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

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Our Philippine Trip: Christmas in September

Since we were obviously not going to be in the Philippines come Christmas time, my kids' Tita had a great idea to celebrate Christmas while we're there. When we got in from the airport we saw when we got home was the huge Christmas tree all ready and decorated.

The idea was that the Christmas celebration and gift giving was strictly for the kids and one of the first things our daughter did then was to go up and wish on the Christmas tree. She closed her eyes and whispered very intently: "I wish for a bike with bells!". Of course, it would have been very difficult to bring the bike back with us!

As kids are wont to do, during the course of our holiday, the Christmas decorations on the tree slowly slowly got tangled up and taken down by the kids' eager hands. And they were constantly delighted by the gifts under the tree and how it grew in number as their tito's and tita's slowly added gifts under the tree both for them and their cousin.

Christmas night was especially good. The family had lechon and prawns ( oops forgot to take a picture! ) as Noche Buena and the kids couldn't finish their food fast enough as they eagerly awaited the opening of their gifts. When it was time, the kids had so much fun ripping into their presents. The adults were content to just look at how happy the kids were.

All in all a great time was had by all. Now, how to explain to our kids why they wont get any more gifts this Christmas...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

First Medical Exam

Now open wide...!

Our Philippine Trip: Tagaytay

We did a few touristy things this time around. We hied off to a short trip up to Tagaytay. It was a nice day for it too. After a good lunch at Rose and Grace in Sta. Rosa, it was a quick drive up to Tagaytay. We stopped for some horseback riding. The kids had a great time at it. Although when I asked the man if I could join my kid on the horse, the words "no, you can't" didn't leave his mouth fast enough! Ah, the surly horseman! So my kids' Mom and Tita ended up riding with them.

We then went to Taal Vista Lodge for a proper view of the lake. Our daughter was excited because we told her that we were seeing a "sleeping" volcano. She wanted us to be quiet because we might wake it up!

We then spent some time at the Taal Vista coffee shop being entertained by the house band. Or should I say, the house combo. I think they were there strictly for the tourists and we stumped them for requests for kids songs. They were able to do the Alphabet song and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the obligatory Happy Birthday Song for my kids Tita as it was her birthday that day.

On the way back, we stopped for coffee at Sta. Rosa and browsed a few of the outlet stores there. As with most outlet stores, we can't find the sizes we wanted and the selection wasn't really complete. Nonetheless, we were able to buy a few Adidas and Nike gear for cheap.

On south superhighway, my daughter did a nice thing and prayed to God thanking him for the nice day we had. And it was a nice day after all.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Our Philippine Trip: Paging Doctor Vidal

Although our trip back wasn't the best planned trips we ever had, one good thing that happened that I am thankful for was that I was there for my brother as we waited for the results of the medical board exams. I know it was really tough on him waiting like that and I was so glad when we got through that night in one piece.

He arrived in Manila just that afternoon and we were up until late just accessing the website for updates. Between us we downed a few beers and passed the time talking and bonding again as brothers. It got to 11:30 when we figured that the results weren't coming and it would be best to call it a night. Not 15 minutes later, who should call but our sister from the US. She was at the Inquirer website and she saw the results before we did! Of course, we hurriedly got on the 'net, trying not to believe the news until we saw it with our own eyes. After an agonizing wait ( I hate dial up! ) we finally saw the results in black and white! My brother has become a DOCTOR!

It was a great relief for him not just to pass but to see the results finally. After so many years of real work, he finally got to the end of it. Rather, it would be another beginning for him this time. All the best, bro! I love you.

Our Philippine Trip: The Grandparents

No doubt the kids had serious spoilage when they were in the Philippines. Of course, we had to indulge them as they don't see their grandparents very often but any longer in the Philippines and it would take some serious deprogramming to revert the kids back to their normal, unspoiled selves. :)

I guess the Lolo and Lola has fun spoiling the kids as well. Knowing that our daughter loves Jollibee, Lola would bring her some burgers after her morning errands. She did this for her granddaughter almost every other day!

Our son didn't fail to capture his grandparents hearts. People say he's the spitting image of his Lolo. Most probably in this pose as well.

Our Philippine Trip: Getting Haircuts

One of the things we do when we get home is that we get haircuts. It's amazing how expensive haircuts are in this part of the world. That's why we like to take advantage of cheap haircuts in the Philippines. The kids love them too because they get to be extra pampered back home.

He does look so serious, doesn't he?

She loves the shampoo!

Our Philippine Trip: Having a Big Family

There was so much going on in our holiday that it's almost impossible to write down everything that happened. Suffice to say that the kids enjoyed their trip immensely. When it's just us here in Australia, it's difficult for the kids to realise how large a family they actually belong to. Our trip back home lets them appreciate that.

My daughter gives me a broad smile when she says she has a big family. And her eyes just positively light up when I then say that everyone of her family, from her grandparents, uncles and aunties and cousins love her and her brother.

I guess that's one of the many things we miss out on when we're so far away, that feeling of family that comes with living together. I sometimes feel that my kids are being deprived of that.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mommy's first post

First post!

Our Trip Back To The Philippines Part 1

As promised, here is my first entry about our recent trip to the Philippines. We went via Singapore airlines again as we find that it's really one of the better airlines out there. They take great care with kids and we feel that you get a lot of value for your money with them.

Our route would take us from Adelaide direct to Singapore. We'd stay overnight there and on to Manila in the morning. The trip really was uneventful. The kids were really good waiting to board the airplane although I wished we could have experienced the new Adelaide airport before we left.

The plane ride was ok. The kids were manageable for the most part although watching any of the inflight movies was out of the question. Because the kids had allocated seats now, we couldn't get any seats that were together. We ended seating up 3 + 1, three in the window row and 1 in the aisle seat. So, the wife and I had to take turns sitting in the middle of the kids.

As per usual. Singapore airlines food was great. The kids meals were brought on time although the kids hardly ate. Guess who had to finish it up.

We left Adelaide around 1PM and arrived in Singapore 6PM local time. It took a while to get to our hotel. We took the Singapore stop over bus which took forever to reach our destination. And just our luck, our hotel was the last stop! We got there almost 9PM already.

The hotel wasn't really that nice but it was just really a place to sleep. Although even after a nice bath, the kids weren't feeling sleepy at all as they kept jumping on the beds. We ended up ordering room service and feeding them while they were still awake.

Our flight in the morning was an early 9AM so we had to wake up before 6AM to get ready. Surprisingly, the kids were not that hard to wake up and in fact, they were raring to go. I guess the whole experience was really giving them that caffeine buzz that the wife and I desperately craved that morning.

Again, getting to the airport wasn't too bad as the bus picked us up on time. It's a shame that we couldn't stay any longer in Singapore considering that part of the overnight stay included lots of discounts to most of Singapore attractions. Maybe next time.

At any rate, the trip from Singapore to Manila was a bearable 3 hours only so we made it ok. The wife was even able to catch some part of the inflight entertainment.

We like to break up the trip like this, with an overnight because it sort of gives the kids and us a break. Instead of one long day of travelling, we get 2 days of moderate travel.