Saturday, May 31, 2008

These Faces

Just look at them!

I dont think I need words for these photos, I am still laughing :D

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Overnight in Kindergarten

Here's one night we've all been waiting for; tomorrow, May 30, would be a big event in MC's pre-school year -- they, the pre-schoolers, would be spending a night in kindergarten.

This is one night that we've been anticipating with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Because, you see, MC still could not sleep alone. She still needs the presence of one of us, either mama or papa; to lull her to sleep. If we do leave her alone in her room, she would only march into our rooms and sleep with us. Or if we prohibit this action, she would simply cry her heart out and scream until the whole neighborhood would be knocking in our doors or the police would ring our bell (that never happened but you know, I have this feeling it might :D). So we continued to bring her to sleep and leave her alone when she's deep into the dreamland.

Good thing we started prepping her for this 'event' during our long vacation in the Philippines. Since it is a novelty for both kids to be having their own room in all the hotels where we stayed; sleeping alone in their room was a breeze; that was, until the novelty wore off and they demanded our presence again. But at least, we knew sleeping alone could be done.

A month ago, we again told her that all pre-schoolers like her, would soon have to stay overnight in kindergarten. Her reaction? A big NO! Uh-oh, I told my husband to let it go. And then a few days after that, we got the invitation for the overnight. In that letter, they told us what the kids would need, what activities they would do, that there would be surprises. While I was reading the letter to MC, I saw a spark of interest and then a big smile of excitement. I got excited, too.

The kids would need an airbed, a sleeping sack, a pillow, some basic toiletries, and if they want; a stuff toy to cuddle with. MC started preparing those things early on; she even slept on the airbed inside the sleeping bag two nights before the big night. Of course, although I wasnt in the sleeping bag, she begged me to sleep in the same room. Well, I hope she's ready!

And today, I asked her to choose what kind of lotion, shampoo, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste she wanted to bring for tomorrow. A little more excitement might work on her enthusiasm, too. She dont want to bring a stuff toy as she's afraid that they would get head lice :D And she packed those things in her backpack, plus a face towel, a bath towel, her pajamas, a couple of undies and a change of clothe, all alone.

She's ready to cook scrambled egg for the group for breakfast, too! I dont know if they would be cooking, though. I guess, she's really ready, I hope.

But you see, she kept on asking me what they would get for dinner; as tradition goes, most German households eat only 'cold' at night -- meaning bread and some cold cuts; and that isnt like that at home. Papa already told her, 'you can call us at home if you wanted to eat warm.' Hahaha, as if that would happen.

Anyway the program would start at 3 pm as they would have to prepare their sleeping quarters. And then they would visit the local fire brigade for a tour and would be treated to a special demo show. Normally, the evening would start with a barbecue party in the woods, accompanied by the whole family of the pre schoolers; and then the kids and their teachers would walk thru the woods into the kindergarten, a way to make them tired and sleepy, you know. But it didnt push thru this year for some reason. And of course, the much awaited surprises would be waiting for them all through out.

I am positive this would be a great time for MC. But we are keeping the telephone tomorrow night beside us, to be sure :D

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Most Loved Pinoy Desserts

Comfort food is defined as food that satisfies not only your palate, but food that brings you back to the comfort of home -- your mom's cooking, your hometown, your childhood, and the love and warmth of enjoying being you.

We have read a lot of essays about Pinoy comfort food, this time let's focus on comfort desserts or 'matamis'. My father, who's one of the few men I know with an uncontrollable sweet tooth; cannot declare a meal finish without having a 'matamis'. The sugar would then send the signal his brain that meal is indeed, finish.

Although Pinoys are all over the world; finding the real Pinoy dessert around the globe is not easy. Oh, you can find them canned or powdered in some specialty stores; or hiding as gelatino or creme brulee in some restaurants, but there is just always something missing about them. Preparing them at home without the right ingredients is a recipe for disaster, too. I mean, how can you skip on the right type of banana for banana cue? It definitely would not work at all, right? Here is something for people who must have a dessert, Pinoy style.

Pinoys have a choice between cold or hot desserts. Cold would always involve shaved ice or ice cream; and hot would mean those baked, steamed or fried.

Let's check out the cold varieties first.

Halo-halo is a cold dessert which is a mixture of sweetened fruits, gelatin cubes, sweet beans, nata de coco, kaong (seeds of sugar palm trees), jalea ube (made from purple yam), etc; usually served in a tall glass filled with with shaved ice and topped with ice cream and macapuno, and leche flan.

Mais con Hielo or Saba con Hielo involve shaved ice again, but flavored with corn or chopped saba (a native banana) and mixed with milk and a bit of sugar.

Brazo de Mercedes is of Spanish origin. It is a meringue roll with a butter sauce filling.

Buko Pandan Salad appeals not only to the palate but the smell is a great enticement, too. It combines buko (young coconut), green gelatin, pandan flavor, nata de coco, cream and milk.

Leche Flan is a sweet caramelly dessert composed of eggs, milk, sugar and sometimes with a taste of lemon.

Sans Rival is a rich buttery cake made up of eggs, milk, butter and toasted almonds.

And dont forget the exotic ice cream flavors we have such as ube, mango, and calamansi. You can get your mango ice cream, firmly packed for a long journey, at the departure's lounge of the NAIA international airport.

The array of hot dessert would be:

Bibingka is a rice cake that is usually cooked in a clay pot between live coals located above and below it. It is often topped with native cheese, salted egg and sprinkled with grated coconut ; though interesting topping variations are also in common now. It was a Christmas season tradition that became a daily dessert offer.

Ensaimada meanwhile is a buttered sweet roll, dusted with sugar and topped with cheese.

Egg pie is a Filipino custard pie that is made of egg yolks or eggs with milk and sugar.

Maruya, Banana Cue, Camote Cue and Turon are delicacies mostly bought from street vendors; but are becoming party favorites, too. These list are mostly made from sliced bananas and fried. The Maruya had the bananas cuddled within a mixed batter of flour and when cooked are served sprinkled with sugar. Banana cues like camote (sweet potato) cue are skewered and deep fried in oil and brown sugar. Turon are bananas wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and fried with sugar, sometimes stripped jackfruit are added to taste.

'Kakanin' would revolve around sesame balls, cuchinta, puto, palitao, pichi-pichi, suman, latik, maja blanca, malagkit or sapin-sapin. These are mostly made from rice flour.

Sweet finger licking goodies includes pastillas de leche, yema, and polvoron.

Taho is a soybean milk cake that are thinly sliced and served in a syrup as refreshment; they usually come with sweetened sago. Flavored taho became a real hit, which such offers as vanilla, ube, chocolate, etc.

There are also the long list of native delicacies from various regions such as the broas (ladyfingers) and peanut kisses from Bohol, Jalea Ube and Peanut Brittle from Baguio, Dried Mangoes, Otap, and Galletas from Cebu, Buko pie from Laguna, etc.

Here is a recipe of the Coco-Milk-Egg Custard from Filipino Kitchen Library:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water

In a heavy sauce pan, put sugar. Heat pan and caramelize the sugar. When all the sugar turns brown, add water and simmer until all caramelized sugar is dissolved. Simmer until syrup is medium thick. Pour into individual pan containers.

3 pcs egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1 can condensed milk (300 ml)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, blend egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, coconut milk, condensed milk and vanilla extract. Strain using a gauze cloth.

Pour equally among the individual pan containers. Arrange in a steamer. Put steamer over high heat. When water boils, reduce heat. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes. Let cool.

Serve with nata de coco, kaong or langka preserves.

- You may opt to use dayap or lemon extract.
- For coconut milk guide: Start with freshly grated coconut yielding 300 grams grated coconut milk. First extraction, add 1/3 cup hot water to get 1/2 cup of thick coconut milk.

Great Ideas, Too:

- When attending pot luck parties, I usually bring with me one of the pinoy desserts. And they are always a hit, though they sometimes complain they are too rich and sweet -- the plates are always empty and there are clamors for more.
- As for the sweets, bottled and canned varieties; they usually fill the gift baskets for friends and relatives who discovered Pinoy desserts through me. They cannot wait to open the basket for a peek on the goodies inside. And I cannot wait for the twinkle in their eyes when they open our presents, too.

First published in, except for the recipe.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Left or Right

A small accident last night. I was with MC helping her to prepare her bed while IC was with Papa in the kitchen tending to the newly baked bread.

And then chaos. IC crying and screaming in pain and Papa, in panic, hurriedly marching her into the bathroom saying, 'cold water would help.' Well I quickly run over to them; asking IC what happened but she continued crying. Apparently, IC couldnt resist touching the bread which is still steaming hot!

I held IC's hands, both of them, trying to look for the burned area but my husband was the authority. He took IC's left hand held it under the cold, running water. After that, I took a cold pack and held it over the left hand; but IC forcefully transferred the cold pack to the right hand! Her pain was in the right hand all along.

Now, that was a little bit shocking. If the burn was a dangerous one, we would only find out a little later that we were tending with the wrong hand!

When it comes to accidents like this; panic wont work. It is better to talk to our kids, let them calm down a little as we should calm down, too; and really understand what they are saying. We need to determine where the pain really is. Unless of course we witnessed first hand what really happened so we could proceed to the next step.

And we think we know all, yet there's another lesson learned here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Our First Harvest

Remember my post a week before that there's life in our garden? Well, it's already harvest time!

At least for our lettuce. We wont need to buy lettuce for a long time as we have enough in our green house. In fact, they are ready for the harvest and we've already created fresh green salad out of them. And to be frank, I was never a green eater but when you taste our lettuce; you would know why I became a convert -- real crispy and fresh and simply more green :D
Harvested and ready to be cleaned for the salad
Here are more of them thriving in our green house
As for the strawberries, they are also coming. I would say another week. The tomatoes we need to wait a little longer. My husband had to give away most of them as he said we wont have enough space in the green house. You see, it is still too cold to be planting outside. He doesnt want to take the risk.
Here's our strawberry patch.
And look closely, the strawberries are coming!
As for the cucumber, sadly, it is taking a long time. The corns arent really there. The melon we hardly see. But the dill and the parsley we've already used most of them.

It is amazing watching the garden with growing things. And the benefits we get.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'll Be on Brit Radio this Saturday, Again!

I am, again, invited and I, again, accepted to be interviewed at Usapang Pinoy, a Filipino magazine talk show at Future Radio UK that airs every Saturday at 3 pm UK time (4 pm German time, 10 pm Philippine time).

I would be Dr. Joy's guest this coming Saturday, 24 May. It would be best to listen online at Future Radio UK. Simply click the link to listen online. If you want to send messenges: questions, statements, or greetings; simply click on the upper hand corner that states 'Studio Messenger.'

We would be talking about, hmm, as usual, a lot of things :D Better check the link and listen to us on Saturday, 24 May at 3 pm London time, 4 pm German time and 10 pm Philippine time. Just click here.

For those who wants to listen to my first interview, click here. The interview's done mostly in Taglish, though.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Her First Scrambled Egg

A slow Saturday at home last week. Papa jogged to the bakery to buy freshly baked rolls. MC and IC wanted to play. I hugged the computer. And after a few minutes, the cry 'we want to have breakfast now.'

Usually, it is my husband who takes care of breakfast when he is at home. But since the kids are so 'horribly' hungry as they said, I moved to the kitchen -- turned on the tea machine, (the tables are already set-up the night before), spread the choiced cold cuts and cheese on a plate, boiled water for cocoa and was whipping the scrambled egg.

And then came MC - 'mama, are you doing the egg?´ she asked excitedly.

When I nodded my answer, she pushed me aside and proudly declared, 'you dont know how to cook the egg. I have often watched the 'eier mann' (egg man) in our hotel in the Philippines. I know what to do.' And pushed a chair near the stove to be able to reach everything.

So I watched. And she proceeded to slowly pour the mixture into the waiting hot pan with melted butter which I have already prepared.

She let the mixture settle down for a few seconds before using the spatula to scratch and turn; she did this until declaring that the egg is now good scrambled.
She wont let go saying she could also transfer the scrambled egg into a plate. She did, until she asked help with the last bits.
And here she is proudly showing off her scrambled egg which she and her little sister swiftly devoured; leaving mama and papa a little something, like the smell of the egg :D

MC's a big girl now no? I cant wait to experience my first breakfast in bed prepared by the girls.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Husband's New 'Toy'

Summer time. The heat and the sun and the garden works making us thirsty. We needed a refreshing drink. An iced tea! My husband's been hooked to iced tea since coming back from our Philippine vacation. We were bombarded there, in most restaurants and hotel coffee shops, with
this cool drink, and most of the time as bottomless offers. He used to shun iced tea and now he's craving for it.

And what would be the number one thing you needed to create a great iced tea? Ice cubes! I had to fill and freeze those ice packs for him but there was never enough. And his impatience brought him the idea of buying an ice cube maker. He's been obssessively checking out the internet, bugging me to check eBay and compare the prices; we even checked the markets but we only saw those big industrialized ones that costed way too much.

And one night, he wont stop googling until we found one in eBay; and since the seller's got Paypal and it is a buynow offer, and the price is just right - I clicked to buy. After a day, my husband's new 'toy' arrived. He was too excited about it; he wanted to start making ice right there and then (he's in the office and am at home), hahaha. Well, he obviously had to wait thus when he arrived home, he's eager to make a (dozen) bucket-full of ice. But first he needed a place for this huge machine... and nope, I didnt help him. I dont really find the machine so practical, but I dont want to put a damp to his happiness.

And plus I dont really know where we should place that thing. The kitchen counter is already full with gadgets and gizmos, I wanted space! So I jokingly told him, maybe with your ice machine, we needed a new house, hahaha. Well, he laughed with me while pushing and shoving the items in the kitchen and he tried to make me happy by saying that we would need this ice machine only for summer. Alright, and where should we store that in winter?

Anyway, here's the result:
And that's only one corner in the kitchen. The rest of the gadgets are scattered on the other side of the counter top. Hayyy, I want space.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Charity Begins at Home

These are the kids packing their choiced toys and clothes and pairs of shoes and some sweets intended for a charity house in Manila; a few months before our Philippine trip.
They have been bugging me to help them organize the box as they wanted to share their things to those badly in need of them (we told them, sometimes, some kids in the Philippines dont even have their own doll and they also saw during our first visits there the kids selling goods in the streets, those kids begging on the streets, etc) and are too excited in the thought of visiting a place where there are a lot of kids to play with (we promised them they would be personally giving those things to the kids).

So here we are in Bahay Kalinga in Manila this March. I have been visiting the Ermita Manila Church in Manila during visita iglesia and yet I wasnt aware that in the back of the church's compound is a charity house for girls. I asked my sister to find a charity house that would be in need of the girls' things and she found Bahay Kalinga, thru a friend of mine, Elaine (the one in the black t-shirt). She said that a dentist friend offers the girls free dental check-up, that is why she knows of them. I thank Elaine for sharing the info to us and for being there, too.
The box, although ready before the end of December 2007, was picked up by the shipping company early January 2008. I really prayed that it would arrive in time as I want the kids to be there to give their gifts personally. Well, we waited and waited. It was early March and we were in Batangas when the box arrived. At least, we still have time to bring the box.

And then it was time to go. Nope, we dont really know what to do. We were thinking we would simply bring the box to them; leave the box to be opened later and we would then let the kids play for sometime. But look here, here's what we found out when we arrived -- they prepared a stage for us and the kids were all sitting in a small circle.

Actually, I also got a call from Elaine, who arrived first, asking me if we would be having food for the kids. Oh, that made me panic a bit because although I have cash with me; it wont be enough to feed the kids who I heard would be around 17 kids. And credit cards were not always honored in most restaurants around the area. But anyway, we decided to simply donate a small amount; a little ashamed for not really being prepared for such eventualities. At least we know what to do next time. Here are the girls, waiting patiently for us. They sang for us before the real program, of which I didnt know I would have to procure from out of the blue, started :)
I had to ask the sisters supervising them on what to do! And they simply said, it is all up to me, so I decided to spill the things out of the box and let the kids know what we brought them. And I introduced MC and IC, who I told them, used to own the things that they would now be receiving. And I told them I also brought some gummi bears, which I am sure, nobody from them have tried. Everybody looked so in awe of the gummi bear packages I almost gave in and gave them each a taste right there and then!

I helped MC distribute some of the toys. At first, seeing that most of them have short hairs, I thought they were boys; but the sisters explained to me that most of the young ones recently got a hair cut to avoid head lice. Yup, they only accept girls here. The youngest is four years old and the eldest, 16 years old.
Bahay Kalinga accepts girls who are abadoned to them, those that they find in the streets, and those that the parents cannot take care of due to financial difficulties. The girls also go to school, supervised by the institution; and what is amazing is that they could stay in Bahay Kalinga for as long as they want to stay there.
And here is what happened when we asked them to approach the goodies; they 'attacked' them and searched and eventually found something and more things to keep for themselves. Huge eyes, huge smiles -- a very touching scene; just like on Christmas Eve when the the kids are allowed to finally open their presents. MC and IC were simply watching on the sidelines, although MC, after a few minutes; decided to explain to the girls how the other toys should be assembled. And what toys should be together and eventually, she ended up playing with them.

IC took care of the gummi bears, she almost ate the whole pack which I discovered because I saw some of the girls look at her munching with longing! Good thing I have hidden the rest of the packs. I guess she missed those sweets from home :)

Just in case you want to know, Bahay Kalinga will be moving to Taguig within this year.

If you want to share something, here are some tips:

1. Check the charitable institution first and ask about the gender of the kids and the ages so you would have the right things esp when it comes to clothe sizes.

2. Ask for an appointment. Usually, they have a scheduled program for the day and you wouldnt want to catch them during their rest/nap time, dont you?

3. Might be best to bring some snacks or cook soup; or if you can afford it, have one of those hamburger joints deliver something. It would be fun to join them for a meal. I promised to do this next time as MC and IC were really disappointed to having missed a picnic with the girls.

4. A small cash for them to buy some basics would be good; or if they have a small store/shop outside (Bahay Kalinga have one) -- buy some of their souvenirs as the money from their profit would be put to good use, too.

I think if we start the kids early with these kind of things, they would be more open about charity in the future. They would know more about sharing and giving. It would be easier for them to say goodbye to their 'extra' things, especially when they know they would be benefitting others.

MC had her favorite stuff toy when we went to Bahay Kalinga; and when we left, she had already ensured that her fave stuff toy would be taken cared of, she gave it to a girl who wouldnt leave her side.

And so, after another thank you song from the girls, we bade them goodbye and promised to visit them again. And we would, too.

Maraming salamat, Tita Elaine for being there.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tips on How to Enjoy Your Outdoor Outing

Our little cave in the sun :)

Although it is supposed to be spring time, we are enjoying summer heat in this part of Germany. Because of that, we are taking advantage and joining the trek outdoors, especially to the outdoor pools. And for the first time, the kids cant get enough of the outdoors, spending almost every moment in the fresh air. When before they would complain of the heat and head off inside or when asked would prefer those indoor amusement parks. But not now...

Here's a few tips on how to enjoy your outdoor outing, especially if swimming is on the agenda:

1. First thing and the most important thing to do, check the weather for the day. You dont want to go swimming when it is supposed to be raining.

2. Choose a place that you are already familiar with or if you want to check out other places, google them and make sure you look for the map on how to get there. So you would know what you would need and what activities are involved; and you would not waste time finding the place.

3. Prepare all the things the night before and put them in your beach bag - towels, beach mat, tent, swimming suits, flip flops, huts and caps, floaters if needed, sun screen lotion for both the kids and the adults, shampoo and soap, comb, and of course, prepare the clothes to be worn for the next day and get the bathing suits ready. I always make sure that I pack the kid's bath robes and some beach toys, too. And if you plan to go hiking, make sure you have the right clothes and the right shoes, bring a change of clothes for the kids; plus a mini book about animals and plants would be handy, too.

4. Better to wake up early the next to prepare the food and drinks.

5. Dab on sun screen lotion before putting on your bathing suits under your chosen clothes for the day. And if you plan to go hiking, dont miss dabbing on anti-mosquito and anti-ticks cream.

6. When going swimming, make sure your clothes for the day would be comfortable and easy to wear. Like if you'll go swimming, you wouldnt want to be asking someone for help to open your unreachable buttons or zippers, right? And dont forget the right shoes for the right place.

7. When the kids are with you, it is better to bring extra food and drinks. We find that boiled eggs are the best bet, some pretzel/rolls and salami, plus some cookies for in between munchies. Sliced apples and washed grapes are good refreshments, too. Nope, we dont bring juices, we prefer soft bottled water.

8. Since you are bringing food, dont forget to bring a small plastic bag for your garbage and left overs. There arent always garbage bins near you. Make sure you leave the place clean.

9. And a reminder: start everything in a relaxed manner, no stress, no hurry. The kids could dictate the phase; they could swim if they want to or they could play if they want to. And when on a hike, we are always ready to hang around when they find a place that they wanted to run around and explore; or we find time to answer their questions about some insects or some plants.

10. Of course, dont forget to always bring GOOD MOOD!

Oh, plus, I always bring with me some surprises: either a pack of gummi bears or a new toy or simply teaching the kids a new game. That adds to the excitement.

Have fun in the sun!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

MC's Wish

During breakfast, MC rattled on...

MC: Mama, you know what, I have a wonderful wish but I am not telling you because it is a secret.

Mama: Well, if you want to keep it a secret; it's okay. Although you might want to share your wish and I promise not to tell anybody else.

MC: Hmm, okay. I will tell you. I guess now, I want you to know. I wish for a flying pony; but a true flying pony. A real one.

Mama: Oh, you think you would get something like that in true life?

MC: Papa told me that when you wish, you might have your wish come true.

Mama: Well, it might come true if that wish is really good for you. Although some wishes do come true in dreams. (While I was thinking that I need to talk to Papa about this)

And then she changed the subject so abruptly.

MC: Mama, you know L doesnt have toys that I love to play with. (Referring to a friend we visited a few days ago)

Mama: You have to understand that they dont have a lot of money to spend for toys because her papa cant find a regular job.

MC: Are they so poor like the ones we visited in the Philippines? (We visited a charity house for orphans and street children where the kids gave them their toys and clothes)

Mama: Not poor like that because here they still have their own house, they could eat well but they wont have enough to buy more toys.

MC: Then I want to change my biggest wish. Not the flying pony anymore, I wish that L's father could find a job so that they would have enough money.

Mama: What a good girl you are. That is really a nice wish. (And am a proud mama in hearing those words).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pan Fried Noodles with Pork and Asparagus

Sometimes you just had to fulfill certain cravings.

And I got lucky yesterday for I craved for things that were easy to organize. I wanted to eat real good Thai food at the same time that my mouth was also watering for the fresh asparagus.

I urged the kids to join me to a short walk to the farmer's market which is always for the public on a Thursday. I already saw the asparagus. Instead of going for the white bunch, I opted for the green asparagus. I know what I wanted for dinner. And I was hoping the ingredients would still be in our pantry.

Well, I found the things I need to create my inspired dish at home and here's what I cooked for dinner:

Pan Fried Noodles with Pork and Asparagus

1 cup rice noodles
1/2 cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup pork, thinly sliced
1 egg
3 tbsp oil

1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground pepper

1. Heat the oil in a pan, stir in the pork, add the asparagus and noodles. Stir for 5 minutes.
2. Add the seasoning sauce and the egg. Stir for 3 more minutes. Serve hot.

You could also substitute chinese broccolis for asparagus; and shrimp or chicken for pork.

Of course, in this recipe, they dont tell you that you better boil the asparagus in water so it would be crispier; and you better read in those packages that the rice noodles must first be soaked in water for at least 15 minutes so it would be softer when cooked. Good thing it was those rare times that I was thinking and cooking -- coz most of the times, I would simply wait for the next cooking instruction and wait until everything's telling me there's something wrong by noticing the smell :D

I guess I did good this time. Even the kids ate it, at least the noodles. As for my hubby, he said it tasted good. Well, he always say that :D

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Swimming Outdoors in May for Kids' Day

I cant hardly believe it, we went outdoor swimming for our Kids' Day this May! I know we usually spend our Kids' Day every first Sunday of the month; but because I had a very lovely appointment last Sunday, we decided to celebrate it this Monday. Since it's Pfingsten or Pentecost and it's a holiday in Germany.

Though the weather is really warm like summer, we are not really sure if the water would be too cold for the kids, and for me, too; so we decided to go to a place with both indoor and outdoors pools and that would be in Lampertheim, a few minutes drive from our place.

After a quick breakfast, we headed off to the pool and discovered that we were among the first visitors. The outdoor pool's 24 degrees warm but since it is a bit windy, still cold for the kids. So instead we found a place in the indoor pool.

Here's the wadding pool
An ice cream break

Our place in the sun (and wind, brrr)

Mama, we want to eat (Wir haben hunger!)

A refreshing dip in the... wait, this is the fountain and not the pool :)

MC's place in the sun, she needed at least three towels for that sun bed, arrrgh

there's also a sea and the nude beach is located on the other side

IC's ice cream break

Well, we had fun despite the cold wind in between! We had picnic there, the kids got to eat ice cream, we get to walk along the shore (there's also a sea here), we got to play and we enjoyed the time out. In fact, we stayed there for seven hours! Usually four hours would be too long already! But this time, there was never a dull moment.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Our Mother's Day

This is already a ritual every Mother's Day.

A few weeks before the day, the kids would be kicking me out of the kindergarten doors as fast as possible; actually, all moms get the same 'loving treatment'. They fear that their secrets would be revealed as they were preparing for their very special surprise gifts.

And at home, Papa would be whispering to the kids with packages in each hands; when they think I am not at hearing and seeing distance; which would then end up with them scrambing to their rooms and shouting 'mama, you are not allowed to go inside our rooms!'

And of course, they would have secret meetings in which I would be behind closed doors. As they would be practicing their Mother's Day special song.

That makes Mother's Day more special for me, the waiting game. Although sometimes, the kids would give me a sneak of what I would be getting. With the extra remonition, 'but I should not tell you this.' As if I asked them :D

Another ritual for Mother's Day would be... I always receive my gifts as soon as we wake up; in bed. And this time, here's what I got: A bath mat with massage function, a spa orange oil, two heart frames which the girls made in kindergarten, and an invitation for dinner in a new restaurant that I have been wishing to visit. There's a short poem attached in the kid's heart frames:

Liebe Mama freue Dich, Dear Mama be glad
denn zum Glück hast du ja mich. that you have me
Dieser Tag wär ohne mich For this day without me
gar kein Muttertag für dich! would not be a Mother's Day for you :D

Alles Liebe zum Muttertag wünscht Dir Isabela / Michaela
And yes, I wasnt allowed to help in preparing breakfast because they have another surprise for me. The kids got busy with papa in the kitchen and I get to stay in bed longer, a very rare occasion indeed, yipeee! And look, we had breakfast in our terrace! Fun.
And then I showed MC the glass with scribbles that she created for me during her first kindergarten year. She was so proud of this glass; and I am proud of her, too. Last year's Mother's Day loots are here.

What else did we do this Mother's Day? I called my Nanay, we dropped by my sister-in-law's house to give Oma (my mom in law) her Mother's Day gift and of couse, wished my sister-in-law a great Mom's Day, too.

And then we went to the restaurant for an early dinner. Where the kids got to play and thus, we had time to savor our sumptuous feast.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Moms, how does a baby smell?

I was reading the book 'Perfume' by Patrick Süskind and was struck by the following words when the priest was asking a wet nurse to describe the smell of a baby and she said:

'It's not that easy to say... because they dont smell the same all over, although they smell good all over. Their feet for instance, they smell like a smooth warm stone - , or no more like curds.. or like butter, fresh butter. And their bodies smell like a pancake that's been soaked into milk.
And their heads up on top, at the back of the head, where the hair makes a cowlick , there right there is best smell of all. It smells like caramel, it smells so sweet, so wonderful. Once you've smelled them there, you love them whether they're your own or somebody else's.`

Reading these lines made me go back to those years; in 2001 and in 2004; when I saw my babies for the first time. And although it was my husband who got to hold them first, I would never trade the memory of those precious few minutes. (I love that the husbands are now allowed to join expecting moms during birth.) Of my teary-eyed husband carrying the small bundle in his arms and having the honor of cutting the umbilical cord.

And until now, I could not believe that these girls came from the unity between my husband and me; and that I carried them for months inside me. I am proud of our shared miracles.

And yes, I could smell my babies; even until now. It was their smell that made me fall in love with them, again and again. I dont know if I would agree with the description of the smell though, might be that the wet nurse love the smell of caramel :D

All I know is that I love to smell them. I love their baby smell. And how would I describe their baby smell? They smell of milk; sometimes a bit sour sometimes so sweet and most of the time milky love; D but the milky smell always remain. I might have associated that milky smell with them because I breasfed them for a long time, IC for almost three years and MC for 18 months.
What about you, moms, how does your baby smell to you?

And yes, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

There's Life in the Garden

Winter is over. Spring time is here. Although with the heat of the sun, it sure feels like summer! And yet mornings are still a bit cold.

But there's life in our garden. I welcome them with gleeful anticipation. Let me give you a short tour in our backyard garden.Just look at these lettuce in our small green house. They are thriving. And my husband carefully told me, 'no need to water them anymore, just spray some water on the roots to avoid unwanted attention from worms.' And that is what I do. The melon is also planted on this side but we have yet to see it grow.
On the other side, still inside the green house, would be the tomatoes. IC loves eating them freshly picked. And these I religiously water. I know that we have also planted some corn seeds beside these tomatoes. More tomatoes would be planted outside when summer pushes.

And look at our strawberry field. Well, this might be a small patch of land to be called a field but wait when the harvest time approaches -- there would be enough for a small band of kindergarten munchkins. I love watching the strawberries when they bear fruits because they come so fast. Sometimes the worms and the birds are faster than us! Oh but there's enough to share for the past years, I hope for this year, too. I water this every morning.

And look at how busy our backyard looks like. Toys all around. The swing and the slides ready. The sandbox open. The grill waiting. The garden furnitures all outside. Can you see my two busy bees, IC and MC? Oh, they love their place in the sun; especially when it is time to feed the kois in our pond.

Of course, I love this time, too. I simply hate the dustings of sand that I would definitely find all over the house :D

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Belt and Necklace in One

Here's a favorite accessory of mine: my belt cum necklace gem (guertelkette).

I got it as a gift from my husband last Easter. Actually, I specifically asked for one. I saw something like this in a small jewelry store near our place and simply fell in love with it. When I asked the jeweler what this was, she said:'oh, this is a real beauty. You can wear it as a belt or as a necklace.'

That intrigued me. Though I am not a fan of jewelry and not fond of belts as accessories; I wanted to have one. My husband tried to find one in popular department stores, but nobody can give him a clue where to get it. Once, he was even referred to the belt section! I told him to simply pass by the shop near our house because I already know what I wanted. And lovely man that he is, he got it wrapped and presented the gem with flourish.

The mix of different sparkling and dull gem stones, both precious and semi-precious; stringed together to form a masterpiece makes it one of a kind. I love the rough lay-out, not one stone the same in size; I love the color combination of the stones, they seem to come alive together. And I love the weight of it in me, delicate yet with a strong appeal. I love that the color of the stones can be easily combined with much of the clothes I have. I love it because it was lovingly designed with me in mind.

Yes, I am acquianted with the owner of the jewelry shop and she personally created this piece for me. And, knowing that I have two small kids, she changed the chain from the normal lightweight one, into a very stable type. Thus, I am not afraid to display by precious gem, even if the kids are running around me. Now I use it as a necklace for special dates; or as a belt for casual days; or vice versa!

I think I want another one, with louder colors, for Mother's Day :D

This was first posted in PMN: Lifestyle.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Day with A Fellow Mommy Blogger

I've met mommy bloggers in the Philippines this February; and why not the mommy bloggers living near me here in Germany? So, after exchanging loads of comments and telephone calls, I finally met with Vk last Sunday.

We drove to her place, despite her protests; insisting that there might not be enough space to move around. But she agreed when I convinced her that space doesnt really matter; after all we have been planning this meeting for a long time. And I am too excited to worry about space :)

Armed with a map of the area and a printed direction; we left the house at 11 a.m. as we are expected to arrive at 12 noon. Remember, the drive should be for 35 mins only. Well, arrive we did but after getting lost and circling the area two times, we got there after 12 noon.

In the end, I had to call Vk for a point by point direction as I dont want to be circling until noon. The kids were also getting uneasy. We finally found them after another 10 minutes of here and there; and I immediately saw Vk waiting outside. And like a long lost friend, we embraced in glee :D

our hubbies getting to know each other, that's the best in blogging; you gain more friends

Vk excitely opening the gift we brought her

lunch was great...Vk's dishes were so mouthwatering I ended up with at least five servings, hahaha. And did I say I am working on a fitness program? I love her taco salad and I have the recipe with me. And dessert was leche flan, wow!

So we decided to walk to the playground to burn the calorie; and to play of course :D

Group photo first :D
The kids enjoyed playing with Ate Kim; so much that they wanted to bring her home :D
Here's another playground, more gymnastics for the kids; and the moms of course!
After that long walk, the gymnastics and the long playtime; tea time.
Here is Kim's Zebra Cake which we would be enjoying this noontime as I got some take out, too.
And here is Vk's Mandarinen Kuchen (Mandarin Cake); it taste's good but I didnt bother asking for the recipe as I dont trust myself with this kind of cakes'. The flop factor is too immense :D
MC got to learn with Ate Kim and she learned fast.
IC must try it, too.
And not to forget, the bonding time with pens and papers. The kids enjoyed the day. Of course, they went home happy as they got loads of surprises from Tita Vk.
I had a great time and my family, too. I simply love exchanging anecdotes about our life here in Germany and those in the Philippines. As for the kids, they are now busy getting ready for Vk's visit to us. It is now our turn to play host.
Thanks a lot, Lamberz Family.