A Cars-Themed First Birthday Party (with links to free printables!)

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on motherhood

Importing a post from my other blog! – NtN

We’re back from a marathon trip to the Philippines where we celebrated not one, but two first birthday parties for Peanut! *whew*

We had a lot of help from family and friends for both events. One was a Jollibee kiddie party (of course!) complete with a dance number from Jollibee and the crew and a lot of fun and noisy games for kids and grown-ups (a.k.a. not-so-small kids).

We discovered that Peanut wasn’t a fan of loud noises — he literally started bawling every time people clapped or shouted or laughed heartily all of a sudden — you know, like what usually happens in birthday parties. Ha! It didn’t help that the Jollibee function room was in an enclosed space, where the loud music was extra fun and extra loud. :)

We enjoyed the festivities at a safe distance — that is, we spent most of the party outside, looking in through the glass door. Oh, kids.

Squishy on one of his outside-the-party walkabouts. He had on a "cape" in the spirit of the superhero theme.

Peanut on one of his outside-the-party walkabouts. He had on a “cape” in the spirit of the superhero theme.

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Peanut’s Baptism – A Supplier Review

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A long overdue review. Peanut was three months old when we had him baptized… and he just turned one!

I intended to churn out the review within a week MAX of the event, complete with photos and rating stars and all that. Mom-hood and work stomped all over such well-intentioned plans. Plans are for wimps, it scoffed.

Better late than never.

For the uninitiated / non-Filipinos: baptism is practically required in the Philippines (come to think of it, if one wants to get married in a church in the Philippines one HAS to be baptized to do so). It’s a token rite of passage of early childhood in the country, like baby girls getting their ears pierced or babies (whose parents are so inclined) wearing black and red corales bracelets and pouches pinned to their sandos.

Baptismal gatherings are an opportunity for families to get together and coo all over your little chubby cherub, and in our case at least, a debut of sorts for Peanut, since it was his first time in the Philippines and most of our extended family hadn’t met him before. Read More


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on whatever / philippines

Never have I started and discarded so many Facebook posts until this election.

I started to write a post titled, “Am I answering the right question?” It would’ve been about Daniel Kahneman and how he explained the way we make decisions: our fast-thinking System 1 and slower System 2. I wanted to write about the dangers of substitution, which is how we often come up with intuitive answers to complicated questions. Substitution is what deludes us into thinking we’ve answered our target question, for example: “Does Candidate A’s platform, track record and character match what I value in a leader?” by instead replacing it with an easier question (often without noticing), such as: “How much anger do I feel when I think of Manila’s awful traffic jams?” or “How do I feel about City X?” or “Does this man/woman look or sound like he/she can get things done?” or “How do I feel about Candidate B’s dad?” It was going to be a post asking us to pause. Reflect on whether we were really answering our target question.

I started to write a post on how rating agencies — S&P, Moody’s, Fitch — viewed the elections. The Philippines is currently investment-grade. (Why should I care what we’re rated, you ask. It matters because, among other things, how we’re rated will impact how much the government pays when it borrows from abroad — much-needed loans and investments to pay for bridges, roads, power plants, etc.1) I had seen some posts on my Facebook feed (enthusiastically ‘shared’ by a few friends) alleging that it wouldn’t matter who won the elections — the country was on a growth spurt anyway. Well, not quite. S&P, for example, say our rating was based on “the new administration after the May 2016 elections having a strong mandate to continue to pursue orthodox fiscal, economic, and development policies”2. Moody’s echo this: “It remains to be seen whether the next administration will preserve or extend the improvements in this area seen under Mr. Aquino’s stewardship”2. Fitch ditto: “Deterioration in governance standards and/or reversal in reforms implemented under the Aquino administration could be credit negative”2. Again, pause. Have we thought about each candidate’s economic platform? Does it stand up to the task? Do they even have one?

I started to write about Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the ex-governor of Jakarta and ex-mayor of Solo, and the folly of assumptions. Being a good president is not quite the same as being a good local government official. It will be tougher by far. What sort of assumptions are we making in choosing Candidate Y? Are our assumptions reasonable? What logical leaps are we making here?

I started to write a post about red herrings. From annoying yet harmless memes, deliberately misleading endorsements that could’ve been easily fact-checked, statements/opinions from parties who clearly have conflicts of interest, to the more pernicious ones — for example recent articles/posts/comments that frame one’s choice of candidate as class warfare, a choice dictated by whether you were a “have” or “have-not”. Not only is this notion completely beside the point, it also has the effect of encouraging divisiveness among us voters — an unnecessary distraction when the people we should be roasting at this time should be the candidates themselves.

I started to write about something that we in finance call “deal creep”. Deal creep goes something like this: Boss Z orders you to get her a coffee from downstairs. Sure; you were on your way to the coffee shop anyway. The next day, she tells you to get her her usual latte and to mail some letters for her at the post office. You do it, because you’re nice. Before you realize it, you’re picking up Boss Z’s laundry at Greenbelt, calling yaya to remind her to pick up the kids and doing Boss Z’s taxes. Ta-daa…deal creep. I was going to make an analogy between deal creep and the compromise of one’s core values. The erosion is barely noticeable, at first. Insidious. Easily justified away. Pause — let’s ask ourselves: what are we giving up and at what cost?

I wanted to write about another word that was being bandied about a lot these days: empathy. Call me cynical, but are any of us seriously thinking that any of these candidates know exactly how you or I feel? To paraphrase something I came across long ago: only in math does A equal A, my friend. In my opinion — no, there is no empathy to be found here. Not in high-ranking politicians, anyway.

I started to write all these things — and posted none of them.

It wouldn’t matter, I said to myself, because of the backfire effect: which is “when your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger”3. I told myself I’d only risk the wrath of friends, family, strangers. I reasoned that people’s minds were already made up.

But what really stopped me from posting all these thoughts as soon as they cropped up was this: emotion. It was the intensity with which my friends and family posted about their candidates, shared news articles or reacted to the debates. It was the anger I felt bursting through the screen as I scanned a comment on a friend’s post with 140+ replies (and going strong).

My posts would’ve achieved nothing in the deluge of such anger and impatience — anger from the sticky commute with barely serviceable trains and hours-long traffic jams; anger at almost daily muggings in taxis and buses and from passing motorcycles; anger from politicians’ grubby fingers in the public pot and even grubbier faces grinning at you over every potholed sidewalk; anger at the daily slog where nothing seems to have changed except taxes are now higher. My Facebook friends and their friends are rightfully angry. They want to be heard. They people want something in their lives to change and they want it ASAP.

So I kept quiet.


But here I am, finally, wearily, writing. I just had to let it out somewhere. I have no expectations. I’m prepared to be dismissed.

At this point I can only hope that, after all is said and done, we Filipinos do not get the short end of the stick, with a pitiful “But you promised…?” being all we’ll have left after this cycle of too-high expectations and inevitable disappointment.


Source: Bulatlat




1 If you’re nitpicking you might call me out and say “Hey, our banks are mainly deposit funded anyway!” That’s true. But credit ratings signal other things, like how attractive the Philippines is to invest in.

I’m not even sure if I can quote directly from rating reports — no copyright infringement is intended. The underlying Philippine sovereign reports are: S&P Research Update 21st April 2016; Moody’s Credit Opinion 23rd December 2015; Fitch Ratings 8th April 2016.

‘You Are Not So Smart’ by David McRaney. A sobering read for all you overconfident motherf*ckers out there. https://youarenotsosmart.com/the-book/

the heart of the matter

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I was cutting up a dressed chicken into pieces for tonight’s adobo dinner when I got to thinking about hearts. Chicken hearts, to be precise, of which I’m a fan. When I was a child, my mom’s favorite fresh chicken vendor in our neighborhood talipapa, Aling Lulu, always knew to save the hearts for me.  Aling Lulu’s stall stood in the corner, next to a muscular teen selling coconuts (it was never the same guy, but they were all strikingly muscular and young) and Aling Mimi, who was our suki for fresh beef.

Aling Lulu had a big metal pot full of boiling water on a stove next to her. The chickens clucked gently in a three-storey metal cage beside it. At regular intervals Aling Lulu’s assistant stuck his hand in the cage, selected one, and killed the animal swiftly with a deft cut to the neck using a sharp knife, bleeding them out. They were then boiled, feathers and all, in the pot after which Aling Lulu would de-feather, behead, remove their internal organs (the liver and gizzards were set out separately on the metal tray) and chop off their feet (adidas or chicken feet were sold separately too). Aling Lulu’s movements were skillful and quick. She was fascinating to watch; chatting nonchalantly with my mom without missing a beat. If I was there she’d smile at me and automatically start scooping the little treats out of the dark breast cavities, dropping them in the same plastic bag where she put our fresh chicken. The bag felt pleasantly warm to touch. Read More