Friday, April 29, 2011

From the Royal Wedding to Hair Gripes

Hi! I don't really care that much about the royal wedding, but I bet I'm tuning in. I'm the same way with beauty pageants. I don't care for them, but find me with nothing to do and I'll watch the thing. Okay, that's a lie. Of late, I get so bored with them that I'd rather just not do anything. Well, the royal wedding is definitely more interesting. I was in preschool when Charles and Diana got married. I think my mom dragged me to the salon to get me a Lady Di haircut. I hated it. I preferred my long hair that I, of course, never combed (which was ammunition for mothers hellbent on chopping off all your hair just because it's less trouble for them). She also made me get a haircut called "siete", which had me weeping at its ugliness for so long that she consequently had to buy me a bike to atone for the wrong she had done me. This is the same woman who sported something really butch that they called a "barber's cut". I don't really remember much about these things except the uuuuuuuuuuugliness of it all!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Never Asked Me to Explain My Love for Kenny Loggins

I'll tell you why I'm a huge fan of Kenny Loggins. I will, really. Okay, here I go. The thing is I loved Footloose the movie when I was a kid. I had a mild crush on Kevin Bacon back in the day and for some reason I just really loved the movie (take note that I was a non-movie-going, non-dancing, made-to-feel-guilty-over-listening-to-WORLDLY-songs pentecostal -- oh, and a pastor's kid to boot -- you have to know the plot of the movie to understand why I'm blathering about this) and I loved the song. Of course, Kevin Bacon soon became one of the most convincing villains out there, kind of like Ray Liotta (thanks to Jessica Zafra, my sister Chip and I do yell out "Bad guy! Bad guy!" every time we see him in a movie).  *Durr. I just deleted about 5 sentences because I went on and on about Kevin Bacon.*
Anyway, slightly later, I saw Kenny Loggins' Redwoods concert and loved it. I still love it. Even way after that young son of his who gave him a towel grew up to win that MTV reality singing show about rock stars' brats. Years after I first saw the concert (on TV) and fell in love with the song my mom called "Even though we ain't got money" (Danny's Song), I started dating a boy who later gave me a DVD copy of that concert. I married that boy some 8 years after I first met him and we played Danny's Song at our wedding because, don't gag, that was my song to him. I'd always felt that song deeply. We were in college, post-college... he was a musician, I was a writer. We weren't going to get rich. And then somehow, he found himself being semi-yuppie (because web design was a cool job, not at all stuffy) and I was teaching, and we had like real jobs, guiltily feeling like sellouts, but it got easier to sing Danny's Song because there was actually money, more than we needed. So, as you know, we got married and then I got pregnant and we decided I'd quit my job and stay home. Our child came and Danny's Song still applied really well, but it also took on a deeper meaning because as you know, the song is actually about the birth of Kenny's brother's (Danny) son. I have vivid memories of me singing this in the early mornings to a newborn Marguerite. But besides that, of course, we also sang or played for our little baby Kenny's "Return to Pooh Corner", which is an awesome song in my opinion, great for both children and adults. So yeah, I was loving Kenny even more. The thing is, you never felt the pinch of economy and grown-up matters (like *shudder* finance) you were convinced never to have anything to do with until you had a child of your own. That's why having children is for grown-ups! So anyway, like some epiphany, I one day realized that we were really living Danny's Song. Today, some years later when another child is on the way, I remarked with some wonder to Mark that, hey, we're poorer (used loosely because, you know, God always provides and his blessings are always more than enough - just "poor" comparatively speaking) than ever and yet happier than ever. And then it occurred to me that you do have to put some thought into the songs you think you want to apply to your life. Or maybe you like those songs because you are who you are. It's a chicken and egg argument, so it's futile to go into that. But what if I had liked "Material Girl" or something like it? Well, it would have been a totally different life then. But this life suits who I am just fine. Danny's Song has a lot of figurative language in it and it took me years and experiences to learn exactly what stuff like beta chi was. Or that girl who holds the world in a paper cup! And I should have paid attention to that one. The thing is, I never fancied myself as that type of girl (mainly because I didn't know what it meant), but it seems I am. In a way. Mark is "lucky", hee.
My point is that, in this family, even though we ain't got money, we are rich in love and faith and peace and joy... we are abundantly blessed. Here's a video of Kenny performing the song in Santa Barbara back in '81. (I was all of 5 years old!) I would have preferred the Redwoods one, but I can't find any on YouTube (not of Danny's Song). Anyway, what's with the prison garb, or was that the fashion back then?

People smile and tell me I'm the lucky one, and we've just begun,
Think I'm gonna have a son.
He will be like she and me, as free as a dove, conceived in love,
Sun is gonna shine above.

And even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with ya honey,
And everything will bring a chain of love.
And in the morning when I rise, you bring a tear of joy to my eyes,
And tell me everything is gonna be alright.

Seems as though a month ago I beta chi, never got high,
Oh, I was a sorry guy.
And now a smile, a face, a girl that shares my name,
Now I'm through with the game, this boy will never be the same.

(To chorus:)
Pisces, Virgo rising is a very good sign, strong and kind,
And the little boy is mine.
Now I see a family where there once was none, now we've just begun,
Yeah, we're gonna fly to the sun.

(To chorus:)

Love the girl who holds the world in a paper cup, drink it up,
Love her and she'll bring you luck.
And if you find she helps your mind, buddy, take her home,
Don't you live alone, try to earn what lovers own.

(To chorus:)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Long Drives

My husband and I have been talking forever about going on a lighthouse road trip. There are several we can hit in a three hour radius with our city in the center (can I do that, measure radius in terms of time?). That would be cool. I’ve long been interested in lighthouses and I’ve only been in a couple. I’ve seen several from a distance in various countries, but it’s not really like getting up close and personal. I think it would be great to live in one. Do you remember that Australian kiddie TV show from the late ‘80s or early ‘90s? It’s called “Round the Twist” and the Twist family lived in a lighthouse and had all sorts of adventures. Anyway, I’m not particularly fond of long car drives. I used to love them, but ever since I had to travel 3 hours each way (for a total waste of 6 hours of weekend time) every week when I was living in Subic, I haven’t cared for it so much anymore. Mark is perpetually window shopping for campers or thinking of converting an old minibus into one, which means he also looks at camper parts. I don’t know. Maybe if I didn’t have to worry about schedules, and if the seats were really comfy, and if the sights were really worth it, I’d be into long drives again.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Egg Hunt

I made Easter eggs and had Marguerite look for them. That was our Easter Sunday, plus church, of course.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Marguerite "Swimming"

Hi. They went swimming yesterday. I was there, but I mostly just sat around stuffing my face. I still have to gather pictures of my daughter from various people's cameras since we couldn't use ours. Mark packed the thing (this is a big production that involves charging several batteries for the camera and the flash, choosing which lenses to bring, etc.), but with all the chunkier doodads he had to remember to bring along, he forgot a tiny little object called a memory card... This reminds me of the time when Marguerite was a baby and we'd go someplace nice. We'd go home and I'd start going through the shots taken. My blood would then slowly begin to boil as I beheld about 5 measly pictures of the baby and about 200 of things like doorknobs, ashtrays, light bulbs...

Anyway, here are two pics from yesterday (thanks to Jenny, a youth from our church ... incidentally, I was Jenny's teacher in nursery school many years ago. She's already starting college in June. These kids grow up just to make you feel old.):

Friday, April 22, 2011

This Is My God

I'm off to a church outing, so I won't be able to go online today until tonight (if at all). In the interim, I leave you with another one of my favorite worship songs ("This Is Our God" by Reuben Morgan, sung here by Jill McCloghry).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Summer Trips

I want to stay put this summer. The indolence is not coming from being pregnant. It’s coming from being subjected to this heat. However, I know my husband and my daughter are itching to go somewhere. I’m not about to be a killjoy. But, groan, I really don’t like going places during the summer season. Besides the fact that it’s just too muggy hot for words (I don’t like dry heat either, but that’s a tad better), every place you can think of to go to is probably already crawling with holidaymakers. I don’t mind reasonable amounts of people. It’s not like I want some place totally exclusive (on second thought, yeah, that’s actually preferable), but get me away from the crowds. I think I’d prefer to go on a road trip (provided the traffic isn’t crazy heavy anywhere we are going) with the family and a couple of  pop up campers and just chance upon a nice place where we can set up camp and have lots of space to ourselves. That could be better (and cheaper) than going to a resort. All those family members who think nothing of the heat and bugs can revel in the outdoors while I can stay inside the camper sparing myself from those nasty hives I get from my own sweat and those ugly welts I get when a mosquito so much as looks at me.

Summer Workshops and Shots

So here’s what’s going on over here. I’m vacillating over letting Marguerite take basic voice lessons this summer. The thing is, I don’t know if it will be worth it (the time, effort and money) since a module wasn’t available yet when I asked for it, and the workshop is actually offered to kids aged 5 and up (Marguerite isn’t 5 until September, but they usually make exceptions for cases like that). I don’t expect it to be anything serious, of course, but I do want her to get something more from the thing besides fun. She’s definitely taking the basic drawing workshop (which is actually for her age) later this summer. I actually wanted a simple arts and crafts class, but they weren’t offering it this year, so I opted for this one as the closest thing. Anyway, she could do with the proper guidance drawing-wise. I don’t think she can get it from us. One of the games Mark and I play with Marguerite (when we’re just lounging in bed, waiting for slumber time) is this drawing game. We get two magnetic slates and then pick an object to draw. We then try to come up with a rendition that we deem most recognizable to Marguerite. We show her our drawings and then let her guess what they’re supposed to be. It’s always funny when Marguerite thinks your drawing of an ear is that of a car. Mark and I try not to jeer at each other’s drawings (it’s pretty hard - Mark has come up with some really ugly ones, hehe) since we don’t want Marguerite to pick up the habit. Can you guess which drawing is mine and which one is Mark’s? lol
In other news, Marguerite has been vaccinated against measles and rubella. We had decided to go for it, but had planned to time the shots with my next visit to the OB-GYN (next week). I still wasn’t a hundred percent sold on the idea, thinking more in the sense that we were simply going with the lesser evil. However, city health workers were doing the rounds of the neighborhood a couple of days ago, so M got her shots (for free at that - so that bit could have won the argument all by itself). She hadn’t had a shot since she was a baby, so I wasn’t sure how she would react. She just looked very serious, but she didn’t cry or even flinch. I asked her if it hurt and she said it did. The doctor and her assistants looked amused as Marguerite stood there, quiet and composed, while Mom and I fell all over ourselves telling her how brave  she was. Anyway, I think it was the more prudent choice anyway. I’ve told you my views about vaccination, but my being pregnant tilted my philosophy about it a little. I’ve had the measles, so I’m presumably immune to it, but it could lead to serious complications (we’d already been considering getting this as per our old pedi’s recommendation), so it was better for M to be vaccinated against it. I haven’t had German measles yet, however, and my contracting it during pregnancy could be very dangerous for the baby, so it was good that Marguerite got vaccinated against that too.

Socializing Online

Don’t you think it’s a little amazing that we get to socialize in this so-called virtual world in what are usually somewhat compromising circumstances? I mean, it’s probably nothing to people to take their iPads to the bathroom and go on Facebook while doing their business. Why think about things like that, right? It’s just that technology has made so many things possible. It has come up with a whole other culture with its own sense of what is acceptable and what is not. For work at home individuals, it has made doing one’s job and transacting business in one’s pajamas a probability, lol. I, for one, have resolved not to go online until I’ve done my morning rituals, which include matters of hygiene, nourishment and meditation. I decided on that to set things in perspective. There was a time when my first inkling in the morning was to turn on the computer. I needed some control. I bet many people actually do that though. If these contraptions could transmit scent (and for all we know, a bunch of geniuses might be working on that), we’d all be more concerned about morning breath. We’d be finding ways to subtly get each other to read the bad breath report review. Then again, maybe the geniuses wouldn’t want the cyber world to be too much like the real world.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Do You Like Holy Week Weather?

I’m expecting the AC guy to show up any moment now. Trust our old AC to go all temperamental on us on what is probably the most insufferably hot week of the year (you can count on Holy Week to claim this honor practically every time). It’s been on the blink since Sunday and my pregnant self has not been a picture of grace under suffering - or even silence - all this time. Those of you who are undergoing the same weather, don’t you agree that the heat is enough to make you homicidal? I exaggerate as usual, of course, but I bet there is quite a number of us who are going around wanting to pick a fight, lol. Our room must feel like a furnace (to me it does). We usually deal with this weather by turning the AC on, but of course the thing conspired with the weather to give me agony (yes, I take it personally - and yes, I am then overcome with shame for saying that because what do I know about agony? Was I tortured and crucified on the cross?). Right now, all the windows are flung open and the Blackout Blinds up (we usually want these down to keep the sun out - do we sound like fungi?). To make everything just dandy, I’m quite miserable with a cold as well. I’m fussing like a hypochondriac since I know that my immune system is down. Marguerite, of course, has not chosen this time to be low maintenance, so I’m not getting much rest. Do I sound like a stark, raving lunatic? If this much heat is enough to drive me to distraction, then it’s a comfort that I’ve already been saved and assured of heaven.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Is Court Métrage a Kind of Power Tool?

I hardly watch anything deep anymore. Back in college, I was all about the art films, but that was just me being pretentious. I used to rattle off a long list of European movies when asked what my favorite films were. I used to attend exhibitions of films de court métrage (see how pompously I shifted to French there? Some of my college self slipping out…) and be bored to death by something like a clip of non-Hollywood types driving a little car and then stopping somewhere to take a leak in the middle of a field, except that it was supposed to be a complete movie and I had to force myself to exclaim enthusiastically over it because apparently it placed first in some big deal international film competition. Anyway, my days as a high brow film poseur are over. I’d rather watch something like “Stepbrothers” over something like “Hable con ella” nowadays. I laugh at scenes like John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell saying that they were brushing their teeth when their parents called out to them the no-power-tools rule while they were putting together their bunk beds. Their characters may have been 40, but they weren’t people you could entrust with Makita Tools. Or maybe even pinking shears. Yeah, I call that stuff funny. Pretty shallow, huh? I don’t know why I don’t appreciate depth as much anymore.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Grindstones, Sieves, and a Threat

We're a single income family. My husband works very hard to provide for us. I do what I can to contribute to our funds, but my main job is raising our child (soon to be children) and keeping the home. Mark's job is mostly overtime and he also pursues many other interests that happily  bring in some lucre. Understandably, there are days when Marguerite does not even see him at all (fortunately, these are few and far between). Mark is very good about making up for these super busy days and it's a given that his weekends are for his family (unless he has some paying gig, of course -- like I said, we're a single income family). When he seems to be forgetting this (and he's not inclined to -- but the lure of a good time with friends will pull, you know -- and far be it from me to begrudge him his fun time with friends; he can have that on weeknights. His weekends are for his daughter. PERIOD. Whoever messes with this arrangement can be assured of my disfavor.), I have no qualms about reminding him and setting him straight. Anyway, I know that it's also important to Mark that he have plenty of quality time with Marguerite, and he finds Marguerite's welcome (you should see the little girl's excitement and genuine happiness) at the end of a loooong work day to be just the ticket to banish the exhaustion away. 
On this note, I'd like to share that on Wednesday night (well, Thursday morning to be accurate), Mark didn't get home until 3:30 and when he was preparing to go to work the following work day (although of course, that was actually the same morning), Marguerite very sweetly told him that she'd missed him, adding, "Don't go to work, Daddy. Stay home with me." Aw, that just about broke my heart. I'm pretty sure that if Mark hadn't had something important going on that day, he would have ditched work. I had to admire his resolve to do the responsible thing. If it had been me, I would probably have called in my resignation right then and there, but then again, that's easy for me to say since I'm not the family's breadwinner. Oh, these moments! I really have all the respect for moms who work outside the home and have probably dealt with many scenes like this.
The point, I guess, in all this is that I appreciate Mark's efforts in finding a balance (well, a sort of balance) between his roles. He's a great dad and while it's true that he does "grind, grind, grind at that grindstone", he also realizes that "child'ood slips like sand through a sieve", hence the weekends for Marguerite (and remember, whoever tries to take this time away from my daughter has to deal with my IRE!!!). I sometimes tease Mark by singing "Cat's in the Cradle" when he's super busy, but I really am confident that he  wouldn't allow himself to miss out on those wonderful Marguerite Moments. 
Anyway, here's a video of that Mary Poppins song I quoted...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Old Dreams, New Dreams

“Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened.” Here’s a quote I got from my friend Jenn’s Facebook status. I can hear a collective wistful sigh of agreement from people over 25. Not that I’m not happy right now, because I am, but I can’t help remembering those old dreams. I was going to be a writer - you know, the kind that donned dreary colors all the time (like a black turtleneck, hee), guzzled strong black coffee, wore thick coke bottle glasses, clackety clacked at a typewriter at some ungodly hour (like, I dunno, 12:30 am), and live like a beatnik in Greenwich Village. Of course, I do write - after a fashion and I wear black - because it’s slimming and I’ve gotten dumpy through the years. I drink tea instead of coffee, have 20/20 vision, and use a computer that doesn’t make a satisfactory clacking noise (and the ungodly hours have lost all sense of romance as far as I’m concerned). As far as being a beatnik is concerned, hey, let’s all have cheerful, shallow thoughts! And I prefer the country to the city now (most of the time). In college, the dream asked for a little bit more glamour. Hello, I was studying French and I thought I would be doing a UN gig. I would be living in New York, going to embassy parties, having hotel dinners, applying for membership in various wine clubs (because, you know, le vin est très cosmopolite, n’est-ce pas?), and jetting off to Paris at a drop of a hat. Well, as you know, I ended up teaching and I loved it. Later, I gave up that career to concentrate on family and home. I have dreams of still pursuing the writing thing, but I don’t want to write the great novel anymore. I’d rather write pretty little stories for children. As you can see, I don’t stay wistful too long.

Idle Musings

The Internet really is a wonder. You can literally know what you want to know at the click of a mouse. Just now, I was checking up something in my copy of “Murder on the Orient Express” when I saw the word “Stamboul”, which got me to singing “Istanbul” (Istanbul was Constantinople. Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople…). There’s a line there that says “Even old New York was once New Amsterdam. Why they changed it, I can’t say. People just like it better that way…” which, of course, got me wondering why they changed it. Are there similarities between it and the original York? Is it because they both have a river? All I had to do to get the answer was google it. Kids these days have it so easy. When I was a kid, if I wanted to know something, I would have asked my parents. If they didn’t know the answer, I’d have to look it up in the encyclopedia. If I had asked my grandfather and he didn’t know the answer, he would have invented one and I would have gone on believing that until I embarrassed myself one day. If the answer wasn’t anywhere found at home, I would have probably just given up and remained ignorant, lol. Anyway, now I know how New York got its name. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that it somehow has connections with the old York, kind of like a father and a son? I don’t know much about York, except that I got a really cool postcard showing the River  Ouse from a friend while she was staying in one of the hotels in york, but I think its charms are very different from those of New York.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crafting for the Baby

I started writing about this picture when I had a sense of déjà vu. It occurred to me that I had posted about this on the Adgitize forum thread about crafts. Since, I'm feeling rather lazy, I'll just copy and paste what I said there, hee.

Hopefully, when the first trimester is done, I can start making things for the new baby. I'll probably start with little booties and hats. I think I can also finish a couple of baby blankets, plus a baby cocoon. Of course, I have to sew a couple of hotslings (my preferred babywearing article) for myself and another one for my husband. I also want to work on a couple of things for Marguerite, maybe a couple of things that say she's a big sister or going to be one...
Well, the first trimester is over and so far, I've made a pair of mittens (taking me practically a whole week to finish when it would have ordinarily taken but a few hours) and one bootie so far. And I have grand ambitions of making stuff for pregnant friends and relatives as well (there seems to be a good number of us)... Right now, I'm doing things in yellow. I'm just going to add edging later on when I know what the gender of the baby is. I'm going with the conventional pink for girls and blue for boys. I normally would dress a person in any color whatever the gender, but it's irritating (when you're hormonal) when somebody thinks your baby girl is a boy...

Remembering That "Band"

Back when I was a freshman in college, I hung out with a bunch of guys who thought they had a band. I guess they did have a band and the fact that they never had a gig, never figured out what their genre was and never played an entire number during practice without screwing up does not disqualify them from labeling themselves as a band. Discord within the band was almost a perennial affair. The original drummer and bassist ditched the group to become traitors - that is, fraternity preppies who grooved to “The Hurt” by Kalapana (which, until just now when I googled it, I didn’t know had an article in the title) - and the garage door closed on them forever. This presented a new problem. They held their practices in the drummer’s basement. Not that they could put in much practice anyway since five minutes into the soundcheck, one of the village guards would ring the doorbell to tell them that the neighbors were complaining. There were numerous discussions about soundproofing, but the drummer flaked before any action could be taken. Then there was the frontman, A. He couldn’t play an instrument and he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but he had plenty of wit, so they decided to do rap metal. Except that A’s timing was also off. They were really an awful band, but they were pretty good friends. They let me go with them to a battle of the bands even if I was wearing a floral blouse, bright yellow jumper shorts and a pair of jellies.

Where Can I Get Maternity Dungarees?

I’m on a mystery reading streak right now. This is much better than the last time I was pregnant when I watched TV instead. I tuned in to most of the shows on the Crime and Suspense channel and closely followed the Natalee Holloway case on Fox News. There were a few other sensational crimes at that time and they all caught my interest. At night, I would weep because I was bringing an innocent baby into this wretched and wicked world. This time around, I’m watching practically no TV at all, but I am reading mysteries. I’m staying away from Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, preferring my collection of Agatha Christies and Dorothy Sayers(es?). I recently finished my collection (not a complete one, so if you have ACs and DSs you want to get rid of, throw them my way) and wondered which set to tackle next. Marguerite chose for me - Trixie Belden. I haven’t started reading YA lit to her, but she likes to get books from my shelves and demand that I tell her about the picture on the cover. That’s why she knows about Trixie, Honey and all the other Bob-whites. On the book I’m reading right now, my mom had written “Ivy Papa” (my maiden name) and the date 091889. I first read it when I was 12. I can picture myself reading it for the first time. I would probably be lying on my bed with the afternoon sunlight streaming in through the windows. I would be wearing ratty clothes (you know the ensemble - frayed shorts and a holey T-shirt), but classy-ing things up with dangly earrings and a charm bracelet (silver - I learned early that silver jewellery looked better on me as gold made my skin look sallow) - I liked things that jingled and jangled. I would have some kind of salty snack and a cold drink on the bedside table. For the 12-yr-old me - a new book, junk food, lounging in bed… life couldn’t get any better than that. Now, more than 20 years later, I think I know better, but I lie down in bed reading the exact same book, still wishing that I could be friends with Trixie and Honey, and wondering why we don’t say “dungarees” anymore…

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Picture Finally

I know I haven't been posting pics here, but that's mostly because of a defeatist attitude. I find our camera too heavy and too inaccessible in this big box that I have to pull out from under the bed and then open... My phone has a camera and I've been taking pictures with it, but it's such a hassle to upload pics from it because, you know, I have to look for that specific USB cord or maybe I could use the bluetooth thing but I don't really know how to work it and going online on the phone is also beyond me and...  Yeah, it's all just too ridiculous. So many tasks I find I'm not equal to because of sheer laziness, lol.
Anyway, I've overcome the picture uploading conundrum by bugging my husband to do it for me... So here's a picture of Marguerite at the organic plant and produce stall behind the city hall. My mom is a "suki" of the owner at her regular shop. Mom has bought a great number of herbs and marcotted trees from her. (Portion of arm and torso belongs to my mom)
Mom and Marguerite are great gardening buddies. My mom toils while Marguerite spritzes water, often at the plants, but sometimes also at nothing as she likes making rainbows.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baby Shower-Big Sister Party

Assuming that somebody will throw a baby shower for me, I would ask that it be a big sister party for Marguerite as well. I wouldn’t require guests to bring gifts for M (although it would be very thoughtful if they did), but maybe there could be a sign for her. Mark and I would take care of the presents for Marguerite. I’m thinking of custom-made stuff that would say something about her being a big sister. I’m going to design a t-shirt , for instance. That would be cool. I know Marguerite would like a shirt with all her favorite elements on it. It would be unique too. I think I might make a book as well (this really depends on how diligent I’m feeling - at this point, I seem to be having a long spell of indolence). I know you can actually buy ready-made stuff and I just might end up doing that, but you know me - I like things homemade/handmade and personalized. Of course, I’m being presumptuous. Our church usually throws the necessary parties, but I’m thinking maybe my mom would have a personal hand in it. The last time, a very good friend of my mom’s insisted on organizing the shower, but her husband has gotten sick since then, so she already has her hands full with things at home. So, Mom, this is not a hint. Please take care of the baby shower. :D

The Inner Italian

I have a friend in the Department of Foreign Affairs who is currently assigned in Rome. It would be lovely to visit her there and see the rest of Italy as well. Somewhere in my mutt make-up is some Italian blood that expresses itself in the form of pizza and pasta cravings (in that case, we must all have an inner Italian in all of us). I thought of majoring in Italian at one point, but I thought it wouldn’t be the most practical option as to my knowledge Italy and Switzerland were the only nations that spoke Italian (I could be wrong - I never bothered to verify. Anyway, I majored in Spanish and that turned out all right.). My dad has a very smart (aleck) way of establishing his connection with Italy. You see, his given name is Cesar (Caesar) so he was obviously an important figure in the Roman Empire. His last name is Papa (Pope), which makes him a prominent figure in the Vatican. He would feel right at home in Italy. I hope he and my mom can go on a tour there one of these days, stay in sardinia villas, visit Venice, sing “That’s Amore” in Naples, etc.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pictures I Can Cuddle

I’m currently in the process of putting together several photo books of Marguerite. She has very few pictures in actual print (and some were actually destroyed in the Ondoy flood) and about a gazillion in various hard drives and file storage sites. Of course, if Mark would get around to retrieving those that were in the laptops and phones that crashed (a lesson to always back up your files, people!), we’d have even more. I’m certainly not going to have all of them printed. That would be impractical, but I do want some prints in an album I can flip through any time I want to without having to turn on anything, except maybe the light if it’s too dark to see anything. I guess not many people care about having a printed copy of their pictures, but I’m one of those who do. Then again, I’m also one of those people who love getting snail mail from kith and kin. I also have no trouble withstanding the trend (any trend actually) of electronic readers (although Mark’s iPad has a collection of classics that might actually make me succumb). I prefer the old school way. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t take advantage of the technologies that show up in our home, thanks to Mark.

Thick Slabs of Guilt

Mark came home last night bearing a trophy. It seems he came in first in the slowest category. Marguerite shook his hand and congratulated him. That's admirable. Then again, she's 4 and doesn't really understand yet. I am 34 and can make a federal case out of the most trivial issue. I lay on the guilt trip. I'm really good at that. Without giving too much information on what it was all about, I pronounce myself the right (and self-righteous) side in this. I am, however, not the fair side because you see, I have no intention of letting you give him the benefit of the doubt. I can do it as it's my blog. And I have crazy pregnant hormones so I can be excused (arguably).

No, it's not anything serious. Oh but guilt trips are so much fun! And I'm not one to be subtle about it. I lay it on quite thick, hee hee.

He made the mistake of telling me that he spun at one point and that good thing that it was a race track, so no biggie. I said that it just fortified my conviction about all this, "... think of this picture: your daughter who every night valiantly tries to stay up waiting for you, bolting upright every time she hears a car stopping, the gate creaking open, the front door chimes tinkling... and she'd continue doing that even if you couldn't possibly be coming home because you had skidded to your senseless death on the Sabbath you were supposed to keep HOLY while you were on some jolly racing spree!!!" He argued that he was actually very thoughtfully considering his family the entire time because if he wasn't, then he would have come in first in the fastest category (yeah right!). As you can see, no guilt trip (or reason) can penetrate flippancy. That's not about to stop me though.

Interested in Day Trading?

I have never been interested in the stock market. I can attribute this to a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it struck me as something to do with numbers and math, so you could expect to see me running very fast toward the opposite direction. Second, I’ve heard about crashes and the Great Depression days when you weren’t supposed to walk close to tall buildings lest a suicidal stockbroker landed on you and took you with him to the great beyond. Then there’s the yuppie thing - I was never going to be one. I suppose in effect, my aversion to most things related to finance is really a manifestation of a reluctance to grow up. Well, being present in the real world with bills to pay and mouths to feed, it would be irresponsible to insist on financial ignorance. A stay-at-home mom like myself has to explore all her work-at-home earning potentials, even those that consist of matters that resonate of MBA-speak. For instance, day trading could be done at home. Of course, you can’t just get into it willy-nilly. You have to have an understanding of how the markets work. If you’re really interested in learning its in-and-outs, has tips and other useful information for novices and long-time traders alike.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Breakfast Discussions

I don't like writing about politics because it's hardly ever pleasant, but all the discussions we have at breakfast have to spill over and some will end up here.
In our household, my dad starts the day at 4. My mom and I straggle along shortly thereafter (everybody else sleeps until 7am at the earliest). We read our respective Bibles while having tea or coffee and some early morning pan de sal (rolls) and then my dad turns on the TV tuning in to Fox News as he awaits the first screening of Glenn Beck's show (there's a replay in the afternoon - oh and you might as well know that every American in my family is a Republican... I wish it were that simple in Philippine politics too. I remember when things were more black and white: the Marcos side was bad and the Tita Cory side was good. I didn't even bother to count how many presidentiables there were in the last elections.). Anyway, lately our talks have mostly focused on what's going on in America (and the world, actually) and how this could possibly figure in the end times prophecies. Obviously, this morning, we're following the shutdown countdown on various channels. So today, there has been mention of sabotage, Donald Trump's little inquiry, reminiscences of the Clinton era shutdown (my dad was in the States at that time), Gog and Magog, Israel's situation (I recall saying at one point, "Do you think Netanyahu is the one to make that pact with the antichrist? I hope not. I like Netanyahu."), the complete lyrics of the Star-spangled Banner, the Chinese and European players in the NBA (me again: "What do you mean Tony Parker is a French national?" I apparently was the only person in the world who didn't know this, hmph.)... And then my mom felt she had to go through pretty much the same discussion with one of her sisters in California and phoned accordingly. They went from the shutdown to a report of how my young cousins did in the past school year... At this point, I got up from the table and went online. After this, I will get some real breakfast with the late risers.
Does anybody else start their day like this?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Constraints of Modern Living Getting You Down?

I can relate. There are gadgets all over our bedroom - iPad, a couple of laptops, blackberries, camera stuff... It's kind of depressing. I just want to run away screaming... and just keep on running until I get to a place called 1987 where our phone had a party line (ours consisted of a pugnacious Chinese man who ran a shop two streets over -- party lines were poisonously fun) and I was asking for my own typewriter because I wanted to become a writer... Does anybody else feel that way? Maybe you want to go farther back. I wouldn't blame you.

Mark is going to some godless circuit racing thing on Sunday (I'm doing my prune face as I write this). On the Lord's day! (imagine me gathering with Miss Marple and the other old ladies of St. Mary Mead as we head off to the vicarage with our latest complaint) I told him last night - in a waspish leaky-faucet nagging wife manner, "Since you're off gallivanting in Subic on Sunday, you better spend all of Saturday with us!" Mark gave his sheepish smile (he never snipes back or rebels at my belligerence -- that is, almost never) and mumbled something about having to take the car to the shop again. "Cars!" I howled in raging fury. "If I had the power, I would ban all cars and make us all go back to using horses!" I said, thoughtlessly forgetting that I practically can't get anywhere without being driven there. Mark just crowed triumphantly that it would just mean that he'd be giving the horse a shampoo that day. What he has forgotten is that between the two us, I'm the one who's a great deal crazier about horses, so I wouldn't mind...

Peter Mayle Imagery

As you know, I have to settle for stay-cations for the time being, so in the meantime, I’ll simply save up money for the European vacation that I’ve been dreaming of pretty much since I was still in Paris myself about to board the flight home to Manila at the Charles de Gaulle. At that time, I didn’t get to see much of anything outside of Paris. I would have liked to stay longer, but I was starting work at a new school and had already missed the faculty orientation, in fact. Anyway, when I go back, I would not make the mistake of doing Euro Disney again. That was a HUGE waste (not a complete waste, of course, but still a huge one - does that make sense?). A whole day just there (and it’s not that much different from Disneyland, except of course the colors were more subdued and the rides wilder) when I could have gone to Montmartre, Versailles, etc. I would not have had time to go to Provence and if I were to visit the area anyway, I would prefer to stay for at least a month. Ever since I started reading Peter Mayle, I’d been looking up Provence Villas to see if I would ever be able to afford to rent one (off season, of course). I’d go truffling, traipsing across the lavender fields, etc. Well, it’s obviously still a dream. In the interim, I’ll just add another quarter in the coin bank.

I Can Do It... All Over Again

Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking going for another baby. My gurney was being wheeled to my hospital room with a bunch of my kin and my doctor hovering along when my doctor quipped that I had been a good patient and she hoped there would be more babies to come, whereupon I vehemently replied, “Never again!” Famous last words and all that because here I am, pregnant again and quite determined to go for a natural birth. It’s not only the pain of labor, of course. It’s the lack of sleep, the paranoia over SIDS and other baby scares, perpetually smelling of eau de spit-up, the seemingly nonstop supply of soiled diapers, going through the dropping and throwing stage (they think it’s a fun game and you just consider the picking up as doing crunches and remember in time to bend from the knees), the exhaustion that is weaning, the frustration that is potty training (before which you probably experience having your little one hand you a little round pebble that turns out to be her poop), etc.
Marguerite is five years old in September. I have just begun to relax. She’s finally doing stuff for herself and by herself. I can, you know, sit without having to get up for 30 minutes straight. Well, as the saying goes, there’s no rest for the weary (I’m sure I’m not wicked anymore), because I’m about to go through everything again. I’m supposed to know more this time, like everything is fair game to little hands, so put all the breakables away or out of reach. Laminate flooring install sounds pretty good as you know the kind of abuse the floor gets. Or the walls and other surfaces, for that matter. Stickers and scribbles, you know. And maybe some dried oatmeal. How about an extra pair of hands for blocking bacteria-laden objects that the imp is aiming at her mouth? Also know that babies have a particular genius for opening things, especially those prescription bottles that you yourself embarrassingly have never managed to figure out how to open.
The more I go into disaster after disaster, the more excited I get for this baby to come out. Because, you know, it’s really worth all the aggravation. And if you really think about it - I mean, really think about it (you have to be a mom and in the right frame of mind) - what I described sounds rather fun and amusing. But you should know that people have always said that I have a curious sense of humor.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Here's a Nice Story

A long-time family friend and churchmate of ours is getting married in May. It’s a really nice, romantic story. The bride (our friend) is a widow and has one grown son, while the groom is a widower and has one grown daughter. They first started their romance in high school, more than 30 years ago when they were still living on the southern island province of Samar. They were, in fact, each other’s first romantic partner, but then college happened and they drifted apart. They forged separate lives and completely lost touch until a little more than a year ago when everybody got on Facebook and looked up long lost friends. To make the story short, he found her and the rest is history. Practically everybody in our family is involved in the wedding. My dad is, of course, officiating it. Mark is singing. I’m emceeing. Chip is choreographing something. Marguerite is flower girl, etc. Wedding gifts would require more imagination this time since they’re actually fusing two complete households and will probably have double of the things newly married couples usually get. I think, maybe some kind of new-fangled kitchen gadget that they’re sure not to have yet, or perhaps something related to a hobby they enjoy together? Of course, there’s always the gift certificate…

What's Happening in September

Um, did I tell you that the baby is due on September 11? That’s according to my OB-GYN’s calculations anyway. When I did my own calculations (oh, probably when I was just about a day late - talk about excited!), I came up with September 12. Don’t ask me how I got that. It was probably mostly guesswork and not even scientific at all. Anyway, when I got on a pregnancy website and let one of those online calculators do the work, it gave me September 10. Ooh well. The thing about me is that I’m such a dork that I do everything very much “textbook” (go figure how I turned that into an adverb). With my first pregnancy, everything happened just as how it was described in the books - the “show” came, and then about two hours later, my water broke, etc. … and all of these exactly on the due date. The thing is, with this pregnancy, I’m kind of hoping I’ll be early or late. It doesn’t really matter in the general scheme of things, but 9/11 doesn’t have the best associations, you know. My doctor assures me, Oh this is your second pregnancy, you’ll probably be early… Well, she may be right. I’m not going to worry about it anyway. In any case, around that time, I would be busy with Mark’s birthday, which falls on the 8th, and Marguerite’s, which falls on the 22nd. I’ll be the only one in my family without a September birthday. Did we plan for my due date to be close to Marguerite’s birthday? Sort of. I know how kids parties can be expensive, so a double celebration is rather like hitting two birds with one stone. Ugh, I think I made it sound mercenary. Anyway, I don’t remember why we had to zero in on September for births. It’s a good month for parties in the West, but is the peak of crazy typhoon season over here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: "Unto the Hills" by Billy Graham

First published 25 years ago, Dr. Billy Graham’s 366-day (a provision has been made for February 29th) daily devotional is brought back into print by Thomas Nelson. Each daily reading comes with a Biblical passage (no need to look it up in your Bible), a brief, but insightful discussion of its message, and a closing prayer. “Unto the Hills” is an example of a classic devotional that elicits quiet moments of reflection, inspiration and genuine conversation with God.
“Unto the Hills” being a devotional, each reading has to deliver a sufficient explanation of a thought without going into lengthy elaborations. Dr. Graham manages to do just that while using simple language and easy to understand illustrations. The anecdotes are very fitting and are presented in aid of elucidation. It is easy to see how each reading may offer enlightenment, motivation, encouragement, reminder, comfort, etc., appealing to readers as how God moves and responds to individual needs. I also really enjoyed reading the Foreword, which expounds on the reason behind the title of the book. It touches on a sentiment shared by Christians around the world with regard to the “mountaintop experience”.
The book cover has an attractive matte look and feel, the picture on it offering the right mood and imagery. However, the print may be considered on the small side by some readers.
Overall, “Unto the Hills” is a fine daily devotional, another piece of literary legacy from the beloved Dr. Graham.
(Disclaimer: As a blogger I received a free review copy of this book from Booksneeze. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spiritual Rescue and the Fear of God

I meant to blog about this yesterday, but I really can't stay too long on the computer, so after doing one thing and another, I was already beginning to feel ill when I finally had time to make another post. It makes me wonder if I'll ever get around to doing my usual clicks, drops and comments.
Anyway, my devotional's text yesterday was Romans 3:10-22. The discussion mostly focused on how God offers spiritual rescue to everybody, even to the most undeserving (but, of course, we are all undeserving in the first place... click the link and you can read the actual piece). It reminded me of a song, which was on my playlist about 2 months ago (I refresh it regularly - so many good songs out there; I want to give them all a chance.):

The precious blood of Jesus Christ redeems
Forgiven I'm alive restored set free
Your majesty resides inside of me
Forever I believe
Forever I believe
Arrested by Your truth and righteousness
Your grace has overwhelmed my brokenness
Convicted by Your spirit led by Your word
Your love will never fail
Your love will never fail


I know You gave
The world Your only Son for us
To know Your name
To live within the Saviour's love
He took my place
Knowing He'd be crucified
And You loved
You loved a people undeserving

The thing is, when I read my Start! Bible, the study note focused on something else based on what it says on 3:18 ("There is no fear of God before their eyes." - this is also actually from Psalm 36:1). If I may quote Greg Laurie: "Every growing Christian must learn to fear God. The Bible speaks a lot about the fear of God, and as you read the passages you quickly realize it's not about being frightened by God or afraid of what He'll do to you. The fear of God speaks to a profound sense of awe and reverence, a wholesome dread of displeasing Him. This is why the Scripture says, 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom'. If you can get this crucial attitude in place in your life, then everything else will quickly come into balance." That verse, Psalm 111:10, is one of those verses I've known since I was but a small child. People use the adjective "God-fearing" all the time, but I wonder if they actually understand what it means. I think God spoke to me through this very concise explanation. :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Doctor and Nurse in One

As you know, nurses are really quite in demand all over the world. I think that has always been the case. I'm not sure if the field has ever been saturated so that there aren't enough jobs to go around, but in the Philippines, it seems to be a sure-fire way to be able to work abroad and earn beaucoup bucks (it may seem an ordinary amount to the first world citizen - but an ordinary salary in dollars will make for a very affluent lifestyle in the third world).
Anyway, the thing is that Marguerite's first ever pediatrician (she has had 3 so far) has traded in her elegant outfits for nursing uniforms and is now working as a nurse in Arizona. We were supposed to go back to her when we moved back to Marikina, but she was already gone. I don't know what made her decide to switch professions. She had lots of patients here and seemed to be comfortably off, so it shouldn't be the money factor. I guess it could be the desire to move to the US and the knowledge that she has a better chance of getting a job there as a nurse than as a doctor.
However, my OB-GYN told me that it really seems to be the trend among local doctors. They open their clinics during the day and go to nursing classes at night. Between tending to their patients and poring over nursing books, they shop for scrubs. They may be wearing designer civilian outfits under their cotton lab coats right now, but soon they'll be donning clearance scrubs. After all, life may be good in the first world, but the cost of that living is definitely higher.

I Can Eat Again

It's not that I really couldn't eat. With Marguerite, it was like that. Food actually traumatized me. I didn't have a "safe" one, not even ice cream. Everything made me sick. With this one, I could actually eat, but only certain types of food, and even then, I had gagging fits afterward. Still, I was able to keep things down most of the time. "Morning sickness" isn't completely done with me yet, but I thank God that I'm more "normal" now. I actually thought in the first few weeks of my pregnancy that my problem would be keeping the eating under control. I remember wolfing down a giant burrito at 4am (no fear of heartburn!) and Marguerite one time commenting to me, "The baby's swimming in mangoes!" (I had just consumed two huge green mangoes, sliced into manageable slivers)... I'm glad I was able to experience about two weeks of guilt-free gluttony, lol. I may be able to eat now, but I certainly have to be more careful.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Ministry God Has Given Me

I’ve recently been appointed to head the publications department of our church. Under this, I have the responsibility of running the church website, its Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as the online newsletter. I have to look into getting a email newsletter software. That’s actually just the Internet stuff, which I actually don’t know much about. I know though that assistance in this respect is always just a husband away (that’s my half-wit way of saying that I can ask Mark for favors regarding this). I’m confident that I’ve had sufficient experience when it comes to writing, but I’ve mostly stuck to that and left the technical stuff to other people. There are also several book projects that my dad wants for us to undertake, but I suppose we’ll have to go through a gradual process. I’m actually excited to do it. I’ve been praying for guidance regarding this. It’s so easy to just fall back on my own knowledge and capabilities, forgetting that in everything I should always ask for God’s help first and foremost. Then of course, there’s also the matter of having people under my supervision. I think I’ve changed a great deal from the kind of leader I used to be, so like I said, I just really desperately need God’s guidance and wisdom.