Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Walking the distance"

My youngest son needed 20 pieces of popsicle sticks for one of his subjects in school. And since it was a couple of days before month end, we had to hold on to every single halala until my husband gets paid his salary. God is really good! He knew beforehand that something like this would happen so he made sure that I have a couple of orders to deliver which meant extra income that would allow us to stretch our budget. Bunso (a term of endearment for my youngest son) called his dad in the office and told him about his assignment. Hence, as soon as hubby arrived from work he asked me to go with him to buy them stuff.

Although we knew we can buy a pack of popsicle sticks in Al Samil bookstore (which is a one stop haven for arts and craft enthusiasts among other things), we put the thought of going there at the back of our mind. First because it was a bit far and we needed (tough not necessarily) a cab to get there which would displace our budget. So, off we went in search for the said sticks around the area. We went to this baqala (mini mart) near our place unfortunately, they didn't have what we were looking for. Hubby even suggested we buy 20 popsicles and just clean the sticks hahaha but I argued that they were too short. So, hubby and I weighed our options and I told him that I can walk it off from Thuqba to Ramaniya just to avoid spending 30 riyals for a back and forth ride. Al Khobar is such a small place and everything is both "walking distance" or a trip via cab. ("walking distance" meant it was "do-able" one way only lol) 

And walk we did, my husband and I joked our way to Ramaniya; was able to cross the streets and byways and arrived at Everything 10 in one piece! But we found no popsicle sticks there either,  we had to walk some more to Al Samil (our last resort) where we were able to find one (as I knew they would). And walked again to buy a couple of grocery items from Al Ramah. By the time we were done purchasing our week-long supply, our feet were really really tired and all we wanted was to reach home, take a warm bath and sleep.

Am actually used to walking long stretches of roads but it does help to have the right walking shoes. I was wearing ordinary sneakers which was a bit hard on my sole after one of the longest "strolls" I've ever managed to accomplish.

I came across this photo on the net and I can just imagine how our feet felt like yesterday after that long and tiring traipse down to the heart of Al Khobar.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Siomai? Oh my!

About a month ago my husband and I went to this Asian store in downtown Al Khobar to look for dumpling wrappers as hubby wanted me to add Chinese dumplings in my growing menu for our food biz. It was there that I was able to buy glass noodles for my Chapchae among several small grocery items that we are unable to find in the local groceries. They also have the same brand of glass noodles that I use back home for my food business but it's more expensive here. 18 riyals for the same pack that I buy back home for only about 130 pesos. It was such great news though that the store did stock on dumpling wrappers, but I was dismayed by its cost. My husband told me to just buy it with my eyes closed rather than waste our trip. But I said that I'd just feel guilty buying the said item when I can buy more stuff with the 25 riyals I will be paying  for a single pack of dumpling wrapper. In the Philippines I can buy more or less 10 packs for the same price, it was too much for me! I do understand however, that the reason this is so, is because it's basically an imported item. And no one really makes it locally as dumplings are not part of their staple food. Unlike back home where such food is already part of our culture as influenced by our Chinese ancestors.

I tried using the long rectangular wrapper that they use locally, sorry but at the moment I am unable to recall what it is called. I used it for my Chinese dumpling however, it failed to stick closely to the chicken meat but it was okay. Guilt-free rather than using the 25 riyal dumpling wrapper, this was a close alternative; 10 riyals for about 50 sheets if am not mistaken, is reasonable enough.

Oh for those who are new in Al Khobar so that you'd know, the Asian store is located at the corner of 8th street opposite Corniche. It's along the same row as Al Ramaniyah (farther down) and very near the chain of restaurants in that area.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Blogging" rights

I am amazed by the reach of the articles that I write. I have just realised that in only a year, my traffic is already close to 16k page views. Whilst my almost 4 year old blog, From the Diary of a Call center Mom is still inching it's way to 10.5k page views. I do understand that this huge number may include those who just stumbled upon my blog but that means a lot too! Because for every word they search my blog is rightfully tagged hence, stumbling upon my OFW blog is always a good perchance. Too bad I have not had enough time to sit down and maximize my adsense otherwise,  I would have more opportunity to finally get a page rank and attract more traffic. Perhaps one of these days I should consider sitting down and leaving all my domestic chores behind even for just one day. At least for today I was able to change my template which I've been itching to do since last month and in the days ahead, organizing my OFW blog in order to attract more.

Still I am ecstatic to see people from all over who refer to my food articles from time to time, fb friends prodding me to put up a food blog where I can share more recipes with them. I have so many ideas but unable to conceptualize it as yet. So, I promised myself to take it one step at a time.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank one of my readers, Ernie Del Prado, who even sent me a message which I would like to share with pride :).
From Ernie: hello po! thanks po sa pag-accept, kala ko po di nyo ako i-aaccept kc di nyo nmn ako kilala. pero sobrang fan nyo po ko kc khit nbasa ko n lahat ng nsa blog nyo, paulit-ulit ko prin itong binbasa. ang cute kc ng mga stories nyo at at nkkarelate ako. thanx po ulit!
Thank you so much Ernie, it is because of people like you, that I get inspired to write more and blog more. And of course my best blog buddy Ria of It's my Party (and I'll cry if I want to). She was the first ever commenter in my Call center diary blog and continues to follow me tsup! tsup! muah! muah! to you Ria :) I met Ria on one the first few articles I wrote in my Call center blog. And would like to share that article with you as well.


Exhausted after an 11 hour shift made me so eager to head back home. I was not over my son’s tearful goodbye the other day hence, regretted not bringing the car as I would have gotten home sooner.   My daughter’s birthday was forthcoming -- reason why I decided against it, as the money supposedly for gas, can be saved for a little surprise for the said occasion . So here I was walking, almost hopping, my bag and arms swinging, whistling a happy tune – when this humongous bus raced by me and summoned a “sand blast.” “F_ _ T!” I shouted. I got sand all over my already oily face, my hair, and even my mouth (I was whistling remember?). The first thought that came to mind – Was that breakfast?

I wrote this piece back in September of 2008 truly my blog has gone a long, long way...and I have my readers to thank for every spark of inspiration, for every chance that I am able to share a story or a recipe, and for the lives I am able to touch. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Parable of the Talents

"Therefore, stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them."

Today's gospel is about the Parable of Talents and timely at that as we all have witnessed Manny Pacquiao's fighting bout with Juan Manuel Marquez. And nope, am not referring to their controversial fight but more of Pacman's talent which has not gone wasted. Incidentally, this afternoon, I was also able to watch his game show Manny Many Prizes which inspired me to go visit my blog and share a little bit of what I have observed as I watched the show. :)

Our "Pambansang kamao" came from a poor family but because of his perseverance, he has risen to be a world class fighter. Because of his steadfast determination, he now owns a lot properties in the Philippines and abroad, and several businesses to his name. He's also an actor, a tv host and a Congressman. He has climbed from one ladder of success to another and yet his faith has remained unwavering.

Manny Pacquaio is the perfect example of this parable. He was given such a talent which he further cultivated and is now reaping the fruits. I am not completely a Pacquiao fan but in earnest, admire him for what he stands for, for his accomplishments and for being such a good son to his mother. What I admire about him is that he does not only continue to reap the fruits of his crop but has shared the same to so many people. His game show, though not as big as Eat Bulaga, has become one of the channels where he is able to help our countrymen. And i am touched and so much inspired by the man's magnanimity.

I am NOT convinced that he should run for President in the coming years in fact, I hope his mother influences him on NOT running :) You see, politics have a way of shattering a man's family and moral integrity and I would hate to see the Pacquiao family being put to test in this manner.

His life is a very good example of the parable that Jesus shared with his followers (Matthew 25:14-30). Being able to use one's talent is not enough but when it is nurtured and it's harvests shared abundantly,  then this comes back as good karma. A blessing for a blessing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Playing with Clay

Right after dinner this evening, hubby and I decided to go to Carrefour to purchase some grocery items for the food that I need to deliver tomorrow. While preparing to leave, my children hankered me and their dad to buy them Polymer clay. Their interest with this kind of clay was sparked when they got to watch a segment by Jessica Soho on GMA7 which detailed how one can make a lot of stuff with it and that it can be hardened by baking. However, we were told at Jarir bookstore at the Al Rashid mall that they no longer have the said item. So we bought them, instead, ordinary clay so that they won't feel bad when we tell them the not so good news.

When we arrived they were ecstatic and finding out about what happened did not hamper them from running towards us and looking for the clay. We all got so excited that we sat down and made our own "magnum opus". We had so much fun and decided to take pictures of ourselves and what we were able to make out of it. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Big brother, little tutor

"Sneakily" taken hehehe they thought I was taking a picture
of the wall decor that my older son posted on our wall.
Just now I can hear, Kuya, my older son review his younger sibling in Science. They're preparing for their upcoming Mastery Test week. They are currently still enjoying their blissful and long vacation as Eid al-Adha is being commemorated. And it amazes me how patiently and responsibly (and quite strict too!) he reviews his younger brother even without me telling him to do so. To add that he even knows how to encourage him, I can hear him telling his younger brother that if he studies he will give him cookies after. So sweet!!!! I wasn't that way with my younger siblings when I was his age; it was Mama who reviewed me and my younger siblings back then. And when we were of age, we studied and reviewed on our own.

You know sometimes after school I would see Kuya going over my youngest son's assignment notebook. When Kuya sees me busy cooking dinner or doing some chores, he would take it on his own to help his younger sibling with his assignments. I love the way he responds to his brothers' needs when he sees that my hands are full. 

Thank you Alloy, for helping Mommy out. You realised that I haven't been able to review him and you took it on your own to make sure your brother is prepared for his exams. Thank you son! I love you so much!

Mommy :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where the heart is

I re-posted an article that I wrote February of last year (from my Diary of a Call center mom) because I was reminded of it while watching the evening news. It seems that most of the news we get to watch these days is fraught with violence. Topics from children committing crimes or being used to commit crimes, the number of people committing suicide, erring families, child abuse, to battered women.. The list is endless and very disturbing that sometimes I'd rather not watch the news on the telly at all.

It's because of such news that I sometimes ask myself if my husband and I are bringing up our children the right way. Perhaps we should all take another look at our children as news such as these show that families all over the world are suffering from "internal bleeding." We should always ask ourselves the following questions: 

1) Are we showing them enough love?
2) Are we spending quality time with them? 
3) Are we listening closely to what they are saying or are tying to say? 
4) Are we spoiling them too much? 
5) Are we hurting them physically and emotionally? 
6) Do we respect their right to be heard?
7) Are we good role models that they can emulate?
8) Have we hugged them lately?
9) Are we comfortable in telling them the words "I love you"
10) Have we blamed them for our failures?

For now I have only 10 as these are the only ones I can think of at the moment. We should start healing our families by being there for them not only physically. Bear in mind that a dysfunctional child is the fruit of dysfunctional parents, who came from a dysfunctional family. (please excuse my redundancy) This is probably of no surprise because even the bible contains stories of  such brokenness. Remember Cain and Abel?, The Prodigal son? and, Joseph and his brothers to name a few? 

Are families around the world so severed?  We all know that being a parent is not easy but we took that responsibility in our hands, we claimed that responsibility as soon as we said "I do." Hence, we are expected to carry on with that promise. We build our family and bring our children up in the premise that they will be positive contributors to the world.

It is important to find that connection again and it's my belief that the world will be worry-free if only we re-learn to value our family. Afterall, home is where the heart is.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Musings on a bake night

It's funny but I remember being told by someone a couple of years back that we are basically animals (having shared with me her life story).  And it's because of this clouded justification, that she seems to think people can sleep with whomever they fancy. Because in her mind...we are animals. I wanted to disagree but I was not in the mood to question her. I wanted to say that we are indeed animals but of the highest form. Because by  being so, we are able to question, we are able to reason out, we are able to choose and think. Don't get me wrong I'm not perfect but having a family of my own, I understand better where one should draw the line. 

Saudi Arabia has made me realise the danger of leaving one's family behind for greener pastures. And it's sad that a lot of families become vulnerable by this separation hence, would either break the husband or the wife. And "sadder" is the fact that the children will always be the one to suffer the most.  It's just such a blessing that my husband was hired by a company that offers a family package which makes being together possible.

You'd be surprised that even families who are already here have managed to unhinged from each other...there's a sudden disconnection. The next thing you know, one of them is playing single. This is a wife's, a husband's or a child's greatest fear. 

I think this is global, it does not happen "culturally" and affects everybody else the same way. I agree, getting married and having children does not come with a user's manual but everything is instinctive. It's supposed to be an integral part of human nature. And though there would be times that we fall, we're supposed to stand up and do what is right.

I keep on saying that the reason we go abroad is for our family but along the way, the terrible truth  is that, some lose their perspective.  I believe in the sanctity of marriage and of putting one's family above all else. Luckily, my husband and I share this principle and we live by it. Though the roads can be rough, our family should always be our fortress. And the Lord our rock! 

So to all the families out there, hold on and hold tight. And remember that...

Our Family is a circle of strength and love
With every birth and every union, the circle grows.
Every joy shared adds more Love..
Every crisis faced together makes the circle grow stronger.
~ Anon. ~

This is how families should be...