Friday, September 30, 2011

The Way We Look at Obligations

I grew up in a family that believes in being debt-free. I never made a habit of buying nice things - my nice stuff always came from a very generous aunt. My dad inculcated very well his own sentiments about materialism, also his principles about owing money. He grew up dirt poor - he’s a baby boomer and the Philippines was still reeling from the effects of the Japanese occupation and World War II when he was born. His father, who happened to be the spoiled baby and, at that time, only boy (his two older brothers had died in the war) of a well-to-do family, abandoned his literal child-wife (my grandma is only 15 years older than my dad) and their three children to portray the token scumbucket you always find in this kind of stories. Anyway, young and desperately poor though she may have been, my grandmother had principles. First, she wasn’t going to stay in a marriage with a philandering husband, so she left his house (to the vengeful wrath of all her in-laws). Second, she always paid her debts as soon as possible. Her loans never lingered. Her family would go hungry, but she dealt with her obligations. That’s something that stuck with my dad. You can probably understand why a couple of generations later, I ended up very leery of credit cards, not getting any until they were offered to me free. I guess people have varying values and philosophies about these things depending on their own experiences and background.

Bidding and Betting

I don’t really shop online, probably mostly because I don’t really shop, period. In the past, I’ve bought books on eBay - titles that are hard to find in bookstores or even secondhand shops. I’ve bought software, of course, but that doesn’t count. Anyway, I don’t really know much about bidding. Theoretically, I know how auction sites work, but I wouldn’t know the first thing about practical bidding. I suppose it’s like a game with strategies involved. At least, in eBay and other similar auction sites, you place a bid, you don’t win, that’s that. I hear in other sites, it’s really more like gambling, like those rip-off carnival games. You place a bid (they call it “bid”, but “bet” is more accurate) for a few cents each and wait to see if you end up winning an item. It sounds harmless, but there’s more to penny auction sites than meets the eye. For instance, some people call scam because the profits the site earns from futile bids are ridiculous. It costs about 60 cents to bid. With about a hundred bids, the site earns $60 and then gets the payment from the winner for the item being auctioned off. The thing is that, there are usually so much more than a hundred bids. I suppose it’s fun for gamblers, but I’m not one, so no, thank you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

So Far This September

Hi. I'm back . My stitches are healing well - wha? Oh yeah, in the face of a 9.35-pound-21-inch-baby, my resolve to go natural high-tailed itself out of the labor room and never looked back, but you should know that I also went through all the joys of labor just for kicks. And Mark was there to witness every gut-wrenchingly painful bit.
Anyway, after a surreal fortnight (a fortnight that involved writing a 4000-word article while I was recovering from my first ever operation - I sometimes wonder at the fact that though I'm far from being the robust/husky healthy type, I've never had any episodes of hospitalization that didn't involve childbirth - and submitting it a day before my self-imposed deadline while exclusively breastfeeding an infant who insists on being latched on every waking moment, while preparing to celebrate and then actually celebrating Marguerite's birthday... Sometimes I like to overwhelm myself just to see if I can be awesome... what was the point of this incredibly long aside? I forget. Obviously, parenthetical overkill is my undoing)... Let me start over. After a surreal fortnight, what is important is that the baby is finally here. Our newly upgraded family is doing its best to cope with the change. Marguerite is being a trooper and it's clear that she loves her baby brother whose name is... Cameron. His dad and big sister chose the name and I liked it too, so getting no veto, it was passed...
And then there were four. Fascinating times, these. It has been a time of multiple frustrations and disappointments, but after my usual initial reaction which is to fall apart, time and again I heard God's admonition and then reassurance. Faith, courage, maturity... character building can be such a painful process, but, you know... necessary. The life lessons - sigh, I might actually have something to show for my soon-to-be 35 years. Anyway, through my postpartum tears (sometimes valid, but more often than not, just hormonal dramaqueening), I can see God's goodness and how powerfully He is moving in our life. I praise and thank Him for all His wonderful blessings.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Was I Doing 10 Years Ago?

The baby is officially late. Oh well. I should be thankful he's giving me so much time to be properly ready. Methinks it's time to move on to other projects though. I kind of put off other things to focus on anticipating the birth of the baby. For instance, there's the matter of Marguerite's birthday.

In other news, I can't believe it has already been an entire decade since the 9/11 attack. My dad, Chip and I were all set to fly to the California the following day when Mark called me that night (Manila time) and told me that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers. At first, I was all, that's horrible, but it didn't have anything to do with us, not realizing the magnitude of the tragedy or the gravity of the event. As we watched the news, we soon discovered that it was more than just a random accident. Naturally, our flight was canceled and when we finally got to leave the Monday after, it was a bizarre experience at the airport. Of course, there was also my own personal paranoia about our plane being hijacked. When we got there, it was a very interesting visit we had. It felt like all of America was working in response to the tragedy. Little kids would set up stands at mall parking lots selling pins that said "I love the USA" or some other patriotic message (I must have bought a dozen of those) and their proceeds would go to the Red Cross. Churches would have segments of the service dedicated to the firefighters still working at the site of the tragedy; wives and mothers would issue prayer requests for family members who got sent to New York or who volunteered to go there and help out. We went to Las Vegas the week of my birthday and one night, we watched the Bellagio fountain dance to Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA"; everybody was teary-eyed. Of course, there was also the anthrax scare. I was actually planning to visit friends in New York, but of course, that was already out of the question. 10 whole years... so much has happened since, life went on, but we should definitely always remember.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Online Cops?

I really wish there was a better Internet police out there. A certain paid post program owes me close to a hundred dollars. It has been more than 3 payout schedules and I have yet to receive a cent from them (they paid me in the past - could be part of their scam). My emails have been ignored, but they have the nerve to keep on sending me more paid post opportunities. I guess I’ll post a warning against that program soon. There’s really nothing I can do, but that and remove all those unpaid for posts. To whom do you complain about something like that, right? I supposed I could also contact their clients and inform them that the program is not paying its bloggers. I’m giving birth soon though, so who has time for that? Or the matter of plagiarism… honestly, would you consider spinning plagiarism? What if the original article was also written by you? Anyway, these are just some thoughts. There are more grievous Internet offenses committed out there… life-threatening ones. I guess legislators have to work double time to keep up with all the felonious or criminal things that could go on the Internet. I suppose somebody’s working on technology law even as I write this. It’s just that the Internet is kind of like some unknown frontier still. Anyway, common caution should be practiced.

Mark's Late Genes?

My weekly update from Babycenter (it came yesterday) switched from saying "My Pregnancy This Week" to "My Baby This Week". Yesterday, its heading said "Your Newborn". Obviously, my newborn has yet to be born. lol, For some reason, I found that really offensive. Hormones, I guess. I thought though that it would have been nicer if they had made considerations for overdue babies (which mine isn't... yet - today's my actual due date). They could have said, Your 40th Week, if you're on sked, your newborn would be here, but if you're a little late, that's not a problem either... Anyway, I was a little taken aback by how much that upset me, so I'm thinking I'm looking at another couple of years of hypersensitivity, lol. Be careful what you say to me; I'll probably think "hello" is an insult, hee! (I'm kidding, okay? Don't get all walking-on-egg-shells around me.)

Anyway, that's the update... no baby yet. Like his dad, he'll get there when he's good and ready. Question: Is tardiness hereditary? lol

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Talking Straight about a Smarter Phone Option

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

We’ve been having trouble with phone bills lately. Not that we couldn’t pay them, but we seem to be getting erroneous statements lately. The extra charges aren’t huge amounts, but they’ll add up if we don’t do something about them. Anyway, we’ve had enough and are ending the contract. In these frugal times, there are actually more practical options when it comes to phone services. Something like Straight Talk enables you to cut your bill in half and still get all your phone needs met. You can definitely count on saving some money going with Straight Talk. The really great thing about it is that there are no contracts to adhere to, no frustrating surprise bills and no need for credit checks. Wouldn’t you call that freedom? With great nationwide coverage and superb reception or connectivity, what more could you ask for? You can also rest assured that Straight Talk only works with established and trusted phone manufacturers. That’s a winning combo and you can see why people are biting into the deal Hook, line and sinker. You can consider any of their available plans:

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Friday, September 9, 2011

It Didn't Happen on Mark's Birthday

In case you're wondering... no baby yet. I've been hoping to give birth Sept. 8 at the latest (yesterday, which was also Mark's birthday), but he wasn't ready. Anyway, I trust in God's perfect time, even if it turns out to be 9-11. :)
The baby's huge. I'm praying for a natural delivery, but the ultrasound on Monday pegged him at more than 8 lbs already, so... like I said, I leave everything up to God. I have my cheat notes on breathing exercises and labor positions, but if it's a C-section for me, then so be it. I trust God with the details either way.
Right now, I'm trying to get as much work out of the way as I can. I think everything is ready with regards to the baby's things - even his "Welcome Home" sign, which Marguerite and I have been working on. I'm still deciding on a small gift for big sister (you know, from the baby), but Mark can take care of that in case I don't get to myself.
Marguerite and I have been working on project after project. Of course, that means everything takes longer to finish and the results aren't as clean or, uh, symmetrical, but they're definitely infinitely more special. It's a great way for us to bond these last days of hers as an only child.
As I mentioned, Mark celebrated his birthday yesterday, so Marguerite and I spent the day before baking a cake and making cards. She took a picture of the cake using her dad's phone, something she knew how to do and I didn't. I'm telling myself that it's a good thing that she knows so much about gadgets (although if left up to me, she'd be playing with stuff like rocks and sticks, lol). I do think it's really cute that she's her Nannie's (my mom) tech support. Mom, whose tech savvy is limited to logging in and out of Facebook, frequently calls to her granddaughter for help anytime she's stumped by something (like when a video she had clicked to watch didn't have sound... she called Marguerite over and the little girl helpfully turned on the speakers for her).
As for Mark's birthday, I was in one of those moods when I wanted to be all private about celebrating it... so I didn't greet him on Facebook or post something about it here -- maybe because this is such a special time in our life. Other years, I had no qualms making montages for him or taking a video of Marguerite singing for him and posting those online. This year, I was all about keeping things close. I felt a little off about that, but I don't really like forcing myself to do anything I don't want to do if it's not really a matter of responsibility. Everything's good though. It was a blessed day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: The Blessing by Dr. John Trent and Gary Smalley

“The Blessing” is a wonderful guidebook written by Dr. John Trent and Gary Smalley on giving the gift of “the blessing” not only to your children, but to anybody you have a relationship with. The book has recently been revised, updated and enhanced, frequently referring to further material one can find online. It is a very understandable and effective blend of biblical principles, psychology, and practical advice.
The book provides numerous illustrations and true cases, which make reading it extra fascinating and engaging. Of course, the theology and the psychology aspects are solid, but presented in a way that can easily be understood by any reader. The instructions are clear and the tips very practical. The concept of “the blessing” is thoroughly discussed. Every part of it is covered, especially the five essential elements. It tells you what to do as a parent who wants to make sure that your children do receive the blessing. It tells you how to bless the people around you. It also tells you what to do if you’re one of the many people who’ve missed out on the blessing.
I actually started out thinking that the book didn’t really offer anything I hadn’t read before in other parenting books and articles, but I was wrong. It is a package of motivation, hope, inspiration and practical guidance. “The Blessing” is, in fact, truly a blessing.

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