Friday, February 29, 2008

What Pediatricians Would Never Admit

They'd never admit that my daughter's cold had something to do with teething. It is plain coincidence that there's always a new tooth a day after Marguerite's nose gets drippy. And the cold doesn't run its course. It just disappears, like it never even happened. And, yeah, the stool is also a-plenty and extra stinky. Marguerite also gets testy when she doesn't get her way, but then again, I do too. The whining is something awesome, but other than that, she's okay. Energy remains high and she's generally of a cheery disposition (just let her have her own way, hee!). Those molars have been kind so far.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spinning Marguerite

There's a whole lot of spinning going on in my life right now (I will not elaborate; that's not really the point.). And then there's my 17-month-old Marguerite. You know how toddlers are like little drunks? They totter and stagger and misgauge huge, unmoving objects and bump into them and actually fall down laughing while you watch with your heart in your throat. They keep on doing that and you are perpetually trying to keep your entire chest down, but then they discover spinning and twirling and they just crank up the excitement to whole new levels. You cannot stop her, of course, so you think of moving to a world made of rubber foam.
(Side note: You try to join her in the spinning because you think that it would be great to share in her fun, but you know how drunks are fearless and revel in being at the exact center of a madly rotating world while people with vertigo are just plain dizzy and need to lie down?)

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Measure of Faith

I just have to share. There are many songs that give comfort, but yesterday during worship time, this song in particular reminded me of a fundamental truth. I pray that my sister would realize this as she weathers this enormous storm in her life (to those who are new here: She has been sick with some sort of mystery illness since late November. She is bedridden, incredibly weak and thin, miserable with pain… her faith is definitely being quaked. This is a low point that we never imagined reaching in our lives.).

Still by Reuben Morgan
Hide me now under Your wings
Cover me within Your mighty hands
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm.
Lord, You are the King over the flood.
I will be still and know You’re God.

Anyway, if you have a song that you would like to share, please leave the words or perhaps a link to them in the comments section. I’ll pass them on to my sister. Thanks.
To those who want to learn the song, here’s a video you can sing along to:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lulling Non-lullabies

I'm not a great singer. Actually, I'm pretty terrible. That doesn't stop me from singing all the time though. Marguerite has been spoiled (I mean "indulged", but if you hear me sing, you'll probably think "ruined") with my bedtime medleys. There's "Brahms' Lullaby", of course. I sing it in English, but I've been trying to learn the German version as well (just because). However, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how the syllabication works (probably because I don't speak German, except for the few words I picked up as a member of the Deutscher Verein in college - Ich bin schön, ja?).
Then, I've got these two songs I learned in Star Scouts decades ago, "I've Got Sixpence" (no cares have I to grieve me, no handsome little boys to deceive me - haha, what a thing to teach eight-year-old girls!) and "Playmate", which was also the song to a clapping game, except the other (non-scouts) girls sang it funny (the lyrics made no sense - "are you my darling friend for every apple juice? bring down the rainbow into the celery" - it all made sense later to me, much later. anyway, the version we sang in scouts was: oh come on playmate, come on and play with me, and bring your dollies three, climb up my apple tree. go up the ladder, slide down the bannister, and we'll be jolly friends for evermore). Anyway, some time ago, I chanced upon a wonderful book at Book Sale (worth Php15) called Treasure Island. One of the characters on this island was 90-plus-year-old Mildred Stonehenge and on her 92nd birthday, the youth of the island wanted to serenade her with her favorite song. The problem was that she couldn't recall the lyrics to the song. She knew it had "don't holler down my rain barrel, don't something down my cellar door". Knowing Playmate as I knew it then, I didn't make the connection right away. It's a good thing we bought Marguerite a CD with a collection of children's songs and Playmate with the holler down rain barrels and slide down cellar doors version was in it (now you get the clapping game evolved version?). So, to put a stop to this rambling, I just wanted to say I sing those two Scouts songs to my baby as well.
Then, because I'm a Musical fiend (particularly Les Mis - but, you're wrong; I don't sing "Castle on a Cloud" to Marguerite, too sad. I must confess I sometimes sing "Do You Hear the People Sing" to her and follow it with La Marseillaise - I hope the French don't mind), I sing "You're Never Fully-dressed without a Smile" (Annie), "Jolly Holiday" (Mary Poppins), "My Favorite Things" (Sound of Music), "Getting to Know You" (The King and I), and "We're off to See the Wizard" (Wizard of Oz), and the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang song.
Sometimes I also go acoustic-folk-ish (no accompaniment, the inclusion of acoustic is just for atmosphere) and sing "Water Is Wide" (a song I'm in love with) and "Carrickfergus". If I'm in this mood and Marguerite is not falling asleep, I tend to move on to my Kenny Loggins medley (Footloose, JK! Seriously, Danny's Song, Conviction of the Heart, Watching the River Run, etc.).
Then, of course, there's our church's Sunday School Segue Songs (Every Promise in the Book Is Mine, Jesus the Sweetest Name I Know, Go Tell It on the Mountain).
Marguerite falls asleep listening to me sing those songs. Now, if you ever come across my daughter one day and you hear her singing a song and you think she's not exactly in tune, you know whom to blame.

Friday, February 22, 2008

At the End of the Day

and after numerous tests (some were duplicated after a period of time) and numerous specialists, the only thing my sister tested positive for was hyperthyroidism. Her symptoms were so bizarre and definitely neurological in nature that the thyroid wasn't even considered. The ARDK did show that there was something wrong with her thyroid, but with the more pressing (pseudo)neuroligical manifestations, it sort of got shoved aside. Then we went to this other hospital and towards the end of her stay there, as sort of an afterthought, they decided to let her see an endocrinologist. Must things always be complicated? Yes, she's hyperthyroid, but she's not showing signs of it. The neurological verdict is that Chip's nerves are fine. They think the small fibers, which do not show themselves in tests, are the culprit regarding her pain. I still don't know if my sister's case has been simplified. There's the diagnosis and there's living with her symptoms. Please continue to pray for her. We just do what we have to and let the will of God for Chip and our family happen. We're exhausted, but we've got the best resting place.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Late Birthday Post for Jaymee

Happy 14th birthday (Feb 20) to my cousin Jaymee. May you be NCR-level soon in taekwondo and rock more as a musician. God bless. :)
I made a batch of birthday eggnog for Jaymee (Wouldn't you know it - we couldn't open the rum bottle. It was God's will, Jaymee, that we use rum extract instead, lol.). Hers got hearts and chocolate chips - birthday version - while the rest got plain ground cinnamon.
And wouldn't you also know it? I got carried away with the whipping cream and curdled it. That's how the mini putos (a los hispanohablantes, tranquilaos. es un tipo de comida filipina. no significa la misma cosa en tagalo.) got served with non-commercial butter with traces of liquid cream (milk?) for extra grossness and, hey, it was unsalted too.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I've Got Proof...

... that Husband reads my blog. For the first time in our almost 12-year relationship, I got something on February 14. The key is to post hints on your blog before the day itself. Just like my last birthday, he woke me up to present me with flowers and banoffee pie (I come to a point when I think I'm not so in love with it anymore, then I have some and prove myself wrong - sounds like some relationships you hear about). I didn't get him anything, except, maybe, if you count homemade hummus, lol.
You know about my sister, right? It started in November as something like allergies and then progressed into the mystery illness that it still is. All her tests from day 1 (save the ARDK one) have shown good results. She's in a different hospital now from the one she was confined in back in early December (that, btw, has lost my sister's cervical MRI plates - the hospital says the doctor, the doctor's - who's MIA for added nuisance - office says the hospital and before you know it, they'd probably both gang up on us to say that it's our fault. We paid 16000 php for an MRI that didn't reveal anything helpful to their doctors and we can't even get hold of the plates now. At least I know life can get sweeter than this.) and they've ruled out both Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Multiple Sclerosis somehow. They're eliminating possible diseases one by one. My sister's blood pressure is normal when lying down, but it drops as soon as she tries to get up. They thought it might have something to do with the valve in her heart, but all the tests say that her heart is fine. They want to do another test (or they've done it) wherein they'll raise her, spin her around, and put her in other positions, monitoring her BP all the time. Hopefully that one will reveal something. I got so I'm not sure whether to be happy or frustrated at good results. I used to be relieved, but now it's mostly just more money out of my Dad's pocket and no answers. So, basically, she's very weak and thin now, understandably because she wasn't eating for a long time (she's eating a little bit now, still very little, but at least she's keeping solids down), her BP is all whacked, and she still has shooting pains in her limbs and other parts of her body. I'm asking you to continue praying for her.
However, despite this ongoing ordeal (announcement: my Mom looks extra gorgeous now because being Chip's primary caregiver, she has lost so much weight. A month ago, she said she's less four inches around the waist.) we can still see God's goodness every time. We've seen how so many people love my sister (last Sunday, all three testimonies involved her and the people who gave them aren't blood relations) and care for our family. We've never asked for financial help, but relatives have been sending us some money and other things we need (like a wheelchair) to help out. I know that God's hand is on our situation and I will not allow my faith to be shaken. Earlier, I asked my sister if she's got a craving, so I'll try to get it for her when she gets home (we still don't know when), provided the doctors are okay with it. She said, lobster with lots of butter and kisses from Marguerite. Lobster is ridiculously expensive, but that's my only sister - my only sibling, at that - we're talking about. Doctor allowing, she'll get lobster.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dragons Live Forever...

... but not so little boys. Or active dry yeast. I was all set to make pita pockets, but it turned out that the yeast in our pantry had been there since the little cabinet first got stocked (jk!). Anyway, it didn't bubble or anything it was supposed to do when proofed. It was too late to run to the store. And that's how I ended up with chapati.

I was supposed to have the pita for lunch, with hummus (which turned out okay, but was missing the tahini flavor, so not quite as good as the traditional) and vegetables. Still did, but because of the aforementioned yeast, I had to replace the pita with some sort of unleavened bread.

You'd think I had a healthy February 14 lunch, but then I post the following (it's soda cracker candy, some of which I coated with white chocolate) and ruin it.

Holidays Are Just Excuses... make your kid pose for theme pictures. I knew Husband didn't have time to do it, so I did the photoshop. It was just the text, but I still sucked. No importa, it's still a sweet picture.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A l'Hôpital and Methodologie

My sister's back in the hospital, since Monday, in fact. Please continue to pray for her to return to normal (a better normal, actually, having learned from this experience). I don't know what's going on anymore, but I remain to have faith in God's control over this situation. I continue to wait for His perfect time.
Since I don't want to talk about illness, I'll just share links to articles. I subscribe to the Natural Child Project newsletter and it's big help in maintaining my conviction about attachment parenting. The pressure to deviate is something fierce. Sometimes I'm not even sure if the source of the pressure is external. Oh well, I do know that it's really me occasionally, my own upbringing and what I've been exposed to all these years. That's harder to deal with. You can always thumb your nose at other people's meddling or prejudices, but retraining your thoughts is something else entirely. Doubts creep in. When they do, I quickly go to Gentle Christian Mothers or the Natural Child Project websites (I've included them in my Favorites; links in the margin) and browse through articles. The following are the ones I like to read:
Confessions of a Proud Mom
Getting Attached
The Nature of Dependency
Gentle Mothering - God's Design

Monday, February 11, 2008

Because We Don't Celebrate Valentine's

That is why we're sending out Marguerite ecards and I baked heart-shaped sugar cookies and I'll probably sulk if Husband doesn't do anything special (jk!).
I told my husband when we first started dating that I didn't celebrate Valentine's Day because I'd always been taught that it was a pagan holiday. This means that I have never gotten anything for the day since 1997 and I never cared either. Having a child though makes you want to treat each day as a holiday. And also to take lots of pictures. I'm also thinking that the origins of Christmas and Easter were also pagan and yet we celebrate them, having altered the significance of the dates to pertain to Christian matters. I'm still not calling it Valentine's Day (because our faith doesn't recognize a St. Valentine) and I'm not fooling myself into thinking it's a Christian holiday, but I think I'll treat it as a special day (the ecard and baking have been done), a day of hearts and romantic love and, no, Cupid still won't have a place in it.
Because, you see, I really liked making those heart cookies.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

From EthanPowell.Com

Please remember to include baby Ethan in your prayers.
"February 9 - Day 365 DAY +40

1st Update/1:53pm [Ben] - I know it has been awhile since I have updated, but today it suddenly became extremely neccessary. Becky is so much better at the medical terminology and medical facts than I am, plus it seems to have served as an excellent outlet for her. However today, she has 'passed me the torch'. A few hours ago, we were given some terribly discouraging news. Ethan's MRD came back with .25 percent LEUKEMIA present. Last week it was around .026 percent. In other words, it has multiplied ten times over in a matter of days. The LEUKEMIA is getting stronger. I am sure by now that you get what this is supposed to mean, so I don't plan on spelling it out for you. I refuse to type those words. From all of the prying phone calls and emails that we get, I know that some of your imagination gets the best of you when trying to figure out our circumstances here. But in all seriousness this is not a soap opera, and we are not actors. We are standing FIRM in our FAITH, and We BeLIeVe that Ethan will be HEALED! Please help fire up the prayer chain and BeLIeVe with us.

When a child is born, many say it is a miracle. When David killed Goliath, many said it was a miracle. When the Giants beat the Patriots in the Superbowl... ok, maybe that is going a little overboard. I know it may seem a little crazy that I can joke at a time like this, but here is the thing. If you BeLIeVe then share it and say it, if you don't then you are just pretending! For Ethan's sake... BeLIeVe... PRAYER WORKS!!!"

Let Us Be Repulsive...

... to bugs. The biting things, they love us. I got a little bottle of virgin coconut oil laced with citronella from the pedi to use on Marguerite, but we're down to our last few drops. I find the smell of citronella harsh, but thankfully, it doesn't bring on an asthma attack (mine) or irritate my daughter's skin. I was about to make some homemade natural bug repellent myself using olive oil and some essential oil (I hadn't decided yet which one to go for - citronella or lavender) when I decided to google a combo that would deter not only mosquitoes, but other bugs as well. To my surprise, I learned (from here, here, here, and here) that official studies suggest that DEET-based products are actually better for very young children older than two months and that they actually warn against using citronella and lavender on kids younger than two years or lemon eucalyptus (which I would have preferred if it was as readily available here) on kids younger than three. I was incredulous that an out-and-out poison (DEET) is declared safer than natural essential oils. One source said that there weren't enough studies to confirm the safety in using essential oil-based products on young children. These studies could certainly make one doubtful. Makes one wonder if they had been sponsored by companies selling DEET-laden products (um, yeah!). So, I'll probably make something that has citronella heavily diluted in it (the smell's so strong anyway, even just the merest hint of it in the concoction can probably repel mosquitoes a mile away, lol). I'm not in love with the scent, but for the time being, we'll stick with it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Serving of Broccoli and Storynory

Marguerite spat out the few bites of cheesy broccoli that I began to feed her for lunch yesterday, so now I'm thinking I should just quit jazzing up the veggies. Next time, I'll feed myself something I like to eat and give Marguerite the plain-boiled version. She knows how to ask for something else anyway, just in case she'd rather have what I'm having. I had this notion that she would be like myself and prefer food tastier, but I supposed she isn't ready yet. To think that I'd been advised so many times not to get kids used to rich flavors or they'll crave salt, sugar, spices, etc.
Anyway, are you normal and like freebies? :) I got this link from one of my homeschool newsletters. They're free audio stories for kids. Nothing beats your own self sitting your child on your lap and reading her a story from a book that she can flip through herself, but I like having Natasha and her wonderful diction in the background as Marguerite and I play or do other activities together. This could be great for car rides too.
Confession: I was browsing through my birth club message board and saw a topic that interested me: our kids' vocab - how many words they already know. Some of the mothers were citing hundreds of words and that was fine. Marguerite's list would also be in the hundreds and then I realized that they meant their kids were already saying these words. I was flabbergasted. Marguerite couldn't be saying more than fifty yet and not all of them clearly. I, of course, began to panic and started googling techniques on how to increase a toddler's vocab. After a couple of harebrained minutes, I came to my senses. My daughter isn't delayed. She's healthy and developing just fine. This competition thing, which I claim to be against, is something I really have to overcome. I'm not one for envy over material things, but when it comes to being the best in class and getting the highest score or even just playing trivial pursuit, I become downright bloodthirsty. You should watch "Wheel of Fortune" or "Jeopardy" with me and see me forget myself and be all "IN YOUR FACE" over getting an answer right. Yes, I'm a dork. Anyway, I'm praying homeschooling will deliver my child from inheriting/imbibing this crazy mentality.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Kung Hei Fat Choi

If you're lunar, happy new year! Hopefully we can catch dragon dancers doing the store rounds for good luck (I just like to watch). Around here, the Chinese New Year signifies tikoy (New Year pudding) time, even for the non-Chinese. Most families end up with at least one box because giving tikoy is like wishing good luck. We usually cut up the tikoy in smaller pieces, dip them in egg and fry. I like dipping them in milk before eating. I'm not sure if that's weird.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Raising a Counter Culture Child

I got the link to this article from my local homeschooling egroup and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
I've frequently mentioned that I'm anti-pop myself. I was raised being told not to conform to the ways of the world and after three decades of having that message drilled into my brain (yes, it's still ongoing. I go to my father's church, have temporarily moved back into his house.), non-conformity has become a knee-jerk reaction. I don't always triumph though. Society has been able to put in its bit at brainwashing as well.
I'm not exactly certain what raising a counter culture child would entail. For example, from the word go, she has had some very nice branded things, but they were mostly gifts and the ones my husband and I did get ourselves were chosen for practical reasons (please note the defensive tone, lol). I would like to think though that, despite the presence of logos in her life, Marguerite wouldn't become brand-conscious. I'm trying to raise her not to associate possession with pride. I think it's okay to like having some things in your life and to display preferences, provided they're not based on the dictates of trends, wanting what the Joneses have (in fact, perhaps this isn't that healthy, I actually tend to shun things that I know the metaphorical Joneses have), or any other reason that would involve inciting a reaction from somebody else (because, Marguerite darling, would you really want to be admired for your possessions?)...
I'm far from being a complete ascetic; I do have my moments of materialism, albeit the thrift-shop variety (I have to have books and why exactly do I call myself a packrat? I do hold on to things even if for sentimental or whimsical reasons.). As for my daughter, I do tend to want things for her, things I know that can help her developmentally or she would enjoy (yes, thank you, I do realize that life is about having fun as well) that I can't make myself.
Sometimes, I do get the feeling that I'm being judged. I remember being laughed at when I said that I liked going to swap meets, or being questioned as though I was (was, because not an impossibility) a lunatic, for not wanting a yuppie job. I used to feel a sneer (although it was usually non-malicious amusement) in the air whenever I took out my obsolete Nokia 6210 (which I'd passed on to my young cousin, having inherited Husband's phone - I don't really know what it is, but it is sadly not an antiquity) to use amidst the presence of gadgets so hi-tech they're almost ridiculous (that's how I feel) and for an instant, I'd feel like lashing out, "I refuse to have possessions define the person I am. I'm still admirable and fascinating without silly doodads. Unlike YOU!". But just for a moment. I'd remember in time that I don't have to explain myself.
Going back to counter culture, television is indeed involved in a big way. As a rule, I don't like TV. Then, I sit down and tune in to the Travel Channel or Crime and Suspense and it all becomes theoretical. I'm proud to say though that I haven't watched a TV program in a week. I'm all for minimal exposure. TV isn't a bad thing, but it is too readily a tool for promoting consumer-driven lives (okay, sorry, that sounded pompous).
I haven't completely grasped the concept of counter culture yet, but I'm brave enough to say that that's the plan.

Monday, February 4, 2008

November Flowers Rock

I do like chrysanthemums, but I wouldn't say they were my favorite flowers. Given the chance, I would have opted for something else for a "birth flower" (or even a birth stone - Topaz? Again, okay, but, hmmm, I guess I have a hard time making the color yellow define me). As tisanes go though, I love chrysanthemum tea. My entire family drinks at least a glass a day. I even give my daughter a sip now and then, the doctor says it's fine to do that (living with me, Marguerite is probably going to be a tea lover as well). I personally prefer the drink cold. Instead of steeping dried flowers though (my sister-in-law did once give me a bag of dried flowers for tea from China although I'm not sure if they were chysanthemums), we use packed granules (combination flowers and sugar cane) ready to be dissolved in water . We get boxes or cans of them from Ongpin stores. Like with most things herbal, we hope to enjoy not only the beverage itself, but its medicinal benefits as well. Chrysanthemums are said to be useful against a variety of ailments such as the flu, sore throat, liver problems, arterial problems, eyesight problems, et cetera, et cetera... I'll say that's flower power all right.

Friday, February 1, 2008

My Daughter Would Have Hated the Eighties

I'm talking about spiked hair, although give her some time and I'm sure she'll develop an aversion for mullets too. So that's the whole deal with the fear of the Baby Einstein logo. Last weekend, my brother-in-law came down with his hair standing on end (not on purpose - he had just been lying down) and Marguerite hid behind something when she saw him. She was okay after BIL had smoothed his hair down. Anyhoo, it was just a temporary thing. She's not scared of the BE logo anymore.
I'm having a hard time including green leafy vegetables in Marguerite's diet. Or maybe it's not so much a difficulty as it is being overlooked. It's pretty much table food now for her, which means I'm not getting a lot of green leafy veggies myself. I had salad for lunch twice last week, but I'm not sure she can already handle the crunch and bacteria of raw vegetables. I think I'll do the muffin tray again. It wasn't a big success when I did it before (most of the food ended up on the floor), but she's less picky now. If you have a recipe to share (other than the pasta salad - pasta with sauteed veggies), please leave it or the link in the comments section. TIA.