Some of us may have naively thought that a 50/50 split in doing house chores, child rearing and earning money for the family is the best practice for humans. But I think many of us who adopted the traditional arrangement with a modern twist have better results when it comes to the level of happiness for all members of the family. The modern twist I am referring to is the compromise to incorporate modern realities like the need for additional income and more opportunities for women in the workforce.

Explanations why fair does not necessarily mean equal include differences in the biology of each gender, including differences at the level of the brain to the level of manifested behavior (heard of "equal but different"?), cultural and religious tenets and conventional wisdom.

Now, economics has something to say on how to the divide work between spouses to improve the chances of a happy life together. The concept of comparative advantage is raised as one main consideration on modern arrangements that work.

Watch this video as an introduction to a new book Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage and Dirty Dishes, which is available at Amazon (click on the book icon to the left to learn more).

Got the heads-up from a Yahoo article Economics: the key to happy couples' division of labor that featured this book and video.

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I regret having dipped the bucket of my two older kids early this morning.

The day got off on the wrong foot with issues carried over from last night. One of the issues has to do with school requirements, which was pushed over the edge when Leon can't find his school ID a few minutes before the school shuttle service arrived.

After some leading questions from Mama Sez, Leon eventually remembered that he must have left it in the boy's comfort room in school yesterday when he changed his shirt. I was hard on him because of the ID and also because of what I eventually realized was just a misunderstanding of an agreement he had with his mom - on being responsible for getting up early and getting ready for school, which he thought was in effect only for a day, and that was yesterday.

Rica, his older sister, also got her share of my displeasure, which was undeserved. All I wanted to do was to ask her to assist her brother on his requirement and in looking for his ID in school. I could have done it in a better way: without the angry and demanding tone, but in a respectful, empowering manner deserving of respect and cooperation from a person being requested.  It was unfair and mean of me to scold her for responsibilities that wasn't hers in the first place and an expectation she wasn't fully aware of.

After some time to reflect on what just happened, I realized the impact my bucket dipping might have on my kids' mindset today.  I cannot wait for them to get home to apologize and try to straighten things out.  They are actually wonderful, responsible kids and they deserve to know.

Note to self: Don't sweat the small stuff; do bucket filling, instead of bucket dipping.

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Despite our busier schedule that started this year, Papa Sez managed to consistently post updates on Insect Experts, Island Travel and Hubpages. It’s me who had been hibernating from the blogosphere, until the warmth I felt this past Valentine’s Day seemed to thaw my frozen blogging mode. I am now sharing how we spent the Hearts Day all for the sake of a “Healthier Heart and a Happier Us.”

“Us time” began when the school kids were off to school, and the younger ones were fed and bathed. We chose to wear clothes given by close relatives as Christmas present and ended up looking different from our usual selves…different in the positive sense I guess.

We wanted to do our morning walk, breathe fresh air and appreciate nature because all these energize the heart. So we decided to visit Pook ni Mariang Makiling where you can walk all you can, climb all you want and feel the cool breeze all day. You also have the option to swim all day in the Olympic-size pool, if you wish. This is a nature park at the foot of Mt. Makiling in Los Baños. We appreciated flowers that only bloom beautifully in the forest, the damselflies playing by the creek, the soothing sound of flowing water and of course the luscious greens all around. The surrounding is so inviting for a photo shoot session we seldom engage ourselves in.

There were also moments of reminiscing memories of Papa Sez doing his laps in the pool while I read a book on the side (poor me, I am not a swimmer). He even reenacted how he got wild Lantana camara flowers from a cliff in the same mountain just to offer me flowers during our second Valentine’s Day together, when funds are meager to pay for a classy bouquet. The flowers were very colorful and beautiful but the smell is…nevermind. It’s the thought that is so wonderful that I won’t tire thinking of over and over.

We got hungry and proceeded to a new restaurant that we thought would include healthy options in their menu. Unfortunately, we got hungry too soon that the first reastaurant we went to was not yet ready to serve lunch. This unfortunate event turned out to be fortunate for us because we stretched our mind to recalling this restaurant in Maahas, Los Baños, Laguna, that we visited with friends a few months back…The Herb Republic.

This restaurant offers only organically grown vegetables and meat from naturally grown chicken and pig that they themselves produced. Dishes are prepared with their finest herbs. Even the drinks are healthy as they are prepared without sugar and sweetened only by the herb called “Stivia.” All food in the menu are fresh and healthy and therefore good for the heart. We ordered the Herb Republic Salad, Basil Pesto Pasta, Mint Buko Lychee Cooler and Mint Watermelon Cooler. Hot Lemon Grass Tea was served as welcome drink.

Finally, home-bound after that heart-healthy lunch in a cozy hideout. We brought home ripe papayas and young coconuts or “buko” that we bought along the way…again for a healthy treat to be shared with the kids.

It was another Hearts Day celebration that is heart-warming and heart-healthy at the same time. My heart is beating fast as I look forward to the next.

P.S. Read about Herb Republic and Pook ni Mariang Makiling in Island Travel.

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An Inclusive Valentine's Day Date

Posted by Papa Sez | Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day is usually associated with romantic love and dates involving lovers. As a parent, I just want to share our experience last Valentine's Day when our two school-age kids came up with an idea to surprise us with a Valentine's Day breakfast party and involved their three yayas in the preparation.

They prepared simple decorations and lovely cards together, each with its own unique design, and presented to us assembled like this.

It was a very thoughtful and special group activity that made the 13th Valentine's Day of Mama Sez and me more extraordinary knowing that our kids can pull off such a production in such a young age.

When the flowers for Mama Sez was delivered, all I had to do was to sit back and drink my tea and enjoy the moment.

It was indeed a great surprise breakfast party and a Valentine's Day to remember.

P.S.  While the day went on as an inclusive Valentine's date and being a Sunday helped considerably in the execution of the concept, the afternoon and evening was for the parents to go out and have an exclusive time away from parenting responsibilities.

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About Us (circa 2009)

Our journey led us to this place. A little more than 10 years ago we began our journey as husband and wife. Three years later, we found ourselves with two bundles of joy- a daughter and then a son. They're the children we've dreamed of having.

About five years since the birth of our son, an unexpected gift came- a younger brother to our school-age kids. And soon enough, a baby girl arrived to round the family membership.

Brave was a term used by a friend to describe us. Challenging... and loving it -- yeah, this journey is not for the faint of heart.