Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships

A few months ago, ABC’s 20/20 featured a show titled, Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships. It discussed the most complex female relationship.

Here’s an excerpt:

Mothers and daughters have a special bond with all its complex emotions – anger, resentment, competition and of course, love. But every son will also hear echoes of his own life with mother.

Mothers and daughters – sometimes they’re enemies, sometimes best friends.

You love her, sometimes you hate her. Sometimes she’s the last person you want to see. But she’s the first one you call for advice. That is the seesaw of feelings between mothers and daughters.

I think every daughter can relate to this.

I’d like to think that I have a good relationship with my mother now. But it hasn’t been always like that.

I remember being labeled a Papa’s girl when I was growing up. I’m not really sure how it started. And by the way, my sister, who always wanted to contradict me back then, was a self-proclaimed Mama’s girl. So you see, the complication started early on. But as far as I’m concerned, I loved both my parents equally. And I’m sure that each one of them loved both me and sister just the same.

And then my parents separated. I can’t really understand why I became loyal to my father even though I chose to stay with my mother. I think my mother resented that because my father was abusive to her. But he was my father and nothing could change my love for him.

I experienced that seesaw of feelings with my mother. One minute I was telling her everything that was happening in my life, and the next minute, I was sneaking out and hiding the truth.

My father has long been gone and my mother and I get along pretty well now. I confide in her and run to her when I have problems. We see each other at least once a week. We go to mass together, that’s because my family doesn’t have a vehicle and she gives us a ride to church. And she insists. She wants to make sure that we go to church every Sunday.

Sometimes she would volunteer to give me a ride to the grocery store. But I have learned that my closeness to my mother should have boundaries. I know she meant well when she didn’t want me to buy those tomatoes because they were so expensive. And my “But Ma, I need these tomatoes for the dish I’m making” isn’t acceptable to her. When she asked me how much those Asian pears and guavas were, I just ignored her because I didn’t want to argue with her. When she asked me to call her the next time I do my groceries and give her the taxi fare instead, I almost did because I knew that she could use the extra money especially now that gas prices are skyrocketing. But thanks, no thanks. And no offense please Ma. I’d rather do the groceries myself.

Here’s some more excerpt from that 20/20 show, Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships:

Deborah Tannen, author of the best-selling “You’re Wearing That?” explains why mother and daughter relationship is so complicated. She says, “Mothers and daughters talk more, talk about more personal topics. That means they may be closer but they also risk offending each other much more.”

There are four flashpoints in the mother and daughter relationship:

1. Appearance - Clothes, weight, hair. Women are judged by how they look and mothers are judged by how their daughters look.
2. Control – Mother sees daughter as a little girl.
3. (Motherly) Advice – Everytime mothers offer advice or suggestion for improvement, there’s an implied criticism. Mother sees it as caring. Daughter sees it as criticizing. If mothers can’t learn how to bite their tongue, daughters need to learn to use humour to diffuse tension.
4. Secrets – Daughters keep secrets from mom if they sense disapproval. Withholding information is a daughter’s way to gain power.

Tannen says that there is no magic formula to the perfect mother-daughter bond. But there are ways to make it work.

1. Bite your tongue.
2. Use humour.
3. See it from their point of view
4. Use praise. It’s also a form of power.

Read more at ABC News Love Her or Hate Her- She’s Still Your Mom.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

First Communion

Last January, Ryland and the rest of the Level 2 Catechism Classes started the preparation for their First Communion.

First, the parents were invited to attend three meetings to guide them how to help the children understand this Sacrament. Like the one for First Reconciliation (Confession), parents were given a guidebook and the children a workbook. And so for one to two nights a week, I sat down with Ryland for about half an hour doing the lessons on his workbook.

On the first meeting, Wanda, the catechism coordinator, asked us parents to share memories of our First Communion. Hers was how she got spaghetti sauce all over her white dress. One dad was how the bread got stuck to the roof of his mouth. One mom said that all she remembered was how she wanted to get out of her dress once she got home. Another mom remembered how she had to wear this long white veil. My sister’s (her daughter is also in Ryland’s class) was how she had to memorize all these prayers and the Ten Commandments, seven deadly sins, etc. Mine was how we had to wear this gala uniform – white dress, white veil, white socks, white shoes. And the thing that stuck in my mind was thinking, “So this is what the host tastes like. It tastes like bread.” Wanda asked me how I felt about that. Was I surprised? Was I disappointed? Honestly, I couldn’t remember.

Wanda also told us about the Orthodox church. They have their Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation – all three at the same time. At the meeting, there were these two parents who belonged to the Orthodox church. They had no memory of their First Communion because they had it when they were babies. Babies were given just a very small piece of Bread. Isn’t that interesting?

The point of having the parents teach the children about Communion is to make this a special experience for them. After all, parents are every child’s first teachers and the home is their first community.

Last Saturday, the children had a retreat. On that day, they also helped make the bread that they were going to receive. It was not the traditional wafer. They made unleavened bread. After the retreat, parents and children had rehearsal at the church.

After months of preparation, the children finally had their First Communion on Sunday. They looked oh so cute and adorable. The girls in their white frilly dresses looking like little brides. And the boys, although not all of them wore suits, were in their Sunday’s best. They marched down the aisle to the altar carrying red roses and then they sat down with their families. It was a very special celebration.

Years from now, I wonder what Ryland will remember about his First Communion. Will it be that he had to memorize the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and The Creed (I Believe)? Or perhaps the nights we spent reading and learning from his workbook. Or how he had to wear his white and black suit and how he had to take off his blazer at church because it was too hot. (It was 27 C.) Or perhaps receiving the bread for the first time. Could it be how disappointed he was that he didn’t get a single toy out of his presents? Or that I said, “First Communion is not about toys.” I hope what he remembers best is the nights we spent together learning his communion lessons and also how he was surrounded by his family and how we had a feast after his First Communion.

What about you? What’s your memory of your First Communion?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Husbands and children

The other day, the ladies of The View were discussing how one of their producers asked time off from work to spend time with her child. Their boss was very considerate and gave her some time off. Now, one of the ladies who doesn’t have children asked, “What if I ask time off to spend time with my husband, will you give it to me?” The boss said, no, he wouldn’t.

Is it fair?

I remember I had a similar discussion with a co-worker whom I shared a cubicle with back when I was still working in the office. My children were still a lot younger then. There were times when I would be unable to report to work because one of the kids were sick and I had to stay home with them. Lisa, my co-worker, was single and she didn’t have children. She thought that it was not fair that mothers are being given consideration for these absences. Our company has very strict guidelines with absenteeism and she said that if she were the one missing all these days of work, she would be questioned. I explained to her that the days I missed work were not considered absences but were rather allocated to my vacation days. But it didn’t seem to make her feel better.

Let’s go back to that discussion on The View. Do you think it’s fair to the wife not to give time off to spend time with her husband when the boss agreed to give time off to the mother to spend time with her children?

In the 1950’s, women were expected to care for the husband. But times were different then. Women usually stayed home. Now, women are juggling among 1) husband, 2) kids and 3) work. After having kids, it’s hard to focus on the husband because you’re always tired.

I remember this husband who went on strike because he said the wife was neglecting him. The husband told the wife, “You were with me before them.” I don’t even think that’s the point.

Sometimes the husbands complain that they are being neglected. But they should realize that caring for children is a 24/7 kind of work. Perhaps if they offer help more often, that would lift some of the burden from the wives. After all, marriage and parenting is a 50-50 thing.

I am seeing quite a few men now who are being hands-on dads. Dads are changing diapers or bringing kids to soccer games. But mind you. They would change a wet diaper but not a dirty diaper. They would go to their kids’ sports games but not to doctor’s appointments. And why is the mom the one who stays home when a child is sick? Or are there dads who do?

And don’t you also think that husbands should initiate the romance? I know couples that make time for date nights. They find somebody to look after the kids so that they could go out and have time alone. I think that’s good for the relationship. But looking for a baby sitter could sometimes be a challenge in itself.

As for me, I’m not really big on dates. Although it would be nice to have that every once in a while. But what would really set me in the mood for romance is an offer to help with the chores or the children. That way I could relax. But why do husbands offer help only when they want to get some loving (if you know what I mean)? Wives need all the help they can get every time, right?

I think it was also on The View where I heard that the number 2 problem among couples is housework. Money being the number 1.

I know that there are men out there who understand the challenges women have nowadays and they do try to help. I’m not trying to bash men here, husbands and fathers in particular. Actually, I would like to hear their side.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Kitchens are not built for short people

Martha Stewart had the lovely Kristin Chenoweth (co-star in the new movie RV) on her show last week. Martha usually asks her guests to help cook, bake, garden or do crafts. On this particular show, she and Kristin made Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies.

Kristin is a petite person and she needed an apple box to stand on to reach the worktable. I was amused as she moved around the apple box with her as she helped Martha bake. “Kitchens are not built for short people,” she said.

I can only agree.

I am also a petite person and I keep a step stool in a corner of our kitchen. This blue Rubbermaid product has been a permanent fixture in our kitchen. The kids use it to reach the sink when they wash the dishes. But I am the one who uses it the most.

I use it when I put away food and dishes in the cupboards. I use it when I need to get same food and dishes from the cupboards. I use it to open the window in the morning. I use it to close the window and draw the blinds down at night. I use it when I cook pancit (fried noodles) in the large wok or when I boil pasta in the deep pots. I use it when I mix ingredients for cookies. I use it because I am a short person and kitchens are not built for short people.

The other night, I googled Kristin Chenoweth and found out that she is also a Broadway star and a Tony winner. I also learned that when she was twelve, she performed a song called, “I’m Four-Foot Eleven and I’m Going to Heaven.” That is a title that's also appropriate for me (I hope the last part, too). Now, if I could only find the lyrics of that song.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Disgusting table etiquette?

My friend, Elaine, sent me this news link from The Chronicle titled, Filipino table etiquette punished at local school. Lunch monitor tells student his eating habits are ‘disgusting.’

This incident happened in Montreal. The lunch program monitor punished a 7-year old Filipino boy because the monitor thinks that the boy’s eating habit is disgusting. The boy fills his spoon by pushing the food on his plate with his fork. This is the traditional way we Filipinos eat our food. I have been here in Canada for 16 years and I have never heard anybody say that this habit was disgusting. Or were people just being polite? I was surprised when I read this news.

The boy’s mother confronted the lunch program monitor after her son had been punished more than 10 times this year and the boy said that he didn’t want to eat anymore. The lunch monitor said, “If your son eats like a pig he has to go to another table because this is the way we do it and how we’re going to do it every time.” Now, come on, he thinks that eating with a spoon and fork at the same time is eating like a pig?

What’s equally shocking and brought the mother to tears is the principal’s reaction. He said to the mother, “Madame, you are in Canada. Here in Canada you should eat the way Canadians eat.” But isn’t this a free country? If it’s not against the law, can’t we eat the way we want to eat? The principal even added that he wants his students to eat intelligently at the table? So what does he mean by that? That the Filipino way of eating is dumb? Really. I find that response very childish.

Just the other day, I was explaining to my kids how we say and pronounce words differently in the Philippines. I told them that in the Philippines, their dad’s name is said Ron, the way they say Ron in the Harry Potter movies and not the same way they say it here in Canada. Eva is Ee-va here but Eh-va over there. My son Ryan said that’s dumb. No, Ryan, I said, it’s not dumb. It’s just different.

I hope the Montreal incident is just an isolated case. Because I’d hate it if my kids were subjected to a situation like that.

My children’s schools promote multiculturalism and they study about the different countries and cultures of the world. And I think that’s good. Knowledge about our diversities should help us tolerate each other’s differences. Right? Because, after all, Canada is a country of mixed cultures. And I thought that Canadians should have learned by now how to tolerate each other’s differences. But I guess not. I think we should educate each other about our differences. But will that cure people of their prejudices? I guess not again.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Chicago - A Music and Arts Experience

“You’re not shy anymore, Kuya Reggie?” Ryan teased his brother.

Reggie pinched him on his side.

Ryan usually tells him, “Don’t be shy, Kuya Reggie” when we’re at the dinner table. We’d all be chatting and Reggie would just be quiet. I would always try to ask him something just to make him join in the conversation. But since he came back from Chicago, I had been asking him a lot of questions about his five-day trip. (Yes, my dear son is back home in our loving arms.) I was very eager to know about the musical and the concerts and the other places that they’ve been to. And he was equally excited to tell us about all these. He even exchanged Customs experiences at the US-Canada Border with Lola (grandma).

They were gone for five days, but two of which were spent driving (17 hours), one going there, and another going back. The three remaining days were then spent experiencing the Music and Arts scene of Chicago.

The students had a very hectic schedule. They had music clinics at the Wheaton College. They visited the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, the Chicago Blues Band, The House of Blues, the Bubba Gump on the Navy Pier, and The Art Institute of Chicago. They also explored Michigan Avenue, Millenium Park and State Street. But the three highlights of their trip were seeing:

1. The Broadway Musical - WICKED, which is about the Wizard of Oz told from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West. The Witch is not that bad at all.

2. The Blue Man Group concert – I’ve seen a sample of this group’s music at a late night show a couple of years ago. Recently, I’ve also seen a sample of their gag in the Daily Planet. They’re good and very entertaining. Reggie said that he enjoyed their performance and he was actually seated on the front, which is called the Poncho seat because they had to wear ponchos. (A poncho is a blanketlike cloak.) There’s a lot of food and slimy gags involved. I could just imagine. The one I’ve seen on the Daily Planet involved stuffing marshmallows in a Blue Man’s mouth and then spitting them out.

3. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert – I think this was a fitting ending for the young musicians’ trip.

Reggie took over 250 pictures. Here's just a few, a summary of his trip. Click on the images for a larger view. Or go to My Photosite.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Growing pains (x3)

Spring has finally sprung here in Winnipeg giving us temperatures of up to 24 C degrees this past couple of weeks. Time to put away the winter gear and get our lighter clothing out of hiding. It’s when the season changes that I usually discover how my kids have grown in the past six months.

Ryan and Reggie needed new shoes and shirts and so we headed to the malls last weekend and the weekend before that. I didn’t realize that Ryan wears a men’s size shoes now. I had to make sure that the cashier knew that the shoes I was buying were for my 11-year old son lest she charges me another 7% for the GST (goods and services tax) on top of the 7% PST (provincial sales tax).

My boy is slowly growing right before my eyes. He’s an adolescent now. Just two weeks ago, I noticed a zit (pimple) on his forehead. Before I know it, he’ll be bringing girls home.

Which reminds me of the girl who shouted, “I love you, Reginald,” to my 16-year old right there at the center of the mall.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

He just smiled. It must be a girl from his school.

“Is that your girlfriend, Kuya Reggie?” Ryland teased him.

I stretched my arm backwards to reach for Ryland’s hand. He was walking with his older brothers and hesitated to grab my arm. What now? Didn’t he want to walk with his mommy, anymore?

I tell you. I can feel my youngest son starting to pull away from me at times. At church, he would brush away my index finger as I point out the words from the hymnbook. He used to make me point at the words so he could follow along with the song. But he’s pretty good at reading now and he has become more independent.


“Are you going to cry again?” That was my friend Elaine on the phone when I told her about Reggie’s school band trip.

“No, I don’t cry anymore. I’m already used to him going away.” That was my brave answer.

Elaine knew about the time I cried the very first time Reggie went away on a camping trip when he was in sixth grade. And the few other times he went to band trips. I haven’t cried the past few times he went though.

I should have let his father drop him off at school on Monday. That was our initial plan. Because his luggage was heavy and it was best if his father helped him. But he had to leave really early and it was still pitch dark outside so instead of walking, I called a cab and told the hubby that I’d go instead. We were taking the cab anyway. I think I just wanted to see my son off because this is his farthest and longest trip yet. I thought I was used to him going away on trips. But the moment I got back in the cab, I got pretty choked up.

It was that same feeling I had when I dropped off my youngest son on his first day of school. I knew that Ryland was coming back home and I knew that Reggie will be coming back home. I know that we should let our children spread their wings but it's just hard to let go.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Reconnecting and Healing

A few months ago, Ellen DeGeneres talked on her show about how she moved to different schools when she was younger. She said that she doesn’t remember anything. She doesn’t have pictures and so she asked her viewers that if they went to school with her, to please send her pictures. “I’m trying to piece my life together,” she said.

She may have said that in jest, but I know how hard it is to move to different places. I also went to different schools. My memory of each school is also a blur. But, I do have pictures.

Just as Ellen did, I just want to throw out there the list of schools I went to. So if you or somebody you know went to at least one of these schools, please direct them to me or this site. I would love to hear from them. These are schools in the Philippines.

1. St. Mary Magdalene School, Kawit, Cavite – 1971 to 1977
2. St. Joseph’s School, Pandacan, Manila – 1977 to 1978
3. Imus Institute, Imus, Cavite – 1978 to 1980
4. Carlos P. Garcia High School, Paco, Manila – 1980 to 1982
5. Centro Escolar University, San Miguel, Manila – 1982 to 1983
6. JOBS Secretarial School, C. M. Recto, Manila - 1982
7. Datamex Computer Training Services, C. M. Recto, Manila - 1985
8. Philippine School of Business Administration, Sampaloc, Manila – 1983 to 1986

Ellen learned that her high school class, which graduated in 1976 was having its 30th reunion. Since she was busy and wouldn’t be able to come, she invited them instead to have the reunion right there on the show. Of course, she could do that. She’s a very well-known celebrity and has the means to do it.

I have never been to any reunion. Be it a class reunion or a family reunion. It’s one of the disadvantages of being out here abroad and not being able to afford to come home. But in 2002, I was able to contact some my high school classmates. I wrote them in their 20-year old addresses, which I kept. I was so excited to hear from them. We exchanged emails and pictures. And I started a site where I posted pictures, memorabilia and memories of our high school years.

Being successful in contacting my high school classmates, I decided to find my elementary school classmates as well. Not only did I find them, but I was also haunted by childhood memories. Read more about this here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why are men such big babies?

Our local stations are running a commercial of the Dairy Queen Dream Pie Blizzard Treat. Here’s the scene. Mr. Lee and the pregnant missus are sharing the Dream Pie. Mr. Lee takes a bite and dreams about having a baby boy announced when the missus delivers. Then back to reality. It is Mrs. Lee’s turn to take a spoon of the Blizzard Treat. In her dream, it is Mr. Lee who’s on the table about to pop up the baby. Mrs. Lee is holding the video camera and Mr. Lee gets mad at her, “You did this to me.” Now, that is my kind of dream.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if it is the man who gets pregnant and carries the baby?

On the “Ask an expert” segment of Balance with Dr. Marla Shapiro the other day, the question was: Do women feel more pain than men? Answer: Not necessarily. But women can put up with more pain because they suffer more pain. Women get menstrual cramps and they give birth. They are used to the pain.

Sometimes I get annoyed when my husband takes a week off from work because of a cold. I know, I’m bad. But he can be such a big baby when he’s sick. I get sick and I can still manage to work. Okay, that’s because I work at home. But still, when I’m sick, I can’t lie down and stay in bed. I still have to get up, help the kids get ready for school, feed them, or attend to their needs and still do the chores. When the husband is sick, he grumbles and stays in bed all day. Or lies on the couch and watches TV or sits infront of the computer for hours. Oh wait, I think he does these too even when he's not sick. Now, can you blame me if I get irritated?

If it was turned around and the man is the one who gives birth, do you think they wouldn’t be such big babies?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Box of Peace Colours

One of the things I like in my children’s schools is that they are encouraged to write (creatively) even at a very young age. I’m not sure if this is true for all schools here in Canada. The teachers make the kids keep a school journal where they write at least once a week. They are not strict with spelling when it comes to journal writing, especially to those kids in the lower grades who are just starting to read and write. They are instead instructed to sound out the words. (For those who grew up in the Philippines, remember learning to read with ba-be-bi-bo-bu? None of that here.) Of course, they still have to know the right spelling when they have their spelling tests and when they are in the higher grades. But for creative writing, more focus is given on expressing their ideas.

They also write poems every once in a while. I don’t remember writing poems when I was in elementary school. The only thing I could remember is trying to come up with a haiku in my sophomore year in high school.

At the end of every school year, I gather all my children’s writings and compile them in separate binders. We sometimes look back at them. It’s fun to see how their handwriting and work improve as they grow older.

Ryan’s class studied a poem similar to the one below a while ago. They were asked then to write one of their own. Sometimes, I have no idea how much my kids have learned until I read their work.

Photo Credit: Earth Science Picture of the Day

The Box of Peace Colours ©
by Ryan Carlo, Grade 6, 2006

I had a box of colours.
I tried to open it but it wouldn't budge.
I tried to open it again and it opened.
In the box it was full of sludge.

I drew a picture.
I had no black for the lost and lonely.
I had no gray for the smoke we're smelling.
I had no red for the people who sacrificed at war.
I had no green for the army soldiers attacking.

I had yellow for the sun shining bright.
I had orange for the sun setting down.
I had blue for the clear high sky leading us home.
I had white for the light guiding us through the night.

I drew a picture with happiness
and used the colours in my box.

© 2006 Ryan Carlo

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ryan's Week at the Soup Kitchen

Before Confirmation, candidates are prepared to become fully responsible member of the Catholic Christian Community. As a young person, the confirmand already understands that there is hunger, poverty, loneliness and need all around us and in the underdeveloped countries of the world. So they are invited to choose a Christian service project to do a good work for someone who is needy. Ryan’s class was also provided with a journal to record their experiences.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, Ryan and I volunteered at the soup kitchen last week. He wrote his experiences in his journal. They were given a list of questions that needed to be answered in the journal. The main points were: What did you - See, Judge, Act, Reflect. I found his observations very direct and honest. I’ve also included his entry from December when his class delivered Christmas hampers in different households in the city.

Ryan's Christian Service Project Journal

Dec 17, 2005
Christmas Hampers

On this day my catechism class had no catechism because we are doing Christmas Hampers. First, we went to Br. J----'s house. In there we put food in the hampers. Then we take some hampers with our group and drive it to the location on our sheet. Our leader in my group was my teacher in catechism. The first house we went the person had a dog but his christmas tree was small. His railing outside his stairs was broken. The second house we went the person had big T.V.'s and lots of food. He didn't seem poor.

After we were done giving the Christmas hampers Br. J---- treated us to McDonald's. This day was fun but a lot of work. I saw people who were poor and who didn't look like he was poor. I decided to help people with Christmas hampers along with my classmates. This activity we had to put food in the hampers, give the hampers and go to McDonalds. The people we gave hampers to were happy to see us helping. I spent about two and a half hours.

Mar 28, 2006
Volunteer at Missionaries of Charity

Today was the first time to volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity. Me and my mom were the first ones there. While I was there, there were some other people volunteering too! Their names were Muffy, Shane and some other people. First we had to cut hotdog buns in half and put them back in a bag. Next, we had to put chips in plastic bags. We served hotdogs, soup, bread with margarine and donuts and muffins. I saw people coming in to sit and eat. I decided to serve them food. I actually served food and ask if they want water or coffee. Washing the tables, setting them and serving them - that's what I did also. Other people that we served were hungry and we served them so they weren't hungry. This activity took three and a half hours.

Mar 29, 2006
Volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity

Today I went with my cousin. First I had to take bread out of the bag then place it on the table. I had to cut bread by cutting thin strips on one side then the other side. Then I had to spread butter on the bread that wasn't cut. Also we had to put two cups of sugar into a bag. We had to make seventy bags. We served soup, sandwiches, bread with butter, donuts, water and coffee. When I was serving I saw the same people from yesterday. I decided to volunteer again. Doing chores was involved also. I felt sad to see a young person eating here. I spent about 3 and a half hours.

Mar 31, 2006
Volunteer at Missionaries of Charity

Today there wasn't very much people. There was about twenty to thirty people that we served. While we were serving we said a prayer. But first I had to spread butter on the bread. There was a lot of bread. My mom came with me to help. She had to cut onions. She was almost crying because she had to cut lots. We served soup, bread with butter, coffee, water and tuna sandwiches. I thought the day was done but we had to do lots of cleaning and chores. It took four hours so I was very tired. I saw people from previous days that came here because they don't have food. Doing less serving and lots of chores was involved.

My version:

The soup kitchen is run by the nuns of the Missionaries of Charity. This is the same Order that Mother Teresa belonged to. They wear the same habit - white with the blue stripes on the edge of the veil. The regular volunteers are mostly retired seniors. Since it was Lent and last week was Spring break, there were also a lot of young volunteers.

It was my first time to volunteer at a soup kitchen and so I really didn’t know what to expect. The nuns keep a very clean kitchen. We were even asked to wear aprons and hairnets for girls and hats for boys. Everything is sanitized. They serve the hungry as if they were patrons in a restaurant. I couldn’t help but smile when one complained about a strand of hair in his soup. I didn’t think it was one of the helpers’. But the nuns courteously replaced his with a new bowl of soup.

The patrons were mostly Metis Indians (Aboriginals). I was surprised that Ryan didn’t mention this in his journal. Because that was the first thing that I noticed when they started coming in. It probably didn’t occur to him. Or it could be that he has been exposed to the different cultures and nationalities here in Winnipeg since he was born. But what struck me was his concern for them when we left the kitchen on our first day there. He asked me if they were homeless. And I told him that I didn’t know. The next day I went there, I asked one of the senior volunteers. She told me that they do have homes and they receive welfare money from the government. But I guess they couldn’t get jobs. One patron was telling us that he didn’t finish high school and there was one Polish lady who couldn’t read English. The last day that we volunteered, there were only a few people who came. I guess that was the day that they got their money and they must be out there spending it somewhere. Who knows where their money goes. We could only hope that they spend it on food and clothing. I saw a lady there who looked wasted, her hands shaking. As much as I’d like not to judge, your guess is just as good as mine.

But the Sisters don’t judge these people. They take them graciously and are very friendly with them. They know their names. I also learned that the Sisters visit these people at their homes or in the hospital if they are sick. The Sisters also have an after school program for the kids and they also teach catechism in nearby parishes.

It had been a tiring week for me since I also worked that week. But I had fun meeting new people, the volunteers who were very friendly and how could I forget Nelson who entertained us with his lovely voice. And I was glad that I have been able to help in the little way that I could.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Where did Spring break go?

The temperatures are getting warmer everyday. Most of the snow has slowly melted. The start of Spring is not a pretty sight here in Winnipeg. The grass is soaking wet. There is sand everywhere. It sometimes gives me the creeps to find out what has been buried in the deep snow all winter. I see cigarette butts and pieces of garbage at bus stops. Two bags full of Fall leaves have been unearthed, or should I say, unsnowed in our backyard. Oh, I have heard other things that are worse than that.

I usually catch up on sleep, reading, watching tapes/DVDs during Spring break. But none of these happened. Okay, I did watch King Kong with my family on Saturday night but I was half asleep after the first half. I thought it would only be 90 minutes long. I started to drift away after the first two hours. “What happened?” I asked everybody when I woke up and saw the ending credits on the screen. I have to borrow that DVD again. Or is it worth it?

I can’t remember the last time I sat down to read a book. I started reading The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields a few months ago and it still lies there on my desk, the last chapter waiting to be finished. I have bought two books recently, The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan, which was on sale at Coles for only $6.99 and the paperback copy of The Da Vinci Code, which I found at Staples and cost only $10.99. I can’t wait to read these two, but I got to finish The Stone Diaries first.

It’s been a very hectic week for me. Hectic has been my normal lately. I accompanied Ryan to his volunteer work three times this week, including Saturday. He wasn’t too happy earlier this week when I told him that he had to start his Christian service project while he had no school. And so I was really surprised that I never heard a complaint from him after his first day at the soup kitchen. I think something inside him has been transformed. He had just been studying in his Confirmation book about how the Holy Spirit transforms us through Confirmation. I think he learned a lot during his week at the soup kitchen. I will write about this next time.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

You like him more than me

I have been busy these past few months preparing my 2nd grader for his First Communion and my 6th grader for his Confirmation. Just like Ryland’s preparation for his First Reconciliation, I am also the one teaching my boys about the first two sacraments I mentioned. I think our parish has a really good program in that they involve the parents in teaching about their Catholic faith. As the workbooks have repeatedly mentioned, the family is every child’s first community and the parents are their first teachers.

So, I’ve been really busy every night sitting with each one of my two boys, alternately, with their lessons. One child would hang around while I spend time with his brother. I knew that they were wishing that it were their turn that night. You would think that they would be happy that I am spending a one-on-one time with them at least every other night. But alas, there’s never enough time to spend with them.

Ryan, my 6th grader, started to volunteer this morning at a soup kitchen in our neighbourhood as part of his 20-hour Christian service project requirement before he gets confirmed in June. So I took the morning off from work to accompany him. We got up earlier than usual, which was really a sacrifice on Ryan’s part because it is Spring Break after all. He should be sleeping in but instead he had to get up an hour earlier.

We were finishing breakfast when Ryland came downstairs at around 6:45 am, quite early for him to be up as well. He must have heard me and Ryan talking in the kitchen. But we were getting ready to leave and I didn’t have time to serve him breakfast (anyway it was too early for him to be up at that time) so I sent him back to bed.

Knowing that he’s such a sensitive boy, I knew that he didn’t take that really well. He had his blanket over his head when I came up and that meant only one thing. He must be crying. I tried to console him and promised to give him a treat when we came back. I kept my promise.

Tonight, as I tucked him into bed, I asked him what he did after Ryan and I left this morning. Did he go back to sleep until his Kuya Reggie got up and helped him with breakfast? No I cried again, he said. Oh my, here we go again.

“You like Kuya Ryan more than me,” he said.

I was dumbstruck, flabbergasted, astonished.

“Ryland, that’s not true. I like you all the same,” I told him.

Trying to convince him so, I told him, “I hug you lots, but I don’t hug him (because he won’t let me), do you still think that I like him more than you?”

He nodded.

“I kiss you but I don’t kiss him (because he won’t let me), do you still think that I like him more than you?”

He nodded again.

“I like you all the same.”

I wouldn’t stop until I convinced him.

“I still carry you when I bring you downstairs in the morning (even though it hurts my back), but I don’t carry him, do you still think that I like him more than you?”

He nodded again.

“I lie down here in your bed at night until you fall asleep, do you still think that I like him more than you?”

He nodded again.

“I like you all three the same.”

What is a mom to do?

As usual, I embraced him after he said his prayers and stayed with him in bed. Just before he fell asleep, I asked him, “Do you think I love you?”

I saw a nod in the dark.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Case of the Flakes

I saw the tiny white crumb-like stuff on the back of the navy blue sweater as he got up after shutting down the computer. White flakes on a dark shirt used to be a common sight a few years ago, before my husband treated his dandruff. But this guy, who was five feet and two inches tall, was not my husband. This was my fourteen-year old son.

“What is that on your sweater, Reggie!” I blurted out as I flicked with my fingers the white flakes under his neck. I parted his thick black hair in different areas to confirm my suspicion. I saw patches of crusty scales. “Did that hurt?” I asked him when I scratched off some of it and more flakes fell on his sweater.

“No,” he simply replied.

“You have some kind of rash on your scalp.” I avoided using the word “dandruff.” Children don’t get dandruff. Only adults do, I thought.

Read more here.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Working vs. Staying at Home

This entry is supposed to be a comment on Hsin’s musings on her decision to stay at home after the arrival of her first baby. She relates about how her career-oriented friends made her feel bad about having made that decision. But she has no regrets. She’s expecting another baby soon. I have a lot to say so I decided to post my comment here.

In this modern age when most of the women are entering the work force, there arises the battle between the working mom and the stay-at-home mom. You must have heard the arguments of both sides. There are career-oriented mothers who can’t imagine spending the whole day at home and there are those who just really need the income. Then there are those mothers who want to be with their children all day long so as not to miss out on their child’s development and first experiences.

I think I am sort of in between the working mom and the stay-at-home mom. I work at home, you see. (I’ve talked about working at home before. See links to related entries below.) I can’t imagine myself not working. I love taking care of my kids and the home but I’m not a domestic diva. My domesticity is very basic and really has been brought upon by necessity. I don’t bake from scratch and I cook not because I love doing it but because I need to feed my family. I can’t really spend the whole day everyday being just domestic. I have to do something else, like work. I’d love to volunteer or travel, or perhaps do crafts, but I need to work to help support my family.

Friends often ask me if I don’t have any intentions of going back to the office. You see, I am stuck in my position (which is far from managerial) as long as I am working at home. If I want to be trained for a higher position, I need to go back to the office. My friends at work have been promoted to higher positions since I left about five years ago. I’ve been left behind. And it doesn’t really bother me. I enjoy what I am doing. I have no ambitions of going up the corporate ladder. Some may find it odd, but that’s me. I am content with providing just enough for my family to get by. Don’t get me wrong. I’d take a higher income. Who doesn’t?

But I have been given with this wonderful opportunity to work at home, and I immediately grabbed it. Originally, I decided to work at home to save on daycare fees. I even doubted if I could work at home while at the same time looking after my youngest son who was still three years old then. But I began liking being at home. I’ve experienced dragging my kids out of bed as early as 6:00 a.m. Dealing with temper tantrums and rushing to make it on time at work can be very stressful. Now, I don’t have to rush the kids in the morning. We all have a relaxed breakfast together. I do my work when they are gone to school. I am home when they get home. Even when they get noisy and start to bicker, I can still continue to do my work. I have become immune to the distractions. It’s comforting to me that they are in my presence. They know that I am there if they need somebody to talk to especially if they’d have a rough day at school.

My kids need less attending to now. They were 3, 7, and 11 when I started working at home. I’ve experience leaving them at daycare and babysitters. But I don’t feel that I missed out on their development. I still experienced the firsts: the first smile, the first time they rolled over, the first step, all the other firsts. I also felt the guilt of leaving them at the care of someone else, especially that first day back to work. But I don’t regret it. I never did.

Some stay-at-home moms may claim that their kids are more well-rounded or more well-behaved than the ones who go to a babysitter or daycare. But I beg to disagree. I think working moms can also raise well-rounded children if they guide them in the right direction and spend enough time with them when they are not working.

I think there is no right or wrong choice with regards to mothers working or staying at home. Each mother has individual needs and she should decide depending on what she wants and what she thinks works best for her and her family.

Read more about my sentiments, challenges and experiences in working at home through the following links:

Confessions of a work-at-home mom
Downsides of working at home
My sentiments
The bliss of working at home
Long-term goals
Working, appointments and dismal weather

Monday, March 13, 2006

Just trying to matter

Roberto Benigni jumped on his chair when he heard his name announced as the winner for best director (Life is Beautiful). Halle Berry didn’t care to show her ugly cry when she became the first African American to win the Oscar for Best Actress (Monster’s Ball). The following year, Adrien Brody kissed Halle Berry on the mouth when he accepted his best actor (The Pianist) award.

The most recent unforgettable Oscar moment for me is the grace and elegance Reese Witherspoon showed when she won Best Actress (Walk the Line). I have been rooting for her even though I haven’t seen the movie when the awards show aired. I love her work and I was so excited for her.

I still can’t get over her acceptance speech. She kept her composure. She started by saying that Johnny Cash and June Carter had a wonderful tradition of honoring other artists and musicians and singers. And so she thanked the people involved in the film including co-star Joaquin Phoenix.

I’ve seen the movie a few days ago and I think that Joaquin did a superb performance as well. It now made sense to me what Reese said about “just trying to matter.” Cash and Carter was brought together because of the same circumstances in their childhood. Johnny’s father left a painful impression on him that he was the bad son. And even later in his life when he became successful, his father still thought that he was nothing compared to his brother. June on the other hand, thought that her sister was the better singer that’s why she tried to be the funny one to compensate for not being “that good.” Johnny was the first one to tell her that she was really a good singer. He was the first one to believe in her. And she was grateful for that.

Reese said, “I am so blessed to have my family here tonight. My mother and my father are here. And I just want to say thank you so much for everything, for being so proud of me. It didn't matter if I was making my bed or making a movie. They never hesitated to say how proud they were of me. And that means so very much to a child.”

I agree with Reese. In my own little way, I also try to show my children how proud I am of them. Whether they’re making their bed, dressing up by themselves, brushing their teeth by themselves, reading by themselves, winning a game of basketball, or playing the flute in front of an audience. I see the gratitude in their eyes when they have been patted on the back.

I also want to point out that it’s not good to compare your children with one another. It irritates me when people compare my three boys, especially when they hear it. There have been quite a few times when people would come up and say that one of my child is more handsome than the other. What did they think my children felt about that? Kids, or people in general, shouldn't be compared, to their faces for that matter. Every individual is special in his/her own special way. When I was a child, I've heard people say that my sister was prettier, lighter(mas maputi), and bubblier (mas bibo)than I was. These comments made me recoil inside my own little shell. I was already shy and comments like these just lowered my self esteem more.

When my child comes to me and say that he’s not as good as his brother in basketball, or he’s not as good in math as his friend, I remind him about all the other things that he’s good at. “But you’re a good speller,” or “But you’re a good reader,” or “You’re good at printing and drawing.” When Ryland gets intimidated by his older brother, Reggie, who already knows that he wants to be a musician and he doesn’t know yet what he wants to be when he grows up, I assure him that he will know when he gets older. And you bet that I will support my children whatever career or calling they want to pursue.

In her speech, Reese also said that her grandmother, “taught me how to be a real woman to have strength and self respect, and to never give those things away.” I’ve watched Reese in a few interviews and she really conducts herself as a real woman. She’s very polite and discreet. I don’t know if it has to do with her Southern upbringing. But I like her a lot.

She said in an interview with Oprah that she almost backed out of her role in Walk the Line when she learned that she would have to sing and use her singing voice in the movie. She told the director that she couldn’t sing. The director told her that he really wanted her to sing in the movie. So she took voice lessons and learned to sing and she and Joaquin even made an album. Reese learned 8 songs and Joaquin, 26 songs, and he even learned to play the guitar. I think they both did a great job.


If you want to see some of Reese’s work, go check out Legally Blonde, which also earned her a Golden Globe nomination. I also like Election where she starred as the obnoxious overachiever Tracy Flick who is running for student body president. And The Man in the Moon, where she starred as the 14-year-old Dani Trant who falls in love for the first time.

I’ve recently seen Just Like Heaven, where Reese starred as the spirit of a beautiful woman. It’s a feel good movie. Another fun movie to watch is Pleasantville. Reese starred as one of two teenagers from the 90’s transported to a black and white 50’s sitcom.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Music and Passion of Barry Manilow

Her name was Lola,
She was a showgirl

With yellow feathers in her hair
And a dress cut down to there

Barry Manilow sang Copacabana when he made a guest appearance at Dancing with the Stars during the Samba and Salsa week of Season 2. My kids also watched the show with me and my two younger boys were making fun of Barry. They said that he looked like a bird with his hair ruffled like that. I know that Barry is not the macho kind of guy. Actually, he looked kind of geeky. But hey, I have been a fan of Barry’s music since the 1980’s and I was hurt when my kids laughed at him.

There, I said it. I am a fan of Barry Manilow. But I don’t know if I can call myself a Fanilow. I didn’t even know that this word existed until I saw that episode of Will & Grace a few years ago.

According to Wikipedia,

“A Fanilow is a name for someone who is a big fan of the singer Barry Manilow. The name originated in the 1970s when Barry Manilow was in the height of his popularity. It takes the "F" from Fan and the "anilow" from Manilow and makes a catchy nickname.”

Unlike Cheryl and the other characters in that Will & Grace episode, I don’t spend the night waiting in line for tickets to a special Barry Manilow concert. I haven’t even been to any of his concerts. And the only memorabilia I have of him is an old, almost worn-out cassette tape of Manilow Magic – The Best of Barry Manilow.

At a recent inteview, Barry said that it took him only 15 minutes to write Copacabana. Barry won a Grammy for this song for Best Pop Vocal Performance for 1978. Another reason my kids were making fun of the song is because of the name Lola, which is what they also call their grandma. (Lola is grandmother in the Filipino language.) They’re probably trying to visualize their grandma with yellow feathers in her hair dancing the merengue and the chacha.

Before Barry became famous, he was a commercial jingle writer and singer. Then he worked as a pianist, producer, and arranger accompanying Bette Midler. And did you know that, although he was known as a songwriter, he didn’t write most of his songs? Ironically, one of them being I Write the Songs.

I write the songs that make the whole world sing
I write the songs of love and special things
I write the songs that make the young girls cry
I write the songs, I write the songs

But it doesn’t matter to me. I still love his voice and the songs he sings.

My all-time favourite Barry Manilow song is Mandy. At first, I couldn’t understand why Barry was singing about Mandy until I realized that unlike in the Philippines, Mandy is actually a girl’s name here in North America.

I never realized
you made me so happy, oh Mandy
Well you came and you gave without taking
but I sent you away, oh Mandy
well you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
I need you today, oh Mandy

Another favourite is Weekend in New England. It talks about a very recent break-up and a yearning that’s still fresh.

And, tell me when will our eyes meet
When can I touch you
When will this strong yearning end
And when will I hold you again
I feel the change comin'
--I feel the wind blow
I feel brave and daring!
I feel my blood flow
With you I can bring out
All the love, that I have
--With you there's a heaven
So earth ain't so bad

I also like Looks Like We Made It. Barry sings about old lovers who are now in other relationships. The sight of her stirred old feelings in him.

There you are
Lookin' just the same as you did,
Last time I touched you
And, here I am
Close to gettin' tangled up
Inside the thought of you
Do you love him as much as I love her
And will that love be strong
When old feelings start to stir
Looks like we made it
Left each other on the way,
To another love
Looks like we made it
Or I thought so, till today
Until you were there everywhere
And all I could taste was love
the way we made it

Trying to Get The Feeling Again is not that popular, but I like the lyrics.

Doctor, my woman is comin' back home late today
Could ya' maybe give me something?
'cause the feelin' is gone and I must get it back right away
Before she sees that I've been
Up, down, tryin' to get the feeling again
All around.... tryin' to get the feeling again
The one that made me shiver, made my knees start to quiver
Every time she walked in

Barry recently released a new CD titled, Barry Manilow The Greatest Songs of the Fifties. In that episode of Dancing With The Stars, he sang one of the tracks in his latest CD, Unchained Melody, which is another favourite of mine. My two younger boys started to giggle when Barry was singing. I told them to keep quiet and when they wouldn’t, I sent them out of the room. I’m sorry, no one messes with my Barry.

Oh my, am I a Fanilow, or what?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Reeve tragedy hits home

I was saddened and a bit emotional this morning when I heard that Dana Reeve passed away last night. Dana, the widow of Christopher Reeve, announced last August that she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She never smoked. She used to work as a singer in clubs where she was exposed to a lot of second-hand smoke.

Ate Bing, a family friend of ours, also died of lung cancer. She never smoked either. Her nephew, whom she sponsored to come here in Canada and lived with her, was a heavy smoker and smoked in the house.

We are now seeing many incidences of lung cancer brought upon not only by first-hand smoke but by second-hand smoke as well.

I am glad that our government has taken actions by banning smoking in enclosed public places.

I’m also glad that schools have taken action as well in teaching even as young as 5th graders the effects of smoking in your body. My children know that their lungs will turn black if they take on the habit of smoking. There are now public advertisements on TV that show us that smoking can cause not only lung cancer but also heart disease, stomach cancer, throat cancer and mouth cancer.

Smoking and lung cancer hits home to me. My father was a heavy smoker. I remember him sending me to the corner store when I was a little girl to buy him a pack of cigarettes. Newport cigarettes, he would tell me. Sometimes he would add, the one with the blue seal.

A few years ago, I was going through my mother’s old photo albums to look for pictures to post in our family website. I noticed that my father was holding a cigarette in his hand in some of his pictures.

My parents separated when I was only 12. I wasn’t really able to spend a lot of time with my father after that. Years of drinking and smoking took a toll on his body. He had a stroke in 1991 and was paralyzed from the neck down. He was also diagnosed with lung cancer. After four months, he died. He was 53.

Dana Reeve was only 44 and was survived by his son, Will - an orphan at 13 years old. My heart breaks for him.

In his 1998 book, “Still Me,” Christopher Reeve recalled that after the accident, when he was contemplating giving up, his wife told him: “I want you to know that I'll be with you for the long haul, no matter what. You're still you. And I love you.”

I had admired Dana for the unwavering love and support she gave her husband after he was paralyzed. She stood there by his side, even giving up her career. And after he died and then she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she still continued to show courage and determination. What a remarkable woman.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

What they should give up

The days are getting longer and the temperatures are getting warmer. But it is still winter here in Winnipeg and there are still big piles of snow everywhere. We may be used to it, but five months of cold weather can be a real drag.

My two younger ones are starting to get bored and have been constantly bickering these past few days. I have been working longer hours and have been in low spirits since the year started. My body is aching and my patience is getting shorter.

“Get out of my bed! Go in your own bed!”

“Get off me.”

“Stop looking at me.”

“Don’t hit back.”

“Mommy, Kuya Ryan called me a name.”

Get the idea?

So, I wasn’t really in a very good mood when I had this conversation with Ryan two days ago.

“Mommy, when does Lent begin?”

“On Ash Wednesday.”

“I wonder what I’m gonna give up. Mmn. I think I’m gonna give up chocolates. Nah. I’m giving up doing chores.”

“Ryan, you give up good things, not chores.”

“Mmn. What should I give up?”

“What about giving up fighting with your brother. Giving up making him feel bad. What about that?”

When Ryan came home from catechism today, he told me that they did a fun activity. They popped up balloons and they each got a strip of paper inside the balloons. This is what’s written on Ryan’s.

Give up one TV show today and spend that time helping a family member.

“Mommy, can I pick another day to do this? I have to watch Pokemon today.”

From the car window on the way home from church, I’ve seen the snow piles on the streets have become higher since we’ve had two 10 cm snowfalls the past few days.

“Move, I can’t reach my seatbelt.”

“You move.”

Yeah, the bickerings continue.

My head hurts. Somebody please give me Tylenol. I think I’m going to bed early tonight.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Snow Eagle

This snow sculpture is located infront of the Legislative Building. I took the pictures when I went downtown last week. It was a bit cloudy then and there were light flurries. I wasn't able to get a front shot because it was in the middle of Broadway Avenue and there was no pedestrian crossing on this side of the street. Besides, I wanted to get out of there fast as it was cold and my hands were freezing when I took my gloves off.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Paradox of Our Time

My 11-year old son, Ryan, will be celebrating his Confirmation this Spring. So, I am once again busy attending meetings to prepare him for this. During the first parents’ meeting, the catechetical coordinator read The Paradox of Our Time. She said that this was written by a student who had witnessed the Columbine shootings. But there is this website that claims otherwise.

The Paradox of Our Time

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.

We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time;

We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years.

We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.

We've conquered outer space, but not inner space.

We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.

We've split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less.

We plan more, but accomplish less.

We've learned to rush, but not to wait.

We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Read more about The Paradox of Our Time at http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/paradox.asp

Aren’t they all true? Sad, but true.

These are the lines that struck me most, some apply to me and some I’m guilty of:

“We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time.”
“We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.”
“…stay up too late, get up too tired,..., watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.”
“These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare.”
“These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Chicken Adobo on Martha

It’s International Food Week on the Martha show and I was excited to hear Martha talk about the Philippines and our classic dish, chicken adobo. (Photo taken from www.marthastewart.com)

She invited Romy Dorotan, owner and chef of Manhattan’s Cendrillon, to cook chicken adobo. Romy's recipe is very elaborate and even included coconut milk, which I didn’t know you can add to this dish. I cook mine only with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and ground pepper.

Romy also brought his sous-chef, Perry Mamaril, who demonstrated how to grate the flesh of coconut from a coconut horse. I anxiously waited for him to squeeze the coconut milk from the cheesecloth. It brought back childhood memories when I saw people do this back home.

You can check out Romy’s chicken adobo recipe on Martha’s website. (Or click on the picture above.)

It makes me happy that a celebrity like Martha noticed the Philippines and our delicious dish. Also, on the show, a Filipino group called the Kinding Sindaw, performed the Butterfly dance.

The Martha show acknowledged that it was recorded prior to Friday’s devastating mudslide in the Philippines and that their thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy. The Filipino community here in Winnipeg is also horrified by this news and is raising a disaster relief fund for the survivors of this tragedy.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ryland's Birthday Party

“She’s bossy.”

That’s what Ryland said when I asked him if he liked his new Grade 2 teacher, who just came back from Australia through the Teacher Exchange Program. I met Miss S before. She was Ryan’s Grade 2 teacher as well, and she didn’t seem bossy to me. I have also met Ryland’s classmates. He invited some of the boys last year at his 7th birthday party. And I’ve seen their behaviour – typical six- and seven-year old boys. I can understand why Ryland would see Miss S as bossy.

“She’s bossy.”

I wondered if that was how I came across Ryland’s friends as I watched the videotape of his 8th birthday party, which we celebrated last week. I noticed that my voice overpowered those of 11 seven- and eight-year olds. I had to speak my loudest in order to be heard by our little guests who were constantly talking.

After our experience last year, you’d think that I would have known better. But hey, it’s been a year. I have a very short long-term memory. I forgot.

He invited eight classmates last year. I should have cut down that number, but no. I couldn’t say no when he said that he wanted to invite 11 this time.

The parents started bringing the kids at around 1:00 p.m.

One dad said, “Is it really three hours long?”

“Yeah, it ends at 4:00 p.m.”

He must be thinking, Goodluck. Three hours with 11 rambunctious kids.

Another dad said, “Have fun!”

Oh yeah. I’m gonna have fun. If your definition of fun is trying to entertain and control 11 seven- and eight-year olds, nine boys and 2 girls.

All the guests arrived. First, we had pizzas. Nobody wanted the spaghetti nor the pancit (fried noodles), which I worked hard to cook earlier in the day.

After they ate, they wanted to go upstairs. “No, we won’t go in the bedrooms.” Ryland didn’t want them there because last year, they made a big mess and he wasn’t too happy about it.

They went downstairs in the basement but my husband sent them back upstairs after a few minutes. He said they were pushing and shoving and he was scared of what would happen to his stereo and speakers.

So that meant no Playstation games. I entertained them with board games. But they got bored too soon. Just before 2:00 p.m., I asked them if they wanted to watch Pokemon. Yes was the unanimous answer.

“We will watch downstairs but I want everybody to behave. Rule number 1, feet off the couch. Rule number 2, no pushing. Rule number 3, no running or jumping.”

So, for about half an hour, there was peace and quiet in the house.

Then it was time for cake. One boy kept dipping his finger in the cake.

Ancie said, “Mitchell, quit it.”

“Okay, everybody, look at the camera. Brody, Brody, look here. Okay guys, evvvvrybooody look heeeeere.” That last sentence was said in a very demanding voice.

“Guys, one more. Look at the camera.”

They loved the ice cream cake.

And then, it was piñata time.

“Guys, move back. Staaaay back.”

When the piñata broke, they scattered around to pick up the candies on the floor. I quickly picked up Mitchell before he got crushed by the bigger kids.

Last year, we had a petty theft during the piñata. So, I got smarter this time. I asked them to put all the candies in a bowl and we sorted it after wards. Everybody would get a fair share.

“Get one of each kind. Put them before you.”

“Guys, be nice.”

“Guys, one of each kind.”

“No, this is the same kind. You’re supposed to get only five candies. If you have more than five, that’s not right.”

Then I gave each one of them a goody bag with some more treats in it.

“Can we go upstairs now?”

“Oh, okay.”

My voice was a lot calmer when Ryland opened his presents. He let his friends play with some of his newly acquired toys while waiting for their parents.

Each one of the kids thanked Ryland before they left. One mom asked her son if he had a good time. He said yes. I think they really did have a good time. And I don’t really think that they found me bossy.

I always ask myself why go through with this every year, every kid’s birthday. I think always knew the answer all along. It’s the smile on my child’s face after every party. If they’re happy, then I’m also happy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Winterpeg sights

Winnipeg has been nicknamed Winterpeg because of its cold and long winters. We are now in the deep freeze having temperatures of minus 28 C and windchill of minus 32. Brrr.... Here are some sights that are common here in the winter.

Plugs (and extension cords) sticking out of cars.

Mountains of snow.

Shoveled pathway walled by a pile of snow.

Drinks chilling on the snow.

Foggy eyeglasses. This happens when you're outside in the frigid weather and then get inside a heated shelter. It's such a hassle to wear glasses.