The Simple Life

Ever since I was a kid, I have always wanted to live in a farm – you know, grow my own vegetables, plant trees, maybe some chicken? But of course, reality sets in and the dream takes the backseat.

So I always enjoy making the two-hour drive to my Papa’s province to visit their farm. It isn’t much; it is rather small, but, it earned enough when they were young to feed a family of nine kids and send them all the way to college.

The first thing I do when I arrive? I look for the makahiya or mimosa and touch their leaves until the entire bush is drooping! Bonus points that we found all these pink blooms!

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You want to know a little secret? Our family’s farm has a tiny, hidden nook with flowing stream. It was a hot summer day during our visit so the stream was a bit dried up, but when the weather’s cool, you can hear it flowing through rocks. When I was younger, my papa used to catch fish here and my cousins and I would take a dip in the summer.

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But what I love most living in a farm is picking fruits! We have several mango trees on the property and they’ve all been amazing – they yield sacks and sacks of mangoes every year, and very fragrant and sweet mangoes too!

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I guess it’s pretty obvious where I got my love for mangoes. You can’t blame me: I spent many lazy afternoons when I was a small girl sitting on one of the branches of my favorite indian mango tree and eating mangoes straight from the tree!

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We live in the city and hubby and I are working almost seven days a week so my kids rarely get the chance to visit the farm as often as I did (and I alreadyisited rarely then), so whenever my old man volunteers to take us/them, I always let then. These are the summers I want them to remember, not the ones spent playing gadgets or watching TV. And summers like these are hard to find.

 

 

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Planning Session Version 2015

2014 was a very challenging but rewarding year for me, career or otherwise. Highlights of my year were my promotion and my trip to Europe with friends, and of course, pulling off Joey’s Star Wars-themed 7th birthday party/Georgie’s baptism amidst all the work-related stress (which would be too long a discussion, hahaha). There were a lot of lowlights but suffice to say that the highlights were more than enough to trump all of them.

Not that I wouldn’t mind a kick-ass 2015. To be honest, I don’t really believe in all those horoscope/feng shui or whatever new age term you want to call it (plus, I’m Catholic – and these are big no, nos; I do sometimes read them, just for the sake of amusing myself), but I do believe in asking for God’s guidance and planning. Ask anyone from the office and they would invariable tell you that I always have am excel calendar open on my laptop at any given point in time, and a notebook/planner at every meeting.

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Yep, hubby and I drank quite a lot of coffee this season that we got two Starbucks planners (we stopped collecting stickers after that).

My plans are hardly foolproof. But here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:

  • List down your goals or plans for the year under separate categories. It may be work/career, family, personal growth – it is up to you. But this will be helpful in identifying where you should focus your energies on, or figure out which areas you might be missing.
  • Plot just enough goals that you can reasonably accomplish – plot too many goals and you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Set too few goals and you are hardly challenging yourself. Similarly, make your goals worth your while. It shouldn’t be impossible, but it shouldn’t be as easy as breathing.
  • Trust your instincts. A lot of people who think that they can’t decide, or don’t know what they want or what to do end up asking for advice, only to do what they had always wanted to do in the first place. Usually, before we even ask for advice, our mind is already made up; we just want validation or to hear it said by another person (and therein sometimes lies the danger that in a lot of cases, we only get lip service). Also, a word of advice: if it’s a major life decision, don’t decide based on what others are telling you to do. Listen to them, but follow your heart. Of course, if your heart is a bit out of bounds or unreasonable, then by all means, give it a good beating and follow your brain.
  • It is always a good idea to put a timeframe, or a deadline for you to accomplish your goal/s. For work-related goals, I always use an excel calendar (the ones you can download for free) to plot my daily/weekly/monthly tasks and deliverables. This comes in helpful when I later do an analysis of my own productivity as it helps me identify which tasks take the most of my time and also helps me identify whether I am more productive in the morning, afternoon or evening. I can then plot my plans accordingly. (Yes, I can be OC like that – I know I am more alert early in the morning and late at night, so I schedule my repetitive/mechanical tasks or those that do not require much analysis in the afternoon).
  • Make it a habit to revisit your goals so you can check your progress. I’ve found that I get even more motivated when I am able to tick items off my to do list. Keep a list with you so you can remind yourself anytime. Memorize it by heart.
  • Prioritize based on needs and wants. Consider your resources and your current circumstances.
  • Know that you will fail sometimes and that not all plans will see the light of day. I once read this quote from Philippine tycoon Lucio Tan that “if you have accomplished all that you have planned, you have not planned enough.” It might sound like the pessimistic way to view things but I tend to agree – it means you have not aimed as high as you should have and only aimed for safe goals. Failing is okay. Not trying or dreaming is not.

So, you might be curious as to what I myself have set out to do this year. Well, I’m not selfish (hardly, hence, the blog), so here are my goals for the year (New Year resolutions kind of sounds cliche so let’s agree to call them goals):

Family

  • Make it home by 9PM, three times a week. My eldest son usually complains that he never gets to see me and I realize that my youngest knows his nanny more than me. This only means I need to spend more time with them. And strictly no work on weekends – maximum of eight hours only if absolutely necessary.
  • Go on a date or bonding activity with my eldest every week. When he was my only kid, we used to have lunch together at one of his favorite restaurants and go to an arcade after on Saturdays. Last year, we rarely went out owing to my busy schedule at work (which means I usually wake up late on Saturdays) and the fact that he now has a brother.
  • Spend one day every month where I get to put on my domesticated goddess persona: cook the boys’ favorite food, bathe the kids, take them to the park, build Lego toys with Joey, and tuck them into bed after reading to them.
  • Go on dates with hubby. True, we regularly have dinner together, but always with a phone or laptop between us (more on hubby’s side, as his cellphone is usually glued to his hands, and his laptop attached to his hip). Now this one, I need hubby’s commitment to pull off.
  • Visit my parents and grandparents often, at least once a month. I only get to see my parents maybe once every two months, and my lola probably 3-4 times a year (compared to my in-laws, who we get to see 2-3 times every month; probably because only hubby drives so I am dependent on his availability if I want to take the kids).

Personal

  • Travel to Japan with hubby and Joey this year, hopefully in May, or if not, during the last quarter. I have been putting off Legoland for the longest time but Joey has since moved on to Harry Potter (he still likes Lego but is now curious about HP) so it would be really nice to visit Universal Studios.
  • Travel to Batanes. I have this decades-old dream to go there but hubby wouldn’t go with me. I will do it later this summer alone if I have to.
  • Write more. Seriously, this blog needs more entries. I can’t blog everyday, but I am setting a goal of one post every three days this year. And to write more personal essays (something I sorely miss doing), and give my first love a little attention: poetry.
  • Read more. True, I finished all of John Green’s novels, the latest Blue Bloods, Gone Girl, Anne Rice’s newest vampire novel – Prince Lestat, and a whole lot of YA novels, but I feel I haven’t read enough. So here’s to setting two novels per month.
  • Learn a new recipe every month. For January, I am thinking of making a carrot fondant cake.

Health

  • Lose weight. I am stuck at 125 lbs. But prior to my 30th birthday, I have always been 105-108 lbs only, since I was a sixth grader. To be honest, I lost a lot of weight during my second pregnancy (125 lbs before getting pregnant and 138 lbs a week before giving birth – yet Georgie weighed 8 lbs when he was born). But I quickly gained all that with stress eating.
  • See my doctors. I have been skipping and missing appointments, sometimes deliberately because I hate waiting in doctors’ clinics but oftentimes because I simply don’t have time. You see, it’s very hard to see my doctors because their clinic hours can be ungodly hours sometimes. I have a cardio, an endo, an OB gyne, and a derma who all have weekday clinics on different days – I can’t possibly go on leave everytime I visit them. But I have been off my meds for a few months and I haven’t gone for my annual cardio monitoring routine in ages so it is really imperative that I haul myself there soon.
  • Eat healthy. I normally have fast food for dinner, since I eat on the drive home to maximize my time but I know it’s not healthy. So I will limit myself to twice a week fast food.
  • Get at least five hours of sleep on weekdays and ten hours on weekends.

Career/Finances

Obviously, some of these goals are confidential so I will keep those details to myself and just give you a peek:

  • Save, save, save! I want to have enough money to get Proj. Family Home 2.0 kickstarted by the end of the year. With the arrival of  Georgie and an additional nanny, our little condo has gotten a little cramped. My goal is for us to move into our new home by end of 2016 or first quarter  of 2017.
  • Manage my time better, delegate more, empower people more. I sometimes feel overwhelmed and this leads to me not getting any work done (because I end up just staring at the computer for hours on end). And I can get distracted (my teammates would probably say no, but yes, I can and do get distracted and I can be unproductive sometimes).
  • Learn more. The higher I go up the corporate ladder, the bigger my scope becomes, the more I realize that there are a lot of things I still don’t know.

Whew. When I started this post, I thought I wouldn’t be able to write a thing, yet here I am, 1,600+ words later. I guess that’s a good sign, right?

How about you? How do you plan for the year ahead?

 

Book: 13 Reasons Why

Suicide has been getting a lot of focus lately, what with reports of famous people, who at first glance, seem to live perfect lives, deciding to kill themselves. Robin Williams comes to mind; and you also have Tony Scott (director of Top Gun and brother of RIdley Scott) and L’Wren Scott (I will forever associate her with Nicole Kidman’s ethereal dresses at red carpet events) all dying by their own hands in the last couple of months. Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 years old according to a 2014 study by
the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), and second among people aged 15 to 29 years old, per the World Health Organization (WHO).

So when I saw this book by Jay Asher and read the synopsis at the back, I was immediately intrigued. It was unique in that the novel told its story through the taped recordings made by high school junior Hannah Baker and the thoughts of and goings on while her classmate Clay Jensen listened to the tapes. Hannah had consumed sleeping pills a couple of weeks prior to the start of the novel while Clay was one of the recipients of the tapes. Before killing herself, she made audio tapes detailing the 13 reasons (by twelve people) why she was going to commit suicide. She then mailed the tapes to the first person in the list to be passed on to the next, prior to her death. A second set of tapes was sent out to their classmate Tony, to be released to the public if any of the 12 people on the list fail to pass it on to the next person.

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Book cover.

I won’t go into much detail about the 13 reasons why (the WIki entry for it nicely listed them all down and you can also go to the official website), but what struck me was that Hannah killed herself because of bullying. Not the outright, name-calling type, but one wherein a guy she dated when she first arrived in their town, perhaps to make himself appear manly and more popular, spread rumors that they did more than just kiss on their first date. This rumor “snowballed” and got Hannah a reputation of being “easy” and unpopular (or popular, for the wrong reasons). Being a newcomer, she didn’t have many friends to defend her and the degrading treatment from her peers made Hannah desperate and alone. Her last resort was to approach their English teacher/guidance counselor and talk to him about suicide. However, after a short session wherein Hannah ended up feeling even more helpless, the teacher just let her walk out of the room without stopping her, knowing full well that Hannah was exhibiting suicidal tendencies.

Her last line in the book was “thank you” which to me was the saddest line in the book, signifying that she’d given up and the thank you was for her classmates, her teachers and everyone around her, for not showing any concern for her. A sort of thanks, but no thanks.

According to a study by Yale University, bullied people are two to nine times more likely to kill themselves, and another study revealed that more than half of suicides among young people are due to bullying.Among the red flags of suicide, taken from the website http://www.bullyingstatistics.org, are:

  • Showing signs of depression, like ongoing sadness, withdrawal from others, losing interest in favorite activities, or trouble sleeping or eating
  • Talking about or showing an interest in death or dying
  • Engaging in dangerous or harmful activities, including reckless behavior, substance abuse, or self injury
  • Giving away favorite possessions and saying goodbye to people
  • Saying or expressing that they can’t handle things anymore
  • Making comments that things would be better without them

While I have never had thoughts of suicide (thank God that I love life too much and have too many plans to consider that), I myself have been a victim of bullying all throughout my school life.

When I was in fourth grade, an older schoolmate once attacked me and a group of friends with a small knife; it became clear that the attack was centered on me and one other friend of mine. When we reported it to the school officials, our then Asst. Principal was so worried as she knew the attacker and that I was easy prey, she actually asked my parents to move me to another school as soon as possible. Transferring wasn’t quickly achieved in those days so I waited out the entire school year, and had to be taken to and from the school by my nanny (who was built like an Amazonian queen and who would have punched the guy asleep if given the chance) and watched by our teachers while at school.

Going to a new school gave me no respite however, as I experienced a different kind of bullying: name calling. I was born with wavy hair – neither slick straight but not curly enough to be cute. Needless to say, my wavy hair earned me the name “poodle”. I tried taming it with gels or putting water to keep my hair down until I eventually gave up and just wore headbands and tied my hair. Thankfully, my hair is better behaved now (and yes, I do get rebonds and digital perms alternately). The most amusing thing happened to me a few years back when during a reunion with my grade school classmates, a couple of my male classmates could not remember me until I told them, “ako yung tinatawag n’yo na poodle dati” (I was the one you called “Poodle” before) and it was like a lightbulb flashed above their heads. It was almost cartoonish.

Looking back, hIgh school was probably even worse – a lot of people will probably agree with me when I say high school is the toughest place to survive in. And it’s even tougher when you’re an average looking girl studying in an exclusive all-girls school where beauty, more than brains, is the currency. On a side noted, this is probably why I can relate very well to the song At Seventeen. A lot of organizations I wanted to join didn’t get me because I was up against prettier, more popular, or richer girls. I was even handed a note from a higher-batch schoolmate bearing the words “The Simpsons” during a snack break. This same schoolmate (who was also my neighbor a couple of houses over), would sing or hum at the top of her voice the theme song of the said program whenever  I would pass by her along the street.

(On hind sight, the grown up life isn’t too different from high school).

Thankfully, I wasn’t raised by my parents to be a pushover and I was too much of a loner (in a good way) to be bothered with such trivialities. My stubborn streak and my pride wouldn’t allow me to suffer in silence either – I reported both incidents to school authorities. I knocked over one of the guys who were bullying me straight into the ground (I was one of the taller girls in grade school). He never called me Poodle again. And I got a public apology over the Simpsons incident.

And I got the sweetest victory when I saw the look on their faces when they realized during our mini reunion that I don’t look too bad now (yes, losing all that acne, buck tooth, and big glasses helped a lot). Yes, the ugly duckling has somehow turned into a swan (come on, this is my blog, so better agree with me on this one!)

So you see, I had my feet firmly planted on the ground and was too level-headed; and I had a lot of friends and family to support me. But I know there are a lot of young people who are not as fortunate as I was.

Bullying, affects not just the victim, but the perpetrator itself. It’s a sort of self-defense mechanism on the part of the bully, to cover up some deep-seated insecurities. It has to stop and the only way I know how is to not be a bully myself.

Baby Drop Box

A few days ago, this video of a “drop box” started appearing on my FB news feed. I clicked the link and watched one of the most touching videos I’ve ever seen. 

ORIGINAL – Provided by Arbella Studios.

The video tells the story of how a pastor and his wife thought of a way to help save the lives of unwanted babies being left on the streets of Seoul.  They came up with this box similar to a post office mailbox, albeit softer, and installed it outside their house. This drop box is where moms, and just about anyone, can put unwanted babies and the pastor then takes the baby into his care. This way, the babies get a chance to be part of a family, loved and cared for, instead of being left on the streets to fend for himself, where he would most likely not survive.
I was sobbing halfway through the video.
The drop box struck a cord in me because more than two decades ago, I almost had a second brother. My parents were walking around the Blumentritt market when they heard the sounds of a baby crying. It was siesta time and the area was mostly deserted as the vendors were taking their afternoon rest so my parents got curious as to where the sound was coming from. They searched for the source and found a tiny baby in a shoe box, tossed amidst a mountain of trash.
My mom took pity on the baby (my father was more worried on being charged with kidnapping for taking the baby from the trash), especially upon seeing that he had scratches and was being feasted on by flies, and got him to  the Chinese General Hospital which was just a stone’s throw away.
The baby was just five months old and my parents said the doctors thought he’d been aborted and thrown away just like that. My parents told the doctors that they would shoulder the expenses, and to do what they can to save the baby and that they would adopt him if he survived. But being so small and already having gone through so much in his young life, the baby didn’t even make it through the night.
I never forgot that incident, even though I wasn’t there to personally witness it. It happened when I was still a small girl, even before my youngest brother was born and I had always wondered what it would have been like had the baby survived and became a part of our family.
I love babies and I can’t ever think of a valid reason why anyone would ever think of depriving them their right to live. Though they drive me crazy (especially now with all the sleepless nights), I take one look at my sons and I know I would give anything, go through anything to make sure they are alright. One time, Joey even asked me why I always give him the last piece of food (even if it was my own), and why I am always the last one to sleep (after tucking him in bed and singing his baby brother to sleep) and I can only say, because I’m your mom.
I wish there would be more people like the pastor and his wife. And I wish God would bless him with a long and healthy life so he can save more babies.

Burgers and Cupcakes

After giving birth last November, I was finally able to meet up with a couple of my friends for a much needed time-out from mommy duties.  I’ve been out and about several times already but always with the two kids in tow, so it was really stressful, what with having to watch over a precocious six-year old kid and a one-month old baby; today was my lucky day as nanny #2 finally reported for work.
Make no mistake – I love my kids and my mom hat is always the first one I put on. But there comes a point when I just need some time to have fun without taking care of the kids at the same time.
You know, take a breather. 
This is probably one very important thing that moms should never forget –you can be a devoted mom, but to be able to take care of others, you need to take care of yourself also. Your world can revolve around your kids but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what the universe has to offer, right? Otherwise, feelings of resentment and self-pity might kick in,  until it ends up driving you nuts.
Just a word of advice: everything in moderation. 

Anyway, it wasn’t really a night out (none of my friends do clubs and we don’t drink except for the occasional cocktails after a particularly stressful day at work or to celebrate milestones) so we just ordered what now seems to me to be one of our standard comfort food: mussels (any which way) and burgers (of the bleu cheese kind).
Bleu Cheese Burger at Draft, Rockwell
Spicy mussels at Draft
We decided to do a bit of (window) shopping as a lot of stores are now having their inventory/year-end sale and grabbed some cupcakes and coffee after at Cupcakes by Sonja. 
My choco cream cheese cupcake.
Just an observation. We really are getting old – we were home by 10PM! Hahaha!

Giving Birth


I kind of have the impression that the world was on a wild baby boom last 2013 and it seems that 2014 will be no different. Having given birth to two adorable boys via the same method but under different circumstances, here is my two cent’s worth.
Finding the Right Doctor and Hospital
I had different doctors for my two boys, mainly because we moved houses and my old doctor/hospital became more than an hour’s drive, which would be disastrous if I suddenly get stuck in traffic while going into labour. So hubby and I decided to have our second baby at the nearest hospital, which also necessitated the need for a new obstetrician, as my old one wasn’t accredited at the new hospital. I did a lot of online research on our doctor (in short, stalking and snooping; let’s hope she’s not reading this, hahaha), didn’t find anything bad, so I was basically satisfied. She was also highly recommended by one of hubby’s friends so that sealed the deal for us.
Among our other considerations were the facilities, convenience, and the cost. Since our hospital is a top-notch brand spanking new one and is just ten minutes away from our house (St. Luke’s at Fort Bonifacio Global City), that ticks off the first two factors. Again doing some online research (you can try this link for 2013 prices to give you an idea), I made comparisons among the other hospitals near us and luckily, our hospital offered competitive maternity packages wherein I ended up paying even less than for my first delivery. It did mean though that I had to endure a semi-private room since St. Luke’s didn’t offer private room packages. I don’t like sharing rooms but I just told myself it’s just for two days anyway. The hospital doesn’t get crowded too and I didn’t have to share my room after all. 
Rooming in
I once thought that it would be a very nice idea if my newborn baby stayed with me immediately after birth but looking back, I realize this wasn’t the best scenario. First, it didn’t allow me time to recuperate and recover at least some of my strength before I had to take care of him. In fact, I was still in the recovery room and I was already breastfeeding and barely had time to sleep during my two day-stay since, as we all know, babies almost always wake up and need to be fed every two hours.  
This was totally opposite from when I had our firstborn – I had a full day to rest on my own, and was given the option to just inform the nurses and my doctor if I am ready to take care of my baby. I slept almost the entire first day and by the second day, I was recharged enough to endure taking care of him without feeling as if my body had the flu.

Anesthetics
I have a high pain tolerance so I basically only require the anesthesia almost when I am about to get in the delivery room. I had the epidural with Georgie, administered when I was already in delivery room (told you, I have high tolerance – I managed through the entire labor without any anesthetics and only asked for one as I was to be wheeled into the delivery room) and the general one with Joey, although I wasn’t fully knocked out during the delivery. 
My preference? Well, I can’t exactly remember all the details of my labor with Joey – I do recall shouting back at my doctor, refusing to push anymore, and remembering being so groggy that I slept for such a long time. But I do remember the details of my labor with Georgie under epidural. What I didn’t like was not feeling the contractions as they come – I mean, my doctor had to tell me there’s a contraction before I knew to push. 
I also had a very bad after childbirth experience related to epidural anesthesia which is why I am not particularly fond of it – one day after being discharged, I was back in the hospital because of spinal headaches so bad I was crying of pain and throwing up whenever I had to walk the short distance from our bedroom to the comfort room. I didn’t even want to eat because eating would mean I would have to sit up and the headaches would come again (the unique thing about spinal headaches is that you only feel them when sitting or standing up; they’re almost entirely gone when you lie back down). Turns out, the needle used for my epidural punctured my spine and the fluid leaked out. Researching a bit on this, I found out this is fairly common for back operations – 4 out of 10 experience it; but relatively rare for childbirth, where occurrence is around 1% only. (Un)luckily for me, I just had to belong to that “elite” 1%. 
Spinal headache is the worst kind I’ve experienced so far. I am not joking when I say I literally saw black spots swirling and that I wanted to hit my head on the wall if only to knock me out and numb the pain.
There are various ways to treat spinal headaches, the most extreme would be to insert another needle and inject some of my own blood into the exact spot where the puncture happened, hoping that the blood will clot and cover the puncture. But we did the non-invasive course first – bed rest and lots of fluid. Three days of non-stop IV (hence, the puffy cheeks when I finally got home), strong painkillers both taken orally and via IV, and being stuck on a hospital bed rid me of the more painful headaches. On the 4th day, I was feeling well enough to continue resting at home. 
Enjoy
Okay, giving birth may not be enjoyable, and I know a lot of women who dread it, but just think that at the end of it all- you’d have a bouncing little bundle of joy that makes it all worthwhile.

2014 Checklist

A lot of my goals for 2013 got switched up (and down; I did get to tick several items off my bucket list) and looking back, the things I would work for this 2014 are about the same.

Health. I know I said I’d look into my health problems last year, but baby got in the way (I couldn’t start on most of the prescriptions/tests until after I’ve given birth and weaned the baby). I’m not getting younger so this one gets top billing. And not just for me but for the rest of our family.

Be a more hands-on mom.  Not that I am not already – I used to give Joey his daily bath up until he was four, before going to work, wash his feeding bottles, and take care of him the minute I get home from work. I intend to do the same with Georgie (which makes health all the more  my priority).
Keep up with my Joey dates. Joey and I have established an almost regular weekend thing wherein I take him to Timezone, eat out at whichever restaurant/fast food he chooses, and do whatever he wants for the day. We haven’t gone out together since I gave birth but hopefully, when the new nanny comes in, we can get back to this mom/Joey bonding thing before I go back to work.
Travel. I don’t think hubby and I (or me for the most part) can go on long trips this year since Georgie is still too young and I don’t want to be away from him, but I am hoping to visit Japan to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal and go to Malaysia and Singapore – I promised Joey we’d go to Legoland for Christmas last year but obviously, we couldn’t do that with a newborn baby in tow so it’s a good thing he agreed to go this year instead.
Locally, I hope we can squeeze in Palawan and Batanes this year. It might be a stretch but if I am to choose, I’d pick the latter before it gets all commercial and stuff. I’d twist the hubby’s arms just to get this to happen (or go there on my own if he won’t).
Blog more. Forty-one posts in 2013?!? No wonder my blog has been gathering dust.
Save up for a new house. Okay, let’s be honest. I don’t think I’d be able to save up enough for a new house by the end of the year (unless I win the lotto or a rich relative suddenly adopts me), but maybe enough for a lot and then let’s go from there? Our condo is getting quite crowded and for someone who grew up in a relatively big house, I keep dreaming of my own walk-in closet and garden. And I think I’d go nuts if we don’t get a bigger place.
Be more organized and manage my time better. I don’t know why but I often get the feeling that 2013 just breezed past me and that I’d gotten so overwhelmed. On a side note, I really am getting old – I am now of the opinion that tangible organizers (you know, of the pen and paper kind versus the gadget thingamajigs) are better. And to that end, I am going to haul my ass off the bed in a few minutes to get myself one of the nice ones at the bookstore (I already have several new notebooks to go with it).
On the material side, I wish (but not necessarily hope for) more bags and shoes, what else? Just one will do. I am still undecided whether to get a Chanel (not the flap one – but the bigger ones) or a Tod’s this year (yeah, another proof I am getting old is I now prefer the mom-bags). 😛

2013

2013 may have been a very bad year for our country and for a lot of people (judging from the news feed on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts), and in some ways, it was for me as well. But there were a lot of good things that happened to too, several items I was able to cross off my bucket list, which makes the year that was quite an awesome one, overall. 
  • Went on two out of the country vacations this year. Hubby and I have clashing schedules (it ain’t easy planning trips between a workaholic journalist/professor and a workaholic accountant in operations) so I’ve pretty much toned down my travel goals – go on at least two domestic and one out of the country trip during the year. After years of nagging the hubby, we finally went on a trip to Europe. Granted, the latter half of it I spent touring Belgium by myself and I wasn’t able to make the most of the trip since I was like a fat walrus, but eating Laduree macarons on the steps of Versailles, going on a cruise down the Seine River on my birthday, hearing mass at the Notre Dame, and time-travelling to the middle ages in lovely Bruges more than makes this mini-vacation one of the best I’ve ever taken.
  • This year too, we were able to revisit Cebu, if only for the weekend, which is a memorable place for us since we had our honeymoon there (and Boracay) seven years ago. We also went back to Bohol, one of my favourite spots in the country, and saw the old churches before they were destroyed by the devastating earthquake a couple of months ago. 
  • And as a bonus? I also travelled with two of my friends to Hongkong. I haven’t travelled out of the country with friends in three years and as much as I love our little family unit, it’s also nice to travel with friends, or even by yourself (which is practically what I did in Belgium this year, and in the US last year).
  • Bought a new car. Honestly, I was thinking of getting a new car in 2014 (along with having baby #2), but since baby #2 made an early entrance, then the car had to be bumped up a bit as well, out of necessity. See, our old sedan would have been too cramped what with four of us now (six, if the nannies tag along; nanny #2 will be reporting for work tomorrow). And you all know how much stuff a baby needs when travelling. It’s like bringing your own house.
  • Started my collection of designer shoes. And added a couple of little trinkets to my bag/wallet stash. This is not a hobby I’m particularly keen on growing (hello, money doesn’t grow on trees), but it doesn’t hurt to splurge every now and then. 
Bought my first Giuseppe Zanotti, Repetto, and French Sole (and I sneaked in some Longchamp rubber shoes). FIghting the urge to get a pair of studded Valentinos – see? Shoes are my weakness.

  • Made it to our family reunions this year. See, I’ve always had what I call the holiday curse since I was a kid. I was always sick during either Christmas or New Year! Last year, I spent the day before Christmas in the emergency room (and another day prior to that), getting shots for a wound on my foot and literally unable to walk because of an infected boil on my leg.
  • A new baby! I’m not as young and as strong as I used to be and I had a very lousy nine months, but seeing his cute face, even scrunched up while crying, erases all the pains. I now have two adorable little boys – and life is perfect. There are no words to describe this kind of happiness, or maybe I just become inarticulate all the time in the face of such joy.
Okay, so baby #2’s in a not so good mood here but this is the only photo(as of now) I have of the two of them together.

Funny, I was thinking 2013 was a bad year but just coming up with the list above suddenly made me realize how fabulous and blessed 2013 had been. Here’s to wishing 2014 tops it!

Baby # 2: Jorge Emmanuel

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was kind of caught unaware. I was actually almost done with my first trimester and had it not been for a trip to the emergency room, I wouldn’t have found out (probably at least until my tummy started showing). I mean, I was busy at work, and my health was (and still is) a big work in progress (thyroid, heart and back problems, among others – hubby even has a running joke that I have a lot of factory defects that he should probably return me to my parents and have me repaired)…
Looked like his older brother’s ultrasound photo.
Better late than never was our motto – did our last minute baby shopping on my 37th week… and didn’t finish until after I gave birth.

…and I wasn’t really planning on having a baby this year. I even planned in January for two out of country trips in 2013 which ended up being right smack in my second trimester and made a really long list of to do’s for the year.

Meet our latest bundle of joy: Jorge Emmanuel.
Yet God had other plans for me and so baby # 2 arrived just in time for the holidays. It was a bit of a bumpy road considering that my migraine attacks this time around were worse than when I was pregnant with Joey, and there were days when I just literally couldn’t get up from the bed. Not to mention there’s this mountain of work I have waiting for me when I get back. 

But you know what? 

Every worry, every pain, every sleepless night, every dent in my poor anaemic wallet, were nothing compared to the joy of seeing our precious little baby boy. Every thing just became worth it.

Georgie’s first ever photo.
My three boys.
On a partially unrelated side note, I honestly can’t comprehend people who say women should be given a choice (regarding abortion), and those who say that only someone with ovaries get to voice an opinion over this matter. They call themselves feminists but who are they kidding? Isn’t that kind of thinking kind of marginalizing the other sex?

Anyway, I am pretty sure I have functioning ovaries somewhere and even if I don’t, here’s my opinion nonetheless.  
And I say, what choice are they talking about? There is NO choice. Because it will always be my children over me. Any other decision to the contrary is just selfishness masked under the (misguided) concept of female empowerment and  (twisted understanding) gender equality, and (false) concerns over women’s health. And let’s not talk population control, shall we? Because arguing down that line is just plain b—s—. And it annoys me no end that the most of the people who are loud proponents of giving women these so-called choices, have not even experienced having a child. So no. Only women, and men, who have had the privilege of not just bringing life, but also raising children, into this world have the right to an opinion. 

Happy 32nd to me!!!

I am indeed very lucky to be spending and celebrating my birthday out of the country for the second time in a row. Last year was definitely planned, but this year – not so much. My birthday just fell on the dates we were to go to Europe. Yipee!!! 

Anyway, I thought I had a pretty good 2012 but 2013 is turning out to be even better. 

First off, I’m going to be a mom for the second time! It was quite unplanned. I was too worried there would be much to do at work this year and that I wouldn’t be able to devote time and energy to a baby, but God had other plans. I’ve been having a couple of hiccups every now and then relating this pregnancy, mostly relating to my health as I am generally not a very healthy person and my habits of late have worsened everything (sleeping less than five hours, working late, not eating enough and on time – triggered all my allergies and my thyroid problems) but hopefully, all the meds I’m taking should take care of it. And I am getting excited seeing my new bundle of joy later this year (as timing would have it, I am guaranteed a Christmas vacation because of the baby, for the first time in 11 years!!!).
Yellow flowers at the back of the Notre Dame in Paris
Second, well, I was able to finally visit Europe! Just three countries/six cities as we had limited time (not to mention, resources! Hahaha!) but everything was so beautiful.

Late lunch at Le Procope, the oldest cafe in the world. Located in the Latin Quarter in Paris.

Got to try escargots at a traditional French restaurant for my birthday dinner.

Had roasted lamb for dinner.
Lit candles for my two little angels at the cathedral in Brussels.

So I guess I get to cross a few more things off my bucket list. I really have a lot to be thankful for and I feel so blessed. Here’s to the next 32 years!