newspapers look so classy.
Old shoe boxes

I think it is not wise to spend so much on gift boxes that people will most likely throw away anyway.  I use old shoe boxes to wrap several gifts up.  I make sure the box doesn't smell like old shoes, though.

Wrapping gifts don't need to be expensive.  Materials are there in your home, ready to be used.  Just be resourceful and artistic :).

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Those Christmas Birthday Blues

Santa Baby from Flicker

Are you a Christmas baby? The prophecy that the world would end on December 21, 2012 must only be adding to a Christmas baby's worries.  That, plus having to share the limelight with the newborn Babe in Bethlehem, a big fat guy with white beard and red suit, plus people failing to attend her party must take away all the awesomeness that should go with her birthday.

Beth, one of my older friends, has got her birth certificate mixed up.  Her birthday falls on Christmas Day, but her birth certificate says July 31, and she never even tried to have it corrected, because she claims that when your birthday is on Christmas, you get completely forgotten about. She always celebrates her birthday on July 31, by the way, even if it makes her older by five months.

Christmas birthdays must be rough because attention is divided between the birthday and the holiday.  Everyone would be so busy and tied up with family obligations you probably would even find it hard to get guests to the birthday party. Plus your Christmas baby would end up with Christmas presents which are her birthday presents as well.

You could probably get away with celebrating your Christmas baby’s birthday earlier, but as your child gets older and would know a lot more, you will never get away with the fact that Christmas is her real birthday.

How can you make your Christmas baby feel like she is loved on her special day?

Celebrate her birthday on the day.

Nothing can change the fact that it is her special day.  On her Christmas birthday, tell her she is one of the most special persons in the world because she shares a birthday with Jesus. Plan for her birthday the way you would plan for your Christmas party.

Give separate Christmas and birthday presents.

A lot of us would think we are saving when we give Christmas/Birthday gifts to the Christmas baby.  Don’t.  If you can, try to give a separate birthday gift not wrapped in holiday paper and give her another gift as her Christmas present.  You wouldn’t want her to bug you when she gets older that she felt cheated because her brother who does not celebrate his birthday on Christmas gets his special birthday presents while she, a Christmas babe, gets a Christmas present disguised as a birthday present. And, oh, don’t ever put her birthday present underneath the Christmas tree. Plus, if her birthday is after Christmas, don't even think of giving (or re-gifting) recycled gifts. Or at least change the wrapper so she won't know.

Go for a differently-themed party.

It is so easy to plan a Christmas-themed party, with your Christmas baby as the center of attention, or you can opt for a differently-themed party like a Superhero-themed parties for boys or tea parties or Princess-themed parties for girls.  Go all out and have balloon arches and balloon decorations NYC, face painting, clowns and bounce houses.

Change the party venue.

Having a Christmas tree in the background will just completely overshadow your child’s birthday. Try to book a party place at a fast food chain or a hotel.  It may not be cheap, but you can opt for a party organizer like Bounce Wow NY.  Having somebody to plan, decorate and clean up after a birthday party would lessen some of your holiday stress, plus your child gets the special birthday party theme she is wishing.

Make her feel special.

With everybody so caught up in the holiday cheer, it is so hard for the Christmas babe to shine.  Make her feel special by focusing on her as well.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Online Shopping Tips For the First-Timer

Barely four days to Christmas and I still have to complete my shopping list.  My alternative to avoiding the big crowd (who most probably are great procrastinators like me) is to shop online.

I have been doing most of my shopping online for five years now.  However, this was limited to some beauty stuff like mineral makeup and brushes, lippies, books and rare toys from E-bay,Amazon, Multiply and even Facebook.

For someone who embraced the blogoshpere so wholeheartedly, I, ironically, still have to shop for tech gadgets and clothing.  Part of it is that I am kind of worried (what if the item is defective?) and part of it is that I am scared to give my credit card information online.

An image from by scottchan

I have heard a lot of stories about being scammed online.  I haven't been part of the statistic, although I have to admit I have bravely purchased items locally by just texting the seller, sending the payment to the seller's bank account, confirming that payment has been made and asking when item will be shipped and getting the delivery tracking number, and hoping that the item will reach me.

Online shopping may be very convenient (you don't have to go through long lines and endure the perfume reeking off the person in front of you), plus you get to buy stuff you probably can't find from local stores (like the Lego Star Wars that I got for my little boy although he claims he wants the Batman Lego now), but it sure is risky.  If you haven't considered the convenience of shopping online yet, the following online shopping tips for the first-timer may help:

Check on the seller's positive feedback.  

I have done my share of serious shopping on E-bay, especially for hard-to-find items like rare toys and maybe some beauty stuff which is way much cheaper than in department stores.  However, I did remember purchasing some lip plumper stuff sealed but half-full! I chunked it out, and I had terrible visions of how the seller must have probably used it and decided to sell it when she didn't like it. Even if it was sealed.  I wrote the seller, of course, who swore stuff must have leaked out and offered a replacement.  I did have to write a negative feedback as a reminder for her to check on stuff she is selling and to check on her packaging before she ships her stuff.

My lesson was don't even try to buy anything from a site, even if the item is so rare and you want it so bad, if there are negative reviews and complaints of identity theft.

Make Sure the Web Site is Secure.

Always look for the site's privacy and security policies.  As I have told you earlier, I have done some online shopping by relying on trust (sending money by just texting the seller and wishing that the item would be shipped).  I won't ever advise you to do this.  Always make sure that the site has an online store software which offers secure, protected,reliable and dependable online shopping. Shopping at a site which has a system that makes sure you are secure, plus queries are answered immediately and items are shipped immediately makes online shopping an absolute joy.

Since you would be entering payment details upon your virtual cart checkout, always look out for the padlock icon on your URL bar.  This icon is a sign that the page you are viewing is secure. The webpage address will also include "https" at the beginning, instead of "http"(S is for secure).

Avoid Saving Your Credit Card Information.

A lot of times, we tend to check the auto-save box when we are asked to save credit card details. Don't even attempt it.  It is better to be safe than sorry. Your credit card information may be compromised, especially if you share your computer with other people.

I have once been billed by I-Tunes for an application I didn't even buy! Fortunately, my bank texted me "thanking" me "for a purchase I did online at I-Tunes".  I called the bank IMMEDIATELY.  The bank cancelled the transaction and sent me a new credit card with a totally different number within a day. 

Save Your Online Receipt.

I always save my online receipts.  This would be very helpful when following up on your purchases, especially if you have complaints.  Always compare the amount charged on your credit card  with your receipt.  If there is a discrepancy on the figure, dispute it immediately.

I admit I still have to embrace fully the thought of doing all my online shopping online.  I love the thrill of walking in stores with your best buddy and picking up items you didn't intend to purchase in the first place and regretting buying them later with your best shopping buddy (tip: don't even think of bringing your husband with you when you go shopping). If you do your online shopping, what other tips for the first timer can you share?  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Resolutions: Keep It Simple


I love new beginnings.  Who doesn't? There is something in everybody that loves the idea of new beginnings.  I usually jump-start a diet after the Christmas holidays and I always write promises to myself on New Years' Day.  I swear, like most of you guys, I try so so hard not to break all my New Year's resolutions, but most of them usually end up broken within a week.  

My dear friend was much worse.  She has been smoking for years and every year, she resolves to quit and within 48 hours, she is back to becoming a mean smoking machine.  All my arguments for superficial reasons for her to quit smoking, like getting really bad, sallow and wrinkly skin; dry, smelly hair; yellow teeth, bad breath and dark lips aside from, of course, developing heart disease, chronic lung disease and cancer didn't work.

Until a month ago, that is, when she started using Vapor Couture, which is a brand of an electronic cigarette designed for women which works like a regular cigarette without any of the harmful stuff that you will find in tobacco. It produces a steam-like vapor without the stinky smell of smoke from ordinary cigarettes. It also comes in different flavors and different styles which makes it probably one of the best e-cigarettes for women.  She claims it is like smoking in style, without the bad things that go with smoking like smelly odor, tar and ash, plus the smelly hair, bad breath and bad skin.  As for me, I don't need to worry about her health and smelling second-hand smoke ever again.

There are no hard and fast rules when you finally decide to take your goals seriously.  What my friend did wasn't exactly groundbreaking and in fact, she isn't totally out of her habit, but her small adjustment just might make a positive impact on her health. 

A lot of us want to totally overhaul our entire life and we plan to do this year after year after year, but so many changes cannot be possibly doable all at once. Why don't we try to keep our resolutions simple?Try to take teeny-weeny doses and simple steps. If your find yourself slipping, don't be too hard on yourself.  You can start all over again.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Santa's Personalized Video: Make Your Kid Believe in Santa Again

Shop from Santa's most popular personalized products at - 125x125Louise of Mommy Practicality came up with a brilliant blog post on how to make your children believe in Santa Claus.  Children these days have become so jaded that they don't believe in Santa anymore.  How can we make the Santa magic live on? Louise dishes out ten tips.

When I was younger, my older brother and I would hang socks which would be magically filled with imported chocolates and candies.  One time, my brother used my mom's fishnet stockings, hoping it would have more  goodies than mine.  I can't remember when we stopped believing.  Maybe, it was during my teenage years when my older brother morphed into a cool know-it-all and insisted cold-heartedly that Santa Claus doesn't exist.

My eldest daughter, when she was around six or seven, almost found out Santa was not real when she saw an invoice / official receipt of  her and her younger sister's gifts!  She was like, "Santa shops at SM??? I thought he has a workshop at the North Pole."  I just told her Santa outsourced that year and had to buy at the department store.  (She was not shattered as much as when she turned twelve and waited for an owl to bring her Hogwarts acceptance letter though.)

My two daughters who are now in their teens eventually figured out Santa does not exist, which is way annoying especially since I have a seven-year old boy that my girls can easily turn into an unbeliever!

Thankfully, Santa sent a FREE PERSONALIZED VIDEO MESSAGE TO ADRIAN (my little boy)! YUP, IT IS FREE (I AM PRACTICALLY GUSHING)!!! You can go over here at - Homepage, scroll down below the page to "PNP standard video (free)  and GET YOUR FREE PERSONALIZED VIDEO MESSAGE.  I repeat, it is free, so you can go over there now and make a personalized video for your kids, your friends or even yourself!!! Hmm, I am wondering how Santa would pronounce my name...Yup, his message is personalized.  He knows your name. He has an entire library of books with kids' names on it, and of course, he will bring out your book (with your name on it), with your photo, your age, your grade, and he knows that you've been good and what you like for Christmas.  Try it out now.

Of course, you can try out other personalized products from Santa, too,, like Letters from Santa, Picture Books and Place Mats and Get 5% off on Santa's most popular personalized products at! Use promo code SANTA5FUZ. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

What Was Your Life Before Google?

With all the technology we have now, I can’t help but scream at my kids when they complain about how slow the internet connection is, why I always put my cell phone in silent mode (“Mom, it’s a phone!  You are supposed to hear it ring!”  Fine, and I don’t want you bugging me to buy you new jeans or the latest One Direction CD while I am having a meeting. Okay? ), and what research material to pick up among the 1,260,000 hits in .18 seconds that they searched for in Google.
Back when I was in the second grade, my only Christmas wish, aside from, of course, having a Malibu Barbie complete with her pals, her swimming pool, and her Ken plus a complete collection of The Hardy Boys books (I like them better than Nancy Drew), was to have my own, repeat, my own encyclopedia (my brother would not be allowed to touch it). 
Eventually, I was able to get my World Book wish, which book agents sold for a hefty price (book agents used to make big, fat commissions.  I used to dream of selling books part time to my grade school classmates so I can get my Barbie!).  Two years later, by the way, my uncle gave me a World Book CD, which can be updated online provided you don’t lose the case or the key number, with a price less than one percent of the encyclopedia’s price.
I wrote all my high school paper on typewriter.  Seriously.  The liquid paper was heaven sent! I would have white spots all over to cover up for my typing errors. (FYI, liquid paper is a brand of correction fluid invented by a typist named Bette Nesmith Graham who was fired for making a typo. There were no delete or backspace keys in old typewriters.)
In college, I had this very old Auditing professor who insisted that we write down all the account codes, names and amounts by hand, on yellow working papers (you can buy them at the bookstore in various column numbers).  Using liquid paper, by the way, was out of the question.  We have to draw a straight line over the error, write the correct one on top with our initials or signatures beside the correct figure.

Attituede Study
FROM Flicker

For my research or ordinary reading pleasure (the Kindle keyboard or the idea of the iPad was way beyond imagination yet), I had to go to my high school library, consult the Library card catalogue (which I am so sure kids now don’t even know how to interpret), and endure an hour of staying in the library while a life-sized statue of St. Maria De Goretti, with her life-sized eyes piercing eyes, and hands clutching a dagger and a lily would stare and scare the sheeze out of me.  (I googled for St. Maria’s images, by the way, and those images are a lot tamer and cannot compare to my high school’s statue of her!)
My school life must seem slow and ancient to today’s students. 
“I know, right, mom, but do we have to hear all these back-in-time thingies?”
With my kids, there was no life before Google.  They were born with Google, they grew with Google, they rely on Google for every answer (suddenly, the Mom’s not having the last say anymore!). They even consult Google when they want to have a perfect bum! (I know so.  The computer was made to brilliantly store web pages you kids visited in “History”).
There aren’t many things I remember doing as a kid with technology.  There were arcades, Atari and Nintendo games, of course, but I preferred reading books, hanging out with friends watching VHS movies, and roller skating.
Kids today don’t know what real struggle is!  Back to the days when cell phones were mere figments of imagination, nobody can talk to you on the phone before your mom or your nosy brother did!  You cannot imagine how hard it is to try to sneak on the phone way past midnight, really hoping the parents, or the nosy brother, were sleeping soundly.
Plus, way back then, you can’t use the phone when you’re online. You will just here the tinny sound. Just saying.

And oh, I remember my daughters' reaction to the framed records at Kenny Rogers'.  They must be around 3 and 5 back then.  "Mom, is that a big CD???".  Nope, it is a record, and you can hear it at different speeds.  You can hear The   Eagles  suddenly sounding like the Chipmunks!
But, those were good old days.  We were able to survive and boy, did we have fun.
What things do you remember doing without technology?  Do you think you could survive a life without your apps and your gadgets?


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

reasons why you should just Read a book (and just probably chuck your telly to the garbage can. Kidding :))

After thirty straight days of  religiously posting here, I am turning this blog over once again to my eldest daughter (but just this one post, Paula, okay?kidding). For her post on those little imperfections that make you who you are, find it here J

During these past few days, I’ve been reading like mad. Well, since our school offered us about four days of vacation, I’ve been driven to read just like the old summer days. So far, I’ve read three books tops. The first book I read, I was about halfway through it when I’ve gotten completely serious and finished it fast. The second book, I’ve bought about two days ago. And the last book, well, still reading. But I’m still thinking of the next book I’m going to massacre (or in a simple way of saying it, read).

So, enough with this one-hundred-plus-words intro. I am here to tell you why you should read a book. In anytime actually. So here it goes:

1.     Reading a book makes you look and become a whole lot smarter.

When I read mags and surf the net, they keep on saying books make you smarter.
They say, and I quote: “With books, you know a lot of things. You survive. You grow”
I don’t doubt that indeed. Since books really do make you smarter. They widen your field of knowing and make you look a whole lot clever. Plus, if you were holding a book, whether a novel or a textbook, people take you more seriously. (Since you’re holding a book, they might think you review a lot more harder than them! ;)))

2.     Reading a book will broaden your vocabulary, urr, experience.

So, there’s this book that I’m reading right now with characters that have a different approach to saying their emotions. They say stuff like, “bloody (insert word here)!” or call their underground transport as the “tube”.

While I’m reading this book, I am so captivated by their different way of saying stuff (they’re british!!) and I actually find myself talking a whole lot like them! (I don’t really want to stop talking like this! It’s awesomeJ)

3.     When you read a book, you speak and write a lot more in…English!!

Believe me! In a span of 3 days, I’ve been speaking a lot more in English! (I also try talking in British accent, but I think I’m incredibly failing) I’ve also been writing a lot in English! I just took a scan of my diary a while ago and noticed that in these past few months I wasn’t reading a book, everything was written in my national language, Filipino. But now that I’ve been busying myself in reading, English all the way. Heck, maybe if someone talks to me right now, I might answer them in English!! J

All the reasons and more to read a book. Yaay! If you read a book, you actually find out about a lot of things and learn a whole hell lot more. You also learn how to write things and get inspired to write about things.

So, before you leave a book ‘round the corner and hold your remote up to your telly, think of all the things you can imagine (and experience) while reading a book.

ABOUT HER: Venessa Paula ll 16. Virgo. Sept 7 R E D. Books and music \m/ Writing stories ♥ Playing the guitar whenever sad w/ no absolute reason at all. Mortal Instruments :) Blue Bloods. Queen of Babble. Apokalypsis & Strangers ♥ Currently Addicted to: Mortal Instruments \m/ :DD 1 luvv ♥ 1115 Awesome Peeps:)

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Blessed Sunday: Love, Time and Work

The year is about to end. 

Have you realized it yet?  It is like it has suddenly become the trending topic all over.  Some look forward to finishing the year the right way, others dread the end thinking they haven't done much yet, and of course, there are actually a  handful who actually think and believe that the world would be ending sometime this month (Oh, no! Not before I get my Christmas bonus!). 

More here at my new Project: Me, Only Better!

Other Sunday Thoughts:        
                 What Are You Thankful For Today?
                 Sunday Thoughts
                 Are You Good to Grow?Nurturing the Inner You
                 Burying Your Negative Thoughts

Blessed Sunday, everyone!