Today, I learned ...

  • ... that a "hello" and a smile from a stranger ALWAYS brightens up my day.
  • ... that I need a book on parenting 101 [if there is such a book].
  • ... that I seriously need to watch the food that I eat!
  • ... that Patrick will always be Patrick!
  • ... that I will no longer tolerate verbal abuse from crew members/flight attendants/pilots.

Countdown begins... we leave in 5 days... so excited!!!

Snow, snow go away

We don't want you here today!
It's spring and we want to see the flowers bloom!
Snow, snow go away!!!


Pictures. Pictures. Pictures. I have tons of them, not only for our family, but also pictures of friends and colleagues. And I honestly don't know what to do with some of them anymore. I can't print them all as it is going to be too expensive for me.

Recently, I started blowing them up and framed it, and then give them as birthday gift. And they loved it. So now, I'm also thinking of making slideshow of all of their pictures and give it to them in CD. That way they will always have memories of all our trips and get-togethers.

Pac-Man celebrates 30th year!

On google homepage last week, my kids were hooked up on playing pacman! And there's an option for 2 players too. I played a few games too and it brought back childhood memories. We used to own one of this machine, inherited from a business gone bad, and I was really hooked up on it during my teen years.

Body Tattoo?

click to enlarge
How do you feel about body tattoo? I personally don't like them. Besides, even though I have high tolerance for pain, I don't think I can handle the pain of this one. [Click on the picture to enlarge]

This guy just stood in front of me and my camera, so I decided to take a snapshot. It's a good thing he had his back on me.

There was also a girl with a gun tattooed on her legs. Too bad I didn't get the chance to take any snapshot of her.

Wordless and Watery Wednesday: Lake Minnewanka

| Wordless Wednesday | Outdoor Wednesday | Watery Wednesday |

This is one of our favorite place to visit. A stop over when we are on our way to Banff National Park. See other pictures from Lake Minnewanka -- click here... and a heart in the middle of the lake during winter time.

It's a perfect place to just sit in one of the benches and reminisce or even engage in a good conversation with family and friends. A perfect place to have picnic and have outdoor fun! And there's a trail for hikers too.

Thank you St. Lorenzo Ruiz

My son is a bit of an accident prone and at the same time he seems to be losing a lot of his stuff. It is frustrating for me to help him organize his stuff and keep everything in place. But I guess boys will be boys. His room is always a mess too.

At the start of school year, I bought him a school shirt for his PE class. He lost that shirt in a month. After that, he keeps on asking me to buy him another PE shirt, but I can only do that online. And ordering online means paying for shipping and it's in US$. I ordered him 2 shirts from that and it's not cheap! He manage to lost one a few weeks later.

Then, there's the lost wallet and misplaced cellphone... click here to read about it.

And here he is asking for an ipod.

Recipe: Stuffed mushrooms

My family just love the stuffed mushrooms at Red Lobsters. And I decided to make my own version at home. My husband and son loves it very much! Now, I just discovered another appetizer that I could serve when I have friends over.

These mushrooms were stuffed with shrimp and topped with cheese, melted butter and crushed garlic.

Sky Watch: Hoodoos

Hoodoos @ Drumheller, Alberta

Wordless and Watery Wednesday: Reflections

Banff National Park, May 15, 2010

This is my entry for Wordless Wednesday and Watery Wednesday !!!

Ontario vs. Alberta

A friend of mine from Ontario recently moved in with us to try her luck here. And in 13 days, she got a job offer in a company that is related to oil and gas. She has been looking for a job in Ontario for 2 months and only a couple called her back. Here, she had interviews almost everyday... She loves her new job but then she asks me if this is the place where I wanted to be or do I have plans to move elsewhere.

Another fellow blogger got in touch with me 'coz she and her family are moving here too. She hasn't mentioned this in her blog, so I won't reveal her identity for now.

Well, there are pros and cons to our living in Alberta.

  • We have to live on a single income while in Ontario, and it wasn't easy since hubby's pay is just enough for our monthly expenses. I tried to look for a job, any kind of job, but I just couldn't get one. There's too much competitiveness. And besides, daycare center just costs way too much.

    Here in Alberta, I easily got hired, no question on qualifications were asked and the company were quite flexible on my working hours. It was just too good to be true! And yet, it worked for me.

  • Dream come true! Hubby was able to fulfill my dreams in Alberta. We each have our own car, unlike in Ontario where we were just leasing one car. And of course, being a homeowner completes it all!

  • I started doing taxes in Ontario, for my first 2 tax season. I only get limited hours since the company doesn't want to pay overtime. And I couldn't get enough hours to qualify for EI [Unemployment insurance], and as I mentioned, I couldn't get any other job after tax season.

    Here in Alberta, since I have proven my capabilities during the first year that I worked with another tax company, I basically can work as many hours per week as I wanted. They really gave me a lot of flexibility. I get paid more because I also get commissions on top of the basic salary. These commissions paid for our trip to Manila in 2007, paid for my first Nikon D40 DLSR in 2008, and in 2009 I decided to upgrade to Nikon D90 and a trip to LA and Vegas. This year, it's another trip back to Manila.

  • On a single income, we can't even afford to eat at McDonald's or Burger King. I remember one Christmas time, I was taking the kids to see Santa at the mall so that they could have their picture taken and get some gift. On the bus, the lady in front of my son started to talk to him and ask him what he wanted for Christmas. He answered "hmmm, anything as long as it's from the dollar store." Honestly, I was do embarrassed but what can I do? I always take them to the dollar store to buy toys to keep them happy.

  • I missed the green colors in the summer in Ontario... and the combination of yellow, orange and red colors in autumn. You can see a lot of places in 1-2 hours drive, either going North, South, East or West of the city. There's always places to see and discover.

    In Alberta, you'll see brown all over most of the time... fall colors are just yellow. I don't believe I've seen any red or orange here. We are surrounded by mountains and you need to do long driving to see beautiful places!

  • School. I love the school of my kids here in Alberta than in Ontario.

  • Alberta got cheap insurance compared to Ontario... we pay less here and it's for 2 cars!

  • Even though we don't have PST [Provincial sales tax] here in Alberta, the prices of grocery items are higher than in Ontario. My grocery bills per month has doubled since we moved to Alberta.

  • Even though the cost of living in Alberta is higher than in Ontario, we are able to save more here. Dual income helps a lot! Salary based is higher here to compensate for the higher cost of living. But overall, one can save more here.

  • Employers. It is easier and cheaper for them to hire new ones than give salary increases to its employees. Everybody is dispensable. Hubby worked for 1 company in Ontario for 3 years, not a single cent of increase during those 3 years and yet his workload keeps on increasing.

    In Alberta, most companies have union to make sure that even though the economy is
    down, the employees will get salary increases once a year.

  • I missed all my friends in Ontario. But I have made new friends here too.

Pros and cons. You be the judge as to what is more important to you.

Best Buy

Finally, my hubby was lucky enough to get the best buy ever! He got me a new gadget for Mother's day. It's a gift from him and the kids. And it's what I've been wanting to buy since I got my Nikon D90. A Nikon 18-200mm VR lens!

Thank you Hubby! You spoil me too much. I love your gift. It's perfect for our upcoming trip.

AR 16

Sad to see that Jed and Cord didn't win the Amazing Race season 16! They are my favorite team!

For Brandy: if you are really as educated as you said you are, shut up! You are just embarrassing yourself... and it's time to face the truth that Caite is better than you. Don't be such a sore loser.

For Caite: we all get into stupid things... but you should be proud of what you had accomplished! A lot of it has to do with luck... but you made it!

Congratulations to Dan and Jordan! You didn't have to cut in line at the ticket counter... that move took you out of my top 3 teams... your strategy to move into the first class did the trick!

Gift Idea

Whenever I have a friend/colleague celebrating their birthday, I was always in charge of buying the birthday gift. It was hard to think of gift sometimes. But not to my two closest friend here. I got them this --


and they both loved it!

156 lbs!

We just went to renew our Canadian passport last Thursday, and while filling out the application form, I had to get the weight of my kids. I was shocked when I realized that my son weighs 156 lbs already! That got me in a panicky mode and I told him that he needs to start dieting ASAP! I made him read some weight loss success stories so that he will realize how important it is to stay in shape. And not to have to worry about obesity later on in his life.

Growing teenager

I told my son that he needs to watch what he eats so that he can get rid of stomach fat.

He has been gaining so much in the past 6 months! I had to buy him new clothes every 3 months and he even wear his dad's old clothes already. I know he is a growing teenager, but whenever he sees food, he just have to eat them. And whenever I sees him, I stopped him. But he thinks I'm starving him to death. Help! Is this normal for 13-year old?

Back to a more relaxing day

Now that my tax season is over, I am back to my normal routine, with no stress and lots of free time. May 1st, I took the kids out for lunch at their favorite Burger King... then we proceeded to play bowling and dinner at the Chinese restaurant. It was my first day off and I am not really in the mood to cook that day.

I still have my normal 2 days work at the airport, but other than that, I have 5 days off! This week has been chore day for me and getting things in order around the house.

Ending the tax season

The flowers came from a client of mine... and the fruit basket came from our office manager...

I am finally FREE!!! No more working long hours... and more time with the hubby and the kiddos...