Friday, April 15, 2016

Brownie, Our Adopted Dog (And A Few Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke on Pets)

About 9 months ago, a frail, scrawny dog took refuge in our front steps. She was so thin and almost hairless, most people would feel too icky to come near her.

We were no exception. We wanted her captured. We didn't want her lingering around our property.

But she was persistent. She persevered to stay even if the village guards would chase her away day in and day out. She eventually recognized the sound of the guards motorcycles that even if they were still far away, we'd hear her growl like a tiger.

The guards and maintenance crew eventually gave up.

We couldn't just let her starve so we started feeding her. Once a day. Twice a day. And then before we even realized how far we're dragging ourselves into, it became a regular thing. A few weeks after, we started seeing her orange-y fur come out. In a month, she was far from the scrawny dog that she used to be. We saw how pretty a dog she is.

But we still weren't ready for a pet. So the husband befriended her and eventually tamed her enough to get a leash on her.  When we were about to hand her over to the guards, we asked where she'd be taken to and was told they will just throw her out of the village.

The hubs looked at me and I knew. That day was the day we officially became pet owners. My daughter immediately christened her "BROWNIE" and the rest was history.

Beginning that day, we arranged our schedules so we won't have to leave her alone for so long. Fortunately when we needed to go on long trips, we were very lucky to have family and friends volunteering to take her in temporarily. Come to think of it, her very gentle demeanor makes is very easy for people to grow fondness of her.

Soon we'll be celebrating our first year as dog owners. I never realized I'd get deeply attached with anyone else other than my little miss. But a few days ago, I lost myself in panic because I thought we were going to lose Brownie.

We were oblivious to the symptoms but it turns out she was already suffering from heat stroke. And early morning on Monday, I found her gasping for air almost breathing her last. For the first time, I was lost. I didn't know what to do. I was stroking her gently, hoping my touch would calm her down and take the pain away. But as I looked at her with tears streaming down my face, I felt her starting to close her eyes and giving in. I knew I couldn't just sit there and watch her die. I asked a neighbor if they can drive us to the vet clinic outside of our village and they did not hesitate. Unfortunately, the tricycle that we were taking wouldn't start.

I decided I will just try to carry her. I thought I had enough energy to carry her to the clinic but after about 100 meters of walking, my shoulders were already surrendering. The guards eventually decided to just use their motorcycle. The clinic was still closed when we arrived. I looked at my watch, 10 minutes to opening time. I knocked and called for help. But I guess I was too gentle, so the building guard approached and pounded on the rolled up door shouting "EMERGENCY!!!!". After a few seconds, the door opened and they let us in! "Thank you, Lord!"

They clinic assistant took Brownie's temp and shouted for the vet to come out. "Emergency doc!" They couldn't get a good reading of the temp because the 2 thermometers kept showing "E". Later I'd find out, her temp was just too high the digital thermometer couldn't display it anymore. They placed 3 ice bags on her and attached her to an IV bottle. They put her on whelping box and allowed her to rest. After about 30mins, oh boy, I was so happy to see her sit up and bark. Despite seeing her active after an hour, I was asked to leave her for the rest of the day to finish the fluid therapy. The doctor gave me some tips to prevent her from having another heat stroke:

1. Check her water regularly. Make sure it's clean and cold (as much as possible).
2. Spritz some water on her and her puppies several times in a day.. Even "aspins" need to be refreshed too.
3. Don't allow her to drink water immediately after a walk. It shocks their organs and that's not good. Let her rest for a few minutes then give her water.
4. For newly birthed dogs like Brownie, they're more likely to suffer from Hypocalcemia after 2-3 weeks of giving birth. So best to supplement in the meantime.

Brownie is doing good now. She kept us up for a few more days but I think she's recovering well already. Soon, her puppies will move to new homes. But for now, we enjoy having them around. Even the little miss is very eager to take on the responsibility of making sure the pups are well fed and well hydrated.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Maia Travels: Day 1 - Arriving in HK Disneyland

We planned this trip for almost a year. Our not-so-little girl had picked to go to Disneyland instead of hosting a party because "I'm not a party girl, Mommy". Much to my delight, this decision of hers. So we proceeded to book our plane tickets (lucky for us on one of the piso fare sale of a local airline) and started saving for this trip.

Despite our excitement for this milestone trip (her first out of the country trip), we rarely talked about it with her because we wanted to keep the excitement at bay till a few days prior. The day before we left, she was more worried about the classes she'll miss. They just got back from a week long semestral break in school so she sort of miss her classmates and teachers. Gladly, we got permission from her teachers and she was allowed her to miss 3 days. Guess what, all those worries were forgotten the minute we stepped out of the plane and boarded the MTR to Disneyland Resort. She was just ecstatic, sporting a grin any parent wouldn't dare wipe off.

We dedicated 2 days of our 4 days, 3 nights in Hong Kong for Disneyland alone. My husband bought the tickets from and opted to just claim the tickets on the ticket counter at HK Disneyland upon our arrival. We checked a few options to buy the tickets and came out the cheapest. We saved (if I remember correctly) about HK$30 for each 2-day ticket. Sign in as a member and you get additional discount as well.

Got tickets! Ready to rummmmmbbbbbble!
We didn't get lost from the airport to Disney, yay! Despite the language barrier, we didn't encounter any trouble during the train rides. We arrived in the resort at around 10:30am. We decided to take the shuttle bus to Disney Hollywood Hotel (where we spent one night)  drop our luggage first. We booked 45 days in advance and got a discounted rate for our one night stay. We weren't sure where to leave our luggage but took the chance anyways and fortunately for us, the hotel had a designated baggage drop for early arrivals. We didn't have to worry even if our check in was still scheduled at 2pm. We settled our hotel reservation and headed back to the park by 11am. We decided to just grab a quick bite at the park in case we get hungry. We were still full from the brunch we had earlier anyways.

Our Disney adventure just about to start (and those tired faces were replaced by delight when we got into the park!)
Since we arrived close to opening time, there wasn't a lot of people yet at the park. We got maps (got extras too for friends) and other informational fliers at the gate and got into the park.

We're here!!!!!
Happy to know that the park publishes a weekly schedule of activities so it was easier for us to manage our 2-day trip. The little girl couldn't wait to plan her day!

We decided to walk around first while we plan our two day park itinerary. We wanted to get as much autographs as we can (the little girl made an autograph book for characters to sign during meet and greet time). But we also wanted to take our time at each stop as well.

Let me indulge you with photos for the remaining part of this post. We spent 11am-3pm walking around and trying out some of the rides. By 3pm, we were really beat so we decided to head back to the hotel and rest. We wanted to have plenty of energy for the Night Parade (no expectations. Our goal then was just to experience what it feels like at night in Disney).

Several things I would like to note in here as well:

- We regret not taking the opportunity to have photos taken with the toy soldiers, Jessie and Woody in Toy Storyland because we didn't get the chance to meet them anymore in Day 2.
- We wish we brought more snacks for the little miss since it was allowed anyway. Best to pack light sandwiches for your little kids to munch on. Bring lots of water if you can. We were there November so we were expecting colder season but had to contend with a hot and humid afternoons instead. Winter came late for HK in 2015.
- Make sure to check the weather forecast a week before your trip so you can pack appropriate clothing.
- Our daughter can already handle long walks. But the park also rent outs strollers so you don't have to break your backs carrying toddlers and babies if you're with one.

Main Street, USA. Most of the shops are found here.

Her first ride was here. Via the Slinky Dog Spin.

The Toy Soldier Parachute Drop.She rode this with her dad.
"Parang sakit ng tyan ko, Mommy! Pero ang saya saya!!!"
See that mine cart on the left? She rode that too! Was too much for me but for her, it was just gut-wrenching fun! Haha.
I think we have one adventurer here, Daddy! Get readdddyyyy!

She passed up on this. Because we can hear the "screaming" from manor entrance.
This was her at 3pm. Sooooo tired. We decided to head to the hotel first for a quick rest.
Read Part 1 here.
Read HK Disneyland at Night here.
Review of the Disney Hollywood Hotel, Breakfast with Chef Mickey and Day 2 of our Disneyland experience here.
Read about Maia's HK Science Museum experience here.
Exploring TST and Mongkok here.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Maia Travels: HongKong Disneyland (Part I)

"Byebye Disney. I will be back. Kung sana malapit lang dito bahay natin no? Or kung pwede na lang tumira dito, Mommy ano?"
(If only our house is just near, no? Or if only we can live here, no Mommy?)

That was my daughter's emotional farewell while we were walking out of HongKong Disneyland. I used to think I'm tough enough to never be lured by the tag line "happiest place on Earth" but turns out the tag line is never bounded by age nor race nor generations. Only by your wallet, I suppose. Hehe. But this trip proved to me one thing -- the child is me is still alive, after all!

We arrived in Hong Kong half past 9 in the morning last Wednesday via Cebu Pacific Air from Manila. Good thing our flight was on time. Building itineraries are not my best points, so I told my daughter and husband to manage expectations. Anyways, we planned for a slow-paced trip so we have plenty of time for rest stops.

We took our sweet time lining up at the immigration since its the little girl's first out of the country trip we tried to explained how things work when one leaves his or her home country and arrives in a different territory. I couldn't really tell if she understood everything. I will probably find out the next time we go on another trip abroad. But for now, I took all the nods as a "yes".

After exiting immigration, we went to find Cafe De Coral at the 7th floor of HKIA since we wanted to fuel up before leaving the airport. We wanted to have plenty of energy in case we get lost on our way to Hong Kong Disneyland.

Most of the breakfast items were already sold out. The cafe was already starting to put out the lunch menu. But we still managed to eat a decent meal. We ordered meal sets. I think we spent about HK$70 for 2 meal sets but they were already very filling. The little girl liked the ramen soup particularly and finished the hefty serving all by herself.

After the hearty breakfast, we prepared to leave for Disneyland. Being first timers in HK, we went to find the information counter at the airport first to make sure we are headed to the right direction. There's several ways to get to Disney. I supposed the cheapest would be to take the bus but we decided to take the train instead since we have a kid and 2 luggages with us. It took us 3 train rides to get to Disney. But the transport system in HK is very efficient so we didn't feel any hassle despite having to do several train transfers. All 3 rides were comfy enough for our little girl to enjoy the ride. I'm sure in her mind - "I CAN'T WAIT TO GET TO DISNEY" was on constant play.
Train from HKIA to Tung Chung (this was the shortest but most expensive among the 3 train rides) then Tung Chung to Sunny Bay

Sunny Bay to Disneyland Resort!

Part 2 here: Maia arrives in Disneyland Resort.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Recipe: Easy-Peasy Cinnamon-y Bread Pudding

I hate to throw away food. As much as possible, I cook just enough to serve the number of heads I am expected to feed. But of course, on occasions where leftovers are just inevitable I try my hardest to be creative. And I believe, modesty aside, my creative juices flow better when I'm in kitchen.

Not to say that I don't rely on recipes entirely. I have yet to level up to being an innovator in this field but familiarity with how ingredients would taste or react with each other helps me a lot when I cook or bake.

The other night, a Facebook friend posted her freshly baked bread pudding and I remembered again the bread loaf that I've been keeping in our freezer for two (I think) weeks now. I immediately asked for her recipe and seeing I had everything on hand got me giddy to bake again.

This morning, the little miss and I finally got to work while the Daddy of the house is still asleep. I had about 4 cups of old bread and we tore them up to tiny pieces, dumped them into the baking pan, poured the custard (well, more like milk really) mix and pop it into the oven.

Here's a list of the ingredients:

4 cups of old bread (torn into tiny pieces it was a mix of white and wheat bread but it didn't really matter)
2 large eggs, well beaten
about 1 cup of evaporated milk
about 1 cup of non-fat milk (since that's what I had left)
4 tbsps muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (it would've better if I had vanilla beans, i'm sure)
1 tsp cinnamon
about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp nutmeg (I used McCormick)
a pinch of salt
about a tsp of unsalted butter to line the baking pan

suggested toppings: cold condensed milk, peanut butter, chocolate spread, whipped cream, powdered sugar, maple syrup, honey, fresh berries/fruits

How we did it:

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Mix all ingredients - eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg - except for bread.
Line the baking pan with butter.
Fill the pan with bread (about 2/3 of the pan).
Pour milk mixture over the bread until they are thoroughly soaked.
Press with spatula to even out the top.
Brush with softened butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Bake in oven for 40-45 mins till knife comes out clean.

The pudding was done just in time for breakfast. We had it warm and topped generously with condensed milk.

Thin, crisp top and soft on the inside.
If you are an occasional baker most of these ingredients are probably already available in your pantry. This is so easy to make and my little girl was so proud to serve this to her dad at breakfast. I'm happy that I finally made time to try this today. This is a great alternative to french toast (another leftover bread recipe) which is also one of our faves. Will share the recipe in another post next time.

p.s. Thanks Lisa for sharing that photo the other night!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Daydreams Of The Future

On quiet moments, you'd catch me and the husband staring at our little girl more often than usual.

Chubby cheeks still intact but when we hold her legs and thighs, we can see how strong this kid is growing up to be. Will she be a runner/sprinter? A soccer player (Like Tito Bogart and Tito Manuel)? A volleyball player (like her Tita Bim)? A swimmer perhaps? We wonder all the time.

Our mind would skip from scene to scene imagining us cheering by the sidelines from one game to another.

Yes, of all the things the husband and I wish for her to excel in, sports sits on top of our list. She is starting to be a voracious reader (because I am a bookworm, Mommy! [insert giggle]) and doodles her idle time away. And we still support these 100% but we believe that while these activities sharpen the mind, sports will help build and strengthen her character (resilience, competitive spirit, persistence to name a few). So yes, I hope soon you will find that one (or two, or even three) sport that will ignite your passion, little girl.

Soon, we can imagine you already joining me and daddy in fun runs. Longer than the 500m dashes that you used to participate in. We can start with that. She just might be the motivation that I've been looking for several months now having gone on plenty of running hiatuses since me and the husband ran that first full marathon in 2013.

Soon. Soon. Soon.

racing with her manong Gogol somewhere in Guimaras, c 2014

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