Holy Week online retreat

What our retreat coordinator said back in College was really spot on – that we should take advantage of our yearly retreats as we wouldn’t have it as often anymore after graduation. Indeed she was right as 7 years after graduation saw me without undergoing any retreats.

Hence when I learned about the Philippine Jesuits’ online retreat two years ago, it was like finding a treasure.

These online retreats have come to be really meaningful and enriching for me. As I live in a country where Good Friday is a normal working day, these online retreats I such a treasure.

Last year, their theme was about the Fugitives of Lent. I remember having had to keep hubs on hold in our Skype conversation because I was still full of emotions from the night’s session. I hope this year I can do it with hubs.

This is the theme for this year.

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For those who cannot go to retreat places or on a pilgrimage like me, please know that you can also have a retreat in the quiet of your home. It won’t take more than thirty minutes of your time, for only three days.

Make your Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday richer and more meaningful.

Click here to know more about the online retreat organised by the Philippine Jesuits.

30 March – things to be thankful for today

1. Thankful for a very kind Area lead who understands when and why I get angry at work. He totally gets me.

2. We had a project party to welcome the new comers. But it was also some sort of milestone party. In it, our team’s top boss announced and gave prizes to the team who performed best during last month’s HAZOP. And yep, it was our team! I keep on saying though that it’s mostly due to my other teammates’ units, which diluted the recommendations on my unit. Haha. Nevertheless, I’m happy we got the award!
My prize.

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3. Somebody gave up her seat for me in the train this evening. Yey! 🙂 it’s getting more frequent.

28 March – things to be thankful for today

In order of events.

1. Thankful I didn’t blow my top
2. Thankful I wasn’t discouraged despite meeting overly sarcastic people
3. Thankful hubs and I were able to go to office together and walk home together
4. A guy gave up his seat for me in the train when he saw my badge. A rare occurrence!
5. Thankful to see this early bloomer. I hope to post the morning version soon.

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6. Thankful about the good news that Hubs’ parents told us. Thankful for hubs’ sis’ generosity with her time. 🙂

By the way, here’s the morning version of the early bloomer sakura.

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the story of the mackerel and a concerned foreigner

Fish is highly essential in a pregnant woman’s diet because of the DHA and omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial on the brain development of her unborn child.

Not all fish is safe for consumption of pregnant women however. Shark (who would ever eat a shark???!!!), tilefish, tuna and king mackerel were the constant names mentioned in almost all books/websites I came across, highlighted as the types of fish which SHOULD be avoided owing to their high mercury content.

As I have this image that these types of fish were big ones, I made a mental note to just eat small ones.

Thinking I needed more intake of fish, we decided to have lunch at Ootoya where my favorite grilled fish meal is.

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I asked hubby what was the name of the fish I was eating. To which he answered that it was called “Saba”. I asked what was its English name. But hubby didn’t know. I just shrugged it off and continued in eating my fish. I find it really delicious and I was eating it with much gusto, happily thinking as well that baby is having a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

As usual, hubby finished eating first and excused himself to go to toilet.

Now, the people on the table nearest us were two guys – one a silent Japanese and the other a western guy who did most of the talking. He wasn’t eating as well. It was only his Japanese companion who was eating.

A minute after Hubs left, I heard the western guy said “it’s none of my business but I’ll say it anyway”. I found this weird but of course it’s also none of my business if he acts weird or not. And then in a flash he was already standing in front of me and saying something to me. Because of my surprise, it took me a while to understand what he was saying.

I had to shake my head to clear it from the shock and asked him to repeat what he was saying (for the third time):

it’s mackerel. The English name of what you’re eating – it’s mackerel.

When he saw that I finally understood what he was saying he then went back to his seat.

Meanwhile I had already recovered from my shock of him approaching me. But now I have a different worry. That i wasn’t supposed to eat what I was eating.

So then I called out to him.
Me: you helped me a lot in here. I wasn’t supposed to be eating this fish Thank you.

Guy: why not? Why are you not supposed to eat it? (yes he’s pretty confident)

Me: Because pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat mackerel.

Guy: Oh….. Well, congratulations anyway.

Me: arigatou. (smiling)

I still finished my fish though because I realized I’d be eating it for the last time for the next six months.

Thank you stranger, for intervening which could be life saving. I’ll pay it forward next time. Hubs and I had a good laugh about it later on but really sometimes, it helps to care even when supposedly “it’s none of your business”.

what’s your perfume?

Ever since the onset of my “morning sickness” I became to dislike the perfume I used during our wedding (hubs used the equivalent perfume for men). I feel that the smell is too musky.

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Thankfully, I still like Tommy Girl that I always use in going to the office.

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I also use a L’Occitane perfume which I keep in the office. For those times when we’ve had lunch in a place where the smell is so overpowering you’d surely bring it back to your desk.

I have a new love though. Attimo L’Eau Florale. It’s so floral and so feminine and so spring-y it’s just perfect for the season.

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I hope though my altering smell preference wouldn’t have me disliking these perfumes again come few weeks from now. 😀

a story of life and love

I was resting in bed, reading about pregnancy stuff again, listening to the faint sound of hubs’ guitar playing in the dining room. When I got up to get something in the dining area, Hubs urged me to watch a video. Said it’s just 3 minutes.

Seven minutes and two runs after, the both of us were puffy-eyed already.

Do watch. And be changed. (click on the link below)

Tekken

milkfish (bangus)!!

I’ve been craving for one soon after my pregnancy started. There were times I wanted bangus so badly the idea of going to Philippines just to eat the food I want to eat has been floating in my head.

We finally caved in and bought a pack of marinated bangus in the Asian store, disregarding our earlier hesitations that it’d be packed with preservatives. Checked the packaging and there wasn’t any – only vinegar, garlic and salt. There were also similar packaged bangus I saw before in malls in Manila. So we bought it.

And it was as good as I have fantasized it to be. Yes, “fantasize” is the word.

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In between “oishis”, hubs peppered me with questions such as where does milkfish thrived and if it’s only in the Philippines. From what I know, milkfish is abundant in the Pacific area but that milkfish is farmed in many fish farms in the Philippines. And oh yeah, milkfish is the Philippines’ national fish (pambansang isda) haha.

So good. I think we’d buy another pack soon.

we’re now informed; a pregnancy registration experience

If truth be told, during the first few weeks of pregnancy, I had to make peace with a lot of big differences of prenatal care here in Japan as compared to western countries and in the Philippines. To name a couple, no maternity hospitals/clinics are open on Sundays (as are some other hospitals for sickness except for those hospitals designated for emergencies) and that maternity hospitals here as a general practice don’t prescribe prenatal vitamins. Yes, even folic acid.

I felt that there was disparity on how one of Japan’s most pressing problem is its ageing population owing to lower birth rates and yet we didn’t feel any government support on the pregnant population. One would have thought that Japan would step up on this pressing issue. But there seems to be no action.

Apparently though, we’re just uninformed. The Japanese government of course had already taken action. No, they don’t give out vitamins. But they give support alright.

When we visited the ob-gyn last month, we were advised to go to the ward office/city hall to register our pregnancy. I thought it’s just as brief as when we go there for alien registration which usually takes just about 10 minutes max. But it took me one hour this time! Why so?

The ward officer had to explain to me everything he gave me in this package after I had filled out the necessary forms.

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In the package, one of the things I was giggling is this.

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Supposedly I’d attach it on the sling of my bag to earn me a seat on the train. Unfortunately though, as is typical with most Japanese who doesn’t have a culture of staring at other people, most of them are so busy reading their books or with their phones that they don’t notice the woman in front of them wearing the badge. The badge only earned me a seat once. Nevertheless though, I’m happy just wearing the badge.

What the hospital really wanted me to get from the ward office though is the boshi kenko techo (母子手帳) or the Mother and Child Health Handbook.

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The ward office employee asked me if i wanted the Japanese or the English copy. Of course I chose the English one. Inside the book are pages used to contain information of your history prior to pregnancy, your record during pregnancy (the checkups you had, weight gain, tests you undertook and even dental checkups) and record of your baby’s health after birth (the developments, the immunizations administered).

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Since it contains all the record of the immunizations of the baby, obviously I need to keep this handbook with me until baby is well into kindergarten. Or thereabouts.

The guidebook that came with it was really helpful. It showed some advise on how to take care of yourself during pregnancy, your diet, who to ask for help in your area etc.

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I was most thankful though on the section which tells about the law and your rights at work.

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It was clearly stated that it is prohibited by law to dismiss from work or discriminate pregnant women or women who gave birth. They even gave a contact number if in case you meet some problems.

The government really had to take care of that fact. Otherwise they’d find themselves in a worse predicament than they are now what with women deciding to work instead for self fulfillment.

Now this is sweet. The guy in the ward office gave me these two pads.

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The one in the left I should bring with me during my prenatal visits. This booklet contain slips of ¥4700, ¥7000 and ¥12000 which will subsidize the expenses incurred during our checkups. In our last checkup two weeks ago, I had to take all the routine tests. And even with our company insurance and the ¥12,000 slip, we still ended up paying ~¥10,000. So really, the subsidies helped. Without the ¥12k slip, we would have had paid ¥22,000!

The other booklet on the right contain slips for every immunization that baby needs. I just take out one slip designated for a particular immunization and baby would get it for free.

These two booklets however are given only once so if you loose it, you can’t ask for another one again.

By the way. These subsidies are only acknowledged in hospitals in our area or in some hospitals outside Yokohama which are approved by the Yokohama city government. Meaning i can’t use these slips in Tokyo if ever I decide to have my checkups there. The same goes for Tokyo-issued boshi techo and subsidy slips.

I was also advised on the parenting and birth classes available in the area and the schedule. They have no English classes however. I just might have to request hubby to translate during the class! Haha. I’m still hoping though we’d catch an English class, even if it’s in Tokyo.

I was also advised that once I’ve given birth, we should register the birth within two weeks so that baby and mommy can enjoy more privileges (will share more next time).

Anyways, the government does care after all. 🙂

Excited to see baby again on the monitor in our next prenatal visit! Hope you’re growing healthy and fine baby.

recovering appetite

Hubs’ family sent us a package which includes a box of tofu which are packed akin to milk.

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The tofu is so silky and smooth and soft!

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I tried to cook adobo but of course the moment I’ve put the tofu in after the pork was cooked, it’s an altogether different dish already because of the texture that the tofu gave. The dish’s soup though, before simmering all out seeped its way into the tofu, lending the tofu a very delicious adobo taste. It brought a smile to my face every time I had a mouthful of the tofu. It’s so silky and creamy and smooth and literally melts in the mouth. Knowing the health benefits of tofu makes that smile even bigger.

Apparently though, as I later realized, my appetite is finally back. With fewer pregnancy sickness (morning sickness is clearly a misnomer since it sometimes lasts up to midnight so I’d rather call it pregnancy sickness) bouts now, and with the bitter taste less frequent now, I find myself having the appetite.

And so that was why right after having dinner, I requested a very surprised hubs that we cook pancakes. He couldn’t believe that I’d have the stomach still for pancake right after our dinner; he’s worried that I’d vomit again. But the yearning is just so strong and after a couple of minutes of lambing, he finally relented.

Thing is, I am not very confident with cooking pancakes. All my tries before we’re total sloppy failures. And hubs hasn’t had the experience ever to cook pancake. But I was really bent on having pancakes so we tried to experiment.

We ended having a very good bonding time. Thankfully we had all ingredients in the cupboard and fridge – pancake mix, eggs, butter – and all we just need to do is follow the instructions. Hubs even followed the step on cooling the pan a bit by putting it on a wet cloth after heating it up – if it were only me, I would have had omitted that step. The effect is a perfect pancake, the first decent looking pancake I’ve EVER made.

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The taste was really good!!! We bought a good pancake mix. Although I still long for the day that I could make a pancake mix from scratch and not instant just like how mama and papa used to do it for our snacks when we were young. Those pancakes were just so good!!!

Above all though, because of the unexpected pancake craving, we had a fun and memorable time in the process. Happy.

freeze-dried miso soup

Was nursing a very bad sore throat ever since Saturday. Last night however, the coughing got nasty. And for every cough i’d double up because my belly would hurt as well. Felt like some nerves went taut inside my belly and it was just so painful. Of course this got me worried for baby.

The cough and the pain went on till morning prompting me to decide to take the day off, following the doctor’s advise to just lie in bed whenever my belly hurts.

Hubs bought me bottled water and oranges and some bacon for the fried rice I had in mind. He was really a dear – he had to go out once and then come back before heading back out again for office. Thankfully it was still early.

Had the fried rice for lunch. But we haven’t thought about dinner. Thankfully we still have eggs so I noshed on two hard-boiled eggs; which are actually my favourite recently.

One other thing I was thankful for. Last weekend, Atsushi’s family sent us a package of good-quality Japanese food: nori which were in cans and not just in plastic, tofu which are boxed like milk which was just soooo good, and freeze-dried miso.

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Just add a bit if water. Tadaan! Perfect complement for my eggs.

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Being pregnant and conscious of food intake as I am, I had to research a bit on freeze drying. Thankfully, no preservatives involved. Read here for some interesting very short read.
I checked the salt content and considering all my food intake today, I was surprised I still didn’t make the minimum required of 1500mg (US standard).

Will share the delicious tofu we received, next time.

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