Easy Chicken in Wine Sauce

Last month, I finally got the chance to ask the question that has been in my head for quite sometime. I had to find the right timing or else he will not take me seriously.  My question was “How can I be a better wife?” . Not that I feel I had been a bad wife. Franco is very expressive so I know he appreciates me.  I just wanted to know how can I be better. I try my very best to be a better mom all the time, so why not make more effort to be a better partner? I tried to anticipate what his answers would be so I can be less defensive and more open minded. Comb your hair at least once a day. Get yourself sexier underwear. Make more effort to get close to my friends. Stop nagging me about my jujitsu trainings. Keep the shelves orderly. Less Aki, more me. No more magazines please. Stop pressuring me to stay awake and drive you to the shuttle terminal. What would he say?

Well, his answer was short. The message was straight to the point. STOP BUYING CHICKEN BREASTS. Haha. For the past couple of months, health has been a priority. We have been eating fish, chicken (well not me. I still don’t eat poultry) and vegetables. I read somewhere that chicken breast fillets are the healthiest because they are fat free. Unfortunately, Franco hates them. He thinks they are heavy and bland. Despite his complaints, I kept buying breast fillets. So, when Franco told to stop buying, I switched to thigh fillets. They are fattier but I guess they are healthier compared to pork and beef, right?

Here is my hubby’s current favorite chicken thigh fillet recipe. This recipe was adapted from my 15 pesos South Beach book. I know it does not look good in the picture but they say it is really good. When Jyl was visiting last month, I had to ask her to stop eating because there won’t be any chicken left for Franco. hehe.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 chicken thigh fillets, fat removed
1/2 cup white wine
3 tomatoes, diced
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Baby Okra

My two month old 2 feet tall okra plant.

I have been wanting to blog about my garden problems but I haven’t decided if I will make separate posts on my slug, snail, whitefly and aphid problems. I did not expect to have these many problems so early in the game. We did not have deal with these pests when we were growing our corn and ampalaya plants. I hate that what is supposed to be my stress- buster is actually stressing me out.

But just like childbirth and parenthood, all the stress and pain seem to go away when you see the fruit of your hardwork.

96 months

Earlier today, a Latin American guy asked me, “Should I find a place here in Manila where I can dance salsa, would you like to join me?” My quick reply was ” Haha. I can’t dance even if my life depended on it.” What I really wanted to tell this nice guy was that my husband got a 4.0 in ballroom dancing in La Salle. Maybe he would want to go to that restaurant too. Haha. I did not tell him that I am married because I did not want to sound assuming.

Anyhoo, about to my ballroom dancing hubby, I am celebrating my 8th year anniversary with him today!  Eight years ago, while we were kissing in my old apartment, I pulled away (or was it him who pulled away?) and asked if we were already a couple.  Haha.  I wasn’t looking when he came into my life. I was still broken hearted because of boyfriend of 7 years left me for a prettier, funnier and more exciting girl. What I thought would be fling for a few months is now a 96 month old relationship that means the world to me.

I have written several love letters to my bebe. This is the first one.  I remember feeling so inspired to write after interviewing a foreigner who told me about his quest to find the girl for him. There was this guy, who went half way around the world looking for his one true love. That person made me realize how lucky that I was/am to be with someone who loves me just the way I want to loved. Franco and I are different in so many ways yet there is no one else I can call bestfriend except for him.

Before you read my love letter, you may want to hop over to the music page of our wedding website. Scroll down and click on Listen. Here is the link.

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You Know You Have A School Boy (or school girl) when..

1.You have to go school supplies shopping. The experience was less stressful for us since we opted to go to a not-so-busy mall.

2. You talk to the school service driver if there is a way that your child is the last to be picked up in the morning and the first to be dropped off after class. Thankfully, the service operator agreed. I worry though for Aki once he starts in the big school. I see school service vans pick up kids here in the village before 6AM. Some kids go home as late at 7PM. Franco said that kids pick up curse words, X-rated stuff and bullying from their busmates.

3.You spend hours labelling all your kid’s stuff. This was quite stressful for me. I know I have no right to be OC since I have the worst handwriting. I could have saved myself from stress had I asked my digitally creative sister to make the labels. After several trials and after learning that I only have a few sticker labels left (Argggh!), I settled for this trying-to-look-like-I’m-not-trying design.  Dear Akira, I am so sorry that your mom has the worst handwriting.I tried many times to come up with a nice design for your labels but this was the best that I could do. Next year, promise, we will have Tita Jana design sticker labels.

4.When you re-read and re-read all the guidelines, policies and questionairres at least five times. I appreciate that Aki’s school asked for information about our family, Aki’s medical history, his potty habits, my instructions on giving first aid and medicines etc. I am not sure if it is common practice among preschools but definitely I am impressed.

5.You attend a parent-teacher orientation for the first time. Normally, I don’t care how I look on weekends but on this special day, I tried to make some effort to look presentable. I did feel a little out of place on Aki’s first day. The other moms looked effortless chick. I was the only mom who was wearing shorts and fit flops. I was the only one who did not take time to dry her hair. Anyhoot, about the orientation, we, parents, were asked to describe our children and explain briefly what were our expectations from the school. Teacher Tina then explained to us their curriculum, their methodology, the K-12 system, and of course the policies.  We were also warned that yayas tend to gossip and sometime flirt with the carpenters working near by.

6.You feel ‘hinayang’ about the tuition whenever your kid has to miss school. Teacher Tina stressed that we should not send our kids to school when they have runny nose. Because of this, I asked Dra Saulog for prescriptions for cough, runny nose and congestion.

7.You get stressed when your child gets a birthday invitation and you don’t have time to look for a gift. I surveyed the mommies at work on how much do they allot for gifts. The trend was clear. They base their gifts on the price range of the gifts that their kids receive. But Aki’s birthday is not until 4 months from now.  How would I know who gives thoughtful gifts? I am thinking of stocking up on the 64-piece crayon sets. One of Aki’s classmates celebrated her 3rd birthday 2 days after the start of school. Because I did not have time to go to the mall, I just re-wrapped a book that I was supposed to give to my friend’s son.

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Akira to Zoltan

I posted here before that I have been looking for a children’s book where the main character is named Akira. I have seen a hundred Davids and Mary’s in my many trips to Booksale but no Akira. I have almost given up hope actually. I thought to have that elusive book, I would have to make one myself. It is my dream to make a children’s book for Aki. I have made three (texture book, feelings book, Father’s Day book)  but what I really want is a book with a story.

I am happy to report that I finally have an Akira book. It is not a story book  but it still is an Akira book. Mega super thanks to my sister in law, who bought this for our little bookworm.

Akira to Zoltan was written by Cynthia Chin-Lee. This inspiring book is about 26 men, one great man for each letter of the alphabet.

Amelia to Zora, the female version of the book, would make a wonderful gift to tween girls.

I like that this book chose influential men from modern history like Pele, Walt Disney and Nelson Mandela. The write-ups are also kid-friendly They are not yet for toddlers but grade schoolers would appreciate knowing that great men used to be children like them and had to overcome obstacles to pursue their dreams. Continue reading

First Day High

First-day-of-school posts are so two weeks ago but 2 weeks ago, I was really busy at work so I am only posting now.

I knew that the actual first day of school would be exciting and busy because of our first day traditions. What I did not expect was that on the night before, I would be panicking and stressed out. I only found out on that day that all the school supplies need to be labeled. All this time, I thought we only needed to label the envelope and the art box. After several trial sessions, I finally settled on this “lay out”.

One of the requirements was a baby picture. Where oh where did my baby go?

Of the traditions that we started, we were not able to continue getting a new haircut days before the first day. Aki was sick and cranky that weekend so a trip to the barbershop seemed extremely dangerous. I also decided not to get Aki a new bag and lunchbox because his old ones were still A-ok.

Anyhoot, the first order of the first day was breakfast! I have always wanted to try making whole wheat pancakes but I keep forgetting to buy whole wheat flour from the Indian grocery. Good thing I found a mix. The nutrition facts seem promising. While mixing our batter, Aki kept saying lulipap!

Here is our First Day of School pancakes.

I blogged about pancake letters here. I learned that the trick is to keep the batter thick so the letters won’t spread. It also helps to keep the ketchup dispensers close to the pan when you are squeezing out the letters.

I actually made meatballs which Aki refused to look at. The pancakes however were a big hit. Aki enjoyed eating them with his hands and creatively transforming the letters e.g. Y to V and h to n.

Special days like this one are made extra-special when you have cupcakes.

Ate Dorina bathed Aki while I made his baon. Here is newly bathed school boy with our first day of school sign.

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The Reason

I have a lot of picture-heavy drafts in my head. Lately, I am getting lazier and lazier to wake up early to edit the pictures and blog.  So here’s a post on random things  Aki did lately.

My 32 month old is the reason why

1. I have dry skin. He discovered my lotion and emptied the bottle.

2. I have  a lot of unflaterring paparrazi-like pictures nowadays. I fear for the safety of my camera!

3. My closet is one big mess! Aki likes to hang out there.

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How do you teach a toddler to pray?

Spirituality is one of my weak points.Last night was another reminder when I realized I can’t remember when was the last time I prayed with Aki.

From my first communion seminars, I was taught that a prayer should have four parts – adoration, asking for forgiveness, thanks giving,  and wishes. I felt the first two were two heavy for a two year old so I just concentrated on teaching Aki to give thanks and ask for a couple of wishes from Jesus.

Mummy and Aki: In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for…

Aki: my pilloh! (my pillow)

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for…

Aki: jajjing pants (jogging pants but he was actually wearing jammies)

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for…

Aki: sando

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for…

Aki: “die”-poh (diaper)

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for our funny Dadeh.

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for our helpful Tateh (referring to Ate Dorina)

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for…

Aki: Benten!

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for…

Aki: light

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for…

Aki: Paloh Leyn-joh! (Power Ranger)

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for…

Aki: head

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for my kind teachers and friendly classmates.

Me: Dear Jesus, thank you for…

Aki: Dingdong Jesus! (He likes saying Dingdong but I have no idea who or what that is. MIL says there is a cartoon that he watches named Dongdong but Google is not giving me any leads)

Me: Now, Aki, let’s tell Jesus about our wishes. Jesus, please

Aki: Drink Inom! (in English, Jesus, please drink water. hahaha)

Me: Jesus, please I want..

Aki: Lulipap! (lollipop)

Me: Amen!

Aki: Amen!

School Shopping in Cash and Carry Makati

If I were to list my top 3 favorite malls, I would not have a hard time with my top 1. That will surely go to Waltermart/Makati Cinema Square. The top 2 and 3 would be a toss between Edsa Central and Cash and Carry Makati. Their common denominator? Booksale, Japan Home/American Bazaar and airconditioned tiangge. I also like that these malls are rarely crowded. So for our shopping adventure in preparation for Aki’s school year, we went to Cash and Carry Makati.

I knew that the lines in the cashiers of National bookstore would be long so it would best to avoid the usually frequented malls. The NB branch in CC was busy but I bet it was not half as busy as the branch in SM Bicutan. There were only two people before us when we were paying. What surprised me though, was that a couple of folders here, some fasteners there plus the other items in the checklist of school supplies would translate to being almost a thousand pesos poorer! Ang mahal ng school supplies ha!

Aki’s school specifically indicated the brand of the art materials that they prefer.  I asked Teacher Tina if we really have to follow and she said yes. It would be easier for them to teach technique and concepts if we go by the recommendations. In case you are wondering, these are the art materials that we bought

What I was not so happy about is that the school is strict on the type of shoes. Kids should only wear velcro rubber shoes. I undersand that it will take the teachers forever if they have to tie 20 shoelaces.It is just that we have a lot of shoes, most of them hand-me-downs, so buying a new pair feels impractical. I hope I don’t sound like a whiner. I really really love Aki’s school. It just that because it is our first time to have a school boy. New rules and new costs still shock us. Will blog about the school soon.

Anyhoot, back to the shoes. Again, Cash and Carry is a good choice for shoe shopping. There were fewer choices but I did not mind. There were far fewer customers which meant better customer service and less waiting time. The most affordable but still expensive if you ask me, brand for toddler velcro shoes in the department store was Pitter Patter Peter something. A pair costs somewhere between 550-750 bucks.

Not a shoe person. Good for us! It was Aki’s second time to buy shoes. The first time was back in 2010.

Just to show you how empty spacious the department store is two weeks before the start of the school year.

School Supplies? Check
New Shoes? Check

Next on the list were the ID pictures.

Good luck, Kuya Photographer!

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Aki Meets his Idol

At the tender age of 32  months, my little bunny Aki already knows what he wants to do for the rest of his life. His ambition is to become a Traffic Enforcer. Aki was in awe the first time he saw one when we went to Araneta in January.

It all started when I introduced him to the concept of stoplights. Since then, he gets  extremely excited when we see stoplights, traffic enforcers, and booms. Some weeks ago, I talked to our village head guard if Aki can stay in the guard house for a few minutes so he can experience lifting the boom every time a car comes in and out.  For the longest time, I had been arranging a meet and greet session with Kuya Arnel, the traffic enforcer outside our village. I have become friends with Kuya Arnel ever since he noticed that it takes me forever to cross the streets. Since then, he has been stopping the cars for me. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to reschedule the meet-and-greets. Continue reading