Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Gives Me Pleasure

Aha! I might just have had you thinking that *thing.* Sorry to disappoint, I’m not comfortable discussing that. I just don’t send off that kind of vibe. But let it be said that I do indulge in that, and it pleasures me. Enough said. J

It feels weird at times to think that the manic worker that I was easily settled into a laidback domesticated life. Before, good ratings from the bosses propel me to cloud nine. A hefty pay increase delighted me. I would open my self-service account on Oracle to simulate how much separation or pension pay I would be getting. And then I would dream of a nice retirement house, of traveling to Europe and going on cruises.

Now, that has changed. The dream to travel and to own a nice retirement house remains. I miss getting paid every 15th and 30th of the month, yes. But, now, the weird pleasure I get is from knowing the floor is mopped, window sills are wiped, the dogs’ poop is swept, ceiling fans are dusted, and all the countertops are shining bright. Oh, and I also obsess over cleaning the many light switches at home. In the evening, it calms me to see that the house is in order, the throw pillows are in their place, the toys and books are back in their storage boxes and shelves, the curtains are let loose, and the doors are locked. These were the things I simply glossed over before when my mind was occupied with work, or my back ached from incorrect posture working on the computer and making calls, feet beaten by ill-fitting shoes that went nicely with office frocks, and the long queue to get a ride home.

The morning walks which have become routine for me are not as much fun as when I first took to walking. The trails have become too familiar. Now, each morning, I think twice whether or not to take a walk. But knowing it’s good for me, how it has strengthened my immune system, I resolve to do it. And I love the feeling each time I cover a 30-minute route and easily gulp down a bottle of water, sweating. These walks give me pleasure. They humble me and remind me to commune with nature and pray.

The ceiling decor at Mary Grace in SM Aura is one of those simple things that delight my senses.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Basil Pesto Pasta that Melts My Heart

What’s in this pesto pasta that I am blogging about it? It’s simple with no cooking required save for boiling the pasta. You only need to mix the pesto ingredients using a food processor or a blender, combine the mixture with the hot pasta noodles and voila! What do you get? A healthy, no-meat dish that is surprisingly loved by kids, which goes to prove that kids have a simple taste. I may be generalizing, but, seeing how my two children devoured it, and then hearing about how my three-year old niece also loved it (I had some sent to her), being the picky eaters they are, it’s safe to say so, I suppose.

And you know why else this is very important? My son, out of the blue, embraced and kissed me saying, “Ma, I love you, no matter what, through thick and thin.” And this pasta was the trigger! He must have been overwhelmed with gratefulness seeing me drop by the grocery, after fetching him from school, to grab fresh basil, olive oil and walnuts, and then go straight to the kitchen to prepare his favorite pasta. He had ordered it at Amici the couple of times he went there, and he could easily finish a serving for two.

Did it compare with Amici’s? Honestly, in all humility, it did! J

And I want to share with you how I did it. After months of browsing, looking up pesto recipes, and after several packs of basil gone rotten in my fridge, I finally made my first attempt at what turned out to be almost like a no-brainer kind of cooking:
  • Cook about 350 grams (or about a third of 1 kg pack) of spaghetti noodles.
  • Mix about about 2 cups of basil, 3 cloves of garlic, about 3 tablespoons of walnuts and 70 ml of olive oil in a food processor. Halfway, add in another 70 ml of olive oil to fully coat the dry ingredients. 
  • Drain the pasta and transfer back into the pot. Pour the pesto over the noodles, grate cheddar cheese, and stir. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

Try it! You won’t regret it. I spent roughly less than PHP200 or less than USD5, and this pasta dish was shared by 3 adults and 3 children! Imagine how cheap that is. I bought an 8-oz can of walnuts for PHP300, but only used a fourth of it, so that leaves me with enough walnuts for three more meals! Happiness. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I’m torn.  I swing from yes to no, on a weekly, and of late, on a daily basis even. Yesterday, I had convinced myself that it was okay to resume my full-time job. Today, after I accompanied my daughter for a test that would decide if she was ready to be accelerated to second grade, I swung back to no, I am going to remain as a stay-at-home-mom, an SAHM, as they call moms that stay at home full time to care for their children.

Some moms work from home, and they call themselves work-at-home moms or WAHMs in short. I have the highest respects for all moms. To me, those who take on full-time jobs are the more courageous ones. They are the those who are able to let go, trusting that their children can thrive without them needing to be by their side all the time. It’s a tough call for a mom to work because her family needs her to, leaving no other option. There would always be some guilt that she is not spending enough time with her children, missing milestones or school programs, and that she’s relegating too many mommy responsibilities to other persons. Time is important, and it’s difficult to do quality time with your children when you have a job that requires you to put in at least eight hours a day, Monday to Friday. The commute to and from work is a daily battle for most. Add to that pressure from bosses, and you have one mom dealing most likely with what they call as “hurried woman syndrome,” juggling many tasks – homeworks, school projects, bullies at school, a husband, the helpers, and while at it, she tries so hard to keep calm, run the household as expected, and make her bosses happy. I was one hurried woman. Frantic, panicky, in doubt I was doing things right. It’s hard. There was always that heavy, nagging feeling that I was devoting myself more to my work rather than those for whom I was supposedly earning for. But, yeah, it boils down to time management and priorities. There are those who can manage to have a work-life balance. I super admire them.

I have a close friend who sacrifices sleep, getting an average of four to five hours only, but she is very successful raising two children while keeping a very taxing corporate job. Hands down, she is a doting mom, a good daughter, a loving wife, sister, friend, and all the other hats she wears. That girl is simply on fire, driven, committed. She has her priorities in check, never missing out on important school activities and being there when her children are sick. I tell her how she is such a superwoman, and she tells me that she doesn’t know how she does it. She just keeps going. But whenever I asked her if she was ready to give everything up in case her husband could fully support them, her answer was a straight yes, she would. That’s my friend. But, hey, no, she is not just my friend, she is one of my very best friends. I wish she would get to read this. J

Time flies, really. I need to make up my mind. I want to go back to work because I feel I need to. I feel quitting before I am 40 is way too early. There’s still a lot to experience, people to meet, places to see, and, of course, earnings of my own labor to forgo. It’s not only about money, it’s being able to reach that point when I could easily say, this is it, I’ve had enough, I can happily retire, and look back with no regrets.

When I think about it, one thing also that makes me want to work again is that I would like for my daughter to remember that her mom used to work, was passionate about work, and earned her own money. Call me a stereotype but I grew up seeing my mother go to office everyday, fully made up, wearing nice office clothes. I don’t want my daughter to finish school and then just marry some guy and decide she wants to have children and be a full-time mom. No offense to anyone. It’s just my personal take. My mother-in-law never had a formal work, but she was able to raise well-mannered and accomplished children. She sews, gardens, cooks, and has really grown into her role so gracefully. I love her dearly, because she reminds me to be kind and gentle and patient.

I still have some time to decide. Help me, will you? Give me a yes or a no. Please click on comments and let me know your thoughts. Thanks! :-) 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Hello, Summer!

We went back to the Malarayat Suites in Lipa, Batangas last weekend and had more fun than when we were there just last January (see related post here). First off, we were upgraded to deluxe room! I checked and it was double the price of the superior room we had booked. I wondered if by chance the hotel's administration or marketing office saw the blog post I had written on our last stay, and rewarded my family for promoting their hotel. Haha, wishful thinking, I know! So now I write a follow-up to thank our favorite out-of-town, go-to getaway hotel.

Deluxe Room in Yakal Suites

Getting ready for the hot summer months, it was a perfect getaway. The sun was up and the drive over SLEX was still breezy on that Saturday. Only a few weeks from now, traffic would surely congest the roads to the south as people start to flock to resorts. We grabbed lunch along SLEX and reached the hotel just right in time for the 2pm check-in. We intended to maximize the stay. My kids rested a bit before hitting the pool. The last time we were there, the temperature was 21 degrees Celsius, daytime. Notwithstanding the chill, the kids attempted to take a dip, only to come out just minutes after. My daughter didn't even get to wet her hair. The water was too cold even at 11am and with the sun up. They settled for the playground instead.

Our recent stay was more relaxed. The kids got to enjoy the pool in the afternoon after checking in and then again for a couple of hours the next morning. The water was cold but the wind was not as chilly as it was back in January. They super enjoyed swimming with the new friends they made. My husband got enticed to jump into the pool as well to teach my daughter (Gabee) to swim and to show my son (Garrett) the right form in preparing to dive in. Gabee did learn to swim! And, of course, we were so happy!

As always, we couldn’t get enough pictures. The place is pretty especially with good lighting from the sun. The experience elicits natural smiles that come from happiness, and which not only curl the lips but make the eyes aglow. Bonding with the family can happen at any place, at any time, but I’d say the memorable bonding moments are made when there’s an effort to get out of things and places routine. It happens more at places like this when we shut off work and pay full attention to family.