His name is MAX!

Yes, so now you’ve met my new love. But I never did get to tell you his name, right?

Well, his name is MAX. I have my own private pet name for him but for the world, this shiny, new hunk of metal is MAX – short for My Apple Xtreme! 🙂

I guess having the power of the earlier Macbook Pros makes my baby qualify to be called Xtreme (at least till the next more powerful model comes along!).

It was also as close to a man’s name as I could think of and quite close to “Mac”, which he is. And it also reminds me of Max Alvarado whom you would either love or hate for his contrabida roles in Pinoy movies till his death in 1997. I used to be amused when he did comedic roles as a bad guy and the name Max does conjure images of a bouncer.

Do you give names to your laptops? Do share them with me so I know Max is not alone…

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Meet My New Love!

It took me a while to take the plunge. Over a year to be exact.

So much time was spent thinking about it. My kids were on both sides of the fence. Two of them were fierce lovers of M; the other 2 went for W. Choosing either way was agony. I was torn!

My comfort zone was with W. After all, I had known W for the longest time — at work and at home. I knew what made W tick. There was no need for adjustments. He knew what I wanted; I knew his strengths and weaknesses. He was not perfect but he worked for me. As they say, why fix what ain’t broken?

But a few weeks ago, I made one of the most important decisions in my life. I chose M over W.

While my love affair with M is still brief and the novelty is still there, it is definitely not a whirlwind one as I had over a year to think about him. And I find more and more things about M to love as the days pass.

There is so much still to learn about M. He is still mysterious and fascinating and surprises me now and then with unexpected things. I hope M will not disappoint as I am wishing this will be a “for life” love affair.

This yogini is in love!

And here’s a picture of my new love — Continue reading

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Want a FREE handbag from Handbag Planet?

Thanks, Cathy, for giving me a heads-up on this.

HandbagPlanet.com is giving away 24 handbags in 24 hours on Oct. 15, 2008 as part of their website launch. I was able to check out their 24 handbags and I must say some of them looked fabulous!

This is what their website says:

Handbag Planet is almost here. To celebrate the October 15, 2008 launch, we are giving away a free handbag every hour for 24 hours on the day of the launch. Our high fashion, trendy handbags are inspired by popular designer brands and priced between $30 and $80.

After signing-up in one easy step below, you can select the handbag you would like to win. There’s absolutely no catch – this means no shipping/handling fees or credit card required. Yes, it’s really that simple!

Caveat: I do not guarantee anything out of anyone entering this contest but you may want to check out their Privacy Policy and their Official Rules as well before you decide to join.

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Mooncakes and the Mid-Autumn Festival

Tomorrow, September 14, is officially the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the August Moon or Ghost Month). This period changes from year to year and does not fall into the August western calendar.

These past weeks, mooncakes (locally referred to as hopia) had been selling all over Chinese stores again. While the daily fare hopia is available year round, these special mooncakes come in all kinds of variety (with nuts, one egg, 2 eggs, watermelon seeds, fruits and newer variants).

The origin of the mooncake is quite interesting. In Wikipedia, its history is given as follows:

Mooncakes were used as a medium by the Ming revolutionaries in their espionage effort to secretly distribute letters in order to overthrow the Mongolian rulers of China in the Yuan dynasty. The idea is said to be conceived by Zhu Yuanzhang and his advisor Liu Bowen, who circulated a rumor that a deadly plague was spreading and the only way to prevent it was to eat the special mooncakes. This prompted the quick distribution of the mooncakes, which were used to hide a secret message coordinating the Han Chinese revolt on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month.

Another method of hiding the message was printed in the surface of mooncakes as a simple puzzle or mosaic. In order to read the encrypted message, each of the 4 mooncakes packaged together must be cut into 4 parts each. The 16 pieces of mooncake, must then be pieced together in such a fashion that the secret messages can be read. The pieces of mooncake are then eaten to destroy the message.

Year after year during this time, we buy boxes and boxes of mooncakes and give them out to the kids’ teachers, family members and friends. Even my officemates get to taste these. It is a tradition we happily celebrate. It has become so popular that once, when I gave a couple of boxes of buco pie to a Jesuit priest in one of the kids’ schools, he happily exclaimed that he finally had something DIFFERENT from the mounds of mooncakes he received.

The kids really look forward to these mooncake dice games. Six (6) dice are thrown into a deep bowl and depending on the number combination, you win mooncakes (hopia) starting from the small ones (about 1 inch in diameter) to the humongous grand prize of a hopia which is about 8 inches in diameter.

Mooncake Dice Game

Mooncake Dice Game (taken from the Learning Tots' Workshop Inc. site)

Not all Chinese observe this game as this is a tradition common to Xiamen in Southern Fujian Province. In fact, C1’s friends from Guangzhou (Guangdong Province) do not know about this! Most Pinoys of Chinese heritage come from Xiamen though, the reason for its popularity over here.

Since the kids’ schools used to hold these games in their classrooms, we thought of doing the same at home. Every year, we would invite different Pinoy friends over to introduce them to the tradition and we would have a whole night of clean fun, laughter and what have you.

For the first 3 years, we would just buy the mooncakes (actually large hopias) from the Chinese store. Later, we decided to change and spice up the game a bit by giving away practical items instead. One year, it was school supplies. Another year, kitchen items. Another year, home items. Once, we had everyone bring white elephant items as prizes.

Circumstances this year may not allow us to host this game. Schedules and concerns about my father-in-law’s health condition may make this a more somber time. But there will be other occasions to do so. And I hope that the kids, when they grow up, will remember this annual tradition and make it a special time in their own families.

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Nestle Pops Hosts Family Dinner!!!!

The launch of Nestle Pops was held at the Nestle Creamery at Roxas Blvd. This was the Magnolia Ice Cream Plant of my childhood days and as we drove up the driveway, I remembered the time when our school was given a tour of the entire plant and we did not mind that we were asked to don these woolen oversized coats because those rooms were wintry cold!

Last June 26, I took the whole family (well not exactly all since hubby was not there) consisting of my Mom, brother, sister, the 4 kids, C2’s boyfriend and his sister. They call this in Filipino — HAKOT! (bring everyone) 🙂

(Dine at the buffet table)

(the family I brought along — minus C2 and her boy friend who arrived after this pic was taken)

Just for that evening, Nestle prepared for us several computers on which the bloggers could try out the Get Your Pop On online game. In this game you use the mouse to flick Nestle Pops into the mouth of 3 band members while they are singing a song.

Not only did we get to try the game for ourselves but Nestle was offering up for grabs a Lomo camera to the blogger with the highest points scored in just ONE game.

Now I am NOT a gamer and here were my 4 kids who love to play such games. Unfortunately, no substitution allowed as this game was counted only for bloggers. So this momma had to use whatever skills she had to play the game (which turned out inutile).

The score to beat early in the game was 45 and the blogger who eventually beat that score was Arpee, with a score of 59. Congrats, Arpee! Good thing you did not come up against my son, M2, because his first game was a whopping 71!

(Arpee with his newly won Lomo)

The service crew of Nestle Creamery treated us to a dance number (although the title of the song escapes me now as it is way past my generation!).

Julie was there also with daughter Trixie. Unfortunately, we were seated on the opposite side of the room so we had no chance to talk much except for a few minutes after the party when we were both waiting for our rides.

(with Julie & Trixie)

Other bloggers at the party were Dine (who brought practically the whole clan) and Toni (of Wifely Steps) who I had been interested in meeting for so long.

We were one of the last people to leave Nestle Creamery. M1 and M2 were a bit fidgety and M2 kept asking me for ice cream. So it was a blessing when Mads of Nestle came over to chat and offered the boys free ice cream (again!). M2, my outspoken boy, immediately asked if he could have a banana split (kids these days are so much more outspoken!).

(M2 watching the banana split production line)

We 3 ended up sharing that one banana split (more calories! but who’s counting???).

All bloggers came away with a huge styrofoam container so when we got home, we opened it up and this was what was inside.

Thanks once again to Nestle Creamery for hosting the bloggers and our families.

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When a Child Is No Longer a Child

This week, I matured one degree as a parent again.

Summertime is when the children go to the province to be with my in-laws. This year at least, it was just our 2 boys. The older one, M1 (16), spent most of his days helping out with the family business. I guess in Chinese households this is the norm and M1, being the oldest boy of the oldest son, fits into this mold.

M2 (14), on the other hand, is still a playful boy. He worked last summer but this summer refused to do so as he said he wanted time with his cousins. Oh well….

But I am digressing from my point.

This Tuesday, M1 flew back to Manila on his own. And last Thursday, M2 also did the same.

Being the mother that I am, I naturally asked hubby to let them travel together. It would be one less trip to the airport and they could be together for the flight. Well hubby insisted that it was time to teach them to fly on their own. So that ended all discussions.

On the days of their flights, I admit feeling anxious. Anything could go wrong. They could lose their boarding pass. Or lose something like money or their cellphone. Or bad weather could divert the plane (this already happened to me and the 2 girls and it was NO pleasant experience).

But everything turned out smoothly. In fact, M2 rang me up from the provincial airport to gush about the newly renovated airport. Looked like I was worrying more than they were!!!

So in short, both boys came home safely and they are back with me now, squeezing the last precious summer hours left with friends and with their computer games.

As I reflect on this episode, I do so with mixed emotions.

I am happy because my sons have grown wings and are learning to fly on their own. But in some strange way, I also feel a tinge of sadness…..because they no longer need me as much as they used to.

A lesson in letting go. A lesson in trusting. A lesson on making my own life the way I would really want to because in the end, as our children leave the nest, we are really left with our selves.

What would your life be like without your children around?

If you are in this stage of life, think about it. Pursue your own dreams and aspirations with a passion. Do things you have always wanted but shelved as a result of time for your children. And start making a life worth living for yourself.

May your life be always beautiful, good and worthwhile — not just for YOU but for others as well.

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