Wanted: Internet Connection. myBro to the Rescue!

I cannot live without an internet connection. As in, I will literally shrivel up and die. My name is Eliza Ypon and I’m an internet addict.

But seriously, who isn’t these days? Especially in these times, when every bit of information is on the web and “Google” is used as a verb and not a noun. And lest I forget, oh yeah, I blog. My husband and I both have our own websites and all the correspondence for his clients are thru email.

The first thing I ask when we’re moving into a new place is, “What internet connections are available in the area?” There was a time we lived in a place where there were no wired connections available. I kid you not. I thought we we got stuck in a timewarp. It was the village that internet forgot. The only subscription I was able to get was a Smart Bro postpaid plug-it. And boy was it worth it.

My dilemma this time is that I’m looking for a second connection for a second place. We’ve got good old reliable PLDT MyDSL at home, but the poor Painter doesn’t have one at his studio. At first he was relying on a prepaid stick, but lately, he’s been on the internet at the studio more and more and he gets frustrated when he runs out of airtime. A subscription really is the best solution for him, but we were concerned about the added cost.

So I was really glad when I was approached to write about myBro. It’s actually a product that’s not new to me. The brand SmartBro used to cover the all the mobile internet services of Smart Communications (Plug-It, Pocket WiFi etcetera), but now the Smart Canopy and WiMax services are now known under the brand myBro, offered under PLDT Home’s range of services.


Three points to stress are:

  • It’s super easy to apply for a connection. With their “Bilis-Install” program, application to connection all happens in a matter of 48 hours! Just visit any Smart store, PLDT Business Office, or go to any accredited Smart or PLDT Home Reseller.
  • Awesome affordable plans! An unlimited internet connection starts at P799/month, which is just P26/day! Way cheaper than sending your kids to an internet cafe to do their school work.
  • Powered by PLDT and Smart’s reliable nationwide coverage.

myBro also has 999 and 1799 plans, in case those are better suited for your needs. For the studio, I think we’ll give P26/day a go. That’s already huge savings for us, considering The Painter was spending way over that buying internet minutes or even making it over to an internet cafe (much to his dismay) if it’s necessary. And yey, I can work there! Basti really needs to spends more time in the studio with his dad. He absolutely loves watching Orley work and loves playing with the brushes and pretending to paint. Maybe now I can buy him that toddler easel. He never wants to pretend paint when it’s just me around.

To find out more about myBro, log on to www.mybro.com.ph, talk to an accredited PLDT Home Reseller or call *1888 from your Smart mobile phone.

Photobucket

** This post is sponsored by myBro**

Basti Loves: Kidzville

We first discovered Kidzville last year when we attended Cecile‘s son’s birthday party. I didn’t even know there was a play area at The Podium. Basti was so small then, and we were very late for the party so we didn’t really have time to explore.

Three months later, we were invited by the owners of Kidzville through Michelle of My Mom Friday. This time we were given an unlimited pass and Basti, plus his cousin Caille, were able to play until they themselves gave up.

We’ve been back a couple of times more since then, and Basti and his cousins always look forward to the “big playground” as they like to call it.

Kidzville has an active play area that can also be found in similar play areas found around the city.

Photobucket

Basti’s favorites in Kidzville are the airball machine and the giant slides. They’re a lot of fun. I swear if I let him be, Basti can stay at the air machine for hours and not get tired of it. As for the slides, I’m the one who gets tired because I have to accompany him on it. He’s too small to slide down on his own. Going down is easy enough. If you look at the height of the slides though, getting up there is no easy task for me and my old age.

Photobucket

Every corner of the area is filled with surfaces and textures your kids can explore till they pass out from exhaustion.

Photobucket

When it’s me who’s in danger of passing out from exhaustion, I coax Basti into the other side of Kidzville, The Village. I love this area. I think it’s what sets Kidzville apart from other play centers.

There’s a doctor’s office with an “x-ray”, a fire station, a cafe, a car repair shop, a farm and a grocery. Each area even has costumes your kids can wear so they are “feel na feel.”

Photobucket

There are plenty of things to move around. You can pretend to drive a bus, there’s a grocery cart you can fill with goodies at the supermarket, lots of cars and trucks to ride, and an actual Volkswagen Beetle you can pretend to repair with tools and everything! Warning: the Beetle has a working horn. If it gets too annoying, you can ask the attendant to turn it off.

Photobucket
There’s an earthling in the buggy!

But everyone’s favorite is the cafe.

Photobucket

It’s so much fun, but it can get tiring. If you have someone else to watch your child while they play or if they’re big enough to be inside on their own, you can hang at the lobby like these ladies.

IMG_0062
Kris and Rone having their nails done while I watch all their kids in the play area. Hmph.

Foot spa while you wait! Awesome!

They also have a girly parlor for the little ladies who like being primped and glittered.

IMG_0063

What I like about Kidzville is that they obviously do not scrimp when it comes to toys, cleanliness and staff. All the Village props were great quality, the staff were courteous, attentive and helpful, and the play areas were always clean on every single time we went there. Kris noticed that the Kidzville jingle they would place periodically was an original, and a well-produced one at that! (Only events people would notice these things, I swear)

Tips:

  • Eat before you go and bring a bottle of water.
  • Bring extra clothes for the kids. They will get really sweaty from playing.
  • Bring socks for yourself and for your child. If you forget, you can buy socks from the reception.
  • Weekdays are best. We went on a weekday evening and practically had the whole place to ourselves!
  • Eat at Shi Lin after for some yummy xiao long bao. #walalang

With Kidzville at The Podium, it gives me a good reason to visit that mall. Aside from The Echo Store and Shi Lin, there really wasn’t much reason for me to visit there, even if I find it to be one of the most child-friendly malls in the area.

Thanks Kidzville! I’m sure Basti and his cousins will ask to come back to the “big playground” very soon!

========

Kidzville
4F, The Podium
Ortigas Center

Livin’ La Vida No Yaya: Dealing With A Maid-less Household

We’re now into our 6th month of a no-maid, no-yaya household. I told myself I would give it 6 months, and I’m so settled in our routine I actually feel we can do this as a lifestyle choice. I don’t know how I’ll feel if I get pregnant with a second child, but let’s deal with that if that happens, shall we?

People from other countries may roll their eyes at my small victory. Until you’ve lived in Metro Manila, please reserve judgement. Having household help is more the norm than the exception here, and I’ve been regarded as insane for going against the grain.

So right now, I am enjoying having the household under my full control. Ok, that’s a lie, because there are days when Basti is lord of the house. Not just one person has asked me how I’m surviving. Look, I won’t pretend that I’m running a perfect household, but it’s a level of order that I can live with, and that’s enough for me. What I love most is, the level of order and cleanliness of my home is way higher than it was when I had a maid. It goes to show that genuine TLC beats paid help anyday.

Now I will delve into bulletpoints, because I can’t think coherently at the moment.

  • I love that I have full control of housekeeping expenses. All three maids that I had in my married life were inexplicably wasteful of things like laundry soap, dishwashing liquid, cooking oil, rice  and other things. My supermarket  bill always sent me reeling. Now that I do all the household chores myself, I’m using all the same amounts at half the rate when I had help.
  • Speaking of expenses, not having a maid put a really significant amount back in my pocket! I use that extra amount now for little treats for us – a nice meal out when I don’t feel like cooking, extras in the pantry (good cheese, pricey deli items)  and extra aircon time. It’s also nice not to worry about her when we’re out. My last helper, for example, almost never appreciated the food when we ate out. It’s a double whammy – I feel guilty that she didn’t have a good meal, and I feel guilty for the food left on her plate. I have an issue with leftover food.
  • I also love buying kitchen implements that are a little more expensive than my usual. I love kitchen things, but I’ve seen one too many non-stick pans and good knives go to waste from improper use.
  • No drama for this mama. I don’t think I have to explain this item to anyone who’s ever had to manage a household with maids.

There are mundane things around my house that give me a lift and a small bit of joy; the tiny hooks I installed that keep my favorite pots and pans conveniently within arm’s reach, my little 5-cup rice cooker that’s perfect for me, The Painter and Basti, the little bins from Saizen that keeps our refrigerator organized, my Swiffer.

Some insights I gained in these six months that kept me sane:

  • If you can’t do it, don’t. Delegate. If I think I have to do everything around the house myself, I’ll be screaming everyday for the rest of my life. Instead, I get the laundry done by a service (Metropole’s wash-and-fold service is perfect!), and I borrow my mother’s maid once a month to do a general cleaning of the house and the kitchen. I do not like scrubbing down tile floors and I hate cleaning under kitchen sinks. It’s my deathly fear of the Cucaracha.
  • If I don’t want to cook, we eat out. What do we live in the middle of Ortigas Center for if not for this convenience? I am a breath away from Tiendesitas, Hap Chang, SM Hypermart and yes, even Jollibee, Chowking and McDonald’s. If I’m willing to drive, Basti and I hop over to Mom and Tina’s for some steak and eggs, to Cab Cafe for Pinoy Pasta, Pancake House for waffles, or (to hell with my thighs), the yummy and affordable buffet at the Ace Water Spa Cafe.
  • I put the rooms in order of priority. It’s my cardinal rule that the kitchen shall always be clean and disinfected – it’s where the Insect-Formerly-Known-As-Voldermort likes to thrive the most. The bedroom is next, the playroom is last. A toy out of place is just a toy out of place. I found myself saying this out loud in the playroom once – “If you toys really do move when I’m not looking, I give you my full permission to go back to where you belong. I won’t freak out.” I stared at Woody, urging him to nod in agreement. Alas.
  • A yaya-less child will be a little grimy for most of the day. Live with it. I can’t chase Basti around with wipes, and an extra shirt all day. Sometimes he lies on the kitchen floor, waving his arms and pretending to be Buzz Lightyear. Or suddenly he’s all about crayons and murals and living room walls. He’ll live. I’ll live. Breathe.
  • Even if my house is a mess, I don’t leave it looking like one myself. You can clean up the house when you get back. But looking lousy and feeling lousy because I look awful is not something I want for myself. Or the company I keep.

I know more and more families are choosing a household-help-less setup these days, and not feeling helpless at all. How about you mommies who are in the same boat as I am? What are your household tips?

Rockin’ the SSC: A Review of the ERGOBaby Sport Carrier

Babywearing has always been associated with the more “organic” types of carriers (ringslings, wraps, pouches etc.) but the more “scientific” carrier, the soft-structured carrier or SSC, is part of the babywearing spectrum as well.

There are too many soft-structured carriers in the market that actually do more harm than good for both the baby and the babywearer. When I walk around the mall and see people wearing their babies in ill-constructed carriers, I really have to stop myself sometimes to share babywearing tips with the parents. In the early part of my babywearing journey, I was turned off from SSCs because of these types of carriers.

Photobucket

Image source: Google Search


I won’t go into detail about hip dysplasia and all the other stuff that make me cringe as a result of unsafe babywearing. Jenny of Chronicles of A Nursing Mom wrote a few posts about safe babywearing here, here and here.

But then. Here comes the ERGObaby carrier. I first heard of ergobaby while scouring the babywearing forums for information and tips. I noticed a lot of parents mentioned ergobaby whenever SSCs were mentioned. Just last year, I spotted them at the SM Baby Fair, got a card, and they were able to take part in Babywearing Meet 4. The local distributor of ergobaby, Richwell Trading, sent over an ergoBaby Sport Carrier for me to review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: ergobaby.com

The first thing I did was examine the carrier. Here’s what I liked:

  • Light, soft, dry-in-no-time-at-all material. Perfect for our tropical climate.
  • It has a little window on the carrying pouch, for more ventilation.
  • All the straps have these secure elastics that are stitched on. No dangling straps or tangles in your baby bag!
  • Because it’s soft, it folds right up and stows in your bag easily. Of course it will never compare to a sling, a pouch or hybrid that just plain folds flat, but hey. I find that it helps if I stow it in a drawstring bag before I put it in with the rest of Basti’s stuff.
  • It also features a tuck-able sleeping hood, which I feel may be too hot to use outdoors. In an airconditioned area, it might prove useful.

Photobucket

I first took out the carrier on a short mall trip. Basti is now 2 years old and weighs 12kg. The ergoBaby Sport Carrier  is guaranteed up to 45 pounds, so I was really counting on that for carrying my growing baby boy. I put on the carrier, positioned Basti into a front-carry and voila! I felt absolutely no strain on my back or shoulders. AT ALL. I shifted him into a back carry and the weight distribution was equally superb. Their advertising does not lie. The ergobaby carrier has amazing weight distribution, I kid you not. Lately, Basti has been straightening his legs when I carry him on my back, so doing that position in a ringsling has become a little dangerous. The ergobaby and the meitai have proven to be the better choices for back-carrying these days.

Photobucket

So with that short trip, I decided to take the carrier on a real test. I strapped it on, put Basti into a back-carry and walked a kilometer from our house to the supermarket. I did the groceries and trekked back, carrying Basti on my back and grocery bags on both shoulders. I swear I got more tired carrying the groceries than carrying Basti!

The ergobaby carrier is not just a comfort to the babywearer, it makes sure your baby is positioned properly as well. The seat is designed to put your baby’s legs into a right angle, sufficiently covering the behind for adequate support. You can use this SSC from infancy (with the help of the separately sold infant insert) all the way to toddler age.

Next test: The Painter test. My husband is not a babywearer. He doesn’t like the idea of needing to adjust the sling or learn how to wear the SaYa, and he feels all of it just looks too girly. I’m going to make him try out the ergobaby carrier on our next family day out and see how he likes it. Update to follow!

Hooray points:

  • Amazing weight distribution. No strain on back or shoulders. Can be worn for hours. Ideal for traveling with your child around the world. I wish I had this when we were once trapped at the Cebu airport because our flight was delayed for 3 hours. I bet I can go exercise walking with this as well. Lemme try that tomorrow next week when I want to exercise when hell freezes over when I have time.
  • Low learning curve. You put it on, strap baby in and snap everything in place. Done. People who don’t like too much hullabaloo will LOVE the ergobaby carrier.
  • Perfect positioning for baby from infancy to toddler. No spine or hip issues happening here!
  • Compact and portable. Unlike some other SSCs I’ve seen, the ergobaby is not a monster of a contraption. It can fold in with the rest of your stuff.

Points for consideration:

  • The ergobaby carrier also carries directions for hip-carry, but I couldn’t get past the instructions. It involves unhooking the shoulder straps and crossing it over to the whatnot and… okay I lost it. I think the front and back carry works fine. I also associate the hip carry for short trips, so you’re better off just shimmie-ing your baby in a pouch if you want to hip carry.
  • The instructions that come with the carrier need a little improvement. The wording is convoluted and the illustrations are scattered all over the place. A lot of guesswork. Luckily, the ergobaby carrier has a solid fan base around the world, so it’s easy to search for mom-made instructional videos. The carrier itself is user-friendly. You can figure out the front-carry by yourself. The back-carry needs some technique.
A word about counterfeit ERGOBaby carriers.

 

I’ve been asked about my opinion on counterfeit ergobaby carriers, and other SSC brands, as well. You can find sites and posts on buy-and-sell sites selling ergobaby carriers that are China-made, factory-priced.. whatever. They are sold much, much lower than retail price and promise to deliver the same features. My own personal opinion is this: safe babywearing with an SSC lies majorly on the workmanship of the carrier. The structure of the carrier, from the materials, the stitching, positioning of the parts, etc. were extensively studied by the manufacturers. I myself would not put my baby in a position that may have adverse effects on his physical development, and may put my own health in danger. I would buy an ergobaby carrier only from a licensed distributor, whether it be locally, abroad or online. I feel better knowing I’m protected by their guarantee and their warranty. ERGOBaby has information on counterfeit carriers on their website. If you choose to buy outside of their official channels, then that is your risk to take for your baby, and for yourself. Bow.

OVERALL REVIEW:

  • Great carrier for medium to heavy babywearing. Perfect for napping, traveling, shopping, walks.
  • Easy to put on, a breeze to take off.
  • Ideal for back-carrying toddlers.
  • A little pricey, but the superb construction makes it worth it.

Here’s my problem. They’ve got a designer edition Petunia Pickle print that is so much like my blog’s design. I want!

Photobucket

I henceforth dub thee, The Painter’s Wife ERGOBaby Carrier. Hehe!

 

UPDATE: The Painter loves the ERGObaby carrier. He says as long as we have it, he can be in charge of carrying Basti.

Photobucket

ERGObaby carriers can be found in the following outlets:

  • SM Pampanga Department Store
  • SM North Edsa Department Store
  • SM Megamall Department Store
  • SM Makati Department Store
  • SM MOA Department Store
  • SM Cebu
  • SM Davao
  • Baby Company SM North Edsa Annex
  • Baby Company The Podium
  • Baby Company Power Plant Mall
  • Baby Company SM Southmall
  • Rustans Makati Department Store
  • Rustans Tower Shangri-la Mall Department Store
  • Rustans Alabang Town Center Department Store

Right now they carry the following models: the Basic Carrier (Black, Camel, Red, Purple Print, Galaxy Grey) and the Sport Carrier (Black, Red). Coming soon in July: the Basic Carrier in Zebra Print, and the Organic Carriers in Highland Navy, Plaid, Peaceful Portofino and Evening In Innsbruck (which is a luscious print, I must say).