Saturday, December 31, 2005

Thoughts and Thanks on the New Year

Ever since I could remember, New Years Eve celebrations have always been a big thing in my family, oftentimes bigger then Christmas. There would always be parties, parlor games and lots and lots of food. We would get together with our neighbors, our extended family to celebrate the coming of the new year. During the evening, there would be parlor games for us kids, lots of food and as midnight rolled along, fireworks.

These past few years, my New Year's celebrations have been low key. It's all different now living in another country and having no close family to celebrate New Year's Eve. We'd usually end up watching the fireworks on TV after a quiet ( relatively! ) dinner with the kids. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Sure, it's not as noisy as I am used to but it's still meaningful. The relative quiet gives me time to reflect on the past year and the blessings that we have been given and before 2005 ends, I'd like to put those down.

We're very grateful first and foremost for the good health and well being of the kids. It's not easy raising a family relatively on our own but somehow we manage and dare I say, thrive. Both the boy and girl are growing to be happy, healthy kids and we feel so blessed for that.

Work has been extremely good to me, personally. It's not like I struck it big time but I'm lucky to have a job that affords me the flexibility to be with the family more and to be financially rewarding as well. Meme also has tried working the early part of the year and it's good to know that she can always go back to it if we need to.

I'd to thank my wife for being there for all of us when we need her. For caring of not just the 2 kids but me as well, the biggest kid of all. Thanks mahal!

Beyond that, I'm happy that my own family are mostly together in the US. You guys, I'm glad that you're all together there and supporting each other. It's not easy starting again in a new country but it's good that you have each other to lean on.

Another blessing I shouldn't forget has been my bro becoming a full fledged doctor. He's starting a career ( kuno ) in the Philippines and I wish him all the success in the future.

So, I'll end this last entry for 2005 now. I see the fireworks are about to start on TV and the kids are tearing me away from the computer. Time to focus on what's important.

Happy New Year All!

Christmas All Over Again!

Just a couple of days ago we received a package from the grandparents in the US. It was like Christmas morning again! The kids were eagerly waiting for us to open the big box and they weren't dissapointed. There were a lot of gifts and they just adored the presents they got.

Thanks for the package, we really appreciate it! Click here for more pictures!
Christmas morning again!

You're Number 1!

Learning to share again!

Nice earrings!

Open this now!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

City Sights

It was still a holiday on Tuesday so the family decided to visit the city. Ever since my daughter visited the museum she has been very insistent that the boys ( her brother and I ) go and see it too and we thought this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

Most of the city shops and malls were still closed because of the holiday ( yes, I know, malls closed on a holiday! How quaint! ) but Adelaide's more cultured attractions like the State Library, Art Gallery and Museum were still open.

Adelaide, unlike a lot of cities, was planned from the very beginning. The city itself is laid out in a square a mile wide crossed by neatly laid out streets. It's bounded on all sides by parks and rivers which provide a ring of nature around an otherwise concrete city. The museum and other such buildings are situated in the northern part of Adelaide.

A short drive from our house brought us into Adelaide and after we found parking, we went to have brunch at the pancake house, an Adelaide institution that serves some of the best pancakes around. The kids loved the strawberry milks they served and our daughter enjoyed the chocolate smothered pancake she ordered. Myself, I had a traditional pancake breakfast complete with bacon and eggs and the wife had something with bananas on it. Unfortunately, the boy was a bit restless and didn't want to have any of the pancakes and spent the time just being sulky and crying a bit.

At any rate, we finished up and a short walk later we were at the museum. That area has been recently refurbished so the pedestrian walkways into the museum, library and art gallery were all spruced up and they looked extremely nice.

At the museum, our girl ( who was there before ) was all excited and started telling us where we should go first. She made sure that we got to see dinosaur bones and some of the stuffed animals that the saw the first time. However, she made extremely sure that we skipped the mummy and Egyptian exhibit as she thought that it was too scary for her.

We spent some time just wandering around the place looking at the exhibits and getting the kids to try some of the more hands on displays. It wasn't too long that we thought we'd seen enough and we set for home.

Before going home, though, I went and took them to my comic book shop to collect my order of comics for the month. Which to me, was the highlight of my day!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Looks Familiar

And one more thing...

When the boy was running along the sand with his towel and hood on, he looked very familiar to us. What do you think? :)

Boxing Day Photos

You can click on photos for larger images.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Boxing Day at the Beach

Here in Australia, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas and is also an official holiday. Some say its for 'boxing up' the unwanted gifts you got on Xmas day. Others say its just a day to recover from your Xmas celebrations. Lately, the shops use it as a day of great sales. Therefore, its is now a tradition of shopping for the ladies, men staying home watching TV and the kids playing with their new toys.

However, we chose to start our own tradition on this day. We go to the beach! Its the best time really, not much people around so we can even get really good parking spots. We started going about 3 years ago when Nico was just a baby and we struggled to push the pram into the sand! In hindsight, that was really crazy. Last year we brought along some sand toys so we spent some time playing in the sand. The kids had so much fun playing with the sand that they asked us to bring home a bag full of sand!

This year, we did not have to bring the pram as Nico was big enough to walk with us. It was funny though that we saw another family struggling to push their pram in the sand. Also, we finally braved the cold waters! Bianca was very keen on getting into the water this time. However, Nico was not .... as soon as he saw the waves coming in towards him he pointed towards the shore saying "That Way!". He wanted me to take him back to shore where the waves will not reach him. However, after showing him that he could stomp and splash his way into the water, he stayed a bit longer in the water.

We all splashed around for a while, until we felt a bit cold. At this point, we made sand castles. Bianca made a big sand castle and decorated it with shells that she collected in the beach. She also asked if she could make a sand angel, just like she'd seen on TV. And so she did, and Nico gamely copied her even though the sand was getting into his eyes!

For lunch, we took our picnic rug out of the sand and into the park near the playground. We just ordered some of the traditional aussie summer food - fish and chips. When our food arrived, the kids we so hungry it was not hard to convince them to leave the playground for a while and have their lunch .... that was a pleasant surprise! After lunch, Bianca wanted to go back to the playground to 'make room for dessert. A few minutes later, she was back and we got her a nice cool ice block. Perfect for this nice summer day that we choose to spend at the beach each and every year.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Photography Attempt #2

Nico's Shots
Originally uploaded by chazzvid.
The boy was getting restless during Christmas Eve mass and to quiet him down, one of the things I did was give him the camera, hoping it would distract him. Big mistake! He began taking random shots at the people around him, with the flash going off every few seconds.

He really enjoyed it and the people around him didn't seem to mind judging from the smiles they gave.

I guess we have a budding photographer in our hands.

Merry Christmas 2005

Christmas morning came and went, the kids eagerly opened up their presents and had fun playing for the most part. We got the kids a few presents but our relatives in the Philippines also sent them a lot more, thanks very much!

We were also able to hook up my family in the US with a live webcam feed of the the whole event so it was nice of them to be able to share that little moment of joy with us and the kids.

After that, the whole day was just spent at home, the kids with their toys and gifts ( which they played probably for over 2 hours only! hehhe ) and just us parents chilling out.

The kids are still trying their best to play together. The little boy still hasn't gotten the concept of sharing well. It's a good thing that his big sister knows this and is really very patient with him. But when they do share in things, it's such a nice sight to see. I guess we just have to keep at it and constantly remind and teach them that sharing is always a good thing.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

And I'm dead tired. It's been a very very busy day and it's not over yet.

We were having friends over for lunch and we actually started cooking last night so we didn't have to be rushed in the morning. The day started early as I had to get up first thing and pick up some prawns from the seafood market a few minutes across town. I had to get there early because everyone was likely to have prawns or seafood for Christmas. I was there at 7:30 and the parking lot was already packed. Inside, there was already a queue for customers with more people coming in by the minute. It was a good thing that I came when I did as I was served relatively quickly and got home before 8. That was menu item #1 taken care of.

At home, I then got to work to cooking menu item #2, pancit canton. I chopped and prepared the ingredients while the wife finished the chicken pastel we started cooking last night, menu item#$3. She already done her leche flan yesterday so that was dessert already in the bag as well. Before 11AM, we already had lunch ready and waiting, which is quite a record for us considering we don't have guests very often.

The kids were not exactly in the most cooperative of moods all morning, as they constantly quarreled about toys and computer game playing time. Anyway, lunch went off without a hitch and it was nice to meet those friends of ours again. The kids were mostly cooperative but as kids are wont to do during get togethers, they really didn't eat much, preferring to play with our friends' daughter.

Our friends left around 4PM and we had to get ready to go to Christmas Eve mass at 6. This time, the kids were already sleepy and cranky and by virtue of that were quite unruly and restless during mass. We had to do our usual distraction techniques to get us through the whole mass with our wits intact. We saw some friends after mass and stopped to chat but by then, it was already 7:30PM and we knew the kids were dying to get home.

When we arrived, we had to quickly feed the kids a little something before bundling them off to bed at 8PM. There was no great fuss to go to bed this time because they knew that when they wake up tomorrow, presents would be waiting.

That is, the presents would be there if we could set them up in time! We have to spend the next few hours assembling some of the gifts we bought for them and probably wrapping up a few as well. After all that, I think Noche Buena is out of the question. :)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Twas the Week Before Christmas...

And we've been very busy. School holidays have started and the wife has been trying to kids occupied all day and every day. We're still in the midst of wrapping presents and planning a small pre-Christmas lunch with friends.

Work has been busy of late. With people going on leave, a lot of stuff needed to be finished before the Christmas break. Here in Oz, we've got Christmas and Boxing day holidays so ( with Christmas being on a Sunday ) we've got Monday and Tuesday off.

What I'm trying to say is that we've been too busy to blog this past week! :)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Kindy Christmas Concert

The end of Bianca's kindergarten (or kindy) year was marked with a Christmas concert for all of us parents, friends and other relatives. The kids have been working on their acts for quite some time now, counting the number of sleeps before the all-important concert. Bianca even revealed a few days ago that she will be playing the part of an angel. This being her first concert, I think I was more excited than she was.

When we got there this morning for the concert, I saw a glimpse of her in the window. She was wearing a while angel's costume, complete with a big white dress, a silver tinsel tiara and wings. She was sooo cute! She saw me and gave me a big wave. Now I was really excited to see the concert.

A few minutes later, all the kids came out in front of this eager and excited audience. When they were in their right positions, the teacher called Bianca over and started whispering something to her. Bianca then said in a loud voice 'Welcome everyone ... we hope you enjoy our concert!'. Now that was a pleasant surprise, for her to be chosen to do that must have made her feel special. I know it made me so proud of her, that I forgot to take photos of that memorable moment!

They kids proceeded to sing 'Three Wise Men" and while other kids dressed appropriately acted it out in front. At the end of that song, they sang 'Jingle Bells' and Santa Claus made an appearance going out of a pretend chimney together with his reindeers and helpers. They sang and danced a couple more Xmas songs until Bianca was taken aside by the teacher again to make one final announcement saying "This will be our last dance, thank you for coming and we hope you enjoyed our concert". Now I did not see that one coming either, so again ... no photos!

Needless to say, we are so proud of our little girl. It gave me a different kind of thrill to see her perform ... I just hope I won't turn out to be one of those stage moms!

Friday, December 16, 2005


One advantage ( or disadvantage ) about working with computers and being with computers in my spare time is that I inevitably pass on my habits to my kids. They are both very proficient with the computer now and are heavier computer users than their mother. To illustrate, our kids were able to use the mouse at age 2 and surf websites six months later. I think they learned how to type their names first on the keyboard before learning to write.

Lately, our son has taken to hogging the computer most days leaving my wife with no recourse sometimes but to lock him out of the room. He generally doesn't like it and throws tantrums if he can't use the computer. Even when his favourite TV shows are on, he'd rather play and surf. When it's meal time or dinner time and he's in front of the computer, we have to carry him out kicking and screaming. Before, he would be satisfied with just sitting on our laps while we use the computer. Now, he just grabs the mouse and takes control whenever he wants.

He surfs like a pro these days. He knows how to navigate the bookmarks to places like Sesame Street, Noggin, The Wiggles or ABC Kids. His sister is also an expert and both of them spend quite a lot time playing the games together, partners in crime! I have to say though that the quality of these kid websites are really good and they do offer a lot of educational material. Stuff like puzzles, reading, counting and number games both entertain and teach them the basics.

Ok, I better finish this quickly cause I can hear the boy coming, I think he wants his time on the computer again!

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Originally uploaded by chazzvid.
Here's Nico waiting patiently for Santa to call his name from the "nice" list. Aint that cute?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Kindy Report Card For Posterity

It's the first report card so forgive us if we feel like sharing. :)

The First Report Card

This week is our daughter's last week at kindergarten and her teachers have given us a sort of report card on how she has fared this past four school terms. It was not without a bit of pride and joy that we read through what the teacher had written down about our girl.

Bianca has had a busy time at Pre-school. She has accessed a wide variety of activities, particularly enjoying the Art/Craft activities. She is able to follow through simple instructions and work on a task independently. Her happy, friendly nature has endeared her to many of her peers during her time at kindy.

Bianca has advanced literacy skills. She can recognise all the letters of the alphabet as well as a large number of sight words, and has developed excellent word attack skills. She is an articulate child who enjoys conversing with others. Bianca is and attentive listener who is able to contribute confidently and appropriately to our group discussions.

Bianca is able write her own name and can trace, colour and cut neatly. She applies herself well to set tasks and is always keen to share her work with others. Bianca has accessed the outdoor environment with enthusiasm and imagination. Her gross motor skills are developing well.

Bianca is a responsible, co-operative child. She is always willing to help others and has been a good role model for her peers. She is looking forward to school and we know she will make a valuable class member. Bianca has been an absolute pleasure to teach and we wish her all the very best as she begins her new adventure at school.

I'd like to think we had a little something to do with that. :)

We're so very proud of her and what she has accomplished so far. It may not be much and the assesment may be the same for most of her class but I do hope this sets her up to do well in school next year.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Salvation Army Christmas

We got invited to go to our local Salvation Army's kids Christmas celebration today. My wife brings our kids to the Salvos playgroup regularly these past few years and we never fail to go to these Christmas celebrations. It was nothing fancy, just merely a chance for us to join in the kids songs and watch them perform. There was a nativity scene presentation as well as visit from Santa Claus. I guess it's merely a way for the Salvos to show appreciation to all the kids and families that join in their fellowship this past year.

The kids had fun getting pressies from Santa and playing with some of their friends. Bianca got a set of ballerina stationery which she really liked because she said that Santa knew she wanted to be a ballerina. Nico got a book which I know he'll learn to read someday. In the meantime, he was just happy to run around with the children.

As kids, even the littlest things really are well appreciated.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Reading Excellence

Bianca's teacher at kindergarten came up to me today to tell me that Bianca is doing very well with her reading skills. She mentioned that one time Bianca even read out a book to her classmates. Bianca came home with a 'WOW' sticker on her hand that day for this worthy achievement.

Her teacher was so amazed at this that she mentioned this to another teacher in the reception level (or grade 1) and said they were very also impressed. Apparently there are kids much older than her cannot even read that much. She's quite sure that she will be in the advanced level of reading and that the teachers in her next school will be able to pick that up and be able to give her reading materials that will continue challenge her.

My thoughts .... I guess all those nights of reading books to her paid off. So much so that she's reading books like Dr. Seuss' books to me now, and most especially to little brother Nico. Its also rubbing off on Nico who loves to copy her, so now I find him reading books on his own now. Having a love for books and reading is something I've always wanted my kids to have. It feels great to be validated and acknowledged as a good parent and that we are doing right by our kids.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Surviving A Wiggles Concert

The family just came back from a very much awaited Wiggles concert. By way of a quick introduction, The Wiggles are a group of four middle aged guys in skivvies who are the most popular children's act that Australia has ever produced. Their simple songs and dances have spawned countless TV shows, videos, DVD's, CD's and books. They started out as musicians with degrees in early childhood education and they've been able to turn their hobby and passion into something that's endearing not just to Aussie kids but to kids around the globe. They've been at it so successfully for over 13 years that they were listed last year as the Australia's richest entertainers and biggest export to the world.

I don't know what it is about these Wiggles but the first time my kids have heard their songs and watched their videos, they were hooked. I mean, hooked! They would stop whatever they were doing, whether playing with toys or eating their food and just watched these 4 guys on the TV doing a simple song about Hot Potatoes or Fruit Salad! It was like my kids were hypnotised or something. We find that a sure fire way of keeping our kids quiet and entertained for a while was always to put on a Wiggles video. We've done this so often all of us now know all the words and actions to all sorts of songs the Wiggles have ever sung!

So, naturally, when we found out that the Wiggles were having a concert here in Adelaide, we figured that now was the best time to go. The boy was already old enough to understand what was going on and the girl would be simply thrilled. After buying the tickets a month ago, and counting down the days till the big event, the day arrived and we finally found ourselves right smack in the amidst hundreds of screaming fans. I tell you, those Wiggles are like the Beatles for the kindergarten set.

Things weren't quite as peachy in the beginning though. Unfortunately, one of the Wiggles, Greg, couldn't make it to the Adelaide show because of illness and a replacement had to be brought in. Now, Greg has always been our daughter's favourite. Even before the show, she was telling us that she was excited to see Greg because he was the singer of the group and she like him because she sang songs as well.

When the announcement came over the loudspeakers that Greg was not going to be appearing, our poor little girl was crushed. She was so looking forward to seeing Greg that she seemed almost heartbroken when he didn't show. We tried our best to cheer her up, telling her that we'd be writing to Greg to get well soon and all that but she was on the verge of tears for almost thirty minutes. She refused even to watch the show at one point. It took some time but the Wiggles songs and the dances slowly wove their magic on her and soon enough, she was clapping and laughing and stomping her feet with the rest of them. It was a big relief for us because we didn't want her first Wiggles concert experience to be a big disappointment.

The boy, on the other hand, was not disappointed in the least. From start to finish, he was waving and dancing and singing to almost every one of the songs they sung. He was thrilled and enthralled by everything. From the Wiggle's Big Red Car, to the big balloon of Murray Wiggle, to the dancing and the obligatory Santa Claus appearance. He was fun to watch considering a few kids around us were already getting antsy halfway through the concert.

Overall, the concert was great, but a few things we should remember next time we decide to watch another Wiggles concert.

1. Book tickets early. Tickets were on sale since July 1 this year. When I booked the tickets a month ago, all they had available were seats in the nosebleed section. It wasn't too bad, but you do want better seats so your kids can at least see their idols up close. ( ok, ok, our idols too ! ). Ticket prices are surprisingly affordable and all tickets are priced the same no matter where you are seated. So, it's just a matter of getting in early.

2. Bring cash. And lots of it. The stuff that your kids ( and yourself ) would like to get after the show cost a mint. T-shirts, balloons, Wiggles toys etc. are available before and after the concert. If you want to get in and out of the ever lengthening queue, bring cash.

3. Go to the toilets before the show starts. 'nuff said.

4. Bring snacks and drinks. The kids get tired after all that wiggling.

5. Handle disappointments. That thing with Greg threw us for a loop. Just be prepared for extra cuddles and to do everything you can to keep your kid from bawling their eyes out.

6. Prepare to get up and dance. I admit that the Wiggles are infectious and you do would want to stand and get into the act with your kids now and again. Keeps us parents young.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hey Diddle Diddle

Our daughter is quite the craft person. She takes empty boxes, cardboard tubes, egg cartons and lots and lots of paper and makes them into trees, cars, flowers and anything she can think of. Of course, she quite a mess but the creations she comes up with are quite amazing works of art ( at least to us her parents! )

She also loves making puppets and puts on shows for us and her brother. It's not much but for a kid of nearly 5, it speaks volumes about her creativity and imagination.

One time, she made up a whole cast of characters for the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle". She made egg carton cat, with blue ears and tail and a star fiddle. She made a cow made up of two old boxes, and a paper cutout of a moon she stuck on the wall. She took an old puppy dog toy, and dressed up a wooden spoon and a paper plate.

We were quite impressed by her show, and I hurriedly took pictures of it. I hope we can keep on encouraging her imagination to grow. Who knows, we might have an budding artist on our hands.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Curioser and Curioser

We were eating today and the daughter started asking a lot of big questions. She first asked where do men come from. At first, we didn't understand the question and I asked her what she meant. She started telling us some men came from mud and that God made men. I agreed with her and said some people say that God made man from mud and shaped them like clay and breath life into them. She was happy with the story for a little while.

Then, out of nowhere came the follow up question. She asked "How do men die?" We were stunned for a second or two as we didn't expect it from the 4 year old. At any rate, we said that some people grow old and some got into accidents. She then said, "We're not old! Then we won't die!" I assured her that we won't die soon and that if we're careful we won't be in any accidents.

She cheerfully accept this and went back to her dinner. My wife and I looked at each other and let out a big sigh and a smile. :)

Gee, we didn't see that one coming!


Do kids just mature faster nowadays? Our daughter is not five yet and the questions she throws at us sometimes leaves me a little flatfooted. I have to think about how to answer them in a way that's easy to grasp for a child. Personally, I feel that the best way is to really talk to her in simple terms and not to sugar coat some of the harder concepts, like death and the uhmm "birds and the bees". I'm not looking forward to the talk but at the rate she's going with her questions we might have to prepare for it sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

That Will Do Pig

For most of us who did not grow up in the country side, the sight of live animals was few and far between. As a child growing up in Manila, the only place to see them was the Manila Zoo for school excursions. By the time I was in college, I remember there was once a petting zoo they set up inside a Makati shopping center where you could feed the rabbits and pet other small animals.

Here in Adelaide, there are people who actually bring these small farm animals to your local kindergarten or playgroup. We had our turn a few weeks ago at our playgroup. On this occasion, the baby farm animals were put into a small enclosure in the parking lot and kids were allowed to roam freely among them. There was a small cow, some chickens, rabbits, piglets, lambs, goats.

Lately, I've noticed that Bianca and Nico have started playing with each other more often, with less fights about who gets what. Bianca is turning out to be a great big sister, she reads him books, do games and puzzles together, teaching him some words. Also, they have learned to work together.

This was pretty evident when they were in the enclosure with the farm animals. As soon as they saw the piglet, they started working together to get the piglet into a corner. At this point they started to take turns in touching the piglet gently. It was a site to behold! A few minutes later, they went their separate ways chasing after other animals. At the end of the day, I was just glad to see them working together (like partners in crime) and get in touch with nature even for just a short moment.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Magic Cave

Another Adelaide tradition that's a sure way to get parents and kids into the holiday mood is the Magic Cave in the city. After the Christmas Pageant and when Santa arrives at the end, he would traditionally heigh off to the Magic Cave where he sits until Christmas. The Cave really is a part of the David Jones shopping center along Rundle Mall and it's basically a place where kids line up to see Santa and have pictures taken. There's a small section with a little carousel and rocking horse rides to entertain the kids. It's all dressed up like a cave in the North Pole with icicles hanging from the roof and displays of reindeer as well as elves hard at work making toys.

We went there last weekend and the place was packed. We went to the city to meet a friend for lunch and by the time we got to shopping center the waiting time to see Santa was over an hour already. It was a good thing that there was no line to get into the carousel and the little horse rides as most parents were really there to take the kids to see Santa.

It all sounds so commercial, isn't it? The department store Santa is cliched to say the least but it didn't really matter to our kids because they were happy with the carousel ride and the girl didn't really want to see Santa, anyway.

Actually, she's probably a little intimidated with the guy in the red suit. I asked her once if she wanted her picture taken with Santa and she emphatically said , "No!". She then said that she liked Santa better when she was asleep and he was there to just give the gifts.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Parent Information Night

Last night, we went to our kid's new school for a new parent information night. The school holds this kind of thing for parents of children who are starting out in the school in the new term. It's meant to introduce the school's background, vision, philosophy, method of teaching, class sizes and teaching policies to the new parents. They also introduce some of the Reception ( which is the equivalent of prep ) teachers to us as well which was also cool.

It was really interesting. Although the wife and I did our research on the school our daughter's going to this new year, it was still a pleasant surprise to find out about this kind of program and it gives us a warm fuzzy to know that our daughter is going to a kind of school that is open and friendly not only to the students but the families as well.

We were glad to see familiar faces from church and the parents of kids who our girl goes to kindergarten with. It was a relief to know that our daughter would have friends right away when she starts reception. We even saw a few Filipino parents and children there as well.

The kids were provided a creche for them to keep busy while the parents sat and listened to the principal and some of the staff talk to us about the programs we were to expect in the school term. I was even pleasantly surprised that they have a buddy system where parents of kids already in the school get to be paired up with the newbie parents to talk, share information and generally just to be able to navigate that first year of school.

Overall it was a good night and as we left, I had a lot of confidence that we chose the right school for our daughter ... and for us as well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dead! Battery That Is...

We had a busy day planned the other day. We were all bringing the girl to kindy and the wife was bringing our son grocery shopping after that. As I was loading up the kids into the car, I noticed that the keyless entry button wasn't working. I thought that was weird at first then I opened the door and put the key in the ignition. Hey, I thought, what happened to the engine lights on the dashboard? Then I glanced at the interior lights and noticed that that the switch was on the "ON" position. Well, that cinches it, battery's dead because the kids were playing with the lights!

We had to change our plans quite a bit that day. And we've learned our lesson. Next time, always check that the lights are off before we lock the car!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Stomach Flu Redux

We had a bit of a scare a couple of nights ago when our girl woke up in the middle of the night and began throwing up. We weren't sure if it was something she ate or if it was the return of that stomach virus. We were up with our poor daughter who seemed to be puking every hour from 3AM until sunrise.

When she was throwing up for what was like for the 5th time, she cried "Please stop!" and it just about broke my heart knowing there was nothing we could do to make it go away. All we could do was hug her and tell her that we were bringing her to see the doctor in the morning.

We went to see our doctor first thing that morning and as expected, he really couldn't prescribe us anything. He just advised us to just give her "prison food", meaning figuratively, bread and water so as not to upset her stomach even more and paracetamol for the pain. He did say ice lollies were ok and that seemed to perk her up.

When we got back home, she promptly had an ice lolly and went to take a nap. When she woke up, we were glad to see that she was feeling quite better and that the worse seemed to be over. At least, the puking stopped. After the first 24 hours without any incident, I began to relax a bit and glad that she was getting back to normal.

It really must have been one of those 24 hour viruses or just something she ate. We can't really be sure but all we know she's fine now and that's what matters to us.

I guess the puking and the doctors visits are all part and parcel of being a parent. One takes the bad with the good and hope that there are more of the latter.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Kids Grow, the Christmas Tree Doesn't

Just a collection of shots of the family putting up the tree these past few years. Funny how time flies when you're having so much fun. ( Click on the photos to see a bigger version )

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Putting Up The Christmas Tree

There was so much Christmas spirit going around after the pageant that we decided to put up the Christmas tree in our home right away. I know this is late by Manila standards where we see decorations and start hearing Christmas carols as early as October. Nevertheless, we decided to make it a tradition from now on that soon after the pageant we will set up the tree.

Now we've only had this tree for about 3 years now. And every year, we always take photos of this event. The first time around, we bought the tree and unpacked it straight away when Bianca was just 2 yrs old and Nico was an infant who was not even crawling! We had to carry Bianca up to put the star.

The next year, Nico was moving around a bit more and enjoyed playing with the big box with the tree. The first time he saw the xmas lights light up he started blowing them thinking they we candles on a birthday cake!

This year, we began by taking out the stuff from the garage. We proceeded by assembling the tree and putting it on the coffee table in one corner of the living room. Next we put on a new set of lights. Followed by the golden tinsel garland, and then finally the ornaments.

The ornaments from last year were just a collection of shiny balls. But this year we had something special to add to this tree. Over the year I secretly collected some of the small soft toys. Most of these toys came with the happy meal we have at McDonalds (e.g. Neopets, Pooh, Sesame Street characters). All up we had about 20 toy ornaments on the tree ... that means a lot of visits to McDonalds! When I took them out of the bag they wanted to play with them again. Good thing I was able to convince her that they will look better on the tree.

And this time, Bianca did not have to be carried to put on the star. She could just stand on the sofa beside the tree and reach for it by herself. Nico this time was a lot more mobile, but was not that interested in helping out with the decorations. He was more interested looking at his reflection in the xmas ball. But when he saw the lights go on the tree, this time he said 'Wow!'.

We can't help but be excited for Christmas seeing it from the kids point of view.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Adelaide Christmas Pageant

The Adelaide Christmas Pageant is an annual tradition here in South Australia which sort of heralds the official start of the Christmas season in Adelaide. The pageant really is a big parade that goes through the city. It has marching bands, clowns and over 50 floats showcasing many Christmas fairytale and fantasy scenes. The last float always has Santa Claus ( aka in Australia as Father Christmas ) to wind it up much like the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. The pageant never fails to delight the kids and not a few adults as well.

For the past two years, we were content to watch the specatacle on TV as the parade wound it's way up Adelaide. This year we decided to go and watch the parade for ourselves knowing the kids would be big enough to enjoy every minute of it.

The parade usual starts to move around 10AM but we thought of going early to avoid the traffic rush, which in Adelaide really means more than 10 cars in front of you at the stop light. We parked near the Adelaide central market and walked to Victoria Square which is in the exact city center. Suprisingly, I was able to get a nice spot not too crowded with people while the girls stood in line for free balloons.

It was only forcast to be a cloudy morning but as we were waiting for the parade to start, we could feel a little bit of drizzle. We huddled under the umbrella and the boy started going "Oh No! Rain!". I told him to keep on saying "Rain! Go Away!" which he did, diligently. Soon enough, the rain stopped and the parade began.

As the clowns and marching bands moved into view, I could see my daughter's face light up. She has seen this parade once before but she was stil small then, too young to remember. This time, she was watching everything so intently and after the first few floats went by declared to us that this was the best pageant ever.

Bianca wanted us to take pictures only of the floats she liked. There were some floats she was scared of like the Pirate ship float and the Haunted House. Nico loved the marching bands and would shout "Another one!" when a new band would march up. He would also go "Boom, boom, boom" in time with the drums. Soon enough Santa rolled around and all the kids went wild like he was a rock star or something. This marked the end of the parade and you could see everyone start packing up and leaving after enjoying year of the Christmas Pageant.

The whole affair was extremely well organized with lots of free stuff for kids like balloons, face painting and even bottles of water. They even reserve sections of the parade route specially for disabled kids to have a chance to enjoy the pageant as well. Adelaide being such a small town compared to Sydney or Melbourne, they still know how to organize a big event. I was quite impressed how the street was cleared not 2 hours after the parade with garbage crews and tractors removing barriers and rubbish right away. The streets were all clear and clean by noon and traffic resumed to normal.

After the parade, we met up with a friend for lunch and hang around the Adelaide Central Market for some shopping. It was a good day but it seemed that Bianca was still wanted to do more. As we were going home in the afternoon, she still wanted to play in the park. As if the whole day of parades and shopping wasn't enough for her!


The parade lasted about and hour or so and we later learned that over 300,000 people went to the city to watch it which made for a very big crowd. It seems that it's almost a guarantee that in an event as big as this that kids oftentimes get lost. We saw one kid wandering around after the parade looking for his Mom. Good thing the police were ready for incidents like this and found the parents. Some parents are more prepared and we saw them before the parade writing their mobile phone numbers on their kids arms. This is the first time I've seen it but it seems like a simple and good idea. For our part, we just dressed the kids up in bright colors so they can be easily seen.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Christmas Gifts

With only a few weeks before Christmas, the wife was a little flustered about what to get our kids. We asked our daughter what she wanted Santa to bring her for Christmas. She didn't want to say because she couldn't decide. She reasoned that last year, she didn't tell Santa what she wanted but he gave her the right gift, anyway.

She then said that she knows whatever gift Santa brings her that it's always the right one, like he did last year. So, she then declared she won't be asking Santa for anything because she will like whatever he gives.

It came as a pleasant surprise to us that she was so appreciative of whatever she receives and doesn't seem to ask for anything. We're so glad to have raised our daughter like that. Hope it lasts a few more years.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Dancing at Hungry Jack's

We went out to eat at Hungry Jack's the other day. They had a CD jukebox and while waiting for our food, the kids spontaneously went up to it and danced. The first things we did was take out our mobile phones and took pictures! Ah, the convenience of technology.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Talking Nico

Nico's starting to shed his baby talk and has been enthusiastically been forming his own sentences. A lot of stuff he likes to say a lot like, "Stay here, be right back!" and "This Way!". We think it's a reflection of what we say to him because he says it in the same tone. He also pretends to talk his toys, like putting them to sleep ( "Sleep Now" ) or giving them milk. Sometimes, his own bottle!

When he is frustrated or angry he would do a "Grrr!" and fold his arms or put them on his hips just like a little ( angry ) man.

He often shouts just to get his way. When he wants Bianca to do something, he would shout "Bianca! Stop!" over and over again! This get's Bianca angry as well and he would tell us that Nico was hurting her feelings. Of course, we ask him to say sorry right away and, to his credit, he does it with no hesitation.

He seems to be on his way to reading, as well. There's a book that he likes us to read to him every night called Zaza's Baby Brother, by Lucy Cousins. He is able to read or at least recognize a few words on each page now like "bed", "cuddle" and "baby".

On top of it all, he loves to sing! He's learned he words to some of the songs and actions in Blues Clues, the "I'm a Little Teapot" the nursery rhyme and of course, the Jollibee song!

He's not a baby anymore, he's become our little Man.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sunday at the Doctor's

Sundays are considered the day of worship, rest or recreation for most Filipino families, and we were no exception. We had already planned to go to church in the city and meet up with someone for lunch. However, this did not turn out to be a typical Sunday at all.

Meme woke up today with some pain in her left hand. It's been bothering her these past few days but today seemed particularly excruciating. As it was a Sunday, our regular doctor was not available so we had to hunt for a clinic that was open. There aren't many private doctors clinics that are open on Sundays. The alternative really was to drive to an ER to have a doctor take a look at the hand but we didn't think this was to be considered as much of an emergency. Also, our experience with ER's tells us that it would take more than a few hours to have someone look at you.

Anyway, we found a doctor's surgery that was open. It wasn't too far away and a relatively short ( 45 minute ) wait to be seen. The kids were fine as the clinic had toys and books for them to keep occupied. When the doctor saw us, he wanted to have an x-ray just to be sure. He prescribed some meds and we made an appointment to see him again tomorrow after we get the X-ray done.

The doctor couldn't make up his mind on what it might be and just asked for the x-ray to be taken. It must be like this for Sunday doctors, all business like.

Times like these we wish we could have our family doctors within easy reach. We would have had three of them to choose from.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Kid Funnies Part 5

This afternoon, our daughter goes up to us and says, "I have another rhyming word, Mommy and Daddy!"

"What is it?", we ask.

"Poem and Moem!", she exclaims.

I scratch my head, "What's a moem, Bianca?"

In a matter of fact voice, she answers, "A Moem is like a Poem, only thicker!"

I just had to laugh out loud at her sense of logic. At least she gets what rhyming words are.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Fitting School Uniforms

Our little girl was so excited. We went to her new school the other day to have her fitted for school uniforms. The wife and I of course had no idea what to get her but the lady who was running the uniform service was really nice and showed us what Bianca would be needing for her first year at "real" school.

So far, she's going to get a school frock, a sports uniform, a hat, a school bag and socks. The uniform lady was really great and told us about the better ways to save money on uniforms, like waiting until later to get the winter and summer jumpers. And like getting the shoes prior to school starting so there would be no growth spurt surpises, etc.

We can't get used to the idea that Bianca's only using one set of school uniforms that she would use throughout the week. I suppose we would need to launder it often. It's so much different when we were growing up and we'd have at least 5 sets of uniforms for school and even more. One for each day of the week.

Time really flies. One minute their crawling, the next their going off to school. But I suppose that's really how it is with kids, they do grow no matter how much you try and stop it. All you can do is give them all the support, advice and guidance they need to hopefully help them grow up to be the good persons you want them to be.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Our Kid Can Read!

Our little girl can read now ( she's turning 5 in a couple of months ), not a lot but she's getting really good. She can read her story books and is even insisting on reading herself to sleep lately. We're so proud of her. I would like to think it was all the reading we do and not just because of Sesame Street.

And she reads everything! My wife and her were at the grocery store this morning and she was reading everything off the shelves and at the check out counter. And as we were driving around, she tries to read all the road signs.

I guess this means she'll be the ones to read me the bedtime stories from now on. Can't wait. :)

Nico's Attempts At Photography

Nico went trigger happy with the camera. These are some of the shots he took. More pictures on our Flickr Page

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

So I'm an Aussie Now

After almost 5 years of being a resident of Australia, I finally took the plunge and became an Australian citizen. The process was relatively simple. About a month ago, I started filling up the necessary forms, paid the requisite fee and sat through a quick interview at the Immigration office. Before I knew it, I got approved for citizenship. The last step was to attend a citizenship ceremony where we would take an oath of loyalty to Australia.

I got invited to the citizenship ceremony held at the Port Adelaide-Enfield ( our city district )Town Hall about which is a bit of a drive from our house. We don't go there often and in fact, the last time we were there was for Meme's own citizenship ceremony two years ago. And the funny thing was, on the way there, I took the same wrong turn I took then, which had us going over the Port Adelaide bridge and into an industrial area. Sheepishly, I made a u-turn and got us to the Town Hall with plenty of time to spare.

The kids were initially excited about going out at night but as we sat and waited for all the people to come into the hall and the ceremony to start, they began getting a bit restless in their seats. Meme and I had to do our usual distraction routines like giving them snacks or giving them something to play with. Nico had a ball when he discovered he could work the digital camera. He took quite a few pictures and always saying "Cheese! Camera!" every time he pushed the button.

Bianca did her best to sit quietly though. I tried to explain to her what was going to happen but she couldn't quite grasp the idea of the ceremony. So, I told her that we were all there because Daddy was going to stand up and sing! She took that in stride and she waited patiently for my "performance".

The ceremony was a relatively simple affair unlike the big ceremonies they have during Australia day. On the night, about fifty or so citizenship candidates took turns going up to the front of the hall to take their oath in front of assembled government officials. My kids went with me to the front as we all took our oaths. Although the boy didn't stay too long with me as he ran to his Mom to take the camera from her because he wanted to take the pictures!

After we got our citizenship certificates, we sat down a bit to listen to a couple of speeches and then we all rose to sing the Australian National Anthem and trooped out for some late supper of sandwiches and drinks. It was a bit late when we got home so we got the kids ready for bed and they went straight to sleep without too much of a fuss.

A good way to end my first night of being Australian.


There were a lot of countries represented last night. There were people from the Sudan, Afghanistan, Irish, English, Yugoslavian, Chinese and Malaysian and all with a common desire to become Australian. I have to admit that I don't feel any different yet but being a certified Australian gives a sense of belonging. It's not that I've forever left the Philippines but it makes me, us, feel grounded in this country we now call home.

On another note, as we were leaving the parking lot after the ceremony, we saw the flashing lights of a police car. The officer was pulling over a car for some traffic violation. As we pulled up to the cars, we recognized the driver as one of the people who took the citizenship oath with me! Poor guy, the first act he does as an Australian citizen was to commit a traffic offense.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Telling Stories

We read to our kids all the time, especially at bed time. More often nowadays we tell each other bedtime stories before the kids go to sleep and we find it really fun. We would all gather in either Bianca or Nico's bed and each of us take turns telling a story at the foot of the bed. We make up stories that almost always begins with "Once upon a time" and end in "The End".

Bianca is getting good at making up her stories, and she sometimes tells the traditional fairy tales she's learned in school like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Nico on the other hand just loves the attention when it's his turn to tell a story. Although we can't always understand him, we can make out his "Once time" and "The End". We're always delighted by our kids performances and how they seem to enjoy performing. Well, I suppose, that's what all parents say.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Playful Nico

Originally uploaded by chazzvid.

I like this picture! Nico can be so playful with the camera at times.

The Fire Drill

A couple of days ago, I volunteered to look after my daughter at work while my wife ran a few errands in the city. I figured it wouldn't be too much of a hassle as I only had the one teleconference in the afternoon and Bianca pretty much can keep herself occupied for a while drawing at my desk.

A few minutes into her drawing and into my telecon, the fire alarm rings. Of all the days that I had my daughter in the office, we have a fire drill! This sort of thing happens about once every few months in the office. All the cubicle dwellers start heading out and go down the stairs.

I explained to Bianca what was happening. I told her that it was only a pretend emergency and that it was nothing to worry about but we all had to go out. She then asked, "Even the kids?" and I replied, "Especially the kids!"

As we filed out I could see her face just wide eyed with wonder as she saw all the people waiting in line to get down. She took a look at the stairwell and she exclaimed, "That's a lot of stairs, Daddy!".

I then realised that I had carry her all the way down those stairs. Eight flights of stairs! All the way down, she kept exclaiming how there were so many steps. At level 5, she began the "Are We There Yet?" questions.

Anyway, we made it safe and sound to the first level where her mom was already waiting. Next time I bring my kids to the office, I'll make sure it's a Saturday with no scheduled fire drills. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Girls Day Out

Since Bianca will be going to big school in a couple of months, I rescheduled the week so that I get to spend the whole day with her while Nico was is daycare. This was a "girls day" as she would call it. On some days when I'm feeling tired and need to catch up on housework, we stay at home most of the day and she helps out. On bright sunny days we go to the park, the mall or the hairdresser, then have lunch together.

But today started out bad for me, it was raining and I woke up with a bad headache. Hubby drove Nico to daycare in the morning. As soon as the boys stepped out and Bianca was in front of the TV, I went straight back to bed. A few minutes later, I woke up still light-headed, remembering I had to do some more housework. By mid-morning, I remembered I had to do an errand in the city. And then it occurred to me that this was supposed to be a 'girls day' and I did not plan anything special for my little girl. What was I to do?

And then I had a great idea ..... what if we took a bus to the city, do my errand with her and then do something special with her the rest of the afternoon. Shopping was an option, but I wasn't too sure she'd enjoy that. And then I thought, maybe the museum might be a better place. It was educational and the first time for both of us, and most of all it was all for FREE. At that same moment, my headache disappeared as quickly as the rain clouds vanished. After a quick call to hubby, we made a plan: ride the bus to the city, have lunch with daddy, come with mommy to the errand, go to the museum and then meet up with daddy to go pick up Nico at daycare. Now she was really excited. I tell you, the bright look on her face made my day!

First, I told her we had to walk from our home to the bus stop and ride a bus to go to the city. And after some thought she said, "Hey Mommy, I have a great idea. Let's call the owner of the bus to come pick us up here at home." I had to explain that buses don't work that way , but taxis do at a much higher price. When the bus arrived and we sat down, we started playing a game of "I spy". Soon after that she began the "Are we there yet?" questions until we got to the city.

Next, we had lunch at the food court with Daddy and then we walked all the way to Daddy's office. When we got there I thought of taking her with me during my errand. But hubby offered to take her off my hands so who was I to refuse ?! After the errand and getting a cup of coffee, I went back to pick her up. I arrived at the building only to be told not to enter as there was a fire drill in progress. So Bianca had to go down so many flights of stairs with her Daddy. By the time she reached the lobby, she was so excited to tell me all about it. And then she asks why they had to do that ... we said it was to practice getting out of the building in case there is fire ... so she asks where is the fire ... we say there isn't any, just a pretend fire ... so she asks again " What does a pretend fire look like ?" .... the questions just keep on coming!

At this point we still had a little over an hour to go, so we both headed to the museum taking a short bus ride. When we got there, she was amazed to see the dinosaur bones on display. She also got to see lots of stuffed birds, her favorite would be the 'galah' since it was mostly pink. And then she asks ... 'Are they real birds?' because she noticed they were not moving. Next was the 'discovery' area where they kept the live snakes, lizards and turtles. This time around, she got a bit scared when they started moving behind the glass! By this time she was really full of questions about anything and everything she saw and heard.

Another 30 minutes to go, we decide to head back to Daddy's office. Until we saw that the State Library was just beside the museum. Oh well, I suppose we can spare a few minutes in there to check it out. We went directly to the kid's section where there were a few seats and lots of books for her to read. Some books she could read on her own, others I had to help out a bit. Also noticed there was a video game section with a sign that said '15 minute limit, give priority to children'. I suppose that sign was meant for adults that were 'kids at heart'.

And then end of this, I thought she deserved a treat - her favourite strawberry/bannana smoothie. Armed with these drinks we started walking back to her Daddy's office. A few months ago she would have complained about all the walking and demanded to rest or ride the pram. But I guess this time she's grown up a lot more both physically and mentally.

It was a very busy day, with lots of questions to answer ... but all worth the time and effort. I have no regrets about being a bit spontaneous today and leaving the house full of stuff to clean. All that can wait. Bonding time with my little girl is far more exciting!

Finally it was nearly 5pm now, so we met up with her Daddy as she proceeded to tell him about all the things she saw. Also she mentioned she was a bit tired from all the walking. And then asked him " Daddy , could we have 'Daddy and Bianca's Day' tomorrow?".

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dinner With Friends

We had dinner with friends last night at home. They just migrated to Australia and they were currently visiting their various relatives and friends around here. It's so nice to be able to talk with, I guess some of our peers.

Not a lot of people from the Philippines automatically think of Australia as a migration destination so it's great to be able to talk and relate with them and share experiences. And I suppose, it's also nice to be able to share what we have with them, be it advice or just company.

Dinner was nice. I think we undercooked the roast beef a bit but the lasagna my wife made was excellent. Bianca even insisted in making a recipe of her own, mashed carrots on top of mashed potatoes. She was very eager to serve it to our guests as well and a bit put off when no one wanted to try it at first.

We were pleasantly surprised that the kids were well behaved with our guests around. I guess they were a bit unsure with strangers in the house at night as we've never really had visitors before. I was preparing for the worst that they'd be constantly craving attention but they were great. I'd like to take credit and say we taught them to behave well, heheh.

Bianca had dinner with us while Nico just stayed in his sisters room playing with the computer. I had to check up on him to give him his dinner but he was very well behaved and even shy. Does this mean we can hosts dinner parties now? :)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Kid Funnies Part 4

My daughter and wife were talking about Brisbane and where it was. My wife explained that it was in another state in Australia called Queensland. My daughter then asks, in all innocence "Are there Queens in Queensland, Mommy?" lol

Parks and Playgrounds

Weekends our kids and I often go and spend time at the playgrounds and parks. It's not only fun, it's nice and cheap as well! Adelaide, as do most Australian cities have an abundance of public parks and playgrounds. It's all free and it's a great way to give our kids something to do. We live only a short walk away from a public park. It has a man made lake and lots of open space although it does have an old playground.

A lot of the new subdivisions or residential areas around town have real nice modern parks with real funky looking playground sets that are beyond the traditional swings and slides.

Kids just go wild when it comes to playgrounds, be it modern or traditional. It's a great way to relive old childhood memories. I can still fit in the swings here, heheh. Although these days, I can see a lot of thought and planning have been put into playgrounds. They are so different from when I was growing up. No more hard concrete slides or rusty metal swings I remember playing on when I was in kindergarten. These days it's all plastic and kid safe with rubberized grounds or with wood chips.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

As Pinoy as Jollibee

Since both our kids are born here in Australia, one common question we get from fellow Filipinos is 'Do you teach them to speak Tagalog?'. Apart from a few words like 'mata', 'ilong' , 'ligo' and 'puwet', the kids speak mostly english. Even if they hear us speak Tagalog at home, they do not seem to pick it up as easily as English. Or maybe not yet. After all, sometimes I do not feel like translating every word I say. It is sometimes simpler just to talk in English since that is what they hear all around them in school, daycare, playgroup, TV, etc.

Recently we made a trip to Manila with the kids, Bianca now 4 yrs and Nico at 2 yrs old. The purpose of this trip was to get them to know all other relatives not with us is Adelaide, that means grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousin. It also meant a chance for us to expose them to the pinoy culture that we grew up with. And for us, a big part of growing up was the food, eating out at the malls and window-shopping. One of our favourite places to eat was Jollibee ... so glad this place is still going strong after all these years.

Back in our time, we went there for the yummy burgers, spaghetti, palabok, and mango/peach pies. I frequented so many Jollibee branches, especially in college as it was a good value for money. Nowadays, there are so much more food variety on the menu including rice meals, burger steak, tuna pies. Also, the mango/peach pies now come in a smaller size, really nice for kids hands.

Another notable addition to some of the restaurants were these great play areas which is a big hit with my kids. The play area was quite interesting too, to see how our kids would interact with other kids knowing that there were other kids there that did speak Tagalog. True enough, the language not hinder them from playing and enjoying themselves.

As part of the meals in Jollibee, they were giving these VCDs for kids on the Filipino aphabet, the numbers and shapes. I thought, wow ... what a great way to introduce them to pinoy culture. By the time we got home, we played those VCDs over and other again, they now memorized the words and dance to the music all the time. A few days before our departure, Bianca even felt so bad when we only got 2 out of the 3 VCDs on offer. With the power of text-messaging I texted all my siblings to be on the look-out for this particular VCD in any outlet they may encounter along the way. After all, there were so many branches all over Manila now. Good thing my brother Teddy came up with the goods one night, and my kids were so happy when they saw they had a complete set of VCDs in the morning.

Now that we are back here in Adelaide, they often ask us to play the Jollibee VCDs again and again. One time Bianca asks me, "Mommy, did you have Jollibee when you were a little girl?" . 'Ofcourse I did, and I loved it! ' (A little white lie there as I think Jollibee did not exist when I was her age). And then we proceeded to talk about our favorite foods - burger, spaghetti and peach/ mango pies. And to that she replied ..."Wow mommy, we're the same!". It felt good to know that somehow we exposed them to a part of the Filipino culture that I hope they will remember for a long, long time. Its nice to know these experiences will be one thing we as parents and kids will have in common. They will grow up not knowing what a 'yaya' is, but at least they know what Jollibee means to all of us.

Friday, October 21, 2005


The day before we were supposed to leave the Philippines our son had a very very bad allergic reaction to a peanut butter cookie. Not 5 minutes after eating the small cookie, his face started becoming red, he begun rubbing his tongue something fierce and he started scratching his skin like mad. It was a good thing his Tita recognized that allergy signs and she and my wife drove our son to the clinic in the village.

The doctor there gave him a shot of Benadryl, put him on a nebulizer and they waited until the swelling came down and my son went to sleep. He was still sleeping when they returned him home but his face was still a bit puffy.

He was quite alright that night and back to his lively self, albeit with some swelling. It was still a very scary thing that happened. We've never given him peanuts at all because we always thought it would aggravate his eczema so we never really expected such a nasty reaction.

Needless to say we had to quickly change our flights and push it back a few days. The next day, we went and got an appointment for him with an allergenist. We thought we could do a prick test then and there to determine how bad his allergies were but she suggested we have it done in Australia as the allergens were different here.

Anyway, the first thing we did when we got back home was to get a referral to see a pediatric allergologist. It took as almost more than a month to book an appointment.

Our first visit to the doctor wasn't too bad. We just discussed our son's case to him and he planned out what tests to give. The prick tests came in the next visit. To be honest, it wasn't that bad either. The hard thing was keeping our boy still and he really didn't have any problems with the pricks he got.

The nurse first marked his back with a pen to indicate what allergens should go where. Then his mom and I kept him on his front as the nurse started placing drops of allergens on his skin and lightly scratched it. The nurse was new to the job and it took forever before we were done.

After a few minutes, the bumps started to appear on his back where the pricks were. It was a bit weird to see it and disappointing to finally be hit with the reality that indeed, he had allergies. To a lot of things.

Our boy had an allergic reaction ( marked as 10, I don't know if it's the highest ) to peanuts and a few other things like pollen, moulds and dust mites. He had also mild reactions to prawns and sea food. The good thing though is the doctor didn't advise us to carry epipens. That shot of adrenalin that parents keep handy so their highly allergic children don't die.

I wasn't looking forward to a life of being an epipen carrying parent and it was good to know we wouldn't have to carry it just yet.

SO what does this mean? Well, we really have to keep him away from peanuts. It also means discouraging him from playing on grass or sand for too long as this would aggravate his eczema or skin rashes. We're taking steps to get rid of some of the dust catching stuff in our house like drapes and the carpet. But we think it's worth it so our boy wouldn't have to suffer those damn skin allergies anymore.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Our Philippine Trip: Kids At Play

The kids had the most fun during our last trip and it's hard to keep up with them once they get started. As is normal in Manila, we had to go out almost everyday as there was only so much to do at the house. The kids got a kick out of visiting the malls and doing stuff with their cousin. Their titos and titas were also almost always ready to keep them amused with trips to the local swimming pools and taking them out shopping. Here's just some pictures of what they did during their holiday. More photos on our Flickr page

Arts and crafts, stuff the kids made while in the house.


Fun at the airport

Say it with flowers!

Posing for the Hershey's Promo

Having Fun with cousin Maya