Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Party Power

Another thing I've grown to love about living here are the tons of birthday party venues available! Since Boy Wonder started school, we have been to 6 or 7 birthday parties of his classmates'. None have held them at a restaurant and there have been no repeats.

A few have held them at indoor play/amusement centers. These places have tons of toys, slides, rides and a not too crappy dining area for parents to keep an eye on their kids while sipping on coffees.

One had his party at home, but his parents hired a "reptile man" who brought in snakes, lizards and a baby croc for the kids to touch and take pictures with. Another kid had his party at a sports center where they played dodge ball, football and all other games a bunch of 5 year olds would love to play. Another party was held at the local community center where they hired a firetruck to come and give the kids a ride.

The latest one Boy Wonder attended was at the Kew Traffic School. This was simply an outdoor lot with roads, lanes, walkways painted onto the ground then dressed up with traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and anything and almost everything you would see on actual roads. All the kids brought their own modes of transport and there were spare bikes there which you could use as well.

It was soooo cute watching this group of kids wait at the crossing and walking across when it was time to go.

It was great watching all the kids zoom around like crazed commuters on the car pool lane during rush hour. I had a lot of fun just watching all the kids have so much fun.

Boy Wonder's own party this past May was held at the play ground just a short walk from our house. Since it was a playground, the kids were happy enough running around. But just to add to the excitement, I organized a game which involved the parents too. Pop also made an appearance as a clown for a bit and played chasey with the kids. Too bad one kid was so scared of clowns he left the party early. I baked Boy Wonder's cake too. It's the same one I baked last year, except in a different color.

There's another party coming up in a few weeks. And this one seems to be an indoor sports one. I think it'll be Hubby's turn to take Boy Wonder to that.

I guess with so much choices it will also become all the more difficult and confusing to choose a venue for Boy Wonder's birthday party next year. Maybe the trend will be no parties in Prep? Oh well, at least its been really fun taking him to all these parties. I just hope there won't be a party overload for Hubby and I after Nachos starts school next year.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Asking The Right Questions

Have you ever asked a question that sparked a discussion or even ruffled some feathers? Its amazing how asking the right question can sometimes cause even more emotion than a bold statement.

I've been a "lurker" in a few blogsites. I often visit the usual foodblogs and entertainment sites. I enjoy reading them and although I never really have much to comment about, there are some topics that pop up at times that I can't help just to put a question in to see what responses I get.

The opportunity came up a few days ago and I simply asked a question that no one commenting seemed to ask. It was like one of those elephant in the room situations. And me, with the safety of my annonimity cloak, posted my question.

I checked the post this morning and was amused to see all the expected answers and reactions. Answers because some were well thought out before they were posted and reactions because it was obvious others hit the "post" button without thinking about what they wanted to say. Although I try hard not to do it, sometimes we can't help but to react to something whether good or bad and just blurt out things we end up regretting. Normally these reactions just make you look dumb in the end.

I enjoyed reading all the answers to my question in that post and was glad to find out there are quite a few readers that knew what they were talking about. I even learned a few more things about the topic. And to think it was only an entertainment type blogsite!

So anyways, I'll make it a point in the future to ask the right questions instead of shoving my point of view onto other people. But not when I'm posting on my own blog though!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Modern Day Housewife

I was cooking dinner a few nights ago and Pop was really amused at how I was multi-tasking and took this picture. Cooking dinner has definitely become not so mundane now that I have my Macbook with me. The radio playing in the background doesn't hurt either. The only disadvantage at the moment is sometimes I get so distracted with either one that my food gets burnt or I loose my train of thought on a certain blog.

I'm also currently looking into products, gadgets, appliances and anything that will help me be more efficient around the house. My latest hunt is a smaller vacuum gadget that will make it easier to vacuum the stairs. It kills my back lugging our vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs. So far there seems to be a few hand held ones that might have enough horse power to do the trick. I'm looking forward to trying a few out when I go shopping.

I've also moved all the furniture in Boy Wonder's room around. Nachos and I spent close to 3 hours the other day at Ikea looking for things to organize his things with. His room is looking better now, but I still need to put a new shelf into one of his closets.

My other project will be reorganizing the laundry room. I've never had a laundry room. I'm going to channel Grandma's organizing and cleaning powers while I think about what I need to get done in there. Its one of the messiest and disorganized rooms in this house. I've looked at the Ikea and Howards Storage World websites to look at what I might need. My eyes boggle and my heart pounds with excitement looking at all the things I will "need".

So anyways, as the modern day housewife or homemaker as people prefer to be called here, I'm really happy my laptop is encouraging me to get more stuff done around the house!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friends With Exes

So, one of the reasons why I went on a trip earlier this month was to attend the wedding of my ex. While in Manila, I stayed with one of my closest friends who is married to my first boy friend. I also caught up with another friend who is the ex-fiance of my ex whose wedding I attended. If that isn't enough to confuse anyone, I don't know what will.

I seem to stand alone on this, but I'm a believer of "becoming" friends with your ex. I know it may not be possible to do so right after a break-up, but after time has allowed each side to heal, I think there is no greater sign that you have grown from the past relationship than friendship.

Almost all my friends disagree with me. They told me they would not even allow their partners or husbands to be friends with their exes. Even my close friend D and my other friend the ex-fiance G, both stand by this "rule". So I asked them how come we're all still friends then? They both said I'm a special case and we laughed that maybe its just because they don't see me as a threat. I say it all boils down to trust and insecurities.

Hubby is good friends with 2 of his exes. One of them was even in our wedding entourage. The night before we had our wedding in Manila, I hung out with both of them while Hubby was exploring the streets of Burgos with his Ozzie friends. Thinking back I should have asked them for some pointers of what not to do! haha!

But the reason why I have no problems with Hubby remaining friends with some of his exes and him with me remaining friends with some of mine, is that we trust each other and are both secure about our feelings for each other. If your relationship is truly over and there are no more feelings of love or romance left, then what is wrong with becoming friends instead? I always ask my friends to give me a reason why they don't allow their partners to be friends with their exes and all they can give me is "because". I think the reason as to why they are so unwilling to divulge is because there are no good reasons.

I try to place myself in their place and think about why I would not want Hubby to be friends with his exes. A few come to mind. I could be the jealous type. I don't trust him or the ex. I am insecure about his feelings for me. I'm worried that their friendship will turn back into romance. All these stem from distrust and insecurities.

Don't get me wrong though. I'm no superwoman and admit I do get jealous at times. But because I am secure enough with how Hubby feels about me and trust him enough, these jealousies are put at bay. And because this is how I feel, I can't seem to fully understand how someone can forbid their husband or wife to be friends with their exes.

I used to be friends with a ex, M. We started off as really good friends and after things turned into something more than friendship, we tried it out for a few months. While we were dating, he told me he was really upset with a good friend of his. He said his friend had to report to the girlfriend where ever he went and at almost every hour. M couldn't understand how his friend could put up with that. He felt like his friend was put on a very short leash. Those seemed to be famous last words, because he pretty much ended up like his friend not too long after. We broke up a few months later and decided to remain friends. We would often meet up for lunch still and whenever I needed advice on something, I'd text him or give him a call. The very last time I saw him was over lunch and he showed me pictures of the girl he was dating. I also told him about who I was dating and everything seemed fine. A few weeks later, he stopped answering my texts and sounded distant when I called. I suddenly figured out what was going on and texted him, asking him if his girlfriend did not want him to be friends with me. He texted back with a simple yes and I deleted his number from my phone then and there. I was heartbroken, not because he was an ex, but because he was a really good friend.

That's the thing about relationships. Isn't it always those ones that start off as true friendship that lasts? What better thing than to marry your best friend. Isn't your spouse suppose to be your best friend too? And when that relationship doesn't work, why do you have to throw away the friendship as well?

I was asking my friends shouldn't they feel more secure about exes because you know your spouse has been there and done that and knew that wasn't what he or she wanted? They've done the test drive and know that's not for them. And if they do decide they want to get back with their ex, doesn't that mean there was something wrong with your relationship in the first place anyway? If its not going to be with an ex, then it'll be with some other person.

All I'm saying is that I wouldn't be friends with D today if she didn't make an exemption to the no ex rule. She's one of my dearest friends. My trip wouldn't be as fun if I didn't get to meet up with G either. I wouldn't have met and become good friends with Hubby's exes and their family and kids. Their friendships have made my move to Australia easier and more welcoming.

So for me, friendships with exes have only brought about positive results. I wouldn't be friends with some of those I hold close to me today if I had bound myself to that rule. And as for those I have lost, guess their leashes had been put on tight.

How about you, are you still friends with your exes?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Simple Birthday

I think birthdays started becoming more of a non-event after I turned 25. I seriously had to ask myself just how old I turned on my birthday this past Sunday. Unlike the Jolie-Pitt twins who turned 1 on Sunday, I turned 37. Only 3 more years until I reach my 40's! I made a note to myself that I better have a big bash on my 39th to commemorate the last year in my 30's.

We had a nice, relaxing day at home. Pop was over working on the stairs leading down to our backyard. Hubby was digging out holes next to the pool to start building a planter box border to cover up all that dirt. And the kids were happily exploring the garden, looking for earthworms. There wasn't a better sight I could think of on that lazy Sunday morning.

Later that evening we went over to a friend's house for dinner. Meels cooked us dinner and even baked me a cake. Here's a picture of some pate, cheese and dip. It's one thing I have grown to love ever since I first started coming here to Australia. I wondered how I ever survived without this type of merienda (afternoon snack time)!

Although it was a very simply birthday, I feel blessed to have been able to celebrate it with family and close friends.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Can't Do Attitude

I can't do it! There's no way I can do it. These were all comments I heard while vacationing this past week. I've realized people in Asia are plagued with this attitude. And sadly, I saw it amongst some of my friends during this trip. It also made me realize that was exactly how I was growing up. And I can clearly see why living in a "privileged" lifestyle breeds this type of self-depreciation.

I hesitate to write about this subject, in fear that I might offend some of my friends. But I'm hoping if someone unpleasantly realizes they fall into this category, that my observations will act as constructive criticism and not a personal attack.

Growing up in the Philippines, I don't remember having to do anything for myself. It wasn't just the chores around the house but important things, like buying my books at the start of the school year or filling up forms or anything similar. And so when the day came to start applying for college in the US, I was over whelmed and my eyes boggled at all the papers I had to fill up! Even though I started getting used to being responsible for myself, I always had the programmed notion that when faced with something hard or challenging that someone will come along and sort it out for me.

I remember this clearly when I wanted to register my business name in California and didn't know how to go about it. I thought the guy I was dating then would just say don't worry about it and that he'll deal with it for me. But of course, that offer never came. I was whining about how complicated it looked and that I didn't know what steps to take next. All my ex could offer was dropping me off at the business registration place. It was after I got my business name registered that I realized had it been in the Philippines, someone would have done it for me and I would have missed out on learning the process and be a better person for it.

Although I no longer think this way, I can't help but revert back to this way of thinking when it comes to getting things done in the Philippines. When I had to get a police clearance from the Philippines to complete my migration papers to come to Australia, the first thing I thought of was who I can ask to get it done for me in Manila. I thought it couldn't be too expensive and that'll save me the hassle of having to take care of it myself. Besides, I had no idea what to do, so that was enough justification to hire or even bribe someone to do it for me. But when I called the people my parents referred me to, I was surprised at how expensive it would be! Knowing there was no way Hubby would allow me to spend that amount of money simply because I was lazy after all, I dragged myself to the Philippine Consulate and sorted it out myself. It took time, but wasn't as complicated as I thought it would be.

And even now, as a woman in my late 30's, my parents are still "spoiling" me in a twisted way. I know they are just being protective, but with the birth of each of my kids, I hear them saying ok that's enough, how can you handle more? It's hard to decipher what they really mean when they tell me I'm the frail type and must make sure I get enough rest and that its best if we can hire a helper. It was ok because we were living in HK at that time and we did eventually hire a helper. But to this day, although I know they are just being protective, I wonder if there is a correlation between the degree of their protectiveness to how "unable" they think I am. Does that make sense?

So going back to my trip last week, I reached the conclusion that had I not left the Philippines, I would be plagued by this "can't do" attitude and never realize just how much I am actually capable of.

One friend mentioned the reason why they don't have kids yet is because she's not sure if she can handle it. Another couple said they aren't even considering life outside of the Philippines because they can't imagine handling their child's diabetes with no helpers. One couldn't imagine any of her washables not ironed but dread to think what would happen if she could no longer hire an ironing lady. Another said she could never clean their toilet. Pretty much all my friends have their "people" they mention when their work, job or children are asked about. With labor so cheap and help of any kind readily available, everyone diverts to the thought of who can do this for me instead of when and how will I do it.

But there are those who have hope yet. A friend mentioned its been a few weeks now since their household has had no helpers. She talked about how easy it was after all to do the cleaning herself. Another said she was dissappointed at how a suitor turned her down after mentioning she's always had a helper and might not survive life in the States. She said of course if she were to move there, she would step up to the challenge and manage.

I do have to admit however that having lots of "people" do things for you sure have their perks! If it weren't for the fact that these friends of mine have helpers and assistants, then I wouldn't have been able to see most of them. My clothes were laundered with one request, I had a drink with a press of the intercom button and there was a driver and car to take me to the airport even before most of my friends were awake. Quality of life is definitely great, though closed off.

If I were still living there today, I admit I could easily have said there's no way I can picture myself cleaning the toilet or getting any thing of substance done. I definitely wouldn't have the "I can do anything" attitude I have now and maybe cause my parents to be even more worried about me than they should.

I live the way I do now because I have no other choice. Hubby didn't give me the pleasure of choosing whether or not I wanted a full time helper when I first moved to HK. Although it sucked, I am grateful to him for not continuing to spoil me. But for my friends in the Philippines, most of them go through life with their "people". For them, its almost as if they too have no choice. Because this is the way life has always been for them, they think they can't survive any other way.

I just hope someday all of them will realize they won't know just how capable they really are until they try it.

A Whole New World of Blogging

So I've been pretty lazy with blogging the past few months. I came to a point wherein blogging after the kids have gone to bed or sneaking away from them to blog was just too much of a hassle. I wanted to vegge in front of the tv after 8pm and was getting too guilty sneaking away just to use the computer. I mentioned to Hubby it would be so much better if I had a laptop instead, specifically a MacBook, so that I can watch the kids and satisfy my itchy fingers during the day. But due to budget concerns, it seemed like there was no way that could happen. So blogging stopped for awhile.

But waddaya know? Hubby came through with the goods and just this past week while I was vactioning in HK and Manila he gave me the go signal to get myself a MacBook!

So introducing my new prized possession:

Although its last year's model and not a MacBook Pro, I am quite happy with my purchase as I got a great deal with the clearance sales going on all over Hong Kong. I was nervous bringing it back into Australia, but since its for personal use they didn't ping me with tax.

So now that I've got a new weapon for unleasing my thoughts, I hope my fingers can keep up with my mind!