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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Life Starts At 40

There’s some truth in “Life starts at 40”.

A relatively healthy person frequents clinics or hospitals during his 30’s.  Pains and sickness seem to appear out of nowhere during this time. If these symptoms are left unattended could complicate into something serious, as often told by doctors to patients.  Our body is like a car.  After the warranted years, bolts loosen up and parts wore off.  As we near our 40’s, people start thinking of lifestyle change such as quit smoking, limit alcohol in-take, engaging oneself in a regular exercise, and eating healthy.  Reasons vary.

For us, we want to live long enough to see our kids grow and attain stability in life, and if our bodies permit maybe meet our grandchildren.

Among the lifestyle changes mentioned above, the latter two are the most challenging for us.  But since we need to start afresh on our 40’s we have to take on the needed changes.

  • Exercise your way to a healthy you.  We are home buddies and a bit of couch potatoes, sadly.  Up until this time we haven’t settle on a regular exercise routine.  Aside from this, we also found our super structured schedule 24/7 a great hindrance. We hope to get our acts together on this ASAP.
  • You are what you eat, so eat healthy.  We LOVE to eat. The health issues we are facing at the moment is food related. So this is definitely the first thing in the MUST Change List.

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What Happens When Mood Swinger Mom Meets Drama Queen Daughter?

 

The struggle is real, believe me.  The result depends on what side of the mood spectrum is Mom at that moment.

From experience a drama queen is always a drama queen at all times, may she be dealing with simple or complicated things.

The gravity of the impact lies on the mood of the moment.  When Mom is in the mood, circumstances are dealt with calmly, patiently, and even humorously. However when Mom is in a dark mood, a petty circumstance could mushroom into an atomic bomb within seconds.

As a Mom, this is a great parenting concern.  I’ve realized and seen the negative effects of my blurting out and “mismanagement” during those times when I’m in a lighter mood. But like what I’ve mentioned, it is  a tremendous task. It is a struggle that up until now is unresolved.

Moms out there who might be in the same boat as I am or if you happen to know of someone who was able to successfully overcome this, please do share your thoughts below.  It’d be deeply appreciated.

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Veggy Nuggets

Eating vegetable is definitely the healthiest way to live.  Vegetables are natural, but has to be organic not genetically altered.  They contain less fat and calories, and are full of vitamins and minerals for the proper functioning of the body.

Yet these facts mean little to little children.  It is up to adults to find ways and means to let these little ones ingest these without them knowing it.

My kids, especially my very picky son, are totally into this.

Here’s my version

VEGGIES NUGGETS

1 1/2 to 2 cups minced mixed vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, carrots, sweet corn, etc)

1 cup all purpose flour

2 medium bulb minced onions

2 large cloves minced garlic

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. oyster sauce

2 large eggs

left-over fried chicken or fish (optional)

 

Here’s how

In a bowl mix all ingredients well.  Deep fried in vegetable oil.

You may notice that my nuggets are not shaped well.  I’m a busy mom and got no time rolling them into balls.  So I just scoop a spoonful of the nugget mix and drop it into the hot oil.

How did it go?

Did your family like it?

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Mom On A Budget New Toy

We’ve recently acquired a new blender from a trusted brand.  I am particularly excited, and immediately tried it.  Verdict? Great.  I am so happy.

My family loves smoothies or just a simple fruitshake.  But I stopped doing it for a while because my old blender (check it out) was not working well after just a few times of use.  I was so disappointed.  But then I thought it shouldn’t be a surprise since I got it on a discount.  Now I am not saying discounted items are not good.  I’ve got quite a few discounted things which are working perfectly.  However we could not deny the fact that there are reasons why they are on sale. One of these could be because they’re rubbish.  I felt like I just wasted that few bucks I paid for it.  I definitely did not get a good value for my money.

The problem with my old blender was leakage.  It couldn’t hold the fluid inside and leaks out from the bottom.  It was probably due to the rubber at the bottom (which I think most blenders have)  not working well. It could be due to a flawed design, or something else. Anyway, my new toy (blender) has a one-piece body (see the photo below), so there’s no way fluid will leak out.  It is BPA free and the padding in the box is carton, not Styrofoam.  It has suction cups so it stays in place.  Although it does not have blending modes to choose from I don’t really mind, for the price of $28, I think I definitely got my money’s worth. It’s not as if I’m going to use it for a fruitshake business.  It’s pulse and single-blend modes work just fine.

I’m loving it!

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Tooth Fairy and Ben 10

What we actually have at present are memories of our past. – MitchRyan

Whenever my sisters and I get a chance to get together, funny, crazy, and happy moments we shared are oftentimes the topic. Reminiscing those bring us back in time, reminding us of that beautiful bond that binds us together.  It would have been great though had we captured those moments on photos,  to remind us of those treasured moments by the time our memories have already failed us.

Now, it’s my kids turn to make their own.

photo by Ryan D.
photo by Ryan D.

Taken a few weeks after Sumsum Dee pulled her fourth milk tooth out on her own.  She was very proud. Here, she’s wearing a polka-dot, sleeveless dress with pink head-band which she most of the time wears like a tiara.

Ben 10 moves
Ben 10 moves

Derick Dee is wearing his favorite Ben 10 attire which he extremely adores eventough others say they look like pajamas.

They are very well on Pretend Play or Make-Believe Play phase of development. This phase in child development is thought of by theorist as very crucial in every child’s cognitive, affective, and psychomotor development.

Could you still remember your pretend play as a child?

How about your own kids, who are they pretending to be?

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Thai Insurance: Batprakansangkom (บัตรประกันสังคม)

Thai Insurance: Batprakansangkom
Thai Insurance: Batprakansangkom

Batprakansangkom is a government insurance of Thailand. It comes as one of the benefits for working here.  There are private insurance of course if you opt for it, or if the company you’re working for is affiliated with one. Personally, though, I’ve been with the government insurance since a came almost ten years back. It may not be the best. There are better ones somewhere in the world for sure, but as a Filipino I can’t help but compare it with Philhealth.

Last month I was hospitalized, got in with nothing but my health  insurance card  and driver’s license. Meals were served. After 5 days, I walked out of the hospital with my medicine, and without paying a dime. This is totally awesome! Any Filipino who have had experience of some sort with the Philippine government insurance would totally say the same.  I wish something like this for the Philippines. Anyway, what are the benefits I got from Prakansangkom so far.

Medicine and doctor’s fee are FREE in designated hospitals and clinics.  Clinics usually open after working hours until 8.00 in the evening. Which makes sense, right? One doesn’t have to skip work or school to do a simple medical consultation or a follow-up check up. You can use it as many times as you need it.

Maternity compensation is given by Prakansangkom on the month(s) you are on maternity leave. This is given aside from the monthly salary you receive from your employer as part of the company’s maternity benefit. What is so awesome about this is that compensation is given in lump sum, without delay and without further ado, the moment you present the child’s birth certificate.  You just sit and wait for 5 to 10 minutes depending on how busy the insurance office is, and voila! You walk out with your money. For foreigners, additional documents like a copy of your passport, visa, and work permit are needed.

There are other benefits, I will talk about them in my next post.

 

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Would you beat the living daylights out of your husband if you catch him saying this…

Ladies listen to this, and tell me..

Would you beat the living daylights out of your husband if you catch him saying this?

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4 Reasons a Family Should Travel by Car

Interstate travel especially with toddlers is best by car.  We have tried traveling both by public transport and recently by our own car.  So, we were able to compare and decided that by car is the way to travel with our young kids.  We live in Thailand, which is one vast country where states are connected by land.  Traveling cross country like Malaysia, Singapore is also possible by car as these countries are connected by bridges.  For archipelagic countries like the Philippines, the Bahamas, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, traveling by car can be a challenge and needs different kinds of preparation.  For expatriate babies traveling overseas for the first time also entails a different preparation. Check out the link for some help on peculiar situations you might encounter.

 

Here are 4 reasons why traveling by car is the best if you have young kids.

 

You have the time on you own hand.

This is something you have no control over if you are in a public transport.  Buses have designated bus stops. The length of time for the stop over is also limited.  But if you are in your own car, you can stop at any gas station and Seven 11s to change nappies, stretch muscles, breathe some fresh air, or simply rest for a while.  You can even stop to take a photo of great sceneries or take selfies with a marvelous sunset as a background. Sometimes you can drive a bit slow to let the kids take in the beauty of the surroundings.  They would definitely love it.  It is something new from what they usually see everyday. Public commute runs like hell that the surroundings outside pass by in blur.

 

Privacy

Don’t we just love privacy.  Long travels could be a bore for kids. That’s why moms have ready things like colorful, noisy toys, some tiny board games, and packed snacks.  Songs are also effective distractions to make the time fly by.  Now, while we are pulling all these distractions other people together with us in a public transport might find these distracting and or annoying.  Although there are some understanding souls, you can’t still help seeing glares and smirks from misopedists.  But traveling in your own car however, would have you think of just one thing that is to make the ride enjoyable for all. This means packing the necessary things to make the long ride comfortable.  You can check my post about 11 tips to think of when traveling in a car with your children.

 

Hassle free

Sight-seeing, moving from one tourist spot to another by bus or van could get insanely tiring.  Picture this, you bringing your big handbag full of necessities like nappies, milk bottles, wipes, spare outfits for everyone, and snacks; and towing your herd up and down the bus every time. This is even worst if you have to walk to a taxi stop every time you have to go to your next destination.  That short walk could already be like eternity with your big bag and kids in tow.  With a car, you could find a good parking space, walk around and enjoy the scenery leaving your baggage safe inside.

 

Economical

Before traveling to Bangkok, we compared the travel expenses.  Having to pay even for the kids would mean bigger expenses on fare, than paying for the gas.  So, the most economical choice for us is to travel by car.

 

 

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Worcestershire – a magical wedding.

wedding

Planning a wedding in the beautiful Malvern Hills.

 

Over the hills the sun is setting, lighting up the tops of the corn fields with bright gold. The green rolling landscape is dotted with trees, silhouetted against the sky. This is one of the most picturesque places in England, and one of the most romantic in which to get married.

 

There are many considerations when choosing where you want to get married, and an overwhelming number of wedding venues from which to pick. Perhaps Worcestershire holds special meaning for you, or perhaps you simple want somewhere surrounded by nature, a place of unrivalled charm, if so, there are few places better suited. The Malvern Hills area is quite simply, one of the most magical landscapes you will ever encounter.

 

A little on the Malvern Hills

The largest area of common land in Worcestershire (or the West Midlands in fact) is the range of ancient rocks that make up The Malvern Hills. Between the Severn Valley to the East and the rolling fields of Herefordshire to the West they rise up to their highest point at the Worcestershire Beacon looking out over one of Britain’s most beautiful vistas. On a clear day, with blue sky above, you can see far off the Welsh mountains, the Bristol channel and below the spires of Worcester, Gloucester and Hereford Cathedrals. The wiry windswept grasses of the ridge tops provide perfect walking ground and as the hills fall down into the valleys below you begin to find hawthorn, mountain ash and sycamore as well as ancient woodlands. No wonder then that the Malvern Hills were designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by Natural England. Free for everyone to explore and enjoy, the hills are covered in roughly 100 miles of footpaths and bridleways and have been a much loved destination for countless decades. The area is dotted with ‘holy wells,’ the region’s natural springs, which have seen generations come to Worcestershire for the quality of the waters. In fact, in 2002 the Malvern Hills were named the most popular free tourist attraction in the West Midlands in a survey by the Countryside Agency.

 

Inspired by the Hills

Such natural beauty will inevitably inspire great artistic works, the Malvern Hills however have been the background and soul of a surprising amount of creativity. The great English composer Elgar hailed from Worcestershire and was a great lover of the landscape, as too were the composers Herbert Howells and Ivor Gurney. The poet W.H. Auden spent several years in the Malvern Hills and wrote many of his finest works in the setting. On more of a fantastical note the same landscape was a huge influence on J.R.R. Tolkien who was introduced to the area by C.S. Lewis. Tolkien compared parts of the Malvern Hills to the ‘White Mountains of Gondor’ of his most famous works. The hills contain a whole host of myths and legends as well as the setting for works by the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning and later, “Malvern Hills” by Kazuo Ishiguro.”

 

Choosing a wedding venue

Always one of the hardest choices in planning your big day. The perfect wedding venue has to many things, a stunning backdrop to your photographs, a romantic retreat for you and your partner, an elegant host to your party, a meaningful place for your ceremony. Quite a tall order all in all. Worcestershire has wedding venues a plenty, so that’s not the problem. It’s finding one to tick all the boxes that can prove the difficulty.

We went exploring for this mystical site. If you are getting married in Worcestershire, you will certainly want to be surrounded by the landscape this part of the world is so famous for, and there are many very beautiful venues throughout the county.

Sites like http://worcestershireweddingshop.co.uk/venues/ can be an enormous help during your search, giving you a great comprehensive list of Worcestershire wedding venues.

 

However we couldn’t believe our luck when we stumbled onto this dream of a manor. Often called ‘the most picturesque wedding venue in Worcestershire’ Birtsmorton Court near Malvern is one of those rare venues that has it all.

 

A moated grange, it is surrounded by the most unbelievable countryside, stately gardens, a view of the Malvern Hills. It can host civil ceremonies in its White Garden or Great Hall, but best of all, a short walk through the grounds leads to Birtsmorton’s very own church!

 

This place, both the venue and the surrounding area just call out, ‘English country wedding’. From the slopes of the Malvern Hills, looking out over the green fields, the rolling land and wooded valleys, it is hard to imagine anywhere more drenched in romance. If you are planning a Worcestershire wedding, then lucky you!

 

 

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