Home update

I spent days cleaning up our rental unit. My whole body is very sore right now. I need to clean them the way we got it when we first moved in or we won’t get our deposit back. I didn’t get the chance to use safety equipment like gloves because I felt that it slows me down. Now, I’m regretting not using gloves, because my fingers were all dried up from too much windex and soap!

Today, I met with the realtor and it seems that they will still do some cleaning and will be charging them to me. Her best estimate is that I will only receive half of my deposit. I really screwed up on the carpet cleaning in the living room! My kids really messed up a lot on that part of the house. It’s a good thing the bedrooms pass the inspection.

So in our new home, there will be no TV in the living room anymore! No TV means no eating on the carpet area. This is the only way I can protect the carpet from my kids. I will be putting the TV in the basement. I am going to be strict on “no eating anywhere in the house except the kitchen and dining area.” The basement is unfinished, so if they did try to sneak in some food or drink and make a mess, it wouldn't matter to me. Wish me luck. Hope it works!

Blessings for 2008

  1. Thanks to the low interest [0.9% p.a.] balance transfer offer of one of our credit card, we were able to borrow money to invest in our RRSP [Registered Retirement Savings Plan] make a substantial tax refund to payoff the upgrades we wanted for our new townhouse. And I was able to pay it off within 3 months.
  2. The construction of our new home early this year!

  3. Thanks to my MIL, we finally sold our townhouse in Manila. GOD do works in mysterious ways... because this simply means that we don't have to worry about paying 2 mortgages. And also many many thanks to her for babysitting for us during my hectic schedule at tax season.

  4. My first DSLR - a Nikon D-40.
  5. My daughter's first communion.

  6. Another trip back to Manila in June. This time to attend a wedding... This trip is shorter than the last one, but we made the best of it!
  7. With a stop-over in Taiwan and seeing my cousins after 7 long years.
  8. And of course, my pro-blogging's stint which pave way to purchasing a keyboard for my daughter and a laptop for myself.

  9. This Litratong Pinoy and Wordless Wednesday's entry reached 100+ comments! Thank you so much!

  10. Finally, after a 4-month delay, we took possession of our own condo-townhouse. It's small but its ours! It's a dream come true!


Merry Christmas!!!

CREDITS: WaterLoProject
This scrap is also posted at my other blog.

Moving day!

I am quite thankful for all our friends who helped us with our move. We started Friday night at around 9:30pm. And since there are 5 men including hubby, it has been very easy for all of them to carry the heavier stuff like the couch, the bed, study table and more. We finished loading by 11:30pm but the pizza that I ordered was late due to the bad weather condition. While waiting for the pizza, they all decided to start unloading. Unloading was supposed to be done on Saturday morning with a different batch of helpers. But they all insisted, so we did unloading and were done by 1am. Then we had a very late midnight snack.

The next day, it was time to pack all the smaller and fragile stuff like our LCD TV and the piano. And most of our helpers then were female, so it wasn’t as bad anymore since all the heavier stuff had been moved.

Sunday, we were by ourselves already. And I started arranging the kitchen/living/dining rooms. And I am not done yet. And today, is more cleaning up and have the main floor ready for Christmas. Tomorrow will be shopping day! I still haven’t bought any Christmas gifts for my own kids!

Our skins and lips are all dried up from the long exposure to the cold weather. It’s a good thing it wasn’t snowing during the weekend though the temp was somewhere between -20 to -30C.

More story to follow….

Wordless Wednesday: Our bare home

This is a little bit late for WW... anyway, here's some pictures of the main floor of our bare house...

And the kids' bedrooms...

And the master bedroom...

Join Wordless Wednesday

Art Attack #4

Patricia submitted an artwork for a Christmas card for the Calgary Catholic School District. And it has been featured here -- http://www.cssd.ab.ca/files/christmasart1/2008/index.html.

Hers is drawing # 33.


Today is THE day! It's all happening in about 6 hours! And I have to get my stuff ready. I just hope that all is well at the new house and that they fix everything that needs fixing.

I already took some days off at work and will report back to work on Christmas Day. The big moving day will happen this Saturday for all the heavy stuff. But starting this afternoon, I plan to move some of the little stuff throughout the week. The first thing I will be doing today is to set up our Christmas tree!

Weather isn't cooperative either. We are having a cold spell this whole week. Temperature has been averaging around -25 to -39C with the windchill. It's a good thing it is not snowing anymore. I just hope that the people who offered their help will not back out because of the bad weather.

I am so sorry if I haven't been active on my blog hopping lately... I know you understand that I just have too much on my hands right now. Pictures and updates to follow...

Wishing you all a happy holidays!

A glitch

If you've been following me in plurks or facebook, you know how excited I was to see the inside of our new home for the very first time yesterday.

The builder have scheduled our walk-through 5 days before the possession date. I tried to contest to this, because of "what ifs" but the builder assured me that that is enough time.

Today I found out that the walk-through is normally scheduled 2 weeks prior to possession day and before signing the mortgage papers. In our case, we signed our mortgage papers first before the walk through.

There are a few things that we were expecting but was told it was misinterpreted. For example:

  • We were told there will be a light switch for the electrical plugs in case we decided we wanted a floor lamp in the living room. This didn't happen.
  • When I upgraded the kitchen floor from lino to tile, I was told that the main bathroom will likewise be upgraded. Again, this didn't happen. Only the backsplash of the bathroom were changed to tiles, not the floor.
Maybe I misinterpreted things. But I can live without these things.

But they did screw up on one major thing that I can't accept. That is, the fridge door doesn't open all the way without hitting the island counter! My counter will probably not break because its granite... but the handle of the fridge door will definitely get damage. Besides, in the future, I don't think anybody will want to buy our house for this major glitch. Do you agree?

Now I see the problem in purchasing new homes.

Right now, I am still waiting for a call from the builder as to how they will deal with this.


UPDATE: [December 13, 2008]

The builder decided that the cheapest and easiest way to go is to upgrade my fridge to a side by side. This way, the door is smaller than the regular fridge and I will be able to open the fridge all the way. Of course, they will shoulder all additional costs to this.

The other option is to rebuild the island counter, but this will take days and I'm afraid they might cause damage to my tiles or carpet. Plus a possible delay in our moving date.

Wordless Wednesday: Full slab baby back ribs

My friend L just celebrated her 36th birthday and we all went to Montana's for lunch! There's 8 of us and this is what we all ordered. The meal also includes either apple crisp or brownies top with ice cream for dessert. Of course, none of us was able to finished our ribs...

Thank you L for the yummy treat!

Join Wordless Wednesday

Playing with my Nikon

I bought my Nikon sometime in April of this year... and yet, up to now, I still haven't read the whole manual. I even bought a book that talks about my Nikon and its features, but I am still clueless on how to use my camera. I just couldn't find the time to sit and read through the whole book.

This was taken during the Family Advent at our church. This is a special Family Advent organized by my kids' school. So all grades prepared something for this special mass. This is the presentation of Grade 6 students. My son is the one in blue-green long sleeve shirt and jeans.

with flash [left] and without flash [right]


3 more days till our walk through...
8 more days till our possession day... and then its moving time... I have 10 days to move our stuff slowly... and I hope it doesn't snow like this!
12 more days till Patricia's first [piano] recital...
and 18 more days till Christmas day...

and lots of Christmas parties/gatherings in between!

My dream house

We all want our own home! We all have our dream house! And though I admire and sometimes envy those people with big houses and big yard, fully decorated homes, it isn't what I want. It's nice to have, but it's not a necessity for me. All I need is a house where we could call our home, sweet home.

I grew up in the Philippines where it is easy to hire maids to clean and cook for you. If I am still in the Philippines, and money is no object, I would probably want a big house for my family.

But living in Canada changes that. House chores are really chores! It is no fun at all. And it is expensive to hire someone to come and clean your house once in awhile. Besides, I didn't grow up planting in spring, mowing the lawns in the summer, raking leaves in autumn or shoveling snow in winter. And I don't want to do all those things. And hubby doesn't want to either.

So our dream house is a condo-townhouse style were the condo management will handle all the planting, the mowing, the raking and shoveling for us. We don't want a big house anymore, because it only means more area to cover in cleaning the house. Or more area for my kids to mess up.

Once we retire and the kids have move out, hubby and I plan to live in a high rise condo.

Trip to Wildwood, NJ

I missed driving from Toronto to New York City. We used to do that 1-2 times a year when we were still living in Toronto. It’s about 10-12 hours drive. My husband got relatives all over New York and New Jersey.

Last 2006, we went on a family vacation [including my in-laws from the Philippines and in-laws from New York] in the best water parks in New Jersey. Morey’s Piers has amusement park rides, a boardwalk with stores to shop, video arcades and even some slot machines.

My kids and their cousins really enjoyed the water parks with its huge water slides and the bucket that is simply refreshing. They also enjoyed running around the beach chasing seagulls and playing baseball. It was truly a memorable summer Jersey Shore beach Vacation for all of us!

Here is a picture of my husband’s uncle, Francis or Boss, playing and enjoying the slot machine. It’s his first trip to the States. And he loves it!

Morey’s Piers announces its annual holiday sale where one can save up to 40% on season pass to both water parks. Sale will run from December 1 to January 9. They also offer weekly specials. Just check out their site.

4th Blog-niversary!

December 1, 2004 was the first day I started blogging. And I have never thought that I will still be blogging up to now. Let alone, earn money through blogging. Blogging is truly addicting, at the same time it gave me the opportunities to meet people like you.

Happy 4th year blog-niversary to Jo's Precious Thoughts... I have a total of 226 regular posts and about 110 sponsored posts for 2008 alone. And this post received over 100+ comments! Truly a milestone for this blog.

This is my original template. I didn't want to change my template until I started having problems with it...

I wish to acknowledge my top 10 commentors [for 2008] and loyal readers!

Approximately 130 messages

Approximately 92 messages

Approximately 86 messages

Approximately 84 messages

And the following bloggers left approximately 25+ messages...

Tani ..... Liz ..... Ann ..... Girlie ..... Toni ..... Ghee.

To all the rest:

I truly appreciate your taking time to visit and read my blog despite it having some sponsored posts in-between. This gal needs some extra cash on the side you know. Again,

THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

What are the traditions surrounding moving into a new house?

My friend at the airport told me I need 7 things: Mama Mary or Santo Nino, rice, salt, sugar, water, oil and live plant.

Another suggested that I threw coins on the floor too. Isn't this done on the house blessing?

Does the moon have anything to do with it? December 12 is the full moon, but we don't get the keys to the house until December 15 @ 2pm. This one is out of my hands.

What are your traditions? I guess it will not hurt me to follow some traditions, right? As long as I know the reason/logic behind it.

I also decided to do a little research --

"While there may be many customs worldwide associated with housewarming, the most familiar one is that of bringing three items: salt to ensure that life in the new home will always have flavor; bread, so that the homeowners will never go hungry; and wine, so that joy and prosperity will reign forever. The tradition of bringing these three items undoubtedly stems from pre-Christian lore and beliefs, but continues in many parts of the world today." SOURCE

Thai tradition: "You need to bring with you three items, rice, water, and knife. The rice and water, so that there will be plentiful and the owners will live in prosperity, and the knife is to protect the family from any evil spirits."

Chinese tradition: "... bring a flashlight and shine the light into the top and bottom corner of every closet and every room... What you're doing is transferring the spirits from the old place into the new place; you’re showing them where to go. It's a way of lighting their way. SOURCE

"We also had the usual custom of bringing in salt, rice, cotton, monggo seeds and water with us when we moved in." SOURCE
Our new homeThere's no way I will be doing the knife thing... it may cause me badluck. I'm Chinese but I have never heard of the flashlight thing either. Oh well... And what's the logic behind cotton and monggo seeds? Anyone?

I can't wait to see the inside of our new home. Anyway, after I bring in these "traditional" starters, the first thing I want to move and set up is our Christmas tree! I can't feel the Christmas spirit without a Christmas tree.

We have 9 days to move our stuff slowly. I use smaller boxes so I can move some stuff alone while the kids are in school. Then we will set aside either Saturday or Sunday [depending on the weather] to move all the heavier stuff and rent a U-Haul truck. I plan to sleep in our new home by December 21. If not, we will definitely celebrate Christmas in our new home. Wish us luck.

BTW, here's an interesting historical link --
Contractors in Fuzhou City, southeast China, have moved a historic priest's house to preserve traditions.

Wordless Wednesday: Falls

Banff National Park

Join Wordless Wednesday

Photo Hunt: Reflection

Here's baby Alex, playing with his own reflection.
This was his 1st birthday celebration in New York City, January 2008.

And my reflection during one of our many road trips... with my Nikon.

Join Photo Hunt.
Here are the 2008 Photo Hunt Themes.

Do you have a Last Will and Testament?

Currently, I’ve been taking additional tax courses. One of them is about Deceased and Trust Returns. In this course, I suddenly realized how important for one to have a Will, and an updated Will for that matter. It doesn’t matter if you only have a few thousand dollars in your bank account or you have multi-million dollar corporation. The important thing is who gets what if and when you die. Do you just want it to go to just anybody? Or do you want your family to fight over who gets what?

Even if you think you have nothing to put in the Will, but have young children, you would want to make sure that your children will not go to a foster home. You would want to make sure that your children will be looked after by someone you can trust. For this purpose alone, a Will is very important.

Case #1
A is married to B. They had a Will. They got divorce. A married C and lived a very happy life with his new family. A died without leaving a new Will to supersede the first Will. Guess what? Everything went to B! C can’t even fight it in court.

Case #2
A is married to B. They didn’t have a Will. They separated without filing for divorce. A and C becomes common-law partner [no Will]. They never filed their tax return as common-law either. A dies. Guess what? B gets everything! Because in the eyes of the law, B is the legal wife and C doesn’t exist at all.

So filing as common-law may not benefit you at present [especially if you are both working full-time], but you should, and if you did, C might have a case here.

Case #3
A and B are married and have children. They don’t have a Will. A dies. B gets everything. Later on, B married C. They don’t have a Will. B dies. Guess what? Everything went to C and his children. None of the children of A and B got a single penny. Is that fair? I know that wasn’t the intention of B, but without a Will, her children with A gets nothing.

A death in a family may cause reunion and forgiveness OR it may drive a family apart! Money is the root of all evil. Never ever forget that!

Friday Fill-ins #7

  1. The last band I saw live was Hall and Oates in Connecticut in 1993. Now that took me a long time to think back.
  2. What I look forward to most on Christmas is spending Christmas in our new home.
  3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is almost done.
  4. Thoughts of our upcoming move fill my head.
  5. I wish I could wear summer clothes at winter time.
  6. Bagpipes is not something I want to learn how to play.
  7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to quiet time at home, tomorrow my plans include going on a furniture hunt and Sunday, I want to attend mass and do some grocery shopping!
Addendum: I just remembered - I watch Apo Hiking Society's concert in Toronto in 2006. But they are not a band.

Join Friday Fill-ins

Litratong Pinoy: Madumi

Akala ko hindi na ako makakalahok sa linggong ito dahil wala akong makitang litrato na "madumi." Buti na lang at lumabas kami ng mga kaibigan ko at nagkaroon na ako ng "maduming" lahok.

Eto si Ron, 17 months old, bago kumain at habang kumakain!

I couldn't find a dirty picture. It's a good thing I went out with some friends today and got the perfect picture.

Meet 17-months old baby Ron, before and during lunch time.

Ito ang aking lahok sa Litratong Pinoy.

Wordless Wednesday: Her first party

Patricia has been invited to a girl's party! Simone's birthday was on a Sunday, but she invited Patricia for play date the day before the party.

Meet Patricia's best friend, Simone [in red] and her cousin Alex [with bunny ears].
Simone baked these cupcakes herself!

Patricia's gift to Simone was this Bratz bag. Patricia had the same bag. So now, they are "bag buddies"... too bad Simone and her family "might" move to Ontario by next summer.

Join Wordless Wednesday

My new toy

Whenever hubby and I go to Future Shop or Best Buy, I am always tempted to walk out with a laptop. But the timing isn't always right. I don't know what feature to look for, and I guess I haven't found the one that I really, really like. That is until last week!

I finally found the perfect laptop for me. The problem is they only have the display model. And it was out of stock in a couple of other branches as well.

Earlier this evening, we decided to try again. And it was in stock. So I brought home a 13.3" HP Intel Core 2 Duo with 320GB hard drive, 4GB Memory and a 5-1 digital media reader. It also got a mini remote control, light view keyboard and the new fingerprint reader!

Luggage or balikbayan boxes

I just accompanied a friend of mine to the mall in search for a luggage. She is going home to the Philippines for the first time after 15 years. She's contemplating whether to use balikbayan boxes or luggage.

After going from one store to the next, she finally decided to buy a Samsonite luggage online. It’s way cheaper than the prices in store even if you add the delivery charges.

Litratong Pinoy: Kinagisnan

Noong bata pa ako, pinakapaborito ko ang Linggo.
Dahil tuwing Linggo, ang bibingka at sapin-sapin ang aming almusal.

When I was young, Sunday was my favorite day.
Because every Sunday, we would have the yummy bibingka and sapin-sapin as our breakfast.

"No Filipino Christmas is complete without Bibingka. Bibingka, is a rice cake similar to the Western pancake in appearance. In taste, texture and way of cooking, however, they are very much different from each other. Bibingka is made from galapong, baked in a special clay pot, lined with a piece of banana leaf, with live coals on top and underneath. It is topped with slices of kesong puti (white cheese) and itlog na maalat (salted duck eggs). The newly-cooked bibingka is spread with butter and sometimes sprinkled with sugar then served with niyog (grated coconut). Galapong is glutinous rice soaked in water then ground with the water to form either a batter or a dough, depending on what the cooked dish is supposed to be."
"Filipino Sapin-Sapin is made from rice flour or rice that has been soaked overnight then crushed into a paste, sometimes yams or yam flour, coconut milk and sugar. Each layer is tinted (the bottom one a deep ube-like purple, the middle a golden yolk yellow,the top one white), and steamed before the next layer is added. This famous Sapin-Sapin originated from the northern part of the Philippines, the province of Abra."
Ito ang aking lahok sa Litratong Pinoy.

Wordless Wednesday #8

I plan to stay away from the computer the whole day tomorrow to start my online tax course and hopefully finished it as soon as possible. So my WW is a bit early.

43 days till Christmas...
It's time to start mailing out our personalized Christmas cards.

Goodbye baby Amanda... she's going home to the Philippines end of this month!

Join Wordless Wednesday

Spooky Edition

MUA HA HA HA!!! Welcome to the Halloween Edition of my blog.

Do you dress up with your kids or do you leave it to them?
I never wore a costume... and I let my kids picked their costume this time.

  1. Together -- Mr. Ninja and Ms. Bratz' CatGirl

  2. Do you have any special things you do on Halloween?
    Just go around the neighborhood trick or treating...

  3. What is the most creative costume you have seen?
    I didn't really see a "creative" costume last week... we just went out for about 30 minutes. But this is the most creative decoration that I've seen.

  4. Favorite candy?
    Oh Henry and Reese.


Busy, busy me

I have too much on my hands right now.

I have a Capital Gain Tax course every Friday [from 9am to 4pm]. I have Deceased and Trust Tax course every Mondays and Wednesdays [from 6pm to 9pm]. I also have to finished an online Farming Tax course.

On top of that, I need to start packing and get rid of unwanted stuff lying around in the basement. I also need to finalized our mortgage, insurance and all other paper works... etc. etc.

I have 6 weeks before the possession date [December 15]. That week also marks the end of my tax classes which means I need to review and pass the final exams [3 of them].

And of course, on top of that, I still have my motherly and wifey duties, kids' homework and activities, and house chores to do!

And don't forget about my job at the airport which is twice a week [Mondays and Tuedays from 5:30am to 3:30pm].

I may have to slow down on my blogging... or not.

Wordless Wednesday #7

Our first snow for this winter! It's getting colder everyday...

Join Wordless Wednesday

Photo Hunt: Blue

Join Photo Hunt.
Here are the 2008 Photo Hunt Themes.