Monday, December 5, 2011

Of Indian food and purple jewellry

This past weekend, my daughter Sophia had her first taste of authentic Indian food. Her face contorted in a funny way after her first tase of Indian curry on rice, but she kept asking for more. She's so much like me when it comes to food - adventurous and open-minded. Samantha, on the other hand, had her first "taste" of choosing her own earrings - colored purple, of course! Their mother Amy and I are so proud of them.

Our daughters may be growing older and bigger by the day, but they will always be our babies for as long as we live.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another one for the bucket-list - globe trotting

Here's a great idea for those couple such as myself and Amy, who'd want to spend a few days alone, away from their kids. Imagine having the luxury to trot around the globe, enjoying the scenes, taking-in the sites and sampling the cuisine from one country to another on 4 or 5 different continents.

I read an article recently at Lifestyle section on top 10 getaways without the kids. The title itself shot me a few years ahead with me and my wife back packing it around the world to these 10 destinations, a handful of memory cards for the camera in our pockets, a netbook to write about our adventures and empty stomachs to sample the different local cuisines.

Not only is this list inside my bucket-list, it also makes on my list of top TO-DOs with Amy before I retire (or when I retire, which ever comes first); something I wish for me and Amy to do while we're still strong and able. 

Cheers to life!


1. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Thanks to Vegas, we know there is plenty of fun to be had in the desert, but nothing comes close to Dubai; the adult playground set in the piping hot deserts of the United Arab Emirates. From the world's largest man-made islands to the entrancing gold markets and underwater hotels, everything in Dubai is bigger, better and more luxurious. Feel free to spend some time being overwhelmed by shopping malls and markets known as souks, then tee off at world-renowned golf courses, stop at the only Formula 1 theme park and kick up some fun with a Jeep trip into the sand dunes.
2. Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
In 1995, the old town of Lunenburg on Canada's east coast was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its survival as a British colonial settlement. This quaint coastal village off Mahone Bay is the perfect place to book a bed-and-breakfast or small cottage and explore the history, do a little kayaking or simply unwind. Let Lunenburg's small-town charm and the tranquil seaside views win you over. When looking for things to do, visit Bluenose, the world-famous wooden racing schooner, check out the Fisheries Museum and learn about the salty men who navigated the Atlantic, then head over to the Ironworks Distillery for artisan spirit tastings.
3. St. Lucia, Antilles
Just getting away isn't always enough - sometimes it takes a tropical island in the middle of the ocean for us to feel completely free of our duties and responsibilities. Home to the grand Piton mountains, the world's only drive-in volcano and warm crystal blue waters, St. Lucia is an ideal Caribbean getaway for any relaxation-seeking couple. For a quick and rewarding hike, check out the Saltibus Waterfall Trail, which leads you through mountaintop rainforests to several picturesque waterfalls, perfect for cooling off. If you're not interested in leaving the beach, take advantage of renowned scuba and snorkeling, or hop aboard a sailboat and cruise around the island.
4. Napa Valley, California
Even though early autumn is Napa Valley's most popular season for visitors, we still think it's the best time to take part in the grape harvesting festivities known as Crush. It's one of the Valley's most exciting times and vineyards all over hold special events and celebrations. Napa boasts more than 200 vineyards, world-renowned spas and a dense population of Michelin-rated restaurants, so there are plenty of opportunities for you and your significant other to spoil yourselves. The scenery alone is worth the trip, and we recommend viewing it from a hot air balloon or the Napa Valley Wine Train, which stops at several vineyards.
5. Portofino, Italy
The words "Italian Riviera" are usually enticing enough to dust off the suitcases, and Portofino is considered to be the most beautiful harbor of them all. What was once a quaint fishing village is now a popular boating and yachting destination. The best place to stay is on a boat, and there are plenty of exquisite restaurants and high-end boutiques that line the harbor. If sleeping on dry land is more your style, travel the sea by water taxi to other towns along the Riviera, including Genoa and San Fruttuoso. And, if you haven't seen enough breathtaking scenery, head up to Castello Brown to check out the beautiful views and stunning gardens.
6. Cozumel, Mexico
Cancun might have a reputation for college kids, foam parties and a heavy late-night scene, but on the island of Cozumel, just a short distance away, it's a different story. As a tourist destination, Mexico is known for catering to its visitors at spectacular resorts where the possibilities for fun in the sun are endless - and Cozumel is no exception. Aside from observing the beautiful surroundings, consider hanging out at the beach, getting in some scuba diving, taking advantage of resort activities like tennis and yoga, or catching up on some reading by the pool. Best of all, there are plenty of resorts on the island that only accommodate adults, so you don't need to deal with anyone else's rugrats.
7. Stirling, Scotland
A bit smaller than some of Scotland's other cities, Stirling is an ideal place for parents who are looking for a quiet getaway. Packed with history, lush rolling hills, charming bed-and-breakfasts, and plenty of outdoor activity, there's a little something for everyone. Whether you're a history buff or not, The National Wallace Monument, in honor of William Wallace, is a must see. (That's for you, Braveheart fans.) Then tour the Stirling Old Town Jail, visit Stirling Castle and check out the Old Bridge. If golfing is on the list, you won't be disappointed with the abundant greenways that meander through the flawless landscape.
8. Valle Nevado, Chile
A day on the ski slopes is a great way for families to bond and for kids to put to use some of that excess energy, but with the hassle of gloves, hats, equipment and the occasional cold-weather whining, a ski trip for two could be just what you need. Since good skiing in summer months is hard to come by, think about heading south to Valle Nevado in Chile, where it's still winter - if you've got a chunk of time to spend. It's considered the best ski resort in South America, and is comparable to something you might experience in the Alps. Valle Nevado even offers world-famous Heli-skiing and boarding for those needing a bigger rush.
9. Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Conveniently located between Jacksonville and St. Augustine is the famed Ponte Vedra Beach. You may think the only thing Ponte Vedra has to offer is a ridiculous golf scene - which it does - but that's not the sole reason to visit this swanky coastal community. When not teeing off, visitors take full advantage of exquisite spa treatments offered at several multi-diamond spa resorts, hit around the tennis ball, stop off at beautifully manicured beaches, check out quaint and unique shops, and partake in other activities you indulge in when the kids aren't around. And no Ponte Vedra Beach experience goes without a look into the Spanish colonial history stretching back as far as 1513.
10. Lavaux, Switzerland
The vineyard terraces of Lavaux may not be on your travel radar, but they should be. There is evidence to suggest that these terraces were used to grow grapes for wine during the Roman Empire, and they have now been inducted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Settled along the coast of placid Lake Geneva are a string of small villages connected by the grape vines of the ancient terraces. Travel between the villages by foot, stopping for picnics and wine tastings, and spend the night at bed-and-breakfasts as you go. Or, take the train, which stops in many small towns. If travel within the autumn months is possible, make sure to have the camera handy for some truly stunning fall foliage photographs.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The anatomy of vegetables according to Sam

We had an interesting conversation with Samantha last night over dinner. While she was focused on her hot miso soup, she was at her usual self chatting away asking questions left and right, but a few set of question caught her mom and I by surprise.

Sam: "Daddy, what's in the soup?"
Daddy: "Umm ... I'm not sure ..."
Sam: "Daddy, its egg and cheese and vegetables!" (...thinking that the color of the soup and the tofu came from egg and cheese).
Daddy: "Oh, okay. Good" (...winking at Amy)
Sam: "Daddy, what's in the vegetables?"
Mommy: "More vegetables, baby"
Sam: "No Mommy, vitamins!"

Amy and I were stared at each other, wide-eyed and broke into laughter. Our precious Sam, getting sharper by the day, outsmarting me and her mom.

Samantha is transitioning into another phase in her young years. From the terrible-two stage, she is now entering the inquisitive stage where her curiosity is peaking and she throws questions at us at every minute of every day. Although we find it annoying at times, particularly when her mom and I feel tired due to lack of sleep, we try our best to entertain her questions and answer them the best and most understandable way possible.

At the end of the day, what matters is that we give Samantha the attention that she needs. She already feels some form of competition with her sister Sophia when it comes to getting attention, but we try our best to keep it equal between the two girls.

Hmm ... I wonder what Samantha has next in her arsenal of surprises?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Do birthday wishes still count beyond 30 years?

With just a few winks away from my 31st birthday, I take a break from work for just a few minutes and take stock of what is it that I want as a wish for my day. Hmm ...

To be honest, I do have a lot of wants ... but what I truly need and deeply want is just to be with my wife and kids. I can just easily wish for a car, an honest to goodness vacation or perhaps a road trip - but these shall come in time, in His time when I really deserve it. But right now, there is one thing I know in my heart that I truly deserve and need, which is something that I cannot get enough of - and that is good quality time with my lovely wife and energetic kids.

Whether we'd be out malling or just at home doing chores, as long as I'm with my family and decent food on the table, I'd be happy.

FYI - it would also be nice if my wife and I can take this 13-day fundamentals classes. Being foodies and aspiring restaurateurs that we are, we'd very much like to be up to par with other people in this field.

Interesting options ...

My wife, Amy, warned me that just when I think I'm settling down with my new company, other opportunities will still present itself to me. True enough, over a handful of companies and head hunters have been contacting me, inviting me to apply to their company, most of which have been offering me a project management job - the same role as my current role. While I'm flattered for even being considered, I am also somewhat at a loss because with each option comes with it an inherent risk.

Right now, I'm actually happy and comfortable with the prospects of my career with my new job. I have been with this new company for a little over two months and compared to the companies that I've worked for in the past 10-years (all of which are BPO companies), the pace here is somewhat more relaxed. Deadlines are tight but delays are forgivable, the work is easier to manage especially when it comes to working in projects. Although the general population in this company is more or less "tenured", interacting with them is easier although they do have that certain resistance to change, which I am trying to bring about - the same purpose for which I was hired in the first place.

And now here comes a-knocking at my door, companies from the BPO industry as well as other non-BPO companies. Despite setting their expectations on my expected salary/compensation package by laying down my current package, they're still very much interested - which, in turn, gets me interested as well. At 31-years of age, I'm still young enough to explore other opportunities. And since my daughters are very much still young, I still have that certain level of flexibility. However, I am growing weary of moving from one company to another, and I'm longing to just plan myself at an established company where I can eventually retire later on. I am not closing my doors to other opportunities, however, but I am finding it difficult now to make a decision. But all of those is too early and pre-emptive to even think about since none of these companies have given me a solid and clear offer, but the prospect of receiving a higher offer truly appeals to me and tickles my curiosity.

Amy is right, I should choose wisely. Although she raises her hand away from swaying my decision, I am still thankful that she is always here by my side in helping me think things through. On one hand, I am now working for a stable company in the life insurance industry. Although my time is not as flexible as it was when  I was in the BPO industry, I am still enjoying being back to the normal working hours, which is 8AM to 5PM. But I do miss having flexible working hours and having the freedom to work from home - which is a perk that the other companies are potentially offering me as part of their value proposition. Nonetheless, it will all boil down to whatever they're prepared to offer. I believe that I am flexible enough to work in any management role and help them in their growth. But that decision, however, will definitely have to wait until such time I do receive an official offer. Amy and I will choose whether or not to cross another bridge, if and when we get there. For now, I am thankful that I am still blessed to be able to put food on the table for my family; that I am still able to sit down with them for dinner, wash them up and tuck them into bed at night.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Love As I See It

Fatherhood has brought many changes to my life: my routine, my schedule and even my social life ... but one thing is for sure, Fatherhood has change me, changed for the better. Through my wife and my daughters, I have learned to love others more than myself. Through my family, I have learned the importance of self sacrifice for the benefit of my children. Through my daughters eyes, I learned to appreciate the simple things in life like play time, coloring, singing, dancing like there's no tomorrow. Through my daughter's touch, I have come to learn that I can leave my troubles at the door and just focus on what matters most to me. Through my daughters' kisses, I have come to learn the taste of love - and it is beyond sweet, beyond warmth and beyond fulfilling. As I see it, my daughter IS Love - flesh and blood, body and soul from head to toe, for her Daddy to hug, to kiss and to hold.

This is my entry to "Love as I see it", a project of flowers Philippines.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Another new beginning

Today is my first day at Philam Life as a Senior Project Manager for the Strategic Initiatives Office. Unlike my experiences in the past, this time around I find myself going for a slow start - slow but very much welcoming as I am enjoying this pleasant break from the hustle and bustle world of BPO.

I now find myself going to work at 6:30 in the morning, right around the time when my kids wake up from their deep slumber. Right before the sun rises, I made sure that breakfast was already cooking and any dishes washed the previous night all dried and stowed away in their respective cupboards and shelves.

A few minutes later while I cooke up breakfast, my wife comes down to join me in the kitchen. Even during the first few minutes of her day, she's still very much lovely, beautiful and sexy with her hair flowing down her shoulders. And yes, even those sleepy eyes are sexy to my liking . Although sleepy as I was, I was still very much excited to get to work this morning and see what was in-store for me. That excitement, however, was temporarily quenched by a familiar morning site - one that I haven't seen for the past 3 years: the early morning rush! Throngs of people joined me on the street trying to catch a shuttle ride to our offices. Without any semblance of an organized line, I found myself walking slowly farther away from the usual stop until I finally catch a ride - 20-minutes later.

After what seemed forever, I finally arrived at the office still fresh and sleepy at the same time. My new co-workers Alvin, Joel, Gary, Jackie and Sir Allan (my boss) welcomed me quite warmly and went out of their way to make me feel at home.

Its 30-minutes from quitting time and the day just seemed to go forever so slowly. I have not accomplished much, except for reading a couple of process documents and storing them on my office laptop making sure everything is properly labelled and organized.

Before I called it a day, I took a few minutes to visit our Father by the Philam Life chapel in the middle of the building. I remembered to thank Him for watching over me and my family; for helping us get by despite our slim financial capabilities. Amy and I are still thankful for we are still much more blessed than most people. I pray that He take me home safely to my three girls whom I missed so much today. I can't wait to hear their stories and for me to tell them a few of mine of what happened today. And what do you know? I can access from here :)

All in a day's work of being a father trying his best to be a good provider, a better father and the best husband a wife should have even though at times I fail, I always remind myself to get back up because I have more to live for and to be thankful for than I ever have thought.

See you in a few minutes my Honey and my two little sweethearts!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sin of Envy

Other than the sin of gluttony, I guess the other sin that I'm guilty of would be the sin of envy.

Samantha has started going back to school, and this time she goes every week day as opposed to an MWF schedule last school year. This time, she starts with the Nursery class - her 1st official year in kindergarten. She's been eager to go back to school and play with her teachers and classmates.

And now that I've started taking her to school again every morning, I would now always see that beautiful house a few yards from the school, a house where one of Sam's classmates live. And I would always wonder how his parents could afford to have something built to their expectations. More importantly, I would always wonder if I can ever provide my wife and kids the same luxuries I keep seeing in that home. They have three brand new cars, a big lot with a big house - even the mother seems so happy and relaxed.

Yes, I have sinned and continue to sin for being envious of this. But perhaps envy isn't as bad as the bible says. If you channel envy properly, you can use it as a source of inspiration - a tool for you to reach your own goals.

I am about to close a big chapter in my professional life. In a few days, I will officially leave the industry that I have worked and built a career on for the past 10 years. I am about to embark at an opportunity that will, hopefully, get me to my goals.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Daddy moment

After a light lunch and a quick conference call at home, I gave my kids a shower, helped them brush their teeth and dressed them up. I prepared their milk and switched-on the air conditioner in preparation for their nap.

Samantha has her own way of being sweet to her Daddy. She bade me 'Good Night', gave me a kiss and finished her milk. Less than 5-minutes later, she was snoring like me!

Sophia, as charming as she is, took my hand and made it gently pat her bottom. I have the habit of patting my kids' bottoms til they fall asleep. Samantha grew out of it quickly before she turned 1, but Sophia couldn't go to sleep without it. Around 8 minutes later, she fell asleep a well.

These are the moments that I will cherish. The movie "A Walk to Remember" was playing while I was putting my girls to sleep, and exactly at that moment when Mandy Moore's character was on the hospital bed while talking to her daddy. Dying of cancer, she told her dad that she loves him.

What a simple yet cherishable daddy moment for me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Its not easy being a parent nowadays. With the cost of just about every basic commodity going up in light of an unhealthy economy, the term "making ends meet" is becoming a well worn-out cliche.

Waking-up early in the morning before dawn to prepare the house for yet another challenging day, then shuttling off after lunch for a 1.5-hour, 60-km commute to work to the salt mines - all while thinking about how to stretch the budget decently - all these and more in the day of a life of modern young father such as myself (did I say young?!).

But one has to wonder, if I think my load is heavy, what about my wife who stays at home practically 24x7, taking care of the kids and the house all on her own, a year after giving birth to Sophia? Just thinking about it makes me remember the addage: "The mind is willing, but the body is not."

I find myself complaining too much about how heavy my load is, but I don't give enough credit to what Amy goes through on a daily basis. I don't even think that I thank her enough or even appreciate the effort that she's been pulling around to help keep things going for our young and small family. Just how selfish and self-centered am I? Proud of it, I am not.

Words aren't enough to show just how important Amy is to me nor would actions be enough to show her gratitude and appreciation. It takes a lifetime - sometimes even more - just to prove and show that you love and appreciate having a wife whose just so gosh darn supportive, even in the middle of hurdles and obstacles.

With Valentine's day just around the corner, and without a strap of cash to bring her out on a decent date, I find myself in a heavy bind. But do I still have a plan in mind? Of course I do. Do I think that showing her an extra ounce of love, attention and understanding that day would me extra "pogi points" with my wife? Well not right away, but its a start - right? Its something you should do as a husband on a daily basis. We men gots ta earn our women's love and respect, y'all!

But what the heck is my point anyway? I haven't blogged for some time now and here I am just typing away my thoughts. My mind is so full of interesting problems trying to balance each other out that I just need to unload it through writing. But most importantly, my mind keeps focusing back on what matters to me the most - my wife, my partner, and believe-it-or-not my knight in shining armor! And I would like nothing more than to pamper her, to cook for her, massage her and even bathe her , to cuddle up with her at the end of the day. For nothing gives me great pleasure than to make my wife happy at the end of each day, even though at times my immature self gets in the way - God bless her soul for putting up with me all these years.

I love you Amy Antonio Tabunar!