The Art of Gift-Wrapping

I must admit, I suck at wrapping gifts.  I cut and fold gift wrappers unevenly.  Most of the time I ask my mom to wrap gifts for me; if not, I will just buy a gift bag and put my gift inside.  Sometimes I would just avail of the free gift-wrapping service of some department stores.  Hey, anyway, it’s the thought that counts, right?!

Gift-wrapping has been a family tradition.  We buy gifts to our loved ones as a family, and when we get home, we are all around the dining table, arranging all the gifts to be wrapped.  My father is the one who writes the names of the receiver on the wrapper, my mom wraps the gifts, and my siblings and I are cutting scotch tapes (we don’t have a tape dispenser then).  My mom likes using themed Christmas wrappers so the gifts underneath our Christmas tree look festive and colorful.

As I grow old, I got sick of seeing a lot of colors under our Christmas tree.  A friend of mine gave me a gift and it was only wrapped in newspaper.  Eureka!  An idea struck me that not only predesigned gift wrappers can be used to wrap gifts; basically, you can use just any kind of paper!  Since then, I’ve been challenged to think of a gift wrapper theme yearly and not just buy predesigned Christmas gift wrappers.

There was a year that I used red and green Japanese papers.  Since Japanese papers are too thin, I have to wrap the gifts twice.  There was also a time that I only used red Japanese paper.  I also bought a generic gift wrapper (with white and gold stripes).  Creativity struck me once when I bought a roll of Kraft paper and my son and I decorated the paper with anything!  Instant personalized gift wrapper!  There was also a time that I just bought brown paper bags and tags.

We used different techniques in decorating the wrappers, from finger painting, to brush painting, to stamping

Last year, I used Manila paper to wrap gifts. I cut cardstocks to make it a gift tag.  I tied the gift tag with baker’s twine.  I let my son write on the gift tags since he cannot contribute that much on gift wrapping.  I haven’t thought of a theme for this year yet, but maybe, I will use magazine pages since we have lots of it at home.

Kib writing on the gift tags

Indeed, gift wrapping can be both a family activity and a mental challenge.  It brings out your creative juices especially if you want to have a themed Christmas and a wonderful way of spending quality time with your family. 

For this holiday season, how do you plan to wrap your gifts?

Taking Care of Chronically-Ill Family Member

Every new year, my father always thank the Lord for giving us good health, and it has always been his fervent wish and prayer for the coming year.  I never understood the meaning of my father’s prayer until he got terribly sick in 2007.  Our world shattered when we saw our father fighting for his life in the hospital bed.  He was seen lying on the floor  inside his cubicle in the office, although conscious, he can’t speak and move half of his body.  He was immediately rushed to Philippine Heart Center and in less than 24 hours he was comatose.  The doctors talked to us that he needed to undergo emergency craniectomy to lessen the pressure in his brain (he had CVA-cardiovascular accident, or in layman’s term, stroke).  He was in the operating room for five hours and with the grace of God, we saw him opened his eyes after his surgery.  Danger is not yet over; he still needed to be observed for 72 hours.  However, it was observed that the oxygen level in his body was not stable, so it was recommended that he should undergo another surgery—tracheostomy.  In less than a week he had undergone two major surgeries.  In three weeks, he was out of the ICU and just continued recovery in a regular hospital room.  We stayed in the hospital for almost two months.  He went home weeks before Christmas and I saw the happiness on his eyes when he saw Kib.  Kib was just a year old then so he was not allowed to go inside the hospital premises.  What we did was I still bring Kib to the hospital, asked my mom to go at the waiting area to spend quality time with Kib, I took pictures of Kib and show it to my father. 

After a week at home, Papa was back to the hospital due to pneumonia.  That second hospitalization was traumatic for us because doctors in the Emergency Room declared code blue.  Papa had seizure while his attending doctor tried getting a sputum sample.  Few minutes before declaring code blue, we were already arranging his room in the hospital.  Plans have changed and the ER nurse called ICU to arrange a room for my father.  Papa had emergency tracheostomy at the ER.  The hospital staff tried to intubate him but all tubes won’t get through his throat so they have no choice but to do an emergency tracheostomy (note: his first tracheostomy tube was removed days before we went home and he developed keloid scars underneath that is why intubation was not successful).

It was the saddest holiday in our family.  We spent Christmas and New Year in the hospital while Papa is in ICU.  We went home two weeks after the new year and that’s the start of his recovery.  I prepared for his homecoming.  I bought some hospital equipment to be used at home just in case there will be an emergency. I kept the barangay’s number at hand too.  Since his illness affected his speech, we were always like playing charades trying to guess what he wants.  I also felt his frustration over his illness that it came to a point that he didn’t like seeing people.  It took several months before he decided to undergo therapy. 

Our life was like this for three years.  Our social life was limited.  We can’t go far, or if there’s need for us to just make pasyal, we have to be home by 5pm just in time for my father’s feeding time.  I go to Bambang every three months to shop for my father’s medical supplies.  I spent around P7,000 whenever I go to Bambang to buy my father’s medical supplies.

In 2011, we were back again in the hospital.  While everybody’s celebrating New Year, my mom was calling us do attend to our father because he vomited blood.  I was asking my father if he liked to be rushed in the hospital but he gestured he didn’t want to.  The following night, I just wanted to see him if he's okay and as I checked his body temperature, he had slight fever so I didn’t take any chances of rushing him to the hospital.  Again, it’s pneumonia.   We spent three weeks in the hospital then.

March 2011 we were back in the hospital again because he vomited blood.  This time his doctors sensed that he was not getting better.  All kinds of strong antibiotics were already administered to him and we were even told that they were going to administer the last antibiotic that they can possibly give.  He spent his 60th birthday in the hospital.  Barely three weeks after his 60th birthday, he passed away quietly at home.   We didn’t see him gasping for his final breath; had I seen him gasping for his final breath, it could’ve been extra traumatic for me.

It has been three years since he passed away but we still miss him…

Papa in 2007 before he got sick (left) and Papa in 2010 (right). Notice that his head is uneven because of his surgery and his throat is being covered by gauze because he has tracheostomy tube.

Now, why am I telling you our story?  Taking care of chronically-ill patient is no joke.  It can be stressful to the whole family including the sick family member emotionally and financially.  

Last Wednesday, November 19th, my son and I attended the celebration of World COPD Day at Shangri-La Makati. The theme of this event is “It’s Never Too Late”.  The theme emphasizes the meaningful actions people can take to improve their respiratory health, at any stage before or after a COPD diagnosis.  I decided to attend this event even we don’t have any experience in taking care of a family member with COPD because my father had a co-patient in the hospital with COPD.  The family struggled with the disease for several years with frequent hospital confinements.

Kib with Ms. Ria Tanjuatco-Trillo of ANC.  She hosted the event.

COPD has already been existing for a long time but it was only ‘sensationalized’ in the Philippines when the King of Comedy Dolphy Quizon had that disease.  Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is now one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the 21st century.  In our country, it  ranks as the 7th cause of death.  Sad to say only 2% of the cases are diagnosed by doctors and given proper treatment.  It was assumed that the reason for under-diagnosis and under-treatment is probably due to lack of public health awareness of the illness in our country. 

COPD is characterized by persistent airflow limitation that is usually progressive and associated with an enhanced chronic inflammatory response in the airways and the lungs.  COPD is a type of non-communicable disease so there’s no need to worry about contaminating the air that we breathe with the virus.  It is also a non-hereditary disease.  We are in a high risk of getting COPD if we are exposed to cigarette smoking (first and second hand smoking), biomass fuel (such as charcoal and firewood), air pollution and occupational dust. 

My son and I had a chance to see examples of healthy and damaged lungs at Myth of the Human Body exhibit in Boom na Boom complex in Pasay City.  Healthy lungs are very clear and big and damaged lungs are black and small.  A person with COPD has a hard time breathing, always coughing, and has a high amount of phlegm in the body. 

COPD is a progressive disease.   Eric Quizon, son of Comedy King Dolphy, shared the struggle of their family with the disease during the World COPD Day celebration.  They didn’t know that Dolphy had been suffering from COPD for a long time already because he himself chose to hid his true condition to his children.  Dolphy had COPD for decades before he passed away in 2012. 

Mr. Eric Quizon sharing their family's struggle during the Comedy King's illness.

It is important to remember that for COPD patients, early detection of the disease and appropriate interventions are vital.  These can help slow down its advancement and facilitate quality life for the patient.

I am sealing my blogpost with dedication to all those who have COPD and other chronic diseases.  I am sending prayers to their family as well.  May the Lord continually bless you and keep you strong.  Hold on to God who is our mighty Healer.  Keep your faith in Him.

It’s a Kool World! Ice-cream Tasting Activity at Kool Kids

Kib and I are ice cream monsters.  We like ice cream so much.  If we were to choose a dessert, we will have ice cream.  If I have spare money, I will have an expensive ice cream, but if not, an ice cream sold by our trusted manong on the streets will still satisfy our cravings for something cold, hihi.

We were invited to an ice cream tasting activity courtesy of Mommy Bloggers Philippines at Kool Kids at SM Megamall.  Kool Kids is an original concept of making ice cream.  We were used to just ordering ready to eat ice creams on tubs, but here at Kool Kids they will prepare your ice cream in front of you.  How cool is that?  

This is how Kool Kids look like from the outside.  It is located at 5/F, SM Megamall Fashion Hall, just across Ice Skating Rink beside Lucca Bakery

Kool Kids' trademark

Kool Kids uses liquid nitrogen in preparing your ice cream.  Since this is a delicate element, a person must be well equipped with safety gear before getting liquid nitrogen from the main tank.  It doesn’t take a long time to prepare the ice cream you ordered; in less than five minutes, your ice cream is served to you.

Putting on protective gear first before extracting some liquid nitrogen from the main tank

Whoa! Look at the smoke!

This is ice cream in raw form

Raw ice cream + liquid nitrogen mixed together = more smoke!

Almost there....

Tada!  Ready to serve!  This is Mad Vanilla flavor, Kib's order

Here's mine, Dark Crookies

Another cool thing about Kool Kids is that they change their menu weekly depending on the availability of ingredients in the market.  You can’t get tired of eating the same ice cream flavor over and over again, there is something to always to look forward to here at Kool Kids.  However, please be aware that they do not replenish their stocks on the same week; they just simply put ‘Out Of Stock’ on their menu.  Reason for such is because they want to maintain the freshness of their ice cream that is why they only limit their stocks too.

Menu for the week.  Spicy Chai is no longer available then :(

One intriguing item on their menu is the FroDough.  Feeling ‘Lord of the Rings’, eh?!  They named it such because it is a short term for frozen dough.  It is a bread with ice cream inside, just like the ones we buy from mamang sorbetero.  The warm dough blended very well with cold ice cream, so delicious!

FroDough...warm on the outside, cool on the inside, perfect!

The experience was fun!  Class picture together with Mr. Miguel Aranaz, co-owner of Kool Kids

If you are looking for a unique ice cream experience, you can try Kool Kids.  Definitely children--and adults alike--will find amazement on how ice cream is being made.  Kib and I both enjoyed this activity and will surely go back there to taste other ice cream flavors.

You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

On Grocery Shopping

I grew up in a family who believes that grocery shopping is a family activity.  My parents always involve us in decision-making as to what kinds of food and non-food items to buy apart from their own grocery list.  We usually do grocery shopping once a month.  We do believe in bulk purchases to save time and gasoline in going to and from the grocery.  I also remember how my college friends loved to spend overnights at our house because they said our pantry is always full, haha.  They have the freedom to just get whatever they want from the pantry, and since during that time I don’t know how to cook, they are the masters of the kitchen, lol.

My college friends. We just had a get-together recently after so many years, we're not yet complete though

Kib had his first experience of grocery shopping before he was a year old.  He really enjoyed riding at the pushcart that sometimes he’s so cozy that he falls asleep, lol.   My son also enjoyed riding at the kiddie puscharts (the one that looked like a car). I know that until now he wants to get in the pushcart because he asks me to whenever we go grocery shopping, but I can no longer carry him to put him in the pushcart, ahahaha.  Instead, he is the one pushing the cart already, but I still need to remind him every now and then that he must be careful in pushing it or else he might cause an accident.

Baby Kib enjoying the pushcart ride in the grocery

Shhh.....Kib is dozing off inside the pushcart

When he was about 4 years old, he already knows what he likes to eat, so he is already part of the decision-making on what to buy at the grocery, primarily cookies, crackers, and his favorite drink.  Sometimes I let him experience getting the food he wants from the racks.  Indeed, grocery shopping is a bonding activity for us.

Last Friday, November 14th, I was invited to a Procter and Gamble (P&G) event in SM Angono.  Few months back, I had already seen that SM Angono was being contstructed.  I didn’t know that it was their grand opening day then.  Blessing in disguise that I decided to commute going to the event or else I will have a hard time getting a parking space.  You can see the excitement of the people about the opening of the shopping mall because the mall was jampacked!  Literally, it was a sea of people inside the new mall! Each stores had their own gimmicks so imagine the noise!

Look! A sea of people inside SM Angono!

The hosts together with Ms. Ruffa Gutierrez.  She herself confessed that she does her grocery shopping once a month to save time and money.

Kib with the hosts of the event

Going back to the event, Procter and Gamble (P&G) launched their latest campaign entitled ‘Wag Kang Titingi-tingi, Buy BIG’ in partnership with SM.  This campaign aims to educate consumers on the benefits of buying bigger-sized household products.   P&G products included in this campaign are Ariel, Tide, Downy, and Joy.  To kick off the campaign, a ‘Buy 1, Get 1 at 25% discount’ will be offered on bags of Ariel and Tide which will be available in all SM SaveMore, SM Supermarket, and SM Hypermart branches nationwide starting from November 21 until supplies last.  To help consumers make the most of buying big packs, Ariel and Downy bags now come with scoops to help them control their consumption.

Look how much you'll save when you buy big bags!

I really support this campaign because we have already been practicing this activity ever since.  I do hope other families will try to do the same thing as it really saves time and money.  It may seem heavy on the pocket, but if you will think of the time and money saved from frequent trips to the grocery, it’s all worth it.