Sunday, December 31, 2006

NYE Dinner

My speciality I guess, Paella. Suddenly realised we didn't have anything special planned for tonight so I thought of doing this dish.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Year 2006

Its nearly the end of the year, so its time to take a short stroll down memory lane to see what we have been up to this year:

For Bianca, she started going to school and really stood out in class not only for her reading and writing skills, but her helpful attitude towards her peers and teachers. She's recieved a few awards, got really good marks/ comments from the teachers, and managed to speak and perform in front of the whole school with no obvious stage fright. Needless to say, she's given us a lot of proud parenting moments. This year we also started the 'girls day' routine that was always the highlight of our week. And it doesn't have to be an elaborate combination of activities like shopping or visiting new places to make her happy. Once we just shared some ice cream in front of the TV at home and that made her day! Obviously, quality time with her is the best way to make her feel loved and happy.

For Nico, he has grown up so much physically and mentally. Although many mistake him for a baby due to his size, he certainly makes up for it with his climbing, running and jumping abilities. He can even kick a ball around with so much ease I wonder if this was because of his exposure to the many games we watched on TV and live in the stadium. He has also made leaps and bounds regarding his reading and writing abilities. He's even begun to add numbers in his mind! He also makes us laugh a lot of times with his cheekiness and his own brand of humor. He has made so much progress in the toilet training department, he's begun to wear 'jocks' all day now.

For Chaz, work has given him the challenge of becoming a team leader early this year. It wasn't always easy managing peoples moods and balancing the resources, but he's done a pretty good job. On the home front, he's found his way around the kitchen a lot of times due to the cooking shows that continue to inspire him to experiment. Among the successful attempts are: pancit bihon, sushi, crispy roast pork, rack of lamb, and lots more. He was also seriously taken by the soccer bug, cheering on the socceroos on TV and even taking in some live games with or without the family. He even managed to watch a U2 concert with a friend on his first night out without the family! I'm sure that will be a highlight of this year for him.

For me, apart from looking after all three kids mentioned above ;-), I also took an interest in gardening. I liked digging in the dirt, taking out the weeds , and planting new ones. I can't say it was all success as the unusually dry weather and water restrictions killed some of the plants that I planted myself. However, a few plants did survive and even thrive despite these conditions. On the kitchen front, I also managed to find that elusive recipe for garlic prawns that I've tried in a number of cafes here in Adelaide. Thank goodness for a TV cooking show (The Cook and the Chef on SBS) , I was able to cook and serve this favourite dish of mine to my family and friends on Xmas day. On the hobby front, scrapbooking took a backseat this year. However, I did discover blogging which is essentially the same thing, putting memories down for future generations, right? Lastly, a recent and unexpected development was that I started working again a few weeks ago. Its back into an IT position on a part-time basis, filling in for people who are on holidays until next month. Funny thing is that this came just when I thought my IT skills were passé and was planning to do a big career change into education or childcare. Life does not always goes as planned, someone up there must have had other plans for me.

All up, our family has had an eventful year in 2006. We have a lot to be grateful for, a happy and healthy family first and foremost. We managed to spend a lot of quality time together as a family, not to mention with the old and new friends that made the past 12 months quite enjoyable.

Classic Pinoy Fried Fish

It turned out rather well if I do say so myself. :-)

Tonight's Dinner

We went to the market today. I couldn't help myself and I bought a nice fresh fish. Problem is I forgot to have it cleaned so I'm doing it myself. Thank goodness for the internet otherwise I wouldn't know how to begin!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Return of the Wasp

Well, I thought I got rid of the wasps we had the last time. Unfortunately, they're back and they announced themselves in the worst way possible. Our little daughter accidently brushed against a new hive at the side of our house and she got stung by one of the wasps. She was screaming her lungs out as she held out her finger. We quickly got her some ice and meds ( clarytine and ibuprofen ) and got her to calm down. Good thing that there was hardly any swelling and right now she's all better. It was quite the shock to suddenly hear her screaming like that.

If I had a flamethrower I'd have put those wasps to the torch! But all I had was the house hold grade insect spray from the last time I did battle with them so I doused those little nasties again. Hopefully that's the last of that but I think they'll be back.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Aftermath...

Ah, finally a little more breathing space. Christmas morning came and went, the kids opened up their presents in record time, so fast in fact that the girl was wondering if there were more gifts to open when they tore through the presents they had under the tree. We got them a small aquarium and Santa gave a doll house for the girl and a set of Wiggle's toys for the little boy. They also had fun with the presents from the grandparents and it was nice that they had something to open up from the lolos and lolas.

It's been a hectic few days in the house. We were sort of cleaning up the past weekend, getting ready for a little get together. We invited our friends over to spend Christmas day here and we sort of planned a whole day thing. We started with lunch and ended close to midnight already. As usual, there was lots of food, lots of laughs and good converstation. Surprisngly, no alcohol consumed and still a good time was had by all.

We already went to church the night before so after opening the presents, we got ready to prepare for lunch. In the end we prepared so much food: steaks, potato salad, garlic prawns, leche flan, crema de fruta that we were bursting from the seams after lunch. Our friends even prepared pancit bihon as well so there so much food already. We then had more guests arrive for merienda and dinner so I made sushi to top up the food. It was so much like a typical Christmas get-together that so much food almost seemed normal.

It was great to have our friends around for Christmas, tiring but great. Because we don't have family here, having good friends to share the holidays is always a blessing. I can remember the past few Christmases that we'd spend just with the kids and ourselves and although it was still fun and brought us closer, there's always something to be said about having good friends and a bigger family around you during the holidays.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas 2006

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you have a good day today, I know our kids will surely have one.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Rush

I normally try to post something at least once a week but I have to admit the Christmas rush has got the better of my blogging. It all comes one after the other: start of school holidays, Christmas, work etc.

The start to this weekend has been busy as well with us getting our house ready for a small get-together with friends, plus gift wrapping and just general Christmas rushing. I'm bushed... can't wait to get some time off.

At any rate, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. I'll talk to you guys soon.

Friday, December 15, 2006

All I Want For Christmas...

Is my tooth! Our little girl has lost her first baby tooth today! Last week we noticed that she already had a tooth growing behind her two front baby teeth. For the past few days her front teeth have become wobblier and wobblier. She was so excited about losing her teeth that she helped it along by constantly moving the teeth with her tongue! Just a few minutes ago the first of her front teeth popped out and she got very excited about sending it off to the tooth fairy!

Another milestone reached, and I feel so old. ;)

Monday, December 11, 2006


As requested by my bro, here's my daugther's (current) playlist:

  • Do-Re-Mi|Maria & The Children|The Sound Of Music
  • My Favorite Things|Maria|The Sound Of Music
  • Together In Electric Dreams (Extended Version)|The Human League|The Human League - Original Remixes & Rarities
  • Up, Down, And Touch The Ground|Disney|The Best Of Pooh And Tigger, Too
  • The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers|Disney|The Best Of Pooh And Tigger, Too
  • Yellow Submarine|Johnny Dawson with The Bayside Kids|The Beatles For Kids
  • Hello Goodbye|Johnny Dawson with The Bayside Kids|The Beatles For Kids
  • All for You (Full Band Version)|Sister Hazel|Somewhere More Familiar
  • Upside Down|Jack Johnson|Sing-a-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George
  • The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)|David LaMotte|S.S. Bathtub: Songs for Kids and Their Grownups
  • Seasons Of Love|Original Broadway Cast|Rent: Original Broadway Cast Recording (Disc 2)
  • L.O.V.E.|Hi-5|Jump And Jive With Hi-5
  • Pizza, Pizza, Pizza|Hi-5|It's A Party
  • North South East And West|Hi-5|It's A Party
  • Off to the library|Justine Clarke|I like to Sing
  • Hop Hippity Hop|Justine Clarke|I like to Sing
  • The Gumtree Family|Justine Clarke|I like to Sing
  • Dancing face|Justine Clarke|I like to Sing
  • I like to sing|Justine Clarke|I like to Sing
  • I Like to Move It|Madagascar 5|I Like to Move It - The Hit Album
  • Hey Julie|Fountains of Wayne|Hey Julie - Single
  • Jump N' Move|The Brand New Heavies Featuring Jamalski|Heavy Rhyme Experience, Vol. 1
  • Good Times|Edie Brickell|Crossover Classics
  • Catch My Disease|Ben Lee|Awake Is the New Sleep
  • Hey Mr. Dj|Active Kidz|Active Kidz
  • Sunday, December 03, 2006

    I can't sleep ....

    Tonight, I was trying to convince the little boy to sleep a little early than usual because he has a fever. I got the room lighting dimmed, played soft music and lay in bed with him hoping he would sleep soon. After a while, he was still awake, tossing and turning in bed. I told him to just "close your eyes and go to sleep". In all innocence he replied, "I can't close my eyes mommy .... it's too dark!".

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Boys Day Out

    My wife and daughter often have their "girls days" so last weekend, I decided to take our boy out just for a little "boys day" of our own. The truth is that our little girl wasn't feeling very well as she had tonsillitis and because I had errands to run that day I took our boy out so he wouldn't have to be cooped in the house.

    We left the girls at home and set off to do our errands. It was pretty enjoyable for him as it wasn't always that I'd take him out alone. It's always either with his sister or with his mom. Anyway, he's really coming into his own nowadays. He's developing a personality and he's quite assertive. He likes to be told what the plans are and what we were going to do first and next and he get's a bit upset when things don't go according to plan.

    This day I told him we were going first to the post office, then the shops then to one of our favourite ( well at least mine ) stores, Officeworks. He was quite happy when we started out, I even asked him to remember a couple of things that we were supposed to buy at the shops. He got his hand stamped at the post office and he even remembered what we needed to get at the shops as well.

    On the way to Officeworks, I thought I'd stop by a car parts shop next to it. This was when all heck broke loose! He kept saying "Not a good idea, Daddy, we go to Officeworks!" He then started crying and the tears started streaming down his face as he kept insisting on going out of the car shop and into the Officeworks next door. He pulled and tugged and despite my best efforts to try and pacify him I resignedly trooped out of the store with him. Funny thing was, as soon as we stepped out of the door, he suddenly stopped crying, wiped his face and said "See, Officeworks. Good idea!"

    Yup, that's our boy. I fall for it every time... :)

    Monday, November 27, 2006


    Thanksgiving has come and gone in the US. It's funny that Dumaguete's fiesta is around the same time. The Philippines, with its Spanish colonial history have patron saints for each city or township. Each patron saint's feast day is celebrated with a fiesta where normally all households in a given township would open their doors and serve up all sorts of food to any, and I mean any, visitor who might walk in. Visitors from nearby townships would more often than not flock to the houses of the more affluent as you'd expect they'd have grander fare. Normally one would get invited to the houses of friends and relatives and it would be a day full of eating from breakfast till dinner. One could literally have a meal in a different house throughout the day. One house for breakfast, mid-morning snacks, lunch, mid afternoon snack ( or merienda ), dinner and even late supper! Fiestas are ridiculously extravagant occasions and towns put on their best with fairs and parades and all sorts of events.

    I can't remember the last fiesta we celebrated in Dumaguete but normally Mom and Dad would have already invited their own out-of-town guests over. It would almost always be a big event with our faithful Takoy and company doing most of the cooking of traditional fiesta fare: calderata, arroz valenciana, pancit, lumpia etc. I know that town fiestas have a religious significance but for most people, fiestas are merely an excuse for food, and lots of it. Not that I'm complaining though as that's what I mostly know of fiestas anyway... :)

    Sunday, November 19, 2006

    U2 Live in Adelaide!

    When I heard that U2 was going to come to Adelaide last March I had it in my mind to watch them as that would have been a once in a lifetime experience for me. I tried getting tickets that first concert but the lines ( and the scalpers ) got the better of me and they were sold out before I knew it. When they cancelled that concert ( due to illness ) I thought that that was it and that there won't be any concerts at all but the concerts only got postponed and when they announced the shows were back on, my friend was quick to get us a couple of tickets to the one and only Adelaide show.

    We had general admission tickets with no seating so it was first come first served in the queue. Because this chance wasn't going to come again, we resolved to be early in the queue so we could have at least a fighting chance to be as close to the stage as possible. We decided on an early start of 10AM for a 7PM concert. That's over 9 hours of ( mostly) waiting!

    We've already heard of people actually lining up the day before the concert so I wasn't surprised to see quite a crowd already gathered when we got there in the morning. There wasn't actually a line so we quickly found spot in the grass and settled down for the wait. It was a cloudy and cold when we got there, nice waiting weather actually but as the day wore on, the fierce Aussie sun bore down on us, clearing the grey clouds that were our only shade. The quiet and calm crowd that started off the day soon grew to an antsy mob as the afternoon arrived. We were told that gates would open at 4:30 but people were already pushing and shoving, eager to get into AAMI stadium even as early as 2. A lot of hot, excited and (slightly) drunk concert goers were only too eager to move the line along.

    Actually, I had to say that the organisers at the stadium weren't really prepared for that size of crowd. They were only opening 2 gates for general admission but the barricades they set up formed a sort of funnel such that all these people squeezed into 5 lines of single file each on both sides of the gate. You can then imagine the crush as the gates started to open. There we were packed like sardines as the people surged forward eager to be one of the first 4000 allowed to be in front of the stage.

    In the end, our early start paid off as we were able to find ourselves front and center with the stage mere meters in front of us. Even though we were inside, people still moved around trying to find the best vantage point. We stood our ground and staked our claim. People in the pit started to relax having done the same and the ubiquitous concert beach balls started being thrown. The stage was impressive as 20 maybe 30 meter high speaker to the side and a huge wall of what seemed like small LCD screens in the middle.

    It didn't take long for Kanyé West to take the stage for the opening act and got the crowd going. Now, I'm not a big fan of hip hop nor Kanyé in particular but it was still good to hear something from the stage. I could feel the crowd wanting to be genuinely excited about it but I could only guess that they were more than ready for the main event. After Kanyé's performance the sound check guys for U2 did their thing. You can tell how impatient the mosh pit crowd was getting as every little thing the sound check guys did was greeted with cheers from all over.

    Then it came, U2 took the stage at around 8:30. The whole stage transformed into a wall of sound and light. I honestly couldn't remember what song they started the set with. All I remember was the huge backdrop bursting into light and the band just opening with the whole stadium ( at least the mosh pit ) going berserk. They were as sharp as you'd expect them to be, with Bono being quite the master showman. They went through lots of their hits, old and new: Where The Streets Have No Name, Vertigo, Elevation, One, Angel of Harlem, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Desire, With or Without You, Pride, Bullet the Blue Sky, Beautiful Day and many others. They even played their latest single Saints Come Marching ( albeit without Greenday ). It was fantastic to hear all these songs live from them and the crowd couldn't help but sing along.

    Anyway, what else can I say about the concert except that it was all I've expected and more. Bono did his thing as with all live concerts throwing in some pieces of local relevance in his Beautiful Day rendition ( i.e South Australia, River Murray, Glenelg etc. ) to the delight of the crowd. U2's message of making poverty history and coexistence was also in focus as he encouraged the people to take out their mobile phones not just to light up the stadium but to text to a number to help ending poverty. At the end of the show the names of the people who texted their names actually came up in the big LCD screens as well which I thought was a nice touch. U2 played for 2 and a half hours but it seemed like it was longer. They haven't lost any of their touch and was a sharp performance all around.

    At the end of the night I think everyone was wholly satisfied but we still had to endure the eventual crush to get out. Again, it was sardine can conditions as people filed out of the venue and waiting for buses as well as getting out of the parking lots. It took me about 2 hours to eventually get home!

    I've tried to take pictures but I read that cameras were not admitted so I only brought my camera phone. Little did I know that digital cameras were allowed, as long as they weren't any professional SLR type stuff. So, I had to be content with the results from the phone camera. Never mind, still had a great time though and one I'm not likely to forget anytime soon.

    More pictures on my U2 Flickr set.

    Friday, November 17, 2006

    U2: Concert Over

    Tried blogging during but couldn't. Might have been something was blocking the signal. Recap to follow.

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    U2: Gates Opened

    People just rushing in. Not quite organised. Waiting to go in now.

    U2: People Getting Antsy

    Gates don't open for a couple of hours but people have already started pushing forward. I think because we're hearing the sound check already. Sit down people!

    U2: The Line Continues!

    Just heard they will open the gates at 430. It's only noon. They will only admit the first 4000 people in front of the stage. Hope we're in that group!

    U2: Waiting for gates to open

    Gates open at 2. People are just rocking up as there doesn't seem to be a line yet. Hope it doesn't get too merry later.

    U2 in Adelaide!

    Yup! Ticket means I'm actually watching. :)

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Of iPods and Music...

    Being avowed Apple addicts that we are it was somehow strange that we never owned any version of an iPod. Sure, we like our music and we've been able to expose our kids to different genres but we've never really had the inclination to buy Apple's ubiquitous music player. That is, until now. We finally decided to be an iPod toting family and I got myself a 30GB iPod and a 2GB for the wife. We also got a speaker attachment so we can enjoy the music in our lounge room.

    Aside from considering it an early Christmas present, I thought it was about high time get a stereo set. We've been without one for so long as we played our music from either the iMac's speakers or from the DVD player in the lounge room.

    I was transferring music to the iPods and the first thing that our little girl asked was to make sure we put her favourites in there. You see, she already has a playlist of her favourite songs in iTunes. It's a pretty eclectic one with stuff from Hi-5, The Beatles, as well as 80's stuff like Human League and alternative like Fountains of Wayne. She's not just into the kids stuff but I'm so glad she seems to appreciate all kinds of music. One time at her show and tell, they were asked to bring or sing their favourite song. Instead of bringing to class a CD of kids songs, she went and had me burn Seasons of Love from the musical Rent. It's her favourite song and she sang it beautifully!

    And speaking of singing, nowadays the kids can't get enough of the Sound of Music, or at least, the Do-Re-Mi song. We watched the Sound of Music one time and they got so enamoured with the Do-Re-Mi song that they it's become a staple bedtime song for them. Complete with the "Let's make it easier" dialogue from the movie. :)

    Sunday, November 12, 2006


    Nothing like good hearty beef soup on a cloudy day. This pinoy dish is easy enough to prepare and my version tastes almost authentic. Still yummy though.

    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Toilet Training

    Years from now we can use this post to embarrass him but right now he just looks so dash darn cute!

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Trick or Treat

    Halloween is not such a big deal here in Australia, as compared to the US. In the past 4 years, we've had only one or two trick or treat visits. Most of the time, we are not prepared as we hurry to the pantry and see what lollies we have in reserve to give the kids waiting outside.

    Last year proved to be quite a 'frightening' experience for my little girl, and myself as well. It was just late afternoon and hubby was not yet home from work. There was only one kid at the door, a little taller than me, wearing all black and that mask made famous by the 'Scream' movies. I mean this kid did not even say 'trick or treat', he just stood there with an open plastic bag waiting for treats. My little girl ran back inside crying! I quickly put in some treats in his bag and off he went ... whew!

    So this year, I was a bit apprehensive to open the door knowing it was that time of the year again. We were lucky this time. The kids were not wearing masks this time, and they at least smiled and said the traditional greetings. I even got the my kids to put a handful of lollies to put in their 'treat' bags. Bianca happily put all the lollies in, while Nico put in one piece and kept the rest! Good thing I was there to ask him to put it all in, much to his disappointment.

    Oh well, at least now my kids are getting the idea that it is fun and not scary. It seems to be getting more popular each year. This time we had 3 sets of visitors! Maybe next year we will try doing the door knocking ourselves. I wonder what costumes will be cool to wear by that time, any suggestions?

    Sunday, October 29, 2006

    Sunnybrae Farm 2006

    Punch and Judy ShowSunnybrae Farm is a historical museum showcasing the history of some parts of our council area. Every year they have an open house of sorts where various historical societies in and around Adelaide showcase some of their knowledge. People from these various societies dress up in period costume and interact with the visitors.

    We went to the annual fair last weekend it was quite interesting what we found. There were knights in actual armour, Moorish dancers, American Civil war re-enactors as well as medieval archers. These people weren't just in costume, they also provided a quick history lesson or two to the visitors. There were vintage cars and trucks on display as well as music, cultural dancing and historical demonstrations ( and a few erstwhile knights fighting in the ring!) Highly entertaining and educational. The kids were impressed with the old toys and classic cars on display. We even took in an authentic Punch & Judy show which they found quite hilarious.

    It was quite enjoyable and I wish I could have taken more photos. But between minding the kids and watching the entertainment there was hardly enough time to reach for the camera!

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    A Game of "Hide and Sleep"

    The other day, Nico was bugging me to play hide and seek just when I was ironing a big pile of clothes. His version of this game involves him hiding under a pillow or blanket and shouting "Mommy, you find me!" repeatedly until I do come around to find him.

    Since I was busy, I told him to go to the playroom first. A few minutes later, I noticed that there was no sound coming from the playroom. When I got there, he wasn't there. And then I noticed the blanket on the sofa, with something hiding underneath ... it was Nico fast asleep! He must have fallen asleep while waiting for me to find him, poor boy.

    He even managed to get a pillow under his head .... how cute!

    Friday, October 20, 2006

    Too much computer too soon?

    In this computer age, kids are adapting so quickly to computers as if it was just another kitchen appliance. This was pretty obvious this morning when I was asking the little boy to spell a few words to me as he was lookiing at a poster of a fire engine. I asked him to spell the words "fire engine". He proceeded to say "F-I-R-E-enter-E-N-G-I-N-E".

    Needless to say, I had to correct him to say "space" instead of "enter" next time. Just now he asked me to spell "school bus"as it was written on the toy. Intentionally, I paused after spelling the first word to see what he would say. This time he said "pace" and proceeded to spell the rest of the words. Oh well, that's close enough. Just am glad to know that he's really listening and picking things up really quickly.

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Blogging Downtime

    I haven't been writing for a while now. At least, not too regularly. Nothing much, just been busy with other things. The past couple of weeks was school holidays so the wife has had her hands full trying to keep the kids occupied. There were play dates with friends scheduled but had to be cancelled because our little boy got sick last week. Nothing major, just cough and colds but the doctor prescribed antibiotics just in case.

    Normally school holidays would have been the time some families take the kids out of the city or take them on some holiday activity. We did have friends over a couple of weekends ago and we took a pleasant drive down to Port Adelaide. (pictures up in Flickr) We took in the lighthouse and the Port Adelaide markets and took the opportunity to visit another Filipino bakery down that way. We had an impromptu mini-shopping spree and bought some Spanish bread and pan de sal which went well with canned sardines! Adelaide may not have a huge Filipino population but the Pinoy stores are always around to supply us with tastes from home.

    And another thing that's contributed to my blogging downtime is the over-abundance of TV shows that have started their season! We're watching Heroes, Studio 60, Jericho, Battlestar Galactica and a few other Australian TV shows that figure in our nightly schedules now. Yup, we're couch potatoes alright...

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    Palabok Fiesta

    My latest attempt at this pinoy dish turned out great (if I do say so myself). Just needed to be served out of styro containers and I could swear I was at Jollibee!

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    Swimming Lessons

    Summer is nearly here and we thought it was as good a time as any for the kids to start swimming lessons. The girl already had some swimming lessons some time ago but we sort of stopped going because it wasn't easy to continue with the time slot with the little boy around.

    At any rate, the boy seemed to be of the right age and when we found out about some really good value swimming lessons at our council recreational facilities we decided to sign them up for some. We first had them assessed to see what level of swimming instruction they needed and it was no suprise to us that both of them needed to start near the beginning.

    The girl went straight to the second level ( Starfish level ) and the boy at the very start ( Turtles ). Both of them aren't scared of the water at all and they enjoy every minute of it. The facilities provided was good with a heated indoor pool and small class sizes such that there was more time for each kid to be tutured. The class that our boy was in there were only 2 of them so they got a lot of swimming time out of each lesson.

    It looks like the boy seems to take to the water right away. On his second lesson he was already being let go and he could kick and paddle for about 2 meters (albeit with floaties). He could float a little bit by himself and was eager for the instructor to bring him into the water everytime. The girl still has to learn a bit more as she often forgets to kick but she likes going into the water as much as the boy does.

    The kids have so much fun that we parents want to jump into the pool with them as well!

    Saturday, September 30, 2006

    Adelaide Botanical Gardens

    With spring officially here we decided to take advantage of the warmer weather and headed off for an afternoon at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. We packed a picnic lunch and went to the gardens which was just to another quick drive to the city.

    When we got there it seemed that everyone else had the same idea as there were many other families just enjoying the sun and having picnics under the many trees and sprawling green grass in and around the Botanic Gardens.

    After our own picnic under the trees just outside the garden gates, we went inside and did a little exploring. Entrance to the gardens is free and the last time we were at the gardens was when our little boy was only a few months old. We just strolled around enjoying the surroundings. It was a very relaxed environment and we could see many people taking advantage of it as they napped and dozed under the canopies. Rest was the farthest thing from the kids minds as they enjoyed running around the green lawns and climbing the trees.

    We also went to the Bicentennial Conservatory ( entrance wasn't free ) in the Gardens. The conservatory itself is a big white half circular structure which houses a mini-rainforest display. It feels exactly like a rainforest inside as sprinklers go off every so often to keep the conditions humid and hot. There were even tropical birds living inside the conservatory that called out every so often. The boy and girl had fun mimicking the birds' sounds as they cawed all the time we were inside.

    With all the walking we did, needless to say we were all tuckered out when we got home.

    Pictures here and on our Flickr slideshow

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    Kid Funnies Part 17

    The little boy and I were browsing in a book store a few days ago when I noticed he started piling up some books in my shopping basket. This was the first time I noticed him do this. Each time he did this I explained to him that we were only getting two books that we had chosen and that were already in the basket - one for him and one for his sister.

    But he still insisted on this, repeating the cycle for about 5 more times - he puts in a book and I would take it out and ask him to return it. 'Ang kulit!' Finally, he got this book of 'The Wiggles' and put that in the basket. As I was about to explain this to him again, he blurts out "This book for Daddy!".

    What could I say .... he found a way to work within that reason I gave him! All I could do was laugh and tell him Daddy would probably not like that particular kids' book himself. But still, it was certainly a good try on this little boy's part. After all, he is just three and a half years old.

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Kid Funnies Part 16

    We were having a meal around the dinner table when our boy suddenly stood up and did some stretching. He spread his arms wide and stretched to the side and then raised his arms up. The wife and I didn't think too much about it but when he then shouted "It's three o'clock!" with his arms in the right position when we burst out laughing! He was following the arms on the clock on the wall!

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Laugh Out Loud

    Growing up, we were always known as those loud Vidal kids.  We'd raise quite a racket when my siblings and I got together.  We'd be horsing around our house and play games and generally just be a loud as we could.  Sometimes our parents would join in and we'd be tickling and rough housing and pretty soon we would find laughing ourselves to tears. We'd get so loud that sometimes our own neighbours would jokingly call out from their windows and tell us to go to sleep!

    Now with my own family I noticed that I seemed to have carried that laugh out loud moments as part of our day.  Our kids love playing around their bedrooms and we'd join in.  I'd be tickling them, playing the "rolling" game pretending to crush them or even just play music and dance around with them.  Our boy would spontaneously do the "conga" dance ( "conga, conga congga!" ) and our little girl would dance to her favourite music!

    It's fun sharing those laugh out loud moments with them and just find time to be silly!

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    Spring Time at the Beach

    Although it just turned spring it's still quite cold. Last weekend, however, the sun came out and it was warming up to almost summer temperatures. We decided to be spontaneous and packed the kids up for a morning at the beach!

    It turned out to be a great day. The calm waters and the clear blue skies was the perfect recipe to shake off the winter blues. The water was still freezing cold but the kids didn't seem to mind as they screamed in delight every time they jumped into the water. There was hardly any wind and the day was a wonderful 27ºC warm so after the beach we decided to stick around and let the kids play at the nearby playground. We had a late lunch of fish and chips at the kiosk in front of the playground to cap our spontaneous beach excursion.

    At least we got to enjoy that day because today's weather has gone back to gloomy and rainy!

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    School Liturgy

    Last week our girl brought home a note from her teacher telling us about a school function that they were going to have. Normally they would have weekly school liturgies or even masses and this time it was our girl's class' turn to host it. We were pleasantly surprised that she was picked to read the gospel in front of the whole school. It was nice to know that our child was doing well enough in school to be given this chance.

    This morning they had the liturgy and the wife and I and our boy went to the school to attend. It was a simple ceremony as normally our parish priest, who would usually celebrate mass, was on leave. The kids did a few songs and some children did the opening prayers then our little girl stood up to do her reading. She took the mike in hand and started reading. She did wonderfully. She didn't miss any words and read clearly and slowly just like we practised.

    We were so proud to see her becoming so confident and independent. I think she even impressed a few people today. This event reminds me of times when I used to read the gospel in the Holy Child Hospital chapel when I was growing up!

    Right now, she's beside me writing about her day. In fact, I'll copy down what she wrote (including the colours!) and let her tell you how she did.

    Today I had a liturgy. I felt a little nervous. But, I just read. I did not feel nervous after. I felt normal.

    This what she read out today.

    Gospel: Luke 11:9-13

    So I say to you: ask, and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened. What father here would give his child a stone when they ask for bread? Or give them a snake instead of a fish? If you then know how to give your children what they need, just imagine the goodness of what Our God can give to those who ask.

    All in all, a good day and another proud parenting moment... :)

    Saturday, August 26, 2006

    Spring is in the Air

    Finally, winter comes to an end and the gardens around us begin to look alive with colours. What is surprising though is that some of these blooms belong to our very own garden! I must admit, since we moved to this house more than 3 years ago, we never really bothered to take care of the garden apart from hiring somone to mow the lawn every 6 weeks or so. A couple of months ago, we took an interest in it by taking out a lot of weeds and planting a few herbs and flowers in pots. There was one pot that the kids got involved in by planting seeds for flowers called anemones. And now, almost 3 months later we are enjoying the fruits of our labor .... they have started to bloom! I think I am the one most excited about this development, after all I have been regularly watering and watching them with great anticipation. Here are some photos of the flowers in bloom at our garden:

    Now that there are a few blooms in the garden, what do we do with them? How can I make them last a bit longer? Bianca gave me a great idea this morning at the markets. She saw a shallow glass bowl and suggested we cut the flowers and make them float inside ... what a great idea!

    Kid Funnies Part 15

    It's not always that our kids get along with each other. They do have their own share of fights and little squabbles. Like today, we were loading the kids in the car and they got into a fight over some toy they each wanted but didn't share. The girl cried first and the boy followed suit.

    They were both bawling in the back seat and we tried to make them share the toy but they both wanted it their own way. So, in frustration, I told them that I wouldn't be starting the car until they both quieted down.

    I took some tissues and gave them one each. The boy reached for one, wiped his face and promptly said, "I'm happy now!". We all burst out laughing, including the girl through her erstwhile tears.

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    Smart Questions

    Lately, we've been getting a lot of smart questions from the little girl ... here's a few we got recently:

    B. Mommy, why do you love me?
    M: I love you because you're my daughter.

    B: Mommy, why did you choose me to be your baby?
    M: I think God chose you to be our baby, and somehow put you into my tummy.
    B: But why did God choose me to be the first baby, and not Nico?
    M: Maybe God knew you would be a good big sister to Nico.

    B: Mommy, you make a lot of things by yourself (as she was eating my home baked pudding) , did you make me ?
    M: No, I did not make you all by myself ... Daddy helped too. Actually, God made you for me and your Daddy.
    B: Wow, God made a lot of things didn't he .... but who made God?
    M: That's a very interesting question! Maybe God has been there all along.

    At the rate she's been asking me these kind of questions, I may soon run out of credible answers!

    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    Library Days

    I've always loved libraries. In elementary school I've looked forward to library days and I can almost even remember the first book I've checked out. Unfortunately, public libraries are non-existent in the Philippines and after elementary school the only way I could read new books was if we acquired them ourselves. Our parents did right by us by getting as many books as they could. We had encyclopaedias, surplus American school textbooks, and the occasional new books from National Book Store. When I reached teenage years I probably read all the books in our household from cover to cover.

    One of the happy surprises I've found about living in Australia has been the availability of free libraries to its residents. It was here that I realised what a public library should be. Our local library isn't just a place to borrow books but one can also borrow up to date magazines and periodicals, CD's, DVD's and even sports equipment for free. You can even book time for free internet as well. Heck, our library even carries the latest graphic novels! It's a terrific place and one that's influenced my kids heavily when it comes to them reading early.

    One thing I love about our library is the online book catalogue and reservation system. I spend my time at home on the net just browsing through and reserving books online. Then, I just pop down to the library to pick them up at a designated spot when the books are ready. Because our city shares the books throughout its library system, I don't have to wait for a book to be available just at my local library. The online catalogue searches throughout the several libraries in my city council area and brings it all into my local library down the road when they're available.

    Our family has spent many an afternoon at the local library just browsing and borrowing books to take home. The kids love visiting and we'd come home with a bag full of kids books which they'd read before their bedtime. They already have their own library cards and are always keen to use them when they get the chance. I'm glad to have been able to impart my love of reading to our kids and I hope it helps them out later in life.

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Austraila 2- Kuwait 0

    The new look Australian Soccerroos debuted tonight with a rousing 2 nil victory over Kuwait.  Goals courtesty of Sasho Petrovski and Adelaide's own Travis Dodd.  It was a nail biting moment there as the 2 goals actually came in the last 15 minutes of the match.  Australia now has qualified for the Asian Cup championships next July.   

    A little bit of history here but this is the first time Australia is in the Asian confederation and the Asian Cup finals.  It's always been part of the Oceanic Confederation which has not provided more skilled opponents.  With being part of Asia, Australia will have a chance to compete with high caliber teams like China, Japan and Korea on a regular basis.

    The Matilda's have made an impressive debut and now it's the men's team's turn to show us what they're made of.  Mind you, this Soccerro's team that brough us to the Asian Cup is a totally different team from a month ago in the World Cup Championships.  Most of those guys are playing in Europe and were unable to play for this game.  This new team is composed mainly of local A-Leauge players.  They had a tetative start in tonight's game but they quickly gelled togethr as the game wore on.  Kuwait's goalkeeper was kept on his toes for most of the match and stopped quite a few shots in the first half.  In the end Australia just wore down the defense and produced a great result.

    There was supposed to be another game scheduled against Lebanon here in Adelaide but because of the war over there, Lebanon's pulled out of the Asian Cup so they cancelled the match.  Too bad, we already bought tickets for it.  So I guess I'd have to be content with watching the Australian team on TV for the moment.

    Am I sounding too much like a football junkie? :)

    Sunday, August 13, 2006

    Weekend Furniture Assembling

    We spent the better part of the weekend IKEA-fying our house some more. We were finally able to get the kids their beds and a few more pieces of furniture. The thing with IKEA is that one of the reasons they are cheap(ish) is that they sell all, well, most of their furniture with some assembly required. A few people get turned off by that and sometimes get intimidated by the thought of putting things together. The wife and I sort of enjoy that sort of thing. We were able to put a list together and came back from IKEA with 2 beds, a tall storage shelf, a bookcase, a dining table and 4 chairs and a large comfy chair with a footstool.

    Yeah, looks like a lot and it sort of shows. Although I have to admit that it's not as expensive as it sounds when it came to the checkout. The hard part is putting it all together because all those pieces came flat packed and needed assembling.

    It's a good thing that the kids were eager to help as well. The wife already put together the chair and bookshelf a few days ago so we only had the beds, the dining table and the tall storage shelf to worry about this weekend. We started putting the furniture together and they were quite the helpers, getting us the instructions or getting the parts together. They even had a hand in turning the allen key which is sometimes the only tool you need to put IKEA furniture together. We got the shelf together in little time and it turned out to be the tallest piece of furniture in our house so manouvering it around was a bit tricky.

    The beds took most of our time and enegry. The pieces were heavy so it required a bit of lifting. This time it needed more than an allen key but good thing I had a cordless drill to help me out when it came to screwing in the support struts. I started out just using the screwdriver but found it too hard so I used the drill on the second bed and was able to finish quicker. So without too many mistakes on my part, we were able to finally give the kids their own beds after months of sleeping on mattresses on the floor. Needless to say that they stress tested them right away by using the beds as tramopolines!

    Because we still had to get rid of our old dining set, we held off on assembling the new dining table and chairs for now. Good thing too as I am now too tired to do any more assembling for a while.

    IKEA furniture is only as sturdy as how you assemble them and I hope we were able to do a good enough job for these pieces to keep together for a while.

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    Japanese Tonkatsu

    Japanese Tonkatsu
    Originally uploaded by chazzvid.
    Another cooking post. Tonkatsu is easy to make as long as you got the right Japanese breadcrumbs. Pair it with instant miso soup, sliced cabbage with dressing it's almost an authentic Japanese meal. Don't forget the secret ingredient...