Little Improvements

Today is a good day. I got enough sleep the night before so I was energized and inspired to do a 10 minute workout. Samsung Health has cool programs btw. So I didn’t need to pay for a subscription for an app (was considering 8fit for a while) every month to get some workout routines.

I think I also did a good job at work and was able to focus on the important things on my to do list. I realized slowing down and listening intently to meetings instead of multitasking works!

Doing things right is better than checking off things on my to do list!

I need to make this my motto in life because I tend to try to multitask so much that I let some things slip. And sometimes it is the small tiny details that matter most.

My plants are getting lesser every day. Well, winter is coming in about 2 months so I am not so worried about it. I just hope my grape and moringa trees survive the winter.

Daughter is also doing well. She started having a favorite movie, Moana. She watches it at least 3 times a day. She sings, dances and acts like Moana. When monsters come out, she also gets scared, runs to me, and bury herself in my arms. She amuses me.

Husband and I still need to spend some alone time together, just us. We need to have date nights but we just haven’t found someone to entrust our daughter to.


Our Family’s Journey to Wellness

My 2018 is all about overall wellness for our family.


  • Derek to feel more healthy, no emergency care visits, no more throwing up, no more stomach pains
  • Derek to sleep better, lessen dependency on sleep aids
  • Derek to feel happier, less anxious
  • Derek to gain weight
  • Mylene to sleep better and feel better
  • Mylene to lose weight, exercise and eat healthy
  • Mylene to find new dentist
  • Mylene visit derma and find a new OB
  • Mylene to take more PTO
  • Myka to eat healthy food

I will start to track our progress along with the bumps we encounter along the way.

Thinking About Weekly Meal Planning

I tried to include overnight oats in my weekly meal plans but I still could not get myself into liking oatmeal.

So now I am trying to look for other easy meal recipes I can use.

My friends gave me a big zucchini and some large tonatoes last week so I looked for a recipe to use them and found Cheesy Zucchini Tots.

I forgot to do one important step though… to drain the zucchini! So they did turn out soggy.

This is how they turned out.. not so pretty but they taste fine to me.

I also tried to make marinara sauce from the tomatoes because they are so ripe now and I would hate for them to go to waste. Followed this simple recipe.

Mother’s Day

I dreaded for this day to come since January this year. I used to love this day and do something special for my mother. I live thousands of miles away from her so I ask my brothers or sister to give her flowers or eat out using the money I send to them. This year, I didn’t greet her (heck we haven’t spoken for 3 months now), post any Mother’s Day greeting on Facebook, or text her. I just couldn’t. But I asked my brother to give the money I sent to her so they can go out and celebrate.

My husband, daughter and I went to the Philippines for a vacation January this year. I have been excited months before to be reunited with my family. I envisioned us spending quality time, making special happy memories, relaxing in the beach… it didn’t happen. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I have been so stressed and unhappy the entire time – it was the worst vacation ever. There were other big factors that contributed to that nightmare of a vacation but I guess the fight with my mother was top 1 in the list.

We were having breakfast and talking about the repairs needed for the house – my mother’s father’s house which I bought from her siblings. I mentioned that I won’t be doing a lot of repairs yet because I will use the money to pay the 100K pesos balance I still have for the house. (Initially, the deal was for me to only pay 700K pesos to them, since there were 8 of them and I wouldn’t have to pay for my mom’s share. But then her brothers and sisters changed their minds and now they wanted me to pay 800K but my mother will still not have any share from it).

Mother said not to pay them anymore, that her siblings already got their share and that they didn’t even give her any. So I was offended, in my mind, what I heard was that I should give her the money instead (later she clarified that what she meant was that we can use the money to buy a car they can use to go to the farm). So I asked (in an offended voice and rather irritated tone), ‘So you still want to get your share? You and the family are the ones living in this house, why do you still want to get your share?’ And she started to yell, saying, ‘I will not live in this house anymore! I will take the kids (my sister’s 2 kids) to the farm right now! We will live there so I don’t have to take part in paying for this house!’

I was so deeply hurt by her words I started to cry. It hurt because I have been paying for this house so they can live in a nicer house (our old house felt like it would give in any time). Yes, I am making decent money but it’s just enough for our small family of 3 to live comfortably. I am being very frugal that is why I am able to send money to pay the house and help them when someone is sick or needed money. I choose not to buy myself expensive clothes, always going to a thrift shop to buy a 10 to  15 dollar dress so I can spare some money to send to the Philippines.

It hurt because I didn’t want her and my father to live in the farm, so far away from my brothers and because they are getting old, they don’t have to travel far if they get sick.

It hurt because I only see them and be with them physically every 2 years or so and she’s threatening me that she’s leaving after my family arrived in the house only the night before.

It hurt me really bad I almost couldn’t breathe.

I cried. My brother comforted me and asked my mom to stop. In my anger, I said that she has a horrible attitude (which also hurt her bad, she said that if she was horrible, she wouldn’t give her life for us to have a good one), but what I really meant was that the words that come out of her mouth are like poison to me. She never thinks first before saying anything, not caring how much she can hurt, she would just say anything as she pleases.

That was the 3rd time my mom and I had a big fight. The first was when I was in 1st year college – but that was my fault for being jealous of my adopted sister. The second time was only about 3 years ago, when she suddenly Skyped me. I was happy and excited to see her and then she started ranting and saying I should just forget about her and that I should think that she’s dead. I didn’t even know what I did to her, later I found out that she was mad that I didn’t give her dollars and I gave my cousin 20 dollars for taking me to the airport!

I love my mother. I do. And I know she has sacrificed a lot for our family. I commend and thank her for giving birth to me, taking care of me when I was a child, and sending me to school. I could never repay all my debts to her. That is why I helped in sending my brothers to college. That is why I send them money when they need it. That is why I bought that house for them.

I always thought I was a good daughter, but maybe I’m not who I thought I was. I always wanted to give them a more comfortable life, but it seems that is not what they want. Now that she’s retired, I wished she would be able to travel more, relax, and enjoy the fruits of her labor. Instead, she is taking care of my sister’s 2 boys in the farm, without electricity, where they have to fetch water from the underground river in the cave, maybe 200 feet away from the farm house. She has to wash clothes with her hands, cook using wood, and endure not having TV for entertainment.

She hasn’t spoken to me. She hasn’t tried. They didn’t Skype me on my birthday . Well, we sort of “patched up” 2 weeks before I left but it was never the same. She did live in the house while I was there. But ever since I got back in Texas, we never spoke. Of course I am used to not seeing or talking to them because I have been living by myself since I was 13. But we Facebooked and Skyped every couple of months and it’s different now. I have resentment in my heart because I am also a mother now. I thought she would want to see my daughter. I hurts me that she could bear not seeing her and while we were there, she didn’t really give much attention to her, not the way I expected, at least. She was too busy taking care of the 2 boys. Maybe I expected way too much from her. Or maybe she was also hurt by what I said. It goes both ways.

Anyway, it will take time but I know we will be able to fix our broken relationship. Just like any mother-daughter relationships, ours is not perfect.

So what do I want to change?

1. I want to be a more loving wife. Sometimes when I’m very tired, I get upset and I take it out on my husband. 😦 I need to keep in mind that aside from being a mother and a career woman, I am also a wife and I want to be good at being a wife too.
2. I want to learn how to be a great mom to Myka, and that includes knowing how to give tough love because I don’t want her to be spoiled rotten. And I could be a pushover so I don’t want her to learn to manipulate me.
3. I want to take care of my body, my soul, my well-being. I haven’t been taking care of myself. I have gained weight, I haven’t been feeding my soul, and I feel like I don’t have a social life anymore. That needs to change. How should I start fixing it? Start planning meals, work out, and do this nightly reflections.
4. I want to continue to be awesome at doing my job. It’s been very, very hard to even make 8 hours every day. What with taking care of Myka and driving to and from work plus taking care of a house.
5. I want to keep my connections with my family and friends

Thinking about my progress

Work-life integration – My life has revolved around my job lately and I feel I haven’t been able to manage my time well these past few years. Ever since I got this job onshore, I have been working harder than ever. Sometimes looking for a new job crosses my mind. It’s just harder to look for a new job because I am still not confident with driving. Hopefully when I get my green card, it will open up more options for me.

Establishing a second income stream – My mother-in-law and I have been working on setting up our very tiny business of handicrafts (hair bows, fridge magnets, coasters, etc). Last December we ventured into making hair bows and we were able to make some really cute ones. I haven’t worked on it again this January because I’ve been very busy with work. Hopefully I can carve out some time and commit 1 weekend to working on our business. I really love the idea of having a second income stream and hopefully it grows slowly but surely until I would have an option to work on it full time when I retire when I’m in my 40s.

Work – I have lots of responsibilities at work. From managing the Offshore team, reviewing their technical document and code, analyzing defects, fixing defects myself, answering questions from other teams, submitting status reports, organizing team activities, etc. I feel that I still haven’t achieved my goals in terms of improving and expanding my current technical skills. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself but I think because most of my time is spent working with people, I have very little time left on learning new stuff. I hope this project will be successful and be on schedule so that I can move on to other projects where I won’t have to manage people Offshore – no more waking up at 5:30 am to review code at 6am or 7am! But this is my job, and it pays the bills, I am still very grateful for having it. Besides, I have learned a lot on managing virtual teams and my communication skills – both verbal and written have greatly improved as well.

30 Questions I’m Asking Myself This New Year’s Eve

I love having quiet times for reflections. Especially on New Year’s Eve and birthdays. So here goes my Q&A with myself. Questions were taken from

1. What did you do this year that you’re proud of? Learning to drive, volunteering to speak for 30 mins in a training as a guest speaker

2. Who did you meet this year that inspired you? A team lead from another project who is a really good and effective leader. And Karen, the Test team’s senior manager. I like the way she handles her team.

3. What did you read that you think bettered you? Leadership Fundamentals

4. What are songs that you will always hear and think of this year even when you’re listening on some contraption that hasn’t even been invented yet? None that I can think of

5. What were some times that you laughed so hard you could hardly breathe?Goofing around with husband and him tickling me

6. What were your favorite movies? Not what was good, not what you had to see because of your friends or the media. What were your favorites?
Star Wars

7. What are some fears that you had at the beginning of the year that you overcame?Being the Offshore coordinator for the team

8. What were quotes that you loved this year? Fake it til you make it. LOL.

9. What are ways that you exercised self care? Exercised. Stood up for myself

10. What are things you want to see more of next year? Me driving

11. What are five things you did that you never thought you’d actually do? Drive, Speak in front of a large group in ADC,

12. What were your favorite things this year? Vacation in the Philippines

13. What are the most important things you learned this year? Smart work is better than hard work

14. What is your favorite photo from this year? Oh, there’s a lot. Pictures from the wedding in the Philippines, especially those with my family.

15. What are five things you want to say to people you love? I love you. Thank you. I’m sorry. I forgive you. I miss you.

16. What are some places where you feel true joy in your life? Mangagoy, Davao, home in Austin

17. Where do you feel most yourself? when I’m alone

18. What were your favorite meals? Ribs cooked by my husband, Salads prepared by my husband

19. How did you calm yourself in times of stress? I get my quiet, alone time

20. What are some compliments that you received that deeply affected you? Those from the leads of Test team

21. Who are people that you believe are bringing out the best in you? Derek, Karen,

22. What items of clothing did you buy that felt the most you? My simple and comfortable black boots

23. What are you excited about leaving behind in 2015? All the failures, mistakes, and frustrations

24. What are five things that you were hard on yourself about but would never have been hard on a friend if they were experiencing it? Making mistakes in driving, misses in code reviews, failures at work

25. What are the best pieces of advice you heard this year? Don’t rush work even if there’s a lot of pressure around. It’s better to do it slowly but surely.

26. What are the best pieces of advice you gave this year? If you want something, do something.

27. What things have you been putting off doing because you didn’t have time? Really learning how to drive, learning to cook, and exercising regularly.

28. What are some things you’d like to focus and work on in the next year? Greencard processing, P3 Go Live, getting a driver’s license, paying off condo, getting a house

29. What are the best parts of you that you feel really showed through this year? Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any… but maybe being able to take on responsibilities.

30. What are your biggest hopes for 2016? Successful P3 Go Live, being independent and can go anywhere, anytime I want, continue to have a loving, happy relationship with my husband, more time to talk and bond with my family, a better version of me – assertive, good communicator, strong and effective leader, create more lasting memories with my loved ones.

My Pick: Thrive by Arianna Huffington

I have started reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington and I am truly pleased with the book.

I got it right when I needed it. I was super stressed and have been feeling burnt out from work and life in general.

It helped a lot that I was given a 6-week course guide for the book. The guide gave me chapters to week for each week and some activities to help me remember the important topics of each lesson. I absolutely recommend this book!

I will be updating this post as I finish each weekly lesson.

Lesson 1: Sleep and Meditation

  • Key takeaways:
    • Take time to meditate to clear up your mind and improve your focus – keep your performance at optimal levels

    • Make an appointment with yourself to get enough sleep – mine is at least 7.5 hours
    • Dreams can help you connect to your innerself
  • Action Items:
    • Meditate for at least 15 minutes everyday – I still find this hard to incorporate in my daily routine but I find it really relaxing and energizing when I do
    • Sleep for at least 7.5 hours a day

Lesson 2: Disconnect and Walk

  • Key takeaways:
    • Take time to relax! Unwind and disconnect from electronics (phone, tablet, laptop) to connect to the people around you and more importantly, to connect with yourself

    • Walking helps
      • Make you more creative
      • De-stress

      • Make you healthy mentally and physically
      • You deal with depression
    • Don’t think while walking, notice everything around you
  • Action Items:
    • Walking as an alternate to my daily exercise
    • Make sure to disconnect and relax at least 30 minutes before going to bed
    • Turn off notifications from apps