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Friday, September 27, 2013

Money Matters

This post was inspired by an article from Female Network

Never spend your money before you have earned it. 
                                                                                              - Thomas Jefferson
The same quote was uttered by my college professor in my elective (advertising) class many years ago. Well, not the same exact words. 

He said, "If it ain't there, don't spend it." He said this while in the middle of discussing advertising, marketing strategies, branding and consumption. These powerful words, along with, "Not all the Ferragamos can make you a better person" made me aware that my professor, although possibly one of the most brilliant advertising executive of his time, was teaching us how not to spend. 

In the world of advertising, though, this may very well be hypocritical. And in light of all the persuasion and the ploys to make people buy things, my professor felt that it was his responsibility to teach his young, impressionable students the value of smart spending and saving.

Little did I know that those words were the closest to what I'm going to get in terms of money management being taught in school. We were taught how to save in high school, yes. As a project requirement, we were made to open a 'bank account' in a local cooperative to teach us how to save. Very little motivation was given to maintain that account. Most of us probably forgot that an account like that even existed or forgot that we have set up one in the first place. 

I just hope that schools now recognize the value of money management because it's one of the valuable skills that one can learn early in life. 

For more of these financial quotes, I have listed down the quotes (you know how I love quotes) from the article that inspired this post.

1. The only way you will ever permanently take control of your financial life is to dig deep and fix the root problem. - Suze Orman, Financial guru

2. If you want to rear financial blessings, you have to sow financially.
-Joel Osteen, Evangelist

3. Rule No. 1: never lose money; rule No. 2: don't forget rule No. 1. - Warren Buffet, Investor

4. An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. - Benjamin Franklin, Politician

5. Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish but it will not replace you as the driver. - Ayn Rand, Novelist

6. Never spend your money before you have earned it. -Thomas Jefferson, President

7. Invest in yourself. Your career is the engine of your wealth. - Paul Clitheroe, Financial analyst

8. It's not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for. - Robert Kiyosaki, Financial guru

9. Financial peace isn't the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this. - Dave Ramsey, Financial guru

10. The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different'. - Sir John Templeton, Investor   

I have not bought all the Ferragamos (haha), I try to not lose money( haha) and I am trying so hard to invest in myself, so I guess I'm still on the right track. Hehehe 

Okay, this is no laughing matter. Seriously. Save. :) 

Friday, September 20, 2013

iOS 7: Graceful GUI

The new iOS 7 is part-Android, part-Windows and part-borrowed? Haha But that's just me. I'm no technology expert. Hehe Although I did work for a computer company and had a short stint at doing technical and IT stuff. But don't take my word for it. You'll have to see for yourself. If you own an iPhone or iPad or other Apple devices and you have an internet connection, then you can start updating your software.

As for me, I like the change, but not all of it. I am not thrilled about the tiny, slender fonts and the fact that the update required most of my usable space. But I don't want this post to be a thorough review of iOS 7 since (1) I have very limited use for my phone, e.g. calling, texting selfie-ing, blogging, e-mailing, Instagram-ming and tweeting (wait, that's a lot haha) and (2) I am just not qualified to offer an expert opinion. My two cents as a consumer, though, is that Apple continuously gives us products that are innovative and sometimes 'exclusive' but I am no longer as impressed as I once was when I first tried their products. I'd like to think it's just the novelty wearing off and the fact that others have also come up with what Apple usually comes up with, first. 

I am also worried about what these software updates might do to old hardware. I just fear for my iPhone 4. I dread the day that new software updates will no longer include my almost 4-year old hardware. :( The husband said no more high-end gadget purchases in the next ten years. Haha And I agree with him, well, maybe not with the number of years. I can still hold out for the next five years, before my son starts schooling. Right, Baba? Pretty, please... 

In the meantime, I am grateful for the great service my Apple phone has been providing me. Ever since I owned my first iPod Shuffle and iPod Touch back in 2008-09, I never looked back. I adore Android products, too but Apple had me at the Shuffle. 

Enjoy the new look, iPod/iPhone/iPad-wielding and social-networking/tweeting earthlings! :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Winner Still

Please allow me to gloat even though UP did not bag the top prize this year. 

We're so used to winning, a loss like this doesn't sting anymore. :) 

Still number one! Matatapang, matatalino, walang takot... Hinding-hindi magpapahuli... ganyan kaming mga taga-UP! UP Fight! *bobbing my head*

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Talking Tyke

Zeff is walking and running and talking! Yep, he's doing all that R-T-W combination with much gusto!

With all these 'newly acquired' skills, I am mostly worried about the running and his attempts at jumping. He even climbs big chairs and he tries to stand up in his kiddie chair and attempts to fly. He saw this 'flying move' from the birds who regularly hang around our veranda. He has observed so many times that whenever he moves toward them, he scares the birds and they all fly away. He's captivated. He copies this movement. He stretches out his arms and raises his feet. Haha It's a joy to watch him. :)

I love that he's discovering new and wonderful things but I am also scared that he will hurt himself in the process. I am torn between letting him explore and 'clipping his wings' so I can protect him. The stubborn little boy always wins, though. He can really be persistent when he doesn't get his way. I couldn't possibly prevent him from learning new things so I've relaxed a little and I now let him play and run around the veranda and the common area in the apartment building where we live. I am just careful not to be too 'unconcerned'. I still make sure that I am within arm's length whenever he's on 'explorer mode'.

What I also love about this progress is his speech. He's very talkative now! Although he only talks nonstop when he feels like it or when he's excited about something. (The more I prod him to talk, the more he clams up so I have learned to just let him be and not 'nag' him all the time about talking to Mommy and answering my endless questions). He also talks back at his mother. Sometimes I even hear him mumbling and babbling.

He has a very rich receptive language. He can understand conversations both in English and Filipino. How do I know that? I speak to him in English but whenever I talk to his yaya in Filipino or to other adults at home, he also understands me. And he knows when people are talking about him. He even laughs loudly and heartily when something is funny! Haha (May pinagmanahan).

He can follow instructions now. He knows where to get my slippers whenever I ask for it after I arrive home from work. I take advantage of this. I get to ask him to fetch things for me. "Baby, can you please get Mommy's phone." "No baby, the other phone, the bigger one." Can you please put this in the laundry basket?" "Can you please keep your toys and your books?" "Please give Mommy the remote." I am not making a slave out of my son but it's incredible to watch him quickly get up on his feet and gladly do my bidding. I know this 'pliant and obedient phase' won't last very long so might as well take advantage of it. Hehe

His expressive language is also something I'm particularly proud of. He doesn't speak in long sentences yet but his vocabulary has improved immensely in the last two weeks. He can now say these words very distinctly: "fish", "car", "bacheco" (referring to airplane, I don't know where he got the expression; he has a language of his own to refer to things), "milk", "Oww" (for Stik-O) among others.

It's amazing that he's grown so fast and so sharp! I need to keep up! He's a very active and curious little boy and I need a significant amount of emotional, mental and physical energy in order to keep up. :)


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Little Something for Daddy

Zeff's Father's Day gift for Baba is waiting for him at home, accumulating dust. Hehe 

I'm not the only one who's excited. Just a few more days, little one. Daddy's gonna be home soon! :)

Tales from an OFW's Wife: The Daily E-mail

My husband and I exchange emails everyday. I told him we're modern day electronic 'penpals'. :) Our conversations are mostly centered on Zeff's milestones, his most recent tricks and "pakulo" and my endless stories about houses that I've found and  our church wedding, the leaking faucet that needed repair and the insanely high electric bill and a host of other mundane topics and of course, my daily musings about this life.

We talk about almost anything and everything as if we weren't thousands of miles apart. We even gossip about other people, (but not in a destructive kind of way). Hahaha It's one of the things I love about my husband. There are no bad apples for him. I am the one who points out the bad apples for him. I am that evil! Haha It's just a part of our daily conversations. It's also my way of updating him with what's happening here, who's doing what and where.     

But due to my husband's company policies and network restrictions, social networking sites such as Facebook and other internet sites are prohibited. They use an email client instead. So, apart from the monthly satellite phone calls, we communicate via email.

Because of this restriction, I am unable to attach photos in the email that I send out everyday. The photos of Zeff that I post on Facebook will not be viewed by him until he's out of the ship (possibly in an airport or if there's time out, or if there are WiFi-enabled establishments in ports where they stop over). The last picture of Zeff that he has in his possession was taken six months ago. It must be torturous!

My emails keep my husband sane, he claims. Thus, I 'write' stories for him every day. I tell him about Zeff's daily tricks and antics and when he's reached a certain milestone. I write in my email every little thing that our son does, day in and day out. And we've been at it for (wait, let me scroll down my email...) eight months now. Wow! The email exchanges started January 18th. That's basically 5 days after he left the Philippines and flew to Singapore where the ship was waiting.

I couldn't believe it. We survived the last eight months with less frequent calls (as part of our OTT: Oplan Tipid Tawag - to save on moolah, haha) and thrived on communicating over daily emails instead.

I spend an average 15 minutes a day writing him an email. I write one in the morning and another one before I leave the office. If Zeff has an early night and I don't have to 'sing and dance him to sleep', I write another email before I go to bed.

[Let me tell you about my 'nightly sing-and-dance-performance' at home. At first, I felt like this was a chore. My son weighs more than 11 kgs and he's heavy. He now looks like he lost some of his baby fat  and he did, but if you carry him, he's quite a massive little baby. Chalk it up to his five-times-a-day full rice meal and formula milk. It really is difficult. My puny arms just wants to give up every time but despite my whining about it, I love doing this for my son.]

So, keeping up with all my corporate tasks and motherly duties and wifely duties (read: the daily email) can sometimes be overwhelming. Am I really a terrible wife for complaining? Haha I am not. It's a fact. I'd rather talk to him in person and talk all day than pour out my heart and all my musings on electronic email! But I don't have a choice, do I? This is something I have come to accept about my husband (and his job) the moment I said I do (in front of the lady judge).

Satellite calls/regular phone calls can easily drain our savings so one call per month it is. Sometimes I even try to miss writing (e-mailing) him on purpose, so he would call me. (Yes, he calls when I don't send him an email). Haha How manipulative can I get?  I really have super low EQ and FQ. My husband's financial quotient, by the way, is waaaay better than mine. He could endure 29 days of not being able to hear our little boy's voice and really wait to make that monthly call so he could save money.  But my husband never missed a single email. There's always a new one popping out in my inbox, every single day. And I am grateful.

I am beyond grateful for this man who turned out to be the exact opposite of what I thought he was when I first met him. He's not perfect, I know that. He's got his flaws and shortcomings and I've got mine. His imperfection and his efforts to be a better person, a better (family) man, makes him all the more endearing. And the fact that he's doing everything he can to be the best husband and father to our son is a testament that he's a good person. The fact that he has big dreams for his little family is something I am truly thankful for.

Just a few more days and the daily exchange of emails will stop. It will be replaced by something more wonderful, more moments of spending quality time with someone adorable and talking to someone in the flesh. :)
Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekend 'Warrior'

Spending time with my son is always the highlight of my day. I feel happiest when I'm home and reading to him, or when I'm just sitting right next to him or just watching him play with his toys.

I've said it before and I will say it again. I really make a big deal out of weekends. I'm an "advocate of the good weekend life." In fact, I think there should be an official celebration of the weekends in our lives. Ahh, weekends! It's when I feel that I am 'fully' present in my son's life.

But lately, because of an endeavor that I've chosen to involve myself in, Zeff has felt his mother's presence diminished once again. Sometimes, I leave the house so early on Saturday mornings to meet up with my friends/business partners. On some weeks, we do it on Sundays. We buy stuff for the online store and have weekly meetings and although I make it a point to be home as soon as I can, I still feel like I am not being a good mother to him. It breaks my heart to leave my son still sleeping at 6:30 in the morning knowing that he'll be looking for me when he wakes up.

I have justified this decision over and over again. Joining my college friends (non-mommy friends) in this business has been a difficult move. I have talked  about this aloud to myself, and to my husband and of course, to my son, about why Mommy is doing it. And not to fret about it, motherhood remains my top priority.

Personally, engaging in this new venture has helped me a lot. I've always been a believer in "Change" and in "New Ways". I have always sought for ways to improve myself and to discover new things about myself. I routinely and actively examine the things that I could do and even the things that I am afraid to do and I always seek ways to improve. One of the things I couldn't stand is staying in a rut.

I know my son won't understand yet why Mommy has work on weekdays and still has to leave the house on weekends. And he won't understand that on top of her Mommy working on her entrepreneurial skills, there's another thing that will take Mommy's time: my decision to finish graduate school. There's no putting this off anymore. The University is now stricter with their MRR rules.

I know it's crazy. (The thesis alone is deadly and time-consuming). There will be nothing left (of myself) for my son. My whole essence would be exhausted by all these extra-curricular activities. There simply is no other way around it. I'm putting on my multi-tasking gear and hoping that I get things done on time. And I know, in time, my son will understand. His mother doesn't love him any less just because she has chosen to finish what she has started and just because she has chosen to better herself and to make his future brighter.