Monday, December 31, 2018

The 2018 that was

As I sit down in front of my desk, trying to write a post about 2018, I realize that I don't remember much about how 2018 went - it must have gone that fast!

With a memory that is like a sieve these days, I should make a habit of writing posts more often if only to commemorate events.

The highlights:

- Best summer camp ever - Swe cha enjoyed this year's summer camp and has been asking to go back.
- Swe-cha learned to ride a bike
- multiple trips to Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane harbor, Swe-cha is such a fan of thrill rides.

- watched Disney on Ice: Mickey's Search Party
- a visit from my parents, Swe-cha loved having Ama & Angkong.

The latter part of December 2018 has not been kind to our family beginning with a bout with the stomach flu for Swe-cha, he later passed it over to me and as I still try to recover from that, the husband gets downed too.

And then as if one round wasn't enough, Swe-cha started having a fever again by Christmas. I hope to say goodbye to this virus as we welcome the new year.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Essential Oils

I first started using essential oils (EOs) last year when I purchased a starter kit from Aura Cacia. 

I was getting tired of the usual cleaning products which give me a headache and also leave a chemical smell that lingers in my nose for hours and hours and my research led me to essential oils.

EOs have been around for a long time but the seem to have gained a lot of traction in the recent years because of a popular brand which sells them via a networking or membership scheme.

The starter kit came with 4 EOs - Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint and Tea Tree. Since last year, Tea Tree has become a primary ingredient in my home made cleaning products for its antiseptic properties. Every now and then, I sprayed eucalyptus & peppermint when I wanted to mask food smells at home. 

... that was the extent of my EO usage until recently...

I had been nursing cough/colds for weeks and decided to try a immunity boost using EOs.  Since then, I've gotten a few more EOs, roller bottles, euro-dropper bottles for making blends, 2 diffusers (a 150 ml and a 500 ml). The best part is that the husband seem to have gotten into diffusing EOs as well. He loves to mix his own diffusing blends and discoveries - for example Rosemary + Lemon smells like Halls Honey Lemon from our childhood :)

My EO bottles have swelled beyond the 4 bottles in the starter kit. I have around 10+ now and aside from almost-nightly diffusions, we regularly use an immunity bomb (for myself, still waiting to kick the bug), and a bug bite roller blend (this works so far).


Tuesday, September 4, 2018


I've been in America for a long time but today is the very first time I've tried the all-American Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich and I love it!

I've always thought it was icky ... I didn't think the mixing up peanut butter & Jelly in the same bite would be good. For me, this is along the same lines of eating noodles (spaghetti/pancit/etc) as ulam with rice or eating 2 different ulam in the same bite - other people may do it but I don't.

Anyway, Swe-cha started his feeding program on PB&J today too. Let's hope that he learns to like this.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Key Finder

I hate that I am always losing my keys... but that is how I am.

"Be more organized."
"Keep your keys in the same place each time."

All the advice / sermon ? I've heard them all.

A few months ago, I lost my car and house keys. I am 100% positive that they're inside the house because they're attached to the keychain - I drove home and was able to get into the house so they're definitely somewhere inside, I just couldn't remember where I left them.

While annoying, it wasn't much of a hardship because we had a spare keyfob for my car and a spare key for the house for when my family visits.

Recently, while hunting for the sun block spray which I also misplaced (haha!), hubby found my original keys and we rejoiced. He also did find the sun block spray, he was on a roll! So I decided to order a keyfinder set from Amazon. This unit comes with 6 receivers and a remote. Each receiver uses a replaceable CR2032 battery and the remote uses 2 AAA batteries. We used to have TILEs attached to our keys but at $20 per unit and each unit only valid for a year, it wasn't really sustainable long-term.

I received the keyfinder set today and promptly installed on the batteries and tested all units/receivers. The range is surprisingly good. I left the receivers in an upstairs bedroom and pressed the remote from our ground floor family room and I heard the beeps.

I will mention that I cannot find my car keys again (it was hubby who misplaced it, I think) so this came at a good time. When it does come up eventually, I'll add a receiver immediately.

Monday, August 27, 2018


My little boy's memory amazes me.

This morning, I was on the phone with LBC to follow up with a balikbayan box pickup and when I was done, the little boy asked me who I was talking to.

I told him I was with LBC and pointed to the LBC logo on the box. I wanted to add "Remember Tito X ? The guy who picked up our box last time ?" but I didn't because I couldn't remember the guy's name.

He then said, "LBC is Tito Albert!".

Yep. That's the guy. :)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Hardwood floor cleaning & polishing

We spent the better part of the afternoon cleaning and polishing our hardwood floors.

We didn't get to finish the whole living area but we were able to the high traffic areas.

Used home made recipes and made my own floor cleaner and floor polish. I should've taken before photos for comparison. These turned out good.

Floor cleaner recipe by Sarah Lipoff
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon castile soap
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
2 cups warm water
essential oil (optional - I added tea tree oil and orange essential oils)

I mixed up all the ingredients above and put them in a spray bottle. Shake and spray the cleaning solution onto the floor, clean using rags and some elbow grease.

Floor polish by Becca Piastrelli:
1/4 cups olive oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
12 drops lemon essential oil (note: used orange EO instead and in the past, I've used lavender EO)
5 cups hot water

I only made half quantity of the above Floor Polish recipe and put the solution in a squeeze bottle. Shake and squeeze the polish onto the floor and I spread it around with a soft buffing cloth mounted on a Swiffer.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Unexpected blessing

Booking my parents' tickets for their visit to NJ later this year and before I hit "Purchase", I decided to just take a look at my mileage account.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I still had enough miles for a round-trip ticket, that the non-stop fares I was looking to book for them was still available for the award booking and that my miles were expiring in September - imagine if I had waited till next month to book, nakakahinayang!

Nakakatuwa lang. I haven't been keeping track of my miles since we don't travel a lot these days anymore.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

MMDA Cleanup Operations 2018

It's interesting to note that these days, I have been binge-watching video coverages on the MMDA Cleanup Operations going on in Manila instead of my usual Korean/Chinese/Taiwanese dramas. And yes, I've even put a pause on Meteor Garden reboot because I somehow find these more interesting.

If you're looking to check out what I'm talking about, just do a search in YouTube. I specifically like Gadget Addict's videos because of his narration.

To note, there are a few incidents that have gone viral but the ones that top my list are:

a) 5 minute girl -  A woman parked her vehicle illegally and argued with traffic enforcers. She refused to give her license. Her argument was that she came within 5 minutes. Her husband eventually came to the scene.

The woman turned out to be a fiscal and the husband a prosecutor working for the DOJ.

Both eventually issued a public apology, probably after realizing how much trouble they were in with the MMDA filing formal charges against them.

b) both sides couple - A car parked on the wrong side of a one-side-parking-only street was towed and the owners argued that to make things fair for everybody, parking should've been disallowed on both sides.

There is one great lesson to be learned here and that we should always keep in mind. In this day and age of social media, there is always someone watching/recording, so think twice before acting like an ass because you wouldn't want everybody to think that you're a fool, would you ?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Summer schedule

Talked to the boss this afternoon to give him a heads up on my summer schedule and it's a go. He is such a great boss for a working mom like me.

I'll be working from home during the transition days:
- the week after school ends and before summer camp starts
- the weeks after summer camp ends and before school starts

During the summer camp days, I'd be reporting to the office in the morning and would go home at noon. I'd then step away from work for a bit to pick up Swe-cha from summer camp. 

I could've worked from home the entire time but desk space is at a premium and I heard from a source that the company is keeping track of how often employees come in and if they run out of space, they'd assign desks depending on your attendance.  I don't want to get moved to a hoteling-desk.

Anyway.... so far as summer plans go, I'm glad to report that everything is looking good. The only fly in the ointment is the 14 minute walk to and from my parking building to my office building. I am so not looking forward to be walking outside at NOON under the hot summer sun.

If you happen to be along the streets of Newark and see the 1 person walking under an umbrella,... come over and say "Hi". That person would most probably be me :-)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Backyard tree

I come home one May (5/3) afternoon and was amazed by this sight.

We've been living in this house for 5 years and I don't remember this tree looking like this - I probably spend so little time outdoors and so little time looking at my surroundings that I have been missing out on this beautiful sight all this time.

I wonder what kind of tree this is ? The foliage turns green eventually.

My photos don't do it justice.

It really is beautiful.

Monday, June 4, 2018


Today, I feel saddened by the loss of a talented person.

He works for a vendor and I've been working closely with him these past couple of years to customize the application.

He passed away from a heart attack last night and was fine before that (or so we think).

He's only in his 40s and has young kids which even makes this more tragic.

Sunday, June 3, 2018


Q: What’s your favorite holiday ?
Swe-cha: my favorite holiday is Good Friday
Swe-cha: because class is canceled. On Good Friday, there is no school.


Q: What’s your favorite season?
Swe-cha: my favorite season is winter
Swe-cha:  because it’s a snow day. Classes is cancelled for snow day. On snow day, there is no school.


Last night, he rummaged in the drawers and finds his old elastic bandage from when he sprained his ankle. He asked me to put it on his foot.

Suspicious, I asked him where it hurts and he just keeps saying "there" without really pointing to a specific spot.

So I put it on him and when done, he covers his face with his hands .....

Swe-cha: Huhuhu! My foot is hurt, school is cancelled. I stay at home with Mommy.

I wonder if it's fake ?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Cleaning the Air Intake Vent Cover

My husband isn't the most masipag person in the world when it comes to housework (neither am I) but I have to say that when he sets out to do something, he does it really really well. Wala akong masabi.

So this recent winter, we've noticed that the air intake vent for our central AC looks very dirty. We've been in this house for years and no one remembers how this used to look like before - was it brown ? silver ? was it clean when we moved in ? I remember hiring a company to come and clean out the vents but I don't remember them scrubbing the actual vent cover.

For sure, we knew that it wasn't clean.

Okay... I admit, I'm 100% it is dirty.

You know, the kind of dirt that builds up on the blades of the ceiling fan ? That type of dirty.

At some point, the husband gets on a ladder and starts wiping and scrubbing with a few sheets of Lysol wipes.

... and the layers of grime started coming off.

It wasn't easy though. The grime seemed "baked-on" and with that thought in mind, I decided to soak the grime with Easy-Off (my favorite go-to kitchen cleaner and degreaser).

I don't have pictures of that step where we both got on ladders and then wrapped the grate in plastic wrap, section by section, and then spraying with Easy-Off.

After letting it soak. Hubby then started scrubbing.

A couple of hours of elbow grease later, tadaaaaa!

For the record, silver pala siya.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Life these days is full of bargaining. There must be something in an 8-year old's mind that makes him want to oppose me at ever turn. For example:

Me: It's time to take a bath

Swe-cha: No.

Me: You have to take a bath

Swe-cha: I need a few more minutes

Me: you have 1 minute

Swe-cha: I take 10 minutes

Me: no, you have 1 minute

Swe-cha: I take 8 minutes

Me: you can have 2 minutes

Swe-cha: I take 2 minutes.

Me: okay, 2 minutes

Swe-cha: I take 10 minutes.

Me: We agreed on 2 minutes. That's it.

Swe-cha: okay.

I'm not complaining. I'm actually happy that Swe-cha wants to and is able to banter like this. Kaya lang, there are times when I can't help but roll my eyes.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Air Plants

I got some air plants last week and they arrived yesterday. As instructed, I soaked them for about an hour or so and then shook them gently to get rid of the excess water.

When the leaves were dry, I placed them in their containers - I just reused containers I had around the house. If you look closely, you'll recognize baby food containers, a candle holder and even an eye gel container.

I did purchase the white ornamental rocks from the local dollar store.

Ideally, these would thrive well with bright, indirect light - preferably, a south-facing window. This kitchen window faces east so I hope tihs works out well.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Chicken Barbeque

I have to say that I'm getting pretty good at making chicken barbeque.

Feeling ko, it tastes like Aristocrat's but I haven't been to that restaurant in more than a decade so I really wouldn't know.

It was made doubly-amazing when we discovered that yellow (Spanish) rice tastes similar to the java rice that I remember from my childhood.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Food Saver Vacuum

I have a new toy.

My practical side is telling me that getting a food vacuum seems a bit silly considering how little I cook these days but my non-practical side has a louder voice ;-)

I justified this purchase by telling myself that:
(1) I buy in bulk - this is true!
(2) Sometimes, our meat does get freezer burns - true rin!
(3) I've wanted this for the longest time but refrained myself from getting it because the vacuum rolls are expensive.
(4) I've been packing both raw and cooked food portions in ziploc freezer bags and then vacuuming the air out before sealing. We through a lot of these and the vacuuming and the seals aren't even that good.

Imagine my delight, while browsing through the wonder that is Amazon, when I came across these generic food vacuum rolls - affordable na lang and they have good reviews that seem legit.

Having decided to take the plunge, I did some research and decided to get the GameSaver model for the following reasons:

(1) It's compact enough to fit in a kitchen drawer, my house is cluttered enough and I didn't want to add more clutter on the counters
(2) It's a simple model, less moving parts
(3) It can do up to 40 consecutive seals - the other models, I hear, need to be cooled (or let cool ?) in between seals.

My ever-supportive husband and I had fun vacuuming stuff last night. We cut up pieces from the roll and made custom-sized bags for single-servings of pistachios, I brought them to the office for emergency snacks.

This came at the right time because I'm due for a Costco run this weekend.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Why ?

On my way to work, I passed by several trash cans which all have garbage strewn right beside it.

And this is not a one-time thing. I see this often. Probably every other week or so and when I do see this, it doesn't only involve 1 trash can... it's ALL trashcans in a 2 block radius.

Why and how does this happen ?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Spring cleanup - Patio

We decided to take advantage of the good weather today (temps in the 80s F) and declared a spring cleaning-day for our patio. It was a good day overall. We managed to get our backyard - well, the patio area - ready for spring, the only thing left to tackle is the grill.

We gave the walls a good scrubbing - vinyl siding is so easy to clean.

The most dramatic before & after shots are of the ceiling fans - we spent a couple of hours scrubbing the dirt and grime off of them.

Here are some before and after shots:

Hopefully, spring really does come so we can enjoy more time out here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


So we brought out the Lego sets recently in the hopes of enticing Swe-cha into playing with them and boy, were we surprised!

So first up was the Blue Classic Creativity box which came with pieces and instructions for 3 pieces - a train, a whale and a house. Swe-cha tackled that all by himself in no time - Daddy helped a little by holding the instruction booklet up and flipping the pages.

Amazed, we brought out the Green Classic Creativity box and again, he immediately made short work of the pieces.

We didn't know that he could play with and follow (classic) Lego instructions correctly.  Classic Legos, compared to Duplos, are smaller and take some effort to snap together.

Interestingly, he's been mixing up the pieces and combining them and letting his imagination run wild. For example, pictured here is a train, a tractor and a whale. His train engine is missing a coal tender and a caboose so he is using the tractor and the whale to fill the need.

Notice also that the front wheels of the tractor is really a set of wheels from the train and that the front tractor wheels have been moved to the whale, completing the last pair of wheels on the whale are ones that are borrowed from a race car.

His Daddy, a self-proclaimed Lego afficionado, burst with pride as he nodded approvingly and declared, "that's what Lego is all about". The daddy now has a reason [translation: excuse] to shop for more Lego.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Saturday, March 24, 2018


Look! I'm a dinosaur, I eat the iPad.


*shaking my head*

Thursday, March 8, 2018

February Art


I was sitting on the floor when an insect - a huge silverfish - came out. I chased it and flattened it with my slipper.

S: Don't bang, Mommy.

Me: It was an insect. It's scary.

S: Don't scare the insect, Mom.

Me: (under my breath) ... Sorry po.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Hubby / S dropped me off to pick up a takeout order and Hubby drove the car around. I picked up the order and then met them in the other street...

Swe-cha: Daddy, you found Mommy, yay!


Taps me on the shoulder....

Swe-cha: Tap, tap, tap.... mommy, can you play with me ?


We lost power around 5pm last Friday,... at some point, I found S shining his flashlight all over the house and I asked him what he was looking for, ...

Swe-cha: The internet...


Dressing up after a bath,...

Swe-cha: I need socks, Mommy

I rummage around in the basket of clean laundry which I haven't sorted/folded yet and found 1.

Swe-cha: Thanks Mom, I need another sock!

I rummage around some more and found the pair...

Swe-cha: Thanks for the socks, Mom.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Observations & Artwork

These days, S blurts out things that tell me that all these years where he's been non-verbal unable to communicate, he's been absorbing things all along.

For example, he brings out a Dr Seuss Green Eggs & Ham book and asks "who gave this book ?"

"Tita Me-----", I said.

and then he follows up with "Who is Ma----'s Mom ?" Ma---- is Me-----'s daughter. We meet them once a year on average.

Then later, he says to me "A, A and R are girls. They are sisters".
Actually, they're not. A and A are sisters, R is not their sister but they're always together whenever we see them so I can see why S would be confused.


I'm also taking the chance to post today's artwork.

Can you guess what it is ?

Parang last year lang, all I could teach him to draw was a balloon, a lollipop or a kite.

Thursday, February 1, 2018


I've been hearing suspicious sounds from my car and had switched vehicles with the husband so he can observe.

When I picked up Swe-cha from school that afternoon, he sees his Dad's car instead of mine....

     S: What's that ?
     Me: It's..

     S: (interrupts me) NOT DADDY'S CAR!! (and he starts laughing)

He then runs to the car and takes a peek through the windows

     S: That's not right! (while laughing hysterically)

and then, as we're buckling ourselves into our seats...

     S: Where's Daddy ?

     Me: Daddy's at the office, he is driving Mommy's car.


I cannot imagine how far he's come since last year. I remember that the last time hubby and I switched cars, perhaps half a year ago, I knew that S wanted to ask and/or make a comment but he didn't know how and what to say.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Swe-cha and Mr R call Ms B on Facetime...

Ms B: Hi S! I like your shirt
S: Thank you.
Ms B: What color is it ?
S: (looks down at his colorful, tie-dyed shirt) rainbow!


While practicing conversations w/ Mr R...

Mr R: Tell me something about Ms B.
S: I talked to Ms B on the phone
Mr R: Good.
S: I'll call 201-xxx-xxxx (Mr R's phone number)
Mr R: That's amazing S, how do you still remember that ?
S: I don't know.


On the phone with A-i...

A-i: Hi S, what's your favorite toy ?
S: Jenga
A-i: can you teach me how to play Jenga ?
S: First you put in, then you stack it and then you crash it, yay!