Saturday, April 30, 2005

Four boys and a mom

I don’t know if it’s just me. But living with four boys, (yes, sometimes I feel like I have a fourth child – points to hubby) I sometimes feel like an underdog, sometimes a maid. I do delegate chores but I still end up finishing them. My kids wash the dishes, (on the weekends and vacations only), but they always leave the containers and pots and pans in the sink. RG helps me with the vacuuming but he doesn’t lift stuff off the carpet/floor.

And please somebody tell me if I’m high-maintenance or if it’s just that men do things differently than women. It always ticks me off when I open the cupboard and plastic containers fall because my husband just stuffs them there in a disorderly fashion. Or when he opens the box of granola bars on the wrong end, the one without the tab, so the box stays open until all the bars are gone. Or when he wouldn’t mop the kitchen floor because “he just mopped it last week.” I have delegated mopping the kitchen to RG but as R says, “hindi naman nalalampaso nang maayos.” This is just to name a few.

We had an early taste of warmer weather 2-3 weeks ago and the re-appearance of dirty, sweaty socks rolled in a ball brought me back to last year’s summer. I told my four boys, “If I see any more of these socks, I’m going to let you unroll them or I won’t wash them. I’ll leave them in a pile and I won’t care if you run out of socks.” I may have been a little harsh, but I think they got my point. No more rolled socks in the hamper.

And the toilet… Why am I the only one interested in cleaning it when they are ones using it the most? I have trained the older ones, and still in the process with the little one. “Just point and shoot,” I told him. But somehow, the floor around the toilet still gets wet. Sometimes I wonder if it’s only the little one who misses the bowl.

How many times did my two younger sons hear me say, “Eto po, senyorito,” to which RC asks, “What does that mean?” Or “Here, your Highness,” to which RK will say, “I’m not a king.” And then I will say, “Here, your Littleness.” I attend to everybody’s need first before I can sit down and start eating. By then I’m already starving and grumpy. R usually finishes first. RC will ask me to help him cut his apple or peel his orange while I’m still having my meal. Or RK will ask me for juice. Both boys by-passing their dad who is seating beside or across from them, done eating and just watching TV. (Yes, we do have a TV in the kitchen. You can argue with me now but I will discuss this in the future.)

So, please tell me, is it just me?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Our lawn looked like it has been sprinkled with white powder when I looked out the window this morning. We had flurries overnight. Just two weeks ago we were wearing our shorts and now we are back to this winter-like weather. Well, I guess we can’t complain. The newscasters say that this is normal this time of the year. We just had an early taste of summer a couple of weeks ago.

Of sons and daughters

I only have sons and I don’t know what it’s like to have a daughter. I may have a slight idea because I was one of two daughters and I grew up with cousins who were mostly girls.

I’ve often been asked what it’s like to raise three boys and I usually say that I think it’s not that much different from raising girls. Of course, we don’t have Barbie dolls and frilly dresses hanging around the house. Instead, we have Hot Wheels cars, Lego pieces and action figures which we always find in every nook and corner of the house in spite of the boxes, drawers and containers that have been set aside for these toys.

My sister has daughters and I get a glimpse of how it is to have girls. I think it was about two or three weeks ago when I was at sis’ place. My nine-year old niece, Ancie, asked her Nanay if she could hug me, for no reason at all. Her Nanay said yes and Ancie hugged me. I hugged her back. I thought that was so sweet.

And that is one thing where boys are different from girls.

Last week, when R and I went to RC’s basketball practice, I noticed that RC (he’s 10 years old) pulled his arm away from mine when I was holding him as we crossed the street. It happened twice that day. Was it because he didn’t want people to see that his Mommy was holding him?

I do understand that he’s growing up and he’s starting to pull away, like his Kuya did. I should have been used to this by now but sometimes I still feel that pinch in my heart when it happens.

On the other hand, my seven-year old RK still lets me hold his hand when we go to his basketball practice/games or when we are out shopping or crossing the street. And you bet that I’m gonna hold on to him as long as he will let me.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Still chilly

It has been windy and chilly this past week. Leftover sand from winter has been blowing everywhere and you have to be quick to close your eyes once the wind blows. It has been cold in the mornings and we still need to wear our warmer spring jackets. This is the time when we wear our jackets in the morning when we go to school or work and carry them in our arms when we come home. We still need our comforters at night.

It was only four weeks ago when this was the view that I could see from my workstation.

Now, all that white stuff is gone. Most of the trees still look naked. But if you take a closer look, you will see that those buds are starting to sprout.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Like a rose

Like a rose under the April snow, I was always certain love would grow.

He was 17. I was one month shy of my 19th birthday. He was still in High School. I was in my second year of college. The “Uriah Heep” that he knew was a rock band and not the Charles Dickens’ sinister character that I knew. The only “David Copperfield” that he knows is the master illusionist and he has no interest whatsoever in the protagonist in my book.

We’re so different and yet so much alike.

We are both first-borns. We are both stubborn and strong-willed. We’ve butt heads all these 21 years. Although sometimes I think that there are probably only three things that we have in common – namely RG, RC and RK; and although we sometimes hurt each other with the things we say and do; at the end of the day, we somehow find a way to reach out to each other.

You and I will make each night a first, everyday a beginning. Spirits rise and their dance is unrehearsed. They warm and excite us ‘cause we have the brightest love.”

Monday, April 18, 2005

My chocolate chip muffin

Last week, RK brought home a book titled “Chocolate Chip Muffin.” I said, “Hey, RK, you are my chocolate chip muffin.” His dried up blisters from the chicken pox looks like chocolate chips.

We had a beautiful summer-like weather on Saturday and he wore shorts. We were playing on the couch after his game. One of his scabs came off when he brushed his leg against the couch. It bled a little and he cried. I put a band-aid on it. Then he brushed his other leg on the couch and another scab came off. Another band-aid. “You better wear your pajamas,” I told him.

He has been very sensitive since he had the pox. I have been very careful whenever I give him a bath or dress him up because the the bigger blisters hurt when they're touched. He also has a few on his scalp and he brushes his hair only lightly. I am also very careful whenever I hug him because sometimes it hurts when I squeeze him too much.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Let's play ball

I have always talked about how RC is into basketball. He watches it on TV. He plays it outside in the backyard. He plays it inside the house. About a couple of months ago, he said, “I want to be a basketball player when I grow up.” Fearing that he was serious, I told him, “But basketball is just a hobby, RC.” He replied, “I could earn lots of money if I get drafted.” To which RG said, “But you have to be good. You’re not good.” I felt guilty after that conversation. I know that as a parent, I have to support whatever my child’s dreams are. Just as I am supporting RG with his music, which wouldn’t be my first choice if it was up to me.

I wanted RC to have an outlet for his passion. So when Spring Season opened, I signed him up for the Basketball League. “Me too, Mommy,” said RK. Yeah, I signed up RK as well. They started practice this week. I didn’t really know much about basketball but I have learned a lot this week while watching RC and RK practise. I learned about dribbling, passing, lay-ups and defense. I learned about the different positions – point guard, right and left wings, right and left posts. The dad who was sitting beside R and me on the bench during RC’s practice said, “Is that your son? He has smooth moves. He’s good.” I beamed.

Today was the first game of the season. RC’s and RK’s games were both at the same time at different schools. I wasn’t there at RC’s first game, but I asked RG to video-tape it. R went with them. I was at RK’s first game. It was very entertaining to watch 7- and 8-year olds play basketball. Most of them were inexperienced and they made a lot of mistakes such as shooting the ball in the wrong basket. But hey, that’s okay. It wasn’t really much as a competition but more of just having fun.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sick and shut in

On Thursday night, RK said, "Mommy, I think I have chicken pox. " I lifted his shirt and indeed he has red, bumpy rash on his chest. Oh my! I felt him and sure, he had a fever.

I wasn’t worried that much. I’ve been through this before. RG and RC both had the pox. The first time RG had his was when we went home to the Philippines when he was 16 months old. RC had his around the time of his first birthday. RG caught it as well. Yes, RG had the pox twice.

I remember when I had the chicken pox. I was 12 years old. My parents had separated the year before and Mama, sis and I were living with Aunt in Manila. I used to share a bedroom with sis and my three cousins (all girls). I was quarantined and my two younger cousins, who hadn’t had the chicken pox yet, stayed in their parents' bedroom. Although we were tight on money, Mama bought me a couple of Sunkist oranges. They were quite expensive then.

I was in sixth grade and we were in the middle of final exams. Fearing that I would fail and repeat Grade 6 if I missed the tests, I went to school accompanied by Mama. She made me wear this white long sleeved blouse and white knee-high socks to cover my blisters. She begged my teachers to let me take the exams. But my teachers wouldn’t and they exempted me from the exams. I did graduate and got my diploma.

When we visited the pediatrician on Friday, she confirmed that it was the chicken pox. She told me that the rashes would continue to appear up to five days and it will be contagious during that time. I bought some more calamine lotion. I didn't realize that they do expire. Today, I gave RK a baking soda bath. It helped relieve his itching.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The course of true love never did run smooth

The title was a line from "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" by William Shakespeare. And it's how the newscaster on TV introduced the piece.

After 30 years, he finally wed his true love. They were in love but he sailed off with the Royal Navy. In his absence, she married another. In 1981, he married Lady Di. But years later, Diana announced, “There were three of us in this marriage. It’s a bit crowded.”

Mama and I were discussing the wedding.

Mama: Why did he marry Diana then?
Me: Because according to Royal tradition, he could only marry a virgin. She wasn’t able to wait and married another.

So, did he really love Diana or did he just use her so that she could give him a handsome heir and a spare? But if he did not marry Diana, then we wouldn’t have a Prince William and a Prince Harry. We wouldn’t have known Diana and she probably wouldn’t be able to do her charities, would she?

When reports came that the Queen wasn’t attending her son’s wedding, (according to her, to honour her son’s wishes to keep it low-key; according to the tabloids, she wasn’t in favour of the bride) I was brought back to my own wedding in 1991.

While we were planning for my wedding, my mother-in-law announced that she wouldn’t come because she would be the one babysitting my then 16-month old son. Before I could say that I wanted my son to be present at the wedding, my then 10-year old sister-in-law blurted out, “Nanay, kapag ako ang ikinasal, hindi ako papayag na wala kayo duon.” (Mother, when I get married, you HAVE TO BE there.)

Yes, she did change her mind. She was at my wedding.

And so was the Queen at her son's wedding.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Man of the Century

After watching the Papal Burial on TV, I found myself checking out Pope John Paul II’s biography on the internet. His life really struck me.

--He was born in Wadowice, Poland and his real name was Karol Josef Wojtyla.
--His father was a retired army officer and tailor and his mother was a schoolteacher.
--His mother died when he was nine, and then he lost his 26-year old brother when he was 12.
--He was an athletic youth.
--He studied literature and philosophy.
--He was a theatrical actor, a playwright and a poet.
--He also worked as a stone cutter in a quarry and worked in a chemical plant.
--When he was elected pope in 1978, he was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.
--He was 58 when he became the pope.
--He was the most widely traveled pope.
--At the time he became pope, could speak eight languages and this enabled him to reach people.
--He tried to bridge the gap between religions. He was the first pope to visit a synagogue.
--In May 1981, a Turkish gunman named Mehmet Ali Agca opened fire on him and later he offered forgiveness to this assassin during an arranged prison meeting.
--His criticism of dictators such as Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines encouraged opposition movements to topple the latter's government.
--He started World Youth Day.
--He had very conservative views. He rejected contraception and abortion and prohibited the ordination of women. Yet he was the most techno-savvy pope using the media and technology to spread his message.
--He visited the Philippines twice, February 1981 and January 1995.
--He had set foot in Bird’s Hill Park, Manitoba during his visit to Canada in September 1984.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Boy or Girl?

Elisabeth, one of the co-hosts of “The View,” had a baby girl. Last week, her co-hosts did viewer-suggested tests in determining if a pregnant woman is having a baby boy or girl. All tests leaned towards a boy. That shows you that those tests are just old wives tales.

1. If the belly is sticking out and the mom is carrying high, it’s a boy. If it is spread out to the sides and she’s carrying low, it’s a girl.
2. Make the mom stick out her tongue and check under, if it’s blue, she’s having a boy. If it’s purple, she’s having a girl.
3. If the hair on her neck goes to a point, it’s a boy. If it goes to a straight, it’s a girl.
4. Thread a sewing needle and let it hang over the belly. If the needle moves back and forth, it’s a boy. If it moves in a circle it’s a girl.
5. If the mom’s heart rate is over 150, it’s a boy. If it’s below 150, it’s a girl.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, almost everybody told me that I was carrying a girl. “You’re glowing, you don’t have that dark mask on your face. That’s a girl!” “You’re carrying low, that’s a girl.” I believed them and every time I felt my baby’s foot kick my ribs towards the end of the pregnancy, I would say, “There, there, Rachel.” But I wasn’t disappointed when I learned that I had a baby boy. RG was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen and he just melted my heart.

My reality shows

Two of my favourite reality shows are “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.” I have watched every season of both shows except for "The Amazing Race 6." I like “Survivor” because of the challenges and I enjoy watching the tropical locations. I like “The Amazing Race” because it brings us to different parts of the world and it gives us a glimpse of different cultures. I also love to watch people work together either to their team’s advantage or detriment. If ever I’d join this race, I don’t think I’d bring my husband with me though. We’ll just bicker and probably be the first to be eliminated.

The other night, RC came to me with the World Atlas showing me where Palau is. The current season of Survivor was shot in Palau. Palau is just east of the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean.

Tonight, on Survivor, the reward challenge involved eating balut, a partially formed duckling egg. This was the second time I saw a balut-eating challenge on TV. I think the first time was on Fear Factor a couple of years ago. Of course, we, Filipinos know the balut so well. I have to admit, though, that I need somebody else to eat the balut with me. I can’t eat that duckling embryo. I only like to sip the liquid and eat the yolk.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

On growing up and other stuff

My baby is now 7 years old. He’s not really a baby anymore. Sometimes he can be very independent. He brushes his teeth, picks his own clothes, dresses himself up. He’s not ready to give himself a bath yet, but old enough to “punas.” And mind you, he brushes his hair really good. I was going to teach him how to wash the dishes this past spring break, but he wasn’t ready yet. Well, maybe this summer.

When RG was still an only child and would throw temper tantrums at the store because I wouldn’t buy the Ninja Turtle calculator (he was only 4 years old for goodness sake), I was worried that he would be spoiled rotten if I didn’t give him a sibling. Then RC came and he transformed into a responsible “kuya.” When both RG and RC were each 7 years old, they were already “kuyas,” and were helping out with taking care of their younger sibling. RK would never be a “kuya,” but I never worried that he would be spoiled.

In the mornings when I wake RK up, he still wants me to carry him downstairs, doing his monkey hug. And I like that he still wants hugs, but carrying him can sometimes be hard on my back. This morning, I told him that I couldn’t carry him. And he understood.

I have been experiencing tightening of my chest muscles for the past few days. It must be stress. Or looking back, I think it started on Saturday after carrying the sack of rice and other heavy grocery bags. I really need help with those groceries!

My trip downtown has helped me loosen up a little bit. I always look forward to seeing the Red River while the bus drives on the bridge. The river has thawed but boy, was the water high. According to the city, there are no concerns of flooding like the one we had in 1997. And was I excited to see hotdog stands already up and running on Portage. I am very eager for summer and hope that we have a better one this time than we had last year.

Monday, April 04, 2005

April showers

It rained. RC’s hair was wet when he came home. “Why didn’t you put your hood on?” I asked. “Oh, I didn’t know it was raining,” he replied. How could he not? Didn’t he feel his hair get wet? Here’s another one who wouldn’t wear his hood.

RK’s socks and shoes were soaking wet. “I didn’t see the water puddle,” he said. He walked right through it. I should have made him wear his rain boots. But it wasn’t raining in the morning when they left for school.

At night, RK read “When the day is warm, the reptile’s blood is warm.” He read the oo in blood as he would have read food. “It’s blood,” I said. (As if there’s only one o.) "But there's two o's," he said. "I know, sometimes it's tricky," I explained.

When he started Grade 1 in the Fall, the first two words that he learned were “red” and “school.” He has learned a lot since then. He’s now reading books all by himself.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Spring forward

Daylight Saving Time begins. We turn our clocks one hour ahead. Somehow, I don’t like it. Either I lose an hour of sleep or lose an hour of my day. And it’s a pain changing all the clocks in the house, even those of the oven, microwave, and VCRs. Well, my newer VCR changes on it’s own. Manufacturers should start making clocks that do that – automatically change the time two times every year.

Warmer temperatures last week of up to plus 8 have melted most, if not all, of the snow all over the city. Just in time for the Junos, (Canada’s music award show) which is held tonight here. Downtown has been cleaned and spruced up for this celebrity-filled event.

I am finally able to wear my runners outside. I still haven’t put away the winter boots and jackets. You just never know if that white stuff will come down again.

In our backyard, I can see patches of green grass soaking wet from the melted snow. And yeah, I’ve discovered what else was buried there – pieces of garbage, mostly my recyclables which my kids and their cousins snuck out of my blue box. My garbage is treasure to them.

R has re-assembled his bicycle, which has been hanging in a corner of our basement all winter. He went out biking this afternoon. For exercise? What about helping me do the groceries and carrying those heavy bags? I think that’s a pretty good exercise.

The flatter the land, the harder the rock

I watched the Junos only because it was held here. I like the host, Brent Butt, comedian and star of Corner Gas , and who appeared first in a KISS-like outfit and played a double-necked guitar. He later changed to a tuxedo. And isn’t that cool to see the red carpet on Portage Avenue. I don’t usually watch the Junos. I am not familiar with Canadian artists except for a few such as Celine Dion, Diana Krall, Avril Lavigne, K.D. Lang, Alannis Morissette and Shania Twain. Two years ago, I only watched Shania’s opening number.

I enjoyed the performance of the barefoot K.D. Lang of “Hallelujah,” accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra. I was surprised that she wore a dress/skirt. She got a big applause from the audience and she said, “Thank you, thank you. Much too kind here in Winnipeg.” She then followed it with “Helpless,” which she dedicated to the absent Neil Young, who’s still in the hospital recovering from surgery.

It was also cool to see Kalen Porter, the current Canadian Idol, play the violin. Or is it the viola? The show ended with a tribute to Winnipeg with Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings (both from this city) performing “Taking Care of Business.”

Saturday, April 02, 2005

He touched lives

Pope John Paul II dies at 84. Today at church, we prayed for him.

I don’t have a personal experience with the Pope, but I wrote this in my journal on Friday, July 26, 2002.

It is World Youth Day. Pope John Paul II is in Toronto. Millions of people from all over the world traveled to witness this very special and holy event. Ote told me on her email today that when the Pope went to the Philippines in 1995, she cried when she went to the places where the Pope passed by during the tour. My friend Jocelyn also told me in her letter back in 1995 that she also cried when she saw the Pope. And today, I was watching it on TV, I saw a little girl cried when the Pope kissed her. She said that she was so happy. He still touches so many people even in His old age (82) and weakness. (He has arthritis and Parkinson’s disease.)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Rekindled passion

"The Notebook" is based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. It’s the story of two teenagers, Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) and Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling), who had a whirlwind summer romance in the 1940s. Allie’s parents separated them because they were in the upper class and they insisted that Noah wasn’t right for her. Noah wrote to Allie everyday for a year but she didn’t get them because her mother intercepted the letters. Noah joined the army and was sent to war. When he came back home, his father helped him buy and finish Allie’s dream house.

Meanwhile, Allie got engaged to Lon (James Marsden), also an upper class. When Allie was preparing for her wedding, she saw the picture of Noah and the renovated house. Allie went back to Seabrook to see Noah. Their love for each other was rekindled. Now Allie had to make a decision and choose between her soulmate and class order.

This love story is being read by an elderly gentleman to his companion, who had Alzheimer’s disease. It turns out that he is the older Noah and he reads to Allie their story hoping that her memory will come back. We learn that the younger Allie chose Noah and they lived happily ever after.

I have a friend who was also reconnected with her first love. There was a time when she thought that she still loved him. They were already committed to other people when they found each other again. She thought that the passion was reawakened. She was so torn at first. Here was the guy who she pined and longed for, the guy who has the same interests as her. And he resurfaced at a time when she was so lonely in her current relationship. It was so agonizing for her. But of course, later on, she realized that it was just the thrill and excitement of that first love that she missed.

Allie and Noah found each other at a time when they could still back away from their current relationships. But would they have chosen to get back together if they both have families of their own?

In the movie, Allie’s passion for painting was rekindled when she saw Noah’s picture in the newspaper, even before she saw him in person. My friend’s passion for a certain art was also rekindled when she reconnected with her first love. Isn’t that interesting?

Lon said to Allie when she told him about Noah and when she felt so torn, “You don’t always marry your first love.” But we never forget our first love, do we?