Saturday, 30 January 2010

From IPod to IPad

I was just starting to like the IPod Touch and still dreaming of owning an IPhone. My latest discoveries on the IPod Touch features made me use the gadget often, mostly browsing on the internet and playing games. Now that the kids also liked it and have preferred it over PSP (Kyle likes to play kids games that Lito downloaded), I can't get a chance to use it. Good thing, Apple has come up with this new revolutionary gadget. The tablet computer (I think it falls into that category) is an oversized IPhone with a 9.7-inch-touch-sensitive display surrounded by a thick black border. IPad will be roughly 1.3 cm thick and weigh just over two-thirds of a kilogram. It's a cute combination of a laptop and a smartphone, I only think they missed the camera feature on the IPad to complete my wishlist. Anyway, I hope I can have mine when it comes out to the market so I can use it and run the IPhone applications without the kids games. The kids will probably think the size fits me and hopefully stick to the IPod.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Why Canada? - Benefits and all

Many have already asked me this question and my reply then was because Canada is family-friendly. We have only settled here for almost six months and my reply is still the same only that I discovered a lot more - more benefits. This post is for Issa and Nol and others who are waiting for their immigration approval. As early as now, I'd like to tell you - "Congratulations, you made the right choice." This is also for those who are contemplating on migrating to Canada. A summary of benefits (posts on other benefits to follow) and their links are listed below which I hope you will find helpful:

For your children and your family:
1. Healthcare - Canada's national health insurance program covers the cost of necessary hospital and doctor services. Free vaccines too, a relief from costly vaccines in the Philippines.

2. Education - Every Canadian community has free public school for all children from kindergarten (at age 4) up to the high school level. The elective courses that students take in high school are pre-requisites of the programs that they can get into or take at College or University. Some of these courses are already sufficient to get them to work if they don't pursue college education. Free textbooks, and some school supplies, free school bus. My son Aloysius availed the morning snack program - a healthy meal everyday comprising of a fruit or veggie and a dairy for only $5 each term which is practically free for me.

3. CCTB (Canada Child Tax Benefit) - This is the monthly "allowance" that each family gets from the Government to support them in raising children under 18. This is based on the family income submitted with the application.

4. OCB (Ontario Child Benefit) - This is applicable only to those residing in the province of Ontario. This is a tax-free monthly payment given to qualifying families with children under the age of 18. The Ontario Child Benefit is an initiative which is fully funded by the Province of Ontario. Benefits are combined with the CCTB.

5. UCCB (Universal Child Care Benefit) - This benefit will provide you with $100 each month for each of your children under the age of six. This financial benefit is part of Canada's Universal Child Care Plan - a plan that is also supporting the creation of child care spaces in communities across Canada.

6. Child Care Fee Subsidy - helps families with the cost of child care or day care. Fee subsidy is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The link here is only applicable to those living in Toronto.

7. RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) - You can save money for your children's future education in RESP. The federal government will match some of the money you save each year.

8. CESG (Canada Education Savings Grant) - If you save money for your child's college education in a RESP, you can receive help from CESG. For any amount you save up to $500, the Government of Canada will provide 20%, 30%, 40% depending on your family income. Those who are able to save more than $500 a year, the Government will match the extra savings with 20% on the amount over $500.

9. CLB (Canada Learning Bond) - If you open an RESP and if your family income is below $37,885 (the criteria/income amount for year 2008, it varies every year) and your child was born after December 31, 2003, then your child maybe eligible for a $500 Canada Learning Bond that the Government will put into the child's RESP. The other condition is that you qualify for the National Child Benefit Supplement. If the child qualifies for the $500 CLB, then the Government will also add $100 a year up to 15 years. That means you could receive up to $2,000 from the Canada Learning Bond.

For yourself:
1. Employee Insurance (EI) - you are deducted a certain amount in your salary that goes to Employee Insurance that you can avail in case you lost your job or while in maternity leave (which is 1 year). The premiums are sufficient for your needs until you find another job.

2. RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) - You can open a RRSP at any financial institution to save for retirement. Money invested in an RRSP is tax deductible and grows tax-free. At age 71, you must convert the RRSP into a RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund)

3. Retirement - there are a lot of benefits here.

4. Employment Equity - Canada has laws to ensure that each person has an equal opportunity for employment. An employer cannot discriminate against a person because of his or her race, colour, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Of course, all these will be coming from the taxes that you will be paying and incorporated in the goods and services that you are acquiring i.e. GST, HST etc. At least, you know where they are going - back into your pockets and not into the thieves' pockets, right?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The 9 Paths to Happiness

I am just too happy to post this here. I got this from email. Thanks to Remcel.

How To Be Happy In Life - The 9 Paths To Happiness- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Sometimes it appears that life throws more obstacles in our path than we can handle. However, even in the face of the most challenging circumstances, you can make the choice to be happy by following these 9 paths to happiness.

1. Honor Yourself: Remember what the flight attendant says, "Put your own oxygen mask on first." You are of no use to anyone else if you have not taken care of your own needs first - this includes your own emotional, as well as physical, well-being.

2. Forgive Everyone For Everything: Forgiveness is a gift to yourself. YOU created the stress in your life by getting angry, and YOU can instantly remove that stress by granting forgiveness. Expressing your forgiveness to the other is optional - internalizing that forgiveness is required in order to live a joyful life. Don't forget to also forgive yourself for everything you regret ever having done or not done.

3. Have Gratitude For All Of Life: As with forgiveness, gratitude is a gift to yourself. Saying "thank you" is a powerful way to create great relationships, but the real power of gratitude is internalizing an immense thankfulness for your very existence - everything that has ever occurred or failed to occur in your life.

4. Respect Your Mind: Faith is powerful, but it is no substitute for observing, paying attention, weighing alternatives, and choosing with intention. Without conscious choice, there is no freedom or happiness.

5. Design Your Future: Don't be a passive tumbleweed blown by the winds of life. Envision the future you want, and then take action to create that future. Often, you will fail. Plan again and take action again.

6. Begin Today, and Never Give Up: There is no better time to begin than today - each and every "today." When obstacles stop you, think of new ways to reach your goals. In the words of the Oriental proverb, "Fall seven times, stand up eight."

7. Be Of Service To Others By Radiating Happiness: Being of service is one of the greatest paths to happiness, but remember that your greatest service to others is the person that you are, rather than the tasks you accomplish. Your greatest gift to others is to give them happiness, and by far the most powerful way to do that is to be an example of happiness and to radiate that happiness to others.

8. Dance Lightly With Life: Life does not have to be a serious undertaking. You will make mistakes, you will feel regrets, and eventually, you will die - so what? Happiness comes from dancing lightly with life - playing hopscotch on the river of life - leaping gracefully from joy to joy while laughing at the threats of calamity - even laughing hysterically at our human frailness when we do fall into the muddy torrent.

9. Know Unity With Spirit: There are as many ways to connect with Spirit as there are people - each of us has our own way to receive strength and serenity from the Infinite. Your life will be happier if you acknowledge that you are not alone, become open to that presence, and create ritual to celebrate your connection. You may feel your bond with Spirit at the Lord's Supper, in Songs of Praise, in Calls to Prayer, in Meditation, while doing Yoga or Qigong, or while walking in the woods. However you connect with Spirit, do it today.

Don't worry, be happy.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Choosing between family and career

This is one of the most difficult decisions that a married woman has to make. I've been sending out resumes since December last year and one of my prospects responded. I got an opportunity for the type of job that my skill set fits. I was interviewed over the phone then the next day I was invited to come to the office for the personal interview with the hiring manager. I was more excited than nervous, you know being invited for interview for the first time since we got here in Toronto five months ago. I did a little research on the company, it's an IT solutions company with offices all over Canada and more importantly, it's also an ISO certified company both in QMS and ITIL. During the interview, I learned about the job and the conditions that came with it. On my way home, I remember the scene before I left early in the morning. My second son Kyle, who just woke up and after seeing me all dressed up asked where am I going and I replied "to the office". He came towards me and without saying a word embraced me. He cried silently as if telling me not to leave him. Tears started to dwell in my eyes when I said "I'll be back soon." He said, "Mommy, don't go." I left with a heavy heart and remembering Kyle's face, it dawned on me that it's not worth it to leave my kids for that job. I guess I'm not that ready yet. This is what happens when you are bonded with your kids for a while, you never wanted to leave. I guess when the right time (or job) comes, I will return to the corporate world but not in the very near future.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Tips in developing a career

The terms job and career are often used interchangeably, but there are real differences between the two. A job is usually a means to an end - you have bills to pay, so you need a job to make money. A career on the other hand, is something longer term that you build throughout your life, something you are passionate about. I remember one interviewee during my corporate life when he said that "I want a job that will make me stay and work at it even without compensation." He meant career alright but how do you develop a career. Here are some tips I learned from my my previous bosses, I hope it works for me soon:

1. Networking is the easiest way to find a career. Networking with professionals is the best way to find new leads in the industry of your choice. Fellow professionals can provide you with advice on how to best navigate your career and achieve your goals. Don't be afraid to ask them how they got started and what steps they took to get where they are.

2. Use your resume as your advertising medium. Your resume is speaking on your behalf and quickly needs to highlight your experience and skills. First impressions are critical, whether face-to-face or in a resume, so know what your brand is selling. Failure to sell your resume and brand will typically be a deciding factor as to whether you get an interview.

3. Know your strengths and start your career from them. Make a detailed career assessment to determine where you are now, what skills you have to offer and the areas you should focus your career sights on.

Goodluck on our career-hunting.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Dreaming about shoes

I had several dreams this past week and it's all about shoes. Maybe I was just thinking of shopping for new pairs in case I maybe invited for interviews. I have been job-hunting lately and I'm praying for a job that will be both family-friendly and challenging at the same time. Anyway, I don't remember the exact scenes in my dreams so I put here all the interpretation I got from the internet. Oh, I don't remember seeing baby shoes, if you may ask, LOL.

In general, shoes represent your approach to life. It suggests that you are well-grounded or that you are down to earth. It also represents your convictions about your beliefs. If you are changing your shoes, then it refers to your changing roles. You are taking a new approach to life. If your forget your shoes, then it suggests that you are leaving restraints behind you. You are refusing to conform to some idea or attitude.

To see old and worn shoes in your dream, signifies that through diligence and hard work, you will find success. It may also mean that you have come to grips with accepting who you are.

To see new shoes in your dream, suggests that you are overconfident in your success. Alternatively you may be on a life path that is unfamiliar to you.

To find shoes in your dream, suggests that you have regained your foothold on life. You are back on the right path again.

To dream that you are wearing inappropriate shoes for the activity at hand, denotes that your progress and path in life will be laborious and ill-prepared. It may also indicate that you are heading on the wrong direction and need to reevaluate your goals.

To dream that you are not wearing any shoes, signifies that you have low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in yourself. You may be dealing with issues concerning your self-identity. It also indicates poverty, lack of mobility, or misunderstanding. Alternatively, it represents your playful attitudes and relaxed, carefree frame of mind. You have a firm grasp and good understanding on a situation. If you dream that you lose your shoes, then it suggests that you may be searching for your identity and finding/exploring who you are.

To see baby shoes in your dream, symbolizes purity, innocence, vulnerability, tenderness and the desire for love. If you are planning to have or already have a baby, then it suggests that the baby will or has grounded you. After all, with a baby to tend to, you find yourself rooted at home most of the time and not being able to go out as much.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Tips for 2010

I got this from an email and it's too good not to share this. I hope you will also consider this in your things to do for 2010. cheers!

1. Drink plenty of water
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants, and eat less food that is manufactured in plants
4. Live with the 3 E ' s -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy
5. Make time for prayer
6. Play more games
7. Read more books than you did in 2009
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
9. Sleep for 7 hours
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day ---- and while you walk, smile

11. Don ' t compare your life to others ' . You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don ' t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment
13. Don ' t over do ; keep your limits
14. Don ' t take yourself so seriously ; no one else does
15. Don ' t waste your precious energy on gossip
16. Dream more while you are awake
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..
18.. Forget issues of the past. Don ' t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don ' t hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won ' t spoil the present
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more
24. You don ' t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

25. Call your family often
26. Each day give something good to others
27. Forgive everyone for everything
28. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day
30. What other people think of you is none of your business
31. Your job won ' t take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch.

32. Do the right things
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful
34. GOD heals everything
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up
37. The best is yet to come
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Kyle turns 4

Today, Kyle turns 4 and I'm so grateful because my 2nd son is healthy and still looking good and grows fast. Even if he doesn't go to school yet, he knows the alphabet, how to write and read some of them, colors, numbers, shapes. Like Miggy, he likes to draw and his drawings are very nice, the type you would be proud to display in an art gallery (I guess all moms feel this way hehehe). He knows how to use the crayons within the borders and I like his color combination. Here's his drawing of an Ambulance, a Police Car and a Fire Truck. We always see them come one after another because these 3 arrive when you call 911.
I admit with the three children, I was not able to keep track of all of their milestones compared with my first born. Anyway, we had a little celebration. I didn't have much time to prepare everything at the same time because Lex was cranky and wants to be next to me all the time. When I'm at the kitchen he would play near the oven and I can't bake when he's around that's why Kyle's birthday cake (It's called Zebra Cake) was done after we had dinner and while Lito was chatting.

Our menu for today is Spaghetti, Shepherd's Pie and Zebra Cake. Two nights ago, we had Rib Eye Steak again with Mushroom Gravy Sauce and Mashed Potato. My kids and even Lito loved the Mashed Potato so I made another dish with it for Kyle`s special day.

Shepherd`s Pie

1 lb. Ground Beef
half cup Frozen Green Peas or Canned Corn Kernels
1-fourth cup carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
2 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. Onion Spring, chopped
1-2 tbsp Cream cheese
1-2 tbsp Milk
2-3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp veg oil
salt and pepper

1. Boil potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, saute garlic, onion in veg oil for 5 mins.
3. Add ground beef and saute for 10 mins or until no longer pink. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire Sauce and cook for 5 mins. Add carrots and frozen peas and cook for 2-3 minutes.
4. Mash hot potatoes and melt butter with them. Add milk, chopped onion springs and cream cheese. Mix them well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Transfer cooked meat to a baking dish and cover with mashed potatoes.
6. Bake in 400F preheated oven for 30 minutes or until top is crisp.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Shopaholic, being Becky and Swarovski charms bracelet

The titles of Adult Fiction in the Toronto Public Library is endless and I can't choose until I saw the Sophie Kinsella books. These books are on hold in the branch near us so I asked Lito to get it for me in the libraries near his office. I was so happy when he came home yesterday, he brought not only books for Miggy to read but also 2 Shopaholic titles for me. I started to read Shopaholic and sister right away, remembering my own sister who is more trendy and shopaholic than me. I'm sure she will also like this Pink Swarovski charms that Sandra of MTW Designs is giving away as a New Year gift. I hope I win because if not, I might use my paypal again for this cute silver bracelet :)

Friday, 1 January 2010

Things to do in 2010

I want to start the year right and as it has always been before, planning and setting some goals is what makes me busy these days. I remember the guide from Miggy's Planner and we could use TRAC (Think - Record - Act - Check) in our year-planning.

THINK is the first planning step for every month, week or day but it's also a great way to start the year! Take some time right now to think what's really important to you. What do you want to accomplish this year (or month or week or day)? What changes do you want to make? What do you want to improve?

RECORD - so you've thought about what you want to do. Now what? Start to fill in details and plan what you need to do. Get your pen and RECORD. Record the daily tasks and steps you need to take.

ACT - You know what you want to do. You know what you need to do now to get there. Now, put your plans into ACTION! Schedule time for your priorities and then take action. Planning meets action!

CHECK - the truth is things will never work out perfectly, no matter how much you plan. But don't give up; just get smarter. At the end of each week or month, look back one more time. CHECK how you did.Reflect on how things went. What went well? What didn't? Why? Whatever happened, think about how you can learn from it next time.

Having a job or a career is my utmost plan if not this year, whenever God permits. I need to prepare in order to be job-ready when the opportunity comes. I could go back to school or join cause-oriented groups for environment protection if I want to be on the EMS track. I know I'm at the cross-roads of family and career but I hope to be able to achieve fulfillment in both. Having a job has many perks aside from earning for yourself and your family. When I get my own job and be able to help Lito, we can finally have our own house, car and even fulfill our travel plans. The domino-effect is beneficial to all. Most importantly, self-fulfillment and the opportunity to continuous learning is what having a job for me is all about.