Sunday, 7 December 2014

What's all the fuss?

It's December 6 and I'm one of those people with schedules suddenly filled up, had to decline meetings and appointments because I need to finish work before Christmas. I was led into the frantic mode as the year comes to an end. There are still tasks to complete: project charters for next year to submit, my school project and the final exam coming, endless last minute training schedules to finalize, add to that my hubby and sons birthdays coming up and my in-laws are coming over the holidays, lots of shopping lists and what to give that will be acceptable....Phew! Just thinking about it makes me anxious and what-if scenarios are floating in my mind.

Stop! I had to pray to clear up my mind to get the right perspective, Gods perspective. Jesus Christ birthday is coming up, that's the only thing that I need to think about.  As I was wrapping the presents we bought today, I thought about the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem and the simplicity of that night. The night God gave His only son to save the world. I was so guilty of being materialistic and spending so much time to think about the gifts to give and wait for the fulfillment of the receiver expectations.  I realized about how my mortal body responds to the worldly need of 'getting for giving' something, the thought of gift giving has come to a different level, it has become selfish - I'm sure you also used the word "Wish List".  You tend to give so that you fulfill the desires of your own flesh.

The first gift of love that was supposed to be our pattern for gift-giving happened on that night in Bethlehem.  God gave selflessly, in a simple, no-frills manger.  I can't believe that until now, not all humankind recognize or accept that gift. They don't even know Jesus personally and His purpose, why He even came to this world.  Blame it on us who are focused more on attending parties, exchanging gifts and fulfilling our own desires, who didn't want to slow down and respond to the real concept of Christmas.

God's love is everywhere - His forgiveness, mercy, kindness, faithfulness and patience in us. What other great time to celebrate this love than on Christmas? I hope we realize that instead of being frantic we try reconnecting and sharing God's message with our families and loved ones. Real JOY, PEACE and LOVE that comes from the true reason of the season - CHRIST.

The next time we wrap a present, let's not worry about how the recipient will react, it's the thought that counts. What's important is that we believe that Christ was born on earth and the Word became flesh and God's gift of salvation is more important to accept than any other gifts. God bless you and your family today.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

“Nice One Nails”




Alexus is turning 6 today and already graduated from Senior Kindergarten.  I am writing this because I want to remember the first phrase that Alexus read while we were on our way grocery shopping.  He just blurted out, “Nice One Nails” without anybody teaching him. I felt proud at that time. He was happy too and became confident reading the stores names and signs after this.  Today, he is in Grade 1 and his teacher told me that his reading level is the same as Grade 2’s.  He can finish a book (with pictures) in one sitting.  I couldn’t believe that I no longer have a baby, he refused to be called such. He is growing up fast. Thank you to all who taught him how to read, to the Leap Tag, Dr. Seuss and Geronimo Stilton books and for the phrase “Nice One Nails”. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Tassimo: our early Christmas present

Lito and I were eyeing that single cup coffee maker for a while now.  It was only until today when it was time to spend the points we earned and Tassimo prices dropped to almost 50 percent, that finally we decided to get our early Christmas present.  We were undecided which machine to get, we were to choose between a KEURIG or a TASSIMO. They have many similarities. Based on the internet, Keurig and Tassimo manufacture some of the most popular single-cup coffee makers, a.k.a., coffee pod machines. These machines puncture and brew conveniently pre-packaged, single-serve cups of coffee, tea, or other drinks. Both machines usually take 2-5 minutes to heat up and brew the contents of a cup. For the difference, here are some: Keurig use K-Cups and Tassimo use T-discs. Keurig has over 200 varieties of coffee brands including Starbucks while Tassimo are limited to less than a hundred without Starbucks. Nabob, Tim Hortons, McCafe, Cadbury, Gevalia, Maxwell house are some of the brands that Tassimo cater.

Now you may ask, why we opted for TASSIMO? It’s the barcode technology! Tassimo is using barcode technology, the system reads every T DISC individually and adjusts for temperature, water volume and brew time. A Keurig machine has 3 options for the quantity of coffee so if you choose the largest cup, the K-cup will be adjusted to fill the cup.  I'm not sure but it looks like the flavor is compromised because there is more water with a larger cup. The Tassimo manual says, The barcode holds information about the quantity and temperature of water needed, as well as the brewing time required to craft the perfect cup of your favourite beverage. The instant your T DISC is scanned, your TASSIMO brewer is ready to make your drink the right way, every time. Another thing that attracted me is the BOSCH manufacturer - German Ingenuity.  I also found out that Mondelez International (Kraft) owns Tassimo.

What I like most about are the many options I have: delicious caffĂ© crema, cappuccinos, latte macchiatos and exquisite espresso, tea and hot chocolate. Here in the picture is my first cup of cappuccino from our new Tassimo. I hope my sister will not have second thoughts about her Keurig.  But you can always find a good deal for T, Wendy, the black friday sale might offer this kind of deal.

Happy Coffee Brewing!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Set foot on the promised land - a continuous improvement lesson from the bible

My most favorite part in my almost 28-year-career is learning about quality and getting better at it.  My first job exposed me how to do quality hamburgers, giving excellent customer service and being measured at it in different ways- first by our own superiors, second by the regional managers and lastly, by a mystery shopper.  At a young age, I learned about key performance metrics  (KPM or KPI) and how it drives you to perform more than the expected.  Getting a 100% rating from a mystery shopper is my ultimate goal then.  Receiving such rating means you were consistent in following the steps in delivering quality service.  All jobs no matter how small or big it is, whether it is a blue-collar or white starts with learning and following steps or instructions in order to achieve a product or service.  After doing the tasks, the outcome of the service or product is being measured by the stakeholders or customers. There is a set target that needs to be met in order for that product to be considered high quality.  Sometimes, making some changes in the process are needed so that your numbers improve or go up.  After you have consistently reached your target, you will move on to the next level - a higher target and so on and so forth. This is the idea of continuous improvement. You always move up and not down.  The reality is, reaching the target is not that easy, there are issues or something that prevents you from delivering quality service.  Believe it or not, there is always someone who will speak negatively about your goal, much more in achieving it. Embrace change as this means you are accepting the challenge to be in the next level, in moving up. No turning back, the numbers should be up and not down.

If you remember Moses and the thousands of Israelites who were delivered from slavery in Egypt. On their journey to the promised land (Target) the people were complaining because of hunger and thirst  (Obstacles). There was always murmuring going on instead of them trusting and following God.  When they were being chased by the Egyptians, and they were at the edge of the sea. People complained and regretted leaving their comfortable life to join Moses. Bad as things were in Egypt, the known seemed better than the unknown to those who lacked faith (Resistant to Change).  During their forty years of desert wandering, the children of Israel alternately blessed and cursed the name of God. Because of this, every Israelite over twenty years of age when they left Egypt under Moses’ leadership was now dead.  

How do you feel when you are working towards reaching a long-awaited goal? Are you happy? Are you excited? And looking forward to a new journey? Are you anxious about what the change could bring? Are you following the instructions and faithful to the end? Will you set foot on the promised land? 

As I was meditating on this, I looked back and remember my KPIs, the obstacles and trials, the changes in or absence of comfort.  I realized that God's words are really alive, never changes, it is still the same before and until now.  It is a good analogy on how to handle change in my career in continuous improvement.  We want to set foot on the promised land! 

The Lord said to Moses, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them” (Numbers 20:12).

Read more: 
Exodus, Numbers and Joshua


Friday, 3 October 2014

How to make ourselves valuable - Adding Value Part 2

Here is a sequel to my earlier blog post entitled - "Adding value to others by adding value to self".  This time I am quoting Mr. John C. Maxwell because I read this in his book - The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader's day. Revitalize your Spirit and Empower your  Leadership.

How to make ourselves valuable according to God's words:

1. Constantly IMPROVE ourselves.

So how do we do that? Make an assessment, try one skill like cooking or baking. If you think you are good in cooking "Kare-Kare", try another one like "Kaldereta" or "Mechado" or tweak the recipes and replace the ingredients like beef to oxtail in Kare2 or beef to "kambing" in Kaldereta, or use pure tomatoes in Mechado and not canned tomato sauce.  For baking, if you've baked cookies, try brownies or cakes, then move on to the challenging ones like sponge cakes, tiramisu or Braso de Mercedes. The samples provided refer to VARIATION, or doing a different way to achieve a different result.  Here's another one, if you can run 5 kilometres in 25 minutes, beat it by trying to finish in 12 minutes....or if you can type 45 wpm, practice more to be able to do 60 wpm. Set a target and meet or exceed it.  We call it KPI or KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS - set of values use to measure the performance and meet the goals. Try to increase or decrease your numbers. Simple improvement strategies can not be measured rather the RESULTS indicate improvement.  If you used to always miss the bus, and you did something and now you are earlier than the bus, that means you've improved in managing your time or maybe the bus schedule changed. You alone can say which is which. :) the important thing is you've learned to accept the need to improve and you're doing something about it. Do not be COMPLACENT! Once you've accomplished something, no matter how dramatic the change or result was, continue to improve.  You'll be amazed at that potential God embedded in you. You just have to start at something.

2.  STRENGTHEN your hands and knees.  "Hebrews 12:12"

Remember the motto of the body builders, no pain, no gain. Exert some effort. It will not just happen. You need to initiate something.

3. RENEW your minds. "Roman 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your minds."

The brain is located on the top most part of our body. That indicates that everything starts from the top, from our brain.  I remember it in science, the brain sends signals to the body parts before it starts to function.  I call it MINDSET...whatever the mind conceives, the body achieves.  Try it, tell your brain to always think about accomplishing something and you will be able to finish it, the same goes if you always think about negative things - complaining, fear, "can't do it", worry, it-will-not-work attitude, what do you think is accomplished? Nothing!

4. Desire and USE GOD-GIVEN Gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

We have INHERENT Values from GOD, like a chip embedded in us when He created us. Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Romans 12:6-8 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.


God loves us and values us. He wants us to be valuable so we can give and add value to others.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Throw it all away

In the Sunday School class of my 2 younger sons, they were discussing about repentance and salvation. There is always a handout for the parents for follow up and we did the activities tonight.  It was a fruitful exercise. The family gathered together in a circle and each one had a paper and pen. We are to write down the things that are not pleasing to God (SIN) that we know are wrong but we keep on doing. So here are some of those that were listed: lying, getting things that are not your own (stealing) even small things like comb, toys, shirts. Disobeying parents, shouting at parents, disobeying teachers, not sharing, making other things more important than God, like video games, iPad and Lego; saying mean things, hitting others.  I wrote buying too many purses, not doing my chores and ignoring Lito, gossiping, too much Facebooking.  I remember how Lex wrote his, he asked how to write - too much video games, hurting and crying, hahaha. Anyway, at least they got the point. The main idea is after writing them down we are to pray for each one of them to be taken off our list, to forget about doing them again. Of course, we can't do it on our own. We need God. I can still remember how they uttered the words "Sorry", we pray for His guidance and protection from any temptation of doing it again (Repentance) or turning our backs on these wrong things. We had one last look at the list and crumpled the paper and threw them away. God wants us to trust in Him and ask Him to forgive us our sins. He sent Jesus to die on the cross to save us. We gave it all to Jesus. We believe that even if sometimes we do it again, Jesus still loves us and saves us (Salvation).  It is not about our being good, but His being Good and His grace.

Pray together as a family asking God to forgive your sins and thanking God that Jesus came to throw our sins away.

"There is repentance of sins for all who repent." Luke 24:47b

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Adding value to others by adding value to self

Two years ago, we had a team building exercise that focused on our "colours" or personalities.  The seminar is called "colours insights" and it was very good. I thought I know myself that well but after the exercise I learned more about my colours and how others perceived me.  One of the major characteristics of my dominant colour which is "Blue" is that I'm detail-oriented. I like details, I also like to write and plan. I like to continuously improve and learn, receptive of feedback and use that to improve. I will get bored with repetitive tasks and it's true. I'm glad that what I'm doing now is not that repetitive and exposed me to different people, handle difficult ones and helped bring out the "Red" in me which I lack.

The second dominant colour is "green". This is the "I Care" colour. These traits tend to focus on the emotional side of me.  It always look at how I'm feeling instead of being objective. This has both the positive and negative effect.

So that's me, my personality, the traits I have based on how God created me to be. Maybe there's more. Remember we are created in God's workmanship.  When God talked to Moses to lead His people, Moses said he can't even talk straight, how can he do that? There is nothing impossible with God.  Our colours can change depending on how you want to develop. If you need more "Red" - the GO-getter, then you have to brush up on leadership skills, if you want to have more "Yellow" - the encourager then you need to speak up more, engage in interesting conversations, listen and talk, not only listen or be a wallflower.  Our colours will increase or decrease depending on how we put our energies to it.

It takes something to be somewhere. We need to invest in time and effort to be wherever you want to be.  Like what I said, if you need to talk more, express yourself not only in writing but in speaking to crowds, you need practice. Start with how you answer a question, it can be more than a yes or no, or in asking a question, use an open ended type so that the one you are speaking to will not reply with a nod but he too will keep the conversation going. If you both ask or reply with a yes or no, the talking will eventually die. The conversation will end in an awkward situation.

Attend a class, volunteer. The more people you are exposed to, the greater chances of you having to talk to more than your family members or close friends.  Not only will you learn more in a particular subject, your network of acquaintances will also expand.  Doors and windows of opportunities arise.

Learning (and reading) has lots of advantages, it widens your vocabulary which you can use in conversing. You become interested in new things, you will become more interesting to others making you more comfortable because you know about something and will be confident to contribute.

I was just recently promoted as Training Specialist and these are some of my observations from those I've dealt with regards to training and improving one's self.  First, those who are resistant to change will not progress.  These are the proud, complacent, the know-it-all, the closed minded people.  Second, those who are humble, open-minded, knowledge-seeking and change-embracing individuals will have a long way to go upwards.  I said upwards because they will continue to learn, to excel and perfect their craft and they move to the next level.  These people are not afraid to take risks, not afraid to fail because they believe that even if they fail, there will be another chance for them to correct and improve.

So where does a value-added individual comes in? First what does VALUE mean, it could mean low value or high value, like quality, lo or hi-quality.  What do we usually buy? The high quality because we know that it lasts longer or has more to it than the regular.  High quality means high value, remember what Louis Vuitton and Hermes are known for?  High value! But because of their high-quality, the consumers bank on that, they consider it an investment. 

Add value to your self - be that humble, open-minded, knowledge-seeking and change-embracing individual. Learn a new craft, find out how to improve the way you work, attend classes, read a new book, learn a new language and join enriching activities.  Along the way, you will find yourself sharing what you learned and your deeds mean something to another. Before you know it, you as an individual makes a great impact to your workplace or community by giving something of value because you are overflowing with it.

Don't waste your time with just something, invest in more valuable habits, it will add value to you and to those around you.

Monday, 21 July 2014

My youngest is no longer a baby

Alexus is turning 6 this November but he still sleeps with us and I sometimes call him baby names. Lito is always reminding me to stop because it will not be helping him to become independent. During our last trip, it was his first time not to co-sleep with us because the room had 3 beds for kids and chose to stay at the bunk bed. He even made his bed the morning after. I am so proud of my sons. Lex surprised me when he didn't get scared at all the waterslides we rode especially the more thrilling ones like Canada vortex and Wholly Mammoth. He even wanted to try the Niagara Rapids Fun - the rollercoaster ride. I think this is the point in a mom's life that you will finally say goodbye to baby talks and baby names. My Lex is turning out to be a fine young boy who keeps on amazing me, his dad and siblings.  I remember the time when I rode the Texas Giant wooden rollercoaster at Six Flags when I was only 2 months pregnant with him. Maybe that's where he got the idea of being more adventurous because he experienced that while still in my womb, hahaha.

I still watch him sleep at night and whisper his baby names to him while he sleeps. I thank God for my baby.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Summer 2014 - our Great Wolf Lodge Adventure

Our calendar in the kitchen said "Mom's birthday - Surprise!" On July 18.  For the next days, it said "Niagara" so it kinda gave them an idea where we are going over the weekend. Before the big day, I prepared our baon and Sharyn and I tried on making a sushi which turned out to be fine except for the rice being too soft and sticky and our roll looked like a bun, hahaha. On the actual day of my birthday, I cooked spaghettini and while preparing my youngest asked, "What's the surprise Mom? I replied, it will not be a surprise anymore if I told you. But he was persistent so I just told him we will eat the chocolate cake for dessert to make him stop inquiring. After lunch, I asked them to prepare to leave and my two younger boys didn't want to go. I blew the candles on my cake and my youngest son asked again, "mom is it true that we are going to Niagara? To the Waterpark?" and his dad said No. Lex was referring to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark that we usually visit and I added that the waterpark is fully booked and we can't go there. Well, what I didn't tell is the part that there's another Waterpark - the Great Wolf where I have a reservation. Lex started to whine and said he didn't want to go because it was going to be boring just going to the falls without going to the Waterpark. Lito told them we will all go and he was assuring them that they are going to enjoy the celebration of mom's birthday.

On the road, Lex was cranky and he keep on saying this trip is going to be boring. I didn't say anything to keep them wondering where we are headed. You could just imagine how hard it was for the boys, hahaha. Lito and I kept the secret until they were slowly figuring out because we were following the signs to Great Wolf Lodge. The Older boys got it right away and got excited but Lex was clueless. His face was still in wonder and he said, I heard it from Lucas and he asked if it was a Waterpark, his face lit up after finding out but got worried again because he asked if he could do slides for the bigger kids, I said Yes. He then replied excitedly, "then I think this is not going to be boring!"

We were able to check in right away when we arrived at  1:35pm.  We were supposed to get our room at 4:00pm but we were lucky to have it ready by the time we arrived. We were at the Waterpark by 2:00 pm and my boys were very happy especially the youngest because he was given a band that allowed him to ride all the slides except for 2 - Niagara Rapids run - a rollercoaster sort of ride and the Grizzly Bear slide - single long slide.  When we tried the Wholly Mammoth, he was ecstatic! He was screaming but also was laughing.  You could see it in the videos.  They spent more time at the Rainbow lake - a wave pool where they practiced their swimming skills from their lessons this summer. From what we've seen, we can say, we got our ROI na, time to enroll them to the next level.



In between the slides from Beaver and Squirrel Falls (slides for kids 4 and up) the kids stayed at either of these places - Fort Mackenzie and Otter Pool. Fort Mackenzie tree house was where they enjoyed  firing water to bystanders and people passing by under the tree. We always scream when the big bucket full of  water - 1,000 gallons of it tip from the tree top because everyone does, makes us all drench and happy.  Otter pool is where we played basketball while in the water.

There is an area for the babies and even the kiddie slides there were tested by my kids and later on commented as simple and boring. Their other favorite was the Crystal River  - a lazy river because we just go on a clear tube and be carried by the waves. The kids later just swam thru the current and pass by the lazy people on the tubes. Meanwhile, the oldies found a good spot at the adult hot tub where Lito and I had quality time while enjoying the hot spa under the rain outside the park. A must-try for those who want to relax. Only 16 and above are allowed in this area.

The slides and rides are the highlights of this trip. There were the Eagle Falls and Bobcat Falls where kids like Lex can do with an adult in a double or 8 tube. In the same level is the Grizzly bear ride, a longer version of the Eagle and Bobcat falls but here you are on a single tube. Lex would have loved this ride but at his height and age, he was not allowed to go solo. The next exciting ride in this level was the Canada Vortex - a dark and steep tube that goes on a whirlpool before the final drop on a rushing water. When Sharyn and I tried this, we were screaming at the top of our lungs. But did you know that my 5-year old Lex took this ride 3 times and always said, that was fun or that was exciting! He said he will tell his grandma - Mama that he was not afraid and considered this as his favorite. By the way, Aloysius tried it only once with me and Kyle didn't, saying just by looking at it, I think it is scary.

The next 2 are the favorites among the park guests because the lines are always long and they were really more thrilling than the rest. Wholly Mammoth is the largest ride at the park where the whole family can go on a raft and scream all together while they go on a long and fast slide down. This is our family's favorite although we didn't go at the same time because the raft can only accommodate 4 people.

Niagara Rapids Run is the most exciting ride of all with all the ups and downs. This is the rollercoaster ride at the park and sends you screaming on a 52 feet drop with long and fast turns and loops. Lito and I tried it twice one after the other and he said on the second time, mimicking Lex - this is boring! Hahaha.

Aside from the slides, we also enjoyed the Frog Pond (where Lito and Aloysius leaped from one leaf to the other) and the Loon lagoon - a pool outside. When we went there on our second day, it was raining so there were only 2 families on the pool. We almost have the pool to ourselves. The kids had the chance to show off their swimming skills again and we were able to capture underwater shots.

The resort's amenities and the room lived up to my expectations - clean, nice cabin designs and big enough for my 3 kids. The bunk bed was designed with wild animal paintings and they have their own TV. We spent some time on the balcony where we fed the birds.  The room had a ref, coffee maker and microwave so it was easy to heat food and I was able to cook eggs using my eggie.

If it was not for my birthday, we could have stayed again in the other Waterpark but I thought its time to try something else, something special for my kids to remember my birthday so even if the trip cost a little more, we chose Great Wolf Lodge Niagara.  Seeing my kids faces and listening to their endless after-the -trip stories, it was worth it. Borrowing MasterCard's motto, Priceless!

Dollar Power: I got a good deal from this trip because I availed the Summer fun promo - 30% OFF the regular package and I also received a FREE Photobook coupon.  Below is the link to the 8x8 hard cover 20-page photobook I ordered from Shutterfly. Enjoy watching!


Thursday, 19 June 2014

20 things a mother should tell her son/s


1. Play a sport. It will teach you how to win honorably, lose gracefully, respect authority, work with others, manage your time and stay out of trouble. And maybe even throw or catch.

2. You will set the tone for the sexual relationship, so don’t take something away from her that you can’t give back.

3. Use careful aim when you pee. Somebody’s got to clean that up, you know.

4. Save money when you’re young because you’re going to need it someday.

5. Allow me to introduce you to the dishwasher, oven, washing machine, iron, vacuum, mop and broom. Now please go use them.

6. Pray and be a spiritual leader.

7. Don’t ever be a bully and don’t ever start a fight, but if some idiot clocks you, please defend yourself.

8. Your knowledge and education is something that nobody can take away from you.

9. Treat women kindly. Forever is a long time to live alone and it’s even longer to live with somebody who hates your guts.

10. Take pride in your appearance.

11. Be strong and tender at the same time.

12. A woman can do everything that you can do. This includes her having a successful career and you changing diapers at 3 A.M. Mutual respect is the key to a good relationship.

13. “Yes ma’am” and “yes sir” still go a long way.

14. The reason that they’re called “private parts” is because they’re “private”. Please do not scratch them in public.

15. Peer pressure is a scary thing. Be a good leader and others will follow.

16. Bringing her flowers for no reason is always a good idea.

17. It is better to be kind than to be right.

18. A sense of humor goes a long way in the healing process.

19. Please choose your spouse wisely. My daughter-in-law will be the gatekeeper for me spending time with you and my grandchildren.

20. Remember to call your mother because I might be missing you.

Don’t forget to share

Friday, 23 May 2014

Book Review: E is for Ethics

E is for Ethics by Ian James Corlett

I have read and shared a list of things that Money can't buy on Facebook. I got it from somebody else's wall and I was thankful because it reminded me that these are really important and they can't be bought by any amount of money.

Last Week, Kyle and I returned some books to the library and he asked if we could borrow again, I said yes, provided that he will also choose a book for his brothers. I ended up getting one myself because I was attracted by the word "Ethics".  The title of the book was covered by the library's sticker that's why it was not clear if you have not looked closely. I was happy to have found this book. It is very timely because of the fast times and rapid change in technology, People just want to go with the flow, no one wants to touch the subject of right and wrong anymore.  Parents being the first teacher of a child should and must fill this gap.

The complete title of the book is  E is for Ethics: How to talk to kids about morals, values and what matters most.  The book contains twenty-six simple, clear, original, and entertaining stories for you to read aloud with your child.  Our family has a routine before going to bed and this is reading a book, it could be from an actual book or something online like Bookboard. We read this book every night before my sons sleep. They look forward to a new story because even if the characters are the same, the situations are different.  I think they can relate to some of it because the situations are familiar.  We have more stories to read, not even halfway through but we enjoyed the lighter and fun side of the ethics in every story. Even if we finish, I think I will need to buy our own copy so that we will continue to read this once a week to be reminded of all the ethics and values we've learned.

We already read stories about Honesty, Understanding, Forgiveness, Courage, Tact, Perseverance, Politeness, Loyalty, Gratitude.  Big words, right?  Well, the book described situations where the characters (young children like mine) faced and how they dealt with it or how it should have been handled. While I was reading, the back of my mind is telling me that some of the people in my workplace need to read this book too.  I for one learned a lot from reading the stories. Applicable to young and old alike.

After each story, there is an opportunity for a discussion on the subject.  Questions and what-if -you-are-in-same situations added were designed to give a chance for the kids to apply what they have learned. There is a short commentary and quotes from famous individuals.

The author believes that children need training, reinforcement and respect for ethics. He thinks that this book is a baby step in the right direction. I strongly agree. I hope you can grab a copy soon.  Your kids deserve to be read with valuable books like this.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Perennials and annuals

I have many plans for our garden. I inherited some perennials from the previous owner of the house and I liked the flowers but some of it have taken over the flower beds. I needed to remove them. Now that all the day lilies are gone, I need to replace them with other flowering plants.  I am torn between choosing a perennial or annual plant but considering the cost, I opted for the previous.  I thought that I will not have a hard time choosing because there are more annual flowers to choose from. I was wrong. I also needed to plan for where to put them and what should be planted beside another because the bloom times vary too.  Kinakareer pala Ito! I hope I'm doing the right thing. I started with sowing Gallardia seeds and until now, I have not put everything on the beds because those I did were either dug by squirrels or didn't survive. I have purple thumb talaga. I still have some seedlings waiting to become a little stronger before I transfer them. I am so excited to see the red and yellow daisy-like flowers.

Spring blooms

Before buying seeds or plants, I started looking for plants from the neighbours to be able to know what thrives in our area.  I got interested with bulbs especially tulips but I learned from my officemates that if I won't be careful, I will lose the bulbs to squirrels too. It was hard to plant because you need to put chicken wire, dig a certain level and you also have to do it weeks before the frost starts because they need the cold temperature. I told myself, I will skip tulips but I will try Hyacinths, our neighbours got the pink ones and they're gorgeous. I also like the grape hyacinths, I took a picture from our neighbours and show it to the garden centre because I could not figure out if it's a bulb or not, the lady at the garden centre told me that it's grape hyacinth but they are not selling that at this time because it needs to be planted in the fall. Well for spring flowers, I transplanted the Mini Daffodils I got for Mother's Day in the flower bed and I discovered that the previous owner had 1 daffodil planted too.  Next on my lists are delphiniums, crocuses but it is still a long wait before I could plant them so I will just focus on plant that will bloom in summer.

Summer blooms and produce

In the front flower beds, I have roses, peonies and lily of the valley.  I added creeping phlox, the Stella de oro day lilies to where I removed the big day lilies. I also reserved a spot for the Gallardia and I also put some ground cover plants. In the backyard, I transferred some lily of the valley and I also placed the Cherry 100 tomatoes and pepper to where the sun shines most. I found out that to  help the tomatoes especially this variety that I bought produce more, I need to put a tomato cage to support the branches.  I also found out that it should be done with my peonies too in front. I can't wait to take pictures with the peonies supported by a cage instead of lying down on the ground because the plant couldn't support it with the big flowers it bears.  When I removed the hosta in the backyard and transferred them to the other side of the house, I discovered that the Black-eyed Susan grew where the hosta used to be. I couldn't wait for the flowers to bloom because there are lots of buds coming out. I hope to be able to take a picture.

I  learned that just like people, plants need tender loving care, give them the things they need in order to grow, water, soil and sunlight. Prune them or deadhead (removing the foliage)  when they die to give more room for growth the next time they come out. Take out the weeds and  plan where to put them so they can give the best blooms in the right time and place.  That will give the utmost satisfaction to its owner. I am looking forward to that but I also was trying to compare or apply this to our own life as parents.  I realized that we need to give our children the basic needs  - food, water, shelter, clothing. Discipline like pruning to be able to grow  up in  the right way and  protecting them from weeds (bad company) to be able plan /work for their bright future so that parents who gave all these things will be satisfied.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Aloysius' name is now written in the Book of Life


We watched Toronto Passion Play today.  This is our third time to watch this musical and each time we feel blessed.  This is a very special one because of three things: it's Sharyn's first time, we were seated on the fifth row from the stage (yes, this is the closest) and Aloysius surprised us.  Lito and I had a fight because he didn't want to go because we've seen it twice already and Sharyn might still be in jet lag.  I was thankful that Lito bought the tickets anyway and he chose the 2nd day where the show is not that jam-packed.  Back to Aloysius, I was not seated next to him because Lex slept and I had to support his neck.  I could only see both Aloysius and Kyle clapping and responding to the moving scenes in the play. At the break, the last scene was the crucifixion and Pastor Billy came up the stage.  He asked us to close our eyes, pray from the heart and with everybody's eyes closed, raise our hands if we believe and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.  After that, the altar call. Those who responded and raised their hands were asked to come to the front near the stage to affirm their commitment to God's call.  People were starting to come and there were children too. At that time, I was trying to talk to Kyle and asked him if he is understanding what is happening, hoping that he would respond to the call but his attention was in something else. I looked up the stage and I was praying for the people who accepted when suddenly Aloysius stood up and looked at me and he asked, "Mom, can you come with me to the front?" I immediately followed him and I was crying and praying and praising God while we were walking to the front. I prayed for and with my 12-year old and  I felt very happy because he made the decision by himself without any influence from me or Lito (which I was trying to do with Kyle). He was moved by the play and God must have spoken to him even yesterday because we were doing The Bible series marathon. I admire my son's boldness in his faith, I remember not doing the altar call in my first time and only did it when I was revived at the ACCM center many years after I first accepted Christ. Until now, I feel wonderful about this milestone in my first born's life. Thank you Lord for adding his name in your Book of Life. Praise God for a memorable Easter weekend.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Book Review: No Dragons for Tea (Fire Safety for Kids)

When we were at the library, I heard one of the moms who were there was talking to the librarian and was telling about her daughter a 16-yr old read a book to the kids at the community center.  So it's confirmed I was eavesdropping but I learned that they were talking about this book called, "No Dragons for Tea (fire safety for kids)".  I heard the librarian said "Oh I need to borrow the book and read to it my niece then." After that, I went to the other side of the library and checked the gardening books. When I returned to the librarian's desk to check out the books, I saw that the Dragon book was still there and asked her if I could add it to the books I'm checking out, she said "Of course" and I felt like I won a prize or something. Haha.

So when we arrived home, Aloysius read the book at once and while I was preparing the snacks, I heard him retelling the story to Kyle. I was intrigued and when it was storytelling time for Lex that night, I chose to read the book.  The book is entitled, "No Dragons for Tea (Fire Safety for Kids)" written by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Martinez Gourbault.  The story is about a little girl meeting and playing with a dragon. Later on, she invited the dragon to her house for tea. But then, when the pepper was sprinkled,  the dragon sneezed and fire got out of his mouth and nostrils, setting fire on the table cloth, curtains and then spread to the house. The book described how the little girl responded to the emergency and showed the dragon the right things to do. Does your child know what to do in case of fire? Fire Safety does not need to be a frightening topic. No Dragons for Tea provides an ideal opportunity to teach children about fire safety in a non- threatening way. Children will pick up lots of safety tips as they follow the dragon and the little girl through the story. But it is also important for children to know what to do in their own home, school, or other places.

Here's the Dragon's Fire-Safety Rhyme that was part of the book:

When the smoke alarm sounds, here's what you should do;
Leave your toys all behind, cause there's only one you.

Get down and stay Low, crawling under the smoke,
Because breathing those fumes in might make you choke.

If your clothes catch on fire, don't run about,
"Stop, drop and roll" till the flames are all out.

Don't open a door if the handle feels hot.
Find another way out to your planned meeting spot.

Even when scared, you must never hide,
And once your outside, don't go back inside.

Go and find this book, children and adults alike will definitely like it.

Cricut and scrapbooking

Last Christmas, I received a very special gift from Hubby, my own Cricut Expression, a scrapbooker's dream and I didn't use it until March break when I had a time off from the office. My Cricut only came with the standard Cricut Classic Font and Playtime cartridges. I was happy to try and complete my scrapbook pages with decent titles where I could use different font sizes and styles using base, italics and shadow effects. Amazing!

I was very happy with my latest toy but then when I searched for other things I could create from my Cricut, I was overwhelmed by millions of projects. I couldn't wait to have a full day with it so that I can create more. I saw this when I was looking for 3D flowers design for an upcoming wedding and I can't help but drool. Look at how lovely these flowers are.
Anyway, I know I have another goal now but I have to catch up and finish all the scrap pages from all the photos I had printed from last year.  I have lots to learn and I'm glad that I met a Cricut  consultant who is very passionate about this craft and is also very willing to answer my questions. I now miss my scrapbooking buddies in the Philippines.

Next step would be to Learn how to explore the Cricut Craft Room (CCR) and maximize the features of my new toy. I just wish I have more time to do it. The reality is when I do scrapbooking, I either forgot to do my chores like cooking or sleep very late at night when I have to wake up early the next day. I don't want to starve my family or sleep while attending a meeting, that would be unforgivable. Well, I know if I like what I'm doing I will have time for it. I just have to manage it very well, like less time "facebooking". LOL!


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Tips for Sleepy Kids

My 5-year old Alexus is a sleepy kid. His teacher was always telling us that when it is storytelling time in school, he would sleep or sometimes before the bell rings, she will find him on the couch sleeping. Dadilo used to carry him from school because he was sleeping and so with our new friend fetching them, she would always see him doze off the moment she puts him in the car. I found this tips from one of the newsletter from school. I think this will help me and other moms with sleepy kids like Alexus:

Did you know that the average 3 to 5 year old should be getting 11 to 13 hours of sleep, and the average 5 to 12 year old should be sleeping 10 to 11 hours?  Some helpful tips for ensuring that your child is getting enough sleep include:

1. Make bedtime the same time, every night.

2. Make bedtime a positive and relaxing experience without TV or videos. According to one recent study, TV viewing prior to bed can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep. Save your child's favorite relaxing, non-stimulating activities until last and have them occur in the child's bedroom.

3. Keep the bedtime environment (e.g. Light, environment) the same all night long.

4. With your child, visit: http://www.sleepforkids.org/index.html. This website is designed for children and helps teach them the importance of sleep. It also has activities for them to do when they are struggling with sleep, and information for parents.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Gifts we receive - what to do with them

Have you ever receive a gift and never opened them or used them? Why? Could it be that the box and wrapper is too nice you don't need to see what's inside? Or maybe the gift is too complicated, you are afraid to operate it and break it?  Sometimes, you are too proud that you don't think you don't need that gift, you think you have it all, or knows it all. 
What about the giver? How do you think he or she feels if you didn't open the gift, or even use it?  

There's a story I remember about gifts. An OFW from Middle East told me about this a long time ago when email and gadgets are not yet invented. She sends so many gifts to her friend in the Philippines - lots of them from perfumes, soaps, lotions, makeup, bags, small appliances like cassette player and tapes, Betamax, nice pens and stationery because she likes to write. One time, the OFW asks her, how come you don't use the stationery I sent? I would love to see your handwriting in those. She replied, "Oh they are so nice to write on, I will just display them so that I will always remember you sent them to me." After 3 years, the OFW came to visit the friend, who by then already got married and had children. She was surprised to see the OFW but was also happy to finally tell her what she did to all the gifts she sent. She wanted to personally show her where she put the gifts - in a display cabinet, all of them still wrapped  or in their unused condition. I would have cried if I was the OFW, imagine? She didn't use the perfumes on her wedding day, on the birthday of her children and other occasions. They would have "expired" by that time, it's no use. Betamax player unopened and at that time VHS was the in thing. There were no tapes to use for that player anymore. The OFW told her "I didn't expect that you keep all the gifts I gave, I didn't ask you to hide them so that I can come back for it later, but the gifts were meant to be used, to be enjoyed, the gifts were meant for you and not this cabinet." The OFW came with more gifts to give to her friend at that time but after learning about what she did to the old presents, she brought them back with the intention of giving to someone who will put them to good use.

Sad but true story. I know that sometimes we don't realize that we are like the OFWs friend and the giver is God. He blesses us with spiritual gifts that we just hide in a cabinet - still in unopened boxes.  We think that the gift box is wrapped too nicely we didn't see that the real gift is still inside.  We are afraid to open, or do not want to open, or do not know how to open. Maybe some thinks that the gift is too complicated that he cannot cope with it. Or maybe he is just proud and selfish, not recognizing that the gift is from God and he is supposed to honor Him by using these gifts. I have been in the OFWs situation before, discovering that my gifts were ignored and just kept hidden in cabinets. I felt hurt. To demean the gift is to insult the giver.  

All men possess special gifts—bestowed from the Father above—and you are no exception. But, your gift must be cultivated and nurtured; otherwise, it will go unused . . . and God's gift to you will be squandered.
I hope that you will earnestly seek to discover the talents that God has given you. The best way to say "Thank You" for God's gifts is to use them.
God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety 

of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that 
God's generosity can flow through you.



Monday, 17 February 2014

Easy Eggs Benedict for Family day


I first tasted Eggs Benedict when my girlfriends at Molson treated me for lunch. Yes, breakfast at lunch, hahaha. I liked it but when I asked them how to do the sauce, I intentionally forget about doing it. It was not easy.  Last Christmas, a friend gave me an egg cooker for microwave and it has a recipe for Eggs Benedict, it looked like the sauce was easy to do because I don't need to use the vinegar reduction but it was the short short cut version, using mayonnaise and mustard. I wanted to try the other short cut version where the ingredients are still natural but only skipping the rigorous whisking. I looked it up on the internet and I found the blender version. Here it is:


Easy Blender Hollandaise sauce for Eggs Benedict
(Courtesy to Elise- Thanks also for sharing the Classic Hollandaise sauce recipe)
  • Yield: Makes about 1 cup of sauce, good for about 4-6 servings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 egg yolks 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (if using salted butter, skip the added salt)

METHOD

1 Melt the butter slowly in a small pot. Try not to let it boil – you want the moisture in the butter to remain there and not steam away.
2 Add the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and cayenne (if using) into your blender. Blend the egg yolk mixture at a medium to medium high speed until it lightens in color, about 20-30 seconds. The friction generated by the blender blades will heat the yolks a bit. The blending action will also introduce a little air into them, making your hollandaise a bit lighter.
3 Once the yolks have lightened in color, turn the blender down to its lowest setting (if you only have one speed on your blender it will still work), and drizzle in the melted butter slowly, while the blender is going. Continue to buzz for another couple seconds after the butter is all incorporated.
4 Turn off the blender and taste the sauce. It should be buttery, lemony and just lightly salty. If it is not salty or lemony enough, you can add a little lemon juice or salt to taste. If you want a thinner consistency, add a little warm water. Pulse briefly to incorporate the ingredients one more time.
Here's How To do the Eggs Benedict:

1. Toast the English muffins. Cut into half.
2. Put a slice of ham or bacon on the muffin.
3. Put the egg next.
4. Top with Hollandaise sauce
5. Serve while still warm


Saturday, 15 February 2014

Everyday is Love day

We are celebrating our 16th Civil wedding anniversary on valentines day.  Today we attended the SCM Valentines and Family Party.  We enjoyed posing at the photobooth and here are our best poses:


Of course, this would not have been possible if not for Bro. Arneil Fabia. Thanks Brod! Here's our family photo:


Love is from God. Thank you Lord for the unconditional love, for loving us first and for loving us so much....(John 3:16) 



Friday, 14 February 2014

Today is a special day!

It is Valentine's Day, It's Flag day tomorrow and Family day on Monday, but there's another reason why I am wearing Red today. This is the day we became Canadian Citizens.  This morning I didn't go to work to focus on this special occasion of my life.  It's actually a major milestone for our family.  We've come to Canada as immigrants four and a half years ago and how time flew fast.  I was teary eyed when a short film was shown about Canada and how blessed we are to be part of this country. While taking oath, I was teary-eyed too because I thought about my mother country, the Philippines.  It's sad because It's not only that I have left it physically but I am now pledging allegiance to the Queen and my new country. Anyway, I know someday my kids will realize why and I hope they will be thankful too that we've chosen to move to this richly blessed country. May we embrace its glory and richness. May we take every good opportunity and enjoy all the perks of being a Canadian. Thank you Lord for this blessing.
My kids skipped classes today and went with us to take the oath.  We want them to experience this so that they would appreciate this big milestone of our lives. When we stepped in a full-house court room, they were all eyes on my boys because they really dressed up for it. The Court's clerks who were facilitating the ceremony commented about my cute children.  When we were called in front to receive our certificates, the Judge commented about my children again, their unique names and how happy he was to be exchanging Hi fives with them. The Sergeant said, "Too bad for mommy no girl". What I liked most was when he commented, "Thanks for wearing red today. Is that for Valentine's day or for Canada?" I replied, "For both."  I was happy that my online order came in at the right time, the day before the ceremony.  It was a very special day indeed not only because of our being new Canadian Citizens but also because we all looked and felt good. :) Our pictures tell them all:



Saturday, 1 February 2014

ROI - Return on Investments


One of my son's weekly tasks is to water the plants.  He once asked me why did he have to do that, the plants don't die anyway.  Being a smart kid, he asked what value will he get from watering the plants.  We always taught our kids to be purposeful in what they do and try to find out the value of it. I just told him, "When you water the plants, you are like feeding it to grow and bear fruit or flower.  Do not lose hope. If you don't see it now, you will still see something out of it later on."  After our talk, I think he didn't do it regularly that's why one pot of the indoor plants died.  He realized that the plants die if "not fed".  Learning his lesson, he continued to water the plants and he religiously did it. We were just surprised one day when he called from the basement and excitedly said, "Mom the flower bloomed and more buds are coming out!".  I told him, "See, that's the fruit of your labour, your ROI! The time and efforts you spent were not futile after all." My son looked happy and I knew he will now be inspired and looked forward to more ROIs. 

What's your definition of ROI - return on investments?  Is it money you earned from business investments?  or the good grades from "sunog kilay" nights? is it not yet getting married after graduation? From where I came from, especially those who have many siblings, it is expected that the first one to finish will send the next sibling to school until all of them graduates.  It could also be the OFW working miles away, adjusting to culture change, the extreme weather or terrible "homesickness" just to send money to their families.  The OFW hopes that the ROI would be children getting good education and the family having a better life. Sometimes the ROI of a suitor pursuing a girl from spending money for a date or spending time hanging out or just texting would be to receive the anticipated "yes".  It varies but one thing's for sure, it is something to hope for, something out of an investment - can be money, time or effort. 

My mom tells her friends and her relatives that she's already receive her ROI. She's frequently asked what did you do to your children? You don't look like you have problems with them. You've got beautiful grandchildren and your children are abroad enjoying good life.  She tells them that she is thankful to God and until now continuously prays for our welfare. I think that's how she got her ROI, and I will also follow her. I vow to spend time and effort in bringing my children's needs to God, to pray for them, spend quality time and I hope that I will also receive my ROI and my efforts will not be futile.

Looking back and thinking about the people I've met, I now think of ROI, how did I spend time with them? is it worthy to get something out of that even for a little time?  what about the words I said, or the deeds I did?  Thinking more profound, for them to think about God's goodness and forgiveness and salvation, i think they are not enough. I hope I will still have a chance to give more, spend more so my ROI will be worthy of God's approval.  Like my son's plant, I hope a flower blossoms too.

What about you? Your ROI - to your family, to your community and to God?

Monday, 13 January 2014

Development plans for the year

This is the time when you plan and want to achieve something by the end of the year. I like to plan and put things in writing to make it more concrete. So this year will be for our family's development. Our FDP is still aligned with our 3 goals: FEED your Mind/Soul, FEED your Body and CLEANSE your body.

1. FEED your soul - IT'S ALL ABOUT GOD. Aside from asking my kids to participate in the praise and worship part of church activity (well I've started to see improvement, they are now humming or reading the lyrics of the songs), I asked them to read the devotional alternately for Aloysius and Kyle and Lex listens before going to bed nightly. The Veggie tales bedtime Devos for young boys is perfect for my kids, very simple explanation and ends with a prayer.

2. FEED your mind - HOMESCHOOLING or MORE STUDY TIME.  I learned that the kids here in North America are not really interested with homework.  They are either into video games, computer/gadgets, sports and social activities. The teacher even told me that my kids are so serious, they need to have fun. Well, it's not that I don't want them to have fun, it's just that school activities come first because being smart is not achieved overnight. They also need to develop the right attitude towards studying and learning skills to prepare them for higher levels later.  I still want them to be competitive and take advantage of the good education here. Here are some of the apps and sites that I have installed on the iPads and on the computer for the kids to do aside from their homework:

Ixl.ca
Funbrain.com
Mathplayground.com
Mrnussbaum
Abcya.com
Starfall.com
Bookboard
Thinking blocks
Wonderopolis
Pbskids.org

Aside from that, they also do Kumon, Jump start and the multiplication worksheets I brought from the Philippines.  Or finish reading the collection of books I got from garage sales and Goodwill stores.  Hardy Boys, Harry Potter and Geronimo Stilton will keep them busy.  Everyday, they are supposed to do at least 2 activities from math, reading and writing categories.

3. FEED YOUR BODY - with HEALTHY FOOD. We started juicing. I introduced fruit and veggie combo to the kids and so far, they are liking it except for Lex who cries a lot before finishing his glass.  The carrot and fruit combo is a hit - carrot-strawberry, carrot-orange, carrot-kiwi, carrot-apple but this is a surprise, they liked the Cucumber-Celery-Apple and finished the whole glass thinking it was only Apple juice.  We are also going to record the number of water glasses we drank each day. Just to ensure that we are drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day.  Of course, adding veggie meals and coming up with recipes that will include veggies without the kids knowing or tasting them. This is a bit of a challenge because they really are carnivorous.

Kids need to go back to swmming classes or tennis classes this spring or summer.

As for myself, I need to focus on achieving the following this year:
Learn to drive and get G2 license
Start to study a designation course probably Quality, Lean Or Six sigma and be certified after 2-3 years
Create at least 3 scrapbook pages a day...or per week, hahaha. Tumawad pa.

Anyway, I need to be reminded about what the bible says, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21" and  "Commit to The Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3"  So help me God.


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Managing your time wisely

One of the principles of lean management is value stream mapping. It is used to analyze and design the flow of information and materials to create a product until it reaches the customer.  In it are the steps, delays and information required to deliver the product. Delays cause losses and time is one major element.  In our actual work and day to day activities, there are many reasons that prevent us from achieving our goals or good product or service.  We are not aware of it, but the most lost is time.      Here are some of the time-wasters that I have identified and will try to avoid in order for me to be more efficient:

1.  Emails - set up your email with keywords that will automatically go to folders that you can read later on.  Important emails can also be determined or flagged.  Organizing the email is an important factor in prioritizing the actions and in achieving your goals.

2. Phone calls - view the caller ID first before answering the phone, if it's really important, they will leave a message. You can review them later on.

3. Meetings - although I know I cannot avoid this, if my presence in the meeting is only as support and not the head then I can bring my laptop and do some 'work'. It is also called multitasking.

4. People - I know I may sound anti-social here, but unnecessary talking to people in the hallways, in the lunch room and after meetings and not during break is a time-waster.  There is a time for everything and it is not considered productive time when longer breaks and gossiping are happening.

Keep control of your day by breaking it into three kinds of blocks:

Strategic Blocks - uninterrupted work time
Buffer Blocks - unplanned or lower-value tasks, time to read important emails and make phone calls.
Breakout Blocks - free time to refresh and unload stress, use this time to read emails of low priority

Be focused.  Don't get distracted.

My goal is to be more healthy this year

Who doesn't want to be healthy? But as my first born said, "healthy food tastes bland - not sweet or salty, it's just plain food". I had to find out how to get eat more nutritious food that are tasty too.  

I still have a bag of flaxseed and I was researching on how to include this in my cooking without letting my kids know.  When they hear unfamiliar ingredients in food, they wouldn't be interested in tasting it so I have to be discreet.   I remember my brother in law Irvin cooked "sisig" and he asked Aloysius to try it, my son said "EWWWW! "upon hearing the answer to his inquiry. He couldn't believe it is pigs ears and cheeks!

Now I have to copy this flaxseed recipes from the Costco magazine to remind me to be healthy not only for myself but also for the kids. I have to try these one of these days:

Country Style Flaxseed Pancakes

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup milled roasted flaxseed
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp melted margarine

Mix first 5 ingredients. Combine egg, milk, margarine and add to dry ingredients. Stir until moistened. Bake on hot griddle.

Yield: 8 pancakes

Omega-3 Breakfast Booster
1/2 1% vanilla Yogurt
3 milled flaxseed
1 cup milk
1 cup berries

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serves 2.

Let's start the new year right by eating healthy.  Happy New Year!