Thursday, December 04, 2008

Some Weird Advice

Yesterday, as I was waiting for my train, I started reading those TV-type ads at the station. The flat screen monitor ones with soundless MTVs, supposed ETA of the next train, and of course the ads.

These TVs also had scrolling tips, to give more value to the bored commuters, I suppose. Yesterday's set of tips was for better hair. And this is Tip#2:

When going shopping or running errands, take some time to stand outside nearby salons.

Um. OK. That makes perfect sense. Will try that some time soon.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

This Really COULD Happen To You

Yesterday, Raine was taking a nap and The Hubby texted to say that he was back from the grocery. So I went out to open the gate. Chloe, our grumpy old wonder dog, had peed on the driveway, so I started hosing it down as The Hubby parked our SUV in the garage. Next thing I knew, there was a barefoot baby next to me, toes wiggling in the puddle of water, gleefully grinning at me.

My heart stopped beating for a moment. The Hubby and I did not see her come out of the house.

I've read about the rise of young children's accidental deaths caused by SUVs. They said that as SUVs get bigger, the visibility--of the ground and those blind spots, I suppose--goes down. The drivers just don't see the kids--toddlers mostly--and they get backed up on or hit, usually in their own garages or driveways. Musician Steve Curtis Chapman's daughter, Maria, died because of this. But I was thinking, hey that happens only in the States. It wouldn't really happen here. And not to us.

Wake up call! I am so thankful that nothing happened to Raine. I realize that we have to be more vigilant, more conscious of where she is and what she's doing. While I am a staunch believer in independence, I have to temper it with caution, with prudence.

Thank you, Lord, for watching over Raine.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

And So It Begins

A few weeks ago, I was ferociously typing (not a pretty mental image, but I assure you, that's what I was doing) in our bedroom when I realized that Raine had been pretty quiet for the past 15 minutes or so. Now, as any mom will tell you, total silence and awake offspring--the combination will always send shivers down your spine. Not a good thing.

I was about to get up and check on her when she came tottering in, burbling non-stop in that breathy, high-pitched voice of hers that she uses when she's excited. She took my hand, pulling me to my feet, then led me out the door. She proudly pointed to the wall and beamed at me. And this is what I saw:






Raine had scribbled on the entire wall with her blue, purple and black crayons.

When I finally reattached my jaw, I launched into the full "crayons are only for your paper you don't write on the wall or the floor or the appliances or your books or on yourself no no no no".

Raine's proud smile changed to her pouty, lower-lip-trembling-I'm-about-to-cry-but-I'm-holding-it-back look. She sniffed--then reached up her arms for a hug from Mommy.

As I held her, her face buried in my shoulder, I gently explained again why I reacted the way I did. Deep inside, though, I thought it was adorable (as did her Daddy, when he came home that night). She's a quick learner, though, our Raine. She never wrote on the walls again after that.

We didn't wash the walls immediately. The Hubby wanted to keep her masterpiece up for a few more days. And every time Raine would pass by, she'd pause slightly, and give a little smile.

Ah, Raine. Someday. Someday, your work will be admired by many. And it won't just be on the wall outside your Mommy's bedroom.




Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Dinos are Coming! The Dinos are Coming!

I've been thinking of places I'd like to bring Raine to, such as the Museo Pambata and Ocean Park and the zoo. Now I've heard that there's this theme park type dinosaur exhibit coming end of November--with 30 life-sized robotic dinosaurs! How cool is that?

Dinos Alive! World Tour is a purported traveling exhibit cum theme park, complete with sound and light effects to highlight the said 30 dinosaurs. They also have lots of activities, and I'm looking forward to the Fossil Dig. You get to pretend to be paleontologists! Of course Raine will just want to stuff the sand in her pocket, but who knows what future career it could inspire!
The Inflatable looks like fun (but check out the line!) but I don't think Raine's ready for that yet.

They have games, activities and puzzles at Dinos Alive. I don't know what kind of food they'd have at a dino-inspired cafe--T-Rex Steak perhaps?--but they do have one, should hunger strike you in the middle of the Jurassic Period.

Dinos Alive will be set up beside Mall of Asia from November 28 to January 11, 10am-10pm on weekends and 12pm-10pm on weekdays. Tickets are available for purchase from Ticket World by calling 891-9999 or online at www.ticketworld.com.ph Ticket prices for adults are Php 600, kids below a meter are Php 450 and the family package costs Php 1,750 (2 adults+2 kids+1 free ticket).






Giant Inflatable




Apatosaurus
















Stegosaurus (I think)
















Fossil Dig



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Early New Year Goals

I have tons of work to do, but I can't quite focus. My mind is racing ahead to next year. A whole new chapter in life. The Hubby and I have discussed it, and we've agreed that I'll shift gears (not necessarily downshift) and be a fulltime, honest-to-goodness SAHM (that's stay-at-home-mom for the clueless).

The past year-and-a-half, I've been a WAHM (work-at-home-mom) and though the situation is workable, there are still some things I'm not happy with. Like the way I get all grumpy with Raine when I have a deadline looming. Or how the meals are not too well-thought out because I'm too busy or tired to prepare a proper menu. And--maybe a little selfishly--how I don't get to blog as often or write me stuff because there's always something else I need to get done first.

I'm not sure what will happen next year though, when I'm a SAHM. The Hubby once said in exasperation, "Take away all the deadlines and things you have to do and you still won't bake!" Or make soap or make cookies for gifts or (fill in the blank for whatever activity that I always put off).

But there's always hope for the not-so-domestic goddesses. I'll just take it one step at a time. And the first step is to make a list of all the things I want to do.

  1. Clear out the house. Big task, I know. But basically, I want to get rid of clutter. Maybe have a garage sale, even. Weed out the closet and the cupboards and the piles and piles of stuff.
  2. Fix the house. Get new curtains, placemats, stuff like that. Add some personal touches. After all, we plan to stay here a few more years.
  3. Have a weekly menu and grocery list. Make sure that the food is healthy and yummy. In line with that, I'd like to try out at least one new recipe a week. Or every other week.
  4. Bake cookies, makes spreads. Make a cake! Maximize our fantastic oven. I'd like to be that kind of house where there's always something freshly baked (and that way, I can make sure that there isn't too much sugar in our goodies, and like spike the muffins with carrots and that kind of thing).
  5. Make my flavored oils and vinegars that I can give as gifts (I bought the bottles for it a year ago!).
  6. Wean Raine from videos. This is my ultimate I'm-such-a-lousy-mom issue. I always said pre-Raine that I would never let my kid get hooked on TV and videos and computer games, but I find myself relying on videos to keep her busy while I go do other stuff. I want to do stuff like go on nature walks, bring her to Museo Pambata, make homemade clay and finger paint.
  7. Look into homeschooling. I know it's a bit early, but I want to stimulate Raine's mind. And this dovetails with #6.
  8. Exercise. Kickboxing or swimming--I just need to get into the groove. I want to lose that final 16lbs that's been hanging around for over a year!
  9. Revamp my wardrobe. After I see the effects of #8.
  10. Make soap again. I want to make that Oh Baby! bar for Raine. And The Hubby wants that Great Mornings bar. I want that Rix Trix and people are looking for Honey Oatmeal. So even if I don't sell them anymore, I can just make for my own use.

I better stop at ten for now. Otherwise, it'd be unmanageable. This blog post also happens to be my entry to the Moleskine Philippines Giveaway. I hope to win! That gorgeous paper! I am so addicted to notebooks and Moleskines are the best.

The Moleskine Notebook is courtesy of Avalon.PH
http://www.viloria.com/go/go.php/avalonph

For the Viloria.net contest rules, please see
Viloria.net

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Schizophrenic Conversations with God

I was in the shower early this morning, pondering my to-do list, which is possibly longer than Raine, when a voice popped into my head. What about the other things you really want to write?, it said.

While I didn't drop to my knees in awe, I did pause my vigorous shampooing, "Are you talking to me, God?" A heartbeat later, "Or am I just talking to me?" It didn't help my confusion any when the soundtrack in my mind started warbling dito baaaaa ang sulok kong takdaaaaa sa ilalim ng araaaaaaw... (semi literal translation: is this my spot under the sun?); which made me think that either my inner jukebox is a closet baduy or the neighbor's YesFM is more insidious than I originally suspected.

The past three months have been hectic, and in the midst of deadlines, coordination, hunting down writers and photographers, conceptualizing editorial lineups, proofreading, researching, writing, editing, counting words and counting toes (when Raine insists on sitting on my lap), I received two very flattering offers (and no, they weren't from The Hubby).

The first was from this huge magazine publishing company. I'm doing a mockup issue for them, a sort of Magazine Lite--all the articles without the ads--to see if it's a viable new title. They offered me the Editor-in-Chief position when the mag goes to print next year. This is the stuff that dreams are made of. Mine anyway. I've been working, thinking, breathing, writing, conceptualizing magazines for nearly a decade. To be EIC of a real magazine, a commercial-sell-to-the-public magazine (my magazine work has largely been custom magazines, not consumer) is wow. I've been wanting to head my own magazine, to give it direction, to share my passion with readers. And working with this publishing company is a great opportunity.

But. Yup, there's that big but (and I don't mean mine). It will take all my time and energy. I know it will. Friends who work in that company (or even in the publishing industry), much as they enjoy it, admit that there isn't much of them left for anything else. So where would that leave The Hubby and Raine? Sure I'd be making good money; I'll be in a creative (but cutthroat) environment; I'll be doing things I'm good at and I enjoy--but what are my priorities?

After much prayer and discussions with The Hubby and playing "What Ifs", I said no. And it felt good, sort of, turning down that fantastic opportunity. I could feel a sense of reassurance, a sense that God has something better planned for me. Then came the second offer.

This time it was from my long-time client, whose annual watch magazine I've been doing for more than a decade. He knows that I don't want to work full time, so he offered me a full time-part time job. I'd report to the office once or twice a week, and I'd work at home at my own discretion the rest of the time. I'd be working on the magazine, and basically the other stuff that he regularly farms out to me. I'm pretty much steeped in the watch culture, so while I'm no expert, I am passably knowledgeable. So the work wouldn't be that hard. And I like my client; he and his company are one of my favorites. They're generous, easy to work with and we respect each other's capabilities. Again, it would be a great opportunity. While it will still take up a lot of my time and energy, it wouldn't be as deadly as the EIC position. And it would help with the finances, cover the tuition and school fees of Raine (been thinking of sending her to play school twice a week, but The Hubby said we can't afford it yet).

I was discussing this new offer with my mom last night, and I wondered if I just am looking for opportunities (or excuses) to not be a full time SAHM (stay at home mom). And I wondered if I'm not really built for pure domesticity. I have all these domestic plans in my head--I'll bake cookies and make flavored oils and vinegars for gifts; I'll make soap again; I'll organize the family finances; I'll revolutionize the way we do the grocery; I'll homeschool Raine--but I never do any of them because there's always something else for me to do. Some article I had to write. Some expert I had to interview. Some book I had to read to unwind (it IS crucial to have some me time). In theory, if I quit my writing gigs, or at least did less, I'd have more time to act on all these plans. Theoretically. And so If I accepted this offer, it goes back to having no time to do anything.

I suppose I was still subconsciously playing around with these possibilities in the shower this morning, when I heard that voice in my head. What about the things you really want to write? Because if I'd have no time for SuperWife/SuperMom stuff, what more for those personal things that I've been dreaming of writing? Right now, I write for a living. I write what people tell me to write. And what I want to write for myself--the children's stories, the essays, the short stories, the novel, the blog post even--they've withered into vague, colorless ideas at the back of my head.

What about the things you really want to write? Is that God reminding me to wait on his perfect timing? Because He promised that I would write something great. Something that will be remembered. And I wrestled a promise out of Him that I would publish a book of my own.

I guess it's hard to shake off that saying that 'God helps those who help themselves'. He doesn't really. He helps those who have faith in him. It's a fine, fine line between helping yourself and acting in faith.

So what do I do now? What about those things that I really want to write? Are you talking to me, God? Or am I just talking to me?

Friday, August 15, 2008

From Hair to Eternity

My hair and I have always had this uneasy alliance. I keep it relatively clean and healthy; and it covers my head. I suppose if I exerted more effort at styling, my hair and I could be best friends: It would be shiny, soft and en vogue, and I would look effortlessly glam. But alas. Like my drawing skills, my hairdressing talent is woefully lacking.

I try, I really do. When I was in grade school, I had this clump of hair by that whorl (puyo, I think it’s called) that refused to stay down flat on my scalp. It was like a perpetual wave on an otherwise calm sea of hair. I would wet it constantly (gel and mousse were still beyond my ken) but it would pop back up. In frustration (and in typical Ree-fashion) I grabbed a pair of scissors and hacked off that stubborn clump of hair. Now I had an inch-and-a-half wide clearing right on top of my head, with spikes sticking straight up. My aunt promptly dubbed me “Chicken Head”. Till I graduated sixth grade my mom would always fix my hair—ponytail, clips, and my favorite: the French braid. My frustration was that no matter how tight and neat she made it, by lunch break, strands would escape everywhere, making me look so untidy. Worse, they’d be all over my face; and there’s nothing I hate more (well, actually, a lot) than having hair in my face.

Fast forward to high school, where I had to stay in a dorm, six hours away from my hair-fixing mom. This was the era of Aqua Net and other cement-hard hairsprays; when towering bangs were a badge of honor (and a sign that you woke up early); and you walked downwind so an errant breeze wouldn’t knock your hairdo over. Again, my hair got the better of me; those pesky bangs wouldn’t just do what I wanted. In another pique, I grabbed some scissors (they are so dangerous to have around when my hair isn’t cooperating), grabbed my hair in a bunch in the middle of my forehead and slashed straight across. This time my roommate, Leah, nicknamed me “Padre Salvi” (if you ever read Noli Me Tangere, then you can imagine the hugging-the-edge-of-the-hairline-upside-down-U-bowl-shaped-typical-monk cut).

I’ve tried permed hair, long hair, bobbed hair, shorter-than-my-husband’s hair—rarely can I sustain a fantastic hairstyle beyond the few hours out of the salon. My friend, Mich—makeup artist extraordinaire—once cut my hair and it looked great for a time (incidentally, Mich did my maternity portrait makeup—she disguised my bloated nose and yucky skin and made me look so sexy and glam) then it was gone. There was a time, when I was pregnant with Raine, when my client, Keren, commented, “Parang di ka buntis—you’re so stylish!” After giving birth, my hair was up in clips or a scrunchi until I had it chopped off. Now it’s growing back—too long to stay out of my face, too short to keep in a ponytail. I look like Princess Di in the 80s. All that’s missing are the shoulder pads.

I desperately want to cut my hair. I don’t think I can survive long hair now. It’s just too much to care for. I just have to find somewhere to have it cut. Is it too much to ask that the hairstylist at least look at me well—at my face shape (I think it’s square, currently rounded out and padded at the cheeks), at my glasses, my head shape, whatever—and really try to suggest cuts that would work well? Is it too much to ask that they ask me what my lifestyle is, if I even own a blow dryer (I used to have one, but it was only used for drying the dogs after their bath), if I have the patience to style my hair (no, I don’t)? Usually, they just say, “Anong gupit? Ay, gusto mo magpa-hot oil?” And till recently, “Saan ka nagpapakulay ng buhok?” Oh, one thing about my hair I love is the color—it’s a mix of light, dark and reddish brown, and it usually changes shades with the seasons. I’m so happy Raine has my hair color. But back to ranting: do you have to pay exorbitant sums to get that kind of treatment at a salon? And even if you pay so much, is it a guarantee that they treat you nicely? I hate snooty salon staff, people who make you feel like, “OMG—who is this creature that the cat dragged in? The cat’s hair looks better!”

Aside from Gemini in Baguio—he’s been cutting my hair since second grade—I haven’t found any hairstylist I can pledge loyalty to. And I desperately need one now. I mean, Gemini is in Baguio—I’m not traveling all the way up to Baguio just for a haircut (when I do go to Baguio, I always plan a trip to Gemini). And last time I was there, I showed Gemini photos of Halle Berry and all these other Hollywood stars’ short ‘dos and he flipped through his catalogue and showed me some old photo of Maricel Soriano—the same one he showed me two years before!—and said, “Yan. Yan ang bagay sa yo!” Well, there’s no denying he knows me and my hair, and when Gemini cuts, it always grows out nicely. But I think I’m ready for a change.

So where to go for that change? And what kind of change? I think Katie Holmes and I have the same face structure (she just has a nicer nose and less padding by the cheeks). So will this suit me?

The Hubby says it’s obviously styled—the fact that it looks so artlessly windblown is proof. And that means I’d have to have it cut often (I guess one reason I can never develop a lasting relationship with my hairdresser is that I’d prefer to see him or her like once a year—that’s all I have patience for). And it will eventually get into my eyes and be all over my face. But I think it looks fab. Where can I go for something like this? How much will it cost?

I’m going up to Baguio next week…and I’ll probably end up at Gemini’s.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Birthday Gift

After nearly a month, The Hubby finally found the perfect birthday gift for me. He was thinking of an iPod Touch, but I guess he realized that while I'd enjoy it for a bit, I'm not the techie-gadget type, and I'd never maximize its features. So instead, yesterday, he got me a wetsuit.

Oh joy joy joy. We've been taking scuba diving lessons together (thanks to my uber generous seester, who gifted both The Hubby and me with the lessons) and I am having loads of fun. For one thing, getting my diver's license has been on my to-do list. First it was on my list of Things To Do Before I Turn 25. Then I had to move it to my Things To Do Before I Turn 30 list. Then it got bumped off to my Things To Do Before I Get Married list. Then finally to my Things To Do Before I Die list. So thank you, seester dear, because I didn't have to move it my Pros and Cons of Raine's Education list or my Things To Ask God When I See Him list.

Next, it's been quite a while since The Hubby and I did something new together. When we started dating, we went wall climbing, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, food tripping and all that. Now our lives mostly revolve around domesticity. Not that I'm complaining, but I truly miss that adrenaline rush and those adventures we had together. I'm so glad he agreed to go diving with me. I hope, after we get our licenses, that we actually go diving!

But back to my birthday gift. Joe, our instructor, brought it last night and asked if I wanted to try it on. The Hubby had to sort of stuff me into it. It's even worse than squirming and jumping into skinny jeans, because you have to get it all the way up to your neck. And it definitely is the most unforgiving of all outfits. I looked like a PVC pipe with a thick layer of vulcaseal somewhere around the middle. Or like a butete. After our pool session and it was time to strip off, and The Hubby unzipped me, I could actually feel my flesh spreading. On a more positive note, when I wear it like divers do between dives--with just the legs on and the top unzipped and folded over by the waist--I look passably good.

I've told The Hubby it's time to launch Operation Wetsuit, where the objective is to get into a wetsuit in less than 15 minutes and actually look sleek in it. The Hubby actually thought of going for a run yesterday. So we're off to a good start.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Budding Art Connoisseur

The other day I drew this for Raine:
And she took one look at it and signed cat! I was so happy. Her appreciation of works of art is phenomenal. This, however, was beyond her:

It's a duck, people.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Brownies and Life

Yesterday I taught Raine one important life skill: how to scrape off brownie batter from the bowl and how to lick the spoon (and her fingers) clean. She's such a quick study. She immediately took the bowl from me, sat herself down at her small table and licked the bowl so it looked like you didn't even have to wash it (and in inverse proportion, got herself all dolled up in chocolate).

Sure, this seems so inconsequential. Silly and useless even. Or stroke-inducing, for the OC people and neatniks out there. But what did I really teach her? Well, I hope she learns that life is meant to be enjoyed, even while working. That she should stop and savor those moments of accomplishments (like getting the brownies in the oven), before moving on to the next task (like cleaning up after). I want her to know that she shouldn't take herself too seriously; that's it's OK to be messy once in awhile. I want her take pleasure in the mundane. I want her to see the joy in everything. I want her to be grateful that God gave us such a rich, gorgeous world, and he gave us the senses to experience it fully--from the rich aroma of baking brownies to the warmth coming from a lit oven on a rainy day to the decadently fudgy chocolate melting on your tongue.
I want my daughter to live life to the fullest, knowing that there is a God out there who cares enough to think about the little things like enjoying freshly baked brownies on a cold day.

I pray that Raine will appreciate and come to love all the brownie batter bowls (and I mean that literally and figuratively) that life will send her way. That's the life skill that I want her to learn.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Biker Chicks--The Prequel

Way before Rix got her motorcycle and before that fateful Biker Chick episode, I got us a couple of mountain bikes first. Now that I think back, I realize the foolhardiness of youth. I mean, I am not the best biker in the world. Or in the neighborhood. Or even in a 100-meter radius (unless my mom is with me). I don't even know why I biked. Each biking excursion left me wiped out from a mixture of fear and exhilaration. But bike we did; Rix and I really went places with those mountain bikes.

We lived near the Buendia end of Leveriza, and Harrison Plaza was a short jeep ride or a calorie-burning walk away. We were aimlessly wandering around Harrison one day and we saw "Buy-One-Take-One" on mountain bikes at Toby's and I still have no idea how she did it, but Rix convinced me that it would be a fantastic idea to get ourselves bikes. I think she used lines like, "Think of all the places we can go to!" and "It's good exercise!" and "It's fun!" and "It's cheap!"

Let me digress here a moment--so we got the "cheap" bikes and soon after, we were becoming regular customers at the Cartimar bike shops; so much so that our bikes were hardly the ones we started with. And eventually we traded in our bikes and added twice what we first paid for them to get spiffier bikes. By then I realized that I would never be Lance Armstrong, and I refused to spend a single peso more on my bike. Rix, though, really souped up her bike and used to bike to and from UP! And as with the motorcycle, I settled for vicarious biking thrills. I would say, "Oh my sister bikes to school and back," in such a way that you'd think I was there pedalling with her.

Anyway.

So from Harrison, we biked back to the apartment. And I remembered that the last time I biked on anything with only two wheels was a decade ago. And that was in a controlled environment, with no silly pedestrians who think that the road is the place to be; no maniacal car drivers whose sole mission in life seems to be terrorizing those on vehicles with half the number of wheels; no oops-did-I-just-run-into-something jeep and truck and bus drivers; no biker-unfriendly things littering the road, like parked cars, trash cans and sign posts. But we made it home safely, and began to plan our next trips.

We biked to church (Union Church on Rada St.), and it always made for a more worshipful experience--I fervently thanked God each time for still being alive. We biked around the CCP Complex; we even went around Intramuros several times. And one time I got a flat right outside Intramuros and we couldn't find any vulcanizing shop and I had to walk my bike all the way home while Rix biked in circles around me.

Once, on impulse (naturally), we decided to meet a friend one afternoon at our Kuya's gaming shop in BF Paranaque, passing Roxas Boulevard, then the Airport Road. We figured it couldn't be that far. I guess in our minds we were thinking of Merville, not quite realizing that BF is way, way, way past that. And on the way we encountered more of those silly pedestrians milling around the road. I sort of almost ran down one guy--not my fault; I called out 'excuse me' and he didn't listen!--and he kinda got surprised and possibly to save face, he yelled at me something like, "Gago ka! Bulag ka ba?" and I felt like getting off my bike and yelling back at him, "Hoy, ikaw ang bulag, GAGA ako!" But stopping gracefully and getting off the bike was something I hadn't quite mastered yet. We made it to BF in two hours. I think. And we made our friend drive us back home.

But the most memorable by far--and the most fun, in a weird way--was when we biked along Manila Bay in the middle of a typhoon. Fine. At the tail end of a typhoon. It was one of those slow moving storms, and we were cabin-fevered, cooped up in the house for days. On the third day, we peeked out (like Noah) and saw that the wind had let up a bit and it was still raining, but not as hard. So what's a little rain, right? We headed out to an eerily empty Buendia then on to Roxas, where we saw the waves slamming against the wall, sending massive sprays of sea water onto the sidewalk and street.

We felt like we were in some kind of man-against-nature movie. I mean picture it. We were the only ones out (only brave ones or only foolish ones, you decide) on the road. The rain was coming down in sheets, the wind whipping us, monster waves out to get us--stopped only by that wall--and further drenching us. We were screaming our heads off each time a wave hit the wall. We felt invincible! I would have raised my arms over my head as we biked down Roxas, or spread them out, like Meg Ryan in City of Angels, except that I would have most likely lost balance and toppled over.

We were thoroughly enjoying pitting ourselves against the sea. Then we saw it. First it was one supot. Followed by another. And another. Then we saw tsinelas. When we got to the end of the wall, we saw a whole mountain of trash being spit out by the sea. We continued screaming our heads off--this time with a different tone, and as much as possible, with our mouths closed.

I think the sea and Mother Nature had the last laugh.

Friday, June 27, 2008

TRUTH THURSDAYS: I Wish...

Inspired by Stef's Truth Thursdays prompt.

I wish I knew why there always seems to be a shoe in the middle of the road. Drive anywhere here in Manila, and sooner or later you will see a shoe. A single, forlorn shoe. Sometimes it's a sneaker; sometimes a serious leather lace-up type; often it's a sandal or slipper. Whatever kind it is, it makes you wonder how it got there. And why, oh why, is there always only one?

Did the person wearing it dart across the road, like foolishly lazy pedestrians are wont to do, and the shoe just came off and the person was too scared to run back to the middle of the road to retrieve it? Or maybe he was riding a motorcycle and a pothole jerked the shoe off his foot. Or perhaps, like Hansel and Gretel, she was just leaving a trail her star crossed lover could follow as her furious parents carted her away?

The Hubby and I also have this theory that it's all part of MMDA's "Bawal Tumawid. Nakakamatay" campaign. These solitary shoes in the middle of a busy street subliminally underscore the message. As in, see--all that's left of the pasaway crosser is this shoe...do you want this to happen to you? We have images of the blue MMDA trucks making midnight runs, dropping shoes at strategic points; and of MMDA enforcers radioing the base, "Wala nang sapatos sa EDSA-Magallanes, over."

Naturally, my mom and sisters find this hilarious, and have quickly adopted this MMDA-shoe theory as their own. Once, my mom texted me, "I think MMDA has been training the people here in Baguio...we saw a shoe on Kennon Road."

Is it a conspiracy for road safety? Is it a mystery that will never be solved? I wish I knew.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

TRUTH THURSDAYS: Sometimes I...

From Stef's Truth Thursdays post. I skipped last week's prompt, so will try to be on time with this week's.

Sometimes I wonder if I have any depth or substance to me at all. I have minimal interest in current events unless it directly affects me like, right now, here where I am standing. I can't knowledgeably discuss politics, economics or give an intellectual analysis of such. I can discuss in detail, though, the pros and cons of ProKids vs Huggies Pull-Ups; and I can identify a goony bird on sight (at least I think so).

Sometimes I think the world revolves around me. And everything is about me, and what I do or don't do.

Sometimes I wonder how I can call myself a writer, when I don't sit down everyday and write. Maybe I'm really a dreamer, who dreams of being a writer. Or I'm just a plain reader who dabbles in writing.

Sometimes I feel like I'm such a fake Christian. A poseur who goes to church regularly and prays at mealtimes and spouts things like "God bless you," and "Be still before God." But if you look deep inside you'd find something dark and sinister. The amazing thing is though, God loves me just the same.

Monday, June 02, 2008

TRUTH THURSDAYS: My Worry Today…

Inspired by Stef's Truth Thursdays prompt.

I worry that I'm not a good enough mother. That I'm not stimulating enough. Not patient enough. Not loving enough. I don't teach her enough. That I don't discipline enough: she'll grow up to be a spoiled brat like those spoiled brats that I hate and whose parents I blame for their lack of discipline and now I've become one of them. I worry that I don't put enough sunscreen. That I don't feed her right. That her knees are dry and her legs full of bruises from bumping into things as she walks around (so like me!) and marks from mosquito bites because I don't put enough insect repellant and she'll grow up and won't have the chance to be Ms. Universe because her knees are dry and her legs are spotty. I worry that she'll grow up vain because I can't help but exclaim, "Oh you're so pretty! You're so cute! You're totally adorable!" because I can only tell the truth and I'm her mother and she really is. I worry that she isn't speaking yet because I don't talk to her enough and I'd rather read a book by myself than read to her sometimes and I can't keep up a running commentary on every single thing we're doing like the books say I should. I worry about her character. That she won't get it about the fruit of the spirit because maybe she doesn't really see it from me. I worry about her relationship with God: how will she believe me when I tell her we should put God above all else, and that we should rely on Him totally when I run around trying to solve everything myself. I worry that her teeth are going to get cavities because I still let her breastfeed to sleep and she still wants milky in the middle of the night. I worry that it will be hard to get her to sleep in her own bed because she thinks that she belongs in our bed, with her Daddy and me, and I shouldn't have agreed to let her co-sleep with us in the first place since she was doing so well in the crib. I worry that she has dandruff because she loves pulling her hair and scratching her head. That when I trim her hair, it will grow back straight and her beautiful curly hair will be gone forever. I worry that I'm forcing her to be independent too soon. I worry that I won't let her go. I worry, I worry, I worry.

Friday, May 23, 2008

TRUTH THURSDAYS: My Body is Holding Back...

Another entry inspired by Stef's Truth Thursday prompt. And I'm getting better; it's only Friday.

My body is holding back energy and a lot of productive output. My body is a firm believer (or marshmallowy believer, if you want to be more accurate) in Newton's first law of motion. Inertia has become my enemy.

I have so many plans and ideas--most of them brilliant, really--but not much comes to fruition. Say my mind has this fabulous idea on how to fix the house, and all these images of tastefully decorated rooms float around my head, and I can picture Real Living magazine giving me a call, they want to shoot the house for their next cover, and I can hear everyone ooh-ing and aah-ing over the beautifully done interiors and I'm raring to go get started, and my body says (aided by a traitorous part of my brain), "Wait, there are about 50 billion more pages to surf, you have to get more tips on how to decorate the house, and besides you need the budget to get all the stuff you want, so you have to go shopping, if and when you get the budget, and that means you have to get a babysitter for Raine, and of course, that all depends if The Hubby does give you the budget...so just stay in that seat and surf." And my body just won't budge.

Same thing happens with my cooking gourmet meals, baking scrumptious cookies and cakes, taking lessons for driving or cooking or writing, writing my next blog or short story or article, or whatever amazing thing I have in mind. Sometimes I do get mind over matter (if you don't mind, then it doesn't matter--hee) and I manage to accomplish something, then I run out of momentum. Newton's law again!

I need an outside force to continuously keep me in motion. Help!

Friday, May 16, 2008

TRUTH THURSDAYS: My Body is Holding Onto...

From Stef's Truth Thursdays prompt. And yes, I know it's Saturday already.


My body is holding onto its former glory. Or at least the memory of it. Gone are the days when I could (and would) strut around in short shorts and mini skirts, in belly-baring tops and unforgiving bodyhugging catsuits. I no longer turn heads as I pass by. Fortunately, people don't turn tail and run away yet when they see me coming.

As The Hubby would say, women reach their peak at 25, then it's all downhill from there (so it's a good thing The Hubby and I hooked up when I was 25). Eight years and about 25 pounds later, I'm still sliding down that slope, silently screaming.

But my body has been through a lot, the most recent being childbirth and breastfeeding (and I maintain that five of those excess pounds are all boobs and milk), sleepless nights (and days) and everything else that comes with wifehood and motherhood. So while my body looks back fondly, and sometimes sadly, at its old self, it's learning to adjust to its new self, and learning to look at it with a new sense of pride. From beach goddess, I am now a domestic goddess.

Still, losing that extra poundage wouldn't hurt. Oh well.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What's Cookin'

I love food. I adore eating. I live to eat (as opposed to The Hubby, who usually eats to live). Consequently, I enjoy cooking and baking. Most times anyway.
So this love affair with food got me out of bed at 5AM last Saturday, and out of the house by 7AM, for a cross country trek to the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA) on Katipunan. My friend Ruby invited me to join her and a group of her friends for a Kitchen Discovery Class (KDC). Supposedly for cooking and baking enthusiasts and those who want to check out what happens in a professional kitchen or those who are thinking of going into Culinary Arts, the KDC is a 6-hour course that "introduces you to the exciting foodservice and hospitality industry".

As far as introductions go, it was like being introduced to a prince. Or maybe some mid-level duke (is there such a thing?). I mean, at the end of the day, we were supposed to have learned to make Caramelized Salmon with Orange-Shoyu Glaze with Sauteed Mixed Vegetables, Soba Noodles, Lemongrass Beurre Blanc and Balsamic-Soy Reduction; plus Saffron Panna Cotta with Citrus Caramel Sauce and Almond Tuile. As our chef-instructor Menoy Gimenez said, quite a mouthful. Then again, I don't suppose you'd pay P3,800 (the cost of the KDC, if I paid for it myself) to learn how to cook sinigang or fried chicken.

Speaking of the chef-instructor, I was hoping for Chef Rob from QTV's Chef to Go. Yummy! Unfortunately, he doesn't teach at CCA. Ruby said that Chef Tristan Encarnacion, he of the countless Alaska and pots-and-pans print ads, could be teaching (pretty acceptable). But we ended up with Chef Menoy, and I loved him. Just like our balsamic-soy reduction, he managed to reduce what felt like 20 pages of recipe ingredients and instructions into its simple, palatable essence.

For someone who is one of the founders of the first (I think) culinary school in the country, Chef Menoy reminds me of a big bowl of sundried-tomato-and-broccoli pasta: slightly exotic but very comforting; intimidating at first, but once you get used to him, very encouraging. He broke down the complex instructions into easy-to-digest steps, punctuated every now and then by "Does that make sense?" Explained the way he did, things did make more sense.

I won't go into a blow-by-blow (or bleu by bleu, if you prefer) account of our three cooking hours. But at the end, we had a fantastic tasting, beautifully plated salmon.
Fine, I'm not the best food photographer, but our salmon really did look nice. And it was yummy. As Chef Menoy says, the test to see if the dish is any good: would I pay for it? Hmm. If I weren't such a chennybopper, yes, I would.
I didn't stay for the afternoon Panna Cotta session (I heard that it was a blast) since I promised Raine I'd take her swimming in the afternoon. Would have been nice to learn how to make those fancy tuiles (can't even pronounce it).
I wish I was able to take home what we prepared though (each group of five had two salmon pieces--not enough to go around, especially if you eat the way I do). Oh, and I wanted to take home their knives! Such joy chopping up things with a sharp knife. What I did get to take home was my CCA shirt, a nice apron (perfect, as Ruby says, for preparing instant noodle soup), a hand towel and a skull cap (I guess you get the toque when you're seriously cooking). And I got a CCA certificate. Will have it framed and hung in my kitchen.
I am looking forward to their classes in Serendra though, mainly because it's so much nearer (I can't imagine getting up and making the cross country trek on a regular basis). JB, who's on CCA's marketing team described some pretty interesting courses called "Chefs and the (Global) City". It isn't hands on, more like a cooking show type of thing--but you get to eat whatever's prepared. Oh joy.
I do hope CCA has more hands on classes somewhere closer to home. Here in my house, preferably. Their Kitchen Discovery Class has sure whet my appetite for more.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What I'm Reading and What Else Should I Read

My book drive has been pretty effective. I now have a small stack of books to read. I'm starting to not miss my other books too much.

So far, in my pile I have:
  1. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer. Recommended and lent by my sister Ro-Ann. It's book three in the Twilight series, which will soon be a movie. Fine, it's sort of a teenybopper series, and I sort of cringe reading some parts, but it is intriguing. I'm not sure I'll enjoy this third book though, since I'm rooting for Jacob, not Edward (get into the Twilight craze to see who I'm talking about!).
  2. Raising Lifelong Learners by Lucy Calkins. Lent by my sister in law Lelay. She got it from her dad before her son Third was born. He's now 6 years old, and she hasn't read the book! Let's see how old Raine will be when I do get to finish reading this.
  3. Practical Soups; Practical Wok & Stir-Fry; Pasta; Curries & Tajines; Spaghetti; Appetizers; Chocolate. A plethora of recipe books, also from Lelay. I love reading cookbooks. Sometimes, I even try out the recipes! The one I'm really checking out now is the soup book, since Raine has developed a liking for soup, and I sort of am getting nilaga/tinola/sinigang/Chinese soup/instant mami fatigue. The other day I modified one of the recipes and made a luscious, if rather watery, carrot and potato soup. Raine loved it! I want to try making truffles (from the chocolate book) next.
  4. The Best Philippine Short Stories of the Twentieth Century edited by Isagani R. Cruz. Gift from The Hubby last Christmas, and I've been reading it slowly. It's a really hefty book, so it's hard to read while lying down in bed (or on the couch or wherever), and it's hard to haul around in your bag for emergency reading. Now I leave it in the bathroom, where I can read a few pages during "library time". Now The Hubby gets to enjoy it too.
  5. The Poetry of Pablo Neruda. Another gift from The Hubby. And again, another hefty book. So after the short story anthology, this goes into the bathroom next.
  6. What to Expect in the Toddler Years. Finally got a copy in Booksale at less than half the price in National! Yet another hefty tome. Then again, it's meant to be read in stages. So expect this to be on my bedside table for months to come (couple of years, actually).

As for recommendations, Djong has suggested The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Will try to look for a copy.

Any other suggestions, donations, gifts or books to lend?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

If I Won P100,000 SM Shopping Money

Got a text the other day, telling me I have some raffle points and the prize is a hundred grand shopping money at SM. That got me thinking—if I won (though my chances are slim, since I didn’t join the raffle), what would I buy? Well, here’s my shopping list:

  1. Bed for Raine. We still co-sleep. Last week, I was sleeping in between The Hubby and Raine, and I had to lie there like a log, with my arms growing numb raised over my head. I haven’t quite figured out how to move Raine into her own bed though, and if it goes into her own room…Forgot where I saw this bed that’s convertible from crib to toddler bed to full bed. It also has built in drawers and desk. Kinda pricey. Estimated cost: P15,000.
  2. Vacuum cleaner. Definitely need one. Looks like Raine has inherited my dust allergies. The wet-dry, heavy duty one looks like the perfect one, so we can clean screens as well. Estimated cost: P9,000.
  3. New mattress for us. Of course I’d love that Tempur-something that costs as much as a house. But I’d settle for a nice Uratex one. Our current mattress has permanent dips; it’s like a hill, with a peak at the middle and down slopes at each side. Would love some new sheets and comforters as well. Estimated cost: P20,000.
  4. Car seat for Raine. She’s rapidly outgrowing her current one. Estimated cost: P15,000.
  5. Mirror for our bathroom. The Hubby comes to the room to shave. Enough said. Estimated cost: P3,000.
  6. Curtains. So we can change this set which is wash-and-rehang-immediately. Estimated cost: P4,000.
  7. Bakeware. I don’t really know how much these things cost, and I have no idea what I really need. But since I’m fantasy shopping anyway, I will set aside a budget and see what I can buy with it. Silicone stuff most likely. Estimated cost: P8,000.
  8. Clothes for me! I haven’t bought anything fashionable in ages. Last article of clothing I bought was a pair of shorts. I need shoes! Dresses! Tops! Pants! Skirts! A new bikini! A bikini coverup! More tops! More shoes! Estimated cost: P10,000.
  9. Clothes for The Hubby. Though I shop for The Hubby’s clothes more than I do for me (me – 0; Hubby – 4), I’d still want to get him some stuff. Estimated cost: P6,000.
  10. Clothes and toys and stuff for Raine. Ehehe. Can’t help it. Love getting her stuff, even if she has tons. Estimated cost: P5,000.
  11. Stuff for the rest of the family. Share the blessings! Estimated cost: whatever’s left. Ehehe. Am I bad?

Goodbye, Beloved

They came to pick up my beloved books today. I decided to donate them to a community reading room in a seamen's village in Cavite. I was saving them for my own reading room project, but since I don't think that's happening any time soon, those books will be better off with other people enjoying them.

More space for new books then. I welcome donations. :D

Hmm. Let's make it a game. Send me a book (or at least suggest a title of a book) you think I should read. :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

More Baby Stuff I Love

In a way, motherhood is easier in my generation, because of all the cool baby gadgets and gizmos we have (but whether it's easier to raise kids now than in our moms' generation is a different story). My favorite things so far (aside from the stuff in my last post):

  1. Angel Toothbrush. This is like a cross between teether and toothbrush. It can, according to the packaging, clean 10 teeth at a time and clean all six surfaces. Since Raine only has three teeth, and I never knew teeth have six surfaces (I can account for only five), I am duly impressed. It's also easy to use, since Raine likes it and I don't have to force her to use it (unlike that finger brush I tried before--had to force my finger into Raine's mouth, which is scary to do now because her teeth are really sharp). I stick it in the freezer to help soothe her gums. She just has to bite it to clean her teeth. Now my main challenge is remembering to make her brush her teeth.

  2. Jar of Hope Gel. 100% organic and created by the mompreneurs of Indigo Baby. My kind of thing! I use Jar of Hope for everything, from diaper rash (well, almost rash--I put this at any sign of reddening) to insect bites. I also put it on bungang araw, scratches, Raine's gums and any bumpy skin. Works pretty well. My only complaint is that it's more watery than gel-like, but they said they're reformulating it to deal with that (they reply immediately!). It's best kept in the ref--feels good when you put it on sunburnt skin.

  3. Shoo Fly Insect Repellant. I love the smell of this. Also from Indigo Baby, this is 100% organic as well. Works well, isn't sticky and makes skin feel smooth after.

  4. Praise Baby Collection VCD. I try not to let Raine watch TV (though we both watch American Idol. Ehehe. Now, when I sing to her, she claps) and I limit her videos. Among her allowed videos, this is her favorite. It has well-loved praise and worship songs, and it shows stuff she loves--babies and kids playing, furry animals, balls and fish. She can pick her video out of a pile. She gives it to me than she starts dancing--her sign that she wants to watch.

  5. Huggies Pull Up Pants. Makes diaper changing so much easier! At night, or for long stretches between diaper changes, I still use Pro-Kids, since Huggies doesn't absorb as much.

  6. J&J Top-to-Toe Wash. I love the smell of the yellow one. And it's so practical for traveling--no need to bring shampoo, and no worries about sticky bars of soap.

  7. Mommy Matters Nursing Tops. I still breastfeed Raine up to now. It's healthier, saves us a bundle, and makes going out and around so much easier, without tons of equipment to haul. Nursing tops make the whole breastfeeding routine more discreet, especially in public. It's hard to look for decent and affordable nursing tops though. So I'm pretty happy with Mommy Matters. Not only do they have stylish tops, they also do home service! For a minimal fee (which is waived if you make a minimum purchase), they deliver a whole collection to your house, where you can fit and choose at your own pace, and they pick up payment and whatever you didn't get after a few days. Talk about service. I wish they had dressier tops though.
  8. Bugaboo Headband. I don't know what this furry, antennaed headband is called, but it sure made Raine get into kikay stuff. From detesting anything on her hair, she now asks to wear the Bugaboo, clips and hats.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gifts for SAHM

There was a post on one of my mailing lists a few weeks back, asking what would make a good gift for a woman who decided to be a SAHM--otherwise known as a stay-at-home-mom. Having made the transition myself (technically though, I'm a WAHM, a work-at-home-mom, since I still do rackets every now and then), here's my list of things I'd appreciate (and I'm sure other SAHMs would too):

  1. Gift certificate or voucher for a manicure and pedicure. If you can throw in a foot spa, that would simply be divine. Having your toes look pretty and well-tended, even in your pambahay tsinelas can lift your spirits, especially after a trying day. Even better, throw in a couple of babysitting hours while we grateful SAHMs go for the pedicure.
  2. Gift certificate or voucher for a massage. Carrying the baby, doing chores, running after the toddler--all these take toll on your body. A massage will be utterly orgasmic. Really. Again, add a couple of babysitting hours (or arrange for someone to do so) to make it perfect.
  3. Gift certificate or voucher for a foot massage. This is a totally separate item from a body massage. Mommies' feet take a pounding all day. Enough said.
  4. Home cleaning/organizing/decorating service. Especially for SAHMs with no helpers. Or if not a cleaning service, then some home organization or interior decorating service. I am not artistically inclined, so even after two years in this house, it still looks bland. And now that there's a baby to look after, prettifying the house is at the top of my want list but at the bottom of my to-do list. It's easy to look for someone to do the service these days, and people like Marilen Faustino-Montenegro of Color My Space even have an online store.
  5. Ready made meals. Again, for moms with no help, prepared meals are a godsend. Whenever The Hubby brings home take-out, I melt. Even if it's just Chow King. It doesn't have to be fancy, or from a restaurant; even overruns (not week old leftovers though) from your kitchen will be fine. My sister-in-law, for example, sometimes sends over some of whatever she's cooking, and I totally adore her. What can I say, the way to my heart is really through my stomach!
  6. Clothes. Not like SAHMs go anywhere much. But some nice stay-at-home clothes or more fashionable pambahay would be really appreciated. So when the husbands come home, we don't greet them in ratty shorts and t-shirts (the modern equivalent of the daster) covered with drool, spitup and crayon marks. And some going out clothes would be good too, since pre-preggy and and pre-SAHM outfits would probably not quite fit.
  7. A joyride. I really appreciate it when people give me a lift to wherever. I don't drive (something I must remedy) and The Hubby has the car anyway. So if I have to get anywhere, I commute. And I bring the baby. So it's a big deal when I get to hitch a ride with someone. And an even bigger deal when someone offers to take me wherever I need to go.
  8. A day-off. The Hubby lets me take a day-off once a week. We get our trusty old Aling Lourdes to watch Raine, I hitch out with The Hubby, and I wander around the mall to my heart's content. Alone. No baby. Pure bliss. And The Hubby gives me spending money too. In case a day off isn't feasible, then some alone time at home will suffice. Take the kids out for a walk and let the SAHM have extra time under the shower, or time to nap or just stare at the ceiling and contemplate life.
  9. Decent conversation. There are only so many times you can say, "Where's the baby?" and keep sane. And in cases like mine when there's only you and the baby for the entire day, adult conversation is like manna. So drop by your favorite SAHM's house (check for a good time though) and be prepared to listen (even if it's all about the quality and quantity of poop for the day). Adult companionship is highly appreciated. Bring a treat if you like. Oh, it would also be great if you don't expect to be served and waited on like a guest. Roll up your sleeves and help out, even if it's just to pick up toys scattered around, or clear the table of breakfast, or entertain the baby while we wash the dishes.
  10. A little hobby or project to indulge in. Be it a cross stitch sampler, a knitted scarf, a scrapbook or a decadent bobo book--any bit of free time doing something enjoyable and non-SAHM-related is a great break. Sure, it may not got done immediately (maybe when the last child turns 18). But it's nice to know that in case we do get time (and energy), it's there.
  11. Something kikay. A few months after I had Raine, we had some guests over for dinner. One of them, Maricar, brought me a little kit from Ling Cosmetics, with a cleanser, toner, moisturizer and a couple of cleansing masks. "Most people bring something for the baby," she explained, "I thought that you could use something for yourself." I was so touched. Maricar is single with no kids, yet she was one of the very few who understands that yes, you are a mommy, and you adore anything for your baby. But you still want to be babied yourself, but you most likely will not get anything frivolous for yourself because you'd want to spend that money on your baby.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This Morning


It's 4:20AM. I hear giggling. I pry an eye open. Raine's huge, three-tooth grin greets me, and she squeals in delight, as if saying, "Finally! Someone else is awake!"


She's standing beside the bed, her head level with mine. "Babababa," she says as she thrusts a furry, pink sequined-antennaed hairband at me. I sit up groggily. "Oh, you want to wear your bugaboo," I say. She emphatically nods a yes. I put the hairband on her (crookedly, I think) and lay back down. She giggles and babbles some more. Then she sits down and plays with her toys in the half dark. I drift off.


It's 4:43AM. I feel something hard on my hand. My eyes open to Raine's pleading ones. I look down at my hand. She wants me to hold on to her favorite garden-themed picture frame. I oblige. It feels as if I were in a dream, playing Point to the Object. "Where's the ladybug? Where's the butterfly? Where's the flower?" I mumble. I can barely keep my eyes open to check if she does point to the right thing.


4:49AM. I can hear Raine giggling. She's peeking over me, waving at her Daddy, who turns over in his sleep. I'm still holding on to the picture frame. "It's too early to be awake, Rainey," I tell her. She yawns and goes back to playing, her twinkling antennas bouncing on her head.


At 5AM I get up to go to the bathroom. Raine crawls after me a few moments later. She teeters at the border of the bathroom and the hallway, since she's not allowed inside the bathroom. She hands me my cellphone. I thank her. She sits in the hallway, patiently waiting as I finish my business. When I get out, she lifts her arms to be carried. She's taken off her bugaboo. I bring her back to bed and we snuggle down. In a few minutes, we're both asleep.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Rock and a Hard Place -- More Party Planning Adventures

Growing up, we always celebrated my birthday at home. After school, entire class would fall in line (there were less than 30 of us) and we would walk to my house (I lived like 5 minutes away, and when I was in Kinder, I used to go home every time the teacher told us to go to the bathroom). My mom, aunts and uncle would work for weeks before my party, making invitations, decorations and party favors. I recently chatted with a grade-school classmate, and she said they so looked forward to my parties every year.


My ultimate, all-time, absolutely most favorite party was my seventh. Since I was already a bookworm way back then, my mom decided to have books as a theme. My aunt wrote and illustrated a story that worked in all the party details; then they mimeographed copies (computers and printers and all that weren't used back then); then cut up each page and hand-colored each drawing; my uncle cut up illustration board to make a cover for each book invitation, which my aunt drew on again. Imagine making more than 30 pieces of that! The giveaways were candies and little toys in a 'book' box my mom made from cardboard, with the name of each guest written on the spine. During the party the giveaways were arranged on the shelf, like a library. They cooked all the food (yes, the usual spaghetti and hotdogs and barbecue), organized all the games and did all the hosting. Only when the party was done did the adults come to pick up their kids.

Anyway, that was a rather long intro to this post on planning and executing Raine's first party. I wanted her party to be like mine, and my sisters'. I didn't want store bought stuff, or party professionals. But given that 1) Raine's guest list was huge, since it was her dedication and birthday celebration; 2) our current house wouldn't fit all the guests; and 3) even if it did, I don't think I can cook that large scale. So I settled for having it in Mario's Kitchen in Tiendesitas instead.

Mario's offered to do balloon centerpieces for the tables (for an additional fee, of course) to make it more festive, but I declined. For one thing, what will you do with the balloons after the party? I don't think they're quite environment friendly as well. And also, I am such a cheapskate. I can't imagine spending P1,200 for balloons. So in the tradition of our Baguio parties, I decided to make my own centerpieces.

I liked the idea of some friends of ours, who had their photos at the wedding reception tables. I thought it was a good idea to let people see pictures of Raine as she grew up (and besides, it was good use, other than Multiply, for the thousands of pictures I had of Raine). So I decided to make a rock-and-wire photo holder. Theoretically, it's easy to make. You get a rock, paint it, let it dry, twist wire on and voila! Artsy-craftsy photo holder. Ha! Little did I know.

For one thing, did you know that these days you have to buy rocks? I remember being able to walk around Baguio and rocks were everywhere for the picking (I can imagine myself old and in the rocking chair, saying things like, "Rocks? Rocks? Bah! In my day we didn't need to buy rocks! Oh...you were talking about socks?")! Unless, of course, I went around the village going through the neighbors' landscaped yards, you apparently can no longer pick up rocks these days. Fortunately, my in laws had a nice collection of river stones that they used in a school project (the in laws run a school in San Pablo), so they hauled the rocks from the bukid over to our house for painting.

Now painting was a different thing entirely. I mean how difficult can it be to paint a rock? In my mind, it was such a duh task. And so I kept putting off painting the rocks. Until the day before the party. My friend Stef (Raine's Tishpy--or godmother) came over to help. I am so glad she did. Because I discovered painting rocks is not that easy, especially if you're as--ahem--artistically uninclined as I apparently am. My first rock looked like a bad case of chicken pox and zits. Taking pity on me (and the rocks), Stef said, "Paint stripes...no one can go wrong with stripes." And still Stef had to coach me on how to paint stripes! Ayayay. Putting the wire on wasn't easy either; I couldn't figure out how to use the long nose pliers at first, but I eventually got the hang of it. So long story short, I ended up with only 24 out of the originally planned 40 rock photo holders (I couldn't in good conscience hold Stef hostage until she finished all the rocks).
In the end, I think they came out rather nice. Thanks so much, Stef! You are such a blessing! Oh, and Fuji Film in Glorietta had a great printing promo, so I spent half of what I expected for the prints, so that was another blessing. As I mentioned in my previous post, we have experienced such blessings and favor since Raine came into our lives. And we are grateful.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Grace and Favor (And Why You Should Listen to Your Mom)

Even before Raine was born, we were told that she would be a child of grace. And like most things of grace, Raine was definitely undeserved. I mean, how could two such grumpy people like The Hubby and myself produce such a happy, sunny child (though there are times when Raine is acting up that I scream inside my head--what did I do to deserve this? I'd scream it out loud but the neighbors might think I'm weird--and this is an entirely different topic, the stresses of motherhood)?

Aside from the grace, we've also experienced God's favor. The Hubby got a new, well-paying job that gives me the option not to work so I can focus on Raine. I also got several opportunities for my writing that still allowed me to work from home. Sort of. We discovered that The Great Aling Lourdes also makes a fantastic babysitter for Raine, so I can leave them together without worry. My mom visits us regularly, and so I get additional motherhood coaching, someone to have decent adult conversation with while The Hubby us at work, and another babysitter! The blessings go on and on.

So it's little wonder that when we celebrated Raine's first birthday and her dedication, it was filled with grace and favor. Take the venue and the food. When we started planning, my mom said in that cheerful, optimistic voice of hers, "Let's have it catered by Mario's!" And I just rolled my eyes and gave a snort. Like, hello,mom. Mario's is fine dining and expensive and we're working with a small budget...

I mean I love Mario's. Growing up in Baguio (where the original Mario's is), going to Mario's was such a treat. I remember my mom would save up so we could eat there on special occasions. And then she'd give us lessons on fine dining, like which fork to use, and how to tip the waiter (short side story: when I was about 10 years old, I got a summer job peeling potatoes at a french fry factory. With my pay, I treated my mom to lunch at Mario's. When I got the bill, my mom stopped me from counting out the exact amount and told me to give a larger bill so I had change to leave as tip). So I know the food is good. And I know that they're pricey. So I didn't even put Mario's on my list.

I started making the calls of different restaurants and caterers. It was frustrating. My main problem was I had grand visions and a small budget. And since it was March and I started party preparations late, the places with the reasonable prices were already booked (grad season!). Two and a half weeks before the party date, I finally asked my mom if we could try Mario's. "Ok," she said, "I'll call the owner." And she did. And we ended up in Mario's Kitchen, Tiendesitas. We had a fantastic brunch (they were fully booked in the afternoon), the food was great, the place looked classy, the service was good, and they worked with our budget. The churros were a hit. Lesson learned? Even when you're older and you have a kid of your own, mother knows best, oh me of little faith.


Then there's the cake. I've always loved Claycakes. Even way back when I was planning my wedding, I had my eye on Claycakes, but I never asked because they looked too expensive. Then during my Masigasig stint last year, I sort of met Karla Magbanua, the 'sugar artist' behind Claycakes. She was so nice and really down to earth. I really wanted a Claycake for Raine, because I wanted something unique (all Karla's cakes are unique--she interviews her clients so she can come up with a design that really reflects them!) and because I knew only Karla could make a Rainey cake topper the way I imagined it. But the budget held me back. Finally, my mom stepped in again. She told me that it can't hurt to ask. And so cringing with embarrassment, and prepared to be shot down, I called Karla. And God's favor was upon us again.
Karla was beyond accommodating. She was even enthusiastic! The design of the cake she created was based on Raine's giveaway book (a story I wrote--more on that later). It was perfect. The Rainey cake topper was really like Raine in her classic sitting-down-and-beaming pose. And it was scrumptious. I mean days after the party, it was still good! And the yummy, chewy icing was so mindblowing. But beyond the cake, I was really touched by her effort. She even went to Mario's to do an ocular, and explained to the staff how to serve the cake. So lesson learned? Again, listen to your mom. It doesn't hurt to ask.








Saturday, March 08, 2008

Secret Passions

I can't help it. Whenever I see perforated paper, I simply have to tear it. I do it slowly, making sure that it tears only along the dotted lines, savoring each little millimeter that daintily gives way, until I have two separate pieces with slightly ragged edges that match. I hate it when--due to faulty perforation or some wrong move of mine--I don't have perfectly ripped paper, when tiny chunks of paper mar the perforated edges. And folding over multiple pieces of paper so you can tear it in one go--sacrilege!

In public, I surreptitiously tear tickets. You're supposed to give in the entire piece, so I gently work the middle part, leaving the pieces of the ticket connected only by the last two perforated dot things at each side. I love those receipts generated by dot matrix printers--continuous forms are pure delight. And after I tear off the hole-y edges, I fold them into an origami chain. Each and every time. No matter where I am. Or whether I'm running late. I have to, otherwise some cosmic balance will be disturbed.

At home, I eagerly wait for my Readers Digest subscription. Not only because I read the magazine from cover to cover, but also because they are masters of perforated things and beyond.

If any of you subscribe to RD, then you'd know that they have this yearly raffle, and you have to send in some form that you tear off from their letter. Oh joy. More than that, you have to put stickers on the appropriate box to guarantee your raffle entry. Even better are the stickers that indicate your choice of BMW color, or whether you'd like to take your 15M in one go or over 5 years. Sometimes they have this rub-off portion, which reveals the secret number that will let you win an additional P250,000. Of course, most of the time they're also peddling something, like vegetable cookbooks and trivia books and the best romantic songs of the century all on one CD! And since I love reading brochures (and RD brochures are always well made), I enjoy that as well. It's nearly orgasmic.

The peddling I love best is when they send a whole catalogue, which comes with a sheet of product stickers and you have to tear off the product you choose and stick it on the order form. I tear the entire sheet and neatly lay out the stickers on the table as I contemplate which ones I'd like to order. Sometimes The Hubby helps me. If I'm feeling generous, I let him choose his own product (the order form is limited to maybe four items). Then we discuss our winning options, whether we'd like to receive the check privately or at a big party in a posh hotel (my choice--might as well get a free dinner out of it as well). Then I tear, sticker and scratch away. I put everything in the "Say Yes!" envelope, making sure all my documents are complete and I seal the envelope. Then I put it in my recycling bin.

I wonder why I never win in that RD raffle.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Snapshots of Raine

While I fix up in the living room, Raine signs 'milk'. I tell her to wait, since Mommy is still cleaning. She crawls up the two steps into the bedroom, and as I follow her, attempts to climb up the bed. She looks back at me and signs milk again. I oblige. Some things are more important than chores.

***

We're in the guestroom. I put her down on the floor and hand her a book. I search through the shelves. When I turn back to her, she's sitting comfortably on the sofa bed, reading. As I look at her, amazed, she looks up at me, as if to say, "What, you never seen a kid reading before?"

***

Raine and The Hubby are lolling around in bed, on opposite sides. The Hubby reaches out with his hand. "Raine, come kiss Daddy," he says. She looks at him. "Come on, Raine. Please come kiss Daddy." With as little effort as possible, she rolls over a bit and kisses his hand. Who da bum now?

***

Raine loves going through my underwear drawer, ostensibly weeding out my ratty undies. One day, I find the drawer open and not much mess. Raine is playing nearby. "I see you threw out only one panty today," I tell her as I fold and put my poor does-not-meet-Raine's-standards underwear away. She looks at me, crawls back to the drawer, flings out the panty I just put back in plus one more. Then she crawls back to what she was doing.

***

It's getting hard to feed Raine in public, as loves acrobatic feeding. She's very good at it too. She can feed upside down; sitting and bent over double; on her tummy, coming up periodically to gasp for air; on her side, with legs and arms waving in the air. But the most adventurous so far are her yoga feeding poses--she can do the downward dog and feed with ease. I think she was a future in yoga.
***
Someone gave Raine a driving toy, which looks like an abbreviated van dashboard. I find her gleefully driving: turning the steering wheel like some maniac driver dead set on mowing down pedestrians, working the stick shift with her foot. I do not look forward to the day she offers to drive me around.