Category Archives: Thoughts and Musings

Remembering Ondoy

It’s been two years since that day I spoke these words to our maid over the phone: “Lock the door. Close the windows. Forget the things. Save yourself.” I was at my mother’s house, The Painter was in Cebu. The water came all the way up to the roof and nothing was saved. This was what I posted in my old blog, 2 days after Ondoy.

 

After The Rain Sep 30, ’09 2:04 AM

And yes, I decide to have a Nelson Twins song as the title for this entry.

I’m safe. The baby is safe. My husband was out of town. My maid was taken in by neighbors with a second floor.

We lost everything we deemed important but next to our safety, they don’t seem that important anymore.

Loads of messages from friends and family. Touching and truly, deeply appreciated. Those few kind words give me such strength.

I go weak at the knees when I look at what the flood has done to our home. I feel most for the carefully collected pictures whose colors are now running in dirty, stinking water. I spent hours looking at each picture one last time, remembering the happy times each picture was taken before I threw it in the garbage bag.

With gloved hands I took out each and every book from my library and carefully put them in a box so that we could try and dry them out. All my bibles with the handwritten notes on the margins. Harry Potter. Bartimaeus. Anne of Green Gables. Godfather. Neverwhere. Coraline. The Wolves In The Walls. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Griffin and Sabine.

I went on to my husband’s treasured art books. Each artbook represented my husband’s blood and sweat when, as a struggling young artist, he would suffer hunger and fatigue just to save every cent he made to buy oh-so-expensive books that helped shape him to be the painter he is today. Most of them disintegrated in my hands.

And then there were the children’s books. My baby in my tummy never got to hold them. Dr. Seuss in English and Mandarin. Little Prince in 4 languages. Eric Carle. Ouch.

My iMac. It was in a pathetic little heap covered in mud.

At the end of the day, they’re just things. My husband, my baby, myself. We’re flesh and blood. Our families are here. Our friends are here. We are alive. That is more than enough thanks to the heavens above.

It’s a fresh start! It’s a new day. It’s as if God cleaned our house of unnecessary things and left us with the basics to start a new life. Life is very very good.

Going Retro: Yaya Remy and Other Childhood Horror Stories

This is a repost from my old Multiply blog. Originally posted on Feb. 9, 2008. Wait, that’s my birthday.

I just wanted to share, that’s all.

 

Yaya Remy came to us when Yapi was four years old. She was primarily assigned to take care of Yapi, and like all children of a certain age, Yapi took to her like the proverbial moth to a flame. You may even say that Yaya Remy was one of the most influential people in Yapi’s early childhood development. Hence. If you know my sister, that statement could be very significant to understanding her.

Yaya Remy was heavily into showbiz and she poured all her frustrations on the two girls. An avid Eat Bulaga fan, she once entered Yapi into Little Miss Philippines lip-synching “Somewhere Out There” (yes, beneath the pale moon light). Yes. Yapi the Goth was once a candidate for Little Miss Philippines. I’m sure there are less horrifying things in the world.

As for me, she milked my Menudo fanaticism dry. She convinced my parents that she had to be my chaperone to all the Menudo concerts I attended (first row in CCP and Araneta ha) even if my actual parents came along with me. She played my Menudo cassettes more often than I did and helped me figure out and memorize all the dance steps to their songs. She even wrote out and mailed 500 entries to the “Win a Date with Menudo” contest and cried real tears when we didn’t win.

We tolerated it. She was fun. She wore a black bra and panty under her white yaya uniform, became “M.U.” with my skating coach, wore a bikini when we would go on our family outing swimming trips, did the “Hukilau” hula dance for our company’s Christmas party and posed for pictures in her underwear on our balcony, but hey – she took pretty good care of us. She was nurturing and protective and if she was a little nympho, then that’s her one flaw.

She was also dramatic. Disciplining children for her went beyond the garden variety “ibebenta kita sa intsik/bumbay/-insert archaic stereotype here-” and “kukunin ka ng mamang pulis” threats. She took it to a whole different level.

Yaya Remy would tell Yapi, “Kung hindi mo ko susundin, tatawagin ko ang demonyong kambal ko at isusumbong kita.” She would then leave the room.

After a while, she would enter the room again, hair all unkempt, and with the evil eye would look at Yapi and say in an aswangin voice, “Ikaw ba si Piaaaaaa??? Akooooo… ako ang demonyong kambal ni Yaya Remyyyyyyyyy.”

Kaya mo yon.

And that story won Yapi a prize in RJ Ledesma’s contest for his upcoming book, “Lies My Yaya Should Have Told Me.” I don’t think there’s any way she wouldn’t win.

So Yaya Remy, thanks for the memories. And I’m sorry your dreams of hooking me up with the guy who lived across the street when I was 10 years old didn’t push through. Believe me, not even your grand plan of making us the godparents of your first child could’ve made that relationship happen.

My Yaya Remy by Yapi

 

All Hail The “Naughty” Children

A Gymboree co-teacher showed me a blog entry last week. In it, the mom recounts her experience with a certain dance school where she took her 3-year old daughter for her first ballet class. In a nutshell, the little girl’s ballerina dreams were crushed because the dance teacher said things like, “Put her in her place”, “I am getting mad”, “She does not know how to obey” and finally…

“We will show her we are disciplined here and naughty kids go to Gymboree.”

WOW. Three years old. She was lifted off the class floor and unceremoniously dumped in her mom’s arms, from what I gather. “Give her mom a refund”, the teacher said.

Needless to say, the poor child was heartbroken and my own heart was crushed. All she wanted to do was wear a tutu and pink slippers and dance, dance, dance. Apart from that, my eyebrows shot up a mile with the statement regarding Gymboree. We’ve always been proud in the way we relate to children and their parents. We’re very hands-on and their children become a part of our lives. In my ten years of being a Gymboree teacher, never have I heard that Gymboree is for “naughty children.” It was said so pointedly and even the other children were parroting it – “Naughty children go to Gymboree!!”

In Gymboree, we sing a welcome song, clapping our hands, encouraging the children to do the same. Some of them will do so, but most of them will not. Most of them will stand up and dance the Welcome song instead. When I ask my kids to roll the ball down the slide, they sometimes throw it over the side in delight. When I ask them to walk in a circle, they sometimes wander off to sit on the Rocky Horse or stand by the bridge and watch us from there. We don’t raise our eyebrows at them, or ask them to put their hands behind their back while they stand. How can we, when us teachers sometimes look like this:

 

Hey don’t get me wrong. I am ALL for discipline and I abhor self-entitlement. But I believe there’s an appropriate disciplinary style for each stage in life. And asking a three-year old to stand still and “behave” while she is in a beautiful pink tutu and ballet slippers with beautiful music filling the room is not just wrong, but cruel.

In Gymboree we encourage our children to explore with their senses –  to feel, to see, to hear, to sing. We guide them up foam steps and over wooden platforms, go under boxes and peer through rungs while pretending to be a sleepy bear. We fly parachutes over their heads and tickle their tummies with streams of bubbles and feathers and foam. We stamp their hands, feet, foreheads and noses, paint their fingers, faces and arms, getting splashed with color from head to toe. Along the way they learn to grope and to grasp, not just with their hands and fingers but also with their minds and hearts. We sing at the top of our voices, make silly faces and animal sounds, throw scarves in the air and hide in tunnels. The children learn that a circle is not just a shape but also a place to gather with friends. They discover that foam blocks can turn into igloos and skyscrapers, that balls can be apples today and pumpkins tomorrow. What we call socialization, dynamic balance, concept development and fine motor skills, they call play. For us teachers, seeing these babies blossom in front of our eyes is a privilege and a gift.

The children love music and they love to dance. They love to sing, they love to paint and they love to jump off platforms. So would that be the definition of “naughty”? Then if that’s so, well then.. C’mon naughty children!! Let’s all go to Gymboree!!!

Simple Joys

I had a perfect day today.

I arrived at Nail Spa to claim the treat I won from Dainty Mom. (Thanks Martine!)

And caught Paola and Martine inhaling macarons. (These were HEAVEN. I have to order)

Celebrity sighting. I’ll treat the one who correctly guesses who this guy is to a milk tea drink. Earlier, his daughter was there in her ballet outfit to attend her dance class in Shang. I pretended to take pics of the macarons to get this shot. (Pistachio, chocolate and red velvet flavors. I really have to order)

Busy mommies deserve nice toes. (Nice legs, Paola!)

Paola and I went to Chatime in Pioneer Center.

The area upstairs is perfect for lounging, studying, and chatting. They have free WiFi too. I had the Chatime Roasted Milk Tea with Pearl. Yummeh.

Sjofn is seriously adorable.

And then it was off to Galerie Anna for an exhibit.

I relish the times when I can be a mother, a friend, a woman and a wife, all in the same day. There are days when it’s all mommymommymommymommymommy.

Exhale.

Smile.

:)

The Guilty Mama

We attended our first birthday party of the season last Sunday. Here’s Basti in his party hat:

The party is the first of a series of birthday parties for the children of our birthing class. Basti is celebrating his birthday at the end of the month. What have I got planned?

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

For a former events planner, I am famously allergic to planning one of my own. Maybe it’s because I did it as a job for so long that I don’t want to do it myself? It’s already April 4th and Orley and I still stare at each other blankly when the matter of Basti’s birthday comes up. Truth is, I don’t want a party. I want to go on a trip, but that is going to be something spontaneous if it happens because Orley is up to his eyeballs in work.

Basti’s birthday party is not the only thing I’m guilty about. His baptism was also last minute, just food on the table and a few friends. Have I told you guys about my wedding? Orley and I signed some stuff at cityhall.

We had lunch at Causeway Bay.

And had a dinner cooked by my lola held at her house for my family and some friends.

No fuss, no hustle-and-bustle. Just get it done. That’s how Orley and I live our lives. We’ve never “celebrated” our anniversary.

Am I awful for applying the same philosophy to my son? I see pictures of these birthday parties that have planners, booths and themes and they make me want to go under the covers and sleep.

Three weeks to go and I have to find the initiative, drive and inspiration to celebrate Basti’s birthday. Somehow. I wish I were more maarte.

Once I Was A Blogger…

AND I STILL AM, DAGNABIT.

I believe I am already getting the hang of The Job and I will be back in a blogging frenzy very soon.

You guys should see my Drafts list. 11 posts pending. Shame, shame, shame!!

We are back in Baguio now. The Painter and Basti are happily snoring behind me, enjoying the cold.. and I’m still working!!!!

I’ve got stuff coming up – baked goodies good for lactation, shower filters, and a chronicle of our next move.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, we are moving. AGAIN. Do you guys want to know how many times I’ve moved since 2008? Seven. Four out of those seven times happened while I was married to Orley. Now I have to do it with a baby in tow.

My prayer for 2011: That we stay in this house longer than a year. Pleaaaase!!

Basti wants milk now. Later!!!

The Shift

I haven’t been blogging lately. Truth is I have several drafts in my Posts list, some over a week old.No, it’s not the hustle and bustle of Christmas (I’m a Scrooge. More on that later). Recently, I’ve shifted from being a stay-at-home mom, to work-at-home mom. SAHM and WAHM, if you must. Parenting blog acronyms were never my thing. If you notice I’ve never called Basti my LO or DS, because it’s all WTF to me.

Actually, I’ve been working at home since I was 7 months pregnant, doing SEO writing for different people I found over at freelancer.com (To homemakers looking for a few extra bucks and a little mental exercise, you should really give this a whirl). I still write for just one client now, churning out 4 articles a day of 300 words each. It’s a job that pays for my parlor days, shoes and baby gear that I want and not need.

But now I’m going to start on The Job. I’ve been fortunate enough to land a position in a company that’s allowing me to work on the requirements from home and on-the-go. The internet is such a wonderful thing. I can’t (and don’t want to) say too much about it, but it’s just funny that my online addiction has actually turned into something productive.

Basti is 7 months and growing up so fast. He’s got two bottom teeth out and the upper front teeth are breaking through. He’s sitting up and playing by himself. As early as now, my mom and I have started looking at his earlier pictures and sniffing about how big he is already. I’ll be doing that all of Basti’s life I think.

Just a few days into The Job and I already feel like some of my time from Basti has been taken away. He may be with me, but there are periods where my mind is on The Job. I’m taking care of business with him in the SaYa, busy, busy, busy.. I glance at him and he’s looking at me with an expression that seems to say, “Why aren’t you minding me, mama?” Oh the guilt.

That’s what you get when every waking moment of your day was tuned in to your child’s needs before you started doing something else. I mean, this is still way better than disappearing to a 9-5 office job, right? I’m still here, and we’re still directly breastfeeding, baby-wearing and co-sleeping. We still take afternoon naps together (though while he sleeps, I’m tap-tapping away on the laptop while lying down). It was just too great an opportunity to pass up. And I’ve come to a point where I just want something for myself, and be able to contribute something to the family, financially-speaking. I’m not ashamed to say being a one-income family in Metro Manila can get really hard at times. Especially for an industry so volatile as art.

I’m just thankful I’m still at home, taking care of my son, and earning a living at the same time. I’ll get into the groove soon (thanks, Madonna. And yes, I just revealed my age)

Basti, Steady

I posted this on my Facebook status:

(Me) doesn’t get the obsession about babies being “advanced”. Basti, my darling, take your sweet time growing up. you hear? Steady ka lang.

A week doesn’t pass that I don’t hear some sort of comment or question about Basti’s developmental progress, and how other babies his age are faring either “worse” or “better”. It annoys me.

Seriously, what is with the obsession for babies to be ahead of their developmental milestones? Why the rush anyway?

It’s time for that chicken-and-the-egg question. Did formula companies instill the need for early baby advancement in parents or was it the parents who urged  companies to base their marketing for formula on creating the “super baby”? Just asking. What do you guys think?

As for me, as long as Basti is on track, happy and growing up well within the WHO growth charts, I don’t see any reason why I should try and push him beyond that. Admit it; this competition, the quest for the “Super Baby” is all about the parent, and never about the child.

Have you guys seen this ad on TV about the “Your Baby Can Read” video series? Watching it makes you feel everyone else’s baby is reading except yours. I was going to buy it, succumbing to the pressure, and while I was scrambling around for my credit card thinking, “Basti will read at 8 months.. Basti will read at 8 months!”.. I suddenly realized… so what if he does? What’s wrong with getting around to reading at the REAL reading age anyway? I didn’t read till I was three and I’m fine. So are you.

So many children now are overstressed and overscheduled. They don’t even have time to just play. Even their playtime has to “productive”. If not, they’re usually in front of game consoles or DVDs. In my youth, playing meant going outside in the dirt to gather plants and flowers for my sidewalk “store”. People would pay me stones for something I “cooked” in my palayok from the market. My friend Carina remembers how she was let out of the house with a bike and instructions to come back before dark.

So instead of buying the “Your Baby Can Read” series, I’d much rather buy some nice wooden toys, a kiddie easel, finger paint, butcher paper and a huge tub for playing with mud, shaving cream or sand (or all of that at the same time). Don’t get me wrong; I’m buying books – LOADS of them (I do my bargain children’s book shopping at Books For Less. Seriously, some of them look almost brand new) but I am not going to force Basti to read, not till he’s good and ready.

And all of those programs that promise to get my child’s IQ higher, enhance his math skills, or make him read at lightning speed, you’re not getting a cent from me!

Do I Look Nuts To You?

My friend Pia asked me this question: don’t you go crazy being a stay-at-home mom? The reason being, she wants to be one, someday. I told her to go for it, more so because her two kids are “grown” (can walk, can talk).

It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question. Some people don’t even ask me anymore, they just ASSUME I’m cuckoo for being a stay-at-home mom. I suspect this is corollary to what my life used to be like, because the assumption comes a lot from people who know me in real life. Some people can’t even believe I’m a stay-at-home mom and not a work-at-home mom.

Most of the people who think I’m nuts assume such is because they can’t believe I can stay home and do “nothing” all day. All the moms out there can also tell that the people who make such assumptions are single and don’t have kids. Single ladies, when you have a baby, there is no such thing as doing “nothing” anymore. Sometimes you feel like you even have to schedule breathing into your day. Let it be known that I am a busy, busy woman, for someone who does “nothing”. My day starts at 6:30am, when Basti wakes, and ends at 1-2am. At night is the only time I really ever have to myself and to work.

Sure, I have to admit I sometimes get into a rut. I forget what day of the week it is because I do almost the same thing everyday. I go to the grocery and am tempted to buy just canned goods because Menu is a B-A-D word. When Basti wakes me up at 6:30am I sometimes plead for him to go back to sleep. There are times that I really do feel I have 5 minutes left before I go completely insane, and I have to give myself a shake, do a jig around the room, and everything goes back to A-Ok.

When I come to the end of my rope, I climb back again with thoughts of how fun it’s going to be very soon. Basti is starting solids next week, and with his growing appetite will come the necessity to come up with new menu items, something I’m excited to do. When Basti crawls there will be more places more us to explore, more so when he starts walking. When he starts to talk there will be questions, and stories, and books and loads of things to learn and talk about. I’m excited to play dress-up, pretend play and get all messy playing with mud, clay and shaving cream. I’m so excited to buy him his little easel and watch him copy his father as he works. I’m excited to introduce him to everything I used to do: scuba diving, horses, theater, climbing, and watch and see where his interests will lead him. I’m excited to buy him a bike. I’m excited to start school at home.

But for today, I will hug and kiss Basti, and squeeze him tight, because he’s growing up way too fast!!!

P.S. One and a half week to go before the end of the blog giveaway. Have you all your entries yet???

Random Post On A Rainy Night

It’s raining really hard outside and thoughts of Ondoy are haunting me. I was pregnant and we weren’t home when it happened. I believe God saved the three of us that day.

Basti has been sick the past few days. He was coughing and I could hear him wheezing. After trying oral Ventolin for a couple of days, our pedia said I should nebulize. Basti hates it. Our pedia said so many babies are affected by respiratory problems this season. For everyone with children, please be vigilant.

I had a shoot for a feature on “MOMents” today (thanks to Jen Tan of Next9 for referring me!). I don’t know if I made any sense!! I forgot to take pictures. I really, really need a new camera.

I can’t sleep with the rain pounding on the roof so I’m reviewing the entries for this blog’s ongoing contest . 240+ already!! Gosh, thanks guys. Promise, I have so many other things lined up for the tail-end of the year – another contest, a mommy get-together and more giveaways!