Friday, December 31, 2010

Church Music Department Luau

I'm really not in the mood to blog. I suppose I'm too excited about the New Year. Manic list maker that I am, you can guess that I'm on a list making high at the moment. Still, I would like to share pics from our church's music department luau. It was heaps of fun. Limbo rock, coconut bowling, quiz bee (where the females trounced the males!!!), lei and costume contest, etc. I grabbed several pics from Rica's, Kaycee's and Trisha's Facebook albums. The ones in the slide show are from Mark's camera.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Those Mills & Boon Nurses

Did you ever go through the Mills and Boon or Harlequin stage? I did, the ‘60s and ‘70s ones because I was reading from my mom’s collection. And don’t knock them, I learned so much from them too - not about things like relationships and love as you would suspect (because whatever they call it, it’s all fantasy, hehe), but about things like geography, politics, botany,  general info, etc. How many times have I answered trivial pursuit or jeopardy questions correctly thanks to information I gleaned from reading five and dime type of romance novels? Innumerable, lol. I especially liked reading those nurse romances. The work and that kind of environment were interesting to me, even if I knew that I’d never actually be a nurse myself since I was too wussy about blood and guts. I liked their uniform too - the white dress and cap. There was something romantic and noble about the ensemble, something like that of a nun’s (btw, back then I thought some of the nurses were actually nuns because they were called “Sister”, hee!). Nowadays, of course, you’ll hardly ever see a nurse wearing the old attire, except maybe in costume parties. Out with the white dress and in with the more practical nursing scrubs.
Scrub clothing isn’t as romantic as the old uniform, but I can imagine it as something really comfortable to wear, something that medical professionals would be grateful for when they pull a 24-hour shift. Scrubs look really utilitarian and unisex though so I can’t imagine today’s nurses in the stories I used to read—which makes me wonder if they still write those nurse romances. Not without the white dress and cap, I bet. Anyway, romantic novels aren’t what they used to be.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Luau Prep

It's our church's music department luau tonight and as usual, I'm one of the organizing mucky-mucks (not really anything so high and mighty... I just like the clackety-clack sound of the word), so I've been busy. Still to do today:
- make cardboard palm tree
- make sign
- make leis and grass skirts for kiddies
- wrap our contribution to the exchange gifts segment
- find and wash boogie board and kick board
- make paper bag luminarias
- make some more ribbons and plaques for the awards
- finish putting together playlist

Monday, December 27, 2010

Unconsciously Edwardian

We went to the mall after church for Chip's birthday lunch. We ended up at Dulcinea for a dose of Spanish cuisine. While waiting for the others to get there (we came in two cars), Mark took our picture (we were also planning to order the paella negra, so we thought we'd get in some pics with squid ink-free smiles, lol). After lunch, one car went straight home, while the rest of us stayed behind to buy a couple of things (black shoes and stockings for Marguerite and a bridesmaid's dress for Chip). While were in a shop called Hip Culture, we heard one of the clerks say, "An' taray naman ng outfil nila, parang sa Princess Sara." ("Their outfits are fierce, like those in Princess Sara."-- Princess Sara was one of those Tagalized cartoon shows I mentioned here.) That's when we realized that they had been making a fuss about the clothes we were wearing (just Chip, Cheska and myself -- Marguerite was wearing a non-weird, but also non-churchy fuchsia, black and white ensemble with sneakers of the same color combo). They had been dropping comments since we entered the place, but we didn't think they were directed at us. We had to laugh at that. They were actually being complimentary too. They liked the outfits, but thought they were unusual. My dress was ankle-length and Chip's and Cheska's ended below the knee. I guess we did look different from your token mall goer, very modest, and judging from the Princess Sara bit, a little Edwardian, lol.
The three of us with probably a handful of other members are real sticklers for the church dress code - no sleeveless tops and skirts below the knee... This is imposed on the worship team (who mostly prefer to wear slacks anyway) and merely encouraged in the rest of the congregation. The operative word is "encouraged", which means we usually stand out in a sea of denim jeans and T-shirts. The thing is, I'm not modest at all. I used to wear the skimpiest things (not in church, of course), but since I made the conscious choice to be obedient, observing modesty (not really hard, but I started my adult life in a very liberal setting and its influence took root quite deeply) has become easier and easier.
Here's a brighter camera setting, lol:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Pageant Encore

Quick blog post... here are pics from the encore performance of our Christmas pageant during the Christmas Eve service at our church...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Greeting

Merry Christmas, everyone! Feliz Navidad a todos! Joyeux Noël à tout le monde! Maligayang Pasko sa lahat!

Pics from yesterday's Christmas postcard shoot... Marguerite's ears aren't pierced; those are stickers...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Caterwauling Excused

Filipinos love karaoke. No matter the class they belong to, there’s really just this innate love for music and fondness for performing. I wasn’t a fan in my younger years, but I stopped being a killjoy and obsessing about coolness as I got older. I still wouldn’t participate in big parties (I’ve never been the life of the party type anyway), but with an intimate circle of friends, I can get crazy. Loud Karaoke is definitely very common this time of the year and we all tolerate it better from our neighbors since they have a pretty good excuse (and you could be holding a similar ruckus in a few nights). Businesses that rent out karaoke machines probably make a bundle from all the corporate parties and reunions going on right now. It’s good to have a wide selection of CDs for Karaoke especially if your guest list is very diverse. My sister and I love singing songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s that we considered tacky back then. In the cloud of nostalgia, they suddenly become “adorable”. We also like songs that require us to scream so loud we practically spew out our entrails with the force. You know those songs… “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, “Alone”, etc. Other generations probably won’t get that, so it’s good to have lots of choices.

A Christmas Meme, Anyone?

Hey, how about a Christmas meme? I just found this online. Let me know if you plan to do it too, so I can check out your answers. (Edited to add: Thanks to Traci of Traci66, we can now read each other's answers more easily. Just add your meme URL to the linky over at her blog.)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

I prefer cloth, but anything I can recycle around here...

2. Real tree or Artificial?

I'd prefer real, but that's not really an option where I am (except maybe for the ridiculously rich)

3. When do you put up the tree?

the start of December

4. When do you take the tree down?

sometime in April, hee... seriously, early January

5. Do you like eggnog?

only during the holidays

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

I almost always got books. I love books, so...

7. Hardest person to buy for?

Dad - doesn't care about material stuff; Husband - has a very expensive wishlist in my assumption

8. Easiest person to buy for?

Sister - she hands out a wishlist and always makes sure there are small items you could get her

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

Nope, but I think we should include this in our tradition

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?


11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

It's hard for me to think of something I'd consider a bad gift... I mean, even if I suspect something to be recycled, I still feel that I was remembered, so no worries. I guess a bad gift would be something that encourages people to do "bad" things. Never got any.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

I should say "It's a Wonderful Life" or something like that, but if I were honest, I'd say "While You Were Sleeping" or "The Holiday" (even "Home Alone", lol).

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

If I'm ahead of schedule, December 23, hehe. I mostly give homemade.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

I pass stuff on that I know somebody else would want (not as a gift though), like in the case of too many planners or Daily Bread devotionals... One Christmas, we received several copies of "A Purpose-driven Life"...

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Cheese... and holiday dessert (could be cookies, pie, cake...)

16. Lights on the tree?

Uh, yes please

17. Favorite Christmas song?

Love most of them, but I find "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" really catchy.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Stay home

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Probably not, but let's try... Dasher, Prancer, Donner, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid ... I forget the rest. Does Rudolph count?

20. Angel on the tree-top or a star?


21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

In the morning

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

the mob and the traffic

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?

Blue usually looks nice, but we've never done that. We mostly stick to the red, green, silver and gold combo.

24. Favorite food for Christmas dinner?

ham (if we're not eating beef or pork that year, then rotisserie chicken) and cheese

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

the fulfillment of certain dreams...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

To Click or Not to Click

This is such a crazy busy time. I have not been able to do my clicks lately and that means less income from sites like Adgitize and CMF. With Adgitize, since I buy ads from them, I made a sort of rule for myself: I’ll allow myself to advertize only if I use the money I earn from them as well. That means I have to earn at least 14 dollars a month. That’s very achievable, most of the time, with a little profit even, but that means I have to do my 51 clicks. That’s usually fun when I have the time. I like reading blogs and leaving comments on posts that piqued me to react somehow. I really don’t mind the clicks, although it can be a real pain to my mouse manipulating hand. I like choosing which blog to visit next. Now, I’ve been doing this long enough to know which blogs would probably offer some sort of interest for me. And then there are the new advertizers, about whom I’m usually curious, especially if they have nice badges. I’m really quite juvenile about that sometimes. I guess it does pay to have a nice logo. I think mine is pretty because it’s essentially my daughter’s face, but I really didn’t put in much trouble or creativity in that one. I got a picture which I thought was somehow related to the essence of my blog, cropped it, and added the text. I’m not sure how persuasive it is as a clickable badge. I suppose if I really want something that fascinates, I could consult a Logo Design Company. Speaking of these things, my sister thinks I should change my header as well. I’ve been meaning to do that for the longest time, but I’m procrastinating as usual.

Updating My Accounts

I received an offer from LinkfromBlog this morning and when I checked it out, my account is still affiliated with my old blogspot address. I had to ditch the opp - which is a bummer - since I needed to fix my account info. It occurred to me that I needed to update my account with several other similar paid blogging programs as well.  Some of them still have my blogspot address, while others that are more recent lack the www bit (which I've already mentioned here spells a huge difference when it comes to Page Rank).  That's like starting over. I have to "claim" my blog all over again for one, but if it means getting the paid opps, then no worries.With LinkfromBlog, I have to post a counter. With other programs, it meant posting key phrases like "Men love to play with kitchen utensils"or "Don't you wanna dance".
Here's to more blogging opps in the future...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Great Place for Your Holiday Shopping

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pier 1 Imports. All opinions are 100% mine.

Are you one of those people who finished their Christmas shopping in August? If you are, then you have my admiration and amazement. I’m one of those people who like to give homemade, so I pretty much devote my time to crafting and baking gifts. Once that part is out of the way, then I have to start shopping for those who’ll be getting store-bought presents. Of course, it’s usually already the 23rd or even the 24th by then. With the Christmas crowd and general madness, I like to pick just one store with guaranteed cool items, so I can do all of my shopping there and get out before I turn into Ebenezer Scrooge.

I was over at Pier 1 and there are so many items that would make great  holiday gifts for all the people I need to get something for. My sister and I love pashminas, so this one would make a cool present that I can borrow as well, hehe:

I checked out their clearance items and saw this neat autumn leaves mirror that would make a fab present for my mom. It now also costs more than $10 less than the original price. I could even find some things for myself. Considering my whimsical and eclectic decorating style, it’s easy enough to do that. I really like the metal fleur-de-lis 10 votive holder, the jeweled peacock wood frame and the green wire bird cage that I saw. They’re all listed under clearance so the prices are much lower. If you’re there and thinking of getting something for me, those buttercream vanilla fragrance beads would be perfect (also on sale now).

Btw, you can spread some holiday cheer simply by liking Pier 1 Imports on Facebook. It takes next to no effort from you and they will donate a dollar to Toys for Tots for every new fan they get. For the months of November and December, you can also drop off toy or cash donations for Toys for Tots at the register.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 21

Marguerite knows when she's sick. She tells me. The thing is, sometimes she likes to pretend too, so I have to work harder to see if she's serious or just play acting. Yesterday, she took a Rip Van Winklish nap after the pageant general rehearsals and when she woke up, she said, "I'm sick. My throat hurts. Take my temperature." I thought at first that she was just pretending, but I took her temperature anyway and it was lower than 37, so I thought she was just playing. Before going to bed however, she came into the room saying that her head hurt and it seemed to me that she did feel warm. I took her temp and she had a slight fever. We prayed and claimed healing. Christmas pageant and kids' department party today and we'll be there.

Anniversary day... 14 years as a couple, 6 years married. Here are pics from the early days of our marriage...

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Couple of Pics for Now


Busy as a bee. No time for a proper post, so I leave you with a couple of pictures from our church's Christmas party last night. I'll post the entire album sometime soon. As you can see, I took particular effort to match the tablecloth and Marguerite is part-Rudolph.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Quick" Money

I was reading the Plan of Salvation part of the Start! Bible and there was this story about this guy who bought an old picture frame from a flea market and ended up with a rare 1776 John Dunlap Declaration of Independence official print copy. To make the long story short, he made more than 2 million dollars in profit from that $4 investment. I’m waiting for something like that to happen to me, lol. I love stories like that. Quick money, but without effort or deception, just something completely unexpected. It’s not like winning the lotto, because with that you go into it, hoping to make money (and just end up disappointed anyway, unless you’re that person from Zambales who won), and anyway, my persuasion is quite explicit in its stand against such “recreation”. So anyway, another similar story I like, although fiction, is from Elizabeth Enright’s “The Four-story Mistake”. Miranda Melendy found a caddis house with a diamond embedded in it while wading in the pond (and she was a good girl too and bought a war bond with it). How about inheriting money from some miserly relative you thought you were being charitable to? A little bit trickier is spotting a wanted criminal with a reward on his head, lol. Anyway, in my wonderings about this, I’ve already determined what I would do with the money - tithe plus offering of course, gifts to people for whom I always wish I could do more, invest, and have fun. When I say fun, I don’t mean stuff. I mean experiences and travel is at the top of the list. Maybe go on Hoseasons european holidays? Europe is my number one destination. Build a house should be up there, but in this fantasy where I find a genuine lost masterpiece, precious stones glued next to rhinestones, a hag who turns out to be a good fairy, a semi-harmless wanted criminal (point 1: it would be hard to turn a harmless person in; point 2: there’s a catfight, but I am ninja, so I trounce him, lol)… we already have a cottage in the woods, so…

Friday, December 17, 2010

Review: Start! The Bible for New Believers (NKJV)

While Start! (Thomas Nelson Publishers) would pass as a pretty good study Bible for new believers with the book introductions and the notes scattered throughout the content, it is mostly designed to be a daily reading Bible. This Bible comes with additional features such as several helpful articles on the Plan of Salvation, Greg Laurie’s Secrets to Spiritual Success, the “essentials” (both basic and in-depth knowledge about God), etc. Each book is also prefaced with an introduction, providing background and insight on the succeeding content. The book itself is pocked with mini-articles labeled GROW (key disciplines of the Christian life), KNOW (core beliefs of Christians), LIVE (various aspects of salvation) and LEARN (short commentaries for spiritual growth). There is also a topical index to help you easily find verses you are looking for. About ten leaves are also allotted to notes the reader may want to make.

My review of Start! is generally favorable. I think it is easy to use and makes the Bible more understandable not just for new believers, but for anybody who would read it. I gauged the merits of the study tools by having a go at the Book of Revelations, something that I usually have a hard time understanding for all the symbolism. I found the points and explanations given in informative tidbits on the pertinent pages to be very useful and guiding. The additional articles definitely cater to new believers but are just as interesting to read for those who are older in the faith. Greg Laurie’s Secrets to Spiritual Success would definitely benefit both the “young” and the mature spiritually. I read through the article and was blessed and inspired.
I also love how it’s in the New King James Version. The Bible is considered the greatest book obviously for its content, but it also holds excellent literary merit. The NKJV preserves the beautiful prose and poetry of the Bible while sparing us the archaic pronouns, conjugations, etc.
Edited by world renowned preacher and author, Greg Laurie, Start! would make a terrific personal Bible. It’s a reasonable weight and size for toting to church and it will do wonderfully for daily devotions. Two things that may be points for consideration: some may think the print to be on the small side (nothing that reading glasses wouldn’t remedy; personally, I think the font size is fine.) and the book is a paperback. The cover is an arresting red with a very contemporary feel to it. You’ll have to read the title for you to realize that it’s a Bible. It looks more engaging than your token leather-bound Bible, but would not stand up as well to frequent use (and that’s the goal, right?). If you get this, I suggest, you use a protective book cover.
Overall, I’m happy to have received Start!. I shall be using it myself, and I definitely recommend it to new believers who are shopping for a Bible to start and grow with. Start! is retail priced at $19.99.

(Disclaimer: As a blogger I received a free review copy  of this book from Booksneeze. The  opinions expressed are entirely my own.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Clickbooth CPC

You can’t blame me for getting excited over Clickbooth. After being banned from Adsense for reasons I had no control over (clickers could either intentionally sabotage you or could be ignorant enough to think they’re helping when they’re effectively causing you to lose your account - I just wish there had been some warning from Google, a sort of heads-up that suspicious activity was going on, so I could have informed or made an appeal to whoever it was or tried to investigate the IP address. And now, even worse, they wouldn’t let my sister get an account with them either since she’s connected to me… h-anyway…), I haven’t made earnings from a CPC network. Even better, Clickbooth has sort of forged a battle of Google AdWords vs. Clickbooth and you know how I love cheering for the underdog. I really like the cockiness, the fearless challenge, since after all, to quote my husband after I’d told him about it, “Google owns the Internet. And maybe Facebook,” (which, if you know how my brain works, leads me to musings about the antichrist, hee). Maybe Google will always remain top dog, but that doesn’t mean that there could only be a monopoly. Let others be just as successful (and help me and the others whom they’ve declared personae non gratae). Anyway, Clickbooth gives me hope. Maybe it’ll help me get over my bitterness over the Adsense thing, lol.
Essentially, Clickbooth has been around for some years now. The CPC part is a fairly new division and is really geared toward competing with Adwords. With the following benefits: access to thousands of big name advertizers (they are promised new market with undervalued click costs, access to billions of exclusive Clickbooth impressions, advanced targeting by keyword, category, or location, etc.), yield optimized ad delivery, real-time reporting to track earnings, etc. their promise of the best payouts in the business is quite feasible. You could become an affiliate and earn more. Their working theory in optimizing CPC for publishers is that targeting the most efficient keywords guarantees minimal cost per click in comparison to the sales generated. This way, the publishers’ ad inventory continuously expands, generating incremental revenue and better web traffic earnings.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Marguerite and Little Women

My friend Maf got us free tickets to see Repertory Philippines' "Little Women the Musical" last Sunday, but sadly missed it herself. Her daughter (my goddaughter) Antonella was hospitalized on that day so she couldn't make it (little Antonella is getting better now, we continue to pray for her full recovery). Five of us went: Mark, Marguerite, Chip, Cheska and myself. Maf works with a niece of Joy Virata ("Aunt March" in the play) whose husband, former Prime Minister Cesar Virata (yes, there was a time when the Philippines had a parliamentary form of government), turned 80 last Sunday and to celebrate, had agreed to sponsor that night's show. Thanks to his generosity, Marguerite finally got to see her first live musical (I thought it would be Cats, esp since she loves the songs, but oh well, that rolled right over us...). We sang "Happy Birthday" to him after the curtain call. I tried to stay in tune and on pitch since Gerard Salonga's Filharmonika was accompanying the singing, lol.
As for the play, it was wonderful. It had great comedic merit. The singing, on the whole, was great (not perfect, but we're talking about live theater here). It was long though (3 hours) and my four-year-old got antsy a couple of times. Marguerite was probably one of the five or six kids in the audience, and she was the youngest. She wanted to watch, but she wouldn't just sit still and be quiet, so Mark and I took turns bringing her outside (just one trip each - and we sat by the wall aisle) so she could get the fidgets out of her system. She did say she wanted to see it again when it was over.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Church Yard Sale Pics

Here's a slide show of pictures from Saturday taken during our church's annual yard sale, bazaar and fun day. You'll mostly see pics from lunchtime onwards (photographer came late). There was the yard sale itself, of course - something like our own Goodwill/Salvation Army (we don't have those stores here). There were food booths (lots of pics of goodies baked by Chip and Cheska), game booths, a face painting booth (mine and Luigi's but he kept on flaking, wanting to play instead of work), our Amway friends from China (Dad, Mom, and I are all members - we like the Nutrilite products - although I'm not actively selling. But I should.) also conducted free checkups...

Monday, December 13, 2010

No More MTV for Me

I don’t really watch MTV anymore. Of course, there was a time when it was all I ever watched, but I suppose I outgrew it. I don’t really care about music videos anymore. Back then, I had band crushes and there was no YouTube, so for sightings, I had to resort to the TV. Nowadays, it’s also about not wanting to expose myself to the “values” of MTV. For a time last year, I was actually interested in (and did catch several episodes of) “16 and Pregnant” and its spin-off “Teen Mom”. The last reality show on MTV I bothered watching was “The Real World” (and still halfheartedly) and that was back in the ‘90s. I think Chip still watches MTV, but then again, besides the fact that she’s younger, she has always been more hip than me (she was a cool, popular girl back in school, while I was a prissy little nerd). When I was asking my high school students what on earth they found interesting in “Laguna Beach” (rolling their eyes, they answered, “Grownups won’t get it, Miss Papa”), I should have been asking my sister because she was watching the show herself. I think she’s above “Jersey Shore” nowadays, but she might tune in when there’s nothing better on TV. That show must be a gross misrepresentation of New Jersey culture. Compound that with “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”, then TV viewers can’t help but get this idea about the state - that it’s all trashy dramatic housewives, Jersey City flirt sessions, Seaside Heights drunken parties, etc. When there’s mention of Jersey, especially the Italian-American aspect of it, I prefer to think of the De Luca family in “That’s Life” with Heather Paige Kent. Now, that’s endearing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Few Pics from Yesterday

I'm still exhausted from yesterday. I had to give the reunion a miss, but Mark and I worked on the Christmas pageant (well, mostly Mark) so it was still a super long day. Up ahead, another long day: church, Christmas pageant practice, caroling practice, church general cleaning, Little Women the Musical (not in it, just going to watch, lol). I'll just leave you with a couple of pictures for now.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Off to the Church Yard Sale and Fun Day

Super busy day today! Off to church before 8am for the annual bazaar (there have been talks of making it twice a year, which is a good idea, I think). I'll be running a face painting booth with my 14-yr-old cousin Luigi, while my sister and Luigi's sisters will be selling baked goodies, accessories, books and other gift items. Caroling practice sometime this afternoon as well (we are going to get that harmony right!). If there's time and I'm not completely pooped yet, I might join my high school classmates for a mini-reunion. Might also work on Christmas pageant props during lulls. Have to make halos, Herod's throne, manger, etc. Love the season's hustle and bustle. I probably won't be saying that when it gets more intense, lol

Friday, December 10, 2010

Scottsdale's Appeal

I did a whole bunch of articles on Scottsdale, Arizona for an interior design company. Naturally, Frank Lloyd Wright and his Taliesin West were a frequent topic. I’m not really a fan of modern design. I can appreciate it and be amazed by the ingenious concepts that the movement has brought forth, but it would not be my first choice when it comes to aesthetics. I’m more of a fairy tale cottage type of decorator with quite the penchant for whimsical knickknacks - definitely not high-brow. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to see what Scottsdale has to offer. Having done those articles made me really interested to see the place. I can imagine architecture enthusiasts doing a pilgrimage of sorts to the city. I’d like to see the Frank Lloyd Wright Spire for one. Imagine going out at night to see it, all aglow in glacial blue. I’ve seen pictures and it’s quite the eye candy. I can envision couples on evening strolls going around it and remarking at the monument. I’m thinking Scottsdale dating must involve a lot of architecture talk for all the Frank Lloyd Wright elements present. Of course, it’s also a fair assumption that architects and architecture students are plentiful anyway, thanks to the school.

Book Bliss

I review for BookSneeze

I found out about Booksneeze from Vera and eagerly signed up. It's a great program for bloggers who love to read and collect books. In exchange for an honest review, a blogger gets a brand new copy of a book. I just received my first and am excitedly checking it out. I won't say anymore lest I end up giving parts of the actual review here. Anyway, Marguerite and I had to make another trip to the post office to claim the book. The guy at Customs remembered us, "Weren't you just here the other day?" It had actually already been a whole week, but why nitpick? From the post office, we went next door to the City Hall where there was a Scholastic Book Sale going on. I went a little crazy with the book shopping, but hopefully, it would turn out to be a good investment.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 34:1

By nature, I'm one of those pathetically negative people. Give me the merest sense of disappointment or frustration and I can wallow in a kind of hopeless funk ad infinitum. I'm pretty good at portraying myself as some sort of tragic figure (the tragedy being that...  ooh, I can't even remember, but I'm pretty sure it was something really cruel. And probably quite ironic too, because nothing bites more than cruel irony). I'm really disgusting in my self-absorption sometimes.:) But, you see, God can change people and it's such a blessing to observe this in myself. I recently came into a realization of sorts, a kind of confrontation with reality, and had to ditch a couple of dreams plans (plans that I'd been avidly awaiting to be realized and which I believed would happen soon - it seems they shall have to remain dreams for some time). Now, if God hadn't been working in me, I'd be getting ready just about now to sink myself in depression and make the people around me suffer as much as I imagine myself to be suffering. I just thank the Lord that He has opened my mind to His teaching and correction. Some time back, my devotional piece said something to this effect: in moments of despair, disappointment, sorrow, etc. praise the Lord. I've consciously tried to follow that and I can say that it does put things in proper perspective, give me a bigger view of the picture. I can see that I am not the center of the universe (always a big shock), that God loves me, is in control, and is bigger than whatever it is that I'd been allowing to overpower me, that the ultimate dream is to be with God in eternity, etc.
I find the song below really helpful at this time. Pls feel free to share songs (or anything) that you think also apply to what I talked about.

Glory to the King by Darlene Zschech

Lord My Heart Cries Out, Glory To The King
My Greatest Love In Life, I Hand You Everything
Glory, Glory, I Hear The Angels Sing

Open My Ears, Let Me Hear Your Voice
To Know That Sweet Sound, Oh My Soul Rejoice
Glory, Glory, I Hear The Angels Sing

You’re The Father To The Fatherless
The Answer To My Dreams
I See You Crowned In Righteousness
We Cry Glory To The King
Comforter To The Lonely
The Lifter Of My Head
I See You Veiled In Majesty
We Cry Glory, Glory
We Cry Glory To The King

Still Going on about My Portfolio

As you know, since I’ve harped on it one time too many, I lost my portfolio of published writings in last year’s flood (I was going to say just “the flood”, but I remembered that generally refers to the one in Noah’s time - ours was devastating, but not quite as epic as THE flood). I also lost Marguerite’s first year calendar, where I had detailed all her milestones. We lost other things too, but I should be grateful that we were all kept safe (especially my dad who had to travel through chest-high flood waters in an area where people lost their lives) and our important documents were spared. Every now and then, however, I can’t help but gripe about those seemingly trivial things. I think many of us learned from that calamity and have now implemented secure record management. Our certificates and property documents are currently in a relatively safe place. It’s safe from flood, but not really safe from a fire or a thief. We could do better. To go back to my initial point, I wish I had been smarter about preserving my portfolio. Now, it’s like I’m starting from scratch and I feel that I don’t really have the interest to put together another one. In my line of work, however, it’s important that I do.

We'll Celebrate... Someday

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Mark and I will be celebrating our anniversary soon (and it’s kind of an amalgam of various special events). The years are different of course - we started dating in 1996 and we have been married since 2004 (we got engaged exactly a year before the wedding). I think the last time we really bothered to celebrate was before we had Marguerite. Since then, it always seemed as though there was just too much to do around this time and celebrating our anniversary was always the easiest item to scrap from the list. I used to be high maintenance about that and gave Mark such grief if things fell short of my expectations, but I first learned not to be too demanding and, later, not to demand or expect anything at all. It certainly greatly diminished my stress. I know some people will say that we have to celebrate, that it’s important in keeping the romance alive… I agree, but we’re the geniuses who chose December 21st to be their anniversary. Anyway, someday, I’m going to collect on all the missed celebrations and DEMAND something really big. As you know, I’d rather travel than have stuff, so I’m thinking a nice canal boat holiday in the UK? It’s one of my dream vacations. Maybe when Mark comes across some jackpot and no, it can’t be the lotto; our persuasion definitely doesn’t do that.

The Holidays Are Bearing Down upon Me

We were discussing our holiday plans on one of my message boards and what I related to the other members made me realize that our calendar is pretty filled up. And I’m still in denial about presents too! I’m so caught up in all the activities that I haven’t started any shopping yet. Anyhoo, this is how busy things are for us (the stuff from our church alone is pretty overwhelming):
11 - Church yard sale/bazaar/fun day (I might face paint - big MIGHT)
12 - usual Sunday stuff, plus pageant and caroling practice, Little Women, the musical in the evening
17 - Mark leaves for Tagaytay for a wedding, lantern parade at UP
18 - Marguerite’s last ballet class for the year, caroling practice
19 - Christmas party
20 - Christmas pageant general rehearsals
21 - Christmas pageant and children’s party (my anniversary too with Mark - dude asked me out, proposed to me and married me on December 21 of different years - but we’ll just ignore it)
22 - Mark leaves for Tagaytay again for another wedding
24 - Christmas eve service
25 - celebrating at my grandmother’s
26 - Chip’s birthday, our church’s 30-something fellowship group party
27 - my SIL’s birthday
29 - our church’s music ministry luau
31 - thanksgiving service at our church
I didn’t even include the dinners yet. I have to plan the Christmas eve dinner with my mom. We’re sure to have lots of food, some cocoa, some ssparkling wine, some cider… We have to come up with a sort of program as well to make it extra fun. I make such a big fuss to make the holidays really special and memorable. I have to remind myself not to let all the details stress me out and to keep in mind what the season is really about.

La Migraine Me Prend la Tête

I've been having really bad migraine attacks lately, interspersed with your routine dull headache type of discomfort. Now, I have about four suspected culprits (five, if you count deteriorating eyesight): my monthly period (TMI, I know), poor sleep quality (which could mean the end of co-sleeping for us), some dried up mucus that have lodged itself somewhere and needs to be expelled (and may be causing me this feeling of an impending asthma attack  as well-TMI again, sorry), and the amount of chocolate I've been consuming lately. I told myself to minimize computer time and to avoid watching TV, reading books, crafting... alas, I'm more averse to boredom than pain. I've put myself under observation for the time being. In the interim, I'm functioning like a store with just its skeleton staff operating it. One thing I'm sure of though, I have to stop chocolate consumption for a little while. Not only because of the headaches either. I'm actually just being a glutton, and I do have to pay for them. I've been ignoring our usual bucket of candy bars in favor of my sisters fudge creations. She's selling them at our church's yard sale/bazaar/fun day on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Say Milwaukee

The first time I encountered the word Milwaukee, it did not even refer to the actual place. I was probably in second grade and there was a girl in my school - several years older than I - who had to wear this metal contraption around her torso. I asked her what it was and she told me it was a Milwaukee brace and that it was for her scoliosis. I thought it was cool and I really liked the sound of that word Milwaukee. I had favorite words as a child (I was one of those weirdos who got a thrill from learning new words and idioms, who was picked to join spelling bees, and who obnoxiously insisted on reading at high school level) and Milwaukee was one of them. A little bit later, I learned about Milwaukee the place. I’ve seen it featured by Andrew Zimmern in one of his shows, by Mark DeCarlo too, I think, and it seems like a very interesting place. I did a little research and read its Wiki page (which, as you know, would be quite thorough and include everything from dry facts and statistics to stuff like Milwaukee dating scenes and local curios). I still like the word to date. As for the place, I still haven’t been and I’d like to see it.

Doggy Thoughts

It’s not yet the right time for us to get one, but I would love to have a dog and I would like the big (or medium-sized), friendly kind. Those rats dogs you put in purses are cute, but I’m not really a dog-in-purse type of pet owner. I know those smaller dogs are more economical to keep (if I don’t feel the need to buy them haute couture outfits and bring them to trendy groomers who paint their toe nails), but I’ve always liked dogs with a more substantial presence, in the way that I could see them clearly and not accidentally step on them. It’s too bad that not a lot of places cater to big dogs, if they even allow dogs at all. In our old apartment, for instance, pets weren’t allowed, period. At the other places we scoped out, they sometimes conceded to those purse dogs, but very grudgingly. I'm not sure about public places, like malls. I see a lot of purse dogs, but hardly ever any bigger dogs (except those security K9s). It would also be great to be able to just bring your pet when you travel and not worry about your lodgings being off limits to it. You could opt to just rent a private cottage for more dog friendly holidays. That way, you wouldn’t have to worry about the other guests who may or may not complain about allergies, fear, noise, etc.

That Conversation with a DJ

I’ve never been a party animal. I don’t really like partying. Don’t get me wrong though. There are certain kinds of parties I do enjoy, but the typical kind with just drinking, dancing, and mingling involved, I’m not really a fan of. I tried the whole routine back in college and even then, it didn’t come naturally to me. It was just such an effort to be involved. Good thing bands were huge back then, so I could at least feel some genuine interest. Music was definitely the main attraction for me most of the time. I remember about three of us congregating in a makeshift DJ booth, pestering the DJ by dictating which songs to play and insisting he broadcast the bits of blind items we were feeding him. From there we somehow started talking about business and economics. The DJ said the business he was in could be lucrative, if he knew the right people and networked well. It certainly didn’t seem like work to him, except the equipment lugging part (no compact and portable behringer epa900 yet at that time). From deejaying, we got to talking about real estate and stocks, and I think I decided to go to the bathroom at this point and missed their comparative discussion on MBA programs.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Starbucks. Origami. Paretsky.

Marguerite and I finally got to use our Starbucks gift certificates last week. We had to go to the post office first to pick up something for Mark and then we headed to the mall where I first got some fabric dye (black, for my still good but faded stuff), some pretty paper for origami, a Sara Paretsky (Php15) and a Veggie Tales activity book (complete and unused - Php25). We finally went to Starbucks where we spent Php285 (!!!) for two cups of gourmet milk. Don't judge. Gift certificates, remember? Marguerite and I sat ourselves down, sipped our milk and made and played with origami lucky stars.
Anyway, I got me a copy of "Windy City Blues", a compilation of short cases worked on by Paretsky's PI V.I. Warshawski. It included the story Paretsky contributed to "A Woman's Eye" a separate compilation featuring short stories written by the best women mystery writers (although also edited by Paretstky), my copy of which was destroyed in last year's flood. After Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky is my favorite writer of detective fiction. I actually find their writing styles similar although for some reason, I enjoy Grafton more. I think it's because I find Grafton's prose more delightful, her humor less sardonic, and her characters more endearing. Anyway, that's just me. You're welcome to disagree. :)

My Apartment in...

On one of Samantha Brown’s Passport to Europe Paris editions (she featured it a couple of times - I wouldn’t complain; I can’t get enough of Paris), she stayed in an apartment instead of a hotel. I actually like that idea. A hotel room, no matter how fancy, feels like a hotel room. If you enjoy the hotel experience and can afford it, good for you, but for those who prefer a more private and more affordable setup, an apartment would be a wonderful option. I’m not sure if these tasteful, short-stay apartments are available in many countries. After all, the shorter your stay, the exorbitantly higher the rate is, as a rule. In the UK, however, there are many of these, in whichever city you may decide to visit. From London to Edinburgh, you’ll have plenty of apartments to choose from. I suppose the Shakespeare fan would be interested in Stratford-upon-Avon, the spa enthusiast in Bath, etc. I’m thinking the football nut would want to go to Manchester, lol. Of course, Manchester has much more to offer to the tourist, including Hoseasons manchester apartments to stay in. In any case, an apartment would allow visitors to have a more “residential” experience, if they want it.

Monitor Tales

Some years back I remember being gym monitor at lunch time when a few grade school kids decided to start smearing this powdery substance on each other. The things children think up to do! I thought at first that there was an open container of talcum somewhere in the vicinity and then I saw the kids ripping bits of plaster from the torn panels on the wall. With thoughts of asbestos and cancer - or skin irritation at the very least - I put a halt to their “fun” and ordered them to the restroom to wash up properly. A mesothelioma prognosis after all is one of the most dismal things out there. Thankfully, the material was harmless enough. It was just better not to take any chances. I think our campus used to be the junior high school on the former American naval base, so I’m guessing the construction dates back to the ‘60s. I know the carpet in my classroom was very circa ’70 in its feel and look. Anyway, the old gym was soon repaired and it became more of an auditorium than a play gym as a new and bigger one was constructed near the soccer field.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sniffling through a Super Busy Weekend

I'm currently down with a horrible cold. My immune system went down (the monthly thing) so I became susceptible to the virus. It's the kind that requires me to just pause and rest so it'll go away after the usual interval it's due (without proper rest, there's a possibility it will linger for weeks), but the thing started on Saturday and I was crazy busy the entire weekend, so, here I am, still miserable with it. Saturday, Marguerite had ballet (her teacher told me how well-behaved she was that day - to make up for the previous Saturday's ruckus, I suppose, lol). After that we went to a children's party (7th birthday of Spring - my friend Trec's eldest child - Trec is the baking whiz behind Little Cakes Factory). I'm sharing pics from the party at the bottom of this post. It was so great to see our friends again. Trec and I officially met in UP, although we had both gone to St. Scholastica as well. It's been about a year since I had last seen Trec (we saw Marc and the girls - Spring and Danie, who's Marguerite's age) a couple of times a few months ago at the first ballet school we tried out for Marguerite). Trec and Marc just had a baby boy (Caleb) too, and it was our first time to meet him. For some reason, Marguerite's party name tag said "Marga", lol. The lady probably thought Marguerite was too long and decided to shorten it to Marga, hee. After the party, we went to church for the Music Ministry meeting. Sunday, we had church in the morning. We went home for lunch and went right back to church after eating for the Christmas pageant practice. I had a little bit of rest after this and just shot the breeze with my friend Maf while watching Chip teach the dancers the choreography for their Christmas party number. After this, it was time for caroling practice, so... yeah, my cold is festering to date. My plan of attack against the buggers is to just stay in bed and drink lots of fluids the entire day. I also believe in feeding a cold, so I'll be munching nonstop as well.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let Me Have That Window Seat Already

W e were discussing our dream home over at the Adgitize forum and as usual, I made references to my requirement of cozy window seats. I would like several in the house. Marguerite’s room must have one and hopefully it could be one of her favorite spots growing up, a place where she could observe the street below and the skies above, where she could bunch up a few pillows behind her back and get comfy while reading great books… Anyway, window seats are a lovely feature in a room too. They are usually bigger than the ordinary window, so they let a lot of light in. You can dress them very prettily with sweet pillows, an heirloom afghan at the ready for rainy afternoons, delicate drapery framing easily adjustable blinds (these would probably have to be made to measure blinds too). I can also see these window seats framed by tall book cases. Maybe the seat itself could have shelves underneath that hold games, magazines, picture albums, etc. I think that’s a pretty good spot for a fierce game of scrabble or chess. Clue, backgammon, checkers, etc. too, but no Playstation or Nintendo. I have a sort of rule about handheld video games - which is I don’t want them in my home (that doesn’t sound like a rule). I’m very prejudiced against them. Between playing a video game and daydreaming, I think the former is more of a waste of time. I have a rebel against this rule too: my techie husband.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Can Play AGAD

You know the 34 Things to Do… list I published on my 34th birthday? One item said “to play a complete song on the guitar”. The thing is, with a guitarist in the family, I somehow feel I don’t have to learn, lol. But I think I do want to learn. Apparently, not badly enough in the past to really pursue it. It would have definitely come in handy when I was a school teacher and I’m sure the skill would be very useful now that I’m homeschooling. I guess that marks the difference. With Marguerite, I have to offer my best, so I’m going to learn now - for realz! I’d love acoustic guitar lessons since my husband doesn’t have the time to teach me himself. He had managed to teach me - about a decade ago - intros to various songs and I somehow never managed to graduate from those (Mark and I just can’t seem to teach each other anything. He’s the same with Spanish. I guess exasperation comes too easily for both parties, lol). I had been searching the net for easy songs to play that Marguerite could sing along to (you know, those AGAD-DAGA songs, lol) and I zeroed in on - wait for it - Camptown Races, lol. I almost completed it too, but Marguerite decided to twist a couple of tuning keys, so I gave it up for that day.

It's Medicinal, LOL

My mom and I recently depleted a box of red wine (we’re real classy like that, lol) and then we finished off a bottle of Spanish wine after that, so now my stash is gone and I’m going to wait until the holidays to stock up again (meaning, the stock would be mostly gifts, lol). I make us sound like a couple of winos, but we drink very sparingly. We just stick to half a glass a day. Some days, we abstain completely. That box, for instance, was cracked open (but with the little spigot, you know) almost five months (I read somewhere that’s good for about six months?) before we finished it off. I do have to be careful with wine as I have a taste for it. Thanks to Peter Mayle and his recounts of wine tasting at the caves of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, I have dreams of going to dégustations myself. I’m hardly knowledgeable in oenology, but I do know people who are and would find a wine bank very beneficial to their lifestyle and budget. I also like reading books/mags and watching shows that feature those who have more epicurean tastes (confession: I love watching Top Chef and had a crush on Chef Novelli for a time - loved how his English merited subtitles, lol). Chip and I also finally saw Julie & Julia, for instance, and loved it (but we find Meryl Streep pretty much infallible anyway), so… I guess I like exposure to that culture?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

When Did I Get Too Old for Amusement Parks?

We finally went to Snow World... and promptly left. Marguerite who was bundled up in several layers of jackets, mufflers, tights, leg warmers, socks, mittens, ear flap headband, bonnet, hoods, etc. said it was too cold for her. So we lined up for the picture, the kind you have to pay for (they don't allow electronics inside) and got out. Mark didn't bring his camera inside because one blogger said his camera kept on getting wet and he was constantly wiping the moisture off. Mark wasn't going to risk fungus on his camera, so we thought we'd do with just his phone for pictures, but the Snow World people make you put your electronics in a plastic bag - um, I don't know why. We don't leave them at the counter or anything - some sort of minor deterrent for those who intend to take pictures inside. It's not very persuasive as you'll find lots of pictures on the net. Anyway, there was a long line (I thought we'd better go to Star City before December to avoid the usual Christmas crowd, but we thoughtlessly went on a holiday - last Monday - and were surprised to find several schools there on their field trip and staying until really late at night. Ugh, I hate crowds. :( Oh, btw, when I was a kid, we went to factories, churches and museums on school days for our field trip... What's up with the current trend on educational tours?) and if you go way after 4 o'clock, which is when Snow World opens, the "snow" on the ground would be gray. I loved that temperature though. With proper clothes (which I had on, except for the denim jeans) and accessories, I was pretty comfy. Also, my allergies had been acting up right before going in and my nose went fine while we were inside. Btw, my uncle who has the same case of allergies moved to Canada and is now no longer bothered by them.
Anyway, we left Snow World behind and headed for the rides. Mark and Marguerite opted to get the ride-all-you-can package (I wouldn't have been able to go on my kind of rides anyway -- I like the daredevil ones; Marguerite's too young and Mark's too - I'd say chicken, but you might tease him about it), so they had fun doing that while I parked my behind on benches and waited. Marguerite also played a few carnival games and actually won a small stuffed bunny for herself.
Have I already said how much I hate crowds? :(
We stayed until closing time (11pm that day). I was exhausted (we had had Christmas pageant practice in the morning), but also glad for the experience. It was a great bonding activity for father and daughter. Mark's very good about making up for the days when Marguerite doesn't even get to see him (instances when the little girl is sleeping both when he leaves for and gets home from work). Anyway, here are the pics. There are still some on Mark's phone. He didn't get the camera from the car  (ridding us of our backpack of extra layers for Snow World at the same time) until after going on a couple of rides. Oh, and that ride where she gets to "drive" a jeep? She's scowling,  rigth? But she was just pretending to be racing, hence the expression. She really liked that ride, lol