5 Features You Might Like to Have in a Family Car

Investing in a family car is a crucial decision to make for an average family like ours. My husband and I had a long discussion on what kind of car to get to replace our aging Nissan Sentra, even the make of the car was researched and compared. The time invested on research and review-comparisons did not go to waste as we are now currently enjoying the services of a reliable, fuel efficient, road worthy vehicle, the Toyota Vios/Yaris. It has been 5 years since.

The Toyota Vios (Asia) or Yaris (USA) is a B- Segment sedan. For a family of 4 it is more than enough to take the kids to school and drive it going to the office. On road trips this car just gives you that sense of confidence on the road knowing you are in a reliable car. This compact sedan is also easy to drive and easy to park. Fuel efficiency is also one of the reasons why my husband and I agreed to get it. We love road trips so the more fuel efficient the car is the better.

However as our kids grow our family activities are also getting diverse and we somehow feel that we are outgrowing the functionalities of our vehicle. Our kids love to ride their bicycles around the city park but we could barely fit one bicycle in the boot let alone two. So we ride in discomfort with one bicycle in the boot and one inside the car placed on the backseat. This is a dangerous set-up and we don’t want to be doing this for a long time.

 

So we are now in search for a vehicle that would cater to the demands of a growing family.  Cars.com is certainly a great help, as they have got wide selections to choose from. We are eyeing 3 time-tested car brands with their respective MPV offerings – the Toyota Avanza, the Honda Mobilio and the Suzuki Ertiga.

Below, we have delineated must haves in our family car.  Although based on our personal preferences, these nevertheless might be features that you would want to consider in your family car.

 

The reason why we are eyeing these three MPVs are as follows:

  1. Huge boot space – As I have mentioned our kids are into biking and we need that space for the bicycles. And not only that, we could use that boot space when we are on a road trip for our suitcases and a whole lot of other stuff that we like to bring with us on the road.
  2. Third row seats– Some may say third row seats are not that important but it is. We have experienced so many times driving with our kids on our laps because we have guests and we don’t have enough seats. And that is very dangerous.
  3. Cup holders– Now many may think of this as petty but it is definitely not if you have kids onboard all the time. Surely, most parents with young kids are with us on this. Anyway, this petty little feature is one of the things lacking in our reliable car and it is pretty annoying.
  4. Reclining middle row seats– This is a must for long distance trips. Your passengers will be more comfortable a bit reclined while on a long journey as to sitting upright the whole time.
  5. Price– For middle class families like us we are also very concerned with the price. SUVs can very well solve all our vehicle problems but would surely kill our finances. These three cars we are eyeing have some of the traits of an SUV for a lot less.

Now we are still on the process of choosing which of the three we would get. We would go through the same process of comparing specs and reviews of these MPVs before we decide to put our money down.

 

For parents out there with plans on buying a family car, what features do you consider important? Do we have similar preferences?

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Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate Review

Among the oceans of video converter software inundating the internet nowadays, Wondershare is certainly legit and is best to nothing, no contest.

For non-computer savvy Moms like me, there are two important things to look for when purchasing, functionality and practicality.

Does it really work?  Is it easy? Can a computer dummy like me do it? Or Do I end up dumping it out of frustration? Does it come with a malware or something? Or Do I end up buying a lemon? These are just few questions I ask myself. Yes, I’m pretty skeptical. Having bought some crappy products online, wouldn’t you be?

 

The wonders of Wondershare

Wondershare is so generous with its offerings. It does not only convert videos but it has loads of other wonderful features like trimming, cropping, and video effects and filters. It’s a no nonsense software. The interface is clean and everything is accessible. There are no extra, unnecessary requirements, prerequisites, and whatnot to run it. Just install it. Voila!

This is the main screen, as you can see all the features are right up-front – convert, download videos from the internet, burn, and transfer files directly from your PC to your device (iOS, Android, camcorder, flash disk, hard disk). It’s so user-friendly, all you need to do is add all video files you want converted, edit video as desired and hit convert button; it converts them in no time and saves them automatically as a separate file. Oh I forgot to mention, it also has watermark, subtitle, and audio control features.

Wondershare main screen

 

And oh another thing, if you hit that TOOL button it will give you these. Awesome!

Fun Media tools

 

So far, I have converted tons of videos which I took with my JVC camcorder and Olympus underwater camera. These videos have not been shared to friends and relatives due to incompatibility issues. But now I could. I’m so lovin’ this.

Here’s a short video I took of my wedding bouquet using a JVC camcorder (in .vob format) that I have edited and converted to mp4 using Wondershare.

 

And here’s a GIF I made.

 

 

 

It’s practical alright

The best things in life are free.  But if it comes with all sorts of bugs, no thank you. Wondershare is an honest to goodness software.  A Lifetime License at $59.95, yes, one-time fee for free lifetime update, and if working online is your bread and butter, this is surely practical!

 

Wondershare is a WONDERful, easy to use, feature inundated video converter software.

It’s fun. It’s awesome.

I love it!

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Mother’s Day 2017

It’s Mother’s Day in Thailand.

In my 8 years as a Mom,  I had been greeted by so many friends,  colleagues,  and even acquaintances on Mother’s Day but never  from my own child.  This year’s Mother’s day is different and special.  For the first time I received a Mother’s day letter from my daughter.  Here.


She wrote this in school,  and wanted to surprise me.  I felt a lump building up in my throat as I was reading it.  It is simple but the gesture is just so sweet.  Earlier when we went grocery shopping she bought me a bolster and a towel (which I paid for,  Lol).  It’s OK.  It’s really the thought that counts.  I was so touched!

And then later on she secretly made me another card complete with Thai translation ^_^.

 

Oh so sweet!

 

To Have or Not to Have a Nanny

From a previous post, I enumerated three options expats could choose from with regard to who will take care of a child after the one month maternity leave. These are:

  1. Hiring a nanny
  2. A daycare center that accepts infants
  3. Mom and/or Dad looking after your baby

In our case, the first two options were the most plausible. Option 3 was out of the question. Hiring a nanny may not be the best especially if we take into consideration child psychology 101, fundamentals of education and whatnot but truth be told this is the most convenient, easiest, and practical option there is.  And putting our son in a daycare was the other probable option.

 

How’s the nanny?

Our first born was with a Thai nanny most of her infancy and Filipino nanny during her toddler years. While our second child was with a Thai nanny during his infancy and spent most of his toddler years in a daycare. We could say that we experienced the best or even the worse of both worlds.

We were lucky our kids had caring nannies.  We never had nanny-related problems similar to those horrendous news or videos of babies and kids abused by their nannies. However, the biggest challenge we had, since the Thai nannies we had do not speak our language, was communication gap. Explaining your preferences and the do’s and don’ts is extremely difficult.  This oftentimes lead to miscommunication, misunderstanding, and a possible strain in the relationship.  Another problem that could arise from having a nanny whether communication is a problem or not, is the differences in child-rearing practices. Parents have visions as to how their kids should grow and what values they want to re-enforced. On the other hand, parents and nannies may not be in the same spectrum.

And so, if you have no other recourse than to have a nanny for your dear kiddies and more especially if you are an expat, you have to choose your nanny with utmost care after all you are placing your kid’s safety on her hands.

 

A care from a Daycare

After moving to a new place due to job relocation, we were left with no choice but to send him to a daycare center as we were new to the place and knew no one to take care of him.  A daycare is cheaper but it is crowded. There were 20 sometimes more toddlers in one room with only two adults to look after them.  Due to this, he was sick most of the time. The worst thing he got from there was Foot and Mouth Disease.  It was such a trying time for us.

 

The choice is yours

As parents, we gotta do what we gotta do, right?  Our decisions could either break or make our kids.  It’s hard, but it’s something that comes with parenthood.  Depending on your present circumstance, whether you are an expat, single parent, working mom or dad, the choice is yours.

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Creative Minds

It is just so incredible how people can be so creative and ingenious. This, my friends,  is definitely one.  They turned a mini-truck into an awesome, moving restaurant.

Amazing huh?!

Earlier that day my kids were on a Mr. and Miss Maker mood (inspired by The Mister Maker kiddie show).  They turn this tiny plastic medicine bottle into a prop plane, with a spinner toy for a propeller and pikachu as the pilot….hmmm.


Creative?  Imaginative?

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Maternity Leave is Over: What Now?

Prior to having kids I had been adamant and vocal about the need for mothers to take care of their babies themselves.  It was my intention and it is an ideal thing to do.  Reality bites though,  I have to work, as the case with many moms and dads out there.

Our kids grew up with nannies.  They spent most hours of the day five days a week with a nanny.  Our first child had a Filipino nanny.  She was loving and motherly.  She took care of the kids very well.  Yes,  she had three toddlers under her care.  Our second child on the other hand had a Thai nanny.  She had two babies to take care of.  She was a grandmother and also motherly.  I say we got to experience the best and the worse of both worlds. Both are similar in some ways yet so different in many ways. I will talk about this in length in my next post.

Anyway,  would we have it in any other way?  Well,  I don’t  think so.  We did not have much choice.  As both of us have to work full time (for the visa) , so looking after our then toddlers was simply out of the question.  I think many expat parents share my view on this.  In as much as we want to be there especially during this stage, we can’t,  and all we can do is choose the best option there is.

For Thai expats there are several options to choose from.

  • One is to ask a relative especially your mom and/or dad to look after your kid (for other culture this might be preposterous but for Asians this is acceptable and practical). They could apply for Non-O visa to be able to stay.  Siblings however are not eligible. This is the kind of set up particularly preferred by those whose parents are retirees or are just not working.
  • Second is sending your child to a day care that accepts infants and very young toddlers.
  • Third is hiring a nanny.

If you would like to know more about our experience regarding this please click here.

For expats out there,  which of the following choices above would you prefer?

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Amazing Tips That Will Make You Stop Smoking for Good

Smoking is one of the worst addiction there is.

Not only does it affect you directly but the smoke also has a devastating effect on people around you. It makes matters even worse when you realize that most smokers have a negative view of smoking and would love to quit it for good.

Unfortunately, smoking is similar to coffee: it is something that can easily become a part of your daily routine and it is really hard to quit it when you start. Smokers get used to smoking in certain situations for example, together with coffee and whenever you have coffee the ritual goes in conjunction with cigarettes.

Luckily for you there are numerous ways you can quit this vice. Like most similar things, it is mainly about your mental strength. Nevertheless, there are some tricks that will help you do it more easily. Let’s check them out!

 

  1. Prepare for a long-term quitting

The biggest issue with cigarettes is that people do not have a long-term plan when it comes to quitting. They have general wish to do it but they usually think short-term. This is not right nor does it give needed results. First, smoker needs to prepare for a lifetime without tobacco and cigarettes. If you simply focus on one day or one week, there is a good chance you will relapse when this week is over. Only by telling yourself that you can live without cigarettes and adhering to this can you truly stop smoking.

 

  1. Find a substitution

Unfortunately, even though long-term approach is the right way to go most people have difficulty during initial weeks and months. Vice has become a part of your daily routine (as previously mentioned) and it is hard to imagine other rituals without it. This is why it is good to get a substitute. Traditional ones are chewing gums and patches. However, due to development of technology today we have even better solutions. Electronic cigarettes are amazing way to do it. They use e-juice or vape liquid as the main substance. According to health in situations, they are much better than nicotine and do not harm your health.

 

  1. Remove and reduce things that remind you of cigarettes

These rituals that I’ve mentioned are the main reason for relapsing. Coffee and alcohol are to the main culprits however stress can also be very dangerous. In these situations smokers are used to having a release. Besides the fact that you can find a substitution, you can also try to eliminate things that initially cause you to smoke. If you reduce coffee and start drinking something else, you increase chance of avoiding morning smoke. A lot of people smoke when they go to a cafe or a pub. If you reduce alcohol, you are again able to reduce smoking.

 

  1. Find a hobby

Although this may seem farfetched, there is a good reason for it. Most people tend to smoke when they don’t know what to do with their hands. They are used to having something in them and this becomes a habit. During your free time, find some hobby that will keep your hands occupied. Even if it’s something seemingly stupid such as mixing playing cards or squeezing rubber ring grip, it can be a great help in getting rid of this nasty habit.

 

  1. Do physical activity

Smokes and training do not go well together. If you are doing some aerobic training, you will constantly require more air and bigger lung capacity. This will prevent you from doing anything that goes against your biological organism. Even if you smoke at first, there is a good chance you will quit it after some time due to sheer inability to keep you physically fit. Just make sure to be persistent with training and you can slowly reduce your need for nicotine.

 

Conclusion

 

Anti-smoking tips are in fact small tricks that should dissuade you from continuing to smoke. They are simple things you can use to reduce your addiction and lose will to smoke. If you make them a part of your routine, you will be on a good path to a healthier life.

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Tira-Tira Candy


This grandpa pulls something sticky and stretchy from an elongated pouch. I have to admit it was intriguing in fact we stopped by and watched, together with many others who can’t help it as well. To our surprise,  this grandpa is selling what seems like a candy my husband and I know from our childhood days in the Philippines, the TIRA-TIRA!
The only difference is that this one is a bit on the softer and chewy side.  The TIRA-TIRA we had before were tough and sticky on the teeth,  you would have to chew on it so hard it would feel like your teeth would chip off.
We tried it,  and indeed it is TIRA-TIRA, Thai version.

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Moon Gazing at the Night Market

Taken by OPPO F1 selfie as viewed from the telescope

Moon gazing at the night market, that’s right at the night market with real telescopes amidst the hustle and bustle. How amazing is that?

We don’t frequent the night market for one reason and that is, it’s just way to crowded.  However, tonight is an exemption.  NARIT or National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand is here, and their bringing 5 telescopes for everyone. I wondered how it would go considering how busy the place is.  But amazingly things went smoothly – no pushing and shoving, no shouting and rowdy behavior . Everyone queued and waited for their turn. The kids had a great time,  and was blown away by what they saw.

It was indeed educational and precious. An experience they would cherish forever, and be grateful of.
NARIT has been totally generous. We appreciate their effort of going out of their comfort zones and reaching out to as many people as possible; and where else would you find tons of people than the night market, aye?
I think it is just incredibly wonderful to allow precious Science equipment like these to be out in the open where they could be vulnerable to damages for the sake of sharing Science to everyone. I’m in awe.

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UPDATED Thai Insurance: Batprakansangkom (บัตรประกันสังคม)

Thai Insurance: Batprakansangkom

In a previous post, I talked about my personal experience using Thai Insurance: Batprakansangkom (บัตรประกันสังคม)  

It has been almost two years since I posted that. Many things have happened. Now I’m making an update on medical services covered by Batprakansangkom based on my experience.  So aside from free outpatient doctor’s fee, medicines, and maternity compensation this Thai insurance also covers the following:

  • Annual pap smear and other gynecologic tests and medicine
  • Urinalysis
  • Blood test
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • X-ray
  • Echocardiogaraphy
  • Surgery

I’ll keep this post updated every now and then, so keep on checking.

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