29 September 2014

The Great Surprise

So Saturday was Sophie’s 2nd birthday party. I still need to post about it, but first I want to share the surprise we got at the venue: Mama is back in Dubai! Hurray!!!!!

Come to think of it, I don’t think I mentioned here that she had gone back to the Philippines last July, but, yeah, she had to because my sister wasn’t able to apply for Mama’s Residence Visa before her Visit Visa expired.

Naturally I was so, so happy to see her. And considering the circumstances, I really hadn’t expected it at all, so it really was a great surprise.

Before I get ahead of myself though, let me share with you the background. It’s a bit long but I need to mention some details for you to get the whole idea why her arrival was unexpected...or maybe I'm just totally clueless when it comes to these things =)

When Mama left Dubai after her three month visit, Gabe went with her so that he could spend the rest of his summer vacation there. Soon after, Ate Ning managed to apply for Mama’s Residence Entry Visa. The plan was for her (my sister) to go home in August so that she had the printed document in her hand and they (her, Mama, Gabe) could all travel back here together. However, Mama had to undergo a minor surgery that time and her doctor said she wasn’t allowed to travel until late September for the wound to heal, so it was only Gabe who returned to the UAE with his mother.

Mama’s Residence Entry Visa was valid until the 1st of October. Sure there was time, but because the doctor said she wasn’t allowed to bend down too low and/or carry anything heavy (i.e. luggage), she couldn't travel alone. And unfortunately, none of us (me, my sister, hubby) could go home for a few days to fetch her. For one thing, the tickets aren’t cheap. For another, none of us had the time to travel, especially me and hubby since we have two kids, one of which goes to school.

Another option was to ask around if any of our friends were returning from their vacation, but my sister was always uncooperative when I asked her what the plan was. She would usually answer “Ewan ko” or “Hindi ko alam” or “Bahala na” because she “didn’t have enough money.” Actually, she often answers that way whatever we ask her so I just figured she had other plans.

During our weekly conversations, Mama and I would ask each other if Ate Ning had decided on what to do, but we always replied the same thing: we didn’t know anything.

It seemed that my sister was going to just let the validity expire and either request to extend it (if that was possible) or try to apply again. I admit I was disappointed when I realized that Mama wasn’t going to be able to be here for her youngest grandchild’s birthday, but what to do? Ate Ning was Mama’s sponsor, after all.

Then early last week, my sister called me and said that she had a training in Abu Dhabi from Thursday until Saturday afternoon, so she needed Gabe to stay with us during that time. Since she usually does this, I didn’t think much about it. She dropped him off at our apartment on Thursday night and that was that.

Friday afternoon, I called Mama as I normally do. We talked for a bit, but since she was in the mall waiting for my brother to take her to his place and it was pretty noisy, our conversation didn’t last too long.

On Saturday, Sophie’s birthday, we were all busy with the party preparations. A part of me wondered why Mama hadn’t called to greet (because she’s usually the first one who does), but I figured that maybe she was out or busy. I tried calling her number once, but it was switched off so I just thought she didn’t have signal wherever she was or her battery was empty (which is usually the case).

Saturday afternoon, Ate Ning called me saying that she had arrived at her apartment from her training and she would just take a rest, then meet us at the party venue later.

Fast forward to 6:50pm. We were at KFC in Al Nahda and the party hall was still being used by the group before us, so we just sat around waiting and mingling with some of our friends who had arrived early. When my sister arrived, she told Sophie and Caila that she had a surprise for them. Since Sophie wouldn’t let go of me, I carried her to where Ate Ning was leading us. I thought the surprise was her boyfriend carrying a gift, so imagine my shock when I saw Mama in the flesh standing on the stairs smiling at us.

I couldn’t help it; I immediately hugged her tight for a long time (with Sophie still in my arms) as I cried tears of joy, grateful that she was actually here.  You know I'm really close to her right? So you can totally understand my reaction that night.

Thank you, Mama. And thank you as well, Ate, for the absolutely perfect birthday gift to Sophie…for me.  It absolutely made my day.

24 September 2014

My Daily Fix of Inspiration

I’m sure many of you would agree with me that there’s so much negativity in this world that you can’t help but accept it and just be cautious with everything you do and say. However, in spite of all this, there are still people out there who go out of their way to do wonderful things to loved ones and strangers alike.

Being part of a Christian community, I’d like to believe that everyone has some goodness in themselves, no matter how small it is. After all, we were created in the image and likeness of God, right?

Which brings me to where I get my fix of inspiration every day. I came across these sites a few weeks ago when random friends would share heartwarming and interesting clips. Sure most of them are from YouTube, but at least I don’t have to type and search all the time to look for similar stuff. And I can say most, if not all, of them have helped me restore my faith in humanity more and more each day. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve smiled, laughed, been amazed, or cried simply by watching a clip.

Here’s a summary of what they’re about (taken from their sites):

FaithTap - Just trying to deliver the best entertainment possible. Always searching for inspiring people, videos, quotes.

Upworthy - At best, things online are usually either awesome or meaningful, but everything on Upworthy.com has a little of both. Sensational and substantial. Entertaining and enlightening. Shocking and significant. That's what you can expect here: No empty calories. No pageview-juking slideshows. No right-column sleaze. Just a steady stream of the most irresistibly shareable stuff you can click on without feeling bad about yourself afterwards.

The San Francisco Globe - Everything Worth Seeing On the Internet.

I encourage you to visit any one (or all three!) of these sites today. I guarantee the stories will uplift your spirits and brighten your day.

Do you have other similar sites that you frequently visit? Please share in the comments below so I can visit them too.

21 September 2014

To Cut and To Shave

We have pamahiins (superstitious beliefs) in the Philippines that pertain to cutting hair. One of them is not to cut a child’s hair until he or she has completed a year old. Another is to have a smart or intelligent person make the first snips if you want your child to grow up smart and intelligent as well. For the same reason, another pamahiin is to get a bunch of those hair strands and keep it between the pages of a dictionary, encyclopedia (if you still have one) or any reference book. And still another is to shave off all the hair so that it will grow out thicker.

For Caila, since her hair was very, very thin since birth, we did all of those beliefs. I waited until she was almost 13 months to take her to the salon, and I was the one who made the first cut. In Primary School, I received certificates and awards and was the School Captain, I belonged to the top section in my last year in High School, and I made it to the Dean’s List in University so those at least account to something, right? (Nag-defend talaga ‘no? Hahaha!) After I cut a few strands, the lady at the salon shaved the rest of Caila’s hair off, and when we got home, I tucked the strands I cut in a dictionary.

Here’s how her hair developed:
Hubby with our little Shaolin
a couple of months later
hair growing
curls developing
mix of straight hair and curls
her hair now
(unruly hair on the left, combed hair on the right)
After we made her bald, Caila’s hair grew very fast so we would regularly trim her hair due to split ends or to make them even. But now, she doesn’t want to have it cut at all. Blame it on Tangled because she likes the movie and wants to be Rapunzel one day. But I have to admit that her hair does look nice. I’ve lost count the number of times we’ve been asked if her hair is really like that or if we use a curling iron to make it that way. I assure you, it’s naturally straight with natural curls at the end. Why would we destroy our daughter’s hair at such a young age? Still though, it’s getting pretty difficult to keep her hair tied and tame all the time so I need to convince her that she needs a haircut…and soon.

As for Sophie, not a single pair of scissors has touched her head. She was born with pretty thick hair, but as time passed by, it didn’t seem to grow out evenly. Instead, it became straight and thin just like Caila’s when she was her age. Now, her hair is uneven and all over her face. We always tie it back, but she often pulls off the hair ties.
thick hair at birth
thin hair at 1
her hair now
So since she’s turning 2 years old in a few days, I told Hubby that if we want to shave off Sophie's hair, we need to do it right after her birthday. At least she’ll still look cute even without her crowning glory. If we delay it, she might just look weird. 

Of course I’ll be doing the pamahiins that I followed when Caila had her first haircut, but I don’t want to be the one to cut the first strand this time. I want a doctor, nurse, or lawyer to do it. Any volunteers? =)

This Morning

I had just been at the office for 45 minutes today when I received a call from Caila’s school saying that she had vomited 3 times since the bus picked her up at 7am. I had no idea why. Apart from her coughing, she was fine when I left for work this morning.

Even though I knew they wouldn’t agree, I asked if the clinic could keep her for the rest of the day. I was right; they said she needed to go home as soon as possible. Jovy was the nearest, but I didn’t want her to wait out in the hot sun with Sophie while trying to get a taxi. I called Hubby to ask if he could leave work for some time; he was busy. Good thing my manager understood when I told him what happened.

So as soon as I had finished doing the urgent task I needed to submit to our General Manager, I headed to the school with one of our company drivers who, fortunately, was free.

On the way, I called Jovy to ask her if Caila was sick earlier. I know I said she was ok, but maybe I missed something. She said, no, except for her cough. But she did say that Caila didn’t eat much for breakfast. Just two spoonfuls of rice and luncheon meat. No milk or hot chocolate. No wonder!

Caila was lying down on the clinic bed when I arrived. The nurse explained that she had vomited once in the bus, and twice in the classroom. She didn’t have any fever, though. When I asked Caila how she felt, she just pointed to her tummy which prompted me to lecture her on why she should eat properly in the morning. She just nodded weakly.

While waiting for the necessary paperwork to be done (to allow me to take her home early), my daughter threw up again. I didn’t have any plastic bag with me, but luckily there was a trash can nearby where she vomited for the fourth time in two and a half hours.

By the time I dropped her off at home, Caila was back to her normal self, showing Jovy and Sophie her PE jogging pants that had vomit stains.

However, half an hour ago, Jovy informed me that she threw up again after eating rice and sinigang. And while fixing Caila’s bed, she found a candy wrapper underneath her pillow. Most probably she ate that last night before sleeping and didn’t drink water or brush her teeth.  She probably does this often which is most probably the reason why her cough hasn’t gone away. Haaaaay!!!

I told Jovy to keep all the sweets and hide them away at the top shelf of one of our kitchen cabinets.  Caila is now under strict orders to drink warm water and/or lemon juice with honey only. No juices or cold milk. She is not allowed to eat chocolates, candies, or anything sweet until she’s better. The only things she’ll be eating are rice, viands, and porridge.  And she has to eat properly.

Otherwise, it’s a visit to her pediatrician we will go.

18 September 2014

Breast Self Examination Demonstration

Women have been reminded time and time again the importance of having breast self-exams at least once a month. The 15 minutes one spends regularly to check her breasts can really save her life.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to do a self-exam properly…me included. All I knew was to feel around and look if there were any changes or lumps. It would take me just a couple of minutes.

I think the reason why I didn’t know how was because the only information I got was through words and pictures. I needed something with an actual person actually demonstrating how to do it.

Thanks to YouTube, I came across this video and can now make sure I’m doing the self-exam properly. I strongly encourage all women to watch it as well. I personally think it’s the most helpful and informative breast self-exam I’ve seen so far.
Next month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Let’s be more aware of the disease and do our best to ensure that we’re all free from this type of cancer by setting aside 15 minutes of our time each month to examine ourselves.

10 September 2014

To Hoard or Not to Hoard

Saw these Combos packs at Zoom at Deira City Centre Metro Station and I couldn’t decide whether to buy just one or more.
Reasons to Hoard:
• They’re delicious!
• They’re not always available; ordinary supermarkets don’t sell them
• Usually my favorite ones (Cheddar Cheese Crackers) are the first ones gone
• They're much more better than potato chips
• They’re really delicious!

Reasons Not to Hoard:
• They’re not cheap at Dhs12 a pack

Heck! There was no need to think about it. TO HOARD!!!! Not that much, though. Just around 6 of them…enough to satisfy my cravings for a couple of weeks =)

If you pass by and decide to hoard as well, please leave a couple of those dark blue packs for me.

03 September 2014

White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins with Cream Cheese

We had a pack of fresh raspberries in our fridge a few days ago, and seeing that no one else at home wanted to eat them because they were sour, I checked for recipes on the internet to cook them into something that was more to my family’s tastes. And I came across this recipe from Taste of Home that included two of my favorite ingredients: cream cheese and white chocolate! Yum!
don't they look Christmas-y? =)
It was a pretty easy recipe to follow and, once they had been cooled, were an instant hit with my daughters. Sophie managed to eat five mini-muffins in one sitting!

• 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup fresh raspberries
• 1/2 cup white chips (I used chopped white chocolate)

Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in a bowl until smooth.
Add eggs and beat mixture.
Mix in vanilla and set aside.
In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the cream cheese mixture and mix together.
Fold in raspberries and white chocolate.
Grease or line a muffin pan and fill with the batter.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for regular-sized muffins, or 10-12 minutes for mini-muffins, or until a toothpick comes out clean.



The issue with my NOL card has now been solved. Finally! After almost three weeks!

According to the RTA Customer Representative who called me yesterday, the reason why the machine and system showed that it was expired was “due to technical issues.” He didn’t give any other explanation or provide any other details as to why it took so long, but he did apologize many times.

Ok fine. At least I can recharge and use it again until it officially expires in October.  I can now return Hubby's card to him so he doesn't have to dig in his pockets or search the car for coins for parking tickets.

Thank you, RTA. But next time, please solve these issues faster. And give us clearer reasons and updates on the investigation statuses regularly.

01 September 2014

Hay Naku, RTA at Etisalat!

Unang araw ng buwan, kabwsitan ang ibinigay sa akin ng RTA at Etisalat.

Yung NOL card ko kasi, sa pagkakaalam ko sa October pa mageexpire. Nung sinabi ko yun sa RTA, sabi nila nag-expire na nung Mayo. Eh ayon sa nabasa ko sa dyaryo, August 2009 binenta ang unang batch ng NOL cards , so paano ako nakakuha ng card nung Mayo ng taong yun di ba? Atsaka ayon sa nabasa ko, kapag nag-expire na yung card, hindi na mare-recharge uli. Pero until early August this year, nakakapag-reload pa ako ng credit sa card ko.

So anyway, halos araw-araw ako nagfo-follow-up sa RTA kung anong status ng pag-investigate nila, pero ang lagi nilang sinasagot ay under investigation pa. Humingi pa sila ng e-mail address, full name, at mobile number ko. Itong mga nakaraang araw, naiinis na ako sa sobrang tagal at walang kwentang reply nila sa pag-follow-up ko kaya sarcastic na yung tono ng mga tanong at sagot ko sa kanila; pinapakita ko sa kanila na talagang naaasar na ako sa bagal ng aksyon nila. Ngayong umaga, binigyan nila ako ng Reference Number at ang sabi sa September 21 pa expected na ma-resolve ang issue na ‘to. Nagbibiro ba sila? O talagang gusto nila mang-inis? August 14 pa lang, alam na nila yung issue na ‘to. Bakit aabot ng mahigit isang buwan ang pag-investigate ng isang simpleng bagay, at kung kailangan lagi ng reference number ang isang case, bakit ngayon lang nila binigay?


Ang Etisalat naman, nagpadala ako ng request na i-disconnect ang apat ng company mobile numbers namin nung Miyerkules. Pero after less than a couple of hours, nagreply ako sa original message ko na ‘wag putulin ang linya ng isang numero dahil ginagamit pa. Sumagot sila na hindi nila magagawa yung hiniling ko dahil kailangan ko magbigay ng kopya ng ibang dokumento, na nabigay ko naman at pinaalala ko na ‘wag putulin ang isang linya ‘pag inasikaso nila yung request namin. Kahapon ng hapon, natanggap ko yung RID number at confirmation na pino-process na nila.

Ngayong umaga, may natanggap akong e-mail na na-disconnect na lahat ng numerong sinabi ko, kasama yung sinabi ko na wag putulin. Nung tinanong ko kung bakit, ang sagot nila ay na-raise na yung RID number bago ko yun sinabi. Sana naman sinabi nila yun nung umpisa pa lang di ba para ma-anticipate namin at makagawa kami ng back-up plan.

Nakakainis! Nakakabwisit! Nakakaasar!

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