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Archive for February, 2010

Tonight, from the streets in downtown Toronto, to the Whistler village in Vancouver, to the sports bars in Altantic Canada, a nation celebrates.

As I walk down Yonge Street in Toronto, I cannot help, but get drawn into the overwhelming joy and exuberance of all Canadians who flocked to downtown Toronto to celebrate our country’s mark in Olympic history! Everyone I met on the street was smiling and grinning from ear to ear.

The most gold medals won on home soil in Olympic history!

I am so proud to be a wtiness of such a historic moment!

Well done, Canada! 🙂

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Today is one of those days where I am in the doldrums, and can’t seem to get myself out of it.

I have had a couple of very interesting and exciting weeks, and then suddenly, today is a day of relative nothingness. It’s no wonder I can’t seem to snap out of this state.

Times like this, I wonder if making the decision to want to experience life with a full emotional spectrum is a wise choice.

To want to feel the extreme exhilaration and joy of living life to the fullest, I also have to accept that there will be times when I swing to the other end, the deep and dark abyss of hopelessness, desperation, and sometimes, depression.

Is there no way we can just keep staying joyous and happy, without having to ever experience the darker side? Why do we need to have sadness to appreciate and understand happiness? Why do we need sufferings to know blessings? Why is it that we have to struggle, just to obtain truimph?

Silly rhetorical questions…

Maybe my mom is right all along… I do need a kid in my life who will keep me grounded in the now, and keep my mind from wandering too much into a philosophical stupor!

Ahhh… that reminds me… I had a blast from the past today when Janice, a friend from Singapore, called me and chatted with me for a good 2 hours. We were having quite a time, reminiscing about the past.

Janice never fails to remind me that she has watched me “grow” and mature from a stubborn and wilful girl into the woman I am now. 😛

Oh… how she reminded me of what a contrarian I was in my younger days. And how I always seem to make up my own mind on things happening and going on around me, giving no heed to what the norms are. Haha! Now why would that render me stubborn and wilful? I have no idea!

All I know is that I’ve always abide by the belief that I only have one chance at this life of mine. I am going to give it my best shot, and I am going to live it on my own terms!

Well, it looks like I have not changed much eh… I may have mellowed down a little, but my basic nature and belief will likely always stay the same! 😉

Will the arrival of Ethan change this? I guess I will find out soon… 🙂

Hmm… looks like I just wrote myself out of the doldrums… 🙂

So, I am going to capitalize on the emerging good feelings, play some music and do a little rock and roll with my little Ethan!

Till the next time I muse!

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It’s coming! The Amex SPG credit card will be launching sometime in March. This card will be replacing the MBNA SPG credit card, which will cease on February 28, 2010.

Even though MBNA SPG card is no longer in effect, I will be listing out the features of the card as a baseline to review the new Canadian Amex SPG card.

We do have to keep in mind that the MBNA SPG card is history, so there’s really no point in comparing it.

The features of the US version of the Amex SPG card will also be listed as an FYI purpose. I would love that we get what our US counterparts get, but I also recognize that US and Canada are 2 different countries, with different socio-economic demographics, hence the different business practices and pricing structure.

I believe the features of the Canadian Amex SPG are still not fully unveiled, so it is difficult to really comment on the card. What we see here is still preliminary, and is only a sneak preview.

But I will give my first impressions of the card after this table.

Needless to say, I was a little taken aback by the $120 per annum fee for this new card, when it was first announced. It is quite a hard pill to swallow especially since I have been spoilt by the no fee card provided by MBNA.

But once that bitter pill is swallowed, it’s time to really look at whether or not it is worth paying the $120 fee for the card. The following 3 features are what I am looking at:

1. The benefit of Gold Preferred status every year, as long as you spend more than $30k annually on the card.
– I loved, and have utilized the late check out times and the complimentary upgrade of rooms that come with the Gold Preferred status, when MBNA provided that benefit for a year. It was a perk that I enjoy, and I have been strategizing and thinking of ways on how to get back that Gold Preferred status! Well, this card will resolve that dilemma for me now.

2. The potential of limitless point earning capability of the card at 1 point per $1 spent.
– With a new baby in the oven, and an additional triplex (with more planned!), our household expenses have been, and will be on the uptick, so this limitless points earning potential is something that I know will benefit me and my family. Utilizing this card efficiently and effectively will mean that my family will still be able to travel comfortably and in style!

3. The free weekend night at a Category 4 hotel at properties worldwide when you spend more than $40k a year
– This is the one perk that I am questioning if I will pay for. I was hoping for just a $50 per annum fee when I first speculated about the new card, much like the US card, but now it has been revealed to be $70 more. The question now is: can I justify paying $70 more than what I first expected for this perk?

What I am going to do is that I would not view the weekend night at a Category 4 hotel as a free night. I will deem it as a paid benefit, and I intend to utilize it. So then, the question is: Is a Category 4 hotel worth $70?

A quick check at the SPG website reveals that some of the Category 4 hotels include: Le Meridien King Edward, Westin Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket (fantastic hotel, btw!)

Click here to view the most current listing of all the Category 4 SPG hotels.

Well, I am sold! 🙂

Will I pay $70 to stay a night at these properties? Absolutely.

So, my verdict is, yes, I will pay for this card. And I am getting it.

Now, I am hoping that in the next few weeks before the card is officially launched, Amex will sweeten this card deal by adding a couple of additional one time only new launch bonuses, with the standard Amex features, and place this card in its own class.

You can get more information about this card and to sign up on their waitlist here.

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Last night, I had an amazing time at the dinner and sneak preview of the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (Amex SPG) card.

The event was held at the Sheraton Toronto Center Hotel. It is an event that is jointly hosted by SPG program and American Express.

I will talk about last night’s experience in this post, and will write about the features of this new card in a different post, as both topics deserved their own space and attention. 🙂

I have to commend that Amex and SPG definitely put in a lot of effort towards this event, showcasing their finesse in the travel and entertainment industry. I thoroughly enjoyed being wined and dined by them!

I started my evening by checking into the complimentary night’s stay at the hotel, and was pleasantly surprised that I was booked into a Club Level suite, which will allow me to experience the Club benefits, such as complimentary breakfast, free internet access in the room and at the Club Lounge, and evening hors d’oeuvres at the hotel’s Club Lounge, located on the 43rd Floor. Great panoramic view of the City of Toronto!

The event then commenced with hors d’oeuvres, and mingling among the guests and the executives of both companies, and then moved on to dinner. It was a “Tastes of the World” culinary experience, prepared by the executive sous chef of the hotel.

So, what can I say about the dining experience? Well, my little one gave a “stamp” of approval from inside my tummy after the dinner, so what do you guys think? 😉

Lucky bugger, he’s not even out yet, and he is already being lured into the world of fine dining! 😛 I guess Wayne and I are in trouble!

Oh, before I forget! The dinner service by a team of friendly and professional wait staff really greatly enhanced the dining experience.

After dinner, we had a little “game” to see whose key card is the key to open the Presidential Suite in the hotel. Wanna guess who is the lucky person? 😉

Well, yours truly was all dazed when I realized that I held the key that opened the Presidential Suite, and that meant I won a night’s stay at the Presidential suite at the Sheraton Toronto Center Hotel! Looking back, I am actually astonished that I did not faint from excitement and all! 😛

All the guests were invited into the Presidential Suite to take a peek at where royalty stay when they choose Sheraton Toronto Center Hotel as their accommodation while in town. All of us were also given a gift bag, containing a pair of complimentary Alicia Keys concert tickets, and a cute travel toiletries set. Talk about endless goodies!

Well, Wayne and I decided and chose to stay at the Club Level suite for last night, as we really wanted Ethan to be able to experience this prize.

I am planning to host a “Welcome to this new world!” party for him in the suite when he is about 3 to 6 months old, and cute enough for adorable pictures! 😉 Stay tuned for that event! 😉

All in all, we had a great stay, and we really were further pampered by the complimentary bottle of wine, a cheese tray, and a fruit tray that welcomed us in the suite.

It truly is an unforgettable experience!

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So, my lucky draw prize (my baby’s furniture) was finally delivered on February 6th, 2010.

Boy, was I ever excited as the Sears Delivery guys brought all the boxes into the house and up to the nursery!  So excited that I forgot to make sure that I got everything before the men left.

 As Murphy’s law have it, I was missing one piece of merchandise, the Eddie Bauer stroller and car seat! *sigh*

 So, I had to call the national marketing manager of Sears Gift Registry to inform her, but it was a Saturday, and she is not working. I then tried to call the Sears Customer Service, but they were not able to help me as they had no information about any lucky draw.

 Anyways, to cut the long story short, I didn’t hear from the national marketing manager for a week, and decided to follow up with her again today. I finally reached her, and she said she had been trying to get hold of me for an entire week. It turns out that my home messaging machine has gone bonkers, and is not turned on!

 Anyhow, I was just glad to get a hold of her, and I told her I am sorry about the phone tag. She said that I could pick up my stroller and the car seat from the Sears store at Eaton Center.  And since the one I won was a discontinued model, I will be getting a newer and better model!!!

 Wow!!!!

 Turns out to be another blessing in disguise for us! 🙂

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Wow! I am very excited!

I was contacted and invited to join a group of 10 individuals for a sneak preview of the Amex SPG credit card that will be launching in March 2010 this coming Wednesday!

Dinner, drinks, and a night’s stay at the Sheraton Toronto hotel comes with this sneak preview invitation!

I really cannot wait to see the card being unveiled! 

I have been waiting for news of this new card, ever since MBNA sent us the notice that the MBNA SPG card will be discontinued.

I loved our MBNA SPG card! It has rewarded us many times over, and we share the rewards with family and friends too!

And from what I have read of the Amex SPG card (currently available in the US), the new AMEX SPG card seems to be better than the MBNA SPG card. I also hope the Canadian Amex SPG card is going to be as good as the US one, if not better!

Will write more about it once I get back from the sneak preview! =)

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Oh my, where did the last 3 weeks go? =S

So many things, both small and big, have happened, came and gone, and I’ve not even had a chance to really contemplate and learn from them. Makes me wonder if I will still have opportunities to really look deep inside myself and muse about the events that happen around and to me when little Ethan finally comes next month, and presumably will take up most of my time!

I am so close to finally being able to hold him in my arms.

I am so close to being a mom.

It has been a really wonderful journey, the last 9 months. Ethan has been really good to me. He’s growing happily and contentedly inside me, giving me little worries and problems. Thank you, my child. =)

Thinking back, the struggle to decide to have a child for as long as I can remember to my present state of close to delivering this little bundle of joy has truly been one of the most memorable journeys of my life. I don’t think I will ever regret having struggled with deciding to have a child though. And I definitely do not think it was a waste of time at all.

For all its worth, the struggle has led me through a very interesting journey inward, to explore myself, my values, my beliefs, my fears, my strengths and my weaknesses. This journey inward has been worth its weight in gold because I have learnt to accept myself for all that I am, and that has made me as whole as a person I can be at this point of my life.

So now, I am ready for the next big step in my life! To nurture and be a role model for another little human being, whom I am sure will have his own little journey of discovery of what life means to him.

On Valentine’s Day, I told Wayne that I was wrong. (Yes, one of those rare times when I openly admit that I have been wrong! ;-)) He asked me what I meant.

I once told Wayne that I was so sure that when and if we have a child, our marriage will break down, and we will end up in separation, and I was so afraid of that. Poor guy, to think that he had to sit through conversations like that. But I was so wrong.

I actually have grown to love him more since little Ethan came into our lives. Nowadays when I look at the father of our child, my heart always swells with an almost unbearable, uncontrollable, indescribable surge of immense pride and love. In the last 9 months, I have seen Wayne grown in his own way. He looks a lot happier and is more engaged in life!

Wayne has been the most wonderful partner to me, stable where I have been shaky, logical where I have been emotional, wise where I have been foolish, loyal where I have been tempted to stray.

For all that he is, I love him very much. And for all my rantings about his mellowness, and lack of emotional depth (which by the way is not true at all!), I would not have him any other way.

Again, I was so wrong about Wayne’s lack of emotional depth. Just like I always told him that he cannot expect me to react and behave logically like him in situations, I should heed my own preaching, and not expect him to show his emotions freely and expressively like me! Oh my, what an epiphany! =) To think that we’ve been together for 10 years, and I am still learning so much about this wonderful man. A lifetime truly may not be enough!

So now, even as inexperienced as parents we both are, I know our love for each other, and for Ethan will see us through the ups and downs of first time parenthood. As I hold this thought, I can truly feel the growing excitement, and I am looking forward to being Ethan’s mom! =)

I am not aiming to go for the best mom in the world award…. But I am certain I will be the best mom to and for Ethan! =)

There, my dear child, here’s mommy’s first promise to you, all bared and laid out.

Life beckons now. I have to get ready and go to work. Till the next time I muse.

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