Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Earlier this year, I wrote The Birth of Our Baby when Ryland celebrated his seventh birthday. This prompted me to also write about Ryan’s birth, Our Small Miracle, when he turned 11 this past June. So I vowed to myself that I would write about Reggie’s as well when he celebrated his birthday in November.
You’d think that I would have enough time to do that. But alas, no. I’d like to say that it was the procrastinator in me who waited until November to even sit down and start writing this story. Well, that played a part. But to tell you the truth, this story had been one of the hardest for me to write. Not just because it happened 16 years ago and I had to dig deep in my thoughts to recall the details. But then again, I’ve written stories that are older than this.
1989, the year I got pregnant with my first-born, had been one of the most emotional episodes of my life. You’ll understand once you read A Special Surprise. It’s about the trials I faced and the decisions I had to make when I learned that I was pregnant with Reggie, who turned 16 in November.
I didn’t want to end the year without completing the stories of the births of my three children, the loves of my life. So thanks to my four-day Christmas vacation, I was able to finish the story of Reggie’s birth.
Just as Reggie had been a fruit of love, this story has been a labour of love. As I wrote this story, I was transported back in time - emotionally - that I found myself in tears when I read my finished work. But then again, I always get emotional at this time of the year.
And now, I present to you...
A Special Surprise
“I hope you won’t change the way you treat me as a friend and view me as a person once you hear what I am about to say,” I told my friend Jocelyn as we head back to the office after our coffee break one afternoon in June, 1989.
She turned to me and asked with eagerness, “What is it, Irene?”
“I’m pregnant,” I said.
I watched her eyes widen with excitement.
“You’re the first one to know,” I added.
She was the only one at my work place whom I trusted.
I was 24 and single. Mama came home during the Christmas holidays. We had such a good time. Mama had been in Canada since I was 15 and she would come home for a three-week visit once every two years. Mama stayed with me at the house I was renting in Pasig. My sister and her family came over several times during Mama’s vacation. That January we threw a birthday party for my niece, who turned one.
Read more here.
Friday, December 23, 2005
"Mommy, is Santa real?"
"Remember what I told you last time?"
"Yeah. Santa is the symbol of Christmas."
"Santa represents the spirit of Christmas, which is?"
"Yup. And giving not only presents but also kindness and goodness."
Merry Christmas to All!
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
This announcement has been popping up on the weather channel these past few days.
Winter Solstice. Winter officially starts on Wednesday, December 21st at 12:35 PM CST.
Ryan asked me this morning, “Mommy, what is solstice?”
“We have the shortest day of the year on winter solstice. On the other hand, we have the longest day on the summer solstice.”
Another screen popped out on the TV.
Sunrise: 8:35 AM. Sunset: 4:30 PM
“See,” I explained further. “We’ll have only about eight hours of daylight today.”
But the good news is that the days will gradually get longer after today.
According to dictionary.com, solstice means:
1. Either of two times of the year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator. The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs about June 21, when the sun is in the zenith at the tropic of Cancer; the winter solstice occurs about December 21, when the sun is over the tropic of Capricorn. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the winter solstice is the shortest.
2. A highest point or culmination.
Monday, December 19, 2005
On Sunday, November 19, 2005, Rowena del Mundo invited family, friends and co-workers to her Retirement Party at the Sinclair Park Community Club. The place was elegantly decorated by Party Planner, Kelly, who happens to be Rowena’s step-daughter.
The tables were covered with white cloth and adorned with red napkins and red roses. Bottles of white wine were placed and white candles were lit on every table.
The host and celebrant was dressed in a red satin gown with black embroidery. A sheer black shawl draped her shoulders. She looked radiant and beautiful that night.
Read more here.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Last week, we celebrated Ryland’s First Reconciliation. Parents, children and families were gathered in the church. First we sang a gathering song to remind us of what we were celebrating. Then Father welcomed us and said a few words. One of the things he said that struck me was that Reconciliation has become a lost Sacrament. He also emphasized the positive role of this sacrament in reconciling personal conflict and healing our relationships. And that’s when I understood why there was a separate celebration for Reconciliation and it wasn’t celebrated together with the First Communion, which Ryland will receive in the Spring.
Father read the Parable of the Lost Sheep according to Luke 15: 1-7. Ryland and the other children have learned this story while preparing for this Sacrament.
Father explained that we were celebrating a communal Reconciliation. He said, “You do not have to say, ‘Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been forever since I had my last confession.’ We know that. We won’t give you individual penance. Instead we will sing and pray as a group.”
We recited the Act of Contrition. The children have learned this by heart.
“O God, rich in mercy, I am sorry for all my sins; for what I have done and what I have failed to do. I will sincerely try to do better. Help me to walk by your light. Amen.”
After the Act of Contrition, Father and another priest stood by the altar. We came forward row by row as we do for communion. Parents brought their children to the priest, holding the child’s sheep. (The children made sheep out of cardboard, cotton balls and clothespins.) Parents waited a short distance away. Father leaned over to each child and asked, “What do you want to say ‘I’m sorry’ for to God?” The child then whispered one or two sins into Father’s ear. Father then gave his absolution and the child said, “Thank you, Father.”
The children returned to their parents and are handed their sheep to place on the banner by the altar. Then they went back to their places and took a few moments to thank God for the gift of forgiveness. Parents were also given the chance to have their confession. Hymns were sung while we had our turns.
The children went to the back of the church to get their candles. The catechist helped them light the candles and they brought them in procession to the altar to show that they walk in the light.
We then prayed the Lord’s Prayer.
At the end of the celebration, Father gave us his blessing and said, “Go in peace, your sins have been forgiven.”
And we all said, “Thanks be to God.”
We then continued the celebration of our joy in forgiveness with a feast at the school hall where parents dropped off their dainties (cup cakes, cookies, veggies and dip, cheese and crackers) which was shared by all. Father also joined us and chatted with the parents.
I think this Reconciliation had been a pleasant experience for the children and parents as well.
Related posts: The Lost Sacrament and The Lost Sheep and An Interesting Discussion of The Prodigal Son.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
In one of the parents’ meeting for the Preparation for Reconciliation (see my previous entry The Lost Sacrament and the Lost Sheep), The Parable of the Prodigal Son was read and discussed.
Here is the Parable of the Prodigal Son according to Luke 15: 11-32.
The Parable of the Lost Son
Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "
The younger son asked for his share of the property. His father was still alive. Usually inheritance is divided among children after one’s death. Just imagine what the father felt when his son asked for his share. Yet he still gave it to him without denouncing him.
The younger son went to a distant country and squandered all his money. He became broke and settled for a job feeding the pigs, the lowest occupation during that time. He was so hungry that he would eat the pods that were fed the pigs, but no one gave him anything. This was the lowest point in his life. He hit rock bottom.
After all this suffering, he came to his senses. This is what we call Repentance. He felt sorry for his sins and he decided to reconcile with his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him.” This could only mean that his father had all this time hoping and waiting for him to come to his senses and come back home. I think that this is something any parent can relate to.
“He ran to his son, threw his arms around his son and kissed him.” The father couldn’t wait for the son to step at the front door. Instead he ran on the road. Remember the son was “still a long way off when his father saw him.” That’s how happy and excited the father was to see his son come back.
Before the son set out for home, he was ready to work as a slave for his father because that was what he thought he deserved. And yet when the son told his father that he was no longer fit to be called his son, he called the servants and asked them to bring his son the best robe (for he was wearing rags), put a ring on his finger (the ring being a symbol of royalty or authority), and sandals on his feet (for only slaves walked bare-footed). The father had a fattened calf killed and they celebrated with a feast. Because as he said, “he was lost and is found.”
Meanwhile the older son was working in the field when he heard the music and dancing in the house and he asked the servants what was going on. He got angry when he learned that his father was celebrating the return of his son, “this son of yours,” he said, who had squandered his father’s money on prostitutes, while he stayed, worked for him like a slave and never disobeyed his orders. His father had never given him even a young goat so he could feast with his friends. Then he refused to go inside the house. He was now disobeying his father. He sinned against the fourth commandment – You shall honour your father and your mother.
But the father explained, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
This last part got quite a few reactions from some of the parents at the meeting. Apparently they had experienced this with their siblings and parents. There was this Mom who has four siblings and one sibling was sort of the black sheep in the family. A brother who took his parents' money, moved away and didn’t contact the family for a long time. But when he came back, his parents welcomed him with open arms. And this brother became the center of attention. Which caused the other siblings to be jealous of the brother. Now they have a grudge against this brother and they have committed one of the seven deadly sins – envy or jealousy. But what can we do if we are thrown in a situation like this? We are humans and we can’t help it if we feel that way. And now that I am a parent myself, I can understand where their parents were coming from. We will accept our children no matter what. This is what parents do. I can imagine the worry their parents had when the brother was away, not knowing how he was and I would just be happy that he came back home healthy and safe.
Of course we know that the father in the parable is Our Father in Heaven who is always ready to accept a repentant sinner. This parable just shows us how great and infinite His Love is for all of us.
Next: A Communal Celebration of Reconciliation
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
To prepare the parents for this task, we were invited to attend three meetings. It was really sort of a refresher course on what Reconciliation is all about. And also to guide parents on how to explain this Sacrament in such a way that our 7- or 8-year olds could understand.
On the first meeting, we were asked to remember about our experiences in Confession. I was one of the parents who couldn’t remember the first time I went to the Confession. Talk about selective memory, eh? Yeah, I do have a lot of baggage that is repressed deep inside me. Well, what I remember is that I had it the day before my First Communion. Because back then, and this was also what my two older sons experienced, Confession and Communion go side by side. And back then, we also went to the Confessional box. I guess for me, it was less intimidating knowing that the priest couldn’t see my face when I told him my sins.
There was this Dad at the meeting who remembered going to Confession as a kid as a terrifying experience. He went to a Catholic school and every other Friday or so, he would line up in a hallway with the rest of the students waiting for his turn to go in the Box, while contemplating about his sins and worrying if Father would remember that his sins were the same ones he confessed the last time.
We don’t use the Box now. I remember my first time to go to Confession when I first came here in Winnipeg. I was surprised that I didn’t have to go to a Confessional box. I was kind of embarrassed to tell Father my sins, face to face. We sat next to each other in one of the pews. I was, at a certain point and up until that time, what people say “living in sin.” I felt so vulnerable. I cried my eyes out. It was a very intimidating experience. But I felt so relieved and so clean after that.
Which brings me to what a Mom shared at that meeting. She said that her husband tells their children, “going to Confession is like taking a bath. What would you feel if you don’t take a bath for a month? You would be stinky. If you don’t go to Confession, your soul will be stinky.” I must be one of those stinky souls because I don’t go that often. But I always pray to God every night and ask for his forgiveness. Could I be really stinky?
I didn’t mind teaching Ryland about Confession. The parents were given a Family Guide, which included stories and pictures, to help tackle this task. For half an hour, three to four nights a week, Ryland and I sat down by ourselves and learned (for me, I re-learned) about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And I even noticed that Ryland appreciated the conversations and special time that we spent together. I also noticed, that my middle son, Ryan, hang around a couple of times, probably wanting to have a special one-on-one time with me as well. And we will. He’s having his Confirmation later this school year so we will have this special time together when we prepare for that. I try to have one-on-one time with each of my three children whenever I find the time. But I guess I can never give them as much as they’d like.
These past weeks, Ryland has learned how to follow the paths of God. He has learned how to forgive and how to be a peacemaker. He also learned the story of The Lost Sheep - Luke 15: 1-7.
This is the version that we read together.
Once a shepherd had 100 sheep. He loved them very much and took good care of them. One evening, as he brought them back to the stable, he counted his sheep as usual: 97-98-99… But where was the hundredth?
The worried shepherd left his other sheep and set out to find his lost sheep.
At last he found her at the bottom of a ravine, entangled in thorns.
Did the shepherd complain to her? No, just the opposite. He was so happy that he put her on his shoulders and sang on his way home.
As he passed through the village, he gathered his friends together and invited them to celebrate with him.
In the same way, Jesus said:
“There is great joy in heaven when a single sinner comes back to God.”
Next: An Interesting Discussion of "The Prodigal Son" and A Communal Celebration of Reconciliation
Sunday, December 11, 2005
1. Champorado (Chocolate Rice) – Sticky rice boiled in a mixture of water, cocoa and sugar. It has a soupy consistency and is usually served with swirls of condensed milk. Perfect for those cool rainy days.
2. Atis (Sweetsop or Sugar Apple) – This is a round fruit with very scaly skin. This fruit has lots of seeds about the same size as the tamarind seeds. If my memory serves me right, I think each scale corresponds to one seed. Each seed is enveloped with white sweet flesh. It may take you a while to finish one fruit but it’s all worth it. I haven’t seen any here in Winnipeg. This is one of my must haves if and when I go back home to the Philippines for a visit.
3. Duhat (Java Plum) – (You have to scroll to the middle of the linked page for a picture of the duhat .) About the same size and shape as grapes. It has a thin blackish purple skin, white flesh and a large seed. Taste is somewhere between sour and sweet. I would put a bunch of duhat in a bowl, sprinkle with sea salt, cover the bowl and shake the contents. This fruit leaves an aftertaste in your mouth and also purple stains on your tongue, as well as on your clothes. So don’t wear your best clothes if you plan to eat this fruit.
4. Sugar cane – We would peel these stalks, sometimes with our teeth. We’d chew the fiber extracting the juice. Then we would spit out the fiber once we have taken out all the juice. Kind of like eating gum, which we chew and spit out once the flavour is all gone.
5. Manggang Piko (A variety of mango) – The only kind of mango that we get here in Winnipeg is the kind that we call "Indian mango" in the Philippines. This "Indian mango" has greenish or sometimes yellow flesh and is usually sweet. What I miss is the manggang piko. It is smaller than the "Indian mango" and is more elongated. Manggang piko is very sour. I would prepare patis (fish sauce) in a small plate and sprinkle it with sea salt. I’d dip my sliced manggang piko in this sauce. Umm, nangasim tuloy ako.
I’m supposed to tag 3 people. But instead, I’m keeping this as an open invitation to anybody who’s interested in sharing their 5 favourite childhood foods. Just let me know. I'd like to read yours ,too. Enjoy!
Friday, December 09, 2005
Usually after Halloween, Christmas decorations start to appear in the stores, carols fill the air, advertisements of toys, jewelry, and electronic gadgets pop up on TV. Snow falls and then it will really start to look a lot like Christmas. Known as the Christmas Capital of Canada, Winnipeg kicks off the holiday season on the third Saturday of November with The Santa Claus Parade. Houses are brightly lit with Christmas lights throughout the season. At home, my kids help me put up and decorate the Tree.
Continue reading how I and other Filipinos celebrate Christmas in different parts of the world in Ang Aming Pasko (Our Christmas) at pinoyatbp.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
This is how much we spent: ($ = Cdn$)
Tickets $4.25 x 4 = $ 17.00 (taxes included)
Large popcorn $5.79 x 2 = $11.58
Extra butter $0.25 x 2 = $0.50
Small Kool-aid $3.29 x 3 = $9.87
7% GST (goods & services tax) = $1.54
7% PST (provincial sales tax) = $1.54
Total = $42.03
We couldn't forego the overpriced popcorn and drinks. My kids don't see the point of going to the movies without these. If you will notice, we shared the popcorn and I didn't buy drinks for myself.
We saved $17.00 this time, ticket was half price. Otherwise, we would have spent $59.03. Quite pricey, eh? This is the reason we go to the movies only once or twice a year. We usually just wait for the movies to come out on DVD.
What about in your city, how much does it cost to go to the movies?
Sunday, December 04, 2005
“It was boring,” my seven-year old said.
“I like Harry Potter 3 better,” my 11-year old said.
“What about you, Reggie, did you like the movie?” I asked my 16-year old.
I personally enjoyed it. Although, I’ll admit that I didn’t have that same feeling of satisfaction when I first saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
I read three movie reviews of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire before I actually found the time to watch it this weekend. The film stayed close to the book, although there were a few parts that didn’t make it to the movie. I didn’t mind it though because the film captured the essence of the story. Sometimes filmmakers have to sacrifice some parts of a novel for brevity. Otherwise, we’d be sitting at a four-hour long film.
Boy, these young actors have grown! Daniel Radcliffe has become more handsome. Emma Watson is very pretty. Rupert Grint is not that bad, either. And it was very interesting to see some characters come to life for the first time. Cho Chang’s beauty is very simple and charming. Mad Eye Moody is magical. And Ralph Fiennes, although we can’t recognize him, gave a fine performance as Lord Voldemort.
The special effects is outstanding. It’s amazing to see the three trials happen on the big screen. The scene at the graveyard is not that too harsh for the kids. I got emotional towards the end of that scene. I don’t know if it’s just me. But I got misty eyed when I watched Harry broke down when he brought Cedric back from the graveyard. It could also be the acting. These youngsters have matured not only physically, but professionally as well.
In my opinion, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has the best storyline of the series so far. In this book Harry was faced with different trials in the Triwizard Tournament, which could signify the trials we face in life. He was faced with dilemmas in the last two trials but he rose to the occasions and he showed his “moral fibre.” We also witness the characters grow up as they experience the pangs of adolescence. To Harry, stealing an egg from a dragon was an achievable task, but asking Cho to the dance was excruciatingly painful. I can relate. I could easily solve a trigonometric equation in high school but I was clueless at how to make a boy notice me.
I guess this is the reason that the Harry Potter series is a success. The theme is universal. Teenagers can relate to the characters, and parents as well because they have been through that phase. At the same time, I think this is also the reason why my two younger kids didn’t enjoy The Goblet of Fire as much as Reggie and I did. This installment is geared towards a more mature audience
Note: I have noticed recently that the movie rating is more lenient here in Canada. In the U.S. this movie is rated PG 13, here in Canada it is PG. I also noticed that there are movies Rated R in the U.S. that are rated only 14A or 18A here. Or it probably varies in the different provinces and territories.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
by Sheree Fitch
I winked and I blinked
And my nose got itchy
And my eyes all watered
And my mouth went twitchy
I went AHHHH
I went AHHHH
I went AHHHH CHOOOOOO
And I blew
And I sneezed
Then I coughed
And I wheezed
And my brother said, "Oh, brother!"
And my mother said,
My father said, "Bless you!"
And I said, Ah . . . ah . . . ah . . .
Whenever one of my children sneezes, I say "Bless you." Once, Ryan sneezed three times in a row and I said "Bless you" three times in a row. When I sneeze, Ryland will say, "Bless you, Mommy." And I will say, "Oh thank you, Ryland."
This weekend, I was shopping with Ryland and this lady sneezed and I said, "Bless you." She said, "Thank you."
What about you? Do you say "Bless you" when somebody sneezes, even if you don't know them?
The picture above is one of the many Christmas lights that adorn Winnipeg streets. I think it depicts Father Winter blowing snow. This one is located in front of the City Hall.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
My oldest son, Reggie, plays the flute and he is into jazz music. I was impressed when I heard him tell his flute instructor last year that he wanted to be a jazz flutist. I have shared my sentiments about his passion. When I first realized that he wanted to pursue a career in music, in the Performing Arts, I worried about any rejection he might experience, or the instability of his chosen career. But of course I realized as well that rejection is a part of life, and one chooses a career based on one's calling, passion, or dreams.
There isn't a day that goes by that Reggie doesn't caress that thin silver instrument. Playing the flute has become his routine. I've heard him improve as the years go by. He's become a very good flutist. And I'm not saying this just because I am his mother. His teachers have told me so as well. People have also come up to him and praised him for his excellent performances. I now totally support his passion. After all, who am I to hinder his dreams, right? I am his parent and it is my job to encourage him to pursue his dreams.
So when I learned that my friend Rowena was throwing a retirement party, I saw an opportunity for Reggie to expose his talent to a different kind of audience. Except for the Cool Jazz Festival this past June, he usually just plays for school concerts. I immediately asked Rowena if he could play. She gladly agreed and he eagerly formed a band. The sextet played jazz tunes (which included The Way You Look Tonight, Autumn Leaves, etc. ) last weekend at Rowena's party. Reggie was so good, and so was the rest of the band. I was so proud of him and I was also happy that my friends finally heard my first-born play.
Reggie wrote this poem two years ago. I have shared in this blog some of his journal entries in Grade 2. As I have promised before, his writing has become a lot better and deeper.
I am an explorer of music and a dedicated friend ©
by Reggie, Grade 9, 2003
I am an explorer of music and a dedicated friend.
I wonder what the future has in store.
I hear the applause of the audience after one of my symphonic successes.
I see my friends and family applauding as well.
I want to become a better musician, exploring every corner and chord of the vast art.
I am an explorer of music and a dedicated friend.
I imagine I'm in the bustling city of Tokyo, jamming with Nobuo.
I feel I'm right where I belong right now, even though I could be someplace better.
I touch people's lives with the ideas that come flowing through my flute.
I worry my positive outlook in life will change.
I cry when someone close fades away to the gates of heaven.
I am an explorer of music and a dedicated friend.
I understand we must support each other to get through life.
I say every moment in life should be spent with happiness.
I dream of my friends and I impressing a sea of spectators with our musical talent.
I try to use what I've learned from the people around me.
I hope for a future as bright as a highly polished flute.
I am an explorer of music and a dedicated friend.
© 2003-2005 Reggie
Friday, November 25, 2005
That is not condensation on my workstation window. That is actually ice that has formed on the glass panes. My desk is right beside it. When it gets cold in the winter, you'll find me in a cotton sweater, cotton pants with elastic waistband, wool socks and sometimes I cover myself with a blanket. Yup, you can dress as comfortably as want when you work at home.
I try to avoid the icy patches on the sidewalk lest I slip and fall on my butt. But my son, Ryan, can slide gracefully through the ice as if ice-skating and he can glide through without slipping.
The icy roads are very dangerous, though. It can cause many vehicular accidents.
The pile of snow on the sidewalk is as hard as ground.
This block of ice is as hard as a rock.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
That was my son Ryland asking me this question on Saturday before we went to her Ninang (Godmother) Rowena’s Retirement Dinner and Dance. The last time my kids went with me to a party, one of my girl friends kissed Ryland on the cheek and he didn’t like it.
Ryland couldn’t remember which friend kissed him and so at the party, I asked Elaine, who was sitting across the table, if she was the one who kissed Ryland. No, it wasn’t her.
So, as friends started to arrive, I wondered who this boy-kisser was. My son would not be a victim again.
Ninang Maria, Ryland’s other godmother came, and I invited her to come over to our table so that he could bless Ryland. Blessing or kissing the hand of a godmother is a common tradition among Filipinos.
Maria eagerly got up from her seat. She headed straight for the little guy seated next to me and before I could thwart the “crime,” her lips landed on Ryland’s right cheek.
“Mommy, Ryland has red lipstick on his ear, ha ha ha ha,” Ryan said.
Poor Ryland had that pleading look when he turned to me. I immediately wiped the lipstick off his ear.
By this time, the culprit was already nowhere in sight. She was gone in a flash. I knew that if I just followed the trail – the scent of the food from the buffet table, I would have found her there. But I just decided to pardon her that time. I can’t blame her for wanting to kiss my adorable son.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
This past weekend after catechism, my sister, whose daughter, Amica, is in the same class with Ryland, asked me, “Did you remember to send Ryland with his baptismal pictures and mementos?”
“What pictures?!! No, I did not. Did their catechist send them a note? Because he didn’t get one?”
“Yes, it was attached to the yellow note that reminded them that there were no classes last weekend.”
“Well, there was none attached to Ryland’s.”
There wasn’t. And yet I started to count my (small) failings as a mother.
After ten minutes, my dear sister was on the other line.
“Ate*, it wasn’t Amica’s. It was Gaudie’s (my nephew) homework. When they came home from catechism that week, I gathered all the children’s notes and they got all mixed up. Ha ha ha.”
Gaudie told her mother that he was the only one in class who didn’t have anything for Show and Tell.
And there I thought that I was the only one who’s failing my children.
Please excuse my sister as well for her shortcomings. She has seven children.
*Ate – what Filipinos call an older sister
Friday, November 18, 2005
“Black,” Ryland said confidently.
“Are you sure?” she asked again. “We have all these fun colours, blue, green, red…”
“I want black.”
I chuckled. I knew why he wanted black. His Kuya Reggie wears glasses with black frames.
Tamy took a couple of glasses from the rack and showed them to Ryland. There was a round one and a rectangular one. Ryland immediately picked the rectangular one to try on first. I had a feeling that it was the one. Reggie wears a black rectangular frame. I have written before how my younger kids tend to copy their older brother/s.
He looked at the mirror. The glasses looked good on him. But I told him to also try the other one. He did and looked at the mirror again. “I don’t like this. I like the other one better,” he said. He wore the rectangular one and smiled when he looked at himself in the mirror once more.
He looked smart with glasses on. And he knew how to pick a good one. It’s very stylish. Just two nights before he cried when I reminded him of his appointment with the optometrist and the possibility that he would be wearing glasses. He said that he would look ugly. I assured him that of course he wouldn’t.
When we were at the bus stop on our way home, he said that he could read the billboard on the bus that was on the other side of the street. I guess before, he wouldn’t even notice those. It reminded me of the first time I had to wear glasses.
It was about five years ago. I was worried that my eyesight was starting to fail me. And I wasn’t that old. I couldn’t even see my child clearly when we were standing just a few feet apart in our hallway upstairs. I blamed the pink eye (sore eyes as we call it in the Philippines) that I just had. But after a trip to the ophthalmologist’s office, I learned that I only needed to wear eyeglasses.
The first time I wore my glasses, I felt sort of in a whirl. Everything just became a lot clearer. Every colour became vivid. I didn’t realize until then that if I didn’t have my glasses on, everything from about ten feet and beyond was just a sea of fuzziness.
The day I got my glasses, I found myself singing ...
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
If Ryland knew that song, I guess he would be singing it, too.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
That’s what happened to me this morning. Well, actually, I forgot what time I was supposed to get up, lingered in bed and fell back to sleep. And did you know that that alarm will go off for about half an hour as long as you keep hitting that button?
For some reason, my kids got a four-day vacation this Remembrance Day weekend. And they didn’t have them on the same days. The two younger ones went back to school yesterday, while my 11th grader, Reggie, didn’t have to go back until today. And I made him miss his first class because my body rhythm was out of whack.
Well, at least he wasn't the only one late for school today. We had the first snowstorm of the season. Poor Reggie had to go out there before we had the chance to shovel the snow. I watched his legs sink deep in two feet of snow in our front yard. Mine did too when I tried to shovel a pathway for my courier guy and cleared our front steps. That snow was quite heavy and sticky.
I learned that buses were stuck and delayed for up to 60 minutes. There are people who weren’t able to go to work or school because they couldn’t get their cars out of their driveways. Garbage pick-ups were cancelled. Even snowplows were stuck in the highways. And if I heard it right, millions of dollars were spent just for today’s clean-up of the snow.(?) What a hassle!
But there’s something about the sight of snow that makes us all excited. I know my two young ones were eager to wear their new boots this morning. Ryland got to play in the snow at recess and Ryan helped make a quinzee* in the school grounds. It also reminds us that Christmas is just around the corner. Soon, I’ll be busy with the Christmas shopping. But for the meantime, I’ll busy myself in putting in more hours of work to get that extra money.
All I can say about all these is that I really feel blessed that I was given the chance to work at home. I didn’t have to go out there in the cold waiting for a bus that had been delayed. I didn’t have to be late for work, or miss a day of work. I can even work long hours in the comforts of my own home. And I am right here when my children comes home from school ready to make them hot chocolate and soup on a cold winter day like today.
* A quinzee is a combination of an igloo and snow cave.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Ryan asked me, “Then why aren’t you there? Your dad is dead.”
I told him jokingly, “You really want me to go there today and then come back tomorrow?”
He knew that I couldn’t do that, considering that we are oceans away from the Philippines and I would have to purchase a plane ticket for that trip.
I looked at Ryan and reminded him, “My father died on June 20. Three years to the day before you were born.”
“I know that, Mommy,” he said.
Then Ryland said, “Mommy, your dad is dead. That’s sad.” Then he hugged me.
I hugged him back and said, “I know, but it’s okay.”
Once in a while, Ryland would realize that my father is already gone and then he would do what he just did. He’d hug me and say, “That’s sad.” And I would say, “I know, but it’s okay.”
Two days earlier we were talking about how I saw his friend Dragan and his Mom and Dad and brother Victor at the grocery store. They said hi to me and the two kids waved goodbye when they saw me again before they left the store. I told Ryland that I like his friend and his family. They seem to be really nice people.
I told my kids about my cousin Victor. He was a sailor and he went missing in the Bermuda Triangle while aboard a ship in the 1970s. We never found out what happened to him. Ryan said that he could be alive somewhere and raising a family of his own. That’s also what a fortune-teller told his mother (my aunt) many years ago. But it's most likely that he had died and had been buried down there under the sea. When I finished telling this story, Ryland said, “That’s sad.” And I said, “I know, but it’s okay. It happened a long time ago.”
Ryland is very sweet and compassionate. And it’s really sad that we lost these two loved ones too soon. Telling stories about them, especially to my kids, who never knew them, is my way of honouring and remembering them.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
At night, my family (and once in a while neighbours, too) would gather around the TV and watch whatever show was on. One show that sticks in my mind is "John en Marsha," the family sitcom that starred Dolphy and Nida Blanca in the title roles and also the hilarious Dely Atay-Atayan as the rich mother-in-law whose line "Kaya ikaw John magsumikap ka" always ended the weekly show. Dolphy’s son Rolly Quizon and the young Maricel Soriano portrayed their children Rolly and Shirley.
Read the rest of this entry at Pinoyatbp.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
So we headed to the front doors of the MTS Centre where we usually wait for the bus. We got there at 9:30 p.m. Our bus wasn’t supposed to come until 10:08 p.m. (Or so I thought.) It was quite cold outside and instead of waiting at the bus stop, which was just right in front of the MTS Centre, we stayed by the front doors since we could see the buses through the glass doors.
At around 10:00 p.m., we got ready and stood by the doors. Then I noticed that Ryan was pacing in front of me. I knew he had to pee. I asked him once again if he wanted to go to the washroom. He looked at the gates of the arena and saw that they were closed. (I used the washroom inside the arena.) He said he needed to go just a little bit but he could still hold it. I told him that we could go inside Moxie’s Restaurant, which was inside the MTS Centre and he could use the washroom there. “It’s okay,” he said. “Are you sure you can hold it for 30 minutes more? That’s how long we’re gonna be in the bus,” I told him. That’s when he realized that of course he couldn’t hold it that long. So we hurriedly went inside Moxie’s thinking that we only had a couple of minutes until the bus came.
Why did Ryan waited too long to go in the washroom? I waited impatiently for him to get out of there. I thought that we might miss the bus. I hoped that the bus would be late so that we could catch it. It turned out that our bus was to come at 10:18 and not 10:08. When I looked at the schedule and read 00:08, I thought that was 10:08. Silly me. I should have been looking at the one that read 20:18. We were able to get on the 10:18 bus and we were home by 10:45 p.m.
The next morning at breakfast, I reiterated to Ryan that whenever I ask him if he has to go in the washroom, like the night before, that he better go, especially now that we have cold weather. I explained to him further that before I leave the house, I go in the washroom. I also tell my boys to go pee. When Ryland comes home from school, I tell him to go pee before he goes outside to play with his cousins, lest he wets his pants. Likewise, if we are out shopping or we are at someplace else, I use the bathroom before leaving that place. I always ask the boys if they have to go, too. It’s usually Ryan who says, “I don’t have to,” and he gets mad when I ask him twice. I can still make Ryland go tinkle even just a wee bit since I can still bring him with me to the ladies room. (He’s only seven.)
“Why does the cold weather make us pee?” Ryan asked me. I thought I knew the answer to that question but I couldn’t come up with one that morning. So I just said to him, “It’s just the way it is. When it’s cold, it makes us go pee a lot.” Have you ever been in a situation like that when you get stumped with a question like this? I knew there was a better explanation that I’ve heard or read somewhere. But my failing and aging mind couldn’t come up with it.
A few days later, I was talking to my friend Elaine about it and asked her that question. She gave me an answer right away. When it’s cold, we don’t sweat. Well, maybe only a little. So the excess water in our body needs another outlet to get out. And how else? To pee. I knew that. That was exactly what was in the back of my mind when Ryan asked me.
Elaine is 11 years younger than me and she still has a good memory. She also doesn’t have any children yet. This reminds me of a magazine article that said, “When you start having children, your level of concentration goes down.”
I don’t know if it’s having children or if it’s aging that’s making my memory weak. Here’s another instance. Ryland and Ryan were watching Survivor with me last week, but Ryan missed the last 10 minutes. The next morning, Ryan asked me who got voted out. I tried to rattle my brains for an answer and then Ryland blurted out, “Amy!” before I could. I remembered the challenges and other incidents that happened in the episode but couldn’t remember who got voted out. How could I forget what I just watched the night before? Pretty scary, huh?
I later on searched the internet on a more scientific explanation of why the cold weather makes us pee. Here’s what I found out.
"A common symptom of cold weather is its effect on urine
production. Exposure to cold causes a reduction in blood flow to the
surface of the skin by constriction of blood vessels. This reduces the overall
volume of the circulatory system so increasing the blood pressure. The body's
response to this is to reduce the fluid volume by getting rid of water in the
urine. So when you get cold, you want to pee. "
Monday, October 31, 2005
I am well aware of what triggers my back pain, namely, carrying heavy groceries, raking and shoveling.
I have found a solution about the groceries. I always bring several bags and I distribute the weight of my items evenly. I can usually get away with shoveling the snow. If I can’t, I do very little of it. I leave this chore to my husband although we sometimes fight about it. My sister usually beats us in shoveling the driveway, which we share, since she’s the one who has a car. I sometimes feel bad about it. So when Fall comes, I do tackle raking the leaves even though I know what’s in store for me. I would really like to leave this job to the kids, but you see, they won’t do it unless I start doing it.
And so Friday and Saturday of last week, I was out there with the rake, rubber gloves, several garbage bags and my three boys. Oh, don’t be fooled. It’s not their favourite chore either. They were just really being nice to their dear old mother. The store flyers are now full of wonderful things that remind them of Christmas and the wish lists are a-coming. I have started hearing “Mommy, can I have this for Christmas?” and I have started saying, “I’ll think about it.” Now, do you see what I mean? This is how it works well for all of us. I did only half the job and left the rest of the raking and bagging to them. I didn’t want to over-exert myself. And yet I still got this nasty back pain. It wasn’t as bad as last year though.
When I am feeling these aches and pains, I get cranky and grumpy. I can be in a lousy or foul mood. I can be a witch, not to everybody. Only to certain people. But I can easily be cured by a dose of TLC, an extra hour of sleep and a little trick-or-treating.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
On Halloween lots of children wear costumes and lots of children have lots of candy. Some people put up lots of very spooky decorations and some people put a little bit of spooky decorations up.
On Halloween I will be a knight and my baby brother will be Batman. Last Halloween my costume was the green Power Ranger and my baby was a pumpkin.
Sometimes my mom tells ghost stories, goblin stories and monster stories and after she reads them I get nightmares. I woke up at 1:30 that night and then somebody was opening the door and it was my mom.
Written by Reggie in Grade 2, October 1996
Thursday, October 27, 2005
“Good Morning,” greets the hostess standing by the entrance door. I smile and say, “Good Morning,” as I push through the automatic doors the shopping cart that reaches up to my chest.
I pause and look at my shopping list, which I prepared before I left the house. My list helps me remember to buy the things that I need and helps me avoid several trips to the store. This also helps me refrain from impulse buying.
Read the rest of this entry at Pinoyatbp.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Well, anyway, I thought that there could be a chance that Brad would show up at the Raptors game last night. Although I’m not a fan, I thought it would have been cool to see a movie star in person. But he wasn’t there. And yes, the Toronto Raptors and Portland Trailblazers were also in town. My 11-year old son, Ryan, who is into basketball, and many other Winnipeggers had been anticipating for months in watching the only Canadian team in the NBA play at the MTS Centre. Ryland and I went with Ryan to watch the pre-season game. This was our first time to watch a live professional basketball game and our first time to be inside the MTS Centre arena.
Even though Vince Carter is not in the team anymore (he was traded to New Jersey Nets), thousands of people still flocked the MTS Centre. I saw several kababayans (fellow Filipinos). None of them I knew except for my friend Elaine and husband Myke who were seated on the other side of the court. We also saw Jordan, Ryan's former basketball teammate.
During the first half of the game, the scores were pretty close. But by the third quarter, the Trailblazers were leading by over ten points. The Raptors started catching up during the last 43 seconds. That’s when the game became exciting. People were booing the Trailblazers every time they scored a basket, which I don’t really understand. When I watched my kids play in the league this Spring, the parents cheered the players not only in their team, but even the ones in the other team. I just think it’s rude to boo them. But I guess this is what people do at these basketball games. And oh boy, was Ryland hyped up! He was chanting and booing with the audience. He also thought that it was cool to do "the wave." I did, too.
We wanted the Raptors to win but with less than a minute to play, it was hard to catch up. They ended up losing, 105-98. It was a good game, though. And a memorable one for us since it’s the first NBA game we ever watched. I wonder if Ryan still wants to go to L.A. to see the Lakers play. Hmmn.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
This past week had been a busy one for me. We had appointments on four different days. I don’t really mind it that much on days like these. It’s just that sometimes natataranta ako. I get stressed when I’m pressed for time. But it’s all good because I get to walk or run (to catch the bus). That's good exercise, right? Although, this past week had not been the ideal time to go out. It is so cold here now. Temperatures in the morning had been close to zero degrees C and highs of only up to around 14 degrees. It had been generally cloudy. It had been raining at times. Dismal weather is how I would describe it. Most of the trees are naked. Leaves have fallen. The kids did some raking but there are still leaves around scattered everywhere.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
"Nothing you can say can tear me away from my guy.
Nothing you can do 'cause I'm stuck like glue to my guy.
I'm sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter,
Like birds of a feather we stick together.
I'm telling you from the start I can't be torn apart from my guy. "
We went out last weekend to buy him a new pair of shoes. Since we were at the mall, I had my printer ink refilled at Island Ink-Jet. While waiting for it, we had French fries and rootbeer at A & W.
It’s always fun to go out with him. We never run out of things to talk about. When we were walking back to Island Ink-Jet, he swung my left arm over his shoulder and he wrapped his right arm around my waist. We were like lovers walking arm in arm. I don’t think that I have experienced that before.
My first boyfriend towered over me. He was over six feet tall. I barely reach five feet. I don’t think we even held hands because we were afraid that somebody would see us. Patago kasi ang date namin. My next boyfriend, who became my husband, is not the type who shows affection in public.
So I was thrilled when my seven-year old son Ryland and I walked stuck together through the crowded mall. Ganuon pala ang feeling when you’re walking arm in arm with somebody. It’s like you’re shouting to the world, “Hey, I am with someone whom I love and who loves me.”
Sunday, October 16, 2005
The younger kids would bring home a paper cut out of a turkey and for wings, they would cut out strips of paper where they wrote down the things that they were thankful for.
This year, Ryland’s says:
I am thankful for…
- the food
- my bed
- my eyesight
- that I get a lot of love (Aww!)
You see, I always remind my kids to finish what’s on their plate and that they shouldn’t complain if they don’t like what we’re having for dinner. How many times have they heard me say, “You’re lucky you have food to eat. There are many kids in other countries who barely have anything to eat.” Sometimes I feel guilty nagging them like that especially when my voice gets stern and my youngest one starts to cry. And I guess this is the reason Ryland is thankful for the food.
I know he loves his bed. His mattress is the newest one in the house. We bought it two summers ago when we replaced his old soggy bed, the coils of which were poking his back.
I just love that he said that he’s thankful for his eyesight. For the last two years this child has been on the borderline of wearing eyeglasses. I just got an appointment with his optometrist for next week because I think it’s time for him to wear spectacles. Last year he said that the priest was blurry when we were at church. He’s not seeing clearly and yet he’s still thankful for his eyesight.
He’s thankful that he gets a lot of love. If that doesn’t melt your heart, I don’t know what will. I’m glad that he feels that way because he is surely surrounded by love.
I am constantly amazed at how my children pick up the little things that I say or teach them. I always try to instill in them that they should be thankful for the things that they have.
I, myself, used to fret about things. Like the time I contacted my high school classmates in 2002. I was jealous of their jobs especially this one classmate who is a successful CPA (Certified Public Accountant). I was a CPA back home but I wasn’t able to pursue the career when I migrated to Canada. On the other hand, this classmate, who longs to be married and have kids, was envious of me. I then realized that I have a decent job as a benefits examiner, a comfortable life with my husband and these three wonderful children and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
In spite of this realization, I still find myself complaining and fretting. About people getting promoted at work and how I am stuck in my position because I chose to work at home. But of course I don’t regret choosing to work at home because of the reasons I’ve mentioned here and in Confessions of a Work-At-Home Mom.
Every now and then, I complain about my twin size bed. About how small it is and how I am always at the edge because my husband hogs the bed. Until I realized that he just wants to be closer to me and there I am trying to distance myself just so that I could get enough sleep (wink). How lucky am I that I sleep with someone who loves me. Some people don’t. How lucky am I that I have a soft (even though it’s creaky) and warm bed. Many people who have been hit by the hurricanes don’t have a bed to sleep on or a roof over their head.
I guess Thanksgiving is a day that has been set aside so that we could reflect on the things that we are thankful for. Thank you, Ryland, for reminding me.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Saturday, October 08, 2005
These pictures were taken these past two weeks. We were driving home from church when we spotted the (first) sight below. Four trees of different colours in one spot. Isn't that lovely? Click on the images for a larger view.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Somebody else's flowers survived the cold weather. I pulled out my withering plants several weeks ago.
It was cold and slushy. Ryland's socks were soaking wet when he came home from school.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
I know, I am their mother and I’ve seen plenty a poop when they were still in diapers and when they were still toilet training. But come on, my youngest is seven and I thought I’ve already graduated from Toileting 101.
I also remind them to close the lid after they use it. Actually, what I tell them is to close the lid and then flush. This way the bacteria aren’t scattered around. A little tip I learned from an Oprah show. I thought this would solve our toilet seat problem.
Read the rest of this entry at PINOYatbp, where I am guest blogger.
PINOYatbp is a community blog that offers news, articles, and recipes - written by fellow Pinoys (slang for Filipino) from all over the world.