Our Ride Home

A teacher once told me that there is no specific time or place for teaching.  We all know that, but then she also said that no matter how busy you are, you can still find time to teach your kids.  Even if you are doing the laundry, you can always quiz your child and shout “What is 4 x 7?” in between scrubs.

So when I had Julia, I kept this in mind and tried not to be limited to teaching after school with a study desk and with books.  When she was just 2 years old, our favorite was the “I Spy” game inside the car where I ask her to find shapes and colors.  It then evolved into more complicated colors like periwinkle, aqua, coral, yellow ochre, brick red, etc. to make it more challenging.  When she started studying near work, the travel to our house became our “game time” and the car as our new classroom.  The hour and a half of travel became an opportunity for word games like rhyming words when she was in Kinder.  She was really curious about the English language back then (probably because Filipinong Filipino kami).  Little did I know that this will help her in poetry such as this post and this for example.

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Guilty or Not Guilty?

I was browsing through my drafts folder and saw what I wrote probably around 2014. I wonder why I didn’t post? Interesting though..

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I had a dinner with my friend who was also a working mom. I was talking about what I was up to the last few months and how I was right now. Then she asked me if I still have time for Julia because she feels she doesn’t and that she sometimes feels guilty about it. I was a little bothered by that question.

That kind of made me reassess my life in a flashback. All those nights with my face burried in books or in the computer and my retreat to making my little projects. And these times Julia’s with Henry and watching TV. Should I really feel guilty?

I never felt I should until she brought it up. I always thought that as individuals we each have our own life and having a child does not necessarily mean that that should be the sole purpose of mine. As a person we have roles to fulfill, may we be single or married or a parent. It does not necessarily mean I should give up on what I want to do and spend every last second thinking I should be a hovering presence in my child’s life. It does not necessarily mean that I do not like to spend time with Julia because I do. I just don’t want to work and study and do all sort of activities important to me as a person and get questioned if I should instead be at home taking care of her.

I think we should not feel guilty at all and we should not make other mothers feel guilty as well. We should take comfort that no single moment can screw our children forever. We just have to believe that as parents we are doing the best we can for our children given the circumstances. I also believe that we should also continue to learn about the modern issues faced by families today to allow me to act and prepare for it. I learn parenting by reading articles and books, through my own childhood experiences, knowing about respect, and above all practicing moderation. I don’t know if this is the right formula but I know I love my kid and that’s enough motivation to try and do things appropriately.

Books from the Big Bad Wolf!

I seldom buy anything lately but I got tempted to go and see the Big Bad Wolf sale in World Trade Center.  This is apparently a big thing in Malaysia where you get to choose from millions of books for a discount.  The last day is on February 25 and I went last Monday, February 19.  I asked my Nanay to go with me and we left around 11pm and stayed until 2am to avoid the crowd.  I got to sleep for only an hour because I came home at 4am and woke up at 5am to prepare for the office.  Now I know how a zombie feels like.

There were a lot of Architecture and Design books that I got so overwhelmed and did not buy anything! The majority costs about 350 to 700 pesos which is a steal for hardcover books.  I wish I had more time to look. My real purpose was to buy books for Julia and Jansen.  I love their selection of creative activity books such as the press-out paper town, Winnie the Pooh tree house (I saw this from my friend Astrid’s loot), and the color magic sticker book.  I had to control myself from buying because this trip was really not included in my budget.  Iya was so excited to try out the color magic book to make her Green Tea!

I will take a picture of the finished models for the other books when we’re finished. I am so tempted to go back!

Focus for 2018

A new year (although it’s already February!).

Looking over last year’s photos, I realized that it was really uneventful. We did not travel abroad (although we had numerous beach trips), I was unable to try new things, I was unable to create any form of art, and I mostly focused my life on work and my family.  However, I  did read more about minimalism, detaching myself from wanting unnecessary material things, frugality, and saving more.  I also put this into action in the middle of the year and has dramatically helped recoup our financial loss from the years 2015 and 2016.  I was also trying to see how I can earn more by using our current asset, a little non-traditional investing, and do a little online selling.  These have taught me a lot and confirmed the need to grow up and manage our finances better.

So for the year 2018, which is also the year I will turn 40, I envisioned to focus more on myself — to take care of myself means to take care of others.  I felt that I have not been doing this in the past few years. Here are the things I wish to focus more:

  1. Healthy eating. I hope to try healthy and simple packed lunch (and merienda) for me and my family. I know that this is really daunting especially if I have no househelp, but it is also part of my choice to be frugal. Making my own packed lunch can save me from eating out and eating poorly.
  2. Travel.  Since we did not travel for 3 years, I think we can afford an out of the country vacation this year.  Nowhere fancy like a European vacation (this is the trend I see), but within Southeast Asia and within our budget.  Which reminds me, I still have to get Jansen his passport.
  3. Write. This is less about being the best writer but more about practicing being articulate. This helps me clarify thoughts, record memories, and be aware of the moment.
  4. Draw or create. I used to join Julia with her creative endeavors but lately she’s the only one waking up early in the morning and tinkering away in my workspace.
  5. Lose weight. I don’t know how to start this one because I just love to eat and I have no time for regular exercise. I need to live healthy because of my high blood pressure and headaches. There are times when I just can’t function because of my headaches and I think exercise can help change this. I also love chocolates, cakes, and anything sweet! I know regulate this but it’s just so hard to resist!
  6. Increase savings and advance payment of mortgage. With the additional side income, I would have wanted to advance payment in mortgage, however, we channelled the income to another business. It would be nice to have the ROI late this year so as to save and pay by early next year.

All of these are not attainable without a concrete translation. Making it part of my daily ritual is one way to ensure it’s fruition.

  1. Prepare packed breakfast and lunch.
  2. Include snacks.
  3. Write for 1 hour before work.
  4. Draw a sketch during lunch break.
  5. Read a chapter (or two) before bed.
  6. Exercise every Tuesday and Thursday.
  7. Eat only half a cup of rice every lunch and dinner.
  8. Avoid snacking junckfood and chocolates.
  9. Save 100 pesos a day.

But… as with any other best laid out plans, there are a few surprises.  Our travel funds are now used to renovate Henry’s old home (see older post).  I am to start saving all over again this March so that I can at least fulfil my dream to travel by November. As for the rest. I have to wait and see if I can make it work.

Construction Life

We know that renovations entail a lot of hair pulling and teeth grinding and holding your breath moments than constructing a house from scratch, more so when you are renovating an old house.  My family will move from our small apartment to my husband’s ancestral house just a few steps away.  Moving is really not a problem because we can do it anytime of the day even in pajamas.  But, we are so used to our small, minimalist surroundings that it will take time to adjust to living in a bigger space (physically, financially, and mentally).  The impetus to this whole renovation was the availability of my trusted friend and worker to start on the project.  So when he called, it just took a week and the renovation commenced even if I was not totally prepared and do not have a plan whatsoever.  How ironic, considering I am an architect.  

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Managing Expectations

I have high expectations.

I blame it on the books and articles that I have read, the posts that are on my social media newsfeed, and my firstborn whom I gauge developmental milestones.

When I had Jansen, I constantly compare him to his ate. His first tooth eruption, his ability to hold his head, the time when he first turned, and when he first spoke… or the lack of it. Julia spoke as early as 10 months and was speaking full sentences before she turned two years old.

I kept on asking my mom and dad friends when did their children utter their first word.  Of course they are within the normal schedule but they assured me that he’s just delayed. My mind is silently shouting out my frustration.  So what should a paranoid mom do? Jansen’s pediatrician recommended to have him assessed by a developmental pediatrician.

We had him assessed at age 18 months because he can’t even say mama or papa or any deliberate word.  As expected, he was delayed in speech and comprehension. The following months became busy as he undergoes tests, speech and OT assessments, and then eventually trying to find him therapists with dentist appointments at the side (his teeth deteriorated due to chocolates and sugared drinks).

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My Japanese boy in his UN costume. Photo by tita Pau

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Christmas Dance Recital

It has been a while since Julia’s last recital.  I have been internally deliberating since November if she should join this year. It’s not really easy to say yes because apart from it being expensive (I have to pay more than her ballet tuition for one semester), we have to commit to attending practices.  It was too late when I realized that this was also the time of periodical exams and Christmas parties.  But since I already promised her that she could join this year, I have to bear being her chauffeur, eat fast-food lunches and dinners, and go through the horrendous Christmas traffic.

But.

Even if I have to endure all these, it was very fulfilling to see her dance on stage.  The recital was held in the Meralco Theater on a Sunday evening.  She has improved a lot since her baby ballet days. I just hope that she continues to love ballet and I will be here to support her as long as she wants.  The only downside of this was not being able to bring Jansen because he’s still too young (boo hoo!).

When I asked her if she wants to be in the recital…

Iya: Mahal ba nanay?

Me: Oo eh, mahal sya.

Iya: *Pauses for a bit* Bakit kailangan natin magbayad? Di ba kami sumasayaw? Dapat kami binabayaran!

Me: Oo nga no!

Here’s the video of the recital, she’s at the left and front facing the stage.