Back To Learning French!

Learning a new language sounds intimidating at first, but when you finally get into it, you start feeling like you’ll be the go-to person of anyone who wants to know How To Be Cool. How do I know? Because apparently that’s what I’ve been feeling right now. Yup, I feel like a super cool person right now. (High five!)

My native language is Filipino (Tagalog), and second only is English. About three years ago, I’ve installed the mobile app of the language learning tool Duolingo, in the hopes that I’d finally be able to use my free time to learn something useful instead of wasting such time immersed in anxiety-triggering games. So I created an account (it’s free!), chose the French language course, and just started clicking and clicking the Continue button. The next time I knew, I had already passed two checkpoints. See, the system goes like this. It’s like some sort of a tree, divided into checkpoints based on the level of difficulty. The topmost part includes the basic words, phrases, and other easy-to-learn set of words like food, animals, etc. As we go along further down the tree, it gets more complicated as grammar and sentence construction are introduced.

What I like most about Duolingo is that even if you somehow forgot about it (which is unlikely as it has a notification feature), or just lost interest at a moment of weakness and despair, or just simply uninstalled it for no apparent reason, you can still go back to it (assuming you haven’t deleted your account) and strengthen your skills again.

I am on a 4-day streak now, having just reinstalled it three days ago. Over the years I have uninstalled and reinstalled Duolingo and this time, I hope to finally have enough dedication and discipline to maintain my streak and finish my tree. Then maybe after that, I’ll try turning the speaking and listening feature on so I can learn how to speak French (with an accent!) and also, recognize it when I hear them. I have turned off those features because my goal for now is just to read and write French.

Aside from finding something productive to do with my large amount of free time, I’m not really sure why I even bother learning French in the first place. It’s not like I dream on someday visiting France and use my French to order a baguette plus a cup of coffee. But who knows? It may come in handy one of these days. For now, I content myself on seeing the jaws of my family and friends drop as I impress them with my French literacy. According to Duolingo, I am already 23% fluent, which I personally think is bragging rights enough. What more if I finally finish the course and start yammering in French rapidly, accents and all?  I guess they’d shudder to think.

Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive- it’s such an interesting world.

-L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Or maybe the reason why I’m bothering with this is because I’m kind of enjoying this challenge I set for myself. Sometimes, I just miss being out there, leaving my comfort zone and pushing myself to the limits. So however little this goal may seem, it still makes me love to wake up, and realize that “Oh, here’s another chance for me to grow and learn something new.” I love myself for never running out of things to look forward to. Maybe that’s why I haven’t got insane yet on being a stay-at-home mom, I am never lonely with myself.

How about you, what other languages do you already know aside from your native one, and how did you learn those? Are you interested in learning a new language too? If so, what language is it and why? I’d love to hear some language-learning stories too so feel free to talk about it with me!

Merci et bonne journée!

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Hygge (/Hue-gah/)

All my life I’ve been searching for this one word which can describe the happy, content feeling I feel whenever I am with the people I love or just by myself. Don’t quite picture what I mean?

I lay in my dormitory bed, with the lights turned off, and only a lampshade and twinkle lights to light the paperback novel I’m reading, twiddling with a loose thread from my cotton pyjamas.

I lean at the wall on our kitchen entryway to watch my family (Mama, Papa, my son and his Daddy) gather round for my birthday dinner, slicing cakes and carving chicken, the smell of butter lingering.

I lost in our rock-paper-scissors game so it’s me who should make the hot chocolate downstairs. I tell my darling to pause the movie we’re watching and not play it until I come back up but he still played it while I was away so I tickle/wrestle/strangle him under the sheets, hot choco and movie forgotten, and ended up lying next to each other to catch our breaths.

I let my son sit on my lap so I can smell the top of his head as he silently reads his favorite book, and all I can hear is him turning pages and the white noise of our fan.

I sit by the window on a bus ride home so I can let the wind blow my hair crazy as I daydream.

That, my friends, is hygge.

It is a Danish word which doesn’t have a direct translation to English, but can be linked to the words warm, coziness, charm, kinship, contentedness, reassurance…

A quick Google search led me to a site called Hygge House, and I love the way the word hygge is described:

Hygge is about being present enough to recognize and acknowledge an act, moment or feeling when the ordinary feels extraordinary.

And if not for Quinn, I wouldn’t have discovered this word. Check out her post which introduced me to this long-lost treasure of a word (Hail! I’ve finally found the accurate term!). She writes so well, yes? Who wouldn’t be inspired…

Let’s start February right!
Let’s all go live the hygge life! Hiya!

 

Have You REALLY Figured It All Out?

A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

Bill Watterson

The cream of the crop. The dean’s lister. And yet there she is, carrying two heavy bags of groceries with a child in her womb and another one skip-hopping behind her, not even trying to keep up.

“What a waste of talent,” they say.

Everywhere she is reminded of the life she could have had, if only she chose that other path.

She is looked down for not being where she was supposed to be. She should be wearing heels and a company uniform, instead of that fluffy house slippers and oil-stained apron. She should be debating with executives instead of trying to argue with her child. She should, she should, she should…

She is young, smart, and creative. What could be keeping her from exercising such potential?

Is it her children? If so, isn’t that enough encouragement to pursue her career? Because that will help pay the bills!

** * **

I did not spend five years studying finance for nothing. If anything, the most important thing I’ve learned is how to make wise decisions, not just business or economic decisions, but, as I’ve come to learn, also personal ones.

The same principle applies: Choose whichever option has the lowest cost, or yields the greatest benefit. Easy, right?

If you’re given all the criteria and values then yes, that’s easy as ABC.

What makes it hard is if you still need to think of other factors that may affect your decision and then put value to it. Say for example, should I continue working or stay at home?

Now I get to explain myself to the world! So here’s the breakdown:

Benefit/(Cost) of Continuing To Work: (per month)

  • Salary: ₱20,000
  • Hiring a nanny: (₱5,000)
  • Net benefit/(cost): ₱15,000

Benefit/(Cost) of Staying At Home

  • Salary: (₱20,000)
  • Hiring a nanny: ₱0
  • Net benefit/(cost): (₱20,000)

The salary here has a negative value because it represents a cost known as the opportunity cost, or the cost one incurs as a result of not grabbing a certain opportunity, in this case, the opportunity to earn that ₱20,000 salary. It is important to consider these implicit costs in making more relevant decisions.

So which one should I choose? The net benefit of ₱15,000 or the net cost of ₱20,000? Obviously, continuing to work is the best choice here, right?

Wrong! You see, it was unfair for the Staying At Home option to not reflect its benefits with no monetary value. If we are to recompute, it would be:

Benefit/(Cost) of Staying At Home

  • Salary: (₱20,000)
  • Hiring a nanny: ₱0
  • Direct supervision of kids’ development and well-being: ₱+++
  • Getting to know each other better: ₱+++
  • Not missing on important milestones: ₱+++
  • Maintaining the house the way you want it to be: ₱+++
  • Less stress: ₱+++
  • Time spent with them: ₱+++
  • Net benefit/(cost): ₱+++++ !!!

How crazy! If you could put a monetary amount for those factors above, how much would you value, say, the time spent with your children? Remember, they will not remain kids forever. You are even willing to give up a week off from work just to spend time with them, aren’t you?

On the defense of Continuing To Work option, if we are to recompute it, it should also reflect those factors that will add over time, like increase in salary, career growth, etc.

** * **

These were the difficult things I was talking about earlier. Considering the potential salary increase and promotion, I think they will still not outweigh the value I’ve placed on those factors to stay at home. Time is gold, and how much is gold, huh? You cannot take back these formative years.

But those are just intangible values. The fact remains that I will still be short of money if I choose to stay at home. I can’t afford it.

Fortunately, my children’s daddy (can’t call him husband yet as we’re not yet married) finally got a job! Yay! Only it was a job abroad, so we have to do that long-distance relationship thing. Anyway, paired with my mad skills in budgeting, his income alone is, for now, enough to support our family.

It’s exactly his 6th month there now. I miss him terribly.

Okay, so anyway, you may ask me, what if things go bad between us? What if he decided to stop supporting our family? What if he unexpectedly lost his job?

What will I do then?

I’ll tell you what. I’ve been saving part of his remittance for an emergency fund and a business capital fund, on my own bank account. Don’t worry, he knows and he’s okay with it. Plus (big thanks again to my financial literacy) I’ve been earning passive income from my investments in mutual funds and stock exchange (it sounds so wow but really, it’s nothing big). Whatever happens then, it won’t leave me totally empty-handed.

So now here I am. A stay-at-home mom, a career where the rewards and benefits are so much more fulfilling than that of a long-service plaque or a cash bonus.

I am teaching my son how to read, and listening to him read a book out loud makes my heart swell with pride. He brings home school awards- Little Mathematician award, Star Reader award, Young Scientist award… He goes out to play and comes home with a little daisy for me, says I should tuck it behind my ears- and so I do, and he says I am the most beautiful girl in the world.

Whenever I get wet, sloppy kisses from my son as a thank you after I hand him over a plate of his favorite pancakes only I could make, I feel like I’ve found my life’s meaning.

I have realized early on what most people take a lifetime to figure out- what we really want in life– our ultimate dream.

For me, it is to be a homemaker.

And I am now.

I am technically living the life of my dreams.


This is in response to the Daily Prompt: Successful

Malunggay Egg Drop Soup Recipe

I’m making this post because I’m already 33 weeks along in my second pregnancy, and this is a great time to amp up my nutrient intake for milk production.

Malunggay (Moringa Olifera) is widely used by breastfeeding moms here in the Philippines. They swear by it and I can attest to it too, having taken it when I was breastfeeding my firstborn.

It is a very popular plant here in the Philippines as it can be seen growing almost everywhere- in rural farms, in the backyards, and even in vacant lots. It thrives easily on both sunny and rainy days and requires little to no maintenance at all. There’s absolutely no excuse how anyone, especially Filipinos, can’t make use of its amazing health benefits. It’s been classified as a “superfood” but unlike most superfoods, it doesn’t taste weird. It doesn’t even have a distinctive taste, more like it has no taste at all.

I’m saying all these because not everyone is aware of this plant. Now that you’re well acquainted with our main ingredient, let’s get started with the recipe.

This is a fairly simple and basic recipe which you can whip up anytime especially when your food is dry (fried fish, fried chicken, etc.) and you need soup to make your meal more appetizing.

Ingredients:

Malunggay leaves (4-5 stems)
1-2 eggs
1 onion
1 tomato
Salt

Procedure:

  1. Remove the leaves from the stem. You can do it leaf by leaf or swipe it from end to end.
  2. Chop the onion and tomato into small pieces.
  3. Put water in a pot. Estimate how much you’d like for your soup. I suggest just 3-4 cups of water. We don’t want it to be too watery, we want it to be more like “eggy”, you know, where the egg dominates the texture. Put in the chopped onion and tomato and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling starts, add in the malunggay leaves.
  5. Break the egg and pour directly to the soup. Stir until it disperses completely to the soup. Add salt to taste. You may also use seasoning mix.
  6. Turn off the fire once egg looks cooked enough. Serve hot.

And ta-da! You may now savor this vitamin & protein-packed soup!

Let me know if you’ve tried it and enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by!

Tip for breastfeeding moms:
If you have extra malunggay leaves, you may put those on top of your nearly-cooked rice. The steam will be enough to cook and soften the leaves up a bit. You can do this in addition or as an alternative to the soup above, just to at least make malunggay part of your meal. You won’t even notice there’s malunggay in your rice because it has no taste! The texture is fine too. Nothing weird, I promise. 😉