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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Give love not only on Christmas Day

My god-daughter An who is going to be wed a few days from now, one of the reasons I'm flying home, has been such a very nice person inside-out. She is a very good example of giving love not only on Christmas Day. Lately, her dad passed away so suddenly due to cancer, just a few days before her wedding. The sad thing for An about her dad's sudden passing away is, she and her fiance booked air tickets and hotels for a surprise travel to the Big City and the north for her mom and dad as a Christmas treat for both of them. It should be this time that they are now traveling as a family. I can imagine that every time they present their tickets and hotel bookings with her dad's name, they will all be reminded that he's supposed to be with them, enjoying the surprise.

Well, the thought itself that An did a lot of nice things for her dad prior to his death is very consoling in itself. For sure, An has no regrets that she did never give her best for her dad because, in fact, she did everything to make him happy, even assuring him that she chose the right man whom her dad had willingly given his blessing for their wedding before his unpredictable passing away.

Such a sudden death of a loved one is indeed a great reminder for all of us that we don't have to take our family and friends for granted. We have to remember them not only on Christmas but in every opportunity we have. That's why in the song "Give love on Christmas Day," Christmas should be defined as EVERYDAY.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Looking at negative situations in the positive way

We don't want to stress out ourselves even on petty things, do we? If we are affected of things, we pass it on to people around us such as if a teacher gets mad of something, she may show a bad mood in her class (which is unprofessional!). So to get rid of negativity that will suck your energy if any bad situation arises, keep thinking that there is always a positive side in it. I will show you how I have practiced it lately.
First, the microwave oven in our condo we used everyday in our lives got a short circuit that it would no longer work. I called the owner to have it fixed or changed but my complaint fell on deaf ear. So, not to feel upset about it, I think of what my Thai friend told me about the research that microwave can lose the nutrients of food we heat in it. Besides, hubby who got back to coffee drinking after quitting for many years now (together with his alcohol drinking and smoking), felt so comfortable heating his coffee water in the wave as it is very efficient and convenient. I dreaded his going back to it so when the microwave oven was out of order, he naturally quit his coffee drinking as well.  I was worried that coffee especially the creamer would increase his already high triglycerides and cholesterol. My reminder just didn't work but the malfunctioning of the oven did. Ahhh, what a relief!

Second, the lift in our condo also stopped working since last week. We heard that the condo management taking care of our building corrupted the money for its maintenance so now we suffer it by taking the stairs to and from the 6th Floor. We were told it will take about 3 months to wait until things get settled so that it will be fixed. But then, all of us in the household turned it into an opportunity so we don't worry of it except for just the inconvenience of lifting heavy stuff such as when we buy our groceries and water, take our baby's stroller up and down, or when we're in a real hurry. Instead of getting upset, we think of the benefits of getting a regular exercise and saving energy, thus helping prevent global warming even in just a little way. Read this Taking the Stairs Campaign which I certainly support strongly.

So, the next time that a negative thing occurs, pause and think of any benefit you can get out of it. It may be a lesson to learn or a hidden benefit you still have to discover. That's optimism or positive-thinking at work!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keeping family ties amid great distance

I'm feeling so sad that I'll be missing one important event in my kids' growing years, their annual piano recital this coming weekend. But I make it a point that no matter what, we'll be together to spend the Christmas holidays and the New Year - at a place my kids are not certain if they miss it - the beautiful city of the generals. Yes, we'll be flying all the way to GenSan not only to attend a wedding of someone close to us but to visit our relatives and friends there we've missed over the years. We have a lot of plans to do in GenSan during our visit there. It includes visiting our kids' grannies and cousins, going to the farm our new family member will see for the first time and the beach our two kids have missed so much as we used to go there when they were still toddlers until their early grade years. Now they're on their early teens. We're also happy to introduce their baby brother to our clans in both sides of the family they haven't met yet. And know what? Our 2 early teens are more excited to introduce their sibling to their classmates and friends than to their relatives. How geographical distance separates kins! This gives me and hubby more reason to make them bond with their cousins and relatives they haven't seen for years. Otherwise, they would become much closer to their friends than to their kin.

Oh, how time flies!  I now dread to think of missing my kids' yearning to go with me and their dad wherever we had to go. It started last summer when they were with us here in our workplace that we noticed that they're no longer the same. They would rather stay at home and do their own activity apart from us. Then, at school days if I'm with them, they're no longer the same small kids who would grab my hand pleading me to send them off to school and beg off to pick them up after school. And instead of coming home early excited to see me back home, they now prefer to hang out with their friends. Such a bitter-sweet reality! Now they're no longer worried that dad and/or mom won't be able to attend their recital or their birthday. Anyway, they're happy to see that their friends are around to cheer them up.

Oh, we must accept the reality that our kids are growing up fast! But we must let them grasp the values we want them to embrace especially in tracing back their roots, getting close to their kins and learning to look back where they came from. We parents are bound to the close family ties and we want to pass it on to our next generations at all costs. We should not allow the years to slip by blinded with our busy days making a living and neglecting this family duty to keep the ties. After all, earthly treasures just slip by, too, but the joys shared with loved ones are cherished sealing the ties forever.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Optimistic People's Winning Perspective

Seeing Raissa Laurel, a 23-year old law student who lost both her legs from bombing, inspired not only me but a lot of people to be more optimistic than remorseful even when the worst things inevitably happen in our life.Raissa never blamed anyone for her fate but instead sees some purpose in her life why God allowed such debilitating accident to happen to her. She may not see the good things about it right away but for sure, we will see later what purpose it is for her. Let me share to you this wonderful story, "This Too is for Good" sent in by Rachel B of Philadelphia to
An old story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, " This Too is for Good!"


One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation the friend remarked as usual, "This Too is for Good!" To which the king replied, "No, this is NOT good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail.


About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake.


As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way. As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. "You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off." And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And, so I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this."


"No," his friend replied, "This Too is for Good!"


"What do you mean,'This is good'? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?"


"If I had NOT been in jail, I would have been with you." 

I have also tasted my own dose of bitter experiences that have made me a better person. My husband can also readily testify  that God works miraculously in our life that He can lift us up and purify us from our old sinful and unhealthy ways  by allowing us to go through pains and hardships. Were it not for a  pressing and painful condition we were both in before, we would have not grown this much in all aspects of our lives. And we're still growing. Thanks be to God for all that has been and for all that is yet to come to help us keep growing. So, now if anything bad happens, we don't have to panic. Instead we have to be optimistic that the best is yet to come!

(Photo from: http://asiaforjesus.wordpress.com/)



Monday, November 1, 2010

Revolutionizing Holiday Spending

Christmas is around the corner with the very cold breeze. We've been told that it's the coldest year here in Thailand. Malls and business establishments have started decorating for the highly commercialized Christmas season to attract more customers and therefore, more profits. But for us, we revolutionize our perspective of spending this season.


Since my kids were born, we as a family have never celebrated Christmas Day on the 25th of December. I explain to my kids that the Bible doesn't specify the exact birth-date of Jesus Christ. But we do celebrate the New Year for family thanksgiving for the past year and for welcoming the coming year with prayers and wishes. Thus, our holiday spending is more reduced. I also don't go for adorning the house with Christmas decors such as tall, shining Christmas trees as we were told once in the church about the pagan origin of such a practice. While Christmas decors brighten up the feeling for the season, our focus may be diverted to the material things around us making us tend to forget the real meaning of Christmas.
On our vacation with the kids this Christmas (I booked air tickets on promo), we plan to spend some time for rural kids who do not have opportunities to receive gifts and eat special foods. We've been doing this since my kids were still small. We don't usually spend it in the city where we live as most of the kids around us can afford to have lots of foods not only during parties. Urban kids also receive gifts often so their joy of receiving gift is not much as those with the rural kids who rarely receive one in their whole life. Thus for us,  it's more meaningful to celebrate the season by letting our kids experience the joy of giving simple gifts to the the lowly ones and feeding them without expecting for something in return. It is opposite to the concept of exchange gift and usual merriment our kids have in their school or in the place they live in. It is also easier to please the lowly kids so the price of the gifts we give them is not much. I remember my friend, Ms. G, complaining of a rich girl whom she gave an expensive gift but did not appreciate it. This Christmas season, what we need to remember is the birth of Jesus Christ on a lowly manger, not in a palace or an attractively adorned house.
What I'm saying here is, we can simplify our celebration of Jesus Christ's birth. It is not on the lavishness of the food we prepare and the gifts we exchange or give but it is how we express our thankfulness to God for sending His Son to earth to save us and to show us humility, simplicity and kindness to others without expecting something in return. So my spending plan this season is guided by these principles. I will have my children experience (again) the true meaning of Christmas with some gifts and food to the needy. We can buy more gifts and make more lowly ones happy by cutting decoration budget, unnecessary travels, new clothes and toys, and lavish food for us during the season especially at these times of continuing economic crisis and increasing global warming issues.

We can avoid over-drop in our budget if we reasonably spend this holiday season, within our budget. And we can make a difference if we follow the true reason for celebrating Christmas.

Please check out more interesting Marriage Monday posts related to this at Chrysalis by e-Mom.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A deathbed realization on changing others

Everyone wants to make a difference. Yet, it is impossible to influence others if we don't practice what we preach. Just like when we're listening to a sermon in the church and we know that the speaker is not living up what he's saying, we seem not to believe him, right? I want to share to you this very inspiring anecdote of changing others posted by my favorite Rex Barker. It's sent to me by joke-of-the-day.com, with the title "Begin With Yourself",  contributed by Carol B of New Orleans.
 

"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.


But, it too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.


From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world."

As the song goes, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin in me." So before we can change others, we have to change ourselves and our living example will inspire others to emulate us.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why is the Philippines lagging behind?

 I've just finished watching TV Patrol online and I'm so saddened with typhoon Juan's wrath in our country. I can deeply feel how the affected families suffer with their house blown away by strong winds and their livelihood washed out by the typhoon and flood. About this time last year, super typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng left the Philippines terribly devastated which caused a big blow in its economy. It's no wonder that our country is lagging behind its counterparts such as Thailand and Malaysia. So we can't fully blame the country's economic situation to corruption. There have been many corruption stories anywhere but natural calamities are big factors for its neighboring countries overtaking it.
Comparing the Philippines to its neighboring ASEAN countries such as Thailand and Malaysia which have similar natural resources, the former is more prone to typhoons being an archipelago, the latter are not. It is visited by almost a hundred typhoons every year. Just imagine the assessed agricultural damages of about 2 billion pesos super typhoon Juan (a.k.a Megi) recently inflicting the country. This amount excludes infrastructural damages including houses, government and private buildings and facilities, roads, bridges, electric posts, etc. in the affected provinces. If assessed, it may be more than the agricultural damages. Then what about the costs needed to repair all this destruction? So we can say that what has been said to be corrupted by Thailand's former prime minister is less than the damages caused by typhoon and its effects such as floods, loss of electricity, etc. in 2 years time. The disasters brought about by Ondoy and Pepeng alone last year amounted to PhP50 billion. Then how long will it take for the affected areas and people to recover? Now multiply the losses from natural calamities each year (plus the losses in corruption)!

No one can stop nature's wrath but at least, our risk and disaster reduction management can help a lot. For example, with proper warning, some farmers were able to salvage their maturing rice and some pond owners to save what they could  before such terrible typhoon Juan struck. It's also good to note that most provinces prone to calamities were able to raise awareness for the protection of life. Last year, there was no warning given to people before Ondoy hit Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces, thus the loss was much bigger compared this time when warning was provided. It's indeed good to learn a great lesson from the past bad experience.

The Philippines may be lagging behind due to natural forces beyond its control but then we can admire the resiliency of the Filipinos, their ability to bounce back whenever a big storm strikes down or any sudden catastrophe hits the country. We can never say that Pinoys aren't hard-working or they lack ingenuity for they are world-class workers with creative and independent minds. So, it's only by good governance that the country can take back its position in the past.

The present government's priorities 
Now, we can see Noynoy gearing up while he steers the country. He takes off by addressing overpopulation and corruption issues while he also tries to develop  livelihood programs and infrastructures - such real ways to go. Hope to see him giving priority to education as well, not just by adding the number of years in elementary and high school. Comparing the universities between the Philippines  and Thailand or Malaysia, we are left behind in terms of facilities (such as good libraries) and technology but most importantly, teachers' development. Let's look at our rank in education worldwide to give us an eye-opener. Education will lift us up from poverty and help citizens to introduce innovations and contribute to the country's growth and development.

Creating more jobs for Pinoys is P-Noy's priority so that the family, which is the basic unit in the society, won't be disintegrated. OFW parents of young children should no longer leave to sustain the family's needs far away from the family leaving them not properly guided for the values they need to learn while they are young. If parents' leaving for a job in another country persists, we become a society debased of values and deteriorating morality, thus it creates more problems in the long run.

With our population controlled, livelihood created and education given high priority for the citizens to be productive and self-sufficient despite any calamities and catastrophes, we can do much better for sure. The present government aims not just to regain the country's economic position in the ASEAN region but also to give every Filipino citizen source of livelihood for a better life not by leaving the country but by contributing to it from working within.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mr. Holland's Passion and Ethics in Teaching Worth Emulating

I made my rainy weekend enjoyable as much as I could (apart from reading, playing with my lil angel and just zzzzzleeping a.k.a beauty-resting:). Staying at home with my family is never boring but this week, seeing an inspiring movie spiced everything up. It made me prepare for another tough week of dealing with academic work especially with challenging (and not challenged, i.e. Failed!) students at the end of the semester. Mr. Holland's Opus, an interesting film I've been searching for ages came right at the perfect time.

Why did I search for this film? The first and only time I saw it was when I got a whole month of Summer Teacher Seminar in Cebu back in 1998. I longed to get a copy of Mr. Holland's Opus since then to share to my education students and fellow educators what a great and inspiring teacher Mr. Holland is but I never found one. Thanks to SIL Edna who found it lately on sale and agreed to give it to me with my vow to share it to others.

Mr. Glenn Holland, who makes teaching music as passion has epitomized what a teacher should be. He is never contented with just teaching in the four-cornered room but goes out his way to extend his time helping out his students - beyond working hours. Strategy-wise, he exemplifies how teachers can simplify complex things into comprehensible way. For example, instead of just differentiating between classical music and rock-and-roll by reading from the definitions in the book, he paces to the piano and plays Minuet in G by Bach and a popular Rock n' Roll music at the time. There he goes, he is able to arouse the interest of all his students who have been so passive about his lessons for some time.

Last week, I had to deal with a group of students who failed in their ESL class for not liking their farang (foreigner, usually Caucasian) teacher's style. Like Mr. Holland, I had to deal with the disciplining and counseling part of the teacher's crucial roles before I finally turned them over to the teacher I asked to handle them. I had to orient them that in real life, they have to deal with different personalities in order to succeed. Different teachers have their own styles and Family Psychologist John Rosemond admonishes parents not to tolerate children to choose teachers for themselves. He suggested that they must be taught to respect every teacher so that they won't feel that they always have the right to express unliking to their teacher or to request for another one. It is part of the EQ to be developed although I must say that there are teachers who need to improve their teaching styles and strategies just like Mr. Holland who tries every possible way to get through the interests and real needs of his students.

There is much to appreciate in the life of Mr. Holland aside from teaching strategies and willingness to go extra miles to be a noble teacher. This enthusiastic teacher who always encourages his students particularly those in his orchestra who used to play in dissonance to love what they are doing, thus they improved a lot later, is also a model of moral values. He is training a pretty girl with a golden voice to interpret a song he composed for a big school performance. The young girl falls in love with him and showed her affection to her but he never takes advantage of it. Despite having tension with his wife over their frustration with their son whom they discovered later as deaf and dumb, he remains faithful to his wife by not succumbing to the wish of the young girl to run away with her for a bright singing career in New York. He should have been attracted to the offer for a more financially rewarding  career as a talent manager as he's struggling financially at the time but he chooses to stay not only with his family but also with his school even if he meets oppositions by his assistant principal who later turns as the school principal. Hmm, we've seen many teachers not able to resist  such a sweet temptation with their vulnerable students. 

Professionalism is also greatly exemplified by Mr. Holland. He remains calm under pressures and adversities. He was forced to retire at the age of 60 after 30 years of happily teaching using the front of cost-cutting. The principal finally succeeded to devastate him but the school alumni whose lives have been inspired and touched by Mr. Holland gather and prepare a Tribute Party for him including the present state governor who was most challenged by him while she was still a member of his orchestra. These school alumni take up their instruments and ask the retiring teacher to serve as their conductor in the premiere performance of Mr. Holland's Opus ("The American Symphony"). At this momentous night, Mr. Glenn Holland rebonds with his students from various batches while his wife, Iris, and now successful son, Cole, look on with such great admiration. They and everyone present have seen how this old teacher has influenced his students' appreciation of music and of life.

No wonder why this movie grabbed multiple awards! This should be regarded a classic film and must be made available in every College of Education as teachers are builders of the nations.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekend Reflections: Moving on forward and up and welcoming change

How was your week, dear friends? Oh, thanks God it's Saturday! For the past two weeks, we in our workplace spent most of our time moving out from our old place to our modern, state-of-the-art, multi-million building. Even if it's every university student's dream to move there the soonest time possible, most of us employees resisted to. I draw two reasons which are the springboard of my reflections.
One is,  the students  are not so attached to the old building because they don't have definite place unlike us as they have to move from one room to another. Another reason is, students don't have many stuffs to pack up in the old building and unpack at the new one.

It was only yesterday, after many tiring days of unpacking, that we got finally settled in our new place. We at last got our computers set, Internet reconnected, telephone lines reinstalled and our stuffs mostly arranged. And hurray! I eventually learned to love the  panoramic view of my new abode. My new office is on the 10th floor's window side overlooking the meeting point between the refreshing green coconut and orange orchards of the kingdom's old capital and the towering edifices of crowded metropolitan Bangkok. Such a great sight to behold!

A couple of realizations dawned on me with this moving out experience. People universally resist change. But the more we are attached to places,  persons or to the things we love, the harder to let go of  them. Once we are used to doing something, it becomes a habit. For example, it became a daily habit for me to walk to and from my old office for over 5 years. Aside from saving gas and thus the environment, I got the benefit of regular exercise. When we moved into our new building, I thought it could no longer be possible for me to walk because it's a lot farther now. But yesterday, amid the not so good weather, I managed to walk home and realized that I got the more desirable exercise - a longer walk my doctor recommended. Yes, even changing our bad habits that shape our character is not easy but if we find the need to just like when we had to move out because we needed to, we can see the positive results. And we finally welcome the change as it has more benefits after all!
It pays to move on forward, not backward as we're getting older and older each day. It also pays to move up not down. Isn't it that our goal is to live happily and eternally? We don't just have to be contented in temporary mundane things which give us fleeting happiness because we aim for the second life up there whatever religion we adhere to. In a world in which riches and power are always mistaken for wisdom, intelligence and virtue, happiness lies on earthly possessions and    positions. Thus, people become more devoid of values. Things we give value to are often not as permanent as they appear. Therefore, there's a need to reevaluate what can really make us happy. Let's move on forward and up by developing our character and we'll be happy to embrace the change.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Marriage Monday: Surviving a Marriage Crisis


Every marriage, even the perfect ones, goes through a period of crisis. But surviving the rough road on the marriage journey makes it challenging for the couples. The rougher the road a couple has passed through, the stronger the relationship becomes. So how do we survive the challenges during marriage crisis? 
The love triangle
We handle different situations in different ways. But generally, if both couples allow God to be in the marriage triangle, they will survive even the toughest situation because God instituted marriage as a lifetime commitment where problems and differences have to be worked out.
Choosing the right person/s to consult and involve in times of marriage crisis
While it is extemely important especially for women to have a confidante at the time of marriage crisis, Harold Sala forewarns of  being careful in opening up our marital problems. At the height of our marriage crisis, I deliberately chose friends whose opinions I highly regarded and trusted.  Even if the going gets tough, have control over the situation. Do not be overwhelmed and break out your bothering condition to just anyone. Instead of helping you analyze the situation and offer the most appropriate solution, they may end up ruining you.
Weighing differing and contradicting opinions and fighting for your choice
It's true that we can't think well if we are overwhelmed by a debilitating situation. But giving ourselves a moment of calmness will help us weigh opposing opinions. Even our own family may give contradicting opinions but don't panic. Some family members may just see your own side being related with you by blood so they sympathize with you but they may miss the bigger picture of the issues involved. Weigh the contradicting opinions and be strong enough to fight for your decision amidst criticisms.
Seeing a clearer picture by writing down on a piece of paper
One aunt who has been to so many marriage crises suggested writing on a piece of paper the reasons why we have to stay together or not. We were able to see a clearer picture and we both chose the positive side of it as it brought out so many strong reasons making a longer list to stay in our relationship. By doing so, our perspective changed and the hurt and confused feeling was replaced with a thinking and reasoning mind.

Forgiving, giving another chance and compromising
I've seen a number of strong marriages collapsing later mostly caused by betrayal.  So is it worth giving  your erring partner another chance? Sure, especially if you love each other and recognize your own failures or weaknesses why such a betrayal happened.
But even if you're completely innocent, forgive and give your erring partner another chance. However, to avoid repetition of the same mistake, come up with a compromise agreement. You deserve to be respected after making some amends to your own failures and weaknesses and both your willingness to work out the mess together. You may be reminded of the hurt again and again while coping but it's part of the healing process.

Reading books for enlightenment and guidance
It's quite helpful reading books on marriage such as Intended for Pleasure by Christian authors Ed and Gaye Wheat, The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly LaHaye who offer great help for couples equipping them how to handle marriage crises. John Gray's Men from Mars and Women from Venus helped me  and hubby a lot in understanding the differences between men and women such as ways of communicating and coping mechanisms. Women generally want to vent out their feeling right away while men have the tendency to cave in so communication isn't possible right there and then when a problem arises.  Making Marriage Work by Dr. Harold Sala discusses how we can improve our marriage by following God's plan not only sexually but also other aspects such  as communication, raising children, financial security, etc.  

Standing nose to nose, getting aired and cleared up
Finally, Biddulph advises that "for a marriage to survive, it is sometimes necessary to stand nose to nose... This is called 'truth time' - the time when differences that have been building up get aired and cleared".

You may want to read more interesting posts on "Surviving a marriage crisis" and related marital issues at Chrysalis where thinking women meet every first Monday of the month.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Saving Thoughts for OFW's Kids

        One of the things we've learned here as OFWs is the value of saving. Hubby  is so amazed in seeing a bank car goes to his school regularly to have school kids' savings deposited into their own bank account. Yes, primary and elementary kids have their own savings growing in the bank. Some of his students have shown him their savings and he's so surprised to see that as early as Grade 2 or 3, they already got over a hundred thousand  baht (about 3,000 US dollars) in their own bank account.
         This attitude has something to do with the king's self-sufficiency economy. It encourages Thais to be self-sufficient and save for the rainy days. We  encouraged  our kids  to practice this and we motivated them to open their own bank account. At first, they had to keep secret from us if some uncles and aunts or mom and dad's friends  give them money as we ask them to have it deposited in their savings. It's really hard for us to implant in their young minds the value of saving. Probably because they don't see other kids around them doing that. If our country, especially at schools, will start doing this not just planting malunggays around schools, our country will be investing a lot for the future and the generations will keep it as a tradition. In here, even kids of bus drivers and street vendors have their own bank accounts. So we don't have any excuse not to start our baby with this kind of practice early on. And OFWs like us should think ahead, not just for the present by acquiring every latest trend particularly of technology and fashions that are just fleeting. And instead of showing off by giving out lots of pasalubongs, banca dito banca don or hosting a party here and there when going home, think that you may not be renewed the next year. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that we don't have to be generous. Many an OFWs ends up being busabos by being so impractical as magarbong balikbayan. OFW dependents should also remember that moms and dads have to struggle a lot being away from home so they must save as much as they can. They should know that their parents aren't picking up dollars on the streets.
         I felt really bad a couple of days ago when I went home upon seeing a fellow OFW's son playing the computer all day long until late night (with a cigar on one hand, pssst!). He didn't realize that his mom is still in debt just to satisfy his luho. Tsk! Tsk! Oh, it gives me a stronger reason not to pamper my own kids with non-essential things such as computer and PSP unless they know how to control themselves or if they have proper guidance! They should strive on their own to get the things they want. And they should know how to differentiate between NEED and WANT at early age. Let them learn, earn and save. Our failure to teach them these values will fire back to us, long distance parents.
         By the way, aside from the amount we send them to set aside for their savings monthly, we came up with a deal with that whenever they receive an unexpected amount from anyone, at least 50% of it will go to their savings. And it works despite their resistance at first. Kids are always kids! So Lola Carmen, Tita Glee, Tito Gerry, Tita Sandra and Tito Levi, Tita Tess, Mommy Susan, Mommy Dang, (can't name them all:), rest assured that what you have been giving is well accounted for by our young stewards.  Our youngest is even luckier to start saving at age one because of the influence in the environment. We always emphasize to our kids that they need to make it a habit to save everything not only money but also anything that has value, from mom and dad's, others'  or their own sweat . We tell them that the more they waste anything, the longer they make us and themselves suffer the great distance between us. 
 (The illustration above is courtesy of Bangkok Bank, which offers a zero tax program and higher interest rate for saving kids provided a minimum of 24 months of regular deposit is achieved.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Marriage Monday: Killer Time Management for Busy Families


I missed joining this meaningful once-a-month meme. Thanks to Jona, a fellow mom from Binan, who paid me a visit here and reminded me of Marriage Monday through her entry as I visited her back. So here I am catching up with this month's topic which I can surely relate with being a mom myself.

As both hubby and I are working, we see to it that we give time for each of our three precious jewels. Thanks to what advance technology can offer we can now update each other even if our kids are miles away from us. Imagine centuries back when families had to wait for eternity to receive a letter from a loved one. There were no telephones or cellphones yet and telegram was yet expensive and people could say only a few words. But now, we can call or send an SMS very often by cellphones or even voice chat via Skype, Yahoo Messenger, etc. seeing our loved ones face-to-face via webcam while we talk to them. So we have no more excuse no matter how busy we are or how far we are from our kids as parents not to be able to communicate with them or to reach them out. It is just a matter of giving time. And of choice! I learned something great from the movie Voyage of the Unicorn that if we parents specify bonding time with our kids, they will always remember that. In the movie, the teenage girl always pauses at 3pm to bond with her mom in thought even after she already passed away. What a nice thought, isn't it? In our family, we lock off weekends for family time both for church and bonding together.

8-8-8 Principle. How it works?
We have 24 hours a day. How do we use these 24 hours? My Thai friend gave me a very feasible equation for this: 8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep (exclusive for ourselves for good health and well-being so that we can be more effective in our work and in parenting) and 8 hours for miscellaneous. It may include 2 or 3 hours for household chores for us working moms if we don't have any helper (lucky if we have one we can use this time with kids and hubby and other relationships), an hour for exercise, an hour for our hobby such as reading (or blogging), an hour to go to the market or buy groceries, etc... and now how much is left? 2 hours? 30 minutes for eating, an hour for taking a shower, getting dressed and so on... 30 minutes left... So is this the only time left to bond with our kids and loved ones on a daily basis? If we still take this away from them, what will happen? We can no longer teach them the values we want them to learn. I remember my parents always gathering us when we were still kids for a family worship every night after dinner. That's the story time, Bible reading, values inculcation time and family prayer time. We grew up with the same pattern and this is what I want my kids to grow up with so that they can pass it on to the next generation in our family as well.

The longer family bonding time, not just the time when both hubby and I are tired from work or always rushing, is the weekend. We are more relaxed on weekends and thus we are more patient in dealing with our kids affording them more quality time. We go to church together, chat with each other, visit friends, learn things together such as cooking, have a picnic and play together at the park or do the things we enjoy together as a family.
No matter how busy we are, let's not rob away what our kids deserve to have with us. The wise King Solomon says, "there is time for everything under the sun". And there should always be time for our dear kids.

More interesting entries on the topic, Adding Kids to the Mix at Chrysalis

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Pangabuhi sa Uma" following Thailand's Self-sufficiency Economy: An OFW's perspective

 
This Karay-a song "Pangabuhi sa Uma" (Life in the Farm) by Sammy Rubido with its well-made video (by Ulysses Loresto as posted on Youtube and Facebook) captured in a perfect farm setting reminds me of the Self-sufficiency Theory by the longest reigning king of Thailand and in the world. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej developed the philosophy of the Sufficiency Economy to lead his people to a balanced way of life and to be the main sustainable development theory for the country.

According to this theory, the farmland is divided into four parts with a ratio of 30:30:30:10 which means, 30% is set aside for pond and fish culture; 30% for rice, corn, root-crops and vegetables; 30% for growing fruit and perennial trees; and the remaining 10% for housing, raising livestock animals and other activities.
 Hubby's clan farm somewhere in GenSan is blessed with a vast span of lake and the Buayan River that  both supply water for the crops. Can you see the grazing cattle beside the lake? (Thanks to hubby's cousin Jessie Marie for these photos.)

My husband would like to advocate this philosophy by tending a farm following the same idea by the self-reliant Thais. He believes that raising organic plants and livestock for family's consumption and selling the surplus is the best way to go especially during our retirement as OFWs. Aside from the health benefits from eating organic produce and the exercise we can get from growing plants and raising livestock, reaping what we sow brings so much happiness and fulfillment for sure. It will also teach us to live by our own means and help solve the food shortage crisis. This model is environmental-friendly as well as it balances the ecosystem. Planting more fruit and perennial trees will help with the atmosphere's oxygen supply.

This is the model dear hubby desires from his observations with the sufficient farmers here in Thailand selling their own produce with their very own transportation such as pick-ups. It is also following from his uncle who has been managing a farm since his (hubby's) birth and is able to put up his foundation, by sending his siblings, nephews and nieces including some of their children to school through the abundant produce of his farm.  He has also been raising cattle, goats and lots of chickens. We enjoy the fresh farm "native" chickens and their eggs, which "Manoy" regularly sells at GenSan market. Hubby sees that Manoy is more than self-sufficient so as an OFW, he wants to manage his own farm someday as his great model does. Just one thing he will add to his farm to completely adopt Thailand's self-sufficiency philosophy, a fishpond for his fish diet in addition to his vegetarian diet (pescetarian= fish & vege). It is as well to enjoy game-fishing, one of the whole family's favorite pastime.
 The new generation of lush coconuts under the old  ones in the farm of "Manoy" , hubby's hardworking, wise and generous uncle, shows how many generations of graduates it has produced even before his birth. He acquired this farm at the age of 25. And Manoy has just celebrated  his 78th birthday. 

Maybe hubby will grow the ingredients I need in the resto I'm building in mind:) Not a bad idea, is it? Big food chains here operate that way so they can lower their prices to attract more customers.
We have learned that as OFWs, we have to gather experiences and ideas to help us grow and develop ourselves and share them to our kababayans.
It's all but a plan yet but Og Mandino says that successful people are "those who can visualize their goals in life".This visualization is powerful in making dreams come true as it serves as our guide in our actions. Effective implementation comes from a clear planning.


(This post is a tribute to our dear "Manoy"  on his 78th birthday this August. Manoy, this is dedicated to you for living such a worthy, selfless and exemplary life for your clan. One day, we will take JD, Josh and Jako to pay tribute to you for how you raised their dad and gave him a decent education. All because of your hard work and discipline... We love you, Manoy!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Connecting with the World at Robinsons GenSan

Although my two-week vacation was mainly meant for working on my thesis in Manila and improving our house a little bit in Magandang Gensan, it wouldn't have been more memorable without socializing and going out despite my super tight skeds. One of the highlights of my short vacay in the country's Tuna Capital and home of PacMan was meeting up with old (and new) friends. And I was so glad that some of them asked me to meet at the newly opened Robinsons Place I've been to only once last year. While waiting for my dates one after the other, I was able to check my emails and to reply the urgent ones at my work in Bangkok. Most importantly, I got the chance to reconnect with my dear hubby and family who were waiting for ages for me to be online (huh!) because Robs GenSan has already got a free wi-fi connection. I was terribly tied up so I couldn't afford to waste any seconds. Thanks to Robs' wi-fi connection that kept me productive between waiting times! It's so relieving that I was able to update with my loved ones overseas seeing them on webcam. With an energized mood after chatting with my family, I fulfilled one of my plans in going to Robs. I was happy to quickly find the desired home products I had in mind. Was also able to buy at Robinsons neat supermarket my whole wheat bread and unpolished rice which I couldn't easily find elsewhere. Here in Bangkok, Robinsons is always one of our shopping places because it speaks of best quality and fortunately, it's the same in GenSan.
And we met at last! After longggg years of missing each other, I had to reconnect the missing links with my closest friend at the college of law, Tantan Fortaleza-Pingoy I haven't met for over 10 years . No wonder she brought me to Fonti, a cafe that offers heavenly cakes at Robinsons baked by no other than the smart and beautiful wife of Atty. Fontanilla herself. Tantan is one of the stockholders here. Oh, I really needed to be updated! And guess what a hospitable friend she remains! I went home with a large box of yummy-licious chocolate cake she asked me to pick up 2 days after our "bitin-na-bitin" chit-chat ever. My kids licked their finger with Tita Liza's specially baked goodie given by Tita Tantan.

While Tantan and I were catching up with each other at Fonti inside Robinson's, this train carrying merry kids (and their guardians:) cho-choed at our side. I wished that my baby were with me. Anyway, I would surely take him to Robinson's Place when we go home as a family. He will certainly enjoy this ride here while mommy will be very busy shopping for her household needs.

Ah, GenSan has really grown into a more sophisticated place with classy Robinsons' establishment! It's not only the panga, kinilaw, abundant fruits and food that I'm proud of Gensan now but its keeping up with the modern world. Having free wi-fi connection at a mall like Robs shows that Gensan is at par with world-class cities. How good it is to shop for best qualities here and dine at its food court and restos to enjoy the fresh and bountiful food Gensan offers at the same time to connect with the world for free and reconnect with loved ones away from home! Only at Robinsons...

(Let me take this opportunity to thank my nice friend Jinky Borela as well as her hubby Arnel for the box of  fresh panga that has reached Pangasinan and Bangkok. Also to Bossing Orman M., Media Officer AvelMan aka Bariles, Prof. Gilbert Tan, Marz, Peter for the sundo at Gensan airport and for Orman's fun Blogoversary Party at Arnevel. My never-changing friend Beth Peralta-Gomez for my croc leather bag loaded Victoria's Secrets. Also to my relatives who have kept me company at home, to all my friends who have made my stay there so meaningful, you guys, make me keep yearning to go back to Magandang Gensan. I really like this beautiful city with lots of beautiful people, interesting spots and world-class malls ever! I love you Gensan!!!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ganda Ever So Much, Inside-out!

You're right! I haven't updated here for quite a while. The reason? I've been writing my thesis for my much coveted ADMU degree, which means I need TIME and FOCUS as I'm also quite loaded in my job during the first semester. But what's the urge that distracted my attention? Two very influential bloggers whom I can't ever turn down - the great Manansala brothers, Avel and Orman from Gensan, who arrived in Bangkok yesterday. Why? They're always busy as a bee, much busier than me perhaps, given their very important roles in their jobs and in the city as ambassadors of good will ever but they really give time to see me when I'm home in Gensan. Don't wanna be ingrata (ungrateful:). I also have a lot of things to say about the multi-awarded blogger Avel of GenSan news online mag, of course, but let me focus this time on his Ganda Ever So Much bro who is celebrating his First Blogoversary next month. This is the reason why I can't put off writing about him; otherwise, it will be too stale if I wait until I finish what I'm doing.

A banker holding a key position nationwide, Orman is ganda (nice) ever so much, indeed, inside-out. The picture below shows his generosity. While on our way from Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok to the historical Ayudhya yesterday, he was trying to update me with anything about Pinas. He aroused my interest about the newly elected president's SONA. I admitted that I had never heard Noynoy speaking before but when I heard his inaugural speech that gave him the tag "2nd Obama" (thanks to the online TV Patrol news updates!), I was totally impressed and I started to adore him. But I told Orman that even if I never heard him speak before all I know is that, he's a man of integrity and that is exactly what our country direly needs this time. I informed Orman that I did actively campaign for Noynoy in my own simple ways. And guess what? He grabbed something from his backpack and surprised me with this:

Here's a close up photo of what he gave me:

Do you like it? My sister-in-law, Edna, does and Orman promised to give her one when she goes home to Gensan. See? He's really generous which shows how appealing he is in doing PR endeavors not only for his bank but also for Magandang Gensan where he gives out his heart and mind. At Day 1 of his family tour yesterday (he's the major sponsor of their sibling mega-country hopping tour, mind you!), all he was thinking was, how his trips can contribute more to the development of Gensan. He's selfless in that even if he was too tired to walk into the Floating Market being our last destination yesterday, he never showed that he's tired by forcing himself to walk on. Then impressed at the setting and the food sold at the Floating Market, he asked his brother Avel if they can do something like that in Gensan. FYI, Orman is one of those behind Gensan's famous Tuna Festival and Kalilangan which, I say, are one of a kind. He's really contagious as he (as well as Avel) motivated us to think of what we can contribute for tourism attraction in Gensan, something naiiba (unique). We (with hubby and Edna) already had this desire before he had manifested such love for our city but now it's getting more defined and burning after my encounter with him.

It's not actually the Noynoy watch only that has drawn my heart closer to this ganda ever so much man. It's his character. On our way home from the whole day tour in Ayudhya yesterday, we were met with a downpour and terrible traffic jam. In heavily jammed Pratunam where their posh hotel is located, our van turned right instead of left missing the way to Baiyoke Suite Hotel. With everyone too tired to walk after the tour, one of us complained that the driver should have just moved back instead of forwarding and following a long jammed narrow lane. Although I didn't say anything, I quite agreed with that thought but Orman sternly yet kindly admonished, "Relax, nakayanan niyo ngang umupo at maghintay kanina nang matagal ngayon pa na malapit na tayo."

No wonder Orman has been reaping one success after another. He has been elevated to top positions handling and leading people of different personalities. He has the heart, the mind and the character to really be on the top all because he's really Ganda Ever 
So Much all throughout.
 Orman is adventurous enough in trying just any kinds of food. Magandang maging bisita, walang kaarte-arte!!! Here, I let him taste raw string beans. Next is raw kangkong (morning glory) in the plate, anyone? It's the Thai way of eliminating food poisoning as these raw veges are believed to be effective antioxidants. I took this photo of him at Tonnam, a riverboat restaurant, famous for its river shrimps tom yum kung.
 
He's also a very affectionate friend. See? He's easily endeared to our Thai friend, Teau, and they look like being friends for so long. He will really make you feel comfortable with him. This photo was taken at Bang Pain Summer Palace. Beside me (in blue) is Orman's very nice bro, Avel.

Capturing the rows of Buddha images with us at Wat (temple) Chai Mongkol  is Orman's sister, Mara. She's so lucky to have such a loving and caring brother like Orman to be taking her to a tour around the world. He's really Ganda Ever So Much to his own family as well, isn't he?

Thanks a lot for the encouragement and for everything, Orman, and Happy 1st Blogoversary to your Ganda Ever So Much blog!  I really appreciate that there are people around like you who care not only of themselves but for others and for their own place as well. More success to reap and blessings to keep flowing!Mwahhhhh!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pencil-Sharpener Analogy


Like these pencils, I want to be sharpened. No matter how painful the process is, I have to bear the pain of being shaped so that I will be able to write or draw quite well that others may know me through my output. With this, I may be able to reach out and influence others. "No pain, no glory."
The pencil can't write very well if it's dull so it needs to be sharpened. We are the pencil and who is our sharpener? It can be our own life's experiences that have taught us some lessons in life. It can be other people around us who shape our views and attitudes in life or people who might have taught us big lessons to learn. Or it could be life's circumstances that might have molded us to be a better person.
So no matter how unbearable the circumstance is that is happening with us right now, let's just look ahead and be optimistic enough that there's always a reason why such thing occurred. It's the way to be sharpened. That's how colorful life is - like a kaleidoscope. If all we see is darkness right now, later will be a glorious brightness. Life is full of contrasts. We are dull like a pencil right now, but if we allow ourselves to be sharpened, our life will become beautiful.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Our Achievements are Nothing Without Him



As expressed in this song, I always want my family to give back the glory to God for all the things we have achieved, it may be great or small. I also thank God even for all the storms that have shaken us. All these have made us strong. Were it not for our past troubles, hubby and I should have not been enjoying our life together as both OFWs. So overcoming any obstacles in life is a great achievement in itself for it gives us strength and will prepare us for a greater challenge. Hubby called what had happened to us, a "perfect storm at a perfect time" I call in God's time. Yes, in Christ alone do we draw our strength in whatever challenge that comes our way.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer's Bounty

"Summer has come and passed..." Well, my boy sings this song by Green Day a lot this summer by practicing plucking it on guitar. Indeed, summer has ended and these kinds of fruits we love are going to last pretty soon. Rainy season has begun and I'm warmly welcoming it with the change of temperature it brings.

My kids have truly enjoyed the fresh lychees, mangosteen, rambutan, lanzones and their most favorite. Guess what is it? It's the fruit that smells like hell but tastes like heaven - Durian. These are one of the great things beautiful summer offers.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obstacles Turning into Opportunities

Here's a very interesting story worth sharing from RexBarker@Joke-Of-The-Day.com
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition. I have proven so quite a number of times.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A simple but fun birthday bash amidst the political crisis

Happy Monday, everyone! Thanks God the tension here is finally over. And even if I'm busy,  I don't want to completely miss the fun with you, guys, so I want to keep up as long as I have the time. It's Mellow Yellow Monday time again and I have lots of yellows here on my baby's 1st birthday held recently. Sorry though for the not so good quality of some photos here as I entrusted my digicam to someone not so familiar with its features when I was very busy hosting the party.

I love sharing this jelly with sliced fresh mango. Oh, so yummy!  Along with more dishes courtesy of the ever-generous Tita Myrns, a guesthouse manager. If you want a very convenient but very affordable place (apartelle style conveniently located) to stay when you're in Bangkok, just let me know. Well, the unrest was just temporary as generally, Bangkok is a very peaceful place, making it a haven for tourists.

His cake was made by the ever jolly Ninang Lee Ann, who just finished a very expensive baking course at the world's renowned La Cordon Bleu.
Oooopppss, that's yellow watermelon forefronted, close to the kids' all-time party fave, hotdog or sausage on stick. Well, the green dish is buko-pandan, courtesy of Ninang Tess (below, in red). She bought most of its ingredients from Pinas except the young coconut (buko) and milk, of course. So it's a taste of home. Sooo grateful as well to SIL Edna, in black shirt holding the baby for sponsoring so many dishes here. I'm so blessed for having many nice friends around sponsoring this and that voluntarily.

 Amidst the political crisis here during my son's birthday, we're very glad everyone still showed up and had fun, at least.

The kids enjoy opening baby's gift.

For more posts with yellow, visit Mellow Yellow Monday.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Mellow Yellow Bikes

Hello, dear friends! Today is declared an emergency holiday here and I miss MYM so I have the time to post. For those who have been asking about our situation here, no, we are not affected. We're on the other side of Bangkok, a bit far from the chaos suffered downtown.

Bicycle has been a popular transportation in the history of Thailand. The picture above is on display at PlearnWan Museum in Hua-Hin, showcasing the old ways of life in the old Kingdom of Siam. Until these days, bicycle is used not only by laborers or lowly people who can't afford four-wheels but even by middle-class employees to go to their workplace and students to school or university.

Here's an antique tricycle displayed at Privacy Beach Resort and Spa, our recent retreat hotel in Pranburi Province, Eastern Thailand.
This antique tricycle has this classic yellow couch decorated with bright sunflowers. Thanks to my daughter for taking all these first 3 photos. She shows a deep interest in photography and she's aware of the memes I have been enjoying. She says, "Mommy, here's for your Mellow Yellow Monday entry," as she shows her captures. Hmmm! Grateful mom.

Biking saves our environment as it doesn't need fuel. It is also a great form of exercise. So I really support my kids for their love for biking.

For more posts with yellow, check out Mellow Yellow Monday.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Sweet Message from Daughter to Mom

Mother's Day Myspace Comments
MyNiceProfile.com (from the bottom of my heart:)

This is the message I received from my dear sweet daughter on Mother's Day.
I may be strict with my kids but I also try my best to be their best friend so that they will be open enough in sharing their secrets, their ups and downs, their joys and disappointments, their fears and frustrations and all they want to vent and pour out.

For more message to mom posts, visit Mommy Moments.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Children learn what they live


Motherly advice is this week's topic at Mommy Moments. I am sharing this very wise poem by Dorothy Nolte to all moms out there. Guess many of you have this at home, too. I bought a hanging poster of this poem before to always remind me of these great pieces of advice for us, moms.

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

Let's do our best to create an environment where we let our kids learn what we want them to be. Teaching them the values we want them to emulate all depends on us, parents. This is mom's greatest responsibility and challenge. 

Happy Moms' Day, everyone! 

P.S. I'm trying to diminish my time with the computer as I'm becoming bad example to my kids. So, less time blogging especially that I'll be doing another thesis pretty soon, rebalancing priorities although I don't want to totally drop this thingie I love doing:)