Friday, November 30, 2007

PMN: Home and Garden on Pavillions and Advent Calendar

I have posted two very different topics at PMN: Home and Garden.

The first one talks about our adventure with our summer pavillion which came seven months late... Read more here.

And then I shared in detail how I created the Advents Calendar that is very much a household tradition here in Germany for years. If you want to know how easy it was, click here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I am Christmas Busy!

I know I said that I am done with Christmas shopping, but you see, I need to do more; a lot, lot more!

Last weekend we shopped for our traditional advent wreath. I admit, I could have created one wreath by myself, we have enough materials ready at home. But the fun part is with the searching and finally settling on something that resembles what we really wanted and being satisfied with it because the kids and I have already consumed more than enough free sweets, cookies and beverages to last us until dinner time!

Oh yeah, everytime we visit out favorite flower shop to buy our wreath, we make sure that we go during their special season's exhibit. Where you are offered mulled wine, kiddie punch, or the simple water, juices, tea or coffee; served with a variety of cookies, candies and cakes. A neat way to start the party season.
After paying for our wreath, we headed home ready to dig into our storerooms for our collection of Christmas decorations. With kids, it took like a hundred years, but we recovered. My husband got busy with his Christmas lights inside and outside our house. My hands were full checking the dozens of boxes marked 'Christmas', selecting what we would be using for this year. You see, I have already an assortment of Christmas themes that would include angels, bears, ribbons, or it might be in colors of red or blue or green or gold, etc.

This year, my little bosses opted for a teddy bear theme. So, I dragged all the teddy bear Christmas decors out. Until the house looked like in a bear's cave celebrating for Christmas! We still dont have a tree so the little teddy bears would have to wait :D Trimmings finished, whew!

But wait, I needed to work on the advent calendars for the kids. Wikipedia states that the origins of the Advent calendar come from German Lutherans who, at least as early as the beginning of the 19th century, would count the days of Advent physically. Often this meant simply drawing a chalk line on the door each day, beginning on December 1. Some families had more elaborate means of marking the days, such as lighting a new candle (perhaps the genesis of today's Advent wreath) or hanging a little religious picture on the wall each day.

Wow, 24 days times two would mean 48 treasures would have to be packed and hanged. I needed to have the calendar up in a few days. Since these calendars are supposed to be filled with surprises, I had to do it when the kids are not here and they should be finished when they arrived back home. Well, since I already have the materials with me and I have the idea in my head, I got the advent calendars up within two hours. Busy, busy. Check out the finished calendar here.

And then it would be St.Nicholas Day next week and then MC's birthday in a few weeks time and then oma's birthday and then... arrrghhh! Good thing I am done with Christmas shopping! Or did I just say that?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, Arjay!

Arjay with IC during our visit in Manila, 2006.
How old are you now, my baby brother? I seriously dont know because I still think of you as a baby.
Yes, even though for many years now; you are no longer a baby. You are now a young man. I still cant believe my eyes everytime I see you. I cant even believe my ears whenever I hear your voice when we talk over the phone.

You will always be the baby of the family. You know why? Because you remain as sweet and as thoughtful as you were when you were a little boy, hanging on Nanay's (mom) skirt. I remember you would always try to save something for Nanay whenever I treat you out; either a piece of a hamburger or the whole french fries pack. Everytime you get some chocolates, Nanay would always get a piece from them.

I noticed, you still do that. But now, you share to the whole family. You bring then boxes of doughnuts or order pizza for them. That is why you have a whole bunch of friend who treats you like their own brother. I know how you get loads of gifts or how they bring food during your birthday. I know how your friends extend their love to you by bringing extra something for Nanay and Tatay (dad). They do that to you because you do that to them, too.
You see, you are still so sweet and thoughtful. And I know you would remain such a special person; because you have sorrounded yourself with special people like you.

I also admire your adventurous spirit. I just hope you would know the right path to take.

I love you, dear baby brother!

Meal Time Dramas

I dont know how it started but MC simply wont come for dinner.

After telling the Papa she wanted to eat her fave food that night, after her Papa preparing and cooking her fave food...she simply wont come for dinner.

It could be because we spent most of the day baking, it could be because they have eaten more dough, it could be because they stuffed themselves from the discarded crumbs. She simply wont come for dinner.

Now, it is an unwritten rule at home that we should eat dinner together, especially when everybody's at home. And MC simply wont join us.

I explained to her that even if she wont eat something, we would love it if she would sit with us. Papa pleaded with her to do the same. But nope, she is too stubborn for us. She even started screaming and crying.

Papa, loosing patience, decided to take her plate away. And thus declared, 'if you dont want to join us, then it's okay. But I am letting you know that we are eating now. And later, the kitchen would remain close even if you're hungry.'

When she saw her plate being taken away, she panicked and cried, 'Papa, no. Please no. I am eating with you now. If I dont eat tonight I would be dead tomorrow!'

Hmm, where did she hear that from?


And then during breakfast the day after, MC started with a drama again.

She wanted to have more rolls on her plate; even asked for IC's share, even though IC wanted to eat more. Well, she got more rolls on her plate than she can eat.

We told her that she should eat everything that's on her plate because she wanted them. She, of course, said yes.

After a few minutes, and with her plate almost not touched, she declared she cannot eat anymore. She is full.

Well, I repeated what I told her about leaving her plate empty because she asked for those food. Well, she said she simply cannot eat them anymore because she is full. Well, I told her she is not allowed to move from the dining table without at least eating half of what's on her plate. Well, she screamed and cried. 'I'm gonna puke. I'm gonna have a thick stomach. I'm gonna get a stomachache, etc.'

I expected that tirade, she's been saying those things to escape from such 'punishments.' But we wanted her to know that she wont be able to easily escape this time.

Since we wanted to go for a drive, we gave her an ultimatum: either she stays in front of the table and continue crying or she eats something off her plate and we can go for a drive. She stuffed herself, of course.

And what's the reason behind these meal time dramas?
1. Because we have been spending a lot of time baking
2. Because they are allowed to munch along while baking
3. Because they are allowed to eat the discarded crumbs
4. Because the kids are already getting a lot of sweet treats from the family and the neighborhood

But this should not be, they might get used to them and then it would be too late, thus:
1. We would still continue baking
2. Munching and stuffing themselves with the discarded crumbs would be controlled by giving each of them a separate plate or gift box where they could choose what they wanted to eat, place them inside, to be eaten later...better than stuffing everything right into their mouth.
3. The rule for sweet treats is the same as the 2nd, they are placed inside their treasure boxes and should be eaten sparingly.
4. Distract them. Take them as far away as possible from the dough, the crumbs and the cookies. We asked them to bring some cookies outside to cool, and they stayed there to watch over them. The birds might come, you know!

I know, we should be lenient as 'tis the season after all...but I dont want them to miss enjoying the season because of stomachache!

Friday, November 23, 2007


A few nights ago, already in bed and I was already soo tired, MC started to philosophize...

MC: 'Mama, if God was not on earth, how did the human race came to be?'

Mama: 'Huh?'

MC: 'I mean, what was the world when there was no God and there was no human beings.?'

Mama: 'Huh?'

MC: 'Mamaaaaa, if God was not here how come there are human beings?'

Mama: 'Huh?'

MC: ' Maaamaaaaa, could it be that there are human beings and there was no God. How could that happen?'

Mama: 'Huh?'

MC:' You dont understand, hmp.'

Mama: (Forced to react) 'Actually, I was only thinking. You see, I believe that God was always there and He created the human beings and all the things that you see now.'

MC: ' Okay.'

If I had known that she would agree so fast with my simple explanation I would have ended my 'huh' agony. But I told her in the morning that God created all things for us to love and enjoy them and not to hurt or destroy them. I mean, I needed to let my first born know that I did undestand her, only, I really must go back to my elementary books. She might start asking about the big bang theory soon!

Another homework for me :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I am done!

My secret cabinet of gifts!

Yes, I am done with Christmas shopping. I got everything for everybody. I only need to wrap them up!
I am now in possession of boxes and boxes of Christmas gifts that are now hidden from my kids' eyes. Well, actually, MC and IC accidentally discovered my secret treasures a few days ago when she went ballistic looking for their costumes.

I learned of it because IC shouted she wanted to have her Pippi doll. A doll which is supposed to be a surprise gift. Good thing it was only the Pippi doll who was left peeking out. I tried to gently explain to her that those gifts are not for me to give away. That Santa Claus asked me to take care off them because he cannot carry millions of gifts for children around the world.

Well, what did she say? 'Then tell Santa that you already gave the doll to me.'

Since she's getting ready for a big tantrum, I gave in. She got her doll, and I needed a replacement, of course. After asking the kids never to open that secret cupboard again or else... I went back to my list and noted the need for another gift.

I convinced my husband, who's on a holiday, to go shopping with me last week. And I did some clicking online for some of the things that I did not find in the stores.

I wanted to get this Christmas shopping out of the way. You see, we would be celebrating a lot of things this December -- aside from Christmas and New Year's Eve; there would be busy preparing for MC's and oma's birthdays! And you know what, we also have the traditional St. Nikolaus Day (Dec 6) and the celebration of the second day of Christmas on the 26th of December. Plus, I need to create and fill in the kids' advents calendar, another German tradition.

Want to know how I finished shopping early?
1. I have been listing down gifts that would fit everyone in the family since Christmas last year.
2. I already bought some gifts that were tagged down from last season.
3. Whenever the girls and I go around to shop, they always tell me what they wanted for their birthday or for Christmas or for Easter and I tend to note them all down.
4. As for the immediate family, I simply take note of their hobbies, their favorites and subtly ask them what they wanted. And I take note, of sizes, too when necessary.
5. When those gifts are on sale, I grab them. When I get discounts from online shops or free postage, I shop. That way I save, too.
6. My husband takes time off from work to go shopping with me, alone, as early as November. We bring the kids to kindergarten and we head off as early as possible to the malls.
7. And most important, make sure you hide those things in a safe place. Far from the wandering eyes of your kids.

Actually, my real motivation to finish Christmas shopping early is to escape the madding crowd.

Finishing Christmas shopping early means not staying for hours in traffic, no parking hassles, no impulsive buying, and we save a lot because of the discounts! Not to forget, stress free means less wrinkles!
Now I hope my husband noted what I wanted for Christmas, too :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kids' Days: Indoor Park and Baking

MC helping the Papa with the Spritzgebäck machine while munching.

For the first time, since we started this tradition of celebrating Kids' Day every first Sunday of the month, I was absent. That was last October.

I told the kids that mama would also love to join them, but I need to attend the seminar that would give me a certificate as trainer for gymnastics for small children. They understood, though they clung a bit. And Papa was coerced, to bring the kids at the Villa Kunterbunt, an indoor playground, a favorite Kids' Day place to visit. Despite his protests that staying outdoors would be better, to savor the good weather. At least, I didnt miss anything :D And I compensated by bringing home some nice drawings I did for the them.
And this November, I was looking forward to spending the Kids' Day outside. I wanted to drive someplace. But the kids just wont move. Since they are the boss during this day, we had to follow their wishes. Know what they wanted to do? Bake.

They wanted to stay at home and start baking Christmas cookies! Arrrgh. And I so wanted to escape the kitchen today. I wanted to eat out, after a visit someplace, and avoid the kitchen. Yet here we are, going to spend most of the whole Sunday in the kitchen.

We checked our cupboards if we have enough supply of flour, eggs, etc... not enough. Since it was a Sunday, all the stores are closed. Hmm, maybe I could have my day out? Nope, MC is clever. She wanted to call her oma and opa to ask if they have extra flour and eggs! We did. They have. Another arrrrgh!
Off they drove to pick up the supplies from opa and oma's house. I stayed at home and prepared the kitchen for the attack of the little hands. Oh, they enjoyed the mixing, the cutting, the baking, and as usual, they ate most of the dough!

What I enjoyed most was tasting the fresh from the oven cookies. Yum... By the way, these cookies are the traditional cookies baked in Germany during the Christmas season: Spritzgebackenes, Buttergebackenes, and our own version of the Marmaladegebackenes.

The recipes are already yellowed and cracked and white with flour and I could hardly read them because the handwriting used was the old style -- long and thin. But since I have been baking these together with my mother in law for years, I have more or less, an idea. Actually, I have made a copy of the recipes, in English!
Try the recipes found here.
And the kitchen escaped from of the little hands and feet because:

1. I made sure there's a moist footmat right in front of the kitchen door. They must wipe their feet if they would need to go out.
2. There are also moist towels readily available for the little hands.

3. Everybody have an apron on, a kitchen towel hanging near their working area and paper towels are readily on hand. They have something to wipe on, everytime.

4. Once a certain cookie's been mixed, everything would have to be cleaned up, wiped out and removed. And what's not needed anymore, would be placed into the dishwasher. No dirty dishes all over the kitchen. This creates space, too.

5. If they wanted to try the cookies, they should stay in the kitchen, too.

Did you think the kitchen completely escaped 'damage'? I only tried to keep the damage smaller with these tips. Actually, I could glide from one corner to the other easily, I even tried some chacha and rumba steps with the amount of flour scattered on the floor! Well, the important thing is, the kids had fun. And my husband volunteered to clean the mess :D

Thursday, November 15, 2007

MC is my Yoga Master

The pre-school kids in kindergarten started their yoga course two weeks ago. I blogged about this program here.

And for that two weeks, we have been visited regularly by our yoga master, MC. Oh yes, she is so excited with this yoga course, from day one, that she's been urging us to do yoga with her, every opportunity she gets. I mean, I have no problem with that. Only, I told her, mama must also cook or else we wont have the strenght to continue doing yoga :D

The first day she was introduced to yoga, I excitedly asked her what happened. I am a yoga fan, by the way, even though I dont get to practice regularly. She reported it step by step. I know because I already asked one of her teachers in kindergarten who stayed with them during the entire course.
Well, MC got frustrated with simply talking about yoga that she said, 'you know what? Let's get ready for bed and then we could do yoga before we sleep.' I nodded yes while IC run into the bathroom in glee.

So there we were, in our pajamas, being instructed by our little yoga master. And here's how she did it.

1. She told us to sit like a pretzel.

2. Started with a few 'oms' to relax us

3. Stretched one leg forward and give it a few pats, then do the same with the other leg

4. Stretched arms over the head slowly and fold hands together, and then put them down and fold your hands slowly in front of your stomach (do it a few times)

5. She recited a few relaxing phrases -- something about flowers and trees and the nature...

6. Stood up and did the number 4 again

7. We ended up with simply listening to our breathing in and out

In the end, she even asked us to do poses which she was doing in her ballet classes! But of course, we joined her. Not knowing that she was already improvising simply because she enjoyed dictating the exercise a lot! Well, she admitted those additional positions when we were already in bed.

But hats off to her, she really did concentrated during the yoga session, or else she would not be able to show us what yoga is all about. I promised to attend one of the yoga courses in kindergarten, and I cant wait!

An Easter Story in November

I had time to spare when I picked up MC from her playmate's house and got to chat up with the girl's parents.

I dont know how they ended up talking about Easter but they did and when it's time to talk about what did Jesus do during Easter MC proudly stated, 'He was also looking for Easter eggs.' Well, why not :D

At bedtime, MC have questions about Easter and her first questions were, 'Mama, why did Jesus die and why did he rose from the dead?'

I told her that Jesus died to save the human race from sin and he rose from the dead because he wanted the whole of mankind to know that he is there for us.

To which she followed with: 'Is he in heaven now?' Well, I told her Jesus is everywhere especially in everybody's heart. That is why when she hurt someone, then she is also hurting Jesus. And I used this opportunity to tell her that when she's got a temper, she might want to take sometime to talk to Jesus in silence in her heart and then I am sure she would find calm.

She simply nodded with big eyes and fell asleep. I hope she understood what I told her. Sometimes you realized that while expaining things to our kids, we are also learning with them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nope, I didnt forget about both of you

There were just too many activities, too many unexpected things that needed attention, and too many new things to list down that I missed blogging about two people close to our hearts who celebrated their birthdays. Let me talk about them now.

First was Onkel (uncle) Ossi who aged gracefully this October. He is one of the kids' favorite laps in the world. Whenever the kids would see him, they would cling to him like crazy. They would want to hear him tell stories, read a book and even drags him all over to play. He would always be too busy to even say hello to the adults when the kids are around. They cant get enough of him. And I guess, he cant get enough of the kids, too. Why else would you always find him with his long legs on the floor trying to fold his size into the kids' level :D

The next one is Tita (auntie) Anna, our youngest in the brood of five children, who is enjoying her singleness in the Philippines. Nope, we didnt get to call her this November 10. I only got to send her a belated text message which I know is not so satisfying as talking to her but we would be doing that personal greeting within this week. I know that she had a great celebration at home where they cooked Spaghetti Carbonara. The sauce came from the many boxes of goodies we sent back home. Now, the kids know Tita Ana, of course. In fact, my husband always tease IC that she is the 'little Anna' simply because they both have the same lusty appetite.

And what about Tita Anna? Well, she's a hardworking girl who stands up to her belief. So stubborn yet I know that she's got a gentleness in her that she's reluctant to show off. Although of course, you get glimpses of that every once in a while. Especially since she's been taking care of my four nieces and nephew who used to stay with them at home. She babysits and helps them with their homeworks and projects. I am sure is she's her, she would do the same with my girls.

What is she busy with now? She is busy with home her own home improvement project... she used her own hard earned money for that. Yes! I heard she had the house painted in preparation for our visit this coming February. You see, that just is my point, she's also generous and thoughtful despite her stubborn steaks.

Here you are both loving people, prosit to both of you!
(Photos to follow, the computer where all the photos are stored is under repair :(...)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

St. Martin's Day: A German Tradition

Today we celebrated the St. Martin's Day. After a heady preparation in kindergarten, in which my pre-schooler MC, has been so secretive about the dance practices she's been attending for weeks. And the children proudly created their own lanterns for the said St. Martin's day.

Now what is St. Martin's day? This is a German tradition that according to is:

November 11th is a special day in the U.S., Canada, and German-speaking Europe, but when North Americans are observing Veterans Day/Remembrance Day, most Austrians and German Catholics are celebrating a different kind of holiday. The Feast of Saint Martin, the Germanic Martinstag celebration, is more like Halloween and Thanksgiving rolled into one. Martinstag or Martini commemorates Sankt Martin (c. 317-397), Bishop of Tours, one of the most revered European saints.

The best-known legend connected with Saint Martin is the dividing of the cloak (die Mantelteilung), when Martin, then a soldier in the Roman army, tore his cloak in two to share it with a freezing beggar at Amiens. In the past, Martinstag was celebrated as the end of the harvest season (thanksgiving). For workers and the poor it was a time when they had a chance to enjoy some of the bounty and get a few crumbs from the nobles' table (“einige Krümel vom reichgedeckten Tisch”). Today in many parts of Europe the feast is still celebrated by processions of children with candle-lit lanterns (Martinslaternen - see the German children's song "Ich geh mit meiner Laterne") and a banquet of roast goose (die Martinsgans).

In former times, Martini was the “official” start of winter and the 40-day Christmas fast. Today Martinstag is the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season in German Europe.
Our celebration started off with a mass in which the kindergarten kids reenacted the story where St. Martin tore his cloak. And then the dance of lights in which MC was one of the dancers. After the mass was the procession in which the kids with their lighted lanterns would march with 'St. Martin,' while singing. Tonight they were treated with a special colorful fireworks from the local volunteer firemen.

The goose, animal symbol of St. Martin, is a common meal around St. Martin's Day. Legend has it that geese betrayed him with their gabbling when he tried to hide in a stall as he was to be appointed bishop.

The real reason that the geese are butchered around St. Martin's Day is that they are ready for harvesting at this time of the year. In this country as well as in the old, goose feathers were used for pillows and featherbeds, quills were used for writing, the eggs were good for baking, the fat was needed for baking and could be eaten on bread, the bird made a great "Braten," and even the wing could be used for dusting.

Since many of the early German settlers did not find the right kind of Christmas tree, a tree on which they could place candles safely, they used the tough part of the feathers to make "feather trees." Goose feather trees have become collectors items. They are made again and can be purchased in speciality stores. They are very expensive but beautiful and can be called the first "artificial Christmas trees."

On the 11th day of the 11th month at exactly 11 minutes past 11 o'clock a.m. is the kick-off of Fasching, Karneval and Fastnacht or Carnival season. For one day revelers are drawn into the streets, before the activities in carnival clubs, street and neighborhood groups, begin in earnest as the preparations for the January/February crazy days, are in full swing.
Now, this is one festival that I always look forward to. I like the creativity when it comes to creating lanterns, I love the kids marching with their lights and the singing, and I like the story of St. Martin. He didnt give his whole cloak, but he divided it between him and the beggar. Just like saying to the world that there is indeed joy in giving, but that there should also be joy left for to enjoy something for yourself. I dont know if I made myself clear with this, let me just tell you this... It is fun being a parent, but it is also fun being wife and husband.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

MC's Reaction on Toy Recalls

So, I blogged yesterday about this toy recall especially on the Bindeez or Aquadots which is on top of MC's Christmas wish list.

When we told her early this morning that she would not be getting Bindeez, she immediately lost her excitement; until we explained to her the hazard that those toys could bring to children like her.

And what did she say? 'Mama, then why are they showing those things on television and asking the children to buy them and play with them if those things are dangerous?'

Ooops. Another early morning attack. Fortunately, I did my research last night and told her, 'Sometimes it takes sometime before they would know that those things are dangerous. That is why we should always be careful when buying toys.'

I am glad that issue is over. She accepted it as such and said she would tell me later what she wanted as a replacement for those recalled toy.

Friday, November 9, 2007

These Are Definitely Not in My Christmas List

MC definitely wanted Bindeez, popularly known as Aquadots, for Christmas. I was with both kids during the November holiday to list down what they wanted for Christmas and she showed me this Bindeez. She said she's been seeing this on television and she wanted to have something like it.

I listed it down on MC's wish list and I was planning to buy a set of Bindeez online last night. Good thing I didnt start my online shopping, because this morning, the same toy was the news' headline not because of its popularity but because it is being recalled!

What was the hazard?
The coating on the beads that causes the beads to stick to each other when water is added contains a chemical that can turn toxic when many are ingested. Children who swallow the beads can become comatose, develop respiratory depression, or have seizures.
And that Bindeez includes a date rape drug, that shocked and angered me!!

More than four million Chinese-made toys sold in the U.S. as Aqua Dots are being recalled after reports surfaced that children swallowed beads containing a chemical found to mimic the effects of the so-called date-rape drug.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it has received two reports of children swallowing Aqua Dots and slipping into comas. Both children are now fine, the commission said. At least three children have been hospitalized in Australia, where the product is called Bindeez, after ingesting beads from the toy.

The recall highlights a common practice in Chinese factories: cutting costs by substituting ingredients. The toy’s manufacturer, Moose Enterprise, of Melbourne, Australia, yesterday said the problem had been traced to a Chinese factory it contracted that substituted a toxic chemical for a safe glue during manufacturing.<>

Check this out.

MC would know about this product recall tomorrow. I would explain to her the danger of these 'supposed to be' fun and kid-friendly toy.

And then the third recall for Mattel which I read here.
Mattel was recalling 800,000 toys, including 675,000 accessories for one of the company’s biggest sellers, the Barbie doll. Also part of the recall, the third in just over a month, were 90,000 units of Mattel’s GeoTrax locomotive line and about 8,900 Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys, both from the company’s Fisher-Price brand. The Big Big World products were sold nationwide from July through August of this year, while the GeoTrax toys were sold from September 2006 through August of this year.

The recalled toys in the Barbie accessory line included a Barbie Dream Puppy House, which had lead paint on the dog; a Barbie Dream Kitty Condo playset, which had lead paint on the cat; and a Barbie table and chairs kitchen playset, which had lead paint on the dog and dinner plates.

The two GeoTrax toys were made by Apex Manufacturing Company Ltd., one of Mattel’s contract vendors, which outsourced paint work to a subcontractor, Boyi Plastic Products Factory. Apex supplied Boyi with certified paint; however, the toys were made with uncertified paint. Boyi is no longer in business, Mattel said.

Read more at Mattel.

It would be a relief for me if I could throw away all the hundreds of Barbie products the girls have right now, but I cant do that without tears and screams. What I did is just tell the girls to be careful of the tiny parts and when they smell something bad eminating from any toys, they give it to me or they simply throw it away; right into the garbage. I have warned the girls.

I mean, I have already blogged about the other product recalls from Mattel and I cant believe I missed this third recall. The thing is, we read about this recall from yesterday's paper. And then this morning, the Bindeez recall. Do I have to wait for the next recall list or do I stop buying toys for the kids this Christmas?

I might simply give the kids gift certificates for their favorite places to visit and forget about buying toys for Christmas. The rest of the money would go to their savings account, and that's that. Let me think about this...

If you want to know what to do about recalled products, read here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Talking About Sex with Kids

I got this from Macuha released an ad encouraging parents to teach their kids some sex education. They actually used kids for the advertisement.

Do you get to talk to your kids about sex? Well, mine started to ask me about it a year ago. MC was a few month short of her 5th birthday while IC was only two years old. Want to know our birds and the bees story? Then click.

But of course, the real talking would happen in another years. And by then, I hope I would know the right answers. But would the questions be the same, huh?

Pinoy Moms Network is in Top 100

Pinoy Moms Network is in top 100 Lifestyle Blogs!

Imagine, there are a hundred lifestyle blogs on the net, and PMN made it to the top 100. Wow! I am a proud member of PMN since mid this year and you know what, I still savor every visit there. I learn a lot, I get to share and most of all, I meet a lot of too good to be true moms in there. I guess, I would be meeting more...

And I would extend a heartfelt thank you for letting me work on the PMN: Home and Garden. To the contributors and readers, working with you and for you added more excitement to my life. So let's keep the stories coming :D

Now what does my kids think of PMN? Since they get to sit beside me most of the time when I read or tinker on the site; here's what they are saying...

You see that masthead (see above photo)? Well, MC said she loves the third and fifth mom (count from the left). When I asked her why, 'well mama, I love their sexy dresses and the way the look.' Now IC take would be the first and the fourth, 'she said she adores the hair and the glitters, which could mean the accessories.

Of course they asked me about my choice, too. And I said I go for the middle mom. She looked so comfortably chic :D And what about you moms?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

MC Wants to Get Married

Photo: I took this photo of MC and A during the gymnastics class yesterday. When they saw the flash of the camera, they just smiled.

MC, who would be turning six this December; wants to get married. She casually told me this one early morning while she's getting ready for kindergarten.

MC said seriously, ' Mama, I want to get married to A. I know he wants to marry me, too.'

Hearing those words just made me smile and I told her, 'well, it's good to know that.' And she explained further, 'If Timmy was here, then I would have married him. But he left for America.' Timmy is a neighbor and a playmate of her who is now living in America.

And then this morning, I had a meeting with her gymnastics trainer who told me, 'MC told me she's marrying A. But then came another friend who said she is also marrying A. You know what MC then said in the end?'

'Then let's get married all three together.' The trainer gave a hearty laugh after telling her I already heard about this upcoming wedding.

I called my husband to inform him about MC's plan. And he told me, 'MC talked to me last night about that. I simply asked her to ask A's mama if she agrees to the wedding.'

Oh well, let's hear what A's mama says. A's mama is by the way, our lady priest in the Protestant church.

You know why she's eager to get married? Because she's inspired by this wonderful wedding dresses and the interesting ceremony and the all night long party that would definitely follow. Another fantasy full idea. Kids :D

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Want a Peek in my Wallets?

I was tagged by Mayi to show what's inside my wallet. It is a simple enough tag that I could have been finished in a few minutes but then I have a dilemma, what wallet should be tagged? I dont have any wallet loyalty. I chose a wallet depending on my need on that specific time when a wallet should be dragged into my body. Because I am someone who leaves the house prefering to have both hands free, wallet free even. I put coins in my jeans pockets for just in case.

You see, I need both hands to hold hands with my kids when walking and strolling even when hiking.

Instead of taking time for decisions, I have decided to showcase my six wallets. The day that I was tagged by Mayi, I have already prepared the wallet that I would use for the next day shopping trip to the city with the kids. That wallet ( a gift from my father in law) would be the dark brown one in the middle with a credit card, one cash card, three membership cards from shopping stores, an I've got Implanon card, a note with a blessed rose from St. Theresa, a plaster, and some bills and coins.

The second most used wallet is the black one, an imitation Esprit which I bought in the streets of Bangkok in the late 90s. This is the one I use when I drive and when the family drive around. And because of that, I have the health cards of the whole family, my driver's license, then I would transfer the credit card and the cash cash plus all the membership cards and Implanon card into it, too. I would have a 20 euro bill folded in one secret pocket for emergency, aside from the usual bills and coins and old receipts.

The small black and red purse is another gift from my father in law. Because of its small size, I use this whenever I wanted to buy something after bringing the kids in kindergarten. It fits every pockets of every jackets and jeans I own. Convenient and not bulky.

The beige coin purse came with a shoulder bag. The bag is very much used but the coin purse ended up holding the kids' extra carnival tokens and some perfume samples and a tie pin of my husband. Something to hold small things that I would not end up searching for them for a long time in my big mommy bag.

The dark brown wallet from Esprit was brought in a whim. A wrong, impulsive buy because it is too bulky, too big, too uncomfortable to use. It holds the private health cards of the family, some photos and old receipts. The burgundy passport wallet was a gift from a friend during his visit in Thailand in the late 90s. It used to hold my passport, but is now used as a 'storeroom' for not regularly used membership cards, some photos, some papers for some buys which I still cant say goodbye to, and some important receipts.

Now let me tag Christianne, Cookie and Rach. Sorry moms, am curious, too :D

PMN Fam Pics: Schlachtplatte

Mittwoch, 07.03. ab 12.00 h: Schlachtfest
Schlachtplatte für 2 Personen € 9.90

Wurstsuppe, Wellfleisch, Leber-, Blut- und Bratwürstchen,
hausgem. Kartoffelknödel, Sauerkraut, hausgem. Erbsenbrei
und Schweinepfeffer

Gasthof zum Gruener Baum Odenwald

Reinhold Jöst
Vöckelsbacher Weg 1
69518 Abtsteinach-Mackenheim
Tel. 0 62 07/30 77
Fax. 0 62 07/34 06

My husband called up late one Wednesday afternoon to say we are dining out. This impulsive call made me happy ( I escaped the kitchen again) but I was a bit curious, too. When we picked him up from the train station, he showed me why. He's got a piece of paper, an advertisement from the newpaper, wherein states that a Schlachtfest (Butcher's Party) is being held in one of the countryside restaurants in Odenwald, a good 45 minutes ride from our place. He simply wanted to have a real taste of the Schlachtplatte (butcher's plate) because as he told me gushing, it is not so expensive at 9.90 euro for two persons.

So we drove despite his misgivings about IC sleeping on the way. Well, IC did sleep but was instantly awake when she saw that we were in the countryside. She saw the ponies right away, but they were being cleaned and groomed already. It seemed we were a few minutes too late for the free pony riding! Oh well, next time. They satisfied themselves by stroking the ponies manes.

When we got inside the restaurant, it was almost full, despite it being a weekday. That means the food in this restaurant is really good. Of course, we ordered the Schlachtplatte which consisted of; Wurstsuppe, Wellfleisch, Leber-, Blut- und Bratwürstchen, hausgemachte Kartoffelknödel, Sauerkraut, hausgemachter Erbsenbrei und Schweinepfeffer.

That would be sausage soup, boiled pork, liver -, blood and roasted/grilled small sausages, homemade potato dumpling, sauerkraut, homemade pea mash and peppered pork, this last one is almost the same as the Philippines' dinuguan. And the kids? Pommes Frites (french fries), what else! Though they love the sausage soup, too.

Interesting, this Butcher's Plate, and very delicious, too. I wonder how it would taste with rice? Hmmm...

Here are more PMN Fam Pics:
  1. Pinayhekmi: Scrambled eggs
  2. Ruth: Filipino breakfast
  3. Lynn: Tukneneng
  4. Mommy Chi: Fried rice and beef stew
  5. Ajay: Because pancit is my favorite dish
  6. Julie: PinoyMomsNetwork Fam Pics 3: Plated (On a Plate)
  7. Connie: Chopsticks on a plate
  8. Cookie: PMN Fampics Series 3 : Plated
  9. KK: Eclectic taste
  10. Feng: Plated on a operating table
  11. Vicky: What's for tea?-Lean Pork N Cabbage on Stripey Plate
  12. Rach: My plated collage

Friday, November 2, 2007

Something sooo Dubai

I stumbled into the blog of Here, There and Everywhere thru the post Rape in Dubai.

After what happened in a school here a few weeks ago, I am more vigilant of such issues. But what I read in what happened in Dubai is something sooo sick. It really made me cry with anger. And to think that Dubai is supposed to be modern, westernized country? Please read on:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 31 — Alexandre Robert, a French 15-year-old, was having a fine summer in this tourist paradise on the Persian Gulf. It was Bastille Day and he and a classmate had escaped the July heat at the beach for an air-conditioned arcade.
Just after sunset, Alex says he was rushing to meet his father for dinner when he bumped into an acquaintance, a 17-year-old native-born student at the American school, who said he and his cousin could drop Alex off at home.
There were, in fact, three Emirati men in the car, including a pair of former convicts ages 35 and 18, according to Alex. He says they drove him past his house and into a dark patch of desert, between a row of new villas and a power plant, took away his cellphone, threatened him with a knife and a club, and told him they would kill his family if he ever reported them.
Then they stripped off his pants and one by one sodomized him in the back seat of the car. They dumped Alex across from one of Dubai’s luxury hotel towers.
Alex and his family were about to learn that despite Dubai’s status as the Arab world’s paragon of modernity and wealth, and its well-earned reputation for protecting foreign investors, its criminal legal system remains a perilous gantlet when it comes to homosexuality and protection of foreigners.
The authorities not only discouraged Alex from pressing charges, he, his family and French diplomats say; they raised the possibility of charging him with criminal homosexual activity, and neglected for weeks to inform him or his parents that one of his attackers had tested H.I.V. positive while in prison four years earlier.
“They tried to smother this story,” Alex said by phone from Switzerland, where he fled a month into his 10th-grade school year, fearing a jail term in Dubai if charged with homosexual activity. “Dubai, they say we build the highest towers, they have the best hotels. But all the news, they hide it. They don’t want the world to know that Dubai still lives in the Middle Ages.”
Alex and his parents say they chose to go public with his case in the hope that it would press the authorities to prosecute the men.
Read more at New York Times.
If you've read the whole story, you would discover more curiously horrible things. That Alex would have to be jailed because of homosexual activity. What kind of a justice system is that? He was raped by three men, for God's sake. And then the issue about one of the perpetrators having HIV being reported a month after the event happened. I mean, they could have done something to prevent the virus widely spreading if they revealed that thing within 24 hours. Now the family's left to wonder. I know the feeling of waiting for the result because of this. And it is something I dont want to wish to anyone. I pray that Alex would be spared.
Alex’s case has raised diplomatic tensions between the Emirates and France, which has lodged official complaints about the apparent cover-up of one assailant’s H.I.V. status and other irregularities. The tension and growing publicity over the case seem to have prompted the authorities to take action.
Most infuriating to Alex and his mother, Véronique Robert, is that police inaccurately informed French diplomats on Aug. 15, a month after the assault, that the three attackers were disease-free, the diplomats say. Only at the end of August did the family learn that that the 36-year-old assailant was H.I.V. positive. The case file contains a positive H.I.V. test for the convict dated March 26, 2003.
“They lied to us,” Ms. Robert said. “Now the Damocles sword of AIDS hangs over Alex.”
So far the teenager has not tested positive for H.I.V., but he will not know for sure until January, when he gets another blood test six months after the exposure.
And not only that, Alex was even thrown these words:
A doctor examined Alex the night of the rape, taking swabs of DNA for traces of the rapists’ sperm. He did not take blood tests or examine Alex with a speculum. Then he cleared the room and told Alex: “I know you’re a homosexual. You can admit it to me. I can tell.”
Alex told his father in tears: “I’ve just been raped by three men, and he’s saying I’m a homosexual,” according to interviews with both of them.
I admire the strenght of Alex and his family. His mother even started a website for rape victims in Dubai who generally keep quiet,
“Sometimes you feel crazy, you know?” he said. “It’s hard, but we have to be strong. I’m doing this for all the other poor kids who got raped and couldn’t do anything about it.
You know what Alex, you are not crazy. It is the people who do such sick things and the people who tolerate such sick things to happen that are crazy. You did great with the decision to talk about it. It would help not only you but the other silent victims. Be strong! You would overcome this... Our prayers are for you and the other victims, may justice prevail.