Thursday, August 28, 2008

Basic Internet Tips for Parents

Now that my husband's thinking about buying MC her own computer, of which I am still be bit skeptic about, I guess it is also time share this article I wrote a few months back.

More and more kids are getting busy on the internet. Despite all the software being advertised that are supposed to help adults supervise their kids’ computer use, I believe that the best way to avoid problems is to be aware, to get involved.

Most people say that a computer in the room of a child twelve years old or younger is not recommended - instead, if you want one, install it in a place where everybody can monitor everybody. I myself would want to monitor my kids until the age of 18. Meaning, they might want to have a computer in their own rooms, but I would want them to keep their rooms open when they are using the internet and chatting. I am not strict. And I know I can trust them, but how about the strangers in this wide, wide world? I am just careful.

It is also important to be informed. Make time to learn. If you are not yet aware of how a computer works, sit down in front of one and click away. If you don’t know how the internet functions, call someone who can properly guide you. Get involved with chatting, emails, site visits, etc. Learn enough to be comfortable with what you can. You would feel better and safer if you know how it works.

Then you must inform the children the rules about using the computers which could be the following:

- Never volunteer personal information such as telephone number, address, name of school to your chat mates.
- This follows, never give information about your friends or your parents and relatives to any stranger.
- Create a separate email address that you can use to communicate to someone you have only just met or people you met in the internet. This email address would be specifically used for new contacts.
- Don’t send your photo to anybody who you've only met through chatting.
- With an adult supervision, try how it is with using a different age or different gender when chatting. You will notice that it is very easy to do, and it is fun. Make sure you are dealing with someone who is true.
- Add no strangers into your friends list.
- When you find someone unpleasant in the chatroom, you must bring the attention of the moderator at once. Then ignore the person immediately and switch off the PC.
- Trust your feelings: if you meet someone that makes you uncomfortable, break off the discussion and switch off your computer.
- Don’t forget to take note of this person so you can react faster when you meet him again in the chatroom.
- If you really want to meet with someone from the chatroom, ask your parents first. The meeting place should take place in public. Take your parents or a friend, but don’t go alone.

Make sure the children know these rules. It is safe to make a clear copy of these rules and post it near the working area where the computers are.

You might want to save the sites visited by your kids into the browser’s favorites. This could prevent confusion and further surfing that could lead to the kids stumbling on undesirable sites.
Let's be open with our kids. It is more effective to ask and talk about things than to ignore them.

You might also start explaining to the kids about sexuality, the different cultures, and the confusing words which they might encounter in the internet. You must lead them gently. This is a developing and very influential media. Computers are for everybody's consumption now. We should learn how to deal with it in our life. would help your child be aware of all the new experiences they would encounter especially with the sexual contents of the new media.

First posted at PMN Techmomma.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Laptop for MC?

My husband is seriously thinking about buying MC her own laptop for her 7th birthday this December.

We used to talk about this, and our decision a few years back is for MC to get used to our old computer first. The old computer which has been gathering dust in our storeroom for two years now because we are saving it as MC's first computer. Because as I reasoned, that is already an old computer and it would be her way to learn and experiment with computers. No need to buy a new one.

Now he wants to buy a laptop for her. I've seen it coming, as we brought MC's study table the past month and he avoided those tables specifically made for computers.

I actually love MC's study table as it could be adjusted according to her growing years (and I hope it would really stand up to the quality and the price); and the chair is also an item that could be pulled down to her small size, other chairs could only be adjusted until a certain low that isnt enough for my little girl :D, plus it has a naturally wobbly 'consistency' that could cope to the never ending wobbling of my energetic girl.

Going back to the computer, my husband's been talking to the experts about buying MC's laptop. Their first recommendation is for us to stay with her during the time that she would be allowed to surf online. And that if no online work should be done, we could shut off the connection and of course, add those programs that could block undesirable sites.

Well, I dont know.... I am still a bit skeptical about the idea. I think it is too early for MC to have her own laptop over her own new computer. I would say the old one would do first.

Viva Cala Mesquida

Our last minute vacation, despite the flight delay, was really a very relaxing one.

For one week, we stayed only within our resort, Viva Cala Mesquida Aparthotel in Mallorca, Spain; it is after all an all-inclusive package (why not take advantage) :D Actually, we wanted to take a short trip after a few days of being stuck in our resort, but the bus leaves very early and the trip back would be too late; renting a car is void as both my husband and I didnt have our driver's licences with us :(

Anyway, there are a lot of things to do and 'not to do' around the resort. You could see us in and out of the restaurant for our meals; carrying drinks and snacks from the bars into our pool lounges; swimming, relaxing and playing around the pool area; strolling around the shops and the beach area, stepping into our hotel room to take a break, dress up and sleep. Accompanying the girls to the kiddie disco every night (yes, every night!) and sometimes, watching the night shows if the kids arent too tired to stay up late.
This is how the hotel facade looks like. This is indeed, a very large complex of hotel. They even have an exclusive club which is located in front of the beach; there are always two show stages simultaneously playing different programs every night, there are more than four swimming pools ( I stopped counting at four), there are more than four restaurants, and loads of facilities and activities lined up to keep everyone from babies to adults, busy.

This is the pool area, I took this photo from the restaurant which is located a few floors up. See the ever present lifeguard in white? He's watching over those lounge chair grabbers, hehe. It is fun to stay around the pool around as there's water activities for both kids and adults alike. Everyday, my husband and I took part in the late morning water aerobics -- before grabbing our plates for our buffet lunch.

This is the beach area, you would see the hotel compound in the background. The rent of the lounge chairs and a beach umbrella is way too much, 4.25 euro per lounge chair for a day use; and we used those things for almost 2 hours only!

That's our view from our balcony. The beach area and the dune. Nice, noh?
The sunrise. Taken before 7 am from our hotel's balcony.
And here are the girls, who as usual, dont want to go back home anymore :D

Monday, August 25, 2008

Reservation Stress

Okay, okay, we're back from our one week vacation in Mallorca, Spain. And yet, am talking about stress?

Well, let me tell you -- the vacation was great. Viva Cala Mesquida Aparthotel is a kid-friendly hotel. The place of Cala Mesquida is a quiet corner of Mallorca. The service and the amenities in the hotel are wonderful and food and drinks are overflowing, the whole day and almost the whole night, too.

What really bothered me is the reservation. Nope, we are booked and confirmed at the hotel; our flight, though late, is okay. The reservation I am talking about is finding enough lounge chairs for us four around the swimming pool area.

And that is where the real stress begins. Early in the morning. One must wake up at 8 am to have the best place under the sun -- complete with lounge chairs enough for the family and enough parasol so that it wont be too hot under the sun.

There are ways to reserve the lounge chairs -- placing your towels over them or leaving some reading materials or any personal objects on the lounge chairs. When I realized what was happening, it made me really laugh. It's really a race every morning! Well, I dont have a problem about that, my husband and the kids were always ready to race with them :)

But at Viva Cala Mesquida, they have rules about reserving lounge chairs. When the lifeguard comes, he would look around and leave notices on the reserved lounge chairs when it looks like they are not really occupied. In that notice, the lifeguard would give you 40 minutes to occupy your places. If the alloted time arrives and the chairs are still unoccuppied? Well, he would collect all the personal items and stack them near his corner.

Imagine the shock of some people on finding their 'reservations' being occupied by someone else and more shock when they have to search for their personal items? Well, you wouldnt know what to expect. Sometimes some people wouldnt even know that their things were already taken away -- slow reaction -- not after a few hours! And others? They would shout and rummage around, disturbing the mass of people lounging around. I dont know if someone had already went as far as reporting their loss to the police.

But we never get any notices, I am proud to brag about that. Why? Because we dont really stay away from our place unless it is time to eat or to pee :) That means, we stayed mostly in and around the pool so dont ask me why I am so brown! As for those people who reserve and leave their chairs for a long, long time? I dont know why they do that...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Not really 'viva'

What else can I say? I've been hearing the word 'viva' during our one week vacation in Mallorca, Spain, thus the title :)

It was a vacation that started off with hours of waiting. Actually, not really a 'viva' kind of thing.

We arrived early at the airport as the kids were too excited to sit still. And then arriving at the check-in counter to learn that the flight would be four hours late! Four hours, yet we took it cooly, it is supposed to be the start of a relaxing vacation!

Anyway, we got a coupon for a free dinner at the nearby airport hotel. And although it was only 4 pm, our flight was supposed to take off at around 7 pm (meaning we'd be waiting for an 11 pm take off), we decided to ride the shuttle to the hotel. The kids needed space to play around and the airport isnt the right place.

Well, we stayed at the hotel lobby bar, paid for our refreshments and let the kids play and draw. And when it was announced that dinner's ready, we strolled to the restaurant, had dinner -- taking everything in stride. At 8 pm, I told my husband I want to ride the bus back to the airport. I simply wanted to move, you know what I mean?

The kids were being a good sport, finding something around to get them busy. But when it was already 11 pm and there's still no announcements nor movements around... arrrgh, it is really getting frustrating. Loading time was was a few minutes before midnight -- when it was announced, the passengers (who are still awake) applauded and cheered.

Well, by that time, the kids are already cranky and just wanted to sleep. Me, too!

How did we manage to keep up without breaking down?

1. The kids have with them their toys and some drawing materials to get them busy
2. We took everything in stride, joking about it
3. Looking forward to our relaxing holiday and listing out the things we would do made every waiting hours a breeze, well, almost

If you want to know what your rights are when flights are delayed, read here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shhh, MC's Listening

Dinner time.

The kids wanted to be excused from the table, we said yes. My husband and I were having an animated discussion that could always jump from one topic to another.

And then he started talking about some sexy stories he heard that really made us both laugh out loud (nope, am not sharing it, sorry :D); he was really into it and was becoming loud, he didnt notice that MC creeped back into her place at the dining table.

It was only when I saw MC's smile almost reaching her ears that I realized, that the Papa's still into his sexy stories. I kicked him under the table; he stopped and it took a few seconds before he realized why I had to hurt him! And why he had to stop!

And then I asked MC with a smile, 'and, why are you smiling?' Well, her smile only grew wider and she wont get out of the dinner table until my husband and I stood up to clear the table! And yes, papa stopped his story telling; but not after MC caught some interesting parts!

Well, what could we do? Kids ears get longer when the stories are not for their ears :D

Thursday, August 21, 2008

60 Years of Love

Today is oma and opa's diamond wedding anniversary!

Yes, 60 years of being together, still in love.

As opa just had an operation, and though he is better now, the celebration is being pushed a little later. But I am sure, they are both celebrating in their wonderful own way, today.

You want to know their love story? Read here.
Photo taken during opa's 87 birthday.

Oh and about the wedding dress of oma; you might be as curious as the kids so I am sharing the story to you.

They got married right after World War 2, being practical which most people were during those times; she decided to create a dinner dress our of that wedding gown.

I asked her where the gown is and she said she dont know where it is now. We only have the photo. And the kids so wanted to have a photo wearing that same wedding gown of oma :) I told you, they are real crazy about weddings!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sun Protection for Kids

Summer time and everybody's outdoor. Fresh air is good but we must not forget that children should be protected from direct sunlight. We dont want our kids to have problems later in life because of excessive exposure to the sun, right?

I am very vigilant with sun protection with my kids; thus, we use Nivea Sun Spray SPF 30. We have tried different sunscreen products but we decided to stay with Nivea because it is mild and is good for sun sensitive skin. Even my youngest daughter, who still struggles with skin problem, uses this comfortably. It has enhanced UVA/UVB filter system and is extra waterproof. It can be easily applied and quickly absorbed. Plus, it's green colored spray sun protection adds excitement to kids.

And then after the romp under the sun, we rub them with Eucerin Kinder After Spray after bathing. This is to refresh the skin from being under the sun. Eucerin is perfume-free, with Vitamin E that regenerates and moisturizes.

Some more practical tips from Ask Dr.

1. Avoid the intensive heat of the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
2. Children should wear appropriate clothings. Cover baby with a long, white shirt and a wide-brimmed hat.
3. Dont leave them under direct sunlight. Protect your children from sunrays reflecting off the white sand by placing them under a large sun umbrella while at the beach.
4.Use the appropriate sunscreen;for particularly exposed areas, such as the nose, cheeks, and ears use an opaque zinc oxide sun block.
5.Apply lip balm with sun protection factor of at least 15 to avoid sun blisters.
6. Protect the kids' eyes from the harmful ultraviolet rays by letting them use the right sunglasses.

Here are Dr. Sear's tips on choosing and using sunscreen for your little one:

1. Avoid sunscreen for infants under six months old. Although it hasn't been proven harmful, there simply isn't enough evidence that sunscreen is danger-free for this age group.
2. A lotion or milky, gel-like product with an SPF between 15 and 30 is better. Baby's skin may burn from clear alcohol-based products.
3. Test first. Dab a small dose on a small area of baby's arm to find out if she's sensitive to a particular sunscreen.
4. When there is no adverse reaction after the test, apply generously. Around one or two tablespoons would be needed to cover an average sized preschooler. Re-apply every couple of hours especially if the kids are busy with water play.
5. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before enjoying the outdoor.
6. Choose a waterproof product.

This was first posted at PMN: Fashion and Lifestyle.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Sea Comes Alive

It was different summer night for the kids when we attended the DLRG open house at Wiesensee in Hemsbach.

It was the night of the lifeguards, our angels of the sea. And it was a night of lights and colors. It was night of wonder, esp for the kids who were allowed to stay up late. Actually, they have been celebrating early in the morning -- with water aerobics, some water rescue actions; with food and drinks.

But we decided to join the fun part and arrived at 8 pm, not yet dark at summer time. We wanted to catch the real show, not prepared for nature's show with the weather as it changed. And changed and changed. It was a fascinating sight. It was fun to capture them.
It looked like rain.
Yet it was warm. And then it could be thunderstorm! Most of us ran for cover when the cloud opened.
And after a few minutes, here's how it looked like. As if nothing happened.
And the sunset.

And the highlight of the night, the torch swimming in the middle of the sea; of more than ten lifeguards, both men and women accompanied by music and fireworks.

And of course, there's also the wish balloon. It is a huge white paper balloon that was powered by heat and blew up, up and away -- and they lightened up the sky to make your wish come true.

Here are more photos, in my new domain that still sleeps :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

To do before leaving for a last minute summer vacation

Well, I had to emphasize 'last minute summer vacation' because I already had my list of things to do before leaving for a long vacation; and there is definitely a big difference.

Number one, because this vacation was really a last minute decision; thus we dont have enough time to inform people; number two because it is summer vacation, most of the people we know are already on a vacation!

And here is my list:

1. Find out who could harvest the ripe fruits and veggies in the garden. This is the most important thing this summer as our garden is really giving us a bounty of colorful fruits and veggies that couldnt wait for us to be picked. It would be a pity if we let them rot!

2. Who could water the plants? We couldnt simply rely on the rain as we also have loads of growing things in our green house. We needed someone to water the plants.

3. The mailbox should be emptied. We dont want to be opening wet mails nor we dont want important documents to be lost.

4. Cancel newspaper subscription.

5. Make sure the sump pump would be turned off when thunderstorm warnings are up. Nope, we definitely dont want to go home to a flooded house. But since our tenants would be at home most of the time, they have agreed to watch out. They should, too, as they would also be affected if anthing happened.

6. Turn off all the unnecessary switches and unplug.7. Clean the house. Good thing we just changed our bedsheets.

8. Mow the lawn.

9. Try to pre-wash the used kitchen utensils. And leave the dishwasher a little open so that it would not stink.

10. Check that all lights are off, all windows/slides and doors closed; especially the awning should be turned to manual.

11. And dont forget to empty all the garbage bins before leaving.12. Give our travel info to trusted individuals for our airport transfer and just in case.
Okay, Mallorca here we come!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oh vacation time

It was a last minute decision, our one week vacation.

After the stress of the past week, we definitely needed a break. Where to go? We planned to drive to Garda Sea in Italy, to rent an apartment there. But my husband checked the weather forecast in that area, hmmm, rain? Nope, we dont want to spend a week holed up in an apartment.

So he checked for Tunesia. Saying, when everything would be added (gasoline, rent, food, etc), we could afford to fly to Tunesia and stay in an all inclusive resort and it would be definitely warmer there. We checked. No more available flights to Tunesia. After all, it is still summer vacation here in Germany in some parts of Europe.

The travel agent recommended Mallorca, Spain. You know what my image of Mallorca is? Ballerman and Ibiza - meaning, party, alcohol and noise. But when I looked into the website of the resort, well, it is actually located in the north side of Mallorca. With it's own private beach, animation for kids, wellness facilities, etc; plus we are getting an all inclusive package. And we are flying!

Instead of getting the car ready, though we had it inspected already and I started stacking up on snacks and toys for the five-hour drive; I am only preparing for our luggages this time. And what does IC say when she saw two luggages only? 'Mama, we should bring more bags,' she said she dont want to come back anymore! That says how the kids saw our past weeks :(

So here's a tip: if you think you could be paying for the same vacation price for an all inclusive package; why not check the possibilities first? And here are tips on how to find cheaper airplane fares.

I have also ticked my list of things to do before going for a vacation. Before I realized, I needed a new list -- simply because, it is summer time and there's enough to do in the garden!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What about quality and long life?

I did say our washing machine is kaput.

I wanted to clear the laundry before we leave for our vacation thus I started washing early yesterday morning.

MC wanted to watch TV so I let here, that was around 11 am. After a few minutes, she started wailing, 'mama, there's only voices on the TV. The people are blurred.'

Thinking it was due to the rain, I told her to turn it off and wait a while.

Meantime, I decided to check the laundry and what did I discover? The basement is so dark, the light wont turn on and the machine isnt working at all. I called my husband, a bit panicky. I find it weird that only the basement was affected.

He told me that it might be the washing machine. He told me to look into the fuse box and check the switch for the basement. It was off. The washing machine, which was too hot, might have automatically caused the switch to turn off -- to prevent untoward accidents to happen! Thank God for such things, I didnt know about that!

That was also the reason why the TV is not functioning right, because the cable runs from the basement, too. Well, that was it -- the washing machine said goodbye. After only 6 years of service. And we bought that machine for more than 300 euro!

Actually, that machine gave-in after less than a year of service -- but since it was still under warranty, it is okay to call the repair service. And how about now? The repair would cost us around 200 euro, and that is almost the cost of a new machine!

My husband checked the internet and strolled around some shops yesterday -- he saw some good brands of washing machine selling for less than 300 euro -- most of them are on sale! Of course, we'd rather buy a new one than have it repaired.

As it is, we needed a new washing machine right now. We would be leaving in a few days and I dont want to have tons of laundry to wash after a supposed to be relaxing holiday. That would be unfair, right? Haze agreed as she just came from a vacation :D

So, we are buying a new washing machine this afternoon. And I hope the new one would last more than six years, after all, our home's very first washing machine lasted for 20 years! And let me tell you, our oven is already 25 years old -- I am crossing my fingers it would last longer.

How about that advertisement for quality and long life? It is sad to know they are not the reality now :(

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We're off for a week

In a few days, we would be going on a vacation for a week. But before that...

1. The television just stopped functioning. We could here the voices but there's no picture!

2. I went down to check if the washing machine is finished and the cellar was dark. There was no electricity. I called my husband and he instructed me what to do. It turned out that our washing machine went pfffttt and triggered the security plug to turn off.

3. Well, my husband has been telling me the whole last week that the washing machine would soon conk out, because the cycle was way too loud. He's right. Oh, but the timing!

4. IC had a fever last Friday and MC's turn was yesterday. Both girls are okay now, thank God.

I hope everything would turnout smoothly before our vacation! Oh, please...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's our 7th year

Today we celebrated our 7th year anniversary as a married couple.

My husband woke me up with a kiss, giving me a rose. MC and IC marched in our bedroom with flowers, too; MC recited a short poem that she just made up right at that very moment :)

And then off for our big lunch date. The kids insisted on me putting on my wedding dress and MC even took time to find my wedding 'shoes'. I gave in. The dress fits me but my husband protested as he dont plan to look so 'fine'. So instead of my wedding dress, I asked the kids to chose another 'nice' dress; the girls wore they best dresses, too.

Where did we go? To the restaurant/hotel where we held our reception seven years ago. This has been a tradition that we would try to follow for as long as we can.

And what was that wedding dress?

Here is my story.

wedding gownI was already four months pregnant when I got married. We cannot marry so fast because of the billions of paperworks needed in Germany — I have collected two thick folders holding all the papers necessary to marry. And not to mention those documents translated from English into German.

For everything to move faster, I decided to fly back home to closely monitor the paper works and also because, I wanted to say goodbye to my family and friends in the Philippines and in Bangkok. I know getting married is a big step, and my choice husband would bring me too far away from all the people and places that used to mean home to me. I simply wanted to have the chance to walk one more time to my old world so that I could easily welcome the new one.

Plus, I have always wanted to get married in a nice Philippine-made wedding gown. I already know what I wanted, a babydoll dress, so short to be sexy but fit enough to complement my growing stomach. Actually, being pregnant made me feel so sexy that I am ready to experiment with my wedding dress. But I wanted it to be made of indigenouos ethnic materials such as pina or jusi.

Piña fabric is hand woven from pineapple leaves and has a natural ivory color (although it can be dyed). On the other hand, when banana fibers is mixed with silk, the fabric is called jusi.

And marrying in a far away foreign land made me want to show off what I am. I wanted to represent the Philippine woman. Especially since most of our guests, including my future husband, doesnt even know the Philippines!

It was luck that a very good friend, who also arrived from the US, got to meet with me to help me choose my wedding gown. Since he’s a great dresser, I trust his judgement. We met at Rustan’s Shangrila and went through their boutique and immediately found what I wanted in Filipinian section.

I got to try on two jusi dresses from Dita Sandico Ong, both baby doll dresses; it was a real fun and funny experience because my friend, who’s gay — acted like he’s my mom; complete with sentimental gestures, fake tears and loads of ooohs and aaahhhhs. He made all the sales ladies laugh as he insisted on wanting fit some Filipiniana gowns, too! Well, of course, he only tried on the wonderful shawls; he simply cant resist and he’s making me and the people around us laugh, so it’s a welcome side show. I really had fun and would not have shopping for my wedding dress any other way.

Although I know that the Dita Sandico Ong babydoll dress is the right one; we nevertheless searched Patis Tesoro’s boutique for any possible wedding gown ‘candidates’; they have some pretty terno’s but you see, I have already fallen in love with the first dress and there’s no more changing my mind.

my bridal gown

My wedding dress is then a sleeveless babydoll from Dita Sandico Ong made of jusi. It is fitted on the bust and accented by small fine translucent beads around the bust areas. It has a flowing skirt silhouette that introduces some welcome butterfly kisses to my bulging stomache. The shawl is also made of mixed ethic materials with fine beads, too.

I wore my dress with a light colored stockings and a light colored pair of shoes. I also asked my husband to buy a beige or light colored suit despite the fact that almost all formal wedding here has the groom in dark suits. Of course he fitted them, as I tried on my wedding dress. I guess I never really thought about that old superstition that if you tried on your wedding gown, it would not push through because from then on, the preparation went without a hitch.

And oh, we also asked the guest to come in light colored attires. I wanted the wedding to have happy colors and not the dull dark ones.

I was real proud of my wedding dress. I was real proud that I got to introduce my heritage by the simple act of choosing a Philippine-made wedding gown. That made me more a happy bride, feeling like my family’s there with me.

Next, am going to talk about my second wedding dress. Oh yeah, we did got married in Manila, too!

This was first posted here.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dealing with Sickness in the Family and the Kids

The real problem, we thought at that time, was what to do when the opa is admitted to the hospital for his surgery. The real problem would be, what would happen to our oma, who is suffering from early stages of Alzheimer.

She definitely dont want to get out of her house. Which is only natural, as those with Alzheimer tends to stay within the familiar grounds. But before the opa finally was admitted to the hospital, she agreed to be on holiday at her daughter's house.

And so it goes... opa was admitted to the hospital and oma stayed at her daughter's place.But the next day, she wanted to go home and wont hear about anything else. She even started being physical; and draining herself in the process.

My husband came with the girls. Thinking that having the girls would have a calming effect and since the girls' have been asking about the oma -- my husband brought the kids there.

And they heard and witnessed almost everything. They tried to shelter them, but kids are clever than we think. MC said nothing at first, and then she started asking question pertaining the oma. And she's really disturbed and she even cried on what's happening. Everything confused her, especially the time when oma even asked her who she is. Until now, MC cant get over the fact that oma forgot who she is!

It came clear when she started walking in her sleep; and disturbing almost everything on her path... on her talking on her sleep and on her coming to us in the middle of the night and while still asleep chatting a mile a minute. As for IC, she was running a high fever after a few days. It dawned on us that it was a wrong decision to let the kids witness some things.

So here is some advices about dealing with family emergencies and helping the kids to deal with them:

1. Explain to the kids, in simple words, what is really happening.
We told the kids that opa would be having an operation. That he would be in the hospital for a long time because he would be 'repaired' so he would get better. And that oma would have a holiday at their Tante's house.

2. Tell them there would be some changes. Both grandparents would not be at home; meaning, they wouldnt be able to visit oma and opa at their own house for a short time. No more lunch dates nor short hellos.

3. Talk to them. If they have questions, try to answer them as simple as possible. Try not to avoid those questions. There is a big chance that those questions came out because they heard and they feel something is not right.

4. Comfort them. Always give them reassurances that everything are being done for the good of those affected. And dont forget to be generous with your hugs and kisses.

5. Update them. Yes, give them the news as they come. I know they needed to know what is happening. MC would always be the one running to the telephone everytime the phone rings and she wont step out of the room until I told her what was the conversation all about.

6. Shield them from 'heavy dramas'. There are somethings that are simply too much for the kids. Ask them to play outside or take them someplace else if you know something disturbingis and would be taking place taking place.

7. Continue with your normal schedules. Although opa is in the hospital, we never skipped a day, celebrating our town feast with the kids. It's been a tradition to be there, all four days, with the kids; and opa even gave the kids money for the rides. And yes, the kindergarten schedule and playtime schedule of the kids were followed, too.

8. Take a break. When everything is almost back to normal, go for a vacation with the whole family. It is time to relax and to give yourself a break and de-stress. A short one is enough, what is important is that; you give time for the family.

Everything is almost back to normal with us. And I hope and pray it would remain that way for a long time.


We would be celebrating our 7th year anniversary as a couple, tomorrow!

I am so excited, I forgot to buy my husband a gift (as usual). Well, of course I know the date.. my husband's been talking about it since last month as he's doing the reservation for our special date; but I only realized I needed something to give him last night.

Think. Think. Think.

IC's recovering from fever so I cant get out today. And then an idea -- I told the kids to help me create a gift certificate for Papa. Well, a few snip snap, a glue and some colored pens and my gift is finished :)

The kids' are so excited about tomorrow; a wedding anniversary is just like a wedding ceremony on their minds. I told them the ceremony is finished, we are simply celebrating more love.

IC's question stopped me, 'Mama, does it mean we would be having another baby?' Whoaahhhh! Where did she get that idea? But then she asked again, 'would we need to look for a new home?'

I think she's associating the wedding anniversary to the stories we told on how after we got married; that I found a new home in Germany and then followed by giving birth to two girls.

I explained to her that no, there would be no more babies and that we would be staying in our home now -- but that we could look forward to more fun things to do and more fun places to visit and more fun dates with each other.

Friday, August 8, 2008

MC's Last Day in Kindergarten

She entered kindergarten early 2004 and late 2008, she said goodbye as she would be going to school after the summer break.

Yes, today was her last night in kindergarten. It is a big day for us. Papa took a leave from the office as he wanted to bring MC to kindergarten for the last time.

The only thing is, IC's feverish. Thus I stayed home to tend to IC and Papa took MC to kindergarten. I wanted to share this day, too -- but IC needed me so I gave the Papa the chance to have the day.

I already told MC that she would need to pack all her things as she would not be coming back to kindergarten after the summer break: her gym things, her rain jacket, her rubber boots, her pair of house shoes and whatever she's got inside her kindergarten drawer. She's already finished passing around her friendship book -- most of her friends and most of the teachers have already left their marks in the book for her. That friendship book is a great souvenir!

She's got her kindergarten folder -- enlosed inside were almost all of her artworks and crafts done from 2004 to 2008. There were also some photos especially those times when she celebrated her birthdays in kindergarten. It was funny when she opened it. For she couldnt believe she used to draw such 'kriddle kraddles' only :)
MC and IC curious about the kindergarten folder
Oh there a lot of things I need to share about her preschool days in kindergarten -- soon :)

I asked her tonight how she felt leaving kindergarten; she simply shrugged her shoulder and said, 'I dont know. I think I would be coming back to kindergarten as IC is still there.'

Well, she is right, of course :) Although she cant hide that proud tilt of her head, and that smile that says, 'I am going to school.'

On Weddings and Friendships

Today is 08/08/08 and like most of the good numbered dates -- people in love flock the churches and the city halls for weddings; and this is also true for a close friend. Today is the wedding day of one of my good friends, B.

Oh yeah, she's had her civil wedding in Manila last year; within a close circle of family only, her family. I learned about it from a friend, too, after the ceremony. Crazy to know it a little later, after all, we used to plan our 'weddings' before we even found anybody to wed us :)

And now that she's in Canada with her husband, they are again celebrating their togetherness with a wedding; this time with her family and her husband's family. I dont really know anything about her wedding plans -- dont even know about the color of her dress, if there would be flower girls and an entourage; where the reception would be; what church. I really know, huh - why not, you ask me?

Because what I really care about is that she's finally found someone to love and to love her unconditionally. I havent even met the guy that is now holding her hands; that is giving her warm embraces; that is giving her 'those looks' -- all I know is that she is with someone who deserves her love and who deserves to love her in return. All I want to know is that she is happy with him. And in love with him.

Of course I am sad that I am not there to help her prepare for the wedding. To go around and look for the right dress, the right pair of shoes, the right make up, the right hair style.. whatever! I am disappointed that I am not there to throw her a shower party. I am sad that I wouldnt be there to watch her march the aisle. I am mad that I wouldnt be there at the reception to tell everyone what some 'nasty rumors' about her are true, hehehe. Well, who am I to rant when you were also not here with me when I got married; but at least you were present during our Manila wedding :)

But you know what, as I said, we used to plan our weddings before; right down to the date and the time; plus of course, the list of candidates :) And that's enough for me. We shared our wedding dreams; actually, we shared even our deepest secrets and that is good enough. We have a friendship that I know would last forever - despite the long distance.

Thus, my wedding gift for both of you -- unconditional friendship sprinkled with great memories and filled with happiness and love. Today, we are thinking of both of you.

B and K, be happy both of you. I am sure you're being together is a blessing from Him.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Watch out for Those Egg Surprises

I dont know about you but I am really surprised with what I just learned.

I was opening my email when I glimpsed the news about the possible banning of Ferrero's 'Überraschungseie' (Egg Surprises) from stores in Deustchland.

For those not informed -- Egg Surprises are chocolate eggs that have hidden suprises placed inside an oval shaped capsule. Since the egg is small, about the size of a hen's egg; you could imagine how small the toys would be. Most of the suprises are even needed to be assembled by an adult. And though the label states the egg is not suitable for kids under three years of age, guess who gets to receive most of these eggs? Yup, those kids who arent supposed to be playing with those tiny toys that are really chocking hazards.

In fact, I am guilty about giving these eggs to the kids, too. Since these eggs are arranged mostly near the check out counters of most stores; the kids could easily sneak in a piece or two; just a short question, 'mama, would this be okay?' And a short nod; they've got these chocking hazards in the hands. Never really thought about that, arrrgh!

I tried to research for an English version of the news and found this. I was really shocked to learn that these egg surprises have been banned since 2006 in the US. And why are they only banning this favorite thing in Deustland only now?

Apparently because of the new EU rule that bans a mixture of food and toys in one package! Not really because of the hazard it possess. That means, no more toys inside those cereal boxes, too. And yes, be informed: it is not only Ferrero who sells these egg surprises as you would also see them as Sponge Bob, Kim Possible, Hello Kitty, Barbie among others.

Well, I have enough. I used to add these eggs as extra gifts to kids and even as loots and as prizes for birthdays; but not anymore. I hope you are warned, too.

Photo from US CPSC.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hurra, der opa ist da!

Hurray, the opa is back home!
Look at the happy faces of oma and opa. I took this photo this evening. It's as if nothing major happened. And I am glad everything seems to be well. I am sure oma and opa is really happy to be together again; and we are ecstatic that they are together again.

But let me tell you first about yesterday.

MC was a happly but little bit offended yesterday when she heard that opa's coming home today. It turned out that papa promised to bring her to the hospital for a visit.

Since we were not really sure if kids are allowed to visit that ward, we didnt really asked. I for one, havent even visited him; since I was sick the whole time that opa was in the hospital. And though we talked to him on the phone, a visit would be something else.

On an impulse, I asked my husband to call and ask if the kids are acome. When the answer was yes; we picked my husband at the train station and drove to the hospital. And here are some photos to share:
To be frank with you, I was really amazed that opa is up on his feet. He's really fit and in a good mood. In fact, I wouldnt know we are visiting him in a hospital after a major surgery; and he showed me where it was and the cut was really huge -- if not for the smell and the beds! He's raring to go home.
Let me let you, he was operated on last Thursday only. And here I am, with my sickness that caught me that very same day, still making me a bit tipsy most of the times. I should be really ashamed of myself. In fact, opa asked me first if I am okay! What an amazing recovery for our 87 year old opa!

I guess it helps that opa is a very active man, being old doesnt stop him from cultivating his own huge garden of fruits and vegetables. He is always on his hands and feet, doing something. Always busy. And he does love to go on holidays driving with the oma; meeting some of his soldier friends.

And of course, having his love of his life, the oma; holding his hands all through out all their journeys in life is a big factor in creating a happy and healthy life for him. Plus of course, the grandchildren who make him feel younger and his children who hopefully, could provide him some of his extra needs :)

Thank you very much for all those who prayed for our family. God bless us all.

P.S. Noticed the girls' are with face paintings; they had a party in kindergarten today!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dear Oma

Dear Oma, please dont cook alone, wait for me or for my mama to help you

Dear Oma, please dont cry in front of me, I dont really know what to do and it hurts me to see you crying

Dear Oma, why do you keep on asking where the opa is? I already told you a hundred times and more that he is in the hospital.

Dear Oma, why do you always want to go home? Dont you know it is better if you are with us and not all alone?

Dear Oma, you could stay with us, I promise I will take care of you

Dear Oma, please drink something, please eat something, please do this for me

Dear Oma, you could also call me if you need something, I am already old enough to do things for you

Dear Oma, please hold my hand because I want to show you something someplace

Dear Oma, could you draw me a flower, could you look for the red crayon, could we stay like this doing things together for a long time?

Dear Oma, please walk slowly, please sit down, please rest, please take care of yourself

Dear Oma, could you cook for us that your special noodle with tomato sauce? I could help you, you know

Dear Oma, what are you doing if you are at home and alone? I worry about you

Dear Oma, are you just on the phone with mama? Was it worry or panic I heard in her voice? I want to talk to you, too

Dear Oma, why did you forget who I am this morning? I was with you the whole night and you knew me then

Dear Oma, I am MC, I am MC, I am MC

Dear Oma, Ich hab dich lieb (I love you)

I am sharing some of the running thoughts buzzing around MC's head that she continually bursts out to me while opa is in the hospital and how our oma, who is suffering from acute alzheimer, is coping with all the changes. MC is really very much affected and I think she's also feeling a bit of the stress we are all feeling. But there is good news, opa would be discharged tomorrow and I am feeling much better. And tonight, the kids are allowed to visit him, a surprise visit! I hope and pray everything would run smoothly.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Playtime in the Garden

It is summer time, we need to go outdoors. The kids need fresh air, and a bit of the sun wont hurt. Who said you need to get out of the house to find the perfect playground? Nope, you can actually find the best one in your backyard, assuming that you have the space.

Okay, admittedly, having a swing, a seesaw and a slide would be the perfect childhood playground dream scenario; but you could skip that and have the kids enjoy the outdoors, too.

Here's some simple outdoor home playground tips:

- Sandbox: If you want an almost no-cost sandbox; check out the woods for discarded tree branches that could be used to create the sitting borders of the box. You would need four branches, try to cut them into the same sizes. Then lay them in the form of a square. You can tie the branches together with a strong rope or nail them together or just pound them hard into the soil. If you want, you could use a thick plastic as flooring before pouring the play sand into it. Buy enough play sand to fill the sandbox. And dont forget the sandbox accessories: pail, spades, forms, etc.

- Tent - Buy one of those kiddie tents and set them up in the garden or even in the balcony. It would be a good hiding place or picnic area for the kids. My kids love to sit inside and play make believe games.

- Dancing Flower - This Dancing Flower reinvented getting wet in a fun way. The first thing to do is make sure that the rod is firmly stuck on the ground. Then you need to screw a water hose to the noozle, and presto -- the pressure of the water would bring the wiggly plastic water head to dance. You wouldnt really know where the flower would turn. Better let the kids run around with their bathing suits though.

- Picnic Blanket - As the name suggests, why not a picnic in the backyard? Spread your picnic blanket and bring the chow out. Chopped refreshing fruits: nectarines, strawberries, bananas, etc. would do the trick. But cookies and hotdog sticks would do, too. And please dont forget the ice cream.

- Wadding pool or a big 'batya' -- Invest in a small wadding pool. Or you can take out the big mouthed 'batya'. Fill it up with water, and presto, you have water fun for the kids. Use clean water only. And dont leave the kids alone, it is better to be safe...

- Water Slide - This is becoming a popular water fun attraction, but you would need enough space to really enjoy it. Better watch out for the kids, too; especially when the playmates are a mix of toddlers and teenies. Getting wild in a becoming too slippery surface sometimes ends up with more cries of pain, than cries of pleasure.

And some more tips: before sending the kids to play outdoors, dont forget to use sun block lotion. Let them put on their hats or caps when the sun is high; or better yet, avoid going out under the sun between 10 am - 2 pm. Or when this cannot be prevented, place the fun accessories in a place that gets more shade such as under the trees. You can also use beach umbrellas to provide more shades. And make sure that the kids get to drink a lot, we want them fit and healthy for the summer, too.

This article was first posted at PMN: Home and Garden.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Am Sooo Sick

But despite being sick, I need to stand up early in the morning to help the kids get ready for kindergarten, to bring them to kindergarten and to pick them up.

In between those times, I would try to work on the laundry and the dishwasher; though I would simply love to curl up in bed. And not to forget, even though I cannot eat; I have to prepare meals for my family.

Oh, I miss my mom!

Good thing I've a great husband who decided to go home from work early last Friday so he could take care of the grocery and dinner and of me :)

Good thing the kids realized how sick I am and tried very hard to be good girls as they played quietly and became my errands girls.

But still, I miss my mom.