The House Hunt (Perth)

in the UK, at least based on our experience renting out our place, if you want to lease a house, you book an appt to view the property (this is PRIVATE viewing, mind you) and if you like it, you pay a holding deposit to at least secure the house unless the owners decide otherwise (based on initial background info as presented by tenant/s). the next step is for the estate agent to run a full background check, and referencing. if all is good, then you get the property. if there’s something amiss in the checks, it’s in the discretion of the owners whether to take you on or not.

coming to perth, we had to book a holiday home because the estate agents would not entertain us until we see the property. we booked the house only for a month thinking it would be long enough to look for a house and secure it. then came the shock of our lives! prior to the trip, we have shortlisted some houses that we thought would suit our family best. we set an appt with the estate agent and come viewing day, we were so shocked to see a lot of people viewing the houses! we learned that most viewings are open viewings. it was intimidating and scary because you see all your competition and your hope of securing the house really gets deflated!

we were initially looking at renting somewhere close to the boys’ school. but finding a big enough space within the budget was very challenging. then after being rejected one after another, we decided to broaden our search area.

yes, our application was rejected 3 times! the first one did not give any explanation. i was fine with that because i didnt like the house in the first place. it was the hubby’s first choice because of the space but i found it too dated. the 2nd one i really liked. but we got denied because of lack of rental history. obviously, we’re new to the country and having owned our house in England (since 2005), there wouldnt be a rental history, would there? the third one was really laughable. instead of feeling regret, i was dumbfounded! because we were having difficulty securing a house, we really went all out to get the property: we offered 6 months ADVANCE rent apart from the bond/deposit, hubby’s company gave an indemnity letter, we gave them a copy of our house’s land register in england. those, on top of very solid referees. and their reason for declining, they werent sure if we can pay the rent! seriously???? what annoys me with all these applications, none of our referees was contacted!

we then found a house with a very kind estate agent. he was really enthusiastic and helpful. even the owners seem keen. but doing research and having asked around, the area isnt nice at all. so we kept looking but didnt really say no to the property just in case. then we found another house in a really good suburb. unfortunately, the owners became greedy. after seeing that we’re happy to pay 6 months advance rent, they decided to increase advertised rent. they also probably thought we would readily agree since we were in a hurry to move in (our holiday house booking was coming to an end). out of principle, we said no. we would have happily paid the (new) rental price that they were asking if only it was their advertised price! why increase rent all of a sudden!? we were desperate but their attitude was a turn off. then they said, ok, you can have the house at the original price. and by the way, we are selling the house to investors. the house will be leased to you for a year but you have to open the house for viewings. HELL NO!! sorry, that’s too much of a hassle and that says a lot about the type of people you really are! there’s no way we will deal with you!

we were on our way to view a house when hubby asked me if i fancy this particular property. it has so much space but the pictures were crappy. but because we were in the area, we decided to sneak a peek. and boy, were we surprised! dont judge a book by its cover!! it was soooo much better in person! the area is nice as it’s just 5-8 minutes to the beach. this is also one of the original areas that we were looking at. still a bit far from the kids’ school (30min drive) but the route is quite scenic so it’s all worth it! we were encouraged as well because there were only 2 families that viewed it. and that other family can only move in at the end of march! that’s 1 month income less! we submitted the application/requirements that night and come lunch time the next day, we received a call from the agent telling us we got the house. YEY!! but wait!!! the advertised availability was the 23rd of feb but the owner decided to have the floors done. so instead, moving in will be delayed by a week (27th)! they were apologetic but that’s the only hurdle in securing the house. we told the agent, we’ve waited for so long already, a few more days wouldnt matter. that being said, we only booked our 2nd holiday home for a week. extending the move-in date meant we had to look for a 3rd holiday home. yes, we have moved 3 times already in 40 days!


im glad the boys are troopers! we all cant wait to finally settle in our “final” home. i miss having a routine (without house viewings!) and the boys need somewhere to burn their energy! we havent signed the tenancy agreement yet but we have paid the bond and advance rent (just 2 weeks!). the agent assured us that we got the house. we FINALLY have a HOUSE!


Hello From Perth!


Sorry for the lack of updates. the last 4 months have been really CRAZY! thinking back, i still wonder how we’re able to accomplish (or not :p) a lot of things in so short a time! in the last 4 months, we have packed our whole house, had it renovated (well, i say renovated but more like repaired :p), searched for an estate agent to manage our house (and eventually lease our house), flew to Perth, house hunt while trying to live as normally as we possibly can, at least for the sake of the kids. It has been really stressful but at the end of the day, we had to toughen up as this is what we wanted for our family. Perth has so much promise that I know, those hardships will easily be forgotten. There were times when i was ready to throw in the towel and just go back to England. but then i remembered, I have no house to go back to! anyways, we’re still thankful for the opportunity and cant wait to get into the groove of things. more posts to follow (i hope!)

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St. Thomas

leaving for australia last summer, we havent really decided on whether to accept the relocation offer or not. we actually only said yes towards the end of the trip. but nonetheless, we acted as if we have (and that we are relocating) already.

prior to the trip, i researched for schools. i studied in a catholic school all my life (21 years!) and i want my kids to attend one too! thankfully, the husband agrees. we have nothing against other school types, it’s just our personal choice. our eldest goes to one here in uk. imagine my disappointment (and shock) when i found out that catholic schools in australia (at least in perth) charges quite a substantial amount! We’ll be paying 100% more compared to here, excluding extra curricular activities (this is considered low already compared to other private schools. by a lot!)! not to mention the uniform and stationeries that you need to buy in school so all pupils will have the same things. because of the high fees, the daddy suggested looking at public/state schools because they are not really bad at all. in fact, most of them are good and at par, if not better, than a lot of private schools. that is, if you look in the right area. but at the back of my mind, i felt like we’re short-changing them if we send them to a state school (my opinion! no offence meant) because they can go to a catholic school here but not there!? anyways, with a heavy heart, i made a shortlist of schools (both state and catholic) i think we would like so that when we get there, we can have a look around and know more about the school.

i searched for the top schools in terms of academic performance, overall ranking, reviews from parents, curriculum and location (if the boys are to study in a state school, we have to live within the school’s boundaries). i emailed my prospective schools to ask for additional information. i ended up with 3 choices: 2 state schools and a catholic school (i wasnt ready to give up on this!). fortunately, we were in perth at the right time. we were able to apply within their deadline!

next, we set up an appt to see the principals of the state schools. we liked the schools and their location. we totally saw ourselves living within their catchment area, which is the ultimate criteria to get into these schools. downside though, the rental price for the houses is a bit steep. we wont have much choice for the rental budget that we have (i.e we might need to downsize or let go of some of the amenities we want). this is what i was talking about above: looking at the right area. you see, most good state schools are located in really expensive areas (at least the ones we feel would suit our kids best).

as for the catholic school, tantan phoned beforehand to ask for possible placements for the kids. they said they can confirm a place for kid 2 (incoming kindergarten, which is probably comparable to nursery stage here in uk) but not for kid 1 (incoming Year 1). obviously because they already have kids that started with them (from kindy and pre-primary) moving on to year 1. this school is very small, in terms of building size and population, it has to be very strict. the usual process is: (1) submit application form (2) pay the fee (3) interview with the principal. this is why tantan was a bit hesitant to file an application because he didnt see the point of paying for the application fee (£66/child) if there are no places for BOTH boys. we didnt want to separate them and send them to different schools because school run would be a nightmare! however, we were invited to the school to talk to the principal and to have a tour first, skipping the first 2 steps, at least until we’re satisfied and happy!


yes, the school is pretty small. but we were impressed with what the school offers. i was sold from the get-go! i told tantan the boys NEED to attend there. the principal was very confident in saying that all their pupils are bright. well, robotics at 9?! seriously! we asked about penalties if kids are pulled out for holidays during term time (because they do that here in england). they said they dont charge anything and the principal thinks that going on holiday is beneficial for the child – within reasonable limits. of course, the parents should understand the consequences of doing this. but the principal is very confident that no kid gets left behind with their lessons because all their pupils are smart, they can easily catch up! we were toured around by two Year 6 pupils and they presented themselves really well. any parent will be so proud (no exaggerating!). and every single pupil that we passed by, said hello!

we filled out the forms and paid the fees. we were however reminded that kid 1’s chances are nil to very slim. but the registrar suggested that once our visas have been granted, to get in touch with them and they’ll try to lodge an appeal to the board to reconsider a place for him. being a sneaky mom, i tried to touch base and update them (of where we were with our visa application) every now and then, reiterating how much we love for the boys to attend their school. one morning, i received an email from the registrar. i didnt want to open it at first because i was expecting bad news. and what do you know?!:


alleluia!!!! i couldnt believe what i was reading!! they didnt even have to appeal! kid 1’s place was confirmed even before we got our visas sorted! so yeah, all my prayers have been answered. getting into this school sort of made house hunting less stressful as well. we are not pressured anymore to find a rental within the school’s catchment area. we can live where ever we choose to. although i really dont care where we live because finding the right school was my priority, this just made our lives a little easier.

i must have been really good in my past life! thank you, lord (and st. thomas!) for answering our prayers and making sure that everything is in place for the big move. ask and you shall receive!

Over Under Adventure

newsflash: our family is moving down under!



when i was little, i always knew i would live overseas. whenever i imagined it, i would imagine it to be in london. yes, not in the US like most filipinos’ dreams (back then, the US is like the promised land), but in the land of fish and chips (sige, harry potter na lang para sos!) :p. my dream came true in 2003. you’d think that after 11 years, pledging allegiance to the queen and starting a family, england will be our permanent home. never in my wildest dreams have i thought that we will accede to another BIG change.

it’s not like we’ve been planning it for a long time. true, there were times when hubby would suggest we move to australia (dont ask me why australia!), even inviting our friends for a mass exodus. but it’s usually made in jest. i also feel like i wont be able to handle another life changing expedition. it took me at least 6 years before finally “settling” in my new home. i dont want to uproot my whole family for the unknown, when we already have a comfortable (and familiar) life where we are.

but as fate would have it, a great opportunity presented itself. something that even this hard-core skeptic couldnt pass! as i think about it, though, i realised that all the decisions we’ve made in the past (i.e me resigning from work, amongst other things) were really to prepare us for this bigger thing. god really has other plans!

as i’ve said, this move was not “planned”. hubby has been asked to go to australia (several times) to carry out some work for their aussie clients. he went in december last year and then again in january and march to april this year. come end of may/june, a serious “relocation” offer was brought up by hubby’s company. let’s just say that their main headquarters is being moved to Perth, in Western Australia and the company heads want him there. that is also why, when tantan was asked to go back in july, the family tagged along: to see what life would be like there… to see if the boys and I would like it there.

when the idea was first brought up by tantan, i was vehemently saying NO. I WILL NOT MOVE!!! EVER! END OF CONVERSATION🙂 I was not being unreasonable. I’ve got several (valid) issues: (1) cayden has started school. he loves it there and loves his classmates. sure enough, he didnt want to move! (2) i have established a routine. im not good at starting all over again… not at my age! (3) it took me a long time to get acquainted with things here and i dont like the feeling of being “lost” again in a new environment. (4) i havent really seen much of mainland europe (i know, i know!!!) (5) amazon (6) costco (7) online shopping… well, shopping in general (need i say more? :D). Although, at the back of my mind, i knew that if we are to move, now is the perfect time. the kids are young enough to endure a change. cayden has barely started with school. and i have no work to leave behind. it really is a no-brainer! tantan has been wanting to go and this is the opportunity he’s been waiting for. after several “debates”, i found it in my heart to at least be open minded. But what do you know, when we went there, it didnt take much to convince me! i was sold! it was actually our eldest that needed convincing. no amount of bribing could change his mind. the littlest one, he’s all go, go go!!🙂

so what sealed the deal? of course, main point was the relocation package. it really is very attractive. why move if it wouldnt be any better? but what swayed me the most was the fact that it’s pretty close to the philippines, closer to family! they even share a time zone! also, since school starts in february and ends in december, spending christmas in the philippines wont be as impossible and expensive as when we’re in england (it’s nearer so flights arent as expensive)! WEATHER (enough said!)🙂. as for cayden, the promise of a pet dog changed his mind!🙂

after weeks of waiting, finally, we got the visa for the move! we’ve started renovation works in our house because we are planning to rent it out. even before we received the grant notice from the Australian embassy, we acted as if we’re definitely going. after all, hubby’s boss and the immigration consultant, who handled our application, were very positive that we will be granted with the necessary visa. there are still some kinks we have to iron out but for the most part, we are good to go! we have already booked our temporary accommodations in perth (while we look for a more permanent one) and our ONE-way tickets! school starts in feb (thank God that is sorted! story in next post) that’s why we chose to go there early january to give us enough time to find a house and get ourselves settled. We’ve already packed about 2/3 of our stuff, ready to be shipped over. i think that was the most difficult part: packing! how do you decide which to bring and which to leave behind!? we have a house full of memories!!! thankfully, we wont be leaving any financial obligations (except for our mortgage, which should be completely paid in 11 years).

so yeah, this little family is off to a new adventure! we will definitely miss our friends. we are grateful to england for adopting us and giving us all the opportunities we have been blessed with for 11 years. im happy to say that it’s all been a good and fruitful experience for us. but we’re ready for the change and the challenges that we are going to face. im sure england’s cousin will be as welcoming and accepting. i now believe, more than ever, that if something’s meant to be, the universe will conspire to make it happen.



wish us luck!!!

Summer Adventure

well, hello there, friends! letting my (blogging) presence felt once again. i have a lot to share but im overwhelmed with a lot of things that need to be done in so little time. story of my life! cant complain, though. it’s all good good good!🙂

anyways, to start of, let me tell you about our summer adventure. we didnt really have anything planned, much more something as grand as another holiday on the other side of the world (when we’ve just been on a bank-breaking holiday to disney world in february!).  it’s not really a holiday for the husband (for the most part). he was asked to go on another business trip to australia.  for 3 months! since cayden’s school summer break was approaching, and since the universe has its own way of making things happen, this little family decided to tag along!

let’s rewind a bit. 1st, there’s the problem of pulling cayden out from school early. as you know, school break = exhorbitant air fares (perth, western australia is 8991miles from london. more miles = more expensive!). the only way we could afford to go was to leave during term time. but since we have already pulled out cayden for 2 weeks from school (without penalties) for our florida break, i was really anxious asking for permission again. cayden would be missing another 8 days of school! fortunately, since cayden was not in compulsory education (which starts in year 1) yet, he was allowed to go without penalties. and since evaluations have already been done and grades distributed, cayden didnt really miss any important lessons.



Perth CBD


Nedlands with a view of the Swan River


Sorrento Quay, Hillary’s Boat Harbour


Audiology Friends (Mary Ann and Misu)

Matilda Bay, Swan River

Matilda Bay, Swan River


One of the many scenic routes in the city of Perth (yes, in the city itself!)

next concern was, what would I and the kids do while daddy’s at work. we would be in perth a total of 48 days (excluding travel time), surely we’d get bored just staying home and going out only on weekends. the daddy had a brilliant idea and suggested me and the kids go to the philippines to spend time with family and friends, since we’re relatively near and in the same time zone. but wait, i havent travelled alone, how on earth will i manage 2 young kids, all by myself?! nightmare, i thought! but luckily, the boys were well behaved and didnt really give me a hard time. plus, we timed it so that for most of the journey, they’d be asleep!



Best Friend from college (Kat) and Husband (Edwin)


Best Friend (Mike Inkee) and Family from ENT




Online Friend (Eper) and cute son (Quino)


UP Beta Epsilon Friends and Families (Mitch, Rica, Gelio)

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My sister’s family

since there are no direct flights to the philippines from perth, i chose singapore for our lay over. i have 2 brothers in singapore and wouldnt it be nice to spend a few days there as well? it wasnt difficult to convince tantan. he loves me :p. we planned to go to the philippines with only 4 hours lay over in singapore. but coming back, we’d stay in singapore for 5 days, before continuing on to perth. my mom and youngest brother tagging along! too bad my sister had to go to bangkok for work so she skipped the trip. all 5 of us siblings would have been complete!



My 2 brothers based in Singapore (on the R)


Marina Bay Sands’ Infinity Pool (Spot us!!!)


Audiology friends (Pia and Malen)


Night Safari with Family


Sentosa with Family

since we’re already in australia, we couldnt NOT see the iconic sydney! tantan has been twice on previous trips but i havent and i wasnt going to let the opportunity pass! afterall, it might be a while before we can go again🙂. he asked for a week off and luckily, he was permitted.



Touch down!!!


Bondi Beach


Sydney Harbour view from Taronga Zoo


With our Godparents


BESAs Kapihan (Brods and Wives)


UP Beta Epsilon Friends and family (Jeana, Vera, Alvin, Ochok)

all of a sudden, an unsure summer turned out rather eventful. imagine 50 days, 10 plane rides! our schedule was really hectic, not to mention, cray cray!!!! only downside, we (me and the kids) could only be away for 50 days. cayden was starting Year 1 on the 1st week of september. daddy had to stay a further month and a half!! so yes, i embarked on a 21 hour flight (including lay over) with the kids, no help at all. and i conquered! =D

we spent 23 days in perth, 13 days in the philippines, 5 days in singapore and 7 days in sydney. we are very thankful for the opportunity and the provisions. i am thankful to my family for all the help they extended when we were in manila and singapore. and to my precious friends for making our side trips really memorable and fun! you see, all the stars aligned to make this trip happen! thank you, Lord!

Healthy Smoothies

in 2012, i bought a smoothie maker. i used it until i resigned from work in march 2013. ironically, i got lazy making smoothies, when i was supposed to have all the time in the world! but truth be told, the one i bought cant really crush ice! at best, i can only use frozen fruits. anyhoo, before our disney world trip last february, i told tantan im going to buy a new blender while in the US. i said im going to buy the blendtec one in costco (here, the cheapest costs around £400, while a similar one with extras in the US would only cost around £250!).

we have actually allotted a “costco trip” out of our hectic disney schedule. that’s how intent i was of getting one. the nearest costco from our home resort is 30mins out. and to my disappointment, it wasnt available in store! i wanted to order online but i needed a US costco membership number to register. they wouldnt accept my UK one.

tantan suggested we just buy whatever’s there so as not to waste the trip. i think he’s just happy it wasnt available and the ones there were within “his” budget lol. tantan suggested buying the oster brand blender for $60 but i refused! why waste baggage space for something we can buy here, right? we spent more than 30minutes just in the blender section because i couldnt make up my mind. tantan then suggested we get this ninja brand. i was skeptical at first. ninja what?! the brand sounded funny! we did a quick “google search” and the ratings said it’s a good alternative for the blendtec one. ok, fine! we bought the set for less than $200. it came with the big blender jug, 3 single serve glasses (with one blade) and a food processor/mixer. it felt like a good buy. and it was!


we havent really used the food processor/mixer yet but the single serve glasses have never been put to rest! we use the big blender once in a while but we feel that the single serve glasses yield the perfect serving size.

here are some of the smoothies that we love to make with this blender:


energy boosting: celery, cucumber, mango, blackberries, raspberries


classic: strawberries, blueberries (option: banana), milk


kale, spinach, parsley, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, almond milk (this is a bit on the sour side. if you want it to be a bit sweeter, just use 2 types of berries then add a pear or banana)


spinach, kale, celery, cucumber, parsley, ginger, red apple, pear, lemon


this is our most favourite: spinach, kale, parsley, celery, cucumber, green apple, pineapple, lemon (refreshing!)


this is just a variation of our favourite green juice: kale, parsley, celery, cucumber, pineapple, orange, green apple, lemon

another recipe that i love is mango, pineapple and pear yogurt (or the onken mango, papaya and passionfruit yogurt). this is yum! but i dont think it’s too kind to the hips  =D


Mangoes contain a hearty dose of healthy carbohydrates, sugars, vitamins and carotenoids that offer an awesome (not to mention delicious) energy boost. University of Florida researchers have stated that they contain potent antioxidants for health and may even help to prevent cancer

Berries are another yummy combination of carbohydrates, natural sugars and vitamins for energy, and they are also high in antioxidants

Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain which has anti-inflammatory effects that have been attributed to helping activate cells which strengthen the immune system against allergic responses, as shown in a study published in International Immunopharmacology (2009)

Green apple has vitamin C which help to strengthen the immune system, as well as excellent cleansing properties for the body

Pears are high in heart-healthy phytonutrients, flavonoids and fibre. Research has shown that pear fibres are able to bind together with bile acids in the intestine, lowering the pool of bile acids and decreasing the synthesis of cholesterol

Cucumber has the proven ability of strengthening connective tissue (including muscles and joints) because of the silica, vitamins and minerals it contains

Blueberries for your brain: British scientists at Reading University found that a blueberry smoothie in the morning boosts concentration and memory 20% for up to five hours after

Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants and offer a high-fibre, low calorie fruit option that is also rich in stress-fighting vitamin C

Spinach Has calming effects because of its high amounts of magnesium

Bananas trigger the production of the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, which are mood-lifters and are believed to help prevent depression

Ginger encourages circulation and have anti-inflammatory properties. This helps to relieve some of the aches and pains you may feel after (or before) a long day

Celery lends lutein for your eyes

Lemon and Parsley are potent cleansers that flush the system of toxins, preventing future breakouts and allowing the skin to heal

–> all info above courtesy of young and raw. they are just a sample of the many benefits you can get from each fruit/vegetable

Kale, Oranges, Almond Milk

at the moment, im trying to lose weight. i may not look like it but i swear, i have gone 2 sizes up for my bottoms. i usually drink a glass before meal and that limits my rice intake (rice is my nemesis!). i can even forego rice if i had a drink! tantan is also happy with the smoothies because they’re healthier and they fill you up! if you’re not good with eating your veggies, juicing is a good way of increasing your veggies intake. i swear i hate celery in my food. but i love it it my drink!

now, im happy we bought the blender. it’s worth the excess baggage we paid for (ok, it’s not all because of the blender!) =D

Nappies to Toilet!

kid 2 is toilet trained! i had my plans but the littlest one beat me to it! just a week prior to him going nappy free (daytime), i was sort of psyching him to use the potty already. i’d say he’s a big boy and shouldnt be using nappies anymore. he would say a big, fat NO and say he’s still a baby.  so i wasnt sure whether to push potty training or not.

and then one day, he came up to me and just said, “mom, i want to pupu”. he was wearing a nappy so i told him, “ok” being a lazy mom and all =p. and then he said, “i want to pupu in the toilet“. i brought him to the toilet but didnt really believe he’d actually do it. he’s said he’d do it but didnt many times in the past so i was getting ready to call his bluff. but to my amazement, he did poop and he has never looked back! since then, he would poop in the toilet, every single time!! it was actually the part of potty training i was dreading: doing number 2. his older brother got constipated because he didnt like pooping anywhere else but his nappy! this really proves that every kid is different! but i think because kid2 is used to seeing his kuya do the deed, he kinda knew what to do already.


giving me the thumbs up!

the wiwi part is another story though. after starting to poop in the toilet, he refused to wear nappies during the day. i thought, since he nailed the hardest part, he’d get the wiwi part more easily. the first day was ok. there werent any accidents. but then the 2nd day, the whole day, he was weeing in his jammies! he just couldnt remember that he needed to wee in the toilet. and then the next day, he’d get it. it only lasted a week though. and luckily, the accidents were just leaks. he’d start to wee, wetting his briefs/jammies (not enough to get the carpets wet, thankfully!), and then remembers that he has to go to the toilet and finishes there.

i guess the difficulty is because he’s too short for our toilet seat and couldnt really wee standing up. he would wee squatting on the bowl but didnt really like it (if he’s not pooping, that is). i then put a small stool where he could stand and give him the height leverage he needs. it worked! =D.

what surprised me was that he totally skipped the potty and went straight to the toilet! he uses the potty rarely, only when he’s too lazy to go upstairs to wee. but he enjoys flushing the toilet too much that he’d rather go to the toilet than use the potty =D

he still wears nappy at night because he still bottlefeeds. but yeah, my baby is not a baby anymore! he now wears briefs =D

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