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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012 Birthday wish list

Recently I posted on Facebook that this year I tried to create my annual wish list but realized that this year it was harder for me to come up with one. I am at a point in my life where I am blessed with so much that I actually already have all that I need. And the things that I just "want", I know I probably don’t really need. Of course, even with those realizations, I still wouldn’t mind getting presents … so here is this year’s list. (It’s just really fun to do them even if I don’t really get everything on them!).

Crate and Barrel – Thermal Mirror Carafe (I’d like two please).
I’m obsessed with silver carafes – I think they are so elegant and they make even plain old drinking water seem more special when served from one of these.

SodaStream Genesis Soda Maker – In Black, please.
Saw the commercial and I thought to myself “My own soda maker, cool!”. It promises to be quick and easy to use. Plus good for the environment (no more soda bottles and cans to dispose of) and better for us too (no more high fructose corn syrup or aspartame). Need I say more?

JJ Cole System 180 diaper bag – Black Damask
Yes, it’s my birthday and should be my present but a good diaper bag for my daughter would make MY life so much easier!

Twilight Saga (boxed set).
I must confess I am a Twilight fan. It is a guilty pleasure. Read the books while in Manila (my sister’s friend lent us her paperbacks) now I want my own. Why? I don’t really know, just thought it would be nice to have them as part of my book collection.

Komachi Knife Set with Block
First of all, a budding chef (like myself) always needs good knives. Just look at how pretty these are (bright colors, cool block). But more than pretty, these knives are serious tools for any kitchen!

Beverage dispenser
Picture this – a balmy Spring evening, family and friends around the patio, steaks and sweet corn on the grill, and free-flowing freshly-made lemonade right from our very own tree served in one of these dispensers. Life would be good.

Also, one could never go wrong with giftcards. Some people think they are impersonal and mean that the giver didn’t want to exert any thought or effort in picking something out. I happen to think they are an easy solution that makes everyone happy. The giver is safe in gift-giving etiquette by getting something that will be used and appreciated. The receiver is happy that he/she gets a present (the thought is there) and that he/she can really get what he/she likes. I think it does matter though to get giftcards to a store that the receiver actually likes to shop in! In my case, giftcards to Barnes & Noble, Homegoods, Kohls and Target would be much appreciated!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

On Being a Parent

I never had any misconceptions that being a parent was easy. I knew the moment that I was pregnant that I would be in for a tough ride. Of course, one can never really prepare for how tough things can get until one is already in the midst of things! Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love being a mom and Jamie is a wonderful baby (she has her moments but for the most part she is pretty no-fuss). I guess it's just an adjustment for me - being a completely hands-on mom and all.

Growing up, I always knew I would be a mom (I've always wanted kids of my own!). But I guess I grew up thinking I would always be surrounded by people who would help me take care of my kids. There would be my own mom, my aunts, sisters, friends - and most especially maids and yayas! I saw my family and friends have kids and while they were all good mothers - they still went about life without too much change.

Who knew I would end up living in the States and having my child here? And while I do have help (my sister, Joy, lives with us and my hubby, Jojo is also very involved) - and of course we have daycare now. But for the most part, I am the main person who looks after my baby girl. It's a weird feeling that is hard for me to describe. On the one hand, I am thrilled to have so much time with my daughter - feeding her, changing her, bathing her, playing with her, reading to her, sleeping with her, etc. On the other hand, I also worry about her and about how well I am raising her.

My sister, Joy, once said she admires me for being so hands-on and for giving up so many things so I can take care of Jamie. For starters, I don't get to go out as much (hard to find capable babysitters!). I have to do housework in between Jamie's naps. I no longer have time for myself (reading, shopping, watching movies are now unheard of!). I have not had a full night's sleep since this little girl was born! I have learned to eat dinner in 5 minutes while standing up in the kitchen (sometimes while carrying Jamie). I have learned how to change diapers in public restrooms, from the backseat of our car, in restaurants, etc. I have learned to pacify Jamie when she gets antsy in the middle of crowded places and church. I have stopped shopping for myself and now just get things for her.

I guess you could say I did sacrifice a lot for my daughter. But I don't have any regrets and I would not mind doing it all over again for my daughter. And while I still wouldn't mind getting a yaya to help me out - I do think that being a hands-on mom is pretty priceless!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Things to Do in 2012

It’s a New Year. And normally, time for new year resolutions. I’ve never been big on making resolutions – too much pressure to keep them and then feeling disappointed when I don’t. So instead of New Year Resolutions, I just call mine “things to do in 2012”.

Number one: be healthier. I was at the peak of healthy living when I was pregnant. I actually lost weight before pregnancy, during pregnancy and after pregnancy. Believe it or not, I was eating so much better and actually going to the gym regularly. But after maternity leave was over, I went back to work and to my old habits (poor food choices and not exercising). This year I need to be healthier – not just for myself but for my baby too.

Number two: find time to read. Of course, reading has taken a backseat to everything going on in my life. But the sad part is that even during my down time, I have not picked up a good book in such a long time. All this technology (Internet, Social Networks, television, video games, etc.) has corrupted my mind! I need to go back to the basics – and to what I love to do – read!

Number three: bring out the Ina Garten in me. We’ve recently had a kitchen renovation done and I now love my new kitchen. I must go back to making home-cooked meals. Lately we’ve been eating out a lot, taking out food, or cooking at home (but still relying heavily of prepared food from the grocery). My sister, Joy, has also been more active in the cooking department. I used to cook more before and would even document in pictures and posts my culinary adventures. I need to get back to cooking more (especially now that Jamie is starting to eat fruits and veggies).

Number four: enough with unnecessary spending. One of the things I love to do is putter around discount stores (Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Tuesday Morning are my faves!). Even if I don’t need anything new, I always end up buying something whenever I go. It’s almost like an addiction. I figure that in order to eliminate this habit, I need to stop going to the source! Therefore, I vow to only go shopping when I actually need something!

Number five: make an effort to make and meet friends. Since moving to the States, I’ve been very passive about making and maintaining friendships. It is very easy to fall into the standard “I’m so busy” lifestyle. And while being busy is a fact of life here, I still need to make a conscious effort to foster relationships.

It goes without saying that in 2012, I’d like to be a better wife and mom. I’d like to have a healthier spiritual life. I’d like to do well in my career. And also, spend time with my family. I’d like to maintain my blog. And find time to learn something new. Hopefully the next 365 (actually I’m now down 4 days since today is January 4th), will allow me to do so!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Christmas List

This year's Christmas List was fairly easy to shop for. I was proud of myself for actually finishing my shopping early (and for getting all my gifts, wrapped, tagged and delivered on time. For all this, I would like to personally thank the World Wide Web!!! The Internet has made shopping, shipping and sharing presents hassle-free, convenient and actually efficient!

This year I had several categories for gifts:

First, was for my baby girl: Jamie got a V-Tech Toy/Walker from mom and dad. And books and clothes from Santa.

Second, was for my hubby: Jojo got Nike Shocks shoes from me.

Third, was for my sisters and brothers-in-law: gifts that I personally thought of knowing what they needed or would enjoy. Gift cards for Joy and Marc to their favorite stores and an indoor grill and a set of towels for Atsi and Mark.

Fourth, was for my in-laws: this year I made kits for each couple. I wrapped up a Pasta Boat (the instant pasta cooker which allows you to make perfect al dente pasta right from your microwave!), a box of whole wheat penne pasta, and a jar of organic pasta sauce. Viola ... a ready-to-use pasta kit!

Fifth, for my nieces and nephews: I got them all matching track / jogging suits.

Sixth, for our neighbors, doctors, family friends, dentists, etc: I made cookie baskets (wrapped up a variety of cookies in different containers, clustered them in baskets and wrapped them in cellophane and ribbons).

Seventh, for far-away friends and family: we sent edible fruit arrangements.

And of course, we sent lots of Xmas cards and online greetings.

Next year, we'll have to start shopping for our family and friends in Manila cause we're hoping to celebrate the holidays back home =) Now that might be a challenge!

Xmas 2011

This year our Christmas celebration can only be described as subdued. We had grand plans ... after all, it was Jamie's first every Yuletide holiday. But grand plans always have a way of changing ... sometimes when you least expect it. This year was the perfect example. We intended to celebrate Xmas eve with Jojo's family. It would be the traditional Ordinario gathering, where everyone congregates for a night of games, presents and eating. This year we were celebrating at my brother-in-law, Jay's new place.

The next day (Xmas day), would be a celebration with my side of the family (or at least with my two sisters and their husbands). This time it would be at our place and we were all looking forward to a home-cooked potluck that would make my mom truly proud. We also planned cozying up in the living room, watching Xmas movies and sipping warm cocoa while Jamie opened up her Xmas presents. All in all, Xmas weekend was looking good!

Instead, on Saturday (the 24th), my sister, Jenny, and I chatted via sorenson and she tells me her husband, Mark, is down with a horrible case of the flu. It was so bad that they had to rush to the emergency room at 5:00 AM that morning because his sinuses were so clogged. He was slightly better but still had a bad cold. They would have to cancel their dinner with friends on Xmas eve and could not make it to our place on Xmas day.

After that, Jojo received a text from his sisters (Tracy and Marik) were down with the flu as well. Turns out, Jojo's brother-in-law, Jesse, also had the sniffles. We had to bail out of going to Xmas dinner because we could not risk Jamie getting sick. She was due for her 2nd round of flu vaccinations on Wed (the 28th). She needed to get her shot on the 28th since we had already postponed twice (due to her getting sick as well).

There goes our Xmas plans. I was horribly disappointed. It was the 24th already and we had nothing planned for that evening or for the next day. I actually started feeling depressed thinking that my daughter's first Xmas was ruined! Luckily my sister, Joy and her hubby, Marc were with us. They got me psyched again when they said we could have a mini-celebration together. It would be fun they convinced me. So I pulled myself together and we made last minute plans.

Here is what we did for our last-minute, impromptu Xmas weekend.

On the 24th, we bundled Jamie up and walked around our neighborhood to give Xmas presents to our neighbors. It was really nice catching up with them and coming into their homes for a quick chat. Of course, it was super thoughtful how they all had a little something for our little girl. Then we dressed up and had dinner out. Not a lot of places were open on Xmas eve - and we ended up in Black Angus (surprisingly their rib-eye dinners were really good!). Then we headed home and just watched movies till midnight.

On the 25th, we woke up early and had a yummy sausage and waffle breakfast. Then clad in our robes and pajamas, we opened our Xmas presents. It was heaven for Jamie who had a mountain of presents just for her. Not surprisingly she enjoyed the gift wrappers and boxes more than the actual presents. It was priceless seeing her face as we did the oohing and aahing for her. We then went to Xmas mass and had a super yummy lunch at our new favorite place (The Boiling Point). Then we went home and just chilled - watched movies, played games and called friends and family. Soon we started cooking Xmas day dinner. It was a feast (once again) - garlic rice, salpicao, garlic shrimps, asparagus, grilled chicken pasta, and a fresh veggie and drip tray.

All in all, it wasn't quite the Xmas I had imagined. But in the end, it turned out to be pretty special after all.