Posts filed under ‘Midlife’

Journey to Honeyville

cavitex

 

We just finished wrapping up our busy season at work. So here I am with some extra time on my hands, and I have decided to update my blog.

It has been 3 years since my last post and a lot of things have happened since then. To keep myself from repeating the same thing, please check my About page for updates about me and the kids.

In addition to what’s there, I have also travelled back to the Philippines this past March. Yes, after 23 years! I was very excited preparing for the trip, but at the same time I was sort of anxious. Imagine, it has been a long time since I was back home. I didn’t even know if I’d feel at home there, if I can still connect with my relatives, my aunts, my cousins. Will they like my pasalubong? Are they expecting a lot? Will they be disappointed that I didn’t bring designer labels? Will I manage to navigate my way to the places I want to visit? Will I be able to commute by bus and jeepney on my own, or will I always need a chaperone?

But you know what? The minute I got there, I realized how silly those fears were. Once I started meeting my cousins, it was just like old times. Non-stop stories about our childhood, our present lives, our work, our kids. We also shared stories about our partners, broken relationships, dyeing hair and getting highlights, ingrown toenails, etc. And as for finding my way, I did manage to find my way to the mall and back to the condo where my mother and I stayed. 🙂 And I think, if I had stayed longer, I would have managed to get on the jeepney on my own.

My vacation in the Philippines was only 3 weeks long, but I tried to make the most of it. I visited a few tourist spots, some of them with my cousins, some great bonding time there. And of course one place I made sure I get to visit was my childhood town of Noveleta, Cavite. Oh boy, that was one sentimental trip!  As I looked out the window of the bus as we drove along Cavitex, I thought, this is my “Journey to Honeyville.” That’s the name I chose for this blog before I changed it to “niceheart.” And as I try to revive this blog, I am bringing Journey to Honeyville back.

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July 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm Leave a comment

To see or not two zee

eye chart

My 11-year old son and I went to see the optometrist together a few weeks ago. He was due for his annual exam and I haven’t had an exam in like four to five years. I have been accompanying my kids to these exams since my oldest one was eight, and he’s 19 now. So that has been a long time now. And I already know the drill. The doctor will ask them to read the letters on the eye chart. And then he or she will ask them to look through this instrument that has different sets of lenses to determine the prescription strength.

On this particular visit with my 11-year old son, I let him go first. When he was finished, Dr. Opto asked me to get on the chair. She asked me to read the letters on the wall. At first the letters were big and I had no trouble reading them. As she changed the slides, the letters got smaller and it took me longer to read them. Then she made me look through the different sets of lenses and when I told her which ones gave me the best vision, she wrote down my prescription.

As we were walking out of the room to follow Dr. Opto to the lobby, my son whispered to me, “Mommy, she said letter, not number.”

“I know. Why? What did I say?” I asked him.

“You said two. It was the letter Z.”

“Yeah, I realized that after I read it. Well, it looked like a two to me when I was reading it.”

“Oh, mommy,” he said shaking his head.

🙂

September 5, 2009 at 5:54 pm 2 comments

How I lost 20 pounds and kept it off

First of all, I’m not a health and diet expert. So you won’t see me writing about calorie counting or doing any kind of exercise regimen. I’ve shed off 20 pounds and I have managed to keep it off, for about a year now. And since it’s the start of a new year and I know that there are people who make New Year’s resolutions and I also know that “to lose weight” is most likely to be on that list, I thought I’d share with you how I lost weight. Maybe it will give some hope and inspiration to those who, like me in the past, has been unsuccessful, no matter how I cut my portions at dinner, cut back on softdrinks (soda, pop), and did a half-hour walking.

How did I gain the weight?

In 2001, I started working at home. My three boys were then ages 3, 7 and 11. My youngest son was in daycare and the high fees were putting a big strain on our budget. When the company I work for offered the work-at-home program, I immediately grabbed it. I pulled my son out of daycare and looked after him at home while I worked. This opportunity also gave me a chance to spend more time with my growing kids. We got to sit down together at breakfast before they went to school, and I was also at home when they came back from school. Oh, how I loved working at home. I didn’t have to rush in the morning, or the kids for that matter. Less stress. I also didn’t have to dress up. It was so comfortable. So comfortable that I took my time at breakfast, took long lunches, munched on snacks – potato chips, M&Ms, candies – I have a sweet tooth, you see.

I didn’t gain the weight right away. It happened gradually. I didn’t notice anything until after about three or four years. My usual attire at home was just a plain T-shirt and my elasticized pants. So I didn’t really notice the expanding waistline. What I noticed was that I would sometimes pant when I went up and down the stairs when I did the laundry. Or when I had to walk for more than 10 minutes. Well, once in a while I did have to get dressed up when we were invited to birthday parties, and then I would notice that most of my decent clothes won’t fit me anymore and I’d have to buy a new blouse or new pants. And then I’d see myself in the pictures and I’d see the double chin or the big derriere, or the love handles (flabby mid-section). No wonder my youngest son would ask me if I was gonna have another baby. At first I thought that he wanted a baby sister or a baby brother. And then he would sometimes call me fat and I realized then it was because of my big tummy. I looked pregnant to him. And when I saw that picture where I looked like I have two sets of boobs, that was kind of depressing

Taking action.

So I started to do something about it. First, I stopped drinking softdrinks. There was a time when I’d drink a glass of Coke at lunch, at snack time and then at supper. I remember Dr. Phil saying on his show that in order to stop eating or drinking something that you want to avoid is to stop buying it. Well, I didn’t actually stop buying them. I would buy just one or two 2-liter bottles per week. For the kids, I would say.

softdrinks-x

The famous doctor also showed the viewers how to eat a balanced meal. Imagine that your plate is divided in four parts. You put your starch (rice or potatoes) on one quarter of your plate, your meat on another quarter and your veggies and fruit on the rest of the plate.

balanced-meal

I also heard somewhere that if you want to cut down on your portions, use a smaller plate. So I did that, too. I started using a smaller plate, 8 1/2 inches, instead of the bigger 10 inches. If I still felt hungry after finishing the food on my plate, then I’d just eat another fruit.

I also realized that being cooped up in the house everyday could be a contributing factor to the weight gain. I knew I needed to get more active. Get out there. I thought of going to back to the office so I could get out everyday. But I loved working at home so much. I got to work and stay at home at the same time. And I just loved being there for the kids. I decided to stay at home but resolved to do something to get my butt off my chair for a few minutes or so a day. So I thought I’d walk for half an hour everyday. I did walk, but not everyday. There was work to do and I didn’t always have the extra time. I also volunteered at my son’s school as a school patrol. That did get me out of the house. Patrolling didn’t really give me a chance to do a lot of walking. But getting out of the house did some good. I wasn’t as sluggish as before. And it made me a bit energetic. So even though I didn’t lose weight, I felt better. No more panting or getting out of breath. And I was happy about that. I’ve learned to accept that maybe I’d be stuck at the size that I was.

The turning point.

Late in 2007, I got recalled back to the office. I had a feeling that it was going to happen. But I was still kinda taken aback. I had mixed feelings about it. I knew I was going to miss working at home. Being there most of the time for the kids. But at the same time I was also excited and looked forward to the changes that would happen. Going through all that morning rush, getting dressed up, trying to catch the bus, literally rubbing elbows with people going to work and interacting with people at the office. I also took a second job at around the same time that I went back to the office. All of these changes that were happening – the sudden activity of getting my butt out of the house everyday and also my second job required a lot of standing and walking, I slowly shed off some pounds. Besides I wasn’t munching on my usual snacks of these.

chocraisins-x fuzzy-peach-x potatochips-x

Yes, I realized then that even though I was cutting back on my portions at lunch and dinner, I hadn’t given up on chocolates, candies and potato chips. Lots of sugar and salt and hydrogenated fat. That was the reason I couldn’t lose the weight.

I developed these bad habits when I was working at home. I was mostly alone at home and I didn’t have to worry about anybody seeing me in a bad posture, for instance. I would sometimes have my feet up on my chair while typing on the computer. Watching TV while working. Bet you can’t do that in any other workplace. And of course, having food in front of me, munching all day long. Hence the weight gain. But when I went back to the office, I had to give up all these bad habits. I didn’t want my co-workers to see me with my feet up on my chair, or munching on junk food while I work. I observed proper work behaviour at all times.

Now, I’m not saying that working at home was bad. No, please don’t get me wrong. It had been a really good experience for me. I wouldn’t trade those six years for anything in the world. I had the time of my life. There were just some things that I did not handle right. Looking back, I think I should have given more thought on time management. I guess I was trying too hard to be a super mom, or a super woman. I thought then that since I was at home, I would be able to do everything. Like do my work and also the house chores and still tend to the kids. Or like when I realized that I should be getting out of the house for a few minutes a day, I should have been more disciplined in that matter. Maybe I should have set aside a specific time of the day instead of getting distracted by the TV or the internet (blogging). 🙂

Getting recalled back to the office was the saving grace for me. I guess I was in denial at that time. I think I knew deep inside that I wasn’t happy at home anymore. The kids were getting older and they didn’t need me that much. Also, I was getting bored with the daily routine. I was just scared of the prospect of change. But you know, change is good.

In regards to losing weight, or kicking out any bad habit for that matter, I have to agree with Dr. Phil, that we sometimes have to make significant changes in order to be successful. You have to change your environment or substitute a bad habit with a new one. Like for example, I wanted to stop drinking softdrinks. I replaced it with juice and milk. I have never been a milk drinker, but I realized that I am in my forties now and I need calcium for my aging bones anyway. So why not start drinking milk now? I just hope it’s not too late. I also always have a bottle of water beside my desk.

Last summer, I bumped into friends who I haven’t seen in about six months or so. Some of them noticed my weight right away. “You lost weight!” “You look good!” “Gumanda ka nung pumayat ka” (You look prettier now that you’re thinner.) I’m sure she didn’t mean that I looked ugly when I had some extra weight on me. 🙂 But these comments were all very flattering even if they came from my girl friends.

Some has asked me how I lost the weight. And sometimes I would just give a quick response that it was because I was working out of the house now. It was the mobility.

In conclusion.

So just to summarize, here’s a list of the things that made me lose the pounds and help me keep them off. I hope these simple tips will also help anybody who wants to lose weight.

1. Give up the softdrinks. Please people, if you have to go cold turkey, please do. It doesn’t mean that you have to give it up forever, just at least during the first few months that you are trying to lose the weight. I, myself, have never given it up completely. I still drink Coke but only on special occasions. And when I do, I actually find it quite strong for me.

2. Stop snacking on potato chips, candies or chocolates. Also go cold turkey if you have to. Replace it with fruits or veggies like carrot sticks or celery sticks, or my favourites – grapes or orange slices. Or chew a gum if you feel the urge to munch on something. Like the softdrinks, you don’t have to give it up forever. I would still eat a chocolate bar every now and then, but not every day. 🙂

3. Use a smaller plate for meals. And distribute your food like this:

balanced-meal

4. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.

5. Take the bus to work.

6. When you take your car to go shopping, don’t park too close to the entrance. A little walk will do you good.

7. Take a walk at lunch time. If you don’t have time to do a 30-minute walk today, 15 minutes will do. Not only will it re-energize your body, but also your mind, especially if you’re having a bad day at work.

8. Before you go to a party or any handaan, eat a little snack at home. It might not make sense to you. Why eat at home when you’re going to a party where you will eat anyway? Well, it’s just to curb a huge appetite. If you’d had a little something before you left home, you won’t have the urge to fill up your plate with a mountainful of food.

9. If you don’t work, let’s say you’re a stay-at-home mom, and you think that you might also need to lose some weight, but can’t find the time to go to the gym or do some exercise. Maybe you can make arrangements with other stay-at-home moms that you know. Maybe you can take turns looking after each other’s kids and then you can go to the gym, or take a half hour walk. Or maybe find a part-time job or do some volunteer work. Just a few suggestions.

10. Have a specific and realistic goal. Don’t say that you want to lose 20 pounds right away. “I want to lose 10 pounds in two months” is a more realistic goal. Last summer, I was glad that I was able to finally wear this pink blouse that I wore on my 40th birthday. You see, I only wore that pink blouse a couple of times. The following summer, it won’t fit me anymore. And it is one of my favourites because I like the colour and the style. Now that it finally fits me again, I dread gaining weight again. So that’s sort of a motivating factor for me. To stay in this size that I am right now.

Before

Before

After

After

Disclaimer. This account is not intended to substitute or replace any medical or professional advice. Please consult your physician before you try to lose weight especially if you have a medical condition.

January 11, 2009 at 3:38 pm 20 comments

Cutting the umbilical cord

cutting the umbilical cord 

In an episode of Home Improvement, Jill Taylor said to husband, Tim, “There is a special bond that connects mother and child.  It’s called the umbilical cord.”  Tim answered in his usual smart-alecky way, “If you haven’t noticed, the umbilical cord was cut at birth.  Duh!”  He he he.

Well, Jill is right.  I think mothers have a closer bond to their children because they nurture children inside their bodies even before they were born.

You all know that the umbilical cord is the tube that connects the developing embryo or fetus to the placenta.  It contains a vein which causes oxygenated blood from the mother to the fetus.  At birth, after the baby is born, the uterus expels the placenta along with the cord from the mother’s body.  The doctor clamps and then cuts the cord.  The newborn wears a plastic clip on the navel area until the compressed region of the cord has dried and sealed and then it falls off.

And did you know that the umbilical cord is made of Wharton’s jelly, not ordinary skin and connective tissue?  There are no nerves, so cutting it is not painful. *

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbilical_cord)

Why a post about the umbilical cord, you might ask?  Well, you see, I had my first baby 18 years ago.  Can you believe that?  My first-born is already an adult.  Reggie is now of legal age.  He can vote in the next election and he can consume alcohol now, legally.  Not that he has shown any interest in drinking yet.  And he has to pay full bus fare now.

If you have been a regular reader of this blog, you might have witnessed the steps I have gone through in letting go of my children.  Letting them spread their wings from that first day in kindergarten, to going away to winter camp and band camps, going on the transit bus by himself (now you know which particular one I’m referring to), partying, dating, saying goodbye at the airport so he could experience his dreams of being a jazz musician, etc, etc.  You’d think that his turning 18 would just be another one of those birthdays.  But I didn’t realize that it is such a major event.

Let me first explain something.  Here in Canada, families receive child allowances from the government called the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB).  It is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18.  The amount a family receives depends on the family income, the number and the ages of children.  Families in the lower income bracket receive more than those who have higher incomes.  Also, when a child turns seven, the allowance for that child is reduced, which I don’t understand because clothes of children over seven cost more.  And what I just realized recently is that when a child turns 18, you will no longer receive allowance for that child.  Because he is no longer a child.  He’s an adult now.  Ouch!  I received the notice a few days before his birthday.  And that was when it really started to hit me.

And another thing.  Here in Canada, at least in my province of Manitoba, when a baby is born, his or her name is added on the mother’s health card. My Manitoba Health Card has my name, address and registration number at the front.  Listed at the back are my name and those of my three children including our dates of birth and our individual Personal Health Identification Number.  Everytime there is a change in location or family status, I have to report it to Manitoba Health and they would issue me a new card.  I’ve changed my addresses a few times and I have been issued different cards for all the changes that happened.  After the birth of a baby, I would also receive a new card and what joy was it to see the new addition at the back.  But it was such a contrast of feelings and emotions when I received my new card last week.  It was one line shorter at the back.  They removed Reggie’s name.  It was as if they cut his umbilical cord once again.  But this time it hurts.  I don’t even know why I feel pain.  It’s not like they’re taking him away physically.  It’s just a document.  On the other hand, I saw the smile on his face when I handed him his mail and the glint on his eyes when he saw and held his very own health card.

old health card  new health card

Maybe I’ve just been emotional lately with all the changes that have been happening.  Leaving home and working downtown.  It was the same feeling I had when going back to work after a maternity leave.  The feeling of guilt.  I know.  The kids can pretty much take care of themselves but it was the same feeling all over again when I come home after a long day from work and realize that the TV set had been babysitting my nine-year old and when I hear him say,  “I missed you, mommy.”  And of course, taking on a second job and spending lesser time at home.  It hasn’t been easy – more on my part.  Because I pretty much prepared the kids and even made schedules that they could follow when I’m not home – two months prior to my “going back to work.”   I know this is just a phase and these feelings will pass.  But this is where I am right now and it’s not easy.

December 2, 2007 at 11:47 pm 17 comments

Working girl

 working mom

“You work full time?  Then why do you want another job?”  That was Stacey, who interviewed me for the job I applied for at our local grocery store.

“Well, you see, I have three children.  They are growing and our expenses are also growing.  Our income is not enough anymore,” I explained to her.

“How old are your kids?”

“Nine, thirteen and seventeen.  The oldest one’s in university.”

“Oh, I see.”

Then she asked why is it me?  Why is it not the husband who’s looking for another job?  Well, it’s not like I haven’t asked him like a hundred times to go look for another job.  But I digress.  I kind of mentioned in my previous post that I’ll stop b*tching about the man.

Yup, that’s true.  Our two sources of income are no longer enough.  Our credit card bills which I’ve managed to keep at four digits since I’ve worked at home is now starting to climb up again.  It’s been at five digits for about a year now.  And I know that something has to be done.  I can’t rely on winning the lotto, since I don’t buy tickets anyway.  🙂

So there I was, at 40-something years old, and I found myself looking for a part-time job.  I had my eye on a department store position downtown, but I didn’t expect competition to be that tough.  I think I was the oldest one at the group interview we had and I was the only one who didn’t have experience in sales.   Some of the applicants could have been my children, I mean in terms of age, of course.

But I’m glad that I got hired for this weekend shift only at this store where I do my grocery shopping.  It’s close to home and how lucky for me that their weekend lady in the apparel department gave up that shift.  I initially thought of working at nights.  That’s what I did when I also worked two jobs at the same time almost eleven years ago.  It’s not that we badly needed the money back then. I was already working at the insurance company where I still work now when the Taxation Centre called me and I just couldn’t pass it up.  I only had two kids then, 7 and 2 years old.  And I only took the night job because my father-in-law was vacationing here at that time.  I didn’t have to bring the kids to daycare.  He looked after them.  Now, that I look back, that’s probably the reason why he didn’t finish his supposed-to-be six-months stay here. He he he.  Besides, my husband worked during the day then and he was home with the kids at night.  But now that he works at night, I don’t want to leave the kids by themselves at night.  Even though the two older ones can look after their younger brother. I want to be there at nights with them.  I want to be there to help my youngest one with his homework, cook and eat supper with them.  They’re pretty much doing their own things in the weekends anyway, so I don’t think they’ll miss me that much on those two days.

I got trained for my new job last weekend.  The lady who trained me is the same age as me.  She was just recently widowed and then her mom had a stroke.  She wants to look after her mom on the weekends.

And by the way, Stacey’s also my supervisor.  And she’s only 22 years old.

So now you know what keeps me really, really busy nowadays.  I know I could always squeeze in writing posts even in my hectic schedule because I just have to write.  But I hardly find time to bloghop, and please do excuse me.  But thank you to those who still drop by even though I haven’t visited your blogs lately.  I really appreciate it.  I’ll try to pay you a visit whenever I can.

November 22, 2007 at 11:04 pm 20 comments

The Bed

It’s getting colder everyday here in Winnipeg.  And by cold, I mean temperatures of plus 3 C down to minus 10 C.

I was watching one of my taped shows the other night and I was so cold that I had myself wrapped up in a comforter in the TV room upstairs.  It was (way) past midnight when I got up to get ready for bed.  I wanted to look out through the window to see if there was already snow outside.  But there was condensation on the window by the hallway and also in the washroom and I really couldn’t see.  I thought the pavement looked white but I realized later on that it was just because it was so cold and dry.

window 

When I went in my bedroom, I noticed that the top half of the windows were still clear of condensation.  And so I thought I’d go stand up on the bed and take a peek.  But what was I thinking?  I’m under five feet and even if I stood up on the bed, I couldn’t look through that part of the window.  But as I’ve said, it was way past midnight.  I was tired and I wasn’t thinking right.  I did hop on the bed. 

 the bed

But you see, my 17-year old bed is no longer that firm and I was like a bouncing ball when I stood up on that bed.  When I tried to get down, my feet somehow got caught up in either my very long pajamas or the comforter and I was thrown off balance.  I tried to grab on something to hold on to but the closest I could grab was the comforter itself.  And of course it couldn’t hold my weight.  Beside the bed was a bookshelf which was now behind me.  I reached for the shelf with my right hand but what good would that do?  I was already falling. It felt like I was suspended in time at that moment, like I was in the middle of a slow motion of my own video clip.  All I could think of at that instant was “Oh please dear Lord, don’t make this be a bad fall.”  This is not the first time I had fallen off the bed, by the way. (That’s another post.)  I haven’t had a serious fall so far.  But I am now in my 40’s and I know that my bones are not that young anymore.

So I fell, butt first, in the narrow space on the floor between the bed and the bookshelf.  I couldn’t get up right away.  I tried to take a moment to feel if I broke anything.  It didn’t seem like I broke any bones but I felt pain in my right hand.  I must have scraped it when I tried to hold on the bookshelf as I fell.  My husband wasn’t home as he works at night.  And I thought, what if I had passed out?  Would he find me there when he gets home? I was too tired and too lazy to get up to turn the lights on and see the damage.  I did manage to get off the floor and get on the bed and under the covers.  I thought I’d just go to sleep and maybe the pain would be gone when I woke up.

When I got up the next morning, (I overslept, by the way, and I hurriedly woke up my oldest son hoping that he’d still make it to his carpool to school.  He did.)  I saw that my pinkie was covered in blood, which has already dried by then and I also had some on my shirt.  It was only after I had taken a shower and had my hands cleaned that I found out that I scraped my finger really bad.  The skin was peeling.  I could lift the skin and see the red flesh.  It was so gross that I couldn’t even look at it for that long.  I immediately covered it up with a Band-aid.

Darn mattress.  I have been telling my husband that we should really have it replaced.  Not only is it getting saggy but it creaks at night at our every move, not only when tossing and turning in our sleep, but also when we’re doing that other thing that we do in the bedroom.  And no, not that thing, as we don’t have a TV there.  I’m talking about the other thing.

But should I really be blaming the bed?  Or maybe I should be blaming the foolishness of this 40-something woman.

November 7, 2007 at 11:09 pm 21 comments


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