Friday, December 23, 2005

I love snail mail...especially when they come in big boxes!

So there I was, sitting quietly at the dining table, writing my holiday cards, when an almost obnoxious, hurried rapping on the door startles me out of my Christmas-y reverie:


Who the heck is knocking so loudly at this time, my very sacred coffee break, too.

I get up, put on my Breathe/Yoga Girl apron (I was not decent enough so I had to cover up my see-through shirt, lest I shock some stranger with my tasadays, mwahahaha!)

I look into the peep hole and see a man. It's the super. Or he looked like the super. Turns out he isn't. Sheesh, I should always check before opening this darn door or I may be in super-big trouble. Grrr.

Turns out there's a package for me. Yay. I wasn't expecting any orders so this was a lovely surprise.

"Dis yur nem?" gruff heavily-accented moustachio ExpressPost man blurts out. He is in a rush.

"Yes." my eyes on the package as I reached out to grab it. He almost shoves it into my hand.

He is off even before I can say "Thank you."

Man, is he in a big hurry today. Must be a lot of hholiday packages going around.

I take the box to my place on the dining table and open it fast. What could it be? Who could it be from? It's heavy. Could it be...could it be...

A book! Oh, joy! A book. A big book! And not just some ordinary book but a Play!Book. and Journal. By SARK!

If anybody knows me well enough, they'd know that I would take books over clothes or shoes or even jewelry anyday. Of course, it would have to be the size of the university library...but I digress.

It's a book from Cecile! She asked me what I wanted for Christmas last year and I told her. It may have taken a while, but hey, I am a patient woman. And the surprise was luuuvly! The card said:

"A creative gift for a highly creative person. I knew you've been waiting for this."

Thanks, dearest Cecilia. You certainly made my day. I am 90% sure it's from didn't sign your name on the card so it could also be from my guardian angel. Hmmm.

Gruff-knocks forgiven.

Oh. I did thank the ExpressPost guy. Via the concierge. Caught him just before he stepped out of the building.

SARK's Journal and Play!book Yummmmy!!!

Wishing you fun surprises in the snail mail this holiday season and always.

Now, where was I...ah, my holiday cards.



I love you, Mom

Dad*Mom, Dinner w/ the family at Penang Hill, Greenhills, during our visit to Andygirl, Nov. 2005

Happy belated birthday to you, Mommylove!

I'm a week late which is nothing compared to a month late
Jack's birthday was last November 10 and nada, nothing, eh!, wala
Not even a peep about it on here.
Hmmm...I wonder why that was
We must have been "busy" (read:grumpy?) at that time
Speaking of grumpy
How's Dad doing?
Woops, I love you too, Daddy.
I better behave at baka hindi dumating "hulog"
Para X'mas(bday, valentine, etc!)
gift ko.

Hello, are we in a jollygood ribbing mood today.
I just hope my parents think my attempt at
A comic routine here
Is amusing enough.

Ehem, seriously now, Mommydearest
May this year be your best one yet...
And many more grandkids (and grand deals) to come!
Er...but not from me their not! Go Leslie Go!
Joey, haboooooool!

I miss you and Daddy so much.
And I miss our fun family dinners, too.

Remember this one?

Think of me on your next bite of yummy rotti at Penang Hill, k?
(With compliments to Pet and Les for introducing me to it the heavenly bread last time)

My cute bro, Randy with me and Joey

Thai FriedFishhead...yum, not! Hey, who ordered that anyway?

Joeygirl and bro-to-be, Pat

Les & Pet having fun with some balls....hmmm...

And more balls...

Tadah! Cute, Pet. Let's see what Andy thinks of Daddy now...

"Eew, Daddy. You look silly. Teeheeheee!"

Joey, Myself and Mom feeding Andytot some of MumzyLesy's Thaifood-flavored milk

"I love you, Tita Chiqui...Love you, too, my sweetangel Andygirl. Sleep na yan baby na yan..."

"I need to let some spicymilk out, help me, MamaGramma.....buuuuuuurp! Ahhhhh...yes. Teynks!"

Love you, Mom.

Hope you enjoyed this little picture show I made especially for you.

Always, your all-time favorite eldest girl,


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Peek-A-Boo, I See You!

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Here I am.
Fizzy hair, winter-dry skin, saggy Tasaday breasts*, and a Kangaroo-pouch for a tummy with a bonus smiley scar (thank you, Dr. A of Makati Med for the very unnecessary C-section! Grrrr!) just along my bikini line.
It is five days before Christmas.
Just about the time I get misty, read: angst-y about THE upcoming B-day.

Hello, thirty eight. Less that a month from now (January 15 for my family and friends who want to send something nice! *wink-wink*) I will be two years shy of the big 4-0.
Almost Forty.
Gad, when I was a teenager, forty was granny land.
And here I am playing peek-a-boo with it already.
Forty in two years.
Heck, I better make the most of it and love-love-love it because God knows, I've worked hard at getting here.

A wise man once told me to "live in the moment, my dear." He was a visiting reverend from South Africa and I was a visiting desperate housewife with three small children trying to make sense of it all. The usual dilemna of where, what, why, how was making me stir crazy. It was unfair, the injustice made more blatant by the fact that I was on vacation in my homeland at that time with my beloved family, friends, and the usual bonus of wonderful helpers and drivers around me for a change. I was living a charmed life by many standards. Unfair of me to be acting so bratty. And a tad ungrateful, too.

But the emptiness prevailed.

You keep looking too far on the outside. Come into the moment. You say you're going to Spain? Learn the dance...what's it called...flamegco? Learn to cook paella. Learn the language. Become Spanish while in Spain.

It didn't make so much sense to me as I've heard all this psycho mumbo-jumbo before. Existentialism, I believe, is what it's called. Yeah, yeah, right.

That was six months ago. Embarassingly so, it's just beginning to get clearer and clearer. Slowly but surely.

There are things that happen for obvious reason. And sometimes the reasons are not immediately spelled-out. I've been thinking about the reason for my being here, here meaning motherhood, stay at home style, wherein the most excitement I'd get for the day would be My Favorite Things on the Oprah show. Okay, I'm being mellodramatic. Just the same, I was tired of the emptiness and the fatigue. I had to do something. Proactive. Fast.

It all started at the end of 2004. Thanks to a lady author named SARK and a photoblogger named Jen, I was whisked into a cyberworld filled with fast talking, brutally honest, creative women and a sprinkling of men, who say it like it is. I thought to myself, what a lovely mix. I was thrilled and scared at the same time. The whole experience buoyed, slapped and charmed and confused me intermittently. The many colorful souls baring themselves unabashed was refreshing and terrifying. All this honestly surrounding me. Does this mean I'd have to be honest, too? Yikes!

I was reading a book called Life Makeovers around that time. Then, an idea: since this place was about finding oneself and evolving, why not invite other people to do the book and make deeper friendships at the same time. So I posted a letter stating my desire and lo and behold, there was a huge response to it. Hundreds of other cyberworldlies signified willingness to join me in my quest for a makeover of a life, one week at a time. For a whole year. It was a success. Until the sixth or seventh month when the group began to slacken. Which was just fine. What was important for me was the the ball of self-care got a good rolling start. The self-care consciousness. My big reveal of the year. Balance is about caring for others AND Self. Of course, caring for the Self is tantamount to KNOWING that same Self. How the hell would you get to be more intimate with somebody if you didn't care for them enough, right? Which is what I effing did this year. I got around to taking better care of me for a change. It did not come easy. Oh, I've heard it all. Gad, all the Pete-forsaken ads on the tv and the glossies talk about it. So why the hell did I miss out on it all these years? Programming, I guess. So there I was, reprogramming myself to buy the best beauty products and moisturizer I could find and actually using it. I have learned that if working from the inside out does not do the trick, one can try it the other way around, too. Moisturize, paint, primp, pretty it up to the hilt and more often than not, the insides follow suit and you find yourself strutting around the house like a supermodel on the ramp. Beats cabin fever everytime. There I was forcing myself to get dressed mid-week to get out and go someplace "fun" for a change even if it's a simple thing like a movie and popcorn alone and not get guilty about not doing the grocery first. There I was sitting down when I got tired and napping when I got exhausted and most importantly asking for help when I needed it and admitting finally to myself and the world that I AM NOT SUPERWOMAN and I couldn't do it all.

Yup. The classic case of worldly over-achiever gone spiritual you might say. Yes. Unabashedly I declare this is what I needed. Self-help books, church service or Oprah Winfrey. As the saying goes, there are more ways than one to heaven. It's actually starting the journey that matters. It is A-okay to be an over-achiever. To dream big. To reach for the stars. To want and have it all. But for the love of God and Self, don't do it alone! Even heroes have assistants and supporters. I believed they're called friends and family. And God Almighty. I believe I wouldn't have gotten here - to this realization without me being here - dried out, brittle haired, mostly stressed out mommy mode. I'd probably be stuck somewhere between prissy prickly princess and bitchy biatch diva. Of course, the poor kids would definitely follow along the same lines. Eek!

The love of family and friends and God is incomparable. It was a long time coming. Again, reprogramming was necessary. But now I can honestly say I have learned my lesson and am continuing to learn more about it. Heck, we are all works in progress. And this is what I am human for, I believe. To learn to live with my weaknesses and not hit myself over the head each time they pop up. Instead, I am to open my eyes to them and be more aware of them and in doing so be able to do a better job at being human. Whether I change it or simply chuck it or hide it under the rug, it's my choice. My God-given prerogative. But being aware of it makes all the difference because it puts me in a place of clarity and a position of knowing. And we all know that knowledge is power. Power. Hmmm. Aha! I am superwoman after all. Haha.

I think God gives a helping hand to those people who are willing to be more aware of themselves. Most of the time, we get around our lives half asleep. I, for one, certainly did. I am not blaming myself anymore for it because I did not know any better back then. But now that I know more about how important awareness of Self is, I do not have the luxury of playing the dumb-ass anymore. As one of my favorite authors, Maya Angelou said, "when you know better you do better." And thank God for the grace of awareness. It is not a thing one can conjure up on their own. I firmly believe it is granted by the Powers that Be to those who sincerely seek it. Yes, I forget. Yes, I toss and turn and slide back into drama queen mode every now and then. But they don't last too long anymore. Besides, there's always the guardian angel disguised as a friend or a situation to nudge you back into your skin just incase you fly out too far and ahead of yourself. Engaging in other people's dramas is also, thankfully, a thing of the past. Whew. Used to be my finger being in everyone's pie. I wanted to know the what's and why's of whomever. (insert buzzer sound byte here) Wrong. Heck, I have enough of my own life's drama to deal with why bother with others. Unless, of course, it is a friend in need of meddling with and that is, I have learned more seldom than often. So I have learned to keep my big mouth shut and my pie fingers in my pocket. Well, I must qualify that one, lest it be taken against me when I find myself in a headlock with someone in the future, God-forbid. I'd simply say that most times I catch myself before it gets too bloody ugly.

There really is truth to what Gandhi said about being the change you want to see in the world. Hurray for you, oh most enlightened guru. I can only hope to have half of your light upon my mostly fogged up psyche. And when it is not too dreary and blurry on the inside, I am able to catch a glimpse of the real thrills of my charmed life ~ and that would look like me laughing out loud because of what my kids would say about some seemingly silly but so brilliant declaration about farts and butts; or me hunched over my little drawings and designs making the most of my precious break even made more precious by the scarcity of it, or the loving connection that my husband and I make from a touch, a glance, a word like "bangus" *gigglesnort*; or a surprise visit or phone call from a friend who just has the exact thing to say to me at just the right moment I needed to hear it; or an unplanned blessed visit to family and new babies a darling sister who have just became a mommy.

The real blessings and magic abound. And the real miracle for me is in actually being able to see them.

Ah, motherhood and the late thirties. Certainly has a way of providing a new set of eyes. The grateful kind, if I may add.

You know, it's not so bad afterall. The fizzy dry hair and skin, the tasaday breasts, the smiley scar. I'd take on these inconsequential superficial uglies anyday for the God-given awareness of beauty that I just found in-front, beside, behind and deep within. Besides, my hair is fizzy but thick and a nice color, my skin can be taken care of by the investment in beauty products and moisturizers, the breasts are tasaday-esq because they are ample, and the scar - hey, joy right on the surface of my jellyhappybelly!

Hello, thirty eight. Grannyland forties, I SEE YOU! Come and let me give you a big hug.

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"Blessed are we who allow ourselves the time that we need to learn, to reflect and to grow. Help us to not compare ourselved to others, and to remember that all masterpieces take time." ~ Nancy Vittoria Bello, From Cre-attitudes.


*Thanks, Dra. Becky Singson (Leslie's OB-GYN) for the laugh-out-loud visit and the Tasaday story.


Orchid from Mom's Collection, Leslie's Garden, North Greenhills

I took this photo, which in my opinion, is as stunning as a flower can be, *cough.cough.sputter* while on one of my morning walks with Joshim. It was part of our little ritual which included breakfast, visiting the dogs, getting some sunshine on our walk to the vegetable garden down the street, picking a few flowers from the sidewalk, bath-bath, story and tickle time. Kids really thrive on routines and boy, did our Joshimboy love his. He'd nap contentedly after all this and wake up to lunch with Gigi, his favorite girl and first-ever nanny since he was a wee tiny tot on our last visit in February.

Daghan salamat, ga! Next time, sama ka na sa amin ha. I think I just heard Joeygirl and Mom shrieking in disagreement. Hahaha!

Of course, Mommy and Tita Leslie and occassionally, Joey, would be off shopping somewhere fabulous...and tiangge cheap if possible, in the afternoons. That was the Sisterhoods little routine.

Beautiful orchid, isn't it? Makes me miss the warm, tropical weather - and my family - all over again. Bootoodledeehoo. Hikbi!

Okay lang. My routine visit - which will include a fabulous wedding, by the way, will be here before we know it. Yay!

See you again, soooooooon!!!


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Specimens of a Surprise

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We gotcha good!
Photo by TonyPet Albano

Saying goodbye at the airport...and the 30-hour journey begins Photo by Bahar Azimi

One of Joshim's favorite things: "Eplen!" at the HK airport. Three more hours to go. Yay!

Giant baby on Mommy's lap. "Ouchy bum-bum!"

We finally arrive at our destination. Tip-toeing toward the house. Shhhh!

Joshimboy and I appear. Surprise!

"'re here!!!"

" yooooooo, Mumzies!"

More happy tears. Hooray for family and the Sisterhood! Papa Grandpa finally figures it all out. :-)

A dazed but happy and freshly showered baby with Tito Pet

A dazed but happy and freshly showered SLEEPY baby with Tito Pat..."Dede peese..."

...more later folks!

Time to sleep off my jetlag.

Love and blessings in abundance, always.


The best ever

Meeting Andygirl for the very first time
Photo by Patrick Frias

I just had the best three-week vacation of my life
Thanks to a husband willing and brave enough
To take care of two small children
And the generous and blessed help of my in-laws:
Momoni and Babajaan, Aunt Badaw and Uncle Mikee, Uncle Joe and Aunt Mimi

And all for a very special visit
To my new angel niece, Andytot
And brand new mommy, Mumzyluvy Leslie!

The trip was a 30-hour long, excruciatingly painful flight -
No thanks to two stop overs and snowed-in delays
A butt-numbing experience to say the least
Especially with a 29-pound giant baby strapped on my lap

But all was worth it when I reunited with my beloved family
And met up for the very first time with my one-week-old niece
Precious princess who made my three weeks of pure magic possible

It was a glorious and God-favored visit
Short but super-dee-dooper fun as Joshim's favorite pat, Barney would put it
In alliance with my dear brother-in-law, TonyPet
(Whom I should simply call "brother" from this point on *wink*)
We planned an elaborate surprise
Which included a pre-birthday dinner for Pet
"And by the way 'Tito Frank from Las Vegas' will be joining us"


The next few blogs
Will be an attempt at sharing and describing and reminiscing about
Just how magical a vacation can be
When visiting angels and
Being reunited with the ones you miss and love...

Pure bliss!

and blessings in abundance