Saturday, January 29, 2005

In Deep Snow

RK in winter suit

Snowplow in action

There are more pictures here.

Mama has mentioned to my aunt in Manila about the amount of snowfall we had here. Mama was explaining to my aunt how she had to take the bus to work for a couple of days after the blizzard since she couldn’t get her car out of the driveway. I guess it must be hard to have an idea of how snow affects our daily life if you haven’t lived in a place where it snows. So I decided to take these pictures and mail them to her. These pictures are taken just within this month.

Also, please scroll down to my previous entries as I have added a few pictures to my earlier posts. Pasensiya na. I don’t own a digital camera yet. I’m quite behind when it comes to technological gadgets.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

On thumbsucking

Dr. Phil talked about children sucking their thumbs. One mother was worried that it would make her 4-year old daughter’s teeth crooked. Dr. Phil said that she shouldn’t worry about it because those are still baby teeth. By the time her permanent teeth come out, she probably would have given up thumbsucking.

I was also worried with RC, who sucked his thumb until five years old. During one of his dental check ups, we came across a book in the waiting room. It was about a boy who sucked his thumb. I read the book to RC and showed him the pictures. When we came home that night, I followed what the father did in the story. Before RC went to bed, I put a band-aid on his thumb. The first couple of nights, RC continued sucking his thumb, including the band-aid. So I followed the next step. I covered his hand with a sock and taped it around so that he wouldn’t take it off. RC was very cooperative because he saw the pictures on the book and he knew that it worked for the boy. And it did for RC as well. After two weeks, we got rid of the sock and he never sucked his thumb again.

Monday, January 24, 2005

He's on a mission

The very handsome Ricky Martin was on Oprah. I loved him even back then during his Menudo days. And I gushed when I watched him shake his bonbons to “Cup of Life” in the 1999 Grammy Awards. The rest is, as they say, history. I have his poster in my workstation. When RK was just starting to talk, he would say mama (mommy) and dada (daddy). Sometimes he would point at Ricky’s picture and say, “Dada.” “Oh no, RK, that’s not daddy, that’s Ricky,” I would say.

Ricky slipped out of the limelight about two years ago. He did some soul searching. He put his career on hold because he wanted to go back to the beginning. “I needed to be a child again,” he said. "Life became too serious all of a sudden. It was all about a competition, about becoming the best and being the best, and that's not what life is all about.” He is now on a mission. He built a home for the disabled in his native land, Puerto Rico, and he is helping to rescue girls in India from prostitution. Recently, he went to Thailand to help the youngest victims of the tsunami. This just makes me admire him more.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Luxury or necessity? I say it's an option

My taxi driver today was very friendly...

Driver: Do you have work today?
Me: No, Saturday is shopping day, grocery shopping.
Driver: You’ll take the taxi, too, when you go home?
Me: Yeah, I have to. I don’t have a car.
Driver: Me, too. Cars are expensive. Taxi is better.
Me: I agree. I have gone through three babies without a car. I take my kids on the bus and they’re fine with it.

I think it was about a year and a half ago when RC used to ask me, “Why don’t we buy a car?” There was one particular afternoon when the kids and I had to wait for our bus for a long time after a weekend shopping. Well, you see, buses here don’t come that often on weekends.

RC: It’s too bad we don’t have a car.
Mom: You know what, if we have a car, we won’t be able to buy a whole lot of other things. I probably won’t be able to buy you PS games, toys, computer, nice clothes…
RC: Even a house, Mommy?
Mom: Yeah, we’ll probably live in a small apartment.
Ryan: Oh! A house is better than a car.

We had another blizzard the other day. Piles of snow have become higher. Some even as high as houses.

At seventeen

My niece A turned 17.

When A was born, I was jealous of sis. She was 2 ½ years younger than me and there she was married and a mother. When I first saw and held A, I thought, if I could have a baby even just as half as beautiful as her, I’d feel blessed. Seventeen years and three babies later, I feel more than blessed.

I learned the truth at 17…
…that love was not just for beauty queens
…that love hurts just as much as it excites
…that bad actions can have bad consequences

At 17, I ran away from my aunt’s house to reunite with my father. It had bad consequences but I didn’t regret it. I don’t recommend it though.


Word of the day is pisngi, cheek in English.

Mom: pis-ngi
RK: pis-neh
Mom: pis
RK: pis
Mom: ngi
RK: nyeh
Mom: pisngi
RK: pis-neng

White people at work pronounce the Vietnamese surname Ng, Ing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

On winter camping

The Grade 6 students in RC’s school went to winter camp today, as well as the Grade 6 teachers, including his, Mrs. M. RC is in a multi-age class, the English Grade 5/6. The seven Grade 5 and two Grade 6 students in his class who didn’t go to camp were sent to the Ukrainian Grade 5 room. RC’s subsitute teacher forgot that it was their library day and did not send them to the library. I think RC was a little bit upset about the disruption in the routine and that he has to wait until next week to get new library books.

RG went to winter camp when he was in Grade 6. They held a fund-raising - selling chocolates - to cover the cost of the trip. But I still ended up paying most of the fee. I encouraged RG to go because I thought that it could be the only chance that he'd experience winter camping. We’re not into camping as a family. It’s not easy to do if you don't own vehicle. Besides, both R and I are indoor people.

The camp was at a place about two hours drive from our city. On the way there, one of their buses broke down and they had to get out and wait in the snow for a little while. It wasn’t that bad. The campers stayed there for three days and two nights. The winter camp turned out to be a success and I think he, his classmates and teachers enjoyed it. He even learned how to make a quinzee. It’s like an igloo.

The first night that RG was gone, RC, who was 6 years old at that time, asked me at dinner…

RC: Mommy, is Kuya RG coming home?
Mom: No, he won’t be home until Friday afternoon.
RC: But I want him now.
Mom: Well, he’s not here now.

Then he cried. He missed RG just on the first night.

The next morning at work, I was melancholy. I was missing RG. My kumareng W came by to my desk for a little chat. I told her how I was feeling. Tears started to fall. That was the first time that RG was away from us. He’s had a few sleep-overs with friends before but it was the first time that he went out of town for more than a night. And we missed him terribly just on the first night. At least, RC and I did.

Monday, January 17, 2005

You could feel the humanity

Nate Berkus, professional designer, talked to Oprah about his experience in Sri Lanka during the tsunami. It was a horrifying experience and although he lost his partner, Fernando, (he’s still missing but his family assumes that he died) Nate felt lucky to have survived the disaster. Nate literally drowned a few times when the wall of waves struck the land. After the tsunami had subsided, Nate saw something beautiful. And this is what touched me. Despite the horror, the destruction, and loss, the survivors - people from all over the world, the residents and people who were vacationing – showed kindness to one another. They had nothing left, no food, no water, no clothing, yet they had one another. They helped each other overcome the tragedy.

Read Nate's full story here.

Good for her

Sometimes people get married for the wrong reason, for instance, money or the girl is pregnant. Sometimes they do it for the right reason, love, like Jen and Brad did. (I loved her in Friends and I am still looking forward to watching Troy.) But look at them now. And the millions of dollars that were spent on that lavish wedding, was it all just a waste? I used to envy people I know who had very nice, elegant, expensive weddings. I saw some of those marriages fall apart. I only had a very simple wedding due to lack of financial resources. My father-in-law even referred to it as kasal-kasalan, as if it was just some sort of play. But I am glad that my marriage had not fallen apart. Oh sure, we did stumble upon a few bumps in the road. Although we came out of it with a few scratches, we got up and continued going on stronger.

I try to avoid engaging in gossip. But I just couldn’t help commenting on this one. When the news about Jen and Brad first broke, there were speculations that they separated because she didn’t want to bring kids in the situation that they are in. I thought, good for her. Another speculation was that they separated because of Angelina. A few days ago, Angelina spoke out and said that she’s not the cause of the split. She said that Brad wanted to have a baby so much NOW, but Jen didn’t. I can’t really blame Jen. If the relationship is in trouble, why bring kids into the marriage? Sort out the relationship first. But being apart from each other most of the time doing movies, I don’t think that would be easy.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Treacherous weather

It’s always been a struggle this week to get my kids to bundle up in this treacherous weather. This morning, as they were getting ready for catechism class, RK complained, “Mommy, Kuya RC is wearing jeans. I want to wear my jeans.” I wanted RK to wear his fleece pants. RC would only wear his jeans. I have been letting it go since he’s older now. I wear my jeans too and their fine. But RK’s only 6 and I don’t think that his young body can tolerate this frigid weather in scanty clothing. Even R has noticed that RG wouldn’t cover up his head. I always remind RG at least twice every morning to wear his hood and scarf. He can’t worry too much about his moussed hair in this extreme temperature.

Looking at the bright side

R has been laid off at work. Last week he announced, “Okay I’m the cook from now on.” Big sigh of relief here (pointing at myself). I’ve never denied that he’s a better cook than I am. RC said, “Daddy, you should work at McDonald’s because you’re good at cooking.” When I learned that R would be laid off, I prepared my kids ahead of time so that they wouldn’t bother me in asking if they can buy such and such. I hope that I didn’t worry RC too much about the lesser income that we’ll be dealing with.

R has been with the same company for six straight years. That’s the longest employment he’s had. He used to get laid off often before that. The old me, er, I should say, the younger me would be all stressed out once he’s laid off -- nagging here and snapping there. But I have matured and I realize that this is just one of the realities of life. So I am cool. I try to look at the bright side of things. Now that R’s cooking, we’ll have more sabaw, instead of the usual pritong this and pritong that.

R has been cooking since morning. “I can’t help you,” I told him. “I’m working today.” Later in the afternoon, he said, “nakakapagod ding magluto.” Well, now he must realize what I always go through when we throw birthday parties for the kids at home. I always beg him to at least help in cleaning the house before the guests come.

Kumpareng R and N came. As usual, inuman session na naman. They like listening to ‘80s music. Nababakla ang 3 kapag sinusundan ang mga kantang A Very Special Love, Come What May, atbp. Later, the wives came to pick up the 2. Thank goodness, these people are finally coming to their senses. They can’t drink and drive. They have to be responsible.

Friday, January 14, 2005

How could he not remember?

A 14-year old girl survived bat rabies without getting vaccinations. She went into a coma but she’s better now. She is in rehabilitation to improve her speech and walking. I didn’t know that rabies could be that dangerous.

RC: Kuya RG didn’t really get bitten by the dog. He just hurt himself on the rock when he fell down.
Mom: How do you know?
RC: Because I saw, I was with him remember?
Mom: What are you talking about. I saw the bite mark on his hand. (Although looking back now, it didn’t bleed.) RG, did you get bitten or not?
RG: I can’t remember.

How could he not remember? Was he traumatized by the experience that he forgot? Why did he get the tetanus shot and 3 doses of rabies shots then? Dr. D, their pediatrician, still remembers him for getting those purple shots. Everytime I go see her with one of the kids, she always asks how RG is doing. She hasn’t given rabies shots to anybody other than RG.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Extreme temperature

There was a blizzard warning last night but we didn’t really get a lot of snow. We had extreme windchills again. RC wouldn’t wear his scarf in the morning. Anyway, he wore his hood and it covered his neck. He’s very conscious of how he’s dressed. He’s only ten. It’s probably because he’s around six graders in his class. He wants to be one of the “big kids.” I think I was also around ten when I started to notice the opposite sex and begun to have crushes. Before I left the house to run errands for either Ma or Pa, I would make sure that my hair is combed or my clothes were okay. Well, we can’t be too vain in extreme weather like this. We have to cover up or we’ll freeze.

I was also bundled up when I went out today. I wore layers of clothing. I wore my warmest sweater. R haven’t shoveled our pathways yet. The roads were slippery. I made sure that the cars were totally stopped before I crossed the streets. You’ll never know when a driver might lose control of a vehicle on the slippery roads. On Main Street, I saw two Hydro service guys just finishing a job and closing a manhole by the sidewalk. They were also covered up. I wouldn’t want to work outside especially on such a weather. It was windy. Snow from the rooftops were blowing everywhere. People were all bundled up from head to toe. It's not that bad if you're dressed warmly. Or I guess I'm just getting used to these cold temperatures.

Long term goals

I had a meeting with my supervisor for my yearly review. “Did you pick this day so that we could experience this cold weather?” I asked him jokingly. My performance last year was alright. And I got a “distinguished” on attendance. Zero absences. That’s three years in a row that I got a perfect attendance – something that I haven’t been able to accomplish while I was working in the office. He asked me what were my short term and long term goals. My short term goal was to improve the quality of my work, to have lesser errors. For my long term goal, what do I want to achieve in the next three years? I told him straightforward that I still enjoy working at home even though I know that there’s no chance of promotion for me as long as I stay at home. He has implied earlier that I am already a candidate for training for a senior position should I wish to come back to the office. It’s up to me. But it was a no-brainer for me. I would rather work at home than be a senior adjuster. Some people might have a hard time understanding this. I’ve experienced dragging my three kids out of bed as early as 6:00 am when I had to go to the office. Dealing with temper tantrums and rushing to make it on time to work can be very stressful. There were times when I’d yell and then felt sorry the entire day, hoping that they would still love me when I came back home at night. Of course they always did. Working at home, I have become more patient and I am more relaxed. We are all able to take our time.

After my meeting, I came by my friend E’s desk. We had a little chat. I learned that some of our friends are now senior adjusters, some of whom have been with the company for a shorter time that I have. Oh well.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Cool activity

Happy birthday Daddy!

My cousin Lou called and greeted R. I greeted her too. They have the same birthday. Ilang taon na si R? Bata siya ng 2 taon sa atin. He he he. Lou and I are the same age.

RC: Mommy, we went skiing at school.
Mom: Yeah, did you do it on a hill?
RC: No, just on the flat ground.
Mom: Where did you get the skis?
RC: We have some in the gym.
Mom: Did you have to take turns?
RC: No, there’s enough for everybody.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

What stopped her?

A Walk on the Moon (1999 Drama) Diane Lane, Liev Schreiber, Viggo Mortensen, Anna Paquin. A frustrated ‘60s mother joins the fray at Woodstock.

I was attracted to the movie that appeared in our local TV guide. Good cast. I taped it and watched it last night when the kids were all in bed. I am drawn to these movie dramas and I always end up crying in the end.

It was about Pearl who felt that she missed out on a lot of things that she wanted to do because she got pregnant at 17 and then got married. In the summer of '69, her husband, Marty, was always tied up at work fixing TVs. It was around the time when the first man landed on the moon. Of course everybody wanted to watch it. That same night of the landing, she turned to a traveling blouse salesman, Walker, when her husband was busy at work. She had a short affair with Walker. Marty found out about the affair and confronted Pearl. She said that she wanted to do new things. Marty asked, “What stopped you Pearl?” Because he didn't. She replied, “It’s not that easy.” Of course, it wasn’t. When we get married and have kids, we sacrifice a lot. There was a time when I envied people who travel often or who have pursued their careers, mostly single people and those who didn’t have children. It’s not that I regret having a family. Oh, no. I realized that I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. I just think there comes a time when you ask yourself, what if? Well, anyway, Pearl broke it off with Walker, letting go of her dream of traveling. Marty took her back.

Of accidents and surprises

One other thing that touched me in the movie was when Allison, the 14 year-old daughter, found out that she was “an accident.” Both her mom and dad assured her that although they didn’t plan to have her, they both loved her. I felt her pain as she was torn between her two parents who decided to separate after Marty found out about the affair. I felt that pain at 12 years old when my parents separated.

Also, the "accident" scene reminded me of a “Roseanne” episode years back when DJ, the youngest son, found out as well that he was “an accident.” Roseanne said, “No DJ, you were not an accident. You were a surprise. An accident is something that happened that you wished didn’t. A surprise is something that you didn’t expect but you were glad that it did.” I liked that. If one of my kids would ask me someday if they were an accident, I would tell them the same thing.

Monday, January 10, 2005

o bo si ka man

RK and I were reading his book.
RK: Eat them up, said Dad.
Mom: Do you know what that means?
RK: He has to eat all of them.
Mom: Or as I always say, ubusin mo yan.
RK: O-bo-si-ka-man
Mom: he he he

When they were in bed, RC and RK were asking me to teach them some Tagalog words.
RK: Mommy, what is name in Tagalog?
Mom: Pa-nga-lan
RK: Pa-la-nan
RC: Mommy, what is ice again?
Mom: Ye-lo
RC: Ha ha ha, that’s funny, yellow, ha ha ha

Friday, January 07, 2005

Double jeopardy

I was washing the dishes after supper when RK came to me crying. His right hand was holding his left one over his crotch. “Mommy, I got hurt! Hoo hoo hoo.” My heart started to race. What did he do now? I thought that he hurt his crotch. No. He closed the door upstairs when his left hand was still there. I coaxed him to stop crying and told him that it would feel better in a little bit.

Later, we went upstairs to start reading his books. Then I remembered that I have to fix the keyboard holder of the desk in their bedroom. The thing wouldn’t go in. I just decided to take it out since they don’t use it anymore. We got rid of the old slow computer that once was there.

I went under the table and took out the screws. I asked RK, who was already feeling better, to get me a bag where I can put the screws. Always the eager helper that he was, he went willingly downstairs to get a bag, came back up, gave it to me under the desk and then OUCH. He got up while he was still under the protruded keyboard holder. He wailed again. He got a big scratch on his back. I cajoled him once more. “I’m sorry that you got hurt,” I told him. “It’s not your fault mommy. It was that thing,” he said.

A couple of months ago while I was working and RK was drawing on the floor beside me, a few papers fell down from my desk. RK said, “Oh, I’m sorry, Mommy.” “That’s okay, it’s not your fault, RK,” I replied. I’m amazed at how my kids pick up the little things that I say and do -both good and bad ones.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Cold snap

We’ve had a windchill warning for the last couple of days. With minus 40 to minus 45 windchill, frostbite on exposed skin can occur in less than 10 minutes. RC and RK gave me a hard time when I made them bundle up in the morning. RC and RK didn’t like wearing scarves. RC didn’t want to wear his outside his winter coat and he didn’t want to wear snow pants. I made them wear the scarves anyway.

I didn’t know these: Mittens are better than gloves. When you wear mittens, your fingers get warmer when they are next to each other. (I've never worn mittens, only gloves. I thought that feeling my cold fingers next to each other made me cold.) Also, it’s better to wear layers of loose clothing. Tight clothes reduce blood flow. (I don't wear tight clothes anyway.)

There are big piles of snow everywhere. We had a total of 42 cm (16 inches) of snow in December. The coldest day last month was December 23.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

Yesterday, I bought my 13 round fruits. I don’t really believe that they bring good luck. It’s just a tradition from the Philippines that I want to hang on to. I found a baby watermelon, which had a sticker that said “bambino.” Later at home, we kept teasing RK “bambino,” which he didn’t like. (Refer to October 28 entry.) I bought a coconut (the husk was already taken out), cantaloupe (milon), mango, avocado, ruby red grapefruit, red delicious apple, navel orange, kiwi, lemon, green grapes, Anjou pear, and tomato (yes, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable).

The kids took a nap in the afternoon because they wanted to be up at midnight.

I made chicken macaroni salad, cooked sotanghon, and made some of those ready-to-bake cookies.

At around 11:00 p.m., we watched the countdown at Times Square and watched the ball drop. New York is one hour ahead. R went to bed after that.

The kids and I waited for midnight in the kitchen. I finished cooking early and we all had sotanghon soup. Conan O’Brien did his own countdown to midnight Central Time. We lighted some lusis (sparklers) at 12:00 a.m. We were all in bed by 12:30 a.m. I was really tired and fell asleep right away.