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Ralph Won Gold
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Nutrition month is celebrated annually in my kids' school. In previous years they featured different fruits and vegetables and how they were prepared in nutritious and healthy meals. Because of my hectic schedules I never had a chance to attend. Yes, not even once. Oftentimes, I asked the yaya to bring the camera and take pictures of my kids just for me to have an idea of what they were doing. These nutrition month celebrations were done in festive ways giving the kids so much enjoyment and treasured memories. It is successful in its aim to impart healthy eating to every child.

This year's celebration is again different. The grade IV class, where son Raymund is, were tasked to prepare snacks. And what healthy snacks could a child prepare than different kinds of sandwiches!

I taught Raymund at home on how to prepare the egg sandwich. He was ready for the contest on that day. He brought with him 3 boiled eggs, salt and sugar, tasty bread, a bottle of Lady's Choice sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise (he prefers it with pickles), a plastic plate where the sandwich is to placed, a plastic mixing bowl, and the utensils. That is him smiling on the camera together with friend Carlo. Obviously, he was enjoying what he was doing.




The photo shows the end product of their effort. Unfortunately, they did not win, haha. They failed in the presentation. His classmates brought with them nice plates, nice table cloth, table napkins, elegant utensils, etc. Theirs are really nice and well done. My son said its because their moms were there and they helped in setting the table. I felt sorry for my kid. I wasn't told the contest would include setting the table. Anyway, I am still very happy for his accomplishment. The important thing is that he was able to do it on his own. While his classmates brought with them cooked ham and cooked bacon and they were just ready to put everything together, my kid had to mashed the yolks and whites, mix them, stir in the mayo, and add the needed amount of salt and sugar. In short, he learned something! He wasn't even able to bring healthy drinks. So he thought of buying C2 instead and poured them in wine glasses. Oh, the judges thought it was wine!

The best thing that happened that day is with my son, Ralph. In preparatory level, they had a cake decorating contest. Ralph (in yellow apron) won gold! Yes, I couldn't believe when he handed me his medal together with the cake. The cake is not so clear in the picture (below). His yaya said they chose it because the decoration is not so crowded. There's just a short "Stick-O" on one side of the cake, a little flower beside it, and near the flower is a butterfly. On the other side is a star and a few of those little colorful bars you often see on top of dough nuts.






I was wondering where he got the idea of his decoration. Is it because we all love cakes in the house and he is so used to seeing different types on the table, or is he really artistic and creative at that? Anyway, winner or not, both of them made my day!

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 6:46 PM   4 comments
Preparation for Nutrition Month Celebration
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I planned of staying at home the whole day today. There are lots of catching up to do. Mostly paperworks. But during breakfast my sons reminded me of their nutrition month celebration tomorrow. That means I have to go to the grocery and buy the ingredients they needed for tomorrow's occasion. They will be having a contest on the most nutritious food. Every grade level was grouped into two's. The grade IV class will prepare the morning snacks, lunch for grade V class, and afternoon snacks for the grade VI class.

I asked my son if he has something in mind on what food will he and his classmate will prepare. He said that he has no idea. That means that I still have to choose something that is nutritious and easy to prepare. My 9-year old Raymund doesn't even visit the kitchen! My gosh, how could he and his friend win? "Mom, it's just a play", he said.

I decided to teach him how to make an egg sandwich. I also taught him on the right presentation. Oh, egg is nutritious! Mixed with pineapple tidbits and mayo, it tastes great! Actually he was able to finish everything that we prepared. I just hope he can do it on his own tomorrow. I'm feeling nervous!

The day is almost through and I haven't started yet with my scheduled work. Really, how time flies so fast.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 4:32 PM   4 comments
The Visit
Sunday, July 22, 2007
My MIL visited us this week end. It was one of those rare visits which only happens once or twice a year. This is because they live far away from our place... in Tabugoc, Pandan, Catanduanes. It used to be together with my FIL. But he was in their province this time because my MIL had to stay in Manila long enough to finish her scheduled check ups with her doctor.

It was a short visit but very meaningful. They only stayed in our place overnight. Going home late from my Saturday activities, I was only able to entertain them for only a few hours on Saturday night and on Sunday morning. Though we used to chat before on the latest happenings in our lives and exchange updates, this visit had a deeper meaning to me.

It was the first time I was able to open up my innermost feelings to her and vice versa. I felt more at home with her with no inhibitions whatsoever. Just as if I was talking to my mom. It really felt good to be able to know her feelings on certain things regarding marriage, to be able to learn from her past experiences, to be able to dig deeper on her innermost thoughts, to be able to know what hurts her the most.

This was a rare moment. I hope there'll be more in the future. It's not the length of time but the quality of time spent together that really matters.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 4:24 PM   1 comments
I Want a New Toy
I always hear this phrase from kids whenever I am in the grocery, or department store, or anywhere near a mall. They just love to have new toys, cheap or otherwise, everytime. They never get tired of a new toy until they discover how it functions, how it came about. In short if they can disassemble it, they would.

Even with no occasion I would buy one for each of them. But only if it fits my budget. Just so I can offer something when I arrive home. But this does not happen always. I also know when to say "No" if I have to say it.

They never fail to try to test me whether i'll agree or not. They will always be very happy if I agreed. If I don't they would always ask why. Of course, I will explain. Sometimes I offer to buy them food instead so that they will also learn the value of money.

One time my mom handed my son Ralph Php 500 for a new toy. I reminded him that it will be divided equally between the two of them. But while Raymund was still in school (he is in grade 4 now), Ralph prodded his dad to accompany him buy a new toy. So the two of them went to the mall. It was also there where me and Raymund will meet them and we will all go home together afterwards.

When Raymund and I reached the mall and saw Ralph carrying the big box of robot, I already had a hint that Raymund did not have anything left from the money given by grandma. Oh, I was worried Raymund might complain. I learned later that there was only Php 100 left. To my surprise, Raymund gladly accepted it. I offered additional money just in case he won't be able to buy any toy out of it. But he declined saying, "No, mom, just add that money to your grocery shopping. I know nutritious foods are expensive nowadays."

I just gave my son a smile, a kiss, and a hug. But his words meant a lot to me.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 2:20 PM   0 comments
No More MTAP for Raymund
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Mathematics Teachers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (MTAP) is a countrywide, interschool competition participated on by grade schoolers considered as Math wizards. The competition for the district level is usually held yearly on the month of January. Winners in the district level try to compete for the regional, then the winner in Grade VI level will be the representative for the National level.( I think that's how it goes).

For the past three years since Raymund was in Grade 1, he had been representing his school in MTAP competitions annually. He and his friends (three representatives per level) always made it to the finals every year. They we're best friends .....good performance together.

MTAP training in Raymund's school starts as early as 6 months before the scheduled competition. These trainings are done after class hours and on Saturdays. Picking him up from training on weekdays and bringing him back on Saturdays became our problem.

The school is 16 kilometers away from our house. By car, the ride is around 45 minutes considering the traffic that goes with travelling around the city. If one is to commute, by bus or jeepney, that will be around 1 1/2 hour ride from our home. Yes, we know from the start since our kid started schooling 7 years ago that the school is a bit far, that daily trips would be difficult. But we also know that our child is exceptional and we wanted the best school for him.

Raymund's dad brings him to school together with his brother in the morning then he goes to his clinic on his way back to attend to his patients. He then picks up Raymund from school after his class from a nearby university in the afternoons. With frequent changes in schedule brought about by MTAP trainings, pick up time becomes unpredictable leading to lots of problems.

Most of the time, Raymund's dad who was already busy with his work and schedules, failed to pick up his son from school on time. Raymund, already exhausted physically and mentally from the day's school work, often has no option but to commute. He then suffered from frequent headaches, cough, and colds. His immune system bogged down. With his health going down so too with his performance in school.

Some of our friends, mostly doctors, suggested to us to let Raymund rest from some of his school activities. They also suggested to give him enough time to play. Too much studying with no play is bad for a growing child, so they say.

When school ended last year, Raymund was able to regain his health during the vacation. He had lots of exercise by working out in Garciano Kilat Serrada. He had lots of time to visit new places, to gain new friends, and lots of time to play. But we decided not to let him join MTAP this school year. We don't want our child getting frequent illnesses again. We don't want to push him to the limit anymore. We don't want to grab from his youth the opportunity to play and to enjoy life. We had our lessons to learn. There is always next time, maybe next year, it's not too late.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 1:55 PM   8 comments
Pinoy Moms Network
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Its launch was a success. It is here where Filipina Moms all over the globe converge to share ideas on parenting, food and cooking, lifestyle and fashion, home and garden, bringing up mom, travel, and health. Thanks to Connie and Noemi who conceptualized and put everything into reality. Of course with the help of the section editors: Annamanila, FeistyMomma, Pinoyexpat, and Sexy Mom, and all PMN members. It has evolved into an e-zine.

Visit us at Pinoy Moms Network!

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 8:47 AM   0 comments
Problem on Discipline
I started teaching in the medical school 7 years ago when my first son turned two.It started out as a trial then it turned out to be passion. I found happiness in it that I told myself this is gonna be for the rest of my life. My husband, being supportive in my decisions, allowed me to take more time in teaching as I slowly deviated my attention from my medical practice. I only allow myself 3 hours per day in my clinic.

It is my first time this year to teach in the Nursing course. It is a three-hour lecture on Saturday mornings and a four-hour laboratory period on Saturday afternoons. I used to believe that I would not have difficulty in handling my students just like how I do in the medical course. But I was proven wrong - the younger ones are harder to discipline.

My number 1 problem is punctuality. While growing up ,I was trained by my Dad to be punctual wherever I go. He was like a military man knocking at my door every morning just so I won't be late for school. There was no "Filipino time" in our house. That practice sunk into my system and up till now I see to it that I always arrive way ahead of time.

I know that I should be flexible with my students. That I shouldn't be too strict with them regarding punctuality. But I feel the need to discipline them.

Lecture time is 8 AM. I asked everyone to be present by 8:15. It was already 8:30 and there were only 10 people around. Only 10 out of 46! This is my second Saturday since school opening and I didn't want to rant. Patience, I told myself. I started with the lecture and my students were coming one by one like raindrops.

I didn't want to be disturbed. I continued with my lecture as if I didn't notice them. The classroom was full by 9 AM. The quiz result after the lecture that morning was low. Before we ended I again warned them to be punctual next time.

It was my fourth Saturday and nothing has changed. I was forced to lock the door by 8:30. All those who arrived after this time were marked absent. Of course they know that this is going to happen because I told them beforehand.

Yes, I pity them but I also need to be firm. This is the only way I know I can discipline this class. They are a group of repeaters, shifters, and transferee s. The majority are repeaters. Sometimes I am tempted to say that the reason why they fail from their subjects is because they lack self-discipline. But of course, I never say that.

I hope I'm not being harsh to my students. I only want the best from them - that is, to be able to learn and do their best out of the hard-earned money coming from their parents. Repeating a subject is loss of time and money. What if they repeat again next time?

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 7:25 AM   4 comments
UTI or Stone?
Friday, July 06, 2007
During one of the days when we were at Catanduanes over the summer vacation, Gina, our maid, kept on contacting us because of difficulty of urination. Since we cannot physically examine her at the time, we presumed it was urinary tract infection based on her symptoms. She only suffers from frequent epigastric pains before we left for the vacation. She already know what foods to avoid and the medicines to take. Nothing of this sort happened before.

We then prescribed her antibiotics for UTI and hoped that she'll be fine. On follow up calls she seemed not to improve. We then advised her to go visit a friend doctor of ours just so she can be properly examined. We learned later that day that the diagnosis was the same and she was just asked to continue her medications.

Upon arrival at home from the vacation which was around one week after her first call, we saw her lying in bed because of pain on her lower back right side. Though she no longer have difficulty urinating, this time her urine contained blood. My husband and I suspected the presence of a stone after physical examination. She underwent KUB ultrasound just for confirmation and to note for the exact size and location.

The result showed the presence of two stones, one inside the kidney and the other in the right ureter. We then gave her the appropriate medicines and she felt okay the following day but still on medications.

See how important physical examination is? Doctors discourage patients asking for treatment without being physically present. These patients send one of their close relative to the doctor hoping that the doctor will come up with the right diagnosis. Some patients just call or text the doctor for their conditions. Whether it is the patient or the relative who goes to the doctor, they pay anyway the doctor's fee. So why deter adequate physical examination for the right diagnosis if it means getting full recovery?

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 1:24 PM   0 comments
"How Did I Get inside your Tummy?"
Monday, July 02, 2007
Some kids are really born very inquisitive. Raymund, then 2 years old, was one such kid. He would ask so many questions. Some of them were:

"Why does the sea not ran out of water, mom?", a question which entered his mind during our frequent trips to the beach. He loved the beach so much. He would hold the sea water on his palm and watch it disappear.

"Why is there night and day, mom?", a question he asked one night during a series of brownouts after 2 stormy days.

"Why do we need to sleep, mom?", a question he asked one afternoon before he took a nap.

"Why am I not in the picture?", he asked one time while staring at our (me and his dad's) wedding picture.

"Why is it that Trisha has no penis?" Trisha is our neighbor's kid. She is Raymund's playmate when he was still an only child.

There were really lots of different questions everyday. Oftentimes out of nowhere. My husband and I tried our best to answer in a way a toddler will understand.

One day while in the car on our trip to the province, he saw a pregnant woman walking. He asked, "Mommy, what is inside her big tummy?" Of course I said, "Baby". He was quiet and quite satisfied for a while but after some time he asked, "Did I also came from your tummy?" While I was nodding, he continued asking, "How did I get inside your tummy, mommy?" I was taken aback for a while. I had no ready answer. It was good my mom who was seated behind me was listening and she provided the answer. "God put you inside mommy's tummy!", she said. Oh, I was relieved. My son finally got satisfied. He fell asleep in my arms.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 1:36 PM   8 comments
About Me

Name: Amelyn R. Rafael,MD
Home: San Fabian, Pangasinan, Philippines
About Me: Family Physician, and Associate Professor (Clinical Anatomy and Medical Physiology)
See my complete profile
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