Friday, August 31, 2012

Living in an Extended Family


This TV commercial of PSBank on their Home Loan offer strikes me. That woman in the ad and I are just in likely situation, only that no one has yet said "di nga" to me. Nobody has reminded me yet of building our own house and get separated from my parents. But it keeps me thinking, really, when would that probably happen. Yes, when?

You see, before, I never really planned to live here when I would have my own family. I aspired to live in the city and I disliked the countryside despite the fact  that I grew up here. But things changed and the unplanned eventually happened. I married my neighbor and he's just exactly the person who loves the countryside. While I did have great plans on living in the city, he also had great plans on the rural life. 

And since we got married when we still didn't have much savings to buy a lot and build a house, we have decided to stay here in my parents' for awhile. We just built an extra room for us. Just thankful that my parents' are okay with that. See how my fate works? It left me with no choice.

This is much to our advantage especially that Mark is away for nine months and my father who works in another city only comes home thrice in a month. Mom is a public school teacher, she leaves at seven and comes home at five. So, most of the days, it's only Kristoff and me at home. 

Imagine if we have our own house, it would be so boring for my son and me, only the two of us. And mom? She would've come home at night and be all alone at this house. 
So, I guess for the meantime, this set-up is all okay for everyone.

There's joy living in an extended family. The grannies get to enjoy their little grandchildren while these little ones could feel the abundance of love in the family. Some folks say that grannies show more love to their grandkids compare to their own offsprings. Might be true!

I also have the "I was born here and I'll die here" idea and thinking of moving out someday makes me sad. It's just hard to let go. 
What will happen to my mom and papa when they grow old and alone? 
Who will take care of them?

But I know time must come that I should let go. Or I don't know yet what will happen in the future. The best thing I know I should do is that to make and cherish good memories in this house while this set-up lasts. It's the only one we've got for now, tomorrow maybe different.

In the Kitchen: Maja Blanca

I love to share this merienda recipe I just learned to cook. Actually, back in high school, I sold these everyday to my classmates for one peso per slice which is as big as the slice above. Imagine?  How cheap it was back then. It was my mom who used to cook this and never did I try to cook it on my own.
I know how, though.
She used cornstarch or third class flour mixed with coconut milk, refined sugar and young coconut meat, sweet corn or crushed peanuts.

I got curious of the ingredients other folks use because the way they tasted, there's really a difference in the consistency of the maja blanca and I like the other's taste better. Good thing I found an old recipe book owned by my grandmother and discovered that instead of flour or cornstarch, they have used probably the soaked rice ground finely.

After trying it on my own, here's the recipe you may also try:


1 cup rice
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups coconut milk
1 cup white/refined sugar


1. Soak the rice in the water for at least 4 hours. I did mine for 8 hours because I was a bit busy. Before grinding, wash the rice first. Just make sure that the amount of water mixed with the rice which is like 1 1/2 cups is still the same.

2. Mix all the ingredients and bring to a boil until thick.

3. Smooth over in medium heat for about 20 minutes and place in a plate. Top with cheese.


You can also mix to it nuts, buko (young coconut) meat, sweet corn or cheese. I mixed cheese in mine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is Kristoff Ready For Potty Training?

 In a gathering we attended a couple of weeks ago, an acquaintance asked me if Kristoff is still wearing a diaper. When I told her yes, she looked a little bit surprised saying that her daughter had stopped using diaper even at night a few months after she turned one. 

I felt a little pressured and guilty at first because Kristoff is already 1 year and 5 months old and yet, I haven't tried potty training him. I had to remind myself that each child is different and I must allow his normal pace of development and not to put pressure on him.

But still, it led me to search for help in potty training my toddler. Just this week, I notice significant changes in his overall development. I could account it to our vacation in La Castellana where he collected a lot of cognitive stimulation.

Here are the things I've noticed in him recently:

1. Whenever he feels like defecating, he would say "uh-uh" and touch his diaper area.
2. He knows how to obey simple orders like "don't touch", "press a button".
3. He engages in our conversation, only that his words are incomprehensible. He talks in long sentences though and when he repeats them twice, they are still the same pattern of sounds. This made us believe that he must be talking in sentences only that he can't utter words, only sounds.

Need not to say, these changes are also essential in engaging my son to potty training.

Anyhow, I searched BabyCenter and found this checklist on a toddler's readiness in potty training. 

Hmmm... let me assess my son's readiness.

Physical signs

Is coordinated enough to walk, and even run, steadily.

Urinates a fair amount at one time.                               

Has regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times.
***He does have well-formed stools, yet his bowel schedule is still unpredictable.

Has "dry" periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that his bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine. 
***Yes.Sometimes at daytime, I don't make him wear his diaper especially when we're only staying at home. He can sleep for 2 hours without urinating.

Behavioral signs

Can sit down quietly in one position for two to five minutes.                                           
***Yes! Especially when he's attentive to watching Lion King!

Can pull his pants up and down.
***Not yet.

Dislikes the feeling of wearing a wet or dirty diaper.
***Yes, he complains a lot when he has poop in his diaper or if the diaper is almost fully soaked.

Shows interest in others' bathroom habits (wants to watch you go to the bathroom or wear underwear).     
***He loves going to the bathroom, maybe because he finds it really cool. And another reason may be he's observing what people do in the bathroom.

Gives a physical or verbal sign when he's having a bowel movement such as grunting, squatting, or telling you.         
*** When he's going to poop, he says "uh-uh" and touches his diaper area. Yes!

Demonstrates a desire for independence.                                                                     
***Not so much.

Takes pride in his accomplishments.        
***I wish I can just paint his face every time his face lights up when he does something good and we give him our affirmation. So, yes!                                                                          

Isn't resistant to learning to use the toilet.
***I think he isn't.

Is in a generally cooperative stage, not a negative or contrary one.
***Guess he's in the negative stage..or say 50/50. Sometimes, he's really cooperative and obedient.

Cognitive signs

Understands the physical signals that mean he has to go and can tell you before it happens or even hold it until he has time to get to the potty.        
***Not yet.

Can follow simple instructions, such as "go get the toy."

Understands the value of putting things where they belong.
***Not so much!

Has words for urine and stool.
***Yep! For urine, it's "eeh" and for stool, it's "uh-uh".

Oh, and I guess we still have to wait for a little more time to finally get him into his official 
potty training.

Monday, August 27, 2012

At El Toro Zoo!

At the fourth day of our La Castellana trip, we watched the report of TV Patrol Negros featuring the zoo in town. We never really knew before that there's this spot in La Castellana if not for that report. 
So the following day, we went to visit it.

From the town market, we rode a pedicab going to the zoo. What faced us was a very tall gate made of plain sheets that hid the inside from the outside onlookers. The entrance fee costs one hundred pesos for adults and eighty pesos for a pair of student and parent during school tours.

The zoo was a bit busy since two classes from different schools in Negros scheduled a tour there. Nevertheless, it was still a feast for our eyes. Personally, this is only the third zoo I've been to. The first two was still when I was in elementary and I'm 25 now! For Kristoff, it's his first!

Our zoo tour guide is Clyde and I really thank him for showing and naming all the animals there for us. Whatta memory he has! Let me now tell you our experience through the pictures!

Kristoff was still asleep here.

This is an entrance to the part of the zoo that houses nocturnal animals. Unfortunately, Mark's phone ran out of memory space and all the pics we took with these animals weren't saved and we didn't realize!

Hi Mr./Ms. Owl!

Arapaima. A fish from the Amazon.

Oscar fish from South America.

Male double wattled cassowary from NE Australia.

Crocodiles from the Philippines.

Monitor lizard from the Philippines.

Green Iguana from South America.

Fahaka Puffer Fish from Nile River.

Golden Tilapia.

I can't help smiling. My son looks like his grandpa in this photo. :)

With the albino giant gourami from China.

Puffer Fish or Butete.

A kiss with the giant gourami.

Female single wattled cassowary.

Eagle! They do have different kinds of this.

They have a wide variety of birds, fishes and turtles! I just can't name all of them, got a poor memory and so not prepared! I should have bought my small notebook and pen with me plus a great space of storage card for all the pics! Lesson learned for the next trip!

I was lucky to get to talk to the owner of the zoo, Mr. Felix "Elic" Divino, a former farmer and teacher of West Negros University. He started this zoo back in 2009 and opened it first exclusively
 for his family and friends.

I got curious of the zoo's name, El Toro and asked him about it. It's from the first syllables of his and his friends' names pala. El for Elic, To for Tomas and Ro for Roland. :)

We're glad we came to El Toro Zoo. It's a whole new experience for Kristoff and for
my small family of three!

El Toro Zoo is located in Gomez St., La Castellana, Negros Occidental. For inquiries or tour reservations you may call 485-0121 or 485 -8130.

A Spooky Night

We visited Mark's grandma in La Castellana, Negros Occidental, a 6-hour travel away from our own town. Mt. Kanlaon  is a clear view from here when the sky is clear. This place caters for most of Mr. Danding Cojuangco's sugar cane, pili, and mango plantation. So most of the people here depend on his 
hacienda for a living.

I've been to this place for a number of times already and Kristoff for three times. Most of our visits here with our little boy didn't give us any problem. Without any problem, I mean, our travels and stays here were just easy. I could say that Kristoff can just easily adopt to the new environment.

But our last night to this week-long vacation was an exception. It's a Saturday and we went back to the house of Mark's aunt at around nine in the evening from a visit to his other relative. Kristoff was already asleep at that time and after I laid him to bed, I just wiped him with a damp cloth and changed his diaper. He was in deep sleep, so undisturbed.

The house was situated at the back border of the subdivision facing the sugarcane plantation.

Half an hour before midnight, I felt him sucking his thumb, a sign that he's hungry. I got up to prepare for his milk when he suddenly burst into wild cries as if in pain. It was just one of his ways to tell me that he's starving already and I'm too slow to feed him, I thought. So I rushed up.

But then, when I gave him his bottle, his wails even persisted and made Mark wake up. I thought he might be having a colicky abdomen but dropped the idea when I percussed and listened to his tummy. This scenario is not usual, Kristoff always have peaceful nights of sleep even when away from home.

Mark closed the curtains from the two windows of the room. I don't really believe in aswang, but Mark's actions made me have goosebumps! I couldn't protest with my son in that situation. The househelp awakened and suggested that we move to the living room. Kristoff only stopped crying for awhile and feed and then resumed his wild wails. Nanay Lucia, Marks granny awakened and upon knowing what's happening, ordered Mark to go and check around the house. She then prayed the Apostle's Creed, while I cradled my son. Molo, the helper burned charcoal and sugar and made the smoke fill the house. In Hiligaynon, we call it "tuob" and is believed to ward off evil spirits. 
Mark also burnt something outside the house.

Like a miracle, Kristoff fell silent and relaxed, with his eyes closed. I fed him and he just sucked his bottle as a normal him. Mark entered the house and told me that he heard a "tiktik" outside. Actually, I haven't and I couldn't identify the sound of that tiktik but most of the people I know do. They said a tiktik is an aswang that transforms to a bird.

We ended up sleeping in the living room and this event left me thinking about all these beliefs of aswang and the like.

Hmmm...yet, I'm still undecided. Kristoff's cries might have other causes and besides I really haven't heard that tiktik or saw an aswang in my entire life and hope I won't if there's really one. The only thing I know is that I'm thankful that my son is not crying anymore and is peacefully asleep.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: My Red Polish

This is one of my cheap and simple pleasures as a housewife. After a day of tiring myself with the house chores, especially the laundry, it's really good to kick back with a home serviced pedicure that costs only P30. This one is the Pussy Red of Caronia and I love it's blend with my skin color. It makes my feet look lighter than they truly are. :)

A reward to myself. What's yours?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mark Got a Polo!

Yes, he got a polo at long last! Is this worth blogging? For me, it is! I just feel so happy for him. Imagine a guy who works abroad to feed his family and fulfill their dreams 
can't even buy himself a polo shirt. Tsk tsk tsk!

A week after arriving here, I ordered something for him from Zalora. This is my first purchase too! The guy beg me not to exceed the price of the polo than P500. He is that frugal and that's another thing I really admire about him. So I went to those filed under P999 and found this light blue polo shirt of Sorry, I really forgot the exact price but it's around P365 maybe. 

Two days after, I received a message per email to send them a scanned photo of my credit card, the one I used upon checkout. However, I was lazy to go out and have it scanned. After three days of not hearing any word from me, their customer service called and confirmed my identity as the owner of the card and just changed the requirement. I only needed to send a copy of one valid ID. Great! I already have one in my netbook 'cause I  also used it with my application to Multiply's Trusted Seller Badge.

Two days after I sent a scanned photo of my ID, I received an email from Xend about my shipping details. Three days later, we had a package through LBC. 

And now presenting! My hubby in his new polo and a cup of coffee!

Things I love about this shopping experience:

***Zalora gave us a discount code for 10% on the next purchase as a surprise gift for first time shoppers.
***Shipping fee is free! 
 ***Secured payment method. Although I didn't cooperate much on the confirmation of my credit card, I am still thankful that they are that strict in confirming the identity of the user of the card. Just think, what if somebody else has used my card?

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Visit To The Daisy Garden

I love gardens and gardening! At home, we have a plenty of orchids and ornamental plants. However, they're just not being arranged properly to look awesomely stunning. Every time my son consumes his can of milk, I would just put soil on it, plant some ornamental and top the soil with animal manure which I can just get from the vacant lot beside our house, where the cows of the neighbors feed. 

It's been my dream to have these plants arranged properly, maybe do some landscaping at the backyard. Only that, I've been also busy with my son and with the house chores. I couldn't find any time for the hobby that I want to pursue. 

Now that Mark is home, I get a great help with tending to Kristoff. Uhmn, yes, only with tending to our son because I can't rely on him with the house chores. Besides, I want to do them myself. I understand he sacrificed a lot for nine months in the ship and now that he's home, he has a lot of projects to do in mind, so well, let him be.

So, with Mark around, and the motorcycle my parents newly bought, I thought that this could be a good chance for me to start adding more plants to our collection (this time, flowering), and when we have a lot already then maybe I can arrange them really nice. So, I invited him to go to a certain Isidra Celestial who is famous in town to have a daisy plantation.

The three of us, Mark, Kristoff and I went there through the motorcycle and it took us some 20 minutes. 

She has a wide yard for daisies, she has a plenty of the orange one. The other colors were also there, only that they are not as much as the orange. However, the condition of her plants were not very good since the typhoons of this month brought flood to their area that has damaged her garden. 

She refused to sell me the daisies now, she told me they would just die because of the weather. However, I could come back next month when I have readied my plot for the daisies, just in time when the number of typhoons decrease. The daisies thrive in hot weather, she said.

So, I will definitely be very back.

Upon talking to her, she gained my respect. She's not greedy with her plants, she actually ministers through them by putting her flowers on the church altar every Sunday.

For the meantime, these are the pics we had during the visit.

What are ya looking at baby?

Getting lost?
We were convinced by Mrs. Celestial to have our photo taken with this torch plants in red and burgundy.
Daddy was having a picture with the Masagana Coconut. It's just around 3 - 4 meters, yet it has already a lot of fruits!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Our Wednesday Cheap Ukay- ukay Finds

If you're from the Philippines or been to the Philippines you might be familiar of the famous Ukay-ukay, a local term for scrambling. It's named in such term perhaps mainly because when you go to the Ukay-ukay store, you scramble all the clothes in that long table to find for the best clothes with the cheapest price.

Ukay-ukay is our version of the thrift store and sometimes we call it UK as a slang and "relip" for relief goods because these clothes are preloved or preowned clothes, bags, toys, and shoes from other countries that are sold in a very cheap price here.

Our town holds a "marketing day" every Wednesday where people from town and other nearby places come together to sell and buy products. Of course, ukay-ukay won't be missing on this day. So hubby, my son and I found our way there to see and have fun with the crowd.

When we get there at around 9 in the morning, a lot of people were already busy scrambling the clothes. So, I let Mark tend to Kristoff and took my time to do the ukay-ukay!

Thirty minutes after, here are my cheap deals!

A shirt for Kristoff for only P40.

A polo shirt for only P40.

Kristoff's pants (brand new) for only P40.

For my niece, Quia, for P30.

Bloomer for Quia at P20.

We also bought shirts for Mark and me at only P25. For this thrift store shopping, we only spent around P400 or $9.6 for 11 clothes! 

I love to go back next Wednesday. :)

Dear Son: Your Dad Made You Look Like A Pirate Today

He couldn't just stop laughing when he thought of making you look like this. Well, the fact is, you too! You laughed when you saw yourself in the mirror baby.  It's the thing we can't ignore, you give us countless reasons to be happy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Grateful weekend for everyone!

The cottage Bible study was held at our home yesterday afternoon. It was refreshing because I've been thirsty for the Word all this time. Even writing about it now makes me guilty of not doing my responsibility to grow as a Christian. But that's for another story. Anyhow, I'm glad that the church people were there to visit and share the Word with us.

What made me even gladder was the part when the pastor asked for each of our testimony on how God has sustained and blessed us this week. Wow! I don't intend to exaggerate but the truth is, I missed this kind of thing - when Christians gather and share testimonies and problems and help each other in prayer. 

When my turn came, I blurted out a lot of things to be thanked for and I feel satisfied having declared them to the people whom I know understand.

For this week, here are the things I am really heartfully grateful about:

1. The gift of life. It's just awesome how God has given and sustained our breath and our health despiite minor colds and illnesses the family is having now.

2. The gift of wisdom. It's wisdom that comes with age and with tuning your heart in to the natural things. I  was a ranting lady when I moved here in the countryside. I never imagined myself to settle down in my hometown, too preoccupied of the city life. But God has a different plan - a plan which is very opposite to mine. But well, he knows the best and I feel blessed that He's taking over 'cause I can see where He is leading me.

3. The gift of providence. His financial blessings overflows and though time will come that it won't be too overflowing, I know He will never ever leave our side and give us what we need.

That's it! It may not be too specific of the material things, but for me, I'm glad...I'm really glad to have found those things to be thankful for.

How about you? What are the things you're glad about this week?

Friday, August 10, 2012

How Safe is Fletcher's Castoria?

Photo Source

Perhaps, you are also well-familiarized with Fletcher's Castoria, Castor Oil or Senna. In my case, I didn't hear about this until my son was born. For a woman who hasn't experienced  babysitting before, I can just fairly forgive myself on this one. Most moms especially from town use Castoria to deal with abdominal distention of babies even newborns.

I suddenly remember this drug tonight when my cousin asked me what to do about her baby who has loose watery stool now and was advised by her  neighbor, "an experienced mom", to give her baby Castoria.

My first encounter with Castoria was two weeks after Kristoff's birth when he developed diarrhea and fever. At that time,  Mark was still on-board and I was short so we went to a general physician who asks only for a cheap clinic fee. I wish I didn't make the lack of money as an excuse not to bring my son to a pediatrician. Anyhow, she recommended Castoria and I was also keen to read the details on the label. It's indicated for constipation and if I give it to my son who had already an irritable bowel, then it would really aggravate his condition.

You know the feeling that you know that you know what's right, but you are just too helpless to stand for it. I know I shouldn't give it, but other experienced moms including my mom believed that it ought to be given because "they have already used and tested this on their babies before". I felt so hopelessly helpless to assert my own.

Maybe this is one of the most common dilemmas of young and newbie mommies especially when their partners are not beside them.

After a week, when Kristoff's condition got more serious, I was then empowered to set aside my helplessness and asserted my way to have financial support and brought him to The Doctor's Hospital  - Bacolod where he was seen by pediatricians and diagnosed to have Lactose Intolerance, the cause of his diarrhea.

Dr. Pandan, his attending physician and the head of the department of pediatrics in TDHI, clarified that it's dangerous to give Castoria to babies. And I would like to add, that Castoria is not a cure for abdominal distention, rather for constipation. That's what always been the mistake of most.

The best thing to do before giving any medication, especially for the first time and you are unsure of it, is to consult a pediatrician.

For more information about Fletcher's Castoria, please visit

First Trip to La Isla Bonita with Daddy Mark

I mentioned in Choosing La Isla Bonita that Daddy Mark was captured by the beauty of the said resort that even though he was still on-board, he promised me that we would go there again when he comes home. And so, we did!

But it was a sort of planned and unplanned thing. Yes, we planned of going there long before that day and yet we never really expected that that day would be the day. We were totally unprepared! Get what I mean?

Here's the story. Our little town, Hinoba-an doesn't have a working ATM machine, so we have to visit the neighboring city, Sipalay to withdraw. The three of us went to Sipalay ( 30 minutes by bus) and after withdrawing some money, we realized it was too early to go home and then...the idea of going to La Isla popped up!

It was around 11AM, we wanted to catch up with lunch, thus we hurried to go the market and bought raw bangus, pork, spices and seasonings, cooked rice, water and charcoal for grilling.

When we had already settled in the resort. Daddy started grilling while MK and me took some time to ourselves.

This is really family! How I missed this! Who wouldn't? Mark was away for nine months and this is one of the moments both of us are dying to have.

Choosing La Isla Bonita

The water seemed muddy because this photo was taken right after a heavy rain.

La Isla Bonita, formerly known as Tinagong Dagat (literally translated as Hidden Sea), is one of the most visited beaches in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental. Owned by the Campillanos family, a native clan of the place, La Isla Bonita has captured the hearts of the tourists that they usually come back every time they get a chance. Well, I'm not flattering you because we are actually one of those regular visitors.

We first visited there when Mark was still on-board and it seemed that he too got so captured by La Isla's beauty that he promised me to go back there, with him, of course. 

La Isla Bonita is a good choice for first time visitors of Sipalay beaches. Why? Here are some reasons:

1. Easy to reach even for those who don't have a car. We don't have a private car, so we just commute. Upon reaching the Sipalay Public Market, we can just negotiate a tricycle driver to bring us to the resort at Php20-30 per person. We get there for only 10-15 minutes. However, make sure to tell the driver to fetch you at a scheduled time because the place is not a part of the vehicles' route.

2. It's cheaper compared to others. If you only want to stay for a day, then you only got to pay Php350 for the big cottage which is the nearest to the kiddie pool and Php250 for the smaller cottages which are just some stairs away from the pool. Whichever you may choose, it's still practical with the scenic views you can see there.

3.  Worried about wearing bikinis or swimsuit? You don't have to in La Isla. You definitely have a choice - to have your light shirt and shorts on or go for the swimwear.

However, an always important reminder is before you go there, always contact the management first for bookings especially during the peak season (summer) and during weekends. They are usually fully booked.

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