Tuesday, August 29, 2006

No More 6am Flights!

Just this past weekend, we went to Manila for exactly 2 days. It was during dinner one day with our friends Carl and Sachi and while reminiscing about our wedding in Manila that Sachi asked alot about Manila since she has never been there. Halfway through describing what it was like, one of us said why don't we just take you there one weekend so you can see for yourself? And just like that we decided to zip down to the Philippines.

I called a few friends and contacts and had a car, a driver, a helper and a hotel ready for us when we arrived. We took the last flight out on Friday. We almost couldn't go because the day before, Boy Wonder suddenly had a fever and upon our visit to the doctor, discovered he had an ear infection! Good thing I took him to see the doc early enough so the doc said its not too serious yet and a stronger antibiotic should make him well enough for the flight the following evening. Phew!

We arrived in Manila past midnight, was picked up by my dad's friends and dropped off at the hotel. They also left us a car to use for the weekend. Its great to know the right people! By the time we settled in, it was around 2 am.

The following day we did the only touristy thing and went to Fort Santiago. Our former driver Tony came to drive for us. It had been 4 years since I last saw him! It was great that I was still able to track him down. He was so happy to see me. He had definitely aged and after hearing what he had been up to, life sure hasn't been easy for him. At first I was even abit paranoid about asking him to drive us for a day. I had heard stories of kidnappings arranged by drivers in the past and was actually worried what if my driver was so desparate for cash that he would use this unexpected opportunity to arrange something and make a quick buck. But of course I was being silly and everything turned out great. He now drives a tricycle for a living and invested in a billiard hall. He doesn't make much money driving passengers around on the tricycle though. He said after paying the company that owns the tricycle PhP120 a day, he makes around PhP100 in profit a day! As for the billiard hall, he had been stabbed and receives threats every now and then because of it. He said after the guy who owns the land around where they live kicked out all the squatters and put up a few businesses, one of which is the billiard hall, things had gotten abit rough. A few of his mates were killed as the former squatters are constantly seeking vengance for loosing a place to live. Sheesh, so much drama! After Tony drove us around that day, I gave him a bag of chocolates, 2 watches and PhP500 to thank him for his services. It was sort of sad seeing him go. I could tell he was sad too. Gosh, such different lives we live now than to when I was still living in Manila and have Tony drive me around.

I was able to meet up with a few of my friends for lunch that day too. We ate at People's Palace. I think everyone enjoyed the food. Boy Wonder got a blister after touching one of their light fixtures on the floor. Other than that it was a pleasant enough afternoon. It also helped that I had asked Emma, our future helper to come and assist me for the weekend. I wanted to use the weekend as an opportunity for her and Boy Wonder to get to know each other and for me to see how she is and how she is with Boy Wonder.

After lunch Sachi, Boy Wonder, Emma and I went to the Fort Bazaar while Hubby and Carl went walking around Makati. I love bazaars. I didn't buy as much stuff as I had hoped, but it was nice looking at all the stuff and all that food! If I didn't have to take a flight on Monday and had more time, I would have bought a ton of food and enjoyed it at my leasure.

We went back to the hotel after the bazaar for a quick rest before dinner. Hubby walked in a short while later while Carl stumbled in after him. They had hunted down TGIFridays and had a few of their massive sized margaritas. It was obvious Carl underestimated the potency of their drinks and wasn't quite himself the rest of the evening. We walked to Gerry's Grill later to meet up with my other friends for dinner.

On our way to Gerry's Grill, which was about a 6 minute walk past Glorietta Mall, I felt a small tug on my backpack. I looked back and noticed a man quickly walk away and cross the street. I quickly looked at my backpack and saw that the zipper had been opened! Good thing I noticed the tug! It also bothered me abit that Sachi and Carl who were walking behind me didn't even notice the man trying to pick my bag. Oh well.

At least I really enjoyed dinner. I had all my all time favorites, especially Crispy Pata! If only we weren't staying in a hotel, I would have taken the left over bones home, heat them up later that night and pick at them. Hubby was brave enough to try the Sisig which came last. And boy did he ever regret that move! Tell you why later.

After dinner we went to Greenbelt for dessert. After my first group of friends left, my second group of friends showed up. We moved over to our hotel lobby for more food while Hubby, Boy Wonder, Carl and Sachi went up and to bed. It was the first time in a long time that I was able to stay up till late without Boy Wonder while Hubby was the one in bed with Boy Wonder. It was great! I was surprisingly full of energy and stayed up chatting with my friends till 2am.

The next day Hubby woke up with a fever and stomach issues. Although he felt sick, he still mustered the energy to do a quick shopping trip to buy a golf shirt and a pair of shoes before Steve picked him and Carl up for a game of golf. Hubby said he had golfed in much worse conditions so off he still went. While the boys were away at golf, Sachi and I met up with Germaine and did a whole afternoon of shopping! After that we went over to Ding's newly decked out apartment and had merienda.

After we got back to the hotel, I found hubby in bed even more sick! In order to give him some peace and quiet to rest, we left again and had a foot scrub and massage. We had to cancel dinner that night though. Poor hubby, he was running to the bathroom every few hours and had the chills. We called the hotel nurse who gave him some meds. Then we worried whether he would be well enough to travel the next day.

Our flight was at 650 am, so we were up at 4am to get ready. Good thing Hubby's fever subsided abit and the meds kept his diarrhea in check. We were able to fly back to HK that morning and not have the airport detect Hubby's fever.

All I can say after this whirlwind trip to Manila is no more 6am flights! And 2 days is just waaay too short! Although I got to pretty much see all my friends, I didn't get to pamper myself enough and shop enough. This trip also reminded me how I still miss Manila and would like to go back more often.

Oh, Hubby isn't 100% yet, but at least he's getting better. And on a selfish note, at least I get to see him more than if he had to go straight back to work.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

So Not Feeling Sexy

I am now officially 20 weeks pregnant. We went to see a doctor last week and he confirmed that Nachos is a girl! So now I can at least lay to rest the FALSE indication that when you break out during your pregnancy, you're having a boy. And speaking of breaking out, I just want to go deeper into the mysteries of pregnancy symptoms.

While hosting a dinner at home last week, one conversation we had brought me into a string of snorts instead of laughs! I remember I used to snore alot when I was pregnant with Boy Wonder. But sheesh, when did snorting get added into the list? Hubby said I haven't started snoring... yet. Maybe the snorting is an indication of whats coming up soon.

Ok, and now I am about to confess something that may gross everyone out. Ever since I brought Boy Wonder into the world, daily showers have turned into every other day showers. Hubby might want you to think its more than that, but no, I shower every other day. But don't get me wrong, on good weeks, or string of weeks, I would shower everyday. And believe me, once our helper arrives in October, showers will be an everyday ritual. But what I really want to say about it is that since I got pregnant, my sense of smell has gotten stronger. Or is my own smell just getting stronger??? So whether its one or the other, at least its making me force myself to hop in the shower no matter how late it is or how tired I am by the end of the day.

Another strange thing that I've noticed is my lop-sided tummy. For some bizarre reason, my tummy has decided to slant towards the right. So when I look down at my tummy, the left side is higher than the right side. What is up with that? I feel like a hunchback with my hump in front instead of my back. Is there such a thing as a hunchfront?

And last night, after typing out an email, I noticed my left fore arm was extremely sore. I thought it would go away after awhile but it didn't! I had a sore arm going to bed and after Hubby lovingly massaged it, it got a bit better. But then it came back again and kept waking me up in the middle of the night. I woke up with the same sore fore arm and up till now its still the same thing. Its now spread to my pointy finger and up the back of my arm. Its probably a similar problem as when my foot had a pinched nerve with Boy Wonder. Well at least this time I won't be walking with a limp... yet.

And last but not least and Hubby's favorite, gas! When they tell you your digestion slows down during pregnancy to make sure you absorb as much nutrients for the baby as possible, they sure weren't kidding! The only thing I can say I'm thankful for is that I've somehow developed the silent ones, so I always keep Hubby guessing.

So I don't get it at the moment. Everyone says you glow or bloom or feel radient when you're pregnant. So I'll leave it up to my friends to judge. Hopefully when they see me next week I won't be a blob of pimples, gas, stink and pain. Oh and don't forget the hump and limp too.

Close Encounter With Skinny Evil Kid

I signed Boy Wonder up for 2 weeks of summer school. So for the past 2 weeks, MWF then TTH this week, we took the cab to a nearby pre-pre-school and mingled with other kids, moms and helpers. I say pre-pre-school because Boy Wonder is too young for pre-school and the classes we've attended are a bit too pricey to be a playgroup. Although it seemed like Boy Wonder enjoyed himself half of the time, I don't know if I'd be able to survive a whole year of it.

Last Friday, we were joined with the older kids from another class and went on a fieldtrip to the nearby fire station. It was during this trip that I realized Skinny Evil Kid was in the same school. Although I would have been horrified a few weeks ago, I was quite calm this time because the evils of another kid in Boy Wonder's class had fizzled out my hostilities. I just kept an eye on Skinny Evil Kid and that he didn't come close to Boy Wonder with his mouth open.

Although Hubby and I have decided not to sign Boy Wonder up for school when September rolls around, I feel that the 2 weeks I spend with Boy Wonder in school had taught me alot about the school situation in HK and just kids in HK in general. I'm more open-minded now to behaviors such as Skinny Evil Kid's and more dissappointed with absent parents and lazy helpers.

During the very first day of school, we met a boy in Boy Wonders class who stood out. He stood out, because to my relief at that time, was more disinterested with the class than Boy Wonder was. During the first half of the morning, his mother and helper were there. It was obvious the mom was having a hard time controlling her son, but she was doing it. He liked grabbing all the other kids toys, didn't listen to anyone and just did things his own way in a big way. After the mom left, the helper simply sat on one of the chairs and left the boy to his own devices. Boy Wonder and I were sitting at a table with another helper and her kid when suddenly Grabbing Gary came and grabbed the little girls toy away from her. His helper simply sat there and did nothing. By then I couldn't stand it anymore so I asked the helper in Tagalog why does she not sit next to her kid and "control" him. She was surprised at first at what I said then simply said nothing she can do nor his mom can do to control him. She went on and on about how he never listens anyway and they just leave him alone. I then said because he is a special kid, all the more he needs the extra attention and care. The helper simply looked away and didn't want to listen. I was fuming by then, but just shut up coz I knew I would have wasted my energy and spit anyways.

In addition to meeting Grabbing Gary, I also overheard most of the helpers conversations especially on why they're there and what their employers do. And just like what I wrote in my last blog entry, its all the same theme. Most parents didn't know what to do with their kids or didn't have the patience, that's why they've signed them up to go to schools such as this. In the 2 weeks that I was there, there were only 2 other parents in my class. By the second week, I was the only one. Here I was signing my kid up for summer school because I wanted to interact with him more and yet most of the other parents signed their kids up for exactly the opposite reasons.

I can't blame Skinny Evil Kid for what he did. I feel sorry for Grabbing Gary even if he is such a troublesome kid. And from now on, whenever I feel like screaming at some kid in the playroom, I will do my best to compose myself and just picture myself screaming at their parents instead.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Here I Go Again

I thought I already had a pretty good picture of how lots of families in HK live. But after interviewing a few more helpers recently, I've gotten an even better inside view of their lives. I'd like to say it all sounds pretty messed up, but if its starting to be the norm around here, who am I to judge? Or shall I again?

One helper told me she pretty much lived with her employers' 2 daughters for the past 8 years, acting as their surrogate mother. The 3 of them lived in an apartment while the parents lived in a separate building nearby. The only time the parents come over is during dinner time. The helper is being let go because one of the daughter is going to Australia for college and the other one is old enough to take care of herself.

The other helper I interviewed said she took care of her employer's daughter since birth. Although her employers didn't allow her to sleep in the same room as their daughter, she wasn't allowed to go to bed herself until the daughter had fallen asleep. She had to do everything from changing the daughter into her pajama's, to brushing her teeth to getting into bed. All things a parent could easily do after getting home from work. The helper worked for her employers for 7 years and was suddenly terminated halfway through her final contract because the employers were getting jealous of how close the daughter was getting to the helper. I called the employer as well and she said they let the helper go because their daughter was beginning to get very disrespectful towards the helper. Either ways, it doesn't look good on the employers part.

And in addition to these helpers as a window into these families lives, I also heard something else from a close friend. She went to visit my ex-friend and informed me that whenever my ex-friend's fulltime helper goes on her day off, they have a part-timer who comes in to take over. Supposedly they needed the part-timer because ex-friend has to often work on Sundays. Sheesh, can't they survive for even one day without a helper? I pity their baby. Here I thought since they are parents now, they would realize where their priority lies and I guess we all know where it lies now!

I also met a lady a few months ago that came to my place since she drove a visiting friend over. That lady brought along her 2 year old and during our conversations, I asked her if they were planning on having a second child. Her answer was quick and abrupt. She said for goodness no since this first one was an accident. She didn't even want to have a child to begin with. As the evening went on, she was praising me for how well Boy Wonder behaved and everything I did, she told her helper to take note. Although she was full of praises, one statement she made showed her true feelings. I was reading boy wonder a book and after we were done, she said how wonderful my son loves to listen to stories. She then continued to say, too bad she doesn't have the patience for such low IQ activities.

I have nothing against women that want to persue a career. But I do have something against those who want a career and then decide to have a child then pass the child on to a helper to raise. It sucks, but if we want it all, we can't be lazy. What's wrong with brushing your child's teeth at night and then send them off to bed even if you're dead tired from a long day of work? Why work on Sundays? What is so earth shattering that it cannot wait till Monday to be taken care of? If even your husband is that busy to justify hiring a part-timer while your full-timer is away, then how did you even find the time to create a child? Is there really that little to say and share with your teenage children that you have to live in separate apartments? All these questions I would like to ask these parents. And deep down I really hope they have the answers that would shut me up.