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.